January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

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

Posted: 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.

Science Assessment Update

On pages 5-7 of item 4 (first item of the day on September 8, 2016) you will find the update on the development of the California Science Test (CAST) and the California Alternate Assessment for Science (CAA for Science). Here they are verbatim (with emphasis and links added):

Science Waiver—Double Testing Waiver

The CDE and SBE requested a two-year waiver of Sections 1204(j)(3) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001. California students in applicable grade levels will participate in full-census pilot testing and field testing of new state assessments during the 2016–17 and 2017–18 school years. The waiver requested permission to not double test or report individual scores for the new California Science Test (CAST) and the California Alternate Assessment for Science (CAA for Science) while conducting pilot and field testing of the CAST and the CAA for Science. California has not yet received a determination from the ED to waive the double testing of the science requirement.

Update on the Development of the Pilot Test for the California Science Test

In March 2016, the SBE approved the CAST general assessment design. The CDE, in collaboration with ETS, California science teachers, and stakeholder input, proceeded with planning the next phase of the test development. The pilot test will be administered to all general education students in grades five and eight, and a sample of high school students.

The purpose of the spring 2017 pilot test administration is to:

  • Test the performance and viability of newly-developed California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS)-aligned items, including technology-enhanced items that involve the use of dynamic stimuli and other types of new media (e.g., simulated experiments); and
  • Test the functionality of the assessment delivery platform, including its embedded accessibility features, with special attention paid to the system’s rendering of custom interaction items. 

An Item Writer Training Workshop was conducted in Sacramento on April 20 and 21, 2016. Participants at this training (science educators from across California) were trained by ETS science content and measurement experts on how to write CA NGSS-aligned test items and tasks. Items developed by the trained writers will be used on the 2017 pilot tests and future tests. Item development activities for the 2017 CAST pilot will continue through the end of September. In October, a group of California educators (approximately 15 science teachers) will meet to review performance tasks and scoring rubrics.

The administration timeline for the CAST includes the spring 2017 pilot test, the field test in spring 2018, and the first operational testing in the 2018–19 academic year.

Update on the Development of the Pilot Test for the California Alternate Assessment for Science

In July 2016, the SBE approved the conceptual design for the CAA for Science. The approval of this design allowed the CDE to begin the work on the development of the pilot plan and the materials for the spring 2017 pilot test administration.

ETS is working on modifying CA NGSS-aligned performance tasks to meet the specific needs of the targeted student population. Each embedded performance task will be aligned with the Core Content Connectors and originate from several resources recommended by members of the concept design team. ETS will collaborate with the CDE on the embedded performance task development in order to have these materials ready for review. A group of California educators, both science teachers and special education teachers, will meet in the fall to review tasks and scoring rubrics.

Digging Deeper: If you would like to learn more about the proposed design for the new CAST, I recommend you make plans to attend the 2016 California Science Education Conference. CDE and ETS will present a workshop “New Assessments on the California Next Generation Science Standards: What to Expect This Spring and Beyond” on Saturday, October 22. More information and registration is available at conference.cascience.org. Another resource is a webinar hosted by Anthony Quan of the Los Angeles County Office of Education. This webinar about the new CAST design was held in March 2016. An archive is available online.

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Accountability System

LCFF and LCAP are now well integrated into our education lexicon here in California. Soon to be added, if you haven’t mastered them already will be LCFF evaluation rubrics, state indicators, performance standards, local performance indicators, technical assistance and intervention, and statements of model practice among many others. I recommend you read EdSource’s State board poised to take new direction in school accountability by John Fensterwald (September 5, 2016) for a summary of what the board will address later this week. The focus of this article is on where you can find science in this new system, how it will be treated, and what to watch out for.

State Indicator: Academic Indicator

This indicator will be the one most familiar to California’s as it will be made up of test scores. The difference between this indicator and that of the former system is that the indicator will incorporate both performance and student growth (once that information is available. The other difference is that this indicator will only be made up of assessments in grades 3 -8, the 11th-grade SBAC having been moved to the College/Career Indicator (see below).

Where you find science: The new science assessment (CAST) will be included after the test becomes operational and after the results collected from the assessment have been evaluated for how to best include them in the system.

How science is treated: In a way, it holds a special place. It is currently in the system as a sort of “placeholder.”

What to watch out for: As the system develops and we learn how assessment results will be used and/or weighted in the system, and as operational CAST results become available CSTA will work with CDE and SBE to make sure that how science is incorporated in the future is done so in such a way that is fair, equitable, and supportive of science education.

State Indicator: High School Graduation Rate Indicator

Where you find science: California requires two years of science for high school graduation.

How science is treated: There are no special considerations for science (or any other subject matter) within the indicator itself – the only disparity is within the state graduation requirement itself, which remains unchanged.

What to watch out for: Many schools and districts have a three-year high school science graduation requirement. With graduation rates becoming a part of the accountability system is there a risk that those schools and districts whose graduation requirements exceed state requirements will lower them to match the state – with the aim of increasing their graduation rates.

State Indicator: College/Career Indicator

This indicator will evolve over the next new years as more data becomes available. At this time, the indicator will have four “status” indicators: well prepared, prepared, approaching prepared, and not prepared. The well prepared status will not be available the first year as further review and data are required. A copy of the proposed model is available here.

Where you find science: Both the prepared and approaching prepared status require a high school diploma (see notes re: high school graduation indicator above). In addition to a high school diploma a student must also have met other criteria, including passing scores on AP  and IB exams, completion of course that meet UC a-g, and/or CDE Pathway completion (which may include science depending on the pathway).

How science is treated:  It is treated equally with other subjects in terms of AP and IB exams (no preference on subjects for these is given in the proposed criteria). Science is part of the requirements for a high school diploma, and lab science makes up the “d” of the UC a-g courses. Where science is missing is in the assessments. The current model includes performance on the 11th grade ELA and math assessments (more commonly known as Smarter Balance or SBAC) as one of the addtional criteria to be met in order to qualify as “approaching prepared” or “prepared.” The high school science assessment is not currently listed for inclusion.

What to watch out for: Performance on the high school science assessment may become a part of this indicator after scores and more information is available. It is not currently on the list of items to be explored further, however as the future science assessment was tagged for future inclusion in this new accountability system earlier this year, it may land here alongside the high school SBAC assessment.

Local Performance Indicator: Implementation of State Academic Standards

The status for this indicator (currently “met,” “not met,” “not met for 2 or more years”) will be arrived at via a self-assessment tool that has yet to be developed.

Where you find science: The new science standards, more commonly referred to at the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) are one of the state-adopted standards that schools and districts will be asked to report on.

How science is treated: This is TBD – until the self-assessment tool is available. Based on information provided in the SBE agenda item, it would appear that there is intent for the equitable treatment of state standards. Sample prompts provided in the item include: “How would you rate the strength of your district’s progress in implementing California’s new standards in the following areas?” and “How would you rate the preparedness of the following district and school staff to implement California’s English language arts, English language development, mathematics, and science standards?”

What to watch out for: As this is still very much a work in progress, there is nothing specific to watch out for. CSTA will participate via the stakeholder process in the development of the self-assessment tool in order to ensure science is properly represented.

Local Performance Indicator: Appropriately Assigned Teachers, Access to Curriculum-Aligned Instructional Materials, and Safe, Clean and Functional School Facilities 

This indicator will measure LEA progress in meeting the Williams settlement requirements and is proposed to be qualified as “met,” “not met,” “not met for 2 or more years.”

Where you find science: Look for science in appropriately assigned teachers and access to curriculum-aligned instructional materials.

How science is treated: No differently than any other subject.

What to watch out for: Nothing specific at this time.

Local Performance Indicator: Parent Engagement

As described in the item, the proposed standard for this indicator is that and LEA annually measures its progress in seeking input from parents in decision making and promoting parent participation in programs and subsequently reporting results to its governing board, stakeholders, and the public.

Where you find science: This will be based principally on local data and may include a self-assessment tool or involve selecting local measures from a menu to be included in a web-based interface and reports to the governing board. While none of the example measures in the item offer anything relating to subject-specific content, it may be possible that local measures could include participation in events such as Family Science Night, Science Fairs, or other similar and yet to be developed events that look to engage parents in science at the school. For example: Do all schools outreach to local community to engage parents and community in science (ex: community science night, partnerships with community members for job shadows/project investigations, etc)? Is support of science and STEM electives a regular topic at school meetings that involve parents?

How science is treated: No differently than any other subject.

What to watch out for: Nothing specific at this time. Perhaps the only thing would be the interpretation of parent engagement, which may overlook the value that certain programs at a school may have in promoting parent engagement.

Local Performance Indicator: School Climate

The proposed standard for this indicator is for the LEA to administer a local climate assessment at least every other year to obtain a measure of perception of school safety and connectedness. Similar to the Parent Engagement Indicator, the outcomes of this survey would be reported to a LEA’s governing board, stakeholders, and the public.

Where you find science: Nowhere explicitly, however, CSTA has a few suggestions for ways to incorporate science into school surveys in such a way as to gauge the overall culture of the school to support all subject matters, including science. Two are: does the LEAs offer access to electives, in addition to the state required science curriculum, that support science and/or STEM enrichment that are reflective of the local community (interaction with local professionals and informal science institutions inspire the focus of the elective)? And does student participation reflects the diversity and gender of the school district?

Next Steps

As always, CSTA, with the support of its members, will be present at this month’s SBE meeting to advocate for equitable accountability for science in a way that relies not solely on test scores, is consistent with our position statement, and seeks to promote high quality science education.

Over the coming weeks and years, the California Department and State Board of Education will continue its work to develop, add to, fine tune, and evolve this new system. Their work will be informed by actions at the Federal level and by the many stakeholders, including CSTA, who are engaged in this process every step of the way.

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

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California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

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.

Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

OVERVIEW
Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.

REGISTER

http://bit.ly/ACCELERATINGINTONGSS

DATES & LOCATIONS
MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.