January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

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:  https://guidebook.com/guide/72163/event/14632472/

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: lhegdahl@galt.k12.ca.us or Mary Whaley: mwhaley@mbayaq.org


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 Past-President of CSTA.

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Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.



MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. 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.

Find Your Reason to Engage

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Jill Grace

I was recently reflecting on events in the news and remembered that several years ago, National Public Radio had a story about a man named Stéphane Hessel, a World War II French resistance fighter, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and contributor to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The story focused on a book he had published, Time for Outrage (2010).

In it, Hessel makes the argument that the worst attitude is indifference:

“Who is in charge; who are the decision makers? It’s not always easy to discern. We’re not dealing with a small elite anymore, whose actions we can clearly identify. We are dealing with a vast, interdependent world that is interconnected in unprecedented ways. But there are unbearable things all around us. You have to look for them; search carefully. Open your eyes and you will see. This is what I tell young people: If you spend a little time searching, you will find your reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference. ‘There’s nothing I can do; I get by’ – adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage.  Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as is our freedom to engage.”

His words make me take pause when I think of the status of science in the United States. A general “mistrust” of science is increasingly pervasive, as outlined in a New Yorker article from the summer of 2016. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.