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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CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

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.