COMET • Vol. 14, No. 11 – 8 October 2013


Governor Brown Signs Legislation Establishing a New Statewide Assessment System: California Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress (MAPP) 

URL (Leg.):
URL (Gov.):

Last Wednesday (9/2/2013), Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 484, which establishes the California Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress (MAPP) assessment system. The new law suspends most Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) assessments for the current school year, allowing school districts to prepare for and transition to the new assessments, which are slated for statewide administration during the 2014-15 school year.

The new assessments will be computer-based, allowing for a much broader range of test questions than the multiple-choice exams given under STAR. As a result, the new assessments are expected to emphasize critical thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving. Part of the assessment system, which is being developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (, will be computer adaptive, so that a student’s prior responses affect the difficulty of subsequent questions, allowing a more precise measurement of student skills and knowledge than the former tests.

The California Department of Education has created an AB 484 Q&A website ( that provides an overview of the provisions of this bill, including a list of the assessments that will be implemented during the 2013-14 school year (e.g., field testing of Smarter Balanced mathematics and English language arts assessments, with half of the students in grades 3-8 and 11 taking the computerized math assessment and the other half taking the English-language arts assessment between March 18 and June 6). Also see for the text of AB 484 as enacted.

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Executive Director Joe Willhoft issued the following statement regarding the signing of AB 484:

“I congratulate Governor Brown, the state legislature, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson for adopting a groundbreaking plan to modernize the state’s K-12 student assessment system to help prepare all students for college and career. As part of this plan, Smarter Balanced will provide California with a system of interim and summative assessments in English language arts/literacy and mathematics, as well as formative assessment resources in those subjects for classroom use, beginning in the 2014-15 school year. Aligned to the Common Core State Standards, these online assessments will provide better, more accurate information for teachers and parents to support student success.”

“California state officials, educators, and researchers play a leading role in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which includes 26 member states and territories. [The] decision to move forward with Smarter Balanced is an endorsement of their work to create a high-quality system of assessments that meets the needs of the largest and most diverse student population in the country.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson stated, “Faced with the choice of preparing California’s children for the future or continuing to cling to outdated policies of the past, our state’s leaders worked together and made the right choice for our students,” Torlakson said. “These new assessments represent a challenge for our education system–but a lifetime of opportunity for students. As a teacher, I’m thrilled to see our state and our schools once again leading the way.”

The legislation, authored by Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord), was based on Torlakson’s comprehensive report,Recommendations for Transitioning California to a Future Assessment System, issued in January

“I’ve said from the beginning, California needs tests that measure how ready our students are for the challenges of a changing world,” Torlakson said. “We have taken a huge step in that direction by creating an assessment system focused on improving teaching and learning and by sending a clear signal about our commitment to this urgent work.”


Free Webinar This Thursday: “What is Smarter Balanced? What will Assessment Look Like?” 

Source: “CCSS Update from CDE”
URL (webinar): 

On Thursday, October 10, from 3:30-4:45 p.m., Deborah Sigman, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction in the District, School, & Innovation Branch of the California Department of Education (CDE), will present the second webinar in the Secondary Literacy Partnership’s series, “Transitioning to the Common Core State Standards: Spotlight on Instruction, Assessment, and Equity.”

This week’s webinar, “What is Smarter Balanced? What will Assessment Look Like?” will provide information about the Smarter Balanced assessments, including double testing flexibility, practice tests, sample English language arts items, the Digital Library, and assessment for literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects, as well as other program and technology updates. To register for this live webinar event and to access related resources, please visit

Note: Upcoming webinars in this series include the following:
– Creating Critical Thinkers in the Common Core Classroom – 14 November 2013
– Assessment Literacy – 16 January 2014
– Depth of Knowledge and Critical Thinking – 13 February 2014
– Achieving Equity and CCSS Implementation – 13 March 2014


State Board of Education Draft Actions and NGSS Slide Presentation from September Meeting 

Source: Carol Linderfelt – California Department of Education

The State Board of Education (SBE) has posted the slide presentation entitled, “Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): Setting a New Course” under Item 10 in the 4 September 2013 SBE meeting agenda posted at Also posted is the Preliminary Report of Actions/Draft Minutes for the September SBE meeting at See Agenda Item 2 (Mathematics Framework) and Agenda Item 10 (Next Generation Science Standards). 

The webcast of SBE’s September 2013 meeting may be viewed at


Reminder: Superintendent Tom Torlakson’s First Annual California STEM Symposium — Early Bird Registration ends October 18 

Source: California Department of Education

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson urges California teachers and administrators to register now for the first annual California STEM Symposium, to be held on November 18 and 19, 2013, at the Sacramento Convention Center. 

This first-of-its-kind convening is designed to bring together the best minds in STEM teaching and learning for 1.5 days of keynotes, hands-on workshops, student/teacher demos and unique women in STEM programming. 

The symposium will present best practices, ideas, and strategies for implementing the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics andNext Generation Science Standards, as well as strategies to bring high-quality STEM education to life in the classroom. 

Special presenters include 2013 TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra, Academy Award-winning actress Geena Davis and NASA astronaut and Reaching for the Stars! Foundation founder José Hernández. 

Early Bird Registration ends October 18 and tickets are limited, so register today at

Learn more at

Questions? Please contact the California Department of Education STEM Office at 916-323-5847 or


CMC-South (Palm Springs) Conference Leadership Strand and Reminder of Volunteer Opportunity for Prospective Teachers 

Sources: Ed D’Souza and Lisa Usher-Staats (Leadership Strand); Kyndall Brown and Ivan Cheng (Student Volunteers)

The California Mathematics Council-South (CMC-S) invites administrators, school board members, and all site, district, and county leaders to participate in the 1 November 2013 CMC-S Leadership Strand: “Common Core: Launching the Transformation.” Registration includes the leadership luncheon with keynote Jo Boaler and access to the general 2-day CMC-S conference ( 

Leadership Strand guest panelists and speakers include representatives from the Massachusetts and New York Departments of Education; the Long Beach, Vista, and Sacramento City Unified School Districts; and the California State Board of Education, in addition to Phil Daro, one of the lead writers of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. 

To register for the Leadership Strand, visit


CMC-S is still in need of Student Volunteers for its annual conference on 1-2 November 2013 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Student Volunteers will receive free full conference admission and one-year membership in CMC in return for four hours of service. 

Please visit the following website to sign up for this excellent professional learning opportunity: (Note: If this web link does not work, please email Dr. Cheng directly at


California Mathematics Council-North Offers Free Conference Registration and Other Benefits for Prospective Teachers 

Source: Kate Reed ( and Jean Simutis, CMC-N Pre-Service Teachers’ Committee

Preservice teachers are invited to serve as assistants for the California Mathematics Council-North (CMC-N) conference on 6-8 December 2013. In exchange for collecting evaluation forms and taking a head count during two assigned conference sessions on Saturday, assistants will receive the following benefits: 

– Free conference registration 

– Free 1-year membership in CMC including 4 copies of the ComMuniCator journal 

– One free copy of a ComMuniCator Special Conference Activity Issue 

– Five $5 vouchers toward materials sold by the vendors at the exhibit hall 

The conference brochure is now available at Also

Preservice teachers interested in this outstanding opportunity (limited to the first 60 who apply) should email Dr. Kate Reed at for a volunteer form and instructions regarding how to register for the conference. Volunteers will be notified one week before the conference with their assignment and information about where/how to check in. 


Free Presentation by Keith Devlin This Wednesday in Berkeley 

Source: Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) is hosting a free presentation by Keith Devlin on “Video Games for Mathematics” this Wednesday, October 9, from 7:00-8:15 pm. This is the second event in the new lecture series, “Not on the Test: The Pleasures and Uses of Mathematics,” which is co-presented by MSRI and Berkeley City College (BCC) and sponsored by the Simons Foundation. 

Devlin is a professor at Stanford and is known to National Public Radio (NPR) listeners as “The Math Guy.” He has developed casual games to enable children (and adults) to learn basic mathematics by “playing,” the same way we can learn music by learning to play the piano.

This free special event will be held in the Berkeley City College Auditorium. Seating in the auditorium is limited, so RSVP in order to obtain a free ticket to ensure admission:


Substantial Decline in Number of Teacher Candidates from 2005 to 2012 

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

Agenda Item 4G at the September meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) was the Annual Report Card on California Teacher Preparation Programs for the Academic Year 2011-2012. The report includes a description of credentialing requirements to teach in California public schools. In addition, it includes qualitative and quantitative information on teacher preparation programs, including pass rate data for all examinations used by the state for credentialing purposes. To review this report,

CTC’s “October Statistic” includes data and graphics showing a steady decline in the number of teaching credential program completersover a 5-year time period — from 17,603 program completers in AY 2007-08 to 11,890 in 2011-12, a reduction of over 32 percent. For more information, including a breakdown by preparation route (i.e., traditional fifth-year program, university internship program, and district internship program) visit


“STEM Central” Launched by Sally Ride Science 


Sally Ride Science ( announced yesterday the launch of STEM Central, a free web resource for educators and students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics and careers: STEM Central offers links to thousands of articles, videos, maps, animations, and other media specifically focused on the needs of educators and students. Users searching STEM Central may apply a wide variety of filters to search by topic, grade level, and media type, ensuring highly targeted results. 

“STEM Central is more than a portal to thousands of STEM resources,” says Sheryle Bolton, CEO of Sally Ride Science. “The added value here is that the links are submitted by educators and professionals in the field, and they will be continually reviewed and rated by their peers, delivering a hybrid of curated content and commentary, as well as search and social media. We think teachers will value what other educators have to say about the authenticity and usability of the resources that they find there.” 

While attending the NBC Education Nation Summit in New York that concludes today (see for the Summit schedule), Bolton noted that the current version of STEM Central is only Phase 1. “While we’re delighted to make this content available to schools, this is only the beginning. In Phase 2, teachers at large will be able to contribute their own favorite web resources, add ratings and reviews to content submitted by others, and–perhaps most importantly–share tips on classroom usage for each resource. We want STEM Central to combine the search functionality of Google with the social aspects of Yelp! and Amazon. Users themselves will add resources that they find on the web and contribute insights based on their own experience as educators.” 

All content in STEM Central Phase 1 was discovered and submitted by a team of educators, researchers, and STEM professionals engaged by Sally Ride Science to “seed” the site. In Phase 2, coming November 1, STEM Central will open up to submissions, ratings, and reviews from educators worldwide, with Sally Ride Science moderators overseeing submissions for accuracy, clarity and relevance to STEM topics and careers. 

The launch of STEM Central is part of the Company’s larger strategy for reaching more teachers and students with usable information on STEM topics and careers, according to Bolton. “We have had tremendous success with our face-to-face professional development programs for educators and our classroom materials for students. But now we are moving all of this online to reach more users and provide a more engaging learning experience for teachers and students… We believe that educators will welcome STEM Central as an easy and fun tool to keep kids engaged with STEM subjects, projects, and eventually, STEM careers.” 


Free Webinar on Thursday at 5 p.m. PT: “Opportunities for STEM Education” 

Source: Kacy Redd – SMTI Newsletter – 7 October 2013

A one-hour panel discussion on addressing current gaps in STEM education for all students and opportunities to transform STEM education across the country will be held on Thursday, October 10th at 5:00 p.m. PT. Among those featured on the panel will be Camsie McAdams from the U.S. Department of Education, Maya Agarwal Lundhagen from 100Kin10, Kacy Redd from the Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative (SMTI) of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and Becca Murday, a Teach For America alumni educator. Register for this free webinar, which is hosted by Teach for America, by going to


Open Source Mathematics Materials for English Language Learners Released 

Source: Marianne Smith
Contact: Tina Cheuk – and (650) 725-2392

Stanford University’s Understanding Language (UL) initiative has launched a set of open source mathematics materials designed for teachers of English Language Learners (ELLs). Designed to illustrate how the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in Mathematics can be used for ELL instruction, each lesson in the Supporting ELLs in Mathematics package is extensively annotated for classroom use with ELL students. Materials cover three grade spans (elementary, middle and high school) and include Principles for Mathematics Instruction and Guidelines for Design of Mathematics Instruction and Materials, together with templates for teachers to design their own tasks to support mathematics learning and language development for ELLs, which now comprise more than one in ten of the nation’s school-aged students. 

“These materials are unique in that they support classroom instruction that promotes student learning of mathematics through language, and language through mathematics. In other words, the UL resources encourage ELLs’ development of mathematical proficiency as well as the language to express that proficiency through active participation in mathematical practices and rigorous mathematical reasoning,” states Judit Moschkovich, co-chair of the UL Mathematics Work Group. 

Supporting ELLs in Mathematics is the work of a group of professional developers experienced in ELL mathematics instructional design. The UL materials were developed using research-based principles for designing mathematics instructional materials and tasks from two publicly accessible curriculum projects, Inside Mathematics ( and the Mathematics Assessment Project ( Each lesson supports students in learning to communicate about a mathematical problem they have solved, to read and understand word problems, or to incorporate mathematical vocabulary in a problem solving activity. 

The full set of open source tasks, principles, and guidelines are posted on the UL website at

For more information about Understanding Language (UL) and the Supporting ELLs in 

Mathematics materials, visit the UL website or contact UL by email: 

Related articles from Stanford University’s Understanding Language (UL) initiative:

“Graphing Quadratics” – A High School Newcomer ELL Video Set Produced by Inside Mathematics 


In this video set produced by Inside Mathematics, Carlos Cabana leads a lesson on reasoning and multiple representations around parabolas for his high school math class. The students work in groups to build sketches of parabolas which they find and link to a T-table. The students are high school Newcomer ELL students, and the class is taught in English and Spanish. The 90-minute class is divided into 13 clips with teacher commentary and video transcript. It is designed to serve as a resource for math professional developers and secondary ELL educators. 

Stanford Online Launches Free MOOC on October 21: “Constructive Classroom Conversation: Mastering Language for the Common Core State Standards”

Registration is open for “Constructive Classroom Conversation: Mastering Language for the Common Core State Standards,” a free MOOC hosted by Stanford Online with NovoEd. The course will run from October 21-December 9. For more information, visit