January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Science Education Policy Update

Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

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NSTA Los Angeles Conference Features Many CA Science Leaders

Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

The early-bird registration rates for the 65th NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles is just days away (ends Feb. 3). And as the early-registration deadline approaches excitement is building for what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of science educators (both California and nationwide) – with attendance expected to reach 10,000 or more. If you have never had the pleasure of attending the NSTA National Conference, I recommend you visit their website with tips for newcomers that describe the various components of the event. A conference preview is also available for download. (more…)

California Requests Hearing on Double Testing Waiver Request

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

Today, the California Department and State Board of Education exercised its option to request a hearing on California’s request for a waiver to avoid double testing of students while the state develops its new science assessment (pilot to commence on March 20, 2017). In its request for a hearing, California requested to postpone the hearing until after the holiday season – rather than within the 30-day window as outlined in statute (which would mean the hearing would need to take place by December 29, 2016).

California re-applied for a waiver request in November 2016 and received a second rejection from the U.S. Department of Education. See U.S. Department of Education Denies 2nd Waiver Request – CA Officials Balk at Rejection and Affirms Commitment to Science Education for more information.

 

U.S. Department of Education Denies 2nd Waiver Request – CA Officials Balk at Rejection and Affirms Commitment to Science Education

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

Updated December 15, 2016

On Tuesday, December 13, 2016 California received a response to its revised science testing waiver application. It was not the one California had hoped for. In its second attempt to obtain a double-testing waiver that would allow California to discontinue the administration of the CST and the suspension from calculating and reporting of student test scores for two years, California clearly outlined the rationale to support the waiver request. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) continued to cite the need to publish science test scores for students in the name of transparency and monitoring student progress. CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl expressed disappointment in the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) decision to deny the waiver request.

“As a 26-year veteran educating 8th graders in California, I am perplexed by the rationale provided by the DOE to continue outdated testing of outdated standards to students who live in a world that has evolved significantly in the last 18 years,” Hegdahl said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst released a joint statement in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s denial of a waiver allowing California to suspend an outdated science assessment and instead give a modernized science test:

“We are deeply disappointed by the U.S. Department of Education’s denial of our waiver request. We reject their insistence that we double-test. We believe the denial of this request harms our students, who will be forced to study science based on state standards adopted in 1998 that are outmoded and not designed for the 21st century.” California educators know better than people in Washington, D.C., how best to serve our students. We have no time to waste when it comes to improving science education. California moves forward, not backward.” (more…)

California State Board of Education Prepares to Take Action on New Accountability System

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko
Updated 9/19/2016

On September 8, 2016, the California State Board of Education (SBE) took action to approve the first phase of the state’s new local/state/federal accountability system. The entire system is by no means complete and will continue to evolve and develop over the next few years. There are many components and a lot of new terms that teachers, parents, administrators, and the general public will need to become familiar with as they begin to explore both the big picture as well as the details of this new system – which the State Board intends to be “an integrated local, state, and federal accountability and continuous improvement system.” This month’s SBE agenda also includes an update on the development of the new science assessment scheduled to be piloted in the spring of 2017. The complete agenda and item attachments can be found on the SBE website. Use this same link to watch the meetings live online on the day of the meeting. (more…)

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

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. (more…)

CSTA Prepares to Provide Feedback to CDE on New Science Curriculum Framework

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

Twenty five CSTA members are volunteering their time to review approximately 1,000 pages of the early draft of the new Science Curriculum Framework to support NGSS instruction in the classroom and provide guidance to publishers of instructional materials. They are reviewing the document and submitting their feedback to CSTA who will represent science educators from across the state at the end of this month, on August 27-28, when the Science Subject Matter Committee will meet. The Science Subject Matter Committee (SMC) is a committee of the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) (formerly known as the Curriculum Commission) and is responsible for reviewing drafts of the framework and considering public feedback and incorporating that as appropriate as well as providing input based on their expertise. They then forward the draft to the full IQC for approval to be released for a 60-day public comment period. (more…)

Legislative and Budget Deadlines Spur Action in Sacramento

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

State_CapitolLast month, Governor Brown made headlines with his proposed 2015-16 budget revision (a full copy is available here) which calls for an additional $6.1 billion in Proposition 98 funding for K-12 and community college education, bringing the total investment for 2015-16 to $83 billion. The proposed budget holds potential to support the implementation of California’s Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), but as currently proposed, a great deal of work will need to be done on the local level to insure adequate investments are made in implementation of new state-adopted standards. This is because the $3.5 billion in funding included in Governor Brown’s budget proposal for new standards implementation is “discretionary.” This means that while the Governor and Legislature are encouraging districts to use the proposed $3.5 billion in funds for professional development, teacher induction to beginning teachers, and the purchase instructional materials and technology to advance the implementation of NGSS, Common Core, and ELD standards, districts will not be required to do so.  (more…)

Computer Based Testing for Science – Coming Soon Plus Sample 2015 Individual Student Reports for 5th and 8th Grade Science CSTs

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

updated May 6, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

On Wednesday, May 6, 2015 the California State Board of Education voted to approve Educational Testing Service (ETS) as the contractor to develop the new science assessments that are required to meet federal testing regulations.  The vote is not without controversy and was preceded by a closed session of the the State Board. As reported in the Sacramento Bee on April 5, Pearson School was dissatisfied with the results of the bidding process and threatened a lawsuit.

Partial view of the sample 5th grade student report. Click the image to access a full copy of the sample report.

Partial view of the sample 5th grade student report. Click the image to access a full copy of the sample report.

Additionally, this week the California Department of Education also released the final version of sample individual student reports that will be sent home to parents this summer. These reports will include the science assessment results in grades 5 and 8. The sample report of the grade 10 life science test has not been posted and CSTA has requested more information about what information this report will contain. (more…)

Science Framework Delay Passes First Committee While Standards Implementation Funding Stalls in Appropriations

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

There is a great deal of positioning and lobbying going on at the state Capitol these days with the projected increase in state revenue, which may translate into as much as $3 billion in additional funding for K-12 education. The question is “how will that be spent?.” Governor Brown is expected to release his revised budget proposal on May 14. The budget will likely give us the answer to this question. CSTA, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), CSLNet, Children Now, TechAmerica, TechNet, Education Trust-West, California Federation of Teachers, and several LEAs agree that $1 billion should be earmarked to fund implementation of new state standards. AB 631 (Bonilla) proposes just that, and while it easily passed the Assembly Education Committee last month, it stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee and was put on suspense. (more…)

State Superintendent Torlakson Visits CSTA President Elect Lisa Hegdahl’s Classroom to Shine a Spotlight on NGSS

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

On April 21, 2015 State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson visited McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA. Galt is in Sacramento County about 30 minutes to the southeast of the city of Sacramento. Why the visit to McCaffrey? To shine the spotlight on the school, district, teachers, and students – all participants in the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. Superintendent Torlakson didn’t come alone, he attracted two local newspaper reporters, two video camera crews, and yours truly.

Elementary teachers Neika Estey (far left) and Leah Wheeler (seated next to Neika), participants in the K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative share their experience with integrating what they have learned thus far into their elementary classrooms.

Elementary teachers Neika Estey (far left) and Leah Wheeler (seated next to Neika), participants in the K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative share their experience with integrating what they have learned thus far into their elementary classrooms.

The day began with a meeting in the school library during which Superintendent Torlakson heard from elementary and middle school teachers in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District actively participating in this first phase of the Initiative: Christa Dunkel, Jenne McGranahan, Christine Neal, Neika Estey, Leah Wheeler, and Lisa Hegdahl (CSTA President-Elect). Also participating in the presentation were Karen Schauer, the district superintendent, Ron Rammer, middle school principal, Barbara Woods, district science coach (CSTA Member), and two 8th grade students, Ariana Pamplona and Nicholas Picazo. Following the meeting, Superintendent Torlakson, the media, and others, in total about 20 people walked to Lisa Hegdahl’s 8th grade science classroom to observe the lesson for the day. (more…)

Science Assessment & Accountability Update – FAQs Included

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

On March 31, 2015 participants from the Science Assessment Stakeholder Meetings held in July 2014 were invited to participate in a follow up meeting to provide input on what a formative component, a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Digital Center, should look like for California. This NGSS Digital Center could include formative assessment tools similar to that of the Smarter Balanced Digital Library for ELA and mathematics. This meeting will take place at the end of April 2015. This is very exciting news as it gives some insight to the direction the state may take with the future statewide assessment system to support the Next Generation Science Standards.  (more…)

State Board Takes First Steps Towards Changes in Accountability, Gov. Brown Includes NGSS Funding in Proposed Budget (Sort of), Curriculum Framework Development Delay Proposed, and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing Hears Input on Teacher Preparation in an NGSS World

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

2015 got off to a very busy start in terms of NGSS implementation at the state level, and CSTA was there to represent the voice of science educators at every turn. The following is a summary of some of the important issues that were addressed in January 2015.

State Board and Accountability

On January 14, 2015 the California State Board of Education had one of what will be many dynamic conversations around the state’s future accountability system. There are many changes to be expected over the coming year with AYP, API, Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP), College and Career Indicators, graduation rates, and much more. CSTA is committed to engaging in all conversations to insure that science is well represented in all of these accountability measures. CSTA provided a written response as well as oral public comments at the meeting advocating for an accountability system that supported all student’s access to a high-quality science education, K-12. (more…)

Help CSTA Honor Excellence – Submit a Nomination for a CSTA Award

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

Every so often we come across a person in our life or career that really inspires us, moves us, or makes us want to be a better person or do a better job. When we meet these people and interact with them, we learn, grow, and thank them for who they are and what they do. If you know someone who fits this bill and has made a significant impact on science education and teaching in California, please consider taking your appreciation one step further by nominating them  for CSTA’s Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award(more…)

Introduction to NGSS: A Paradigm Shift in Teaching & Learning – a Workshop for Educators

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

90 science teachers, coaches, principals, and administrators gathered in Fairfield to participate in a day-long workshop hosted by CSTA and California ASCD on January 7 at the Solano County Office of Education. The workshop’s lunch was generously sponsored by Solano First Federal Credit Union. Our most sincere thanks to Solano First for their most generous support of this important professional learning opportunity. (more…)

Support CSTA and Take the Deduction on Your 2014 Taxes

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

by Jessica Sawko

CSTA is so fortunate to have so many hard-working and dedicated members. CSTA membership dues support the production and distribution of this newsletter, CSTA’s state-level policy activities, including NGSS implementation activities, the CSTA website, and a small portion of dues go to support our state-level legislative activities. 2014 is a special year for CSTA, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the filing to CSTA’s Articles of Incorporation. Many volunteer leaders were involved in that process 50 years ago and to this day it is volunteers that do much of the work of CSTA.

CSTA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and accepts donations to support our leadership programs, such as our leadership event held at the annual conference and designed to help nurture, inspire, and support California’s emerging leaders in science education.

As the end of the year approaches and you consider making contributions to charities and non-profits that support you and your values as a science educator, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to CSTA’s 50th anniversary fund. This fund was established at the beginning of 2014 and the monies donated to this fund support CSTA’s leadership development program. Donors who donate $50 or more will receive a commemorative 50th anniversary pin. Donations to this fund are tax deductible (please check with your tax-preparation specialist). Click here to donate online today.

If a donation to CSTA’s 50th anniversary fund is not a match for you this year, I hope you will consider supporting CSTA as you shop for holiday gifts (and year-round). (more…)

NGSS Implementation Update: State Implementation Plan, New Assessments, LCAPs, and Curriculum Framework

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

There are a lot of moving parts  when it comes to implementing new state standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are no exception. Two weeks ago the California Department of Education (CDE) and State Board of Education (SBE) responded to CSTA’s call to provide clarification regarding the standards that are to be included in a district’s LCAP when addressing State Priority #2. Today and tomorrow the CFCC will convene again with the writers of the NGSS Curriculum Framework to provide feedback to the writers on draft framework chapters and CSTA will be at the meetings to provide input into process. Later this week the SBE will interview candidates for appointment to the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) – the body that will pick up the work to finish the NGSS Curriculum Framework after the CFCC completes its work. Finally, next week the SBE will convene its November meeting on November 13 – 14, 2014. On the agenda for this meeting is a recommendation from CDE that the State Board approve the State Implementation Plan for NGSS – a plan which will lay the groundwork for implementation activities at the state and local level as well as for support providers like CSTA and others. Also on the agenda is a report from CDE’s assessment division with the results of the stakeholder group meetings that were held in July 2014 to inform the planning of the future statewide assessment system for science. Finally the SBE will appoint new members to the IQC. (more…)

NGSS Implementation Update

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Jessica Sawko

The following provides updates on the status of various aspects of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards in California. Topics covered are statewide assessments for science, curriculum framework development, and NGSS professional learning opportunities.

Assessment

July 15 – 18, 2014 two two-day meetings of science education stakeholders will be held in Sacramento to start the process that was set forth in legislation (AB 484) last year to develop new statewide assessment for science that will comply with federal assessment requirements and align with the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools. The participants of the stakeholder meeting are California science teachers, individuals with expertise in assessing English learners and pupils with disabilities, parents, and measurement experts. There will be several CSTA members serving as participants in the stakeholder meetings. Our thanks goes to those members who answered CSTA’s call for volunteers and are committing two days of their summer to participate in these important meetings.

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California Primary Election Results: Torlakson and Tuck Head to Runoff in November

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

Yesterday’s June 3, 2014 California Primary Election included voting for State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI). The results are in and this November 4, 2014 current SPI Tom Torlakson will run against Marshall Tuck. The results of the primary election were 46.9% for Tom Torlakson, 28.6% for Marshall Tuck, and 24.4% for Lydia Gutierrez. Torlakson, while falling short of the majority number of votes to avoid a run-off in November, won the majority vote in all but three counties in California, with Lydia Gutierrez winning the majority in Imperial County and Marshall Tuck earning the majority vote in  Madera and San Diego counties (source: California Secretary of State Website retrieved on June 4, 2014 at 9:18 am). If you would like to know more about the candidates and view a debate, please visit the California State PTA website.

Second Common Core/NGSS Implementation Block Grant Is Still Being Considered

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

updated: June 4, 2014, 9:50 am

A major legislative deadline passed in May – one that requires all bills to be passed out of their house of origin (the Senate or Assembly) in order to be considered viable. In addition to all the activity around the individual bills, the state budget for California is currently being negotiated. Governor Brown released his May budget revision on May 13, 2014. His proposed budget does not include any specific funding for Common Core or NGSS implementation.

The Assembly and Senate Budget Committees have also approved their versions of the budget. The three versions vary considerably with respect to Common Core/NGSS Implementation and broadband infrastructure funding, with the Assembly putting forth the boldest proposal (details are below). The budget will now go to Conference Committee where the Assembly and Senate will work out their differences.  (more…)

Governor Brown’s May Budget Revision Offers Funds for Teacher Pension and LCFF, but Not New Standards Implementation

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

updated 9:10 am, May 14, 2014

Governor Jerry Brown released his revised budget for 2014/2015 this morning. The summary of the budget is available now, the details are also available online. The revision includes $10 billion in new Proposition 98 resources for schools this year, including $4.5 billion to continue the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula.

During the press conference Governor Brown talked about his decision to fund teacher pensions rather than “the string of needs” for education in general. He said “in order to get [students] what they need, they need teachers. Teachers get what they need by having a pension. The pension has to be paid for. You can’t fool people into saying ‘oh, we’re paying a salary, we’ve got health benefits, and you’ve got a pension in 30 years.’ Well you only have a pension in 30 years of you start laying aside money.” He said that his proposal is “taking a big bite” out of the state’s long term obligation.

The budget calls for paying down the debt the state owes to the teacher pension fund CalSTRS. The budget “sets forth a plan of shared responsibility among the state, school districts and teachers to shore up the teacher pension system. The first year’s increased contributions from all three entities are modest, totaling about $450 million. The contributions would increase in subsequent years, reaching more than $5 billion annually. Total contributions today equal 19.3 percent of teacher payroll and will rise to 35.7 percent. This would eliminate the unfunded liability in approximately 30 years.” (p. 4, Governor’s Budget May Revision 2014-2015) (more…)

California Legislature Holds Fast to Its Support for Common Core and Moves Forward Several Bills Relating to Computer Science

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

With several legislative deadlines in May, bills having been and will be moving quickly through their various committees and houses of origin. CSTA has been active this year in working to secure additional funding for NGSS implementation in the form of support for professional development, technology, and instructional materials. The money for the NGSS implementation would once again be included in a proposed one-time funding block grant to support new standards implementation, including Common Core, NGSS, and ELD standards. AB 2319 (Bonilla) proposes $2.2 billion in one-time funding to support the above mentioned standards implementation ($1.5 billion) and broadband internet investment ($700 million) for LEAs in need. AB 2319 is scheduled for hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. In the meantime, efforts are being made to encourage Governor Brown to include the language of AB 2319 in his May Budget Revision expected out later this month. CSTA has been working with Assemblywoman Bonilla’s office to insure that the language of AB 2319 is explicit in its support for NGSS. The current version of the bill does just that. (more…)

Next Generation Science Standards Update: Looking Forward to 2014

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

2014 will be a very busy year for the Next Generation Science Standards in California. On November 6, 2013, the State Board of Education took action on the issue of the middle school learning progression that they had left undecided at their September 2013 meeting. Their decision was to accept the revised recommendation that California adopt the integrated model as developed by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) as the preferred model for California middle grades science instruction, and to reconvene the SEP  to develop a discipline specific model based on the domain specific model in Appendix K. The SEP is meeting on December 4 and 5 to begin this task. Once the SEP completes their work (estimated March 2014) school districts will be able to evaluate both – and choose between the integrated and discipline-specific models based on which they think will best serve their students. No further State Board action will be required to adopt the alternative discipline-specific arrangement. I encourage you to read NGSS for Middle Grades: Tips for Implementation – Step 1, Don’t Rush for tips and information.

2014 will bring a number of opportunities for science teachers to become involved in the NGSS implementation process: (more…)

IQC Removes Recommended Minutes from Draft ELA/ELD Curriculum Framework

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

The California Department of Education and the Instructional Quality Commission are currently in the midst of developing the new ELA/ELD Curriculum Framework to facilitate implementation of the Common Core standards. This curriculum framework, like all other subject matter curriculum frameworks, provide guidance to teachers, administrators, and parents on how a standards-based curriculum is implemented in the classroom. In addition, the framework provides guidance to developers of instructional materials. Chapter 12 of the draft framework included recommended “daily time periods intended to set levels of content and curriculum for publishers of instructional materials.” (p. 18) While these minutes were provided as a recommendation to instructional material developers, rather than as a mandate of instructional minutes in ELA. CSTA joined many other subject matter and educational organizations in their concern that these recommendations could ultimately be translated by administrators and others as the minimum recommended times for instruction. (more…)

NGSS in California Update

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

On September 4, 2013 the California State Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools. The board adopted grade specific standards for grades K-5 and grade span standards for grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. During its meeting this Wednesday, November 6, 2013, the State Board of Education will take up the issue of how to arrange the standards in grades 6-8 (see Item #6). Based on letters and emails received along with public comment provided during the September meeting, it is clear that there is a great deal of division in the science education community regarding how best to arrange the standards for middle school science. (more…)

Governor Brown’s Signs Key Education Legislation – Updated 5:00 pm, 10/3/13

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

Updated 5:00 pm, October 3, 2013

For the past few months CSTA has been closely tracking the progress of two key education bills, SB 300 (Hancock) and AB 484 (Bonilla). On October 2, 2013, Governor Brown signed both of them.

SB 300 authorizes the commencement of the development of the new curriculum framework for science based on the recently adopted Next Generation Science Standards. The timeline set forth in the bill calls upon the State Board of Education to adopt the new framework by January 31, 2016. This means that work to produce the framework will commence sometime towards the end of this year. Without the passage of SB 300, work on a new science framework would not have been able to commence until the 2015/2016 school year. In addition to starting the framework development process, SB 300 requires that the new science framework include English language development strategies, and strategies to address the needs of pupils with disabilities.

AB 484 is a much larger bill that recently received Federal attention. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released a statement on September 9, 2013, threatening to withhold funding from California if AB 484 was passed in the latest iteration. (more…)

State Board Adopts NGSS – Delays Decision on Middle School – Now What?

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

A new era of science education in California is now in the horizon. For many years CSTA has been advocating for new, high-quality science education standards that emphasize depth of understanding over surface knowledge, engage students in doing science, and foster critical thinking, and last month, those many years of hard work finally paid off. At approximately 4:00 pm on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 the California State Board of Education (SBE) voted unanimously to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for California. The vote was followed by an outburst of applause and cheers from those in the audience.

The matter of the Next Generation of Science Standards for California is not completely settled. (more…)

State Board to Consider Adoption of New Science Standards on July 10

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

On July 10 State Superintendent Tom Torlakson will present to the State Board of Education his recommendation for new science standards for California. Released on Friday, June 28, the proposed standards are essentially the Next Generation Science Standards that were released by Achieve in April, with a few modifications to the clarifying statements, and with the assignment of the middle school performance expectations to specific grades. The proposed standards, known as the “Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade 12“, are available on-line at http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/ngssstandards.asp. The standards are organized by both Disciplinary Core Ideas (Life, Earth and Space, and Physical Science) and by Topic (chemical reactions, structure and function, or space systems).

The arrangement of the middle school standards proposed by Achieve into specific grades was work done by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) that was formed by the Superintendent to advise him on the new standards. All meetings of the SEP were open to the public. CSTA had several representatives on the panel. For more information about the guiding criteria used by the SEP as well as a roster of members, please view the complete State Board Agenda Information Item(more…)

SB 300 and AB 484 Pass from Education Committees to Appropriations

Friday, June 28th, 2013

by Jessica L. Sawko

On June 26, two important bills were passed through the Senate and Assembly Education Committees. SB 300 (Hancock) which will allow for work on a new science curriculum framework based on the new science standards (anticipated adoption November 30, 2013, or sooner) to be completed by November 30, 2015. Without this bill work would not be able to even begin on the curriculum framework until July 1, 2015 – nearly two years after the adoption of new standards. The billed passed the education committee with ease. CSTA thanks Senator Hancock’s office for involving CSTA in the process and we look forward to seeing this bill through to the end. (more…)

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