April 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 8

California State Board of Education Approves Suspension of State’s Accountability Measurement System

SACRAMENTO— State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the State Board of Education voted unanimously to suspend the Academic Performance Index (API) for the 2014-15 school year Learn More…

It’s Short Course Line Up Time!


by Jill Grace

Want to dig deeper?  Excited to learn from seasoned experts in the field?  Wish you could have a guaranteed seat in the room?  Do you enjoy a smaller session with more presenter interaction?

Then conference short courses are calling your name!

CSTA is proud to present an amazing line up of eighteen short courses for the 2015 California Science Education Conference scheduled for this October 2-4 in Sacramento.

There short course are designed to help you dig deeper into Common Core and many of the key dimensions of NGSS.  There are also short courses designed to help support your quest for quality STEM instruction and some innovative programs that will transform your classroom instruction.  Each short course’s duration is three to six hours, giving you the chance to really interact and make sense of the material.  Learn More…

Legislative Action Alert – ESEA/NCLB Reauthorization

CSTA’s counterparts at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has been actively representing the voice of science teachers in Washington D.C. This morning they sent out this call to action:

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are currently working to reauthorize (rewrite) No Child Left Behind. Please contact your members of Congress immediately, and ask them to make STEM education a national priority. At the Legislative Action Center of the STEM Education Coalition website, you can send a letter to your elected representatives, asking them to

  • Maintain a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
  • Continue the focus on math and science as required elements of any state’s accountability system.
  • Provide states with dedicated funding to support STEM-related activities and teacher training.

It is urgent that educators take a moment to write to your elected officials, and send this message to colleagues and networks in your school or district.

NGSS: Replacing “Have To” with “Get To”

by Anna Van Dordrecht

The following article was originally posted on March 6, 2015 by the Sonoma County Office of Education in their Exploring NGSS blog. It is republished here with permission from the author.

Now that we’re solidly into March, it’s a good time to take stock of New Year’s resolutions. The hype of January has long since worn off, so any resolutions that are still being kept are clearly important and have a much higher chance of succeeding than they did on January 2.

My resolution this year was—and still is—to examine how often I say “I have to” and, when possible, replace that statement with “I get to.” Although this may sound simple, I admit that I’ve failed on a number of occasions. I’ve been surprised at how hard it’s been to remember and amazed at what a big difference it makes in my outlook when I do.


Learn More…

Science Assessment & Accountability Update – FAQs Included

by Jessica Sawko

On March 31, 2015 participants from the Science Assessment Stakeholder Meetings held in July 2014 were invited to participate in a follow up meeting to provide input on what a formative component, a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Digital Center, should look like for California. This NGSS Digital Center could include formative assessment tools similar to that of the Smarter Balanced Digital Library for ELA and mathematics. This meeting will take place at the end of April 2015. This is very exciting news as it gives some insight to the direction the state may take with the future statewide assessment system to support the Next Generation Science Standards.  Learn More…

Strategies for Assessing Student Understanding in the NGSS Classroom

by Sara Dozier

Like me, you are probably excited about the opportunities that the Next Generation Science Standards offer students and teachers. For the first time in 17 years, our science standards are asking us to engage our students in science learning that is engaging, meaningful and just plain fun. In addition to our excitement, though, there is also some apprehension. Learn More…

Fostering Metacognition Through Assessment

by Jill Grace


When I ponder that word, I am flooded with various – shall I say – feelings. And these feelings are deep-rooted feelings. On one hand, as a teacher, assessment is simply the cornerstone of understanding how my students are doing from beginning to end of instruction. Building a classroom culture where students are expected to have conversations about content provides me with a special window to listen in – are they getting it? I don’t need to give a quiz or a test, I just need to listen. I often look over their shoulders, peering into their personal thinking as they describe what they understood in their science notebook. I assess constantly, daily, by the minute just by being present walking around the classroom. Learn More…

Celestial Highlights for April 2015

by Robert Victor and Robert D. Miller

A predawn total lunar eclipse on Saturday, April 4. (For more on that event, see the March issue of CCS). As many as four planets can be seen at dusk. Many bright stars are gathering in the west before their annual departures later in spring.

Few people may choose to arise early to catch the start of the lunar eclipse on Saturday morning, April 4, when the Moon begins to enter the umbra, or dark central core of Earth’s shadow at 3:16 a.m. PDT. For the next 1.7 hours, progressively more of the Moon will be immersed in Earth’s circular dark shadow, until the start of total eclipse at 4:58 a.m. Even before then, the rusty color typical of the Moon in deep eclipse should be noticed, at least in the lower part of the Moon’s disk, closer to the center of Earth’s shadow. Learn More…

NGSS Statewide Symposia: NGSS Transition Phase – Rollout II

by Laura Henriques

Almost 2,000 of us attended the state’s first round of NGSS workshops. These were two-day symposia held around the state to help district teams of teacher-leaders and administrators learn about Next Generation Science Standards and start to think about what NGSS is, how to plan and think about three-dimensional learning and increase awareness. As the “Rollout I” sessions come to a close (there are two left), “Rollout II” is getting ready to debut.

NGSS Transition Phase Rollout II symposia will again be two full days of NGSS. The sessions for the two days were jointly developed by the consortium of CSTA, California Science Project, K-12 Alliance/WestEd, County Offices of Education and the California Department of Education. The lead presenters for each session will be representatives from these five groups. Learn More…

NGSS March Madness Edition – a Sports Analogy

by Peter A’Hearn

Imagine this scenario:


You sign your daughter up to be on an elementary age basketball team. After several weeks, you ask your kid how they like playing basketball. Your kid says they never play basketball, they run drills. You ask the coach when they will play basketball and the coach says, “They aren’t good enough to play basketball yet. They really don’t have the skills down, they can’t dribble well, shoot well, pass well, and can barely run any plays.” Then you ask when they will be ready to play basketball and the coach answers, “Oh probably in 10 or 12 years they will have learned enough to play the game.” Learn More…

Where Are the Women in STEM? What Can We Do to Support and Retain Them?

by Laura Henriques

Women are far less likely than men to earn pSTEM (physical Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) degrees or work in the field. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it has gotten a bit of press lately. US News and World Reports had an article highlighting a Clinton Foundation Report showing women in developing countries have less access to cell phones (and therefore the internet) than men. This results in decreased access to health care, fewer job options, a lack of flexibility with work and childcare related issues, and a lowered sense of empowerment. That article linked to several other articles about the lack of diversity in STEM fields in the US, the leaky pipeline and more. Learn More…

Call for CSTA Volunteers for 2015/2016


CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things:

  • review and provide input to the state on the new curriculum framework for science – helping to shape the way science will be taught across the state.
  • write letters and provide guidance on legislation that has state-wide implications
  • edit and/or write articles for CSTA’s monthly newsletter
  • select keynote and featured speakers for the annual CSTA conference and provide those speaker’s with guidance on their presentations
  • moderate CSTA’s Facebook Groups
  • and much more!

CSTA relies on its volunteers to do so much for the association and we would not be able to offer the programs and services we do without their support. As educators themselves, the board of directors recognizes what a busy time this is for science educators in California. New standards, new assessments, new funding mechanism, uncertain accountability, and more have us all scrambling to keep up. However, it is during this time of transition that your participation in your association is the most critical. Science teachers voices must be represented at the state level, we must share with each other what we are learning, how we are coping, and we must provide input into developing our own professional learning experiences. Participation on a CSTA committee can help you do that. Learn More…

CSTA Launches Auto-Membership Renewal Option

Starting this month, CSTA one-year and retired members may now select the option to have their membership dues billed automatically to the Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card of choice! We know many of our members want to make sure that their membership is maintained over the years, but that like many things that happen only once a year, we sometimes miss the reminders to renew. That will no longer be a concern for those members who select the option to auto-renew the next time they pay their membership dues.

With automatic renewal, you will continue uninterrupted with membership benefits such as:

  • Updates on NGSS implementation
  • Annual Conference Discounts
  • Enhancement of Your Knowledge & Skills
  • Teaching Tools & Resources
  • Influence of the State Education Policy

So where do you sign up? If you are not currently a member, join today, then select the option to auto-renew on the payment page. If you are currently a member of CSTA, you can select the option to auto-renew the next time your dues renewal notice arrives, or you can contact the CSTA office today and speak with Connie Morrill, CSTA’s membership manager at 916-979-7004.


Pick Your Science Champions; Nominate a CSTA Prizewinner Today

by Valerie Joyner

Among the many rights and benefits bestowed by CSTA membership, it’s easy to overlook our opportunities to nominate science heroes in our lives for awards. We all know science educators (like all teachers) are among the often unsung heroes enriching and improving lives with every day they dedicate to their calling.

Given this truth, it makes sense to seize these chance to reward profound lifelong contributions, to encourage promising science educators starting out in their careers, and to laud the allies we’ve found among organizations and companies supporting science education reform throughout our state. Any current member who has been a member for at least the previous four years may submit nominees who meet the requirements for CSTA’s Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service AwardFuture Science Teacher Award, and more recently the Distinguished Contributions Award. The award details and a list of past winners can be found online. Learn More…

Meet the Candidates for the 2015-2017 CSTA Board of Directors Election

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The slate of candidates for the 2015 – 2017  CSTA Board of Directors election was approved by the CSTA Board of Directors at its March board meeting. The elections will open on April 15, 2015. CSTA members who have a membership valid as of April 1, 2015 are eligible to vote in the election. An email will be sent to those members with an email address on file to vote online. For those members who have opt-ed out of email or don’t have an address on file, they will be sent a ballot in the mail. Learn More…

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Upcoming Events

8:00 am Next Generation Science Standard... @ University of California, San Diego Price Center Plaza
Next Generation Science Standard... @ University of California, San Diego Price Center Plaza
Apr 17 @ 8:00 am – Apr 18 @ 4:00 pm
K-12 Alliance/WestEd, California Science Project, California Science Teachers Association, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and the California Department of Education Presents: Next Generation Science Standards State Rollout Symposium #1 Join science leaders at the first of a[...]
8:30 am Project WET Workshop: San Jose @ Santa Clara Valley Water District
Project WET Workshop: San Jose @ Santa Clara Valley Water District
Apr 18 @ 8:30 am – 3:30 pm
SANTA CLARA EDUCATORS!  Unlock the magic of water and gain a better understanding of its properties, conservation and management in the Santa Clara Valley Water District by joining attending this engaging, hands-on workshop that will[...]
8:30 am Communicating Climate Change Sci... @ University of Southern California Alan Hancock Building
Communicating Climate Change Sci... @ University of Southern California Alan Hancock Building
Apr 25 @ 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
LOS ANGELES EDUCATORS! Join us as the USC-Sea Grant and Heal the Bay host the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Climate Change Team for a day of learning about the basics of climate science, how[...]
8:00 am Next Generation Science Standard... @ San Joaquin County Office of Education, Wentworth Education Center
Next Generation Science Standard... @ San Joaquin County Office of Education, Wentworth Education Center
Apr 27 @ 8:00 am – Apr 28 @ 4:30 pm
Next Generation Science Standards Statewide Rollout Phase 2 - Stockton @ San	Joaquin County Office	of Education, Wentworth Education Center | Stockton | California | United States
The NGSS Statewide Rollout Phase 2 has begun! – Registration is now available: http://goo.gl/nxt8LX. This is a collaborative effort that includes the California Department of Education, California Science Project, California Science Teachers Association, Curriculum and Instruction[...]
3:30 pm LACOE STEM Unit NGSS Webinar 4-2... @ Online
LACOE STEM Unit NGSS Webinar 4-2... @ Online
Apr 28 @ 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
This FREE webinar will be used as a platform to voice your concerns, receive clarifications, and updates on what is going on with NGSS. This is the 2nd webinar of the 2014-2015 Academic Year! Content[...]

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