COMET • Vol. 18, No. 03 – 22 April 2017



Better Together: California Teachers Summit 2017 to be Held Statewide on July 28


The third Better Together: California Teachers Summit, a free professional development opportunity for PK-12 teachers, will be held on 28 July 2017 at sites throughout the state. To view a list of these sites by region and to register for the Summit, visit

At each of the past two summits, participants have been inspired by several keynote speakers and have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to network with other teachers. Better Together also has a social media presence throughout the year:

– Facebook:

– Twitter:

Speaker Proposals are Now Being Accepted for the 2017 California STEAM Symposium

The fifth annual California STEM Symposium has added the Arts for 2017, becoming the STEAM Symposium. The Thematic Strands reflect the importance of braiding together science, technology, engineering, and math with art and design thinking. Educators are encourages to submit a proposal at to share teaching strategies and classroom practices with colleagues (submission deadline: June 16).

To learn more about the symposium, which will be held in San Francisco on December 10-11, visit

Over 70 California Teams are Competing in the FIRST Robotics Championship

URL (Championship): 

This weekend, FIRST Robotics teams are participating in the first of two Championship tournaments. This week’s series of competitions is being held in Houston at the George R. Brown Convention Center and Minute Maid Park (home of the Houston Astros), and next week’s championship tournaments will be held in St. Louis on April 26-29.

West Coast teams are competing this week in Houston. Visit for a list of the competing teams (including the 74 robotics teams from California and to view their performance. (Click on the number of the team.)

The competitions and the awards ceremony are broadcast live today (April 22) at

The California Alliance for Next Generation Science Standards Launches CA4NGSS Communications Toolkits

Source: Californians Dedicated to Education

The California Alliance for Next Generation Science Standards (CA4NGSS) facilitates collaboration among education, business, government, and community leaders to support effective and timely implementation of NGSS throughout California. Alliance members include organizations representing pK-12, college and university educators and administrators, science museums and centers, afterschool programs, professional learning providers, parents, students, businesses, public policymakers, and philanthropy.

…You will find news and resources to support the implementation of NGSS in California [at This includes the CA4NGSS Communications Toolkits, which were developed to] provide education stakeholders in California with ready-to-use resources to introduce and communicate the value and intention of the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS)…and support communication with teachers and principals, parents, and district leaders…

Prepared for the CA4NGSS by the CDE (Californians Dedicated to Education) Foundation, the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA), and Children Now, with support from member organizations, the content of these materials represents coalition member input but does not reflect each member organization’s formal endorsement. [These open-source materials may be personalized and tailored to] target audiences.
A webinar introducing the CA4NGSS Communications Toolkits was held on March 22. A recording of the webinar is available for viewing at During the webinar, attendees learned about the tools and their intended use for various audiences. A panel shared examples of how they have adapted them for use at the local level.

Jessica Howard, STEAM Initiatives Program Director at CDE, invites you to contact her at with any questions. “We welcome feedback and requests for other resources that will support your efforts to raise awareness about the CA-NGSS and to make science and engineering education a top priority in all K-12 public schools and districts in California.”

Related article:

“Don’t Wait to Communicate About NGSS: Tools Available NOW!” by Lisa Hegdahl (President, California Science Teachers Association)

Source: California Classroom Science – March/April 2017

EduCorps Website Offers Resources and Networking Opportunities for Prospective PK-12 Teachers

Contact: Ken Futernick –

EduCorps is an initiative sponsored by the California State University (CSU) system to help recruit and support prospective PK-12 teachers, including high school students, college/university undergraduates, and career changers.

A new website,, seeks to provide a variety of resources for those interested in teaching. Opportunities for networking with other EduCorps members is also provided for those who sign up via this website (see and

Links to CSU teacher preparation programs and information about advisors can be found at

If you have students who you feel would benefit from this information and an online professional community, please recommend that they visit

For future information or to update advisor information on the website, please contact Program Coordinator Ken Futernick at

Related item:

Free Online Job Fair for STEM Teaching Positions

Source: Education Week – 14 April 2017 

Education Week’s TopSchoolJobs is hosting a free, online job fair on Thursday, April 27, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. PT. Participants can chat one-on-one with recruiters in California and across the nation who seek to fill STEM teaching positions. To participate, register at

Redeveloped CSET Multiple Subject Subtest II and CSET Single Subject Science Subtests in 2017

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing – PSD (Professional Services Division) E-News – 14 April 2017 

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) announced that beginning on Monday, 7 August 2017, redeveloped versions of the CSET: Multiple Subject Subtest II and [Single Subject] CSET Science subtests that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) will be in place for candidates seeking a California Preliminary Multiple Subject Credential or a Single Subject Science Credential.

Registration and additional information pertaining to these redeveloped subtests, including test information and preparation materials, will be available on the exam’s website later this month (April 2017); see The Commission is scheduled to set the passing standards for these subtests at its October 26-27 meeting. If this is accomplished, test results will be released within three weeks of the meeting.


Related information:

Regulations Take Effect for Extended Period of Validity for Scores on Teaching Exams (e.g., CSET)

The Office of Administrative Law approved amendments to sections of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations (“Ed Code”) pertaining to the period of validity of examination scores used toward obtaining a credential or other teaching or services authorization. Previously, the period of validity of exam scores was 5 years, unless otherwise set by statute or another regulation. The new period of validity is 10 years. The regulations became effective on 1 April 2017. Full details of this change are available at

Students Enrolled in Teacher Preparation Programs are Invited to Apply for CTC’s 2017-2018 Educator Preparation Student Liaison Position

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) –

Each year, the Executive Committee of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing appoints one student enrolled in an educator preparation program to serve as a non-voting liaison to the Commission. The Educator Preparation Student Liaison serves as an advisor on the views and experiences of students to the Commission.

The Liaison will serve a one-year term from 1 October 2017 through 30 September 2018, during which time he or she must be enrolled in a Commission-approved teacher preparation program. The estimated time commitment required for the student liaison will be at least two consecutive business days approximately every other month to attend regular Commission meetings in Sacramento, sufficient time to read the agenda materials prior to the meeting, and time needed to travel to meetings. Travel costs will be covered by the Commission.

To apply, please visit Applications must be postmarked by 17 July 2017.

Mathematics and Science Teachers are Invited to be Members of the Digital Library State Network of Educators

Contact: California Department of Education

The Smarter Balanced Digital Library is an online collection of more than 2,700 formative assessment resources that support K–12 teachers in their use of formative assessment processes to adjust teaching and improve student learning. Visit for more information. PK-12 teachers can now create their own Digital Library account online ( if they haven’t already done so.

The State Network of Educators (SNE) is a team of educators from Smarter Balanced member states like California who are trained to contribute and review instructional and professional learning resources for inclusion in the Smarter Balanced Digital Library. Members of the SNE are K-12 and higher education professionals with expertise in the Common Core State Standards and formative assessment tools and practices.

Several members are featured on the California Department of Education’s “Meet an SNE Member” webpage: The members’ educational backgrounds and why they became SNE members are included; also highlighted are a few of their favorite Digital Library resources. The majority of resources in the Digital Library are contributed by SNE members. Members of the SNE create, submit, and review resources for the Digital Library. Every resource submitted by an SNE member goes through extensive review before being posted to the Digital Library.

Submissions must pass through an initial screening process for foundational requirements before being moved on for further review. When the initial screening criteria are met, each resource is then reviewed by three different SNE members using quality criteria developed by Smarter Balanced for the vetting process. In addition to their resource development and review activities, members of the SNE provide important insight that helps guide enhancements to the Digital Library.

Inquiries about how to become an SNE member can be directed to An SNE informational flyer (PDF) is available at

Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Indicators


The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) offer a new vision for science education to better prepare all students for postsecondary success. For most teachers, schools, and districts, these standards represent a major change from current practice. A new publication, “Next Generation Science Standards District Implementation Indicators,” is designed to help school and district leaders manage the transition to the new standards.

The steps for a successful transition to the new science standards at the district level will depend on local context, existing resources, and current and potential capacity. This document outlines 13 important indicators of successful NGSS implementation at the district level, illustrating what transition to the NGSS looks like in three broad areas. Each indicator is written as a declarative statement that describes a concrete, high-level outcome from one area of science standards implementation. If the work underway is building toward making that outcome a reality, the district is likely on track. If the work in that area is not happening, or is not leading toward that outcome or not getting results, then something likely needs to be adjusted… Visit to download this new guide.

California State University Addresses College Readiness in Mathematics 

The California State University (CSU) system is the nation’s largest 4-year public university system, educating nearly half a million students and graduating around 100,000 students annually. Hence, the actions of the 23-campus system have broad impact throughout the state, so COMET reports policy actions relevant to mathematics and science education such as the development and approval of the Quantitative Reasoning Task Force Report ( The report has generated much discussion on CSU campuses, in the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU,, and among the CSU Board of Trustees (BOT,

At its 21 March 2017 meeting, the CSU BOT Committee on Educational Policy addressed the academic preparation of high school students applying for admission to CSU campuses. See

Loren J. Blanchard, CSU Executive Vice Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs, presented this information item. In his report, he noted that “over the past 22 years, the percentage of students considered ready for college-level coursework in both English and mathematics upon entry at the CSU has nearly doubled [from 32% to 62%].”

“Through the Early Assessment Program (EAP), Early Start Program (ESP), strong partnerships with K-12 agencies, and other academic preparation efforts, the CSU continues to provide students an opportunity to begin their first term of college better prepared for the academic challenges and rigor they will encounter throughout their time at the CSU,” Blanchard stated.

He noted that race and ethnicity disparities remain in college readiness, which directly impact progress toward degree completion. The goals of the CSU system’s Graduation Initiative 2025 (see include “improving completion rates and closing equity gaps.”

To achieve these goals, Blanchard asserted that the CSU system “must improve our current systemwide policies, procedures, and strategies related to academic preparation. The CSU will promote the completion of four years of coursework in mathematics and quantitative reasoning during high school, improve and expand our methods for assessing and placing students, strengthen our Early Start Program to include opportunities to complete college-level coursework, and fundamentally restructure our approaches to developmental education.” He noted that “the CSU continues to support efforts to design a 12th grade mathematics course similar to the [Expository Reading and Writing Course] in collaboration with high school teachers, community college faculty, and CSU faculty.”

Visit to read EVC Blanchard’s full report, including more information about the EAP (high school juniors receive measures of their readiness for college-level English and mathematics plus opportunities to improve their skills, if needed), ESP (remediation during the summer prior to CSU matriculation), numbers/percentages of CSU freshmen needing remediation by ethnicity/race, and the Strengthening Mathematics Instruction initiative (SMI,


Related article:

“To Help Students Graduate Sooner, Cal State is Changing its Remedial Requirements” by Rosanna Xia

Source: Los Angeles Times – 21 March 2017

…At Cal State, administrators have decided to drop the non-credit remedial course requirement.

Instead, starting in fall 2018, students who need additional support in math or English will be placed in “stretch” courses that simultaneously provide remedial help and allow them to complete the general math and English credits required for graduation…

“We must fundamentally restructure developmental education,” said [Loren J. Blanchard, California State University Executive Vice Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs].

The extra “stretch” support could include tutoring, small group study sessions and more frequent class meetings. Most of Cal State’s 23 schools already offer some form of this additional support for general credit English courses, and a few campuses, including Cal State Dominguez Hills, are beginning to do so for general credit math classes.

In addition to redesigning its remedial requirements, Cal State will strengthen summer Early Start programs and work with K-12 systems across the state to better prepare students heading to college, Blanchard said. Trying to get high schools to start requiring four years of math instead of three could help, he said… [To read more, visit] ………..

“CSU Announces New Efforts to Improve Academic Preparation” by Toni Molle

Source: California State University (CSU) – 28 March 2017


“Panel Endorses Bill Aimed at Reducing Number of College Students in Remedial Classes” by Larry Gordon

Source: EdSource – 19 April 2017

The state Assembly’s Committee on Higher Education unanimously passed a bill, AB 705, this week that would require all community colleges to use high school grades as an important part of the placement decision and to give students much more opportunity to skip remedial courses and go directly to college level ones.

In a major shift, the bill would reverse the traditional burden of proof: instead of students testing their way into credit classes, colleges would have to enroll them into those courses unless “those students are highly unlikely to succeed in them”…

The change would ally California more strongly to a growing movement nationwide to overhaul placement policies and to also create so-called co-requisite courses that allow remedial students to earn credit in classes that cover college level material with extra hours of lecture time and tutoring. The California State University system recently began an effort to eliminate all non-credit remedial classes and replace them with co-requisites by 2018…

The bill allows local districts to develop their own methods of judging students and does not eliminate standardized placement exams. In some cases colleges will look at overall high school GPAs for English placements with closer looks at individual math class grades in high school for math placements…

Visit to read this informative article; also visit to read the bill text.

2017 CSU Academic Conference on Closing the Achievement Gap


The theme of the 2017 California State University (CSU) Academic Conference was “Closing the Achievement Gap.” Presentation files from speakers Diane Ravitch and Tia Brown McNair (Association of American Colleges & Universities) are available at Ravitch touched on topics such as the achievement gap, technology, the cost of college, Uri Treisman’s research, and education in Finland. Brown McNair focused on achieving equity, inclusion, and excellence in higher education.

“Growth Mindset Instruction Spurs Student Success in CSU STEM Programs” by Lorraine Crawford

Source: California State University News – 20 March 2017


National Mathematics and Science Conference Websites Offer Useful Resources for Teachers

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) held its 2017 annual meeting in Los Angeles on March 30-April 2. The organization encouraged its speakers to upload their presentation files and related documents into the NSTA Learning Center. Sessions with downloadable materials are indicated with a document icon. The materials can be downloaded directly from the online session browser located here:

For example, featured speaker Laura Henriques gave a presentation entitled, “NGSS…Now What?” Her informative presentation can be downloaded from or viewed at

The 2017 National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) annual meeting was held in San Antonio, Texas, on April 3-5. It was followed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Annual Conference on April 5-8. Conference programs can be downloaded from the following websites:



In addition, a video of the ten 5-minute Ignite presentations at NCSM is available at (As with all Ignite sessions, each of the presenters has 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds as they speak.)

Middle School Mathematics Teachers are Sought to Participate in Study on Problem Solving App

Source: Kimkinyona Cully, WestEd STEM ( –

WestEd ( has been funded by the Department of Education to conduct a study this fall to evaluate a classroom learning app (BrainQuake) designed to facilitate students gaining mathematics problem solving skills and number sense though game play.

Middle school mathematics teachers are sought to participate in this study, which will take place over eight weeks. Participants in the experimental group may earn a stipend of up to $850. Those in the control group can earn a stipend as high as $650.

For more information about the study, please visit to view a short video. To register to participate in the study, please go to

Science NetLinks


Teachers, students, and families will find standards-based resources (lessons, printable activities, interactives, reviewed online resources, etc.) on the Science NetLinks website.

Developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the clearly-designed interface permits searching by grade level, themes (e.g., physics, mathematics/statistics, health/medicine, engineering, careers, etc.), and content (lessons, tools, collections, after school resources, and science updates). For example, see to search for lessons on a variety of topics.

Seeing Students Learn Science

Source: National Academies Press

Seeing Students Learn Science: Integrating Assessment and Instruction in the Classroom is a new book available from the National Academies Press for free download, purchase, or online reading. It is based on research and recommendations included in the report, Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The book contains classroom-ready ideas, “innovative assessment formats, ways to embed assessments in engaging classroom activities, and ideas for interpreting and using novel kinds of assessment information…”

Chapter titles:

1 – What’s really different?

2 – What does this kind of assessment look like?

3 – What can I learn from my students’ work?

4 – How can I build new kinds of assessments into the flow of my instruction?

5 – how can I work with others in my school, district, and state?

Visit for more information.

Legislative Hearings on Science


The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology—chaired by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith—has jurisdiction over a broad array of programs (e.g., the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Weather Service). The committee has its roots in a committee that was created in response to the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union in 1957. (Visit for a brief history of this important committee.)

The Research and Technology subcommittee held two hearings in March on “Future Opportunities and Challenges” related to the National Science Foundation (NSF). Lamar Smith and the chair of the subcommittee, Barbara Comstock, both expressed enthusiastic support for fully funding NSF and supporting basic scientific research and the development of a STEM-capable workforce.

There was much interest in what the invited speakers at these two hearings had to say. Keith Yamamoto (UC San Francisco), for instance, urged NSF support for transdisciplinary teams of researchers who can address grand challenges or big scientific goals for the betterment of society. (To view the presentations at each of the two hearings, see and

During the first NSF hearing, Committee Chair Smith noted the following: “I want to acknowledge that last week President Trump signed into law two bipartisan Science Committee bills to promote the role of women in science: the [“Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers”] INSPIRE Women Act [(H.R. 321)], sponsored by Chairwoman Comstock, and the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act [(H.R. 255)], sponsored by Ms. Esty. These laws enable more talented young women to pursue their dreams and change the world with their ideas. NSF’s support for groundbreaking basic research and STEM education can greatly help in making America prosperous.”
Visit the following websites to read the relatively brief text of these two bills:

H.R. 255: 321:

“The Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall encourage women and girls to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, pursue careers in aerospace, and further advance the Nation’s space science and exploration efforts through support of the following initiatives:


(2) Aspire to Inspire.

(3) Summer Institute in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Research.

In addition, on April 6, Chair Lamar Smith issued a statement summarizing the Science, Space, and Technology committee’s legislative accomplishments so far in 2017:

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Participates in Women’s History Month STEM Event at Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum


On March 28, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave a presentation at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum to approximately 400 students and teachers. DeVos and Ivanka Trump participated in three demonstrations with students prior to a panel discussion (female NASA engineers and leaders) inside the museum’s IMAX Theater, where the movie Hidden Figures was shown.

DeVos stated, “Every child should have the opportunity to fulfill his or her full potential, which is why today’s celebration of Women’s History Month and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education is so important. The students attending today’s celebration are a reminder that the next generation of engineers, astronauts and innovators is among us, and we owe every child the opportunity to choose a school that best meets his or her needs.

“I’d like to thank Ivanka Trump, the Smithsonian Institution and NASA for collaborating to make this event a success, and I’m grateful to the astronauts and engineers who took the time to educate the students who were present.”

Communicating Science Effectively

Source: National Academy of Sciences

Science and technology are embedded in virtually every aspect of modern life. As a result, people face an increasing need to integrate information from science with their personal values and other considerations as they make important life decisions about medical care, the safety of foods, what to do about climate change, and many other issues. Communicating science effectively, however, is a complex task and an acquired skill. Moreover, the approaches to communicating science that will be most effective for specific audiences and circumstances are not obvious. Fortunately, there is an expanding science base from diverse disciplines that can support science communicators in making these determinations.

Communicating Science Effectively offers a research agenda for science communicators and researchers seeking to apply this research and fill gaps in knowledge about how to communicate effectively about science, focusing in particular on issues that are contentious in the public sphere. To inform this research agenda, this publication identifies important influences – psychological, economic, political, social, cultural, and media-related – on how science related to such issues is understood, perceived, and used.

“Holdren Outlines Ways to ‘Restore Science to Its Rightful Place’” by Anne Q. Hoy

Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) – 21 April 2017

The scientific community needs to more effectively speak out about the necessity of evidence-based policies, scientific integrity protections and public access to research to defend the role of science in society, said John Holdren, former White House science adviser, in a speech on the eve of [today’s international] March for Science.

Holdren used his address to walk through the policies and initiatives former President Barack Obama set into motion with his 2009 inaugural pledge to “restore science to its rightful place,” and laid out what is needed to preserve the capacity of science to advance “economic prosperity, public health, environmental sustainability and national security, among other laudable aims.”

Before closing his talk, Holdren took on concerns expressed by some in the scientific community that participation in the March for Science would transform science into “just another interest group,” “politicize science” or render scientists as “just worried about their jobs.”

In response, Holdren said that scientists are already an interest group, one that happens to be devoted to its interest in scientific inquiry; science is already politicized through federal funding decisions governing scientific research programs being decided by Congress, the executive branch, and stakeholders from all sides; and, finally, scientists are no more worried about losing their jobs than other workers.

“Scientists, who are better positioned than most to appreciate what is at stake in these political decisions, surely have no less a right and responsibility than any other group to ensure their voices are heard in the political process,” he said.

Reviewing multiple challenges now facing science, Holdren used his speech to a standing-room-only crowd at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Washington headquarters to focus on the obligations of scientists to explain their research and its implications and share their knowledge with policymakers and the public.

“We should get better at explaining science to laypeople, not just what we know and why it matters, but how we know it … and the imprudence of ignoring science,” said Holdren, who served as an assistant to the president for science and technology during both terms of the Obama administration and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the same period…

He called on scientists and engineers to dedicate 10% of their time educating policymakers and the public on issues such as climate change, protecting the world’s oceans and public lands, continuing Arctic research, and demonstrating the importance of investing in STEM programs for elementary and middle school students.

To continue scientific research programs, the scientific community will need to forge new alliances and partnerships with state governments, private industry and philanthropic organizations, he added.

Upholding federal support for STEM education initiatives through incentives and corporate and philanthropic partnerships, for instance, will become more critical to help states and local governments improve their STEM education programs…

The [Trump] administration has not appointed a White House science adviser or a director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, nor has it tapped administrators for NASA or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or nominated directors or chief scientists for the Energy Department, U.S. Geological Survey or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Holdren observed. Most of the other federal posts responsible for managing science and technology programs also remain vacant…

Throughout his address, Holdren pointed to the benefits science and technology deliver to everything from national security and energy and transportation systems to communications networks and medical advances. “It is also the case that science and technology are one of the characteristics that really make us human, characterize us as humans, the excitement of discovery, the excitement of invention and the determination to improve the human condition by bringing insights from this domain to bear,” he said…

AAAS is among some 240 scientific and academic organizations that partnered with the March for Science, a non-partisan movement that aims to promote the use of science for the common good, including science education and the use of scientific evidence to inform public policy. The event that grew from social media conversations among scientists into a global movement is now scheduled to unfold in Washington and at least 608 satellite locations around the world [today]…

Visit to read the rest of the article above.

Related information:

Today’s March for Science and the National Math Festival

– Visit to learn more about today’s March for Science events in Washington, D.C., which are to be live-streamed (

– For location of satellite marches in California, visit

– “Science Teachers to Join March to Oppose what they see as Threat to Quality Education” by Carolyn Jones

Source: EdSource – 20 April 2017

“The March for Science: What You Need to Know” by Nicholas St. Fleur

Source: New York Times – 22 April 2017

– Also being held today in Washington, D.C., is the National Math Festival! Visit the website at for more information about this event, which is being held from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. ET at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

ENGAGE Engineering – Free Resources to Support Students in Engineering


ENGAGE Engineering is a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded initiative launched in 2009 to increase the capacity of engineering schools to retain undergraduate students by implementing proven, research-based strategies into engineering programs. The resources offered through ENGAGE are enhancements that can be easily integrated into existing courses.

ENGAGE now offers a plethora of free, publicly-accessible resources for strategy implementation. These include the following:

– Integrating everyday examples in engineering into coursework:

– Improving and increasing faculty-student interaction:

– Improving student spatial visualization skills:

Since its launch, ENGAGE has worked with teams from 72 engineering schools to implement these strategies, impacting thousands of faculty, instructors, and students. They do not require large-scale curriculum changes. Research has demonstrated these strategies contribute to increased retention of undergraduate engineering students—particularly women. Visit to learn more.

High School Biology Teachers are Needed for Evolution and Energy Pilot Test

Source: AAAS Project 2061

As part of two projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education, AAAS Project 2061 is recruiting high school science teachers who are able to pilot test a 45-minute multiple choice and short answer assessment with high school (Gr. 9-12) students between April 24 and May 26, 2017. The topics for this study include biology concepts, including natural selection, heredity, speciation, human body functions, homeostasis, and cellular respiration.

The pilot test will be administered online; computers or tablets are needed for each student. It is not necessary for the students to have had formal instruction on biology at the time of testing, nor must they be currently enrolled in a biology class. Individual student and teacher data will remain strictly confidential and individual students will not be identifiable. The researchers’ only interest is to learn how students respond to these test items so that tests can be designed that are valid measures of what students know about important concepts in biology.

To participate, please fill out the form located at If you have any questions about the study, please contact Joseph Hardcastle, Research Associate for AAAS Project 2061, at or 202-326-7043.

Project 2061 is a long-term initiative of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS; to help all Americans become literate in science, mathematics, and technology. To achieve that goal, Project 2061 conducts research and develops tools and services that educators, researchers, and policymakers can use to make critical and lasting improvements in the nation’s education system.


Related Website:

AAAS Project 2061 Science Assessment Website

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Project 2061 Science assessment website ( contains over 600 test items that are the result of more than a decade of research and development. The items, which are appropriate for middle and early high school students, “test student understanding in the earth, life, physical sciences, and the nature of science, and test for common misconceptions as well as correct ideas.”

This website also includes the following:

– Data on how well U.S. students are doing in science and where they are having difficulties, broken out by gender, English language learner status, and whether the students are in middle school or high school

– “My Item Bank,” a feature that allows educators to select, save, and print items and answer keys

– A feature that allows educators to create and take tests online using items from the item collection.

Intended primarily for teachers, these assessment items and resources will also be useful to education researchers, test developers, and anyone who is interested in the performance of middle and high school students in science.

Senate Bill Introduced to Create California STEM Professional Teaching Pathway

On March 29, the Senate Education Committee voted unanimously to approve Senate Bill 436 Teachers: California STEM Professional Teaching Pathway Act of 2017 and refer the bill to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Visit to read the text of the bill, which was developed to address the state’s teacher shortage in mathematics and science.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing summarized the bill as follows: This bill would establish the California STEM Professional Teaching Pathway for the purpose of recruiting, training, supporting, and retaining qualified science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals, including military veterans, as mathematics and science teachers in California. This bill would appropriate an unspecified amount from the General Fund to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for allocation to the California Center on Teaching Careers, and require reporting by the Superintendent. Additional notes: Commission [on Teacher Credentialing] staff have advised that oversight of the Center should be consolidated with either the Commission or the Department of Education.

Related item:

AB 463 (Student financial aid: Assumption Program of Loans for Education)

On April 19, the Assembly Committee on Higher Education unanimously voted to pass AB 463 (Student financial aid: Assumption Program of Loans for Education—APLE) and refer the bill to the Appropriations Committee. The bill authorizes the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC), commencing with the 2017-18 fiscal year, to issue 7,200 new APLE warrants. It also “eliminates the prohibitions on teachers in self-contained classrooms and multiple subject credential holders from participating in the APLE; andallows the list of teaching shortage areas that the SPI must develop each year to include teaching in a self-contained classroom and multiple subject credentials…Amends the provision allowing loan forgiveness of $1,000 per year [for 4 years] for those who teach math, science or special education by eliminating the requirement that the school is in the lowest 60 percentile of the API.”

Visit and for more information.

AERA Offers Free Online Lectures and Articles

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is celebrating its Centennial this year (2016-2017) by offering a variety of freely-accessible online lectures and articles. Visit for more information about AERA’s Presidential Addresses, Centennial Publications, Ed-Talks, and Centennial Lecture Series (e.g., Bruce McCandliss: “Early Education and the Brain: Making Novel Connections” and Charles Payne: “The Limits of Schooling, the Power of Poverty”).One of the freely-available publications is a special edition of Review of Research in Education — Education Research: A Century of Discovery ( “This centennial volume of RRE takes a “retrospective, prospective” approach on a diverse range of education research topics spanning the last 100 years.” The volume consists of 37 chapters, including the following two that may be of special interest to COMET readers:

– Chapter 14. Research in Mathematics Education

Alan H. Schoenfeld (

– Chapter 15. Science Education: From Separation to Integration

Marcia C. Linn, Libby Gerard, Camillia Matuk, and Kevin W. McElhaney (

Fulbright Scholar Program Informational Webinar

Next Thursday (April 27), the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program will present a webinar entitled “Fulbright Opportunities for Engineers, Scientists, and the Tech Community (STEM),” which will provide a brief program overview and highlight awards in STEM areas. To register, visit program application is available at, and more information can be found at

STEM Snippets

“With New Technology, Mathematicians Turn Numbers into Art” by Frank A. Farris



More Compulsory Math Lessons Do Not Encourage Women to Pursue STEM Careers

Source: Science Daily – 28 March 2017

Creating an Indicator of K–12 Classroom Coverage of STEM Content and Practices 

Source: RAND Corporation – 2017

The National Research Council identified 14 indicators for tracking the nation’s progress toward improving STEM education in the United States. This report focuses on indicator 5, classroom coverage of content and practices in the CCSS-Math and NGSS. One of the primary limitations of most existing methods is their focus on what the teacher does rather than what students experience. This report describes the rationale for examining new approaches to measuring students’ exposure to standards-aligned content and practices, summarizes what is known about currently available measures, and explores innovative approaches that might be adopted to create new measures.

“Can the Abacus Improve Students’ Math Skills?” by Carmen Rojas

Source: Education Week – 7 April 2017

COMET is sponsored in part by a grant from the California Mathematics Project.

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COMET is produced by:

Carol Fry Bohlin

    • , Ph.D.
    • Professor, Mathematics Education
    • California State University, Fresno
    • 5005 N. Maple Ave. M/S 2
    • Fresno, CA 93740-8025