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Aligning the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with IB curricula

Aligning the Next Generation Are you an IB teacher in the US and grappling with how to align the requirements of both the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with your IB programme? We asked Dr Sudha Sunder from KDSL Global, to tell us about NGSS and the new resource for IB teachers that she produced in collaboration with several science educators and Achieve (the organization that drafted the NGSS) to help educators with implementation.

By Sudha Sunder

Essentially, the goals of the IB programmes and the NGSS are complementary. However, the NGSS, guided by the conceptual framework of the National Research council (NRC), have set new priorities for science education in IB World Schools in the United States, that are engaged in the dual implementation of IB programmes and the NGSS. Educators in these schools are being called upon to ensure that their students are prepared to demonstrate proficiency in the NGSS performance indicators, while achieving the goals of IB programmes.

The NGSS has been the outcome of a two-year collaborative process of cyclical writing, reviewing, reflecting and improving by multiple stakeholders with a view of enabling access for all students to internationally-benchmarked science education. Although the 18-member panel, appointed by the NRC, created the initial draft of the NGSS, more than 40 science experts are believed to have been involved in the actual writing of the standards. Along with the 26 “lead states partners,” this group included a number of kindergarten-to-year-12 (K-12) science educators, science professors, engineers and experts in inclusive education. From June 2016, an estimated 35% public schools in the US from 17 states and the DC have adopted the NGSS.

Once the standards were released in the US, the organization Achieve, who developed NGSS, began a relationship with the IB to create a comparison study. The study’s objective is to guide IB teachers and schools on implementing the NGSS within an IB World School. The study highlights the opportunities and the challenges associated with implementing NGSS in IB World Schools offering IB programmes.

While the Diploma Programme (DP) curricula frameworks and the NGSS both have performance expectations, the teachers who are facilitating the transition to their dual implementation will benefit from seeing the NGSS as moving schools one step closer (and a much-needed step) towards realizing the IB’s vision through measurable outcomes.

In terms of curriculum and instruction, both the IB programmes and the NGSS promote principles of “backwards by design” (Wiggins and McTighe, 2004). So even though a particular section of the study report may be of more relevance and significance to teachers in the DP, the essence of the relationship (between the IB and the NGSS) and how this affects the Primary and Middle Years Programmes will not only be valuable for teachers across the continuum, but also for IB educators to derive a holistic understanding and approach to curriculum and instruction while engaged in the dual implementation.


Since the IB operates in a wider international context, having to meet the needs of multiple national systems, we need to recognize that building a relationship study report between the IB and the NGSS cannot be completed through a comparative analysis because the end goals of the IB and the NGSS are different as are the products themselves. The purpose of this relationship study is therefore not to engage in a “match making” exercise between the IB philosophy and the NGSS.

Implementing the NGSS with intellectual rigour and consistency within an IB framework calls for a “systems thinking” (Fullan, 2005) approach to curriculum design principles, classroom practices and assessment through the effective integration of science, technology, mathematics, English language arts and the social sciences. For this reason the target audience for this report is not only science teachers.

Use the report to help you in your IB teaching practice

IB teachers can now access this new report on the digital toolkit to support them in implementation of both NGSS and their IB programme.

Sudha Sunder is Associate Consultant KDSL Global and Curriculum Reviewer – International Baccalaureate, in the US.


Fullan, M. 2005 Leadership and sustainability: systems thinkers in action. Thousand Oaks, CA. Corwin Press.

Wiggins, G and McTighe, J. 2004. Understanding by Design. ASCD.