Transforming Science Education in San Francisco

Janet Carlson, Associate Professor and Director of the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education writes in Ed Week’s blog, Urban Education Reform: Bridging Research and Practice. The post is written from the researcher perspective. Later this week, Ed Week will share the practitioner’s perspective on this research.

Why this Research?

Five years ago, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) made a commitment to invest in the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) through a multi-year solution strategy that combined developing and adapting new curriculum materials with an integrated professional development plan so that the persistent inequities in student learning would be interrupted. Seeing an opportunity in the disruptive nature of the NGSS to alter science teaching and learning in ways that improved learning for all students, the SFUSD Science Team partnered with the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching (CSET) at Stanford University to ensure that the curriculum and professional development work was guided by best practices and research.

Click here to read the full article in Ed Week (June 4, 2018)

Evolution is and ‘will remain’ part of Arizona’s science curriculum, Ducey says

When it comes to teaching science in Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey is apparently on a different page than School Superintendent Diane Douglas.

Ducey said evolution should stay a part of the state’s science curriculum, while creationism should remain out of science class.

“Evolution is part of the curriculum and will remain part of the curriculum,” he said.

The governor’s comment comes after we reported earlier this month that the Arizona’s Department of Education, under Douglas, made revisions to a draft of updated science standards prepared by some of the state’s teachers.

The revisions by the department omitted and watered down references to “evolution” and “evolve.”

Click here to read the full story on the KVOA News 4 website (May 29, 2018)

Arizona Science Educators Raise Alarms about Revised K-12 Standards

 

If you think back to your grade school science classes and Schoolhouse Rock episodes, you might remember memorizing a lot of vocabulary words.

But science is more than words. It’s about wonder, curiosity and experimentation. The new Arizona Science Standards are meant to encourage a messy, hands-on approach to science. The Department of Education’s revisions [shown in green, here] shifted the focus—backward.

“As a professional, as a science educator, I just could not support teaching students this incorrect idea of what science is,” says Lacey Wieser, the department’s former director of K-12 science education. She resigned rather than implement the changes made during an unprecedented internal review.

“I think the changes really shift from the focus from this idea of science of discipline for helping students make sense of the world, to just really memorizing a body of facts,” Wieser says.

Wieser was alarmed by the addition of so-called “key concepts” to the standards. They look a lot like the old vocabulary terms emphasized in Arizona’s outdated standards from 2004. That’s just what the committee of experts who wrote the new document wanted to get away from. Another troubling change: Department staff deleted or qualified the word “evolution” throughout the document.

 

Educators complained the internal review was an overreach of power. Sara Torres, the executive director of the Arizona Science Teachers Association, says, “In the past internal reviews were always done for formatting issues and grammatical edits, and never to change the specific content of the standards.”

 

The draft standards for Science, and History and Social Science, are available for public comment until May 28. They’ll be submitted to the Board of Education for adoption this fall.

Click here to read the full story featured on KNAU Radio (May 14, 2018)

 

Hart School District (Calif.) Eyes Updated Science Curriculum

Amidst grumblings from Santa Clarita Valley (Calif.) teachers who say they lack proper educational materials, the Hart Union High School District is sharing an update on the overhaul of its science curriculum Wednesday.

The William S. Hart Union High School District is expected to look at classroom support at Wednesday’s meeting of the Governing Board regarding the rollout of the Next Generation Science Standards curriculum, as well as an upcoming chemistry pilot that is predicted to commence this year.

To prevent a disastrous situation from occurring in the Santa Clarita Valley’s high school district, personnel have attempted to keep board members apprised of Hart’s new science curriculum for grades seven, eight and nine.

“The item on the board agenda is an update of the work we’ve been doing to shift science instruction in the district,” said Mike Kuhlman, assistant superintendent of educational services. The update is one step in a continuous process that will play out over the next couple of years, he added.

“We believe that in the world that our students are inheriting, they will need to have a STEM focus,” Kuhlman said. “Therefore, we are working to redesign the curriculum with the intent that every student in the Hart district has taken biology, chemistry and physics by the time they graduate.”

“The idea in a nutshell behind the Next Generation Science Standards is ‘science for all,’” Kuhlman said.

Click here to read the full story in The Signal, Santa Clarita Valley (May 1, 2018)

 

 

School board honors student arts — and gets a science lesson

Haughton was giving the Monroe Board of Education a snapshot of Connecticut’s Next Generation Science Standards — and how Monroe’s schools and teachers have met and even exceeded those new requirements. Presenting with Haughton were colleagues Jim Stoelzel, 6-12 instructional leader, and Director of Curriculum Sheila Casinelli.

The presentation on science education and on a separate language arts initiative took up the greater share of the board meeting.

“We have been ahead of the game in adopting the new Next Generation Science Standards,” said Casinelli. “In the curriculum, science and mathematics are interrelated. It is all based on claims, evidence and reasoning.”

Because of the latter, children’s writing and speaking skills become reinforced by the curriculum as well. The new curriculum builds on the strength and popularity of Monroe’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program, which was instituted in 2011.

“The new curriculum standards don’t come in a ‘kit’ but are something that requires innovation at the district level, including ongoing professional development for teachers,” said Stoelzel.

Click here to read the full story in the Monroe Courier (April 25, 2018)

Utah Board of Education Gives Go-ahead to Draft New Science Standards

After past sparring over hot-button topics like evolution and climate change, Utah Board of Education gives go-ahead to draft new science standards

The Utah State Board of Education greenlit plans Thursday (April 12) to begin drafting new school science standards, a process likely to touch on divisive issues like climate change and evolution.

The state last approved new middle school science standards in 2015, which were based partially on the Next Generation Science Standards, a series of education benchmarks developed by a consortium of national experts.

But what is taught in Utah classrooms for grades kindergarten through five, and nine through twelve was unaffected by that change, and those guidelines for science curricula remain between seven and 15 years old.

After months of pleading by Utah science educators to cohere science standards for all grade levels, the board voted in November to charge a State Standards Review Committee, comprised of parents and educators, to study and recommend elementary and high school science curriculums.

Board members also requested in March that the committee include a “crosswalk” breakdown directly comparing elements of the current curriculum compares to NGSS.

Click here to read the full story in the Salt Lake Tribune (April 13, 2018)

 

How Soon Will the New New York State Science Standards Be in Your Child’s School?

CAZENOVIA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – Students across New York state will soon notice a gradual roll-out of the state’s new science standards.

Recently, NewsChannel 9 was given a rare behind-the-scenes look at how the new standards incorporate lesson study and maintain a focus on engineering. The observation took place at Burton Street Elementary in Cazenovia while second-graders tackled a soil erosion project called, “Save the Sand Towers.”

OCM-BOCES is one partner in a leadership team that includes help from the Syracuse University School of Education. Members are helping teachers prepare for the new state science standards before they are fully implemented into curriculum at all schools at all grade levels.

“These were officially approved by the Board of Regents last July, so the state has picked a slow roll-out, which I think is really important,” said Whisher-Hehl, the OCM-BOCES coordinator of innovative teaching and learning. “The tests are not slated to change for a handful of years. Right now they are developing feedback from the field to make a road map for when the new test will be rolled out.”

“These standards were developed specifically for equity and access. They were developed to have a set of science standards that really work for all kids and that all kids could have a strong foundation,” explained Whisher-Hehl. “Secondly, they were designed to help kids gain skills and understandings that will move beyond science, so it includes content, but also includes the scientific and engineering practices.

Click here to read the full story on WSYR-TV website (April 10, 2018)

Measuring New Science Standards Is Hard. These Projects Aim to Change That

About 18 states have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. And although these shared science expectations have been out for about five years, testing models that fully capture students’ grasp of them have lagged far behind. (So far, only a handful of states have updated their science tests to match.)

The NGSS poses some big technical challenges for the smarty-pants who develop student tests. For one, the NGSS expects students to learn primarily by interacting with phenomena and recording and analyzing data. That’s basically the inverse of how most of us learned science, in which a teacher explained a new concept and, if we were lucky, illustrated it through a lab.

New tests also needs to match the standards’ crosscutting concepts, such as being able to recognize patterns and understand scale and proportion.

Now, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has begun a new project to craft model test items related to the standards’ energy practices.

Click here to read the full story in Education Week (April 10, 2018) registration required

 

NGSS Expands Science Peer Review Panel

Achieve, a non-profit that focuses on college and career readiness, has announced new members of its Science Peer Review Panel. The additions will help the organization to expand its work evaluating lesson sequences and units designed for the Next Generation Science Standards and sharing high-quality examples online. Participants will receive ample professional development as part of their new roles.

Three-hundred people applied for the jobs. Those chosen will join a group of 38 other educators on the panel. Over half have identified engineering as an area of content experience, a high-need area for the focus of the Science panel’s work, and about half of the new peer reviewers have spent more than a decade as classroom teachers.

Click here to read the full story in T.H.E. Journal (March 21, 2018)