September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Governor Brown’s Signs Key Education Legislation – Updated 5:00 pm, 10/3/13

Posted: Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

Updated 5:00 pm, October 3, 2013

For the past few months CSTA has been closely tracking the progress of two key education bills, SB 300 (Hancock) and AB 484 (Bonilla). On October 2, 2013, Governor Brown signed both of them.

SB 300 authorizes the commencement of the development of the new curriculum framework for science based on the recently adopted Next Generation Science Standards. The timeline set forth in the bill calls upon the State Board of Education to adopt the new framework by January 31, 2016. This means that work to produce the framework will commence sometime towards the end of this year. Without the passage of SB 300, work on a new science framework would not have been able to commence until the 2015/2016 school year. In addition to starting the framework development process, SB 300 requires that the new science framework include English language development strategies, and strategies to address the needs of pupils with disabilities.

AB 484 is a much larger bill that recently received Federal attention. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released a statement on September 9, 2013, threatening to withhold funding from California if AB 484 was passed in the latest iteration. The California legislature did not back down and passed AB 484 on September 11, 2013. On September 15, 2013 the LA Times reported that Secretary Duncan had toned down his comments and called his threats to withhold funding from California “a last resort.” The reason for the controversy around AB 484 stems from the language in the final version of the bill that was ultimately passed by the legislature. AB 484 will replace the existing STAR Program with CalMAPP – the California Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress. CDE has posted a Question and Answer page for AB 484.

Only the following CalMAPP (formerly STAR) assessments will be given to students at the end of this (the 2013/2014) school year:

  • Science (CSTs, CAPA, and CMA) in grades 5, 8, and 10
  • CAPA in grades 2-11 for ELA and Math
  • EAP Tests in ELA and Math (Voluntary for 11th grade students)
  • Field test versions of the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment in grades 3 – 8 and 11 in ELA and Math (students participating in the pilot would take only one test, either the ELA or the math during this field test year). (Additional details about the field test can be found on the California Department of Education Smarter Balanced Field Test Questions and Answer page.)

Please note that districts will have the option to pay for and provide the old STAR assessments not included in the list above in 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 should they choose to do so. Please check with your local district on their assessment plans.

This bill for the 2013–14 and 2014–15 school years, upon approval of the state board, authorizes the Superintendent to not provide an API score to a school or school district due to a determination by the Superintendent that a transition to new standards-based assessments would compromise comparability of results across schools or school districts. At the September State Board of  Education meeting, CSTA cautioned the State Board that science assessments are a part of a school’s API and that there are no knew science assessments being proposed for this year; therefore, any plans they make for accountability requirements under the new testing program for 2013/2014 should take the performance on science assessment into consideration and be reported.

AB 484’s new CalMAPP creates a framework for future assessments for 2014/2015 and beyond. However there are many items without deadlines and it is not completely clear at this time which assessment will be in place for the spring of 2015. CSTA will continue to follow this and keep you posted. The good news is that the bill does call for new assessments based on the newly adopted Next Generation Science Standards (no deadline) at least once in grades 3 – 5, inclusive; grades 6 – 9, inclusive; and grades 10-12, inclusive. As far as non-federally required assessments in science are concerned, there is language in the bill that calls for a plan to be proposed for assessing science (and other subjects) in a variety of innovative ways. The deadline for this plan is March 1, 2016.

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

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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.