September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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

Posted: 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.

You have probably heard in national news and may even be hearing in your own local school or district some dissent against the Common Core. Much as in other states, legislators in California have put forward bills to stall, prevent, and otherwise allow districts to “opt-out” of implementing the Common Core and associated assessments and revert to the prior set of standards and assessments. Much like the majority of other states (so far), the California legislature did not move these bills forward and the bills have failed to make it out of their respective education committees. The bills include AB 2307 (Donnelly) (failed), AB 1016 (Wyland) (held in committee), and AB 2440 (Hagman) (failed).

Several bills associated with computer science have been receiving support and have been largely successful in moving through the legislative process. In total there are six bills relating to computer science at various phases of the legislative process. AB 1539 (Hagman) (Appropriation’s Suspense file) would call upon the IQC to develop and recommend to the State Board of Education content standards for computer science. AB 2110 (Ting) (Appropriation’s Suspense file) calls upon the IQC to consider incorporating, as appropriate, computer science into other subject area curriculum frameworks when they are revised. The other subject areas called out in the bill include math, science, history-social science, and language arts. AB 5130 (Chau) (set for hearing in the Appropriations Committee tomorrow, May 7, 2014) calls upon the Superintendent of Public Instruction to present to the State Board of Education a recommendation for a model computer science curricula for K-6. AB 1540 (Hagman) (set for hearing in the Appropriations Committee tomorrow, May 7, 2014) would give governing boards of school districts to allow students to take computer science courses at a community college for community college credit. SB 1200 (Padilla) (passed its house of origin and is awaiting action in the Assembly) would require the trustees and would request the regents to develop guidelines for high school computer science courses to be approved for purposes of recognition for admission to the California State University and the University of California, respectively, and would encourage the University of California to ensure that computer science courses that satisfy the mathematics subject area requirements for admission build upon fundamental mathematics content provided in courses that align with the academic content standards developed by the commission. Finally, AB 1764 (Olsen and Buchannan) (passed its house of origin and is awaiting action in the Senate) would allow a school district that requires more than two courses of math as a high school graduation requirement to allow a student to earn a math course credit for successfully completing a “category C” approved computer science course.

CSTA will provide another update in June, please stay tuned to California Classroom Science for updates.

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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.