COMET • Vol. 5, No. 17 – 4 June 2004


(1) Mathematics Framework Revision Update: June Teleconferences

Source: Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission


The Mathematics Subject Matter Committee of the Curriculum Commission will hold a series of special meetings to finalize edits to the Criteria for Evaluating Instructional Materials and Appendix E (Algebra Readiness) of the mathematics framework. These teleconferences are open to the public. (The information below is subject to change, so check the above web site for updates.)

Dates: Tuesday, June 15, 2004; Friday, June 25, 2004; and Tuesday, June 29, 2004 (if necessary)

Time: 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (+/-)


(a) California Department of Education; 1430 N Street, Room 3207; Sacramento, CA 95814; (916) 319-0881; Contact: Mary Sprague

(b) Inglewood Unified School District; Hudnall School; 31 W. Olive Street; Inglewood, CA 90301; (310) 680-5420; Contact: Wendy Levine

(c) Los Angeles Unified School District; 333 South Beaudry Avenue, 25th Floor; Los Angeles, CA 90017; (213) 241-6444; Contact: Norma Baker

(d) Palo Alto Unified School District; 25 Churchill Avenue, Conference Room “B”; Palo Alto, CA 94306-1099; (650) 329-3700;  Contact: Charles Munger

Additional locations to be arranged with the following contacts: Stan Metzenberg, Edith Crawford, Richard Wagoner, and Jackie Goldberg

(2) Fact Book 2004: Handbook of Education Information

Source: California Department of Education


Jack O’Connell, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, writes:

“Californians need facts about our vast public education system to make informed decisions about our schools, but it often is difficult to know where to find current information. This 123-page resource, Fact Book 2004, includes a wealth of data and background about programs in California public schools and at the California Department of Education. The document answers many of the questions that educators, students, parents, elected officials, policymakers, media representatives, and others have about our school system…”

(3) “Effective Standards-Based Math Instruction” Summer Institute in Fairfield, CA

Contact: Pam Hutchison (707-556-8921, ext. 55667; )

The Solano County Office of Education, in collaboration with the UC Davis Mathematics Project, presents “Effective Standards-Based Math Instruction,” a free summer institute for K-6 teachers.

Teachers will have opportunities to deepen their understanding and knowledge of essential mathematics concepts and instructional strategies. Particular attention will be paid to the needs of English learners and other special populations.

Dates:  July 26-30, 2004

Time:  8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Location:  Solano County Office of Education; 5100 Business Center Drive, Fairfield (707-399-4400)

Cost:  $100 deposit by June 15 (refunded upon completion of the five-day summer institute)

Contact Pam Hutchison (see above) for more information and for a registration form.


(1) MATHCOUNTS National Competition to be Broadcast on ESPN2 Today and Tomorrow


Less than two weeks after the 2004 MATHCOUNTS National Competition, the winners returned to the nation’s capital for a congratulatory White House meeting with President George W. Bush on Tuesday, May 18.  The nation’s 228 most talented middle school mathematicians had gathered in Washington, D.C. on May 7 for the 2004 MATHCOUNTS National Competition. The winning Mathletes earned scholarships, trophies and other awards for their performance. In addition, they and other competitors will be featured in an ESPN2 broadcast of this exciting event at 8 p.m. PDT on June 5 (9 a.m. on June 4). This hour-long TV program will focus on the drama of the Countdown Round, an intense, one-on-one oral competition between the top 12 students to determine the National Champion. Greg Gauthier from Wheaton, IL won the individual national championship. He was also on the team that won the team competition.

“We look forward to another compelling and enjoyable opportunity for Mathletes, alumni, sponsors and countless others to share in the magic of the National Competition in their own homes,” said Peggy Drane, executive director of MATHCOUNTS. “The fact that ESPN, synonymous with premier athletic events, is again covering the National Competition speaks volumes about the awareness and interest in student achievement through all forms of competition.”

Celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, MATHCOUNTS is a national math enrichment, coaching and competition program open to all 6th-8th grade students. MATHCOUNTS helps students understand how math is important in solving problems in everyday life. Each year, MATHCOUNTS develops an entirely new MATHCOUNTS School Handbook and provides a complimentary copy to middle schools nationwide. Focused on problem solving, analytical thinking, quick reasoning and teamwork, the materials meet the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ standards for 7th and 8th grades.

Thousands of teachers across the country utilize these creative problems in the classroom or as extracurricular materials. Similar to preparation for athletic events, Mathletes spend months or years working with a coach to practice and prepare for the MATHCOUNTS competition series. Students represent their school in one of more than 500 local competitions and the winning Mathletes advance to the state level. Results at the state competition determine the top four individuals and top coach, who earn the honor of representing their state or overseas team at the National Competition. At all levels, MATHCOUNTS challenges students’ math skills, develops their self confidence, and rewards them for their achievements.

Since 1983, more than 6 million students have participated in MATHCOUNTS. The 228 Mathletes who competed in the National Competition represent the more than 500,000 students across the country exposed to MATHCOUNTS this year. More than 17,000 volunteers from the business and education communities annually organize and conduct the program in communities nationwide. Local and state competitions are coordinated through the leadership of state and local chapters of the National Society of Professional Engineers.

MATHCOUNTS’ Founding Sponsors are the CNA Foundation, the National Society of Professional Engineers and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. National Sponsors also include the General Motors Foundation, Lockheed Martin, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Texas Instruments Incorporated and 3M Foundation.

(2) NCTM’s Assessment Issues Column

Source: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)


This month marks beginning of the second year for NCTM’s series of monthly articles on assessment issues. The series appears in NCTM’s News Bulletin and is also available online at the above Web site. Past topics have included NAEP, high school exit exams, the New Standards Project, errors in interpreting test scores, adequate yearly progress, and assessment resources. The 2004-2005 editors welcome your ideas on issues to address in this column (see

(3) Parents Gain Instant Access to Student Achievement Data and Analysis at


Parents  in Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin can now easily review online detailed performance data for every school in their state to determine how their child’s school compares to other schools and whether they need to take action to improve their child’s education. The School Information Partnership (SIP) recently announced that student achievement data from all public schools in these eight states are now available online at The newly added states join Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Virginia on the Web site. By the end of 2004, data from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico will be available.

“Parents have a right to know how their students are performing in school, and whether they are learning in a particular school,” said Dan Katzir, Managing Director of The Broad Foundation. “The School Information Partnership provides a powerful tool for parents so that they can acquire the information they need to make informed decisions about their children’s futures.”

SIP is an unprecedented public-private initiative between The Broad Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. SIP’s goal is to dramatically improve the general public’s access to easy-to-understand information about public schools, districts and state academic achievement results. SIP is focused on:

* Giving parents powerful and comparable information about the performance and demographic makeup of their children’s schools, as well as other schools and districts across their state;

* Providing educators useful tools to diagnose areas that need improvement and identify other schools from which to learn effective practices;

* Empowering state and local policymakers with comparative tools and benchmarks to monitor the relative progress of their state’s schools and districts in order to make better informed policy decisions; and

* Reporting critical student achievement data to members of the media to help inform their readers about their local schools and the progress they are making under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

“The School Information Partnership will allow parents, teachers, and administrators to see what is working well in our education system and where we need to devote more attention,” said Governor of Georgia Sonny Perdue. “I thank the Broad Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education for making this resource a reality in Georgia.”

About the School Information Partnership:

On Sept. 9, 2003, President Bush announced the creation of the School Information Partnership. This public-private collaboration, funded by The Broad Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education, is designed to give all education stakeholders online resources that will help them make informed decisions about student achievement. SIP’s first effort – – is powered by a unique suite of analytical tools from Standard & Poor’s School Evaluation Services and the National Center for Education Accountability’s Just for the Kids. The web site displays timely, relevant and comparable school, district and state data required to be publicly reported by Congress’s No Child Left Behind Act.

(4) “Mathematics Service-Learning in Higher Education” by Rachel L. Vaughn, Sarena D. Seifer, and Tanis Vye Mihalynuk, Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, May 2004

Source: National Service-Learning Clearinghouse (


Service-learning in the mathematics curriculum provides a rich opportunity for students to learn while contributing to their communities. Service-learning in higher education integrates community service with academic instruction. Students participate in organized curricular projects that address community needs, while enhancing their academic knowledge and skills and fostering civic responsibility.

Examples of mathematics service-learning experiences include tutoring, environmental data monitoring and analysis (statistics), building structures (geometry”slopes and angles), and designing transportation routes (discrete / combinatorial math). Mathematics service-learning projects can be a mechanism for effectively translating seemingly abstract principles such as algebra, geometry, and trigonometry into practice. Through service-learning experiences, students are able to see renewed value in their education by meeting community needs, applying knowledge to real-world situations and effectively “making a difference.”

Survey research findings indicate that the middle school years are when American math competency starts to plummet. In response to this trend, as well as to better fulfill the National Education Goals, including “The United States will be first in the world in mathematics and science achievement,” the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the American Association of Higher Education (AAHE) are collaborating on a project to advance service-learning in mathematics education…

[A rich collection of such resources can be found at this Web site. A few of these resources are included below:]

Resources for Math and Reading Tutoring Programs. Washington, DC: Corporation for National and Community Service and Department of Education, 2002.

This downloadable manual provides resources for math and reading tutoring programs (program models, websites of interest, and relevant listservs).

Campus Compact Discipline Specific Syllabi (Math)

The Campus Compact website offers discipline specific syllabi that incorporate service-learning. Simply click on Browsing the Syllabi and select Math to see examples. This website is updated frequently, so check back often for new examples.

Service-Learning Course-Book in Mathematics. Winchester, Benjamin S. Morris, MN: University of Minnesota, 1996.

This links to the 1996 edition of the Service-learning course book in mathematics, developed in cooperation with the Minnesota Campus Compact. Chapters which can be downloaded include: Overview of service-learning in mathematics; Evaluation; Areas of Analysis; Course Descriptions; Community Based Resources; and many others…

(5) “Global Links–Technology Counts 2004

Source: Education Week – 6 May 2004


Singaporean educators are finding that technology is useful in fostering more self-directed learning, a shift away from the traditional “learn and drill” culture of that Asian nation’s schools. A cultural affinity for digital technologies in Iceland–spurred largely by a historical need to overcome geographic isolation–has filtered down to the schools in the North Atlantic island nation. Meanwhile, in Canada, some schools have scaled back aggressive technological approaches to make more time for basic academic teaching.

The world outside the United States is rich with lessons about how technology can be used in schools. Technology Counts 2004–the seventh edition of Education Week‘s annual report on educational technology-presents a groundbreaking overview of technology in schools around the world, examining data, lessons, and trends in North America, Asia, Europe, South America, Africa, and the Australia/Pacific region.

To enhance that global perspective, three Education Week writers also traveled to schools in Singapore, Iceland, and Canada–countries where technology is an important feature of the educational landscape–to get classroom-level views of what’s happening…

The emphasis in the United States has evolved beyond the goal of simply putting computers in schools. The American focus now is on judging technology programs’ effectiveness, a push that has gained new momentum under the current Bush administration, observers note.

Schools in the more advanced countries in Europe have a similar emphasis, experts say.

“The challenge is how to use it in your school,” says Joke Voogt, an education researcher in the Netherlands. “Most teachers have basic [technology] skills; but the next question is integration in their practice, in their subject areas.”

Meanwhile, countries such as South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan have adopted far-reaching national “master plans” to install high-speed computers in schools, train teachers to bolster their lessons by using technology, and encourage students to conduct online research, build Web sites, and tackle Internet-based projects. But some of their poorer Asian neighbors–such as Vietnam, Laos, and Mongolia–lack such blueprints, and many schools in those nations are literally decades behind the more advanced countries…

(6) Additional Articles of Potential Interest to Readers of COMET:

(a) Call for Grant Proposals: Mentoring Programs


(b) Call for Proposals and Information: American Educational Research Association’s Annual Meeting (Montreal, 2005)


(c) Call for Proposals: Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators’ Annual Conference (Dallas, TX, 2005)


(d) Call for Proposals: National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics Annual Meeting (Anaheim, CA, 2005)


(e) “[Direct] Instruction Versus Exploration in Science Learning”


(f) “Neural Basis of Solving Problems with Insight”


(g) “Online Catalog Offers ED Resources in Spanish”


(h) “The Changing Face of Calculus: First-Semester Calculus as a High School Course”


(i) “Wise Up With Chess”