September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Next Generation Science Standards Update: Looking Forward to 2014

Posted: Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

2014 will be a very busy year for the Next Generation Science Standards in California. On November 6, 2013, the State Board of Education took action on the issue of the middle school learning progression that they had left undecided at their September 2013 meeting. Their decision was to accept the revised recommendation that California adopt the integrated model as developed by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) as the preferred model for California middle grades science instruction, and to reconvene the SEP  to develop a discipline specific model based on the domain specific model in Appendix K. The SEP is meeting on December 4 and 5 to begin this task. Once the SEP completes their work (estimated March 2014) school districts will be able to evaluate both – and choose between the integrated and discipline-specific models based on which they think will best serve their students. No further State Board action will be required to adopt the alternative discipline-specific arrangement. I encourage you to read NGSS for Middle Grades: Tips for Implementation – Step 1, Don’t Rush for tips and information.

2014 will bring a number of opportunities for science teachers to become involved in the NGSS implementation process:

Curriculum Framework Focus Group Meetings

The Curriculum Framework Focus Groups discuss several questions designed to provide guidance to the writers of the new science curriculum framework. Even if you are not selected to be a focus group member, all focus group meetings are open and public comment is welcome at the conclusion of the the focus group discussion. A draft list of questions focus group discussion is available online. (Please note: this draft list of questions is currently being revised, a finalized list of questions will be available in January). If you would like to provide input but are not able to attend a meeting in person, you may send you comments via email by February 18, 2014 (instructions on how to do so will be available when the final questions are released). Pending State Board approval in January, the focus group meetings will be held:

  • Saturday, January 25, 2014, 10 a.m.–noon, Exploratorium, San Francisco
  • Thursday, January 30, 2014, 5–7 p.m, San Diego County Office of Education
  • Friday, January 31, 2014, 4:30–6:30 p.m, Orange County Department of Education
  • Tuesday, February 4, 2014, 4–6 p.m, CDE, Sacramento, Video Conference Included (Siskiyou, Shasta, Humboldt)
  • Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 4–6 p.m, Fresno County Office of Education

Curriculum Framework Writing

Curriculum frameworks provide guidance to teachers, administrators, and parents on how a standards-based curriculum is implemented in the classroom. Pending approval of the proposed development timeline by the State Board of Education at its January 15-16, 2014 meeting, recruitment for members of the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) will begin in February 2014 and will last for 90 days, concluding in April 2014. Made up of 9 – 20 people, the CFCC will play a significant role in the revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Science Framework). The Science Framework will be revised to incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (CA NGSS) and to reflect current research in science instruction. The CFCC will provide input for the initial draft of the revised framework in accordance with the guidelines approved by the SBE. CSTA will send out information to members when the application is available.

Even if you are not able to commit your time to serving on the CFCC, you can still participate in the development process. Public comment periods on the draft science curriculum framework will take place in the summer and fall of 2015.

New State Science Assessments

While there is no timeline in place yet, stay tuned to CSTA for information about how to be involved in the development of new assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards. AB 484, will be enacted on January 1, 2014 and calls for the Superintendent to consult with stakeholders, including, but not necessarily limited to, California science teachers, individuals with expertise in assessing English learners and pupils with disabilities, parents, and measurement experts, regarding the grade level and type of assessment. The recommendations shall include cost estimates and a plan for implementation of at least one science assessment in each of the following grade spans:
(i) Grades 3 to 5, inclusive.
(ii) Grades 6 to 9, inclusive.
(iii) Grades 10 to 12, inclusive.

CSTA anticipates that work on the development of the new assessment recommendation will begin in 2014.

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

2 Responses

  1. I would like to attend the focus group in San Francisco but I don’t know how to register.

    Thank you

  2. Dear Imene,
    You will not need to register in advance to attend as a member of the public (the application for being a focus group member deadline was Monday). I do not have the details such as meeting room location yet. I imagine those will be released after the State Board approves the dates during their January 15-16 meeting. CSTA will post the information online as soon as it is available. I am very pleased to hear you are planning on attending.

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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.