New Science Standards for California in 2013
On September 4, 2013, the California State Board of Education
adopted new science education standards, the Next Generation
Science Standards for California. Still to be determined is
the arrangement of the middle school standards. This issue
will be taken up at the November 4 - 5 meeting of the State
Board. Implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards
is still a few years away (2015/2016 at the earliest). An
implementation plan, curriculum framework, curriculum, instructional
materials, professional development for teachers, and assessments
will need to be developed.
300 (Hancock) was signed by Governor Brown in October,
2011. This bill requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction
to present to the State Board of Education recommended science
content standards by March 30, 2013. The drafting of these
recommended standards are to utilize the Next
Generation Science Standards as the basis for
deliberations and recommendations to the state board. The
State Board must then adopt, reject, or modify the presented
standards by July 30, 2013.
1200 (Hancock) extended the timeline for the adoption
of new science standards in California to later in 2013. The
bill moved the deadlines of March 30, 2013 and July 30, 2013
outlined in SB 300 (see below) to July 31, 2013 and November
30, 2013, respectively. This extension of the timeline allows
Achieve, the organization writing the NGSS, more time to incorporate
changes based on the public and state-level feedback they
received from their first drafts.
Once the final version of the Next Generation Science Standards
are released, California will begin the process of developing
new content standards based on the NGSS. CDE has prepared
a timeline for the new science standards: California
Timeline for New Science Standards Adoption (CDE resource).
California has been participating in the writing of the NGSS
since the beginning and is one of 26 lead state partners in
the development process. The following is a summary of activities
that have taken place so far as well as those to come that
was extracted from information provided to the State Board
of Education at their March 2013 meeting:
To provide input [into the development of the NGSS] from
California, the SSPI [State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Tom Torlakson] commissioned the State Review Team (SRT),
consisting of 80 science experts representing kindergarten
through grade twelve (K–12) science teachers, administrators,
county science consultants, college and university professors,
and business and industry. Facilitated by the CDE, the first
meeting of the SRT was held on November 30, 2011, where
members reviewed a sampling of draft science standards.
The team was also given the opportunity to review the complete
set of standards in February 2012, May 2012, October 2012,
and January 2013. While the review process is confidential
and the standards are still under review, the SRT generally
agrees with the direction of the standards and that these
standards will improve science education for our students.
Public drafts of the proposed NGSS were made available
to the public for input twice during the development process.
The first public draft was available for review and feedback
for three weeks in May 2012, and the second public draft
was available for three weeks in January 2013. During each
public release, Achieve, Inc., released several supporting
documents to provide additional information as to the background
and organization of the standards. During these public releases,
numerous members of the SRT, including classroom science
teachers and county science consultants, facilitated group
review sessions and submitted group feedback to Achieve,
The NGSS is scheduled to be completed in March 2013 [now
the second week of April]. Should the NGSS not be released
in time, the proposed timeline will need to be revised.
Additional information is available on the NGSS Web site
A few editorials and reports have been generated based
on the second draft of the NGSS. The CDE, SBE, and SBE liaisons
have been in communication with Achieve to address these
Once the final draft of the NGSS is released, the CDE,
with support of the CA CC of WestEd, will embark on a process
to recommend the Science Content Standards for California
Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve to the
SBE. The process will encompass several steps involving
the SRT and a panel of science experts who are representative
of the SRT, referred to as the Science Expert Panel (SEP).
Additionally, the process will allow for public
comment at three Regional Public Forums. [emphasis
As a first step, in January 2013, the CDE, in collaboration
with science specialists from the SRT and the CA CC, conducted
a preliminary analysis of the alignment of California's
existing science standards with the NGSS. The second public
draft of the NGSS was utilized for the analysis. A final
analysis will be conducted once the final draft of the NGSS
Once the final draft is released, the CDE, with support
from the CA CC, will conduct a survey of SRT members to
seek input regarding the final draft of the NGSS and the
working group analysis.
In March 2013, the SEP will convene to review: (a) the
final draft of the NGSS; (b) the analysis of California
standards to NGSS; and (c) survey input from members of
the full SRT. By the end of March 2013, the SEP will produce
a first draft Science Content Standards for California Public
Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve for public review.
Regional Public Forums will be conducted in Northern,
Southern, and Central California in late March and April
2013. [emphasis added] Exact locations and dates
of the events are currently being scheduled. The public
will be noticed once all logistics are confirmed. At these
meetings, public stakeholders will receive background on
the NGSS and the proposed California Science Standards.
They will have an opportunity to provide input for consideration
by the SEP. The CDE and CA CC staff will document public
input and share it with the SEP.
As a final step, the SEP will reconvene to make any revisions
based on public input and share a new draft of the California
Science Standards with the SRT by early May 2013.
Once this group has conducted its final review, the SEP
will incorporate revisions and submit this version to the
SSPI, the CDE, and the SBE for consideration in July 2013.
1998 California Science Content Standards
The content standards for science were adopted in 1998 and
are the foundation for the state's testing program. Link
to California Science Content Standards.
A Brief History of the California Science Content Standards
and the Outlook for Their Future*
teachers in California, particularly those newer to the
profession, often wonder about our state science content
standards—how they came about, who wrote them, and, most
often, when they will be updated. There are no short answers,
nor is there likely to be consensus on the answers, to the
first two questions. As for the third question, the answer
is: apparently never.
To help put a context to
our state’s science standards and how, if at all, they answer
the “depth versus breadth” question, we thought we’d attempt
to shed some light on the processes that brought them about
and what teachers might look for in the future. CSTA was
present and visible during the many months of development
of the science standards and, as such, had a front row seat
for all the machinations that resulted in the standards
we have today. But so did innumerable other participants,
and speaking to any one of them about the process will most
assuredly present a different interpretation of events.
However, all parties would most likely agree that the process
was difficult and
. . .
*As first appeared in the California
Journal of Science Education, Fall 2009.