September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

SB 300 Amended for Second Time; It and SB 402 Move to Assembly Appropriations Committee

Posted: Friday, July 1st, 2011

by Jessica Sawko

SB300: (Hancock) is a CSTA-sponsored bill that requires the review and revision of the science (and history-social science) content standards. The bill was amended in May to remove the proposed 22-member commission and give the authority to amend the out-dated science standards to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, with a final up or down vote required by the State Board of Education. The bill was amended for a second time at the end of June as it moved to the Assembly Education Committee. The latest version of the bill calls for the establishment of a smaller, nine member Academic Content Standards Commission for Science. This commission would be tasked with making recommendations to the State Board of Education by January 1, 2013 to modify, revise, and update the science content standards .

STATUS:  The bill passed the Assembly Education Committee as amended and was re-referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB402: (Correa) states the intent of the legislature that 21st century skills be integrated into the curriculum frameworks of core curricula, including English language arts, math, science, history-social science, visual and performing arts, and world languages.

STATUS: One June 22, the Assembly Education Committee re-referred the bill to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB250: (Brownley) was amended by the author on June 29 and was re-referred to the Senate Education Committee. It is set for hearing on July 6.

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.

5 Responses

  1. Nooooo! Just adopt the national standards, and be done with it! They’re “off the shelf” and way cheaper than re-inventing the wheel. And national standards are much better than 9 Californians can ever write.

    Witness California’s present 5th grade biology standards – biological plumbing? Why just plumbing? Was that some sort of weird compromise? And the over-emphasis on chemistry in the 5th grade with salts having their own separate standard. What’s the big deal with salts? I’ll bet the original committee membership had something to do with that. And that’s just fifth grade because I know it the best.

    I agree the standards badly need to be updated, but after writing lessons to the national standards, I’m spoiled by their well thought out excellence.

  2. I so agree with Susan Morrison. I know it from the 7th and 8th sci stds. 7th is a weird rag bag of topics. 8th neglects to include work, energy and simple machines in it’s force and motion standards. What? Oh and the astronomy standards have as a separated standard that students will know the shapes of galaxies….

  3. If you look at the history of the last revision – that is spelled out in the 2005 Fordham report on the standards of the 50 states – California brought in Glen Seaborg ( the same one that Seaborgium is named after). His philosophy was that all students just need to know facts and nothing more and he pushed this view into the standards. This is also why there are weird chemistry concepts where they should not be.

    Those in power at the time also felt that inquiry based learning was wrong and they pushed out anyone who tried to promote it. This decision has lead to California ranking at the bottom of NAEP testing while more innovative states like Florida that adopted inquiry based learning into their standards in 2008 has seen tremendous learning gains and winning the race to the top grant.

    It came down to a political shell game that lead to the destruction of science education. and it goes to show that just because a person is an eminent scientist in one field does not mean they will be an excellent educator. In fact it was an insult to educators that “anyone can write standards”. Yet, Seaborg has certainly demonstrated that this is not the case and he should have stuck with chemistry as his chosen field because he certainly doesn’t understand how to get children to learn science.

  4. Thanks for your comments. SB 300 does not specifically call for a review of the current standards but instead opens the door for a reconsideration of the science standards “writ large”. This is a first step in beginning the process for any standards review which would surely include a review of any available National Standards once they have become available. The recent alignment of California with the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Development Consortium and California’s adoption of the Common Core Standards in Math and English Language Arts should be taken as a good sign that there may be a change in California’s belief that our state must have its own unique standards. This is just the beginning of the process which will unfold over the next several years. Your continued interest and voice is important to insure that we don’t just settle for the status quo.

  5. […] review process with a report to the State Board of Education presented in January 2013.  (See report in July eCCS).  This does not mean that only the existing standards will be reviewed. What we are hoping for is […]

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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. 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.