COMET • Vol. 12, No. 21 – 30 November 2011


Teachers are Sought for Focus Groups to Provide Input on Mathematics Framework Revision

Contact: Deborah Franklin, Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division, California Department of Education

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following letter inviting educators to participate in the first phase of the mathematics framework revision process:

The California Department of Education (CDE) is pleased to announce that it is recruiting members for four focus groups to provide input on the revision of the Mathematics Framework for California Public School, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Mathematics Framework). The Mathematics Framework will be revised to incorporate and support the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, adopted by the California State Board of Education (SBE) in August 2010, and to reflect current research on mathematics instruction. Curriculum frameworks provide guidance to teachers, administrators, and parents on how a standards-based curriculum is implemented in the classroom…

Each focus group will include between 10 and 15 invitees, who will be selected to ensure balanced representation of regions, types of schools, and grade-level experience. Members of the focus group must be educators at the time of appointment. California Education Code Section 44013(a) defines an educator [as] a certificated person holding a valid California teaching credential or a valid California services credential issued by the commission who is employed by a local education agency or by a special education local planning area and who is not employed as an independent contractor or consultant.

Interested individuals are encouraged to apply and to distribute the application to potential applicants. Please note that there is no stipend for service on a focus group, and no reimbursements for travel costs or substitute replacements can be provided by the CDE.

The focus group meetings will be open to the public, and comments made by both focus group members and members of the public at each meeting will be forwarded to the Instructional Quality Commission and the SBE for consideration.

Focus group meetings are currently planned for the following dates and locations:
– February 23, 2012       San Bernardino County Office of Education
– February 28, 2012       California Department of Education, Sacramento
– March 1, 2012              San Diego County Office of Education
– March 6, 2012              San Mateo County Office of Education

Each focus group meeting will be held in the late afternoon. A more detailed agenda will be sent to participants and posted on the CDE Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks Web page prior to each event.

To apply to be a member of a focus group, please use the online application form. The form can be downloaded from the CDE’s Curriculum Frameworks Web page (… Applications must be e-mailed to and received no later than 3 p.m. on Thursday, January 5, 2012. 

If you have any questions regarding focus groups, please contact Deborah Franklin, Education Programs Consultant, Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division, by phone at 916-319-0442 or by e-mail at


Applications are Invited for Service on State Board of Education’s Instructional Quality Commission

Source: California State Board of Education

URL (Application Info) 

The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), formerly known as the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission, consists of 18 members, 13 of whom are appointed by the State Board of Education (SBE) upon the recommendation of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction or the members of the SBE. At any one time, at least seven of the public members are current classroom teachers or mentor teachers, or both, who are assigned to teach in grades K-12. In making the remaining appointments to the Commission, and in establishing the Commission’s advisory task forces or committees, the SBE considers other professionals involved in the development and use of curriculum and instructional materials, including, but not limited to, school administrators, school governing board members, and parents and guardians who are reflective of California’s diversity.

The Commission is responsible for advising the SBE on matters related to curriculum and instruction. The Commission (1) develops and recommends curriculum frameworks; (2) develops and recommends criteria for evaluating instructional materials submitted for adoption; (3) evaluates instructional materials that have been submitted by publishers and makes recommendations to adopt or reject each submission; (4) recommends policies and activities to the SBE, California Department of Education, and local education agencies regarding curriculum and instruction; and (5) advises and makes recommendations to the SBE on implementing the state’s academic content standards.

The IQC is currently seeking to fill 12 openings and is accepting applications through 18 January 2012. The application is available at  For more information, download 


California Teacher Peg Cagle Elected to NCTM Board of Directors

Election results were recently announced for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Board of Directors. Peg Cagle was one of four educators elected to the Board, joining fellow Californian Mark Ellis, who was elected to the Board last year. Also elected to the Board this year were Karen J. Graham (University of New Hampshire), Gladis Kersaint (University of South Florida), and Jon Sway (Howard County Public Schools, Maryland). The new Board members will serve three-year terms beginning at the conclusion of the NCTM 2012 Annual Meeting and Exposition in April. The NCTM Board of Directors makes strategic decisions about the Council’s actions, policies, and programs.

Cagle is currently on leave from the Los Angeles Unified School District (Lawrence Gifted Magnet School) for a year to serve as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow in Washington, D.C. She is one of four fellows placed on Capitol Hill and works in the office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Most Einstein Fellows serve in agencies, including the Department of Energy, NASA, NOA and the National Science Foundation, but Peg applied for the fellowship with the specific goal of serving in a Congressional office, hoping to help narrow the gap between educational policy and practice.


Math Educators Release Common Core Standards Professional Development Recommendations

Source: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Support for teacher learning should be at the core of any professional development related to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM), according to a set of recommendations developed by three mathematics educators: Paola Sztajn (North Carolina State University), Karen Marrongelle (Oregon University System), and Peg Smith (University of Pittsburgh).

The recently released report, Supporting Implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: Recommendations for Professional Development( offers nine recommendations for professional development aimed at ensuring the effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards. An overview of these recommendations is contained on page 4 of the report.

In developing their research-based recommendations, the authors built on shared, existing knowledge recognizing that effective CCSSM-related professional development (CCSSM-PD) should (1) be intensive, ongoing, and connected to practice; (2) focus on student learning and address the teaching of specific content; (3) align with school improvement priorities and goals; and (4) build strong working relationships among teachers. The recommendations are intended to help districts and states in creating, sustaining, and assessing professional development systems that support practicing mathematics teachers in implementing CCSSM, ultimately enriching the learning of all K–12 students.

“These nine recommendations should be the foundation of any professional development program or plans to support the implementation of the Common Core Standards,” said author Paola Sztajn. “This new standards environment presents new challenges, and standards alone will not ensure success. Professional development for teachers is critically important.”

Mike Shaughnessy, President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and chair of the Mathematics Common Core Coalition (, said, “The Common Core State Standards present a historic opportunity for mathematics education. For the standards to succeed and attain their full potential to help to educate all our students, high-quality professional development must be provided to all teachers. These recommendations should guide all those making any kind of professional development decision in any school, district, or education system.”


Authors Sought for “Problem Solvers” Section of Teaching Children Mathematics

Source: Jane Wilburne, Editor, NCTM’s Teaching Children Mathematics Problem Solvers Department

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) publishes four journals for teachers of mathematics at all levels. The journal designed for elementary teachers is Teaching Children Mathematics (TCM). The editor of this journal’s Problem Solvers department, Jane Wilburne, is currently seeking manuscripts from teachers who enjoy sharing creative, practical, and mathematically-engaging problems designed for elementary students. Each problem typically is approximately two journal pages in length. The problem, context, and extensions are provided by the author, as is a worksheet for K-6 teachers to use with their classes.

All articles in the April 2011 issue of TCM are available for free download from To view the first of the two Problem Solvers articles in this issue, go to  (select “Download”).

Contact Jane at if you are interested in writing a Problem Solvers article and to receive further information


STEMconnector Launched Today


STEMconnector, a Web-based enterprise that launched today, seeks to be a “one-stop shop for who’s doing what in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.” According to the launch notes, the website documents 20 categories on “on over 2600 STEM-related organizations, including corporations, education, foundations, professional and trade associations, government, states, national laboratories, technology centers, and diversity and women’s organizations, as well as leaders and fact sheets for all 50 states.”

California’s page ( summarizes the work of the California STEM Learning Network ( The page also contains a link to a useful summary entitled “California’s 2011 K-12 STEM Ed Report Card: Jobs & Economic Prosperity Through STEM Education” (


New Science360 Radio Offers STEM Programming

Source: National Science Foundation

Science360 Radio is a new 24/7 internet stream that showcases 100+ radio shows and podcasts from the U.S. and around the world. It’s available on the Web and via iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. >From the latest news headlines to in-depth interviews and lively discussions, Science360 Radio delivers to a worldwide audience daily programming about topics pertaining to science, engineering, math and technology. Science360 Radio is a part of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Science360 network (; see below).

Science360 Radio features daily, weekly, and monthly radio shows and podcasts from a variety of contributors, including radio stations and other media, non-profits, non-governmental organizations, the National Science Foundation, and other U.S. government agencies. Also featured are radio documentaries, news conferences, and other programming.

To listen to Science360 Radio on the computer, visit and click the “Listen Now” link.

iPhone users can download the iPhone Science360 Radio app:
Android device users can download the Android Science360 Radio app:


The Science360 News Service is “your complete source for science news. We gather news from wherever science is happening, including directly from scientists, college and university press offices, popular and peer-reviewed journals, dozens of National Science Foundation science and engineering centers, and funding sources that include government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and private industry.” You can register for daily news feeds at 


Seven States Apply for Race to the Top Round 3 Funds; California Submits “Incomplete” Application


Last Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Education announced that seven states eligible for Race to the Top Round 3 (RTT3) funds have submitted complete applications for a share of $200 million provided by Congress in 2010 to help drive reform. They include Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Nine states that were runners-up in the initial Race to the Top competition were eligible for RTT3, but South Carolina opted out and California submitted what was deemed an incomplete application.

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following statement regarding California’s RTTT3 submission:

“I’m disappointed that federal officials have chosen to reject California’s application instead of evaluating it with the flexibility necessary to provide much-needed funding for California’s schools.

“Our application represented a good faith effort to continue to work toward the federal reform priorities of implementing Common Core standards and improving data sharing among school districts. I had hoped the federal Administration would be mindful of the financial emergency facing California’s schools and the severe constraints it has placed on state resources.”

California State Board of Education President Michael Kirst issued the following statement:

“I am very disappointed that the U.S. Department of Education did not accept California’s approach to secure Race to the Top funding. California’s application stressing local innovation was unique in the federal competition. It did not rely on centralized top-down state policies or mandates.”

Education Secretary Arne Duncan saluted the seven successful applicants for their hard work on a tight time frame saying, “These states really want to drive reform, and we are thrilled to be able to support their work. We share their sense of urgency and their belief that education is the path to shared prosperity and a stronger economy.”

The applications include commitments to enhance data systems, raise academic standards, improve principal and teacher support and evaluation systems and implement school interventions in under-performing schools.  By December 16, applicants also have to provide a detailed narrative and budget.

RTT3 focuses on supporting efforts to leverage comprehensive statewide reform, while also improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Round Three awards will be announced in late December. Award amounts within the $200 million fund are based on state population.

Related Articles

“California Denied Race to the Top Funding for Third Time” by Louis Freedberg and Monique Smith

Source: EdSource