January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

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

Posted: 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.

Here is a little history.  At first, classroom teachers were largely unaware of the content standards.  Districts slowly adopted the standards and they became part of the curriculum objectives but curriculum and instruction in science classrooms did not change until the first tests in science started.  Soon, however, it became evident that students’ scores on science tests comprised about 15% of the Academic Performance Index or API.  As a result, science classrooms started to modify their curriculum to better match the student assessment.

In 2001, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Federal Law was passed.  As with the content standards, curriculum and instruction did not adjust quickly.  However, after several years of implementation, there was a drastic change in science instruction and curriculum.  The AYP, (Annual Yearly Progress), and Program Improvement components of the NCLB have narrowed our curriculum and severely limited our instructional time when it comes to hands-on laboratory lessons.

Fast forward to 2009, when the National Governor’s Association hired the nonprofit company, Student Achievement Partners, to create an updated set of curriculum and instructional standards for mathematics and English, known as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  Released in June 2010 and subsequently adopted by California later that year, implementation has already begun and by 2014-15 California will assess student achievement of the new standards. Districts and schools are not waiting for the new assessments, rather, they have already begun to change their curriculum and instruction in ELA and mathematics.  Once again, science teachers are waiting, however we already know we will be called upon to incorporate more ELA and math skills into our curriculum.  The question science teachers will be asking is, where do these additional standards go in my already crowded curriculum?

Finally, in July 2010, the National Research Council, National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science began the process of writing new science content standards known as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The final standards were released in April 2013.  The NGSS provide the framework for individual states to adopt a new set of standards that focus on science, technology, engineering, and content in Earth, Biology, Physics and Chemistry.  CSTA has been in the forefront on this issue.

A Possible Conflict?

The CCSS may look like math and ELA standards, but classrooms of all disciplines will be impacted.  I am not sure how they will affect our current science curriculum and instruction, but I am anticipating a major change.  In July of 2013, the State Board of Education will be presented with the option to adopt a new set of science content standards based on the NGSS (the decision will need to be made no later than November 30, 2013). I am concerned that this may present a new conflict in the science classroom, as I expect to see implementation of the NGSS emphasize a hands-on approach, and the implementation of the CCSS for English/Language Arts and Literacy in Science focus on reading. (Editor’s note: the NGSS include reference to areas of overlap with the CCSS.) I feel that these two different types of content standards will be harder for elementary and middle school teachers than for high school teachers.  In all cases, we will be forced to add more to our overcrowded curriculum, and forced to decide what content will be cut.

What We Need to Do: An Opportunity for Transformation.

We can no longer wait for new California NGSS-based content standards to be presented to us.  We must step out of the classroom and become experts in the CCSS and the NGSS-California Science Standards.  We will have to do it ourselves.  We have to understand these standards and how they will affect our curriculum and instruction.  In 1997, many teachers thought the standards movement was a phase, and that it would not last long.  In 2009-10 we thought NCLB would be re-written, and it has not changed.  We cannot be passive by-standers; we must take an active role.  We also have to bring everyone in the science department along.  The more we understand the NGSS and Common Core the easier our transition will be.

Here are recommended steps to help you involve yourself in the process and increase your capacity in CCSS and NGSS:

  1. Join CSTA – Your membership will gain you access to information and representation. If you are already a member, thank you and be sure to check that your email is up-to-date and that you set-up to receive email from CSTA.
  2. Read the Next Generation Science Standards and the Framework for K-12 Science Education.
  3. Visit and review the resources on CSTA’s NGSS webpage.
  4. Listen to the State Board Meeting on July 10 when the new California Science Standards will be presented (the meetings are broadcast live on-line) or attend in person (in Sacramento).
  5. Attend webinars and view archives of webinars hosted by NSTA.
  6. Attend the 2013 California Science Education Conference, which will feature a wealth of programming around Common Core and NGSS/California Science Education Standards.

Written by Jeff Orlinsky

Jeff Orlinsky

Jeff Orlinsky teaches science at Warren High School and is a member of CSTA.

2 Responses

  1. Hi Jeff
    As I think about how to start to infuse the NGSS material into my department’s curriculum, everyone wants to know where to begin. Looking at my content area (life science) many of the DCI are already in our old standards. Has CSTA prepared a side by side comparison of the DCI & our old standards? This document would be helpful to show the states science teachers what is different and what is similar.
    Is anyone working on this for CSTA or CDOE?
    Thanks

  2. Several CSTA members have asked if there is a chart which maps out how the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) align with our current state science standards. While we know that some folks have participated in this sort of process, we have purposefully not released such a document. We know that a document like this might be comforting to some, yet there is a broader concern that people will simply look at a chart and decide that not much has changed so not much must change. This is not the message or intent of the proposed new standards. Should NGSS be adopted by the State Board of Education, we will be in for some major changes. As uncomfortable as change might be, change isn’t always a bad thing! Science content and skills are meaningfully linked, students will be expected to demonstrate greater depth of understanding, and engineering practices are embedded into the science classroom.
    We hope that teachers will look closely at the performance expectations for their grade level and spend time thinking about what they imply for teaching and learning. This is not a time to simply rearrange our existing science lessons and shoe-horn them into the NGSS landscape (a chart which shows where existing standards map onto NGSS might promote that sort of thinking). This is a time for us to rethink how we engage students in critically thinking and learning science. We know you have existing lessons in your file cabinet or computer that will fit beautifully into the NGSS classroom, but this is also the time to look forward and develop new lessons for the next generation of scientists.

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LATEST POST

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.