May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. 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 NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.