To Retain Dual Science Pathway for Incoming Freshmen (2018-2019) in FUSD Fremont CA

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Hello Parents,

On Jan 10th -2018, FUSD Board has approved the following high school science courses changes, which impact all FUSD Freshmen (entering 9th grade). The time-tested 9th grade Honors Biology/10th grade Honors Chemistry will no longer be available to them.

Source: https://www.boarddocs.com/ca/fremont/Board.nsf/files/AUARA56CEBAB/$file/High%20School%20Course%20Sequence%20Board%20Presentation_12.20.17.pdf

Please refer to Slide 6 on the above presentation to see proposed High School course sequence for current 8th graders.

9th grade Honors Biology/10th grade Honors Chemistry will no longer be available to them.  They are only offered the choice of honors or non-honors in the new NGSS three years sequence – Physics in the Universe, Living Earth, and Chemistry of the Earth Systems.  Please note that the course sequence is offered with Physics being taught first.

What are the shortcomings of teaching high school NGSS curriculum ?

  • Lack of adequate certified teaching staff – Per Slide 8 of the Board presentation (see above link), there is a shortage of teachers needed to teach freshman physics.  FUSD plans to seek a waiver for the certification and our students deserve better. 
  • Change in Model of teaching – Kids learn from experiments and teacher is a facilitator.  This model needs to be introduced in 1st grade and slowly brought into high school after all the gaps in resources and training have been addressed.

  •  Non-availability of Textbooks till 2019: There will be NO NGSS textbooks made available to the incoming 9th graders for their NGSS curriculum given that the content is still being developed and will only be ready in 2019.

  • 3 years of Science is being required in the NGSS pathway while FUSD requires only 2 years to graduate. UC requires at minimum 2 years of lab science for admissions. CSU requires 2 years of science (1 year physical science, 1 year life science) for admissions. Students seeking to pursue advanced science education will need to take 2 science courses in 11th grade.
  • Traditional courses enabled students to take their choice of elective after 2 years of science instead of compelling them to take a third year of science as the NGSS sequence does. This removes one elective from the 11th grade schedule.
  • In our FUSD course catalog, the current non-honors physics course requires successful completion of Chemistry, successful completion of Algebra II/Trig.
  • Offering NGSS Physics in the Universe to 9th graders does not align with CollegeBoard.org (creators of SAT and SAT Subject tests) recommended preparation for SAT Physics Subject Test. Recommended preparation listed “one-year introductory college-preparatory course in physics, courses in algebra and trigonometry, and experience in the laboratory.” to prep for the Physics Subject SAT test. No kids in 9th grade will have fulfilled the math requirement and will not be prepared to take SAT Physics test.  https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat-subject-tests/subjects/science/physics

NGSS courses and teaching model are not being implemented in high comparable school districts such as Cupertino, San Ramon, Saratoga and Pleasanton.

 What does this petition want?

Parents of incoming 9th graders from FUSD middle schools, would like FUSD to continue to offer the existing Biology Honors/Chemistry Honors/Physics Honors classes while piloting the new NGSS 3-year course sequence starting the year 2018 until the curriculum for each class has been trialed at least once, with benchmarks showing that the expected learning objectives – CST for FUSD (minimum) and SAT Physics understanding (desired) – have been fulfilled.  This is in in line with the California Department of Education’s recommendation that High schools should offer opportunities to all students to further their advanced study in areas of interest to them, including Honors, Advanced Placement (AP) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

What are the risks to only offering the NGSS curriculum in High school:

  • The NGSS course sequence is new and experimental. The first year NGSS-1 (non honors) was offered did not go well and these students restarted their science at Biology as 10th graders, a year behind on the established path. This upcoming year is the first time NGSS-2 (non honors) will be offered to 10th graders. Our current 8th graders will be asked to pilot the honors classes for the first time for all three years of the sequence.  
  • NGSS-1 was piloted in 2016-2017 and stopped after the first year. Those students restarted their science curriculum with Biology as 10th graders and NGSS-1 did not help advance their science pathway. There was a lack of NGSS materials that year.
  •  NGSS is an experiment with no data to show that it increases learning or interest in sciences.  California is a K-8 state which means it does not mandate that only NGSS courses be taught in high school. 
  • Curriculum and course sequence are still being changed drastically for NGSS although FUSD has been preparing for NGSS for 6 years.  This shows that this is not ready for prime time and students headed to college to pursue STEM cannot afford to lose out while NGSS is being fine-tuned.
  •  A drastic change in curriculum adds significantly to student stress as not all students have the same learning style or ability to quickly adapt to a new way of learning. Taking multiple science courses in 11th grade could result in poor grades due to high stress.  FUSD students could be at a disadvantage while seeking admission to STEM in colleges outside the UC system.
  • NGSS courses lack some content critical to AP courses while Earth Science content was added.  Although this may not affect Subject SATs, they impact students readiness for AP courses.  NGSS Honors courses are not required to bridge the gap created. 
  • Per the FUSD Course Catalog, AP Chem prerequisite is “…student received an A or B in Chemistry,” meaning our students cannot take AP Chem until 12th Grade if they are on the 3-year NGSS course.

 FUSD Parents/Students came together to voice their opinion about NGSS at the FUSD Board meeting on 2/14. Video here. Forward to 01:01:00

Our next steps require your help:

  • Educate other 8th Grade FUSD parents about the issue.
  • Attend the upcoming District Board Meetings (Dates posted as Updates). Show your support by signing up to speak or attend as an audience member with a sign that says one of the following:
  • 1. No NGSS Only OR

    2. Keep Honors Bio/Chem/Physics

    3. Honors Bio/Chem/Physics + NGSS

Helpful Links

1. https://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/ngssfaq.asp

2. Please support this effort by signing this petition! Thank you very much!

3. If you like more info, please subscribe to yahoo group: 

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ngssfusd/info

 

 



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