COMET • Vol. 3, No. 19 – 18 May 2002


(1) May Revision to Governor Davis’ January Budget


The May Revision to Governor Davis’ January Budget provides updated economic and revenue forecasts, as well as the latest caseload, enrollment, and population information for programs in the education, public safety, and health and human services areas…

The May Revision to the Governor’s 2002-03 Budget addresses a projected $23.6 billion gap between expenditures and revenues through the 2002-03 fiscal year, or 30 percent of the General Fund…

Although the reduction in available General Fund resources provides significant challenges to maintaining funding for core programs, the May Revision maintains education as the Administration’s highest priority…

The current federal budget provides $738 million in new funding associated with the

No Child Left Behind [NCLB] Act, which is proposed for appropriation in the May Revision. This new federal program is closely aligned with California’s recent efforts to improve accountability, create challenging standards, develop materials and curricula aligned with those standards, and assist and intervene in under-performing schools.

Where allowable under federal rules, the Administration proposes to use these funds to enhance existing state reform programs. In view of the State’s current budget challenge, program expansions previously proposed from the General Fund are proposed to be funded from these new federal funds… The May Revision preserves $110 million for the Math and Reading Professional Development Program through a combination of State and federal funds. Additionally, over $131 million in federal funds is provided for training over half of the state’sK-3 teachers to teach reading using the new standards-aligned materials in 2002-03, and further $5 million is provided to increase standards-aligned teacher training in science…

The federal NCLB will complement the State’s existing instructional quality efforts by providing funding, as follows:

* $131.1 million for K-3 teachers to attend high quality teacher training programs, such as those operated by UC for reading, and purchase standards-aligned reading materials…

* $78.3 million, for a total of $110 million, for the Mathematics and Reading Professional Development Program, to provide K-12 teachers with professional development in these subjects…

* $8.3 million for competitive grants to school districts that form professional development consortia.

* $5 million for the University of California-operated California Subject Matter

Project for Science…

In light of the State’s current fiscal constraints, the May Revision proposes reducing the University of California’s General Fund by a net $162.4 million from the level proposed in the Governor’s Budget, as outlined below…

Reductions from the Governor’s Budget include:

* $5.15 million to reduce funding for K-12 Internet2…

* $8.4 million to eliminate funding for the UC College Preparatory Initiative…

* $12.01 million to eliminate funding for K-12 School-University Partnerships.

* $1.94 million to eliminate funding for Central Valley Outreach Programs…

* $11.3 million to reduce funding for the Subject Matter Projects [such as the California Mathematics Project, the California Writing Project, etc. This represents a reduction of approximately 36 1/2 %.]

* $50.86 million to reduce funding for the Professional Development Institutes. Instead of direct State funding, school districts will be able to utilize new federal funds from the No Child Left Behind Act for this successful staff development program.

(2) “Teacher Probed for Role in Anti-Testing Activity” by David J. Hoff

Source:  Education Week – 15 May 2002


A San Jose, Calif., teacher has been placed on administrative leave while her district investigates her role in anti-testing activities… Stacey Miller was put on leave with pay last month from J.W. Fair Junior High School in the heart of Silicon Valley while the district conducts its probe into allegations that she was encouraging her students to opt out of the state’s testing program.

The decision marks one of the first disciplinary actions against a school employee for protesting state testing policies and pits teachers’ free-speech rights against state laws that govern state policies.

In California, state rules allow teachers and other school officials to inform parents of their option to remove students from the testing program, but they prohibit them from advocating that they do so…

Teachers who oppose the state tests are being careful about what they say and do in organizing activities against them, according to Susan Sandler, the director of the educational justice program for Justice Matters, a San Francisco-based nonprofit group that opposes the state tests. “The way they have to inform parents about their rights has to be very carefully worded,” she said…

The California Coalition for Authentic Reform in Education, known as CALCARE, is actively recruiting parents to pull their children out of the California testing program.

On its Web site, CALCARE suggests several actions teachers can take, such as circulating fliers or speaking out at school board or PTA meetings. But it suggests that making public statements can be risky for teachers and subject them to punishment…

Under California rules, if more than 10 percent of a school’s student population does not take the tests, it cannot qualify for bonuses in the state’s Academic Performance Index. In 2001, 72 of the 7,400 schools eligible for bonuses had more than 10 percent of students withheld from testing at their parents’ request…

(3) CAHSEE Mathematics Resource Guide Update

Contacts: Gee (Alameda COE) at 510-670-4538 or Pat Duckhorn (Sacramento COE)at 916-228-2244.

The first phase of the CAHSEE [California High School Exit Exam] Mathematics Resource Guide was recently completed and the initial rollouts to the eleven regions in California has begun. Each one-day training session consists of:

* Understanding the meaning of Standards-based instruction

* How to analyze an individual standard

* How to conduct a backward mapping search

* Looking at what constitutes a Standards-based problem

* How the standards from this project correlate with individual adopted textbooks

* Looking at activities specifically designed for the standards in this Resource Guide

* Analyzing student work; and

* Exploring possible uses of the Resource Guide.

Participants receive the Resource Binder, which consists of the following:

* Each CAHSEE Standard broken down into its individual components;

* A backward mapping of that standard down to the 4th grade;

* Each of the backward mapped standards correlated to its appropriate grade level text;

* A set of problems written specifically for each of the backward mapped standards;

* An activity to teach the original CAHSEE standard;

* The blueprint of which standards are identified as CAHSEE standards and how many problems there will be on the CAHSEE exam;

* A copy of the 60 CDE released items from prior CAHSEE test correlated to the specific standard tested;

* Answers to the 60 released items;

* A copy of the PowerPoint presentation used for the training and;

* A section on additional resources that address the CAHSEE.

As of 15 May 2002, there have been seven rollouts with a total of 585 participants. See /cmp/comet/2002/04_03_2002.html#A1 for a list of future dates. Updates: Sonoma’s rollout will now be held on August 6. The Alameda COE rollout scheduled for May 24th is currently full, as is a second session scheduled for May 30th.

This project was conceived and created through the initial efforts of Alameda and Sacramento County Offices of Education.

(4) “New UC Standards Prompt Plans To Change SAT, ACT” by Michelle Locke

Source:  The San Diego Union-Tribune – 16 May 2002


Makers of the SAT and the ACT college admissions tests would rather switch formats than fight the powerful University of California’s demands for change.

In a move that could affect college-bound students across the nation, the makers of both tests told the university’s governing board of regents yesterday they’re proposing revisions to their tests to meet new standards drawn up by UC faculty.

The proposed changes, made after UC indicated it was ready to scrap the SAT and come up with its own test, aren’t final. It’ll be months before regents vote on what exams students will have to take to get into UC.

Regents, initially leery about the idea of dropping the SAT I as too drastic a move, seem happy with the idea of getting improved SAT and ACT products. “I think this is an extremely important conversation we’re all having,” said state schools superintendent and regent Delaine Eastin.

The College Board, the New York-based nonprofit that owns the SAT, has proposed overhauling its product, with proposals expected to go before its trustees in June. College Board officials told regents they expect those proposals to include adding a written essay, adding math questions based on advanced courses such as Algebra II and trigonometry and replacing analogies with questions measuring reading ability.

ACT officials plan to add a written essay to their test, to bring it up to UC’s new criteria of testing students on what they’ve studied.

“We can demonstrate that the more courses and the more academically rigorous courses a student takes, the higher the student scores on the ACT,” said Richard Ferguson, president of Iowa-based ACT Inc.

The SAT math and reading revisions would be made nationally to avoid creating an extra set of tests for UC-bound students. Both SAT and ACT officials are considering making the writing sample optional…

UC faculty are reviewing the issue. Once they vote, their recommendations will go back to the regents. That had been expected to happen as early as July, but it appears a final decision won’t come until later this year…

UC now requires students to take the ACT or SAT I, as well as three SAT II tests. Most students take the SAT I, a two-part verbal and math exam.



(1) “Research Bill Clears House Without Fuss” by Debra Viadero

Source: Education Week – 8 May 2002


After a three-year gestation, a proposal to replace the Department of Education’s main research office with a more independent “Academy of Education Sciences” sailed through the House last week.

But the measure as written could be stillborn in the Senate, where education leaders are planning to start from scratch in crafting their own bill for reauthorizing the department’s oft-criticized office of educational research and improvement [OERI].

If approved by the full Congress, however, the House-passed measure would wipe out the existing federal research office and replace it with an academy headed by a director working in tandem with a national advisory board. The bill also proposes standards governing the scientific quality of department-sponsored education research and calls for loosening federal hiring restrictions that make it difficult for the agency to recruit top-flight scientists.

All of the changes are aimed at improving the quality of education research, according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Michael N. Castle, a Republican from Delaware.

“Educators need to know what works if they are to improve student achievement and narrow the gap between our lowest and highest performing students,” he told the House. “Unfortunately, too much of what we recognize as education research is simply opinion buttressed by anecdotes.”

Mr. Castle’s views were echoed by Democratic colleagues in the Republican-controlled House, where the bill came up on a “suspension calendar,” a mechanism for expediting approval of noncontroversial proposals, and passed on a voice vote. The bill has also won backing from the Bush administration, which has been waging its own campaign to make education into an “evidence-based practice” not unlike medicine…

In addition to the envisioned Academy of Education Sciences, the bill calls for creating three centers: one each on research, evaluation, and statistics. Each center would be headed by a commissioner, chosen by the academy’s director to serve six years…

A few of the bill’s provisions, however, remain controversial with some segments of the research community.

One is its call to combine the federal money earmarked now to support a wide array of regional education laboratories, clearinghouses, and technical-assistance centers. Under the House plan, the money would finance at least two entities in each of 10 regions around the country to provide technical help and research-and-development services for local education agencies. Lawmakers said the idea behind the new arrangement, which would temporarily “grandfather” the regional education labs operating now, is to inject competition into the system.

But some defenders of those organizations worry that by eliminating specified funding levels for many of those programs, their existence could be threatened.

“This legislation is missing two important initiatives, the Eisenhower Regional Mathematics Consortia and Eisenhower Clearinghouse,” said Rep. Rush D. Holt, D-N.J.

Another point of concern for some: Under the proposed bill, the commissioner of education statistics would be appointed by the academy director, rather than by the president, as is now the case. Some see that change as a step down for the National Center for Education Statistics.

Those concerns may re-emerge in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where lawmakers could begin their chamber’s hearings on the reauthorization of the Education Department’s research operations as early as this week. While declining to comment on Mr. Castle’s House bill, Senate aides said education leaders plan to make a fresh start on the subject in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee…

(2) “Spotlight on Single-Sex Schooling” by Valerie Strauss

Source: The Washington Post – 14 May 2002


…Since the Bush administration announced last week that it would encourage single-sex education in public schools–after 30 years of federal policy that discouraged it in most situations–some educators are seeking models to guide them as they consider dividing up their classes. But that job could be complicated.

Though studies on the subject exist, the results are mixed. Some, for example, show that girls do better in academics, athletics and social situations in all-girl programs and that their self-esteem improves. But a 10-year study in Australia found that self-esteem in girls and boys who had been in single-sex classes initially declined when they started going to coed classes, but then rose to new heights.

“The research on the issue is quite inconsistent, and one cannot draw scientific conclusions with any confidence,” said Judith Kleinfeld, professor of psychology at the University of Alaska.

Furthermore, there are only 11 public schools in the United States with single-sex education–although many private schools offer the option–and results are mixed in some schools that have attempted it…

Still, as U.S. schools have searched for ways to improve student achievement in the past dozen years, educators have increasingly considered single-sex education. This has been fueled by research on the coed classroom culture that showed that some girls failed to reach their academic potential, and by brain research that showed that boys and girls process some information differently…

The AAUW issued [a] report in 1998 that said that although single-sex education produced good results for some girls in some situations, there was no evidence in general that it is better for girls than coeducation. It called for more research.

Despite the uncertainty–and despite its pledge to base other education programs on “scientifically based research”–the Bush administration said last week that it would change the way the government enforces the 30-year-old Title IX statute.

Title IX banned discrimination based on gender. Single-sex public education could be made available as long as there were comparable opportunities for students of both sexes–with a few exceptions. It is still unclear what the new policy will permit, but many educators expect that it will become easier to create single-sex classes…

Ultimately, educators say, the best approach is to give students a choice–as long as there is equal opportunity for both sexes…


Related articles:

(a) “Single-Sex Schools Benefit Boys, Girls, Research Suggests”


(b) “How Context Mediates Policy: The Implementation of Single Gender Public Schooling in California” by Amanda Datnow, Lea Hubbard, and Gilberto Conchas


In this article, we present findings about the implementation of single gender public schooling in California–a movement that signifies a growing interest in school choice and private sector solutions to public education problems. We analyze qualitative data gathered in a study of 12 single gender academies (6 boys; 6 girls). As well-meaning educators responded to California’s single gender academies legislation, they designed schools and used resources to address the pressing needs of students in each community, such as low achievement, poverty, or violence, rather than to address gender bias. The impetus for single gender schooling in each context affected the organization, curriculum, and pedagogy in each academy, as did educators’ ideologies about gender. In the end, the politics surrounding the legislation, the resource interests of district and school administrators, and the lack of institutional support for this gender-based reform coalesced to structure the demise of most of the single gender academies. We consider the implications of these findings for the viability of single gender schooling as a public school option.

(c) “Secretary Paige Announces Intent to Provide More Flexibility Regarding Single-Sex Classes and Schools” (8 May 2002 Press Release)


(d) “An Opening for Single-Sex Schools”


(3) “Nation’s Newspaper’ Moves Into Math Texts” by David J. Hoff

Source: Education Week – 8 May 2002


The newspaper that made colorful charts and numeric tidbits commonplace in American journalism is now making its mark in U.S. textbooks.

USA Today will be inserting its graphics and articles in a new series of pre-algebra and algebra books published by Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, one of the leading publishers of mathematics texts for secondary schools.

The newspaper’s content will help students see the practical applications of the algebraic concepts they’re learning, according to officials with the publishing company, which is marketing the new textbook series to schools for the start of the 2002-03 school year.

“We were interested in getting more real-life content in our books,” said Darlene R. Leshnock, the vice president of mathematics editorial for the New York City-based publisher…

In Glencoe/McGraw-Hill’s new Pre-algebra, Algebra 1, and Algebra 2 texts, USA Today articles and graphics will appear in the introduction to each of the books’ five units. The books also will incorporate one or two examples from the 2.1 million-circulation national newspaper…

The partnership marks the first time that the 20-year-old newspaper has had any of its content published in a textbook…

USA Today also posts daily lesson plans on its Web site based on articles in every issue…

Glencoe/McGraw-Hill officials proposed the partnership with USA Today, Ms. Foster said, because they saw many teachers clipping charts from the newspaper to use as classroom resources.

This year, Glencoe/McGraw-Hill will submit the textbooks to officials in Kentucky, Oregon, and South Carolina for review in their textbook-adoption processes, Ms. Leshnock said. It will also apply for adoption in California next year when the state reviews materials for its list of approved textbooks.

(4) Testimony of James Rubillo Before the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies – 7 May 2002


…Thank you for the opportunity to appear before your Subcommittee on behalf of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). My name is James Rubillo. Though I am now the Executive Director of NCTM, I came to that position last year with more than 35 years of mathematics teaching experience, and I consider myself first and foremost a teacher. I feel privileged to speak on behalf of mathematics teachers on the FY 2003 appropriations for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and in particular, the Math-Science Partnerships Program in Title II, Part B of the No Child Left Behind Act…

If as a nation we are to meet the challenges embedded in No Child Left Behind–making all students academically proficient within 12 years and all classroom teachers highly qualified within 5 years–an enormous amount of work must be accomplished.

Needless to say, we were disappointed that the Math and Science Partnership Program–authorized at $450 million in the No Child Left Behind Act–was appropriated at only $12.5 million in the 2002 fiscal year. The $1 billion increase in Title II-Teacher Quality will likely be spent in part on initiatives that will benefit math teachers and other important programs for teachers in all disciplines. There is no requirement, however, that any of that funding be spent on professional development. Given the deep cuts in state spending that have been reported throughout the country, the need for hiring incentives to fill shortages in certain fields, the desire to reduce class size and to meet other important priorities outlined in the legislation, it is unlikely that states will match the important focus on math and science that the previous law required.

If fully funded at $450 million in FY 2003, which is not much more than was dedicated to math and science by the Eisenhower Program, the Math and Science Partnership Program would provide grants to local school districts to develop high-quality professional training programs for teachers in collaboration with business and higher education. These programs would be locally designed and administered with all states receiving funds that they in turn distribute on a competitive basis. Low-performing schools would be assured an opportunity to participate. Programs would be designed to meet local needs.

What we are asking for today–I say we because a coalition of education and business groups endorses this request–is that the Congress invest in math and science education as generously as it has in the teaching of reading. In a colloquy entered into on the floor of the House of Representatives on December 19, 2001, Rep. Ehlers noted that, “The conference report states that ‘as much as $375 million was actually expended on math and science in fiscal year 2001’ and that ‘the conferees therefore strongly urge the Secretary and the States to continue to fund math and science activities within the Teacher Quality Grant Program at a comparable level in fiscal year 2002.'” In replying, Rep. Regula confirmed that it was the intention of the conferees that no less than $375 million be expended on math and science professional development in fiscal year 2002.

No Child Left Behind requires annual testing in math and reading for students in grades 4 through 8. In later years, science will be included. It holds schools accountable for dramatic improvement in student achievement in these two subjects over the next decade. And it requires the hiring of qualified college graduates to fill K-12 classrooms.

If we are to have a chance to reach those important benchmarks in mathematics and science, we need a significant investment in math and science educators. Just as reading competency forms the foundation for academic achievement of any kind, a sound foundation in mathematics is vital for success in the sciences, technology, and engineering. Today’s teachers of math and science are preparing our next generation of scientists, engineers, explorers, inventors, and workers. According to the National Science Board, the demand for engineers and scientists in the next decade alone will outpace all other occupations by 100 percent. Reforming math and science teaching through the establishment of these new Partnerships is not the complete answer, but it will get us started in the right direction…

(5) Moon Accents Planetary Alignment:  Earth’s Satellite Joins Once-In-A-Lifetime Celestial Occurrence” by Carl T. Hall

Source: San Francisco Chronicle – 13 May 2002


…Venus stars this week in the once-in-a-lifetime planetary alignment. All five naked-eye planets–Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Mercury, in order of current brightness–are visible at a glance in the Western sky just after sunset.

The naked-eye planets–those that can be viewed from Earth without aid of a telescope–currently appear clustered, roughly in a line, with brilliant Venus forming a tight triangle with Mars and Saturn, dim Mercury hanging below near the horizon and bright Jupiter presiding regally above them all from the constellation Gemini.

“This is one of the very, very few times you can see all five naked-eye planets at the same time, especially so close together, and then you throw in the moon, too,” said Bing Quock, assistant chairman of the Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park….

The spectacle continues, in modified form, through early June, but faint Mercury, already just a dot low above the horizon, is fading fast. By May 20 or so, Mercury bows out, Saturn close behind.

“Mercury is the limiting factor because it’s closest to the sun,” said Ryan Diduck, director of astronomy at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland. “When you can see it at all, it’s always just around sunset or sunrise. You never see it in our midnight sky.”

After the alignment in early June, Venus and Jupiter move almost on top of each other, separated by less than the width of a finger held at arm’s length. Something similar happened in 2 B.C., when the two bright planets drew so close they must have appeared to be a single object, an event some think came to be known as the Star of Bethlehem.

Then, on June 10 from about 5 to 7 p.m., the Bay Area will bear witness to a partial solar eclipse…

All five planets will again be visible in spring 2004, but will not be clustered again until 2040. Even then, it may be hard to see without binoculars. Not until 2060 will Earth’s neighbors present themselves quite as nicely as they do now.