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.
Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
CSTA’s counterparts at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has been actively representing the voice of science teachers in Washington D.C. This morning they sent out this call to action:
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are currently working to reauthorize (rewrite) No Child Left Behind. Please contact your members of Congress immediately, and ask them to make STEM education a national priority. At the Legislative Action Center of the STEM Education Coalition website, you can send a letter to your elected representatives, asking them to
- Maintain a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
- Continue the focus on math and science as required elements of any state’s accountability system.
- Provide states with dedicated funding to support STEM-related activities and teacher training.
It is urgent that educators take a moment to write to your elected officials, and send this message to colleagues and networks in your school or district.
Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2015
by Jessica Sawko
On March 31, 2015 participants from the Science Assessment Stakeholder Meetings held in July 2014 were invited to participate in a follow up meeting to provide input on what a formative component, a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Digital Center, should look like for California. This NGSS Digital Center could include formative assessment tools similar to that of the Smarter Balanced Digital Library for ELA and mathematics. This meeting will take place at the end of April 2015. This is very exciting news as it gives some insight to the direction the state may take with the future statewide assessment system to support the Next Generation Science Standards. Learn More…
Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
by Laura Henriques
Women are far less likely than men to earn pSTEM (physical Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) degrees or work in the field. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it has gotten a bit of press lately. US News and World Reports had an article highlighting a Clinton Foundation Report showing women in developing countries have less access to cell phones (and therefore the internet) than men. This results in decreased access to health care, fewer job options, a lack of flexibility with work and childcare related issues, and a lowered sense of empowerment. That article linked to several other articles about the lack of diversity in STEM fields in the US, the leaky pipeline and more. Learn More…
Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
by Sara Dozier
Like me, you are probably excited about the opportunities that the Next Generation Science Standards offer students and teachers. For the first time in 17 years, our science standards are asking us to engage our students in science learning that is engaging, meaningful and just plain fun. In addition to our excitement, though, there is also some apprehension. Learn More…
Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015
by Jill Grace
When I ponder that word, I am flooded with various – shall I say – feelings. And these feelings are deep-rooted feelings. On one hand, as a teacher, assessment is simply the cornerstone of understanding how my students are doing from beginning to end of instruction. Building a classroom culture where students are expected to have conversations about content provides me with a special window to listen in – are they getting it? I don’t need to give a quiz or a test, I just need to listen. I often look over their shoulders, peering into their personal thinking as they describe what they understood in their science notebook. I assess constantly, daily, by the minute just by being present walking around the classroom. Learn More…