September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. 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.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Cal

This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. 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.