9-12 Science Education



The following science standards are correlated with the Core Standards for Teachers in North Carolina and reflect those practices and knowledge that are unique to science teachers.  These standards are aligned with the North Carolina Science Standard Course of Study, the National Science Standards, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and the standards developed by the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC). The standards describe what beginning science teachers in North Carolina should know and be able to do.  The standards are organized to reflect the Core Standards developed by the NC Professional Teaching Standards Commission.


High school science teachers (9-12), should have an Ain-depth” knowledge in a FOCUS area (for example, life science, for biology teachers) and a working knowledge (they understand the concepts and can design meaningful learning experiences for high school students) in all other science areas.   High school teachers should understand the mathematical relationships consistent with the high school science curriculum.


Knowledge of pedagogy is equally important as knowledge of content.  In quality science teaching, providing active inquiry experiences should be emphasized.  Science teachers should understand the developmental characteristics and needs of students and be able to use appropriate strategies in teaching science. Students need to understand that science is a way of building understanding about the natural world. Science is as much a process as a body of knowledge.  Consequently, the task of the science teacher is to help students learn the processes for building that knowledge.


Schools are becoming microcosms of the larger world.  The communication media bring the world into homes and schools and it is vital that science teachers understand the strengths that diversity brings into a classroom.  The effective science teacher helps students appreciate the similarities and differences in others. Science teachers should be aware of the diverse cultures that have contributed to the body of scientific knowledge.  They should help students see science as a subject available for further study to all people.


Science teachers are life-long learners who are interested in knowing more about science and the application of science in our society.   Although entry- level science teachers have not had much opportunity to assume extensive leadership roles, they should be collaborators who seek to work with others to improve science instruction.  They should continually reflect upon their practice in order to improve instruction and to become strong advocates for the role of science in schools.


Standards and Indicators



Standard 1:  Science Teachers understand the unifying concepts of science.



Indicator 1: Science teachers understand the major concepts in life science:


1.  Evolution

v      Characteristics of living things

v      Diversity of Organisms

v      Life cycles

v      Theory of evolution


2.  Gene Theory

v      Mendelian Genetics

v      DNA and heredity

v      Mutations/Evolution


3.  Cell Theory

v      Structure and Function of cells

v      Cellular Processes (cellular respiration, photosynthesis, cell transport, mitosis)

v      Parts of the cell theory


4.  Form and Function

v      Structure and Function of plants and animals and their parts

v      Sexual and Asexual Reproduction

v      Growth and Development of Organisms

v      Health and Human Biology


5.    Ecological Relationships and Interdependence

v      Organisms in their environments

v      Food chains and food webs

v      Cycling of matter and flow of energy

v      Mutations/Adaptations

v      Human impact on the environment


Indicator 2: Science teachers understand the major concepts in Physical Science.


1.     Measurements

v      systems of measurements

v      units (including metric)

v      dimensional analysis

v      interpret data, ratios, graphs


2.  Atomic Theory and Periodic Law

v      Structure of atom

v      Periodic table

v      Molecules and bonding


3.  Structure and Properties of Matter

v      Classification of Matter (elements, compounds, mixtures, etc.)

v      States of matter and phase changes

v      Chemical and physical properties of matter


4.  Chemical Reactions

v      Types of chemical reactions

v      Factors affecting reactions and reaction rates


5.  Forces and Motion

v      Motion

v      Vectors and scalars

v      Circular motion

v      Rotational motion

v      Keplers’ laws of planetary motion


6.  Electromagnetism

v      Static Charge

v      Moving Charges

v      Magnetism

v      Electromagnetic Spectrum


7.  Waves and Optics

v      Wave Motion

v      Wave Nature of Light

v      Optics


8.  Energy

v      Sources and forms of energy

v      Conservation of energy

v      Interaction of energy and matter

v      Thermodynamics


9.  Modern Physics and Chemistry

v      Nature of light

v      Atomic and nuclear structure

v      Atomic and nuclear energy


Indicator 3: Science teachers understand the major concepts in Earth Science.


1.  Origin and Evolution of the Earth and Universe

v      Physical evolution of the earth

v      Big bang theory


2.  Astronomy

v      Planetary astronomy

v      Deep space astronomy


3.  Properties of Earth Materials

v      Composition of earth

v      Rocks, minerals and fossils

v      Water and air


4. Earth Dynamics/Systems

v      Lithosphere

v      Earth’s Interior

v      Atmosphere

v      Hydrosphere

v      Energy


5. Interaction of the Earth and Living Systems

v      Management of Natural Resources

v      Pollution

v      Energy Resources

v      Population dynamics

v      Ecosystems



Standard 2:  Science Teachers understand the nature of science and the development of scientific thought.



Science teachers understand:


Indicator 1: that science is universal and multidisciplinary; that the boundaries of the disciplines are artificial.


Indicator 2: that knowledge gained through science is based on logic and skepticism.


Indicator 3: that scientific explanations must be consistent with observations and evidence.


Indicator 4: that all scientific knowledge is probabilistic and subject to change.


Indicator 5: the importance of communication within the scientific community and with the public, allowing for feedback, challenges, and peer review.



Standard 3:  Science teachers understand the historical development of scientific thought and the application of science in society.



Science teachers understand:


Indicator 1: the development of the major scientific advances and that scientific knowledge builds on previous knowledge.


Indicator 2: that the historical development of scientific thought has not been necessarily linear.


Indicator 3: that diverse cultures have contributed to scientific knowledge.


Indicator 4: that major scientific advances have affected and changed human society.  (Examples are:  health, transportation, communication, economics, industrialization, politics, information.)


Indicator 5: the reciprocal relationship between the development of scientific concepts and the technological application of these concepts in society.



Standard 4:  Science teachers understand the math concepts and processes and the technologies that are used in science.



Science teachers:


Indicator 1: Have a conceptual understanding of mathematics as appropriate to the science content that they teach.


Indicator 2: Understand systems of measurement, degrees of magnitude, significant figures, dimensional analysis, and precision and accuracy as appropriate to each content area.


Indicator 3:   Know how to chart and graph data, selecting the appropriate graph for specific data and specific purposes.


Indicator 4:   Know how to use mathematics and technology in modeling and simulations as appropriate to each content area.



Standard 5:  Science teachers use developmentally appropriate strategies to design and deliver instruction in science.



Science teachers:


Indicator 1: Develop and implement instruction consistent with the North Carolina Science Standard Course of Study.


Indicator 2: Understand and integrate other subjects with science content.


Indicator 3:     Apply reading strategies to teach reading in the science content area.


Indicator 4: Apply learning and motivational theory in the development, delivery, and assessment of science curricula.


Indicator 5: Promote new learning through using students’ prior knowledge and misconceptions and consider student interest in designing lessons.


Indicator 6: Apply various models of science teaching at appropriate developmental levels.


Indicator 7: Integrate appropriate technologies to improve the delivery of science instruction.


Indicator 8: Create/adapt science lessons and investigations from various sources that focus on local, relevant applications.


Indicator 9: Use questioning techniques that lead to student understanding of scientific concepts.


Indicator 10: Implement a variety of teaching and communication strategies for science instruction.



Standard 6:  Science teachers plan and implement appropriate scientific investigations to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills in science.



Science Teachers:


Indicator 1: Manage instructional time by developing a variety of inquiry-based lessons and investigations that are designed for teaching specific concepts.


Indicator 2: Use various questioning skills appropriate for inquiry-based instruction.


Indicator 3: Develop science process skills through appropriate inquiry-based lessons.


Indicator 4: Plan strategies for the use of cooperation/collaboration skills in the scientific investigations.



Indicator 5: Integrate technology for delivering content, collecting and analyzing data, and communicating results.


Indicator 6: Incorporate appropriate field investigations and field trips into the science curriculum.


Indicator 7: Incorporate safety laws, codes, and standards in the planning and implementation of science instruction.


Indicator 8: Plan for acquisition, dissemination, and management of materials and equipment.



Standard 7:  Science teachers organize and manage the science learning environment to ensure optimal learning.



Science teachers:


Indicator 1: Guide students to work in collaborative teams and encourage them to evaluate constructively.


Indicator 2: Design and implement procedures that enhance the organization and management of the science classroom.


Indicator 3: Organize and manage field investigations and field trips to optimize efficiency and safety.


Indicator 4: Organize and manage the use of technologies where appropriate for optimal learning.


Indicator 5: Apply Safety Laws, Codes, and Standards to laboratory and field-work procedures.



Standard 8:  Science teachers create and use appropriate assessment strategies and instruments to improve science instruction for all students.



Science teachers:


Indicator 1: Develop a variety of formal and alternative assessment strategies appropriate for individual, peer, team, and collaborative skills in science.


Indicator 2: Effectively use diagnostic assessment of science content and process skills.


Indicator 3: Use a variety of questioning techniques to determine level of student understanding of scientific concepts.

Indicator 4: Develop and use rubrics in assessment.


Indicator 5: Use technology as appropriate in the evaluation of scientific knowledge and skills.



Standard 9:  Science teachers integrate appropriate technology to enhance instruction in science and scientific investigation.



Science Teachers:



Indicator 1: Select appropriate technologies for teaching specific science concepts.


Indicator 2: Use technology to develop appropriate simulations of scientific concepts.


Indicator 3: Guide students in the appropriate use of multimedia and web-based research.


Indicator 4: Guide students in data collection, analysis and interpretation using computers and other scientific instruments.


Indicator 5: Guide students in using appropriate technologies to communicate and present results.


Indicator 6: Model the use of appropriate technology in instruction.


Indicator 7: Demonstrate and model the ethical and legal use of technology.



Standard 10:  Science teachers develop strategies to address science topics that are controversial to diverse groups.



Science teachers:


Indicator 1: Understand and respect that families and communities may have diverse attitudes about science, inquiry, and specific science-related issues.


Indicator 2: Promote the open-minded discussion of controversial issues in science by developing and using various strategies such as debates, use of data gathering and analysis for informed decision making, and recognition of bias and propaganda.


Indicator 3: Guide students in developing rational solutions to controversial problems in science.



Standard 11:  Science teachers encourage underrepresented groups to engage in science.





Standard 12:  Science teachers work with professional colleagues, parents, and community members to improve science instruction for all students.



Science teachers:


Indicator 1: Are aware of collaborative efforts and how to integrate them into the science program.


Indicator 2: Continue to support students as they pursue science.


Indicator 3: Develop advocacy, communication and leadership skills by attending workshops and staff development opportunities.

Indicator 4: Know how to locate resources to enhance science instruction.




Standard 13:  Science teachers research and learn to apply best practice in science education and participate in the dissemination of those ideas.



Science teachers:


Indicator 1: Use the information from professional science education organizations to improve content and pedagogy in the science classroom.


Indicator 2: Attend appropriate professional development opportunities.


Indicator 3: Collect and use information from the scientific community, business and industry.


Indicator 4: Understand the importance of collaborating with colleagues as well as with the larger community to improve science instruction.



Standard 14:  Science teachers understand safety and liability issues in science and advocate for appropriate safety materials and enforcement practices in the classroom.



Science teachers:


Indicator 1: Ensure that safety issues are included in instruction and provide supervision during lab and field experiences.


Indicator 2: Analyze the lab/activities for safety and research materials/chemicals to know safety issues before they are used.


Indicator 3: Have a working knowledge of and comply with the science Safety Laws, Codes, and Standards.


Indicator 4: Keep MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) sheets readily available.


Indicator 5: Model appropriate safety behaviors.


Indicator 6: Develop a short and long-term plan for improvement of science safety.


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