May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Legislative Update

Posted: Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

The end of August is a very busy time of year in the California legislature. It marks the close of the legislative year, as August 24 is the last day a bill can be amended on the floor and August 31 is the last day for each house to pass bills. After this, the next major deadline in the legislative process is the end of September, which is the deadline for Governor Brown to sign or veto any bills passed by the legislature. There are currently several pieces of proposed legislature that are potentially important to California science educators, and already some significant amendments have been made during these last few weeks of jockeying and positioning to get bills passed.

The most significant of these is a proposed amendment to SB 1200 (Hancock). Initially, this bill was primarily focused on math and Common Core State Standards, but on August 24 it was amended to include an extension of the timeline for the adoption of new science standards. The original timeline for new science standards was initially outlined in SB 300 (Hancock), which was due to for presentation to the State Board of Education by March 30, 2013 with adoption, revision, or rejection by the State Board due July 30, 2013. The amendment to SB 1200, however, extends these deadlines to July 31, 2013 and November 30, 2013, respectively. This change indicates that some of the rumors about delays in the development of the Next Generation Science Standards might, in fact, be true. At the end of the day, CSTA receives this amendment with open arms. We support the amended bill, as it allows Next Generation Science Standards writers and reviewers to have additional time, and provides California science teachers and the public more time to provide feedback about the draft and final version of the standards before they are presented to the State Board. The requirement that two public meetings be held before the final proposed standards are presented to the Board remains in place. For more information about the Next Generation Science Standards, visit http://www.cascience.org/csta/ngss.asp.

Over the past few weeks, AB 1246 (Brownley) has also seen several significant amendments. In its current and final form, the bill would make several key changes to the textbook adoption process, the first of which would change the textbook adoption cycle from six to eight years. In addition, the state board is currently required to approve the criteria for review and adoption of instructional materials at least 30 months before the materials are actually adopted, this bill would shorten this to only 12 months, greatly reducing the textbook adoption cycle timeline. Finally, the bill would also give school districts increased flexibility in selecting instructional materials that were not adopted by the state board as long as the materials went through a selection review process that includes a majority of classroom teachers and that the materials selected for purchase are aligned with state standards.

SB 1458 (Steinberg) was also amended from its early July version. It was originally written to impose an API test result maximum of 40% to be implemented by 2014-2015, but the amendment raises this to a 60% cap for 2016 implementation. The bill still includes the following requirement:

  • “On or before October 1, 2013, the Superintendent shall report to the Legislature and recommend to the state board for adoption a method or methods for increasing the emphasis on pupil mastery of standards in science and social science through the system of public school accountability or by other means.”

Two bills, SB 1154 (Walters) and AB 1790 (Hagman), have been tied together. Both have to do with digital instructional materials. In their final form, together these bills would result in the following:

  • If a publisher offers a printed instructional material or supplemental instructional material in an equivalent digital format, the digital format will cost either the same as, or less than, the printed material.
  • Printed and digital materials must be offered in an unbundled format to allow for the purchasing of one format or another, or both.
  • A school district may purchase and use digital instructional materials to create a district-wide online digital database for classroom use consistent with an online security system as mutually agreed on by the publisher and the school district.
  • Publishers or manufacturers would be required to ensure that printed instructional material submitted for adoption is also available in an equivalent digital format during the entire term of the adoption.
  • Would not require a publisher or manufacturer that submits instructional materials in digital format only for adoption to offer or submit an equivalent print version of the instructional materials in digital format.
  • Exemptions to these provisions for specified copyright issues, as well as for small publishers.

As originally written, AB 1521 (Brownley) would have eliminated the Integrated Math and Integrated Science Assessments by amending Ed Code, but this language was amended on August 24. As now written, it would add a section to the Education Code to authorize the State Department of Education, subject to the approval of the state board, to make a primary language assessment available to school districts and charter schools. This assessment would allow school districts and charter schools to assess pupils enrolled in a dual language immersion program, as specified, and who are either nonlimited English proficient or redesignated fluent English proficient. The bill would also require that if a school district or charter school chooses to administer the primary language assessment it must do so at its own expense, and enter into an agreement with the state testing contractor, subject to the approval of the Department of Education. These changes would preserve the Integrated Science and Integrated Math tests that were originally on the chopping block.

AB 1967 (Perez) remains active and in its final form calls for the state board to ensure that the health and science curriculum frameworks adopted in the next submission cycle include the subject of organ procurement and tissue donation, as appropriate.

The next and final step in the legislative process will be for the Governor to sign or veto the bills that passed the legislature on or before September 1. He has until the end of September to do this. CSTA will provide a final update in the October issue of California Classroom Science.

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.