The NGSS and College and Career Readiness – or – How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Posted: Saturday, September 1st, 2012
By Pete A’Hearn
Both the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are based on the idea of college and career readiness. So what does that really mean in this day and age? I had the opportunity this summer to spend time finding out. A local business organization, the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, organized a set of field trips to visit job sites in the energy and utilities sectors. Designed for teachers involved in utilities and alternative energy career pathway programs, it was a chance to see which skills and knowledge people working in science related careers were using in their jobs, and what helped them to advance and be successful. We visited a geothermal energy plant, wastewater treatment plants, electrical grid operations, irrigation canals, and spoke with city planners. I also visited a distillery to learn about the process of producing bio-fuels for biology and chemistry classes. In the process, I not only met microbiologists, geologists, engineers, and chemists with college degrees, but also many workers without college degrees who use science everyday in their well-paying jobs. Things I learned:
- There are many high paying jobs with good benefits and room for advancement that do not require college degrees. They do require certifications to advance and these are heavy on the science and math of the job.
- Many of these workers will tell you that they are close to retirement and there are not enough qualified workers to take their place.
- College doesn’t necessarily mean four-year university, but it does mean continuing career education through community college or trade organizations. This continuing education is usually what separates a solid career from low wage, dead end jobs.
- Employers mention the importance of “soft skills” more often than actual content. These include the ability to work on teams and being a conscientious employee and are lacking in many applicants.
- Basic algebra skills and the ability to apply them are essential to most of these jobs.
- The ability to rapidly adopt new technology is essential.
- There are plenty of jobs even in a time of high employment, but many workers lack the skills and knowledge to take them.
- The school subjects most often cited as important was “math and science,” but many workers mentioned that good written communication was becoming increasingly important.
So, do the NGSS support this type of college and career readiness? It would seem so, as I can clearly see college and career readiness in the scientific practices, especially:
#4. Analyzing and interpreting data
#5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
#6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
#8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.
The inclusion of Engineering and Technology Standards and the focus on problem solving and teamwork are a huge move toward career readiness. In many ways the NGSS move strongly away from the hostility toward science applications that I perceive in the current California science standards. However, I have a nagging doubt that the content standards are still too bloated and too much a college professor’s wish list, rather than being truly representative of essential college and career skills and giving students the time to really engage in practices and application.
I’d love to hear your opinions on this.
P.S.- In case you are worried, I didn’t spend the whole summer investigating workplaces, there was plenty of time spent at the beach and in the mountains.
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…