California Educator

May / June 2016

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Page 45 of 59

Science for All The California Next Generation Science Standards set up students for success A L L O F O U R students deser ve to learn th e most current science available, taught using the most ef fective meth- ods. California's new science standards, the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS), will make that possible. Here's a quick primer : What are the CA NGSS? The CA NGSS are a new set of science standards for grades K-12 that were developed by teachers, scientists and science education experts. They embrace students' innate curiosity and engage them in the real-world practices of scientists and engineers. ey are designed to foster deep knowledge of core scientific ideas, and broader conceptual understanding of connections across disciplines. e new standards are about making sure all K-12 students have the knowledge and skills to be successful in college and the careers of tomorrow. Why are they important? e new standards will better prepare all students by improv- ing the way science and engineering are taught in all public schools throughout the state. ey focus not just on the most current ideas kids should know, but also on their ability to apply that knowledge to real-world problems. ey also require that science be taught in every grade so students build under- standing and skills systematically year on year. By incorporating more hands-on activities and real-life applications, California's new science standards make class- room learning more relevant to kids' lives and encourage more diverse students to see themselves as having the talent and ability to be scientists and engineers. is helps address the opportunity gap for girls and Latino, African American and low-income students and others who have been historically underrepresented in science education and careers. rough these shifts, the CA NGSS will help ensure that all students receive the same high-quality instruction. How do the standards work? e structure of the CA NGSS gives teachers opportunity to use their skills and expertise in more innovative ways. ey encourage teachers to facilitate more student-centered learn- ing that enables students to think on their own, problem-solve, communicate and collaborate as they learn important scien- tific concepts. e standards are not a curriculum. Districts, school leaders and teachers determine their own curriculum and how it is taught. The CA NGSS are also aligned, grade by grade, with Cali- fornia's new standards for mathematics and English language arts, so science and engineering instruction can support and enhance what students are learning across the curriculum. What is the timeline? e CA NGSS were adopted by the State Board of Education in fall 2013. Schools are expected to be fully transitioned to t e a c h i n g b a s e d o n t h e CA NGSS for the 2018-19 school year. Between now and then, the California Department of Education (CDE) will be releasing n e w g u i d a n c e t o a i d educators in developing curriculum and selecting instructional materials. Ne w s c i e n c e a s s e s s - m e n t s a r e a l s o u n d e r d e v e l o p m e n t a n d w i l l b e d e s i g n e d t o a s s e s s t h e d e p t h o f s tu d e n t s' understanding and how well they can apply their understanding to analyze scientific phenomena and solve problems. The state has committed to developing a system of assessment that will support class- room instruction, with resources to help teachers assess progress and adjust instruction throughout the year. (See "Timeline" sidebar.) Where do I start? Now is a good time to seek out professional development and to begin experimenting. Take a look at the standards by visiting the science curriculum section of the CDE website and explor- ing some of the introductory videos available online. Talk to your school and district leaders to find out what district plans and resources may be available, or try incorporating one of the new standards into an upcoming lesson. You can find links to more introductory information and instructional resources at Adapted from California Alliance for Next Generation Science Standards (CA4NGSS) Timeline 2016-17: • Science curriculum framework • Assessments pilot test 2017-18: • Assessments field test 2018-19: • Instructional resources • Assessments operational 44

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