K-8 science education in California (as in many other parts of the country) is in a state of crisis. K-8 students in California spend too little time studying science, many of their teachers are not well prepared in the subject, and the support system for science instruction has deteriorated. A proliferation of overly detailed standards and poorly conceived assessments has trivialized science education. And all these problems are likely to intensify: an ongoing fiscal crisis in the state threatens further cutbacks, teacher and administrator layoffs, and less money for professional development.
A convocation held on April 29-30, 2009, sought to confront the crisis in California science education, particularly at the kindergarten through eighth grade level. The convocation, summarized in this volume, brought together key stakeholders in the science education system to enable and facilitate an exploration of ways to more effectively, efficiently, and collectively support, sustain, and communicate across the state concerning promising research and practices in K-8 science education and how such programs can be nurtured by communities of stakeholders.