January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

State Board Moves Forward Two Key Pieces Supporting CA NGSS Implementation

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

updated January 18, 2018 (link to approved blueprint)

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.


The SBE approved, with technical amendments from both CSTA and the Environment Roundtable, the CAST Blueprints. 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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Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.



MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. 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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. 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.

Find Your Reason to Engage

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Jill Grace

I was recently reflecting on events in the news and remembered that several years ago, National Public Radio had a story about a man named Stéphane Hessel, a World War II French resistance fighter, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and contributor to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The story focused on a book he had published, Time for Outrage (2010).

In it, Hessel makes the argument that the worst attitude is indifference:

“Who is in charge; who are the decision makers? It’s not always easy to discern. We’re not dealing with a small elite anymore, whose actions we can clearly identify. We are dealing with a vast, interdependent world that is interconnected in unprecedented ways. But there are unbearable things all around us. You have to look for them; search carefully. Open your eyes and you will see. This is what I tell young people: If you spend a little time searching, you will find your reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference. ‘There’s nothing I can do; I get by’ – adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage.  Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as is our freedom to engage.”

His words make me take pause when I think of the status of science in the United States. A general “mistrust” of science is increasingly pervasive, as outlined in a New Yorker article from the summer of 2016. 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.