May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

2011/2012 Legislative Year Comes to a Close

Posted: Monday, October 1st, 2012

The end of the 2011/2012 legislative year is here and with it come a few changes for education in California. Below is a list of approvals and vetos by Governor Brown on a few key bills that CSTA has been tracking.

Bills Approved:

SB 1200 (Hancock): This is a two part bill. One part of the bill will allow the Superintendent at the State Board to modify the Common Core math standards that were adopted in 2010. A group of experts including teachers will make the recommendations for changes to the Superintendent and there were will two public meetings held on the proposed modifications. Per the language of the bill, the modifications that are recommended to the state board shall:

(1) The rigor of the state common core academic content standards in mathematics is maintained so that all high school graduates are prepared for college and careers, as specified in the common core academic content standards.

(2) All of the common core academic standards developed by the consortium or interstate collaboration set forth in Section 60605.7 are adopted.

(3) One set of standards is adopted at each grade level.

(4) The content standards for algebra I are based upon the common core academic content standards for mathematics.

(5) Redundant mathematics standards are eliminated.

(6) The implementation of standards is improved.

(7) Any technical issues in the standards are resolved.

(8) The modifications amount to no more than 15 percent of the common core academic content standards adopted by the state board.

For a more detailed visit EdSource’s “State Board gets authority to pare back 8th grade math standards”.

The second part of this bill provides for an extension of the timeline for the adoption of new science standards. The original timeline for new science standards was initially outlined in SB 300 (Hancock), which was due to for presentation to the State Board of Education by March 30, 2013 with adoption, revision, or rejection by the State Board due July 30, 2013. The amendment to SB 1200, however, extends these deadlines to July 31, 2013 and November 30, 2013, respectively. This extension is a result of the extension of the timeline for the development of the Next Generation Science Standards. Now anticipated to be in their final form in the spring of 2013. For more information about the Next Generation Science Standards, visit http://www.cascience.org/csta/ngss.asp.

AB 1246 (Brownley): This bill makes several key changes to the textbook adoption process, the first of which would change the textbook adoption cycle from six to eight years. In addition, the state board is currently required to approve the criteria for review and adoption of instructional materials at least 30 months before the materials are actually adopted, this bill would shorten this to only 12 months, greatly reducing the textbook adoption cycle timeline. Finally, the bill would also give school districts increased flexibility in selecting instructional materials that were not adopted by the state board as long as the materials went through a selection review process that includes a majority of classroom teachers and that the materials selected for purchase are aligned with state standards.

SB 1458 (Steinberg): This bill allows and calls for modifications to the elements that make up the Academic Performance Index (API). Beginning in 2016, the results of the achievement tests shall constitute no more than 60% of the value of the index for secondary schools. For primary and middle schools results of the achievement tests shall constitute at least 60 percent of the value of the index. Other modifications that may be considered by the Superintendent and the state board include:

  • the incorporation of the rate at which pupils successfully promote from one grade to the next in middle school and high school, and successfully matriculate from middle school to high school.
  • the incorporation into the index for secondary schools valid, reliable, and stable measures of pupil preparedness for postsecondary education and career.
  • the development and implementation of a program of school quality review that features locally convened panels to visit schools, observe teachers, interview pupils, and examine pupil work, if an appropriation for this purpose is made in the annual Budget Act.

In addition, on or before October 1, 2013, the Superintendent shall report to the Legislature and recommend to the state board for adoption a method or methods for increasing the emphasis on pupil mastery of standards in science and social science through the system of public school accountability or by other means.

For more on this bill visit EdSource’s “Brown signs bill moving API away from standardized tests“.

AB 1521 (Brownley): Adds a section to the Education Code to authorize the State Department of Education, subject to the approval of the state board, to make a primary language assessment available to school districts and charter schools. This assessment would allow school districts and charter schools to assess pupils enrolled in a dual language immersion program, as specified, and who are either nonlimited English proficient or redesignated fluent English proficient. The bill also requires that if a school district or charter school chooses to administer the primary language assessment it must do so at its own expense, and enter into an agreement with the state testing contractor, subject to the approval of the Department of Education.

AB 1967 (Perez): Calls for the state board to ensure that the health and science curriculum frameworks adopted in the next submission cycle include the subject of organ procurement and tissue donation, as appropriate.

Bills Vetoed:

The Governor vetoed two bills that CSTA was tracking, SB 1154 (Walters) and AB 1790 (Hagman). The way the bills were written, they were dependent on the other being passed in order to be effective. In his veto message for SB 1154 the Governor stated: “Providing on-line instructional materials and coursework to pupils in California is an educational goal that I very much share. This bill, however, does not accomplish that goal. Instead it puts unrealistic requirements on California’s businesses that will lead to increased costs of instructional materials.”

Together, the bills would have required that if a publisher offers a printed instructional material or supplemental instructional material in an equivalent digital format, the digital format will cost either the same as, or less than, the printed material. They would have also required printed and digital materials to be offered in an unbundled format to allow for the purchasing of one format or another, or both. It would have also allowed a school district to purchase and use digital instructional materials to create a district-wide online digital database for classroom use consistent with an online security system as mutually agreed on by the publisher and the school district. Publishers or manufacturers would have been required to ensure that printed instructional material submitted for adoption were also available in an equivalent digital format during the entire term of the adoption.

As always CSTA will monitor and update you on new legislation impacting science education during the next legislative year.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.