November/December 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 2

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

    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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Apply to Join Achieve’s Science Peer Review Panel

Posted: Friday, December 15th, 2017

Achieve is excited to announce the expansion of the Science Peer Review Panel!

Achieve’s Science Peer Review Panel (“Science PRP”) is an elite group of educators who work to evaluate and share high-quality lesson sequences and units that are designed for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Members of the Science PRP are part of the solution to a persistent problem in the science education field: not enough examples of high-quality instructional materials designed for the NGSS.

Join the Science PRP by filling out this online application and connect with a network of educators across the country committed to advancing science education for all students, develop your expertise in the NGSS, and work to make better science instructional materials more widely available to the science education field. This opportunity includes free, valuable professional learning experiences designed to deepen your understanding of the NGSS and the evaluation process for instructional materials. 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.

Priority Features of NGSS-Aligned Instructional Materials

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Recommendations for Publishers, Reviewers, and Educators. The California Science Teachers Association and the science teachers associations of three other Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) west-coast states, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, have co-authored a white paper on priority features of NGSS instructional materials. This is the first time our states have collaborated to convey a common vision on an issue of great importance for the implementation of the NGSS. We understand all too well that for meaningful shifts to happen and to support the full vision of the NGSS, strong K-12 Instructional materials are required. 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.

State Board Moves Forward Two Key Pieces Supporting CA NGSS Implementation

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

CSTA President Jill Grace provides public comment at the November 8, 2017, California State Board of Education meeting.

On November 8, 2017, the California State Board of Education (SBE) took action on two items of import relating to the implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). One item was relating to the California Science Test (CAST) and the other to instructional materials. CSTA provided both written and oral comments on both items along with providing input on what CSTA and many other advocates view as a critical component of our state’s emerging accountability system – student access to a broad course of study. 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.

NGSS – Early Attempts and Later Reflections from an Early Implementer Teacher

Posted: Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

by Christa Dunkel

  • There are so many acronyms! Where do I start?
  • What “baby step” should I take first? 
  • How can I make this happen in my elementary classroom?

All of these thoughts and more swam through my head over three years ago when I began my journey into NGSS. I was fresh from a week-long institute with the K-12 Alliance as part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. Much of the week was spent on digging into the NGSS architecture – how the standards are set-up, how to read the standards, what each of the three dimensions meant. Now that I knew how to read them, I needed to figure out how to implement them into my classroom of 24 eight-year-olds. With some guidance from the K-12 Alliance leaders and my own district-level NGSS team, I began the process with some easy “baby steps.” 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.

CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.