COMET • Vol. 14, No. 10 – 14 September 2013


1st Annual California STEM Symposium to be Held at the Sacramento Convention Center on November 18-19, 2013

Source: Jim Greco – California Department of Education

The Californians Dedicated to Education (CDE) Foundation, in cooperation with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and the Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, invites you the 1st Annual California STEM Symposium on November 18-19, 2013, at the Sacramento Convention Center.

This symposium will bring together approximately 2000 teachers, administrators, students, higher education representatives, program providers, philanthropic representatives, and industry representatives to increase their engagement in STEM education by providing strategies and resources for program implementation. It will highlight classroom innovations from across the state and student teams to showcase critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork. Keynote speakers are Geena Davis, Jose Hernandez, Sugata Mitra, Thomas Suarez, and Kenneth Wesson. 

With the implementation of Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, this symposium will help schools develop robust and coordinated STEM programs that are relevant and engaging for all students. Detailed information can be found on the CDE Foundation website: Registration is available at


Student Volunteers Sought for California Mathematics Council Conference in Palm Springs on November 1-2 

Contact: Ivan Cheng ( and Kyndall Brown (

The California Mathematics Council (CMC) is once again pleased to accept Student Volunteersto assist with the annual conference to be held on November 1-2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Student Volunteers will receive free conference admission and a one-year membership in CMC in return for four hours of service. Please visit the following website for more information:


Second Public Review and Comment Period for Draft Mathematics Framework Ends on October 30 


The California State Department of Education welcomes your input on the draft 2013 Revision of the Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools during this second of two 60-day public review and comment periods (August 30-October 30, 2013).

To view or download the draft framework, visit this

This document is recommended by the Instructional Quality Commission for adoption by the California State Board of Education (SBE). Action by the SBE is anticipated at its November 6-7 meeting. 


State Board Adopts Next Generation Science Standards 

Source: NGSS listserv – 5 September 2013 (STEM, California Department of Education)

On September 4, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved a new set of science standards, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which emphasize a deeper focus on understanding the cross-cutting concepts of scientific disciplines. Included in the adoption are the NGSS Appendices A through M to provide guidance for the local implementation of NGSS and guidance for the development of the California Science Framework. Information on NGSS is available on the California Department of Education’s Web site at The NGSS is the state’s first major update to science standards in 15 years. 

“The adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards in California marks a crucial step in making sure our students are prepared to succeed after they leave our classrooms,” State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said. “Scientific information and technology have changed remarkably since the last time California updated its science standards, and how and what we teach have to change with them.” 

NGSS, the science equivalent to the Common Core standards or English and math, emphasizes a deeper understanding of concepts within scientific disciplines, integrating engineering and science practices to help students understand the workings of science and the natural world. They also provide a progression of learning from kindergarten through grade 12 so students learn step by step the knowledge and skills they need for college and careers. 

“The Next Generation Science Standards represent a huge leap forward for California’s students and our schools,” said Mike Kirst, president of the State Board of Education. “Scientific innovation remains at the core of the California economy, and schools play a huge role in equipping the workforce of tomorrow.” 

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related industries are major components of California’s economy. A 2011 U.S. Department of Commerce study, “STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future,” found that over the past 10 years, growth in jobs involving STEM fields was three times greater than that of non-STEM occupations. The report also forecast that STEM jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than others in the coming decade. 

The next step after the adoption of NGSS is the appointment by Superintendent Torlakson of aStrategic Leadership Team to develop a plan to implement the NGSS. This includes a timeline for implementation, adopting a science framework, developing student assessments, and strategies for school districts. Once the team completes its work, their strategic action plan will be presented to the SBE for approval at a future meeting. 

Related Article:

CSTA Website Dedicated to the Next Generation Science Standards

Source: California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) – 4 September 2013

The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA), through the support of its members, has developed this website to provide resources and information to all California science educators regarding the Next Generation Science Standards:

On September 4, the California State Board of Education (SBE) voted unanimously to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)… The SBE will delay the decision on a middle school arrangement of NGSS until its November meeting.

The webcast archive of the 4 September 2013 SBE meeting is now available To listen to the presentation and public comment on Item #10 (the NGSS agenda item), use the navigation provided to jump to that section. 

The next meeting of the California State Board of Education (SBE) will be on November 6-7, 2013. The meeting agenda ( will be posted 10 days in advance of the meeting. State Board meetings are open to the public and may be attended in person or viewed online:


Legislature Passes Package of Bills Advancing Move to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards 

Source: California Department of Education

Bills backed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to take major steps forward in updating how schools prepare students for success in college and careers are now on their way to the Governor’s desk, Torlakson announced. 

In addition to Assembly Bill 484, which would overhaul the state’s testing system and passed the Legislature on Wednesday (see below), lawmakers also approved Senate Bill 201, AB 899, and SB 300. The governor has 30 days to sign the bills. SB 201 and AB 899 authorize the State Board of Education to move forward on aligning the state’s English language development standards with the Common Core English language arts and math standards. SB 300 empowers the State Board of Education to move forward with developing a curriculum framework aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. 

“With more than 1.4 million English learners in our schools–about a quarter of our total student population–California has good reason to lead the way in considering their needs within the broader framework of English, math, and science learning,” Torlakson said. “This is about reaching and teaching every child, and making sure they have the tools to succeed when they leave our classrooms, no matter where they come from or where they live.” 

“Taken together, these bills represent huge leaps forward for individual students and for education as a whole in California,” Torlakson said. “Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards–and the materials and tests that go with them–build on a great foundation, but recognize that students today need very different skills and knowledge than they did 15 years ago. I’m proud of California’s leadership–and of our leaders in the Legislature and beyond.” 


Legislature Approves Major Updates to Student Assessments 

Source: California Department of Education

Legislation that would move California assessments into an era of critical thinking and deeper learning has now received state Senate and Assembly approval and is headed to Governor Brown’s desk, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said.

Supt. Torlakson sponsored Assembly Bill 484, which passed the California State Assembly on concurrence vote Wednesday (9/11/2013) after Senate passage Tuesday. AB 484 suspends most Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) assessments beginning in 2013-2014 and authorizes new Common Core-aligned assessments known as the Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress (MAPP). 

“California’s shift to the Common Core is about helping students meet the challenges of a changing world, and AB 484 recognizes that updating the way we teach students also means updating the way we test them,” Torlakson said. “Lawmakers see that our students must graduate with more than knowledge, but with the ability to apply that knowledge to work collaboratively and solve problems.” 

The MAPP testing program will be made up of assessments being designed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Field tests of the new assessments, set for the spring of 2014, are designed as “tests of the tests.” 

Vernon M. Billy, Executive Director of the California School Boards Association (CSBA), stated, “The bill will ensure that California’s schools can spend the 2013-14 school year focused on teaching and learning the new core content standards in mathematics and English language arts. Without this focus and without suspending the current assessments for 2013-14, we will end up over-testing students and testing them on old standards. This will cause confusion for students and will not benefit them academically. It’s a much better use of our teachers’ and students’ time and effort to begin learning the Common Core curriculum and preparing for the new Smarter Balanced assessments so that problems can be identified and solved prior to full implementation in the spring of 2015. AB 484 makes this possible.” 

Gov. Brown has already indicated his support for the measure (see article below), as have education leaders around the state. Statements of support were received from numerous associations (e.g., CSBA above) and school districts. For a sample of statements,
Related Media:

Excerpt from AB 484: Pupil Assessments 


“The bill would specify that the MAPP would be composed of: a consortium summative assessment in English language arts and mathematics for grades 3 to 8, inclusive, and grade 11, as specified; science grade level assessments in grades 5, 8, and 10, measuring specified content standards; the California Alternate Performance Assessment in grades 2 to 11, inclusive, in English language arts and mathematics and science in grades 5, 8, and 10, as specified; and the Early Assessment Program… This bill would, commencing with the 2014-15 school year and for purposes of the Early Assessment Program, authorize the replacement of the California Standards Test and the augmented California Standards Tests in English language arts and mathematics with the grade 11 consortium computer-adaptive assessments in English language arts and mathematics, as provided…”

Supt. Torlakson Video on Transition to New Assessments 

URL (transcript): 

Late last month, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson released this video on the next steps in the Transition to Assessments Based on the Common Core State Standards in California:

Common Core State Standards Assessment Literacy Materials from the California Department of Education 



“Jerry Brown Pushes School Testing Delay Despite Federal Threats” by Melody Gutierrez 

Source: The Sacramento Bee – 11 September 2013

State officials are pushing forward with a plan to suspend mandatory school testing for a year despite U.S. Department of Education threats to withhold federal funds.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said California’s request for a one-year reprieve from using STAR tests in math and English for the current school year is unacceptable and may force his department to “take action.” 

“No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing, Duncan said in a statement Monday night. 

Assembly Bill 484 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, was amended last week to allow all schools to opt in to computer-based assessments aligned to new curriculum standards called Common Core, while ending the 14-year-old STAR tests. The bill …would also suspend the annual release of data gathered from either test… 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who is sponsoring Bonilla’s bill, took his support of the bill directly to lawmakers in the Capitol on Tuesday. Torlakson, a former state legislator, said it is a better investment to redirect the $25 million used to give the outdated STAR tests to instead allow more students to try new computer-based assessments. 

“I’m disappointed someone in Washington would want to interfere in the legislative process in California,” Torlakson told The Sacramento Bee. “We are all for accountability and measuring student achievement,” he said. “This is a transition year.” 

Students are given STAR tests each spring in English language arts, mathematics, science and history at certain grade levels. Parents receive the results of those tests, while state and federal accountability models aggregate the data for school and district results. 

Those scores are used to meet benchmarks set by the No Child Left Behind law. Last year, California was denied a waiver from No Child Left Behind after failing to commit to a teacher evaluation process linked to student test scores. Forty-one states have been granted waivers, along with eight California school districts… 

Bonilla’s bill complicates how California schools–not including those in the eight districts awarded waivers–will remain compliant with the federal education act and whether pots of money, such as Title 1, are in jeopardy… 

Torlakson said he looks forward to making the case to the Obama administration “when the time comes” and that it would be a grave error to withhold needed funds from California’s students… 

Related articles:

Statement by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on California Bill to Exempt Millions of Students from State Assessments


On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released the following statement in reaction to the current draft of AB 484, a bill to exempt millions of students from state assessments: 

“A request from California to not measure the achievement of millions of students this year is not something we could approve in good conscience. Raising standards to better prepare students for college and careers is absolutely the right thing to do, but letting an entire school year pass for millions of students without sharing information on their schools’ performance with them and their families is the wrong way to go about this transition. No one wants to over-test, but if you are going to support all students’ achievement, you need to know how all students are doing. If California moves forward with a plan that fails to assess all its students, as required by federal law, the Department will be forced to take action, which could include withholding funds from the state.

“In states like California that will be field-testing more sophisticated and useful assessments this school year, the Department has offered flexibility to allow each student to take their state’s current assessment in English language arts and math or the new field tests in those subjects. That’s a thoughtful approach as states are transitioning to new standards. While standards and tests may not match up perfectly yet, backing away entirely from accountability and transparency is not good for students, parents, schools and districts. 

“California has demonstrated its leadership by raising its standards, investing in their implementation and working with other states to develop new assessments, and I urge the state to continue to be a positive force for reform.”

Despite Looming Showdown With Feds, Senate Passes Standardized Testing Bill

Source: EdSource – 11 September 2013

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Visits Chula Vista Promise Neighborhoods 

URL (Tour): 

YouTube video: Ending his annual Back to School Bus Tour, Secretary Duncan’s bus rolled onto Castle Park Middle School yesterday (9/13/2013) to celebrate the area’s collaboration and success in making education number one. CPMS is one of five Chula Vista Promise Schools. Hundreds of students from Castle Park Elementary, Middle and High School and Hilltop Middle and High School attended. 


California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Posts September Meeting Agenda 

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) posted the agenda for its September 26-27 meeting at Under New Business (Item 2K), the Quarterly Agenda is presented for planning and information purposes. The following items for the given CTC meeting dates may be of particular interest to COMET readers: 

12-13 December 2013 

– Information Item: Further Discussion of Recommendations from the TAP Panel — This agenda item presents an overview and discussion of options for the preparation of teachers for middle grades and core settings. 

13-14 February 2014 

– Information/Action: Authorization Scope and Subject Matter Requirements for the Foundational Level Mathematics (FLM) Credential — This agenda item presents a draft authorization scope and corresponding subject matter. 

– Information: Update on the Implementation of the California Common Core State Standards– This agenda item provides a further update on the statewide implementation of the California Common Core State Standards, including a discussion of the Next Generation Science Standards. 

10-14 April 2014

– Information/Action: Study Session on Technology in Teacher Preparation — This agenda item focuses on the use and application of technology for both teacher preparation programs and teacher candidate knowledge, skills and abilities, including looking at preparation for the application of technology within online and blended environments. 


State Board of Education Requests Applications for 2014-15 Student Member 

The California State Board of Education (SBE) has posted a request for applications for its 2014-15 Student Member. The SBE’s request may be viewed

For information about the application process, including the 2014-15 Student Member application, please visit

The deadline for applications is 5:00 p.m. on 18 October 2013.