California STEM Network News – March 2021

Virtual STEM Learning During COVID Briefing

On March 17th, the STEM Education Coalition and STEMx, of which the California STEM Network is a founding member, hosted its second briefing of the year for national policymakers from Capitol Hill and federal agencies. The purpose of the briefing was to share the insights and experiences of education leaders regarding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on STEM teaching and learning. Focusing primarily on K-12 issues, the briefing offered a broad perspective on schools, teachers, districts, and state plans for returning to in-person instruction and supporting the learning recovery of students, particularly in STEM subjects. Featured speakers included: Vince Stewart, Executive Director of the California STEM Network; Alisa Cooper de Uribe, 2021 New Mexico Teacher of the Year; Dr. Anthony Jackson, Superintendent of the Vance County (NC) School System; Dr. Penny Schwinn, Tennessee Education Commissioner; and Dr. Tracey Brown, Director of Guidance, Counseling and College Readiness for the Irving (TX) Independent School District. You can watch the full briefing here.


Science Teacher Provides Science Kits & Teacher Professional Development

Stuart Loebl, an amazing science teacher,  is a Science Specialist at Lorin A. Eden Elementary School in the Hayward Unified School District (HUSD). Like many teachers, he has been concerned about his students and the amount of science instruction they have received during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fearing that many of the district’s students were missing out on science, and not only falling behind academically but also losing some of their excitement for school and learning, Stuart took it upon himself to create and assemble science kits for the elementary school teachers and students in his district. With start-up funding from his district and the help of volunteers, Stuart sent over 4,000 kits to the homes of students. And, to support his colleagues, he provided professional development in science to 170 elementary teachers. Of the teachers he’s trained, more than 50% indicated that they had done three or fewer science lessons per month during the pandemic and some did none at all. While the Hayward Unified School District provided initial funding for this project, Stuart secured additional funding from his district to assemble another 1,000 kits and train 40 more teachers. However, he still needs volunteers; if you’re interested in volunteering, you can get more information here. If you want to know more about the science kits, please check out the HUSD Science Kits website.


It’s Workshop/Presentation Proposal Season

While much has changed with professional learning conferences this past year, they are still being organized and are a great opportunity for sharing a best practice or high-quality resource as well as learning something new. Here are just a few of the events scheduled for later this year that are now accepting proposals for presentations:

Coming soon: stay tuned for information regarding the California STEAM Symposium. In the meantime, check out the CDE Foundation’s new program: Teacher Coach Professional Learning Community.


Draft California Mathematics Framework Information Sessions and Feedback Opportunities

Republished with permission from the March 14, 2021 issue of California Online Mathematics Education Times (COMET) 

The California State Board of Education (SBE) adopted the current Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools, K-12 in 2013 and anticipates taking action to approve the 2021 Framework at its meeting in November. The first (current) 60-day public review of the Mathematics Framework draft concludes on April 8, after which the field review results will be analyzed and revisions made. The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) is then expected to take action on the revised draft. The second 60-day public review and comment period will be held in June and July.

The California Mathematics Council (CMC), the California Mathematics Project (CMP), the California State University (CSU), and other organizations have hosted informative webinars and opportunities for constituents to provide input regarding the current draft. CMC’s Mathematics Framework webpage includes information on its three recent Mathematics Framework webinars (including the archived video and presentation slides from these webinars). A number of additional opportunities to review and discuss the contents of the draft Framework are also included on this page:

The majority of the Framework webinars have been attended by or led by members of the 2021 Mathematics Framework writing team:

  • Jo Boaler, Stanford University
  • Katy Early, CSU Chico
  • Ben Ford, Sonoma State
  • Jenny Langer-Osuna, Stanford University
  • Brian Lindaman, CSU Chico (Chair)

For an overview of the revision process and links to the draft chapters approved by the IQC, as well as a link to the survey for providing feedback, visit  The deadline for submitting public comments is April 8.


State Board of Education Takes Action to Seek an Assessment and Accountability Waiver

On March 16, SBE took action to request a waiver of assessment requirements from the federal Department of Education (DOE). In February, the Board had taken action to request a waiver of the federal accountability requirements associated with statewide summative assessments, including the identification of schools. In addition, despite guidance from the DOE that stated blanket assessment waivers would not be issued, the SBE authorized the submission of a waiver request from the requirements to administer the science assessments, which in California is known as the California Science Test (CAST) and is administered to all students in grades 5, 8, and once in high school. The March meeting built on the conversation the SBE had in February and concluded with directing CDE staff to prepare a waiver request to submit to the DOE requesting permission for schools to administer locally-selected assessments in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics in grades 3 – 8 and 11 in lieu of the Smarter Balanced assessments.They also approved of making the CAST and the Smarter Balanced Assessment (California’s assessment for ELA and math) available for use by schools if that is the assessment selected by the district.

As it stands today, state and federal assessment requirements remain in place. In order to be released from the accountability and assessment requirements, action must be taken at both the state (executive order or legislation) and federal (waiver approval by the DOE) levels. As of March 16,  several schools had already begun testing students using the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the CAST. CDE reported 14,000 ELA and 8,000 math assessments underway, and 11,000 CASTs underway, with 9,200 already completed.


STEM Legislation

AB 498 (Quirk-Silva) – Computer Science Access Initiative

This bill would establish the Computer Science Access Initiative to be administered by the State Department of Education in consultation with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The bill would require the Department to award grants, on or before July 1, 2022, to eligible entities for the purpose of increasing the number of teachers authorized and trained to instruct pupils in computer science, as specified. The bill would require a grant recipient to submit to the department, in a form and manner determined by the department, a report containing certain information measuring the results of the use of grant funds. The bill would provide that the operation of these provisions is contingent on an appropriation in the annual Budget Act or another statute for these purposes.

Status: Assembly Education Committee

AB 932 (Levine) – Cradle-to-Career Grant Program

This bill would require the Department of Community Services and Development to establish and administer the Cradle-to-Career (C2C) Grant Program for the purpose of addressing child poverty and achievement gaps among California children of different races and socioeconomic statuses. Under the bill, C2C grants awarded would be available to community-level or regional networks, as specified. The bill would require the department to convene and facilitate a workgroup to establish common indicators and metrics, an application process, and additional requirements deemed appropriate to further the purposes of the program.

Status: Assembly Human Services Committee

SB 309 (Leyva) – A-G Completion Improvement Grant Program

This bill would repeal provisions establishing the College Readiness Block Grant. The bill would establish the A–G Completion Improvement Grant Program to provide additional supports to local educational agencies to help increase the number of California high school pupils, particularly unduplicated pupils, who graduate high school meeting the A–G subject matter requirements for admission to the University of California and the California State University. The bill would appropriate $200,000,000 for purposes of the program and would require the Superintendent to allocate funds for the 2021–22 fiscal year under the program, as A–G Access Grants and A–G Success Grants, to school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools meeting certain requirements to be available for expenditure or encumbrance through the 2025–26 fiscal year.

Status: Senate Appropriations Committee

AB 312 (Seyarto) – Teacher Credentialing- Basic Skills Requirement Exemption

This bill would exempt from the basic skills proficiency test requirement an applicant who earns at least a letter grade of B in qualifying coursework, as defined, determined by a credential preparation program or the commission, as specified, to sufficiently serve as an alternative indicator of proficiency in basic reading, writing, and mathematics skills in the English language. The bill would also exempt an applicant who has demonstrated proficiency in the basic skills through a combination of qualifying coursework, passage of components of the state basic skills proficiency test, and scores on the writing, reading, and mathematics sections of the College Board SAT Reasoning Test, the enhanced ACT English and mathematics tests, or the California State University Early Assessment Program that are sufficient to waive the English placement test and the entry level mathematics examination administered by the California State University.

Status: Assembly Education Committee

AB 437 (Kalra) – Teacher Credentialing – Subject Matter Competence

This bill would authorize a candidate for the preliminary multiple or single subject teaching credential to demonstrate subject matter competence by completing higher education coursework in the subject matters related to the content area of the credential, as provided. The bill would authorize a program of professional preparation to verify a candidate’s subject matter competence in this manner for this purpose. The bill would additionally authorize a candidate to demonstrate subject matter competence through a combination of a subject matter examination and higher education coursework in the subject matters related to the content area of the credential.

Status: Assembly Education Committee

SB 488 (Rubio) – Teacher Credentialing – Reading Instruction

This bill would require the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to revise the preparation program standards and Teaching Performance Expectations (TPEs) for literacy; authorize candidates who have been unable to take the RICA due to test center closures from COVID-19 to take an assessment in reading instruction required by another state that is identified by the CTC as meeting certain requirements; and require CTC to update the Teaching Performance Assessment (TPA) by July 1, 2025 to assess candidates on their ability to effectively teach reading. This bill applies to the preliminary multiple subject credential, the preliminary single subject English language arts credential, and the preliminary education specialist credential.

Status: Senate Appropriations Committee

SCR 20 (Ochoa Bogh) Women and Girls in STEM Week

This measure would designate April 4 to April 10, 2021, inclusive, as Women and Girls in STEM Week and would encourage all citizens and community organizations to support the observance of California’s Women and Girls in STEM Week by encouraging and celebrating women in the STEM fields.

Status: Senate Rules Committee