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New Science Learning Standards Timeline

Get Ready for Transition and Implementation

Two students use a tablet to do a science lesson.

Each year, fourth and eighth graders grab their No. 2 pencils and prepare to take the New York State science assessment. In the coming school year, teachers and their districts will need to be prepared for changes to that test.

“The New York State Education Department has released a clear timeline for implemen- tation of the new New York State P-12 Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS),” advised Elizabeth Freas, director of instructional technology and professional development at the Western New York Regional Information Center (WNYRIC). “June 2020 will be the last time fourth graders sit for the state science assessment. The class of 2029 will be the first fifth graders to take the new science assessment in 2022. By the end of this school year, school districts should be transitioning their curriculum accordingly in preparation.”

As the state moves from the 1996 science standards to NYSSLS, there will be an emphasis on hands-on, lab-based learning that reflects the science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) movement in education.

Instruction will need to be aligned to the NYSSLS standards for pre-kindergarten through third grade as well as sixth grade by September 2019. Fourth and seventh grade will follow in September 2020 and implementation for fifth and eighth grade is slated for September 2021. Regents testing alignment will follow in 2023 and 2024.

“This timeline mirrors the predicted timeline presented at the deep curriculum alignment workshop at Erie 1 BOCES in October 2018. WNYRIC has been working diligently with districts through professional development opportunities to prepare them for the changes, including an author visit from Tricia Shelton on March 5, which featured a hands-on workshop reflecting the new standards,” Freas added.

Students use tablets to code with the help of their teacher.

On the frontlines for professional development, Erie 1 BOCES’ Professional Development Coordinator Susan Cyrulik has no so-called ‘typical day at the office’ when it comes to assisting districts with preparing for NYSSLS implementation.

“The NYSSLS standards are about looking at science curriculum through a different lens - exploration before explanation.

Phenomenon-based teaching is a total transformation in the order teachers may be accustomed to presenting a lesson or story line,” she explained.

One day she may be reviewing living environment story lines, formerly known as units, at Cleveland Hill, the next she could be demonstrating a kindergarten lesson on movement and forces using the hokey- pokey in Lewiston-Porter.

“Depending on the district, the grade level or the individual teacher, the degree of preparation still needed for this change is different,” Cyrulik said. “We want to make sure our districts know about the timeline and have a plan of action in place, whether that involves utilizing our services, creating specialized teacher groups or signing up for an outside program.”

If you have questions and your district has already scheduled professional development time, please contact your professional development coordinator. If you would like to schedule new professional development time, please contact Elizabeth Freas at or Steven Graser at sgraser@

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