May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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: http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/ngssstandards.asp.
    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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LATEST POST

Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. 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 NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. 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.