COMET • Vol. 14, No. 12 – 13 November 2013



California Mathematics Framework Approved by the State Board of Education

URL (SBE Agenda):
URL (Webcast):
URL (Framework): 

At its meeting last Wednesday (6 Nov 2013), the California State Board of Education (SBE) unanimously approved the draft Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools, a document developed to provide instructional guidance for teachers and administrators in implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS; The Mathematics Framework provides grade-level explanations and examples of the Standards for Mathematical Practice and Content, integrating mathematical thinking and conceptual understanding with procedural skills and applications. 

“The new Framework helps teachers to have students apply mathematics to new and different content areas and contexts,” SBE President Michael Kirst said. “The Framework moves beyond students just memorizing rules to solve math problems by asking them to make complex inferences, estimates, and models that are part of the Common Core.” Kirst also noted that “the ACT and the SAT are both being aligned to Common Core–the ACT in 2014 and the SAT in 2015…We’re working with the University of California–they are revising the a-g requirements around the Common Core.” 

In his request that the SBE adopt the Mathematics Framework, Tom Adams (Director of the Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division at the California Department of Education–CDE) asked the SBE to also “authorize CDE staff, SBE staff, and SBE members and appropriate [Instructional Quality Commission] members to review and approve edits recommended for final publishing of the document and accept proposed changes from Dr. [Bruce] Arnold [regarding updates in the discussion about the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Program]. Adams noted that this Framework “is a dynamic document that will improve over the next eight years.” 

SBE Member Patricia Rucker stated that she believes “this Framework brands an attitude and an approach to math instruction in California that will be very unique and very different over time, that I think that will change what we view as the norms of students’ participation, attitudes, and values about math instruction.” 

Sherry Griffith, representing the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), stated, “We are indeed a proponent of the recommendation… What our members really like about this new framework [is] that there are examples provided for instruction and learning… We would recommend that we see the same in the ELA and the Science Frameworks… [Our members] also like knowing right away what is new at that grade level… We need to continue to advocate for those students who can begin to accelerate and move into Algebra I more quickly… We will do our best to make sure that the field is using this on a daily basis for their work…” 

Bill Honig, Chair of the Instructional Quality Commission, noted that the CCSS and the new assessments “really require a somewhat major shift in instruction [necessitating] a tremendous investment in professional development, as has been proposed.” 

On a related note, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced yesterday (12 Nov 2013) that districts just received the second half of a $1.25 billion block grant from the state (approximately $200 per student) to support their move to the Common Core academic standards. Districts may spend these funds on training teachers, buying new materials, or purchasing technology, as long as the expenditures support the implementation of the CCSS. For more information, visit


California Adopts Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Middle Grades Learning Progressions as Preferred Instructional Model

Contact: California Department of Education
URL (SBE Agenda):
URL (Webcast):

On November 6, the State Board of Education (SBE) heard Agenda Item 6: “Adoption of recommended Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, K-12 learning progressions for middle grades 6-8…” After more than an hour of Board discussion and public testimony (most of which strongly supported the proposed integrated learning progressions model), the California State Board of Education approved the following modified recommendation: 

“The Superintendent recommends that: 

– The California SBE adopt the proposed integrated model as the preferred model for middle grades science instruction. 

– The SBE requests the CDE to reconvene the Science Expert Panel [(a group of 27 teachers, scientists, educators, business and industry representatives, and informal science educators convened earlier in the year by Supt. Torlakson to review the NGSS)] to develop as an alternative model a discipline specific model based upon the domain specific model that is outlined by Achieve in the NGSS Appendix K.” 

Note: For more information on the domain specific model, see pages 22-23 of Appendix K at For more information on the California Integrated Learning Progressions Model, see pages 20-21 in NGSS Appendix K. 

In a statement representing the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), Sherry Griffith stated that ACSA would support the SBE in whatever was approved but that implementation (e.g., teacher professional development and evaluation) would be key. She floated an idea that the SBE consider “allowing districts to have a waiver for using an alternative [domain specific] model when they can demonstrate that it’s more equitable for students, because one of the biggest concerns that we have about this is about equity of access to content knowledge and expertise of the teachers.” 

Dean Gilbert, former President of the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and SEC member, gave an impassioned plea for the integrated model: “The underlying philosophy of NGSS begs integration–it is the essence of how scientists work and therefore our students, to become scientifically literate, need to mimic that type of work. Scientists don’t work in a vacuum; they don’t work in isolated silos. It represents an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to solving problems. The underlying pedagogical tenets to both NGSS and Common Core hence should reflect how we teach science to our students.” 

Maria Simoni, Executive Director of the California Science Project (CSP) and member of the SEP noted that the CSP has been delivering successful professional development on the NGSS and that while teachers find the integrated learning progressions model challenging, they also grow to gain an “appreciation for the complexity that reflects a coherent and focused organization of the many but necessary parts of the document… Teachers do realize that the potential benefit of the new NGSS, including the middle school progressions, grounded in reasoning, sense-making, and integration of the three dimensions of the NGSS, is superior for student learning.” 

As a former 10th grade biology teacher, Supt. Tom Torlakson spoke in favor of the integrated approach. In a later statement, Torlakson asserted, “This decision means that all students–from kindergarten through graduation–will have a smooth learning transition from grade to grade. California’s economy and status rest in part on our leadership in science and technology, and these standards will help ensure our students will graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed outside our classrooms.” 

The Science Expert Panel is expected to provide recommendations to the SBE by either the March or May 2014 SBE meeting, prior to the appointment of candidates who will serve on the Science Framework committee (selection expected in July 2014).

For more information, visit To view the archived webcast of the SBE meeting, visit

Related Article: 

“Middle School Science Standards Divide Teachers” by Kathryn Baron

Source: EdSource – 4 November 2013

…Bruce Alberts, a member of the state’s Science Expert Panel,… acknowledges that the transition will be a process for teachers. “You’re going to stumble the first year, the second year will be a little bit better; by the third year, you’ll be happy you did it,” said Alberts, a biochemist at the University of California, San Francisco, when asked how he would respond to skeptical teachers. 

Alberts was a long-time president of the National Academy of Sciences and editor-in-chief of Science magazine. Yet, his grandson hates science and, given the way it has been taught in California, he’s not surprised… 

“What he was learning was to dislike having to memorize all these words in science and not really getting any understanding for the beauty of the world around him, which is what we really want people to get out of education,” Alberts said. 

The Next Generation Science Standards put students in the role of scientists–teaching them to observe, to ask questions and make rational decisions about the world around them. But discipline-based science threatens that method of learning because it doesn’t give students all the information they need to make connections, Alberts said… 


Focus Group Members Sought for Science Framework Revision

Source: California Department of Education

The California Department of Education (CDE) is recruiting members for four focus groups across California to solicit input on the revision of the 2016 Science Framework for California Public Schools Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (Science Framework). The Science Framework will be revised to incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards for California’s Public Schools, K-12, adopted by the California State Board of Education in September 2013, and to reflect current research in science instruction. The focus group meetings will be open to the public, and comments made at each meeting will be forwarded to the Instructional Quality Commission and the State Board of Education for consideration. Each focus group will include between 10 and 15 invitees, who will be selected to ensure balanced representation of regions, types of schools, and grade-level experience. 

The Focus Group application is available at Applicants will select from among the following Focus Group locations/dates/times: 

– Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA – January 25, 2014 (10AM–12PM) 

– Orange County Office of Education, Costa Mesa, CA – January 31, 2014 (4:30–6:30PM) 

– California Department of Education (CDE), Sacramento, CA (Via Teleconference in Siskiyou, Humboldt, and Shasta) – February 4, 2014 (4–6PM) 

– San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego, CA – January 30, 2014 (5–7PM) 

– Fresno County Office of Education, Fresno, CA – February 11, 2014 (4–6PM) 

It is anticipated that a new Science Framework will be adopted in January 2016 and that new instructional materials for science will be adopted in 2017/2018. 


E-News Bulletins Provide the Latest Information about California’s Implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and Smarter Balanced Assessments, as well as Developments in Teacher Credentialing

The California Department of Education (CDE) and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) produce informative e-newsletters to keep California educators apprised of the latest news and information related to Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Smarter Balanced assessments, and teacher credentialing. 

Barbara Murchison (Common Core Systems Implementation Office, CDE) recently told the Fresno Bee that “what teachers will need to successfully transition to Common Core is readily available on the CDE website…The site includes video tutorials and a recommended curriculum for each grade level” (see She added that “less than 2% of the state’s 300,000 teachers subscribe to the state’s Common Core information email list” ( Information on subscribing to this list and others is available below: 

(a) CCSS Update from CDE 
Description: A weekly newsletter with timely information related to CCSS developments and implementation 
To subscribe: Send a blank e-mail message to 

(b) NGSS Update (CDE) 
Description: A weekly news bulletin with news and information regarding the NGSS 
To subscribe: Send a blank e-mail message to 

(c) Smarter Balanced Update (CDE) 
Description: A bimonthly report covering current and upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) activities 
To subscribe: Send a blank e-mail message to 

(d) PSD News (CTC) 
Description: A regular (often 3-4 times monthly) newsletter on matters related to teacher credentialing from the Professional Services Division (PSD) of CTC (
To subscribe: Send an email message to 


Mathematics Subject Matter Programs are Required to Submit CCSS Alignment Matrix to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing by Next June

Contact: Rebecca Parker –

All approved Mathematics Subject Matter Programs (those designed to allow mathematics teaching credential candidates to waive the CSET: Mathematics assessments) must review their courses of study to ensure that the programs are incorporating the new subject matter requirements (SMRs) based on the new California Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Programs must submit a new Alignment Matrix to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) by June 2014. A revised alignment matrix is available on the CTC website at This task doesn’t require a major reorganization or a resubmission of the program–the completed alignment matrix will suffice. Submit the completed alignment matrix to For more information, contact Rebecca Parker ( To view comparisons between the 2009 and 2013 versions of the SMRs, download the following document:


California Subject Matter Project Sites Provide CCSS Professional Development Support for Teachers


The California Subject Matter Project (CSMP) is a network of nine discipline-based projects that provide rigorous professional development designed by K-12 and university educators to enhance learning for all students. Through more than 90 regional sites statewide, CSMP creates communities of practice that promote high-quality teaching, leadership, and equity. The CSMP has produced a 2-page informational flyer about CSMP Common Core State Standards (CCSS) initiatives and contact information for each of the nine projects (download from link above). 

Excerpt: “The process of introducing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) into schools is a complex task, and an urgent one, and K-12 teachers and administrators represent the front line. As California implements the CCSS, ELD and state content standards, the California Subject Matter Project (CSMP) becomes a critical resource for teachers, schools, and districts throughout the state. CSMP professional development programs support teachers’ use of standards and literacy strategies to foster achievement among all students, especially English Language Learners and students with low literacy and content area knowledge. Within the CSMP programs, a core group of experienced teacher leaders and university faculty collaborates with K-12 educators to engage students in rigorous academic work, bolstering the state’s efforts to implement the new standards and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium assessments. CSMP also addresses the needs of California’s diverse students by ensuring that they acquire the content knowledge to succeed in college and in their chosen careers.” 


UCLA Mathematics Department Newsletter Profiles California Mathematics Project Leaders

Source: Tsai-Tsai O-Lee – California Mathematics Project (

The Fall 2013 issue of the UCLA Department of Mathematics Newsletter includes articles about Susie Hakansson and Bruce Rothschild, who recently retired from their positions as Executive Director and Faculty Adviser, respectively, of the California Mathematics Project (CMP). Also included in this issue is a small article about the research conference, “Spectral Theory and Partial Differential Equations,” which was held in honor of the 70th birthday of James Ralston, a UCLA mathematics professor who is currently serving as Faculty Adviser for the CMP. The newsletter is available online at


California’s First Annual STEM Symposium will be Held Next Week in Sacramento

Source: Jim Greco ( – California Department of Education

Visit the STEM California website ( for updates on California’s First Annual STEM Symposium, which will be held in Sacramento on 18-19 November 2013. For the symposium program, see To view/download presentation handouts and other resources,


Results of 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress in Mathematics and Reading Show Modest Gains in Both Subjects

Sources: U.S. Department of Education; California Department of Education


The 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Reading and Mathematics Report Card was released last Thursday (7 Nov 2013). U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan noted that the report card “provides encouraging but modest signs of progress in reading and math for U.S. students.” 

“In 2013, reading and math scores edged up nationally to new highs for fourth and eighth graders. It is particularly heartening that reading scores for eighth graders are up, after remaining relatively flat for the last decade. 

“Achievement among the largest minority group in our nation’s public schools–Hispanic students–is also up since 2011. And higher-achieving students as a whole are making more progress in reading and math than in recent years. 

“While progress on the NAEP continues to vary among the states, all eight states that had implemented the state-crafted Common Core State Standards at the time of the 2013 NAEP assessment showed improvement in at least one of the Reading and/or Mathematics assessments from 2009 to 2013–and none of the eight states had a decline in scores. 

“While fourth and eighth grade achievement in math and reading has edged upward nationally since 2011, the increases are generally modest. And while students in each racial group identified in the NAEP showed improvement in some areas, it is very troubling that achievement gaps between white and black students, and white and Hispanic students, failed to narrow from 2011 to 2013. 

“Even with the modest increase in math and reading achievement on the 2013 NAEP, U.S. students are still well behind their peers in top-performing nations…” 

In California, the average eighth grade math score was 276, an increase of 3 points from 2011 to 2013. Scores were also up for all subgroups, including students of color, socioeconomically disadvantaged pupils, children with disabilities, and English learners. The gap in scores between higher achieving students and African American and Hispanic students narrowed slightly. Although the average fourth-grade math score (234) remain relatively unchanged from 2011 to 2013, there was a narrowing in scores between higher achieving students and Hispanic students. 


Free Online Documents for Teaching Geometry According to the Common Core Standards

Source: Hung-Hsi Wu

UC Berkeley mathematics professor Hung-Hsi Wu has posted online two documents that are “designed to help teachers, especially high school teachers, to negotiate the geometry standards in the CCSSM. At a time when mathematically accurate documents of this type are rare, they may be a contribution to the nation’s effort in implementing the CCSSM.” Please visit the websites below to access these free documents. (The Preface of each provides an overview of the document, including the purpose and intended audiences.) 

(a) Teaching Geometry According to the Common Core Standards [Gr. 4-High School] 

(b) Teaching Geometry in Grade 8 and High School According to the Common Core Standards 


Educational Video Games can Boost Motivation to Learn

Source: NYU (New York University) News – 6 November 2013

Math video games can enhance students’ motivation to learn, but the effect may depend on how students play, researchers at New York University and the City University of New York have found in a study of middle-schoolers. 

While playing a math video game either competitively or collaboratively with another player–as compared to playing alone–students adopted a mastery mindset that is highly conducive to learning. In addition, students’ interest and enjoyment in playing the math video game increased when they played with another student. Students playing under competitive situations performed best in the game. 

“The increased interest we observed in the competitive and collaborative conditions suggests that educational games can promote a desire to learn and intentions to re-engage in the material, and in the long run, may create independent and self-determined learners,” notes researcher Paul O’Keefe, now at Stanford University. 

For more details about the study, visit the website above. 


“Schools Signing Up for the Hour of Code” by Laura Devaney

Source: eSchool News – 12 November 2013

The Hour of Code is an initiative that asks students, teachers, parents, and schools to introduce students to computer programming during Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) — December 9-15 — for just one hour. Activities include introductions that teach students coding basics, JavaScript, “Robot Vocabulary” and unplugged computer science, how to create your own app, and more. 

Students are encouraged to sign up for the Hour of Code, and teachers are encouraged to highlight Hour of Code activities in their classrooms. 

More than 11,000 coding and computer science events are planned, involving nearly 1.8 million students in 144 countries. For more information, visit 


Related Article:

“Is Coding the New Second Language?” by Peg Tyre

Source: Smithsonian Magazine

…Maurya Couvares, co-founder of ScriptEd, and a lot of other savvy people, think more high school students will need to engage in [computer programming]. “Coding will be the key to innovation in the future but many students, especially low-income students, aren’t exposed to it,” she says. Tech moguls including Bill Gates, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Meg Whitman from Hewlett-Packard agree with her. They’ve thrown their weight behind, a new nonprofit whose “learn to code” videos have gone viral. They say that coding, programming and computer science will be the language of the 21st century. “In a world that’s increasingly run on technology, computer science is a liberal art that every student should be exposed to, regardless of their path in life,” says’s Hadi Partovi… 

Also visit to view an interesting infographic, “Where a STEM Education Can Take You.” 


“I Am Woman: Watch Me Hack” by Catherine Rampell

Source: The New York Times (Magazine – 22 October 2013)

…Just 0.4 percent of all female college freshmen say they intend to major in computer science. In fact, the share of women in computer science has actually fallen over the years. In 1990-91, about 29 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded in computer and information sciences went to women; 20 years later, it has plunged to 18 percent. Today, just a quarter of all Americans in computer-related occupations are women… 

A study financed by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media ( found that recent family films, children’s shows, and prime-time programs featured extraordinarily few characters with computer science or engineering occupations, and even fewer who were female… 

Most elementary and public schools don’t teach computer science, said Cameron Wilson, the chief operating officer at, a nonprofit that advocates for greater access to computer-science education. The few that do usually only teach how to use technology (creating a PowerPoint presentation, for example) rather than how to create it… 

There are skills gaps throughout sectors of our economy, particularly in health care and advanced manufacturing. But nowhere, arguably, are workers leaving more money and benefits on the table than computer science… 


Related Articles and Websites: 

Girls Who Code 


Launched in Spring 2012, Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors. With support from public and private partners, Girls Who Code works to educate, inspire, and equip high school girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in computing fields. 

“How Harvey Mudd Transformed Its Computer Science Program — And Nearly Closed Its Gender Gap” by Colleen Taylor

Source: TechCrunch – 10 October 2013

Harvey Mudd is known as one of the most elite science, engineering and mathematics colleges in the world. But historically, its computer science department hasn’t exactly been known as a paragon of gender diversity–in 2006, only 10 percent of Harvey Mudd’s computer science majors were female. 

But under Dr. Maria Klawe, the renowned computer scientist (and Microsoft board member) who joined Harvey Mudd as president in 2006, the gender ratio at Mudd’s CS department has changed dramatically. This year, fully 48 percent of the CS majors in Harvey Mudd’s junior class are female… 

“Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?” by Eileen Pollack

Source: 3 October 2013

Women in STEM Knowledge Center


The Women in STEM Knowledge Center (WSKC) powered by WEPAN (Women in Engineering ProActive Network) supports efforts to increase the number and prominence of diverse communities of women in STEM by providing an online community of practice with both resources and collaborative workspaces.