COMET • Vol. 18, No. 04 – 14 June 2017



New Mobile Application Offers Detailed Information about California’s PK-12 and Adult Education Schools

Source: California Department of Education

A new mobile application that offers detailed information about California’s 10,000 public schools was announced last week by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

The free “CA Schools” mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android systems, lets users locate nearby schools based on their current location or search for schools (public or private) by location (e.g., city, district, or ZIP code). The app provides information such as the school’s phone number, address, demographics, and test scores (for public schools).

“Never before have we put so much school information literally in the hands of our students, parents, and community members and made the information so accessible and user-friendly,” Torlakson said.

Visit for more information about this useful new app. Also see for today’s announcement about DataQuest improvements.

2017-18 State Budget Ratification by Senate and Assembly Expected Tomorrow; STEM-Related Appropriations Included in State Budget and Education Omnibus Trailer Bill

Yesterday Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders of the State Senate and Assembly announced agreement on the 2017-18 State Budget, paving the way for ratification votes in both houses tomorrow. Governor Brown is then expected to sign the budget before the end of next week.

* The current text of the main State Budget bill, AB 97, is available at

* The Education Omnibus Trailer Bill serves as one of the implementation bills for the State Budget. As the two companion trailer bills (AB 99 and SB 83) mirror each other, a link to just one of the bills (SB 83) is provided here:

Bill excerpts related to several STEM-related appropriations follow below (emphasis added):

[AB 97] “The sum of $4,000,000 is hereby reappropriated to the State Department of Education for…allocation by the Superintendent of Public Instruction to provide grants to a local educational agency or a consortium of local educational agencies to establish the California Regional Environmental Education Community Network…to facilitate the implementation of high-quality environmentalliteracy in California public schools that reflects science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and career technical education with a particular focus on the environmental literacy elements of the Next Generation Science Standards and Curriculum Framework, the California History-Social Science Standards and Curriculum Framework, and the Career Technical Education Model Curriculum Standards.”

[AB 97] “$502,000 shall be used to support the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) Science Academy for purposes of providing professional development to instructional leaders in science content areas on the California Next-Generation Science Standards and the California Science Test.”

[AB 97] “$948,000 shall be provided until June 30, 2018, to support curriculum framework development activities of the Instructional Quality Commission related to the ethnic studies model curriculum, computer science content standards, visual and performing arts content standards, the world language content standards, and the health curriculum framework. These funds shall also be used for the computer science strategic implementation advisory panel, and the adoption of the history-social science instructional materials and the science instructional materials.”

[SB 83] “SEC. 73. (a) The California Educator Development (CalED) Program is hereby established as a grant program designed to enhance the state’s efforts to address teacher recruitment and retention issues throughout the state by assisting local educational agencies with attracting and supporting the preparation and continued learning of teachers, principals, and other school leaders…

(c) The California Center on Teaching Careers, in consultation with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, shall issue a request for proposals to all school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education in the state to solicit applications for the CalED Program. The California Center on Teaching Careers shall issue one-time grants to successful applicants through a competitive process, and shall ensure all of the following:

(1) An amount equal to the maximum amount allowable by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act…is allocated to grant recipients for activities that support principals and other school leaders.

(2) The remaining amount is allocated to grant recipients for activities that result in new credentials authorizing teachers to provide instruction in special education, mathematics, science, and bilingual education…

(3) At least 30 grants are awarded statewide. Grants shall be in amounts not less than one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), and not more than one million two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($1,250,000), per grant…”

[SB 83] “(a) On or before March 1, 2018, the Superintendent [of Public Instruction] shall convene a computer science strategic implementation advisory panel to develop recommendations for a computer science strategic implementation plan. The advisory panel shall hold public meetings, post the location and time of the meetings, and post agendas online. Members of the advisory panel shall possess expertise in computer science… On or before January 15, 2019, the computer science strategic implementation advisory panel shall submit recommendations for a computer science strategic implementation plan to the Superintendent, the state board, and the Legislature that includes, at a minimum, recommendations on all of the following:

(1) Broadening the pool of teachers to teach computer science. These recommendations may provide, among other things, for the following:

(A) Providing training and professional development for education in computer science…

(B) Creating a teacher certification pathway in computer science.

(C) Expanding scholarship eligibility and loan forgiveness programs for computer science teachers in low-income and underserved school districts and rural and urban school districts.

(2) Definingcomputer science education principles that meet the needs of pupils in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive.

(3) Ensuring that all pupils have access to quality computer science courses…

= The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) website includes a comprehensive report on the State Budget Compromise; see A detailed chart of the “2017-18 State Budget Impacts on K-12 Education” is available at

= Tomorrow (June 15) the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) is scheduled to hear an update on the state budget, with a focus on topics relevant to the Commission and teacher education: To watch the CTC meeting, see the links in the header of the June CTC meeting agenda page:

Deadline to Submit Proposals to Speak at the 2017 California STEAM Symposium is this Friday

The 2017 California Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Symposium will be held on December 10-11 at the Moscone Center West in San Francisco. The deadline to submit an application to present at the conference is this Friday, June 16, at 5:00 p.m. PDT. All who have submitted an application will be notified of their acceptance status by July 31. Those accepted to present will receive a reduced registration rate.

The committee will select presentations based on the following criteria:

– Alignment with the focus of this year’s Symposium: Investigate. Collaborate. Innovate.

– Quality of the opportunity for educators to actively engage in hands-on activities and contextualized learning

– Balance of presentations in each strand and pathway

The speaker application is available at

To register for the conference, visit Please contact Paula Evans ( with any questions.

Reminder: Register for the July 28 Better Together: California Teachers Summit 2017


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 register for the Summit, visit For more information, visit the active Twitter feed at @CATeacherSummit

Related Article: 

California State University Receives Grant for STEM Teacher Preparation 

Source: California State University Office of the Chancellor – 17 May 2017
The California State University (CSU) has received a grant from Chevron to expand four major initiatives to support integrating engineering design into K-12 teacher preparation.The new project is entitled “CSU Pathways to New Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Teacher Excellence: Addressing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Engineering Design Process.” One ofthe components makes NGSS a central feature of the Better Together: California Teachers Summit (see above).The other three components are the STEM Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program, a Makerspace initiative, and Chevon’s STEM Zone. Visit to learn more about this new grant and the K-12 teacher preparation initiatives it supports on CSU campuses.

California League of Schools Invites Conference Presenter Applications and Nominations for Educator of the Year Awards

The California League of Schools (CLS) is holding its fall conference on December 8-10 in San Diego. CLS invites speaker proposals for one-hour sessions focused on student-centered education trends and instructional strategies for any grade level. Details are available at

CLS also sponsors Educator of the Year awards for outstanding middle school and high school teachers. Nominations are being accepted through September 30. Visit for more information and nomination links.

Free Online CSET Courses/Workshops for Single Subject Mathematics and Science

This summer and fall, MSTI-Fresno State ( will be offering free, interactive, online reviews of the content assessed on the Single Subject science and mathematics CSET subtests in partnership with Information can be downloaded from

Reminder: Beginning on Monday, 7 August 2017, NGSS-aligned versions of the CSET: Multiple Subject Subtest II (mathematics and science) and [Single Subject] CSET Science subtests will be administered. The Commission on Teacher Credentialing is expected to establish passing standards for these assessments at its October meeting.

Sample preparation materials for the new CSET subtests can be found here:

(a) Single Subject:

(b) Multiple Subject:

California State University Releases Draft Executive Order on Assessing and Developing Student Competency in English and Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning

April’s issue of COMET ( included an overview of efforts being made by California State University (CSU) to address the issue of student readiness for college-level mathematics, which is related to CSU’s goal of reducing time to the attainment of a baccalaureate degree (see Graduation Initiative 2025:

CSU maintains an FAQ page regarding Graduation Initiative 2025 (see Topics addressed in this informative 6-page document range from the proposed requirement of a fourth year of high school quantitative reasoning, the role of the CSU Center for the Advancement of Quantitative Reasoning, Early Start, communication with PK-12 partners, and restructuring developmental education (remediation) on CSU campuses.

On May 16, CSU Executive Vice Chancellor Loren J. Blanchard released a draft executive order (EO) for comment: Entitled “Competence in English and Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning,” the EO outlines a plan to “allow students the opportunity to earn baccalaureate credit in mathematics and English during their first academic term enrolled (summer, fall, winter, or spring) without compromising academic rigor.” The proposed plan includes the following:

A. To guide course placement, new students shall be assessed using multiple measures, including academic subjects completed in high school, grades in high school courses, high school grade point average, grades in collegiate courses, ACT scores, SAT scores, Smarter Balanced Assessment scores and/or Early Start Program outcomes.

B. Students whose assessment measures determine proficiency and/or readiness shall be placed in college-level, credit-bearing baccalaureate courses.

C. Students whose skills assessments reveal that additional academic preparation is needed shall be placed into appropriate college-level, baccalaureate credit-bearing courses that provide skills-development support through pedagogical approaches, curricular modifications and innovative instructional approaches. These may include co-requisite, supplemental instruction or “stretch” courses that fulfill requirements by expanding the number of instructional contact hours across multiple courses or contiguous terms…

F. The English Placement Test (EPT) and the Entry Level Mathematics (ELM) Test are no longer required, and the associated committees shall be disbanded…

Early Start Program

A. The summer Early Start Program shall be offered to entering first-time students in need of additional academic preparation in English or mathematics/quantitative reasoning…

C. Online courses shall satisfy Early Start Program requirements in accordance with university policy…

Related topic

ALEKS and an Active Learning Approach Support Student Success at UC Davis

At last Friday’s California Alliance for Next Generation Science Standards (CA4NGSS) semi-annual meeting in Oakland, Marco Molinaro (Associate Vice Provost for Educational Effectiveness at UC Davis) discussed ways in which higher education can support student success (with a focus on science education).

He shared the results of research conducted at UC Davis comparing the average final exam scores in General Chemistry (Chem 2A) among students who (a) initially placed in Chem 2A, (b) first took a face-to-face chemistry remediation course in the fall, (c) were repeating Chem 2A, and (d) first took a summer course using ALEKS, “a Web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system” ( UC Davis is preparing to pilot a similar study in mathematics.

Students who took the summer ALEKS course for remediation scored higher on the Chem 2A final exam than those who took the face-to-face remediation course and those who were repeating Chem 2A. The average final exam score of the ALEKS group was not statistically different from that of the students who initially placed in Chem 2A.

In conclusion, Molinaro said that “the online, self-paced work (which only cost $35 a student) is an effective way of entering into introductory chemistry. The students were able to get up to speed on the things that they didn’t remember as well.” Further, when growth mindset and self-efficacy measures of students enrolled in ALEKS were measured, “the online approach to remediation was considered to be more personal, and the students felt that they had much greater control over their learning. They also felt that there was a more personal touch with ALEKS than there was with the face-to-face instructor. They felt that the computer cared for them more than the instructor.”

Molinaro also shared that students who experienced more of an active learning approach in math and science courses were more successful in subsequent courses than were those enrolled in traditional lecture courses. (Course evaluations of instructors unfortunately suffered, however, since students felt they had to work harder in those courses and were not used to this type of instruction. Molinaro hopes that as K-12 teachers implement the CCSS and NGSS in the classroom, students will grow to expect a more active approach to math and science learning in their college courses as well.)

Science Content Review Experts Sought to Evaluate K-8 Instructional Materials for 2018 Science Adoption

Contact: Bryan Boyd, Lead Consultant for the 2018 Science Adoption – 916-445-4910 or

Individuals with recognized content expertise and a doctorate in science (e.g., biology, chemistry, geosciences, physics) are invited to apply to serve as a Content Review Expert (CRE) for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. CREs focus on reviewing the submitted instructional materials for content accuracy and alignment with the California Next Generation Science Standards. One week of training in Sacramento in April 2018 and up to four days of deliberations on July 16-20, 2018, will be required. If interested, please visit (“Reviewer Information” tab). The deadline for receipt of completed applications is July 21.



“Math Education is STEM Education” – NCTM Webinar on July 19

Source: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics – 17 May 2017

Matt Larson, President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), invites participation in an online discussion of his May 2017 President’s Message, which is entitled, “Math Education is STEM Education.” To participate in this webinar, which will be held on July 19 from 4:00-5:00 p.m. PDT, register at

Below are a few excerpts from his message, which has already generated productive and thought-provoking discussion in the comments section.

“Let me make one thing abundantly clear: I support STEM education–including science, technology, and engineering. But I support STEM education, as Michael Shaughnessy wrote, from the perspective of ‘political advocacy.’ As mathematics educators, it is incumbent on us to be advocates for STEM education because advocacy for STEM education is advocacy for mathematics education…

“However, as we look beyond advocacy, one significant challenge associated with STEM education is how it is defined and implemented in districts, schools, and classrooms. There is no universally agreed upon definition of what constitutes STEM education. This complicates matters and allows each entity to define STEM education in its own way to fit its experiences, biases, and agendas–NCTM included. In some cases this leads to math or science classrooms where students build bridges or program robots, but fail to acquire a deep understanding of grade level (or beyond) math or science learning standards…

“NCTM certainly supports curricular connections, appropriate technology integration,and critical thinking, but not at the exclusion of mathematics learning. Appropriate integration of technology in support of mathematics learning goals as well as the need to make curricular connections, both within mathematics and to contexts outside of mathematics, have been guiding principles since Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM 2000) and were reinforced in Principles to Actions (NCTM 2014).

“If we fail to support each and every student in developing a positive mathematics identity, a high sense of agency, and a deep understanding of mathematics, then we will have failed our students, denied them future opportunities, and ultimately failed to build the mathematical foundation necessary for the STEM outcomes that policy makers envision…”

To read Larson’s entire statement, visit

Related publication:

STEM Integration in K-12 Education: Status, Prospects, and an Agenda for Research

Source: National Academy of Sciences
URL (free download): 


NCTM Offers Free Online Access to Articles in Three Journals for Teachers of Mathematics


The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is currently offering free online access to selected articles in three of its journals: Teaching Children Mathematics, Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, and the Mathematics Teacher at The articles can be read online or downloaded as PDF files in journal layout format.

NSTA Web Seminar: “How Do I Develop a Storyline for a [Science] Unit?”

Source: National Science Teacher Association

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) hosts a variety of web seminars that provide teachers with advice on implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The webinars are free, live professional learning experiences that allow participants to interact with nationally acclaimed experts, NSTA Press authors, and scientists, engineers, and education specialists from NSTA partner organizations.

The next NSTA Web Seminar (“How do I Develop a Storyline for a Unit?”) will be held on 12 July 2017 from 3:30-5:00 p.m. PDT and hosted by Brian Reiser and Michael Novak. “Successful units feature a coherent storyline where each lesson builds on those that come before it and fosters questions that lead into the next lesson. In this web seminar, we will show you examples of coherent storylines and provide guidance on how you can develop your own.”

For more information (and to register), visit

New Poll: With First Mars Mission Approaching, Few Teachers Believe Students Interested in Subjects That Would Lead Them to Space Exploration Careers


A recent poll commissioned by Lockheed Martin found the following:

– 38% of the 1000 teachers surveyed reported that a majority of their students seem naturally interested in STEM.

– 83% viewed discussing space-related careers as a potential way to increase student focus on STEM.

– 52% believed that a near-term return to the moon would increase students’ interest in STEM.

– 43% responded that their schools’ curriculum is sufficiently preparing students for a STEM career

– 23% agreed that the current school curriculum is sufficiently preparing students for a career in space exploration

To help teachers ignite interest in STEM through space exploration themes, Lockheed Martin announced new online materials and interactive content, developed in partnership with Discovery Education. Visit for family activities, teacher guides, information about a virtual field trip, the 2017 video challenge (to be announced in August), and more. A new Mars Walk app is available for iPhone or Android.

In addition, Lockheed Martin also announced the individual and group winners of the last Generation Beyond Video Challenge Contest (see The contest challenged students to submit design concepts for the living quarters or habitat that will dock with NASA’s Orion spacecraft as part of the ship that will take the first people to Mars–and where crews will spend over six months while in transit to the red planet. Students could submit entries individually or as a group for a first-place prize of $10,000. Winning entries for the video challenge contest (including the video from the individual winner who is from Fullerton, CA) are available for viewing at

In addition to winning $10,000, the winners will have the opportunity to tour NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts in space exploration later this year.

Related Topics:


“Meet Your Lucky Stars: NASA Announces a New Class of Astronaut Candidates” by Emma Bowman

Source: National Public Radio “Weekend Edition Sunday” – 11 June 2017

One of the twelve members of the newest class of NASA astronaut candidates was born and raised in Los Angeles. Jonny Kim earned a degree in mathematics from the University of San Diego and his M.D. from Harvard. Read more at

“NASA Chief Says 2018 Budget Ensures Mars Mission Still on Track for 2033” by Ledyard King

Source: USA Today – 8 June 2017


“Astronaut Peggy Whitson Sets NASA Record for Most Days in Space” by Bill Chappell

Source: NPR – 24 April 2017


Study Finds Differences in Career Plans and Motivations of Boys and Girls

Source: Ernst & Young LLP – 1 June 2017

A study conducted on behalf of EY ( and Junior Achievement ( found that 91%of boys and girls ages 13-17 know what kind of job they want after they graduate from high school. Thirty-six percent of the boys reported interest in pursuing a non-medical STEM career (e.g., computer programmer, engineer, physicist) compared with 11% of the girls. By contrast, 24% of the girls favored careers in the medical/dental field (doctor, nurse, veterinarian, dentist, physical therapist) compared with just 6% of the boys.

The top three responses to a question about what appeals most to boys and girls related to their dream jobs are the following:

* Boys: Think it would be fun (28%); I’d be good at it (21%); I’d make a lot of money (17%)

* Girls: I would help people (25%); I’d be good at it (23%); I think it would be fun (20%)

“While it’s encouraging to see teens today are giving a great deal of thought to their career aspirations, it’s surprising to learn that there are still significant gaps between boys’ and girls’ interest in careers choice,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, President and Chief Executive Officer of Junior Achievement USA. “Because role models are critically important, we are placing greater emphasis on getting STEM professionals to volunteer for JA classes.”

Visit for more details about this study and its findings.

STEM Starts Early: Grounding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education in Early Childhood


A new 66-page online book about early STEM learning is available for free download from

The following passage is from the Executive Summary of STEM Starts Early: Grounding Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education in Early Childhood: “In response to…growing scientific consensus about the importance of early STEM learning, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and New America embarked on an exploratory project funded by the [National Science Foundation] to: (a) better understand the challenges to and opportunities in STEM learning as documented in a review of early childhood education research, policy, and practice; (b) make recommendations to help stimulate research and policy agendas; and (c) encourage collaboration between pivotal sectors to implement and sustain needed changes. We also accounted for new research on widely held public assumptions about what young children need and how they learn, assumptions that may be barriers to progress. This report is the culmination of those efforts…”


New Online Community for Teaching Differential Equations in a Modeling First Approach

Source: Brian Winkel, Director SIMIODE
SIMIODE (Systemic Initiative for Modeling Investigations and Opportunities with Differential Equations) is building a community of teachers and students who are interested in teaching and learning differential equation through focusing on “compelling applications, modeling, motivation for studying differential equations, and instructional technologies… SIMIODE offers resources: instructional text, PowerPoint presentations, modeling scenarios, video, data, discussion areas, and space for projects, in student and teacher centers.”SIMIODE is sponsoring a “Student Competition Using Differential Equation Modeling” (SCUDEM) on 21 April 2018. See the Green SCUDEM button on www.simiode.orgFor more information, please visit the website or contact the Director, Brian Winkel, at

STEM Snippets

“The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools” by Natasha Singer

Source: The New York Times – June 2017


Personalized Learning Initiative Supported by a Collaborative Between the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation



Melinda Gates: How Women Grads Can Succeed in Tech

Source: Fortune – 6 June 2017


“More Teachers Turning to Nonprofits for Innovative Science Lessons” by Carolyn Jones

Source: EdSource – 4 June 2017


“Dispositions of First Year Teachers [at UCLA] Who Teach Mathematics for Social Justice” by Kyndall Brown (Executive Director, California Mathematics Project)

Source: Journal of Multicultural Affairs – May 2017

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

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    • Professor, Mathematics Education
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