Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee Guidelines for the Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve
(Approved by the State Board of Education March 11, 2009)
The following guidelines are based on statutory requirements, information provided at the January 2009 meetings of the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (Curriculum Commission) and the State Board of Education (SBE), feedback from the four focus group meetings held in October 2008, and public comment.
The guidelines recommended by the Curriculum Commission and approved by the SBE will direct the work of the Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC).
- In general, the updated Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (Science Framework) shall:
- Keep the basic overarching goals and objectives of the current Science Framework.
- Be aligned to the state-adopted science standards adopted by the SBE in October 1998, and show the spiral connection between grade-level standards and skills.
- Retain the narrative format, revised to reflect a more positive tone using action verbs, adding depth to the background information including specific strategies and inquiry-based activities.
- When appropriate, follow the organization and design of other standards-based frameworks.
- Retain the “State Board of Education Policy on the Teaching of Natural Sciences”.
- Include guidance, resources and references for more standards-based hands-on activities.
- Be easy to use both for teachers with educational backgrounds in science, and those without such experience.
- Include information that supports the development of academic and content-specific vocabulary.
- Incorporate the Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&C) into the Science Framework.
- Revise the chapter on assessments, including the integral role of Investigation and Experimentation standards as part of assessments.
The framework should include different types of assessments that test student mastery of higher order thinking skills. The chapter should include the following information:
- Assessments should be based on multiple measures of student ability, and include a variety of techniques for various learning styles and levels of readiness.
- Guidance for teachers on how to use a variety of assessment data, including entry-level/diagnostic, progress monitoring, and summative assessments, to shape instruction.
- Suggestions for performance assessments and other creative ways of assessing student mastery of the material, with examples of effective assessments and rubrics.
- Information regarding the current statewide assessment system in science.
- The latest scholarly research on effective assessment strategies.
- Update the chapter on universal access, to include strategies for differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all students, including English learner (ELs), students with disabilities, and advanced students. This chapter should support teachers in providing standards-aligned instruction to all learners to close the achievement gap.
The CFCC should use universal access chapters from recent frameworks as models, with adaptations for those elements that are unique to science instruction. This chapter should include the following information:
- Suggestions for making academic vocabulary accessible to all students.
- Specific models of differentiating instruction.
- Specific support strategies for:
- Advanced learners
- Students with disabilities
- Students with reading skills below grade level
- Support for teachers in meeting the needs of students with diverse cultural and educational backgrounds.
- Revise the chapter on instructional strategies and professional development, to provide guidance to both new and experienced teachers of science.
This chapter should include the following information:
- Instructional strategies based on current and confirmed research that support student engagement in the science curriculum and incorporate science inquiry skills.
- Support for the use of technology in the science classroom.
- Examples of different methods of instruction.
- Support for a collaborative teaching model that encourages teachers to work with colleagues across subjects and grade levels.
- Resources on professional development opportunities.
- Information for district administrators to support the science curriculum and instruction.
- Update the narrative to reflect current and confirmed scholarly research in science, and changes in California and the United States since the last edition of the Science Framework was published, including stem cell research.
- Add new material to reflect new scholarship and new emphases in science education.
- Add professional resources, references, and organizations.
- Add a chart to the Science Framework demonstrating vertical and horizontal alignment of standards and skills as appropriate.
- If possible, include on a CD–ROM the list of recommended literature in science that is currently being updated by the California Department of Education.
- Statutory Requirements
The framework update must reflect changes in statute affecting the science curriculum and instructional materials that have been enacted since the last revision of the Science Framework, in addition to continuing statutes. These statutes require that certain topics may need to be referenced in the Science Framework. These include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following topics:
- The availability of sufficient textbooks and other instructional materials in the core curriculum areas, including science, and science laboratory equipment for grades nine to twelve as appropriate (California Education Code [EC] sections 33126[B] and 60119).
- Teacher assignment to a class for which the teacher lacks subject matter competency (EC Section 35186[e][C]).
- Maximum weight standards for textbooks for students in elementary and secondary schools (EC Section 4915).
- Adopted course of study for grades one to six in science include the biological and physical aspects of science, with emphasis on the processes of experimental inquiry and on the place of humans in ecological systems (EC Section 51210[d]).
- The objectives of a credentialed teacher designated as a science coach by a governing board of a school district (EC Section 51210.3).
- Adopted course of study for grades seven to twelve in science includes the physical and biological aspects with emphasis on basic concepts, theories, and processes of scientific investigation, the place of humans in ecological systems, and appropriate applications of interrelation and interdependence of the sciences (EC Section 51220[e]).
- The EP&C developed by the California Environmental Protection Agency and adopted by the SBE (Public Resources Code Section 71301).
The Curriculum Commission and the SBE direct the CFCC to incorporate the following topics, referenced in code and required in instructional materials, into the evaluation criteria for kindergarten through grade eight:
- Humanity’s place in ecological systems and the necessity for protection of our environment (EC Section 60041, and Public Resources Code Section 71301).