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Next Generation Science Standards

Middle Grades Learning Progresssions

Updated April 21, 2014

NGSS for California Middle Grades Learning Progressions

On November 6, 2013 the State Board of Education approved both the the integrated learning progressions as proposed by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) as California's preferred model AND a discipline specific model that will be developed by the same SEP based on Appendix K. Districts will have the option to choose what best meets the needs of their students. Both middle grade learning progressions are available on the CDE website along with supplemental explanitory documents.

The decision a district will have to make regarding which middle school learning progression will best meet the needs of their students will not be a simple one. CSTA recommends that districts hold off on making this decision until such time as more information about the curriculum framework, instructional materials, and assessment are available.


Middle Grades Learning Progression Voted on at November 6, 2013 SBE Meeting

On November 6, 2013 the State Board of Education approved a modified recommendation from CDE regarding the adoption of the middle school progressions proposal. Rather than approve an "integrated only" option for schools, the Board approved both the integrated model as proposed by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) as California's preferred model AND a discipline specific model that will be developed by the same SEP. Districts will have the option to choose what best meets the needs of their students. The webcast archive of the November 6, 2013 State Board of Education meeting is now available online. To listen to the presentation and public comment on Item #6 - the NGSS agenda item - use the navigation provided to jump to that section.


Rationale for Arrangement of Middle School Standards of the Proposed Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, K-12

On June 28, 2013, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson released his much awaited recommendation for new science standards for California schools. The proposed standards, entitled Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade 12, are based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) released by Achieve on April 9, 2013. California made only a few minor changes to the clarifying statements in the performance expectations that make up the NGSS and arranged the performance expectations for grades 6-8 into specific grades. The decision to allocate the performance expectations to specific grades, rather than adopt them in a grade ban, was a simple one. California is a K-8 adoption state and as such requires specific standards for those grades.

As a part of their presentation to the State Board of Education on July 10, 2013, CDE and other guest speakers went through a detailed explanation of the care which was taken by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) to arrive at the final recommendation that is being proposed. However, due to the short time between the time the recommendation was posted and the board meeting, the State Board elected to defer making a decision to a future meeting. Their next meeting will be on September 4-5, 2013. The reason for choosing to defer a vote was in large part to allow teachers more time to evaluate the proposed standards. In order to aid teachers in their evaluation, the California Department of Education has produced a document for grades 6, 7, and 8 which articulates the criteria used by the SEP when arranging the standards, the reasoning behind the arrangement including storylines, and explanations of the articulations from elementary and into high school and for each discipline in grades 6, 7, and 8. The document is available on the CDE NGSS website.

The proposed arrangement of the middle school standards has started many conversations around the state, CSTA particpated in three meetings to discuss the proposed arrangement:

On August 7, CSTA member and middle school teacher Emily Williams held a gathering at the South Pasadena Middle School Library. About 100 educators attended. This meeting provided information to middle grade science teachers about the arrangement of the performance expectations for grades 6, 7, and 8, and an opportunity for collaborative discussion.  This meeting was attended by science education leaders including Kathy DiRanna (CSTA member and the State-wide Director for WestEd’s K-12 Alliance, Kathy worked with the Science Expert Panel which helped place the NGSS standards at each grade), Nikki Chambers (CSTA member and teacher participant in the Science Expert Panel), Anthony Quan (CSTA member and LACOE STEM Consultant), and Jill Grace (CSTA Middle School Director and 7th grade science teacher).

Thursday, August 22, 2013 NGSS Town Hall Meeting
Host: Dean Gilbert (CSTA past president and SEP member) of the Orange County Department of Education
Meeting Features: A Skype presentation with Dr. Helen Quinn, lead author of the Framework for K-12 Science Education (and keynote presenter at the 2012 CSTA conference).
Where: Orange County Department of Education, Costa Mesa, CA

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 NGSS Middle School Standards Discussion
Hosts: CSTA and the Sacramento County Office of Education
Meeting Features: An informational discussion meeting on the middle school arrangement proposed. In attendance were Rick Pomeroy of UC Davis School of Education (CSTA past president and SEP member), Glen Lusebrink (CSTA and SEP member) a teacher in the Woodland Joint Unified School District, Robert Sherriff (CSTA and SEP member), a middle school teacher in the San Juan USD, Jody Sherriff (CSTA member), with the K-12 Alliance, Lisa Hegdahl, 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School (CSTA president-elect), and Phil Romig, Science Curriculum Specialist for the Sacramento County Office of Education.
Where: Sacramento County Office of Education, Rancho Cordova, CA