May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here:

Please contact Rosanne Luu at or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.