Monday, March 5, 2012

Opportunity to provide feedback: SBAC Item Specifications Released for Third Round of Review

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) announced one last opportuity for the public (including teachers and administrators) to review and provide feedback on the SBAC item writing specifications and guidlines. These are documents that SBAC will use to develop test items for the assessment. The review window closes March 16. This gives individuals in our state an excellent opportunity to: further their understanding of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and how it can be assessed; gain insight into the Smarter Balanced assessment system; and be involved and provide feedback into the development process.

All the documents and a review survey are available via the Smarter Balanced Web site. A link to the documents and survey form are posted at Reviews must be completed by March 16.

For your reference, here are some suggestions for the kinds of individuals who might be appropriate to review each of the draft documents.

- Accessibility and Accommodations Guidelines: Teachers, Parents and Specialists for Students with Disabilities and/or English Language Learners or administrators who run programs for these students

- Bias and Sensitivity Guidelines: Individuals interested in the range of student diversity (personal characteristics such as race/ethnicity, disability, religion, etc.)

- ELA Specifications: Teachers, Parents, Educational Organizations, English Department Chairs/Faculty

- Math Specifications: Teachers, Parents, Educational Organizations, Math Department Chairs/Faculty

- Performance Task Specificiations: Both English and Math Chairs/Faculty, Teachers, Parents, Educational Organizations

- Stimulus Speciations: Both English and Math Chairs/Faculty, Teachers, Parents, Educational Organizations

- Style Guide: Editors and publishers of academic materials

- Technology Enhanced Item Specifications: Both English and Math Chairs/Faculty and those working with information technology.

Reviewers who have a familiarity with the CCSS (available at will be best able to provide informed commentary on the ELA, Math, Performance Task and Stimulus Specifications. The Smarter Balanced content specifications (available at are also important background reading for reviews.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

SMARTER Balanced Item Specifications review and feedback opportunity

To: Local Education Agencies staff and teachers
Subject: SMARTER Balanced Item Specifications review and feedback opportunity
Sent on behalf of Measured Progress
Local Education Agencies (LEAs) staff, teachers, and content organizations are invited to review the drafts of the SBAC item specifications and guidelines. The feedback will be captured via a survey hosted by SurveyMonkey.
A significant milestone in the assessment development process for the SMARTER Balanced assessment program is the development of Item Specifications and Guidelines. This is the next logical step in the process after the development of content specifications. The item specifications provide specific guidance to item writers on how to translate the Common Core Standards (as articulated through the SMARTER Balanced Content Specifications) into actual assessment items.
On Thursday, January 26, our contractor Measured Progress and ETS held a webinar to describe the item specifications documents that require state review. This is an iterative process. SMARTER Balanced work group members and K-12 member state leads did an earlier round of review this month and we are now enlarging the circle to include teachers, LEA staff, the vendor community, and others. The revised documents are available currently at (Under the SBAC 04 Showcase 2 header)
We are seeking feedback through an online survey, also available at Feedback on these documents will be due February 9.
As you will see, this is a large collection of information. Here are suggestions for who might be best to review these documents:
  • SBAC-04 Accessibility & Accommodations Specifications (PDF): Directors of Offices for Students with Disabilities or special education specialists; Specialists on English Language Learners or administrators who run programs for these students.
  • SBAC ELA Specifications (PDF): ELA Specialists, coaches, teachers SBAC Math Specifications (PDF): Mathematics Specialists, coaches, teachers.
  • SBAC Performance Task Specifications (PDF): Both ELA and Mathematics Specialists, coaches, teachers.
  • SBAC Stimulus Specifications (PDF): Both ELA and Mathematics Specialists, coaches, teachers.
  • SBAC-04 Style Guide (PDF): Academic specialists in educational measurement (detailed guidance on language use for item writers).
  • SBAC-04 Technology-Enhanced Item Specifications (PDF): Technical audience Showcase 2 Slide Deck (PPT): Provides useful background on the development process for specifications and an introduction to the showcase documents listed above.
  • Showcase 2 Recording (streaming video): A recording of the presentation of the showcase materials.
  • Survey Link (online SurveyMonkey): A survey designed to collect feedback from LEA personnel, teachers, vendors, and others.
Thank you in advance for your efforts to ensure that these assessments benefitfrom the perspectives and expertise of a wide range of individuals. If you have any questions, please contact Linda Bobst at
Thank you,
SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium
Sent on behalf of Measured Progress
WestEd - Project Management Partner

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

RFP for secondary schools re: Algebra & Formative Assessment Processes

The California Academic Partnership Program (CAPP) has posted an RFP and is accepting applications for planning grants to support secondary schools in closing achievement gaps and improving students' algebra preparedness and performance. CAPP is interested in supporting the work of teachers and principals who are committed to addressing issues of equity and improving student achievement in the critical area of algebra, a gateway course for access to and success in postsecondary education. Please see CAPP's website to access the application materials and additional background information:
I write to ask your help in sharing information and encouraging eligible applicants in your districts to review and apply.

This project, Using Formative Assessment Processes to Improve Algebra and Secondary Math Preparedness and Performance, will focus on middle and high schools and alignment of coursework and placement across grade levels to prepare students for success in Algebra the first time students take the course. CAPP provides these supports based on our experience that improving teaching practice is most likely to occur when teams of teachers work together to improve curriculum and instruction and school site leadership understands and supports this work. This grant will entail use of and provide professional development on the Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project ( ). The work will center on formative assessment processes and will align with the California Common Core Math Standards.

CAPP expects districts that receive planning grants to support the participation of their principals and teachers in grant activities and to commit to scaling successful elements to additional district schools in future years. Eligible applicants consist of district networks/partnerships of high schools and middle schools in deciles one through five of the California Academic Performance Index (API).

Two key dates:

· Statements of interest are due to CAPP by August 19, 2011.
· Applications are due to CAPP by September 30, 2011.

Information sessions will be held August 23, 2011 in Sacramento and August 25, 2011 in Long Beach. A webinar will be held on Monday, August 29. Details are included in the application materials and on the CAPP website.

CAPP will award planning grants in 2011-12 of $10,000 each to three district networks and in the subsequent years will award implementation grants for up to four years of approximately $75,000 each year.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lyle Fisher

Please join us
Saturday, March 5th
Redwood High School Library
Larkspur, CA
1 - 3 P.M.
A celebration of Lyle Fisher's life
Come and share this opportunity to give our thanks and appreciation for having known this outstanding colleague and friend.
Light refreshments will be served.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bill Honig Withdraws Name as State Board of Education Appointee

Bill Honig Withdraws Name as State Board of Education Appointee
January 10, 2011

Former state schools chief Louis "Bill" Honig, has withdrawn his nomination to the state Board of Education, Gov. Jerry Brown's office announced today.
Honig, one of seven appointed to the board announced by Brown last week, resigned as state Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1993 after he was convicted of felony conflict-of-interest charges. The charges, which involved authorizing state funds for schools to hire his wife's nonprofit group, were later reduced to misdemeanors.
A release announcing Honig's decision does not specify why he decided to withdraw his name. Brown had defended his decision to appoint Honig, who had also served on the board during his first go-round as governor.
"I've known him, I've known his family," Brown said last week. "He has the kind of knowledge of the bureaucracy of education, as well as education policy. I think he's acquitted himself well in recent years. I think people can be confident that he has a contribution to make."
Brown nominated Dr. Ilene W. Straus, Beverly Hills Unified School District assistant superintendent for educational services, to fill the post. Straus, who has also worked in the Santa Monica school district, is a Democrat, according to the release.


Also note: T
he updated agenda for the California State Board of Education meeting this week is available at (A number of items have been withdrawn from the January meeting agenda due to the recent SBE membership shake-up.) 

Friday, January 7, 2011

3 Opportunities for Mathematics and Science

From the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Please share with those you believe might be interested. These opportunities are not restricted to MSP (Mathematics and Science Partnership) participants. Others are eligible to apply.


The following opportunities may be of interest.

NASA Summer of Innovation: Consider applying for the 2011 Summer of Innovation (SoI), an intensive STEM teaching and learning program that targets middle school students and middle school teachers. For more information, click here.

SSP Fellows Program: The SSP Fellows 2011 application period is now open. This is your chance to be one of ten high school teachers competitively selected from across the country. The SSP Fellows Program provides funds and training to selected U.S. science and math teachers who serve under-resourced students, to enable interested and motivated students to perform high-quality independent scientific research. For more information, click here.

NSF Computing Education for the 21st Century: The National Science Foundation (NSF) has a new program, called Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21). The intent of CE21 is to fund collaborations that include expertise in computer science education, broadening participation in computing, and research on teaching and learning. A meeting will be held on January 31-February 1 in New Orleans, and travel funds are available for a limited number of attendees. For more information, click here.

These materials can also be found in the What's New box on the MSP home page

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gov. Brown's Appointments to the California State Board of Education

Earlier today, Governor Brown announced the following seven appointments to the California State Board of Education (SBE): Carl Anthony Cohn (Palm Springs), Bill Honig (Marin), Michael Kirst (Stanford), Aida Molina (Bakersfield), James Ramos (San Bernardino), Patricia Ann Rucker (Elk Grove), and Trish Boyd Williams (San Jose).

A SBE source provided the following information (unconfirmed) about the Board members whose terms either ended today or who are continuing (

* Current members Ruth Bloom [current SBE Vice President] and Johnathan Williams will be in attendance at the January 12-14, 2011 Board meeting, but their terms are up after that meeting.
* The terms of the following Board Members have ended as of today, and they will not be returning (or participating in the January 12-14, 2011 Board meeting):
- Ted Mitchell [current SBE President]
- David Lopez
- Alan Arkatov
- Ben Austin
- James Fang
[These five members were appointed/reappointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger last year but had not been confirmed by the Senate, which wanted to give the new governor the power to establish his own education team.]
* The current Members who remain on the Board at this time are:
- Yvonne Chan
- Gregory Jones
- Jim Aschwanden
- Connor Cushman (Student Member)
* In addition to the four current Members remaining, the seven newly appointed Members will also be attending the January Board meeting. 

Bios follow below for Governor Brown's State Board of Education appointments (boldface added). All are registered Democrats.
Dr. Carl Anthony Cohn (Palm Springs) -- He has been a Professor and the Co-Director of the Urban Leadership Program at Claremont Graduate University since 2009. Previously, Cohn served as the Superintendent of Schools for the San Diego Unified School District from 2005 to 2007. He was a Clinical Professor with the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California from 2002 to 2005 and the Superintendent of Schools for the Long Beach Unified School District from 1992 to 2002. Cohn is a member of the Association of California School Administrators.

Louis "Bill" Honig (Marin) -- He has been President of the Consortium on Reading Excellence since 2005. Previously, Honig served as a Visiting Distinguished Professor at San Francisco State University's School of Education from 1993 to 1998. He was the Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1983 to 1993. Honig previously served on the California State Board of Education under Governor Brown from 1975 to 1983. [See]
Dr. Michael Kirst (Stanford) -- He currently serves as a Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, where he has taught since 1969.   Previously, Kirst served on the California State Board of Education under Governor Brown from 1975 to 1982. Kirst also served as the Director of Program Planning for the U.S. Office of Education and was Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment, and Poverty from 1967 to 1969. 
Aida Molina (Bakersfield) -- She has served as the Executive Director on Academic Improvement and Accountability for Bakersfield City School District since 2005.   Previously, Molina was a Commissioner with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing from 2004 to 2007.  Molina was a principal with Bakersfield City School District from 2001 to 2005, an elementary school principal with the Sacramento Unified School District from 1999 to 2001, an assistant principal with the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District from 1997 to 1999, and a bilingual teacher from 1992 to 1997.  Molina is a member of the Association of School Administrators and the California Association of Bilingual Educators. 
James Ramos (San Bernardino) -- Ramos has served as the Chairman for the San Manuel Band of Indians since 2008, having previously served as Treasurer, as a member of the Business Committee, and as Chairman of the Tribe's Gaming Commission. Ramos was re-elected in 2010 as a member of the San Bernardino Community College Board of Trustees, where he has served since 2005. He has served as a member and chairperson of the Native American Heritage Commission since 2007.
Patricia Ann Rucker (Elk Grove) -- Since 2008, she has worked as the Legislative Advocate for the California Teachers Association and was a consultant for the California Teachers Association on instruction and professional development from 1997 to 2008. She also served as a teacher in the Del Paso Heights School District from 1983 to 1997.
Trish Boyd Williams (San Jose) -- She has served as the Executive Director for EdSource since 1992. Previously, Williams served as a program consultant to the Director for the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth from 1983 to 1990, and as a Presidential Management Intern and then a Management Analyst for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1979 to 1982.
State Board of Education appointments require Senate confirmation.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

News from Algebra Forum III

The 3rd statewide Algebra Forum concluded last night to much praise and optimism. Over 100 math educators gathered for the past 2 1/2 days at the Santa Clara County Office of Education to hear presentations by William McCallum on the Common Core Standards, Margaret Smith on high cognitive demand tasks, Lena Licon Khisty on increasing the instructional effectiveness with Latinas/os and many others. There were many opportunities to network with colleagues, reflect on the presentations, and discuss next steps in the regional teams. Several themes emerged from the forum. Among the most important are that the Common Core Mathematical Standards of Practice are front and center to everything we need to do and students need to be actively involved and engaged in problem solving and high cognitive demand tasks in which they are discussing and reasoning using the language of mathematicians. The Algebra Forum has developed a public website full of resources, research, and many of the presentations from the previous two forums. Visit to access these resources and for more information about the forum.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics--Implementation Support from NCTM

Source: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)


The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has posted a PowerPoint file on its Web site "to inform teachers and to support them in implementation of the Common Core State Standards [(CCSS)]. Other presentations for grade bands are under development and will be made available soon." Download the file from the Web page above.

Also on this Web page is a link to the joint statement in support of the CCSS issued by NCTM, the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), the Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM), and the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics.

For more information about NCTM's initiatives related to the CCSS, read NCTM President J. Michael Shaughnessy's report located at