COMET • Vol. 4, No. 20 – 2 September 2003


During the past two weeks, the Sobig.f worm has been spreading via the Internet, causing many email inboxes to be cluttered with messages having subject lines such as “Approved,” “Details,” “Thank you,” and “Wicked screensaver.” PC users who double click on the file attachments included in these messages activate the worm and cause it to spread, often resulting in email messages being sent to everyone in the infected user’s address book and appearing to come from addresses in that address book. Therefore, it is probable that a message containing the virus isn’t actually coming from the apparent sender.

Reminders: (1) Never open attachments (Sobig.f attachments contain a pif or scr file extension) unless you are expecting a particular file from a particular person. (2) Regularly update your anti-virus software. (COMET is produced on and sent from a Macintosh computer that does not run Windows using Virtual PC as a precaution against virus infection; further, the computer’s virus software is updated daily.)

The following links contain more information on the Sobig.f worm (which is programmed to cease wreaking havoc on September 10):

On a much more pleasant note, welcome to the new academic year! May it hold exciting new challenges and opportunities for you!

~ Carol Fry Bohlin


(1) “No Child Left Behind”–Update

During the summer, three special issues of COMET were produced to provide current information regarding the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) on California’s teachers. Many questions continue to be raised concerning topics such as supplementary authorizations, “highly qualified” teacher status, and CSET requirements for preservice and classroom teachers.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) and the California Department of Education (CDE) have been working throughout the summer to address these and many other questions.  The CDE is currently developing a guidebook to help teachers and administrators as they strive to understand and meet the NCLB requirements. This document will be available online after Title 5 regulations regarding NCLB-related teacher requirements are approved by the State Board of Education (SBE). This item is on the agenda for the September SBE meeting, but if substantial changes to the currently-proposed Title 5 regulations are required or recommended, a second 45-day public comment period may be necessary, thus postponing a SBE vote to approve the regulations.

A draft of the proposed Title 5 regulations is available in PDF format at  Written comments regarding these proposed regulations will be accepted through September 8. The SBE will hold a public hearing beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 9, 2003, at 1430 N Street, Room 1101, in Sacramento.  More information on this meeting can be found at

Related Web sites:

(a) California’s NCLB Web page

(b) SBE Conceptual Plan for Meeting NCLB Requirements:

(c) June 2003 News Release Regarding SBE Approval of Conceptual Plan:

(d) SBE Minutes from the July 2003 Meeting (and past meetings):

(e) SBE Meeting Highlights:

(f) “Proposed Regs For NCLB Teacher Provisions Approved” (see Item 3 below):

(g)  September SBE Agenda (with links to supplementary documents):


(2) California Commission on Teacher Credentialing–August 2003 Meeting

As COMET reported on July 30, the agenda for the August meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) included a number of very important topics related to NCLB requirements for teacher preparation and certification. The online agenda for that meeting contains links to detailed reports providing extensive background and information regarding proposed actions on such topics as supplementary authorizations, CSET, and multiple subject credentialing requirements. See

CCTC sends online news and updates to subscribers of its listserv (see for more details). On August 19, the following update was sent regarding the August meeting:

“…The Commission voted to adopt in concept a requirement that all new elementary teachers pass a Commission approved subject matter test. The only currently approved examination is the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET): Multiple Subjects.  The State Board’s NCLB State Plan clarifies that elementary teachers who are “new to the profession” [received credentials after June 30, 2002] are required by the federal regulations to demonstrate their subject matter competence by passing an examination. Implementation issues surrounding this concept will be considered at the October 2, 2003 Commission meeting so that the Commission can confer further with its constituencies concerning the details of this action.

“The State Board’s Plan and the Commission’s actions are subject to changes pending the outcome of a federal review of California’s NCLB State Plan and the finalization of state regulations.

“Other actions taken by the Commission to realign certification programs and processes to the State Board’s Plan and the new federal law were to:

*   Develop a new Degree Authorization in NCLB core academic subjects.  This authorization meets the NCLB requirements for teachers in middle schools by either requiring a major in the subject to be taught or 32 semester units.  The Degree Authorization may be added to a credential. [Editor’s note:  The details for this can be found in Option 1S: At least 16 of the 32 units of course work in the subject matter area must be upper division.]…”

Commissioners also approved a motion to make a “thorough study of consolidating the criterion-referenced examinations requirements for Multiple Subject Teaching Credential candidates: CBEST, CSET, and RICA.” The goal is to have a consolidated exam to help reduce the cost to the candidates (but separate exams will also still be an option). See  for more details.

The Credential Counselors & Analysts of California (CCAC) organization has posted highlights from the August CCTC meeting at  The following is a sample snippet from this summary: “It was proposed at the meeting [that] the suggested terminology to be used by the field is that teachers are either ‘NCLB compliant’ or ‘non-compliant’ rather than ‘highly qualified’ or ‘not highly qualified,’ as some may believe that a highly qualified teacher requires more qualities than are tracked by the provisions of NCLB.”


(3) “Proposed Regs For NCLB Teacher Provisions Approved”

Source: California State Board of Education (SBE Meeting Highlights) – July 2003


[On July 10,] the State Board unanimously approved proposed regulations to implement the highly qualified teacher provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act(NCLB), issuing them for a 45-day public comment period.

In June, the State Board approved a plan in concept to implement NCLB’s highly qualified teacher requirements, which mandate that all classrooms must have a highly qualified teacher by 2005-06, a requirement that new hires at Title I schools must now meet. Under NCLB, all teachers must demonstrate subject matter competency in the subject(s) they teach to be deemed highly qualified.

The State Board’s conceptual plan seeks to meld the NCLB teacher requirement into California’s existing teacher preparation and training programs, thereby avoiding the imposition of an entirely new and separate teacher credentialing process.

The proposed regulations are based on the State Board’s conceptual plan approved in June, with some changes based on feedback from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE).

The USDE suggested two modifications. First, the USDE said nothing in the federal law would allow for a transition period to meld California’s existing credentialing system with NCLB’s teacher requirements. As a result, the transition period in the “adopted-in-concept proposal” has not been included in the proposed regulations.

Second, USDE said further formal guidance on the highly qualified teacher provisions would be released in late July or early August, noting that there would be a question-and-answer guide on how one determines if a teacher is teaching at the elementary, middle or high school level. USDE maintains that each state, or even each local education agency, could make its own determination based on the curriculum taught.

For example, based on the curriculum taught, teachers instructing multiple subjects taught together in one class of sixth or seventh graders could be considered elementary in nature, while eighth grade–where Algebra, foreign languages and other subjects are taught separately–could be considered middle school.

Differentiating teachers by the nature of curriculum taught should help school districts struggling with the NCLB Teacher Requirements in grades 6-8, and perhaps some alternative school programs. The proposed regulations include a definition for “elementary, middle and high school” as a result of this information.

Below is a summary of the proposed regulations for implementing NCLB’s teacher provisions. The proposed regulations are online at

*  Definitions: Article 1 provides California specific definitions of key words and phrases in the federal law.

*  Elementary Level Teachers: Article 2 provides California specific details for meeting the federal requirements for “new” and “not new” to the profession elementary teachers.

*  Middle and High School Level Teachers: Article 3 provides California specific details for meeting the federal requirements for “new” and “not new” to the profession middle and high school teachers.

*  Teachers Not Meeting NCLB Teacher Requirements: Article 4 identifies the California permits and authorizations that would not meet the federal requirements, including individuals teaching on emergency permits and individuals teaching with state or local waivers for the grade or subject taught.

*  One-Time Compliance: Article 5 clarifies that compliance with the federal requirements must only be accomplished once per subject or grade span taught.

*  Out-of-State Teachers: Article 6 clarifies that California will accept another State’s determination that a teacher has met the NCLB Teacher Requirements for a particular subject or grade span taught. This provision does not deal with reciprocity requirements applicable to credentialing.


(4) “SBE Delays Consequences of CAHSEE to Class of 2006 

Source: California State Board of Education (SBE Meeting Highlights) – July 2003


The State Board of Education voted unanimously at its July monthly meeting to delay the California High School Exit Exam as a requirement of graduation for two years. The action means students in the classes of 2004 and 2005 are no longer required to pass the exit exam as a condition of earning a high school diploma. Instead, the class of 2006 will be the first class that must pass the exit exam as a requirement of graduation.

The State Board delayed the exit exam in the wake of a recent independent external evaluation that found the test has been a “major factor” in boosting standards-based instruction and learning but that many students, for different reasons, may not have benefited from courses of initial and remedial instruction to master the required standards.

“Since its inception in 1999, the California High School Exit Exam has proven to be an important indicator of student achievement and a catalyst for positive, major educational improvement in schools statewide,” said State Board President Reed Hastings in a statement after the State Board vote. “Despite the real progress that has taken place, we want to give our reforms more time to work for more students before requiring the exit exam as a condition of high school graduation.”

Hastings said the exit exam remains a working part of the daily reality of every high school in California and would continue to be a catalyst for raising standards. He emphasized that the law does not allow the State Board to delay the exit exam again. “The exit exam is here to stay,” Hastings declared. “It will remain in place as an important gauge of student achievement and as a means of identifying and eradicating educational disparities.”

The State Board directed that local school districts may award a special certificate of accomplishment to students in the classes of 2004 and 2005 who have already passed both portions of the exit exam, which tests English-language arts and math. In addition, the State Board directed that districts may administer and score a secured version of the current exit exam to students who still want the opportunity to pass the test and receive the certificate, even though the exam is no longer a requirement of graduation for them as members of the classes of 2004 and 2005.

Finally, the State Board requested that the next biennial report on the exit exam, which is due February 1, 2004, concentrate on the progress schools are making in implementing standards-based instruction.

In separate action, the State Board voted to reduce the exit exam from three days to two by requiring only one essay instead of two on the English-arts portion of the test.

Hastings encouraged local school districts to continue to improve their remedial programs and to sustain the momentum that has made the exit exam a major catalyst for improving instruction at high schools throughout the state, as reported in an independent evaluation conducted by the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO). In its report released May 1, HumRRO found that the exit exam has been a major factor leading to dramatically increased coverage of the California Content Standards at both the high school and middle school levels.

The HumRRO report also noted that “the effectiveness of standards-based instruction will improve for each succeeding class of 2004” and that students in the class of 2006 and beyond “are receiving considerably more benefit from the adoption of textbooks aligned to the standards and of professional development efforts for teachers.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) has sent out notices to school districts to inform them of the State Board’s action and to outline a new testing schedule for the exit exam. The first opportunity for members of the class of 2006 to take the exit exam will be February 3-4, 2004. School officials also are being reminded that the exit exam will continue to be used in calculating the Academic Performance Index, the statewide ranking of schools, and for accountability purposes in demonstrating Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

For complete information on changes to the CAHSEE test schedule, and information for school administrators and parents, please visit the California Department of Education Web site at


(5) “State Schools Chief O’Connell Applauds 2003 STAR Results Showing Fifth Straight Year of Gains in Student Achievement”(Press Release)

Source: California Department of Education – 15 August 2003

URL:  (also see

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell today announced that overall statewide results for the 2003 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program show that California’s schoolchildren have demonstrated steady improvement for the fifth straight year.

Results from the California Standards Tests (CSTs) reveal significant increases in the percentage of students demonstrating “proficiency” or above in English-language arts in all grades except for eighth. The greatest increase occurred in grade nine, where 10 percent more students scored at “proficient” or “advanced” this year than in 2001.

Solid gains also occurred in the percentage of students achieving proficient and advanced scores in mathematics in grades two through seven. The greatest increase was in grade two where 53 percent of the students scored proficient or advanced in 2003–13 percent more than in 2001…

The state established a rigorous “proficient level” as the minimal goal for all California students–of which more than 4.6 million were tested in the spring.

In grades eight through eleven, the scores varied substantially.

“While our scores in grades eight through eleven were not as consistent as I would have liked, these results underscore why I have been calling for a renewed focus on high school,” O’Connell said.

“For the state as a whole, the positive news is the significant increase in the number of students now taking the standards-based mathematics and science tests.”

Since 2001, the number of students tested increased 34 percent in algebra I, 23 percent in geometry, and 25 percent in algebra II. Overall, there was a 43 percent increase in the number of high school students who completed or were completing a three-year college preparatory mathematics program.

The 2003 CSTs results for history-social science and science given in high school also showed increases. The percentage of students scoring at proficient or advanced on both the grade ten World History and the grade eleven United States History Tests increased by 3 percent over the past two years. There were both increases in scores and in the number of students tested on three of the four discipline-specific science tests: earth science, biology/life science, and chemistry. There were four new integrated/coordinated science tests administered in 2003 for which there are no change statistics available.

“Significantly, the percentage of students scoring at the lowest performance levels decreased in grades two through five. This shows that our low-achieving students are moving up in the elementary grades where the biggest reform efforts have taken place,” O’Connell said.

In addition to greater student achievement at nearly every level, the 2003 STAR results reveal that Hispanic students are closing the achievement gap. English learners, who comprise 25 percent of the students tested, are also making great strides in closing the achievement gap, along with economically disadvantaged students.

Most revealing of all, our low-performing students continue to close the achievement gap, particularly in grades two through five, where the greatest reforms have been made. In a state as diverse as California, the closing of these gaps is crucial to ensuring that all students achieve proficiency.

CAT/6 (replaces the SAT/9)

The California Achievement Test, Sixth Edition Survey (CAT/6), is a nationally norm-referenced test used to compare how California students are doing in relation to students of the same grade level nationwide. Thus, scores reported for the CAT/6 are national percentile ranks.

In this first year of testing with the CAT/6, 50 percent of California’s students scored at or above the national average in mathematics.

In reading, California’s students didn’t do quite as well, with 43 percent of our students scoring at or above the national average — but this result was affected significantly by the number of English learners in California, a much higher proportion of our students than that of any other state.

Though the CAT/6 gives us a good indication of how our students are doing compared to the rest of the nation, the CST is considered to be a more informative test because it is more closely aligned to what California students are being taught in the classroom.

2003 Adequate Yearly Progress

The results for the 2003 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for all California schools were very encouraging with 54.9 percent of schools making their AYP targets, as compared to 32 percent using 2002 data. For Title I schools only, 49 percent made their target, compared to 22 percent using 2002 data…

O’Connell credited the better-than-expected AYP results on two factors. The first is a substantial improvement in student performance on the CSTs in English-language arts and mathematics. And, secondly, there was a concerted effort on the part of districts and schools to test all of their students.

“I especially would like to emphasize the increase in the percentage of special education students participating in the statewide assessment program,” O’Connell said.

For 2002, about 75 percent of special education students took a statewide assessment. That increased to 93 percent in 2003, partly because of the administration for the first time of the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA), a test designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Those results are scheduled to be released August 22 on the CDE Web site.

The AYP results also revealed that 18 percent of the state’s Title I schools are in the federal No Child Left Behind’s (NCLB) Program Improvement (PI), where they face consequences for not meeting or exceeding AYP requirements. The requirements for a Program Improvement school increase the longer a school stays in the designation.

All Title I schools in PI for the 2003-04 school year must offer choice and transportation for their students to attend another school in the district that is not designated as PI.

However, more than 25 percent of last year’s PI schools met their targets for two consecutive years and exited PI.

 SABE/2 Spanish Assessment of Basic Education, Second Edition

As part of the STAR Program, selected Spanish-speaking English learners in grades two through eleven were required to take the SABE/2 in addition to the California Standards and California Achievement Tests in English. The SABE/2 is an achievement test of reading, language, spelling and mathematics in Spanish. Like the CAT/6, the test is a national norm-referenced test, but the national student samples to which the scores of California students are compared were comprised only of Spanish-speaking students participating in Spanish bilingual programs. This means that the students in the national sample were receiving reading, language, spelling, and mathematics instruction in Spanish.

The number of California students tested with the SABE/2 decreased from about 108,000 students in 2002 to approximately 103,000 students in 2003. Since the population of students tested in Spanish varies from year-to-year, the California Department of Education does not compare results for this test between or across years.

Results of the 2003 STAR program, including data by school, district, county, and state, are available through the California Department of Education Web site:  2003 AYP results are available at


Related articles:

State Schools Chief O’Connell Announces Results of 2003 California Alternate Performance Assessment


“Bid to End State Testing of 2nd-Graders Spurs Backlash” by Duke Helfand, Los Angeles Times – 21 August 2003