July/August 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 8

From NGSS to California Standards

Posted: Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

On April 22nd, the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) convened a Science Experts Panel (SEP) consisting of about 20 teachers, teacher educators, scientists, engineers, and leaders in science education to review the Next Generation Science Standards. The Panel was charged to provide recommendations to the SPI on the content and format for the new California science standards as he prepares his recommendation for the new California science standards to be presented to the State Board of Education in July.

From late April to early June, the SEP will meet three times. During these meetings they will to review the fit and appropriateness of the NGSS as the basis for the new California science standards and consider public comments from the public information meetings and online forum. They will also develop guidelines for possible middle school instructional sequences, and provide recommendations to the SPI on the content for the new California science standards and the California Science Framework that will follow.  During the first meeting that already occurred on April 22, the SEP reviewed the Discipline Content, Science and Engineering Practices, and Cross Cutting Concepts in each of the content areas, looking for alignment through the grade levels/content areas, for a logical progression of concepts and practices, and for alignment to the California Common Core Standards. Based on this review, it is clear that Achieve, Inc. responded to the 10,000+ comments received after the second draft by reducing the number of performance expectations by at least a third, integrating the nature of science and science and engineering practices more seamlessly within the performance expectations, and providing stories and guiding questions for each grade level/span and content area that adds continuity to the performance expectations. Based on the results of the CSTA survey conducted after the last review period and considering the changes made for the final version of NGSS based on public comments, I believe that CSTA members are in favor of the NGSS as they now stand.

Accepting the NGSS as the new California science standards means that the Performance Expectations from NGSS will go forward as the standards for California. Once adopted by the State Board of Education, these standards will be used to guide the development of a new Science Framework for California Public Schools (tentatively beginning in 2015), guide the development and adoption of instructional materials for grades K-8, and determine the content of future assessments. The process is not nearly complete – implementation of the new California science standards, along with providing the requisite professional development for teachers are tasks that still must be done. There will be many opportunities for our members to participate at each of these steps along the way. For example, there will be State Board of Education meetings where standards will be presented and the public solicited for comment, opportunities to serve on the instructional materials review teams and/or the writing teams for the new California science framework, and possibly even on the assessment development teams. In addition, there will be many opportunities to provide and or participate in professional development activities at conferences, in districts, and through association meetings. With an eye on the final prize of new, 21st century science standards in schools by 2016-17 there is still a lot to be done. To stay abreast of the developments in this journey, I would encourage you to watch the CSTA Website http://www.cascience.org/csta/csta.asp, where information about all of these opportunities will be listed.

In closing, we would like you to share your comments, questions, and ideas with us through the comment feature of this article. Please feel free to write a few words in the boxes below so that the CSTA Board of Directors can be aware of your ideas as we move forward in this process.

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis and is a past-president of CSTA.

One Response

  1. I have my doubts that the implementation of NGSS will be successful.
    The standards are well-written, well-thought-out, and are in the right direction. Teachers are very capable of implementing them. Students are very capable of completing them.
    What is not discussed is what will happen to student failures. This issue never really seems to be addressed, and is what I attribute the lack of success in current CA standards.
    NGSS sets the standards high, as they should, however when high percentages of failures occur, how will the State, districts, and admin react? Will they understand that there will be 5 or so years of students that will not be successful to the new approach in the secondary schools? How will they react when EL students are struggling?
    California has the highest number of science jobs out of all the States, yet we rank 34th (SERI) and 47th (Nations Report Card) in science education out of all States. Its is not by accident, I see the issue directly on how we handle failures.
    Instead of keeping high standards and finding ways to raise student achievement, rather tests are dumbed down to artificially lower failure rates. Instead of raising students to the bar of our expectations, rather there has been moving the expectations to the “level of the student”. The problem with that approach is that there will always be a certain percentage of failures; many students will always give only 70% effort, regardless of how hard or easy the information is given. 70% of high standards learned is always better than 70% of low standards learned. The true separation between successful teachers/students is how they are supported by the State, district and admin when failures present themselves.
    So the NGSS is in the right direction, but we are not addressing the real issue in education… How will failures be addressed?

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CTC Seeking Educators for Science Standard Setting Conference

Posted: Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and Evaluation Systems group of Pearson are currently seeking California science educators to participate in a Science Standard Setting Conference for the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) program. Each standard setting panel is scheduled to meet for one-day, in Sacramento, California. The fields and dates are listed below:

Multiple Subjects Subtest II (Science), Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Physics, Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Chemistry, Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Science Subtest II: Life Sciences, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Science Subtest II: Earth and Space Sciences, Thursday, October 5, 2017
Science Subtest I: General Science, Friday, October 6, 2017

The purpose of the conference is for panel members to make recommendations that will be used, in part, by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) in setting the passing standard, for each field, in support of the updated California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET).

Click here to nominate educators. If you are interested in participating yourself, complete an application here for consideration.


Public school educators who are:

• Certified in California
• Currently practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above. 

College faculty who are:

• Teacher preparation personnel (including education faculty and arts and sciences faculty)
• Practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above, and
• Preparing teacher candidates in an approved California teacher preparation program.

 Benefits of Participation Include:
• Receive substitute reimbursement for their school (public school educators only),
• Have the opportunity to make a difference in California teacher development and performance,
• Have the opportunity for professional growth and collaboration with educators in their field,
• Be reimbursed for their travel and meal expenses, and
• Be provided with hotel accommodations, if necessary.

For more information, visit their website at www.carecruit.nesinc.com/cset/index.asp

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 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 zi@cascience.org.)

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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.