COMET • Vol. 15, No. 01 – 20 January 2014


California STEM Summit 2014

Source: Chris Roe, CEO, California STEM Learning Network
URL (CSLNet): 
URL (Summit): 

A limited number of tickets are still available for the 4th California STEM Summit, Engineering Action for Change. The Summit will be held on 4 February 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Santa Clara. Hosted by the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet), the event will gather STEM leaders from PK-12 formal and informal education, higher education, business and industry, government, and science-rich education institutions to advance a common agenda for increasing quality, equity, and innovation in STEM education throughout the state.

Visit for an overview of the program. For more information and to register, visit 


California Adopts Mathematics Instructional Materials Aligned to the Common Core State Standards

Source: California Department of Education – 15 January 2014

At its meeting last Wednesday (1/15/2014), the California State Board of Education (SBE) accepted the recommendation of the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) and approved 31 of the 35 mathematics instructional materials programs for grades K-8 that were submitted for statewide adoption consideration by a total of 17 publishers. Twenty of those selected were Basic Grade-Level programs, 10 were Algebra 1 programs, and one was an Integrated Mathematics 1 program. All are aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. See for the SBE agenda item and list of program recommendations.

“Today’s step keeps us on track toward our goal of providing students the real-world skills they will need for college and career, in part through the Common Core,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said last Wednesday. “These quality materials will help students achieve the proficiency in mathematics that California’s employers are looking for from this future workforce.”

Local school districts can now begin their own process of reviewing the materials to determine which of the adopted programs best meet the needs of their students. The adopted programs are on display for public review at Learning Resources Display Centers across the state (locations: Districts may use some of the $1.25 billion in Common Core State Standards Implementation Funds to purchase the materials (

For more information about the 2014 Mathematics Adoption process, visit the California Department of Education’s Mathematics Instructional Materials webpage:


Webinar: “CCSS-Math: Changes, Impacts, and Responses in K-12 and at California State University Campuses”

Source: WestEd

A webinar hosted by Schools Moving Up at WestEd will provide an overview of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M) and the key changes from previous standards. Mathematics preparation in the California State University (CSU) system for future teachers will be discussed during this webinar, which will be held on 30 January 2014 from 3:30-5:00 p.m. (PT). Examples from K-12 classrooms implementing changes in response to the CCSS-M will be highlighted. Webinar participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of the panelists and participate in the discussion via text chat.

This webinar, which is co-hosted by the CSU Chancellor’s Office, is aimed at a broad group of stakeholders in education–university faculty, district administrators, and coordinators of mathematics/STEM. Presenters include Joan Bissell, Cathy Carroll, Eric Hsu, Madeleine Jetter, and Barbara Shreve. 


California Science Framework – 2016 Revision

Source: California Department of Education

The 2016 revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools, K-12 is gathering considerable momentum this month. The State Board of Education approved the Science Framework development timeline last week (for details, see, and the first of five regional public focus group meetings is scheduled for this coming Saturday (1/25/2014) at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. For details about the focus group meetings, including a link to a list of members, visit

In addition, applications are now being accepted for service on the Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee to assist with the revision of the Science Framework, which will incorporate and support the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, K-12 (CA-NGSS) that were adopted by the SBE in September 2013. The deadline to apply is 3 p.m. on 16 April 2014; appointments will be made in May 2014. For an application to serve on this committee, go to Contact Dr. Bryan Boyd at or (916) 445-4910 with any questions. 

Note: The science standards can be viewed by grade level Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI): Life Sciences, Earth and Space Sciences, and Physical Sciences or by grade level Topic (e.g., Chemical Reactions, Structure and Function, or Space Systems) at


California’s New Statewide Assessment System Renamed

Source: CDE Smarter Balanced Update Issue 72 – 13 January 2014 

Previously referred to as the California Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress (CalMAPP), California’s new statewide student assessment system has been renamed the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). The CAASPP assessment system encompasses the following required assessments: 

  • Smarter Balanced system of assessments for mathematics and English-language arts
  • California Standards Tests for Science in grades five, eight, and ten
  • California Modified Assessment for Science in grades five, eight, and ten
  • California Alternate Performance Assessment for Science in grades five, eight, and ten and for mathematics and English-language arts in grades two through eleven.


Subject Specific Pedagogy Course Requirement for Adding a Single Subject Credential to an Existing Teaching Credential

Source: PSD (Professional Services Division) E-News – 17 January 2014 

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC), the accrediting body for the state’s teachers, released the following Program Sponsor Alert (PSA) last Friday:

This PSA (Subject Specific Pedagogy) clarifies (a) the requirement for single subject teacher preparation programs to offer subject specific pedagogy course(s) within the Commission-approved single subject preparation program and (b) recent changes to the Title 5 section 80499 process that requires individuals who seek to add a content area to a single subject teaching credential [(e.g., add a Foundational-Level Mathematics credential to a Physics credential)] to complete a subject specific pedagogy course. More information is available via the following link: Also see


Additional Notices from CTC: 

(a) The Committee on Accreditation (COA) has openings for two representatives from K-12 education and one opening for a representative from higher education. All application materials must be received by 5:00 p.m. on 21 February 2014. Application materials can be found on the COA webpage:

(b) Proposals from institutions wanting to sponsor subject matter programs need to be read by reviewers with expertise in the subject matter area. Anyone interested in serving as a reviewer should email contact information and subject matter content area(s) of expertise to Lynette Roby at 


President Obama Honors Outstanding Math and Science Teachers, Including California Teachers Jamie Garner and Alma Suney Park


Last month, President Obama named 102 mathematics and science teachers as recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). Each winner received a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation to be used at his or her discretion. PAEMST recipients are also invited to Washington, DC, for an awards ceremony and several days of educational and celebratory events, including visits with members of Congress and the Obama Administration. 

The PAEMST is awarded annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers from across the country. The winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, mathematicians, and educators following an initial selection process conducted at the state level. Each year the award alternates between those who teach in grades K-6 (even years) and those teaching grades 7-12 (odd years). The 2012 awardees named last month are elementary school teachers. 

California’s PAEMST recipients were Jamie Garner and Alma Suney Park. Jamie is a founding teacher of Walnut Elementary Education Center in the Turlock Unified School District, where she has taught 6th grade for the mathematics/science magnet program for six years. Jamie serves as her campus’s Pi Day Coordinator and has also served as a mentor teacher for the STEM-based Future City Competition–last year, her students placed fourth in the state. She received the Turlock Rotary Teacher of the Year award in 2012 and the Stanislaus County Teacher of the Year award in 2013. (See for more information about Jamie.) 

Alma Suney Park has taught sixth grade at Eastside College Preparatory School for the past 8 years, where she especially enjoys teaching Earth science. She incorporates driving questions that are relevant to her students’ lives and current environmental issues into her instruction. She has worked with the Teaching Channel to create science and mathematics videos aligned with the Common Core and is also a Teacher in Residence at Khan Academy. (Visit, and to learn more.) 

“These teachers play key roles in encouraging and inspiring their students with not only their expertise, but their talent and dedication,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, a longtime science teacher. “They are teaching students who could very well become the next generation of scientists and engineers our country so urgently needs.” 

To nominate a K-6 teacher for the 2014 PAEMST, visit Nominations are due by 1 April 2014. 


Free Video Series: “Science and Engineering Behind the 2014 Winter Olympic Games”

Source: National Science Foundation

The XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi are scheduled to begin on 7 February 2014. The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently partnered with the educational arm of NBC News, NBC Learn, to release a 10-part video series, “Science and Engineering of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.”

All episodes (e.g., “Engineering the Half Pipe: Shaun White”) are available free of charge at and NSF websites (, and are accompanied by both science- and engineering-focused lesson plans developed by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for middle- and high-school teachers.

The videos are the latest installment in NSF’s and NBC Learn’s “Science of Sports” series. Narrated by NBC Sports’ Liam McHugh, this video collection delves into the physics, engineering, chemistry, design and mathematics behind the world’s foremost sporting event.

“Teachers are always looking for new and innovative ways of cultivating student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math,” said David Evans, NSTA executive director. “The ‘Science and Engineering of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games’ videos provide teachers with an opportunity to connect their curriculum to real-world applications, which enhances student engagement and provides examples of how their learning is linked to events happening outside the classroom.”

The segments (each around 5 minutes long) feature a variety of sports stories as told by some of the world’s top athletes and record holders, along with perspectives and innovative research from leading NSF-supported engineers and scientists. The series’ diverse topics reveal how key engineering and science concepts and cutting-edge technology play an integral part in each athlete’s respective sport and help maximize their performance at the 2014 Sochi Games.

Visit to view the videos. (Teachers wanting to connect STEM lessons to the Super Bowl might also wish to visit to peruse the video series, “The Science of NFL Football.”) 


Federal Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriations Bill Signed by President Obama

URL (American Institute of Physics-AIP):
URL (CQ Roll Call):
URL (WH): 

Last Monday evening (January 13), a nearly 1600-page bill that was the product of extensive negotiations between the U.S. House and U.S. Senate Appropriations Committees was released. This omnibus bill, consisting of twelve individual appropriations bills funding all agencies of the federal government and totaling $1.012 trillion in discretionary spending, was passed by the U.S. House on Wednesday by a wide margin and by the U.S. Senate on Thursday night by a vote of 72-26. President Obama signed H.R. 3547, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014,” on Friday night (1/17/2014). The bill funds the federal government through the end of the fiscal year (FY), 30 September 2014.

[From AIP] Accompanying the omnibus bill is a Joint Explanatory Statement detailing program funding levels and new language about various programs. [All such statements are available as links from]

The Department of Education’s STEM education programs are funded through the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee wrote its version of the FY 2014 bill (S. 1284); …Senate Committee Report 113-71 that accompanied the bill detailed the appropriators’ recommendations for STEM programs (see…

Under the section entitled “School Improvement Programs” [labeled p. 139 in]:

…The Administration requested no funding for the Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) Program under its reorganization plan. [However,] the FY 2014 agreement provides $149.7 million [for the MSP Program]…

Another part of the Joint Explanatory Statement contains the following language regarding the Obama Administration’s initiative to restructure federal agency STEM education programs (see This appears in a section on the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP; page 36):

“Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education reorganization. — While the Congress is supportive of attempts to improve efficiency and effectiveness in Federal STEM education programs, the proposed reorganization of these programs contained in the budget request was incomplete and lacked sufficient detail. The proposal contained no clearly defined implementation plan, had no buy-in from the education community and failed to sufficiently recognize or support a number of proven, successful programs. Accordingly, the agreement does not adopt the reorganization; all STEM activities are funded in their existing programmatic structures unless explicitly noted otherwise elsewhere in this statement or through language in either the House or Senate report that is not modified or superseded by this statement.

“OSTP shall reexamine other possible reorganizations of Federal STEM programs for consideration in a future fiscal year after engaging in an inclusive development process (involving the interagency community and major external stakeholders) and taking into consideration evaluations and other evidence of program success.”

[Also within the section on the OSTP is support for neuroscience research:]

“Interagency Working Group on Neuroscience (IWGN). – The agreement incorporates language from the House report regarding OSTP’s commendable efforts to coordinate and increase neuroscience research throughout the Federal government. In recognition of the international interest in furthering neuroscience research, OSTP shall, to the extent possible, identify possible opportunities for international collaboration to further the goals and efforts of the WGN.” [Note: The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) announced last Tuesday its intent to launch a new, open access, online-only journal to serve the field of neuroscience as early as this fall.)

For more details about the Appropriations Act, visit, and

(Note to those wondering about the original name of the bill: “The bill began as the Space Launch Liability Indemnification Extension Act but was used as the vehicle for the passage of the budget deal. On January 15, 2014, the House replaced the text of this bill to turn it into the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The Senate approved the change on January 16, sending the bill to the President. The original provision of the Space Launch Liability Indemnification Extension Act was also included in the final text of the bill” — see


New Policy Brief on Preparing Teachers for the Common Core State Standards

Source: Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd
URL (Report): 

The report, Preparing for the Common Core: Using Performance Assessment Tasks for Professional Development, presents findings from three school districts in California that piloted performance assessment tasks aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The report, published by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd, describes the experiences of teachers and administrators within those districts and examines how the pilot helped them learn about and prepare for the Common Core.

The interviews also provided insights into the types of support these educators saw as important for successful implementation of the Common Core. Their experiences and insights provide critical information for district administrators throughout the state who are in the midst of selecting and/or implementing strategies to support teachers in the transition to the Common Core.

To download the report, go to 


Grants for New Math Teachers’ Circles 

Source: Math Forum Internet News – 17 January 2014
URL (Grants):

Thanks to a generous donation from Math for America (MfA), the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) recently announced seed grants of up to $2,000 for new Math Teachers’ Circles (MTCs). Preference will be given to applications received by Friday, January 31, and to those that articulate a plan to hold a workshop for teachers this summer. Visit for more information.

MTCs put middle school math teachers in regular contact with mathematicians to work collaboratively on mathematical problem solving in the context of rich problems (see Nearly three dozen states, including California, already have MTCs, and eight cities plan to roll out new circles soon. For a calendar of sessions run by these member circles, as well as AIM’s schedule of “How to Run a Math Teachers’ Circle” workshops, visit 

One of these introductory workshops will be held in Palo Alto on June 23-27. Designed for teams of five (two mathematicians, two middle school teachers, and one administrator or other organizer), the workshop is designed for those interested in starting an MTC in their area. During the weeklong workshop, teams participate in Math Teachers’ Circle sessions and also spend time planning their own Circle, including recruitment of teachers and mathematicians, logistics of a summer workshop and monthly meetings, and fundraising for long-term sustainability. Accepted teams will receive full funding for their participation. For more details, download the brochure available at


Technology News for Educators

Source: eSchool News

eSchool News provides “Technology News for Today’s K-20 Educator” on its website and to subscribers in free e-newsletters. Sample topics this week include “How to Teach Students about their Digital Footprint,” “How the ‘Four Cs’ Fit with the Common Core,” and “11 Apps for Coding: From Beginners to Masters.” Visit to learn more or to register for the newsletter(s). (Higher education faculty may want to consider subscribing to eCampus News:

Preliminary Program Now Available for the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) 2014 Conference in Irvine, CA

Source: Nadine Bezuk – AMTE Executive Director

The 2014 conference of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) will be held in Irvine, California, on February 6-8 at the Hotel Irvine Jamboree Center. The preliminary conference program is now available at

Detailed information about the conference (registration, lodging, discounted tickets to Disneyland, etc.) is available online at