January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Update

Posted: Friday, June 1st, 2012

The first public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) was released for review on Friday, May 14th. The review period for this draft closed at the end of the day on June 1st. If you did not have an opportunity to review the standards during this first round, CSTA strongly encourages you to participate in the second round of public reviews, anticipated for late fall of this year. Information about the draft standards can be found at http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards.  A copy of the May draft of the standards is available for download from the CSTA website. If your time is limited, you might consider reviewing only a portion of the standards in your area of expertise. What ever route you choose, your comments are important to the continued development of the standards in a form and structure that will guide science instruction for years to come.

Throughout the review period, CSTA members and staff have presented, attended, and supported informational and group review meetings throughout the State. We have listed the time and location of many of these meetings on the CSTA website. If you did participate, we would love to have your general comments in the response section at the bottom of this article. In addition, many of the CSTA members and workshop facilitators will share their recollections of the review process and the NGSS as a way for CSTA to prepare for future reviews. If you did not have a chance to participate in a review, please watch CCS for information about the second public review period in the fall.

Once we have a better sense of your feelings about the NGSS the 2012 Conference Planning Committee will assemble targeted workshops and information sessions for the San Jose California Science Education Conference to be held October 19-21, 2012.

CSTA has not yet taken a formal position in support or against the NGSS or the Conceptual Framework. What we do support are the philosophies and practices included in the NGSS.  The concepts of depth vs. breadth, problem solving and critical thinking, and the scientific practices associated with the NGSS represent a significant change in the current science education landscape and one that CSTA has advocated for many years.  CSTA does support your opportunity to participate in this critical review process and encourages you to be an active participant in this process. As you have more opportunities to participate in in-service trainings, review sessions, and implementation discussions, please feel free (and encouraged) to share your thoughts and ideas with your Board members.  As we move through the summer and the fall, CCS will have additional articles and updates about the NGSS. Each of these articles will include a comment section where you can share your thoughts with the Board and your fellow science teachers.

CSTA would like your feedback. We are hosting an online discussion forum where CSTA members can post their comments, feedback, and interact with one another. This forum is available for CSTA members only and you must log-in to the CSTA website in order to participate. CSTA will use your discussions and posts to glean information about our members thoughts and opinions on the NGSS. Please click here to log-in. After you log-in, you will see a link on the upper left for “NGSS on-line forum (members only)”.

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.

One Response

  1. Many science educators are putting high hopes on the Next Generation Science Standards and are rooting hard for them to succeed. We want a chance to get our students doing more and memorizing less and we look forward to helping our students to see the crosscutting concepts that connect the sciences and connect science with other disciplines.

    But this does not mean that we should be uncritical during the opportunities we have to review. Giving tough, focused, and constructive input is the best way to ensure that our students get the standards that they deserve. As I look at the first draft of the standards I see much room for improvement and have many questions. Some suggestions for the writers and some places for teachers to look deeply:

    Language- In a response to my last post, Scott Hays asked why the crosscutting concepts had to be presented in such kid unfriendly language. Remember that in many schools teachers are required to post standards on the board and expected to refer to them directly several times each lesson. In looking over the standards, I agree and think the language used is unfriendly not to just kids, but to everyone. As it says in the AAAs’s Project 2061 Science For All Americans, “Understanding rather than vocabulary should be the main purpose of science teaching.” The writers of the NGSS seem to have trapped themselves in some tortured patterns of writing instead of writing for clarity and simplicity. This mostly seems to stem from the attempt to force a scientific practice and a cross cutting concept or two into every sentence. Here is an example from first grade:

    “Obtain information and communicate that there are tools that allow people to see more objects in the sky and in greater detail. (Clarification statement: Information can be obtained using telescopes, binoculars, or reliable media. For example, as a result of these tools, we can see more stars and study the Moon in greater detail)

    And at the other end, from high school:

    Construct an explanation of how photovoltaic materials work using the particle model of light, and describe their application in everyday devices. (Clarification statement: Everyday devices include solar cells and barcodes.) (Assessment Boundary: Qualitative descriptors only)

    It’s pretty much all in this gibberish committee speak style. I appreciate that the writers are trying hard to show that what we know should not be separated from how we know it. But we don’t have to cram practices, crosscutting concepts and core ideas into a single sentence at the expense of clarity.

    An attempt to simplify:

    For the first grade astronomy standard;

    People use tools like telescopes and binoculars to see things in the sky like the stars, planets, and the Moon. Students should do research to learn about them and communicate what they learn.

    For the high school physics standard:

    The particle model of light helps explain how everyday photovoltaic materials like solar cells and barcodes work. Students should be able to make qualitative explanations about how they work based on scientific models of the nature of light

    It might be easier to slightly decouple the practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Maybe for each standard set (I’m thinking of them as units) state the science concepts, list the practices that best fit that unit with an explanation of how they can be applied, and highlight the crosscutting concepts that are most evident in that unit. This seems easier than trying to fit it all into each convoluted sentence,

    All Students- These standards are written to be expectations for all students. “All Standards, All Students” is the heading of the chapter on equity. Severely cognitively challenged and emotionally disturbed, just got to this country with no formal schooling where they came from, growing up in extreme poverty with constant dislocation, growing up in conditions of abuse and neglect, or went a low performing elementary school where science wasn’t taught because it isn’t tested. All Students.

    So from one point of view, standards are supposed to be aspirations, “Aim high because you only hit what you aim for” and all that. Which I have no problem with. Its good to set high expectations and try to achieve them as long as they are anchored in reality. But we teachers have been living with standards enough to know that standards, in the hands of politicians and the media, turn into weapons. These standards are clearly more rigorous than our current California standards, which we are constantly reminded that not enough of our students are proficient in. So what happens when testing reveals that not enough of our students are proficient in the Next Generation Science Standards? (Which it will) Will the punching bags be the politicians who set policy and direct funding? Don’t bet on it. As Tony Soprano said, “#$%& rolls down hill.” The blame will rest with you my fellow science teacher, and pity you if you work in a school with high poverty or many recent immigrants.

    Grade level appropriate? – I’m out of my depth on this one since I’m not current with the latest research, but I remember lots of talk that the California standards were not developmentally appropriate, and these seem to introduce harder more abstract ideas at earlier grades. I notice this especially in the Earth Science strand. I know that middle school kids have a hard time distinguishing models from the real thing, and there is lots of model based thinking in middle school. I’m interested in hearing someone with a strong understanding of the research explaining the basis of some of the decisions.

Leave a Reply


California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

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.

Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.



MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. 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.