COMET • Vol. 18, No. 05 – 20 August 2017


California Online Mathematics Education Times


California Department of Education Releases Series of One-Page Assessment Fact Sheets

Last week, the California Department of Education posted one-page Assessment Fact Sheets that can be used as concise descriptions of each component of the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System. The flyers, which answer “what, why, who, how, and when” about each assessment type, were designed for parents, teachers, board members, and the community.

The California Science Test (CAST) flyer, for example, contains the following description: “Currently under development, the CAST will be field-tested in 2017-18 and administered operationally in 2018-19.The CAST measures what students know and can do using the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS), which focus on understanding the concepts across such scientific areas as life science, earth and space science, and physical science. These standards use disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and cross-cutting concepts to help students understand how science works in the natural world.” This is followed by paragraphs headed by “Why is the CAST given?” “Who takes the CAST?” “How is the CAST given?” and “When is the California Science Test given?”

To download the flyers, go to

Free Online Professional Development Courses for Teachers of English Learners

Beginning October 3, Understanding Language at Stanford University ( will offer three free, online professional development courses sponsored by the Gates Foundation and S.H. Cowell Foundation to impact instructional practice, programs, and policy in order to create more meaningful learning experiences for language learners.

Registration is now open for these courses. There are two strands available for participants, one focused on instruction and the other on leadership:

Instruction-Focused Courses:

– “Constructive Classroom Conversations: Improving Student-to-Student Interactions” (10/3/2017 – 1/23/2018)

– “Integrating Language Development and Content Learning in Math: Focus on Reasoning” (10/3/2017 – 3/6/2018) The main goal of this course is to support mathematics teachers in improving their skills of hearing, seeing, and supporting students’ English language development in the context of mathematical reasoning.

Leadership-Focused Course:

– “California Leadership for English Learner Success” (10/3/2017 – 1/19/2018)

To learn more about these courses, an interactive informational webinar will be held on Tuesday, August 22, at 11 a.m. PDT. In addition, a webinar will be held on August 23 at 11 a.m. PDT to share ways that districts can maximize the usefulness of these courses in a hybrid format (e.g., online learning and face-to-face discussion in after-school meetings within professional learning communities).

To register or for more information about these courses, please visit

California Computer Science Standards Advisory Committee Appointed


At its meeting last month, the California State Board of Education (SBE) appointed 21 individuals out of the 70 who applied to participate on the Computer Science Standards Advisory Committee (CSSAC) and also approved guidelines recommended by the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) for the development of new K-12 computer science standards.

“These actions will modernize and upgrade computer science education in California” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said. “Enhancing and expanding the teaching and learning of computer science will help California’s students succeed in a fiercely competitive environment, while maintaining our state’s position as the global high-tech leader.”

To download this informative agenda item (which includes the names and affiliations of the new committee members), visit The agenda item provides background information about activities such as the three public focus group meetings held last November that informed the development of the guidelines. The CA Computer Science Focus Group Report is a summary of oral comments made at the focus group meetings and a compilation of the written comments received through December 2016 regarding the development of the CA Computer Science Standards. The report, which informed the development of the guidelines for the CSSAC, can be found on the California Department of Education Computer Science Education webpage:

A timeline for the development and approval of the California Computer Science Standards, which includes two public comment periods, is available at

A related initiative includes establishing the California Computer Science Strategic Implementation Advisory Panel, which will be tasked with considering the best and most equitable ways of implementing the new standards, including how to expand the pool of computer science teachers. Work by this panel is expected to commence in March 2018. To read the legislation that established this panel (AB 2329, signed by Governor Brown on 9/27/2016), visit

California State University Issues Executive Order Regarding Mathematics and Writing Assessment of Entering Students and Subsequent Enrollment in Credit-Bearing Courses

On August 2, the Chancellor of the California State University (CSU) system, Timothy White, sent a memorandum to CSU university presidents informing them of Executive Order (EO) 1110, “Assessment of Academic Preparation and Placement in First-Year General Education Written Communication and Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning Courses”: This EO applies to all first-time CSU freshmen matriculating in Fall 2018 and thereafter. A few excerpts follow below (emphasis added):

Freshman skills assessment and recommended placement for general education written communication and mathematics/quantitative reasoning courses shall be based on multiple measures of academic proficiency. Such measures may include high school English and mathematics/quantitative reasoning course grades, high school grade point averages, grades in collegiate courses, ACT scores, SAT scores, Advanced Placement scores, International Baccalaureate scores, SAT subject tests or Smarter Balanced Assessment/Early Assessment Program scores…

Effective with this executive order, the English Placement Test (EPT) and the Entry- Level Mathematics (ELM) Test shall not be offered, and the EPT and ELM committees are discontinued…

During the first academic year, unless the requirement has been completed, freshmen shall enroll in general education written communication and mathematics/quantitative reasoning courses appropriate to each student’s major and skill level, as demonstrated by applicable systemwide standards…

Students whose skills assessments indicate academic support will be needed for successful completion of general education written communication or mathematics/quantitative reasoning courses shall enroll in appropriate college-level, baccalaureate credit-bearing courses that strengthen skills development to facilitate achieving the appropriate general education student learning outcomes.

For more details, visit

Related articles: 

“Cal State will no Longer Require Freshman Placement Exams, Remedial Courses” by Rosanna Xia

Source: Los Angeles Times – 3 August 2017

“CSU to Overhaul Remedial Education, Replace No-Credit with Credit-Bearing Classes” by Larry Gordon

Source: EdSource – 21 March 2017


Redeveloped CSET Science Subject Matter Examinations (Single Subject)

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) recently updated Credential Leaflet CL-674S (“Single Subject Teaching Credentials–Verifying Subject Matter Competence by Examination”: to reflect the changes in the CSET (California Subject Examinations for Teachers) Science examinations that went into effect on August 7 when the CSET: Science Subtests I (118) and II (119) were replaced by the NGSS-based redeveloped CSET: Science Subtest I: General Science (215). Thus only one test, Subtest I (215), is required to demonstrate Subject Matter Competence for the Single Subject credential in Foundational-Level General Science (FLGS).

All of the content specialty science tests–CSET: Science Subtest III (120, 121, 122, and 123, for Biology/Life Science, Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, Physics, respectively)–were also replaced on August 7 with the updated tests (new test numbers for the new CSET: Science Subtest II are 217, 218, 219, and 220).

Guidance from the contracted test developer (Pearson Education; notes that examinees who have already passed 118 and 119 do not need to take 215. However, those who have passed just one of the tests (118 or 119) will need to take 215. Examinees who passed both 118 and 119 but who did not pass the appropriate CSET: Science Subtest III (120, 121, 122, or 123) by August 6 will need to take the redeveloped CSET: Science Subtest II as appropriate for their content specialty.

CTC is scheduled to set the passing standards for the new science subtests at its October 26-27, 2017 meeting. If this is accomplished, test results for all CSET science subtests (including for Multiple Subject) will be released within three weeks of the meeting.

CTC announced that CSET scorers are currently being sought. Those interested may contact Geri Roubos at or Carol Wilhelm at for more information about scorer qualifications and application procedures.

California Mathematics Council Central Section to Hold Leadership Seminar Near Yosemite in October

On Saturday, October 14, the Central Section of the California Mathematics Council (CMC) is hosting a leadership seminar at Tenaya Lodge (near Yosemite National Park) with Timothy Kanold (@tkanold), past president of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM).

Cindy Fukuyama, CMC Central President-Elect, stated, “The morning session will focus on how we pull meaningful change forward via the power of vision. In the afternoon session, we will examine how to create a culture of risk-taking and effective change in a way that actively engages all teachers. Each participant will also receive lunch and a free copy of [Kanold’s] new book Heart!”

To register for this event ($50 fee), visit For more information, email Cindy at

Regular Registration Period for 2017 California STEAM Symposium Ends September 30


Regular registration for the 2017 California Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Symposium ends on September 30. “The inclusion of Art recognizes the role creativity and design thinking plays in students’ learning. By braiding together Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math, like the strands of a rope, students learn to think critically and flexibly, preparing them for fulfilling, 21st-century careers.”

The symposium will be held on December 10-11 at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco. To register and for more information, visit Questions may be directed to    


Resources for the “Great American Solar Eclipse” that will be Experienced Across the Continental United States on Monday, August 21

The first total solar eclipse to cross the continental United States from coast to coast since 1918 will occur tomorrow, August 21. Anticipation has been building throughout the nation, and millions of excited citizens and travelers will be within the “path of totality.” Visit for an article about the duration of totality at various locations. The maximum duration will be experienced close to Hopkinsville, Kentucky: 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

Below are some resources for the solar eclipse:

• Eclipse Simulators (eclipse views for a given location)

(a) Eclipse Megamovie 2017 Simulator (UC Berkeley, Google):

(b) Eyes on the Solar System (NASA): and

• Media Coverage of the Solar Eclipse 

(a) Live-Video Streams:

(b) NASA TV Coverage:

(c) “Can’t be there? How to watch solar eclipse on TV, online” (AP News):

• Free Mobile Apps: 

(a) Eclipse Safari (“comprehensive interactive guide”) by makers of SkySafari 5 in collaboration with

– iOS:

– Android:

(b) NASA Citizen Scientist (“NASA invites eclipse viewers around the country to participate in a nationwide science experiment by collecting cloud and air temperature data and reporting it via their phones”):

(c) Eclipse Megamovie:

• Free Online Book: Observe Eclipses! 


• NPR Videos

“Skunk Bear is NPR’s science YouTube channel, exploring the secrets of the universe, the wonders of nature, and answering your science questions.” NPR’s Adam Cole presents two eclipse-related videos:

(a) “5 Safe Ways to View the Eclipse”:

(b) “How Eclipses Changed History”:

• TED Talk 


In his 12-minute TED Talk, science writer David Baron, a self-described “eclipse evangelist,” describes the brief minutes of totality as life-changing, saying, “Before you die, you owe it to yourself to experience a total solar eclipse. It is the ultimate experience of awe.” (Personal note: As a young girl, I experienced the 1970 total solar eclipse in South Carolina, and it is indeed a vivid memory.) Baron’s presentation video includes graphics of the path of three of the five solar eclipses that the United States will experience over the next 35 years (dates: 21 August 2017, 8 April 2024, and 12 August 2045).


White House Confers with Industry and Education Leaders Regarding STEM Education


Reed S. Cordish has served as Assistant to the President for Intragovernmental and Technology Initiatives since January 17. In this position, he has been responsible for Presidential initiatives that require multi-agency collaboration and that focus on technological innovation and modernization (

Cordish is a key member of the White House Office of American Innovation (OAI). Individuals involved have hosted a number of listening and working sessions with numerous private-sector CEOs, business and education leaders, and senior Government officials (

Bloomberg reports that this outreach includes seeking advice on shaping funding approaches to STEM education in U.S. public schools. On July 26, Cordish and Ivanka Trump led a conference call to discuss STEM education. “Participants on the roughly hour-long call included Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson; Accenture North America’s CEO Julie Sweet, Microsoft President Brad Smith; Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson; and representatives from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Stanford, MIT, and Broward County (Florida) Schools” (

Related News: 

“Betsy DeVos, Ivanka Trump Team up for Girls’ Reading Event at Smithsonian Museum” by David Caplan

Source: ABC News – 26 July 2017

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos teamed up with Ivanka Trump on July 25 at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where the pair read to a group of girls in an effort to excite them about STEM.

The pair took turns reading Rosie Revere Engineer–which Trump said is her 6-year-old daughter Arabella’s favorite book–to a group of 6-to-10-year-olds from the Boys and Girls Club and a local YMCA in the Washington, D.C., museum’s SparkLab…

Secretary DeVos Accepts President Trump’s Q2 Salary as a Donation for STEM-Focused Camp

Source: U.S. Department of Education – 26 July 2017


Newly-Signed GI Bill includes STEM-related Education Support for Veterans


On Wednesday, August 16, President Trump signed H.R. 3218, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017.The text of the bill is available at and an overview of its impact on veterans is available at

This significant bill includes the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship, which provides eligible veterans with support for an undergraduate STEM degree or a postbaccalaureate degree leading to a teaching credential in a STEM subject. See the text of this bill or more information: (The effective date of implementation is given as 1 August 2019.)

Another STEM-related program within this bill is the Department of Veterans Affairs High Technology Pilot Program, which “shall provide eligible veterans with the opportunity to enroll in high technology programs of education that the Secretary determines provide training or skills sought by employers in a relevant field or industry.” The instruction would “provide instruction in computer programming, computer software, media application, data processing, or information sciences” but not be at an institution of higher education or lead to a degree.

STEM Education Identified as a Fiscal Year 2019 Research and Development Federal Budget Priority

URL (Memo): 

On August 17, a memorandum was sent to the heads of Executive departments and agencies from Mick Mulvaney (Director, Office of Management and Budget) and Michael Kratsios (Deputy Assistant to the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy) regarding the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 research and development (R&D) budget priorities.

The memo stated that “American leadership in science and technology is critical to achieving this Administration’s highest priorities: national security, economic growth, and job creation,” and included a list of priorities, including the following on STEM education:

R&D Workforce and Infrastructure Developing a Future-Focused Workforce

The Administration is committed to improving the technical training of the American workforce through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education and apprenticeships. Emerging technologies will present tremendous opportunities for new job creation, but will also require a technically skilled and capable workforce to meet demand. In order to maintain American competitiveness and help ensure that the domestic workforce is available and qualified for the jobs of the future, agencies should incorporate STEM education, including computer science education, and workforce training opportunities into their programs. Agencies should give priority to policies and actions that place an emphasis on expanding the STEM workforce to include all Americans, both urban and rural, and including women and other underrepresented groups in STEM fields. In order to track improvements in these areas, agencies should develop quantitative methods or metrics and collect data to analyze the effectiveness of the STEM programs.

Related Note: 

Visit to view a video produced by Bloomberg that provides “an overview of the fiscal year 2018 federal budget and appropriations process and what to expect when Congress returns after August recess.”

National Science Board Seeks Nominations for Appointments to the National Science Board

Source: National Science Foundation

The National Science Board (NSB; Board) is accepting nominations for the class of 2018-2024 until 15 September 2017.

Every two years, the Board solicits recommendations for new members from leading scientific, engineering, and educational organizations, as well as the public. NSB considers all completed nominations and then makes its recommendations to the Administration. The President decides whom to appoint to the 24-member Board.

The Board is an oversight and governance board, not an honorary board or an advisory committee. Members must devote considerable time to meet their responsibilities.

The NSB also provides the President and Congress with a biennial report on U.S. progress in science and technology, Science and Engineering Indicators, providing comparisons to other nations in the areas of research and development, STEM education, and workforce training. The President appoints Board members for six-year terms and may reappoint members for a second term. Members are drawn primarily from universities and industry and selected for their eminence in research, education, and records of distinguished service.

Visit for more information.

NCTM President’s Monthly Messages and Related Webinars

Source: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Last month, Matt Larson, President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), held an online discussion of his May 2017 President’s Message, “Math Education is STEM Education.” A recording of this discussion, as well as the webinar chat, is available at

Also available on this page are recordings of two earlier webinars, also based on Larson’s monthly messages:

– “The Elusive Search for Balance”

– “A Perfect Storm of Data: We Must Take Action!”

This month’s President’s Message is entitled “Setting Goals for a New School Year”:

NCTM will be celebrating its centennial in 2020 and its board has been engaging in strategic re-envisioning discussions. Larson will host a webinar on 27 September 2017 at 4 p.m. PDT to “discuss the current state of NCTM and the plan moving forward.” To participate in this webinar, visit

NCTM also hosts online author talks (see The next author talk is on Reimagining the Mathematics Classroom, a book written by California mathematics educators Cathery Yeh, Mark Ellis, and Carolee Koehn Hurtado:

Webinar on Grant Opportunities for Mathematics Teachers

The Mathematics Education Trust (MET), established by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), has oversight of nearly 30 grants that are awarded each year to mathematics educators at all levels (PK-College) for projects, professional learning experiences, lesson design, and more. Visit to review the list of grants. The grant award amounts are substantial, and most, but not all, of the grants require individual or institutional membership in NCTM.

A webinar introducing the scholarships and grants available from MET will be held on Wednesday, 6 September 2017, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. PDT. For more information, visit