Trish Williams

K-8 science education in California has atrophied in many districts in California over the past 15 years. It wasn’t intentional – but time given to science took a back seat to more time given by districts to English language arts and math to avoid the high-stakes consequences of not meeting annual yearly progress as defined by the No Child Left Behind law. Science education was collateral damage.

Now California is taking steps to bring science back as a core subject in school curricula.

The first step was in September 2013 when the California State Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as the state’s new science standards for K-12.

At its November 2013 meeting, in a unanimous vote, the Board adopted the NGSS Integrated Model as the “preferred model” for middle grades (6, 7 and 8) science instruction in California.

This was a significant board decision because California has historically had a discipline-focused model of instruction in those grades: earth science in 6th, life science in 7th and physical science in 8th.

California’s new integrated model interweaves the three science disciplines with engineering in each of the three middle grades.

The Integrated Model for grades 6-8 was developed and recommended to the State Board by the state’s Science Expert Panel, which consisted of 27 top K-12 science teachers as well as university and industry scientists and engineers. Three nationally recognized California scientists served as advisers.

As a State Board member and liaison for the Next Generation Science Standards, I attended the panel’s meetings to hear their deliberations. The State Board was impressed with the expertise of panel members, their deliberations and work, and their case for recommending this model for California.

As part of their deliberations, the panel reviewed a study of the highest-performing countries on international tests of 8th grade science and found that they all require integrated science instruction through 8th grade.

The Next Generation Science Standards differ conceptually in significant ways from California’s previous science standards. They focus more on:

  • deeper student learning of fewer core ideas in each discipline instead of on excessive memorization of isolated facts;
  • understanding seven cross-cutting concepts that can be found in more than one of the science disciplines;
  • student activities in eight different “practices” or behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate the natural world and that engineers use as they design and build models and systems.

The Science Expert panel concluded that an integrated model for California in grades 6-8 would best provide opportunities for all students to learn about the nature of science and its relationship to engineering design.

In the words of one of the panel’s national scientist advisers, instruction using the new California science 6-8 integrated model “builds knowledge in all three disciplines in each year so that past learning is connected to, applied and further developed in each subsequent unit or year, providing the best opportunity for students to develop deeper understanding and transferable, usable knowledge.”

The panel concluded that the integrated model in middle school would provide better preparation for more rigorous high school science coursework, and be more instructionally engaging, for all students. That would include those already interested in science as a possible career, as well those not yet interested or who have less exposure outside the school environment to science and other STEM-related learning, such as young women and students from low-income families.

In designing the integrated instructional model for grades 6-8, the panel paid close attention to ensuring:

  • a smooth transition from California’s new NGSS K-5 standards, which also integrate the three science disciplines;
  • consistent alignment across each grade and within each 6-8 grade with Common Core math and English language arts;
  • balanced instructional demands on teachers throughout all three grades,

At the same time, to allow for more options at a local school district level, the State Board also authorized the development of an “alternate” so-called “discipline-specific” model that would allow teachers to continue to teach with “a focus” on earth sciences in the 6th grade, life sciences in the 7th grade, and physical sciences in the 8th grade. But it would still require the inclusion at each grade of some core ideas from other disciplines, and it will be more difficult to teach the interdisciplinary cross-cutting science concepts

Both models for grades 6-8 can be seen here.

California law requires the state to adopt a framework for all adopted standards for grades K-8 and to endorse instructional materials that are aligned with the standards. Both the integrated and the discipline-specific model will be fully supported in the new science curriculum framework.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has concluded that fewer than 1% of current middle school science teachers lack a credential needed to implement the Integrated Model at their school. But the implementation of either model will require districts to provide significant professional development for middle grades science teachers in order to fully realize the instructional shifts expected by the new standards.

There are resources to help:

In addition to the funds each district receives through the State’s Local Control Funding Formula, there is a one-time $1.25 billion proposed in the Governor’s 2015-16 budget for implementation of California’s new academic standards, including the Next Generation Science Standards.

Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP) that districts are implementing for the first time this year require districts and charters to begin to describe initial plans for implementing the new science standards (under State Priority #2).

Local districts are encouraged to confer and partner with their LCAP stakeholders – including teachers, parents, students, administrators, local school board members, professional organizations and community and business partners – to begin to study both middle grades models, to better understand which model will provide optimal learning of the new science standards for all their students.

The California Department of Education is conducting workshops this spring throughout the state to assist in understanding the new science standards.

In addition, each of the eight districts and two charter management organizations in the California K-8 Next Generation Science Standards Early Implementation Initiative are implementing the new Integrated Model for Grades 6-8 and can serve as a resource.

The first draft of the state’s new science curriculum framework based on the Next Generation Science Standards will also be released later in 2015 and will be a valuable resource in district decision-making and planning.

Implementation of the new science standards is expected to unfold statewide over the next four years, with students currently slated to take a pilot state science assessment in spring 2017 and the full assessment in 2018-19.

To be ready, districts would be well served to begin now to study the two models available for science education in the middle grades so they can make a well-informed choice that is best for their students. There is no need to rush to adopt one or the other model this spring.

However, I strongly support the Integrated Model for grades 6-8 for all the reasons cited by the California Science Expert Panel when the State Board adopted it as their “preferred model.”

Regardless of which approach districts or charters adopt, I am a champion for bringing a robust K-8 science education back to California. All students – and especially students from low-income families – deserve the opportunity to be better prepared in the K-8 grades to embrace and succeed in science and engineering high school courses, college majors, and related well-paying careers

•••

Trish Williams is a member of the State Board of Education, former vice president and a lead board liaison for the Next Generation Science Standards. She was formerly executive director of EdSource. 

The opinions expressed in this commentary represent solely those of the author. EdSource welcomes commentaries representing diverse points of view. If you would like to submit a commentary, please contact us.

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  1. Reality 2 years ago2 years ago

    The idea of including "heat" in 6th grade and "evolution" in 8th grade makes little to zero sense. Do not even begin this ...it is troubling to see the results of a room full of "educational experts." Particle motion, phase change, and chemical reactions learned in 8th has a direct relationship to heat. But heat is included for 6th graders..The 6th graders will learn to repeat and only use heat in terms of convection currents within … Read More

    The idea of including “heat” in 6th grade and “evolution” in 8th grade makes little to zero sense. Do not even begin this …it is troubling to see the results of a room full of “educational experts.”

    Particle motion, phase change, and chemical reactions learned in 8th has a direct relationship to heat. But heat is included for 6th graders..The 6th graders will learn to repeat and only use heat in terms of convection currents within the earth leaving out the essentials of transfer and a more realistic context of molecular speed will left by the wayside. They will memorize in other words… and not do all the “wonders” outlined by NGSS that magically transform learning. They will complete worksheets and not understand particle motion, but “earth processes.”

    Since change over time is being taught in 6th grade, it may be helpful to put evolution in context in this grade. But the room full of geniuses decided evolution would be best in 8th…In 6th, the students are learning about the fossil record. But low and behold, the 8th grade teacher has to teach evolution and acceleration in the same year… how about that? somehow these match up….? Oh wait, its the common core, its magic.

    There is little to zero argument for my suggestions above. You could bring in every administrator and science teacher in 8th and 6th grade and make them attempt to argue for NGSS heat in 6th and evolution in 8th. It makes zero sense. Zero, meaning no sense.

  2. David Beck 2 years ago2 years ago

    By way of background, I have attended two State sponsored workshops on the rollout of the new middle school NGSS science standards. I am a trained engineer, and an 8th grade physical science and honors science teacher in the Los Alamitos Unified School District. These opinions are mine and do not necessarily represent the outlook of the district or it's teachers. However, most science teachers at Oak and others in the district … Read More

    By way of background, I have attended two State sponsored workshops on the rollout of the new middle school NGSS science standards. I am a trained engineer, and an 8th grade physical science and honors science teacher in the Los Alamitos Unified School District. These opinions are mine and do not necessarily represent the outlook of the district or it’s teachers. However, most science teachers at Oak and others in the district would generally support the points made below in intent if not in detail.

    I have serious concerns and reservations about the NGSS standards as currently proposed, and feel strongly that they need revision before they can be adopted by our district. While I support the goals of multi-discipline integration, and certainly the inclusion of engineering content in science education as we go forward, what has been proposed will only confuse, not educate our students.

    Very simply, middle school students must absorb the basic concepts we teach now; Earth Science in 6th grade, Life Science/biology in 7th and Physical Science (Physics/Chemistry) in 8th before they can even have a chance to understand what needs to be integrated. Each of the year long curricula lay the “baby steps” foundation for what they will learn in High School. With that, and with the more in depth knowledge gained in the more rigorous high school courses, they can just then begin to integrate and cross pollinate in high school.

    Further, mixing biology, engineering, heat transfer, mechanics and engineering into one year, as proposed, when the students don’t know the background of any of those fields (nor will the proposed standards teach them this background in previous grades) is confusing, frustrating and continues the trend of pushing high concept subjects into lower and lower grades when education science says that students are not ready for them. The same approach is burning out kindergarten and elementary students and teachers now.

    This is not to say that under the present standards, 8th grade students do not integrate and think across the disciplines. At Oak, students learn force, motion and basic mechanics by designing, building, racing and analyzing the performance of CO2 rocket cars. They learn buoyancy and density by building tissue paper hot air balloons. They see and write up chemistry lab demonstrations of Group 1 element reactions, flame tests and endo/exothermic reactions. Students are expected to write and analyze their data and experiences while doing extensive but simple math calculations on their data. Sixth graders learn heat and energy transfer IN EARTH SCIENCE, while 7th graders get exposed to basic chemistry and ecology where appropriate IN LIFE SCIENCE.

    These appropriate middle school experiences prepare them to learn in more depth and pursue serious discipline integration in high school and beyond, when they have the background in the subjects to do so.

    Please do not go down the road toward the hodgepodge approach being proposed. Variations of the same ideas have been tried and ultimately rejected before. Please understand that I am not against progress, and I am all for introducing and exposing students to more hands on engineering/science and team experiences. But, let us do so in a logical way that gives them the background needed as they do so.

    Regards,
    Dave Beck,
    8th Grade Science/Honors Science
    Oak Middle School
    Los Alamitos Unified School District

  3. Brian 2 years ago2 years ago

    As a 16 year teacher of Life Science, I believe the new NGSS standards are a travesty. I say this teaching at school whose Science scores were 91% advanced/proficient performing school on Science CST. We have done quite a few things correctly at this site and in our district. When I read the new standards, I feel like middle school students don’t have enough Science depth to integrate yet and … Read More

    As a 16 year teacher of Life Science, I believe the new NGSS standards are a travesty.

    I say this teaching at school whose Science scores were 91% advanced/proficient performing school on Science CST. We have done quite a few things correctly at this site and in our district. When I read the new standards, I feel like middle school students don’t have enough Science depth to integrate yet and I feel like we’re currently doing a fantastic job preparing them for high school.

    Our district doesn’t offer a middle school health class, so I feel like the Human Body unit provides a lasting foundation for leading a healthy lifestyle and a strong foundation for job possibilities in health care, a huge employer. Genetics is such a growing field and teaching of Punnet Squares offers challenging problem solving. It’s a shame to replace Human Body Systems and Genetics with what appears to me to be largely ecology and engineering.

    Fields in Science are separated for study for a reason, expecting an 11-14 year to blend them together when college courses don’t is developmentally inappropriate.

    I’m against adopting the NGSS standards.

    Respectfully,
    Brian Meckna

  4. Nick Corselli 2 years ago2 years ago

    --students need to become enthusiastic and appreciative of our environment. That means an instructor should be able to include in a lesson anything that sparks that enthusiasm and appreciation. That should be the main focus. If it means going out into the back yard, adjacent field or local riparian area and catching lizards, butterflies or frogs, that is what needs to be done. I've been teaching in my district for 28 … Read More

    –students need to become enthusiastic and appreciative of our environment. That means an instructor should be able to include in a lesson anything that sparks that enthusiasm and appreciation. That should be the main focus. If it means going out into the back yard, adjacent field or local riparian area and catching lizards, butterflies or frogs, that is what needs to be done. I’ve been teaching in my district for 28 years and have seen too many attempts at changing the curriculum that have not enhanced student performance———————-you want to increase student success? Let the teacher with a skeletal timeline teach what he or she is enthusiastic about and the student will become enthusiastic and appreciative. We want citizens who are supportive, understanding and who will protect our planet. You know what? I know what I’m talking about!!

    Let’s just accept the fact that you can’t standardize great teaching. It’s an art. The second you try to standardize art, it loses the very thing that makes it captivatingly amazing.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      Well stated, Nick. History and English (as well as Reading and ESLand "sheltered instruction") were my most frequent assignments in my 35 years in the classroom. Let's take 7th Grade World History for example, which covered the period from "The Fall of Rome to the Age of Exploration" (roughly). My focus, coming from a strong Social Sciences background, was to teach through an anthropological/sociological lens focusing on the "elements of civilization:" organized government; organized religion(s); … Read More

      Well stated, Nick.

      History and English (as well as Reading and ESLand “sheltered instruction”) were my most frequent assignments in my 35 years in the classroom. Let’s take 7th Grade World History for example, which covered the period from “The Fall of Rome to the Age of Exploration” (roughly).

      My focus, coming from a strong Social Sciences background, was to teach through an anthropological/sociological lens focusing on the “elements of civilization:” organized government; organized religion(s); written language; cities and infrastructure; technology; specialized jobs, etc. In this way we could look at the “Fall of Rome” and the “Golden Age” and how the “elements” went away during Medieval Times and then were slowly reconstructed during the Renaissance as Europe slowly put itself back together. Being an “older” teacher I had a tendency to emphasize Western Civ with forays into Asia and Central and South America and the pre-Columbian cultures.

      Instructionally, I counted a lot on collaborative and project based learning.

      Another, younger teacher taught the same course , but through the lens of the worlds great religions (an element of civilization) and how this changed the cultural outlook of the peoples and their development of civilization. He used Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Shinto, Judaism, etc. He tended to do more with Asia and the Mid-East and less than I did with with Europe and the Americas. He tended to do a lot more with drama and presentations than I did.

      We both followed the state standards but emphasized certain sections more or less depending on our backgrounds, inclinations, interests, and strengths. Both of us used classroom instructional strategies that endeavored to make students “enthusiastic and appreciative” of history and our, as well as the rest of the world’s, historical antecedents.

      Now, which approach was “better” at achieving our goals and providing students with those historical insights? Both, even though they were different approaches, both sets of students received the advantage of getting the best that two degreed, experienced, and credentialed classroom practitioners could give them.

      What about the “final arbiter” of educational success in today’s (perhaps, hopefully, yesterday’s) pedagogic universe: CST scores? Both of our kids did comparably. Not that this information was easy to untangle. And at our school, serving substantial numbers of affluent students, that means pretty darn good CST scores. But! Since the History CST covered 6th, 7th, and 8th grade materials, and often seemed to concentrate more on Early and Classical civilizations (6th grade) it is difficult to say. The kids, of course, taking the test in 8th grade were two years removed form the 6th grade, and one from 7th grade, so scores said little about instructional practice. And, many of our students came from different districts so there was little in the way of practical “articulation” (aka, alignment of curriculum) to depend on. CST scores were pretty useless and absolutely unusable for any kind of accountability for schools, though that didn’t stop them from being a part of the API. And this made the system appear pretty silly from the classroom.

  5. el 2 years ago2 years ago

    The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has concluded that fewer than 1% of current middle school science teachers lack a credential needed to implement the Integrated Model at their school. I think it's important to distinguish between the appropriate credential and the appropriate expertise and knowledge, which, alas, are not the same thing. Biology, in particular, has changed dramatically in the last 20 years; earth science is also changing quite a bit, though not to the same … Read More

    The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing has concluded that fewer than 1% of current middle school science teachers lack a credential needed to implement the Integrated Model at their school.

    I think it’s important to distinguish between the appropriate credential and the appropriate expertise and knowledge, which, alas, are not the same thing.

    Biology, in particular, has changed dramatically in the last 20 years; earth science is also changing quite a bit, though not to the same extent. Someone who has not been constantly updating their expertise in these areas will not be prepared to teach it. People who are strong in biology and been teaching solely life science for many years may not be all that comfortable teaching physics.

    That’s not a bad thing: certainly anyone teaching science at these levels with the proper credential can pick up the new information via self-study and professional development, and that’s a good thing. In fact, in science especially, we should plan for a different kind of professional development for our teachers than we might need for English or math. However, the implication from the article is that teachers are already qualified to handle this change, and I suspect that is typically not the case.

  6. Karen 2 years ago2 years ago

    If you are talking about IQ and academic achievement, some children will be "left behind" by definition. There is no way around it. Assuming you are actually teaching them information that is grade/age appropriate and then testing them on those items, there will always be a distribution according to who can do it faster, better, more completely. In SF at Lowell HS, they are mandating that no incoming freshman student from a public … Read More

    If you are talking about IQ and academic achievement, some children will be “left behind” by definition. There is no way around it. Assuming you are actually teaching them information that is grade/age appropriate and then testing them on those items, there will always be a distribution according to who can do it faster, better, more completely. In SF at Lowell HS, they are mandating that no incoming freshman student from a public school can take a math class above algebra 1. Their rationale is that it is unfair to the students who experience different outcomes after high school than those who start in geometry or higher classes. Where is the fairness in this? This policy is a direct refutation of Obama’s stated goals to increase STEM levels in this country. They are actively undermining it, especially for the more capable students. It is not sound policy to reduce the achievement gap by bringing down the skills of the most capable learners, which is exactly what they are implementing.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      Most Cities try to get the middle and upper class to go to public schools. In Chicago, Boston, New York, officials have made a point of publicizing a book showing no academic advantage to private schools (The Public School Advantage). In SF they make no effort to do so. They could have a French school, public, and attract people. Lowell is an inconvenience for them. Believe me, there are a … Read More

      Most Cities try to get the middle and upper class to go to public schools. In Chicago, Boston, New York, officials have made a point of publicizing a book showing no academic advantage to private schools (The Public School Advantage). In SF they make no effort to do so. They could have a French school, public, and attract people. Lowell is an inconvenience for them. Believe me, there are a lot of very rich people who are very upset that Lowell graduates 99.6% from college and the AP and SAT Scores are higher than private schools, which typically graduate about 75% from college, and even elite ones are under 90%, ones costing 40k. You can tell many of the rich feel going to the top high school should be a privilege they can buy and it bothers them that a 41% free and reduced lunch school trashes their 40k school. The rich don’t really want equal opportunity. They want to throw crumbs to the poor not give them an equal opportunity.

      Eventually the rich will probably try to ruin Lowell by making it a neighborhood school. That way the best high school will be the most expensive one and we’ll be more of a caste system than a wide open frontier system where poor can pass rich.

      The fact that Asians outperform whites also really bothers the rich which is why they have a quota on the for the Ivy League, which still determines leadership.

      This is all just part of a plot.

      Trust me, these liberals will all say let’s make everyone equal, but they really mean everyone who cannot afford private school. They didn’t like that book and want to make it so private schools and wealth are an advantage as they once were.

      • Karen 2 years ago2 years ago

        Floyd, your response is well written, but I disagree with your central points. Unimaginable amounts of money have been spent in the last 40 years trying to reduce the academic gap, to no avail. Obama is currently attempting to take even more money from the personal savings (such as the college savings accounts) of middle class Americans, to fund this effort even further. On the other side, the educational system is being assaulted and decimated … Read More

        Floyd, your response is well written, but I disagree with your central points. Unimaginable amounts of money have been spent in the last 40 years trying to reduce the academic gap, to no avail. Obama is currently attempting to take even more money from the personal savings (such as the college savings accounts) of middle class Americans, to fund this effort even further. On the other side, the educational system is being assaulted and decimated by common core programs in order to stymie the hard work and efforts of even the most capable students. All in an unprecedented attempt to reduce the achievement gap. It would be laughable, if it were not so sad and damaging to American students. The truth remains that because of the difference in individual ability, smart people will still be smart. It is not the rich who are out to ruin Lowell. The progressives are trying to compress the achievement of the high achievers.

        • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

          The rich make all the decisions, let's face it. They control all salaries and decided it was fair for 95% of GDP increase from 2008-2014 should go to the top 1%. This is one thing they can't buy. They try to tell people some of these schools are better than Lowell in an exaggerated British accent, calling Lowell too Asian. However, the facts prove otherwise. The rich control San Francisco. … Read More

          The rich make all the decisions, let’s face it. They control all salaries and decided it was fair for 95% of GDP increase from 2008-2014 should go to the top 1%. This is one thing they can’t buy. They try to tell people some of these schools are better than Lowell in an exaggerated British accent, calling Lowell too Asian. However, the facts prove otherwise. The rich control San Francisco. It’s not really a very liberal City. Look at the leaders, Newsome moves to Marin when his kids get older and his nemesis on the left moves to Fairfield. The only two things they ever agreed on was that white flight was a good thing after criticizing it for years. Feinstein, Pelosi, Boxer, Brown, etc. Lowell will survive because the kids work hard, but it is the rich who feel uncomfortable. Rich and poor and all races in school together has never been something the rich truly supported, even if they say they are liberal. Jimmy Carter was the last one.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Students at San Francisco private high schools get a much higher quality education than students at Lowell. Yes, students at Lowell get good test scores, but privates don’t play that game anyway. The schools have small classes with individual attention and office hours. The equipment is first rate, but most importantly the teacher quality is second to none. There’s no comparison.

            • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

              I disagree. The key is the results. The average quality of a human upon leaving Lowell is more educated statistically than from any other school. Education is not only class size. You are overly obsessed with that. It's learning facts, habits, writing ability, math. The instruction at the other schools is better, the attention the counseling, but 99.6% of Lowell kids graduate college. No private school comes close, none … Read More

              I disagree. The key is the results. The average quality of a human upon leaving Lowell is more educated statistically than from any other school. Education is not only class size. You are overly obsessed with that. It’s learning facts, habits, writing ability, math. The instruction at the other schools is better, the attention the counseling, but 99.6% of Lowell kids graduate college. No private school comes close, none are over 95 and most are in the 70s. The competition and the kids are what makes Lowell great. A C Student feels bad and works harder to become a B Student, but that would be an A student at most private schools. A student at a private school feels satisfied. I know many who have chosen private school over Lowell say they don’t want their kids to have to work too hard. But the process and end product are better at Lowell. This bothers the rich.

              Lowell has a Supreme Court Justice, a Pulitzer Fiction Winner, 2 Nobel Winners, another Pulitzer Winner, if you look at the graduates, Lowell is ahead of anywhere.

          • Karen 2 years ago2 years ago

            Floyd, not really sure where you are getting your info on the private schools. I put some info from wikipedia about UHS below so you can see what is happening there, as an example. You and I are in complete agreement about the excellence of Lowell. It is a beacon in the SF public school system, and they are attempting to take it down with common core. We should stand against that, no matter the … Read More

            Floyd, not really sure where you are getting your info on the private schools. I put some info from wikipedia about UHS below so you can see what is happening there, as an example. You and I are in complete agreement about the excellence of Lowell. It is a beacon in the SF public school system, and they are attempting to take it down with common core. We should stand against that, no matter the reason.

            Rankings[edit]
            In 2013, the Washington Post ranked University the 15th best private high school in a nation-wide list of “schools that have done the best job in persuading average students to take college-level courses and tests”.[3][4]

            Notable Alumni[edit]
            Graduates in the 37 classes of alumni of University High School have made significant contributions and received recognition for outstanding achievements in a variety of fields, including the performing and visual arts, education, literature, medicine, law, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship. The names below are only a few of the distinguished alumni in 15 different occupational areas to be found in a more up-to-date directory prepared by the UHS Alumni Director on the UHS website, After UHS..

            Writers[edit]
            Ethan Canin, author
            Ben Casnocha,[5] author
            Vendela Vida, author
            Professional Athletes[edit]
            Tyler Walker, MLB baseball player, Washington Nationals
            Artists/Musicians[edit]
            Tauba Auerbach, artist
            Slater Bradley, video artist
            Ari Gold, filmmaker, actor, musician
            John Morris, actor
            Sol Sender, graphic designer
            Deke Sharon, musician
            George Watsky, musician, poet, internet phenom
            Ali Wong, comedian
            Business[edit]
            Peter Saraf, film producer

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      Are you saying the achievement gap is a result of IQ?

      • Karen 2 years ago2 years ago

        Yes. There was a study done that showed that people of similar IQs, despite gender, race, etc. had made very similar life decisions that rendered them very similar life outcomes. The people with lower IQs did not have the same skill set that the higher IQ folks brought to each opportunity and challenge. It is the higher IQ, without consideration for other factors, that consistently yields more success. They are trying to present it as … Read More

        Yes. There was a study done that showed that people of similar IQs, despite gender, race, etc. had made very similar life decisions that rendered them very similar life outcomes. The people with lower IQs did not have the same skill set that the higher IQ folks brought to each opportunity and challenge. It is the higher IQ, without consideration for other factors, that consistently yields more success. They are trying to present it as a SES based issue, when it is really the opposite. Higher SES follows higher IQ.

        • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

          Any study of IQ gets attacked and suppressed and everyone considers it Eugenics. However I feel effort is more important. Who do Latinos trail? Whites and Asians. What are Latinos? According to scientists, the average Mexican is 58% white 42% Native American, which is Asian. And some groups of African Americans far outperform whites, including Nigerians. The problem is we generally assume if we can provide the privilege … Read More

          Any study of IQ gets attacked and suppressed and everyone considers it Eugenics. However I feel effort is more important. Who do Latinos trail? Whites and Asians. What are Latinos? According to scientists, the average Mexican is 58% white 42% Native American, which is Asian. And some groups of African Americans far outperform whites, including Nigerians. The problem is we generally assume if we can provide the privilege of whites to AA and L students we can close the gap, but Latinos and African Americans in California study over 4 hours and whites only 5.6, with most of the gap due to summer learning loss, words learned at a young age, lack of tutoring, and worse teachers being clustered at the poorest schools due to seniority/tenure, as well as a general negative attitude towards society in some cases. The most showy whites are horrible examples. The only way black and Latino kids could close the gap and even start outperforming whites is to hold Asians up as the model. Asians study 13.8 hours a week and 60% of parents prepare their kids for kindergarten vs. 16% of whites.

          If you are not privileged and African American or Latino, and you want your kids to go to a top University and be very successful, you really have to analyze your entire week and cut out or minimize activities which don’t add to that and maximize those which do. You have to arrange your life around academic achievement like many Asians do, perhaps most. It has to be the biggest priority.

          Closing the achievement gap isn’t a priority of anyone but it is talked about incessantly. The teachers care more about job security and perks and days off which is why they fight Vergara. Parents care more about free time from busy schedules, schedules often far more busy to earn the same money than they would be if they had a better education. So the cycle continues. Most aren’t really willing to make the changes necessary to close the gap. The rich don’t try anything new either with their near monopoly control of governmental institutions. They care more about tax cuts than parenting classes, tutoring services, integrated schools including their own kids or mandatory Saturday tutoring.

          We all just do what’s convenient and get upset when the results of the new generation don’t change.

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            IQ can be inborn yet not genetic. IQ also varies by behavior at a young age. If you eat well and sleep young and have peace it improves. If you do drugs or smoke or drink during pregnancy, it's worse. Many women do this, a lot in secret. If you do flashcards or use a lot of words with your child or do math or take them to the museum or … Read More

            IQ can be inborn yet not genetic. IQ also varies by behavior at a young age. If you eat well and sleep young and have peace it improves. If you do drugs or smoke or drink during pregnancy, it’s worse. Many women do this, a lot in secret. If you do flashcards or use a lot of words with your child or do math or take them to the museum or tutor them or have them do work books or just read to them and play boardgames, it improves.

            IQ is no more genetic than speed. Sure, genetics is a factor but there are a lot of truckers and scientists and accountants who, if they were raised by a football crazy dad in West Texas like the one in Friday Night Lights, would have run very fast and made the NFL. Same with studying, much is by behavior. The brain is like a muscle. That’s why some groups outperform others. Instead of learning from it, we either stereotype them, ignore them or claim it is all just genetic. It’s always easier to make excuses than do what it takes to help your child succeed.

        • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

          Karen: Human intelligence like other characteristics falls on "a normal distribution." However, it is also known that IQ tests, like most other tests, have inherent biases that tend to show certain groups based on ethnicity, income, and cultural background scoring higher or lower based on those characteristics: Not intelligence per se. The theories you are promoting have been well articulated in a book called "The Bell Curve." It is a favorite of those who frequent certain far-right … Read More

          Karen:

          Human intelligence like other characteristics falls on “a normal distribution.” However, it is also known that IQ tests, like most other tests, have inherent biases that tend to show certain groups based on ethnicity, income, and cultural background scoring higher or lower based on those characteristics: Not intelligence per se.

          The theories you are promoting have been well articulated in a book called “The Bell Curve.” It is a favorite of those who frequent certain far-right web sites. It is used to justify [sic] not providing appropriate levels of “tax supported services” to certain groups, not coincidentally, ethnic minorities.

          We are concerned about closing the “achievement gap” because an underlying principles of the “American Dream” asserts that all children deserve a level playing field in being supported and provided the services (educational and otherwise) to take their rightful place on that playing field.

          The problems here are manifold. The “achievement gap” is actually an accumulation of numerous other gaps: the medical care gap, the safe communities gap, the fair housing gap, the poverty gap, the living wage gap, the high quality child-care and preschool gap etc., etc. It will take a comprehensive program looking at closing all of the gaps to begin the close the educational achievement gap. If you want to go to the Educational Testing Service–CA’s testing vendor–to see a couple of reports they have done on the “gap” issue it might be illuminating. (Americas Smallest School: the Family/ Parsing the Achievement Gap I & II)

          What you find is that the “achievement gap,” that is the variability of test scores (mostly on the NAEP), are around 33% based on in-school factors and 66% based on out of school factors. Those factors are (loosely) those I’ve listed above. therefore, when we talk about closing the “gap” and point to school factors (BTW teachers as indicated by research are responsible for 7% to 15% of the school related factors) only, we are asking the 33% tail to wag the 66% dog.

          All of this is not the impossible dream conservatives like to make it out to be. Other countries, notably the northern European social democracies, have done a comprehensive job of creating the level playing field and get those vaunted high international test scores.

          And this, of course, brings us to the the fundamental hypocrisy of those people who rant about low US performance on the international tests and then go on to rant that there is no way the US could ever adopt those messy socialistic programs that those countries who get the high test scores have adopted.

          And while we are on the international test score subject it should be noted that there is a gap (boy is there ever) on how US schools perform. US schools with 10% or fewer kids on free&reduced lunch (aka, low poverty) have the highest scores in the world. US schools with 25% or fewer on F&R lunch are on a par with the rest of the world and only schools with high poverty are low scorers. So there’s your “gap,” it can be measured by looking at the poverty rates of the students who attend. And the US has the highest child poverty rates of 32 of 33 industrialized nations as measured by the same people who do the international tests (OECD).

          So, the achievement gap is not about IQ, it is about conditions of poverty. Also US schools, and those in CA in particular, are impacted by cultural and linguistic issues that also need to be taken into account that do not impact other countries to the same degree.

          There are some “outlier” schools that have high number of poor and EL kids who do relatively well with those populations (again it’s not IQ) and I, as well as many others, have written about them. (School Reforms That Work–Wash Post under my name). But those schools and districts do things that disturb the self-styled reformers–no charters, no mass firing or teachers, no mass closings of schools, management and unions that collaborate, huge efforts to deliver social services to kids–disdain (as they disdain what the social democracies have done) and so they are generally ignored.

          At any rate, much of what you talk about can lead to a rather slippery slope into some pretty ugly conclusions about how people ought to be treated. That may disturb you. Or not.

          • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

            Gary, the schools that do well have high numbers of certain ethnic groups which have a whole different outlook on opportunity while in poverty. One might call it an obsession...with academic performance, saving vs. spending, and making a good appearance to colleges in terms of activities and doing what these colleges want you to do. Why don't we make an effort to highlight these home lives and try to convince them to emulate … Read More

            Gary, the schools that do well have high numbers of certain ethnic groups which have a whole different outlook on opportunity while in poverty. One might call it an obsession…with academic performance, saving vs. spending, and making a good appearance to colleges in terms of activities and doing what these colleges want you to do. Why don’t we make an effort to highlight these home lives and try to convince them to emulate this culture? Why do we treat these cultures as outliers rather than trying to turn them into the norm?

  7. Karen 2 years ago2 years ago

    Don, I couldn’t agree with you more. What the Obamacore agenda is demanding is equal outcome, despite
    differences in IQ, study habits, interest level, etc. They will never be able to make it happen, but they are ruining our education system by trying.

  8. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    Trish Williams said " All students – and especially students from low-income families – deserve the opportunity to be better prepared in the K-8 grades to embrace and succeed in science and engineering high school courses, college majors, and related well-paying careers." I realize that comment is a boilerplate nod to the social justice agenda, but I've never understood why social justice advocates believe certain kids deserve to be better prepared than others - in contradiction … Read More

    Trish Williams said ” All students – and especially students from low-income families – deserve the opportunity to be better prepared in the K-8 grades to embrace and succeed in science and engineering high school courses, college majors, and related well-paying careers.”

    I realize that comment is a boilerplate nod to the social justice agenda, but I’ve never understood why social justice advocates believe certain kids deserve to be better prepared than others – in contradiction to what is truly equitable and just. Does Ms. Williams supposed that middle class working moms and dads come home at night and homeschool their children in earth, life and physical sciences? Is she telling us students have lost opportunities to study science in middle school which is part of the state mandated curriculum? Isn’t it possible that students who are not prepared for high science course work simply failed to attend the opportunities they were afforded and now what other students to pay out of their base grants to provide for opportunity lost?

    The NCLB focus on math and ESL is no excuse for students, teachers or administrators to have allowed science to wane. As I understand it, they still hired science teachers who taught science classes filled with students who were there to study science.

    Ok, let’s hear what the excuse makers have to say – 8 year olds telling us why they couldn’t do their homework.

    Replies

    • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

      You're right. Its pendulum-swing boilerplate, but intended to state a disagreement with some who believe low-income kids don't deserve even the same opportunity because it would be wasted on them. Even its hyperbole doesn't seem to imply that she believes no one else will or even should have that opportunity. It wasn't long ago that you couldn't take all A-G courses in some high schools even if you wanted to (because they did not exist). … Read More

      You’re right. Its pendulum-swing boilerplate, but intended to state a disagreement with some who believe low-income kids don’t deserve even the same opportunity because it would be wasted on them. Even its hyperbole doesn’t seem to imply that she believes no one else will or even should have that opportunity.
      It wasn’t long ago that you couldn’t take all A-G courses in some high schools even if you wanted to (because they did not exist). Only few middle schools offered geometry, and soon only few will offer algebra.
      If you can get over the politics involved, equal opportunity doesn’t have to be a bad thing, even when it means equal opportunity to succeed.

    • Linda 2 years ago2 years ago

      I think you are misunderstanding the comment. It isn’t that low income students deserve to be better prepared than other students, it is that low income students deserve to be better prepared *than they are currently being prepared*

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        Linda, what I read was that everyone deserves an opportunity to be better prepared, especially some people. We don't need to parse words here. We know what Trish Williams meant. She meant that some people need more opportunity, particularly poorer people. The problem is how to sort out who had the opportunity and squandered it and who was legitimately deprived of opportunity. Is it your contention that everyone who failed to get a good science … Read More

        Linda, what I read was that everyone deserves an opportunity to be better prepared, especially some people. We don’t need to parse words here. We know what Trish Williams meant. She meant that some people need more opportunity, particularly poorer people. The problem is how to sort out who had the opportunity and squandered it and who was legitimately deprived of opportunity. Is it your contention that everyone who failed to get a good science education should get additional resources and opportunities? Because if that is so, there are plenty of poor and non-poor students who have not received passing grades in science. As Ms. Williams said, everyone deserves the opportunity. Or don’t they if they aren’t poor?

        • Trish Williams 2 years ago2 years ago

          This will be the only comment I make to this thread. To clarify: ALL kids deserve an engaging, quality science education K-12. But over the past decade, under NCLB's high stakes accountability, many urban school districts began cutting back the time they spent on science in K-5 and 6-8 in an attempt to improve the Math and English Language Arts (ELA not ESL) test scores of their most struggling students. They created … Read More

          This will be the only comment I make to this thread. To clarify: ALL kids deserve an engaging, quality science education K-12. But over the past decade, under NCLB’s high stakes accountability, many urban school districts began cutting back the time they spent on science in K-5 and 6-8 in an attempt to improve the Math and English Language Arts (ELA not ESL) test scores of their most struggling students. They created double periods of Math or ELA for these kids, typically with no change in instructional approach, just more of same. It was well intentioned, and in fact it probably helped some kids. But in large part it did not make a big difference. Recently the Education Commission of the States released a review of various studies showing that student access to quality and engaging science instruction in K-5 and 6-8 has a positive spill-over effect on their learning and outcomes in English and Math.

          Districts serving families with higher parental education levels and more middle class incomes, with students doing well enough on ELA and Math to avoid district NCLB sanctions, were less likely to cut their instructional time to science. In addition, students from those families tend to have more exposure to science outside of school time, whether going to museums or watching NOVA or nature TV shows with their families. These students may discover their interest in science at an earlier age and thus pursue it with more rigorous coursework in high school, maybe entering science related fields in college.

          To repeat: I believe ALL students need and deserve an engaging quality science education K-8 (and in HS for that matter) — districts serving largely low income students will likely have more capacity building to do with their teaching staff to make that happen since they’ve reduced their science instruction more than other districts. However, the good news is that with the new Local Control Funding Formula, those same districts are now getting more funding based on the numbers of low income, foster, and EL students they have — so they now have more resources to better serve those students. In my commentary I’m encouraging all districts, and especially those that have reduced science instruction over the past decade, to engage with their parents and other stakeholders around bringing a more robust science education in K-5 and 6-8 back as a priority.

          • el 2 years ago2 years ago

            Excellent comment. By the way, it's my personal opinion based on my experience that doubling down on math or english time - ie doing twice as much of the same class that a student is struggling with and dislikes - is pretty much always a losing strategy. I'd be open to research results, but it seems to me that those students will always do better with some sort of elective type class/activity that uses those skills … Read More

            Excellent comment.

            By the way, it’s my personal opinion based on my experience that doubling down on math or english time – ie doing twice as much of the same class that a student is struggling with and dislikes – is pretty much always a losing strategy. I’d be open to research results, but it seems to me that those students will always do better with some sort of elective type class/activity that uses those skills in a compelling way to help reinforce concepts and make them personally interesting. Science or woodworking or art or music can all be used to build math, and drama and art and music and science and history can be used to build language.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            California has statewide science curricular requirements in middle school. How did these districts that supposedly doubled up on ELA and math managed to dodge those requirements?