COMET • Vol. 1, No. 01 – 20 January 2000

WELCOME to the first issue of “California Online Mathematics Education Times”! COMET is an online newsletter that seeks to provide timely information in a digest format about state (California) and national news, articles, events, opportunities, and web resources related to mathematics education. Information from a variety of print and online sources will be compiled and then distributed via COMET approximately once a week. The target audience includes California PreK-12 teachers of mathematics and school/district administrators, as well as university faculty throughout the nation who are interested in issues related to mathematics education (with a focus on California news). Because COMET is based at California State University, Fresno, mathematics education opportunities in Central California will also be included. Entire articles will generally not be reproduced, but the URLs and short, representative clips will often be provided. If you would like to include an announcement or article in COMET, please send it to for consideration. (Your comments and suggestions are welcomed! If you prefer not to be on this distribution list, please reply to this message by January 28.)


“Testing Mania Comes at a Cost” by Peter Sacks

Los Angeles Times – 18 January 2000

“…Indeed, wherever you find a high-stakes school achievement test in which scores are tied to high school graduation, teacher promotion or accreditation by the state, you will find all manner of ‘teaching the test’ drills that have little to do with real learning. In fact, some research indicates that just the opposite occurs. Dozens of studies from sources as diverse as the National Research Council, the Rand Corp., the Educational Testing Service and independent researchers have demonstrated that large-scale testing attached to major, life-changing consequences simply serves to dumb down and trivialize student learning…

“Who really wins in this unrelenting push for more testing at ever-higher stakes? Over the past three years, I’ve scoured the research and have talked to dozens of students, teachers and parents, and the answer seems depressingly clear: elected representatives who have capitalized on voter outcry for tougher standards and greater accountability. Americans who fall for this political rhetoric fail to understand that this testing mania comes at the cost of genuine learning and sustained achievement. If California parents and taxpayers were to look below the surface of tough talk by the likes of Gov. Davis, Gov. Bush and others, they would discover that the standardized testing movement is built on smoke and mirrors, helpful only to career politicians and large testing companies.”

“School Reform Getting Messy” by Dan Walters

The Sacramento Bee – 17 January 2000

“What’s clear is that standards-based education is following a political schedule rather than the step-by-step procedure that would give it the best chance of improving a very troubled school system. The cart is before the horse, and the poor animal is being dragged through the streets.”



Secretary of Education Richard Riley’s response to the “Open Letter”

Secretary of Education Richard Riley’s response to the “Open Letter” that expressed concern over the Dept. of Education’s identified “Exemplary and Promising Mathematics Programs” is available at

“…The recent decision of the Expert Panel is clearly an area of disagreement. We certainly respect that there are different and deeply held viewpoints on this issue. However, we do not agree with your assertion that both the panel and the criteria it used were outside of the existing mathematics education mainstream. It is important to note that the Panel concluded that each of the ten programs had demonstrated a measurable difference in student learning. Undoubtedly there are other materials that can or will demonstrate achievement gains in both basic skills and problem solving. If you or others cosigning the letter have such materials or programs, we welcome their submission in the next round…”

The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century

The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century, chaired by former Senator and astronaut John Glenn, desires your input:

“The Glenn Commission created an interactive discussion forum site to gather ideas on ways to ensure high quality teaching in mathematics and science at all grades nationwide. The Commission is preparing a report for Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley in the fall of 2000 that will include a small number of recommendations and corresponding action strategies to help ensure that an adequate supply of highly skilled individuals enter and remain in the math and science teaching profession. The recommendations will also help make certain that throughout the span of a teacher’s career, he or she has the opportunity to learn, generate, accumulate, and share knowledge about math and science content and teaching methods. Commission members include business and education leaders; public officials at the Federal, national, State, and local levels; and teachers of mathematics and science.”



The National Science Teachers Association 

The national Science Teachers Association can help keep you updated on the latest national legislation in mathematics and science education. See today’s legislative update and previous updates at

Texas Instruments

Texas Instrument’s web site has numerous resources for parents, teachers, and students. Check out for a wide selection of mathematics and science resources that can be downloaded.



The Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE) Annual Conference 

Charlotte, NC – 10-12 Feb 2000 – Registration information and the preliminary conference program are available at

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Annual Conference 

Chicago, IL – 12-15 April 2000 – Information is available at

Middle School Mathematics Teacher Preparation Conference 

Sponsored by the NSF “Show-Me Project” at the University of Missouri-Columbia – 19-21 May 2000, Branson, Missouri (Audience: College Mathematics and Mathematics Education Faculty, Middle School Teacher Leaders, State Agency Personnel). For more information about the conference or to print an application form,

go to or call the Show-Me Center at (573) 884-2099.

==> BTW, don’t miss tonight’s lunar eclipse! It is supposed to be the best since 1966. For more information, check out



The Central Valley Mathematics Preparation Initiative (CVMPI)

The Central Valley Mathematics Preparation Initiative (CVMPI) is a professional development project for middle school mathematics teachers in Fresno, Kings, Madera, and Tulare counties. CVMPI is offering two new courses for the Spring, 2000 semester ($38/unit; CSU-Fresno). Information on these courses is available at (click on the opening image and follow the links).

The 47th Annual Central California Regional Science, Mathematics, & Engineering Fair

The 47th Annual Central California Regional Science, Mathematics, & Engineering Fair (for grades 6-12) will be held on March 28-30 at the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall. Contact Brad Huff at (or 559-265-3057) for more information.

Fresno County Mathematics Network meeting

The next Fresno County Mathematics Network meeting will be held at the Fresno County Office of Education from 4-5:30 p.m. on February 3. Contact Lori Hamada for more information (