COMET • Vol. 11, No. 10 – 26 April 2010


Update on the Development of a Plan for the Implementation of SBX5 1 (Alternative Teacher Credentialing Programs for STEM Fields)

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC)
URL (Agenda): 
URL (Item 3D)

The April 8 issue of COMET included notice of an information item (Agenda Item 3D) that was presented at last Thursday’s meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (

“This agenda item presents information related to the development of the plan to implement SBX5 1…signed by the Governor in January 2010. SBX5 1 requires the Commission to develop a process by June 1, 2010 that authorizes additional high quality alternative route educator preparation programs in the areas of science, technology, engineering, math, and career technical education, and allows the Commission to establish alternative criteria for approval of entities that are not regionally accredited [(e.g., school districts, county offices of education, or community-based or nongovernmental organizations–CBOs and NGOs)]… This agenda item provides information on the progress to date of the work of the Committee on Accreditation [(COA)] subcommittee [which is working to develop the necessary process for institutional approval].”

CCTC’s Marilyn Errett provided an overview of the law, and Teri Clark described what regional accreditation assures. The COA subcommittee’s three options for alternatives to the IHE (Institution of Higher Education) regional accreditation process through WASC were shared. (See pp. 4-8 on for details.)

It was noted that an introductory guide is being prepared “for non-traditional providers interested in offering teacher preparation in California.” A meeting presentation slide included the following:
– The guide will explain the new law, the types of credentials covered by the law, various delivery model options, standards, steps to accreditation, and ongoing accreditation…
– In addition to a guide for prospective program sponsors, staff is preparing an introductory leaflet for individuals interested in teaching science, engineering, math and/or career technical education.

Representatives from the California Federation of Teachers and the California Teachers Association expressed their concerns about SBX5 1 and alternative certification routes, but admitted that since this is now the law, CCTC has to “move forward,” so input was provided regarding the three options proposed.

Donna Glassman-Somer spoke on behalf of the California Teacher Corps (, which represents the state’s alternative certification programs (including many internship programs at IHEs). She offered her organization’s services to the Commission.

Commissioners also expressed their opinions, with Tine Sloan stating that “these sorts of measures undermine our work.” When Marilyn and Teri were asked which out-of-state entities had expressed interest in offering teacher certification in California, they mentioned iTeachTexas, a fully online teacher credentialing program (see

Discussion on this agenda item will continue at the May CCTC meeting, and action will likely be taken at the Commission’s June 3 meeting.



(1) National Council of Teachers of Mathematics 2010 Annual Meeting: Session Webcasts Available


The 2010 Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) concluded on Saturday. Over 9000 educators attended this conference, which was held in San Diego. Webcasts of selected sessions are available at the Web site above. The official conference Web site,, contains links to these webcasts, as well as a variety of conference-related documents, photos, and more.

– Linking Research & Practice: The NCTM Research Agenda Conference Report:,_Issues,_and_News/Research/Linking_Research_20100414.pdf

– “The Common Core Standards Initiative” – Webcast of presentation by Chris Minnich (Director of Standards, CCSSO) and Bill McCallum (Lead, K-12 Mathematics Standards Development Team):

– “Mathematics Standards and Assessments Require Reasoning, Sense Making, and Connections” – Webcast of presentation by NCTM President Hank Kepner (includes presentations of MET Lifetime Achievement Awards to Henry Pollak and Harry B. Tunis):

– “Connections for Equity: Math, Language, Culture, and Context” (The Iris M. Carl Equity Address) – Webcast of presentation by Miriam A. Leiva:

– “Sense Making in Mathematics: Where Have We Been, and Where Would We Like to Go?” – Webcast of presentation by NCTM President-Elect J. Michael Shaughnessy:


(2) National Lab Day Will be Held on May 12

Source: American Psychological Association

[APA] Scientists will celebrate National Lab Day (NLD) on May 12 with activities across the country to foster science learning in students in grades K-12. National Lab Day is an ongoing grass roots initiative with a mission to bring together volunteers, university students, educators, scientists, engineers, and other STEM professionals to provide discovery based science experiences to the younger community…

To date, more than 1,200 scientists have signed up to share their expertise and time. Scientists are encouraged to register on the Nation Lab Day website, which connects researchers with other individuals and groups in their communities. Scientists may also post information about potential special projects and respond directly to others’ posts…


Email to members of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) from the Executive Director, Francis Eberle:

Dear NSTA Member,

In these tough economic times, are you looking for help with your science fair, or maybe someone to host a field trip, advise an after-school program, help with a hands-on activity, or supply some cool lab equipment?

Have you heard about National Lab Day (NLD)? More than just a day, NLD is a nationwide movement to support science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in our schools by connecting teachers with STEM professionals in order to bring more hands-on, inquiry-based lab experiences to students.

At the NLD Web site you simply sign up, submit your idea for a project (or what you need in your classroom) and the Web site matches your request with a local volunteer (a university STEM student, local scientist, engineer, STEM professional and/or other members of the community with a vested interest in STEM education) who has also joined the NLD hub.

Many of your colleagues in California have already signed up for NLD…

– A teacher from Inyokern, CA is looking for local engineers and scientists to spend a day with her kids and demonstrate activities that bring science and math to life for students.

– A high school teacher in North Hills wants help to organize a coastal clean up day and plan an ocean trip so that her students will learn more about marine debris.

– A classroom in Arcata is looking for need analysis equipment to begin a baseline analysis of the water quality from a nearby creek.

– A fourth grade teacher in Santee is creating a clay animation movie about electricity and wants someone to demonstrate circuit types and how electricity usage has changed over the years.

– Before she teaches about alternative and renewable energy sources, a teacher in Oakland wants to work with a STEM professional who would help her learn more about geothermal energy.

NLD is an important step in creating ongoing involvement and collaborations between STEM professionals and local schools and teachers nationwide.

NSTA is a major sponsor of National Lab Day, and I personally invite you to join this nationwide effort to bring more hands-on, discovery-based lab experiences to students. To learn more about National Lab Day and to sign up your project, visit


(3) Scientific Risk-taking by Young Students Fades with Age

Contact: Jim Barlow, University of Oregon –

A truth in science is that a theory may fail or succeed initially and be shot down later. Now put yourself in the shoes of elementary school students faced with stating an idea and then facing potential criticism, even ridicule, of others.

A study on student willingness to take risks in the name of early scientific exploration–conducted by the University of Oregon (UO) educator Ronald A. Beghetto–is one of 10 research articles appearing on the suggested summer reading list of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST:

The study looked at intellectual risk-taking of 585 students in the third- through sixth-grades in seven Oregon elementary schools.

The students in Beghetto’s study were drawn from a large group of elementary-aged schoolchildren who were receiving marine science instruction from teachers working with UO graduate students in the National Science Foundation-funded Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education Program, led by biologists Alan Shanks and Jan Hodder, at the UO’s Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston, Ore.

Beghetto, a professor of education studies, found that, in general, as students get older they become less likely to take intellectual risks, such as sharing their tentative ideas, when learning science. Importantly, however, students who were interested in science had confidence in their own ideas, and felt that their teachers supported them–by listening to their ideas and providing encouraging feedback. These children were significantly more willing to take intellectual risks when learning science.

In fact, he said, the findings indicate that science interest, confidence in their own ideas and perceived teacher support were more important than even science ability in predicting students’ reports of intellectual risk taking.

The study drew upon self-reporting of participating students and teachers’ ratings of the students’ science abilities. While relying on student self-reports was noted as a limiting factor because some students’ reports may be biased through false reporting, Beghetto says he believes the potential importance of these findings warrants serious attention by teachers.

“Science teachers in elementary schools have a great opportunity and a responsibility to encourage their students’ interest in science and their willingness to take risks in pursuing scientific inquiry,” said Beghetto, who currently serves as an associate editor for the International Journal of Creativity & Problem Solving. “Their front-line efforts to spark and sustain curiosity likely will pay off in the form of increasing students’ willingness to engage in intellectual risk-taking.”

The findings, he added, provide a roadmap for more comprehensive future studies aimed at understanding and finding ways to encourage elementary students’ intellectual risk-taking when learning about science.


(4) Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments

Source: The National Academies Press
URL (Newsletter): 
URL (Case Studies):

Informal science settings, such as museums, after-school programs, science and technology centers, media enterprises, aquariums, zoos, and botanical gardens, attract a wide range of people and are ideal venues for educating the public in some kinds of science. Science “practitioners” in these settings are interested in finding the best ways to promote and measure learning. This volume, based on a National Research Council report, Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits, which provides case studies, illustrative examples, and probing questions for practitioners, makes valuable research results accessible to educators, museum professionals, university faculty, youth leaders, media specialists, publishers, broadcast journalists, and others who work in informal science settings.

Chapters in this volume, which can be read online free of charge at, include the following:

1 – Informal Environments for Learning Science

2 – Science and Science Learning

3 – Design for Science Learning: Basic Principles

4 – Learning with and from Others

5 – Interest and Motivation: Steps Toward Building a Science Identity

6 – Assessing Learning Outcomes

7 – Culture, Diversity, and Equity

8 – Learning Through the Life Span

9 – Extending and Connecting Opportunities to Learn Science

Also visit to view a related online newsletter, as well as to view sample case studies from Surrounded by Science.


Related link:

“Iron Science Teacher”
Source: The Exploratorium, San Francisco
URL (videos):

Teachers compete before a live audience at the Exploratorium for the revered title, “Iron Science Teacher” (a take-off of the television show, “Iron Chef”).