COMET • Vol. 14, No. 03 – 5 March 2013



STEM Meets Art in The Bay Lights — Grand Lighting Ceremony is Tonight

Tonight (March 5) at 9:00 p.m. PT, a live Webcast will showcase “the birth of the largest light sculpture in existence” (an LED art project on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge). The broadcast will include the “Grand Lighting” by MediaOne, followed by the “Making of The Bay Lights” and interviews with artist Leo Villareal and others instrumental to the project. Nightly live streaming of The Bay Lights begins tomorrow night. For more information, visit

To learn more about this project, see the following articles:

Related Article:

“Teaching Computer Coding in K-12” by Dan Brown

Source: U.S. Department of Education
URL (video): is a new nonprofit created to promote the teaching of computer coding in America’s schools. Founded by Hadi Partovi, shines a light on 21st century society’s need for computer scientists and programmers. According to statistics on the website, 90% of American schools currently don’t offer coding while by 2020, there will be approximately a million more computer jobs than computer science students. Partovi aims to connect engineers with schools and to help educators bring computer programming to their classrooms. The linchpin of the awareness campaign is a short video featuring Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates,, NBA All-Star Chris Bosh and a host of other tech leaders and trendsetters (see The video, directed by Lesley Chilcott, a producer of An Inconvenient Truth, portrays learning to code as fun, not exceptionally difficult, and the gateway to a creative, fulfilling career. Released on February 26, it has already accumulated over 9 million views… 


Free Webinar: “Clinical Designs Advancing STEM Teacher Preparation and Linked Learning” 

Sources: WestEd; California Sate University Chancellor’s Office

This coming Thursday (March 7) from 3:30-5:00 p.m. PT, WestEd’s SchoolsMovingUp will present a Webinar entitled “Clinical Designs Advancing STEM Teacher Preparation and Linked Learning.” Successful strategies for advancing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and the Linked Learning secondary approach in clinical teacher preparation will be discussed. Examples of STEM-rich elementary schools, middle school math and science teacher preparation programs, and high school Linked Learning partnerships will be highlighted. This is the third webinar in a series held in collaboration with California State University, WestEd, and the California Alliance for Clinical Partnerships. 

Sign up for this webinar at


Related Article:

“CTE [(Career Technical Education)] Can Fill The Gap, Open Doors to America’s Future” by John White

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Final Draft of Science Content Standards for K-12 California Public Schools Expected in July 2013

Source: State Board of Education (SBE)
URL (Agenda):

The agenda for the March 13-14 meeting of the State Board of Education (SBE) is available online at Item 4 on the agenda for March 13 provides an excellent summary of “the public process that the California Department of Education (CDE), in collaboration with the California Comprehensive Center (CA CC) at WestEd, intends to utilize to revise the Science Content Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve based upon the nationally developed Next Generation Science Standards…” Portions of this summary, which was last updated and posted online on March 4, are presented below. The entire agenda item can be downloaded from

SB 1200 … extended the time for new science standards to be presented to the SBE to July 31, 2013, and the adoption, rejection, or modification of those standards by the SBE to November 30, 2013. The revised science standards for California must be based upon the nationally developed Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). 

The development of the NGSS is based on a national framework commissioned by the National Research Council (NRC).The national framework was developed by an 18 member nationally recognized science committee. The NRC framework committee was chaired by Dr. Helen Quinn, a professor of Physics at Stanford University. The complete framework is available on the National Academies Web site at

Twenty-six Lead State Partners are guiding the standards writing process, providing feedback from state-level committees, and coming together to address common issues and challenges… 

To provide input from California, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction commissioned the State Review Team (SRT), consisting of 80 science experts representing K-12 science teachers, administrators, county science consultants, college and university professors, and business and industry… 

The NGSS is scheduled to be completed in March 2013. Should the NGSS not be released in time, the proposed timeline will need to be revised. Additional information is available on the NGSS Web site at… 

Once the final draft of the NGSS is released, the CDE, with support of the CA CC of WestEd, will embark on a process to recommend the Science Content Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve to the SBE… The process will encompass several steps involving the SRT and a panel of science experts who are representative of the SRT, referred to as the Science Expert Panel (SEP). Additionally, the process will allow for public comment at three Regional Public Forums…

Regional Public Forums will be conducted in Northern, Southern, and Central California in late March and April 2013. Exact locations and dates of the events are currently being scheduled. The public will be noticed once all logistics are confirmed. At these meetings, public stakeholders will receive background on the NGSS and the proposed California Science Standards. They will have an opportunity to provide input for consideration by the SEP. The CDE and CA CC staff will document public input and share it with the SEP.

As a final step, the SEP will reconvene to make any revisions based on public input and share a new draft of the California Science Standards with the SRT by early May 2013. 

Once this group has conducted its final review, the SEP will incorporate revisions and submit this version to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the CDE, and the SBE for consideration in July 2013. 


State Board of Education to Consider Approving Notice of Intent to Hold the 2014 Mathematics Primary Adoption and Fee Reductions for Small Publishers of Instructional Materials 


The State Board of Education (SBE) must approve the Notice of Intent to Hold the 2014 Mathematics Primary Adoption of Instructional Materials, as well as approve fee reduction requests by “small publishers” to participate in the adoption process. So far, three publishers have met the criteria established for “small publisher” status. These include College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM), Origo, and TPS. 

These two actions will be considered in Agenda Item 19 during the SBE meeting on March 14. The mathematics adoption will consider basic grade level programs for grades K-8, as well as Algebra I and Mathematics I (Integrated). The SBE will take final action on a list of proposed instructional materials in March 2014. 

Download this agenda item (which includes a useful Schedule of Events for the Mathematics Adoption) from


Related Item:

Local Adoptions for Mathematics Instructional Materials

Source: California Mathematics Council – 28 February 2013

Last Thursday (2-28-2013), the California Mathematics Council emailed the following information to members: 

“Assembly Bill 1246 changes the process by which schools and districts can choose student mathematics textbooks in grades K–8, radically altering the textbook adoption process that has existed for more than 50 years. AB 1246 gives school districts an amount of freedom, decision-making, and choice previously not possible of at the local level. With the option of local control being returned to school communities, now is the time for California teachers to become directly involved in their school district’s adoption and review process. Teachers can now play a chief role in adoption decisions, including greatly increased flexibility in the expenditure of state instructional material, including funds for use in teacher professional development. AB 1246 can be a major factor in the successful implementation of the Common Core Mathematics Standards.” 

For more information, read Paul Giganti’s article in the ComMuniCator: “AB 1246 Dramatically Revises Textbook Adoption Process in California” —


Proposed Legislation Would Allow an Undergraduate Degree in Education and Permit Postgraduate Credential Programs to be Longer than One Year 

Source: Senator Alex Padilla
URL (Padilla):
URL (LegInfo):

Last December, Senator Alex Padilla introduced Senate Bill 5 (SB 5), which would change current law to allow undergraduates to qualify for a teaching credential by earning a bachelor’s degree in education. The bill would also allow postgraduate teacher credential programs to include up to two years of professional preparation, rather than one year. The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) notes that “the prohibition on the education major has been in place since 1960 (Fisher Act) and the one year limit was established by the Ryan Act in 1970.” 

“Allowing students to earn a teaching credential as an undergraduate will help well-prepared teachers enter California’s classrooms sooner,” said Senator Padilla. “SB 5 will provide aspiring teachers more time to develop effective teaching skills.” 

“The state’s future economic competitiveness depends upon qualified teachers who can educate our diverse student population. Better prepared teachers will improve the academic success of students,” added Padilla. 

The bill is currently in the Senate Education Committee and will be discussed at this week’s CTC meeting (see Agenda Item 5C: 


CTC to Continue Discussions on Additional Content Areas for Credentialed Teachers at This Week’s Meeting 

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC)

At its meeting on January 31, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing approved a motion to require individuals wishing to add a Single Subject content area (e.g., Foundational-Level Mathematics) to an existing teaching credential (e.g., Physics, Multiple Subject, etc.) to take a departmentalized pedagogy course in the content area to be added. A grade of C or better, “pass,” or “credit” must be earned in the course. (Note: “Applicants adding the following content areas shall be exempt from this requirement: (i) a Science content area to an existing Science credential; (ii) upgrading a Foundational-Level Mathematics credential to the full Mathematics content area…”) 

At this Thursday’s Commission meeting, amendments to Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations related to the approved policy changes will be presented (March 7, Agenda Item 2A). All recommended changes can be viewed at

Included in the recommendations is a proposed modification in terminology: “Proposes changing ‘authorization’ to ‘teaching or content area’ to more accurately describe the item to be added.” For example, if the holder of a physics teaching credential were to earn a mathematics teaching credential, he or she would be said to have an “additional content area” rather than an “additional (or added) authorization.” 

If the proposed Title 5 amendments are passed, the rulemaking file will be prepared for submission to the Office of Administrative Law, and a public hearing will be scheduled. 


California Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs) Revised to be Aligned with the Common Core State Standards 

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC)

Results of a field review of the recently-updated California Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs) will be presented at the March 7 meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). The goal of the revision was to align the TPEs with the Common Core State Standards and to incorporate the concept of academic language when appropriate. Results of the field review indicate that the vast majority of respondents believe that the revised standards are indeed in alignment with the CCSS, and a recommendation has been made by Commission staff to adopt the revised TPEs at this week’s meeting. 

If this occurs, “all currently approved Teaching Performance Assessments [that are taken by prospective teacher credential candidates in California] will need to be updated to ensure that each model continues to appropriately assess candidate performance on the TPEs. [Teacher preparation] program sponsors will also need to make adjustments in their programs to bring them into alignment with the Common Core State Standards and revised TPEs.” 

For more details, as well as the results of the survey, visit

CSET Subject Matter Requirements (SMRs) Revised to be Aligned with the Common Core State Standards 

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

The Subject Matter Requirements (SMRs) for the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) for Multiple Subject, Single Subject English, and Single Subject Mathematics are being revised and updated to align with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The following are excerpts from Item 3C on this Thursday’s California Commission on Teacher Education agenda (see SMRs define the content knowledge expected at the level of a beginning California teacher earning a preliminary credential… When new standards are available in the areas of History-Social Science and Science, the process of revising and updating the CSET SMRs and program standards for these content areas will be addressed as well…

The CSET Common Core State Standards Alignment Objective Review Conference for the Single Subject Mathematics Content Standards was held on February 5, 2013. A panel of ten educators with expertise in Single Subject Mathematics content [(five from colleges/universities and five public school teachers)] participated in the meeting. Panel members reviewed the adopted SMRs for secondary mathematics to determine their appropriateness for describing the content knowledge required of a beginning secondary mathematics teacher charged with teaching the CCSS…

The panel recommended fairly extensive revisions, including the addition of new sections, changing the name of at least one domain to reflect the added content, and the elimination of one domain, History of Mathematics… The panel noted that the domain was very difficult to measure, that it was not covered by the CCSS, and that it was not knowledge they considered to be necessary for a beginning secondary math teacher to demonstrate. 

In addition to recommending revisions based on the CCSS, the panel identified the specific skills in each domain which the members considered necessary and appropriate for candidates seeking a foundational-level mathematics authorization. The panel included mathematics content through Algebra II. This is an additional piece of input from stakeholders that will be considered in further discussions regarding the scope of the Foundational-Level Mathematics content. The proposed revised SMRs for the CSET: Single Subject Mathematics examination are provided [on p. 36 of the agenda item]… 


If the draft revised CSET SMRs are moved forward to a content validation study, an agenda item will be presented at the June 2013 CTC meeting to approve the final draft SMRs and proceed with the development of related CSET items.

“Senate Hears Details of Governor Brown’s Funding Formula” by Dennis Meyers 

Source: California School Boards Association
URL (SSPI letter): 

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) had its first hearing on February 28 before the State Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. The Department of Finance presented details of the proposal; testimony also came from the Legislative Analyst, state Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) Tom Torlakson [(see], and a panel of six superintendents (from Bakersfield, Folsom-Cordova, Fresno, Oakland, and Santa Ana school districts, and the Ventura County Office of Education)… 

Two prominent themes emerged from testimony and questions:

– The need for larger base funding, as California ranks 49th nationwide in per-pupil funding; 

– The question of balancing local flexibility with accountability. Is local accountability sufficient or should there more at the state level?… 


Last Tuesday (2/26/2013), SSPI Torlakson sent a letter to superintendents and other school officials regarding the Governor’s proposal budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, outlining the impact on K-12 education and child development programs. A copy of the letter and other budget-related documents are available on the California Department of Education Budget Web page at

Related Articles (The Sequester)

Projected Impact of the Sequester on Education in California and Nationally 

URL (White House-Fact Sheet for California):
URL (U.S. Dept. of Educ.):
URL (NSF grants):
URL (CDE-Impact on CA Education):

While the actual impact of the sequester (cuts to federal spending) is unclear, those interested in reading more may be interested in visiting the Web sites above. For an overview (“sequester FAQs”), visit


Consortium of Nine California Districts Announces Plan for New Federal School Accountability 

URL (Letter to Duncan): 

Last Thursday (2/28/2013), the California Office to Reform Education (CORE) submitted a district-consortium request for a federal NCLB waiver. The CORE waiver calls for a reorientation of districts’ work toward a collective effort to prepare all students for college and career, with districts assuming unprecedented accountability to eliminate disparity and disproportionality in all subjects and across the academic, social/emotional, and culture/climate domains. 

Excerpts from the letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan follow below:

A group of California school districts, representing over a million students, have come together to form a learning cooperative called the California Office to Reform Education (CORE). The districts are focused on deep learning and sharing practices in two critical areas: Effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards and building professional capital. In order to further this work our districts have collectively decided to seek a federal waiver from elements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). [Participating districts include Clovis, Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco, Sanger, and Santa Ana Unified.]

CORE believes that academic success is just one facet of college and career readiness. It is equally important that students are prepared for future success by truly being held to high expectations coupled with system support to get them there, as well as experiencing a supportive school culture and climate, and assistance to develop additional skills beyond academic preparedness that are necessary to succeed in life… 

“Our districts lean into accountability as a way to learn, grow and improve as adults so our students benefit with greater future options upon graduation,” said Michael Hanson, Superintendent of Fresno Unified School District and CORE Board President. “We are excited about the shared responsibility for improved learning for youth.” 

“True success for all students is achieved by serving the needs of the whole child,” added Tony Smith, Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District. “We know that academic success is just one piece of the puzzle…” 

The CORE waiver plan commits that all participating districts will fully implement the Common Core State Standards by the 2013-14 school year and will transition to Common Core-aligned assessments by the 2014-15 school year… 

The districts will also use the shared data system to strengthen teaching and learning in their individual community contexts’ and will agree on elements that will be common among educator effectiveness and evaluation systems that each district will develop individually during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 years and implement by the 2015-16 school year… 

The participating CORE districts hope to work with the U.S. Department of Education to reach approval of the waiver and finalize provisions of the waiver plan. Once finalized, other school districts and charter schools in California will be eligible to participate in the waiver provided they are willing to similarly reorient their work around preparing all students for college and careers, including by implementing college- and career-ready standards and assessments, participating in the new accountability system, committing to sharing data, and developing and implementing educator effectiveness and evaluation systems. 


Related article:

“Nine Districts Submit Waiver for Relief from NCLB” by Kathryn Baron and John Fensterwald 

Source: EdSource – 28 February 2013


National Women’s History Month Highlights Women in STEM 

Source: National Women’s History Project

“The National Women’s History Project, founded in 1980, is a non-profit educational organization committed to recognizing and celebrating the diverse and significant historical accomplishments of women by providing information and educational materials and programs” (e.g., see

March is designated as “National Women’s History Month.” This year, the theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” Visit for a collection of links highlighting contributions of women in the STEM areas.

A free copy of the colorful and informative 16-page 2013 Women’s History Month Gazette is available for order at It can also be downloaded from

Among the topics included in this issue are the following: 2013 National Women’s History Month nominees and honorees, articles about STEM projects and organizations, information about the PBS show SciGirls (, and women Nobel Prize winners in the STEM fields.


Pi in the Sky (and Elsewhere) – Celebrating Pi Day 2013

Matt Davis at Edutopia presents a collection of Pi Day (March 14) resources at The Exploratorium in San Francisco is once again hosting its annual celebration of all things “pi.” See below for an invitation to this celebration:

Join us on Thursday, March 14, 2013, for the 25th anniversary of Pi Day. Founded by Exploratorium physicist and “Prince of Pi” Larry Shaw, this sublimely irrational holiday is celebrated by number lovers around the world. Our festivities take place outdoors from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in the Pier 15 Plaza, weather permitting, and are free and open to all.

To honor the never-ending number π (3.14159 . . . ), we’ll serve up slices of pie, share pi-related activities, host a Pi Parade, and ceremoniously install our new Pi Shrine into a fittingly circular site outside Pier 15.

In addition, we are excited to present Pi in the Sky by ISHKY in collaboration with AirSign. At 10,000 feet above our new building, a team of five synchronized aircraft equipped with dot-matrix technology will skywrite the first 1,000 digits of Pi’s infinite sequence (weather permitting), offering an ephemeral, elevated experience of the famous transcendental number.

Visit our Pi Day site to learn more about pi:


NCES to Host Webinar on Algebra I and Geometry Curricula Study 

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

On Tuesday, March 12, at 8:00 a.m. PT, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will release “Algebra I and Geometry Curricula: Results From the 2005 High School Transcript Mathematics Curriculum Study.”

The report builds upon the results from NAEP’s previously released High School Transcript Study and looked at the math course taking patterns of America’s high school graduates to examine the content and challenge of Algebra I and Geometry courses in our nation’s public high schools.

During the release event, NCES will explore several critical questions for teachers, parents, and students, including:

1. How much algebra is really taught in America’s high school Algebra I courses?

2. Do students of different races and ethnicities take Algebra I courses with the same title and same description, but receive very different mathematics content?

3. Does taking an honors course in Geometry really guarantee a rigorous curriculum? And if not, what groups of students are adversely affected the most?

A panel of experts will discuss the results and respond to parent and student reactions to the findings. Panelists include Jack Buckley, Peggy G. Carr, Joan Ferrini-Mundy, Freeman Hrabowski, Dale Nowlin, and Linda Rosen.

Register for the Webcast at