California Districts To Pilot Next Gen Science Standards Professional Development

While districts are ramping up to prepare for online assessments based around the Common Core State Standards, some are also preparing for the Next Generation Science Standards. Eight school districts and two charter school organizations in California are participating in an early implementation initiative to begin development of a learning community for K-8.

The idea is to seed professional development among educators who can help others learn how to teach to the new science standards. The standards were completed in April 2013 and are just now beginning to be implemented in new curriculum throughout the country.

The California effort kicked off last August with a weeklong workshop in Southern California. Then for the next four years participants will develop and go through teacher and administrator leadership training and content- and pedagogy-focused professional development.

The group will form a "collaborative network" to share best practices and address the challenges that surface during the transition to the new standards. In addition, the intent is for participating education agencies to serve as "lab rats" for beta testing science standards-aligned curriculum, implementation tools and assessment items. What's learned through that process will be shared statewide.

The program is being led by the K-12 Alliance, a professional development program within WestEd, a nonprofit education research and development agency.

Participating districts encompass Galt, Kings Canyon, Lakeside, Oakland, Palm Springs, San Diego, Tracy and Vista. They'll be joined by charter organizations Aspire and High Tech High. Each district won its place through a competitive application process. The work is being funded by grants from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.