COMET • Vol. 4, No. 13 – 19 April 2003


(1) “L.A. School Board Votes to Oppose State Exit Exam” by Solomon Moore and Erika Hayasaki

Source: Los Angeles Times – 9 April 2003


The Los Angeles Unified School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to oppose the state’s requirement that students pass an exit exam before graduating from high school, a move that some educators hope will influence the state to postpone or drop the test.

“We should be working with the State Board of Education so that this whole thing gets stopped,” said board member Genethia Hudley-Hayes, who co-sponsored the motion with board member Jose Huizar.

“If we use the California Exit Exam to determine whether or not a student receives a diploma, and yet we’re not giving youngsters what they need to pass, then we’re holding students accountable for something that we’re not holding the institution accountable for,” she said.

More than 100,000 teenagers have failed the California High School Exit Exam at least twice and must retake it.

Students across the state have held rallies and protests in recent months to urge to state to delay or drop the graduation requirement, which takes effect for the class of 2004.

At one point during Tuesday’s meeting, Hudley-Hayes suggested that the Los Angeles district simply boycott the test. However, after conferring in closed session with attorneys and other board members, she withdrew that idea. As a public official, she said, “It’s not OK for me to break the law.”

Nearly 100 students, mostly members of the Coalition for Educational Justice, a grass-roots organization that has been fighting the exam, showed up at Tuesday’s meeting and cited disparities among ethnic groups on test results.

Pass rates on the 2002 exit exam among white and Asian students were nearly double those of Latinos and African Americans. Among students from low-income homes, only 22% passed the exam’s math section last spring, while about 40% of students considered not economically disadvantaged passed.

The school board’s vote was “a big victory for people who are trying to challenge institutional racism in schools,” said Alex Caputo-Pearl, a member of the group and teacher at Crenshaw High School.

“It means that L.A. Unified, the biggest and most influential district in the state, is now on record opposing the racist diploma penalty that is attached to the high school exit exam,” Caputo-Pearl said.

Members of the State Board of Education have said that they will re-examine whether to delay the requirement or change it over the next few months.

Test supporters warned that dropping the test would not help struggling students in the long run because the exam’s content is not unreasonably difficult and that students can get help to master the material they should know by graduation.

The exam covers language arts concepts through the 10th grade and math through basic algebra, often a ninth-grade class.

However, the exam protesters contend that some schools are not teaching the material on the test, which is offered as many as three times a year…

(2) California State Board of Education (SBE): April 2003 Meeting Highlights


NCLB: SBE Approves May 1st Submission Plan

Advancing the state’s ongoing efforts to implement the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the State Board of Education approved California’s NCLB plan that must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by May 1, 2003.

The NCLB plan, technically known as “California’s Consolidated State Application for NCLB,” contains additional key elements that were approved today by the State Board and it updates the state’s preliminary funding application approved last year.

California, with its program of high academic content standards and a standards-aligned testing and school accountability system, is well-positioned to meet the requirements of NCLB. In 2002-03, California has received nearly $2 billion under the federal law.

In an effort to make information about the state’s NCLB efforts more accessible, the State Board and CDE have posted a new California NCLB homepage, which organizes information related to state implementation of the federal law onto one location on the Internet. The new California NCLB homepage can be found at …

Curtis Washington Appointed to SBE:  Governor Gray Davis has appointed Curtis Washington to the State Board of Education. Mr. Washington, 52, of Brisbane, has been a high school math and science teacher for the San Mateo Union High School District since 1988. He is a member of the National Science Teachers Association, the California Teachers Association/NEA and is a former member of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s California High School Exit Exam Panel. Mr. Washington is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Golden Gate Service Center Council of the California Teachers’ Association and is a former Treasurer of the Council. He earned a bachelor of science degree from Princeton University in Engineering, and a master of business administration degree from Stanford University. He took his oath at the SBE April meeting…

Regulations on Instructional Materials Approved:  Proposed regulations to implement the Instructional Materials Funding Realignment Program were amended and sent out for a 15-day public review period. The State Board approved amendments to the proposed regulations as recommended by CDE staff. Specifically, the revised regulations include technical revisions due to enactment of Senate Bill X1-18, legislation that allows school districts to use instructional materials adopted by the State Board AB 2519 in 1999 to meet the requirements for standards-aligned instructional materials in mathematics and reading/language arts for the 2002-03 and 2003-04 fiscal years. The proposed regulations will return to the State Board for action at the Board’s May 2003 meeting.

(3) Credential Counselors & Analysts of California–Highlights of the Commission for April 2003


Developing Issues in Response to “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB)

Linda Bond, director of the Office of Governmental Relations, made [a] presentation on Thursday on the status of California’s response to NCLB as it relates to credentialing. She had just returned from providing technical information to the AB 312 Liaison Team that also met on April 3. Much of the current discussions are focusing on the status of the current Commission-approved subject matter preparation programs for the Multiple Subject Credential.

Ms. Bond feels that some progress has been made in communicating to the major players on the AB 312 Liaison Team what the current credential structure in California… that the current Commission-approved Liberal Studies subject matter programs are required to have a capstone assessment in addition to individual course grades…

One possible solution could be the adoption of an external assessment to serve as the uniform assessment at the conclusion of the Liberal Studies subject matter program. This solution is appealing as it could be implemented by modifying the Commission’s program standards and would not require formal action by the legislature.

The official response of the State Board to NCLB is now due on September 1, 2003…

Options for the Professional Clear Credential under SB 2042

Given the current budget crisis, which may impact both the availability of induction programs and the ability of new credential holders to be hired, Commission staff are proposing to issue a Coded Correspondence that makes clear the options open to SB 2042 Preliminary Credential holders.

While a Commission-approved and state-funded induction program remains the preferred route to the Professional Clear credential, any individual credential holder who for any reason does not have access to an induction program will be able to obtain the Professional Clear credential on the basis of Fifth Year coursework and courses (or exams) that cover the academic content included in the SB 2042 Tier II programs (advanced health, special education, technology and English Learner)…

It is the responsibility of the Commission, once induction is fully funded, to “trigger” the full implementation of induction as the route to the Professional Clear credential. Staff will review the level of funding available to induction programs and advise the Commission on when it would be appropriate to activate the “trigger.” Such an action would need to take place in a public meeting open to comment from the field.

CSET Passing Scores

The passing scores recommended by staff were adopted by the Commission. The passing score set for each CSET subset of each exam (Multiple Subject, English, Mathematics, Social Science and the Sciences) is 220 on a scale of 300. Candidates will need to achieve a score of at least 220 on each subtest in a full CSET exam to be considered subject matter competent. Test results for the January administration will be issued by April 17th and those for the March administration by April 21…

Legislative Update–New or Changed Bills

You can access up to the minute news on bills at

SB 81 Alpert Watch–This bill has been modified to focus on the composition of the integrated credential programs in the CSU system, with linkage to local Community Colleges mandated. The provisions for an “Education” major have been removed…


(1) ESEA: Myths Versus Realities

Source:  The Education Trust


The No Child Left Behind legislation reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the federal government’s largest investment in K-12 education. Title I of ESEA targets over $10 billion in financial assistance to schools educating low-income students. ESEA allocates almost another $10 billion for teacher recruitment and professional development, educational technology, after-school programs, and other purposes.

Along with providing additional resources, the No Child Left Behind legislation adds important accountability provisions to Title I of ESEA and establishes a framework for real progress in raising overall student achievement and in increasing parent involvement. The accountability provisions require states to set clear timelines for improving student achievement, with particular emphasis on closing achievement gaps between low-income and minority students and their peers. The new reporting provisions ensure that parents and the public will have a better sense of how schools are doing…

Some of the concerns we’re hearing about the new law appear to be based on misconceptions or misunderstandings about both the requirements and the expectations in the law.  Here, then, is our attempt to separate the myths from the realities of ESEA…[downloadable pdf file: ]


= Related article:

“No Child Left Behind” by Debra Gingerich


(2) Investing in America’s Classrooms: Ensuring Every Child has a Highly Qualified Teacher  (Webcast)

Source:  U.S. Department of Education

URL (program information):

URL (Webcasts):

Teaching is the essential profession, the one that makes all other professions possible. Teachers’ qualifications are of critical importance to the nation as teachers will mold and shape the skills of our future workforce and lay the foundation for good citizenship and full participation in community and civic life. By 2007, America’s public and private schools will educate nearly three million more children than they do today Æ a total of more than 54 million students. To meet this need, more than 2 million teachers will need to be hired to match the projected enrollment in our elementary and secondary classrooms. More than half of these will be first-time teachers, and they will need to be the best-prepared teachers our nation has ever known.

Research shows that the most significant factor in student achievement is the teacher. Studies also show that verbal ability and content knowledge are the most important attributes of highly qualified teachers. While America is blessed with many fine teachers, we don’t have enough of them, a problem that is especially acute in inner-city schools and in certain subject areas such as mathematics, science, and special education.

Unfortunately, colleges of education–the traditional route to the classroom–do not always attract the best and brightest students into the profession, and many new teachers do not feel prepared to help their students meet performance standards in the subjects they teach. In an effort to streamline the process for entering the classroom and improve the quantity and quality of America’s teaching corps, many states and districts have been employing alternative routes to certification that rely on recruiting and licensing individuals with subject-area expertise and experience rather than a traditional education credential.

The April 2003 broadcast of Education News…[addressed] questions such as:

* What are the challenges teachers face in the classroom today?

* How can a parent find-out if their child’s teacher is highly-qualified?

* What do the experts mean when they say there is a teacher shortage?

* What does the research and practice show about the need to reform the requirements for teacher certification and licensure?

* In what ways can schools and districts use alternative recruitment strategies to ensure the best in every classroom?

* How can parents and community organizations help ensure teachers are prepared to teach?

* How do I ensure my child has a qualified teacher in the classroom?

* What are the best ways schools and parents can communicate feedback?

[Upcoming “Education News” topics: (a) “Special Education” on May 20; “Educational Technology” on June 17]

(3) National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Annual Meeting Webcasts


The opening sessions and other selected sessions from the past four NCTM annual meetings are available for viewing at the above Web site (RealPlayer required).

The Webcast of the Opening Session for the 2003 annual meeting features NCTM President Johnny Lott and keynote speaker Judith Ramaley.  Dr. Ramaley is a nationally recognized leader in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. An assistant director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), she manages the education program portfolio of its Directorate for Education and Human Resources. In this role she has sharpened the NSF’s focus on the strategies necessary to meet the lifelong learning needs of a changing student population and the demands of a science- and technology-fueled economy.

Prior to her NSF appointment, Ramaley had been president of the University of Vermont and president of Portland State University in Oregon. She is currently a presidential professor in biomedical sciences at the University of Maine at Orono and a fellow at the Margaret Chase Smith Center for Public Policy [from ]

(4) National Organization Formed to Boost Mathematics Achievement of Latino/Hispanic Students:  TODOS

Source:  Jeanne F. Ramos and Miriam Leiva


A new national organization, TODOS: Mathematics for ALL, was formally launched on Thursday, April 10, 2003, at a reception attended by more than 300 mathematics educators held during the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference in San Antonio, TX.

The Mission of TODOS is “to advocate for an equitable and high quality mathematics education for ALL students, in particular Latino/Hispanic students, by advancing the professional growth and equity awareness of educators.”

This new organization was started by the Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee of NCTM and spearheaded by a group of mathematics educators who are committed to working to close the achievement gap for Latino/Hispanic students. A main goal of the organization is to increase equity awareness on the part of educators and students, and to identify the barriers that limit access and achievement in mathematics for all students. Equally important is the goal to connect and inform the teachers of Latino/Hispanic students regarding important research findings that relate to the teaching and learning of mathematics by these students.

Other goals of the organization focus on providing professional development opportunities for teachers of Latino/Hispanic students, promoting high expectations and rigorous standards for all students, and identifying and acknowledging excellence in mathematics education programs and student achievement.

For more information regarding the TODOS organization, please visit our website,, or contact Jeanne Ramos at or Miriam Leiva, President, at For a membership application, contact Nora Ramirez, Treasurer, by email at The organization dues are $25 for a one-year membership and $ 70 for a three-year membership.

(5) Upcoming Conferences: Mathematics Education and Technology

Source:  Ed Laughbaum (

Below are links to announcements for three professional development opportunities appropriate for mathematics teacher educators, developmental algebra teachers (college), remedial algebra teachers (HS), and high school CAS users:

a. Developmental Algebra Using a Function Approach–Duck, NC (June 8-13):

b. USA CAS (Computer Algebra Systems) Conference–Glenview, IL (June 21-22):

c. Math Teacher Educator Short Course: Implementing TI Hand-held Technology Focused at the High School Level (June 16-19)–Duck, NC:

(6) The National Curve Bank

Source: Shirley Gray (


The National Curve Bank is a Web site designed for students of mathematics. We strive to provide features that a printed page cannot provide (e.g., animation, interaction, audio, and color).  We also include the geometrical, algebraic, and historical aspects of curves–the kinds of attributes that make the mathematics special and enrich classroom learning.

See for a list of topics and more information. For classroom teachers, we suggest the following examples for how the site may be used:

* In trigonometry, see

* For prime number theory and math in the news, see

* For a brief mathematician’s birthday “pop-down,” see

* For a special project idea, see

* For interactive fractals, see

The National Curve Bank welcomes your participation.  Please see “Submit Your Curve” on the Home Page for details:

(7) “‘Comet Queen’ Keeps Eye on Sky” by Mark Shaffer

Source: The Arizona Republic – 16 April 2003


Take it from Carolyn Shoemaker, the “comet queen” and longtime Flagstaff-area resident who has discovered more comets and asteroids than anyone alive.

The world is going to be safe from flying space junk during the next century, despite more than 600 non-Earth objects zooming around our celestial environment, some of them more than a kilometer in size…

Shoemaker, the wife of the late, acclaimed astrogeologist Eugene Shoemaker, who mapped the moon before man landed on it and was a leading expert on the Earth’s and solar system’s craters, discovered 32 comets and 800 asteroids in the decade ending in 1994…

Carolyn Shoemaker said that fund-raising for comet research has been difficult since a federal program was shut down nearly a decade ago.

“We had hoped to find thousands of comets,” Shoemaker said. “But at least we have five ‘big sky’ surveys going on now. I don’t think anything is going to sneak up on us.”