September 2015 – Vol. 28 No. 1

NGSS: What’s Next?

Posted: Friday, February 1st, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy and Laura Henriques

What happens next? The second and final public review of the draft Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is now closed but we don’t yet have a new set of science standards for California. Although we have ELA Common Core Standards with specific expectations for reading and writing in science and we have Common Core Standards for Mathematics that call for modeling and the application of math practices to real world problems, we are still waiting for standards that are science-specific. In this article, we will attempt to outline the next steps in the development process for California science standards.

The feedback period for the second public draft ended on January 29 and the results are being reviewed by the writing team at Achieve, Inc. for further revisions and refinements. Once those are made, Achieve, Inc. is scheduled to release the final version of the NGSS in March 2013. It’s important to realize that the NGSS are the result of a large collaboration between states and once finalized, individual states are encouraged to adopt them in whole. We hope that you had an opportunity to review the draft and provide your feedback to Achieve. CSTA would like to hear directly from you regarding your thoughts on the standards. Please take a moment to complete a short, 13 question survey to help guide CSTA in representing your voice at the state level in response to the second draft.

Based on legislation passed in 2011 (Senate Bill 300) and revised in October 2012 (Senate Bill 1200), State Superintendent of Public Instruction, (SSPI) Tom Torlakson, must propose new science standards to the State Board of Education (SBE) by July 2013. Although the bill stipulates that these new standards must be based on the NGSS there is no language requiring that the proposed standards be the NGSS. Prior to making his proposal, the SSPI must hold at least two public hearings for input. Once proposed, the State Board of Education (SBE) has until November 2013 to accept the SSPI’s recommendation, accept it with revisions, or deny it. The SBE’s November 2013 decision is just the “next” beginning of this long and winding road. (Click for a complete timeline of the California science standards development and adoption timeline.)

Once California adopts new science standards, the real work of setting the stage for implementation begins. Standards by themselves are not sufficient for defining science instruction in California. As you are reading this article, CSTA is working in conjunction with the California Department of Education to enact legislation that will restart the curriculum framework (framework) development process*.  It is the framework that will serve as the guide to the development of instructional materials, assessments, and ultimately site-based curriculum. It would be great if that process were already in place but realistically, it takes about 18 months to complete a new framework meaning that the earliest it would be available is sometime in 2015. As you can imagine, that means the development of instructional materials (currently a 30 month process from start to finish) and assessments will be later than this.

In the meantime, there will be plenty of opportunities to participate and CSTA is busy trying to determine how best to support the science education community throughout this process. There will be public review meetings throughout the state, the State Board of Education is required to have public hearings related to the adoption of new standards (these will be sometime between the March and July), and there will be all sorts of review hearings associated with the new framework. While not all of you will be involved in advocating in Sacramento or working on writing teams for the new framework, all of us should be actively involved in learning what the new standards mean for us as practitioners. CSTA will be there through the entire process as long as we have the support of our members. Please be sure to maintain your CSTA membership or join. Membership will insure that you have access to the latest information and ways to be involved in the upcoming conversations around assessment, curriculum, and final standards development.

Whether you teach in a preK-12 classroom, an informal institution, or teach prospective teachers, you will be impacted by the new standards California adopts. Availing ourselves of good professional development related to the standards is going to be critical. We will need to work with our on-site and regional colleagues to have a better sense of how to effectively teach to meet our new California standards. Having participated in several group review sessions related to NGSS, we know that it is much easier to make sense of the standards and think about instruction when you do it with peers. With this in mind, please plan to attend the October 2013 CSTA California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs. By then we should have a pretty good sense of what direction the state will be moving. During the months and year following the conference, CSTA will be working with others around the state to provide you with the professional development you need.

We encourage you to be informed and involved. We thank all of you who participated in reviewing the first or second drafts of NGSS and we thank you in advance for the work you have not yet done – commenting on the standards and framework, attending SBE hearings and voicing your opinions, participating on framework writing teams, and attending conferences and workshops to improve your practice. These are exciting times to be a science teacher in California and we thank you for your efforts to move us in a new direction.

*The curriculum framework development process is currently under legislative suspension until the 2015-2016 school year. Steps are being taken in an effort to lift this suspension prior to 2015-2016. CSTA will keep readers and members posted as progress on this front develops.

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California, Davis and is CSTA’s president.

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and president-elect of CSTA.


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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis.

4 Responses

  1. […] instruction of the new standards in the classroom after they are adopted. I recommend you read NGSS: What’s Next? in this month’s issue of California Classroom Science (CCS). It will be important for teachers to […]

  2. […] still do not necessarily know what the California science standards will look like. As explained in last month’s president’s column, the NGSS release by Achieve, Inc. only starts the process. At this time, there is no guarantee […]

  3. if we are to wait for the STATE to adopt the NGS then we should continue for next school year teaching the standards we have and include some of the strategies needed to help the core standards in LA and Math. I think we can follow the described NGS suggested guidelines to follow with the topics we are to cover this next year.

    But how are our students going to be tested next year in science?? will we be having CST on science or simple the SBACs with LA and math?

  4. Yolanda, in regards to testing for the 2013/2014 school year it will depend somewhat on what happens this year in the legislature. As of right now, the one thing you can count on is that students will be taking the science tests in grades 5, 8, and 10 as required for compliance with ESEA. The tests will be based on the current (1998) science content standards.
    In addition, high school students may be taking end of course exams in science, but these may be suspending depending on what happens in legislation. There is currently a bill (AB 484) that calls for the suspension of the end of course exams in 2013/2014.
    Currently, the plan is that SBAC will not be implemented until the 2014/2015 school year.

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More Than 1,400 Science Educators Prepare to Convene in Sacramento

Posted: Thursday, September 17th, 2015

by Deb Farkas

As we get ready to go full steam ahead with implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards and eagerly await the new California Science Framework, there is no better place to be in early October than here in Sacramento, where you will find workshops, speakers, field experiences, short courses and more to inspire and re-energize your teaching. If you are not one of the more than 1,000 teachers to have registered, I invite you to do so today.

Don’t miss opening speaker, Ainissa Ramirez. Author, engineer and science evangelist, Dr. Ramirez will encourage us to ignite the spark of curiosity in all of our students and get them excited about science. Former astronaut José Hernández will close our conference with an account of his journey from migrant farm worker to engineer to mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Discovery, and his work inspiring children to “reach for the stars.” We are also pleased to offer you a variety of highly regarded focus speakers in science and education. Learn about a strength-based approach to early science education, bringing deep sea data to the classroom, ZomBees, engaging students in engineering, and literacy, non-verbal communication patterns and social justice in the science classroom. 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.

Trying NGSS with Paper Clips and Gummy Worms

Posted: Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

by Joanne Michael

By now, most teachers have heard of NGSS, know that it is not going away, and have realized they will be teaching this new set of standards within the next few years. While some are excited at the possibility of new happenings, others are terrified at the prospect of having to change curriculum that they have spent years fine-tuning and tweaking. A few districts are implementing NGSS early, working out the kinks and creating guides for the rest of the state, but what about the teachers that want to venture out and try the new curriculum without the support of the entire district? It seems daunting, but there are some ways to ease into the NGSS world. Learn More…

Written by Joanne Michael

Joanne Michael is the K-5 science specialist at Meadows Elementary in Manhattan Beach, CA, and CSTA’s intermediate grades 3-5) Director.

High School Teachers – We Need Your Help!

Posted: Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

CSTA and its partners are trying to get a sense of what high school science looks like across the state. We are interested in knowing how many years of science your district requires for graduation, what the typical course taking patterns are, and a sense of the high school science teaching workforce. If you are in a position to answer these questions please take the survey. If you can’t provide that information we ask that you share this link with your district science leader or other appropriate administrator. It should not take very long to complete (less than 5 minutes) and the information will help CSTA and our partners as we plan NGSS activities and support. Thank you for filling out the survey yourself or for directing it to the appropriate person.

Take Survey

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 Honors Rising Stars, Advocates, and Distinguished Contributors to Science Education in 2015

Posted: Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Legislator of the Year, Future Science Teacher, Honorary Memberships, and the new Bertrand Advocacy Award. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2015 California Science Education Conference on October 2 – 4 in Sacramento. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them! 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.

Northern Happenings for September–Region 1

Posted: Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

September already – allow me to add my welcome back wish to the others you are hearing across all 29 counties that make up CSTA Region 1!


CSTA Regions Map

It has certainly been a busy summer with California Science Project events across the region, and lots of activity at Math Science Partnership Grant projects as well. As you come back to class this fall, consider your summer learning, and think about how you might share it at a future CSTA conference! This year you will no doubt be trying out what you learned in your classes. By next spring you will know what you could share with colleagues at the 2016 Science Educators Conference to be held in Palm Springs. It seems a long time from now, but if you have the idea in mind as you teach your students, you can be on the lookout for what would be wonderful to share with other K-12 teachers in California. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.