January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Greatness by Design, Task Force’s Comprehensive Report on Supporting Outstanding Teaching

Posted: Monday, September 10th, 2012

SACRAMENTO—In a new report, a group of California’s leading education experts formed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson called for sweeping improvements to the way teachers are recruited, trained, brought into the profession, mentored, and evaluated.

“This is the most comprehensive look our state has taken at California’s most important profession—teaching—in a generation,” said Torlakson, who created the 48-member Task Force on Educator Excellence in January in partnership with theCommission on Teacher Credentialing External link opens in new window or tab. (CTC). “We are blessed to have many outstanding educators already in our classrooms. And every child deserves a great teacher, one who cares for children today and helps prepare them to contribute to the society and economy of the 21st century.

“Today’s report—grounded in research, best practices from our state and around the world, and the realities of California’s classrooms—charts a path to reach that goal.”

Torlakson formed the Task Force to address fundamental questions about the education profession: how to recruit the best people into the profession, how to develop their skills before they begin work and throughout their careers, and how to provide useful feedback, including using measurements of learning to improve teaching.

“The Task Force has given us a clear, coherent vision for the development of high-quality educators—a vision with real potential to improve teaching and learning for all of California’s students,” said Mary Vixie Sandy, Executive Director of the CTC. “Working together, we can shape the preparation and development of teachers and leaders so that they can inspire and support our young people to reach their highest potential.”

The Task Force was co-chaired by two widely recognized education leaders: Stanford University’s Linda Darling-Hammond, Ph.D. External link opens in new window or tab. and Superintendent Chris Steinhauser External link opens in new window or tab. of the Long Beach Unified School District, the third largest district in California. The group included parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, and business and community leaders, as well as leading academics. Torlakson said he would assign the California Department of Education’s (CDE) Chief Deputy Superintendent Richard Zeiger, and Deputy Superintendent of Instruction and Learning Support Lupita Cortez Alcalá to work with education leaders across the state to implement the report’s recommendations.

The 90-page report, Greatness by Design: Supporting Outstanding Teaching to Sustain a Golden State (PDF; 4MB), addresses the recruitment of new teachers, including the need to develop a diverse, high-quality workforce of teachers and principals. It also examines quality induction programs that can help teachers improve early in their careers—often the key to keeping promising new teachers in the classroom.

The group’s report also looks closely at the kind of ongoing training and support teachers need throughout their careers, including linking professional learning expectations to the certification renewal process.

The report thoroughly examines how to provide a career development framework that fosters growth and leadership opportunities for teachers throughout their careers. It also takes a close look at how to improve the evaluation process, including how to collaborate with teachers and incorporate valid measures of student learning.

“The most successful evaluation systems are those that rely upon research-based best practices to help teachers and administrators improve their craft,” said Steinhauser, a 30-year veteran educator known for improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps in a challenging school district. “Collaboration is key to developing these systems, with all parties focused on the ultimate goal of improving student achievement.”

“Around the world, there is growing recognition that expert teachers and school leaders are the most important school resources for improving student learning, and that the highest-achieving nations invest intensely in teaching quality,” said Darling-Hammond, who also serves as vice-chair of the CTC. “California cannot—and should not—do any less. This report describes how we can work strategically to build a world-class educator workforce in all of California’s communities.”

The report opens with a message from Torlakson, himself a teacher, who notes that budget cuts, difficult working conditions, and other factors have made teaching “a profession under siege.”

“The good news is that California is home to some of the very best ideas and research on how to train new teachers and principals, support them from their first days in the classroom to their last, and give them the kind of feedback they need to be even better,” Torlakson said. “The challenge, and therefore the opportunity, is to revive and expand these isolated and sometimes neglected experiments and weave them together with new, research-based ideas into a system that forms a coherent whole that produces exceptional results.”

The report’s findings and recommendations are summarized in the full report available online at the CDE Educator Excellence Task Force Web page.

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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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators, and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information, and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching. Register online today!

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.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. 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.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. 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.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

NSTA Los Angeles Conference Features Many CA Science Leaders

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

The early-bird registration rates for the 65th NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles is just days away (ends Feb. 3). And as the early-registration deadline approaches excitement is building for what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of science educators (both California and nationwide) – with attendance expected to reach 10,000 or more. If you have never had the pleasure of attending the NSTA National Conference, I recommend you visit their website with tips for newcomers that describe the various components of the event. A conference preview is also available for download. Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.