November 3, 2016
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces
Approval of Science Framework
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the State Board of Education (SBE) voted to approve a new Science Framework for California’s public schools that will dramatically upgrade and modernize science instruction.
“Science education is undergoing a renaissance that began with the adoption of California’s Next Generation Science Standards in 2013 and advances today with a Science Framework that will guide teaching,” said Torlakson, who began his career as a high school science teacher in the 1970s.
“This framework will help our students become the scientists and technology leaders of the future as well as citizens who are knowledgeable and understanding of the natural world and the environment,” Torlakson said. “It will also help produce the well-educated, innovative workers needed by all of our employers, but especially our high-tech companies, which are some of the most advanced companies humankind has ever seen.”
California becomes the first state in the nation to adopt a Science Framework based on Next Generation Science Standards and is now poised to lead the nation in rolling out a rich, updated, 21st century science curriculum. The Science Framework provides guidance to teachers, administrators, and textbook publishers for the teaching of the Next Generation Science Standards from transitional kindergarten through twelfth grade.
The Science Framework expands and refines discussion of climate change and for the first time includes engineering, environmental literacy, and strategies to support girls and young women in science.
The Framework, for example, presents middle school students with the engineering challenge of diverting rainwater away from road surfaces, where it can pick up oil, grit, and other pollutants into the ground to minimize flooding and maximize filtration. Seventh grade students may be tasked with graphing fish populations under various global warming scenarios. High school chemistry students can explore the increasing acidification of the world’s oceans, the causes, and potential remedies.
Beyond updated science content, the Science Framework encourages a new teacher-student dynamic with the teacher becoming more of a facilitator, asking questions and encouraging discovery. Students conduct experiments and lead the scientific inquiry.
The Framework was developed after an extensive public process that spanned almost three years and generated more than 3,000 public comments. In support of the process, the California Science Teachers Association sponsored 30 different focus groups throughout the state to collect feedback.
Throughout the spring of 2017, the California Department of Education (CDE), together with educational partners, will present California Science Framework rollout events around the state to start preparing educators and administrators in all aspects of Next Generation Science Standards instruction. In 2018, the State Board of Education is scheduled to adopt textbooks and other instructional materials aligned to the Standards and Framework.The CDE also is developing a new online science assessment that will reflect the Standards and Framework. A pilot test of the new assessment will take place in spring 2017 in grades five, eight, and in one high school grade—ten, eleven, or twelve—that will vary for each high school.
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Tom Torlakson —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100