September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

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. (more…)

2017 Award Winners Announced!

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

by Lisa Hegdahl

Each year, the California Science Teacher Association’s Awards Committee has the honor of selecting the year’s Award winners from a slate of talented candidates. CSTA’s awards program solicits award nominations from the CSTA membership and the Board of Directors. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. (more…)

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

(more…)

California Science Curriculum Framework Now Available

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.

For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.

The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.

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.

(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…)

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces California Teachers of the Year

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today selected five outstanding educators as the 2017 California Teachers of the Year.

“I am pleased to honor five dedicated and hardworking teachers who use their creativity and talents every day to make a huge difference in their classrooms,” Torlakson said. “These inspiring and innovative teachers enrich the lives of our students while helping them to succeed in 21st century careers and college. These teachers represent the best of their profession and serve as great examples.” (more…)

California Science Assessment Update

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

updated January 13, 2017

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.) (more…)

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

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

John Keller

John Keller

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.” (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…)

CDE Reveals and State Board Approves California’s NGSS Summative Assessment Design Plan

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl and Jessica Sawko

After many months of collaboration with NGSS experts, assessment experts, other NGSS-adoption states, CSTA, science teachers, its testing contractor Educational Testing Service (ETS), and other stakeholders, the California Department of Education (CDE) presented its proposed design plan for the California Next Generation Science Standards General Summative Assessment. After approximately two hours of presentation and discussion, the State Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the design plan – allowing the development process to proceed on schedule toward the target of operational assessments in 2018/2019. The full proposal can be accessed from the agenda posted on the State Board of Education website – look for Item 2. A summary of the plan is posted on the CSTA website at http://www.cascience.org/csta/ngss_assessment.asp. (more…)

RAFT Collaborates With New Teacher Center on Science-Focused Professional Development Program for Bay Area Teachers

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Texas Instruments and Tech CU Support new Middle School NGSS Leadership Alliance Program

Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT) has partnered with New Teacher Center (NTC) to strengthen science education in the Bay Area by creating a professional development program for lead teachers in the Evergreen, Franklin-McKinley, Mt. Pleasant, and Oak Grove School Districts, all part of San Jose’s East Side Alliance.

This new Middle School Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Leadership Alliance program will support 25 middle-school science “Teacher Leaders” in strengthening their leadership skills and building their confidence in using hands-on learning in science classrooms. (more…)

Board Plans to Align State Accountability System with LCFF Priorities

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

by California State Board of Education

The California State Board of Education (SBE) moved forward its plans to align the state accountability system with educational priorities outlined in the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) legislation.

The legislation that established the state’s new school funding formula laid the foundation for a corresponding new state accountability system by outlining eight broad priorities for student and school success. These priorities include student achievement and engagement, parental involvement, implementation of state standards and school climate. The board is working to shift from an outdated accountability system based solely on test scores to a new system that includes additional state and local measures to assess progress. (more…)

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Congratulates California Math and Science Teachers Receiving Presidential Honors

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated two California teachers who are among the 108 educators nationwide recently announced by President Barack Obama as recipients of the 2013 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The California science awardee is Scott Holloway, a college prep and Advanced Placement physics teacher at Westlake High School in the Conejo Valley Unified School District. The California mathematics awardee is Marianne Chowning-Dray, who teaches Algebra II/Trigonometry and Advanced Placement Calculus BC at Eastside College Preparatory School, an independent school in East Palo Alto. (more…)

California STEM Learning Network Launches Policy Brief “Science Education and Local Control” and LCAP Toolkit for STEM Advocates

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Chris Roe

The California STEM Learning Network and the Lawrence Hall of Science have partnered to create a new toolkit to help educators, parents, students, community partners, and business leaders participate in the development of their school district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). (more…)

2015-17 CSTA Board of Directors Election Results

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

CSTA is pleased to announce the results of the 2015-2017 Board of Director elections. The winners of the election are below. CSTA thanks all candidates and members for their participation in the elections. These directors terms will begin on July 1, 2015 and conclude on June 30, 2017.

President-Elect

Jill Grace

Jill has a broad teaching background that provides a common experience between herself and CSTA’s members. She has been a middle school science teacher for ten years and prior to that she was an elementary science specialist. Outside of the classroom, she has spent a significant amount of her time working in teacher professional development. For the past two years, Jill has served as the Middle School/Jr. High School Director on the CSTA Board of Directors. (more…)

Kathy DiRanna Honored with Outstanding Leadership In Science Education Award

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Kathy DiRanna

Kathy DiRanna

The Outstanding Leadership in Science Education Award is a prestigious award that recognizes and honors a National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA) member, who through their professional work, has demonstrated outstanding leadership in science education at the school, district, county, regional, and/or national level.

This award was presented at the NSELA breakfast, held during the annual NSTA National Conference in Chicago on March 12, 2015. The award is accompanied by a check for $1,000 and a plaque donated by Pearson. 

Kathy DiRanna is a lifetime member of CSTA and is well known in the science education community both here in California and nationwide. She has educated and inspired many science teachers throughout her career. CSTA is very pleased to share the news of this honor bestowed upon one of the great minds in science education in this state. The following was provided by NSELA announcing Kathy as the 2015 recipient of the Outstanding Leadership in Science Education Award. (more…)

California State Board of Education Approves Suspension of State’s Accountability Measurement System

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

SACRAMENTO— State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the State Board of Education voted unanimously to suspend the Academic Performance Index (API) for the 2014-15 school year (more…)

State Board to Vote on Suspension of API for 2014-2015

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The California State Board of Education will vote on the Public School Accountability Act (PSAA) Committee’s recommendation to suspend the calculation of the Academic Performance Index (API) for a second year (more…)

$250 Million Available in Pathway Grants

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today invited school districts and community colleges to apply for $250 million in California Career Pathways Trust grants for programs that provide skills and practical experience to help students prepare for success in college and careers.

“This program is a great example of teamwork among educators and employers,” said Torlakson. “By giving students a taste of the working world before they graduate, these programs motivate and excite students, reduce the drop-out rate, and increase the college attendance rate.” (more…)

2014 Excellence in Environmental Education Awards Presented to Non-Formal Science Educators and Science Fair Students

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

by Ray Ng

The California Environmental Education Foundation (CEEF) presented the 2014 Excellence in Environmental Education awards to two non-formal science educators at the California STEM Symposium on September 22 in San Diego.

CEEF Board member Rita Bell (director of Education Programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium) is shown with Brian Brown (State Coordinator of the California Project WET program at the Water Education Foundation), recipients of a CEEF 2014 Excellence in Non-Formal Environmental Education award of a plaque (shown in insert) and $400.

CEEF Board member Rita Bell (director of Education Programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium) is shown with Brian Brown (State Coordinator of the California Project WET program at the Water Education Foundation), recipients of a CEEF 2014 Excellence in Non-Formal Environmental Education award of a plaque (shown in insert) and $400.

CEEF Board Members Rita Bell, the director of Education Programs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Dave Massey, Program Director of Exploring STEM Careers Initiative, presented the 2014 awards to Brian Brown, State Coordinator of the California Project WET program at the Water Education Foundation, and Biret Adden, Environmental Education Manager for the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose and Director of the BioSITE Program. (more…)

July 2014 California State Board of Education Recap – the Science Education Highlights

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

On July 9 – 10, 2014, the California State Board of Education (SBE) held its regularly scheduled meeting. There were several topics on the agenda that were of interest to science educators and science education and CSTA attended both days to address those items.

New Science Assessment Development

Item 5 on the board’s agenda was the extension of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) contract with testing contractor Educational Testing Service (ETS). This contract extension includes many tasks for ETS including the administration of the science CSTs in the spring of 2015 and tasks for the development of new assessments in science aligned to the California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). (more…)

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2014 State Finalists for Prestigious National Teaching Award

Monday, August 4th, 2014

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated six outstanding elementary school teachers as California finalists for the 2014 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). (more…)

The California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative Launches!

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

by Kathy DiRanna

To get a jump-start on the implementation in California of the Next Generation Science Standards, eight school districts and two charter management organizations (CMOs) have been selected to participate in the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. 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, this Initiative will be a fast-start demonstration project to build local education agency (LEA) capacity to fully implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in grades K-8. The Initiative begins its work August 4-8, 2014 with a weeklong Academy in Southern California.

The LEAs will engage with the K-12 Alliance in the Initiative over a four-year period to collaboratively develop and participate in leadership training for teachers and administrators, and in teacher professional development in content and pedagogy to meet the conceptual shifts required by NGSS. The participating districts and charters will form a CA NGSS Collaborative Network as a learning community for sharing best practices and addressing challenges of practice. In addition, the participating LEAs will serve as a “lab” to selectively beta-test NGSS-aligned instructional materials, implementation tools, and performance assessment prototype items. Learnings from these districts will be shared statewide to advance high-quality science teaching and learning. (more…)

CSTA Is Pleased to Announce the Election Results for the 2014-2016 Board of Directors

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Congratulations goes to Jeanine Wulfenstein, Joanne Michael, Susan Gomez-Zweip, Minda Berbeco, and Peter A’Hearn! There terms will begin July 1, 2014 and conclude on June 30, 2016. Information about the 2015-2017 elections will be available in the fall.

Treasurer: Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine has been teaching science for 14 years and currently teaches science at Gardner Middle School in the Temecula Valley USD. This past year she was recognized as the TVUSD middle school teacher of the year. Prior to teaching, Jeanine was an accountant for a major cosmetics manufacturing company. She has presented at several CSTA conferences, served on the 2013 CSTA conference committee, the CSTA publications committee, the legislative oversight committee and is the current CSTA Region 4 Director. (more…)

Seven California Science Teachers are 2014 NSTA Teacher Award Recipients

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning, announced the winners of the 2014 NSTA Teacher Awards program, which honors K-12 teachers (including seven teachers from California), principals, professors and other science education professionals for their outstanding work and achievement in science education. The awards were presented at a special banquet and ceremony on Friday, April 4th, at NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education in Boston. (more…)

CSTA Member Phil Lafontaine Retires from State Service

Monday, April 14th, 2014

by Jessica Sawko

On Thursday, April 10, 2014 CDE Staff, friends, and colleagues of CSTA member Phil Lafontaine gathered to celebrate his incredible career as a science educator and state employee of the California Department of Education, and to wish him an enjoyable retirement. There were many CSTA members in attendance to celebrate Phil and his contributions to education, and science education in particular. Phil was presented with several retirement gifts, including a customized San Francisco Giants jersey, and a Senate Resolution honoring his career and service. (more…)

CSTA Named as Partner in 100Kin10, National Network to Grow STEM Teaching Force

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

New York, New York, January 31, 2014 

100kin10_Partner_BadgeCSTA commits to advancing goal of recruiting, preparing, and retaining 100,000 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers in 10 years.

100Kin10, a multi-sector network addressing the national imperative to train 100,000 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers by 2021, today announced that CSTA has been accepted as a partner.

“CSTA is thrilled to have been selected as a partner in this worthwhile and vital network. I am honored to be serving as president of CSTA during our entry into this network and look forward to partnering with other network partners to achieve CSTA’s bold goals for science and STEM teachers in California.” – Laura Henriques, CSTA President

As part of 100Kin10, CSTA will

  • provide outreach, professional development, and teaching tools to 175 science methods instructors at California colleges/universities that prepare future science and STEM teachers by 2017.
  • place 20 new student CSTA chapters on college campuses throughout the state, half of which will be placed on the campuses of 100Kin10 partners, by 2017.
  • provide support and professional development to 10,000 K-12 science teachers in California by 2018 to realize the full implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.

(more…)

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