March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

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, 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.

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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California Science Curriculum Framework Now Available

Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.

For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.

The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.

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.

Call for CSTA Awards Nominations

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. 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.

Call for Volunteers – CSTA Committees

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017


CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: 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.

A Friend in CA Science Education Now at CSTA Region 1 Science Center

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.

Learning to Teach in 3D

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”

I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. 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: