With its long-standing commitment to STEM education, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation viewed California's 2013 adoption of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as an excellent opportunity to support educators and their students as they transition to these rigorous and engaging standards. This opportunity aligned with the Foundation's overarching emphasis on supporting adult leaders as the most eﬀective way to achieve our goal of providing students with high-quality STEM education.
The Foundation launched the six-year NGSS Early Implementers Initiative in 2014. It supports eight diverse California school districts committed to implementing NGSS in their K–8 schools. All districts are incorporating the state's preferred integrated course model for science instruction in middle school. The K–12 Alliance at WestEd, a highly respected provider of professional learning and technical assistance services to school districts, leads the Initiative. Two charter management organizations also participate through funding provided by other sources.
The broad goal of the Initiative is to successfully support initial implementation of the science standards in a set of districts to inform state-level decisions and set the stage for statewide implementation. The experiences of the Early Implementers, as well as the tools developed through the Initiative process, are expected to make it easier for other California districts as they implement NGSS. A separate arm of WestEd documents the Early Implementers' approaches, successes, and lessons learned in a series of evaluation reports. The Foundation has invested approximately $25 million in service of this goal.