COMET • Vol. 5, No. 31 – 30 November 2004


(1) CAMTE Session at CMC-N Conference This Weekend

Contact: Carol Fry Bohlin –

URL (CMC-N sessions and registration information): http://WWW.CMC-MATH.ORG/ASILreg

“Envisioning the First Year of CAMTE: The California Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators

Location: Nautilus East; Asilomar Conference Grounds (Pacific Grove, CA)

Conference: California Mathematics Council-North

Date: Saturday, 4 December 2004

If you were unable to attend the CMC-S (Palm Springs) conference session where CAMTE was established earlier this month, this is your opportunity to learn about and help chart the course for this new organization, which was designed for professionals who teach preservice and inservice K-12 mathematics teachers. CAMTE’s primary audience consists of higher education faculty from public and private IHEs who are involved in mathematics teacher preparation and professional development, as well as K-12 mathematics professional development providers.

CAMTE’s constitution and bylaws, history, purpose, and goals will be shared at this one-hour session. Come meet and interact with some of the CAMTE officers and Advisory Board members (Carol Fry Bohlin, Joanie Commons, Scott Farrand, Susie Hakansson, and Kathy Morris) and provide input into this new organization!

(2) CSU OCELOT (Online Center for Excellence in Learning and Online Teaching)

Source: California State University Office of the Chancellor


The Academic Technology Support Department at the CSU Office of the Chancellor has developed and supports resources to help the CSU faculty, staff, students, and administrators be more successful in teaching and learning.

The CSU OCELOT site (Online Center for Excellence in Learning and Online Teaching) is a collection of collections of online teaching and learning resources developed by the CSU for CSU faculty, staff, students and administrators.

Note: Merlot (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching) may be of special interest:

MERLOT is a free and open resource designed primarily for faculty and students of higher education. Links to online learning materials [in the areas of education, mathematics, etc.] are collected here along with annotations such as peer reviews and assignments.

MERLOT is also a community of people who are involved in education. Community members help MERLOT grow by contributing materials and adding assignments and comments. Many community members make their professional information available in MERLOT’s member directory.  (Membership is free.)


(1) What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) Releases Studies of Mathematics Curriculum Evaluations

Source:  WWC and “NCTM Legislative and Policy Update” – 22 November 2004


URL (Middle School Math Curricula):

[WWC] On an ongoing basis, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) collects, screens, and identifies studies of the effectiveness of educational interventions (programs, products, practices, and policies). WWC reviews the studies that have the strongest design, and report 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. The WWC releases study, intervention, and topic reports. A study report rates individual studies and designs to give you a sense of how much you can rely on research findings for that individual study. An intervention report provides all findings that meet WWC Evidence Standards for a particular intervention. Each topic report briefly describes the topic and each intervention that the WWC reviewed.


[NCTM] …In a review of more than 800 studies of math programs in grades six through eight, only 11 evaluations met the Department’s standards of evidence. These evaluations examined five commercial mathematics programs, only two of which–Cognitive Tutor and I CAN Learn Mathematics Curriculum–were associated with scientific evidence of effectiveness.

On November 17, the Clearinghouse released its findings at a forum that included presentations by Dr. Grover Whitehurst and Dr. Phoebe Collingham, Institute of Education Sciences, Dr. Robert Boruch, Principal Investigator and Dr. Rebecca Herman, project director of the What Works Clearinghouse; and responses by Dr. Eric J Smith, superintendent, Anne Arundel County Public Schools; Dr. Glen Harvey, WestEd; and Dr. Tom Loveless, Brown Center on Education Policy.

These findings indicate not that most of the math curricula is ineffective, but that there is an absence of scientific evidence of effectiveness. All the panelists agreed that this points to the need for an investment in high-quality research that practitioners can use to select and implement curriculum in the classroom.

Loveless made several recommendations to the field. First, more money needs to be invested in conducting good research and in institutions like the What Works Clearinghouse. Second, he stated that the education research culture needs to be changed so that researchers stop talking just to themselves and include policymakers and practitioners in the conversations. Third, he recommended the institutionalization of research practices (for example, structuring research abstracts) so that researchers can more easily manage reading the large amounts of research available. Fourth, he emphasized a need to study the effectiveness of textbooks, especially secondary mathematics textbooks.

The What Works Clearinghouse has plans to study beginning reading, character education, dropout prevention, English language learners, elementary and high school math, early childhood education, and adult literacy in the near future.

The What Works Clearinghouse at, administered through a contract to a joint venture of the American Institutes for Research and the Campbell Collaboration, was established in 2002 to provide educators, policy-makers, researchers and the public with a central and trusted source of scientific evidence of what works in education.

For more information on the findings or the event, please contact Lyndsay Pinkus at

(2) “Study Shows Educational Achievement Gender Gap Shrinking”

Source: U.S. Department of Education – 19 November 2004


The large academic achievement gaps that once existed between males and females have been eliminated in most cases and have significantly decreased in others, according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Education (Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women:2004). The study presents comparisons between males and females regarding preprimary education, elementary and secondary education, postsecondary education, and educational outcomes.

In elementary school, female fourth-graders outperformed their male peers in reading (2003) and writing (2002) assessments. Gender differences in mathematics achievement have been small and fluctuated slightly between 1990 and 2003. At the secondary school level, the gap in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading achievement grew from 10 points in 1992 to 16 points in 2002, with males performing lower than females. Females entering college baccalaureate programs were more likely than their male counterparts to graduate within six years. In 2001, the overall participation rate of females in adult education was higher than that of their male peers (53 percent vs. 46 percent).

“It is clear that girls are taking education very seriously and that they have made tremendous strides,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. “The issue now is that boys seem to be falling behind. We need to spend some time researching the problem so that we can give boys the support to succeed academically.”

Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women:2004 was produced by the Department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the Institute of Education Sciences, and responds to legislation under the No Child Left Behind Act. It is an update and substantial revision of an earlier study released in 2000.

To download or view the report, please visit:


Excerpt from Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women: 2004


…Males and females begin school with similar preschool experiences, although females may have an advantage in early literacy participation experiences. Females outperform males on reading and writing assessments at fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grades. Throughout their elementary and secondary education, females are less likely than males to repeat grades and seem to have fewer problems that put them at risk.

While females’ performance in mathematics is often perceived to be lower than that of males, NAEP results have shown few consistent gender differences over the years, particularly among younger students. Twelfth-grade NAEP assessments in mathematics and science show no significant gender differences in achievement scores. However, females were less likely to report liking math or science. This is true despite the fact that young women take equally or more challenging mathematics and science coursework than their male peers in high school (with the exception of physics, which females are slightly less likely than males to take).

Since the early 1970s, women have made gains in postsecondary education in terms of enrollment and attainment. Female high school seniors tend to have higher educational aspirations than their male peers and are more likely to enroll in college immediately after graduating from high school. Females also account for the majority of undergraduate enrollment and the majority of bachelor’s degree recipients.

Gender differences in college majors persist, however, with females still predominant in somewhat lower paying fields like education, and males more likely to earn degrees in engineering, physics, and computer science. Females are also still underrepresented in first-professional programs, although they have made substantial progress toward parity in the past 30 years.

In terms of labor market outcomes, the findings are mixed and depend somewhat on factors beyond the scope of the education system. Females ages 25-34 are less likely than their male counterparts to be employed, but it is unknown to what extent this is by choice. The gap between males and females in employment rates has narrowed over time, and females with higher levels of educational attainment are employed at rates more similar to those of males than are females with lower levels of attainment. Females tend to earn less than males with similar educational attainment, but this may be partly a reflection of different patterns of labor market participation and job choice.

(3)  “A Growing Gender Gap Tests College Admissions” by Peter Y. Hong

Source: Los Angeles Times – 21 November 2004


When admissions officers for Santa Clara University recruit new freshmen, they do their best to reach the kind of students they’d like to see more of on the Silicon Valley campus: boys.

“We make a special pitch to them to talk about the benefits of Santa Clara, as we do for other underrepresented groups,” Charles Nolan, Santa Clara’s vice provost for admissions, said of the school’s efforts to boost male applicants.

It’s a startling development to anyone who remembers that Santa Clara was all male until 1960. But the Jesuit-run school reflects an important transformation of American college life.

Among the 4,550 undergraduates at Santa Clara, 57% are female. That matches the percentage of U.S. bachelor’s degrees now awarded to women, a demographic shift that has accelerated since women across the country began to attend college at a higher rate than men about a decade ago.

Today, many colleges, particularly selective residential schools, face a dilemma unthinkable a generation ago.

To place well in influential college rankings, those schools must enroll as many top high school students as they can–and most of those students are female. Administrators are watching closely for the “tipping point” at which schools become unappealing to both men and women. They fear that lopsided male-female ratios will hurt the social life and diverse classrooms they use as selling points.

Despite employing the same tactics used for years to lure ethnic minority students, few colleges say they give admissions preferences to boys. But high school counselors and admissions experts say they believe it is happening…

Girls outperform boys in high school. High school boys do score slightly higher on the SAT but more girls have A averages, rank in the top 10% of their class and take more academic courses than boys, according to the College Board.

Researchers are divided about the causes and extent of the college gender gap.

Some say the gap is limited to lower-income students and minorities, with girls from those populations more likely to attend college and boys more likely to go directly to work or the military. Affluent white males are at least as likely to attend college as their female counterparts, according to those experts. Others say the gap crosses race and class lines.

Whatever the case, the highly selective colleges attracting affluent students are also getting more–and academically stronger–applications from women than men.

Mark Hatch, dean of admissions at Colorado College, said his school admits a higher percentage of female applicants because “in some ways they’re stronger, period”…

A former counselor at two Los Angeles high schools, Hatch said that in college admissions “the developmental lag rears its ugly head.” High school boys “are more likely to be late bloomers,” sometimes not hitting their academic stride until their junior year, he explained. That, Hatch said, can hurt boys in class rank and cumulative grade point average.

Campuses with an even male-female ratio are now the exception rather than the rule. The colleges with very abundant and strong male applicant pools tend to emphasize engineering, science and business or be such marquee schools as Stanford and most Ivy League colleges.

But many of the finest liberal arts colleges and top national universities like Georgetown, Boston University, Emory, Brown, Tulane, Vanderbilt and Northwestern enroll more women than men.

The same is true for all UC campuses, except Irvine, and Cal State campuses except for the two polytechnics and the California Maritime Academy. The stronger credentials of the female applicant pool are apparent at California public universities, which are all barred by law from considering sex or race in admissions. Even at the highly sought UC Berkeley, 26% of female freshman applicants were admitted in 2003, compared with 22% of males…

Following Supreme Court rulings striking down quotas and numerical point systems used in race-based affirmative action programs, colleges wishing to address gender imbalances must do so delicately.

The University of Georgia in 1999 dropped a system in which some male applicants received bonus points in the numerical formula it used to admit students. The school did so after a lawsuit by a female applicant…

The female-heavy graduating classes are making their mark farther up the chain. Women outnumbered men among medical school applicants for the second consecutive year, and more women than men now earn doctorates.


U.S. high school students who…

…Ranked in top 10% of class:

Females: 56%      Males: 42%

Maintained an A average:

Females: 62%      Males: 38%

Took four years of:

Natural Sciences

Males: 46%; Females: 54%


Males: 45%; Females: 55%

Foreign Languages

Males: 39%; Females: 61%


Undergraduate enrollment at some California schools

Cal State LA

Males: 37%; Females: 63%


Males: 44%; Females: 56%

UC Berkeley

Males: 46%; Females: 54%


Males: 50%; Females: 50%


Males: 67%; Females: 33%


Mean SAT scores

Although U.S. high school girls score lower than boys on the SAT, they earn better grades in school and take more college-prep courses.


Males: 512; Females: 504


Males: 537; Females: 501


Sources: U.S. Department of Education; College Board; college websites.

(4) Live Chat: “When Schools Meet the Press”

Source: Education Week – 30 November 2004


When schools and the press work together, the results can be dazzling. But when the two sides clash, it’s bad news for everyone. Earlier today, a panel of experts discussed school-media relationships with Moderator Jeanne McCann from  Education Week. The topics included the following:

* developing positive press relationships before you need them;

* framing story ideas to attract media attention; and

* surviving a media blitz during times of crisis.


* Donald L. Kussmaul, President, American Association of School Administrators

* Edward H. Moore, Associate Director, National School Public Relations Association

* Julie Blair, Author, Building Bridges With the Press: A Guide for Educators and staff writer for Education Week.

A transcript of this program will be available within 24 hours at (Scroll down the page to see all of the archived chat transcript topics.)

(5) President Bush Appoints Arden Bement as NSF Director

Source: National Science Foundation – 29 November 2004


On November 24, President Bush on officially appointed Arden L Bement, Jr. as the 12th director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across nearly all fields of science and engineering.

Bement has been NSF’s acting director since Feb. 22, 2004. For the time he was acting NSF director, he also held the position of Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) within the U.S. Department of Commerce.  He was appointed NIST director in 2001. President Bush nominated Bement in September, 2004, to become the NSF director.  The Senate confirmed Bement on Nov. 20.  As NSF director, Bement’s term is for six years. His appointment coincides with his resignation as director of NIST.

Bement’s career spans nearly 40 years in industry, government and academia.  He served on the National Science Board (NSB), the 24-member policy body for NSF and advisor to the president and Congress on science and engineering issues, from 1989-95. As NSF director, Bement will now serve as an ex officio member of the NSB.