September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

State Board Takes First Steps Towards Changes in Accountability, Gov. Brown Includes NGSS Funding in Proposed Budget (Sort of), Curriculum Framework Development Delay Proposed, and the Commission on Teacher Credentialing Hears Input on Teacher Preparation in an NGSS World

Posted: Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

2015 got off to a very busy start in terms of NGSS implementation at the state level, and CSTA was there to represent the voice of science educators at every turn. The following is a summary of some of the important issues that were addressed in January 2015.

State Board and Accountability

On January 14, 2015 the California State Board of Education had one of what will be many dynamic conversations around the state’s future accountability system. There are many changes to be expected over the coming year with AYP, API, Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP), College and Career Indicators, graduation rates, and much more. CSTA is committed to engaging in all conversations to insure that science is well represented in all of these accountability measures. CSTA provided a written response as well as oral public comments at the meeting advocating for an accountability system that supported all student’s access to a high-quality science education, K-12.

Next up on the accountability front is a meeting of the Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA) Committee (February 3), which advises the State Board of Education on matters of accountability. During that meeting they will take action to revise guiding principles to reflect the new state accountability system, discuss the timing for the release of the new accountability system, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using a single index versus multiple measures to represent the state’s new accountability system. They will also continue their work of the past year on the development of a college and career indicator.

What all this means for science teachers in California, is that changes in the state’s accountability system are coming soon, but are not here yet. Please stay tuned to CSTA for updates and information. During this period of new accountability system development, CSTA will be working hard to position science as a core subject and that it should be treated with equal weight as ELA and math. We may issue calls to action and request for input in the coming months – thanks in advance to those who are able to respond to those calls. CSTA extends its thanks to the hundreds of science educators that responded to our call the last week of January to provide input on the LCAP evaluation rubrics to incorporate science into the rubrics!

Looking forward to March, CSTA expects to see information about the future statewide assessment system for science, at least for those assessments currently required for federal compliance.

Governor Brown’s Proposed Budget and Possible Funds for NGSS Implementation

Governor Brown has released the first draft of his budget for California. The proposed budget offers $65.7 billion of Proposition 98 funding for K-12 education. Included in this is $1.1 billion that the Governor proposes school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education to use to support the implementation of new standards, including NGSS, Common Core State Standards, and ELD standards. $20 million will go to county offices, with the remaining going to school districts and charter schools. Investment in new standards implementation is only a recommendation on how these funds could be used, rather than a restriction, as these funds are also intended to offset unpaid mandate claims. CSTA, along with other organizations, will be working to seek dedicated funding for standards implementation and is hopeful that the May budget revision will include such funding. For more information about the Governor’s proposed budget for education check out Ed Source’s coverage of the budget: Education funding surges in governor’s budget.

Curriculum Framework Update:

At the January 22, 2015 meeting of the science Curriculum Framework committee (CFCC), CDE staff shared a revised proposed timeline for the development of the science curriculum framework currently under development. The reason for the proposed change in the development timeline is to allow for more time for the writers to craft the document and incorporate feedback from the CFCC and the anticipated public feedback. Legislative action would be required to implement this new timeline, so at this time CSTA is not publishing the proposed timeline on our website. However, if approved by the legislature, this new timeline delays the final adoption of the framework by several months, from January 2016 to September 2016, and would put the two public review periods of the framework in October/November 2015 and June/July 2016. Delaying the framework adoption will have implications on the development and adoption of instructional materials, and possibly assessments. Again, none of this is set in stone and there are a number of moving parts. Stay tuned to CSTA for information as it becomes available. The Instructional Quality Commission will be taking action on the proposed timeline at its February 6 meeting. If approved, it will move to the State Board of Education.

Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) – Teacher Preparation:

On January 14, 2015 the CTC received public comment inform revisions to the Preliminary Teacher Preparation Program Standards. The program standards define the knowledge and skills a new teacher must have and be able to demonstrate. CSTA provided feedback related to the science component for both multiple subject and single subject credentials. We want to ensure that requirements for science teacher preparation are consistent with the skills and knowledge needed for teaching NGSS in California.

Looking Forward:

The coming months will bring more information on assessment and accountability, implementation funding, new professional learning opportunities, and much more. Please stay tuned to CSTA for updates and ways to be involved. Not a member of CSTA? Join today!

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

2 Responses

  1. I do not see any recent news that addresses the issue of middle school content. Is the state showing any flexibility about the sequence of content instruction (keeping Plate Tectonics in 6th and Cells & genetics in 7th)?

  2. Hi Denise – the state adopted two course arrangements for middle school science, an integrated course arrangement and a domain specific course arrangement. Both versions are available here:
    The curriculum framework currently under development will include both course arrangements.
    The domain specific course arrangement does have Earth/Space Science in 6th grade and Life Science in 7th grade.
    Districts will select the course arrangement that best meets the needs of the district and its students.
    Some districts have already made decisions, while others are waiting for more information about the assessments that will be developed.
    The assessment piece is an ever moving target that has a number of factors influencing decisions to be made, including: Federal action on ESEA, the recommendation from the Superintendent due out in March 2016, and State Board of Education action on a testing contractor to develop the new science assessments.

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California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well 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.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.