COMET • Vol. 11, No. 02 – 14 February 2010


California’s 2009 National Board Certified Teachers

Sources: Kay Garcia, Regional Outreach Director, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards; California Department of Education

Last Tuesday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced that 349 California teachers became National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) in November 2009.

“Congratulations to these educators who have demonstrated their passion and skill for teaching by earning this prestigious distinction,” said O’Connell. “NBCTs are leading the way to prepare students for success in the competitive global economy.”

National Board Certification is a voluntary assessment program designed to recognize excellent teachers, reward them, and increase their skills. While state licensing systems set basic requirements to teach in each state, NBCTs have successfully demonstrated advanced teaching knowledge, skills, and practices. The certification process typically takes between one and three years to complete. As part of the process, teachers build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videotapes, and a thorough analysis of their classroom teaching. Teachers are also assessed on their knowledge of the subjects they teach.

California’s new NBCTs are helping to further the state’s education reform efforts under the federal Race to the Top competition. To help create great teachers and leaders, O’Connell is asking participating local educational agencies to partner with the state to strengthen supports for teachers and school leaders, including deepening teacher and principal evaluations to both strengthen instruction and manage talent.

“We have long known that a key to student success is a great teacher,” added O’Connell. “A fundamental step for closing the achievement gap in California is ensuring our most challenged schools are staffed with effective teachers and school leaders. National Board Certified Teachers often serve as leaders and mentors. This program is a great example of effective professional development that will help our teaching force meet and overcome the academic challenges students face in low-achieving schools.”

In the 2009 NBPTS State Profile for California, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley asserts that “Our teachers are the foundation of our education system. National Board Certified Teachers have demonstrated the highest standards for the teaching profession. Every day, these accomplished teachers are having a positive impact on thousands of students across California.”

The report states that National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) “comprise approximately 3 percent of the national teaching force and have won over a quarter of the 2008 and 2009 State Teacher of the Year Awards and a third of the 2008 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.” NBCTs have also been involved in reviewing and providing feedback for the Common Core State Standards (

To view the names of teachers who have earned NBPTS certification in mathematics, please visit the NBCT Directory at  The searchable database allows sorting by state, school district, certification area, year certified, and/or name.  In 2009, 29 California teachers received National Board Certification in Mathematics; 19 received certification in Science. Their names and school districts are available in the NBCT Directory.

A chart of financial incentives by district for NBCTs is available at  (Note that this chart is a little over a year old, so be advised that the information may not reflect current incentives.)

For more information, visit as well as  The latter Web page includes an excerpt from a September 2009 NBPTS interview with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.


Related Story:

“States Rethink Policies on National-Board Teachers” by Stephen Sawchuk




(1) Kentucky Becomes First State to Adopt Common Core State Standards; Draft Standards for Mathematics Available Online

Source: Kentucky Department of Education
URL (Duncan video):
URL (Draft Common Core State Standards for Mathematics):

In a joint meeting on Wednesday evening (February 10), the chairs of the Kentucky Board of Education, the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) and the Education Professional Standards Board (EPSB) signed a resolution directing their respective agencies to implement the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics, formalizing Kentucky’s agreement to integrate the standards into the state’s public education system. With this action, Kentucky became the first state to formally accept the standards.

“This is an historic moment for Kentucky,” said Kentucky Board of Education Chair Joe Brothers. “With the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, teachers and administrators will have a blueprint to move the state forward in P-12 education.”

EPSB Chair Lorraine Williams stated, “To truly make a difference in Kentucky’s students’ ability to demonstrate what they know and are able to do and to make them more competitive in the marketplace, it is a refreshing move to narrow the number of standards taught at each level. ESPB is excited to be part of this cutting edge initiative and looks forward to working with our university partners to ensure that our undergraduate and graduate teacher preparation programs embrace the Common Core Standards and prepare a stronger workforce capable of teaching the curriculum to a deeper, more rigorous level.”

“Kentucky is once again at the forefront in education reform,” said CPE Chair Paul Patton. “I am very pleased with the level of cooperation and commitment by Kentucky’s policy and education leaders in the development of these draft content standards. Consistent academic standards, aligned to college and work expectations, will help our students reach higher levels of success.”

The action by the three Kentucky boards is the beginning of the work of integrating those standards into the state’s curriculum guidelines, teacher preparation programs, and higher education activities.

Teachers will begin to provide instruction related to the standards in the fall of 2011. Students will be assessed on the Common Core Standards beginning in the spring of 2012.

Links to drafts of the Common Core State Standards are available on the Council on Postsecondary Education’s Web site at The draft mathematics standards are available for download directly from  More information about the Common Core State Standards initiative is available at


(2) President Obama Honors Presidential Awards for Excellence Recipients and Promotes “Educate to Innovate” Initiative

Sources: National Science Foundation; U.S. Department of Education; American Institute of Physics

Last month, President Obama hosted recipients of two prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence in the East Room of the White House and used the occasion to boost his “Educate to Innovate” initiative, designed to promote excellence in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. A video of the President’s address is available at

Present at this event were recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST; as well as recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. PAEMST recipients were selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process conducted at the state level. A list of recipients honored at the White House is available at

President Obama was introduced by Barbara Stoflet of Minnetonka, Minnesota. Stoflet is a recipient of the PAEMST who has taught mathematics and science for more than 23 years. She described teachers as “the most fortunate of all who labor,” saying “As teachers, we have a past that is rich in memory and a present that is rewarding, adventurous, fun, and challenging, because we spend our days with the future.” She said that the President “is writing history …[and] is helping to shape the future for all of us.”

President Obama acknowledged that “All of us have a role to play in building an education system that is worthy of our children and ready to help us seize the opportunities and meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

Echoing previous comments, the President noted that “Despite the importance of education in [science and math], we have to admit we are right now being outpaced by our competitors.” He added, “Year after year, the gap between the number of teachers we have and the number of teachers we need in these areas is widening.  The shortfall is projected to climb past a quarter of a million teachers in the next five years–and that gap is most pronounced in predominantly poor and minority schools.”

Returning to a favorite phrase, Obama cautioned, “The nation that out-educates us today is going to out-compete us tomorrow,” before highlighting several new public-private projects as part of the White House’s Educate to Innovate campaign.

Obama explained that Educate to Innovate is a “nationwide effort by citizens, non-for-profits, universities, and companies from across America to help us move to the top of the pack in math and science education.”

Companies and organizations have already pledged their resources to that end.  Intel will launch a 10-year, $200 million initiative to train math and science teachers to modernize their lesson plans with technology.  PBS and the National Science Teachers Association will partner to create a new online platform for science and math teachers to share best practices and teaching experiences.  Additional information can be found at

The White House is also leveraging agency resources for this campaign, including a new NASA summer-learning program called “Summer of Innovation.” According to a NASA press release, “The Summer of Innovation program will work with thousands of middle school teachers and students during multi-week programs in the summer of 2010 to engage students in stimulating math and science-based education programs.  NASA’s goal is to increase the number of future scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, with an emphasis on broadening participation of low-income, minority students.” That press release also included information about funding opportunities for the Summer of Innovation program (see

President Obama rallied scientists to participate saying, “I’m calling on 200,000 scientists who work for the federal government to do their part in their communities: to speak at schools, to create hands-on learning opportunities through efforts like National Lab Day, and to help stoke that same curiosity in students which perhaps led them to pursue a career in science in the first place.” Scientists can meet the President’s challenge by visiting and signing up to volunteer in a local school.


Visit to view a video by Race to the Top Director, Joanne Weiss, about the initiative’s priorities.


Related Articles:

“White House Announces $250M effort for Science and Math Teachers” by Nick Anderson

“Obama Unveils Projects to Bolster STEM Teaching” by Erik W. Robelen


(3) President’s Education Budget Signals Bold Changes for ESEA

Source: U.S. Department of Education

In announcing President Obama’s 2011 education budget earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “There are some very innovative proposals in this budget that come from across America. We want to advance reform on a bipartisan basis.”

The proposed budget includes a $3 billion increase in competitive funding for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the largest increase ever requested for programs under the 1965 law. This includes $1.35 billion to continue Race to the Top, $500 million for the Investing in Innovation Fund, more money for school turnarounds, charters, school safety and programs around preparing, retaining, and rewarding effective teachers and leaders.

“Race to the Top taught us that competition and incentives drive reform,” said Duncan. “So even as we continue funding important formula programs like Title I and IDEA, we are adding money to competitive programs that are changing the landscape of our education system.”

The president’s budget notes that the administration will propose to replace the accountability system established in No Child Left Behind with a new system built around the goal of helping all students graduate from high school college- and career-ready.

“As I traveled to 37 states on a Listening and Learning tour over the last year I heard many complaints about the current system of accountability,” said Duncan. “We want to work together with legislators and stakeholders to develop a new Elementary and Secondary Education Act that will be smart, fair and useful for educators.”

The proposed 2011 budget also incorporates savings from a proposal to end student lending subsidies to banks and shift billions in savings into higher education and early childhood.

When a reformed ESEA is enacted, the president will send Congress a budget amendment that requests up to an additional $1 billion for ESEA programs. The money will provide additional resources for low-income students, including funding for awards to schools producing gains in student achievement, funding to improve the quality of assessments and additional funding for expanded learning time.

“The president has set a goal that America once again will lead the world in college completion,” Duncan said. “To do that by the end of the decade, we need to improve the education at every level, from birth through the end of college. This budget puts us on a path toward success and meeting that goal.”


(4) Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Summary for the U.S. Department of Education

Source: U.S. Department of Education

The current Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) authorizes numerous programs with similar purposes, creating fragmented and inefficient funding streams that too often led to a greater focus on complying with program requirements rather than improving student outcomes. Rather than running large numbers of separate grant competitions and monitoring compliance, the Administration’s reauthorization proposal would consolidate 38 existing ESEA programs into 11 new authorities that allow the Department to direct funding to proven or promising practices while providing greater support and technical assistance to grantees…

The current Mathematics and Science Partnership program (MSP), which supports State and local efforts to improve students’ academic achievement in mathematics and science by promoting strong teaching skills for elementary and secondary school teachers, would be replaced by the proposed “Effective Teaching and Learning: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics” program. The new program would support professional development for STEM teachers, implementation of high-quality curriculum, assessments, and instructional materials, and creation or improvement of systems for linking student data on assessments with instructional supports such as lesson plans and intervention strategies.

For more details of the President’s proposed education budget, visit the Web site above.


(5) Art Benjamin Talks About his Favorite Number and the Beauty of Mathematics on The Colbert Report

Source: Mathematical Association of America

Art Benjamin (, resident mathemagician at Harvey Mudd College, was the latest scientist to spar with late night fake-news talk show host Stephen Colbert on [the January 27] episode of The Colbert Report.

The interview covered statistics, Benjamin’s favorite number, education, and the beauty of mathematics. Colbert didn’t pull any punches. In between asking questions such as which numbers are conservative and which are liberal, Colbert surprised Benjamin with several math problems and even had a calculator at the ready to verify Benjamin’s answers.

Watch the clip of Art Benjamin’s interview on The Colbert Report at


Art Benjamin was interviewed by MAA (Mathematical Association of America) the day after the interview. The transcript is available here: