May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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 members.cascience.org. 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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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was 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.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. 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 NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.