The NGSS Case Studies

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
NGSS case studies explore how educators make science accessible to diverse groups of students. Read on to learn about these case studies and what educators will learn from them to assist in the implementation of NGSS.

Overview of the NGSS Case Studies

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) case studies illustrate how the standards are applicable to all students, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status or learning ability. There are seven NGSS case studies offering in-depth examples of teaching science to different student groups. The groups include the four outlined by No Child Left Behind and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, along with three others identified by the authors of the NGSS. The seven groups are:

  • Girls
  • Gifted students
  • Economically disadvantaged students
  • Disabled students
  • Alternative education students
  • Students from key ethnic and racial communities
  • English language learners

Summary of the Case Studies

Each case study describes a real classroom example of an NGSS science discipline being taught at one grade level to a specific group of students. Along with a detailed review of how the topic was taught effectively within the guidelines of NGSS, each case study highlights effective teaching strategies for the specific group. The case studies also offer insight into how Common Core State Standards may be integrated into the teaching of science.

Case Study 1: Economically Disadvantaged

This case study explores the teaching of 9th grade chemistry to students at a high school with a large population of economically disadvantaged students. The strategies highlighted as effective in helping students in this group meet the expectations of the NGSS include:

  • Relating science subjects to the student's community
  • Including cultural practices into lesson plans
  • Implementing project-based lessons that are relevant to students

Case Study 2: Students From Key Ethnic and Racial Groups

This case study details how 8th grade life science is successfully taught at an urban middle school whose population is predominantly non-white. The strategies highlighted as effective in helping students in this group include:

  • Making lessons culturally relevant
  • Involving the community
  • Providing multimodal experiences
  • Introducing relatable mentors and role models

Case Study 3: Disabled Students

A 6th grade class studying space science at a school with a high population of special education students is the subject of this case study. The strategies highlighted as effective in helping students in this group include:

  • Utilizing a variety of materials to represent concepts/ideas
  • Offering various ways for students to engage in classroom learning and express their understanding of topics

Case Study 4: English Language Learners

This case study details the teaching of earth science to a 2nd grade class in which 50% of students are English language learners (ELLs). The teaching strategies highlighted include:

  • Utilizing literacy strategies that are appropriate for every student
  • Providing language support
  • Involving families
  • Connecting lessons to students' cultural heritage

Case Study 5: Girls

This case study highlights how girls within a 3rd grade class learn engineering skills. The study focuses on how teaching strategies, curriculum and classroom structure help make science interesting to girls at this young age, thereby:

  • Engaging them in scientific learning
  • Increasing their confidence in this subject area
  • Reducing the experience gap that traditionally exists between male and female students studying science

Case Study 6: Alternative Education Students

This study follows 10th and 11th grade chemistry students at a high school in which 83% of students are 18 years of age or older. The teaching strategies highlighted include:

  • Providing learning opportunities beyond traditional school hours
  • Including life skills in science lessons
  • Teaching to each individual's academic needs

Case Study 7: Gifted Students

This study explores life science education for 4th graders at a school where 12% of the population is academically talented. The teaching strategies highlighted include:

  • Differentiating lessons
  • Teaching at an accelerated pace
  • Grouping students strategically
  • Allowing students the chance to direct their own learning outcomes

Resources for Educators

Along with the case studies themselves, a summary of the studies, along with an overview of effective teaching strategies are provided in Appendix D of the NGSS. Both the case studies and Appendix D may be downloaded on the NGSS website (

Educators may further develop their teaching strategies for students within these groups by utilizing's teacher-resource courses. These online courses are taught via short video lessons that are conveniently available 24/7. See, for example:

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