COMET • Vol. 3, No. 27 – 29 September 2002


(1)  Field Review for Proposed Single Subject Program Standards: English, Mathematics, Science and Social Science

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing


The Commission is conducting a field review of the new draft standards for the four single subject areas. These new proposed standards have been developed over the last year by subject matter experts from K-12 schools and colleges and universities across California. The surveys will provide an opportunity for other experts in each discipline to advise the panels about their final recommendations to the Commission for new subject matter standards.

* Science Field Review:

* Math Field Review:

* English Field Review:

* Social Science Field Review:

Please print a copy of the survey and complete and mail or fax your response by October 6, 2002 to:  The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing; 1900 Capitol Ave.; Sacramento, California 95814  (fax: 916 324-8927)

(2) Summary of Key Actions by the California State Board Of Education–September 2002

Source:  California State Board of Education


NCLB: ‘Adequate Yearly Progress’ Poses Challenge

A major provision in the federal No Child Left Behind Act is the requirement that all schools must demonstrate “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP) and that all students must perform at or above the “proficient” level in both mathematics and language arts by 2014.

At the State Board’s September meeting, the California Department of Education presented initial data simulations showing that nearly all California schools will fail to meet AYP requirements by the end of 12 years using the state’s current definition of “proficient” as measured by the California Standards Tests. [See related Los Angeles  Times article below.]

The simulations were presented to the State Board for informational purposes only as part of the effort by the CDE Accountability Branch to bring forth a comprehensive state NCLB accountability plan for adoption by the State Board by December 2002. The state’s AYP plan is due to the U.S. Department of Education in January 2003.

In developing a state NCLB accountability plan, the CDE recommends integrating the AYP requirements within the framework of California’s existing accountability system, the Academic Performance Index or API.

Under the API, each school currently receives a statewide ranking and a similar schools ranking, with the lowest performing schools in Decile 1 and the highest performing in Decile 10. The API seeks to reward growth in school performance by requiring all numerically significant subgroups at each school to make at least 80 percent of the schoolwide growth target. Under this system, low-performing schools in lower deciles can still be recognized for achieving growth.

Under the AYP model, in contrast, a minimum percentage of students at each school must perform at or above the “proficient” level in both mathematics and language arts. The minimum percentage rises each year, so that within 12 years all students in all schools achieve at the “proficient” level or higher in both mathematics and language arts. So instead of requiring all numerically significant subgroups to make 80 percent of the schoolwide API target, all students and each subgroup would have to meet the annual AYP targets in language arts and mathematics for a school to demonstrate comparable improvement.

The key issue is where the bar will be set, that is, what defines “proficient.”

The CDE is recommending the use of the California Standards Tests to determine the level of proficiency in language arts and mathematics for purposes of complying with AYP.

The California Standards Tests assess how well California’s public school students are mastering the state’s rigorous, world-class academic content standards. The standards lay out what students are expected to know and be able to do at each grade level in English-language arts, mathematics, history-social science, and science.

Student performance on the standards tests in grades 2-11 are scored at one of five levels: “far below basic,” “below basic,” “basic,” “proficient,” and “advanced.” The state’s goal is to have student’s score at the proficient level. Because California’s academic content standards are so high, students scoring at the “proficient” level are considered to have mastered a college-prep program.

The majority of students scored below the proficient level on both the English-language arts and mathematics California Standards Tests in 2002. So under the assumptions used in CDE’s preliminary projections, the number of schools that would fail to meet the AYP threshold for proficiency would start out at 4,000 schools. That figure would climb to approximately 7,000 schools by 2007 and to 8,226–or all schools statewide–by 2014, according to CDE’s initial simulations (the minimum percentage of students that must perform at or above proficient rises each year until all students are expected to be proficient).

The CDE’s recommended approach is summarized as follows:

* Integrate the federal criteria within the existing API-based accountability system by utilizing the requirement in the law that schools must demonstrate comparable improvement in order to meet API growth targets.

* Federal AYP criteria would be employed to determine comparable improvement under state law.

* “Proficient and above” in mathematics and language arts would be derived from the percentage of students scoring at the proficient or advanced level on the California Standards Tests.

* While the federal criteria would determine comparable improvement criteria, the school-level API would serve as the additional indicator required by NCLB.

* Drop the requirement that numerically significant subgroups make 80 percent of the school wide growth target. Instead, all students and each numerically significant subgroup in a school would have to meet the annual AYP targets in language arts and mathematics for schools to meet the comparable improvement requirement.

* The focus of comparable improvement would change from improvement by all students, including high achieving students and student subgroups, to improvement by low-achieving students and student subgroups.

State Board Approves Reclassification Criteria

The State Board approved final criteria for the reclassification of English learners as proposed by CDE staff. Under current law, English learners are reclassified from Limited English Proficient (LEP) to Fluent English Proficient (FEP) using the following criteria: an assessment of English proficiency as measured by student performance on the California English Language Development Test (CELDT); teacher evaluation; parental opinion; and comparison of a pupil’s performance in basic skills.

The State Board took action to define the “range of performance in basic skills” that schools and districts may use in the reclassification process.

The CDE recommended and the SBE agreed that the range of performance in basic skills would be measured by a student’s performance on the California Standards Test in English-language arts. A student’s score on the CST is measured at one of five performance levels: “far below basic,” “below basic,” “basic,” “proficient,” and “advanced.”

Under the adopted range of performance in basic skills, a pupil who performed within a range from the beginning of “basic” to the midpoint of “basic” on the CST suggests that the pupil may be sufficiently prepared and should be reconsidered for reclassification. Districts may select a cut-score within this range. Pupils with scores above the cut-point selected by the district should be considered for reclassification.

For pupils scoring below the cut-point, districts should attempt to determine whether factors other than English language proficiency are responsible for low performance on the ELA CST, and whether it is reasonable to reclassify the student.

SBE Clarifies CAHSEE Waiver Policy

The State Board clarified its waiver policy that school districts may use on behalf of special education students who use modifications to take the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE).

Under the State Board’s waiver policy, special education students who take the exit exam with modifications that fundamentally alter what the test measures may still graduate from high school and receive a diploma if they attain the equivalent of a passing score on the CAHSEE and successfully complete high school level coursework…

The proposed amendments to the CAHSEE regulations were sent out for a 15-day public comment period and will be back before the State Board in October for action.

Integrated Science Tests Approved in Concept

The State Board approved “in concept” the inclusion of four integrated science tests as part of the state’s Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program, with administration to begin in spring 2003.

At issue is the lack of a uniform curriculum for integrated science courses that are taught in high schools statewide. The result is uncertainty about what makes for an integrated science course and what it is that students should know and be able to do –and then have assessed. There are also questions about the number of students who take integrated science courses as juniors and seniors.

At its May meeting, the State Board requested that the integrated science community agree to the content of standards-based integrated science courses before it would take action on the integrated science test blueprints. In June, the State Board delayed action because it wanted further evidence of consensus from the integrated science community.

At the September meeting, CDE staff and the California Science Teachers Association presented proposed integrated science test blueprints they said would effectively communicate the standards assessed on each of the four integrated science tests, thus providing school districts with tests that would effectively mirror instruction.

After some discussion, the State Board approved the blueprints in concept, and it further requested that the STAR science content review panel evaluate the blueprints before they are presented for final action…

AB 466

The State Board of Education has approved another round of training providers and training curricula to advance the implementation of AB 466, the Mathematics and Reading Professional Development Program for teachers, instructional aides and paraprofessionals. For the list of approved AB 466 providers as of September 12, 2002, visit the State Board Web site at the following link:

(3) “Education Standards Threatened” by Duke Helfand

Source:  Los Angeles Times – 25 September 2002


The nation’s new education law that promises to “leave no child behind” may force California and several other states to lower their academic standards for public schools or risk billions in federal funds.

The quandary stems from the federal law requiring that 100% of students in all states be proficient in English and math within 12 years.

Before the law was passed, California set a high bar for proficiency, demanding that students learn everything from Euclidean geometry to medieval literature before they graduate from high school. As it stands, only one-third of the state’s students now meet the proficient level.

Though education officials said they don’t want to lower the standards, sticking to them probably means falling short of federal goals–and perhaps down the line, losing federal dollars.

“The federal government has put us in a bind,” said Kerry Mazzoni, California’s secretary of education. “We’re never going to be able to meet the 100% mark.”

The federal law leaves the details of testing and accountability to the 50 states: Each must establish its own academic standards, define what it means by proficiency on tests and ensure that students make what it considers adequate academic progress annually.

California began setting its standards four years ago, and through tests each spring determines whether students are proficient for their grade level. The state aimed high, requiring that proficient fourth-graders be able to identify metaphors and similes in literary works and that eighth-graders master algebra.

Ultimately, California students who are proficient in English and math when they graduate from high school are considered ready to attend a four-year university.

States that aim lower have a better chance of satisfying federal requirements. And, like California, states that set demanding standards before the law was enacted–including Michigan, Rhode Island and Colorado–are scrambling for solutions to satisfy Washington…

Nearly all states, including California, are still drafting their proposals for how they would meet the federal law. These are due in January and must be approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

One option being discussed in California is to classify 1.5 million students as proficient who now are deemed to have only a basic grasp of English and math.

But the idea is unpopular with the state’s leading educators, including Secretary of Education Mazzoni and State Board of Education members…

Even if officials used this strategy, most of California’s 8,000 schools could still fail to meet annual targets for improvement that the federal law requires, according to a preliminary state analysis.

Just 33% of youngsters statewide were proficient on California’s English-language arts tests last spring, up slightly from 31% the year before. Some schools had no proficient students.

The results underscore the enormous task of raising achievement levels, especially in overcrowded schools that are staffed by inexperienced teachers and serve legions of students who speak English as a second language…

(4) Instructional Materials Funding Realignment Program (AB 1781)

Source:  Legislative Counsel of California – 23 September 2002


AB 1781 was chaptered by the Secretary of State (Chapter   802) on September 23.

… This bill would establish the Instructional Materials Funding Realignment Program to provide funding for instructional materials to school districts on the basis of an equal amount per pupil enrolled in public elementary and high schools, as specified…

The bill would require a local governing board to use funding received pursuant to the program to ensure that each pupil is provided with a standards-aligned textbook or basic instructional materials, as adopted by the state board or the local governing board, as specified.  The bill would provide that if any funds received pursuant to the program remain after providing each pupil with a standards-aligned textbook or basic instructional materials in core curriculum areas, and if the local governing board has met certain eligibility requirements, the remaining funds may only be used for instructional materials, as specified…

60242.  (a) The state board shall encumber the fund for the purpose of establishing an allowance for each school district, which may reflect increases or decreases in enrollment, that the district may use for the following purposes:

(1) To purchase instructional materials adopted by the state board pursuant to Section 60200 for kindergarten and grades 1 to 8, inclusive, or by the governing board pursuant to Section 60400 for grades 9 to 12, inclusive.

(2) To purchase, at the district’s discretion, instructional materials, including, but not limited to, supplementary instructional materials and technology-based materials, from any source.

(3) To purchase tests.

(4) To bind basic textbooks that are otherwise usable and are on the most recent list of basic instructional materials adopted by the state board and made available pursuant to Section 60200.

(5) To fund in-service training related to instructional materials.

(6) To purchase classroom library materials for kindergarten and grades 1 to 4, inclusive.

   (b) The state board shall specify the percentage of a district’s allowance that is authorized to be used for each of the purposes identified in subdivision (a).

(c) Allowances established for school districts pursuant to this section shall be apportioned in September of each fiscal year.

…60246.5. (a) The Controller shall, during each fiscal year, commencing with the 2002-03 fiscal year, transfer from the General Fund to the State Instructional Materials Fund for instructional materials for kindergarten and grades 1 to 8, inclusive, the amount to be allocated pursuant to Section 60421.

   (b) The amount transferred pursuant to subdivision (a) includes the designated percentage of the cash entitlements to be used to pay for unadopted state materials, tests, classroom library materials, and in-service training…


(1) Upward Bound Program & Upward Bound Math & Science Program

Source: Kirk Winters ( – 20 September 2002


The Upward Bound Program is designed to generate in students the skills & motivation necessary for success in education beyond secondary school.  The Upward Bound Math & Science Program is designed to prepare high school students for postsecondary education programs that lead to careers in the fields of math & science.

Eligible Applicants: Institutions of higher education, public & private agencies & organizations, including community & faith-based organizations, & in exceptional cases, secondary schools if there are no other applicants capable of providing an Upward Bound project in the proposed target area.

Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: November 22, 2002–Upward Bound Math & Science Program; December 13, 2002–Upward Bound Program.

Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: January 21, 2003–Upward Bound Math & Science Program; February 11, 2003–Upward Bound Program.

Estimated Available Funds: $264,841,000 for the Upward Bound Program, & $31,772,000 for the Upward Bound Math & Science Program.

The estimated amount of funds available for awards is based on the Administration’s request for these programs for FY 2003.  The actual level of funding, if any, is contingent on final congressional action.  However, we are inviting applications to allow enough time to complete the grant process, if Congress appropriates funds for these programs.

Estimated Range of Awards: $200,000-690,000 for year 1 of an Upward Bound project; $200,000-300,000 for year 1 of an Upward Bound Math & Science project.

Estimated Average Size of Awards: $311,000 for the Upward Bound Program; $258,000 for the Upward Bound Math & Science Program.

Estimated Number of Awards: 772 for the Upward Bound Program; 123 for the Upward Bound Math & Science Program.

Additional information is available online at:

(2) The Foundation Center–Finding Funders


The Foundation Center’s mission is to support and improve institutional philanthropy by promoting public understanding of the field and helping grantseekers succeed.

To achieve our mission, we:

* Collect, organize, and communicate information on U.S. philanthropy

* Conduct and facilitate research on trends in the field

* Provide education and training on the grantseeking process

* Ensure public access to information and services through our World Wide Web site, print and electronic publications, five library/learning centers, and a national network of cooperating collections.

Founded in 1956, the Center is the nation’s leading authority on institutional philanthropy and is dedicated to serving grantseekers, grantmakers, researchers, policymakers, the media, and the general public.

* Teachers and administrators at all levels can locate funding opportunities for a variety of projects at this site.

(3) House Education and Workforce Committee Approves Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

Source:  The NSTA News Digest – 12 September 2002


On September 5, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved the Canceling Loans to Allow School Systems to Attract Classroom Teachers Act–the CLASS Act. The bill amends the current student loan program in the Higher Education Act (loan forgiveness for $5,000 for full time teachers employed for five years in a high poverty school) by allowing a discretionary loan forgiveness program up to $17,500 for science and math teachers; special education teachers; teachers in districts identified by states as having the most difficulty meeting the highly qualified teacher requirement in No Child Left Behind; and spouses of those killed or disabled in the September 11 tragedy.

The House must now approve this bill. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate, but no action has been taken on it yet.