March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

State Board Adopts NGSS – Delays Decision on Middle School – Now What?

Posted: Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

A new era of science education in California is now in the horizon. For many years CSTA has been advocating for new, high-quality science education standards that emphasize depth of understanding over surface knowledge, engage students in doing science, and foster critical thinking, and last month, those many years of hard work finally paid off. At approximately 4:00 pm on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 the California State Board of Education (SBE) voted unanimously to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for California. The vote was followed by an outburst of applause and cheers from those in the audience.

The matter of the Next Generation of Science Standards for California is not completely settled. Due to the overwhelming number of responses from teachers in California, the SBE deferred their decision on the arrangement of the middle school standards until their November 6-7 meeting. The State Board received many letters and emails in advance of their September 4 meeting both in support of and in opposition to the proposed integrated middle school arrangement of the Next Generation Science Standards. The board heard a presentation on the proposed integrated model for middle school. Presenters included Kathy DiRanna, statewide director of K-12 Alliance and Stephen Pruitt of Achieve (both will be presenting at the 2013 California Science Education Conference). During the public comment period there were speakers and organizations both for and against the proposed integration as well as those that encouraged the board to allow individual districts to choose between an integrated or discipline specific model.

The webcast archive of the September 4, 2013 State Board of Education meeting is available online. To view the presentation and public comment on Item #10 – the NGSS agenda item – use the navigation provided to jump to that section.

So Now What?

Full implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards will not be realized for a number of years (2015/2016 at the earliest). A planning group has been formed by the California Department of Education (CDE) to develop an implementation plan that will span several years and depends in some part of the signing of legislation currently on Governor Brown’s desk (see this month’s legislative update). As a part of the implementation planning process, CDE is interested in learning about your professional development needs and implementation concerns. During the month of October they are collecting data from stakeholders around the state via a online survey. Please take a few moments to share your thoughts and needs about NGSS implementation.

In the meantime, CSTA is offering numerous workshops and other events during the 2013 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs. If you are new to the Next Generation Science Standards or very familiar with them and would like to explore what this might look like in your classroom, the conference is the place to be. For a list of all workshops addressing the Next Generation Science Standards, click here. There will also be opportunities to ask questions of California Department of Education staff members and NGSS experts during set times at the CSTA booth in the exhibit hall. That is what will be taking place formally. On an informal basis, the conference will allow you to interact with teachers from all over the state with a wide array of experiences that will allow you an opportunity to talk about the Next Generation Science Standards and what it might mean for you and your students in the coming years. If you are able to attend the conference, please register by October 7 to take FULL advantage of discounts and save you time when you arrive at the conference.

If you have an opinion on how you think the State Board of Education should vote on the matter of arrangement of the middle school science standards, please send an email to the State Board of Education. Your voice does matter and it is important for the State Board to hear from as many educators as possible on this issue, no matter your position. To send your comments to the State Board:

  • Send an email to
  • Include “Next Generation Science Standards Middle School Arrangement” in your subject line. Please use this subject line until the agenda for the meeting is posted on October 25, 2013 – at which time you should include the agenda item number and subject as your email subject line.
  • Focus your comments on the matter to be considered by the State Board, the proposed arrangement of the middle school standards (available here). Rationale documents supporting the proposed model are available for download from the CDE website.
  • Please copy CSTA on your email to the State Board so that we may continue to hear from as many members as we can (please copy
  • To open an email window with all of this pre-populated, click here.
  • The deadline for submitting your comments to the State Board is 12:00 pm on Monday, November 4, 2013.

Adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards if but the first step of many in this multi-year process. As always, and only through the support of our members, CSTA is here to represent science educators, provide you with up-to-date and accurate information, and to promote high-quality science education. CSTA will continue to update our website and include information in California Classroom Science with information on the Next Generation Science Standards and how you can be involved in the process.



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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

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California Science Curriculum Framework Now Available

Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.

For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.

The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.

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.

Call for CSTA Awards Nominations

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. 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.

Call for Volunteers – CSTA Committees

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017


CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: 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.

A Friend in CA Science Education Now at CSTA Region 1 Science Center

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see 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.

Learning to Teach in 3D

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”

I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. 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: