By Pat Maio
With two days remaining before President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, the U.S. Department of Education has rejected California’s request to begin administering online tests this spring based on new science standards, in lieu of a test based on standards established in 1998.
The state’s final administrative appeal following a six-months-long battle over science testing in California was denied Wednesday in a Jan. 18 letter sent by Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr., to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst.
Whalen wrote that she made her ruling based on concerns about the lack of transparency of science testing data during California’s transition from online pilot testing to fully operational tests set for the 2018-19 school year.
Source: U.S. Education Department rejects California’s science testing plans | EdSource
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today saluted the innovative science instruction taking place at Edna Brewer Middle School in the Oakland Unified School District—instruction that will be coming to all of California’s public schools as a result of recent efforts to dramatically enhance and modernize science education.
“As a former science teacher, I couldn’t be more excited by the learning I saw today in Jeri Johnstone’s eighth grade integrated science class,” Torlakson said. “It’s hands-on, interactive, and collaborative. Students and teachers ask lots of questions and work like scientists. These are the kinds of skills needed for success in high school, college and the modern workplace.”
The Oakland Unified School District is one of eight school districts and two charter school management organizations participating in the early implementation of California’s next Generation Science Standards adopted by the State Board of Education (SBE) in 2013.
“I want to thank all the innovative, creative, and dedicated science teachers in California for working to improve science education. It’s a huge effort, but it will be well worth it when we see students who are thinking like scientists and fully engaged in their lessons,” Torlakson said.
Source: Tom Torlakson Highlights Science Standards – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Louis Freedberg
The U.S. Department of Education has once again rejected California’s bid to begin phasing in tests this spring based on new science standards, in lieu of current tests based on standards in place since 1998.
In a letter sent Tuesday to state education leaders, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr., said that California would have to continue to administer the old tests. She said the pilot tests based on the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by California in 2013 would not “measure the full depth and breadth of the state’s academic content in science.”
It is not clear what will happen after Jan. 20 when President-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated, and whether his administration will also insist that California administer the old tests.
Source: Federal government insists again that California administer old science tests | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
The 4-H mission, to engage youth to reach their fullest potential, continues in Solano County with another two-day SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) training session.
High school students are invited to take advantage of a chance to perform community service, learn new skills, experience teaching firsthand, and have fun.
The 10-hour training will be held at the Fairfield 4-H office, 501 Texas St., from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Jan. 21 and 1 to 8 p.m. Jan. 22.Teens must participate in both days of training. Deadline to register is Jan. 20.
Source: County 4-H’ers to hold SET training
By Daily Republic Staff
Local high school students are invited to join the Solano County 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology program.
Teens will be trained to teach science in teams to elementary school children in after-school programs. Training sessions are from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 19 and 1 to 8 p.m. Nov. 20 at the 4-H office, 501 Texas St.. Teens must participate both days.
Source: 4-H program seeks Solano high school students for training
By Pat Maio
The State Board of Education on Thursday approved a new science framework that makes California the first state in the nation to produce a framework based on the Next Generation Science Standards for K-12 grades.
“This has been a long time in coming. It is really an exemplar for the nation,” said Ilene Straus, vice president of the board.
The framework, which represents a major overhaul of how science is taught to the state’s 6.2 million K-12 students, is essentially a blueprint for creating a curriculum based on the new standards that can be implemented in the classroom. The standards, more commonly known as NGSS, emerged after educational leaders nationwide met in 2010 and pushed for rewriting a science curriculum that had not been changed since the late 1990s.
Source: State board approves science framework, first in nation | EdSource
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today kicked off California’s largest Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education symposium.
Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school science teacher and coach, welcomed more than 3,000 teachers, parents, students, researchers, entrepreneurs and others to the two-day event at the Anaheim Convention Center.
“STEM education is a key pathway to success in 21st century careers and college, especially in the high-tech, international economy,” Torlakson said. “We want all of our students to get excited about STEM learning, dream big, and reach for the stars.”
The third annual event showcases the importance of STEM education. Speakers highlighted California’s Next Generation Science Standards, a revolutionary update in teaching California’s 6.2 million public school students about science.
Source: Torlakson Kicks Off 2016 STEM Symposium – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)
To find innovative solutions to the challenges of modern living, we need a workforce skilled in science, engineering, and technology. To meet that need, the National Research Council recommended sweeping changes in the way science is taught in America, changes that push students from studying science to actually doing science.
Teachers are at the forefront of this change, and that is why we are offering a “Teachers on the Estuary” program this fall. Solano Land Trust and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are putting on this two-day, professional workshop on October 15 and October 22, 2016.
Source: Getting muddy for kids – Solano Land Trust
By Pat Maio
A framework for new science assessments for California’s 6.2 million public school students moved closer to completion last week, as a state advisory panel approved sending the latest draft to the State Board of Education for approval.
At the same time, the panel, known as the Instructional Quality Commission, approved the draft for a final 60-day public comment period.
The framework would implement the “Next Generation Science Standards” – a major overhaul of the nation’s approach toward teaching science in K-12 grades. The standards, more commonly called NGSS, emerged after educational leaders nationwide met in 2010 and pushed for rewriting a science curriculum that had not been changed since the late 1990s.
Approving the framework is a key step in the multi-layered and multi-year process the state has initiated to introduce the standards in every school district in the state. While the NGSS standards create common practices for teaching science, the framework consists of several chapters detailing what is to be taught at specific grade levels: pre-1st grade, 1st and 2nd grades, 3rd through 5th, 6th through 8th, and the high school grades.
Source: New framework for teaching K-12 science moves closer to approval | EdSource
By Bill Hicks
With graduation season in the rear view mirror, the school year for the Fairfield-Suisun School District is over – but that doesn’t mean the learning has stopped.
A group of 40 sixth- and seventh-graders returned, Friday night, from a five-day Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics camp, which included a trip to Vacaville-based ICON Aircraft, the Senate and Assembly chambers at the State Capitol and culminated with a trip to Vandenberg Air Force Base outside of Lompoc in Southern California.
This was the inaugural year for the program, which was developed in part thanks to a pre-existing connection Superintendent Kris Corey had with staff at Vandenberg AFB.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun School District STEM camp helps dreams take flight
By Amy Maginnis-Honey
When Lauren and Chris Runow asked their then-5-year-old son Mason where he wanted to go for his birthday, there was no indication the destination he chose would launch something similar in Vacaville.
Mason, with choices that included Lake Tahoe, Six Flags and San Francisco opted for an “explore day.” The destination was the Sacramento Children’s Museum.
Once the family was inside and their young sons were enjoying the exhibits, Lauren Runow felt pretty confident Vacaville needed, and would welcome, such a museum.
Source: Imagine That! Vacaville primed for new science, art center
By Richard Bammer
Willis Jepson Middle School science teacher Melanie Pope on Tuesday received the Rising Star Award from the University of California, Davis, Education Department.
A UC Davis graduate, she received the recognition at the Honoring Educators Award ceremony in the Buehler Alumni Center on the university campus. The School of Education Alumni Association sponsored the evening event.
Pope, who teaches seventh-graders at the Elder Street school in Vacaville, is known for using gestures, a visual language, as a teaching tool, reinforcing abstract academic and science concepts with hand and arm movements, which the students replicate, often while standing up.
Source: Jepson science teacher receives honor from UC Davis
By Richard Bammer
President Obama vowed in his first term to make science “cool,” and he has made good on his word.
Consider that he decorated the Oval Office with patent models of well-known scientific inventions and, on Wednesday, hosted his sixth and final White House Science Fair, featuring the robots, spacecraft, toys made from 3-D printers, and other assorted flabbergasting gizmos cobbled together by more than 100 young students from across the nation.
Source: Science is cool at Solano County STEM Fair
Genentech’s Vacaville and Dixon facilities announced last week that they are providing a $100,000 grant to the Explorit Science Center to support the center’s mission to ignite and foster curiosity about science and nature through hands-on exploration.
Specifically, the grant would support the following initiatives:
• “Community Science Project,” which partners with middle schools and elementary schools in Solano and Yolo counties to encourage students in science discovery through a variety of topics. The content is integrated into teachers’ on-going curriculum and aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core Standards.
via: The Reporter
By Pat Maio
Posing an ongoing challenge for California educators trying to tackle a critical teacher shortage area, the number of credentials issued to new math and science teachers in California continues to decline, according to new figures released Monday by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
In the 2014-15 school year, a total of 1,119 math credentials were issued, down 8.4 percent from the 1,221 in the previous school year. For that same year, there were 1,347 science credentials issued, down 6 percent from the 1,434 issued the year before.
The figures underscore the difficulty California still faces in addressing the longstanding shortage of math and science teachers in the state, a problem other states are also grappling with.
Source: Number of new math and science teachers declining in California | EdSource
By Daily Republic Staff
The Solano Community College governing board on Wednesday will consider approving $6 million in changes to plans for the new science building at its Fairfield campus.
The costs of the proposed changes would be funded from Measure Q program reserves, bond interest income and an adjustment of the Vallejo site improvements budget, according to a Solano College staff report.
The recommended changes would increase the square footage of the new building significantly and could require construction of a partial second story to the building, though a preference for a one-story structure will be included in the design-build request for proposal, the staff report said.
via Solano College board eyes $6M in changes for new science building.
By Richard Bammer
Vacaville-area high school students are invited to join the Solano County 4-H SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) program, a way to teach technical subject matter to elementary-level students, it has been announced.
For those interested, student training sessions have been scheduled for Feb. 15 and 16 in the county 4-H office, 501 Texas St., Fairfield. The Monday session is from 1 to 8 p.m., the Tuesday session from 6 to 9 p.m., and students must participate in both training days. Deadline to register is Friday.
Organizers say the training is a chance for teens to engage in community service, learn new skills, experience teaching firsthand, and have fun.
via 4-H program geared to train high-schoolers to teach science to younger students.
By Angela Kaye Mason
President Obama has signed a new education bill that will take the place of the controversial ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ from 2001 — and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will also provide a boost to computer science education.
While the thirteen-year-old act connected funding of schools to the scores that students achieved on standardized tests, ESSA reduces some of the control that the federal government has on education. But according to EnGadget’s Sean Buckley, the new act also makes computer science just as important as other “well-rounded” school subjects.
Frank Smith of EdTech feels that the new legislation could close the gap in student achievement. Smith explains:
- “The latest update to the U.S. National Education Technology Plan has big plans for addressing unequal access to the powerful technology changing schools today. On Thursday, [December 10th] the U.S. Department of Education laid out a vision for the future of technology at schools. The new plan updates technology guidelines issued in 2010, but doesn’t change direction dramatically. Instead, the latest plan sets up a series of bold calls to action designed to ensure technology helps close the achievement gap.”
via ESSA Passage Draws More Attention to Computer Science.
By Andra Cernavskis, The Hechinger Reporter
On an early October morning, a mix of six kindergarten and third-grade teachers walked into Andrea Easley’s third grade classroom in Tracy, California to teach a science lesson. Students stared eagerly at the newcomers as Easley positioned herself the front of the classroom.
“Today we are going to do another experiment,” Easley said.
“Yay!” the third graders cheered, some jumping out of their chairs in excitement.
via What Teacher Training for New Science Standards Could Look Like | MindShift | KQED News.
High school students are invited to join the Solano County 4-H SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) program.
This is an opportunity for teens to engage in community service, learn new skills, experience teaching firsthand, and have lots of fun. Teens will be trained to teach science to elementary-aged children in after school programs in teams of two-four trained high school students.
A 10-hour training will be held from 1 to 8 p.m. Sept. 27 and 5 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 28 at the 4-H office, 501 Texas St., Fairfield. Teens must participate in both days of the two-day training. Deadline to register for training is Sept. 24.
via Students invited to join 4-H SET program.