COMET • Vol. 12, No. 15 – 19 September 2011


Updates on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium–Video Archive of Presentations

Contact: California State Board of Education

URL(Video Archive)

The second item on the agenda for the September 7 meeting of the State Board of Education (SBE) was “Update on the Activities of the California Department of Education and State Board of Education Regarding Implementation of the Common Core State Standards [(CCSS)] and the Developments of the New Assessment System.” The last issue of COMET included links to the presentation files for this agenda item (

Tom Adams and Rachel Perry gave comprehensive presentations on these topics and then fielded questions regarding digital curricular materials, the mathematics curriculum for grade 8, opportunities for teachers to be involved in writing test items, and how the implementation of SMARTER Balanced assessments might affect time spent testing school children.

The SBE has posted a video of the September 7 meeting at  The presentations by Adams and Perry are located between time markers 40:00 and 2:16:00. COMET readers who are interested in California-related updates on the CCSS and the SMARTER Balanced assessment are encouraged to view this video. 


Archived Materials are Now Available for WestEd Webinar, “Common Core Standards and Math Placement”

Contact: WestEd (SchoolsMovingUp)

SchoolsMovingUp at WestEd offered a webinar last week entitled, “Common Core Standards and Math Placement: Lessons Learned, Moving Forward.” The webinar has been archived at the Web site above. This Web page also includes links to MP3 and MP4 recordings of the Webinar, as well as related handouts, links, and other resources.

The Webinar was sponsored by the California Algebra Forum, which also hosts an informative Web site:


“California’s Math Pipeline: The Grade 7 Pivot Point”

Source: EdSource – September 2011

EdSource recently issued a 4-page brief entitled “California’s Math Pipeline: The Grade 7 Pivot Point.” This report delves into the issues and research concerning how student achievement in mathematics by the end of 7th grade relates to later success in mathematics. It was prepared with input and advice from the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet):

This brief is the second in a series of three focused on K–12 student achievement in mathematics. The target audience for this series includes educators and policymakers wanting to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in California.

The first brief was entitled “California’s Math Pipeline: Success Begins Early.” Description: “Dramatic gaps in fundamental math skills exist among California’s student populations as early as the 2nd grade, and these gaps tend to persist over time. This 5-page brief identifies key policies that could ensure that more California students have the necessary early foundations to move into the advanced math curriculum that begins with algebra.” This document can be downloaded from

A third brief, “California’s Math Pipeline: Many Routes Through and Around College-Prep Courses,” is expected to be released later this fall.


Request for Applications for the 2012-13 State Board of Education Student Member

Source: California State Board of Education

The California State Board of Education (SBE) is accepting applications for the 2012-13 Student Board Member. Any public high school student who is a California resident and who will be enrolled in good standing in the twelfth grade during the 2012-13 school year may apply.

The estimated time required for the Student Member will be at least two consecutive school days every other month to attend regular State Board meetings, usually in Sacramento; a one-day orientation; sufficient time to study the agenda materials in advance of the meeting, which may include consultation for board staff for background information related to agenda issues; additional time for handling other Board-related business; and time to attend selected advisory group meetings, student meetings, workshops, and conferences.

All transportation costs will be paid by the SBE. Lodging and meal costs will be paid in the amount allowed by state regulations. The State Board’s Student Member receives a $100 stipend for each day’s service on official business.

For more information, including the 2012-13 Student member Application, please visit, or contact SBE by e-mail ( or telephone: 916-319-0826.

Applications must be received by the SBE by 5:00 p.m. on 14 October 2011.


The California Postsecondary Commission (CPEC) Will Close Within Two Months

Source: August (Gus) Cubillo, Information Systems Manager, California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC)
URL(Exec. Dir. Report):

The California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) was established 38 years ago by then-governor Ronald Reagan “to advance statewide interests, and to be the planning and coordinating agency for public higher education [(i.e., University of California–UC, California State University–CSU, and California Community Colleges)]. It is responsible to both the legislature and the governor, with appointing authority shared by the legislature, the governor, the systems, the Board of Education, the independent colleges, and students” (

CPEC’s entire General Fund allocation for 2011-12 was eliminated by Governor Brown in a line item veto upon signing the State Budget on 30 June 2011. As a result, the agency will close by 18 November 2011. CPEC’s closure will affect its website ( and other agency resources.

Current plans are for the CPEC website to be taken down this coming Friday (September 23) and moved to the Community College Chancellor’s Office. Updates will be provided on the following page:

The veto did not affect the federally-funded Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) State Grants Program (see article below), which will be transferred to the California Department of Education.

At the Commission’s meeting on September 7, CPEC Executive Director Karen Humphrey delivered a 7-page report summarizing the scope of the Commission’s work and the impact of the impending closure. Higher education faculty are encouraged to read this report:  Brief excerpts appear below:

“[CPEC] was established by statute in 1973 as successor to the Coordinating Council on Higher Education, which was part of the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education. The Master Plan is California’s ground-breaking commitment to a diverse, accessible, affordable mix of high quality public and private higher education critical to the future of this state. Our work has really been under way in California for over 50 years.

“CPEC’s charge was to coordinate the many segments of higher education, public and private, help plan for the future, and offer data-driven, research-based policy advice to all comers–starting with the Governor and the Legislature, but including all other stakeholders and the public at large…

“I believe CPEC’s work has been a significant contributor to California’s reputation as the higher education leader in the world, and I don’t want that overlooked as this agency disappears… Aside from the personal cost to our staff, which is devastating, I believe that cutting CPEC is a serious public policy mistake–one we will pay for in higher costs in postsecondary education and far less knowledgeable decision making about higher education in the future…

“Our work has been to understand [state education] trends, use data to suggest responses, and offer options to policymakers to drive needed change. Over the years, CPEC has done many studies anticipating student enrollment, reviewing eligibility for UC and CSU, identifying transfer and student aid needs, and recommending policy remedies. We’ve made that information widely available to policymakers and the public on our website. We have close to 50 years of studies and research reports and Commission deliberations on our shelves… We are particularly grateful that both institutions want our electronic document files as well as paper copies …

“That leads to our key asset–the database built by our staff over the past 20-25 years as technology expanded and the Internet became a prime tool for sharing knowledge. There are two pieces of our database: one is the 1.6 billion records we make available to the public on the CPEC website. For that, we draw from many public sources of data, especially federal sources like the U.S. Census and IPEDS, and state resources at the Employment Development Department, Department of Education, and Department of Finance…

“Numbers for the website data on the public systems–UC, CSU, and community colleges — are aggregated from the other piece of our system—the AB 1570 longitudinal database, which includes 120 million student records from UC, CSU and the community colleges stretching back 20 years…

“Right now, CPEC is awaiting data from the segments to update our files in mid-September; we’ll then transfer the data to a parking place at the Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. That does not guarantee its preservation beyond a fairly limited time period, especially because, in CPEC’s absence, there is not yet legal authority or staff to update and sustain it.

“But the partners will explore how they can move forward on the longitudinal database effort and address the complex legal, policy, and resource issues that we were already beginning to tackle. Until those issues are dealt with, it will not be possible to use that data for any research or analysis in its linked form because CPEC will be gone.

“The data partnership was an important step forward in the effort to get a comprehensive system up and running, as was the launching of the K-12 CalPADS system. CPEC’s expertise in linking system-to-system data–which we’ve done successfully for almost a decade–and our ability to use data for policy–made us an important partner. CPEC’s elimination sets the effort back…”

Related Articles

“Closure of State Commission Could Limit Access to Aggregated Higher Education Data” by Jessica Rossoni

Source: The Daily Californian – 29 August 2011


CPEC Awards $3.5 Million in Grants for K-12 Teacher Professional Development Projects

Contact: Rachel Lagomarsino –
URL(until 9/23/11)

The California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) has awarded $3.5 million in grants to help teachers from high-need school districts prepare for the new Common Core State Standards. The standards are required starting this academic year.

The grants–part of CPEC’s Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) program–were awarded to 14 projects that bring together high-need school districts and university schools of education. The projects will help teachers learn how to use history, science, social studies, and technical subjects to teach mathematics and English.

“One important goal this year was to generate discussion between universities and school districts. Successfully using the new standards relies on the knowledge, skills and abilities of teachers and faculty alike,” said CPEC Executive Director Karen Humphrey. “The grants provide a way to work toward a common goal: student success from elementary school through college.”

The one-year grant projects are expected to begin by Oct. 1. They will be evaluated at the end of the year and funding may be extended for second year based on performance. The 14 projects are spread throughout the state in 11 regions designated by the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association.

The new Common Core State Standards are the result of a nationally coordinated, state-led effort to establish a shared set of clear standards for English Language Arts and mathematics. They replace California’s existing standards and are different enough to warrant new teacher professional development programs.

The goal of the Improving Teacher Quality program is to ensure that all students have access to highly qualified teachers. Nationally, state agencies for higher education such as CPEC fund the ITQ program through Title II-A of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. University schools of education form partnerships with their arts and sciences departments and high-need K-12 school districts to provide professional development programs. High-need school districts are those where at least 20% of the children ages 5-17, or at least 10,000 children in the district, are from families living in poverty.

Information about the funded projects is available in the press release:


Student Hosts Needed for CMC-South Conference in Palm Springs

Contact: Mark Ellis –

The California Mathematics Council (CMC)-South conference will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center on 4-5 November 2011. Full-time college/university students who serve as Student Hosts for four hours will receive free conference registration and free membership in CMC for one year. Please visit for more information, or contact Mark Ellis at


Leading Mathematics Education Organizations Form Common Core Coalition

Source: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

On September 7, eight organizations announced the formation of the Mathematics Common Core Coalition to provide expertise and advice on issues related to effective implementation and assessment of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM).

The members of the coalition are the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM), the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Governors Association (NGA), the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), and the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
The coalition will focus on the following:
— Providing a means to review, research, develop, and communicate common messages throughout the implementation and assessment of CCSSM.
— Providing content and assessment expertise and advice from the communities of mathematics education for the development of the content frameworks of the assessment consortia for CCSSM.
— Collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information about CCSSM implementation and assessment processes to inform future revisions of the CCSSM.

The Coalition website,, will include materials and links to information and resources that the organizations of the coalition are providing to the public and the education community about the CCSSM.

“The Common Core State Standards present an unusual opportunity to guide and shape the future of mathematics education in the United States,” according to Mike Shaughnessy, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and chair of the coalition. “This new Common Core environment also presents real challenges to teachers, districts, and leaders in the education system. The goal of our coalition is to realize the full potential of the Common Core State Standards by combining our strengths and coordinating our efforts to offer the best possible support for teachers and others responsible for delivering high-quality mathematics education to our students.”

The standards define the knowledge and skills that students should gain as they progress from kindergarten to grade 12 to ensure that they will graduate from high school ready to succeed in introductory-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in careers. To date, 44 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards in English language arts and mathematics.

Related Articles

“Math Groups Team Up to Offer Common-Standards Help” by Catherine Gewertz

Source: Education Week


CBMS to Host Forum on “Teaching Teachers in the Era of the Common Core” on
 October 2-4 in Reston, Virginia

Source: Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS)

The Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) will host its fourth National Forum at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Reston, Virginia on October 2-4.  The theme will be the mathematical education of teachers in the era of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  This forum will continue and expand work begun at the three previous CBMS forums, which focused on the recommendations of the National Math Panel Report and then on the CCSS. The adoption of these standards by most of the states now provides an opportunity and incentive for the mathematics community to reflect upon the mathematics education that teachers need if they are to be successful teachers of mathematics. By education, we mean both the initial education of teachers and career-long professional development opportunities so teachers can continue learning about mathematics and the practice of teaching it throughout their careers.  As one step in this effort, CBMS has begun the MET2 project, an update of the organization’s 2001 publication The Mathematical Education of Teachers.  Later this month, CBMS intends to release draft recommendations and discussion drafts of issues to be addressed in MET2 with the intent that Forum participants provide input to inform the MET2 document.

The plenary sessions of the forum will provide participants with a better understanding of the features of emerging efforts in pre-service teacher education and professional development which reflect the mathematical practices and the mathematical content of the CCSS. The forum’s breakout working sessions are intended to engage the participants in working toward the goal of increasing the level of engagement of college and university mathematics departments as partners with their mathematical education colleagues and with practicing teachers in all teacher education efforts, from pre-service through career-long professional development.  All who have a stake and interest in providing pre-service or continuing professional development for mathematics teachers at every level, pre-K to 12, are invited to participate. (Please register by September 23.)

For more information, visit the Web site above or contact Ron Rosier at  


“2012 Science Teacher Grant Program Opens” by David Nagel

Source: “T.H.E. News Update” – 13 September 2011

Applications for the 2012 Vernier/NSTA Technology Award program are now being accepted. Sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Vernier Software and Technology, the program awards cash, technology, and travel funds to science teachers who demonstrate innovation in inquiry-based learning activities involving data collection.

This year’s competition will award up to seven prizes to K-12 and post-secondary educators (one elementary, two middle school, three high school, and one post-secondary educator). The prizes, valued at $3000, include $1000 cash, $1000 in Vernier equipment, and up to $1000 for travel expenses put toward attending the NSTA National Conference.

“Having students participate in hands-on, data-collection activities truly engages them in the science investigation and discovery process,” said David Vernier. “This awards program provides a great opportunity for educators who are actively and creatively teaching STEM education through these types of activities to be recognized and awarded for their efforts.”

According to Vernier, successful applicants will enter projects involving hands-on, inquiry-based learning and data collection using computers and handheld devices. Entries will be judged by an NSTA-appointed panel.

Entries for the 2012 competition are due 30 November 2011. Further information about the competition, including requirements an online application, and details on past winners, can be found on the award program site: 


Free Laptop Case from Siemens for Sharing Your Favorite STEM Resources

Source/Contact: Siemens STEM Academy

The Siemens STEM Academy strives to provide the most useful and effective resource library for promoting STEM education. To accomplish this, we need your help! Be among the first 100 teachers to upload and describe two or more resources and receive a free Siemens STEM Academy laptop case.

By sharing your lesson plans, multi-media presentations, worksheets, and other resources, you are helping other educators from around the country bring STEM education to life in their classrooms. Visit the Web site above to upload your resources, and search the database of STEM teacher resources at