Don’t miss CMC-Central in Stanislaus

2015 Theme:  Communicating Mathematically
Friday, March 13th, Cathy Carroll, Research Associate with WestEd, will present a session for administrators and lead teachers.
Saturday, March 14th – PI Day!!! – Author Greg Tang (
gregtangmath.comwill open and close the day, with grade span teacher-to-teacher break-outs during the day.

Don’t be left out!  Grab your administrator and join us at CSU Stanislaus for an energizing two day symposium around communication. (Go to or see attached flyer for more information.)

We sincerely hope to see you there!
Your Central Section Board and CCSS Symposium Planning Committee

Lori M. Hamada
President, CMC Central

Calculators in the Classroom?

Calculators in the classroom is a constant debate.  However, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, aka PARCC, had created their own Policy.


PARCC Calculator Policy for
Calculator Sections of the Mathematics Assessments – Originally Released July 2012, Updated October 2014*

Allowable Calculators:

  • Grades 3-5: No calculators allowed, except for students with an approved calculator accommodation (see below)
  • Grades 6-7: Four-function with square root and percentage functions
  • Grade 8: Scientific calculators
  • High school: Graphing calculators (with functionalities consistent with TI -84 or similar models)Additionally, schools must adhere to the following additional guidance regarding calculators:
  • No calculators with Computer Algebra System (CAS) features are allowed.
  • No tablet, laptop (or PDA), or phone-based calculators are allowed during PARCC assessments.
  • Students are not allowed to share calculators within a testing session.
  •  Test administrators must confirm that memory on all calculators has been cleared before and after the testing sessions.
  • Calculators with “QWERTY” keyboards are not permitted.
  • If schools or districts permit students to bring their own hand-held calculators for PARCC assessment purposes, test administrators must confirm that the calculators meet PARCC requirements as defined above.Calculator Accommodations:For students who meet the guidelines in the PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual for a calculation device, this accommodation allows a calculation device to be used on non- calculator section of any PARCC mathematics assessment. Four-function with square root and percentage functions are allowable for grades 3-5. Please refer to the allowable calculator list for other grade levels.If a student needs a calculator as part of an accommodation in the non-calculator section, the student will need a hand-held calculator because an online calculator will not be available. If a student needs a specific calculator (e.g., large key, talking), the student can also bring his or her own, provided it is specified in his or her approved IEP or 504 Plan.

    *Calculator specifications were released July 2012. One addition was made July 2014 to allow four function calculators with square root AND percentage functions. Additional guidance on allowable calculators for accommodations for grades was included September 2014. Additional clarification was added to the FAQs October 2014.

Frequently Asked Questions about PARCC’s Calculator Policy:

1. Can students use hand-held calculators for computer-based assessments?

Yes. For 2014-2015, students may use hand-held calculators on computer-based Mathematics PARCC assessments on sections where a calculator is allowable (grades 6 through high school), if they prefer. All hand-held calculators must meet PARCC requirements as defined in PARCC’s Calculator Policy.

It is recommended that schools identify which students prefer to use a hand-held calculator prior to administration to ensure that a sufficient number of calculators is available. Hand-held calculators are required for paper-based testing. Test administrators are responsible for ensuring hand-held calculators meet specifications, including ensuring the memory is cleared before and after administration.

2. Can students use their own calculators on PARCC assessments?

Yes. However, test administrators must confirm that the calculators meet PARCC requirements as defined in PARCC’s Calculator Policy.

3. Can students use calculators on PARCC assessments that are allowable for higher or lower grade level assessments?

No. In order to provide comparability across schools in the consortium, students must only use calculators that are allowable for their grade/course assessment. PARCC assessment items were developed with PARCC’s Calculator Policy in mind. Allowing for the use of a calculator that is designated for a lower or higher grade level assessment may unfairly disadvantage or advantage students and is, therefore, not allowed.

4. If a student takes an Algebra I course where a graphing calculator is used, but the student is taking a grade 8 PARCC assessment where a scientific calculator is used, which calculator should they use?

Calculator usage is assessment specific, regardless of the student’s grade level (e.g., a student who takes the assessment for a specific grade or course must use the calculator required by PARCC’s Calculator Policy for that assessment). In this example, the student should use a scientific calculator, since the student is taking the grade 8 PARCC assessment. A student taking the Algebra I assessment would use the graphing calculator for this assessment regardless of the student’s grade level. Schools should ensure students have ample opportunity to practice with the allowable calculator for their PARCC grade/course assessment.

5. Does my school have to buy new calculators?

Maybe. All schools participating in computer-based PARCC assessments will be provided an online calculator through the computer-based delivery platform. If a student chooses to use a hand-held calculator, he or she may either bring their own calculator or the school may provide the calculator. For paper-based assessments, all students in grades 6 and higher must have a hand-held calculator for the calculator portion of the assessment. Either schools must ensure they have a sufficient number of the appropriate calculators available or allow students to bring their own. All calculators must meet PARCC requirements defined in PARCC’s Calculator Policy.

Teachers need to make sure students know how to utilize calculators  for their success not for the test but for future classes and their careers.

Following are photos from Miss Watson’s 7th-grade class in Peoria, Illinois.  You can see that students are grouped or partnered, utilizing hands-on learning and graphing calculators.  Students are engaged, utilizing math vocabulary and higher-level thinking skills in order to encompass their learning.  Students are taking responsibility to fill learning gaps by learning from others.  Teacher is the coach and not the center of learning.  Changing to project-based learning in cooperative learning style using manipulative and calculators with the teacher as a resource will change the learning environment to productive experience for all involved.  ~Sandy


image1 image3 image6 image4 image2 image8 image10 image12

Engineer Your Future!

How exciting is Project-Based Learning?   Check out what my friend, Andrea Fernandes, and her group created for Mission Oak High School in Tulare, California.  I have watched Andrea since ground floor implement this into her high school.  It’s so exciting to see the progress.  Teachers have such a profound effect on students.  Never Never Never Ever Give up! ~Sandy


Math Counts 2015

Math Counts 2015 was a great success February 11, in Fresno, California.  Kastner Intermediate in Clovis won Team, and students from 6 schools around the area won the 10 Individual spots.  Students work individually and as teams to compete in this math competition held for middle school students in the Tulare/Kings/Fresno County Areas.  These types of competitions make my heart sing! ~SandyStudents 3Students 2Students 1Countdown Round Top four from the Countdown roundTop Team for the Countdown RoundTop 10 individualsTop 10 Individuals Scores!1st place team - KastnerFirst place team and their coach from Kastner Intermediate School in Clovis.


What happens when the Common Core becomes less … common?

 January 25
The Common Core State Standards were envisioned as a way to measure most of the nation’s students against a shared benchmark, but education experts say political upheaval and the messy reality of on-the-ground implementation is threatening that original goal.

“Part of the whole point was you were going to have commonality that would let you compare schools in Chicago to schools in Cleveland,” said Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who supports the concept of common standards but has been critical of efforts to implement the Core. “We may not see the benefits that folks were hoping to see. . . . The whole notion of commonality, which was so attractive, is more and more a phantasm.”

One of the bipartisan hopes for the Common Core, a set of guidelines for what the nation’s kindergarten-through-12th-grade students should learn and when, was that states would leave behind their patchwork of 50 different sets of standards measured by 50 different tests. It would, for the first time, be easy for parents and policymakers to directly compare student performance in one state to the rest of the nation, and it would be much more difficult for lagging states to game the system in an effort to hide weak performance.

That goal seemed easily within reach in 2011, as 45 states and the District of Columbia adopted the new standards. The Obama administration spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help states develop two new online tests, known as PARCC and Smarter Balanced, that would measure student progress on the Common Core, and most states signed on to administer those tests starting this spring.

But as some states head into their first round of testing, the picture has fragmented amid political blowback from parents and conservative lawmakers who criticize the Core as nationalized education and have found the new course material confounding.

Indiana and Oklahoma have dropped the Core, and four other states are moving to review and potentially replace the standards. Lawmakers in other statehouses are taking up anti-Common Core bills as the legislative season gets underway.

There has been even broader resistance to the common standardized tests. In 2010, for example, there were 26 states aligned with the testing consortium known as PARCC, but that has whittled down by more than half: Now only 12 states plus the District plan to give the PARCC exam to students, according to the Council of State School Officers, an organization of state education chiefs. Mississippi became the latest state to back out of the PARCC testing consortium this month amid calls from Gov. Phil Bryant (R) to drop the Common Core.

Smarter Balanced has seen less attrition, but just 18 states plan to give that test this spring. The states that are planning to administer one of the two tests account for about 40 percent of students nationwide, according to an analysis by the trade newspaper Education Week. The remaining 20 states have chosen their own tests, which could make meaningful comparisons difficult.

Common Core advocates say they never thought every state would sign on to the standards or that every state would agree to one of the two consortia tests. But they also acknowledge that the fragmentation is not ideal, and they hope more states will decide to return to the fold.

“The real issue is what some of these independent state assessments are going to look like, and I think the jury is still out,” said Gene Wilhoit, the former director of an organization of state schools chiefs who played a key role in promoting the Core.

Wilhoit said he had initially envisioned a much more limited number of tests that would allow for a broad comparison of student performance across many states, providing a national picture of achievement.

Although it’s not clear how testing will shake out, Wilhoit said he’s confident that the nation’s focus on Common Core will make it impossible for states to slide by with easy tests that make their students look more accomplished than they are. That has been an issue since 2002, when the federal No Child Left Behind law established sanctions against schools that failed to meet testing targets.

“I am convinced that whatever comes about will be scrutinized to a degree that no one has ever seen,” Wilhoit said. “I think it’s going to be difficult now for any state to hide.”

Some teachers say it’s important to be able to compare their students’ performance with students elsewhere.

Eu Hyun Choi, a seventh-grade math teacher in Chicago, said on a trip to New York for literacy training she realized that, because the two states gave different tests, it wasn’t possible to gauge how her students measured up against those in New York. She feared that her students were being held to a lower bar than their peers elsewhere.

“I just felt like Illinois students were getting cheated,” she said.

The Chicago school system announced this month that it would administer PARCC to 10 percent of its students because of concerns about limited technology access.

Choi said she hopes her students are among those who will take the PARCC exam this year, but she was dismayed to find out that she’ll only be able to compare her students’ performance with 11 other states.

“That’s pretty shocking,” she said.

Other teachers say they don’t care much about the ability to compare test scores across state lines. But they’re tired of the indecision that has come with the political tussles over the standards and their tests.

Natalie Shaw, a second-grade teacher in Indiana — which is choosing an exam — said the turmoil is frustrating. For much of the past year, she said, it has been unclear what Indiana teachers are supposed to teach and what students will be expected to know on spring tests.

“At the end of the day, people just want to know what do they want us to teach so we can make sure that kids are prepared for the types of assessments that are coming up,” Shaw said.

Opposition to the Common Core tests has come amid a broader national debate about standardized testing, which many parents and teachers argue has warped public education. Critics of the Common Core and testing have cheered the fracturing of the testing consortia, but many advocates play down the impact of states withdrawing from the common tests.

“I really don’t see it as a problem,” said Karen Nussle, executive director of the pro-Common Core Collaborative for Student Success. “I think the testing landscape is going to continue to evolve, and I’m really optimistic.”

Nussle and other Core advocates argue that the standards are more important than the tests because they aim to push teachers to better prepare students for life after high school. Most states have retained the standards, although some have backed away from the name “Common Core” because of its political volatility.

Although membership in the two testing consortia has shrunk, there are still large swaths of the country where, for the first time, students will take the same test.

“This is huge, considering the idea of common standards, let alone common assessments, was unfathomable less than a decade ago,” PARCC spokesman David Connerty-Marin said by e-mail. He added that PARCC hopes more states will join the consortia because “students and their families have a right to know if they are on track, and to know how they are performing compared to students in schools across their state and the country.”

Luci Willits, Smarter Balanced’s deputy executive director, said that while cross-state comparisons are ideal, “the real value of the assessment is the quality.” Both consortia say their tests are built to assess students’ critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, providing a more accurate picture of students’ preparedness for college and careers.

Advocates also say they think the number of states administering the consortia tests will grow if states see that the tests are cheaper, and of better quality, than tests that states develop independently.

“States are going to go at their own speed,” said Chad Colby, a spokesman for Achieve, a nonprofit organization that managed the development of the standards.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.

Option for Homeschoolers!


Our curriculum consists of teacher-presented videos and online work.  Parents are in control.  No books are required.

How often are your students ready to listen at the same time the teacher is speaking.  Have they missed pertinent information that is creating gaps?

If you miss something in our lesson, simply rewind.

Maybe you just need to review a subject or two before moving on to the next subject?

That can be done as well.


“The Bridge Virtual Academy has offered me flexibility along with top of the line coursework. My dads career has allowed me the opportunity to live in many different places. The flexibility of TBVA had made life’s transitions smoother for me. If you want to be challenged and able to set your own pace, TBVA is the place for you!” ~ Devinne

COST $100 per semester or $20 per course.

If interested in this curriculum, please fill out the following form.





We are here to assist you toward the best educational program available for your child. ~Sandy

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