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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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.