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    What is the alignment?

    • Adjusting our current “core content” to align with the new standards, adopted by Washington state in 2013. The new standards require a deeper understanding of core content. 
    • Working with teachers to shift how they teach science to align with the requirements of the new standards. This means embedding not only content, but also opportunities for students to experience science and engineering practices with the lens of the crosscutting concepts.
    • This work is not an adoption. An adoption, according to Board Policy 2015, is for the selection and adoption of instructional materials. We are not asking for instructional materials. Nor are these completely new courses. According to OSPI, this is Phase 2 of Course Design, “Course Design is the process that includes identifying and sequencing essential content supporting students’ skill development towards state learning standards.”
      • During the past five years, teachers have been working with university partners to sequence lessons within their course into a storyline that begins with an authentic, relevant phenomenon; purposeful elicitation of students’ prior knowledge; carefully scaffolded lessons for students to collect evidence; and embedded time for students to make sense of the lessons.
    • The goal of the professional development work of the past five years is to adjust the lesson planning to meet the content standards and to create storylines within the course.
    • This work is similar to the efforts of teachers to align what they are teaching to the new ELA and Math standards.

    Why alignment?

    • In 2013, Washington State adopted new Science Standards. These standards are comprehensive, rigorous and ask teachers to shift their instructional strategies to meet the needs of all learners.
      • The core content includes Life Science (biology), Physical Science (chemistry and physics), Earth and Space Science (ESS), and Engineering, Technology and the Application of Science (ETS).
      • The standards are executed within the context of 8 Science and Engineering Practices from NGSS.
      • Seven Cross Cutting Concepts contextualize and connect the content between courses.
    • It is the mission of the SPS Science Department “To do our part in providing all SPS K-12 science classrooms with a common NGSS-aligned core scope and sequence that is engaging, authentic, culturally relevant, rigorous, and technology-based in order to provide EVERY child with equitable opportunities to become critical thinkers, problem solvers, and independent learners in science."
    • As part of Core 24 graduation requirements, the district is expected to provide three years of science for ALL students.
      • It is our obligation to build competencies in the Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Earth and Space Sciences, and Engineering, Technology and the Application of Science.
        • NGSS directs us to change the way we teach these disciplines to ensure ALL children will be able to access these content areas. This is the work of the HS science professional development during the past five years. 4. A common scope and sequence of courses across the district affords teachers the opportunities to share innovative strategies and resources to help all kids learn. This also helps ensure that students who may transfer schools midyear will not lose any knowledge gained or repeat content during their transition.
    • According to OSPI, the class of 2021 will take the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS) during their junior year as a graduation requirement. This exam includes Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Earth and Space Sciences, and Engineering, Technology and the Application of Science.

    Who is doing this work?

    • The High School Alignment work group, representing all our comprehensive high schools and one Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) representative from the middle school, began their study in the spring of 2016.
    • Each of these teams included representatives from Special Education, English Language Learning, Career and Technical Education (CTE), and Race and Equity.
    • Teachers of physical science, chemistry and physics are collaborating to align the old physical science course to the chemistry and physics content within the new physical science standards. Representatives from 9 of our 11 comprehensive high schools have been working together. Our university partners include Seattle Pacific University, University of Washington and University of Colorado Boulder. This collaborative work began in 2012.
    • Teachers of biology are collaborating to align the old biology course to the life science content within the new life science standards, this includes representatives from all 11 of our comprehensive high schools. Our university partners include Michigan State University and University of Washington. This collaborative work began in 2013.
    • There have been three meetings with principals over the last year to discuss the alignment work and generate ideas to facilitate changes at the school level.

    What is the key change for next year?

    • We are eliminating the current Physical Science course, currently taught in 10 of our 11 high schools and replacing it with one semester of Physics A and one semester of Chemistry A.
      • The current Physical Science course is aligned to middle school standards. As our middle schools work to align, our students will enter high school with these core physical science competencies prepared to learn high school physical science standards.
      • The “Physical Science” course name is poorly understood by colleges. We believe that Physics A/Chemistry A more appropriately explains the content of this course.

    How have parents been involved?

    • Teachers involved in the collaborative efforts have shared their work with the parents of their students.
      • At parent nights and through classroom communications sent home, teachers have shared how their newly arranged content aligns to the new standards and allows for more student access.
      • Specifically, in Biology, teachers have shared a letter of involvement, explaining how we are collecting pre- and post-assessment data to share with our university partners, who are helping us structure our work.
        • In some schools, a few students have been recruited to conduct case studies and to collect additional data.
    • Most of the work to date has been to develop teachers professionally. During the past five years, teachers have been tasked with the difficult job of shifting their instructional practice, studying student work, learning content and making sense of the requirements. This professional work requires honest, open and vulnerability to improve teaching and learning. Teachers had to understand content deeply and determine the sensible way to sequence their courses.
    • We now have an outline of course sequences to share and we are making a districtwide commitment for every school to align and work collaboratively moving forward.

    Will school-specific programs, such as Ballard Biotech Academy, be discontinued?

    • No high school programs will be eliminated. We are working with schools to help them sequence the core content to ensure all students have the foundational knowledge to be successful in college.

    Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses or electives will no longer be accessible to students.

    • A detailed course sequence is below. Both advanced learning as well as elective course offerings will continue to be available to students.

    There are not enough science teachers to teach this new sequence.

    • This is true. Since the state has increased the graduation requirements to 24 credits, including three courses for science, there will be a need for additional science teachers in high schools across Washington state, not just in Seattle. Building principals and the district are working together to address staffing allocations. However, we cannot slow down the new sequence due to the new state requirement for this year’s freshmen.

    Increasing the number of courses required for graduation from two to three will strain our current facilities.

    • This may be true. However, the cause is not the new Seattle Public Schools science sequence. The new state requirement for three years of science for this year’s freshmen will create space issues in many of Washington’s high schools. The district’s BEX (Building, Excellence Oversight) committee is working to mitigate any negative implications of laboratory needs. Teachers are implementing creative solutions to share lab space during specific lab classes.



    High School Science Pathways

    The current and new course sequences are:

    Current Requirements:

    • 9th Grade: Physical Science
    • 10th Grade: Biology and Biology B
    • 11th Grade: none

    New Science Requirements for Class of 2021 and Beyond

    Standard Pathway:

    • 9th Grade: Physics A and Chemistry A
    • 10th Grade: Biology A and Biology B
    • 11th Grade: Physics B, Chemistry B

    Pathway for students who want to take advanced science options:

    • 9th Grade: Physics A and Chemistry A
    • 10th Grade: Biology A and Biology B
    • 11th Grade Options:
      • Chemistry B/Chemistry C + Physics B
      • Physics B/Physics C + Chemistry B
      • Other electives aligned to standards and approved
      • Other pathways are currently being analyzed, including possible early entry into AP and IB courses**

    HCC Pathway for students in HCC 7th Grade Science before 2018:

    • 7th Grade: High School Physical Science
    • 8th Grade: HS Biology
    • 9th Grade: Chemistry or Physics
    • 10th Grade: Chemistry or Physics
      • If Chem in 9th Grade: they can take AP Bio, AP Chem
      • If Physics in 9th Grade: they can take AP Chem
    • 11th Grade: Advanced learning classes or Electives
    • 12th Grade: Advanced learning classes or Electives

    HCC Pathway for students in HCC 7th Grade Science in 2018: 

    • 7th Grade: Physics A and Chemistry A*
    • 8th Grade: Biology A and Biology B*
    • 9th Grade: Chemistry B and Physics B
    • 10th Grade: Choice of AP Bio, AP Chem, AP Earth Science, AP Physics, Electives
    • 11th Grade: Choice of AP Bio, AP Chem, AP Earth Science, AP Physics, Electives
    • 12th Grade: Choice of AP Bio, AP Chem, AP Earth Science, AP Physics, Electives


    Other pathways are being negotiated for special programs, like the Ballard High School Biotech Academy.

    *Honors and modified designations are available within these courses.

    **Because this sequence only involves our current 9th graders and below, teachers will work to determine prerequisites for advanced learning classes in the fall of 2018 in advance of registration for 2019.