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.
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 http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
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. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
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
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…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
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…
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…