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Science Department

Updated NYSED Standards | Science at the Elementary Level | Science at SMS | Science at SHS

NYSED Updates Standards for Science Education

In 2016, NYSED adopted new standards in science. The new standards are very different than the older MST standards from 1996 in that the new standards emphasize the “3 dimensional” nature of learning in science. No longer will science education be a matter of students simply “knowing and understanding” concepts in science. The new standards ask students to develop common ways of thinking about science, engage in a variety of science based practices to make sense of science phenomena, and apply their sense making to new and novel situations in order to solve problems. Simply put, students must now engage in behaviors and develop their problem solving and scientific thinking in a manner which more closely represents actual scientists.  

These new standards are extremely exciting and we very much believe that they will help students become better thinkers and problem solvers while also developing their literacy skills as they learn to communicate their more complex understandings. 

The new standards have created challenges for our assessment strategies across the state. In order to properly assess how well students understand these new standards, New York State is rewriting all of their assessments. This work has taken time and has been delayed extensively by COVID. 

The latest timeframe for science assessments can be found here.

Our curricula are currently new standards compliant from grades K-6. We are transitioning our middle school and high school courses over the next several years based on the timeline for our new assessments. A summary of our transition in North Colonie is below.


  • Elementary courses – already fully transitioned. Spring of 2022 will be the final 4th grade assessment under the old standards. During the 2022 – 2023 school year there will be no elementary assessment. In Spring of 2024 the first 5th grade assessment will occur under the new standards.

Middle School

  • All Middle School Courses – fully transitioned for Fall of 2023 for 1st new 8th grade assessment in Spring of 2024. The final version of the “old” 8th grade assessment will be given in the Spring of 2023

High School

  • All Physics and Chemistry courses – fully transitioned for Fall of 2025 for 1st new Regents Exams in June of 2026
  • All Life Science and Earth and Space Science courses – fully transitioned for Fall of 2024 for 1st new Regents Exams in June of 2025

Science at the Elementary Level

Our K-5 science program primarily uses science kits from the Smithsonian Science Education Center. These kits support the New York State p-12 Science Learning Standards to provide a rich, inquiry based science curriculum, which focuses on hands-on learning and problem solving. Our kit progression is as follows:


  • How can we change an object’s motion?
  • How can we be ready for the weather?
  • How can we stay cool in the sun?

Grade 1

  • How can we light our way in the dark?
  • How can we send a message using sound?
  • Thinking like a scientist through studying birds (locally built unit – not Smithsonian)

Grade 2

  • How can we change solids and liquids?
  • How can we stop soil from washing away?
  • What makes a home? A study of habitats and communities (locally built unit – not Smithsonian)

Grade 3

  • How can we predict patterns of motion?
  • How do weather and climate affect our lives?
  • How can we protect animals when their habitat changes?

Grade 4

  • How does motion energy change in a collision?
  • What is our evidence that we live on a changing Earth?
  • How can we provide energy to people’s homes?

Grade 5

  • How can we predict changes in ecosystems?
  • How can we use the sky to navigate?
  • How can we provide freshwater to those in need?

Science at Shaker Middle School

Our 6-12 program is designed to prepare students for commencement level high school work in grades 6-8 and offer a variety of courses in grades 9-12 for students to demonstrate their abilities in science. Secondary science is guided by our vision:

  • The secondary science department is dedicated to helping all students apply and effectively communicate scientific concepts and literacy to real world phenomena through the use of independent critical thinking and problem solving skills. We will model and foster these qualities through the development of relevant curricula and the encouragement of appropriate collaboration in a safe, positive, and supportive environment.

Grades 6 – 8

Our Middle School program progresses in the following manner:

  • Grade 6 – Physical Science
  • Grade 7 – Life Science
  • Grade 8 – Earth and Space Science

Middle school students who demonstrate outstanding work ethic, academic success, and are recommended by their 7th grade teacher may qualify for accelerated Earth and Space Science in 8th grade. This challenging program includes middle school and high school standards in Earth and Space Science and culminates in the New York State Regents Exam in Earth Science.

Science at Shaker High School

Grades 9 – 12

Our high school program begins with commencement level Life Science in 9th grade. We have a variety of Life Science offerings to cater to the needs of our diverse learners. After a student completes Life Science and the New York State Regents exam in Living Environment, the high school offers a wide variety of potential pathways for students. Please refer to our course catalog for more details, but the most common pathways are included below. Please note that this list is not all inclusive and therefore some students may follow a different pathway towards graduation. Please refer to your counselor or to the Science Supervisor for more guidance.

View course offerings in the Shaker High School Course Catalog.

Sequence A

  • Grade 9: Biology R
  • Grade 10: Earth Science R
  • Grade 11: Chemistry R
  • Grade 12: Physics R

Sequence B

  • Grade 9: Biology H*
  • Grade 10: Chemistry H
  • Grade 11: Physics R OR Physics H OR UHS Physics
  • Grade 12: AP Biology OR AP Chemistry OR AP Physics (C) OR AP Environment OR Any Elective

Sequence C

  • Grade 9: Applied Biology I
  • Grade 10: Applied Biology II
  • Grade 11: Earth Science R
  • Grade 12: Chemistry R OR Elective

Sequence D

  • Grade 9: Unified Biology I
  • Grade 10: Unified Biology II
  • Grade 11: Elective
  • Grade 12: Elective

*Earth Science R and the Earth Science Regents Exam was completed in 8th grade and counts as 1 Regents credit.

Graduation Requirements

  • 3 credits (one must be based in life science, a second must be based in physical science, which includes any Earth and Space, Chemistry, or Physics based science. The third unit may be from either Life Science or Physical Science.
  • Must pass at least one Regents Exam in Science. Typically, students will meet this requirement by passing the Living Environment Regents Exam after taking any of our freshman based Life Science courses, but passing the Earth and Space, Chemistry, and/or Physics Regents exams will also satisfy this requirement.
  • NYSED diploma requirements
  • NYSED Science Information


Keith Bogert
District Supervisor for Science

Phone: (518) 785-8591