July/August 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 8

Your Opportunity to Provide Input into the Future of Science Assessments

Posted: Monday, July 2nd, 2012

There have been a lot of questions circulating around the future of science assessments and what they will look like in the near future of Common Core assessment and the Next Generation Science Standards. The short answer to most of the questions is, no one knows. Last year, AB 250 (Brownley) authorized the Superintendent (SSPI) to put forward a plan for “transitioning to a system of high-quality assessments.” However, the law only offered an authorization for assessing the Common Core standards specifically. The law did require that the planning process include, among other things,  a discussion around the assessment of science in all grade levels at or above grade 4. The law directs the SSPI to report the recommendations to the fiscal and appropriate policy committees of both houses of the Legislature on or before November 1, 2012.

Statewide Assessment Reauthorization Work Group

AB 250 directed the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to consult with specific stakeholders to develop recommendations, including a transition plan, on the reauthorization of California’s pupil assessment system.

To facilitate the development of recommendations, the California Department of Education (CDE) is formed a work group comprised of stakeholders identified in statute. This work group has only one science teacher representing the voice of science teachers on the work group. This fact makes your participation in the reauthorization survey (below) more important than ever.

Statewide Assessment Reauthorization Survey

The Statewide Assessment Reauthorization survey is an online survey that allows you the unique opportunity to provide thoughts on and suggestions for what you think should be included in this system. The survey includes topics such as which content and grade levels to be assessed, which types of assessments to include, importantfactors to consider for English learners and students with disabilities, and how the assessment results should be used. A survey link for a Spanish version will be posted on the Web page on June 29, 2012.

Statewide Assessment Reauthorization Survey 


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.

6 Responses

  1. I feel very strongly that Science should be assessed every year in all grades for which Science standards have been written. Right now, in California, Science is tested only in grades 5 and 8. So, in the other grades, teachers and administrators naturally focus the majority of their efforts on Math and Language Arts, the subjects that are tested. California’s Science standards do an excellent job of covering the important topics at a developmentally appropriate level, as well as scaffolding the content and complexity as students age. But the standards are largely ignored by teachers (especially in the critical K-5 grades, where more students still have a natural excitement about Science) who are forced to spend most of their classroom time on Math and Language Arts. If the standardized tests included even just a few Science questions each year, maybe 20, teachers would be “forced” to cover more of the Science standards.

    All of what I said above should be applied to Social Studies too, since Social Studies is also only tested in grades 5 and 8. However, testing every year is more critical for Science education because elementary teachers are generally more knowledgeable and interested in Social Studies than they are in Science. Therefore, I think that more Social Studies standards are covered in the elementary grades than Science standards.

    I think Americans are dreadfully underserved in their Science education. It shows every time you listen to the news. If we hope to maintain our place as creative innovators in the world, we must value and support increased Science education.

    Thank you for asking for input! Please let me know if I can help.

  2. Once the SSPI presents recommended science content standards – based on the NGSS – to the SBE, what are the subsequent steps toward adoption? Can anyone explain this process? Thanks!

  3. Dear Carolyn,
    Per SB 300, once the SSPI presents the recommended standards to the SBE in March 2013, the SBE must adopt, reject, or modify the recommended standards by July 2013.

    If the SBE modifies the standards presented by the SSPI, it shall provide written reasons for its modifications in a public meeting. The SBE shall adopt its modifications at a subsequent public meeting held no later than July 30, 2013.

    Those people interested in expressing their support (or dissent) to the SSPI recommended standards should plan to do so during the presentation of the standards at the March 2013 SBE meeting. This meeting is scheduled for March 13-14. For more information about SBE meetings visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/mt/st/.

    Those people wanting to influence what is recommended will have the opportunity to do so during one of two public meetings which are required to be held by the SSPI prior to their presentation to the SBE.

  4. I am concerned about the risk that the CCSS may result in science resources being cut back to just a textbook used for “applied math” and “applled reading”.

    I can support the emphasis on reading and writing science in elementary school, if the emphasis results in students prepared for a “flipped” or “inverted” classroom environment during middle school.

    As I understand a “flipped” class: expository reading and writing homework can go “beyond the book” by using online resources and collaboration tools to engage students at the highest levels on Bloom’s Taxonomy. Students who do homework are prepared to question the teacher and receive differentiated instruction while they complete the homework before proceeding to do experiments and activities, analyze data, and discuss their conclusions. Grade-level teacher teams working collaboratively can build a common core of homework lessons and checks for understanding that support the creativity of each individual teacher’s style of classroom instruction and interaction. In practice, this results in very individualized instruction, so the teacher’s challenging work becomes pacing a large and heterogeneous group of students through the curriculum in time for state testing.

    So, I strongly support reducing the breadth and scope of the NGSS for each grade level within every grade span.

  5. I agree with Ellen Meeker’s description of how testing has resulted in under-serving elementary school science.

  6. Tomorrow, Wednesday, July 25, the State Board of Education will receive an update on the AB250 work group activities and feedback from the public meetings. Included in that update comes the suggestion from the work group members:

    • Incorporate a variety of item types to better assess student thinking, application of skills and knowledge, and the formation of oral argument

    • Include statewide assessments in science and history-social science in grades three through eight and end-of-course assessments in grades nine through twelve

    • Consider providing formative assessment practices and tools and interim assessments in English-language arts, mathematics, science, and history-social science in grades two through twelve.

    • Include diagnostic assessment for all grade two students and as needed for students in grades three through twelve.

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CTC Seeking Educators for Science Standard Setting Conference

Posted: Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and Evaluation Systems group of Pearson are currently seeking California science educators to participate in a Science Standard Setting Conference for the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) program. Each standard setting panel is scheduled to meet for one-day, in Sacramento, California. The fields and dates are listed below:

Multiple Subjects Subtest II (Science), Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Physics, Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Chemistry, Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Science Subtest II: Life Sciences, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Science Subtest II: Earth and Space Sciences, Thursday, October 5, 2017
Science Subtest I: General Science, Friday, October 6, 2017

The purpose of the conference is for panel members to make recommendations that will be used, in part, by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) in setting the passing standard, for each field, in support of the updated California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET).

Click here to nominate educators. If you are interested in participating yourself, complete an application here for consideration.


Public school educators who are:

• Certified in California
• Currently practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above. 

College faculty who are:

• Teacher preparation personnel (including education faculty and arts and sciences faculty)
• Practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above, and
• Preparing teacher candidates in an approved California teacher preparation program.

 Benefits of Participation Include:
• Receive substitute reimbursement for their school (public school educators only),
• Have the opportunity to make a difference in California teacher development and performance,
• Have the opportunity for professional growth and collaboration with educators in their field,
• Be reimbursed for their travel and meal expenses, and
• Be provided with hotel accommodations, if necessary.

For more information, visit their website at www.carecruit.nesinc.com/cset/index.asp

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.

CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. 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.