September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

LCFF and LCAP: Tools to Help Move Science Education Forward

Posted: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

I think it’s safe to say that CSTA members recognize that the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are California’s current science standards. As I travel around the state I find that not everyone is as informed as you are! In case you want to forward this article to some less informed colleagues, allow me to recap.

NGSS were unanimously adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) in September 2013. In November 2013 the State Board of Education voted unanimously (with one abstention) to adopt the CA NGSS Integrated Model for 6-8 (as developed by the CA Science Expert Panel) as the SPI/ SBE’s preferred model for middle grades science instruction in California. To provide for local option, the Board also requested that the California Department of Education provide an alternate discipline specific model for grades 6-8. This model will be presented to the SBE in spring.

The Board’s intent in the November action was for there to be one Integrated NGSS Model in California for grades 6-8 (the one preferred by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Board), and one Discipline Specific NGSS Model in California for grades 6-8, as an alternate local option where needed.

While NGSS will not be fully implemented into our classrooms for a few years, there is a current need for teachers and administrators to start learning about NGSS immediately. This means awareness and learning about the standards for some. For others it means starting to tweak our current practices to incorporate science and engineering practices and cross-cutting concepts. Regardless of where you are on the awareness/implementation spectrum, none of us can wait two or three years to do anything. We need to start now!

Our current State Board of Education has repeatedly demonstrated that it is responsive to its stakeholders as they deliberate and make decisions. It has provided several opportunities for districts to have increased control and decision making. We see that in their NGSS decisions and in major K-12 finance reform. The new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and the LEA Local Control & Accountability Plans (LCAP) provide a move towards much stronger local accountability.

As part of LCFF, districts will submit their Local Control & Accountability Plans by July 1, 2014. (I am guessing you will have internal deadlines in your district that are even earlier.) Good news for science education…. LCAPs must address plans to implement NGSS as part of addressing State Priority #2.

Implementation of State Standards: implementation of academic content and performance standards adopted by the state board for all pupils, including English learners. (Priority 2)

The State Board of Education and California Department of Education expect all California LEAs to begin implementing (if they are ready), or at least beginning to develop a plan for implementing, the Next Generation Science Standards in 2014-2015. The July 1, 2014 LCAP should include a plan and annual goals for the implementation of the state’s new NGSS science standards as part of their activities addressing State Priority #2.

Want even more good news about state support for NGSS? 

$1.25 billion is available for NGSS as well as Common Core State Standards
Assembly Bill 86 (Chapter 48, Statutes of 2013) contained language that appropriated funds specifically for implementing newly adopted state standards, including the new science standards (referenced in legislation as Education Code Section 60605.85). The legislation also specified that the funds are available for encumbrance for two fiscal years — 2013-14 and 2014-15. 

Specifically, section 85 of the bill states:
It is the intent of the Legislature that school districts, county offices of education, charter schools, and the state special schools use funds allocated pursuant to subdivision (b) to support the integration of academic content standards in instruction adopted pursuant to Sections 60605.8, 60605.85, 60605.10, 60605.11, and 60811.3 of the Education Code, for kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, for purposes of establishing high-quality instructional programs for all pupils.

The bill language further explains that these funds can be used for professional development and instructional materials aligned to the standards (including NGSS), and integration of the academic content standards through technology-based instruction for purposes of improving the academic performance of pupils, including, but not necessarily limited to, expenditures necessary to support the administration of computer-based assessments and provide high-speed, high-bandwidth Internet connectivity for the purpose of administration of computer-based assessments.

So what does this mean for you as a science educator in California?

It means the time to act is now! Be actively engaged in helping your site/district develop its LCAP. Be a strong advocate for ensuring the funding is allocated for NGSS planning and implementation. NGSS may not be high on the priority list for some district administrators. I know Common Core implementation issues are important, but so too is NGSS implementation. There are lessons we’ve learned from CCSS implementation that inform us that we ought to start now for a smooth, steady transition to NGSS.

There will be numerous events in the next year which will support your growth and help meet your needs to implement NGSS. Talk with your colleagues and become engaged around improving science education. You need to make sure that what you ask for aligns with the state priorities in the Ed Code (sections 52060 and 52066) but you need to get NGSS related implementation activities included in your Local Control & Accountability Plan.

Consider including attendance at the NSTA Long Beach Area Conference – in Collaboration with CSTA (December 2014) as part of your LCAP. The conference focuses on NGSS implementation issues. The conference’s three strands are NGSS Implementation, Science: The Gateway to Common Core State Standards, and STEM Classrooms: Anytime/Anyplace/Anywhere.

Local  Control  and  Accountability  Plan  and  Annual  Update  Template

Special thanks Trish Williams, California State Board of Education member and NGSS Liaison, for compiling information about the Ed Code and how LCFF and LCAP support our efforts to implement NGSS.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” 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.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. 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.