COMET • Vol. 4, No. 23 – 22 September 2003


NCLB Teacher Requirements (“Highly Qualified Teacher”)–Update


The modifications to the text of the proposed Title 5 regulations for No Child Left Behind Teacher Requirements were released for a 15-day comment period last week. They can be viewed at    The following paragraphs are from the official notice dated 16 September 2003:

If you have any comments regarding the proposed changes that are the topic of this 15-Day Notice, the State Board will accept written comments between September 17, 2003 and October 1, 2003, inclusive. All written comments must be submitted to the Regulations Adoption Coordinator via facsimile at (916) 319-0155, email at or by mail in the Legal Division at the following address no later than 5:00 p.m. on October 1, 2003, and addressed to:

Debra Strain, Regulations Adoption Coordinator

California Department of Education


1430 N Street, Suite 5319

Sacramento, California 95814

Telephone: (916) 319-0641

All written comments received by 5:00 p.m. on October 1, 2003, which pertain to the indicated changes will be reviewed and responded to by California Department of Education staff as part of the compilation of the rulemaking file. Please limit your comments to the modifications to the text…


(1) Paige to Deliver Annual Back-To-School Address Live from National Press Club (Press release: 24 September 2003)


U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige will deliver his annual back-to-school speech from the National Press Club on Wednesday, Sept. 24 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. The speech, “Education in America: The Complacency Must End,” will be webcast live at

The National Press Club annually invites the Secretary of Education to speak as part of its regular weekly luncheons.

(2) “Federal Help Possible on Teacher Standards” by Claudette Riley

Source:  The Tennessean – 20 September 2003


Federal help clarifying what it means to be a ”highly qualified” teacher may be on the way.

U.S. Deputy Education Secretary Eugene Hickok yesterday said that top education officials were looking for ways to help classroom educators satisfy the No Child Left Behind law, which requires that they show they are proficient in the subject area that they teach.

All classroom teachers are expected to meet the new requirement by 2005-06 by passing an exam in the subject they teach, having enough college hours for an academic major in that subject or earning a national certification.

As schools work toward that goal, new questions are cropping up. For example, will the sole teacher in a rural high school or a special-education teacher –who have to teach math, social studies and language arts–be expected to demonstrate that they are proficient in each subject area?

Right now, the law says yes.

“Now they find themselves, under the law, in an awkward situation,” Hickok said yesterday at the Education Leaders Council conference at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville. ”We’re kind of stuck.”

State educators, legislators and advocates who support greater accountability in schools pointed to the teacher quality portion of the law as one of their top concerns.

”This is probably one of the hottest topics in the country,” said Kate Walsh, director of the National Council on Teacher Quality. ”All we care about is how student achievement is impacted by teacher quality”…

Michael Petrilli, associate deputy undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement, said interest in this portion of the law was gaining steam.

”There are some legitimate questions about the law and how it’s implemented.”

Each state is required to develop a plan for meeting the law, and he urged educators to offer more flexibility. For example, Tennessee allows experienced teachers to use above-average test scores or to submit a professional portfolio of work to satisfy the requirement…


Editor’s Note: More information on this conference and the mission of the Education Leaders Council can be found at

(3) “What Makes a Great Teacher? ” by Rebecca Clay

Source:  Monitor on Psychology – 8 September 2003


When APA [American Psychological Association] President Robert J. Sternberg, Ph.D., was in elementary school, his teachers took one look at his low IQ score and lowered their expectations. The result was a self-fulfilling prophecy–a cycle of low achievement that didn’t stop until a fourth-grade teacher named Mrs. Alexa decided he could do better.

“She thought I had the ability to do well and conveyed that to me,” says Sternberg, now the IBM professor of psychology and education at Yale and director of the university’s Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies and Expertise. “I wanted to meet her expectations and did.”

Sternberg’s later research confirmed what his experience suggested–that students do better when teachers like Mrs. Alexa help them recognize and capitalize on their strengths. It also inspired his APA presidential initiative called “Education That Works for All Children,” which aims to reform the educational system to better serve the needs of all children, whether they’re strong in such traditional skills as memory and analysis.

In line with Sternberg’s campaign, more psychologists are bringing their expertise to bear on such questions as what defines a high-quality teacher and what practices represent effective teaching.

With poor student outcomes spurring renewed interest in accountability among state and national policy-makers, psychologists are influencing education policy (see sidebar). They’re transforming teacher training programs, creating models that put a greater emphasis on evidence, the liberal arts and mentoring. They’re making existing research more accessible to teachers. And they’re conducting new studies on everything from using computers in the classroom to promoting the teaching of such skills as resilience and responsibility.

In the process, they’re bringing rigorous science to a field long characterized by anecdotal evidence.

Shifting emphasis

Although hard-nosed empirical studies dominated the education literature in the 1960s, say educational psychologists, qualitative studies that were far less focused on student performance outcomes became the norm in the 1970s and 1980s.

Now the pendulum is swinging back to rigorous science, says Herbert J. Walberg, Ph.D., research professor of education and psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In the last three to five years, legislators and the public have become interested in results again.

Psychologist Daniel Fallon, Ph.D., chair of the education division at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, welcomes that renewed emphasis on scientific methods. When he reviewed the education literature for the American Council on Education in the 1990s, he found that fewer than 25 of the 500-plus refereed journal articles about teaching he examined were scientifically rigorous enough to trust.

“There’s a lot of touchy-feely stuff,” says Fallon, noting that the education literature is dominated by case studies. “As a result, a kind of folklore develops that is not very scientific and doesn’t allow you to generate broad principles.”

After preparing the council’s influential 1999 report, “To Touch the Future: Transforming the Way Teachers Are Taught,” Fallon started putting what he learned into practice.

Among the many educational reform programs Carnegie funds is Teachers for a New Era, which aims to create innovative teacher training programs to serve as models for the field. Over the life of the initiative, Carnegie and its collaborators expect to spend more than $65 million to transform teacher education. Grant recipients include New York City’s Bank Street College of Education, California State University at Northridge, Michigan State University, the University of Virginia, Boston College, Florida A&M University, the University of Connecticut, Stanford University, the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Although the five-year grant program gives these participating institutions a certain flexibility, they must agree to adhere to three basic principles to radically transform teacher training:

* Programs must be guided by a respect for evidence. Institutions must assess their training programs’ effectiveness by tracking how much children learn from teachers who have graduated from the programs.

“It challenges institutions to ask what Sally knew in September, what she knew in May and what the value added by the teacher was if you subtract September from May,” explains Fallon. Institutions will then identify the teaching practices that facilitated children’s learning and use that feedback to further improve their teacher training programs.

* All arts and sciences faculty–not just education department faculty–must be engaged in training teachers. It’s not enough for students to major in the subject they plan to teach, says Fallon, since majors don’t necessarily gain the comprehensive knowledge they need to teach. If teachers want to be seen as well-educated professionals instead of mere employees, they also need a thorough grounding in the liberal arts.

* Participating institutions must transform teaching into what Fallon calls an “academically taught clinical practice profession.” In most teacher training programs, he explains, student teaching is trivialized. Student teachers often receive inadequate supervision, teach in lab schools rather than real ones and feel too vulnerable to ask advice from colleagues or supervisors once they start teaching for real. In Carnegie’s program, institutions are responsible for mentoring graduates for two years.

The program’s dissemination plans are simple: If results show that these principles really do improve student outcomes, Carnegie hopes that states will start embedding them in public policy.

“Everything is built on the principle of evidence,” says Fallon.

Rigorous research

In the meantime, other psychologists are busy getting such evidence into teachers’ hands and developing new evidence:

* Lauren B. Resnick, Ed.D., Janet Schofield, Ph.D., and other psychologists on an interdisciplinary team at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) concentrate on producing scholarly research and making it accessible to educators. Psychology professor and LRDC senior scientist Schofield’s five-year study of a large school district, for example, revealed the importance of using computers and other technologies only when they provide a comparative advantage over other teaching methods.

Helping such findings reach teachers is the goal of LRDC’s outreach arm, the Institute of Learning.

“You have to consider what the research as a whole says and present it in a form teachers can actually make sense of,” explains Resnick, director of both LRDC and the institute. The institute’s Principles of Learning CD-ROM series draws on more than 25 years of research and includes video and audio clips, full-text articles and other resources to help educators learn to teach more effectively. Currently in use in several school districts, the products will soon be released more broadly.

* Herb Walberg, Ph.D., also synthesizes research for an international audience. The Educational Practices Series he edits for the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s International Bureau of Education use simple language to distill research on a given topic into a dozen or so principles. Published in collaboration with the International Academy of Education, the booklets cover such topics as how children learn, effective educational practices and motivation to learn.

* Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Ph.D., McKeachie Collegiate Professor of Psychology, Women’s Studies and Education at the University of Michigan, explores the mystery of why kids lose motivation as they transition from sixth to seventh grade.

“People often attribute these declines to hormones, increasing peer interest and detachment from adults,” says Eccles. “Such explanations blame the kids and are based on stereotypes about adolescent development.”

In an ongoing longitudinal study of students in math classrooms, Eccles has discovered that ineffective teaching plays a large role in undermining motivation. Half the 3,000 students in the study had seventh-grade teachers who used developmentally inappropriate teaching techniques. Compared with sixth-grade teachers, these teachers focused on less-challenging cognitive tasks, felt less confident about their teaching abilities, used more controlling disciplinary techniques and had lower-quality emotional relationships with their students. The result was kids who experienced lower motivation performed poorer than predicted all the way through high school.

* Robert Sternberg, Ph.D., is intent on helping teachers reach students not reached by conventional teaching’s focus on memorization. Dubbed Teaching for Successful Intelligence, the alternative he developed builds on conventional teaching but asks teachers to add analytical, creative and practical learning to their teaching and assessment methods. In several small studies, Sternberg found that students taught this way outperformed other students. Now he and collaborator Elena L. Grigorenko, Ph.D., are finishing up a National Science Foundation-funded project that extends the experiment to approximately 15,000 fourth-graders. Although the final data aren’t in yet, Sternberg says the preliminary results look good.

* Rena F. Subotnik, Ph.D., director of the APA Education Directorate’s Center for Psychology in the Schools and Education, will be principal investigator of a project that’s an off-shoot of Sternberg’s education initiative. The multisite collaboration of researchers and practitioners will develop and test a research-based model for infusing what Sternberg calls “the other three Rs”–reasoning, resilience and responsibility–into elementary education. As many as six pilot sites will test and evaluate an intervention that will train teachers to develop these attributes in their students. In June, APA received a $497,000 grant from the James S. McDonnell Foundation to fund the project.

(4) “The Creative Classroom” by Susan Black

Source: American School Board Journal Æ September 2003


What does a creative classroom look like? You might expect to see a profusion of student artwork, brightly decorated bulletin boards, and projects in various stages of completion. But teachers who’ve received the American Teacher Award (ATA), sponsored by the Walt Disney Corp., say a stimulating visual environment is just part of the picture.

Much more important, say ATA teachers honored for their creative teaching, is a classroom’s “mental environment” — a climate where kids and teachers are free to study and explore important curriculum topics with rigor but without restraint. In creative classrooms, teachers are mindful of state and local standards, but they approach required topics with a playful enthusiasm that inspires students to learn. They prompt students to think deeply, pose questions, and pursue “big ideas” from many perspectives. And they allow students to show their understanding of essential curriculum concepts in their own ways.

“When you walk into a creative classroom, you can feel the electricity of the learning,” says Linda Darus Clark, a social studies teacher and 1995 ATA award winner.

Pinning down creativity

A classroom’s atmosphere can be a clue to its creativity. But what, exactly, is creativity? Pinning the concept down has troubled psychologists and cognitive scientists for decades, so answers vary. Still, researchers agree on one thing: An act of true creativity results in a product that’s original and has significant value.

In The Courage to Create, philosopher and psychologist Rollo May draws a distinction between talent and creativity, noting that many individuals are thought of as talented whether they put their gifts to good use or not. By contrast, he says, creative people are judged by the products they craft, which might be inventions, insights, or new ideas.

Robert Weisberg draws the same conclusion in Creativity: Beyond the Myth of Genius, noting that creativity is rightly associated with novel products, but only if the products serve a useful purpose.

And the same is true for kids, according to Joseph Renzulli, director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. Problem solving is the heart of creative learning, he says, noting that “history does not remember students who merely scored well on IQ tests or simply stored up facts.” Renzulli’s research on students’ creative and productive behavior indicates that, with the right kind of teaching and curriculum, almost all kids are willing and able to tackle and solve complex problems.

Researchers also agree that highly creative people tend to have certain common characteristics. Erwin Segal, with the Center for Cognitive Science at the University of Buffalo, describes creative individuals as hard working, dedicated, enthusiastic, and self-confident. Plus, he says, they have an abundant storehouse of knowledge and skills in the subjects that interest them, allowing them to invent and experiment with new ideas…

Teachers in creative classrooms understand that kids need to have their own repertoire of knowledge and skills to pursue high-level inquiries and problem-solving. They foster thinking skills such as these, recommended by educational psychologist Alan Bowd of Canada’s Lakehead University:

´ Fluency — produce many responses to an open-ended question or problem

´ Flexibility — generate unconventional ideas and view situations from different perspectives

´ Originality — produce unique, unusual, or novel responses

´ Elaboration — add rich detail to ideas

´ Visualization — imagine and mentally manipulate images and ideas

´ Transformation — change one thing or idea into another to see new meanings, applications, and implications

´ Synthesis — combine parts into a coherent whole.

Creativity, Renzulli says, is based in fluency, flexibility, and originality of thought. Students whose teachers encourage them to experiment with ideas and to be “mentally playful” — including taking risks in their thoughts and actions — stand a good chance of being creative and productive…

Fostering creativity isn’t easy, and teachers can hinder kids’ creative and critical thinking even when they think they’re encouraging these traits. That warning comes from Marvin Bartel, an art instructor at Indiana’s Goshen College and a blunt critic of what passes for creativity in most classrooms.

For example, he says, teachers might tell students they can write on any topic or work on any project they choose in the belief that open-ended assignments give students creative options. But unrestricted freedom is often a bad idea. When teachers fail to make standards explicit and fail to impose limits, Bartel says, students tend to hand in less-creative work. Few teachers recognize that limitations motivate creativity by “narrowing the realm,” forcing students to focus and bring new ideas to the surface. To jump-start students’ creativity, Bartel recommends having students reverse the steps in a process or limiting the materials they can use.

Teachers create a different kind of problem when they give students models to copy or adapt. Imitation and repetition are useful for developing basic skills, but they don’t foster critical thinking or innovation, Bartel says. To help students generate creative ideas, he suggests instructing them in the kinds of techniques creative people often use in their work, such as listing and sketching possibilities, conferring with others, and judging their own ideas for usefulness, durability, and complexity…

(5) New Web-Based Resource Allows Teachers to Access Professional Development “Anytime, Any Web” (Press release: September 2003)

Source:  Annenberg/CPB Channel


Teachers’ time has always been at a premium between their in-class and administrative duties, and now under new requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act, their own professional development must also compete with these priorities. Annenberg/CPB is offering teachers and schools assistance with this dilemma by providing a comprehensive collection of professional development and teaching resources free and on-demand over the Internet. Teachers can now access a wide array of video and multimedia resources–at Anytime, on Any Web.

Annenberg/CPB, a partnership between the Annenberg Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, features renowned educational series and professional development workshops for K-12 teachers., Annenberg/CPB’s Web site, features over 900 hours of programming for teachers in arts, foreign languages, literature, mathematics, reading, science, and social studies, among others.

Partnering with Annenberg/CPB in the Video on Demand (VoD) effort are a wide variety of educational institutions interested in working for better K-12 education. Rice University, Dallas County Schools, the Wisconsin State Network and Oregon Public Broadcasting are storing Annenberg/CPB’s content on their networks in order to provide their local communities with faster access to these video resources.

“Our plan is to offer teachers as many options as possible to access our professional development materials, and to give teachers many options for using them,” said Annenberg/CPB Director Scott Roberts. “Among those options are using the materials as part of a facilitated professional development offering or pre-service education class. Teachers working in self-directed study groups can use the video and print guides to hold multi-session workshops at their school.” Teachers can earn graduate or continuing education credit for many of the Annenberg/CPB workshops.

Teachers and professional development coordinators appreciate the materials for their quality and convenience. “Annenberg/CPB’s video and print materials demystified algebra by providing focus, interesting problems and an abundance of materials for teachers to use in training their faculty,” said Steve Boyarsky, Coordinator of Curriculum Improvement and Staff Development, Southern Oregon Education Services Districts, referring to an Annenberg/CPB resource for elementary school teachers.

To find out more about Anytime, Any Web, Annenberg/CPB Video on Demand, visit

(6) Learning Math: Number and Operations” (Video- and Web-based Course for K-8 Teachers)

Source: Annenberg/CPB Channel


A video- and Web-based course for elementary and middle school teachers examines the three main categories in the Number and Operations strand of the Principles and Standards of School Mathematics (NCTM)–understanding numbers, representations, relationships, and number systems; the meanings of operations and relationships among those operations; and reasonable estimation and fluent computation. The course covers the real number system, place value, the behavior of zero and infinity, meanings and models of basic operations, percentages, and modeling operations with fractions, often with the aid of concrete, physical models that enhance understanding. It also examines Basic Number Theory topics, such as factors and multiples, as well as divisibility tests, at both practical and abstract levels…

The course consists of 10 approximately two-and-a-half-hour sessions, each with a half hour of video programming, problem-solving activities provided online and in a print guide, and interactive activities and demonstrations on the Web. The 10th session (choose video program 10, 11, or 12, depending on your grade level) explores ways to apply the concepts of number and operations you’ve learned within your own classroom.

Important:  The fall series begins on September 23 (and is repeated next April/May). Please visit the following Web site for a complete broadcast schedule:

Descriptions (

Video 1. What Is a Number System?

Understand the nature of the real number system, the elements and operations that make up the system, and some of the rules that govern the operations. Examine a finite number system that follows some (but not all) of the same rules, and then compare this system to the real number system. Use a number line to classify the numbers we use, and examine how the numbers and operations relate to one another.

Video 2. Number Sets, Infinity, and Zero

Continue examining the number line and the relationships among sets of numbers that make up the real number system. Explore which operations and properties hold true for each of the sets. Consider the magnitude of these infinite sets and discover that infinity comes in more than one size. Examine place value and the significance of zero in a place value system.

Video 3. Place Value

Look at place value systems based on numbers other than 10. Examine the base two numbers and learn uses for base two numbers in computers. Explore exponents and relate them to logarithms. Examine the use of scientific notation to represent numbers with very large or very small magnitude. Interpret whole numbers, common fractions, and decimals in base four.

Video 4. Meanings and Models for Operations

Examine the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and their relationships to whole numbers. Work with area models for multiplication and division. Explore the use of two-color chips to model operations with positive and negative numbers.

Video 5. Divisibility Tests and Factors

Explore number theory topics. Analyze Alpha math problems and discuss how they help with the conceptual understanding of operations. Examine various divisibility tests to see how and why they work. Begin examining factors and multiples.

Video 6. Number Theory

Examine visual methods for finding least common multiples and greatest common factors, including Venn diagram models and area models. Explore prime numbers. Learn to locate prime numbers on a number grid and to determine whether very large numbers are prime.

Video 7. Fractions and Decimals

Extend your understanding of fractions and decimals. Examine terminating and non-terminating decimals. Explore ways to predict the number of decimal places in a terminating decimal and the period of a non-terminating decimal. Examine which fractions terminate and which repeat as decimals, and why all rational numbers must fall into one of these categories. Explore methods to convert decimals to fractions and vice versa. Use benchmarks and intuitive methods to order fractions.

Video 8. Rational Numbers and Proportional Reasoning

Begin examining rational numbers. Explore a model for computations with fractions. Analyze proportional reasoning and the difference between absolute and relative thinking. Explore ways to represent proportional relationships and the resulting operations with ratios. Examine how ratios can represent either part-part or part-whole comparisons, depending on how you define the unit, and explore how this affects their behavior in computations.

Video 9. Fractions, Percents, and Ratios

Continue exploring rational numbers, working with an area model for multiplication and division with fractions, and examining operations with decimals. Explore percents and the relationships among representations using fractions, decimals, and percents. Examine benchmarks for understanding percents, especially percents less than 10 and greater than 100. Consider ways to use an elastic model, an area model, and other models to discuss percents. Explore some ratios that occur in nature.

Video 10. Classroom Case Studies, K-2

Watch this program in the 10th session for K-2 teachers. Explore how the concepts developed in this course can be applied through case studies of K-2 teachers (former course participants) who have adapted their new knowledge to their classrooms.

Video 11. Classroom Case Studies, 3-5

Watch this program in the 10th session for grade 3-5 teachers. Explore how the concepts developed in this course can be applied through case studies of grade 3-5 teachers (former course participants) who have adapted their new knowledge to their classrooms.

Video 12. Classroom Case Studies, 6-8

Watch this program in the 10th session for grade 6-8 teachers. Explore how the concepts developed in this course can be applied through case studies of grade 6-8 teachers (former course participants) who have adapted their new knowledge to their classrooms.


Register for Annenberg/CPB workshops and courses by calling 1-800-LEARNER or online at