COMET • Vol. 19, No. 02 – 18 March 2018



(1) Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST)—Nominations Accepted Through April 1

Since 1983, the White House has recognized outstanding teachers with Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The National Science Foundation (NSF) administers PAEMST on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Award recipients receive a trip to Washington, D.C., a certificate signed by the President, and a $10,000 award from NSF.

Online nominations and applications are currently being accepted for mathematics and science (including computer science) teachers in grades K-6. The nomination cycle for teachers in grades 7-12 will take place this fall.

The nomination deadline is April 1, and the application deadline is May 1. Visit for more information, or call (855) 723-6780 (PAEMST-0).


(2) California Teacher Supply Dashboard — Search by Institution and Credential Type

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing recently updated its educator supply and demand data dashboard webpages. Use the drop-down menus on to view data and graphs for initial teaching credential production over the past five years (2012-2017) for selected campuses/agencies and by credential type (e.g., Multiple Subject, Mathematics, Physics, etc.).

For links to all educator supply and demand dashboards (e.g., number of intern, bilingual, administrative services, and designated subjects credentials produced over the past 5 years), visit


(3) California Mathematics Educator Breakfast to be Held at National Conference


A “California Breakfast” will be held this year at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., from 7-8 a.m. on Friday, April 27.

This annual networking opportunity is sponsored by Pearson Education. Donations will be used to support the California Mathematics Council’s Student Activity Trust Fund(

For more information and to make reservations, please visit


(4) Updates: 2018 California Computer Science Standards; K-8 Science Instructional Materials Review Panel Assignments

The California Computer Science Standards Advisory Committee (CS SAC) held its final meeting in January and has completed an initial draft of the K-12 Computer Science Standards. TheEducation Technology Committee of the State Board of Education’s (SBE’s) Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) will review the standards, suggest edits, confirm compliance with approved guidelines, and recommend the standards with edits/additions to the full IQC for approval at the March 22-23 IQC meeting. Upon approval, a 60-day public comment and review period will commence. An online survey to solicit comments from the field ( will also be presented for approval at the IQC meeting.

The SBE’s Computer Science Education website is the following:

Also at this week’s IQC meeting, the Science Subject Matter Committee will confirm the panel assignment of science instructional materials and content reviewers and assign commissioner facilitators to each panel. Draft panel and facilitator assignments can be found at, along with the science instructional materials each panel is charged with reviewing.

The full agenda for the IQC meeting is available at


Related News:

(a) “New Ohio Law Focuses on Computer Science, Lets Students Avoid Algebra 2” by Leo Versel

Source: Education Week – 30 January 2018

An Ohio law signed recently by Gov. John Kasich will create state standards for teaching computer science and coding to K-12 students, in a move that supporters argue will have a long-term payoff for the state’s economy and workforce…

Under the new law, Ohio districts are required to give high school students an option to replace one unit of Algebra 2 with an advanced computer science class. However, a student cannot substitute a biology or life science course for computer science under the state law….

“We know there are half a dozen states that passed similar legislation, and there is a deficiency in this skill set among K-12 students, especially in Ohio,” Rick Carfagna, a state house representative and sponsor of the legislation, said in an interview.

There are over 500,000 open computing jobs nationally, and more than 15,000 computing jobs available in the state of Ohio, said Carfagna, citing a letter from nonprofit in support of HB 170. Last year, there were only 1,137 graduates from computer science programs in the state, he added.

“We’re trying to attract the Googles and Amazons to locate their operations in Ohio,” the lawmaker said


For more details, please visit and also see the legislation at


(b) ‘Big Data’ Classes a Big Hit in California High Schools” by Carolyn Jones

Source: EdSource – 20 February 2018

Data science — the study of computer-generated “big data” — is the hottest career in the U.S., according to Glassdoor. And now it’s the hottest math class at a growing number of California high schools. About 30 high schools in California have started offering data science classes for juniors and seniors, in some cases as an alternative to Algebra 2…


(c) Webinar: “Challenges in the Computer Science Classroom: Perspectives from Students with Learning and Attention Disorders”

Source: MSPnet – 28 February 2018

On March 1, a webinar was held that describes findings from an NSF-supported study exploring ways educators and curriculum developers can make the new AP Computer Science Principles course “more accessible for these students who learn differently.” An archived video of this webinar is available online at


(5) Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan Panel is Appointed, Holds First Meeting


In late February, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson announced his appointments to the Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan Panel (CS SIPP), which aims to expand and improve computer science education statewide in grades K-12. The panel first met on March 1. The agenda for the 2-day meeting is available at

Torlakson appointed five members of the 23-member panel. “I’m excited that this panel is beginning the work of strengthening computer science education in California,” he said. “We are preparing students for today’s and tomorrow’s career and college opportunities–and for the jobs of the future that haven’t yet been invented…”

The panel will submit recommendations for a computer science strategic implementation plan to the Superintendent, the State Board, and the Legislature. The plan will include, but not be limited to, recommendations to broaden the pool of teachers to teach computer science and to ensure that all pupils have access to quality computer science courses. (See for more information about the plan.)

Visit to view the names and professional affiliations of the 23 members of the CS SIPP.

The next meetings of the panel will be held in Sacramento on April 11-12 and on June 25-26. These meetings are open to the public. For specific locations and the agendas, visit


(6) Free Professional Learning Programs for Middle/High School Teachers by

Applications are now open for the 2018-2019 Professional Learning Program for middle and high school teachers. These free programs begin with a five-day, in-person summer workshop and are accompanied by four additional one-day follow-up workshops throughout the year.

Dates and locations are assigned by region. There are eight regional partners located throughout California: Fresno, Los Angeles, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area (2), and Silicon Valley.’s curriculum provides a complete set of lesson plans that include inquiry-based activities, videos, assessment support, and educational tools. The program supports teachers with diverse teaching backgrounds as they prepare to teach either of the following courses:

(a) CS Discoveries (Gr. 6-10)

(b) CS Principles (Gr. 9-12; can be taught as an AP course)

Visit to learn more about these programs and to register.

If you have questions, please contact Hilary Dito, STEAM Coordinator at Contra Costa County Office of Education, at


(7) “Computer Science for All: Can Schools Pull it Off?” by Benjamin Herold

Source: Education Week – 19 February 2018

“ …This is the promise of the nascent ‘Computer Science for All’ movement: that the nation’s K-12 schools can prepare every student, regardless of background or career interests, to thrive in a tech-driven future…

The movement sits on a clear fault line: Should computer-science education focus on preparing students for jobs, or teaching them new ways to think and solve problems?…

Eight years ago, just 19,390 students took an Advanced Placement Computer Science exam. By last spring, that was up to 99,868—a 415 percent jump.

Janice Cuny is as responsible for that remarkable growth as anyone. Cuny is a program officer at the National Science Foundation. Since 2004, she’s been working to make the computer-science field more accessible to girls and minorities…

Cuny helped launch an effort to train 10,000 new computer-science teachers. She was instrumental in funding research into how computer science is best taught at the K-12 level. And, most significantly, Cuny played a key role in the development of two new K-12 courses, both of which have helped schools provide an introductory-level course for students who may not have prior programming experience: Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles, which debuted with huge numbers last spring, and Exploring Computer Science, now offered in more than 2,000 schools nationwide.

Those efforts helped lay the groundwork for a handful of big-city districts to embrace the “Computer Science for All” mantra…

[To read this comprehensive article in its entirety, please visit]


(8) California Ranks 5th Nationally in Advanced Placement Exam Scores for the Third Year in a Row


State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that for the third year in a row, California students placed fifth in the nation in the percentage of high school graduates who earned a score of three or more on an end-of-course Advanced Placement (AP) exam.

In 2017, 30.3% of California graduates scored at least a 3 out of 5 on an AP exam during high school (which earns the student college credit); the national average was 22.8%. In the last five years, the percentage of California students demonstrating success on AP exams has increased by more than 7.5 percentage points.

California continues to outpace the national average in advancing opportunities for students who come from low-income families. Of the 58.7% of the state’s K–12 students eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program in the Class of 2017, 45.5% took at least one AP exam. Nationally, 51.8% of U.S. public school students were low income, and 30.3% of these students took at least one AP exam.

In addition, California students have made significant gains in technical proficiency. In 2007, California had 2,921 students who took an AP Computer Science exam; by 2016, that number had grown to 10,244. After the launch of AP Computer Science Principles a year later, that number grew to 18,718. The number of students scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Computer Science exam in 2007 was 1,802 and by 2017, that number had increased to 13,481 students.


(9) Building the STEM Education Ecosystem


On March 7th, California Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on STEM Education, held a hearing at the State Capitol to discuss how the legislature can take leadership in supporting the collaboration of STEM resources among schools, the community, and business organizations statewide–the STEM education ecosystem. Those in attendance heard from educators, private industry, and STEM Collaborative representatives about best practices and the challenges they face in building a network devoted to preparing California’s students and teachers for the 21st century economy.

“We had a rigorous discussion on improving math literacy for students and parents, expanding STEM professional development for teachers, and the role business partners can play in supporting STEM and STEAM in our schools.” Thurmond said.  “Additionally, issues of access, equity, and student achievement in STEM education are statewide concerns that require state leadership.”

With the introduction of AB 2186 (, the California STEM Grant Program, Thurmond hopes to provide funding to expand and develop high-quality STEM programs to broaden student access and to recruit and retain math and science teachers.  Access to STEM education can bridge the achievement gap for children of color and will lead to increased diversity in STEM-related careers.

Participating in the hearing along with Thurmond were Assemblymembers Timothy Grayson (D-Concord), Sharon-Quirk Silva (D-Orange County), and Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park). Other speakers included Leroy Morishita, President, California State University (CSU) East Bay; Trina Ostrander, Executive Director, Institute for STEM Education; Carolyn Nelson, Dean of the College of Education, CSU East Bay; Dawn O’Connor, Alameda County Office of Education; Vince Stewart, Executive Director of the California STEM Network; Darien Louie, Executive Director, East Bay Economic Development Alliance; Bert Lubin, Dean of Pediatric Health, Benioff Children’s Hospital; and Renee Navarro, UCSF Executive Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach, UCSF/RECESS program.

The speakers supported early STEM learning, integrated content development and project-based learning, afterschool and informal learning opportunities in STEM, cultivating business mentors to show students how STEM is used in various careers, and teaching math in an enjoyable and meaningful way.

Ostrander urged launching a broad public awareness campaign about the importance of early math education and how important it is as a factor in future adult success.  “Math education at an early age is fun,” she stated. “I’m an English major, but it might be even more fun than literacy—you’ve got to tell people that!”

To watch an archived video of the hearing, visit

If you have interest in participating in or attending future STEM panels/discussions or if you are affiliated with a business that would like to partner with local schools to build makerspaces and support career technical education and STEM programs for students, contact Mary Nicely at


(10) State Board of Education Reviews Revised ESSA Plan

URL (Agenda):

Last Wednesday’s State Board of Education (SBE) meeting agenda included the following item: “Update on the Development of the California State Plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act [(ESSA)]: Approval of the Revisions to the State Plan for Resubmission to the U.S. Department of Education.”

This agenda item, including three attachments and two addenda, described the proposed revisions to the Consolidated ESSA State Plan. The agenda documents are available for download from (Item 4). The slides from the informative overview that Marguerite Ries (Federal Policy Liaison) provided are now available on this webpage:

The federal funding that ESSA (formerly NCLB) provides to California–approximately $2.8 billion–is 3% of the state’s education budget and provides about a quarter of the funds to improve services for low-income students, English language learners, and foster youth through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

For a state to obtain ESSA funds, an educational/assessment plan that tightly conforms to federal statutory requirements must be approved by the U.S. Department of Education (ED).California’s first submission (in September 2017) was answered on 21 December 2017 with a 12-page letter from ED that detailed “items that require additional information or revision” to the plan (

In response, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Board of Education President Michael W. Kirst issued the following joint statement: “California appreciates the federal government’s feedback and looks forward to the opportunity to further clarify and strengthen our Every Student Succeeds Act plan. We will be working to address technical points of clarification while noting that there are areas of disagreement over the interpretation of federal statute. California’s ESSA plan is grounded in our state’s 2013 Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) law, which emphasizes equity, public participation, and continuous improvement. Our resubmitted ESSA plan will retain those principles.”

Wednesday afternoon’s presentation, discussion, and public comments provided an opportunity to consider the results of a significant number of discussions among the California Department of Education (CDE), the SBE, and ED over the past two months. Much of the discussion focused on waivers vs. compliance, California’s School Dashboard, and ED’s primary focus on Status (current performance) as opposed to the state’s focus on both Status and Change (progress in performance over time).

In an item addendum submitted on Tuesday, the CDE recommended “that the SBE defer action on the Title I accountability items in the revised State Plan to allow for impact analysis and stakeholder feedback and consider these items in an additional SBE meeting to be scheduled.” Kirst agreed and said that this additional meeting would be held within the next month. Hence, the State Board moved to approve the revision to just a few sections of the State Plan on Wednesday (Disproportionate Rates of Access to Educators; Title III, Entrance and Exit Procedures; and McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act). At the additional meeting, a larger number of revisions will be discussed and voted upon. Among these are Status and Change, indicator-specific issues, and measurement of interim progress.

Later in the SBE meeting, Sue Burr announced, “We hope to have a new Executive Director by our June meeting. If you know of good candidates, please send them our way.”


Related articles:

(a) California’s ESSA State Plan Drafts

Source: California Department of Education

(b) California Presses Ahead with Color-coded School Reporting Plan Despite a Dig from DeVos” by Joy Resmovits

Source: Los Angeles Times – 14 March 2018

(c) “State Board Postpones Vote on Revising California’s Education Plan to Meet Federal Requirements” by John Fensterwald

Source: EdSource – 14 March 2018


(11) UC Riverside Offers Free Summer Physics Academy

The University of California, Riverside (UCR) Summer Physics Academy is a free institute for high school physics teachers that will be held on June 25-29 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. daily. The institute is a partnership between physics and astronomy faculty and the California Science Project.

The application deadline is May 4. Acceptances will be announced by May 10.

Additional details:

– Refresh your content knowledge of physics concepts.

– Participate in hands-on activities and laboratory experiences to understand NGSS instruction.

– Learn about current research performed by UCR faculty.

– Network with teachers in the region and UCR faculty.

– Lunch, UCR parking permit, and materials will be provided for each day of the academy.

– A stipend of $400 will be given to participants attending the entire 5 days.

To register, visit

Space is limited to 25 participants.  Please email Maria Simani with any questions:


Related article:

(a) “One Reason Students Aren’t Prepared for STEM Careers? No Physics in High School” by Tara Garcia Mathewson

Source: The Hechinger Report – 9 March 2018



(1) Parents Nationwide Say More Support Needed for At-Home Science Learning for Young Children

Source: Education Development Center – 1 March 2018

More than 1,400 parents were surveyed about the educational activities they do with their young children. The findings showed that far more parents would engage in science-related activities with their children if they knew how.

The survey results are captured in What Parents Talk About When They Talk About Learning: A National Survey About Young Children and Science. This new report details results of a national phone survey and in-depth interviews with parents of young children ages 3 to 6, a majority of whom (63%) were from low-income households. Many parents told researchers they think it is important to help their children learn at home, and they felt confident helping with reading and math. However, far fewer felt able to assist with science learning, and this was even more evident for parents with less education and from low-income households.

To read the report, please visit


(2) NAEP 2017 Results for Grades 4 and 8 Reading and Mathematics to be Released Next Month


On April 10, the results of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading and mathematics for grades 4 and 8 will be released. The National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees NAEP (“The Nation’s Report Card”) and is the organizer of NAEP Day, invites participation in person or via a live stream.

The schedule for the day follows below:

  • National and State Results – 7:00 to 8:45 a.m. PDT

Highlights will include the following: (a) Summary of results, (b) remarks from chief state school officers, and (c) a discussion by reading and literacy experts on the NAEP results and ways to jumpstart progress in reading achievement.

  • Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) results – 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. PDT

In addition to presenting a summary of the results of the mathematics and reading assessments for grades 4 and 8, presentations will be made by district leaders, and an interactive discussion will be held with a live national audience. Twenty-seven districts —  including Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego Unified School Districts — participated in TUDA in 2017 (see for more information about TUDA).

Please visit to register for either or both release announcements.


(3) Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Announces Free Teacher Innovator Institute


The National Air and Space Museum has announced a new free program for middle school educators. The inaugural Teacher Innovator Institute will teach educators how to bring the museum experience into their classrooms by exploring connections between informal STEM education and authentic learning. The two-week immersive program in Washington, D.C., will welcome 30 teachers from across the country in summer 2018. Applications must be submitted by April 1.

“This institute will provide teachers the opportunity to utilize the incredible resources the museum offers and design content they can use in their classrooms,” said Mark Kornmann, associate director for education and public engagement at the museum. “We encourage middle school STEM teachers with an interest in expanding their practice to include informal education techniques to apply.”

The program will include hands-on activities, museum tours, behind-the-scenes museum experiences, visits to other museums and group work. Teachers will benefit from the expertise of museum educators and content experts and be able to use aerospace science, history, and technology to shape their ideas about authentic learning and bring informal education techniques to their classrooms.

Educators in the program are asked to commit to two weeks each summer for three summers. During those two weeks, they will actively participate in sessions led by Smithsonian staff and guests, as well as propose and complete an independent project.

There is no cost to the participants. Teachers are provided with lodging, food, and travel to and within Washington, D.C. To learn more and apply for the institute, visit the museum’s website:


(4) “Pi in the Sky: Explore Space With a Slice of Pie”

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena celebrated Pi Day with its fifth annual “Pi in the Sky” illustrated math challenge, featuring pi-related space problems and other resources for teachers and students in grades 5-12; see

The “Pi in the Sky” challenge, created by JPL’s Education Office, features math problems that illustrate how pi can be used to learn about various features of the universe such as earthquakes on Mars, helium rain on Jupiter, and planets orbiting other stars.

“All of the problems in the ‘Pi in the Sky’ challenge are real problems that JPL scientists and engineers solve using pi,” said Ota Lutz, a senior education specialist at JPL who helped create the Pi Day Challenge.

“The Pi in the Sky problems give people a little glimpse into what goes on at JPL,” Lutz said. “And that’s empowering, because it shows people that they can understand some of the magic that goes into space exploration.”

Also see “Oh, the Places We Go: 18 Ways NASA Uses Pi” at



(1) “U.S. Tests Strategies to Interest Girls in Computer Science” by Leslie Hook

Source: Financial Times – 8 March 2018

(2) Science Friday: Focus on Women in Science

(a) Women in Science: An Illustrated Who’s Who
(b) The Women who Made the Internet
(c) The Women Taking Math to the Next Dimension” by Lauren J. Young
(d) Breakthrough: Portraits of Women in Science

(3) Barbie Models Doll after NASA ‘Hidden Figure’ Katherine Johnson

Source: collectSPACE – 6 March 2018

(4) The Dark Matter Sleuth: Can She Solve the Greatest Mystery in Physics?



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Carol Fry Bohlin, Ph.D.
Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator (M.A. in Education-C&I)
Director, Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI)
Reporter/Editor, California Online Mathematics Education Times (COMET)
California State University, Fresno
5005 N. Maple Ave. M/S ED 2
Fresno, CA  93740-8025