September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

President Obama Announces Plans for a New, National Corps to Recognize and Reward Leading Educators in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Posted: Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Obama Administration will announce the President’s plan for the creation of a new, national Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps comprised of some of the nation’s finest educators in STEM subjects. The STEM Master Teacher Corps will begin with 50 exceptional STEM teachers established in 50 sites and will be expanded over 4 years to reach 10,000 Master Teachers. These selected teachers will make a multi-year commitment to the Corps and, in exchange for their expertise, leadership and service, will receive an annual stipend of up to $20,000 on top of their base salary. The Administration will launch this Teacher Corps with the $1 billion from the President’s 2013 budget request currently before Congress.

President Obama said, “If America is going to compete for the jobs and industries of tomorrow, we need to make sure our children are getting the best education possible. Teachers matter, and great teachers deserve our support.”

Today, the Administration also announced that the President will immediately dedicate approximately $100 million of the existing Teacher Incentive Fund toward helping school districts implement high-quality plans to establish career ladders that identify, develop, and leverage highly effective STEM teachers. With an application deadline of July 27th, over 30 school districts across America have already signaled their interest in competing for funding to identify and compensate highly effective teachers who can model and mentor STEM instruction for their teaching peers, providing those teachers with additional compensation, recognition, and responsibilities in their schools.

These Administration plans build on a key recommendation of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), calling for a national STEM Master Teacher Corps to recognize and help retain America’s most talented STEM teachers, build a community of practice among them, raise the profile of the STEM teaching profession, and leverage excellent teachers to collaborate with their peers to strengthen STEM education in America’s public schools.

As part of the announcement, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Dr. John Holdren, and PCAST Co-Chair Dr. Eric Lander will meet on Wednesday at the White House with outstanding math and science teachers to discuss efforts to strengthen teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and build up the STEM education profession.

Supporting Master Teachers through Recognition, Respect, and Rewards

Early in his Administration, President Obama called for a national effort to help move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement. The Obama Administration is committed to preparing young people both to learn deeply and think critically in STEM, and to equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary for jobs in the high-growth fields that fuel American innovation.

Improving STEM teaching is a key strategy to reaching this national goal. To meet this critical need, PCAST issued the Prepare and Inspire report, with a key recommendation calling for the creation of a new, national STEM Master Teacher Corps. Master Teachers are classroom-based educators who are highly effective in improving learning outcomes for their students, model outstanding teaching, and share their practices and strategies with their professional colleagues to lead and guide improvements across education. Master teachers know and are deeply interested in their subject, care about improving their craft, and inspire both their students and fellow teachers. PCAST recommended that the STEM Master Teacher Corps become a national resource – a networked community of outstanding public school teachers of STEM subjects who can serve as resources to each other and to other educators in schools and communities nationwide, and who would signal the value of STEM education to America’s future.

In order to ensure America’s students are prepared for success in an increasingly competitive global economy, we must do more to ensure that teaching is highly respected and supported as a profession, and that accomplished, effective teachers are guiding students’ learning in every classroom. The Obama Administration’s 2013 budget includes a new, $5 billion program – the RESPECT Project, which stands for Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence, and Collaborative Teaching – that will boldly re-envision the teaching profession for the 21st Century. Today’s announcements build on the RESPECT project by supporting STEM master teachers as a key strategy to retain and reward our nation’s most accomplished STEM educators, and by enabling them to work in new ways to dramatically improve student achievement. Lifting up America’s teachers is critical to recruiting promising talent, retaining the best, and continuously improving outcomes for students.

A New, National STEM Master Teacher Corps

The President will dedicate $1 billion from his 2013 budget request currently before Congress to launch a new, national STEM Master Teacher Corps.

As part of the RESPECT project, the STEM Master Teacher Corps will be supported by the U.S. Department of Education, and established in collaboration with independent, non-profit organizations and local public-private partnerships between STEM-related businesses and industries and school districts. Key parts of the plan include:

• A rigorous selection of the best and brightest math and science teachers from across the country: The STEM Master Teacher Corps will be established in 100 sites – each with 50 exceptional STEM teachers – and will be expanded over 4 years to reach 10,000 Master Teachers. Accomplished teachers will be selected for the STEM Master Teacher Corps through a highly competitive process, based on demonstrated effectiveness in teaching one or more STEM subjects, their content knowledge, and their contributions to the continuous improvement of teaching and learning both within their schools and across the community of STEM teachers. The selection process will be administered locally or regionally, but aligned to a set of national benchmarks.

• National recognition and rewards, including compensation to keep Corps members in the profession: STEM Master Teacher Corps members will benefit from a professional compensation structure that will make their profession more competitive with alternative careers, keeping the best teachers in the classrooms where they are needed. STEM Master Teacher Corps members will make a multi-year commitment to the Corps and, in exchange for their expertise, leadership and service, will receive an annual stipend of up to $20,000 on top of their base salary. This recognition further raises the prestige of the Corps members, enabling America’s classrooms to attract and secure the best talent in the STEM education profession.

• Corps members as a national resource, for their schools and for other STEM educators: STEM Master Teacher Corps members will be called to serve their profession and the nation, through an ongoing commitment to professional learning. They will build a community of teaching practice where they live, helping students excel in math and science while taking on leadership and mentorship roles in their schools and communities. Corps members will lead ongoing professional meetings and teacher development activities; assist their schools and school districts in evaluating and providing feedback to other teachers; and validate and disseminate effective practices to improve STEM instruction. They will participate in regular convenings to engage in professional development and share best practices; deepen their subject matter expertise; consult with experts in teaching and learning; and improve their instructional leadership and pedagogical content skills.

These efforts will be complemented as well by private sector responses to the President’s call for “all hands on deck” approach to excellence in STEM education, including Google’s commitment to convene education leaders and innovators to develop ideas to recognize, connect, and raise the profile of these STEM master teachers.

Building on Success

Today’s announcements align with the President’s belief that excellent STEM teaching requires both deep content knowledge and strong teaching skills, and his strong leadership in working to improve STEM education:

The President has announced an ambitious goal of preparing 100,000 additional STEM teachers over the next decade, with growing philanthropic and private sector support. This program would provide competitive awards to create or expand high-quality pathways to teacher certification and other innovative approaches for recruiting, training, and placing talented recent college graduates and mid-career professionals in the STEM fields in high-need schools. With the president’s leadership, over 115 organizations, led by Carnegie Corporation of New York and Opportunity Equation, came together to form the coalition “100Kin10” to help reach the President’s goal. These efforts have yielded a $22 million investment from philanthropic and private sectors toward helping to meet the President’s goal.

• Since 1983, the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) program has served as the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science. Plans are underway to reconfigure PAEMST beyond its current scope to design new opportunities for PAEMST teachers to share their expertise and to continue to grow as professionals. Opportunities may include benefiting from NSF-sponsored international exchanges, collaborating with the research scientists and engineers funded by the NSF, and accessing scientific data and findings from NSF projects for use in their classrooms. These opportunities will allow PAEMST teachers to connect directly with NSF-funded science and education projects, so they can use the latest scientific findings, tools and data in their classrooms and with their colleagues, and even participate in frontier research. Additionally, NSF will help strengthen the cyber networks among the more than 4,000 PAEMST awardees over the past 29 years, and PAEMST awardees will have opportunities to serve as mentors and advisors to the next generation of STEM teachers. In the coming months, NSF will host a series of community forums for input in the design of these new components.

• The only competitive preference priority in the Race to the Top program was for states to develop a high quality plan to improve STEM education at the state level. All twelve awardees in the initial round of this $4 billion program earned points for this priority, and this emphasis was maintained through an additional $200M in funding to seven more states in Phase 3 of the Race to the Top competition.

• The Investing in Innovation (i3) program makes competitive awards to develop, validate, and scale up innovative programs, practices, and strategies that are effective in improving student outcomes. i3 has maintained a priority on promoting STEM education, to support innovative programs with evidence of impact from districts across the country. Next year, funds within i3 will also support the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Education, which will foster breakthrough developments in educational technology and learning systems.

• In 2009, the President launched Educate to Innovate, a public-private partnership that brings together leading businesses, foundations, non-profits, and professional societies to improve STEM teaching and learning. As part of this effort, the President launched Change the Equation, a CEO-led effort to dramatically improve STEM education by mobilizing the business community to improve the quality of STEM education in the United States. This past February, Change the Equation announced that 24 member companies would expand five effective STEM programs in more than 130 new sites, benefiting nearly 40,000 students nationwide -over half of whom are in low-income schools.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Cal

This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.