January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

High Hopes – Few Opportunities: The State of Elementary Science Education in California

Posted: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

by Valerie Joyner

The results of the research report High Hopes – Few Opportunities will not come as a surprise to science educators in California. On October 25, 2011, in partnership with The Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley, SRI International, Belden Russonello & Stewart, Stone’s Throw Communications, and Inverness Research, The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd released the report on the state of science education in California’s elementary schools. The results of this 2010-2011 study included research surveys of California elementary and middle school teachers, principals, school district leaders, case studies, the results of previous public opinion surveys, and focus groups. While Californians maintain the belief that “high-quality science education” should be a top priority; the reality is that it is not.

The 2010 research survey A Priority for California’s Future: Science for Students found 86% of the respondents view science education as critical for California’s students. They further believe (70%) that science education should begin in elementary school in order to keep California and the United States in the forefront of technology and innovation. It is not only the public perception that science education is essential, but 92% and 95% of principals and teachers, respectively, believe the need to have quality science education is a high priority and that it should begin in kindergarten.

Despite public opinion and the opinions of California’s educators the fact remains that science does not exist as a priority in our schools. The study points out several challenges that keep science from being taught in our elementary classrooms; the emphasis on English Language Arts (ELA) and math, limited funds to purchase supplies, limited professional development opportunities, and lack of district support. Teachers point to the lack of time that can be devoted to science because of the state’s continued emphasis on ELA and math, and its associated testing to determine proficiency. As students move up in the grades they begin to spend more time learning science. The majority of kindergarten and first grade teachers report spending less than one hour per week on science instruction and experiences. Yet in fifth grade classrooms where science is tested, about 40% of classrooms spend 120+ minutes per week. The evidence suggests that a majority of our students spend less than one hour on science instruction per week.

About 90% of California’s elementary teachers report that they feel “very prepared” to teach ELA and math, yet only one-third feel they are “very prepared” to teach science. Add to that the feeling of teachers that they lack the background necessary for “high-quality” science instruction, including investigations and inquiry. Science related professional development is lacking and seldom supported by districts. If teachers are to present “high quality” science instruction where students are actively involved in the practices of science, they need strong district support and significant science initiatives.

The report concludes with recommendations that will assist with the development of science education as a priority in our elementary schools where students participate in meaningful investigations, experimentation, and scientific reasoning. These recommendations include providing teachers with district commitment, science expertise, resources, and building partnerships with industry, universities, and science institutions. Additionally, a recommendation was made to allocate the time necessary for science instruction by integrating science across the curriculum.

This is a very powerful study, one that should be used to influence our schools, administrators, and the California legislature. Read the full report at www.cftl.org/science and share it with your colleagues. Reform efforts always take time in education, but when we work together we can accomplish so much. Let us all work to change the title of this study from High Hopes – Few Opportunities, to High Hopes – Many Opportunities!

It is time to take action! Read and discuss High Hopes – Few Opportunities with parents, colleagues, your administration, and potential partners. Take time to share your thoughts, ideas, and implementation efforts with us. Let us all take a first step toward reforming science education!

Valerie Joyner is district science lead teacher for Petaluma City Schools and is the CSTA’s region 1 director.

Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator and is a member of CSTA.

One Response

  1. […] first identify it. CSTA Region I Director and second grade teacher, Valerie Joyner, discusses in her eCCS article this month, the recently released study High Hopes-Few Opportunities-The Status of Elementary Science […]

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LATEST POST

California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

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.

Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

OVERVIEW
Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.

REGISTER

http://bit.ly/ACCELERATINGINTONGSS

DATES & LOCATIONS
MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. 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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. 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.