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New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards

May 1996

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New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards
for Science


The New Jersey core curriculum content standards for Science reflect the belief that all students can and must learn enough science to assume their role as concerned citizens equipped with necessary information and decision-making skills.

The need for scientific literacy in today's increasingly technological world, for fundamental reforms in how science is taught, and for established standards in science education are by now well-known and documented. Presidential appeals for excellence, combined with expressions of concern from scientists and educators, have led to national, state, and local initiatives. New Jersey is host to an impressive array of scientific and technological industries, and should play a leadership role in the development and implementation of standards for the teaching and learning of science.

From the outset, the core curriculum content standards for Science were influenced by certain understandings, events, and principles in the continuing improvement of science education in New Jersey and the nation. Efforts to establish standards for the teaching and learning of science have been pursued actively at the state and national level. In 1993, Benchmarks for Science Literacy was published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, followed in 1994 by a comprehensive draft of the National Science Education Standards by the National Research Council. Both these documents contributed to an ongoing interest in the formulation of world class educational standards rooted in reform movements such as Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Scope, Sequence and Coordination Project of the National Science Teachers Association. The simultaneously emerging national standards presented a reliable model that was often consulted in the formulation of these standards.

In New Jersey, the call for science education standards was heightened when the State was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation for the establishment of a Statewide Systematic Initiative for the reform of mathematics, science, and technology education. The combined funding of the NJ SSI and the Mid-Atlantic Eisenhower Consortium for Math and Science Education made possible the widespread distribution of an initial draft of science standards during school year 1994-95.

An enormous amount of scientific content has accumulated at an accelerating rate over the years, causing textbooks to thicken as material is added but rarely deleted. Science educators across the nation have come to recognize this as a disturbing and counterproductive trend. The Science Standards in this section, therefore, are not intended to include all of science, but rather are an attempt to define what all students should know and be able to do as they grow towards scientific literacy. A guiding principle of these standards is that an understanding of fundamental scientific principles and the development of science-related skills are not limited by gender, economic status, cultural background, or ability. While we recognize the need for the inclusion of fundamental understandings in the life, earth, and physical sciences, the development of critical thinking skills is considered of paramount importance. Also important are the attitudes that students display as they learn science, and the development of qualities inherent in the practice of science, such as curiosity, skepticism, open-mindedness, and honesty when collecting and interpreting findings. While these habits of mind cannot be measured easily, no science program can be considered complete or successful that does not promote them.

Science should be taught at all levels with awareness of its connection to other subjects and the needs of society. While these standards do not suggest a specific curriculum design or sequence of courses, they assume that the relationship of the various disciplines of science to each other, and of science to the overall learning experience, will be strongly emphasized. The standards also reflect the needs of the students and teachers of New Jersey; indeed, incorporating New Jersey's unique natural resources in the teaching of science should be a primary goal of school districts as they move towards implementation.

The formulation of standards does not insure their proper implementation. The national initiative mentioned above includes standards that address the preparation of science teachers as well as the school environment in which science is taught. While this document is not intended to deal with such issues, they have informed the development of these standards and must be considered if the standards are to be realized. The standards can only be of value as part of a larger, ongoing effort to improve the teaching and learning of science in New Jersey schools. Defining scientific literacy for the citizens of New Jersey and the nation is an important first step toward achieving this goal.


American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1993). Benchmarks for science literacy.

American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1989). Project 2061. New York.>

National Research Council. (1994). National science education standard.

National Science Teachers Association. (1992). Scope, sequence and coordination of secondary school science, vol. 1. Washington, DC.

Science List Of Standards


All students will learn to identify systems of interacting components and understand how their interactions combine to produce the overall behavior of the system.


All students will develop problem-solving, decision-making and inquiry skills, reflected by formulating usable questions and hypotheses, planning experiments, conducting systematic observations, interpreting and analyzing data, drawing conclusions, and communicating results.


All students will develop an understanding of how people of various cultures have contributed to the advancement of science and technology, and how major discoveries and events have advanced science and technology.


All students will develop an understanding of technology as an application of scientific principles.


All students will integrate mathematics as a tool for problem-solving in science, and as a means of expressing and/or modeling scientific theories.


All students will gain an understanding of the structure, characteristics, and basic needs of organisms.


All students will investigate the diversity of life.


All students will gain an understanding of the structure and behavior of matter.


All students will gain an understanding of natural laws as they apply to motion, forces, and energy transformations.


All students will gain an understanding of the structure, dynamics, and geophysical systems of the earth.


All students will gain an understanding of the origin, evolution, and structure of the universe.


All students will develop an understanding of the environment as a system of interdependent components affected by human activity and natural phenomena.




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