COMET • Vol. 5, No. 18 – 26 August 2004


(1) Message to COMET Readers from Jack O’Connell, State Superintendent of Public Instruction


Dear COMET Readers:

I am truly delighted to welcome you to the first issue of the California Online Mathematics Education Times for the school year 2004-05. COMET provides a vital link for more than 3,000 mathematics educators and math leaders who receive this weekly news journal. COMET helps you keep up with current education issues, Web resources, professional events, opportunities, and related news articles from across the nation.

One of the major challenges facing California educators today is that we must require more rigor for our high school students if we are to properly prepare them for college or careers. This should start with a strong, challenging math program in elementary school, leading up to taking a required course in algebra I in order to graduate from high school. Learning higher math is a gateway skill for students to obtain higher paying jobs in the future.

Keeping up with the latest laws concerning math instruction may be daunting, so I encourage you to read COMET and to consult the California Department of Education Web page at to learn more about the math requirements that affect all California students.

As a former educator myself, I am excited for all of the teachers returning to the classroom to start this new school year. I want to thank you for all your hard work in helping students to receive a world-class education.



State Superintendent of Public Instruction

California Department of Education

(2) California Mathematics Framework Revision Update

Source: Donald Kairott, Manager, Curriculum Frameworks Unit–Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources (CFIR) Division, California Department of Education (CDE)

Contact: Mary Sprague, Education Programs Consultant, CDE: (916) 319-0510;


On Tuesday, August 24, the Mathematics Subject Matter Committee of the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (Curriculum Commission) held a teleconference to finalize edits to Appendix E (intervention and algebra readiness programs) in the draft revision of the California Mathematics Framework.

The draft was then approved for a 60-day field review, which will commence when the document is posted on the California Department of Education Web site. The Commission expects the draft to be posted by the end of the first full week in September and urges all who are interested in providing feedback to visit the following Web site: (page will be activated when the draft is posted).

Each chapter of the framework will be available for download as a PDF file. An online survey will invite feedback relative to each chapter. Following the 60-day field review, all comments and suggestions will be compiled and given to the Commissioners for review and consideration. Revisions to the draft will be made and the document submitted for formal approval by the Curriculum Commission. The approved document will then be forwarded to the State Board of Education for review and approval (expected to occur at the 9-10 March 2005 or the 11-12 May 2005 State Board meeting). Public hearings will be held prior to action being taken by both the Curriculum Commission and the State Board of Education.

The Curriculum Commission encourages and welcomes thoughtful, specific feedback on the draft revision of the mathematics framework and will carefully consider all contributions.

(3) Mathematics Instructional Materials Follow-up Adoption


Earlier this month, Tom Adams (Director, Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources Division, California Department of Education) mailed publishers of K-8 instructional materials a survey to determine their interest in participating in follow-up adoptions in 2005 for mathematics (grades 6-8), RLA/ELD, and foreign language.

Evaluation criteria can be found at All approved materials will be added to the current adoption list. For mathematics, the expiration date of the adoption list is 30 June 2007.

For complete information, visit the above Web site.

(4) Information on AYP and API from the California Department of Education (CDE)


A useful online press packet including a PDF version of the 2004 Accountability [API/AYP] Progress Report Information Guide is available at the above CDE Web site.

(5) State Superintendent’s High School Summit 2004


Superintendents, school board members, administrators, teachers, counselors, support staff, county office personnel, university and community college faculty, and business leaders are invited to attend the State Superintendent’s High School Summit at the Sacramento Convention Center on 25-26 October 2004.

The State Superintendent’s High School Summit is an opportunity for participants to discuss how to raise expectations for all students by providing a rigorous and relevant standards-based curriculum. Sessions and speakers will provide high school information organized around five strands: Leadership; Curriculum; Instruction and Assessment; Professional Learning Communities; Intervention and Support Services for Students; and Structure, Size, and Time.

On leaving the summit, participants will have received information about and had the opportunity to discuss the following:

* State Superintendent Jack O’Connell’s High Performing High Schools Initiative.

* The most recent research about high-achieving high schools.

* Promising practices of high schools that have obtained excellent results.

For more information on the High School Summit, please visit the above Web site. (Applications are available for download at


(1) “Embracing Accountability”–NCTM Web Chat Transcript


Yesterday afternoon, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) President Cathy Seeley held an online discussion on the topic of accountability as it applies to students’ learning of mathematics. An extensive transcript of this discussion is posted on the above Web site.

Numerous comments were made and questions raised during this online discussion. Questions asked included the following:

– How do we best get parents to understand accountability?

– How are we, as teachers, supposed to improve accountability on state tests when many students refuse to accept their own responsibility for learning?

– What is your opinion of having one set, orchestrated curriculum that allows very little innovation in the classroom?

– In your opinion, what is the ONE MOST IMPORTANT thing that schools can do to improve scores on state and national assessments?

(2) “The ABCs of ‘AYP'”

Source: Education Trust


As states begin to release their 2003-04 student achievement data, there is still significant confusion about the accountability provisions in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and growing doubt about whether states can actually meet the requirements and the goals. To address this confusion, the Education Trust released two brief documents last month that explain the accountability and public reporting provisions of NCLB, as well as a data presentation analyzing some recently released student achievement results.

The first report updates last yearÕs “ABCs of ‘AYP,'” incorporating new rules for limited-English proficient students, students with disabilities, and participation rates. This 9-page report also covers myths, misconceptions, and common questions concerning what is and what is not in NCLBÕs accountability provisions.

ÒEveryone recognizes the need to close achievement gaps and ensure that every student counts, but accountability systems prior to AYP did not adequately focus on these priorities,Ó said Ross Wiener, Policy Director for the Education Trust.  ÒBy one important measure, then, AYP is already having a positive effect: there are no more invisible students when it comes to accountability, and the public discussion about education is squarely focused on achievement gap issues.Ó

The report addresses such questions as:

— How does AYP work?  And why do we need it?

— How have AYP provisions changed to meet the unique challenges of LEP students and students with disabilities?

— What are the new participation policies for AYP?

— Is a school in “Need of Improvement” a failing school?

— Can the goals of No Child Left Behind be met?  What do we know from states that have already released 2003-04 student achievement data?

The second document–“Questions to Ask About State AYP Reports”–provides a guide to information that should be publicly available. These questions will help initiate reform conversations. By providing reporters, parents, and community members with unprecedented information about student achievement, AYP allows community members to begin to ask questions and take actions that will help to change schools.

“Accountability and AYP will tell us a lot about how our public schools are doing in meeting the goal of educating all kids.” stated Kati Haycock, Director of the Education Trust. “How we respond to and act on AYP information will say a lot about our own beliefs and commitments.”



[from] includes profiles of all public elementary, middle and high schools in the United States, with more extensive information about schools in “ In-depth Guide” states [Arizona, California, Texas, Florida and Washington]. Charter schools, magnet schools, year-round schools, and some continuation and alternative schools are all included… also includes basic information about private schools… Where academic performance is concerned, public schools are required by law to administer standardized exams, and the results of these exams account for some of our data; since private schools are not required to give these tests or report results, there is no way to provide performance information or comparison.

For most states, we get all directory information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). This includes all the information on the school profile except for the testing data. The testing data for most states comes from the U.S. Department of Education. This information all originates from state Departments of Education.

In Arizona, California, Florida, Texas and Washington we gather all school information, including test score information and student/teacher data, directly from the respective state Departments of Education. We also receive directory information from the State Departments of Education, which provide listings of new schools and also includes name, address, phone, and fax updates for existing schools…

All school profiles in every state include most or all of the following information:

* Phone number, fax number, address, district name, location map

* Grade levels served, school type

* Number of students and teachers, student-teacher ratio

* Percentage of students participating in the federal free or reduced-price lunch program

* Test scores from state mandated standardized tests

* Clear explanations and “Issues to Consider” for all data presented

All school profiles in In-depth Guide states also include most or all of the following:

* Principal name and email address (where available)

* Complete academic data, including state mandated standardized test and college admission test scores (where available)

* Teacher experience, professional status, credentials and demographics

* Detailed enrollment information

* School funding, facilities and technology information

* Student demographics: English language skills, parent education levels, economic background and mobility rates

(4) What Works Clearinghouse

Sponsor: U.S. Department of Education


The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) gathers studies of the effectiveness of educational interventions (programs, products, practices, and policies) on an ongoing basis. WWC reviews the studies that have the strongest design, and reports on the strengths and weaknesses of those studies against the WWC Evidence Standards…

The WWC does not endorse any interventions nor does it conduct field studies. Rather, WWC provides reports with a rating system that gives you a sense of how much you can rely on research study findings.

An overview of the WWC can be found at

(5) Curriculum-Based Interventions for Increasing K-12 Mathematics Achievement

Source: What Works Clearinghouse, U.S. Department of Education


In the wake of generally disappointing results from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), educators and policymakers are promoting improvements in U.S. students’ math proficiency. Driving the push for improvements in mathematics achievement for all is a recognition that mathematical competency is essential for all segments of the population, and a belief that mathematical literacy is an important part of becoming an informed and competent citizen in a technological society.

A What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) review will focus on curriculum-based interventions outlining the fundamentals of mathematics that students should know and be able to do, instructional programs and materials that organize the mathematical content, and assessments. Within the broad topic of math curricula, the first set of reports by the WWC will focus on middle school mathematics, followed by elementary school and then high school mathematics.

Access the Web site above for more information, as well as a summary of the research reviewed to date.