September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

July 2014 California State Board of Education Recap – the Science Education Highlights

Posted: Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

On July 9 – 10, 2014, the California State Board of Education (SBE) held its regularly scheduled meeting. There were several topics on the agenda that were of interest to science educators and science education and CSTA attended both days to address those items.

New Science Assessment Development

Item 5 on the board’s agenda was the extension of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) contract with testing contractor Educational Testing Service (ETS). This contract extension includes many tasks for ETS including the administration of the science CSTs in the spring of 2015 and tasks for the development of new assessments in science aligned to the California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Per the agreement ETS will assist CDE and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) in developing a recommendations report for new science assessment for consideration by the SBE. The report will include recommendations for the following areas:

  • Grade level, content, and type of assessment
  • Use of Consortium-developed assessments and various item types
  • Use of various assessment options, including, but not necessarily limited to, computer-based tests, locally scored performance tasks, and portfolios
  • Use of matrix sampling, if appropriate, and the use of population sampling
  • Timeline for test development, field testing, and operational implementation
  • Cost estimates for content areas, as appropriate

As a part of the scope of work, ETS will develop blueprints and item specifications for NGSS-based science assessments to meet federal requirement, both standard and alternate assessments. In addition, after approval of those documents, ETS will develop items for the federally required assessments.

CSTA made public comments with concerns about the seemingly limiting language (in terms of item type development) in the scope of work document, especially in advance of the science assessment stakeholder meetings which had not yet taken place. In addition, CSTA recommended that the contract be amended to include that ETS build from the work, guidance, and information provided in the NRC Report, Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards that was published earlier this year, in addition to the NAEP and ETS’s previous experience with the computer-based pilot science assessment they conducted in 2012.

ELA/ELD Framework

The SBE unanimously approved the ELA/ELD Curriculum Framework. The document, still requiring a number of finishing touches, is the first of its kind and is approximately 1,200 pages long. The framework provides support and guidance to teachers, parents, administrators, and instructional material providers on how to teach both the California Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (CA CCSS for ELA/Literacy) and the California English Language Development Standards (CA ELD Standards). As stated in the Introduction to the framework (May-June 2014 draft, page 2, retrieved July 28, 2014):

This framework focuses on the teaching and learning of English literacy and language, which includes instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language and the use and development of these skills across the disciplines… It includes guidance for the design of instructional materials, curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional learning with the purpose of ensuring that the range of California’s learners benefit optimally and achieve their highest potentials.

CSTA and its members played an active role in reviewing, editing, and providing input during the writing process. CSTA conducted a document wide review of the first public draft, and focused its review of the second public draft on the science snapshots and vignettes included in the document, which portray the science teacher’s role in supporting the Common Core ELA and California ELD standards.

CSTA and other organizations made public comment requesting the removal of certain language for instructional materials regarding specifications for decodable text. Alas, this effort was not successful; however, the language that was adopted by the SBE had previously been modified during the ELA/ELD Subject Matter Committee meeting in late June. The final language adopted represented a compromise.

The ELA/ELD Framework provides chapters providing an overview of the standards, key considerations, grade level chapters for TK-1; 2-3; 4-5; 6-8; and 9-12, assessment, equity and access, learning in the 21st century, professional learning, instructional materials, resources, a glossary, and an appendix with a list of book resources for teachers.

NGSS Curriculum Framework

On day two of the State Board’s meeting, they approved the Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee Guidelines and the appointment of the members to the Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC). The CFCC will play a significant role in the revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Science Curriculum Framework). The Science Curriculum Framework will be revised to incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (CA NGSS), adopted by the SBE in September 2013, and to reflect current research in science instruction. The CFCC provides input into the initial draft of the revised framework in accordance with guidelines approved by the SBE.

CSTA applauds the 171 educators who applied to serve on this time intensive committee. Our congratulations to all 20 appointees, most especially the following members of CSTA:

  • Robert Sherriff (CFCC co-chair)
  • Juanita Chan
  • John Galisky
  • Susan Gomez-Zwiep
  • Nicole Hawke
  • Lisa Hegdahl
  • Stephanie Pechan
  • Anthony Quan
  • Jo Topps
  • David Tupper
  • Jeanine Wulfenstein

The next step in the Science Curriculum Framework development process will be meetings of the CFCC to review and provide input to the Framework writers. The meetings of the CFCC will take place in Sacramento at the California Department of Education (1430 N Street, Sacramento, CA)

September 9–10, 2014
October 9–10,2014
November 5–6, 2014*
December 11–12,2014
January 22–23,2015
February 26–27, 2015

If you would like to provide input but are not able to attend a meeting in person, you may send your comments via email to scienceframework@cde.ca.gov.

*The November CFCC meeting will take place at the State Library located at 900 N Street, Sacramento, CA.

Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) Template

The final item that CSTA addressed at the July SBE meeting was CSTA’s recommendation for changes to the LCAP template language. CSTA recommended that the language on the template to provide guidance for districts when addressing Priority #2 be modified to make it clearer for districts that the priority address all standards, not simply the Common Core and ELD standards. See our call to action last month for more information.

Several dozen speakers addressed the SBE on the issue of the LCAP template. Only CSTA and one other organization addressed the board requesting greater emphasis for science in the LCAP template.

The next regular meeting of the State Board of Education will be September 3 – 4, 2014. If you would like to receive email notices when the State Board posts their agenda items, you can join their email list at http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/sbefullagendamail.asp

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.

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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).

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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”

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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

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Science Education Background

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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

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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.