September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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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