May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Are You Prepared to Participate in the Discussions?

Posted: Saturday, August 20th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

I recently found myself a participant in two separate conversations regarding topics of which all California teachers of Science should be knowledgeable.  One was in regards to the current status of the California Standards Tests (CSTs) and the other was in regards to High School course structures in light of the new California assessment for Science.  As many of us will attend district, school, and department meetings in preparation for the new school year, updating our knowledge about the most recent decisions that will affect California Science education will be time well spent.

California Standards Tests (CSTs)

gravityassessmentOn May 12, 2016, the State Board of Education approved the elimination of assessments based on the 1998 Science Content Standards assessments which includes the California Standards Tests, California Modified Assessment, and California Alternate Performance Assessment, and delegated authority to the State Board of Education President, Michael Kirst, along with State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, to submit a letter to the U.S. Department of Education requesting federal waiver authority to not double test or report individual student scores for the new CA NGSS summative assessments while conducting pilot testing and field testing.

Additional Resources:

NGSS Science Assessment

Correct logo- all three dimensions are “content!”

On March 9, 2016, the California State Board of Education (SBE) approved the grades for which the CA NGSS summative assessments will be administered and the development of three online CA NGSS summative assessments to meet the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act and the California Education Code.  The assessment design includes:

  • Grade five assessment, consisting of grade five performance expectations and matrix sampling of performance expectations from kindergarten through grade four;
  • Grade eight assessment, consisting of middle school (grades six through eight) performance expectations;
  • Grade ten, eleven, or twelve assessment, consisting of high school performance expectations.

In addition, the SBE authorized the California Department of Education (CDE) to begin work with the testing contractor, Educational Testing Service, for the test design that has been proposed. The SBE also requested that the CDE propose a transition plan for ending the current CSTs as the work moves forward, and provide the SBE with updates.

Science Assessment Design Summary

Design Summary Table as presented by CDE on March 9, 2016. Table extracted from the item presentation file available at

Design Summary Table as presented by CDE on March 9, 2016. Table extracted from the item presentation file available at

Additional Resources:

  • California Classroom Science Article on California NGSS Summative Assessment Design Plan
  • March 2016 SBE Agenda  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.

Draft Science Framework for California Public Schools

The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) and the California State Board of Education (SBE) are currently holding the 2nd and last 60-day public review period of the Draft Science Framework for California Public Schools .  The public review period will continue through August 29, 2016. All comments should be submitted to . Comments may be submitted in any format, but if you are seeking revisions to the draft it is recommended that you include the chapter, page, and line number(s), the text as it is currently written in the draft, and the exact language of the suggested change.  The curriculum framework provides guidance for implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. Please consider providing input for one or more chapters or appendices.

Additional Resources:

Schedule of Significant Events for the Science Framework for California Public Schools

State Accountability Plan

LCAPThe California SBE is close to approving a statewide accountability plan for districts that evaluates district successes using multiple measures instead of an overall score reduced to a single number.  Districts and other stakeholders will be able to see in which areas they are excelling and those that need improvement.  On July 13, 2016, the SBE continued its discussion about the state and local measures of progress for California’s new school accountability system. In addition to scores on standardized tests in English and math, schools will be held accountable for students’ college and career readiness, proficiency for English learners, graduation rates, chronic absenteeism, suspension rates and school climate, basic conditions at a school, implementation of academic standards, and parent engagement.  

CSTA has been working diligently with the CDE and SBE to strategically and explicitly include Science education as part of the state’s accountability plan.  For the complete CSTA response to the July 13, 2016 SBE Agenda Item 2 Click Here.   Some of the recommendations include:

  • When they become available, the new statewide science assessment results should be incorporated into the state level indicators of student performance.
  • The high school science assessment should be incorporated into the College and Career Indicator (CCI) along with the grade 11 ELA and Math assessments.  
  • The inclusion of a K-8 measure of CCI and options relating to reporting on master schedules for elementary course taking as well as evidence of sufficient student outcomes across a broad course of study.

Additional Resources:

Be assured that CSTA will continue to keep its members updated on these and other issues as more information becomes available.  To discuss these topics with other educators across the state who are grappling with how they will affect their districts, schools, and classrooms, consider joining one of the CSTA Facebook groups.  Join a conversation, ask questions, or post a tip.


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.

One Response

  1. Lisa,

    Thanks for the article. It lays out the issues clearly for me and brings me right back up to date.


Leave a Reply


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:

Please contact Rosanne Luu at 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…

Powered By DT Author Box

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…

Powered By DT Author Box

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.