By Ashley Hopkinson
A dozen parents gathered around veteran math educator Leanna Baker, moments before students show up for what is billed as a math “festival” for students at Allendale Elementary School in Oakland.
“Do your best not to give them an answer,” Baker told the dozen parent volunteers about how best to help the transitional kindergarten to fifth grade students participating in math activities arranged for that day. “We want them to be problem solvers.”
Interviews by EdSource with educators at several school districts suggests that a growing number of elementary schools are hosting events like these for students and families to convey the message that math is fun and can be practiced every day in simple ways in their own lives, not just in the classroom.
Source: Math festivals help elementary students — and their families — see math as fun | EdSource
By Daily Republic Staff
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Thursday that allows more community college students to bypass remedial English and math courses and begin directly in college-level math and English, according to a press release.
Nearly 170,000 California community college students enter remedial math, for example, with as many as 110,000 failing to complete the math requirements required for a degree, according to the release.
Assembly Bill 705 will require colleges to use the high school grades or students rather than standardized tests to make accurate and equitable placement decisions, and ensure students are placed into courses that give them the best chances of completing college-level courses within a year.
Source: Brown signs bill to help boost community college student achievement
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that he has appointed Barbara Murchison as Director of the California Department of Education (CDE) Professional Learning Support Division.
Murchison will oversee the division’s efforts to support educators throughout their professional career, from recruitment to leadership opportunities. This division works in collaboration across the Department and the state, helping educators implement the California Standards and curriculum frameworks.
It administers several professional learning programs for educators at all levels and in all content areas, including science, technology, engineering, math, history-social science, literacy, and arts, with the goal of ensuring equitable learning opportunities for the state’s most vulnerable students, including English learners.
Murchison most recently served as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Lead, where she helped create a plan that meets federal requirements while shifting away from top-down decision-making and toward local control that helps local school districts better meet their own needs. The plan was developed over 18 months with input from thousands of Californians.
Source: New Professional Learning Support Director – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Nick Sestanovich
The school board will hear a report and discussion on the data from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) at Thursday’s meeting.
The SBAC is a statewide assessment administered to all third through eighth-graders and 11th-graders in the areas of English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. The SBAC replaced the California Standards test following the state’s shift to Common Core standards and allow students to not only answer questions in a variety of formats but also require students to explain their answers in an effort to demonstrate their knowledge. It also utilizes a computer whereas the previous test used the traditional pencil and paper.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Leslie Beatson and Educational Services Coordinator Stephanie Rice will dive into the findings from the results at Thursday’s meeting.
Source: BUSD to tackle state test data at Thursday’s school board meeting
By John Fensterwald
The California Department of Education has postponed the release of statewide results of the Smarter Balanced assessments in math and reading, which were to be published on Tuesday.
The department announced the delay Friday, citing a “recently identified data issue.” It offered no more details and did not set a new date for the release. The department had said the results would be released in September, then earlier this month pushed the date up to Aug. 29. Last year, the department released the scores on Aug. 24. In 2015, the first year of the full test, scores were released on Sept. 9.
School districts have had access to their own results for several weeks. And many parents already have received a report on their children’s individual scores, with a comparison with last year’s results.
Source: California delays release of Smarter Balanced scores | EdSource
By Mikhail Zinshteyn
A new policy from the California State University system will soon allow some students to take math classes with pre-requisites other than intermediate algebra to satisfy the math requirements they need for graduation.
The new rules go into effect starting in the fall of 2018 and will apply to both CSU freshmen and community college students transferring into the 23-university system. The changes will permit students who are not pursuing math or science majors to take non-algebra based math courses for general education, such as statistics, personal finance or even game theory and computer science.
Source: Cal State drops intermediate algebra as requirement to take some college-level math courses | EdSource
By Carolyn Jones
Cesar Conriquez, 12, was doing OK in math until 4th grade, when the curriculum turned to division. He got stuck. Really stuck. As his class moved on to more complex mathematical equations, Cesar was increasingly mired in confusion, and his grades in 4th and 5th grade plummeted.
“My teacher was helping me out but I still didn’t get it. Fractions, whole numbers … I couldn’t do it. It was stressing me out,” said the Pittsburg youth. “I wasn’t happy with my report card and my parents weren’t either. So I asked if I could get extra help.”
His parents enrolled him in Pittsburg Unified’s Summer Math Institute, a free, five-week intensive math program for middle-school students of all abilities, with special classes for students whose math skills are several grades below where they should be.
Source: Summer and school year programs give the very lowest math achievers answers, and hope | EdSource
By Ashley Hopkinson
California students who attended transitional kindergarten were more engaged in the learning process and better prepared for math and reading when they entered kindergarten than children who did not, according to a new study by the American Institutes for Research.
The study, released Wednesday, compared the skill levels of kindergartners who had attended transitional kindergarten with those who had attended preschool or had not been in formal preschool the year prior.
“Transitional kindergarten gives students an advantage of three to six months of learning in literacy and mathematics skills at kindergarten entry, which is quite notable, especially given that a large majority of the students attended preschool,” said Heather Quick, principal researcher of the study.
Source: Transitional kindergarten boosts school readiness in math, reading | EdSource
By Ryan McCarthy
Hotels stays costing $2,926, tickets to Great America totaling $2,502 and catering for a Crystal Middle School event have won Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees’ approval.
Mary’s Pizza Shack in Fairfield catered the Gifted and Talented Education event for more than 200 students and family members. The catering cost $1,231.
The Great America trip was for an eighth-grade class trip at the Sheldon Academy of Innovative Learning.
Source: Trustees OK hotel, Great America, Mary’s Pizza Shack costs
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today kicked off California’s largest Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education symposium.
Torlakson, who started his public service career as a high school science teacher and coach, welcomed more than 3,000 teachers, parents, students, researchers, entrepreneurs and others to the two-day event at the Anaheim Convention Center.
“STEM education is a key pathway to success in 21st century careers and college, especially in the high-tech, international economy,” Torlakson said. “We want all of our students to get excited about STEM learning, dream big, and reach for the stars.”
The third annual event showcases the importance of STEM education. Speakers highlighted California’s Next Generation Science Standards, a revolutionary update in teaching California’s 6.2 million public school students about science.
Source: Torlakson Kicks Off 2016 STEM Symposium – Year 2016 (CA Dept of Education)
By Bill Hicks
With graduation season in the rear view mirror, the school year for the Fairfield-Suisun School District is over – but that doesn’t mean the learning has stopped.
A group of 40 sixth- and seventh-graders returned, Friday night, from a five-day Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics camp, which included a trip to Vacaville-based ICON Aircraft, the Senate and Assembly chambers at the State Capitol and culminated with a trip to Vandenberg Air Force Base outside of Lompoc in Southern California.
This was the inaugural year for the program, which was developed in part thanks to a pre-existing connection Superintendent Kris Corey had with staff at Vandenberg AFB.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun School District STEM camp helps dreams take flight
By Pat Maio
Posing an ongoing challenge for California educators trying to tackle a critical teacher shortage area, the number of credentials issued to new math and science teachers in California continues to decline, according to new figures released Monday by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
In the 2014-15 school year, a total of 1,119 math credentials were issued, down 8.4 percent from the 1,221 in the previous school year. For that same year, there were 1,347 science credentials issued, down 6 percent from the 1,434 issued the year before.
The figures underscore the difficulty California still faces in addressing the longstanding shortage of math and science teachers in the state, a problem other states are also grappling with.
Source: Number of new math and science teachers declining in California | EdSource
By Nadra Nittle
Alyssa Wallace, a senior at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, was among the 29 high school students who took an unusual math class last summer; the course, taught at Cal State Long Beach, will allow her to get her college degree without taking another math class once she enrolls at the campus.
Math 103 is the only class offered at a CSU campus designed for high school students to earn college credit, say its organizers and CSU officials. It also aims to attract would-be teachers.
The course is part of an effort to address a major obstacle that has sabotaged the academic plans of numerous California students – satisfying college math requirements.
The three-week class, which kicked off last summer, allows high school juniors and seniors in the Long Beach Unified School District to earn three university credits.
Unlike Advanced Placement classes, Math 103 isn’t targeted at exceptional math students. Instead, the class is open to any student in 11th or 12th grade who’s passed Algebra II.
via Students can satisfy college math requirement while in high school | EdSource.
By Claudio Sanchez and Anya Kamenetz
Its almost a decade overdue, but the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote later today on a bill to replace the No Child Left Behind law.
Since NCLB was signed by President George W. Bush in early 2002, the federal government has played a major role in telling states how to run — and reform — their schools. But this new bill signals a sea change in the federal approach.
Annual tests in math and reading, the centerpiece of the old law, would remain in place. But the consequences of those test scores would no longer be dictated by the federal government. The new law, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, significantly shifts responsibility for improving schools back to the states.
via House Set To Vote On Education Overhaul : NPR Ed : NPR.
By Jay Harlow
This fall 9th-grade students in virtually all California high schools are taking math classes aligned with the Common Core standards. But for many of them there is an additional twist: they are embarking on a sequence of courses that represents a significant departure from how high school math has traditionally been taught in California and the nation.
Every district has had to decide whether to stick with a “traditional” sequence of courses in grades 9-11 (Algebra 1, followed by geometry, then Algebra 2, with some probability and statistics in each course) or adopt a new “integrated pathway” that combines and re-orders content from those courses in a three-year sequence.
That sequence is typically simply called Math I, Math II and Math III. Each course includes algebra, geometry, probability and statistics that are “integrated” with each other.
via California districts moving to new ‘integrated’ high school math pathway | EdSource.
By Fermin Leal
As parents across the state open the envelopes containing their children’s scores on the new Smarter Balanced assessments administered last spring, only a third of them will see that their children met or exceeded the math standard on the new Common Core-aligned tests.
In fact, only one-third of California students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 met the math standard – compared to 44 percent of students who met the standard in English language arts. That is also significantly lower than the percentage who scored at a proficient level in math on the old California Standards tests.
via Educators try to come to terms with low math scores on Smarter Balanced tests | EdSource.
Jim Simons was a mathematician and cryptographer who realized: the complex math he used to break codes could help explain patterns in the world of finance. Billions later, he’s working to support the next generation of math teachers and scholars. TED’s Chris Anderson sits down with Simons to talk about his extraordinary life in numbers.
via Jim Simons: A rare interview with the mathematician who cracked Wall Street | TED Talk | TED.com.
By Katrina Schwartz
There’s a part of the brain that enables us to perceive magnitude — we can compare loudness when hearing different tones or compare the number of dots in a group at a glance. Neuroscientists have identified this region responsible for perceptual comparison (the intraparietal sulcus) as linked to symbolic comparisons, including integers in math. That discovery led scientists to realize that symmetry plays a big role in how humans compare integers
Building on this background research, Stanford education researchers tested a teaching strategy explicitly focused on using symmetry to teach integers to fourth-graders. They wanted to see if recruiting the visual symmetry parts of the brain would improve students’ facility and understanding of the concept. Their findings, published in “Cognition and Instruction” in May, indicate that teaching with symmetry could have a big impact not just on students’ understanding of integers, but also on more advanced concepts that go well beyond the scope of instruction as well.
via How Teaching With Symmetry Improves Math Understanding | MindShift | KQED News.
By Susan Hiland
Student’s listened intently to Willie Hancock explain the results of the algebra test they had just taken.
Some of the students had begged their parents to be a part of the free, five-week algebra preparation course offered through the California State University Summer Algebra Institute. Others were placed in the class by concerned parents.
Hancock is a retired teacher from Grange Middle School who is donating his time this summer to help students learn about math in new ways.
via Summer math program helps students hone skills.
By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
A simple family outing to a Bay Area science fair motivated one Vallejo woman to create her own closer to home.
That event — The Boy Scouts of America, Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council’s first ever STEM Activity Day — is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
At $5 per family of four, the event is open to everybody, and is being held at the Vallejo Veteran’s Hall on Admiral Callaghan Lane, organizer Melissa Edwards said.
“I took my kids to the North Bay Science Discovery Day in Santa Rosa in October — a huge event with a committee that works on it year round,” Edwards said. “I lamented that we don’t have anything like this for the kids of Vallejo, so I decided to just do it myself — albeit on a smaller scale (at least initially).”
via Vallejo Scouting for Science STEM event Sunday.