COMET • Vol. 4, No. 17 – 17 May 2003


(1)  “Governor Davis Unveils May Budget Revision Protecting Education, Public Safety” (Press Release)

Source:  Office of the Governor – 14 May 2003

URL: (link to Press Room)

URL (May budget revision document):

Governor Gray Davis unveiled his revised budget for the 2003-2004 fiscal year [on May 14], detailing a plan that protects education, public safety, health care and environmental programs while building consensus with the Legislature on a multi-year financing plan to bridge a $38.2 billion revenue shortfall…

Gov. Davis called on the legislature to pass the budget on time and pass a structural reform package as part of its budget solution. The May Revision balances the budget this year, but defers a significant portion of the structural problem to the following budget year…

The budget reflects a $7.6 billion reduction in General Fund spending–the largest decline since 1945. .. The revenue shortfall is closed with a total of $18.7 billion in cuts and savings, $7.1 billion in fund shifts, transfers and loans, $1.7 billion in program realignments to local government, and $10.7 billion in deficit financing.

In addition to the presumed operation of existing law with respect to local government’s vehicle license fees ($4.2 billion), the budget requires the passage of $1.8 billion in cigarette and income taxes targeted to realigned local government programs. A temporary one-half cent sales tax ($2.3 billion) will pay for the deficit financing plan…

The May Revision is anchored by the Governor’s commitment to protect the progress that has been made in our schools. The Proposition 98 Guarantee is fully funded. Critical classroom priorities, including class size reduction, accountability and special education are fully funded. Schools will have $700 million more in state and local funds than the January budget…

Please see the Department of Finance’s Web site for further information:


Related Article:

“Davis Restores Some Funds, but Schools Still Face Deep Cuts” by Duke Helfand

SourceLos Angeles Times – 15 May 2003



Editor’s Note: The following passage is from page 28 of the May Revision:

Statewide Assessments

The May Revision continues the Administration’s efforts to reduce testing time and streamline the State’s system of assessments.  Funding for the Golden State Examinations (GSEs) are eliminated and the English Language Arts and Mathematics GSEs are integrated into the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program to be used in a pilot program by the California State University for the purposes of placement and remediation. This action provides not only a savings of approximately $11.7 million from the 2002 Budget Act level, it also eliminates 11 examinations and links standards and assessments between the secondary level and higher education that has not previously existed. Further, the May Revision includes an unallocated reduction of $13 million in the Testing Programs. The Administration notes the Legislature’s concerns regarding testing volume and time and will work with the Legislature to determine how the $13 million reduction will be allocated.

(2) Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Program

Source:  California Postsecondary Education Commission




Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Included in the revised legislation is an initiative to prepare, train, and recruit teachers, principals, and other school based personnel (Title II, Part A) to ensure that every child in America is exposed to professionals that demonstrate a high level of content knowledge and instructional competence. Under Title II, Part A of the NCLB Act, the California Postsecondary Education Commission is authorized to conduct the grant competition. The Commission anticipates receiving approximately $8.0 million to support one to three year projects to meet the goals of the legislation…


The Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Program (formally the Eisenhower Professional Development Program) was enacted to improve teacher quality and instructional leadership through partnerships between high need elementary and secondary schools and postsecondary education institutions. Competitive grants will be made to projects that are grounded in scientifically based research to recruit, prepare, and continually develop high quality teachers and instructional leaders. In addition, the projects may target other school based personnel and parents. This program gives states the flexibility to implement strategies that meet specified needs to improve teacher quality and raise student learning in the core academic subjects of mathematics, science, arts, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, English, and history.

What is a partnership?

Awards will be made to accredited two and four-year institutions of higher education in partnership with a local educational agency (district, school, etc.). Under federal guidelines, the primary partnership must include a K-12 district or school, the applying institution’s school/department of education, and a school of arts and sciences. While not required as part of the primary partnership, other entities (such as informal education agencies, nonprofit agencies, community-based organizations, and appropriate businesses) may participate in the partnership…

Funding initiatives under the Request For Proposals (RFP)

The Commission met with the Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Advisory Committee to identify statewide areas of need. The overarching need is to increase the number of teaching professionals that persist in the field of teaching through innovative teacher recruitment, preparation, and professional development. Details of each funding initiative [are] included in the RFP [URL above].

Technical Assistance Workshops

A series of workshops will be held in May and June in order to answer questions regarding the Improving Teacher Quality State Grants Program funding criteria and to discuss in more detail the proposal solicitation and grant selection processes. Attendance at a workshop is optional. [RSVP by May 20 for the Oakland workshop or May 23 for the Fresno, Los Angeles, Redding, or San Diego workshop: ]


     Deadline for Submission of the Letter of Intent to Submit a Proposal Form

In order to receive an application, the Letter of Intent to Submit a Proposal Form must be received in our office by 5:00 p.m. June 13, 2003


 (1)  NCTM Research Catalyst Conference (September 11-13, Reston, VA)

Source:  Amy Mirra, NCTM Communications Outreach Coordinator (703-620-9840, ext. 2215)


The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) will host a Research Catalyst Conference on September 11-13, 2003 at the Sheraton Reston in Reston, Virginia.  This working conference will bring together approximately 100 participants from various research communities with the intent of catalyzing coordinated research about the impact, implementation, and influence of state and national standards and related national initiatives, including assessments, instructional materials, and teacher education programs.  The conference is being planned by NCTM and is funded by NCTM and the National Science Foundation.  Financial support for travel, hotel, and meals during the conference is provided.

Goals of the conference are to:

*  Improve pre-K-12 mathematics teaching and learning by generating and catalyzing coordinated research about key question related to the impact, implementation and influence of standards and related assessments, instructional materials, and teacher education initiatives.

*  Build and strengthen an interdisciplinary research community with capacity and interest to do research about important issues in mathematics teaching and learning as related to standards in mathematics education.

Conference working groups will address the following:

– Assessment and Student Achievement

– Changing Nature of Schooling and School Demographics

– Instructional Materials and Curriculum

– Local Policy and Community Context

– State and National Policy

– Teaching and Learning

– Teacher Preparation

– Teacher Quality and Professional Development

Approximately 80 applicants will be selected from various research communities, including mathematics education (learning, teaching, teacher knowledge), mathematics, policy, curriculum development, professional development, sociology, organizational studies, administration/leadership, science education, economics, measurement and evaluation, research design and methodology (both quantitative and qualitative), psychometrics, communications, school teaching, and ESL.  Selections will be made to ensure that a diversity of disciplines and perspectives are represented.

Conference participants will be selected from applicants who submit curriculum vitae and statements of interest and will be divided among the eight working groups.  Applicants are asked to choose up to three groups they would like to participate in and present a rationale for their selection.  The complete announcement, application, and other information such as the working group descriptions and names of group leaders can be found at …Established education researchers and those who are just beginning their careers are encouraged to apply. The deadline for applications is June 15; selections will be made by July 1.

(2)  CED Releases Plan for Reviving Math and Science Excellence (Press Release)

Source:  Committee on Economic Development (CED) – 7 May 2003


“A skilled workforce is crucial to a growing economy,” argues the Committee for Economic Development in its newest report, Learning for the Future: Changing the Culture of Math and Science Education to Ensure a Competitive Workforce.   The report proposes a strategic plan for improving math and science education in U.S. schools with the goal of creating a larger American workforce of creative scientists and engineers.  Learning for the Future summarizes statistics showing the steady decline in proficiency in math and science skills the longer that students stay in U.S. schools.  One result of this decline is the fact that less than 1% of all bachelor’s degrees from American colleges in 2000 were in mathematics.

“The pool of United States-educated scientists and engineers continues to shrink,” said Christopher D. Earl, Ph.D., Managing Director, Perseus Capital, LLC, CED Trustee and project co-chair.  “Today industry cannot fill key technical positions.  If we don’t take dramatic steps to improve our math and science education, we could see the day when America is no longer the world center for innovation in a wide range of industrial sectors.  Currently business is relying on immigration to fill slots in many technical fields, but that cannot serve as a long-term solution”…

“CED is an organization that takes the long view of economic problems facing our nation,” said Charles E.M. Kolb, President of CED.  “If we don’t increase the pool of U.S. educated scientists and technical workers by improving our math and science education, we run the risk of crippling our economy in the very near future. The need to reinvigorate technical education has never been more pressing.  CED’s proposals are inclusive and, I believe, are a solid plan that will improve math and science education across all grade levels, economic, racial, and ethnic groups.”…

The report specifically urges action in three areas that will increase student “demand” for and achievement in mathematics and science:

(a) Increasing student interest in math and science to sustain the pipeline focuses on ways to change the way students view math and science disciplines.  CED calls on the business community to collaborate with school districts to develop enhancements to the district-adopted math and science curricula that integrate the state-of-the-art applications of mathematical and scientific principles into the classroom setting and provide an insight into the work scientists and engineers perform every day.  Business should also provide financial and logistical support to extracurricular math and science activities, as well as the time and talents of their employees, to enrich the learning experiences of students.

(b)  Demonstrating the wonder of discovery while helping students to master rigorous content offers programs to help teachers reinforce student interest and success in math and science.  CED calls for reform in teacher preparation, opportunities for teachers to work with those in the technical work force, and significant improvements in the quality of professional development.  Businesses should partner with local school districts to provide scientists and engineers as resources for schools.  Businesses, colleges and universities, and school districts should jointly develop effective programs to provide valuable summer experiences for teachers.

(c)  Acknowledging the professionalism of teachers considers the “supply side” problems facing the teacher labor market.  CED recommends that teacher salary scales be viewed as a capital investment similar to other capital improvements.  The report also urges reforms in teacher certification, licensing, and pension incentives.

CED has been working with other public and private groups to develop new ways of restoring vitality to math and science education.

“The culture surrounding math and science education in this country will not be changed overnight,” said Linda P. Rosen, CED education policy advisor.  “Yet, the urgency of the problem demands innovative short- and long-term strategies to ensure excellence in technical, engineering, and mathematics education for this country.  The business community has a real stake in this goal and are willing partners in bringing it to fruition.”

Learning for the Future: Changing the Culture of Math and Science Education to Ensure a Competitive Workforce is available from the Committee for Economic Development, 2000 L Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036  (202-296-5860).   The full text of the report [is available] online at

(CED is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of more than 200 business leaders and university presidents.  Since 1942, its research and policy programs have addressed many of the nations most pressing economic and social issues, including education reform, workforce competitiveness, campaign finance, health care, and global trade and finance.  CED promotes policies to produce increased productivity and living standards, greater and more equal opportunity for every citizen, and an improved quality of life for all.)

(3)  “GAO:  States Could Get Hit With Test Costs” by Greg Toppo

Source:  USA TODAY – May 2003


Congress has set aside enough money for the national testing required by President Bush’s No Child Left Behind education plan–if states rely on inexpensive multiple-choice tests that aren’t geared to children’s coursework.

Otherwise, states could find themselves spending millions of dollars to develop, give and score the tests, according to a long-awaited report by the General Accounting Office [GAO], the investigative arm of Congress.

While Thursday’s report echoes long-standing complaints of state education officials, it also says states can save money by sharing test development expenses.

Under Bush’s education plan, all 50 states must begin testing students in grades 3-8 in reading, math and science over the next six years. GAO found that such testing could cost as little as $1.9 billion or as much as $5.3 billion, depending on the complexity of developing and scoring the tests. Congress is slated to give states about $2.7 billion over the next six years.

Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Education Committee, says the study shows that “Congress is providing more than enough money for states to meet the annual testing requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act, and education reform opponents have significantly exaggerated the actual cost.”

Previous estimates by education groups have put the figure as high as $7 billion.

David Shreve of the National Conference of State Legislatures says the report shows that states will be forced save money by developing a “bare-bones, minimum bubble test,” rather than more in-depth tests that require written responses from students.

Bob Schaeffer of the Center for Fair and Open Testing says, “The pressure will be to dumb down assessment to the low-quality, cookie-cutter, multiple-choice tests.”


Related note from the 12 May 2003 issue of the NCTM Legislative and Policy Update: According to education advocates, the GAO study indicates that for at least 34 states, the assessment appropriations will not sufficiently cover their costs. The GAO report fails to factor in to its assessment the costs for developing and administering alternate assessments, the costs to local education agencies for local tests, and the costs for English language proficiency assessment tests.

(4)  “Tech’s Answer to Testing”

Source:  Education Week on the Web – 9 May 2003


(Note: The majority of the links included below require site registration.)

Education and technology forces have converged this year to vault computer-based testing into the headlines, raising important questions about whether this new mode of assessment is more useful than traditional paper-and-pencil exams.

To begin with, the increased testing requirements imposed by the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001–a far-reaching overhaul of federal education policy signed into law by President Bush in January 2002–have set schools scrambling to find more efficient ways to assess academic skills and get children ready for high-stakes state exams. Unlike traditional standardized tests on paper, which can take weeks or even months to score and return to schools, computer-based assessments can provide almost immediate feedback. That is arguably one of the biggest draws for educators.

Technology Counts Project Editor Kevin Bushweller discussed computer-based testing in an online chat hosted by, on May 8, 2003. Read the transcript.

Already, 12 states and the District of Columbia have a computerized exam or a pilot project under way to evaluate the effectiveness of computer-based testing, according to a new Education Week survey of state departments of education (“State Initiatives: A Survey of State Departments of Education”:  All of these tests except for one in North Carolina and the District of Columbia exam are administered via the Internet. In five states, officials report that computerized testing was designed to partially meet requirements under the new federal law.

Eventually, experts predict, technology could change the face of testing itself, enabling states to mesh the use of tests for instructional and accountability purposes.

Computer-Based State Tests

“You’ve got the potential that technology could be a solution,” says Wesley D. Bruce, the director of school assessment for the Indiana Department of Education, “but there is, right now, just a huge set of issues.”

Chief among them is a simple question: Do schools have enough computers to test children in this new manner? The answer in many places is no. And with most states struggling with budget deficits, it’s unlikely they are going to use their limited resources to fill that void.

Yet researchers point out that computer-based testing has the potential to be far cheaper than its printed counterpart.

Richard Swartz, a senior research director at the Educational Testing Service, in Princeton, N.J., estimates that the actual costs of putting a test online and building a customized scoring model are comparable to those of developing a good paper-and-pencil exam. “Once the tests are implemented,” he adds, “the difference in scoring costs is enormously in favor of the computer.”

Still, other problems with computerized assessment have emerged. One prickly issue involves the use of what is called adaptive testing, in which the computer adjusts the level of difficulty of questions based on how well a student is answering them. Proponents of this form of testing argue that it provides a more individualized and accurate assessment of a student’s ability.

But the No Child Left Behind law, a revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that puts a higher premium than ever on schools’ accountability for student achievement, continues to mandate that states measure student performance against the expectations for a student’s grade level.

With adaptive testing, a 7th grader, for instance, might be bumped up to questions at the 8th grade level or dropped down to the 6th grade level. As a consequence, debate is growing about whether adaptive testing can meet the purposes of the federal law, and if it doesn’t, how the technology should be modified to meet the requirements.

To give educators a head start on understanding computer-based testing, Technology Counts 2003 the sixth edition of Education Week‘s annual report on educational technology in the 50 states and the District of Columbia examines these new developments from a host of angles, beginning with an analysis of the impact of the No Child Left Behind law (“Legal Twists, Digital Turns”: ).  Surprisingly, perhaps, the story points out that the law is having the effect of both encouraging and discouraging the use of computerized assessments.

As another part of this year’s focus on computer-based testing, Technology Counts 2003 takes a close look at adaptive testing, with analysis from proponents and critics, and a description of how it works (“A Question of Direction”: ). The upshot of the adaptive-testing debate is that developers of such assessments are worried that they may be left out of what could be the greatest precollegiate testing boom in history.

Computerized assessment may turn out to have its biggest impact in the area of online test preparation, observers of the field say. Last year, for instance, more than 200,000 students in 60 countries signed up for the Princeton Review’s online demonstrations of such tests as the SAT and state exit exams. Technology Counts 2003tracks the online test prep trend (“Prepping for the Big Test”:

As educators face the new federal requirement to test all 3rd through 8th graders annually in reading and mathematics, states are experimenting with new ways of using technology to evaluate the abilities of special education students. Testing experts say that what educators learn from how to tailor assessments to the needs of special education students could also shape how they test other students, who may have more subtle individual needs. This year’s report examines those lessons (“Spec. Ed. Tech Sparks Ideas”:

Technology Counts 2003 also includes a story about teachers who are using computer-based testing to give classroom quizzes and tests (“The Teacher’s New Test”:, an examination of the benefits and drawbacks of essay-grading software (“Essay Grading Goes Digital”:, an analysis of the growing business of computer-based testing (“Marketing to the Test”:, and a look at national trends in educational technology.

Snapshots of the steps each state has taken to use computer-based testing or simply to use educational technology more effectively are also included in the report (“State Profiles”:; California link:, as are data tables with state-by-state statistics on technology use in schools (“Tracking Tech Trends”:…