COMET • Vol. 4, No. 24 – 1 October 2003


(1) Teleconference to Discuss Proposed Changes to the California Mathematics Framework


The Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (Curriculum Commission) is an advisory body to the State Board of Education, providing input and leadership on matters related to curriculum frameworks and textbook adoptions. At its September meeting, the Commission discussed recommendations made by mathematics content reviewers for proposed revisions/additions to the current Mathematics Framework. These discussions will continue via teleconference on Friday, October 3, from 3:00-5:00 p.m. as indicated in the Public Notice posted on the Commission’s Web site (  Following the Commissioners’ deliberations, there will be time for public comment.

Northern California Teleconference Locations:

California Dept. of Education; 1430 N Street, Room 1103 Sacramento, CA

(916) 319-0881;  Contact: Tom Akin

Oakland Unified SD; 1025 Second Avenue, Administrators Office; Oakland, CA

(510) 332-4904 ; Contact: Kerry Hamill

Southern California Teleconference Locations:

University City High School; 6949 Genesee Ave., Room 442;  San Diego, CA 92122

(858) 457-3040 ext. 128; Contact: Dr. Sandra Mann

CSU-Northridge; Science Building 2, Room 2102; 18111 Nordhoff; Northridge, CA

(818) 677-3356;  Contact: Dr. Stan Metzenberg

Los Angeles Unified School District;  333 S. Beaudry Avenue, 25th Fl.; Los Angeles, CA

(213) 241-6444;  Contact: Dr. Norma Baker

For more information, contact:  California Department of Education, Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division, 1430 N Street Suite 1201, Sacramento, California 95814; Office:  916-319-0881, Fax:  916-319-0172.


The following excerpts from the Minutes of past meetings of the Curriculum Commission are provided as background information. (All can be downloaded from the Commission’s main Web page.)

From the Minutes of the March 2003 meeting of the Curriculum Commission

…4. Mathematics Subject Matter Committee [SMC]: Commissioner Baker opened the meeting and introduced Mr. William Tarr, CDE Consultant, Standards and Assessment Division. The SMC asked for an assessment review as part of the 2003 goals for updating the framework. The Subject Matter Committee agreed with the following recommendations from Mr. Tarr for updating the Mathematics Framework:

1) Add an accountability component to the Assessment chapter.

2) Show distinction between timed and non-timed components of STAR program.

3) Define terms of different tests and psychometric terms. Update all tests.

4) Include California High School Exit Exam information.

5) Align assessment portions of criteria with any changes in assessment chapter.

6) Discuss and explain API, Decile, SSR, NCLB, AYP, NAEP.

7) Include Internet resources.

The Subject Matter Committee thanked Mr. Tarr for his recommendations and agreed to move to the next step by asking staff to develop the list of mathematics reviewers for the May meeting…

From the Minutes of the May 2003 meeting of the Curriculum Commission

…6. Mathematics Subject Matter Committee [SMC]: …The committee reviewed the timeline and indicated that commissioners had received a legislative review by staff in January, and an assessment review by William Tarr, CDE Consultant, Standards and Assessment Division, at the March 2003 meeting… The mathematics scholars will review the current framework for clarity and accuracy. Commissioner Hamill moved to approve the mathematics reviewers. Commissioner Webster seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Webster moved that the assessment chapter be reviewed and the overall framework will be checked for any outdated or inaccurate material. Commissioner Hamill seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Metzenberg recommended that the new framework state the positive aspects of the 1998 framework, including the high quality and positive response that the document has received. Commissioner Baker gave an update of the Instructional Materials list and noted that effective July 1, 2003, there will only be one list of standards-based math materials from the 2001 adoption. This means that the AB 2519 list will not be included…

(2) California Commission on Teacher Credentialing–Agenda for October Meeting


The agenda for the October 1-2 meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is posted at

Among the items of interest to preservice and classroom teachers are the following:

GS-10-B — Implementation of August Agenda Item 10-A: Subject Matter Examination Requirement for Multiple Subject Credential Candidates [includes placement of the CSET within teacher preparation programs]:

GS-10-C — Regulations to Implement August Agenda Item 10-B Action Regarding Degree Authorizations [revisions to Title 5 regulations regarding supplementary authorizations]:


(1) Transcript of Interview with U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige


U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige joined Education Week on the Web on September 24, 2003, for a live online chat to discuss implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act and its effect on schools, as well as the Bush administration’s philosophy for improving education.

Rod Paige is the 7th U.S. Secretary of Education and the first African-American to serve in this role. Earning his bachelor’s degree from Jackson State University in Mississippi and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Indiana University, Mr. Paige has been a teacher, a coach, a school board member, a dean of education, and superintendent of the nation’s 7th largest school district in Houston, Texas. As U.S. Secretary of Education, Mr. Paige is the policymaker at the helm of efforts to implement the No Child Left Behind Act.

A transcript of the program is provided on the Web site above. Following are a few excerpts from the transcript:

Question from Clare Harrison, Parent:

NCLB has focused funding on reading with the Reading First grants. We know math is an important objective based on the math and science initiative. Can you give us an update on the planned legislation and funding for math?

Secretary Rod Paige:

There is a big focus on developing the research around the pedagogy of Math. This is funded through the National Science Foundation. There are a number of efforts underway to improve Math instruction. Keep an eye on our website for more informationf

Question from Jeff Barker, NAEP Coordinator, GADOE:

Are there any plans or discussions regarding using NAEP as an external confirmatory indicator for state assessments?

Secretary Rod Paige:

Under No Child Left Behind, all States will be participating in the NAEP 4th and 8th grade math and reading assessments every two years, beginning in 2002-03. This additional data from NAEP will significantly increase the information that parents and the public can use to compare the academic achievement of children from state to state. NAEP data will also highlight the rigor of individual States’ standards and assessments. If there is a large discrepancy between students’ proficiency on a state’s tests and their performance on NAEP, that would suggest that a State may want to reexamine the rigor of its standards and assessments…

Question from Bob Barber, Schoolmaster, Bethel Mill Prep:

Yesterday, Rep. Rob Andrews (D, NJ) said that he wants congress to address what he called the misinterpretation of NCLB by your department. After examining a preliminary list of schools in NJ that will receive warnings soon, he said that instead of poor schools being challenged to improve, excellent schools were being harassed. He said the inclusion of special education students and students whose first language is not English in testing results causes this inequity. Can you respond?

Secretary Rod Paige:

NCLB aims to improve the education of ALL children. It is impossible now to hide behind averages. We have a moral obligation to help the students who have historically been left behind. NCLB forces us to look beyond the averages and dig deeper to find solutions for every student…

(2) Coming in October–National Metric Week

Source:  National Council of Teachers of Mathematics


Celebrate National Metric Week, October 6-10. The week that includes October 10 (10/10) is a great time to focus on the importance of–and the ease of using–the measurement system based on 10s. The U.S. Metric Association (USMA) offers information, resources, and suggestions for celebrating National Metric Week online at USMA also invites teachers to provide reports on their National Metric Week celebration for possible use in its newsletter, Metric Today. Please send your story to U.S. Metric Association, Inc., 10245 Andasol Ave., Northridge, CA 91325-1504, or call or fax (818) 363-5606.

For more information, visit

(3) Google’s Calculator Function

URL: and

The new calculator function in the popular Google search engine enables users to solve mathematic problems by simply entering the problem into the search box and hitting the Enter key or clicking on the Google Search button. The calculator can solve math problems involving basic arithmetic, more advanced math, units of measure and conversions, and physical constants. The following sample queries, shown as the words between brackets [ ], demonstrate the utility and power of this new feature: [56*78], [half a cup in teaspoons], [(G * mass of earth) / (radius of earth ^ 2)], and [1.21 GW / 88 mph] for Back To The Future fans. More information on the calculator can be found here:

(4) “Infinite Secrets”—NOVA Program on Archimedes


Twenty-two centuries after Archimedes wrote his most revealing mathematical work, and eight centuries after a Christian monk erased what may have been the last surviving copy, the lost treatise has turned up and is being deciphered in a Baltimore museum. “Infinite Secrets” reports the story of the manuscript’s amazing discovery and how modern technology is being used to read its startling contents.

Archimedes is famous for shouting “Eureka!” (Greek for “I have found it!”) upon stepping into his bath and realizing that its rising water level showed a way to measure the volume of his king’s crown to determine if it was pure gold (it wasn’t). The Einstein of his era, Archimedes had a sophisticated understanding of mathematics, including infinity, and designed marvelous war machines for his native Syracuse to use against invading Romans, one of whom killed him in 212 B.C. Relying on sophisticated image-processing techniques, scholars now believe that Archimedes was closer than anyone suspected to inventing calculus — the mathematical tool at the heart of advanced science and engineering.

Many of Archimedes’ works disappeared during the Middle Ages, but some survived to help inspire the scientific revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries. One document that seemed irretrievably lost was his treatise The Method, which reputedly told how he achieved his brilliant results — secrets he revealed nowhere else.

But then in 1906 Danish scholar J. L. Heiberg discovered The Method, along with several other works by Archimedes, faintly visible beneath the bold lettering of a medieval prayer manual in an Istanbul library. A scribe in the 13th century had incompletely erased a 10th-century copy of Archimedes’ work and had then written over it — a common practice that allowed reuse of valuable parchment and produced a palimpsest, or parchment or tablet used one or more times after a layer has been erased.

Fortunately, Heiberg photographed the palimpsest, because a few years later it disappeared in the turmoil surrounding World War I. But regrettably, many of Archimedes’ words were illegible in the photos, and many others were lost in the folds of the binding. Heiberg also neglected to copy Archimedes’ explanatory diagrams, which are crucial for understanding his thought processes.

All was set right in 1998, when the vanished palimpsest resurfaced at a Christie’s auction in New York, having hidden for decades in an apartment in Paris. In the interim the book had acquired a shoddy new binding, a chronic case of mold, and a number of forged illustrations, apparently intended to increase the book’s value. The forger didn’t realize that the text covered by the inept fakes was itself priceless.

Even so, the palimpsest garnered $2 million from an anonymous high-tech billionaire, who promptly delivered it in a gym bag to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, renowned for its rare book conservation department. There, specialists have gone to work on the ragged little volume, which curator William Noel proudly calls “Archimedes’ brain in a box.”

What a scribe once copied in the 10th century, a monk erased in the 13th, and Heiberg perceived only faintly, if at all, in the early 20th is now coming sharply into view thanks to the marriage of chemistry, computers, and multispectral imaging. It’s a process Archimedes himself would have delighted to watch — while no doubt offering his expert advice.


The above Web site contains links to a number of topics of interest to teachers and students:

Contemplating Infinity–Philosophically, the concept remains a mind-bender, as this essay reveals.

Working with Infinity–Mathematicians have become increasingly comfortable with this concept since Archimedes’ day.

Great Surviving Manuscripts: Ancient documents offer a tantalizing glimpse of lost cultures.

The Archimedes Palimpsest: Follow the 1,000-year-long journey of the Archimedes manuscript, and watch as modern technology makes the erased text reappear.

Approximating Pi: See Archimedes’ geometrical approach to estimating pi. [A classroom activity that demonstrates how to duplicate Archimedes’ method for estimating the value of pi can be found at

A teacher’s guide, Web links, video news clip, and a library resource kit are also available on this site. A transcript of the program should be available in several weeks. A VHS cassette and DVD of the one-hour program are also available.

(5)  2004 Math and Science Partnership Program (MSP)–Program Solicitation


The National Science Foundation has issued a program solicitation for the 2004 Math and Science Partnership Program (MSP). The MSP is a major research and development effort that supports innovative partnerships to improve K-12 student achievement in mathematics and science. MSP projects are expected to both raise the achievement levels of all students and significantly reduce achievement gaps in the mathematics and science performance of diverse student populations.  Successful projects serve as models that can be widely replicated in educational practice to improve the mathematics and science achievement of all the Nation’s students.

NSF seeks to support three types of MSP projects:

1. Targeted Partnerships for the secondary (i.e., middle and high school) grade levels;

2. Institute Partnerships–Teacher Institutes for the 21st Century [includes elementary mathematics/science specialists]; and

3. a focused set of Research, Evaluation and Technical Assistance (RETA) projects that directly support the work of the Institutes.

A letter of intent (optional) is due November 17, 2003; the full proposal is due on December 16, 2003. For more information, visit the above Web site.

(6) Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE): Comprehensive Program



The Comprehensive Program is the central grant competition of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). The competition is designed to support innovative reform projects that hold promise as models for the resolution of important issues and problems in postsecondary education.

All nonprofit institutions and organizations offering postsecondary education programs are eligible to receive FIPSE grants. Those grants may be in support of any academic discipline, program, or student support service. The resources of the Comprehensive Program are devoted to new ideas and practices and to the dissemination of proven innovations to others. FIPSE will support controversial or unconventional projects, as long as they are well justified, carefully designed, and responsibly managed.

The estimated number of awards is 50-55; the estimated monetary range of awards is $50,000-$275,000 a year (average: $156,000 a year).

The preapplication (required) deadline is 3 November 2003; the final application deadline is 22 March 2004.

The FIPSE grant database for mathematics projects is located at