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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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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