September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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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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

Cal

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.

Is This a First: Young Female Teens Propose California Water Conservation Legislation?

Posted: Monday, August 28th, 2017

Meet the La Habra Water Guardians from the Optics of their Teacher Moderator, Dr. P.

by Susan M. Pritchard, Ph.D.

You have just won the 2016 Lexus Eco Challenge as one of four First Place Winners in the Middle School Category across the nation! Now, what are you going to do … go to Disneyland? No, not for four of the six La Habra Water Guardians, Disneyland is not in their future at this time. Although I think they would love a trip to Disneyland, (are you listening Mickey Mouse?), at this moment they are focused big time on one major thing … celebrating the passage of their proposed legislation: Assembly Bill 1343 Go Low Flow Water Conservation Partnership Bill and now promoting the enactment of this legislation. Learn More…

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From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.