November/December 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 2

State Board Moves Forward Two Key Pieces Supporting CA NGSS Implementation

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

CSTA President Jill Grace provides public comment at the November 8, 2017, California State Board of Education meeting.

On November 8, 2017, the California State Board of Education (SBE) took action on two items of import relating to the implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). One item was relating to the California Science Test (CAST) and the other to instructional materials. CSTA provided both written and oral comments on both items along with providing input on what CSTA and many other advocates view as a critical component of our state’s emerging accountability system – student access to a broad course of study.

CAST

The SBE approved, with technical amendments from both CSTA and the Environment Roundtable, the CAST Blueprints. (The draft presented to the SBE is available online, the amended version will be available soon.) Assessment blueprints document the content standards to be measured using the assessment. In addition, the board approved a modification of the scope of the CAST administered in grade 5. The initial high-level test design approved by the board in March 2016 included only 5th-grade Performance Expectations (PEs) in segments A and B of the CAST, and K-5 PEs in segment C. The SBE approved the California Department of Education’s (CDE) recommendation to expand the ranges PEs assessed in segments A and B of the grade 5 assessment to grade 3-5 PEs, and align the scope of segment C with A and B. This approach will allow for the CAST administered in grade 5 to assess all Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs) in K-5. (All DCIs that are covered in the CA NGSS K-2 grade band also are covered in the grades 3-5 band. Therefore, student learning of the CA NGSS in K-2 will be indirectly assessed, as the K-2 CA NGSS provide foundational instruction for the science content included in the CA NGSS for grades 3-5. (CDE, 2017)) The following table summarizes the revised segment descriptions for the CAST as approved by the SBE on November 8, 2017.

Source: California Department of Education: https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr17/documents/nov17item07.doc

The SBE also approved CDE’s recommendation for the CAST general Achievement Level Descriptors (ALD) and Score Reporting Structure. General ALDs provide descriptions of student performance level expectations across four levels. These general ALDs will be used to develop both student level reporting of performance and grade-level specific ALDs.

Source: California Department of Education: https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr17/documents/nov17item07.doc

The CAST score reporting structure will include an overall scale score and three sub-scores, one each for three-dimensional Earth/space, life, and physical sciences. Assessment items measuring PEs from the Engineering, Technology, and Application of Science domain will be set in the context of life, physical, or Earth and space sciences and those items will be reported according to one of those three domains in the reporting structure.

Source: California Department of Education: https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr17/documents/nov17item07.doc

Instructional Materials

The State Board of Education also approved 109 educators as Instructional Material Reviewers. A full list is available online and includes the following CSTA members listed below. Our thanks to our members and all who will be volunteering many hours to reviewing instructional materials, lending their time and expertise in support of CA NGSS implementation. Educator involvement in all aspects of standards implementation is critical to its success.

CSTA took advantage of the opportunity to present to the SBE Priority Features of NGSS-Aligned Instructional Materials, a white paper that was co-authored by the California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington Science Teachers Associations. The purpose of the white paper is to emphasize characteristics of instruction and resource materials that are critical for teachers engaging students in high-quality science instruction to meet the full vision of the NGSS. The white paper is intended to inform the production, review, and selection of instructional materials. The following organizations and individuals have reviewed and support the recommendations in the white paper:

CSTA presented Priority Features to the Instructional Quality Commission on November 16, 2017 and was well-received by the commissioners serving on the Science Subject Matter Committee. The document, along with CSTA’s recommended enhancements for the evaluation criteria will be used when and where possible to inform the training of instructional materials reviewers and the development of an FAQ document for publishers. The criteria themselves cannot be modified as they are from the California Science FrameworkCommissioner Dean Reese said he reviewed the white paper and encouraged “publishers to take a look at this.”

CSTA Members Appointed to Serve as Instructional Materials Reviewers for Science:

  • Monica Aguirre, Impact Teacher, Vista Unified School District
  • Kimberly Allard, Science Enrichment Teacher, TK–5, San Diego Unified School District, Vista Grande Elementary
  • Michelle Arias, 7th Grade Life Science Teacher, Corona–Norco Unified School District
  • Brennan Brockbank, Science Coordinator, Ravenswood City School District
  • Teryl Burditt, First Grade teacher, Lancaster School District
  • Jenny Chien, Teacher, Vista Unified School District
  • Bonnie Coldiron, Science Teacher, Vacaville Unified School District
  • Shay Fairchild, Science Specialist TOSA, Norwalk La Mirada Unified School District
  • Stanley Firestone, Teacher, Foothill Oak Elementary School
  • Roberto Garcia, Elementary Administrator, Ontario-Montclair School District
  • Jill Grace, Regional Director, K-12 Alliance at WestEd
  • Ali Gubary, Science Teacher—Lead, Aspire Vanguard College Preparatory Academy
  • Vickie Harri, Science Teacher, Ontario Montclair School District
  • Amy Holte, K–12 Science Curriculum Specialist, Santa Ana Unified School District
  • Crystal Howe, TK–12 Science Resource Teacher, San Diego Unified School District
  • Tamara Juarez, Teacher on Special Assignment, Palo Alto Unified School District
  • Paul Killian, STEM Project Director, ABC Unified School District
  • Ilene Klang, 4th Grade Teacher, Folsom Cordova Unified School District
  • Andrew Klicka, 4th Grade Teacher, Vista Unified School District
  • Tatiana Lim-Breitbart, Chemistry Teacher and K–12 Senior Content Specialist, Science, Aspire Public Schools
  • Cynthia Martin, Teacher, 7th Grade Life Science, Santa Paula Unified School District
  • Melody McGill, STEM Educator/Science Coordinator, Modesto City Schools
  • Joanne Michael, Science Specialist, Manhattan Beach Unified School District
  • Christina Miramontes, 5th Grade Teacher, Palm Springs Unified School District
  • Sarah Molfese, NGSS Elementary Content Specialist, Aspire Public Schools
  • Josh Montero, 5th Grade Teacher, Stockton Unified School District—Van Buren Elementary
  • Erica Motamed, Science Teacher, Little Lake City School District
  • Frank Natale, Middle School Science Teacher, Hickman Middle School
  • Susheela Nath, Science Director and Senior Content Specialist, Aspire Public Schools
  • Alyssa Nemeckova- Fairfield, Classroom Teacher, Palm Springs USD
  • Laura O’Dell, Science Teacher, STEAM Academy at Burke Middle School
  • Jeff Parish, Science Teacher, Tulare City School District
  • Suzi Puccioni, Science Department Chair, District Science Lead, Science Teacher, Brentwood Union School District
  • Debora Rinehart, Intermediate Science Teacher, St. Theresa School
  • Ingrid Salim, Science Instructor and NGSS Coordinator, Davis Joint Unified School District
  • Lorena Sanchez, Third Grade Bilingual Teacher, Tracy Unified School District
  • Laurie Scheibner, Elementary Science Specialist, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District
  • Joey Scott, Senior Education Specialist, Teacher Programs, Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Marcus Sherman, Biological Sciences Teacher and Science Department Chair, A.A. Stagg High School, Stockton Unified School District
  • Elisa Slee, Teacher/Instructional Coach, Science, Capistrano Unified School District
  • Scott Spector, Coordinator of Innovation and Academic Events, STEM/STEAM, Santa Barbara County Education Office
  • Sam Stavis, Teacher, Vista Unified School District
  • Rachael Tarshes Mehmel, K–8 CA NGSS Early Implementation Project Director, Science Resource Teacher, San Diego Unified School District
  • Diana Thompson, Elementary Science TOSA, Newport Mesa Unified School District
  • Maralee Thorburn, Science Teacher, Tracy Unified School District, Art Freiler School
  • Kimberly Trench, Teacher, San Diego Unified School District
  • Nelly Tsai, Teacher/Secondary Science Mentor, Irvine Unified School District
  • Kimberly Ussery, 6th Grade Science Teacher and Language Arts Teacher, Desert Sands Unified School District
  • Steve Williams, Teacher, Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter School

Broad Course of Study

The SBE received an early draft of the local performance indicator for LCFF Priority 7, Access to a Broad Course of Study. This priority is at the heart of education equity in California and is one of the priorities that touches science K-12. CSTA, along with The Education Trust-West, Californian’s Together, California Council for the Social Studies, California STEM Network, and Children Now, appealed to the board to:

  • strengthen and elevate the indicator to address course access at the school and subgroup level (not currently a feature of existing local performance indicators),
  • take advantage of available course data beginning 7th grade,
  • and to develop tools for reporting course access in K-6.

State Board of Education Member Trish Williams (center) with CSTA president Jill Grace (right) and executive director Jessica Sawko (left) after the November 8, 2017 SBE meeting.

During their discussion of the topic, several board members addressed these recommendations in their comments and questions. Member Karen Valdes asked if exemplars would be available for K-8 districts on how reporting access would look for an elementary school where you would expect to see all subjects being taught. Member Feliza Ortiz-Licon addressed the need to be able to see reporting on access by student sub-group. Member Trish Williams addressed both of those issues and encouraged CDE staff to consider the recommendations in their work to further develop the indicator. Member Williams also serves as one of two NGSS liaisons on the SBE and has been a strong advocate of NGSS, science, and STEM education. CSTA presented Member Williams with the first Bertrand Advocacy Award in 2015. The SBE will likely discuss this topic again at their March 2018 meeting.

All in all, it was a successful (and long) day at the State Board of Education. Our thanks to our membership for your support. Our participation in important actions and conversations such as these would not be possible without your support. If you are not currently a member of CSTA, please join today.

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.

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Priority Features of NGSS-Aligned Instructional Materials

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Recommendations for Publishers, Reviewers, and Educators. The California Science Teachers Association and the science teachers associations of three other Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) west-coast states, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, have co-authored a white paper on priority features of NGSS instructional materials. This is the first time our states have collaborated to convey a common vision on an issue of great importance for the implementation of the NGSS. We understand all too well that for meaningful shifts to happen and to support the full vision of the NGSS, strong K-12 Instructional materials are required. 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 Board Moves Forward Two Key Pieces Supporting CA NGSS Implementation

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

CSTA President Jill Grace provides public comment at the November 8, 2017, California State Board of Education meeting.

On November 8, 2017, the California State Board of Education (SBE) took action on two items of import relating to the implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). One item was relating to the California Science Test (CAST) and the other to instructional materials. CSTA provided both written and oral comments on both items along with providing input on what CSTA and many other advocates view as a critical component of our state’s emerging accountability system – student access to a broad course of study. 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.

NGSS – Early Attempts and Later Reflections from an Early Implementer Teacher

Posted: Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

by Christa Dunkel

  • There are so many acronyms! Where do I start?
  • What “baby step” should I take first? 
  • How can I make this happen in my elementary classroom?

All of these thoughts and more swam through my head over three years ago when I began my journey into NGSS. I was fresh from a week-long institute with the K-12 Alliance as part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. Much of the week was spent on digging into the NGSS architecture – how the standards are set-up, how to read the standards, what each of the three dimensions meant. Now that I knew how to read them, I needed to figure out how to implement them into my classroom of 24 eight-year-olds. With some guidance from the K-12 Alliance leaders and my own district-level NGSS team, I began the process with some easy “baby steps.” 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.

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.

Expanding Your Definition of Informal Science Education

Posted: Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

by Lori Walsh

When deciding on a field trip, zoos, aquariums and science centers typically come to mind. These facilities offer students hands-on opportunities to make science observations using inquiry. Teachers can schedule standards aligned workshops or self-guided visits. If your students have already visited these facilities, you can broaden your options by exploring the larger world of Informal Science Education. Nature centers, non-profits, and environmental groups often also offer NGSS aligned programs in the natural setting. Your students can discover the local environment while making memorable experiences. Learn More…

Written by Lori Walsh

Lori Walsh

Lori Walsh is the Education/Operations Supervisor at SEA LIFE Aquarium at LEGOLAND California Resort and Informal Science Director for CSTA.