California Arrangement of Middle School Science Standards – Spurs Production of Rationale Document and Gatherings of Science Teachers
Posted: Thursday, August 1st, 2013
On June 28, 2013, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson released his much awaited recommendation for new science standards for California schools. The proposed standards, entitled Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade 12, are based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) released by Achieve on April 9, 2013. California made only a few minor changes to the clarifying statements in the performance expectations that make up the NGSS and arranged the performance expectations for grades 6-8 into specific grades. The decision to allocate the performance expectations to specific grades, rather than adopt them in a grade ban, was a simple one. California is a K-8 adoption state and as such requires specific standards for those grades.
As a part of their presentation to the State Board of Education on July 10, 2013, CDE and other guest speakers went through a detailed explanation of the care which was taken by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) to arrive at the final recommendation that is being proposed. However, due to the short time between the time the recommendation was posted and the board meeting, the State Board elected to defer making a decision to a future meeting. Their next meeting will be on September 4-5, 2013. The reason for choosing to defer a vote was in large part to allow teachers more time to evaluate the proposed standards. In order to aid teachers in their evaluation, the California Department of Education has produced a document for grades 6, 7, and 8 which articulates the criteria used by the SEP when arranging the standards, the reasoning behind the arrangement including storylines, and explanations of the articulations from elementary and into high school and for each discipline in grades 6, 7, and 8. The document is available on the CDE NGSS website.
The proposed arrangement of the middle school standards has started many conversations around the state and so far, two meetings to discuss the proposed arrangement have been planned in Southern California, and one in Northern California in Sacramento:
- On August 7, CSTA member and middle school teacher Emily Williams is holding a gathering at the South Pasadena Middle School Library. This meeting on will provide information to middle grade science teachers about the arrangement of the performance expectations for grades 6, 7, and 8, and will provide an opportunity for collaborative discussion. This meeting will also be a great opportunity to meet some science education leaders including Kathy DiRanna (CSTA member and the State-wide Director for WestEd’s K-12 Alliance, Kathy worked with the Science Expert Panel which helped place the NGSS standards at each grade), Nikki Chambers (CSTA member and teacher participant in the Science Expert Panel), Anthony Quan (CSTA member and LACOE STEM Consultant), and Jill Grace (CSTA Middle School Director and 7th grade science teacher). Click for more information and to RSVP for this meeting.
- On August 22, Dean Gilbert (CSTA past president and SEP member) of the Orange County Department of Education will host a town hall style meeting that will include a Skype presentation with Dr. Helen Quinn, lead author of the Framework for K-12 Science Education (and keynote presenter at the 2012 CSTA conference). For more information on that meeting, and to RSVP, please click here.
- On Wednesday, August 28, CSTA and the Sacramento County Office of Education will hold an informational and discussion meeting on the middle school arrangement proposed. In attendance will be Rick Pomeroy of UC Davis School of Education (CSTA past president and SEP member), Glen Lusebrink (CSTA and SEP member) a teacher in the Woodland Joint Unified School District, Lisa Hegdahl, 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School and CSTA president-elect, and Phil Romig, Science Curriculum Specialist for the Sacramento County Office of Education. Click here for more information and to register.
Please review both the NGSS for California and the Middle School Arrangement rationale document before attending any of the above meetings. Both documents are available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/ngssintrod.asp.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…