May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

SB 300 and AB 484 Pass from Education Committees to Appropriations

Posted: Friday, June 28th, 2013

by Jessica L. Sawko

On June 26, two important bills were passed through the Senate and Assembly Education Committees. SB 300 (Hancock) which will allow for work on a new science curriculum framework based on the new science standards (anticipated adoption November 30, 2013, or sooner) to be completed by November 30, 2015. Without this bill work would not be able to even begin on the curriculum framework until July 1, 2015 – nearly two years after the adoption of new standards. The billed passed the education committee with ease. CSTA thanks Senator Hancock’s office for involving CSTA in the process and we look forward to seeing this bill through to the end.

AB 484 (Bonilla) is a very large bill that will replace the STAR program with a new assessment system called CalMAPP21 (California Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress for the 21st Century). The primary focus of the bill is to suspend non-federally required assessments for the 2013/14 school year and offer new Common Core aligned consortium assessments in the 2014/15 school year. While dealing primarily with Common Core assessments, the bill does take some first steps in overhauling the state assessment system. As noted by the author in today’s hearing, this will not be the last bill on assessment, it is merely the first step.

The bill does shed a little light into what science educators can expect in terms of assessment over the coming years. Firstly, if passed as currently proposed, there would be no more end of course assessments for biology, chemistry, earth science, physical science, and integrated science. Science CSTs in grades 5, 8, and 10 would continue, as they are required to comply with federal law (ESEA/NCLB). The bill calls for the Superintendent to make a recommendation to the state board of education within sixth months of the adoption of new science standards. The bill recommends that the plan include plans to begin test development in July 2014 and a cost estimate and implementation plan to begin science assessments that will fulfill federal accountability requirements beginning in the 2016/17 school year. These planned assessments would replace the grade 5, 8, and 10 science CSTs. Ultimately what this means is that, absent additional action by the legislature, students will continue to take CSTs in science in grades 5, 8, and 10 based on 1998 standards and no end of course exams will be offered to high school students through the 2015/16 school year. This despite the adoption of new standards in 2013 and a new curriculum framework in 2015. What the new 2016/17 assessments for science will consist of, what grade levels they will cover, and the format of the assessment will all be a part of a recommendation from the Superintendent after consultation with stakeholders, including science teachers. The bill requires the Superintendent to consider the use of consortium developed assessments (of which none currently exist for science), innovative item types, and computer-based testing.

For the area of science education that does not fall under federal accountability requirements, the bill allows for more planning time, with a plan for recommendation due to the state board in February 2015. This plan would be due to the legislature by March 1, 2015. The plan (per the language of the bill), which would cover non-federally required assessments in science, math, history social-science, technology, and visual and performing arts, would consider the use of computer-based testing, locally scored performance tasks, portfolios, and assess in a manner the models “high-quality teaching and learning activities”.

The bill now moves to the appropriations committee and will likely undergo amendments as it moves through the legislative process. CSTA will continue to monitor the bills progress and keep members posted of any significant changes to science assessment plans.

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

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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: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org 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.