April 2014 – Vol. 26 No. 8

EQuIP Rubric for Science Released

Monday, April 14th, 2014

The Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) Rubric for Lessons & Units: Science was released April 11, 2014. The Rubric provides criteria by which to measure the alignment and overall quality of lessons and units with respect to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The purpose of the Rubric is to (1) provide constructive criterion-based feedback to developers; (2) review existing instructional materials to determine what revisions are needed; and (3) identify exemplars/models for teachers’ use within and across states.

This document was developed in response to the recognition among educators that while curriculum and instruction will need to shift with the adoption of the NGSS, there is currently a lack of high-quality, NGSS-aligned materials. The power of the rubric is in the feedback it provides curriculum developers and in the productive conversations educators can have while evaluating materials.  (more…)

Next Generation Science Standards State Rollout Symposium Dates and Locations Announced

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Updated April 8, 2014

K-12 Alliance/WestEd, California Science Project, California Science Teachers Association, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and the California Department of Education Presents: Next Generation Science Standards State Rollout Symposium #1.

Join science leaders at the first of a series of statewide professional learning symposia exploring the philosophy, design, and initial implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). (more…)

Calling All Science Teachers – Your Expertise Is Required!

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

The State Board of Education (SBE) is recruiting members of the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC). The CFCC will play a significant role in the revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Science Framework). The Science Framework will be revised to incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (CA NGSS), adopted by the SBE in September 2013, and to reflect current research in science instruction. The CFCC provides input into the initial draft of the revised framework in accordance with guidelines approved by the SBE. Click here to access the online application.

What kind of people make up the CFCC and how are they appointed? (more…)

NGSS Science Framework Committee Recruitment has begun – Deadline to apply is April 16, 2014, 3:00 PM

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

The California Department of Education (CDE) and the State Board of Education (SBE) are pleased to announce that they are recruiting applicants for the Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) to assist with the revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Science Framework). The Science Framework will incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (CA–NGSS), that were adopted by the SBE in September 2013. Curriculum frameworks provide guidance to teachers, administrators, and parents on how a standards-based curriculum is implemented in the classroom. Applications will be accepted until April 16, 2014 at 3 p.m. The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) will submit a list of recommended applicants to the SBE for appointment in May of 2014. Click here to access the online application.

Update from the California Department of Education: California Alternative Discipline Specific Model for Grades 6-8

Monday, February 10th, 2014

In September 2013, the California State Board of Education (SBE) unanimously approved the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as California’s new K-12 science standards. In November 2013, the SBE approved an integrated model of these standards, developed by the California Science Expert Panel (SEP), as the preferred model for California middle grades six through eight.

At the same November SBE meeting, the SBE approved a recommendation by the Superintendent of Public Instruction to reconvene the SEP in order “to develop … as an alternative model … a discipline specific model” for the grade span of 6-8. The model was to be based upon the guidance for developing a domain specific model as outlined by Achieve in the NGSS Appendix K.

The Board’s clear intent in their November action was for there to be one Integrated NGSS Model in California for grades 6-8 that was preferred by the SPI and the Board, and one Discipline Specific NGSS Model in California for grades 6-8, as an alternate.  (more…)

Could You Actually Like the NGSS Assessments?

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

When teachers are asked about their concerns with the Next Generation Science Standards, questions about assessments top the list. This is not surprising. State assessments have been a stick to beat teachers with for a long time now and, like a dog that has been hit with a stick, teachers have learned to cower. Our thoughts about assessments often assume that the new assessment system will be like our current uninformative and punitive assessment system. An assessment system like that would: (more…)

NGSS Science Curriculum Framework Focus Group #1

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Heather Wygant

I had the privilege of being chosen to serve on the first NGSS Science Curriculum Framework Focus Group in San Francisco on January 25, 2014. Four more focus groups will be held over the next several weeks throughout California. These focus groups are charged with creating the guidelines for the upcoming Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) as they develop the next Science Framework for California. The San Francisco focus group had almost 300 applicants and only 10 were chosen, including San Francisco Bay Area classroom teachers, science curriculum coordinators, and science coaches. (more…)

Highlights from NGSS Science Curriculum Framework Focus Group #3

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Jill Grace

I had the pleasure of attending the Science Curriculum Framework Focus group in Orange County on January 31, 2014.  The focus group was hosted by the Orange County Department of Education with 3 other counties, Ventura, Los Angeles, and Riverside, participating via teleconference.  A huge shout out to the 80 dedicated individuals who attended and had to brave rush-hour traffic on a Friday evening!  It was also nice to see several dedicated members of the Instructional Quality Commission present among the four counties listening in on the conversation.   (more…)

Move Fast or Move Slow?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

The CST tests are now well on their way out. There are science tests at grades 5, 8, and 10 set to take place at the end of the 2014 school year, but they will not affect a school’s AYP (they never have) and most likely will not affect a school’s API, which will likely be frozen for two years. Even when testing was still an issue, there was plenty that teachers eager to shift toward NGSS could do and now that the testing pressure is off, more teachers are looking at making the real changes that NGSS will require. (more…)

Next Generation Science Standards Update: Looking Forward to 2014

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

2014 will be a very busy year for the Next Generation Science Standards in California. On November 6, 2013, the State Board of Education took action on the issue of the middle school learning progression that they had left undecided at their September 2013 meeting. Their decision was to accept the revised recommendation that California adopt the integrated model as developed by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) as the preferred model for California middle grades science instruction, and to reconvene the SEP  to develop a discipline specific model based on the domain specific model in Appendix K. The SEP is meeting on December 4 and 5 to begin this task. Once the SEP completes their work (estimated March 2014) school districts will be able to evaluate both – and choose between the integrated and discipline-specific models based on which they think will best serve their students. No further State Board action will be required to adopt the alternative discipline-specific arrangement. I encourage you to read NGSS for Middle Grades: Tips for Implementation – Step 1, Don’t Rush for tips and information.

2014 will bring a number of opportunities for science teachers to become involved in the NGSS implementation process: (more…)

NGSS for Middle Grades: Tips for Implementation – Step 1, Don’t Rush

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

by Jill Grace and Marian Murphy-Shaw

Since April 2013 when the national version of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) went public, California has been working at a steady pace to move from lead contributing state to active implementation. CSTA members and other readers of California Classroom Science may be the best informed educators in the state on NGSS at this time. This article is intended to aid middle grade teachers in communicating up-to-date information to your colleagues in science education and the educational leaders you work with.

The number one point which science education leaders, the California Department of Education (CDE), professional learning providers, and the NGSS Achieve group are all making is not to rush, there is no hurry, that 2016-17 is the probable target for full implementation. As with Common Core implementation, a sequence of events, resource preparation, policies, and teacher awareness and transition support will all occur over the next few years. Now that you can breathe again, here is a rundown of common questions and next steps to consider as you start the work towards toward NGSS implementation.  (more…)

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces State Approves Middle Grade Recommendations for Modern Science Standards Science Expert Panel to Reconvene and Consider Additional Model

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

November 6, 2013 Press Release from the California Department of Education:

SACRAMENTO—California’s move to modern new science standards took another step forward as the State Board of Education approved a preferred model for middle grade learning progressions, which integrate science instruction, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today. (more…)

NGSS in California Update

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

On September 4, 2013 the California State Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools. The board adopted grade specific standards for grades K-5 and grade span standards for grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. During its meeting this Wednesday, November 6, 2013, the State Board of Education will take up the issue of how to arrange the standards in grades 6-8 (see Item #6). Based on letters and emails received along with public comment provided during the September meeting, it is clear that there is a great deal of division in the science education community regarding how best to arrange the standards for middle school science. (more…)

Toward the Integration of the NGSS and Common Core in the Classroom

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Republished with permission from Achieve

  • Observe how animals build bridges and use those observations to design a solution to avoiding puddles at school.
  • Develop models to explain how plants communicate via chemical cues.
  • Mathematically describe the structure of radio waves that could allow cars to communicate to prevent crashes.

These are just a few components from the model K-12 student tasks being developed by a group of 18 experienced science, math and engineering teachers and administrators. (more…)

Recruiting Focus Group Members for Updating the Science Framework for California Public Schools – K-12

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

The California Department of Education is pleased to announce that it is recruiting members for five focus groups to provide input on the upcoming Science Framework. The Science Framework will incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by the State Board of Education in September 2013. Note: Application closes on December 2, 2013 at 3:00PM PT. (more…)

Instructional Quality Commission Is Seeking Science Teachers – Applications Due November 15

Friday, October 11th, 2013

The IQC has many roles, and science will be its focus in the near future – members with science teaching experience have not been on the IQC for some time and are truly needed now that CA is moving forward with Next Generation Science Standards.

The California State Board of Education (SBE) is now accepting applications for practicing science teachers to serve on the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC). This high-level commission is responsible for advising the SBE on matters related to curriculum and instruction. The IQC (1) develops and recommends curriculum frameworks; (2) develops and recommends criteria for evaluating instructional materials submitted for adoption; (3) evaluates instructional materials that have been submitted by publishers and makes recommendations to adopt or reject each submission; (4) recommends policies and activities to the SBE, the California Department of Education (CDE), and local education agencies regarding curriculum and instruction; and (5) advises and makes recommendations to the SBE on implementing the state’s academic content standards. Applications are due 5:00 pm, November 15, 2013. (more…)

State Board Adopts NGSS – Delays Decision on Middle School – Now What?

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

A new era of science education in California is now in the horizon. For many years CSTA has been advocating for new, high-quality science education standards that emphasize depth of understanding over surface knowledge, engage students in doing science, and foster critical thinking, and last month, those many years of hard work finally paid off. At approximately 4:00 pm on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 the California State Board of Education (SBE) voted unanimously to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for California. The vote was followed by an outburst of applause and cheers from those in the audience.

The matter of the Next Generation of Science Standards for California is not completely settled. (more…)

Back to School with NGSS

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

by Peter A’Hearn

Collecting data on mealworm habitat preference.

Collecting data on mealworm habitat preference.

This month the theme for California Classroom Science is  “Back to School.” But what about the standards you are teaching as you return to your classroom this fall?  We are still responsible for the 1998 California Science Standards, while we are also expected to start addressing the Common Core in English and Math and many of us are already anticipating the Next Generation Science Standards  (NGSS) and the changes in science learning that they will create.

(more…)

Achieve Endorses California SEP Learning Progression Model for Middle School

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Achieve has updated Appendix K - Model Course Mapping in Middle and High School of the Next Generation Science Standards to include the model developed by California’s Science Expert Panel (see pages 20-21). This model is now available to all other states to consider as an option for the arrangement of the middle school standards. (more…)

CSTA’s Response to the State Board of Education Regarding NGSS Adoption

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

On Wednesday, September 4, 2013 the California State Board of Education (SBE) will meet and consider the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards as proposed by Superintendent Torlakson on June 28, 2013. (For those not able to attend the meeting in person, the meeting can be viewed online. The adoption of NGSS is Item #10 and is anticipated to be heard after lunch.) The SBE does not have to vote on adoption at this meeting, it has until November 30, 2013 to make a decision. At its July meeting, the board decided to delay adoption of the standards in order to allow for more input from educators and other stakeholders. In that time, CSTA has participated in/or helped to organize three meetings to gather input from science teachers regarding the proposed NGSS. (more…)

Get Outside and Start Collecting Data!

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Pete A’Hearn

Dragonfly

Photo Credit: Sasha and Maarit A’Hearn

Ahh summer, time to get outside and do field studies.  There are teachers in my district doing field ecology, geology, and marine biology studies this summer. Some of us are taking our own kids camping or to the beach and watching them learn about nature.

One objection I’ve heard to NGSS is that it will mean the end of outdoor science. This objection baffles me. I think this is due to a narrow reading of the standards and the assumption that they are curriculum. It’s imperative to remember they are not the curriculum, but only endpoint goals. I see many places where the NGSS practically requires getting outside to do science! For example… (more…)

With the Uncertain Status of New Standards for California, What Do I Do Right Now?

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

“What do I do right now?” Whenever I talk to science teachers about NGSS and the proposed California science standards, this is the first question I get.  With the pending-approval status of new California standards, this is an important and pressing question that needs an answer sooner rather than later. To quell their concerns, my answer is, “Focus on the Science and Engineering Practices.” Although this may seem a bit flippant, in reality it is something that every teacher has control over. It is also a strategy that will resonate with the expectations of the Common Core Standards that are being implemented throughout California this year. (more…)

California State Board of Education Holds Off on Decision on NGSS Adoption

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

On July 10, 2013 the State Board of Education was presented with the proposed Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade 12. A full video archive of the presentation is available online and embedded here below. The online archive allows you to select Item 2 from the menu below the video window. (Please note that the board meeting was being serviced by a new AV provider and there were a few hiccups technologically during the presentation.) (more…)

California Arrangement of Middle School Science Standards – Spurs Production of Rationale Document and Gatherings of Science Teachers

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. (more…)

What’s up with the Crosscutting Concepts?

Monday, July 1st, 2013

by Pete A’Hearn

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are almost here… but not quite yet. They haven’t been officially adopted by California, there isn’t a California framework, the assessments and curriculum are far off, and many of us are still being tested with the CSTs next year. Even so, in my past few blogs I have written about what teachers can do right now to start moving in the direction of NGSS by embedding the NGSS science and engineering practices into their instruction and by getting students involved in engineering projects.   (more…)

Comparing AP Science Practices, Common Core State Standards, and NGSS Science and Engineering Practices

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

by Bethany Dixon

At NSTA San Antonio and again at the California State Science Fair, I fell into a conversation about connecting NGSS Science and Engineering Practices and AP Biology Science Practices 1-7. In the past few years, ideas have converged on what it looks like to “Do Science:” the habits of mind necessary to develop scientific knowledge. This idea isn’t new to science education – scientific skills are still important. Haven’t we seen this before? We called it using the Scientific Method(s), or Levels of Inquiry, or whichever wrapper we’re putting things into… it doesn’t seem like the ideas of what constitute good science have changed. Or have they? (more…)

Content Standards: Common Core and NGSS – A High School Teacher’s Perspective

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

by Jeff Orlinsky

In 1997 I attended the open hearings of the California Content Standards in Science.  The hearings were about developing the standards that would be used as part of the student assessment system.  I would venture a guess that at that time, no one would have anticipated how the panel’s decisions would impact curriculum and instruction in the science classroom.  This article is not about the debate or the benefits of standards, it is about the current changes occurring in science education, and how you as a CSTA member and a science classroom teacher, need to be an active participant, not a bystander. (more…)

Getting Started On Engineering

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

by Pete A’Hearn

One of the biggest concerns I have heard about the NGSS is that elementary teachers are not well prepared to teach the science standards and are especially concerned about the addition of engineering. So, I was happy this week to visit several classrooms at Vista Del Monte elementary school where elementary teachers were diving into engineering big time.

Second grade teachers Dena Azzolin and Debbie Gordon at Vista Del Monte were preparing their students to build bridges. To start, they tested a few bridge designs to learn what works and what doesn’t work.  They were reading the story, “Three Little Pigs,” with an emphasis on how different forces were used in the story. Kids were talking about which forces were involved in a bridge – the supports exert an upward force and the load exerts a downward force.  (more…)

The Next Generation Science Standards Were Released – What’s Next?

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

by Laura Henriques

On April 8th, 2013, Achieve released the final version of the Next Generation Science Standards. Last week three in-person and one online town hall meetings took place across the state. These meetings allowed stakeholders to provide input and feedback about the standards to the California Department of Education. The Superintendent’s Science Expert Panel will review all of the input collected via these hearings and provide guidance to the State Superintendent. (more…)

Time for Practices

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

by Pete A’Hearn

This is a strange time for those of us who have been following the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) closely.  We are excited and ready to dive in, but there is still a period of public comment and then the California Board of Education won’t make a final decision about adoption until November. Assuming that happens, it will be a few years before there is a California State Framework and assessment plan in place. In the meantime we are still being held accountable for the California State Standards, the CST test this year, and maybe next year. So what do we do now? (more…)

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