The First Steps for New Science Assessments Are Underway
Posted: Monday, August 4th, 2014
by Jessica L. Sawko
Approximately 200 science stakeholders participated in one of two two-day meetings in Sacramento on July 15-18, 2014. These stakeholder meetings were outlined and required in AB 484 as a part of the process to develop a plan for statewide assessments aligned to NGSS for California. CSTA was pleased to be a part of the process and recommended over 90 members for participation. Information about how many members actually participated is not available; however, there were many familiar faces at both meetings. CSTA applauds all the participants for taking two days away from their home, work, and families to participate in the meetings.
Educational Testing Services (ETS) facilitated the meetings. The large group was broken into smaller work groups to discuss, deliberate, evaluate, and ultimately make recommendations regarding
- the grades in which science should be assessed;
- what standards should be assessed (in other words, should a hypothetical grade 5 assessment assess only 5th grade standards or some or all of the earlier grades as well);
- which years should the statewide assessments be used for federal accountability;
- which types of assessments would best assess science learning for English learners;
- and what types of items and test formats should be used.
It is important to note that no decisions were made at this meeting and the two meetings worth of recommendations will be compiled and analyzed. There will be an opportunity for the public at large to provide input into the assessment plan recommendation. ETS will be conducting an online survey (expected in the coming weeks). CSTA will send out a notification when the survey is available.
There are many possible next steps and the timeline is not firm. Probable next steps are:
- CDE and ETS will compile the information gathered during the stakeholder meetings.
- CDE, ETS, and CDE’s TAG will evaluate that information and other sources of information and develop a recommendation for the SSPI (State Superintendent of Public Instruction).
- The SSPI will consider this recommendation and develop a proposal for the SBE (State Board of Education) to consider for the federally required science assessments to become a part of CAASPP (California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress). When this proposal will be presented to the SBE is to be determined. It could be as early as this fall; however, the legislation (AB 484) does not have a firm deadline.
- The SSPI will provide a recommendation for science assessment (and other subjects) other than those required for federal compliance by March 2016 (per AB 484).
Stay tuned to CSTA and California Classroom Science for more information as this process develops and moves forward. In the meantime, if you are wondering which science assessments your students will be taking this spring…they will be the grade-level CST, CAPA, and CMA science assessments administered in grades 5, 8, and 10 until new tests aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards are implemented.
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…