May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

At May 2016 Meeting State Board of Education Responds to Advocacy Efforts Around NGSS

Posted: Friday, May 20th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

The May 11-12 meeting of the California State Board of Education (SBE) addressed three items of great interest to science educators and others who are committed to the successful implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards. (CA-NGSS). The items included the selection of key indicators to be incorporated into the new accountability system under development (Item 2), revisions to the LCAP template (Item 3), and approval of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) plan to apply for a waiver from the federal government to no longer administer the science CST/CMA/CAPA beyond the spring 2016 administration (Item 8). The State Board took action on the first and last of these three items, leaving edits to the LCAP template to be worked on for action at a future meeting.

Trish Williams, State Board of Education Member, NGSS Liaison

Trish Williams, State Board of Education Member, NGSS Liaison

Through the strong support of state board member Trish Williams, and with a tremendous advocacy effort by your very own CSTA, in collaboration with Children Now, the Education Trust-West, the California School Boards Association (CSBA), the California State PTA, K-12 Alliance, California Science Project, California Chamber of Commerce, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the State Board departed from the CDE recommendation in the agenda item and approved an alternate motion that, among other things, will incorporate future statewide science summative assessment test scores into a key indicator of student performance along with results from the grade 3-8 and 11 ELA and math assessments, commonly known as Smarter Balance, or SBAC. More information about the SBE’s action can be found here. CSTA’s President Lisa Hegdahl was in attendance and represented CSTA during the public comment period. A complete copy of CSTA’s letter to the SBE in response to the accountability item is available here (the attachment including the list of more than 580 petition signers was removed for size purposes).

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CSTA is very grateful to all of our petition signers and those that helped to gather signatures on our “Make Science Matter” petition. CSTA will continue to work to develop and propose measures and other indicators of accountability that are supportive of science education at local and state levels. For now, we are celebrating our success in moving from a proposal that didn’t include science at all and “double counted” ELA and math tests to one that more equitably includes all statewide summative test scores (and only once).

Ray Pietersen, Science Program Specialist for the Elk Grove USD (and CSTA member) presents during public comment providing an "on the ground" perspective of how continued use of the CST sends mixed messages to parents and teachers and to encourage the SBE to approve the waiver application.

Ray Pietersen, Science Program Specialist for the Elk Grove USD (and CSTA member) presents during public comment providing an “on the ground” perspective of how continued use of the CST sends mixed messages to parents and teachers and to encourage the SBE to approve the waiver application.

The item that passed with little discussion and with support from stakeholders was Item 8 – the approval to seek a waiver from the Federal government to not report science test scores for two years. With this waiver approved, CDE can move forward with its plan to no longer administer the science CST/CMA/CAPA and in its place administer pilot and field tests designed for assessing the California Next Generation Science Standards in 2016/2017 and 2017/2018, respectively. More information about the assessment design can be found in our March 2016 issue of this newsletter.

CSTA President and 8th Grade Science Teacher Lisa Hegdahl presents during public comment to the State Board of Education on May 11, 2016.

CSTA President and 8th Grade Science Teacher Lisa Hegdahl presents during public comment to the State Board of Education on May 11, 2016.

CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl also represented CSTA and the Make Science Matter petition signers when she addressed the SBE during public comment on Item 3. She presented CSTA’s recommendations for making the requirement that Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) address the implementation of CA-NGSS under state priority #2 (implementation of state standards) as well as other priority areas that address student performance and access to a broad course of study. CSTA also requested that the SBE provide additional guidance to County Offices of Education, who are charged with approving LCAPs, on the need to check for inclusion of CA-NGSS in LACAPs. Revisions to the LCAP template will be proposed at a future SBE meeting.

If you would like to see the full board discussion on each of these items, the video archive is available on the SBE website:

  • Item 2: Key Indicators for Accountability
  • Item 3: LCAP Template
  • Item 8: Science CST Waiver

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

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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.