September 2014 – Vol. 27 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 and is past president of CSTA.

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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