April 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 8

The Next Generation Science Standards Were Released – What’s Next?

Posted: Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

by Laura Henriques

On April 8th, 2013, Achieve released the final version of the Next Generation Science Standards. Last week three in-person and one online town hall meetings took place across the state. These meetings allowed stakeholders to provide input and feedback about the standards to the California Department of Education. The Superintendent’s Science Expert Panel will review all of the input collected via these hearings and provide guidance to the State Superintendent.

Subsequently, in July the State Board of Education will hear a recommendation from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Torlakson. At this point, SSPI Torlakson is leaning towards new California Standards that will be based on the final version of the Next Generation Science Standards. Once new standards are adopted, a new California Science Framework will be written that reflects input from stakeholders with an emphasis on the application of the standards to California. During the July State Board of Education meeting there will once again be opportunity for public comment, limited to two minutes of spoken comments or longer written comments submitted in advance of the meeting. At that time CSTA will provide testimony representing the views of our members. As you can read in Rick Pomeroy’s article this month, data from our members indicate strong support for the standards tempered with concerns about implementation, professional development and assessment. At this point in the NGSS process, the focus is on adoption of the standards. The implementation, PD, instructional materials and assessment development are all important pieces, but they come next.

By November 2013 the State Board will deliver its decision regarding adoption of NGSS.  It will only be at that point that the state will begin to write the new California Science Framework and begin to look at curricular materials and assessments. Assuming that the new standards are adopted in November 2013, California science teachers will not be expected to implement NGSS until 2014-2015 at the earliest, and assessments linked to NGSS will not be available until later than that.

You may not want to wait until 2014 to start implementing some of the changes incorporated into NGSS, however. Our current standards focus on students knowing the content while the new standards ask students to do more. In addition to knowing the content, they will be expected to analyze and interpret data, develop models that predict and describe, and construct and present arguments using evidence to support claims. NGSS has an explicit link between the doing science and knowing science. That is an exciting shift that will get our students delving deeper into the content, making connections and applying what they learn. While some of us may already have classrooms where students are regularly engaged in the science and engineering practices, this will be a shift for others. Starting to try out some of these practices next year can help us get a head start on the full implementation.

There are lots of ways you can become more familiar with NGSS. If you are reading the articles and blogs on the CSTA website you are keeping abreast of the changes. It’s possible, though, that some of your teaching colleagues are not. Please share this information with them. Below are some options to help you and your colleagues continue to be ahead of the curve.

The CSTA conference in October will have lots of sessions connecting NGSS to the Common Core in addition to workshops which showcase activities which illustrate NGSS science and engineering practices.
•    You can nominate yourself to serve on an instructional materials review team.
•    Sign up to receive news about NGSS (and related workshops) on the CDE’s NGSS listserv.
•    Visit the CSTA’s NGSS website. This includes links to workshops, FAQs and related materials as well as links to the NGSS website and NSTA’s NGSS resources.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and president of CSTA.

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Legislative Action Alert – ESEA/NCLB Reauthorization

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

CSTA’s counterparts at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has been actively representing the voice of science teachers in Washington D.C. This morning they sent out this call to action:

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are currently working to reauthorize (rewrite) No Child Left Behind. Please contact your members of Congress immediately, and ask them to make STEM education a national priority. At the Legislative Action Center of the STEM Education Coalition website, you can send a letter to your elected representatives, asking them to

  • Maintain a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
  • Continue the focus on math and science as required elements of any state’s accountability system.
  • Provide states with dedicated funding to support STEM-related activities and teacher training.

It is urgent that educators take a moment to write to your elected officials, and send this message to colleagues and networks in your school or district.

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 Assessment & Accountability Update – FAQs Included

Posted: Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

On March 31, 2015 participants from the Science Assessment Stakeholder Meetings held in July 2014 were invited to participate in a follow up meeting to provide input on what a formative component, a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Digital Center, should look like for California. This NGSS Digital Center could include formative assessment tools similar to that of the Smarter Balanced Digital Library for ELA and mathematics. This meeting will take place at the end of April 2015. This is very exciting news as it gives some insight to the direction the state may take with the future statewide assessment system to support the Next Generation Science Standards.  Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

Where Are the Women in STEM? What Can We Do to Support and Retain Them?

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

by Laura Henriques

Women are far less likely than men to earn pSTEM (physical Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) degrees or work in the field. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it has gotten a bit of press lately. US News and World Reports had an article highlighting a Clinton Foundation Report showing women in developing countries have less access to cell phones (and therefore the internet) than men. This results in decreased access to health care, fewer job options, a lack of flexibility with work and childcare related issues, and a lowered sense of empowerment. That article linked to several other articles about the lack of diversity in STEM fields in the US, the leaky pipeline and more. Learn More…

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and president of CSTA.

Strategies for Assessing Student Understanding in the NGSS Classroom

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

by Sara Dozier

Like me, you are probably excited about the opportunities that the Next Generation Science Standards offer students and teachers. For the first time in 17 years, our science standards are asking us to engage our students in science learning that is engaging, meaningful and just plain fun. In addition to our excitement, though, there is also some apprehension. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Fostering Metacognition Through Assessment

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

by Jill Grace

Assessment…

When I ponder that word, I am flooded with various – shall I say – feelings. And these feelings are deep-rooted feelings. On one hand, as a teacher, assessment is simply the cornerstone of understanding how my students are doing from beginning to end of instruction. Building a classroom culture where students are expected to have conversations about content provides me with a special window to listen in – are they getting it? I don’t need to give a quiz or a test, I just need to listen. I often look over their shoulders, peering into their personal thinking as they describe what they understood in their science notebook. I assess constantly, daily, by the minute just by being present walking around the classroom. Learn More…

Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace teaches 7th grade science at Palos Verdes Intermediate School and is the Middle School/Jr. High Director for CSTA.