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: Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
The State Board of Education (SBE) is currently seeking applications to fill up to 15 positions on a newly constituted advisory committee, which will be called the California Practitioners Advisory Group (CPAG), to provide input to the SBE on ongoing efforts to establish a single coherent local, state, and federal accountability system. The advisory committee will also serve as the state’s committee of practitioners under federal Title I requirements.
All applicants must currently meet one or more of the practitioner categories listed below:
- Superintendents or other Administrators
- Teachers from traditional public schools and charter schools and career and technical educators
- Principals and other school leaders
- Parents of student(s) currently enrolled in the K-12 public education system
- Members of local school boards
- Representatives of private school children
- Specialized instructional support personnel and paraprofessionals
- Representatives of authorized public chartering agencies
- Charter school leaders
- Education researchers
Posted: Tuesday, February 9th, 2016
The first review period for the K-12 Computer Science (CS) framework – developed by Code.org, the Computer Science Teachers Association, and the Association for Computing Machinery, along with more than 100 advisors within the computing community – begins February 3 with the release of the high school (grades 9-12) layer of concepts and descriptions of K-12 practices. We invite you to review the framework and participate in the opportunity to shape a vision for K-12 CS education. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, February 9th, 2016
by Lisa Hegdahl
As I write this message, it is the waning days of January. Only the first month of 2016 and yet a great deal is happening in Science education within the California Science Teachers Association and the state of California as a whole. Indeed, this an exciting time to be a science educator. Let’s take a look back at all that has taken place these past few weeks.
California Science Framework Public Review Sessions
The beginning of January 2016 found California at the end of the first public review of the draft California Science Framework. A dedicated, 25 member, CSTA NGSS Committee under the leadership of co-chairs Laura Henriques, Past President of CSTA, and Peter A’Hearn, CSTA Region 4 Director, coordinated 30 Framework review sessions in 22 California counties in which 625 educators participated. In addition, many people sent their feedback directly to the California Department of Education. The members of the NGSS committee, those that read the Framework, and those who attended and hosted review sessions, volunteered in order to make the Framework useful for all of us. This represents countless hours of personal time. You can be confident that CSTA will keep you informed about the dates for the 2nd public review of the draft CA Science Framework currently scheduled for June-July 2016. A copy of CSTA’s response to the first draft is available here (1MB). I will be attending the two meetings where public comments are considered (February 19 and March 18) by the Science Subject Matter Committee of the Instructional Quality Commission to advocate on behalf of CSTA membership. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, February 8th, 2016
by Pete A’Hearn
“How come if people evolved from monkeys, monkeys aren’t turning into people now?”
I’m going to bet that any science teacher who has taught evolution has run into this question at some point. There are a bunch of incorrect assumptions behind the question, including the idea that evolution is a process that we could observe occurring during our lifetimes. This idea is directly addressed as part of the NGSS Crosscutting Concept of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity with the idea that:
- Phenomena that can be observed at one scale may not be observable at another scale.
- Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.
(Note that this is not the crosscutting concept called out in the middle school evolution topic. Teachers will need to used multiple crosscutting concepts as well as multiple practices in building coherent units – not just the ones highlighted in the standards). Learn More…
The Big Idea Page: A Creative Way to Emphasize the Crosscutting Concepts for Three Dimensional Learning
Posted: Monday, February 8th, 2016
by Jennifer Weibert
Making three-dimensional learning a reality in the classroom of teachers starting to implement the NGSS can be a struggle. In many cases, the Crosscutting Concepts are often an afterthought. According to A Framework for K-12 Science Education, “…the purpose of the Crosscutting Concepts is to help students deepen their understanding of the disciplinary core ideas, and develop a coherent and scientifically based view of the world” (NRC, 2012). This is achieved via the Crosscutting Concepts, “because they provide an organizational schema for interrelating knowledge from various science fields into a coherent and scientifically based view of the world” (Achieve, 2016). The NGSS were designed for all three dimensions (Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts) to work together allowing the teacher to create an environment where students make sense of real world phenomena. To measure the success of this in an NGSS aligned classroom, teachers need access to evidence of student understanding and thinking. The Big Idea Page was my solution for that. Learn More…