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NJASK5 science test Spring 2018

posted Sep 29, 2017, 12:34 PM by Brian Baldwin

As if the shattering announcement wasn’t enough for you ... here’s the newest: Beginning with this academic year 2017-18, there will NOT be a 4th grade science test in NJ. It will be moving to 5th grade. The items on the test will focus on grades k-5 Standards from NJSLS-S (renamed from NGSS). That includes three-dimensional questions aligned to the disciplinary core ideas, cross-cutting concepts and the engineering practices.


The earlier thinking and guidance from NJDOE was that the 2018 administration of the ASK4 would indeed be aligned to the NGSS, but would remain a paper-based test. However, this is larger than just moving the test a year later and having an extra year of content on it.  Instead, with the added computer-based administration platform combined with a relatively un-prepared fifth grade group of teachers (unaware until this week that their students will be tested this year), we feel that districts will be somewhat behind the game in their preparation for the implementation of the new standards and the new assessments associated with them.


Please feel free to contact us if you need help.

NJ Gen Sci Comprehensive test

posted Sep 29, 2017, 7:34 AM by Brian Baldwin   [ updated Sep 29, 2017, 7:35 AM ]

Word is starting to trickle in about a brand-new, end-of-year, 11th grade general science test in New Jersey.  Best reports indicates that it will be a replacement test for the existing Biology Competency Test (BCT).  Best reports also indicate that the test will be administered THIS academic year -- near the end of school year.  The test will also be computer-based, similar to the PARCC exams for math and ELA.

You might think I'm crazy when I say this, but I think that a high-school comprehensive science test is a good idea.  However, I think the roll-out is going to be disastrous.  Over the past few years, we have focused much science professional development at the elementary and middle school levels.  At the high school level, schools have focused nearly exclusively on biology, as it has been the only science subject tested.  Non-bio high school science teachers typically used the excuse that their subjects weren't tested, so they had little incentive to take the migration to NGSS / NJSLS-S seriously.  The day of reckoning has come.  And that day was a month ago when the school year started.

As of this academic year 2017-2018, all science subject matter is fair game for the new (as yet to be named) science comprehensive test, which will be given late-spring 2018.

We're busy developing strategies for districts as of this writing.  If your district needs help, don't hesitate to reach out.

Kean Research Day poster

posted May 1, 2016, 10:50 AM by Brian Baldwin

Very happy with my students Heather and Kate for their poster presented at the Kean Research Day presentation.


Looking for Vets to teach math

posted Apr 20, 2016, 1:13 PM by Brian Baldwin

Never hurts to do a little bit of promotion for a great program... If you're a Vet in the greater New York City area, a colleague - Bill Farber -- at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry has recently been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to recruit and train vets to teach math.  It's a partnership between Mercy College and the Yonkers Public Schools.  I serve as the evaluator on this important project, and they're on a bit of a deadline to recruit students for the program.

You can contact Bill Farber at:  wfarber@mercy.edu for more information.  See attached flyer for more information.

A good day for grants!

posted Apr 6, 2016, 12:30 PM by Brian Baldwin


Yesterday 4/5/16 was one of the better days that I've had professionally in quite awhile.  I submitted a large grant proposal for a Math and Science Partnership grant, and simultaneously found out that an NSF proposal that I'm an evaluator on was funded.  Kind of makes the other frustrations seem more secondary.

Science Teacher Educators @TeachersCollege #NEASTE15

posted Oct 17, 2015, 7:49 AM by Brian Baldwin

I spent the day yesterday with friends, colleagues and mentors at Teachers College discussing issues, ideas, research and strategies in the field of science teacher education.   I saw Dennis Robbins present on the nationalization of a high school science curriculum, Keith Sheppard (my former doctoral advisor) present on the history of science teacher certification in New York State, Randell Barclay present on a rationale for laboratory work in science learning, as well as having great informal discussions with other folks on their research, my research, progress in the field, and new directions.

The day was capped off by dinner and drinks with Keith, Dennis and Dennis' colleague Steve DeMeo from Hunter College.

Also, I was able to bring two of my graduate students to the conference for an experience 
of learning about science education outside of a classroom setting.  The amount of notes and experiences that they left with will carry them on as they prepare to begin their teaching careers next fall.

 
  



Arne Duncan: mixed legacy is right

posted Oct 6, 2015, 10:59 AM by Brian Baldwin   [ updated Oct 8, 2015, 7:04 AM ]

Word is finally out that Arne Duncan is leaving his post as Secretary of Education in a couple of months. This was a long time coming.  In general, many cabinet secretaries do not serve the entire duration of the president they are appointed under.  There are of course, many reasons for this.  The first of which is that staying in one job where you're "the boss, but not really the boss" is difficult for any length of time, let alone 4 years or 8 years. But also, there has been a tradition that many secretaries resign prior to the end of a presidential term has benefits for their second-in-command.  It usually means that the new person can put a fairly large-titled job position on their resume that they can use in their post-government years in a think-tank or consulting firm.  Duncan's successor John B King will do just that.

But, back to Duncan's legacy.  His two major policies and products of his term have been the introduction of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Race to the Top (R2T) funding program. And both are related.

The R2T was an initiative that was borne of the TARP Act, following the economic disaster of 2008.  Money from TARP (over $4 Billion) was allocated to this program, which essentially was funneled directly to state departments of education provided that states would agree to meet certain criteria.  State proposals were submitted by nearly all states in a competition-like format, which were in turn scored against a rubric of benchmarks.  One of the benchmarks was the agreement by the states that would implement the CCSS to set high benchmarks and expectations in math and science for their students.

The CCSS have long been fraught with resentment, namely from parents, who both 1) don't understand the new methods of learning math, and 2) don't understand what was wrong with the old methods.  Combined with the new standards, there are high-stakes tests for the students that have been contemporarily linked to evaluative measures for teachers of these students.

My sense is that Duncan's legacy will be these two policies.  I'm not sure that the jury is still out.  They walked back into the courtroom long ago.





Graphical literacy in Kindergarten

posted Oct 3, 2015, 7:21 AM by Brian Baldwin

My daughter brought this home from school this week, showing the taste preference of the color of apples of the friends in her class.  I'm pretty sure she did it herself.  Wish high school and college students could be this fluent in graphical literacy.

Of course, surveys say Sci Ed needs more support!

posted Oct 3, 2015, 4:56 AM by Brian Baldwin   [ updated Oct 3, 2015, 6:06 AM ]


I subscribe to a number of different news feeds for science education in the popular press.  I came across this one yesterday , part of a campaign by Bayer to promote science education.  It essentially finds that both teachers and parents believe that hands-on experiences help their students and children learn science better.  Both would "do" more hands-on experiments if they had the time or the resources.  Of course teachers and parents would do more experiments.  But it takes ingenuity and flexibility to figure out how to make this happen in the absence of both a lot of time as well as a lot of money or a storage room for a bunch of supplies and equipment.  It's our jobs as parents and educators to make this happen, despite the legitimate obstacles that we all face.  See article below for more info.

http://www.eschoolnews.com/2015/10/02/survey-science-education-587/

100Kin10 - how do-able is this goal?

posted Jun 28, 2015, 7:11 AM by Brian Baldwin   [ updated Jun 28, 2015, 7:14 AM ]



Well it seems that there has been growing movement behind the 100Kin10 initiative, which aims to educate and certify 100,000 new  STEM teachers within the next decade.  My sense is that that will only go part of the way to getting the numbers of new STEM teachers that are needed in the country, given the number of retirements forecasted over the next decade.  Additionally, my sense is that the STEM teacher shortage is quite location-specific, as well as discipline-specific.  

For example, in New Jersey (my home state), there are many openings for both chemistry and physics teachers, but not nearly as many biology teaching openings.  Math openings are not nearly as prevalent as science openings are.  Computer science teaching positions are prevalent, but since there is no specific certification area in computer science, there are not many well-qualified prospective computer teachers to fit these need.  Especially in light of new programming languages that the tech industries as well as universities want their graduates and workforce to obtain fluency in.

In all, this is certainly a goal that needs to be obtained.  My worry is that it's a low bar and a moving bar.

Here are a couple of reference articles that might be of interest:




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