April 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 8

Western Regional Noyce Conference Bring Together Future Math & Science Teachers

Posted: Monday, December 3rd, 2012

by Laura Henriques

The National Science Foundation provides Robert Noyce Scholarship Grants to numerous universities and colleges to support STEM majors who commit to teach in high need schools. The Noyce Scholarship program is highly competitive. Applicants must have a degree in a STEM field, a high GPA, and demonstrated desire to work with at risk/high need students. Prospective teachers who are selected to be Noyce Scholars get financial and programmatic support as they complete their bachelor’s degree and credential. In return for the financial support they must teach one year for each semester of funding. California has had 62 Noyce programs at 35 different campuses, each of which supports 20-40 students over the life of the grant. Preliminary data suggests that the Noyce Scholars remain as teachers in high need schools long after they have worked off their commitment. What a wonderful investment this is for our state! 

For the past several years, the campuses in the western US have come together for a Western Regional Noyce Conference. In 2008 and 2009 the conference was led by Noyce Leaders at Cal Poly Pomona and CSU San Bernardino. The 2010 conference was hosted by CSU Fresno, and the 2011 conference was hosted by CSU Long Beach. This year Nyoce Scholars went to Tucson, AZ, where the University of Arizona put together another great event. More than 220 participants spent a weekend attending keynote sessions, workshops and networking opportunities. The planning team of Ingrid Novodvorsky, Debra Tomanek and Becky Perez pulled together sessions that addressed topics pertinent to prospect and novice teachers. There were workshops associated with using inquiry in the classroom (for both math and science teachers), lessons about integrating STEM topics, mentoring of new teachers, advice on how to use technology in the classroom, grant writing for the classroom, and ideas about connecting with your students to make learning meaningful and relevant. Most sessions have presentations and handouts posted online. Keynote sessions were similar to Focus Speaker sessions at our CSTA conference and they motivated the teachers in the audience and addressed current issues in the field.

As someone who prepares future teachers, it was exciting to see so many passionate educators starting out on their career path. It bodes well for our profession to see some of our brightest college students deciding to teach and to teach in the schools that need them the most. The meeting space was buzzing with teaching ideas, suggestions on ways to collaborate and thoughts about how to incorporate newly learned information. We look forward to having the California Noyce Scholars become active members of CSTA, and teacher leaders in our state.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and president of CSTA.

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Update on 2015 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)

Posted: Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

For many months our members have been requesting clear information from the state department of education (CDE) regarding the purpose of the “science CSTs” that are being administered this year in grades 5, 8, and 10 and well as how the test scores from those assessments will be used for accountability purposes. The following was excerpted from a letter from the California Department of Education released on April 22:

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress for Science

As educators from across the state begin or continue to implement the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS), questions have been raised regarding the role of the summative science assessments which students in grades five, eight, and ten will participate in during the spring of 2015.

During the transition to the new science standards and assessments, the federally required science assessments in grades five, eight, and ten (i.e., California Standards Tests, California Modified Assessments, and California Alternate Performance Assessment) will continue to be administered until an assessment aligned to the CA NGSS is developed and approved by the SBE. A new assessment is currently under development and scheduled to be operational in 2018–19.

Because the current science tests are not aligned with the new CA NGSS, the results will not be used in any accountability reports; however, the scores will be publicly available. As in prior years, AYP is based only on ELA and mathematics. Science is not included in AYP calculations.

As reported by CSTA previously, API will not be calculated for the 2014/2015 school year. More information about the suspension, what that means for reporting in 2015/2016, review this letter dated March 17, 2015 that was sent to administrators.

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.

Legislative Action Alert – ESEA/NCLB Reauthorization

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

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.

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.

Science Assessment & Accountability Update – FAQs Included

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

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…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

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

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

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…

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and president of CSTA.

Strategies for Assessing Student Understanding in the NGSS Classroom

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

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…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.