September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

CSTA Legislative Update – March 2015

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

Friday, February 27, 2015 was the last day for legislators to introduce bills. As with many things with a deadline, the last days leading up to the deadline saw a flurry of activity and many bills were introduced. CSTA will be monitoring many pieces of legislation this year and will seek to have funding for NGSS implementation included in next year’s budget. Bills of note include:

AB 631 (Bonilla)Titled the “Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Fund Actthe bill seeks to establish a specific fund within the state budget to fund integration of common core academic content standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and English language development standards in schools. Specifically, the bill calls out funding for the professional development of teachers, administrators, and paraprofessional educators or other classified employees involved in the direct instruction of pupils that is aligned to those standards, instructional materials to support instruction under the new standards, and integration of the new standards “through technology-based instruction for purposes of improving the academic performance of pupils.” As currently written, the bill proposes $900 million in funding for 2015/2016 (which could be used in 2015/2016 or 2016/2017) plus the $1.1 billion in funding included in the Governor’s January budget proposal (which is funding that is actually to pay off unpaid mandate claims with the “intention” that the funds be used to support new standards implementation).

AB 740 (Weber): Update of Adopted Standards. This bill addresses a concern that CSTA has long had – the lack of a system for a periodic review and update of state adopted standards. CSTA’s position is and has been that the academic content standards must be reviewed periodically, consistent with the instructional materials cycle, with revision being conducted one to two years prior to the adoption of curriculum frameworks. This bill calls for a periodic review tied to the curriculum framework revision and instructional materials adoption process (which is every eight years for science).

SB 172 (Liu): High School Exit Examination Suspension. This bill seeks to address a question that many have had since the state adopted new standards in 2010 and 2013 – what will happen to CAHSEE? The bill proposes a suspension of the requirement that all students pass the California High School Exit Examination (better known as CAHSEE) as a requirement for graduation for the 2016–17, 2017–18, and 2018–19 school years. During this period of suspension, pursuant to the language of the bill, the superintendent will convene an advisory panel, including, secondary teachers, school administrators, school board members, parents, measurement experts, and individuals with expertise in assessing English learners and pupils with disabilities, to provide recommendations on the continuation of the high school exit examination, and on alternative pathways to satisfy the high school graduation requirements.

AB 141 (Bonilla): Beginning Teacher Induction Programs. This bill require a school district or county office of education that hires a beginning teacher to provide that teacher with an induction programs. The bill would also prohibit a local educational agency from charging a fee to a beginning teacher to participate in an induction program. By requiring school districts and county offices of education to provide an induction program to newly hired beginning teachers, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program (meaning reimbursement would need to be provided by the state to fund this service). The bill calls for this to be effective beginning with the 2016-2017 hiring period.

CSTA is tracking a few other bills and will evaluate them for any implications they may have on science education. Please stay tuned for legislative alerts and additional information as the year progresses. To make sure you are on the list to receive action alerts and other critical information, verify your that your CSTA membership is current and make sure you are not opted-out of receiving email from CSTA. You can do this online at Click on the “my membership” to verify your membership and “view/update my contact information” to verify your email address and opt-in/opt-out status (at the bottom of the page).

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.

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CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

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

Posted: 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. 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.