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.
by Michelle French
Since the public reviews of the Next Generation Science Standards have come to a close, like many primary teachers, I’ve been wondering what science will look like in kindergarten, first, and second grade classrooms. Learn More…
“SOL Grotto, 2012. 1368 glass tubes, paint. Fabrication: Matarozzi Pelsinger, Rael San Fratello Architects. SOL Grotto is a contemporary take on a grotto or Throeau’s cabin – a spartan retreat that is a space of solitude and close to nature – where one is presented with a mediated experience of water, coolness and light. The SOL Grotto also explores Solyndra’s role as a company S#@t Out of Luck. 1,368 of the 24 million high tech glass tubes destined to be destroyed as a casualty of their bankruptcy, are used in the installation. The tube’s original role as a light concentrating element is extended to transmit cool air into the space via the Venturi effect, to amplify sounds from the adjacent waterfall via the vibrations of the tubes cantilevering over the creek, and to create distorted views of the garden. The form of the electric blue array evokes Plato’s Allegory of the Cave where shadows, light and sounds can call reality into question.”
Responses from Readers:
Peter A’Hearn: Rush hour in little blue circle land.
by Valerie Joyner
Congratulations to CSTA member and STEM Educator, Katherine Schenkelberg, of West High School, in Torrance, CA! Katherine was recently awarded one of the 2013 Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards. An appointed panel of experts selected her for her innovative use of data-collection technology. “The use of data-collection technology in the classroom helps foster students’ interest in STEM education and provides them with engaging, hands-on opportunities for scientific investigation,” said David Vernier, co-founder of Vernier and a former physics teacher. “For ten years Vernier and NSTA have recognized innovative STEM educators through this award and this year’s winners are no exception – their projects and programs truly utilize the power of data-collection technology as part of the teaching and learning process.” Learn More…
by Tim Williamson
Members of the California Science Teachers Association are now in the process of voting for qualified CSTA members to fill the seven openings on the CSTA Board of Directors for the 2013-2015 term.
The election is being conducted electronically and opened for voting on April 16, 2013. Voting will close on May 16, 2013. All CSTA members were sent links to the online ballot. Members for whom we do not have current email addresses or who request a paper ballot have been mailed a ballot and candidate statements. Learn More…