COMET • Vol. 4, No. 16 – 10 May 2003


(1) May 19-23 Dialogue re California Master Plan for Education

Source: California Education Master Plan Alliance (

URL (Master Plan)

URL (Dialogue)

The Legislature is now considering a series of bills to put in place recommendations made in the 2002 Master Plan for Education. It is important to hear from you before these bills actually become law.

This online Dialogue [to be held on May 19-23] will give you an opportunity to learn about selected education bills, talk with legislators and other education experts and help them craft legislation to effectively guide and implement the Master Plan over the next two decades. You will also have the opportunity to become more familiar with the process by which an idea becomes a law.

Throughout the week, we will be joined by several California Legislators, a variety of guest panelists, and hundreds of individuals throughout the state who care about education. We encourage everyone who is interested to share their thoughts and ideas on this important topic. We are particularly interested in hearing from parents and students on Tuesday, May 20, when we discuss what California should expect students to learn and what kinds of learning support they should be guaranteed, but welcome the participation of everyone each day.

This online Dialogue about California’s Education Master Plan Legislation presents an opportunity and a challenge to both policy makers and Californians. We encourage participants to take a long view, think beyond individual interests, try to understand other perspectives, and define key issues. Above all, think about how these bills can contribute to promoting achievement of all students.

This is a Web-based discussion in which people can register and participate at their convenience and their desired level of involvement. Everyone can review the discussion Agenda, review daily summaries, make use of resources in the Library, and follow the discussion. Registered individuals will receive daily summaries by e-mail, may contribute as much or as little as they desire to the discussion, and complete daily feedback forms.


Monday, May 19: The School Readiness Bill — AB 56

AB 56 calls for preparing a child to start his/her education in good health with appropriate learning support for individual needs. This preparation includes access to preschool for all families who desire it and the access to community services from infancy through preschool that identify developmental concerns before they become a barrier to learning.

Panelists: Lynn DaucherKaren Hill-ScottCarol LiuRob ReinerDarrell Steinberg

Tuesday, May 20: The Student Learning Bill — SB 550

SB 550 calls for a rigorous curriculum to be provided to all students that is aligned among all levels of public education, with the goal of preparing every student to pursue postsecondary education, career options, or both.

Panelists: Richard AlarconScott HaugeEsther HugoTed MitchellJeannie OakesJohn Vasconcellos

Wednesday, May 21: Public Education Governance — SB 6

SB 6 clarifies the responsibilities of various state, regional, and local education governance bodies and enhancing accountability. The bill addresses state and local governance structures and seeks to transfer more responsibility and accountability for education to the governor.

Panelists: Dede AlpertChristopher Cabaldonchristine galvesPete MehasAlice PetrossianFred Silva

Thursday, May 22: Education Personnel Bill — AB 242

AB 242 calls for all teachers to be fully credentialed in the subject they are teaching and to eliminate school districts’ employing teachers with emergency permits or waivers of minimum qualifications for a particular instructional position. Moreover, exceptional teachers will be recognized by opportunities to advance in their career as an educator while continuing to teach in the classroom setting.

Panelists: Dave GordonGary HartCarol LiuArthurlene Towner

Friday, May 23: Single Subject Bills & Dialogue Wrap-up

On this day the discussion will focus on the five single subject bills introduced to support implementation of the Master Plan for Education, and on wrapping up the dialogue.

(2)  Addition of Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Foundational-Level Mathematics and in Science (Specialized)

Source:  California Commission on Teacher Credentialing – Sam Swofford, Executive Director – 14 April 2003 (Coded Correspondence 03-0010)


The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (the Commission) is offering additional subject areas for the Single Subject Teaching Credential. They are Foundational-Level Mathematics and four new areas in science: Biological Sciences (Specialized), Chemistry (Specialized), Physics (Specialized), and Geosciences (Specialized). Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Mathematics and in Science continue to be available. Presently there are sixteen single subject teaching areas. With the addition of these single subject teaching areas, the number of teachers with authorizations in mathematics and science is likely to increase significantly.

Single Subject Teaching Credential in Foundational-Level Mathematics


The Single Subject Teaching Credential in Foundational-Level Mathematics authorizes the holder to teach the content areas taught to the vast majority of California’s K-12 public school math students: general mathematics, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics, and consumer mathematics. Instruction is permitted in grades twelve and below, including preschool, and in classes organized primarily for adults. The teaching of Advanced Placement (AP) courses is not authorized by this credential.

Subject Matter Requirement

The subject matter requirement for a credential in Foundational-Level Mathematics can be satisfied by either passing the appropriate subject-matter examinations or by completing a Commission-approved subject-matter preparation program. These two options are described below.

California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET). The CSET is the new set of examinations used by the Commission to verify subject matter knowledge and will, over the next four years, replace the SSAT and Praxis II subject matter examinations. The CSET is administered by National Evaluation Systems, Inc. (NES). Individuals who choose to satisfy the subject matter requirement by the examination option must obtain passing scores on the first two subtests of the CSET: Mathematics. These subtests include: Subtest I: Algebra; Number Theory (test code 110) and Subtest II: Geometry; Probability and Statistics (test code 111). These examinations are currently available. For more information on the CSET, go to This Web site provides the subject matter requirements, test dates, test guides, registration bulletin, answers to frequently asked questions, policies on calculator use, and internet registration…

Subject Matter Preparation Program. New Standards of Quality and Effectiveness for Subject Matter Programs in Mathematics have recently been adopted by the Commission and are now available on the Commission’s Web site. Institutions of higher education wishing to offer a program of subject matter preparation in foundational-level mathematics will need to submit proposals to the Commission for review and approval… Institutions with approved subject-matter programs, will be responsible for evaluating and guiding candidates who are seeking the Single Subject Teaching Credential in Foundational-Level Mathematics…


If you have further questions concerning these additional authorizations, please contact the Information Services Unit at the Commission at (916) 445-7256 or toll-free at (888) 921-2682 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., weekdays, or by e-mail at

(3) Web Site Updates: California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) and the Golden State Exam (GSE)

Source:  Spring 2003 High School Newsletter (Regional Consortium)

New CAHSEE Resources

Two new CAHSEE resources have been updated and are now available on the CDE Web site. The “Questions and Answers Regarding the Scoring Process for the English-Language Arts Writing Tasks” provides a detailed description of the qualifications and training of the scorers and the steps followed in the scoring process to ensure accurate scores.  “Interpreting CAHSEE Scores” provides a description of the statistical concepts needed to adequately interpret the test scores. This document also includes links to the tables with the specific statistics for each test administration from March 2001 through January 2003.


[Also available on this Web site is the following presentation: “March 2003 CAHSEE Update for District and County Testing Evaluators”

New GSE Blueprints

Due to budget reductions, the Golden State Examination (GSE) program for the spring of 2003 was significantly reduced.  The only GSEs scheduled for the spring of 2003 are the tests in Reading, Writing and High School Mathematics. In addition, these tests are being administered as augmentations to the California Standards Tests (CSTs).  Blueprints for these 2003 GSE-CSTs in English-Language Arts and Mathematics are now available. The plans for the GSE in 2004 will be determined by the state budget for next year.



(1) “Intersection Points” (Research Council on Mathematics Learning)

Source:  Daniel Brahier ( – 22 April 2003


The Research Council on Mathematics Learning (RCML) seeks to stimulate, generate, coordinate, and disseminate research efforts designed to understand and/or influence factors that affect mathematics learning. The Spring (April) 2003 RCML Newsletter, “Intersection Points,” is available at the RCML Web site as a pdf file:  The plan is to eventually archive the newsletters at the Web

(2) “Vertical Equating for State Assessments: Issues and Solutions in Determination of Adequate Yearly Progress and School Accountability” by Robert Lissitz and Huynh Huynh

Source: Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 8(10).


Of all the provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, the definition and determination of adequate yearly progress (AYP) is perhaps the most challenging. NCLB requires states to administer reading and mathematics assessments at least once each year to students in grades 3 through 8 (and once more within grades 10-12) by 2005-06, and adds a science assessment administered at least once in each of three grade spans by 2007-08. States may select their own assessments and define their own proficiency levels, but they must submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education to establish goals for what percentages of students in various subgroups (e.g., low income, minority, limited English proficient) will meet or exceed proficiency levels on the state’s assessments each year.

This article describes AYP and some of the psychometric issues it raises. It examines scaling as a means to equate tests as part of a process to confirm educational gains. Vertically moderated standards are recommended over vertical equating of state assessments to measure annual progress and provide useful instructional information…

(3) “The ABCs of ‘AYP’:  Raising Achievement for All Students”

Source:  Education Trust – 24 April 2003 (News Release) April 24, 2003


The Education Trust released…a brief report detailing the basic principles and core requirements of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the accountability mechanism in No Child Left Behind (NCLB). This report, entitled The ABCs of ïAYP,’ is one in a series on implementing NCLB and comes at a time when there is considerable public confusion about the accountability requirements in the new law.

“As implementation of No Child Left Behind continues, there’s been a lot of criticism–and a lot of misinformation–about the expectations and requirements of the law,” said Ross Weiner, Policy Director with the Education Trust. “This has included often conflicting claims about the definition of AYP, what states are required to do, and the ability of states, schools and districts to meet those requirements. This report explains as clearly as possible what is and what is not in the law.”

According to Kati Haycock, Director of the Education Trust, “The new law isn’t perfect. No law ever is. But much of the criticism of NCLB is fueled by misunderstandings of what it actually requires and is driven more by the interests of adults who work in the system than by concerns about what is right for kids. Readers may not agree with our conclusion that if implemented conscientiously and in good faith, the systems that result will help make sure that we put into place the changed practices necessary to make much-needed progress in raising achievement and closing gaps. But at the very least some of the myths about AYP will be put to rest.”

The No Child Left Behind Act reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the federal government’s largest investment in K-12 education.

The report addresses such questions as:

*  Will schools or districts lose their federal funds if test scores don’t increase or meet AYP?

*  What is the “safe harbor” provision and how does it work?

*  Do schools have to improve scores every year in order to avoid being labeled as ‘needing improvement’?

*  How do states determine their starting point and interim goals for getting all groups of students proficient by 2014?

*  Can schools be listed as ‘in need of improvement’ just because of one “off” year?

(4) University of Hawaii and Singapore to Collaborate on Algebra Curriculum

Source: Barbara Dougherty, Project Director, Curriculum Research & Development Group– – 28 April 2003 (News Release)

The Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG) of the University of Hawaii and Ngee Ann Polytechnic in Singapore today announced an agreement to collaborate on creating an introductory engineering mathematics course for Ngee Ann students in Singapore.  CRDG’s Barbara Dougherty and Ngee Ann’s Pok Yang Ming and Chia-Khoo Beng Yang will lead a team of curriculum developers who will base the new course on Algebra I: A Process Approach, a curriculum created by CRDG.

Ngee Ann selected the program because it uses problem-solving and communication strategies–reading, writing, speaking, critical listening, and multiple representations–features that they believe lead to students’ deeper understanding of mathematics. The Singapore group is contributing a technology component to be used for tutorials and online assessments.

The final product, useful for post-secondary students in the United States and elsewhere, will be available for release to Ngee Ann students and other interested institutions in July 2004.  CRDG and Ngee Ann staff will also create a professional development institute for post-secondary mathematics instructors to assist them in implementing a program based in problem solving.

This collaboration grew out of a professional development institute Dougherty presented 2 years ago in Singapore on using problem-solving instructional approaches in mathematics education.  Ngee Ann became interested in CRDG’s algebra program, and after the institute Ngee Ann staff members reviewed their own materials and found them lacking in problem-solving tasks.  They approached Dougherty to ask if CRDG would partner with them to create a new program.

Singapore’s eighth-grade students achieved the highest scores in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) conducted in 1995 and1999.  TIMSS is the largest international study of student achievement ever undertaken and measures students’ achievement in mathematics and science.  In the 1999 study, the United States ranked nineteenth out of the 38 countries that participated.  The outstanding performance by Singapore’s students in TIMSS has generated a growing export of Singapore’s mathematics textbooks, which are sought by some U.S. educators seeking to duplicate Singapore’s success.

Though she was initially surprised by the request, Dougherty said, “On thinking about it, our Algebra I program is a natural fit with the way math is taught in Singapore.  Like us, they use increasingly complex word problems to teach students problem-solving skills, encouraging students to find different ways to solve and express problems, not simply memorize formulas taught by a teacher.”

Pok said, “My vision for Ngee Ann is that it is on the cutting edge.  We want to incorporate effective instructional practices into rigorous mathematics.”

Dougherty added, “Though we’re pleased to be of service to mathematics education in Singapore, CRDG staff will also benefit from interacting with faculty from a country where mathematics education has clearly been successful.”

Last September, the U.S. Department of Education and the Singapore government signed a memorandum of understanding in which they agreed to cooperate to improve math and science education.  The two countries will compare their math and science curricula, share effective practices in teacher preparation and professional development, and seek ways to raise students’ achievement in the subjects.  The CRDG, University of Hawaii-Ngee Ann Polytechnic collaboration is believed to be the first co-authoring partnership of its kind to be announced since the agreement was signed.

CRDG is a research unit of the University of Hawaii’s College of Education and has been a developer of innovative educational programs and services since 1966.  Ngee Ann Polytechnic is a public educational institution, established in 1963, where 14,000 students study business, engineering, science, information technology, media, and early childhood education.

(5) “Industrial-Strength Math” by Laura Pappano

Source:  The Boston Globe – 4 May 2003


URL (Conference):

The old question involving two trains leaving the station at the same time and traveling at different speeds is a fine math problem. But Wachusett Regional High School math teacher P. Brady Townsend likes his students to tackle real-world conundrums.

So they sorted through actual crime statistics to determine that considering seven types of crime, Massachusetts ranks as the 28th safest state in the United States, with North Dakota as safest and Nevada as most dangerous. Other students are figuring how to test the efficacy of nozzles at gas stations meant to trap fumes. And one algebra class is judging whether auto insurance rates – and discounts given for better drivers – make sense given accident claims for those drivers.

”Companies have actual problems they need solved,” said Townsend, who has worked with Worcester Polytechnic Institute and teaching colleague Clifton Wheeler to develop problems that such companies as Aetna, John Hancock, MCI, Morgan Construction, and others need solved into classroom math problems using real data sets.

Townsend and Wheeler are among the organizers of a conference July 7-13 to introduce middle and high school teachers to industrial mathematics (

Solving real problems lets students see the value of math learning, Townsend said. ”The question I get pestered with over and over is `When am I ever going to use this?’ Many students in high school are not willing to learn just for the sake of learning,” he said. The projects, Townsend added, ”start to answer that question.”

Projects also require students to combine different kinds of math skills to find a solution, for example, using functions for exponential growth and decay with interpreting graphs, Townsend said. ”I want them to see the ties between these previously discussed topics and see that if you use them all together and use them all correctly, you can do some pretty amazing things,” he said.

Julie Anderson, 17, a senior, whose midterm PowerPoint presentation on the cost of child mortality riders on life insurance policies was attended by a representative from John Hancock, said she loves working on math questions that can make a difference. ”It’s cool to know that… what you are doing matters to real people in real places.”