COMET • Vol. 5, No. 1 – 20 January 2004


(1) Teleconference Announcement: Mathematics Framework Revision

Source: Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (Curriculum Commission)


A special meeting of the Mathematics Subject Matter Committee of the Curriculum Commission will be held on Monday, 26 January 2004, from 3-5 p.m. to finalize the edits for Appendix C, F, and the Criteria for Evaluating Instructional Materials portions of the Mathematics Framework. If needed, a second meeting will be held on Friday, 30 January 2004, from 3-5 p.m.

The public is invited to join the Commissioners at the teleconference sites below:

California Department of Education; 1430 N Street, Room 3102; Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 319-0881; Contact: Tom Akin

CSU Northridge, Department of Biology; 18111 North Nordhoff Street; Northridge, CA 91330-8303

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

Los Angeles Unified School District; 333 South Beaudry Ave., 25th Floor; Los Angeles, CA 90017

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

San Pedro High School; 1001 West 15th Street, Room 148-A; San Pedro, CA 90731

(310) 547-2491; Contact: Richard Wagner

(Additional locations to be determined.)

(2) Preliminary Report of Actions at the 7 January 2004 Meeting of the State Board of Education


URL (Curriculum Commission):

[Excerpt] ITEM 23: Appointments to the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission.

–ACTION: Ms. Tacheny moved that the State Board approve appointment to the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission [Curriculum Commission] for the terms specified by the Screening Committee the following individuals: Richard Wagoner, Wendy Levine, Mary-Alicia McRae, Charles Munger, Jose Velasquez, and Rebecca Brown. Mr. Godfrey seconded the motion. The motion was approved by unanimous vote of the members present…

(3) California’s Secretary for Education–Richard Riordan


Richard J. Riordan was appointed Secretary for Education on November 3, 2003–Governor Schwarzenegger’s first cabinet appointment. He was elected Mayor of Los Angeles in 1993 and overwhelmingly reelected in 1997…

Riordan’s reform agenda extended far beyond city government–into Los Angeles’ classrooms… Though Riordan had no jurisdiction over the LA Unified School District [LAUSD], he led the effort to elect seven reform candidates to the LAUSD School Board. Riordan’s candidates now hold six of the seven seats on the School Board…

For children with limited access to books, Riordan created the “Recreational Reading Mini-Grant Program” that awards $1,000 grants to teachers to help them create a library inside their classrooms. Since 1993, this program has donated $1.5 million in book grants serving more than 30,000 children in grades K-5. Riordan also launched “Read to Me,” a citywide reading program that encourages parents and caregivers to begin reading to their children at an early age…

In 1981, Riordan created the charitable foundation that bears his name with one goal in mind: to teach children how to read and write. Through its signature “Rx for Reading” program, the Riordan Foundation has distributed some 21,700 computers to 2,100 schools in 40 states and enabled the purchase of 128,000 books for elementary classroom libraries.

Riordan was also a founding member of the nationally-acclaimed LEARN school reform effort, and a founding board member for L.A.’s BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow), an innovative and nationally recognized after-school program serving thousands of children in Los Angeles’ disadvantaged neighborhoods…

(4) Statements from Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell Statement on Governor’s Budget Proposals

    (a) Governor’s Proposed Education Budget (8 January 2004)


“In a difficult budget year when we all have to sacrifice to get our fiscal house back in order, this proposal will give schools and students what they need to maintain the improved level of student achievement reached over the past few years. We will work hard to target resources strategically and efficiently so that we can continue reforms that are improving opportunities for California’s students.

“While I applaud the spirit of compromise that led us to this positive budget proposal, I continue to believe that the most responsible way to address the overall budget crisis is not to simply cut necessary programs but to also include targeted revenue increases. Although this budget deal is appropriate in view of the current situation, keeping California’s commitment to public education by fully funding Proposition 98 and avoiding some of the drastic reductions to state services would be a more effective solution for our state.”

    (b) Governor’s January Budget Proposal (9 January 2004)


“The budget proposal released today reflects a reasonable compromise made under extremely difficult fiscal conditions. I am cautiously optimistic that it will enable schools to maintain improvements made in student achievement over the past several years.

“The budget also proposes consolidation of a number of categorical programs, giving school districts the authority to make local funding decisions. I fully support simplification of our education funding system and added local flexibility. I am concerned, however, that the budget no longer targets funds to beginner teacher training and to standards-based professional development for veteran teachers. In an era when we are focused squarely on results, it is important that teachers can count on having the tools they need to teach high standards.”


(1) Teleconference (also available as a live webcast): “Closing America’s Achievement Gap: The 2nd Anniversary of No Child Left Behind”


“When President Bush says he wants to leave no child behind, he means it literally. Every child in America must have access to a quality education.”

– Rod Paige, U.S. Secretary of Education

The January 2004 broadcast of Education News Parents Can Use celebrates the second anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act and its improvements for education in communities throughout the nation. At the very heart of the No Child Left Behind Act is a commitment to eliminate the large and persistent achievement gap that has historically existed at all grade levels between white students and their minority peers. Recent results from the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress’ test of the nation’s fourth and eighth graders in mathematics and reading revealed promising signs that the achievement gap is starting to narrow, with significant improvements among African American, Hispanic and low-income students.

This edition of Education News will feature interviews and discussions with Department officials, educators, researchers and parents to explain the challenge of our nation’s achievement gap and how school systems and communities across the country are using the tools in No Child Left Behind to ensure all children are successful. In addition, the show will profile the No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which honors high-performing schools that demonstrate a dramatic narrowing of the achievement gap.

The evening’s conversation will explore key questions such as:

*  What does America’s achievement gap look like in 2004?

*  How is No Child Left Behind enabling schools and communities to help alleviate the gap?

*  What are the best ways to ensure that minority and low-income students succeed?

*  How does annual testing and reporting keep schools accountable and parents informed about their child’s progress?

*  What strategies are working in urban and rural settings to close the gap and ensure all students achieve?

*  What makes an “excellent” school?

*  What are the most effective ways for parents to get involved and ensure their child has access to a quality education?

Viewing Options: To participate in the teleconference, locate a facility with satellite downlink capabilities. Otherwise, call your local cable access station or school board channel and give them the satellite coordinates or visit the site’s Registration Gateway for viewing options in your area…

To view live webcasts of Education News or archived webcasts of past programs, please visit

(2) Charting the Course: States Decide Major Provisions Under No Child Left Behind

Source: U.S. Department of Education – 14 January 2004 (press release)


As evidenced by the diversity among the approved state accountability plans and state-consolidated applications, states have great flexibility in the design of their systems and implementation of particular No Child Left Behind (NCLB) provisions. Presented as a checklist of items, states considered many issues when designing accountability systems, providing options for parents and defining highly qualified teachers.

A listing of almost 40 separate issues under the control and responsibility of state and local education agencies is available at the above website. Numerous examples of how states are meeting the NCLB provisions are included.

(3) “Keeping up with the No Child Left Behind Act”

Source: Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development — SmartBrief, 17 October 2003


This ASCD SmartBrief Special Report offers a collection of electronic resources for helping educators understand and implement NCLB.

(4) Online Interactive HOUSSE Database

Source: Education Commission of the States (ECS)


Under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001, the “high objective uniform state standard of evaluation” (HOUSSE) is a key component to the highly qualified teacher definition. Essentially, it can be used to assess an existing teacher’s subject-matter competency as an alternative to an examination, major, major equivalency, graduate degree or advanced certification in the core content area taught. The law has given states the latitude to create an evaluation process of subject-matter competency, as long as it meets seven criteria.

The information in the database on this Web site references each state’s interpretation and progress toward creating this critical evaluation tool…

ECS has also summarized some of the trends emerging from the current collection of HOUSSE systems and has noted questions that have arisen regarding their design, implementation, and fit within the spirit of the law.

(5) “School Reform Leaves Scientists Behind” by Jeffrey Mervis

SourceScienceNOW (produced by American Association for the Advancement of Science–AAAS) – 12 January 2004


Academic researchers may be left behind by a new wrinkle in President George W. Bush’s signature “No Child Left Behind” education reform program. Science has learned that the president’s 2005 budget request, due out early next month, would phase out the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) largest program to improve student achievement in science and math and shift responsibility for it to the Department of Education, which now runs a similar program. The change would replace a national competition based on peer review with a congressionally mandated formula to distribute money to every state based on its student population.

Shortly after taking office, Bush proposed the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) as a 5-year, $1 billion initiative to strengthen student achievement by linking up university scientists and local educators. Since then, NSF has funded two rounds of grants, totaling $260 million. Congress created the Education Department (ED) program to complement NSF’s efforts, and it has grown rapidly from its initial $12.5 million budget to a planned $149 million in 2004. But there’s one big difference: The ED money is distributed to states as block grants rather than by peer review (Science, 11 January 2002, p. 265). Sources say that the president’s 2005 request doesn’t raise the total funding for the combined MSP programs, now about $290 million, and that NSF would receive enough money to finish up projects already under way.

The phaseout of the MSP program would be a blow to university researchers, who use NSF funding to link up with educators from local school districts to train teachers, improve curriculum, and devise better ways to measure student progress in math and science. Instead of applying through NSF’s familiar and prestigious process, researchers would have to navigate each state’s approach to doling out its money. “The change would not be good,” says Jodi Peterson of the National Science Teachers Association, which has lobbied for both programs. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

No federal officials would talk publicly about the new approach, citing the prohibition on discussing the 2005 budget until the president unveils it on 2 February. But one source familiar with both programs says that the shift was made because White House officials felt that NSF’s current MSP programs “were too close to its previous systemic reform initiative and not specific to NCLB.”

Although that sentiment is widely shared by legislators, many also think that NSF is better equipped than ED to run a high-quality program with a lasting impact on student achievement. “We would vigorously oppose such a change,” says David Goldston, staff director for the House Science Committee, which oversees NSF programs, although he emphasized that the committee had not been told anything. “The president chose to put it at NSF for the right reasons,” he adds, “and switching it would be very damaging to the program.”