May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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