COMET • Vol. 14, No. 01 – 26 January 2013



State Board of Education Adopts Modified Mathematics Standards, Restoring Local Decision-Making Regarding Student Placement in Algebra I

URL (Agenda):
URL (Item 3): 

At its meeting on January 16, the California State Board of Education (SBE) addressed several items of interest and importance to mathematics education. The SBE voted to modify the California Additions to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) that were adopted in June 2010, removing the state’s Algebra I standards from the 8th grade mathematics standards. California’s grade 8 standards now reflect those of other states that have adopted the CCSS. Although Algebra I remains a high school graduation requirement in California, the decision concerning the grade level in which a student will take the course will be determined locally rather than by the state. The action provides options for accelerating students to higher mathematics in middle school (e.g., Algebra I or the first course in an integrated mathematics series–Mathematics I–in 7th grade) based upon a student’s readiness.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who was required under Senate Bill 1200 to propose modifications that include basing Algebra I on the Common Core State Standards, praised the Board’s action.

“The Common Core–and common sense–calls for students’ progress in mathematics to be based on their readiness to advance–not a timeline or a mandate from Sacramento,” Torlakson said. “Making this change now will help our schools make the transition to Common Core, and marks another step in our push to provide students the practical, real-world skills they need.”

The Superintendent’s recommendations are presented in the “Recommended Modifications to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics with California Additions and Model Courses for Higher Mathematics” document available for download from

For more information about California’s implementation of the CCSSM, please visit CDE’s Common Core State Standards Implementation Web page at


Related article: 

“It’s Final: State Board Shifts Policy on Eighth Grade Algebra” by John Fensterwald

Source: EdSource Today 

Update on the Activities of the California Department of Education and State Board of Education Regarding Implementation of Common Core State Standards Systems

URL (Agenda): Item 2 on the January 16 meeting agenda of the California State Board of Education (SBE) provided an update of SBE and California Department of Education (CDE) Common Core State Standards (CCSS) systems implementation activities for November and December 2012. Details can be downloaded from

This item includes the announcement of four professional learning modules (PLM) that were developed by CDE to “deepen educators’ understanding of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS); instructional strategies to support the learning of all pupils, including English learners, pupils with disabilities, and underperforming pupils; and instructional strategies that promote creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and communication skills in all academic content areas.” These modules, which are the first such modules to be available by September 2013, were designed to be used by teachers either independently or in a facilitated study group. (For more information about CDE’s PLM, visit

The modules are located on the Brokers of Expertise Web site ( See below for specific Web addresses: 

(a) Overview of the CCSS for California Educators

(b) Mathematics: Kindergarten through Grade Eight Learning Progressions

(c) English Language Arts: Informational Text–Reading

(d) Mathematics: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve Standards for Mathematical Practice

Attachment 1 of this agenda item ( included an overview of progress to date on the following: 

= Informational CCSS flyers for parents:

= Career Technical Education (CTE) — The SBE adopted the revised CTE Model Curriculum Standards ( at the January 16 meeting. Information regarding the revised Career Technical Education Model Curriculum Standards is provided in Agenda Item 6. See for details. “The academic alignments were recommended by teams of core curriculum faculty in collaboration with industry sector experts and include the SBE adopted Common Core State Standards in ELA and Mathematics, the history-social studies standards and the Next Generation Science Core Ideas.” 

= Communication and implementation networks (a detailed chart is located on pp. 1-7 in Attachment 2 of this Agenda Item)

= CCSS-aligned instructional resources [Note: Visit to view the SBE agenda item presenting the draft evaluation criteria, timeline, and application for instructional materials reviewers (IMR) and content review experts (CRE) for the 2014 Mathematics Primary Adoption of Instructional Materials.] 

= CCSS-aligned assessment systems – This includes the report released last month, Smarter Balanced Technology Strategy Framework & System Requirements Specifications, available online at, and information about the Smarter Balanced Pilot Test, which will take place from February 20 though May 10, 2013, in grades 3-11–see (Also see the COMET article immediately below.) 


Recommendations for Transitioning to a Future Assessment System

Source: California Department of Education

By law, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) is to provide recommendations and a plan for transitioning California to a new statewide student assessment system. Subsequently, Superintendent Tom Torlakson prepared a detailed report entitled, “Recommendations for Transitioning to a Future Assessment System,” which is available online at

State Board of Education Agenda Item 8 (16 January 2013 meeting) also addressed this topic. Visit to view the presentation slides. 


CTC to Review Requirements for Additional Credentials and the Work of the Teacher Preparation Advisory Panel 

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

Two items on the agenda for next week’s meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) may be of particular interest to COMET readers. Agenda Item 3B is an information/action item “pertaining to adding a teaching or content area to a valid General Education Teaching Credential” (see Policy questions are raised concerning whether Multiple Subject (MS) and/or Single Subject (SS) credential holders should be required to take a subject-specific pedagogy course when adding a Single Subject credential such as Mathematics or Foundational-Level Mathematics (FLM) to their MS or SS credential. Currently a SS credential holder does not need to take an additional methodology course (e.g., a teacher with a SS credential in Physics could obtain an additional authorization in mathematics by passing the three mathematics CSET subtests). In addition, while a MS credential holder is required to take a departmentalized pedagogy course to earn a SS credential (e.g., FLM or Mathematics), this course could be a general (not subject-specific) pedagogy course. 

Results of a survey conducted by CTC late last year indicated support for the current policy for SS credential holders and a split opinion concerning requiring MS credential holders to take a subject-specific departmentalized methods course to earn a SS credential. In addition, the majority of survey respondents did not believe that those earning a Subject Matter Authorization or a Supplementary Authorization should be required to take a departmentalized pedagogy course. These results will be presented and discussed at the January 31 meeting.

Item 4F, to be presented on February 1, will provide an “update on the work of the Teacher Preparation Advisory (TAP) Panel” ( This panel examined an extensive array of issues related to teacher preparation (refer to the Web site above for details). 

The agenda item “also provides information on the direction of selected preliminary recommendations from the panel for the Commission’s discussion and input.” One such draft recommendation concerned credential structure, grade levels, and subjects: “The Multiple and Single Subject credentials should be restructured so that the Multiple Subject credential authorizes teaching in grades K-8 self-contained settings, the Single Subject authorizes teaching in grades 5-12 in departmentalized setting and for adults for the four core academic subjects of English, Mathematics, Social Science, and Science, and the current credential system should remain as is for the non-core subject areas.” In addition, “the TAP panel is considering offering recommendations that would narrow the age/grade band of various credentials and also offer opportunities for limited and/or additional authorizations (or recognitions of study) around the developmental needs and subject matter expectations of students within specific grade bands” (e.g., middle school).

Additional draft recommendations will be presented at the Commission’s March 2013 meeting prior to the final recommendations being presented at the April 2013 meeting.


New Policy Journal Seeks STEM Manuscripts 

Source: Beverly Young (Assistant Vice Chancellor) and Joan Bissell (Director, Teacher Education and Public School Programs), California State University Office of the Chancellor

The Journal of Transformative Leadership and Policy Studies 
(JTLPS) is a new peer-reviewed journal sponsored by the California State University’s Chancellor’s Office and the system’s thirteen Education Doctorate programs. JTLPS was developed for the educational leadership and policy community in California and beyond to advance understanding of solutions to the many challenges faced by the nation’s schools and colleges.

JTLPS is currently seeking papers about cutting-edge STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education research, innovative STEM policies, and effective STEM-related strategies and initiatives. “We are interested in manuscripts on promising STEM Education initiatives and projects that are in place in California and in other states and their results. We encourage articles that deal with the integration of technology and engineering within math and science. We seek papers that address STEM Education across disciplines–for example, approaches that incorporate literacy with STEM and, through STEAM, combine the arts and STEM. We have a special interest in programs that address the foundations for STEM success in the elementary grades. We encourage papers that focus on strategies for increasing the number of undergraduate students who pursue and succeed in STEM majors and courses. We invite articles on methods to increase the number and quality of elementary and secondary school teachers prepared in STEM disciplines. We also seek submissions that address the preparation and development of P-12 educational leaders as STEM education leaders.” 

For more details, please visit



New Draft of Next Generation Science Standards

Source: Achieve, Inc.

The second and final public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) was released earlier this month. The public comment period closes next Tuesday (January 29). Visit the Web site above for details.

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is presenting several informative webinars related to the NGSS:

– “Engineering Practices and the Next Generation Science Standards” (archived webinar and related materials:

– “Using the NGSS Practices in the Elementary Grades” – 29 January 2013 – 3:30-5:00

– “Connections Between Practices in NGSS, Common Core Math, and Common Core ELA” – 12 February 2013 – 3:30-5:00 PT

California educators, particularly those teaching in the California State University (CSU) system, will be interested in the webinar, “CSU Next Generation Science Standards for K-6 Teachers,” which will be broadcast on February 8 from 10 a.m.-noon.

The first part of this Webinar will feature presentations about model programs and strategies preparing K-6 teacher candidates in science, with a focus on undergraduate preparation. Proven designs addressing learning science through everyday applications, science and literacy, practicum experiences with elementary children in campus Hands-On Labs, and field experiences in school, after-school, and informal science settings will be described. Visit to learn more.


Related Article: 

NSTA offers free article in January 2013 issue of Science and Children: “Strong STEMs Need Strong Sprouts” by Julie McGough and Lisa Nyberg



Essay Contest for Students in Grades 6 Through College: Biographies of Contemporary Women in Mathematics 

Source: Association of Women in Mathematics
Contact: Heather Lewis –

To increase awareness of women’s ongoing contributions to the mathematical sciences, the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and Math for America are co-sponsoring an essay contest for biographies of contemporary women mathematicians and statisticians in academic, industrial, and government careers.

The essays will be based primarily on an interview with a woman currently working in a mathematical sciences career. This contest is open to students in the following categories: Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, and College Undergraduate. At least one winning submission will be chosen from each category. Winners will receive a prize, and their essays will be published online at the AWM Web site. Additionally, a grand prize winner will have his or her submission published in the AWM Newsletter.

The deadline for the 2013 AWM Essay Contest is January 31.


“The Effect of Teacher Gender on Student Achievement in Primary School: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment” by Heather Antecol, Ozkan Eren, and Serkan Ozbeklik 

Source: Institute for the Study of Labor (Bonn)

Abstract: This discussion paper attempts to reconcile the contradictory results found in the economics literature and the educational psychology literature with respect to the academic impact of gender dynamics in the classroom. Specifically, using data from a randomized experiment, we look at the effects of having a female teacher on the math test scores of students in primary school. We find that female students who were assigned to a female teacher without a strong math background suffered from lower math test scores at the end of the academic year. This negative effect, however, not only seems to disappear but it becomes (marginally) positive for female students who were assigned to a female teacher with a strong math background. Finally, we do not find any effect of having a female teacher on male students’ test scores (math or reading) or female students’ reading test scores. Taken together, our results tentatively suggest that the findings in these two streams of the literature are in fact consistent if one takes into account a teacher’s academic background in math. [To read the full paper, visit the Web site above.]


Siemens Offers Free Summer of Learning Programs – Applications are Now Being Accepted 


Siemens is now accepting applications for both of its “Summer of Learning” programs. These professional learning programs give middle and high school teachers the opportunity to engage with top scientists, collaborate with like-minded peers, and work across STEM disciplines to gain exposure to current topics that are shaping the STEM field. More information about the programs appears below:

(a) Siemens Teachers as Researchers (STARs) 
- STARs gives 40 educators the opportunity to spend two weeks engaging with top scientists and researchers on mentored research projects at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, TN or Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA. These labs provide leadership and resources to help incorporate research into science and math classrooms.

(b) Siemens STEM Institute -
The Institute selects a diverse group of 50 STEM educators to attend a week of STEM immersion at Discovery’s world headquarters outside of Washington, DC. Discovery Communications Fellows will hear from guest speakers at the forefront of STEM, take field trips to leading institutions, and network with educators from across the nation.

Teachers can apply to one or both programs by completing one application located at The application deadline is 5 February 2013.