California Science Standards

Instructor: Shelby Golden
This article will provide you with information regarding the science standards used by the state of California. Find out when these standards were adopted, what students will study and discover useful educational resources.

Science Standards in California

California presently uses the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for all grades. These standards were adopted in 2013 and include three complementary areas:

  • Core disciplinary ideas that cover what students will learn
  • Science and engineering practices that focus on the skills students will acquire
  • Crosscutting concepts that connect different grades and areas of science together

These standards help students build on what they know from year to year.

Engineering Design Standards for K-12

As a part of the science standards, students will also focus on engineering concepts in each grade. They'll build the skills they need to consider engineering problems efficiently and to communicate their engineering designs. The benefits of considering multiple possible solutions before making a decision will be discussed, as well as how to test these solutions. You can help students master these concepts with lessons on the engineering design cycle and how to define a problem in engineering. Use the printable worksheets to bring up discussion points in class.

Elementary School Science Standards in California

Elementary school lets students begin their journey towards scientific mastery. They can work with these science lessons for kids to get study help. The NGSS indicate that elementary school students should learn about:

Life Science

Students will consider where animals and plants get the food they need to survive. The uses of different body parts and sense receptors will be covered, along with ways that the individuals of the same species may be different from one another. The manner in which organisms reproduce will be studied, along with how different creatures develop certain traits.

Earth and Space Science

In these grades, students will learn about the factors that influence weather, in addition to the value of accurate weather forecasts. Kids will be able to focus on climate. They'll study how living creatures can bring about changes to the world around them. The patterns we see in the movement of the sun, stars and the moon will be discussed, in addition to the Earth's orbit and rotation. Students will find out where water is located on the planet, as well as studying the different forms water can take. The formation of rock layers, changes to the surface of the Earth, Earth's systems and the effects of gathering natural resources will be covered.

Physical Science

The connections between speed, motion, pushes, pulls and other forces will be discussed in elementary school. The effects of sunlight on Earth, the properties of light and how sound is made will be focused on in these grades. Students will spend time considering the different states and properties of matter. Kids will learn about how energy moves or is converted. Furthermore, they'll work to understand how waves function and gravity.

Middle School Science Standards in California

While students continue to build their science skills, they can work with these online courses in life, Earth and physical science. Kids in middle school will study:

Life Science

Middle schoolers will work to understand the differences between unicellular and multi-cellular organisms, as well as sexual and asexual reproduction. The chemical reactions involved in the process of photosynthesis will be discussed. Furthermore, students will learn how different kinds of organisms interact with one another when they live in the same ecosystem. Students will consider the functions of genes, connections between extinct and living organisms and both natural and artificial selection.

Earth and Space Science

Students will be able to learn about the steps in the water cycle and how the ocean impacts both the climate and weather. Humanity's role in global warming will be discussed, along with how the movements of tectonic plates shape the Earth. The objects located in our solar system, the processes that lead to eclipses and the formation of the solar system will be focused on.

Physical Science

The relationship between temperature and energy will be studied in these grades. Students will learn how molecules behave in gases, liquids and solids. Forces such as gravity and electromagnetism will be considered, along with kinetic and potential energy.

High School Science Standards in California

High schoolers will focus on more complicated topics. They can put in extra study time by checking out these high school courses in biology, Earth science and physical science.

Life Science

Students who are in high school can study the information found in cells and how cells are arranged within multicellular organisms. The steps involved in mitosis will be discussed, along with the information found in DNA. Students will be able to develop a strong understanding of the various factors that influence evolution and natural selection. Additionally, students will learn about the structure of food webs and how energy is moved around throughout an ecosystem.

Earth and Space Science

High schoolers will get familiar with the Big Bang Theory and the lifespan of our Sun. They'll learn how we measure the age of rocks and ways that the Earth's orbit changes. The processes that lead to mantle convection in the Earth and our global climate will be studied. How human populations have affected the planet will also be discussed.

Physical Science

Particles and the ordering of the periodic table will be covered in high school. Students will find out what's involved in various nuclear processes and consider the applications of Newton's laws. Energy manifestations, the conservation of energy and how waves interact with one another will also be studied.

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Filtered by: {{}}   {{}}   {{}}   Clear All Filters
Courses: {{}}