Common Core Literacy Standards for Science

Instructor: Bill Sands
Common Core State Standards outline expectations for science literacy at both the middle and high school levels. Keep reading to learn what skills students will be expected to master as they work their way towards high school graduation.

Common Core Science Literacy Standards: Overview

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for science literacy begin in earnest at the middle school level. Students in grades K-5 do not have literacy standards specific to science; this area of focus (along with literacy standards for history and social studies) is blended into the CCSS reading standards for these grade levels.

Science literacy standards are banded together into three groups: one for middle school (grades 6-8) and two for high school (grades 9-10 and 11-12). These standards are intended to prepare students to meet both academic and professional challenges, such as entry-level employment and college.

Grades 6-8

Science literacy standards place heavy emphasis on reading comprehension, with students being asked to read scientific texts and identify key terms and main ideas. Students should also be able to distinguish opinions and analysis from established facts. Additionally, when completing experiments and projects, students will need to cite textual references in order to support their arguments and conclusions.

These science literacy standards also attempt to develop students' technical skills. Students will learn to work with quantitative information found in various formats. For example, projects could include comparing passages from a scientific text with a table or diagram featuring the same information. Upon completion of middle school, students will also be expected to follow directions for completing scientific experiments.

Grades 9-10

High school standards cover many of the same areas as those outlined for middle schoolers, but at a more advanced level. Students peruse scientific texts and are able to understand phrases and key terms related to topics that are taught at the 9th and 10th grade levels. Using these skills, students will learn to follow descriptions of complex scientific processes and draw connections between the essential concepts being discussed, such as force and reaction force. After participating in instructor-led lectures and discussions, students should also be able to independently analyze scientific findings and the evidence used to support them. They'll also get practice transforming visual data into the written word and vice versa.

Grades 11-12

Towards the end of high school, students are prepared to take on the most advanced scientific topics. Students will be asked to read a text and scrutinize the various aspects of the scientific experiment being described, such as the hypothesis and conclusion. Students will also learn how to verify data and handle contradictory conclusions from other sources. They'll get experience blending information from diverse sources into a single idea or conclusion as well. When conducting experiments, students will be able to understand the results by reading any explanations provided.

Science Literacy Resources

If you're looking for a resource to help students build their vocabulary skills and improve their ability to understand key concepts found in their science texts, check out this collection of interactive flashcards:

You'll also find short, self-paced lessons outlining some of the teaching tools and activities useful for helping students improve their science literacy:

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