California adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS) in 2013. This aims to improve scientific literacy and strengthen the international competitiveness of the state workforce. NGSS implementation varies by grade level and district, but most districts were at least in the early stages of implementing the new standard by Spring 2020, when the COVID-19 crisis began. At a virtual event earlier this week, PPIC researcher Maria Fay outlined a new report on the impact of the pandemic on science education, and Senior Fellow Niu Gao called for equitable investments in advancing science literacy. Moderated a panel discussion on how California can help.


Fay says the new standard has the potential to boost science proficiency, which has long been low in California. Large gaps based on race/ethnicity and family income. But during the pandemic, most school districts are focused on math and English arts (ELA), and most school district recovery plans don’t emphasize science.

Science was not a top priority in most school districts before the pandemic, said Jennifer Bentley, an education administrator for the California Department of Education. When schools suddenly had to move to online instruction, she added:

Martín Macías, superintendent of the Golden Plains Unified School District, said the pandemic has put a new science curriculum on hold “for a while” in his local school district. However, once schools transitioned to distance learning, the implementation process resumed. “For us it was just a matter of processing time,” he said.

The pandemic has brought many challenges and disruptions, but it has also spurred investment and innovation. Bentley highlighted several recent state budget allocations. “There are many opportunities in the governor’s budget for schools, districts, and county offices of education to tap into for science and professional learning and educational materials,” she said. , “It will just be a matter of allocating funding to science, not ELA or mathematics.”

For Superintendent Mathias, a key sign of progress is the move to align science education with state frameworks across multiple subject areas. Literacy is particularly important in his school district, with 88% of his students classified as English Learners at some point in their enrollment. Such linkages allow “teachers to see reading and writing in science, whereas they used to see things in silos,” he added.

Panelists were hopeful, but agreed that system-wide changes won’t happen overnight. “Education ships are very large ships,” said Heidi Schweingruber, director of the National Academy of Sciences’ Board of Science and Education. “I really think the K-5 band has the potential to explore deep and meaningful integration with the structure of the school. , there are places where exciting things are happening and I think we can use those as models.”

This research Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.



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