March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

A Look Back at a Few Highlights of 2016

Posted: Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

The California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs is now a memory. A huge thanks to Jill Grace, 2016 Conference Chair, her planning committee, CSTA staff, volunteers, presenters, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and CSTA members who made this year’s conference a huge success. Heather Wygant, 2017 Conference Chair is working to set up our first planning meeting for next year’s conference in Sacramento, CA.

Not only is the annual California Science Education Conference a great way for the CSTA members to hear inspiring speakers and attend useful pedagogical workshops, it’s also an opportunity for the CSTA Board of Directors to interact more personally with the CSTA membership. These interactions give us insights into the concerns and questions you have about California Science education. While attending several workshops, I took note of responses from participants. Those workshops inspired what follows.

California’s New Science Curriculum Framework:  An Update and Review from the Experts – Presenters:  Matthew d’Alessio, Professor, CSU Northridge; Bryan Boyd, Lead Science Consultant, Instructional Resources Unit, California Department of Education; and Stephanie Gregson, Director, Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division, California Department of Education

As a member of the Science Curriculum Frameworks and Evaluation Criteria Committee (Science CFCC), a member of the CSTA NGSS Committee, and an 8th grade CA NGSS Early Implementer science teacher, I have spent many hours over the past two years reading and discussing the content of the Framework as well as attending Science Subject Matter Committee, Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), and State Board of Education (SBE) meetings commenting on behalf of the CSTA membership. On November 3, the SBE took action to adopt the new Science Curriculum Framework). The conference workshop was intended to inform the greater CA Science education community about the work that has been done as well as next steps. Overall, the information was well received by the several hundred people in attendance and all three presenters took questions from the audience at its conclusion.

Even with the adoption of the Framework on November 3, implementation of the document will continue. The 2017 CA NGSS Rollout Symposia #4 will focus on practical uses of the Framework and CSTA and its partners will work into the future to provide supplementary documents as our understanding of NGSS evolves. You can find the PowerPoint and handouts from this presentation at:

New Assessments on the California Next Generation Science Standards: What to Expect This Spring and BeyondPresenters – Jessica Barr, Educational Administration Division, California Department of Education, Scott Maderer, Educational Testing Service (ETS)

The purpose of the workshop was to update the audience on the progress that has been made over the past year toward developing the new statewide science assessment for California. CSTA has been involved every step of the way, communicating with the CDE Assessment Division and attending the SBE meetings when assessment, and factors that will affect assessment, are on the agenda. Specific agenda items and their topics are listed at the end of this article.

Implementation of the new California Science Test, now called CAST, will begin with a pilot test in Spring 2017.  All 5th and 8th graders will take the test. The High School Pilot Test will be given at all High Schools with each High School assigned a grade level at which to administer the exam. Training Tests will be available in early January 2017, the purpose of which is to familiarize students and teachers with the test format. An alternative test for special needs students is also in the works – the California Alternative Assessment (CAA).  

There are multiple ways for educators to get involved in the development of the new assessments:

  • Item Writing
  • Item Review
  • Data Review
  • Form Review  

For more information on CA Science Assessment:

Small Science Organizations, Networking and Issues – Presenter: Debra Bereki, Science Consultant -This meeting provides a platform for leaders of small science education organizations in California to network and discuss issues.

I attend this workshop each year in order to learn about the challenges and successes of our small organizations around the state and discover how CSTA can help by providing statewide services and representation. One of the main challenges participants mentioned this year was getting their services known to a wider audience. The New CSTA After School Specials membership benefit was something that many were unaware of and yet is a tool that has the potential to inform large audiences.  

After School Specials

  • Goal: Short, informative Professional Development Events  

Free to CSTA Members, $10 for non-members.

  • What You Need to Do: Decide on the location, the presenter, and the presentation
  • CSTA Membership Committee: Handles Advertising and Registration
  • To get started, contact: Lisa Hegdahl: or Mary Whaley:


Agenda items listed on the full meeting minutes from recent SBE agenda items that affect CA Science assessment:

March 9, 2016

  • Item 1: California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress: State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Recommendations for the Expansion of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress System Assessments. (Video starts at 50:00)
  • Item 2:  California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress: Approval of the Grades for Which the California Next Generation Science Standards Summative Assessments Will Be Administered. (Action Taken)  (Video starts at 1:36:40) (CSTA’s Response Letter)
  • Item 3: California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress: Update on Program Activities, including, but not limited to, Smarter Balanced Assessments (Summative, Interim, and Digital Library Resources), Technology, Summative Assessment in Primary Languages Other than English, California Alternate Assessments, California Next Generation Science Standards Assessments, and Outreach Activities (No Action Taken) (Video starts at 3:20:11)

May 12, 2016

  • Item 7: California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress: Approve California Alternate Assessment 2015–16 Student Score Report, Approve California Alternate Assessment Performance Level Descriptors, and Provide an Update on Program Activities Related to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress System. (Action Taken) (Video starts at 1:09:20)
  • Item 8:  Every Student Succeeds Act: Request a Waiver Under Title I, Part A, Section 8401 to Waive Double Testing of Science Requirement. (Action Taken) (Video starts at 2:10) (CSTA’s Response Letter)

July 13, 2016

  • Item 01: California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress: Approve California Next Generation Science Standards Alternate Assessment Concept and Provide an Update on Program Activities Related to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress System. (Action Taken) (Video starts at 20:24) (CSTA’s Response Letter)

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is President for CSTA.

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CSTA Endorses March for Science

Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017

The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.

The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.

There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.

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.

California Science Curriculum Framework Now Available

Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.

For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.

The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.

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.

Call for CSTA Awards Nominations

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. 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.

Call for Volunteers – CSTA Committees

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017


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: 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.

A Friend in CA Science Education Now at CSTA Region 1 Science Center

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.