COMET • Vol. 2, No. 25 – 25 September 2001


“California Gives Nod to Overhaul of Teacher Credentialing” by Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Source: Education Week – 19 September 2001
Web link:

The California agency responsible for setting requirements for public school teachers and teacher-preparation programs has given final approval to the first major overhaul of the state’s teacher-credentialing system in 25 years.

The changes, which were called for under a 1998 state law and were endorsed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing this month, will require colleges and universities that prepare teachers to restructure their academic programs over the next two years to get accredited.

Undergraduates who intend to become teachers, as well as new teachers and others working toward a state credential, will have to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the subjects they will teach, as well as the state’s academic standards in those subjects.

“We have created a much better system of training our teachers and ensuring they are well-equipped to teach students in the classroom,” state schools Superintendent Delaine Eastin said last week in an interview. “It’s a bold and fundamental change designed to have standards for teachers much the way we have standards for students now.”

The requirements are intended to ensure that teachers are up to the task of helping students meet the state’s strengthened academic-content standards. The new rules should lead to a greater emphasis in undergraduate courses on the state’s standards in core subjects, officials say.

Aspiring teachers will also be required to take methods courses designed to prepare them to teach to the standards.

“Under the new system, students will be solidly prepared in subject matter,” said William C. Wilson, the assistant vice chancellor for academic affairs for the California State University system and a member of the credentialing commission. “Subject-matter departments and the entire university now need to become aware of the state’s new content standards and how they affect subject-matter teaching.”

The credentialing standards were released in the same week that a new report outlined the inadequacies of the current system. The report by the Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency that reports on state government operations, suggests that, while the credentialing commission is taking a significant step toward improving the quality of the workforce, “there are many other improvements that deserve to be explored by policymakers”…

The Little Hoover report…recommends that the state establish a special credentialing process for teachers likely to seek jobs in the state’s most difficult schools and districts. The “challenged-school credential” would reward teachers-through the elite credential and an additional stipend-specially prepared to raise student achievement in urban schools and those with high numbers of students at risk of academic failure…


(1) “Work Continues on H.R. 1, Federal Education Reform Bill [Including the Math and Science Partnership Program]

Source: National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Legislative Alert – 25 September 2001
Web site:

It appears that education is once again on the front burner just two weeks after the tragedies in New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. Immediately following the WTC and Pentagon attacks, Republican and Democrat leaders on the H.R. 1 Conference Committee (a committee of House and Senate members responsible for working out the differences between the

two chambers’ education bills) issued a press release saying, “We are all in agreement that despite yesterday’s tragedies, final work on the education bill will continue…there are no plans at this time to suspend the conference process”…A full meeting of the 39-member H.R. 1 conference committee is scheduled for this afternoon, Tuesday September 25…

Significant differences are still under discussion in regard to the new Math and Science Partnerships (more information about these proposed partnerships is below…). These differences between the House and the Senate bill appear in sections on funding authorizations for the partnerships; administration of the math/science partnerships; and the uses of grant funds.

NSTA, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education support a separate authorization for the Math and Science Partnerships. We also urge conferees to adopt the House language that authorizes the competitive

grants at the state level. Competitive grants should be awarded to the Math/Science partnerships by the state education agency instead of by the U. S. Department of Education. We also urge that the Math and Science Partnerships be authorized at the highest possible funding level…

The NSTA Legislative Committee of 1,000 and all teachers are encouraged to contact their representatives and Senators in support of the Math and Science Partnerships. State Association…Calling and emailing your letter/message is a good option at this point. Even if your representative or Senator(s) is not a member of the conference committee, contact him/her anyway–ask them to share your messages with the H.R. 1 conference committee and appropriators. The three key messages that should be heard:

1. Urge H.R. 1 conferees and education appropriators to guarantee the highest possible funding levels for the Math and Science Partnerships.

2.Urge H.R. 1 conferees to maintain a separate authorization for the Math and Science Partnerships.

3. Urge H. R. 1 conferees to authorize the Math and Science Partnerships programs as a state-based program, with grants administered by the State Education Agency, not as a federal program administered by the U. S. Department of Education.

For phone calls: Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask to be connected to your Rep. or Senator

Emails: Senate: (phone numbers also listed here).


About the Math and Science Partnerships:

Both the Senate and House bills create a new Math and Science Partnership program, which aims to strengthen student achievement in these subjects by encouraging more involvement between higher education and K-12 science and math educators. These partnerships would replace the Eisenhower professional development program.

Eligible partners for the Math and Science Partnerships include the math, engineering, or science departments from higher education institutions; K-12 districts; and state education agencies. Other partners could include businesses, nonprofit groups, and additional districts, including high-need districts. Partners would apply for competitive grants, which would be used for a number of programs designed to strengthen teacher quality; these programs include professional development, recruiting math/science teachers, distance learning programs, K-8 master teacher programs, and programs to bring scientists into the classrooms.


NSTA has produced an online Legislative Handbook, available at The handbook includes sections on how to work and communicate with members of Congress, the legislative process, the Federal government on the Internet, and education-related committees in Congress.


(2) “Testimony of Lee V. Stiff, President, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics to the National Assessment Governing Board” (24 September 2001)

Web link:

…Thank you for the invitation and opportunity to testify on the draft National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Mathematics Framework for 2004.

I think we are all agreed that there is an urgent need to improve mathematics education in the United States. As for how we go about improving the education of today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders there is less agreement. We appreciate the role of the National Assessment Governing Board in the process of improving education, and we welcome the invitation to participate in that process.

With its Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, issued in April of last year, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics issued a call for “higher standards for our students, and higher standards for teachers.” I would like to respond to one statement made about NCTM in the draft framework for public review. It raises the question, “Had computational skills been overlooked by the reform efforts, because of the emphasis placed on higher-order skills by most state mathematics standards and the work by NCTM?” Unfortunately, similar misrepresentations have appeared in the news media and in public debates with some regularity. I want to state clearly and unequivocally that, as it has since the release of the original Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics in 1989, NCTM calls for the mastery, and therefore assessment, of computational proficiency as outlined in the draft framework. It simply is not true that NCTM’s earlier standards or its current Principles and Standards for School Mathematics neglect or de-emphasize the importance of basic skills or computational mastery.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics supports the NAEP draft mathematics framework in several respects. Specifically, the five content areas (number, measurement, geometry, data analysis and probability, and algebra) are appropriate. We also support the distribution of items as outlined in the framework, the item framework, and calculator use policy.

Looking ahead, as a general recommendation we suggest that the results of the 2004 NAEP be presented in a manner that permits meaningful, consistent tracking of student performance for all assessments from 1990 to 2004. In particular, the 8th-grade algebra project changes should be reported in a way that renders meaningful comparisons with 2000 and earlier results while also permitting the changes to be analyzed.

The remainder of my testimony is organized as responses to the four specific questions raised in your letter of invitation…

The NAEP 2004 Mathematics Framework draft is available at or from


(3) Everyday Math Heads into Second Year” by Eric Bradley

Source: The Northwestern – 1 September 2001
Web Link

In Jacqueline Amato’s classroom, math time means games, collaboration and an end to solving rows of multiplication problems. In one lesson, students measure the circumference of their heads and then manipulate the data to show class averages. In another lesson, Amato asks students for five different math problems that all have 20 as an answer…

Everyday Math encourages teachers to move away from traditional math teaching methods such as memorization and lectures. The programs relies on games based on “real-life” math situations, such as buying groceries, making change and meeting monthly budgets. It is based on 11 years of research by University of Chicago mathematicians, education specialists and classroom teachers. Proponents say Everyday Math also introduces kindergartners and first-graders to sophisticated math topics such as algebra and functions, measurement, geometry, statistics, data analysis and probability. Although students learn to use calculators in kindergarten, math is presented in entertaining ways and no longer is seen as the “impossible subject.” When a district committee recommended adopting the program last spring, however, teachers from four elementary schools asked if their students could be exempt.

Critics say Everyday Math’s abstract concepts and seemingly pointless activities encourage parents to join education experts in condemning the program, said Leah Vukmir, president of Wisconsin’s Parents Raising Educational Standards in Schools (PRESS). “So much is placed on the child to discover math, rather than the teacher imparting knowledge,” she said. “It’s a romantic thought, but these theories were already discovered and must be taught. Why reinvent the wheel?”

California mathematics professor David Klein said Everyday Math could hurt children’s’ ability to do math in high school and college. That’s why he worked to shoot down the program from consideration for California schools…

But it was the student success in Oshkosh and in other states that caught the attention of district teachers and administrators, said Barbara Herzog, assistant superintendent of instruction. Does it work here?

Everyday Math was approved because most teachers who piloted the program in the 2000-01 school year said children learned it and because it encourages students to solve math problems like the ones they will encounter in their lives, Herzog said. In addition to its initial $250,000 cost, the district will have to pay $74,000 this year to replace consumable materials and purchase a revised edition. “This is not the first time we’ve approved a program that has recurring costs,” Herzog said. “We knew there would be a cost of about $70,000 the second year.

“Everyday Math prevented some teachers from covering all of the math lessons and facts they would normally finish in a school year, Herzog said. That’s because the program was new and many teachers had to alter their teaching style for a more “hands-on” approach, she said. Typically when the district brings in a new curriculum, student performance and test scores drop two years after, Herzog said. It may take a year or more for the district to use internal and state-mandated tests as tools to chart Everyday Math’s real effects, she said.

Oshkosh fourth-graders dropped in their proficient and advanced understanding of math in this year’s Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam. Scores could have dropped much lower; the fact they didn’t is a promising start to the program, Herzog said. The percent of fourth-graders who have a proficient understanding of math dropped 2 percent, from 49 to 47 percent, from last year. The percent of students with an advanced understanding dropped 5 percent, from 29 to 24 percent, from last year.

But Herzog said basic understanding of all fourth-graders increased 4 percent, from 19 percent in February 2000 to 23 percent in February 2001…

To prepare parents for the change, the district sent every family a resource guide to use to help children with homework, and many schools held training sessions after school, Herzog said. “We anticipated that concern because an integral part of Everyday Math is parent involvement,” she said. “Homework with parents is meant to provide a lot of reinforcement of skills.

“Some parents, like Bob Spanbauer, said they saw marked improvement in their children’s comprehension and enjoyment of sophisticated math principles, while others said their students did as well as they would with any math program…


(1) “Guidelines for Preparing Articles for the 2004 NCTM Yearbook and Professional Development Guidebook”

Web site:

The 2004 Yearbook Editorial Panel extends an invitation to submit articles on the topic “Implementing the Teaching Principle.” Potential contributors should submit proposed manuscripts by 1 March 2002. Contributions from classroom teachers are particularly encouraged…

The Teaching Principle is a significant component of NCTM’s Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, which was published in 2000. “Students learn mathematics through the experiences that teachers provide. Thus, students’ understanding of mathematics, their ability to use it to solve problems, and their confidence in, and disposition toward, mathematics are all shaped by the teaching they encounter in schools” (p. 16). The goal of the 2004 Yearbook is to present current thinking about how these important ideas connect to effective teaching and learning in the classroom. In particular, we have identified twelve general issues (listed below) that seem critical. We anticipate that submissions addressing these issues will take into account current research, practice, or both.

There will be two major sections in this Yearbook. The first section will deal with general issues related to implementing the Teaching Principle. Articles in this section should address issues across two or more grade bands, and we encourage manuscripts that include specific examples from more than one grade band. The second section will include examples of ways that the Teaching Principle has been implemented in a particular classroom. Articles in this section will typically address one or two aspects of an issue as it relates to specific instruction in a particular classroom.

As an accompaniment to this yearbook, we expect to publish a Professional Development Guidebook. This booklet will include examples of activities for teachers in support of their professional growth and development. Each activity is expected to include handouts for teachers and notes for a facilitator who might lead the activity. Suggestions for information to include in submissions for the Professional Development Guidebook are provided after the discussion of the Yearbook below.

We invite authors to submit manuscripts for the Yearbook, the Professional Development Guidebook, or both. The topics and suggestions listed below are only examples of issues that might be addressed in articles. Authors are encouraged to combine topics within and across these suggestions and to think beyond these lists to identify other important issues. [these issues include: classroom environment; equity; teachers’ mathematical content knowledge; teacher collaboration and reflection, development, perspectives; worthwhile mathematical tasks; technology; assessment; time management; international perspectives; and preservice education.]…


(2) Professional Development Grants for Teachers

Source: NCTM Legislative Update – 10 September 2001 –

The NEA Foundation: Learning and Leadership Grants

Grants of $1,000 (individual) or $3,000 (group) are available to public school teachers, education support personnel, and higher education faculty and staff to support high-quality professional development. The 2001 deadline is October 15.

* American Association of University Women (AAUW) Foundation

AAUW Foundation’s Eleanor Roosevelt Teacher Fellowships program rewards the work of outstanding women public school teachers by supporting their professional development and by funding projects designed to promote gender equity in classrooms and schools. Professional Development Fellowships provide up to $5,000 to fund attendance at the five-day Eleanor Roosevelt Teacher Institute and Forum on Educational Equity held in July 2002, in Washington D.C.; support additional professional development activities (e.g. workshops, courses, conferences); and provide seed money for planning a gender-equity, school-based program.

AAUW Community Action Grants provide up to $10,000 to support innovative school and/or community-based programs that promote education and equity for women and girls.


(3) Toyota’s Investment In Mathematics Excellence (TIME) Grant

Web site:

Toyota’s Investment In Mathematics Excellence (TIME) invites teachers to apply for grants awarding them up to $10,000 for innovative projects that enhance mathematics education within their schools…

Any K-12 classroom teacher with three years experience teaching mathematics within the United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U. S. Territories may apply. The deadline for the application is 9 January 2002.

You can receive the application through NCTM’s free Fax on Demand service by calling 1-800-220-8483 and requesting document number 508 or by e-mailing


(1) Online Sourcebook for Mathematics Educators

Source: National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics
Web link:

* Organizational Acronyms

As mathematics educators, you are most likely familiar with the NCSM, NCTM, NSF, and PAESMT. But what do you know about the AAUW, NCEQW, NCME, NCSWL, PCCPRE, or the UCEA?

Florence Glanfield and her crew have assembled over 70 pages of comprehensive information for more than 200 educational organizations! You will find details about each organization’s origin or purpose, mission statement, mailing addresses, contact phone numbers and links to websites. This is a highly useful resource for all educators.

The html version is available at

The pdf version is available at

Contacts Important to the Leadership Role

The following topics are available in both html and in pdf (both contain numerous hot links):

* Commercial websites
* Eisenhower Regional Mathematics and Science Consortia
* Website addresses and email addresses (if available) for state departments of education
* Website addresses and email addresses (if available) for the Provincial departments of education
* Links to other NCTM affiliate groups
* Institutes and centers
* Resources and libraries
* Links to societies and associations

(2) e-Tutor — K-12 Internet Education Program

Contact: 877-687-7200
Web link:

e-Tutor is the premier K-12 Internet education program for students, educators and parents. e-Tutor seamlessly integrates the Internet into the classroom by providing a host of engaging educational content, administrative tools and communications empowerment tools that connect students, educators and parents to create a customized learning community.

The more than 1,000 interactive e-Tutor lessons are created by teachers from across the United States. The lessons are aligned with state and national goals and standards in the four core curriculum areas: Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Science. The program is fully accessible through the Internet, allowing registered users access from any location… (Subscription information is available at