January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Survey Shows California Parents Want Science Ed a High Priority

Posted: Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

by Tom Chorneau, School Innovations & Advocacy Cabinet Report
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Close to nine out of ten California adults believe science instruction is nearly as important a component of K-12 education as reading, writing and arithmetic, according to a new poll released Tuesday.

Three quarters of those surveyed said that science should be a higher priority than it is today in most public schools to keep California and the U.S. globally competitive.

And two thirds also said that all high school students should be required to study biology, chemistry and physics.

The poll was sponsored by a consortium led by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning and Strengthening Science Education in California – a collaborative of researchers and educators.

The survey comes as the Obama administration has put greater emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education – also known as STEM. It also comes as school districts across the state continue to struggle with the largest fiscal crisis in generations that is forcing administrators and oversight boards to decide how to prioritize limited public funds.

Advocates for science instruction said they are heartened by the poll results.

“I am glad to see there is so much support out there for science education,” said Christine Bertrand, executive director of the California Science Teachers Association. “It’s significant that it’s not just us expressing support and it is not just the teachers saying it – it is parents who are saying it now and I just hope policy-makers will be listening.”

The survey is based on telephone interviews with 1,004 California adults taken over a two-week period ending April 22. Researchers also conducted a series of six focus groups to get a better understanding of participant views.

Rena Dorph, director of the Center for Research Evaluation and Assessment at the University of California, Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science – a partner in the poll’s development – noted that one interesting element of the poll found a lot of uncertainty among parents about the quality of existing science instruction.

Indeed, more than half of those surveyed who have children in school said they didn’t know if their child’s science teacher had been adequately prepared.

When asked to rate their child’s science teacher, about 6 percent of all parents with children in K-12 public schools gave their child’s teacher a top score of excellent.

About a third of all parents with kids in school gave their child’s science teacher a fair or good rating with another 5 percent saying their child’s science teacher was poor or very poor.

By far the greatest response – 33 percent among parents of elementary children and 32 percent among parents of high school students – said they did not know enough about their child’s teacher to have an opinion.

“Many parents don’t actually know much about what is happening in the schools,” said Dorph. “So when they make statements about the quality of certain aspects of their children’s school experience, these judgments are drawn from relatively limited information.”

That said, she pointed out, the people still care.

“The public really cares about science education,” she said. “In an era of accountability that is so focused on math and language arts, I think the public still understands the role that science learning plays in the growth development of their children.”

Eds. note: The full report can be found at http://www.cftl.org/documents/2010/2010SciCFTL4web.pdf.

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.