Science Adoption is Here!
By Michelle Baker, CSTA Primary Director
Curriculum adoption is upon us! It is an exciting time to finally be getting a curriculum for science, but also a daunting task. Teachers know that curriculum comes and goes, but for the several years we have one, we have to make sure it's a good one!
I remember when Common Core was first beginning to roll out. I had only been teaching 6 years, but the ever-changing landscape of education was nothing new. Was it overwhelming? YES! Was it needed? YES! Did it always go as planned? NO! Since then, I have been through two ELA adoptions and two math adoptions. Neither one was the best experience of my life. We have all been there - we vote, we try it out...and we get some other curriculum that the other schools or grade levels liked better.
After reading an article in EdSource (2019), by Sydney Johnson, it made complete sense that the California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Toolkit for Instructional Materials Evaluation (CA NGSS TIME) was developed. I know from previous experiences with adoptions, my colleagues and I have thumbed through textbooks, student workbooks, and manipulative sets before deeming one curriculum superior to the others. In more recent years, we have 2-3 teachers on campus that pilot the curriculum and we rely on them to report back and share the pros and cons of actually teaching the curriculum in a classroom. The CA NGSS TIME goes beyond that, it provides an in-depth evaluation of the curriculum based on the 3-dimensions of NGSS, phenomena, evaluations, engineering practices, and more. By using the CA NGSS TIME, districts are making sure they are getting exactly what their teachers need in a science curriculum.
Using CA NGSS TIME is not fast and easy. It takes time, planning and money. But by empowering teachers to be active participants in the adoption process, districts ensure that the curriculum is vetted and evaluated by the teachers and TOSAs who will be using and teaching the curriculum. If a district is spending millions of dollars to adopt a curriculum, they want it being used and not stored in a closet.
With the new textbook adoption expectations that include contributions from ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and people from the LGBTQ community, many students are going to make connections and realize they have important contributions to make to the world!
I am very excited to see what the new adoption brings! Being able to watch new curriculum roll out across the state is exciting. Just think about all the students who will be engaging in high-quality science instruction that will encourage them to wonder and engage with the natural world around them. Teachers will be providing instruction that will lead students to new ideas about career paths and help them excel in the 21st century.
LGBT-inclusive textbooks to be implemented in California classrooms, Christina Cox, November 30, 2017
California science teachers offer more input on new classroom materials, Sydney Johnson, August 26, 2019
Michelle Baker is a 1st Grade Teacher, Morongo Unified School District and is the Primary Director forCSTA.