In October, 2003, the California State Board of Education established sets of standards for each of four levels of high school integrated science. These standards are identical to the Grade 9-12 content standards in biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, and investigation and experimentation. By “successfully meeting the challenge [of these standards] . . . high school graduates can attain the highest level of science literacy . . .” (2003 Science Framework, Pg.154).
The 2003 Science Framework for California Public Schools states, “that no sequence or emphasis is prescribed” for structuring the high school science program (p.154) but leaves each high school and district the flexibility to design their own course structure. This document, developed collaboratively by the California Science Teachers Association and the California Department of Education, recognizes the autonomy of schools and districts and offers an instructional organization of standards that supports student learning in a four year integrated science program. The instructional models for the four levels of integrated science, as contained in this document, are provided as examples of how high school instruction in integrated science might be organized. There are alternative ways in which an integrated science curriculum might be organized and, therefore, this document does not represent a mandate for instruction.
The four models provide for the integration of each of the disciplines of science, as well as the process of science, contained in the investigation and experimentation standards. They include narrative information that describes the overarching concepts for each level. Each level, excluding level IV, is developed into two semesters. Each semester is then developed into possible units. Specific standards are listed for each unit, and narrative is provided to facilitate the reader’s understanding of why specific standards are clustered together. The narrative also gives teachers a design for scaffolding the standards to enhance student understanding of the science concepts contained in the standards. Additionally, flowcharts are presented for one or two concepts in each level to graphically illustrate both the instructional sequence and the “integrated relationships” between the standards clustered in a particular unit of instruction. These visual tools provide teachers with a quick overview of the connections and probable sequences in their curriculum. Teachers are encouraged to review each level and make appropriate modifications to best match their students’ needs and their school context. The reader will also find the investigation and experimentation topics placed at the beginning of each course, as these standards should be embedded and covered throughout the entire course.
It is important to note that the standards sets for the four levels of integrated science are aligned to the blueprints for the California Standards Tests (CSTs). Schools are advised not to rearrange standards from one level to another for this reason. Each high school standard appears once in the four levels of integrated science. However, some standards may be introduced and not tested or may need to be reintroduced to facilitate complete understanding at a particular level.
In January, 2004, the State Board of Education approved a set of blueprints that will be used to design a high school assessment mandated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act. This exam will be administered in 10th grade and will be assess the high school biology and middle school