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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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.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Cal

This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. 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.

Is This a First: Young Female Teens Propose California Water Conservation Legislation?

Posted: Monday, August 28th, 2017

Meet the La Habra Water Guardians from the Optics of their Teacher Moderator, Dr. P.

by Susan M. Pritchard, Ph.D.

You have just won the 2016 Lexus Eco Challenge as one of four First Place Winners in the Middle School Category across the nation! Now, what are you going to do … go to Disneyland? No, not for four of the six La Habra Water Guardians, Disneyland is not in their future at this time. Although I think they would love a trip to Disneyland, (are you listening Mickey Mouse?), at this moment they are focused big time on one major thing … celebrating the passage of their proposed legislation: Assembly Bill 1343 Go Low Flow Water Conservation Partnership Bill and now promoting the enactment of this legislation. Learn More…

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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.