SB 613 (Alquist) – Instructional Materials: Open Source

This bill would require at least one-half, or one-half plus one in the case of an odd number, of the basic instructional materials adopted by the State Board to be open-source instructional materials. The bill also would authorize the governing board of a school district maintaining a high school to adopt open-source instructional materials. The bill would define an open-source instructional material as an instructional material that is available in a digital format, is free to view online, meets the same requirements imposed on other printed instructional materials, and may be developed in a specified manner. The bill would authorize the State Board to adopt fewer than the required number of open-source instructional materials in specified instances.

The bill is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
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S.B. 140 - Instructional Materials: Common Core Academic Content Standards

This bill would require the State Department of Education to develop a list, on or before July 1, 2012, of supplemental instructional materials for use in kindergarten and grades 1 to 8, inclusive, that are aligned with California’s common core academic content standards in language arts and mathematics. The bill would require the State Board to either approve or reject the supplemental instructional materials as proposed by the Department. The bill also would permit the governing boards of school districts to approve supplemental instructional materials other than those approved by the State Board if the governing board determines that other supplemental instructional materials are aligned with the Common Core academic content standards and meet the needs of the pupils of the district. The bill would require the Department to maintain on its Internet Web site a list of supplemental instructional materials approved by the State Board.
The bill is currently in the Assembly.
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A.B. 250 - Instructional Materials: Pupil Assessment

This measure would establish a process to implement common core academic content standards by developing and adopting curriculum frameworks and professional development that are aligned to the common core standards and are appropriate for all pupils. The bill also would extend the sunset of the state’s assessment system by one year to allow the state to adapt to changes in federal law and transition to the new assessments aligned to the common core standards.

 Bill Status: Awaiting hearing in Senate Committee on Education
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Enhancing Mathematical Learning in a Technology-Rich Environment

This article describes a project used with teachers to help educators recognize and plan mathematics tasks that support a technology-rich environment. Teachers are also provided with a template for planning mathematics tasks that appropriately incorporate technology. This article provides teachers with an opportunity to: work collaboratively to plan mathematics lessons that support a technology-rich environment; to see examples of how technology tools amplify opportunities for extending mathematical thinking; and to discuss how technology can be used (appropriately) to enhance teaching and learning of mathematics. It is recommended that this professional development experience take place in a multi-day format with time in between sessions.

U.S. Students and Science: AAAS Testing Gives New Insight on What Students Know and Their Misconceptions

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has launched an innovative website to help educators assess more precisely what students know about key ideas in science and — just as importantly — the incorrect ideas they have. It offers a detailed picture of how middle and high school students across the United States are currently doing in science and features information on what they know and on hundreds of misconceptions they have about everything from the size of atoms to whether all organisms have DNA.  Knowing these misconceptions and how pervasive they are—which is not typically part of the analysis of test results from state testing or from leading national and international testing organizations—can help teachers improve instruction and design their own test questions to better assess whether students truly understand the science concepts they are being taught.  The newly developed test questions also counter the widely held view that multiple choice questions are useful only for testing recall of memorized definitions and trivial facts, says George DeBoer, deputy director of Project 2061, the AAAS program that developed the new assessment website.  "As a result of our efforts, many of the test questions included in the new website measure not only knowledge of factual information, but they also probe a student’s ability to explain real-world phenomena, reason logically through problem situations, or identify the reason why a claim is true," DeBoer said…

The new AAAS website ( presents detailed information on how a national sample of students answered each question, along with an analysis of both their correct and incorrect responses.

With increasing calls for national science standards and a common core curriculum for middle-school and high-school students, it is more important than ever to get assessment right, DeBoer said. “Good assessments can be used to actually improve students’ learning and not just to hold teachers and schools accountable,” he added. “Assessments that are designed to diagnose students’ misconceptions can be powerful educational tools.”

MathStar: An Algebraic Series for Teachers and Lesson Links for Students

MathStar is a multi-state distance learning project focusing on improving the teaching and learning of mathematics in middle schools through interactive technologies.  The Los Angeles County Office of Education has created an Algebraic Thinking series (for teachers) and Lesson-Links (for Students) to provide a variety of resources to help students to connect various pre-algebra concepts to concrete learning activities and real world applications.  The interactive computer lessons for students “link” to specific areas of mathematics found in the California state standards and adopted textbooks, and are meant to support students who need extra scaffolding for mastery of skills.  Currently, there are four categories Menu Math, Introducing Integers, Adding Integers, and Subtracting Integers found at

MathStar was created by the Los Angles County Office of Education and was funded in part by Star Schools legislation, U.S. Department of Education.

A Executive Summary from the Conference “Moving Forward Together: Curriculum & Assessment and the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics”

The release and widespread adoption of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) represents an unprecedented opportunity for states to unite in support of new standards and assessments with the shared goal of strengthening teaching and learning across the United States. As states prepare to implement the CCSSM, two Consortia1, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), have been given the challenge of operationalizing large-scale K-12 assessments under relatively short but urgent timelines. Ensuring that the development and implementation of these new assessments is informed by the expertise of the mathematics curriculum and assessment design community was the focus of the Moving Forward Together Conference.

In August 2010, an expert group of mathematics curriculum developers, front-line state and district mathematics program implementers, and policy makers met to produce a set of recommendations and action steps relating to curriculum design and development in support of the CCSSM (Confrey & Krupa, 2010)2. Recognizing the urgency of events, one recommendation addressed the need for curriculum developers to:

Influence the quality and range of the mathematics assessed among multi-state consortia. There is widespread acknowledgment that what is tested and how it is evaluated and communicated to students, parents, and teachers has a profound influence on what is taught by teachers and learned by studentsŠIt is imperative that the writers, designers, and implementers of mathematics curricula be involved in that (assessment) development process. Curriculum designers have extensive experience in task development, know common student responses, and are sensitive to the nuances involved in the design of rubrics for scoring. (p. 16)

Understanding a critical need for collaboration among top mathematics education experts and consortia representatives, an additional conference was convened to facilitate the sharing of information and next steps that must be taken for both groups to realize the evidence-based design they both identify as a driving component of their development and design process. Nowhere in this reform effort is cooperation more essential than in the creation of curriculum materials and aligned assessments. Now is the opportunity to jointly strengthen assessments and curriculum, to create an infrastructure for long-term continuous improvements of both, and to focus on viable implementation strategies to support the integration of innovative forms of assessment and curricula, aligned with the CCSSM, for the advancement of student learning of

Participants of the Moving Forward Together Conference included those with expertise in mathematics curriculum development, standards, implementation, and assessment, along with representatives from the leadership teams of the Assessment Consortia and state level representatives from each consortium. The section below highlights recommendations that developed at the conference, absent the discussion and action items present in the full report.

Click the link below for access to the full conference report.

Conference Recommendations
Recommendations were synthesized into six categories and are presented in individual sections in the remaining portion of this document:


Parent Involvement - Words of Phi, May 2011

As we transition to the Common Core Standards we must remember to bring parents as well as children along this learning path. There are many resources being published today to support parents. One of my favorite resources is found on the National PTA website located at

Parent involvement is a key component of a successful, balanced mathematics program. Many publishers have included parent support materials through documents describing what children are learning and websites to support parent content knowledge.

Here you will find parent guides in English and Spanish for each grade level kindergarten through 8 as well as an additional guide for high school. These guides list the key items that children should be learning at each grade as well as activities that parents can use to support their children’s mastery of mathematics.  In addition parents are encouraged to discuss their child’s mathematical understanding and provides guiding questions for these conversations.

The National Council for Teachers of Mathematics also has a web page for parent support.

The family resources from NCTM include ways to help your child in mathematics, as well as, information on how mathematics education is different today.

I encourage each school site to have a parent night. Research has shown that the parent can play a crucial element in creating the context for mathematical learning. Anderson, 1997. Through parent nights we can work together to support children in learning mathematics. If you have any questions regarding parent nights for mathematics please contact Cathy Williams at

Gender Stereotypes About Math Develop as Early as Second Grade

Children express the stereotype that mathematics is for boys, not for girls, as early as second grade, according to a new study by University of Washington researchers. And the children applied the stereotype to themselves: boys identified themselves with math, whereas girls did not.  The “math is for boys” stereotype has been used as part of the explanation for why so few women pursue science, mathematics and engineering careers. The cultural stereotype may nudge girls to think that “math is not for me,” which can affect what activities they engage in and their career aspirations.  The new study, published in the March/April issue of Child Development, suggests that for girls, lack of interest in mathematics may come from culturally-communicated messages about math being more appropriate for boys than for girls, the researchers said.  But the stereotype that girls don’t do math was odd to lead author Dario Cvencek, who was born and raised in the former Yugoslavia. “We didn’t have that stereotype where I grew up,” said Cvencek, a postdoctoral fellow at the UW Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “People there thought that math went with girls just as much as it did with boys.”  Cvencek and his co-authors wanted to examine whether American children have adopted the cultural stereotype that math is for boys during elementary-school years, and if so, whether they apply that stereotype to themselves…[access the full article for more details]  "Our results show that cultural stereotypes about math are absorbed strikingly early in development, prior to ages at which there are gender differences in math achievement," said co-author Andrew Meltzoff, a UW psychology professor and co-director of the UW Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences… 

Parental and educational practices aimed at enhancing girls’ self-concepts for math might be beneficial as early as elementary school, when the youngsters are already beginning to develop ideas about who does math, the researchers said.  "Children have their antennae up and are assimilating the stereotypes exhibited by parents, educators, peers, games and the media," Meltzoff said. "Perhaps if we can depict math as being equally for boys and girls, we can help broaden the interests and aspirations of all our children."

Math Gender Stereotypes in Elementary School Children

A total of 247 American children between 6 and 10 years of age (126 girls and 121 boys) completed Implicit Association Tests and explicit self-report measures assessing the association of (a) me with male (gender identity), (b) male with math (math-gender stereotype), and (c) me with math (math self-concept).  Two findings emerged. First, as early as second grade, the children demonstrated the American cultural stereotype that math is for boys on both implicit and explicit measures. Second, elementary school boys identified with math more strongly than did girls on both implicit and self-report measures. The findings suggest that the math-gender stereotype is acquired early and influences emerging math self-concepts prior to ages at which there are actual differences in math achievement. [The full article can be downloaded from the Web site above.]