COMET • Vol. 5, No. 20 – 10 September 2004


(1)  California Mathematics Framework Revision Update

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


The draft version of the revised California Mathematics Framework is expected to be online by Monday, September 13. The above web site will have a link to the “August 2004 Field Review Draft,” and the public will have until November 9 to submit comments and recommendations.

(2) California Mathematics and Science Partnership (CaMSP) Grant Program–Request for Applications


Source: Karen Martin, Mathematics & Science Leadership Unit, California Department of Education – (916) 323-5847

The California Department of Education is pleased to announce the release of the 2004-05 Request for Applications (RFA) for the California Mathematics and Science Partnership (CaMSP) Grant Program.

– Funding Source: NCLB Title II, Part B

– Program Funding:  $20,000,000

– Maximum Award:  $1,000,000

– Number of Awards: A maximum of 30 new partnerships will be funded.

– Application due date: October 25, 2004

– Expected Award Notification: December 1, 2004

– Funding Period: December 2004-September 2006

Eligible local education agencies (LEAs) and eligible departments of institutions of higher education (IHEs) are invited to form a partnership and apply for a CaMSP grant. County offices of education and other organizations concerned about mathematics and science education may also participate in the partnerships.

The CaMSP program is intended to enhance the content knowledge and teaching skills of classroom teachers through professional learning activities and thereby increase the academic achievement of students in mathematics (grade five through Algebra I) and science (grades four through eight.) Core to the improvement efforts sought by the CaMSP program are the partnerships developed between high-need LEAs and the mathematics, science, and/or engineering faculties of IHEs.

All interested, eligible applicants are encouraged to become familiar with the Request for Applications (RFA) and have a clear understanding of the requirements prior to developing and submitting an application. The high-need LEA that is acting as the Lead Partner in the partnership must submit the CaMSP application.

For complete information and forms, please visit

NOTE:  This funding opportunity is only available to new partnerships. Existing CaMSP programs will have an opportunity to request renewal funding in the spring of 2005.


(1) “Powerful Practices in Mathematics and Science” by Thomas P. Carpenter and Thomas A. Romberg


Contact: Jennifer Lynn Reid, North Central Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Consortium:  800-356-2735 or

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-based National Center for Improving Student Learning and Achievement in Mathematics and Science have conducted studies and professional development programs with teachers in diverse schools for eight years. Out of that work has emerged “Powerful Practices in Mathematics and Science,” a multimedia product that distills key ideas from a significant body of research.

Comprised of two CDs and a 40-page monograph, “Powerful Practices” presents a vision of instruction in which students engage in inquiry–and come to understand key ideas–through using practices similar to those used by professional mathematicians and scientists.

“Constructing models, making generalizations, and justifying their ideas are practices that all students can learn, even very young students,” states Center Director Thomas Carpenter. “In fact, our research shows that these practices give students early access to the important ideas of mathematics and science and are a critical part of the content students need to learn.”

With its goal being to invigorate mathematics and science education and to build awareness of what is possible across primary and secondary grades, “Powerful Practices” may be used in a variety of ways and forums by a variety of audiences.

Powerful Practices features three complementary resources:

= A monograph summarizing the principles underlying instruction that takes seriously developing the practices of modeling, generalization, and justification. Narrative examples from education research classrooms and references to studies and professional development are included.

= A 35-minute introductory video (CD-1) that provides an overview of the themes discussed in the monograph and illustrates them with episodes from classrooms.

= Video excerpts (CD-2) from nine mathematics and science classrooms across primary and secondary grades. These episodes provide more extended clips of some of the classes portrayed in the introductory video as well as several other cases. Each of the clips is supported by written narrative.

“Powerful Practices in Mathematics and Science” is currently being distributed free of charge by the North Central Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Consortium (NCESMC).

To order “Powerful Practices,” go to

(2) National Center for Improving Student Learning and Achievement in Mathematics and Science (NCISLA) (1995-2004)


For nearly a decade, the National Center for Improving Student Learning and Achievement in Mathematics and Science has conducted an intensive, nationally coordinated research program to advance effective reform of K-12 mathematics and science.

Charged by the U.S. Department of Education in 1995 to build a solid research base about ways instruction can be improved,…NCISLA researchers have analyzed results from eight years of in-class research and professional development work. Findings and principles have been summarized in a book, Understanding Mathematics and Science Matters [(in press; expected to be available by March 2005)] and in several journal articles, book chapters, and in the Center’s multimedia product, “Powerful Practices in Mathematics and Science.” A brief summary of emergent research-based principles is below. See also the Center’s publications page:


Findings about Student Achievement

What is student achievement? Center research clearly has shown that student achievement involves much more than the ability to solve textbook problems, learn facts, or pass current versions of standardized tests. Achievement means that students should be able to:

* Learn to engage in mathematical and scientific inquiry.

* Understand relationships among big ideas in mathematics and science.

* Put their knowledge to use in situations removed from the original learning context.

Research has indicated that:

* Even young children can grasp mathematical generalizations (early algebra, early geometry) and the roles of models and modeling in science.

* Different forms of disciplinary argument are accessible to students at different ages.

* Appropriate instruction can enable students to connect everyday reasoning and arguments about natural phenomena.

* Models and modeling can provide students early access to scientific and mathematical reasoning.

* Even first-grade children can invent and revise models of natural phenomena (e.g., models of growth and decomposition, “working” elbows).

Center studies have indicated that it is feasible to introduce school children to powerful ideas in mathematics and science as early as the primary grades. Our research thus compels a close examination of what is traditionally considered appropriate school mathematics and science.


Findings about Teacher Professional Development

Center researchers worked from the premise that teachers’ knowledge of student thinking is a cornerstone of professional development. In our work with teachers, we have observed the ways that teachers examined student thinking about important mathematics and science ideas, and how their observations about student thinking enhance their classroom instruction and strengthened students’ learning.

Research indicates that:

* Teaching for understanding involves a significant reorientation of teacher beliefs and the acquisition of new forms of pedagogical and content knowledge.

* To be productive, teachers’ investigations of student thinking need to be anchored in their own deepening understanding of powerful ideas in mathematics and science.

* When teachers commit to understanding student thinking, their classroom practices change and significant improvements in student achievement result.

* Teacher inquiry into student thinking can become a generative, ongoing activity that sustains teachers’ long-term professional development.

* Traditional efforts to help teachers develop as professionals, such as one-shot workshops, are inadequate and contradict what is known about human learning.

* Teachers’ inquiry does not survive well in isolation.

* Teacher professional communities are critical to sustaining and generating teacher professional development, for many of the same reasons that mathematicians and scientists conduct their work within larger communities of inquiry.

Strategies for creating teacher communities to support inquiry and sustained professional development vary widely, but successful strategies all involve substantial restructuring of schooling to enhance collaboration between teachers and administrators. We have observed that such restructuring can provide teachers the necessary resources to conduct practical inquiry in their classrooms and to share the results of their learning with their colleagues and community.


Findings about School Structures that Support Teacher Change

Just as we have found that teacher professional development and communities are crucial for long-term reform, we have also found that the creation and maintenance of such communities is influenced by the supports provided by schools and districts.

Research indicates that:

* Resources provided by district and school administrations are essential for the long-term sustainability of teaching reforms. Essential resources include:

– release time for teacher collaboration

– material supports, such as curriculum and technological tools

– a work environment that supports teacher decision-making

* Schools and districts enhance their capacity for reform if they promote:

– teacher leadership

– administrative roles recast as facilitators rather than managers

– changes in the allocation of time during the school day

– materials to implement new teaching practices

– resources modified to fit new teaching endeavors

* When schools and districts allow new roles to emerge, they foster new human and social resources. Schools and districts that force new initiatives to conform to existing arrays of resources, however, risk stifling potential change.

* Even relatively small infusions of resources, when used productively, can support significant change. Conversely, even substantial commitments of resources, if used inappropriately, can fail to support change.

Because teachers often find it difficult to manage the added time burdens that leadership and participatory decision-making require, designs for reform will need to include means for reducing other aspects of teachers’ obligations.

(3) Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) Publications


Established in 1964, the Wisconsin Center for Education Research is one of the oldest, largest, and most productive education research centers in the world. A part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education, WCER provides a productive environment where some of the country’s leading scholars conduct basic and applied education research. The WCER roster includes research centers and projects that are currently investigating a variety of topics in education.

WCER’s Web site includes links to a number of online newsletters, including the following:

(a) “WCER Highlights” summarizes the field of current research at WCER, ranging from mathematics and science education to school psychology and special education, and from educational policy to studies of English and writing instruction. [Note: Recent articles include a series by Tom Carpenter on “Powerful Practices.”]


(b) “Principled Practice in Mathematics and Science Education” summarizes research at WCER’s National Center for Improving Student Learning and Achievement in Mathematics and Science. The Center is developing and validating a set of principles for designing classrooms that promote student understanding in mathematics and science.


(c) The “Mathematics for Parents” newsletter was provided to classroom teachers to be sent home with children during the school year. The newsletter was designed as an extension of the Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) program, which informs teachers about how primary-grades children think about simple arithmetic and about space (e.g., shape, measure, depiction, and navigation)


Also see for a variety of K-12 instructional resources.

(4) “The Bush Education Agenda“-TalkBack Live Interview Transcript

Source: Education Week – 9 September 2004


Sandy Kress, an education advisor with the Bush re-election campaign, participated in a web chat moderated by Education Week‘s Erik Robelen. Kress advised the Bush administration on the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. He is a partner with the law firm of Akin Gump, focusing on public law and policy, and serves on the Education Commission of the States. He previously served as president of the Dallas public schools’ board of trustees, and was a member of two statewide committees assembled to recommend improvements in public education in Texas.

A transcript of this Web chat is available at the above web site. A number of provocative questions were asked of Kress, including the following:

“Legislation as substantial as NCLB inevitably requires fine-tuning, which is very hard to do in the politically charged environment of a presidential campaign! What process do you think would make sense to smooth out some of the rough edges, and what do you think are some of the issues that would be addressed in such a process?”

“Please explain why so few teachers have been involved with education reform efforts.”

“Around the country, schools and whole states have found that the amounts of money promised by the Bush administration to fund NCLB have not materialized. If education is important, why doesn’t the administration fund NCLB fully?”

“Many of the proposals for education reform seem to focus on administration and curriculum, which of course are important. As a teacher, I want to know how the candidates plan to help teachers face the increasing challenges of their positions. Simply put, we don’t get paid enough or recognized enough for the professionalism and accountability that are expected of us!”

“The nation’s mathematics and science education programs, elementary through college level, are at a crisis stage. With our nation’s security forefront in everyone’s minds, the dependence on foreign Ph.D.’s in science and the critical shortage of U.S. science and mathematics educators in our schools raises a number of issues including a dismal future for US technological development, medical care, and pure scientific research. What are you going to do about it?”

“Reading First is just getting off the ground in many states and appears to hold the promise of making a major difference in student achievement. What plans do you have to continue and strengthen this valuable initiative?”

“I support accountability in education 100% but what ever happened to the ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’? Shouldn’t the whole community be held accountable for children not making adequate progress or ‘failing.’ Many students are not doing well because of factors completely out of the school system’s control such as poverty, drug addiction, and poor parenting, yet the schools are punished. What is the Bush agenda for these issues?”

“How do you see NCLB evolving over the next decade?”

“How does NCLB justify using the same criteria to test all students? How can NCLB expect special education students, (especially those with limited ability or severe learning disabilities) to perform at the proficient level as discerned by the tests? Is this a reasonable expectation, and why or why not?”

I am a strong supporter of President Bush, but as an educator of the gifted, I am concerned about the effects of the narrow focus on standardized testing. What steps will the President’s administration take to address the unique needs of gifted and talented students who are already scoring proficiently or better on the tests? Our funding at the local and state level has been eroding as attention is drawn toward the population that is not yet proficient.”

“As Houston seems to be the model for the NCLB legislation, how do you resolve the issue of their high drop out rate as it relates high accountability for students in testing and in grade retention?”

“Of all the reforms that the president could propose for a second term, why would he choose to increase testing: adding an 11th grade test and requiring NAEP for high school seniors?”

“Can you explain the future of early childhood education, specifically Head Start, if President Bush is reelected? The pushing down of curriculum is making robots of my students.”

“What are the major strengths of the education agenda of the Bush re-election campaign, compared with the Kerry campaign?”

“How does NCLB plan to address the unique problems of small rural schools? Example: what accommodations are made for “highly qualified” teachers when we need ONE teacher to teach multiple classes, such as both chemistry and physics, when they do not have a major in both subjects. Also, when parents have philosophical differences with testing, even a few opting out makes it impossible to reach a 95% participation rate.”

“It is well researched that multiple choice question format tests do not always accurately assess what a child actually knows. Are there any initiatives planned to promote more evidence-style tests, such as portfolios, in place of standardized, multiple-choice tests?”

“Please explain how the following emerging outcomes of No Child Left Behind are intended to effect long-term educational improvement: 1. The school curriculum is being monopolized by math and reading instruction while other equally important areas of student learning (i.e., social studies) are marginalized or disregarded. 2. A ‘test-generated’ curriculum has become the focus and priority of instructional decisions and professional development. 3. The ideal of a ‘highly qualified’ teacher is being primarily equated with subject area course credits, or a score on a PRAXIS II exam.”

“Why do schools have the opportunity to refuse fed funding if they cannot meet the requirements of NCLB? If this is the case, what is the point of NCLB?”

“Moving past doubt and suspicion, will we ever see ‘highly qualified’ politicians? If we are demanding HQTs, why not HQPs?