2014 will be a very busy year for the Next Generation Science Standards in California. On November 6, 2013, the State Board of Education took action on the issue of the middle school learning progression that they had left undecided at their September 2013 meeting. Their decision was to accept the revised recommendation that California adopt the integrated model as developed by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) as the preferred model for California middle grades science instruction, and to reconvene the SEP to develop a discipline specific model based on the domain specific model in Appendix K. The SEP is meeting on December 4 and 5 to begin this task. Once the SEP completes their work (estimated March 2014) school districts will be able to evaluate both – and choose between the integrated and discipline-specific models based on which they think will best serve their students. No further State Board action will be required to adopt the alternative discipline-specific arrangement. I encourage you to read NGSS for Middle Grades: Tips for Implementation – Step 1, Don’t Rush for tips and information.
2014 will bring a number of opportunities for science teachers to become involved in the NGSS implementation process:
Curriculum Framework Focus Group Meetings
The Curriculum Framework Focus Groups discuss several questions designed to provide guidance to the writers of the new science curriculum framework. Even if you are not selected to be a focus group member, all focus group meetings are open and public comment is welcome at the conclusion of the the focus group discussion. A draft list of questions focus group discussion is available online. (Please note: this draft list of questions is currently being revised, a finalized list of questions will be available in January). If you would like to provide input but are not able to attend a meeting in person, you may send you comments via email by February 18, 2014 (instructions on how to do so will be available when the final questions are released). Pending State Board approval in January, the focus group meetings will be held:
- Saturday, January 25, 2014, 10 a.m.–noon, Exploratorium, San Francisco
- Thursday, January 30, 2014, 5–7 p.m, San Diego County Office of Education
- Friday, January 31, 2014, 4:30–6:30 p.m, Orange County Department of Education
- Tuesday, February 4, 2014, 4–6 p.m, CDE, Sacramento, Video Conference Included (Siskiyou, Shasta, Humboldt)
- Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 4–6 p.m, Fresno County Office of Education
Curriculum frameworks provide guidance to teachers, administrators, and parents on how a standards-based curriculum is implemented in the classroom. Pending approval of the proposed development timeline by the State Board of Education at its January 15-16, 2014 meeting, recruitment for members of the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) will begin in February 2014 and will last for 90 days, concluding in April 2014. Made up of 9 – 20 people, the CFCC will play a significant role in the revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Science Framework). TheScience Framework will be revised to incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (CA NGSS) and to reflect current research in science instruction. The CFCC will provide input for the initial draft of the revised framework in accordance with the guidelines approved by the SBE. CSTA will send out information to members when the application is available.
Even if you are not able to commit your time to serving on the CFCC, you can still participate in the development process. Public comment periods on the draft science curriculum framework will take place in the summer and fall of 2015.
New State Science Assessments
While there is no timeline in place yet, stay tuned to CSTA for information about how to be involved in the development of new assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards. AB 484, will be enacted on January 1, 2014 and calls for the Superintendent to consult with stakeholders, including, but not necessarily limited to, California science teachers, individuals with expertise in assessing English learners and pupils with disabilities, parents, and measurement experts, regarding the grade level and type of assessment. The recommendations shall include cost estimates and a plan for implementation of at least one science assessment in each of the following grade spans:
(i) Grades 3 to 5, inclusive.
(ii) Grades 6 to 9, inclusive.
(iii) Grades 10 to 12, inclusive.
CSTA anticipates that work on the development of the new assessment recommendation will begin in 2014.