COMET • Vol. 12, No. 20 – 14 November 2011


STEM Resources on the California Department of Education Website

Contact: Jim Greco, Education Administrator, California Department of Education STEM Office

The California Department of Education’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Office continues to update its useful online collection of STEM-related resources–visit

Resources are organized into the following categories: General Information, Classroom Resources, Grade Spans, Initiatives and Networks, Online Libraries and Centers, Career Preparation/Readiness, College Readiness, Professional Organizations, Programs of Study, and Publications.


Board Election Results for the California Mathematics Council

Source: Mike Contino, CMC Executive Secretary

The results of the recent election of state and sectional board members for the California Mathematics Council (CMC) were recently posted on CMC’s website. See and also below:

State Board Members for 2012 & 2013:
President–Jane Wentzel
Secretary–Jeannie Toshima
Treasurer–April Goodman-Orcutt

President–April Goodman-Orcutt
Vice President–Rebecca Lewis
Secretary–Rita Nutsch
Treasurer–Chris Tsuji

President–Lori Hamada
Vice President–Michelle Standlee
Secretary–Melinda Riccardi
Treasurer–Diana Herrington

President–Diana Ceja
Vice President–Bruce Grip
Secretary–Helen Chan Hill
Treasurer–Tina Shinsato


U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to Hold Second #AskArne Twitter Town Hall Today


U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will hold his second #AskArne Twitter Town Hall meeting today at 2:00 p.m. PT. Veteran education journalist John Merrow will again serve as moderator. The meeting will be broadcast live on the U.S. Department of Education’s Ustream channel:

A video of Duncan’s first 39-minute Twitter Town Hall meeting held on 24 August 2011 is archived at

Visit for a comprehensive listing of the U.S. Department of Education’s social media initiatives (Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube). 


National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) for Mathematics 2011

SourceNational Center for Education Statistics

Nationally representative samples of 209,000 fourth-graders and 175,200 eighth-graders participated in the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in mathematics. At each grade, students responded to questions designed to measure what they know and can do across five mathematics content areas: number properties and operations; measurement; geometry; data analysis, statistics, and probability; and algebra.

Both fourth- and eighth-graders scored higher in 2011 than in previous assessment years. 

– At grade 4, the average mathematics score in 2011 was 1 point higher than in 2009, and 28 points higher than in 1990. At grade 8, the average mathematics score in 2011 was 1 point higher than in 2009, and 21 points higher than in 1990.
– At grade 4, scores were higher in 2011 than in 2009 for White, Black, and Hispanic students… There were no significant changes in the White-Black or White-Hispanic score gaps from 2009 to 2011.
– At grade 8, the average score for Hispanic students was higher in 2011 than in 2009, and the White-Hispanic score gap was smaller than in 2009. There were no other significant changes from 2009 to 2011 in the scores for other racial/ethnic groups.

Highest percentages to date of fourth- and eighth-graders performing at or above the Proficient level 

– At grade 4, the percentages of students performing at or above the Proficient level and at Advanced were higher in 2011 than in any of the previous assessment years. The percentage of students at or above Basic did not change significantly from 2009 to 2011. Eighty-two percent of students had at least a basic knowledge of fourth-grade mathematics in 2011 compared to 50 percent of students in 1990.

– At grade 8, the percentage of students at or above Proficient in 2011 was higher than in earlier assessment years. The percentages at or above Basic and at Advanced in 2011 were not significantly different from 2009 but were higher than in 1990. Seventy-three percent of students had at least a basic knowledge of eighth-grade mathematics in 2011 compared to 52 percent of students in 1990.

Visit to learn about the performance of California’s students on the NAEP.


Free Online Courses in Mathematics, Science, Engineering, and Other Content Areas

URL (Math)
URL (Science) 

A number of institutions of higher education (IHEs) provide free online courses on a variety of topics. A compilation and description of some of these IHEs is available at  In addition, Online Schools Texas presents a searchable database of free online courses from institutions such as Johns Hopkins, MIT, Notre Dame, Tufts, U.C. Irvine, the University of Michigan, and The Open University.

On the Mathematics page (see link above), searches can be refined by subject (i.e., algebra, calculus, computation, differential equations, geometry, and statistics/probability), IHE, and date of online publication.

The Science subjects (link above) include biology, chemistry, geology, and physics, among others.

Databases are also available for the following subjects: Arts, Business, Computers and Engineering, Health and Medical, Humanities, and Social Sciences (including Education).


Publication Available Online: Successful STEM Education: A Workshop Summary

Source: The National Academic Express

The following is from the Introduction to Successful STEM Education: A Workshop Summary, which is available for free download from the Web site above:

Education in the STEM areas takes many forms in the United States. Though there are compelling reasons for concern about the quality and effectiveness of the education many students receive in these disciplines, there are also many clear success stories. Policy makers and others have looked for ways to identify the schools and approaches that are most successful–and the characteristics that account for their success–so that their models for best practice can be replicated.

At the request of the office of U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), the National Science Foundation asked the National Research Council to explore these issues, and the Committee on Highly Successful Schools or Programs for K-12 STEM Education was formed to carry out this work. The committee was charged with “outlining criteria for identifying effective STEM schools and programs and identifying which of those criteria could be addressed with available data and research, and those where further work is needed to develop appropriate data sources.”

To carry out part of its charge, the committee organized a workshop, held in May 2011, that had the following three goals:
1. describing the primary types of K-12 schools and programs that can support successful education in the STEM disciplines;
2. examining data and research that demonstrate the effectiveness of these school types; and
3. summarizing research that helps to identify both the elements that make such programs effective and what is needed to implement these elements.

This report is a summary of that workshop…

The book’s chapter titles follow below:

– The Importance of STEM Education
– Defining Success

– Selective Schools
– Inclusive STEM
-Focused Schools
– STEM-Focused Career and Technical Education
– STEM Education in Non-STEM
-Focused Schools
– Using State Databases to Identify School Outcomes

– Science
– Mathematics
– Assessment

– Supports for Teachers
– School Characteristics
– Partnerships to Enhance STEM Education

– Implications for Standards and Assessments
– Other STEM-Related Activities
– Closing Thoughts


Knowles Science Teaching Foundation Teacher Fellowships

Source: Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF)
URL (Applic.):

Applications are being accepted through 11 January 2012 for the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) Teacher Fellowship program. KSTF awards Teaching Fellowships in the three disciplinary areas of biology, mathematics and physical sciences to prospective teachers who demonstrate exceptional content knowledge in the area they intend to teach, a commitment to teaching at a high school within the United States, professional ability, and the potential for leadership.

KSTF Science and Mathematics Teaching Fellows are chosen from among individuals who have earned or are in the process of earning a degree in science, mathematics or engineering from a recognized institution of higher education. Applicants should have received their most recent content degree within five years of the start of the fellowship (1 June 2012). Applicants must be enrolled in or plan to enroll in a recognized teacher education program that leads to a secondary science or mathematics teaching license. At the time of application, applicants do not need to be admitted into a teacher education program. However, successful applicants must be admitted into such a program before the fellowships are awarded in June 2012.

[] The financial benefits of the Fellowship are considerable. The Fellowship ensures that teachers of exceptional knowledge and ability have the resources they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond for up to five years. Each Fellow receives tuition support and monthly stipends while working on a teaching credential. Fellows also receive a stipend during the summer months. Funds are provided for professional development and for teaching materials to support student understanding in scientific inquiry or mathematical problem solving. Fellows can apply for leadership grants and are given financial support to apply for National Board certification and for membership in professional organizations.

Application information for the 2012 fellowships can be found at  Only online submissions will be considered.


Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant Finalists Announced

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education announced the 23 highest-rated Investing in Innovation (i3) applicants as potential grantees for the 2011 grant fund ($150 million total). The finalists were selected from a pool of nearly 600 applicants. In order to receive their grant funds, the finalists must now secure matching private funds equivalent to at least 5% of the proposed funds for Scale-up (the category of only one of the finalists), 10% for Validation (5 finalists), or 15% for Development (17 finalists) by 9 December 2011.

Among the 23 finalists were 
Del Norte Unified School District, Fresno County Office of Education, Oakland Unified School District, and Aspire Public Schools (a consortium of charter schools in California: A complete list of the 2011 highest-rated applicants is available at

At 9:30 a.m. PT this morning, U.S. Department of Education Assistant Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton and Director of Strategic Partnerships Suzanne Immerman will host a conference call where participants can learn about this year’s i3 competition, the highest-rated applicants, and opportunities for grantmakers to participate in the next phase. (For more information, see

“Investing in these vital innovations across the country has the potential to dramatically enhance learning and accelerate student performance and to do so cost-effectively” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This round of i3 grantees is poised to have real impact in areas of critical need including STEM education and rural communities, on projects ranging from early childhood interventions to school turnaround models that will prepare more students for college and career.”

This year’s competition required applicants to submit proposals focused on one of 5 absolute priorities, including two new priorities aimed at promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and increasing achievement and high school graduation rates in rural schools. The remaining three priorities focused on supporting effective teachers and principals, implementing high standards and high-quality assessments, and turning around persistently low-performing schools.

Competitive preference was also given to applicants that demonstrated support for improving early learning outcomes, increasing college access and success, addressing the unique needs of students with disabilities and limited English proficient students, or improving productivity or technology.

“With just 25% of the funding available in round one, i3’s 2011 competition attracted hundreds of innovators from schools, districts and non-profits across the country, addressing many of the most persistent challenges in education,” said Shelton. “In just a few short years, i3 has the potential to provide educators with a rich catalogue of practical solutions that they can confidently use to help advance student achievement at every level–not just increase proficiency.”

The President’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposes continued funding for education innovation with a request for $300 million to support a third round of i3 grants.

To learn more about the i3 program, visit 

Related Articles

Grantees Picked in Round Two of Investing in Innovation Contest” by Michele McNeil

Source: Education Week – 10 November 2011

STEM Education Wins Big in 2nd Round of ‘Innovation’ Grants” by Erik Robelen

Source: Education Week – 10 November 2011