May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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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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.