COMET • Vol. 13, No. 07 – 18 May 2012


Applicants Recommended for Appointment to Mathematics Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee

Source: California Department of Education STEM Office

The following applicants were selected by the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) and recommended for appointment to the Mathematics Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee, pending approval by the State Board of Education at its 18-19 July 2012 meeting:

Lynda Asher
Sunny Chin-Look
Heather Dallas
Patricia Duckhorn
Joe Fiedler
Erin Fraser
Bruce Grip
Isabella Hoegerman
Brian Jaramillo
Julie Joseph
Carol Kohn
Susan Kunze
Theodore Sagun
Ma. Bernadette Salgarino
Rosa Serratore
Brian Shay
Christina Silvas-Centeno
Sue Stickel
Bruce Yoshiwara

More details about the current positions of these 19 educators are available on the Web site above.

The agenda for the May 3-4 meeting of the IQC during which these individuals were considered and recommended for appointment is available online at  The agenda included “Item 12: Mathematics Subject Matter Committee (SMC).” For this item, a presentation about the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics was given, as was an update of the Mathematics Framework revision. A detailed item document is available for download from the May agenda Web site above.


Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Draft Released on 11 May 2012 — Message from Chris Roe, CEO of the California STEM Learning Network

Source: Deborah Hunt, CSLNet – (916) 449-9955

On 11 May 2012, the first public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) was released. Visit for more details and to view the draft. Public feedback is encouraged through June 1. 

The NGSS Web site contains a summary page for each state. California’s page is located at  The California Department of Education also has an informative Web page dedicated to the NGSS:  On this page, you may sign up to receive email updates on the NGSS.

The following is a message from Chris Roe, CEO of the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet):

CSLNet is proud to support the Next Generation Science Standards. We at CSLNet believe that these standards will set high measures for all students in science and engineering and help to develop:
— Critical thinking and problem solving skills necessary for a viable STEM workforce,
— Scientific literacy for an informed citizenry, and
— Equal educational opportunities for all students.

The Next Generation standards also open up new possibilities for teachers to connect their students to real-world, relevant content that captures their imagination, fosters creativity, and opens their eyes to potential careers in these fields.

I encourage you to take a close look at these new standards for yourself. They emphasize scientific and engineering practices and cross-cutting concepts applied to rigorous, internationally bench marked content in science, engineering and technology that is aligned to college and career-ready expectations.

You can get involved by providing feedback during the public comment period. By participating in the development process, you can provide an invaluable view of the skills required for college and career readiness. Perhaps as important, I encourage you to share these new standards with your peers and let them know why they are important to our state’s future.

I am also pleased to share with you a [letter to Governor Brown that was written by Craig Barrett–retired CEO of Intel and current Chair of Achieve and Change the Equation. The letter protests the proposed reduction in the number of required units of high school science as a cost-saving measure]:
In addition, a letter from Battelle Memorial Institute urging businesses to sign on in support of the Next Generation Science Standards is available at

As one of 26 states helping to develop the Next Generation Science Standards, California is playing a key role in helping revitalize the Science, Technology and Engineering in STEM education. These standards were also developed to dovetail with the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts, creating the potential to provide high quality, integrated STEM education for all students across the state and nation.

My team and I are proud to be a part of this exciting effort to advance STEM education here in California and across the nation! 



CSLNet is a non-profit organization working to catalyze innovation in STEM teaching and learning in the State of California. CSLNet’s vision is that all students in California have access to and obtain the STEM knowledge and skills required for success in postsecondary education, work and their daily lives.

CSLNet is dedicated to building a network of educators, business leaders, and other stakeholders committed to developing new capacity to innovate, scale and sustain effective STEM teaching and learning. Through participants’ joint work, the network will attract more students into STEM career and degree pathways, increase postsecondary success, and provide all students with the interdisciplinary STEM knowledge and skills needed for their daily lives.  For more information or to learn how you can get involved, please visit


California State Board of Education Webcast of May 9-10 Meeting Now Posted; CCSS and NGSS are Among Topics Discussed


The State Board of Education (SBE) has posted the Webcast of its 9-10 May 2012 meeting to its Web site. This may be viewed at (under What’s New), and at

At the May 9 SBE meeting, State Board President Michael Kirst announced that Nancy Brownell has been named as a Senior Fellow and will be advising the Board on decisions related to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). She will be providing status updates of statewide implementation and serving as the point person for planning, outreach, and communication to the field.

Kirst also mentioned that former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig was elected Chair of the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) at the Commission’s first meeting earlier this month.

COMET readers may find the following items from the SBE agenda of interest and are encouraged to watch the archived videos of each:

May 9 Video:

Item 1 [Video: 8-minute marker through the 22-minute marker] –“Update on the Activities of the California Department of Education (CDE) and State Board of Education Regarding Implementation of Common Core State Standards Systems”

Item 2 [Video: 22′ – 1 hr. 12′] — “Update on the Next Generation of Science Standards” (NGSS) — Phil Lafontaine (a primary point of contact in California for NGSS) introduced Stephen L. Pruitt, who is the Vice President for Content, Research, and Development at Achieve, Inc., and is the national lead for the development of the NGSS. Pruitt provided information on the development process and status of the NGSS. To meet the legislated deadline for submission of the science content standards to the SBE, he stated that “our goal is that you’ll have everything you need by March 13 [2013].” (The State Board must then adopt, reject, or modify the presented standards by 30 July 2013.) Three individuals, including Chris Roe, presented during the public comment period. After his presentation, Roe fielded questions from SBE members about CSLNet and the organization’s support of the NGSS.

Phil Lafontaine then added that the Superintendent of Public Instruction (Tom Torlakson) is going to be seating a panel for a statewide STEM Task Force. Its first task, he said, is to tackle what is meant by “STEM.” A nationwide problem exists with the definition of this term. “No one seems to know what ‘STEM’ is… So let’s see if we can come to some understanding in California of what we mean when we talk about STEM.” He continued, “But I also think what we want to do is get an understanding of the guidelines. If you want to have a good STEM program, what does it look like? And then we’ll try to find some exemplary schools out there. But what’s really important with the afterschool programs is that they are often disconnected with what’s going on in the classroom. So one of the things that we’re going to try to do is try to figure out what ways we can help with what is going on in the classroom and what’s going on after school. And then if you take it further with some of the HUD projects for socioeconomically disadvantaged students, it’s completely devoid of any type of coherence. So we’re really trying to marry all three of these projects together so that kids really do get some kind of coherent subject.”

Item 5  [1 hr. 59′ – 2 hr. 22′] – “Reauthorization of the Statewide Pupil Assessment System” — Deb Sigman introduced Patrick Trainer who was hired last week as the CDE Division Director for Assessment, Development, and Administration. Diane Hernandez then provided an update of the work of the AB 250 workgroup. President Kirst pointed out that the SMARTER Balanced assessments will only cover certain grades and only two subject matter areas and that decisions on the assessment of the other grade levels and for subjects such as science and social studies is “wide open.” He discussed matrix sampling as an example of an issue the workgroup is grappling with, as well as computer adaptive testing. A discussion about the technology required for computer adaptive testing (as well as concern about its cost) ensued. Deb Sigman said that a separate agenda item on this topic would be brought to the Board at a later date.

Related Item

Commission on Teacher Credentialing Addresses Common Core State Standards at April Meeting

The agenda for the April 26-27 meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) is available online at Archived video and agenda item audio files have been uploaded to this page.

At the April 27 meeting, Sue Burr, Executive Director of the State Board of Education, provided an update to the Commission on the Common Core Standards. She covered quite a few topics (e.g., SMARTER Balanced, Instructional Quality Commission, Mathematics Framework, Teacher Performance Assessments, etc.). She stressed that everything with regard to teacher and administrator preparation will need to be grounded in the Common Core State Standards.

She stated, “Elementary preparation programs for teachers will need to have a new focus in upper elementary mathematics. There’s a lot more rigor with respect to mathematics…I think we really need to focus on that…”


Revised State Budget Released by Governor Brown on May 14

URL (May Revision):

On May 14, California Governor Jerry Brown released a revised state budget that he said was designed to protect funding for education and public safety while cutting $8.3 billion from government to close a $15.7 billion deficit.

The revised May budget cuts spending in almost every part of government, but proposes a 16 percent increase in funding for K-12 education, subject to voter approval in November. State funding for K-12 schools would increase from the $29.3 billion in last year’s budget to $34.0 billion by the end of 2013.

“We can’t balance the budget with cuts alone; that would just further undermine our public schools,” said Governor Brown. “The budget I am proposing will boost funding for education, protect public safety and prevent an even deeper round of trigger cuts.”

To achieve this goal, Governor Brown has placed an initiative on the November ballot that would increase money for schools and provide constitutional protection for public safety funding. If passed, the measure would enact temporary income tax increases on higher-income earners by up to three percent for seven years and would increase the state sales tax by one quarter of one percent for four years.

The May Revision proposes cuts far deeper than those in the January budget. It increases cuts by $4.1 billion, bringing total cuts to state employee compensation, welfare, health care, higher education, courts, and other critical government programs to $8.3 billion.

If the Governor’s tax initiative does not pass in November, $6 billion in additional cuts will go into effect on January 1.

The proposed state budget is posted online at  Detailed budget information in the “K-12 Education” category is available online at and at

In the Budget Summary on K-12 Education, proposed budget adjustments included the following (p. 39):

“The Governor’s Budget proposed to eliminate nearly half of the existing K‐12 and community college mandates and provide $200 million to fund a mandates block grant incentive program to reimburse K‐12 schools and community colleges for all remaining mandated activities. The May Revision proposes the following changes to the block grant program: …
* Repeal High‐Cost Mandates — The six highest cost mandates would be permanently repealed. These programs include Graduation Requirements (Second Science Course)…” [For initial reaction to the proposal to reduce the number of science courses required for high school graduation, see]


“Advancing STEM Education K-8 in California” — Free 3-Part Webinar Series Presented by WestEd


In June, SchoolsMovingUp will host a free webinar series, “Advancing STEM Education K-8 in California,” in partnership with the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning (CFTL) at WestEd ( and California State University.

This webinar series builds on two recent reports, “Untapped Potential: The Status of Middle School Science Education in California” ( and “High Hopes–Few Opportunities, The Status of Elementary Science in Education” ( produced by CFTL with funding from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. While both reports find that students in California have little access to high quality science education, each also highlights the possibilities for educators and policymakers to turn around this urgent challenge.

The webinar series will focus on high quality in-school as well as out-of-school approaches that are being used to expand science teaching and learning in California. It will also examine models of what California State Universities are doing to improve the preparation of current, as well as new, teachers through recently developed Foundational-Level General Level Science credentials and certificates.

The first of the three related webinars, “The Status of Elementary and Middle School Science in California,” will be held on June 6 from 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. PDT. Holly Jacobson, Director of CFTL, will share the findings of the reports and describe the conditions that need to be in place to support high quality science for all students in the state’s elementary and secondary schools. While the reports have a California focus, state administrators and state/local policymakers from around the nation will find the recommendations applicable to improving science education in their contexts.

Jacobson’s webinar is followed by two related webinars:

June 13: “Preparing California Elementary and Middle School Teachers in Science”
– Joan Bissell (CSU Chancellor’s Office)
– Holly Jacobson (CFTL)
– Michael Leung, Jeffery Seitz, and Danika LeDuc (CSU East Bay)

June 20: “Expanding Science Learning Opportunities During Out-of-School Time”
– Kelly Stuart (Doing What Works, WestEd)
– Holly Jacobson (CFTL)
– Joan Bissell (CSU Chancellor’s Office)
– Jeff Davis (California Afterschool Network)
– Bernadette Chi (Lawrence Hall of Science)
– Traci Wierman (GEMS/Seeds of Science Network; Lawrence Hall of Science)


Live Online Chat Today at 11 a.m.: Common Standards: The Professional-Development Challenge in Math 

Source: Education Week

The Common Core State Standards, adopted now by 46 states and the District of Columbia, envision several key shifts in mathematics, including teaching fractions earlier in the elementary school grades, a focus on deep conceptual understanding of math concepts in addition to computation, and a different high school mathematics sequence. Join Education Week at the Web site above at 11 a.m. today (May 18) for a discussion with an expert panel to explore these shifts and the related professional development needs–and challenges–for teachers.

The discussion will be archived and available for online viewing following the conclusion of the chat.


Jonathan Thomas, assistant professor of mathematics education, Northern Kentucky University

Hung-Hsi Wu, professor emeritus of mathematics, University of California, Berkeley

Sandra Alberti, director of state and district partnership initiatives and professional development, Student Achievement Partners

This chat will be moderated by Stephen Sawchuk, assistant editor of Education Week.


NSTA Offers a Variety of Free Resources for the Next Generation Science Standards


The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is taking a major leadership role in helping science educators understand the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and to lead discussions on the Standards. The organization has produced a free booklet on organizing NGSS study groups. This guide, last updated on May 16, is available for download from In addition, the free “NSTA Reader’s Guide to ‘A Framework for K–12 Science Education” is available for download from

On May 15 and May 16, NSTA hosted two free webinars to discuss the NGSS draft. The presentation files, webinar videos, and related resources are now archived and available for download. The first webinar, “Introduction to the NGSS Public Draft,” is available at   The second webinar, “How to Lead a Study Group on NGSS Draft” is available at

Visit to learn more about the NGSS and to explore NSTA’s related resources.


NAEP Science Scores Show Progress in Science Performance Among Eighth-Graders


URL (Report)

On May 10, the results of the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress  (NAEP) science assessment were released. A representative sample of 122,000 eighth-graders participated in this assessment. Overall, performance on the NAEP Science 2011 was higher than on the 2009 assessment for students in all income groups and among White, Black and Hispanic students. Performance was also higher in 2011 than in 2009 for males and for females, although the gender gap persisted: 37% of males scored Proficient or Advanced, compared with 29% of the females. For the first time, all 50 states participated in the assessment, and no state showed a decline in scores.

The items on the NAEP Science 2011 assessment cover the content areas of physical, life, and Earth and space sciences. Questions about the following four science practices are also included: (a) identifying science principles, (b) using science principles, (c) using scientific inquiry, and (d) using technological design, all of which describe how students use their science knowledge by measuring what they are able to do with the content.

As part of the science assessment, students, teachers, and school administrators are asked questions that provide contextual information about students’ academic performance on the assessment. Teachers were asked how frequently their students did hands-on science activities, for example. Students whose teachers reported that they performed such projects every day or almost every day scored higher on average than students who performed them less frequently.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan issued the following statement: “While the reasons for the improvement aren’t stated in the report, it’s clear that we should continue the Administration’s mission for every child to have access to high-quality, rigorous science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses. There is much work ahead if our kids are going to be competitive in the global economy. While the percentages of students performing at or above the Basic and Proficient levels in science were higher in 2011 than in 2009, …there was no significant change in the percentage of students at the Advanced level. [In addition, 35% of the 8th-grade students taking the test earned a score placing them in the Below Basic level of performance on the assessment.] This tells me that we need to work harder and faster to build capacity in schools and in districts across the country. We have to do things differently; that’s why education reform is so critical.

“This Administration is committed to forging partnerships to improve the use and understanding of science and technology in our classrooms. We are calling on states to enhance teacher preparation and training, and to attract new and qualified science teachers to better engage students and reinvigorate this subject in our schools. We will continue the push to prepare 100,000 effective math and science teachers over the next decade, and support initiatives to increase pay for teachers in high-need subjects like science.”

In California, the average score on the 2011 Science NAEP was lower than the scores in 45 other states/jurisdictions, not significantly different from scores of students in 5 states (Alabama, Arizona, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Mississippi), and higher than the average score of students in only one jurisdiction, Washington, DC.

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson stated, “We’ve got a long way to go, and clearly we need to do more to support students and school science programs. But given the enormous challenges facing our schools, it’s noteworthy that we are continuing to see signs of progress in science–a field that is crucial to the future of our students and our state.”

Additional Results (California students):

— In 2011, the average score of eighth-grade students in California was 140. This was lower than the average score of 151 for public school students in the nation.
— California’s Asian and Black student groups performed comparably to their peers nationally, while the State’s Latino and White student groups scored lower than their peers nationally.
— The average score for students in California in 2011 (140) was not significantly different from their average score in 2009 (137).
— In 2011, the score gap between students in California at the 75th percentile and students at the 25th percentile was 50 points. This performance gap was not significantly different from that of 2009 (51 points).
— The percentage of students in California who performed at or above the NAEP Proficient level was 22 percent in 2011. This percentage was not significantly different from that in 2009 (20 percent).
— The percentage of students in California who performed at or above the NAEP Basic level was 53 percent in 2011. This percentage was not significantly different from that in 2009 (48 percent).


College Board Names David Coleman New President

URL (Related Story)

On May 16, the Trustees of the College Board announced that David Coleman will become the organization’s ninth president and CEO. Coleman succeeds Governor Gaston Caperton who is stepping down after 13 years as president. The appointment is effective October 15 and Governor Caperton will serve as president until that time.

“We are proud to introduce David Coleman as the next president of the College Board,” said Paul W. Sechrist, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “David is one of the nation’s most dynamic and engaging leaders in education, and we are confident he has the energy and expertise to lead the College Board’s efforts to expand access and equity in education.”

Coleman, 42, was an architect of the Common Core State Standards. He is a Founding Partner of Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit organization devoted to the successful implementation of the Standards, where he leads the organization’s work with teachers and policymakers to achieve the promise of the Common Core to improve education.

“I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead this great organization,” said Coleman. “We live in a time when the importance of postsecondary education and training has never been greater–both for individual success and for the strength of the nation. The College Board was founded with a deep commitment to equity and must play a critical role in helping all students achieve high academic standards to thrive intellectually and to compete in a global economy.”

Related Articles

“Incoming College Board Head Wants SAT to Reflect Common Core” by Catherine Gewertz

Source: Education Week – 16 May 2012

One of the chief architects of the Common Core State Standards was named the next president of the College Board today and said one of his top priorities is to reshape the organization’s influential college-admissions test, the SAT, to better reflect the new standards…