California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework - Now What …?
By Lisa Hegdahl
On November 3, 2016, the California State Board of Education (SBE) accepted the recommendation of the California Department of Education (CDE) and the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) to adopt the draft Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (CA Science Framework) with the IQC recommended edits from the second 60-day public review period (a pre-publication version of the Framework with the edits incorporated is expected to be released in the early part of 2017). California science educators have waited for this document since 2013 when the SBE adopted the California Next Generation Science Standards. However, now that the Framework is here, many are not sure how to use it effectively.
While members of the IQC, Science Curriculum Frameworks and Evaluation Criteria Committee (Science CFCC), and many members of the CDE and SBE have read the entire CA Science Framework, few others will read it cover to cover. Understanding the structure of the Framework and its intent will help readers get the most out of the document.
The CA Science Framework provides guidance on the implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) to teachers, administrators, parents, and other educational stakeholders. It also provides guidance for the integration of the CA-NGSS with other state adopted standards. It is important to note, however, that the CA Science Framework is not the last word on CA-NGSS implementation. The Framework does not replace high-quality professional development, such as the California NGSS Rollout Symposia, that provide in-depth understanding of the CA-NGSS and the shifts that are necessary for teachers and students in the classroom.
Whether your role in CA Science education is as a teacher, coach, or administrator; whether you consider yourself a novice or expert in CA-NGSS, you should read Chapter One: Overview of the California Next Generation Science Standards. This chapter provides context for all the other Framework chapters by explaining not only the architecture of CA-NGSS, but the key instructional shifts. The Overview Chapter is essential for setting the stage for the those that follow.
The grade-level and grade-span chapters emphasize the key instructional shifts as well as the three-dimensional learning that is emphasized in the CA-NGSS. New features of the CA Science Framework include the use of snapshots and vignettes in all chapters to demonstrate the implementation of standards in the classroom. When reading grade-level and grade-span chapters, readers will notice that Performance Expectations (PEs) are bundled into coherent instructional segments. These bundles are not the same as those found on the Nextgenscience.org website and many do not match those that are being used by the CA-NGSS Early Implementer districts. The message is this: as professionals, teachers will decide how to bundle PEs, Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), or Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs) in any way that makes sense to them and to their unique student populations. The bundles shown in CA Science Framework are simply meant to be examples.
Once the grade level or grade span chapter is read, two other chapters will be immediately useful when implementing CA-NGSS - Chapter 7: Assessment of Student Learning and Chapter 9: Instructional Strategies for the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools Kindergarten through Grade Twelve Teaching and Learning in the Twenty-First Century. The assessment chapter provides ideas for assessing students three-dimensionally while the strategies chapter provides information on sequencing lessons, engaging student thinking, teaching the nature of science, incorporating engineering and more.
Other Framework Chapters explore Equity and Access, Instructional Resources, and Implementing High-Quality Science Instruction. There are also five supporting appendices, two glossaries, and a Science Resources section. This link will take you to all the CA Science Framework Chapters and Appendices.