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 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 Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. 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:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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