Science Sees a Few Victories in End of Legislative Session
Posted: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
CSTA continued to work feverishly on several pieces of legislation throughout the last two years, and we are delighted to report on a number of last minute victories and some surprises as the legislative year winds down.
AB 97 (Torlakson), which is an old bill from last year, establishing an Academic Standards Commission for science and history-social science, to be convened “as funding permits” to review and revise the science and history standards.
Everyone thought this bill was completely dead, not having heard anything about it this year as it was held in the Senate Education Committee at the end of last year, but it was amended (the original bill would have revised the math and ELA standards as well, but these were just revised as part of California’s Race to the Top application) and sped through Senate Ed. and Senate Appropriations in the final days of the session. According to Assemblyman Torlakson’s office, the governor has indicated he will sign the bill this time–he has vetoed similar bills on two previous occasions.
ACR 88 (Torlakson), a CSTA co-sponsored bill which establishes a STEM legislative task force, finally made it out of the Senate Education Committee, after having been held for months for an unknown reason. The bill was passed by both houses of the legislature and is now enacted. CSTA is part of the group, including the American Chemical Society, the California Math Council, and BSMARTE, that is recommending members for the task force. We’ll keep you posted as the task force moves to center stage.
AJR 39 (Beall & Torlakson) is a joint resolution co-sponsored by the California Council for the Social Studies and CSTA that requires the legislature to encourage the development of common core standards for social studies and science. The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers are the entities that developed the common core reading and math standards; this resolution requires that a letter be sent to the two organizations urging them to do the same for social studies and science. The bill passed both houses of the legislature and, as a resolution, doesn’t need to be signed by the governor.
AB 391 (Torlakson) is another last-year-bill that was resurrected from the Senate Education Committee, where it has languished since last year, in the final days of the legislature. This bill requires the State Superintendent to contract for an independent evaluation of the STAR program. This bill passed both houses of the legislature and is on its way to the governor’s desk; at this writing, it’s not known whether he plans to sign it. CSTA supported this bill.
SB 1444 (Hancock) defines STEM subjects—science, technology, engineering, and math—as “courses or a sequence of courses that prepare pupils for occupations and careers that require technically sophisticated skills, including the application of mathematical and scientific skills and concepts” and goes on to describe STEM education in grades 1-6 as “foundational courses” leading to success in “applied” courses in grades 7-12. The bill states “the intent of the legislature” that the SPI use STEM funds for programs consistent with the definition above. CSTA supported the bill.
In a stunning turn of events, SB 1278 (Wyland) which would have restarted work on the history-social science framework that was halted last year, was killed without explanation in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. This bill originally called for the resumption of work on both the history and science frameworks, but was amended to resume only history. The Department of Education, which sponsored the bill, apparently assured the legislature that because the history framework was completely finished and just had to be sent out for public comment, it could absorb the costs of completing the history framework within its current budget. But even though it had no costs associated with it, the Assembly Appropriations Committee wanted to hear it anyway—and there it sat until it was dead. It’s been hinted that there was some behind-the-scenes warfare between staff members of the Appropriations Committee and the Department of Finance, so although passage of the bill seemed to be a sure bet for the legislators, as there was no money attached to it, staff called the shots on it for, apparently, personal reasons.
’10-’11 Budget Bill
The legislative version of the 2010-2011 budget bill includes $144K for the completion of the science and history-social science frameworks. Of course, we are still in the early days of budget negotiations (even though the budget is a couple of months overdue), so we can’t count on this money remaining, and we can count even less on the governor not to blue pencil it if it passes the legislature. Keep checking back here for updates on this and other legislation.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
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.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: 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
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.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…