This page is the Accessible Alternative Version (AAV) of Senator Fran Pavley's letter on pages 90 and 91 of the Science Focus Report (DOC).
California State Senate
Senator Fran Pavley
Twenty-Seventh Senate District
State Capitol, Room 4035
Sacramento, CA 95814
Tel: (916) 651-4027
Fax: (916) 324-4823
5016 N. Parkway Calabasas, Suite 222
Calabasas, CA 91302
Tel: (818) 876-3352
Fax: (818) 876-0802
Natural Resources & Water Chair
Energy, Utilities & Communications
Transportation & Housing
February 18, 2014
Brian D. Boyd, Ed.D
Educational Programs Consultant
Instructional Resources Unit
California Department of Education
RE: Incorporating the California Education and the Environment Initiative into the new Science Framework
To the California Department of Education:
As the author of the original California Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) legislation, I would like to submit these comments on the 2016 revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Science Framework). I encourage you to view the EEI, California’s premier environmental education effort, as a model when developing the new Science Framework. I believe it is imperative to leverage the state’s investment in the EEI and to use it as a model to provide quality science education.
When the Education and the Environment Initiative was signed into law in 2003 (Assembly Bill 1548 (Pavley, Statues of 2003) and AB 1721 (Pavley, Statutes of 2005)), the State of California elevated the importance of teaching through the lens of the environment: the EEI is the first environment-based curriculum of its kind to receive CA State Board of Education approval.1 The State subsequently dedicated significant resources to the development and implementation of the EEI. Because of its quality and the critical need for people to make informed decisions about the environment, the EEI has had bipartisan support throughout the last three administrations, the tenures of two Superintendents of Public Instruction (Jack O’Connell and Tom Torlakson2), three Secretaries of the Dept. of Natural Resources (Mike Chrisman, Mary Nichols, and now, John Laird), and four Secretaries for the California Environmental Protection Agency (Winston Hickox, Terry Tamminen, Alan Lloyd, and now, Matt Rodriquez).
One aim of the original legislation was to promote the incorporation of the environment into science texts, the EEI legislation required that the Environmental Principles and Concepts (EPCs) (the systems thinking principles that are the basis of the EEI) “shall” be considered for ensuing textbook adoption and academic content standard revisions.3 Since the Frameworks process guides textbook adoption, this process should likewise consider the EPCs, especially because future textbook adoptions may be significantly different than past processes when the law was enacted. As more curricula in varied formats are available to teachers, they will begin to naturally move away from traditional textbooks, and the Framework will become an important guide to educators. Consequently, it is important that the intent of the EEI law is carried out by incorporating the EPCs into the Science Framework.
In my 28 years as a teacher, I have found that learning about science and the environment are synonymous for children. Sadly, education about the natural environment (and human impacts on, and interactions with the environment) is still missing from much of science instruction today. I am hopeful that the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)4 and Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects, and Mathematics (CCSS) will allow for greater integration of environmental education into science instruction and the classroom. Accordingly, I urge you to look closely at connections between the new NGSS and the EEI EPCs. The EPCs can be used across grade levels to address NGSS Crosscutting Concepts,5 and the EPCs are especially correlated with NGSS Earth and Human Activity performance expectations.6
In addition, the EEI Curriculum itself will also be helpful when developing a new Science Framework and appropriate assessment. The EEI Curriculum Science Units address engineering, or engineering design.7 The EEI Curriculum has an emphasis on acquisition, evaluation, and communication of data; critical thinking and problem solving; analyzing and interpreting data; and presenting arguments supported by evidence.8 The State of California has created correlation documents to NGSS, and the first correlation guide is available, with more guides due out in spring 2014 (http://www.californiaeei.org/NGSSGuides/default.htm). Moreover, the Curriculum is also responsive to Common Core, and the State of California has also created correlation documents to identify specific Common Core standards addressed in each EEI Unit. The first 16 correlation guides are already available, with more guides due out in the immediate future (http://www.californiaeei.org/CoreGuides/default.htm).
The EEI represents a seminal effort to inform science instruction with relevant and engaging information. With these new standards the State can hopefully begin to build upon and strengthen this effort. I urge the Science Frameworks to:
1) Consider how the EEI systems thinking Environmental Principles and Concepts support multiple aspects of the NGSS, and to identify EPCs as framework criteria;
2) Look to the EEI Curriculum as a source for specific questions when developing science instruction and assessment in the classroom;
3) Use the EEI Curriculum format of the locally based “California Connections” as a model for supporting NGSS’s call for local information; and
4) Use the EEI Curriculum as a model for engaging differentiated learning, and English Language Learners.
California State Senator District 27
1SBE approval in 2010; see http://www.californiaeei.org/History/default.htm.
2Tom Torlakson was a Senate co-author of the EEI legislation.
3EEI law (Public Resources Code Section 71301(d) (1)) states: “The education principles for the environment shall be incorporated, as the State Board of Education determines to be appropriate, in criteria developed for textbook adoption required pursuant to Section 60200 or 60400 of the Education Code in science, mathematics, English/language arts, and history/social sciences.”
4 All NGSS references are to the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve as required by California Education Code 60605.85, including the NGSS Appendices A-M. http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/ngssstandards.asp .
5 For example, EPC III (Natural Systems Change in Ways that People Benefit from and Can Influence) is embedded in NGSS’s Crosscutting Concept of “Stability and Change.” In addition to EPCs being embedded throughout the NGSS, the EEI Curriculum correlation is also exceptionally strong with NGSS Crosscutting concepts (2) Cause and effect: mechanism and explanation; (4) systems and systems models; and (7) Stability and change. There is also strong correlation with Crosscutting Concepts (1) Patterns; (3) Scale, proportion and quantity; (5) Energy and matter; Flows, cycles and conservation; and (6) Structure and Function. (See NGSS Appendix G, available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/ngssstandards.asp, accessing http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation- science-standards).
6 http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/ngssstandards.asp. See also, upcoming EEI/NGSS correlations, due out in spring 2014 at http://www.californiaeei.org/NGSSGuides/default.htm
7 The EEI Curriculum correlation is exceptionally strong with NGSS Scientific and Engineering Practices (1) Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering); and (2) Developing and using models. There are also strong correlations with NGSS Scientific and Engineering Practices (6) Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions; (7) Engaging in arguments from evidence; and (8) Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information. (NGSS, Science and Engineering Practices Appendix F at http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/ngssstandards.asp. See also, upcoming EEI/NGSS correlations, due out in spring 2014 at http://www.californiaeei.org/NGSSGuides/default.htm ).