Putting the Science CST into Perspective
Posted: Monday, March 14th, 2016
by Caleb Cheung and Jill Grace
The implementation of new policies always requires time to understand how the changes link to the previous expectations, as well as time to deeply understand the new demands. In the case of California’s Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS), one such challenge is how much emphasis should be placed on the science California Standards Test (CST), a test that was implemented in 2004 (grade 5) and 2006 (grades 8 and 10) and is aligned to the state’s previous California state science standards, adopted in 1998.
The California State Board of Education (SBE) adopted the CA NGSS in 2013 and intentionally provided a long transition period so that students, teachers, schools, and districts could have adequate time to prepare for the required shifts. During this time, however, California must continue to administer the science CST to meet state and federal requirements (which are also in the process of changing). This problem will hopefully be resolved in the 2018-2019 school year when a new CA NGSS aligned assessment is scheduled to be released (for more information, go here). In the meantime, the challenge for schools and districts is finding the most appropriate way to frame and interpret the results of the science CST. Specifically, there is a need for appropriate communication for educating students, parents, teachers, and leaders about the CA NGSS transition and its relationship to the science CST.
Oakland Unified School District, one of the districts in the K-12 Alliance/WestEd California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative, provides an important example. At the beginning of the school year, they wanted to focus on transition and implementation of the CA NGSS, rather than the administration and outcomes of the science CST. The end result was a memo drafted by the science department on behalf of the Chief Academic Officer. Once approved, it was issued to all of the principals, teachers, and central office leaders.
District and regional leaders need to help their schools and communities make sense of the changes ahead. One strategy for doing this is to communicate frequently and clearly about the issues. Memos like the one from Oakland Unified provide clear expectations that help to reinforce both what is important and what is still to come.
At the January State Board of Education meeting, there was some discussion about the policy conflicts between the CA NGSS and the science CST. You can see the archived video of this here, check out Day 1 agenda item 1 and advance to 55 minute mark to see a discussion of what the SBE is learning about the new Every Student Succeeds Act (which replaces No Child Left Behind) and how it will impact science testing. You will also see discussion of their desire to replace the current science CST as it does not align with the CA NGSS. The California Science Teachers Association has been working with the SBE science liaison, Trish Williams, and SBE President, Mike Kirst on these issues and we will keep you posted as things progress!
Caleb Cheung is the Science Manager in the Oakland Unified School District, and can be reached at http://science.ousd.org. Jill Grace is the Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance/WestEd and is CSTA’s President-Elect.
Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017
The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.
The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.
There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…