May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Call to Action – Your Support Is Needed to Make the Revision of the California Science Standards Possible

Posted: Friday, September 2nd, 2011

The time is now to begin the long road to reforming science education in California. In the next few days, Governor Jerry Brown will have the opportunity to sign SB 300 (Hancock), which will provide for the revision of the K-12 academic science content standards. The current standards, adopted in 1998, are out of date and do not include many of the advances in biotechnology and nanotechnology, gene research, environmental issues, or even the reclassification of Pluto as a dwarf planet. Without SB 300, there is nothing in law that requires the standards ever to be reviewed and revised, leaving students and teachers with a set of standards that are inadequate to address and promote the scientific literacy so necessary to return California’s economy to the economic viability of years past.

The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) is encouraged that SB 300 calls for a panel of science experts to utilize the Next Generation Science Standards, being developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and National Research Council, as the basis for their recommendations. We believe that basing California’s new standards on the work conducted by these esteemed national organizations will not only elevate our own standards but will help contain the costs of revising our standards.

For several years, CSTA has urged that a process for the review and revision of the content standards be enacted. The content standards frame every aspect of a student’s public education, defining the content of all instructional materials and assessments as well. When one considers that, the science standards now in effect and which formed the basis of the science instructional materials adopted in 2006, will continue to restrict the science that is taught through 2018—fully 20 years after the standards were adopted,it is clear that now is the time to act by encouraging the Governor to sign SB 300 (Hancock). We doubt that any Californian wants our students to be taught science content that is 20 years old, yet that is precisely the situation we are now confronting because we have not been successful in putting into place a process for the revision of the standards. Although our science standards may have been world class in 1998, they aren’t now, and they certainly won’t be by 2018.

CSTA believes that the time for passage of a bill requiring the review and revision of the content standards is well overdue, and we encourage parents, educators and business leaders to contact the Governor today, encouraging him to sign SB 300 into law.

Letters to the Governor should be addressed to

The Honorable Jerry Brown, Governor
State of California
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

When you write, please cc a copy of the letter to Rebecca Baumann in Senator Hancock’s office, California State Capitol, Room 2082, Sacramento, CA 94248-0001.

The time to act is NOW.

Sincerely,

Rick Pomeroy, CSTA President

 

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.

2 Responses

  1. Jerry,

    We have got to get newer more technologically integrated standards, curriculum and
    instruction. Please sign SB300 into law when it comes to you desk.

    Augie Bakenhus

  2. It goes without saying that California’s Science Standards need updating and revision, however, the STAR assessment program based on those standards remains a critically flawed, multi-million dollar waste of public education funds. The widespread inappropriate use of the science tests by public schools has invalidated the testing data and the purpose of the program. Governor, please sign SB300, but first address the urgent dilemma with STAR which will have to be completely revised anyway with the adoption of Next Generation National Science Standards. How can California afford to keep wasting money?

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LATEST POST

Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. 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 NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.