COMET • Vol. 5, No. 05 – 18 February 2004


(1) Mathematics Framework Revision Update

Source: Tom Akin, Curriculum Frameworks and Instructional Resources (CFIR) Division, California Department of Education – (916) 319-0440

On February 17, the Mathematics Subject Matter Committee of the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission held its final teleconference to discuss revisions to the current Mathematics Framework. After this draft document is approved by the Chair of the Curriculum Commission, it will be made available on the CFIR Web site for public comment; this is expected to occur within the next two weeks. The public will be invited to provide feedback (preferably using an online survey form) on any part of the Mathematics Framework draft, including those sections that were not revised by the Commissioners.  The comments will be reviewed at the April meeting of the Commission, with a final review at the Commission’s September meeting. Approval of the final version of the Mathematics Framework by the State Board of Education is expected in early 2005.

The “Schedule for Curriculum Framework Development and Adoption of K-8 Instructional Materials” for all subject matter areas for the period 1999-2012 is available as a PDF file at

(2) Update on Accreditation Review Activities

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC)


In the coming year (2004), the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (Commission) will be considering whether modifications to the existing accreditation system for educator preparation should be made, and if so, what specific modifications will result in an improved accountability system. This web page [above] has been created to provide access to meeting announcements, CCTC and COA agenda items, meeting notes and other documents related to the review.

Memorandum from Beth Graybill, Interim Director, Professional Services Committee, CCTC (2/17/04)

On January 22, 2004, the Committee on Accreditation (COA) engaged a group of approximately 30 representatives from the higher education and K-12 communities in a discussion of the Commission’s pending review of its accreditation system.  During this meeting, updates on the formal evaluation of the Accreditation Framework, pending federal legislation and survey data on accreditation were presented.  Also presented and discussed was a proposal from the University of California, California State University and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities regarding the process by which the Commission will conduct its review.  The Commission has established a special link on its web site,, in order to provide access to materials generated during this review.  Meeting notes from the January 2004 COA meeting are available at this site.

The Commission is committed to a review process that is inclusive and provides for broad stakeholder input.  To that end, the Commission has directed the Committee on Accreditation to facilitate discussions with stakeholders on this matter. The January meeting of the COA was the starting point for what is expected to be a very productive dialogue on one of the Commission’s essential functions.

During the January meeting, the COA appointed a subcommittee of its members to develop options for an inclusive process and a work plan for reviewing and refining the Commission’s Accreditation Framework. Options and recommendations from the subcommittee will be discussed by the COA on March 18.  Opportunity for public comment on the proposal will be provided at the March COA meeting, which will be held in the Commission meeting room at 1900 Capitol Avenue in Sacramento beginning at 10:00 a.m.   For more information, please contact Dr. Larry Birch at (916) 327-2967 or


Related Information: “Evaluation of the Accreditation Framework Policies and Procedures”

In December 2003, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing received a summary of the evaluation of California’s Accreditation System that was conducted by American Institutes for Research (AIR).  The PDF version of the full report can be downloaded at A report entitled “Accreditation of Educator Preparation in California: A Brief History and Overview” was presented at the February 5 meeting of the Commission. This report can be downloaded from (also see the February meeting agenda).

From the Executive Summary of the AIR Report:

States ensure the quality of their K-12 teachers and other educators through two mechanisms: licensure of individuals and accreditation of the training programs that prepare these individuals. Accreditation is an assurance of excellence in the preparation of professional educators and an indirect check on quality. Accreditation can be done either by some branch of the state or federal government or by a professional organization. In California, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) does both accreditation and certification, and candidates for credentials must be recommended by the CCTC-accredited educator preparation programs for their licenses to be granted by the Commission’s credentialing arm. These two processes have distinct objectives but serve a common set of purposes and function as an integrated system…

(3) EdSource Online–Recent Reports (March 2  Election, NCLB, Finances, etc.)


EdSource is a not-for-profit organization established in California in 1977. Independent and impartial, EdSource strives to advance the common good by developing and widely distributing trustworthy, useful information that clarifies complex K-16 education issues and promote thoughtful decisions about California’s public school system.

Recent reports:

March 2, 2004 Election Information (February 2004)

In this primary election, the political parties will select the candidates for state and federal offices who will run in the November general election. In addition, several state ballot propositions could substantially affect public funding for school facilities and programs. EdSource has put together this page of election-related resources to help you understand the issues, evaluate the propositions and candidates, and make informed decisions. (See

Sample election-related report: “Proposition 55: Bonds to Construct and Modernize Public Education Facilities” (January 2004)

This two-page voter guide (available at describes the $12.3 billion school bond on the March ballot. It takes a look at the need for education facilities and the impact the bond would have on the state’s finances. The guide also gives arguments for and against the initiative.

= “No Child Left Behind in California? The Impact of the Federal NCLB Act So Far” (January 2004)

The complex federal law known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is beginning to affect schools and change the look of education reform in California.

The state and NCLB share a standards-based reform model with strong accountability provisions and a common goal of closing the achievement gaps between high- and low-performing students. Even so, NCLB’s many requirements have prompted the state to make significant changes in various aspects of California’s reform policies–just when the state’s new reforms were becoming familiar to educators and parents.

This report looks at these changes and the implications for KÆ12 schools going forward… [It] includes an analysis of school performance as well as a discussion of the law’s numerous implications for California education policy and school improvement initiatives. Although the new federal law has many advocates, most will agree it is not flawless. Educators, policymakers, and parents will be watching closely to see whether these federal requirements will help–or hinder–schools as they struggle to better meet the needs of California’s youth, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

A 2-page executive summary of this report (available at highlights the provisions of NCLB that have had the greatest impact on California so far, including changes in school accountability programs, new teacher quality requirements, and parental rights.

= “School Finance Highlights 2003-04” (November 2003)

The lion’s share of money for California’s public schools comes from the state budget. In 2003-04, it will provide less general purpose money to schools than in previous years, while sharply cutting some special programs. This two-page publication highlights the funding that K-12 education will receive overall for 2003-04, including local, state and federal sources:

= “How California Ranks: The State’s Expenditures for K-12 Education”

California’s national ranking on expenditures per public school student fell from 27th to an estimated 35th in 2001-02. California tops the list for teacher salaries, but comes in third highest in the size of classes. For more comparisons of California’s education expenditures with those of other states, download this report:

School Management (

The people and groups who set education policies, establish regulations, and manage school operations are many in number and diverse in perspective.

The Legislature and governor form a powerful policy group through their control of the state budget and legislative process. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education form another layer. State and federal courts mandate some policies, while the actions of the county superintendents of schools and their boards also affect school districts. Local school boards–along with district superintendents–set local education policy and see that state and federal requirements are carried out. School principals and parent-staff groups such as school site councils also exercise policy authority. Finally, employee unions through their collective bargaining agreements form another layer of authority and influence. Yet all of them serve–and are ultimately accountable to–the parents and other taxpayers that make it possible for public education to exist…

(4) California’s March 2 Primary Election–Easy Voter Guide


A network of more than 650 organizations that are engaged in voter education are distributing free copies of the Easy Voter Guide for the March 2, 2004 Primary Election. Secretary of State Kevin Shelley is sponsoring the Easy Voter Guide as part of a comprehensive outreach program to encourage voter participation.

The 16-page printed booklet includes the following: an overview of the primary with statements and pictures from the candidates for President and U.S. Senate; statements from each of California’s seven political parties; succinct descriptions of the statewide ballot measures with pro and con arguments; and easy-to-read descriptions of the primary election and the voting process.

The Easy Voter web site contains user-friendly nonpartisan voting information such as the following: Propositions are proposed laws presented to the public to vote on. Propositions 55, 57 and 58 were put on the ballot by the State Legislature. Proposition 56 is an ‘initiative’ that was placed on the ballot by people who collected enough signatures. Propositions 57 and 58 are tied together. They both have to be approved by voters to go into effect.” ( Information about each proposition is then presented.

The Easy Voter Guide is available on audiotape in English and Spanish, and is available for download in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean at and


(1) Request for Volunteers to Evaluate “Math Description Engine” Products from NASA

Contacts: Terry Hodgson and Stephanie Smith, NASA Learning Technologies Project–


The NASA Learning Technologies Project (LTP) is seeking volunteer evaluators for the project’s Math Description Engine (MDE) products, available at The MDE is a library of tools that provides blind/visually-impaired (BVI) students with alternative access to graphs and data that are traditionally presented visually.  There are two demo applications available:

(a) The MDE Graphing Calculator provides descriptions of graphs using text and sound, in addition to drawing graphs of equations. The curves currently described are first and second order equations in two variables, i.e., line, parabola, ellipse, hyperbola, circle, null set, single point, and two lines.

(b) MathTrax is an accessible physics simulation of an object moving along a mathematically described track, like a car on a roller coaster. The goal is to get the object to the end of the track using the right combination of curve shape, ball position, speed, friction and gravity. In addition to graphical feedback on the simulation run, alternative accessible descriptions are provided in the forms of text and sound.

LTP is looking for mathematics educators and students who are sighted or blind/visually impaired and who are studying Algebra, Pre-Calculus or Calculus to serve as evaluators. Evaluators will perform a simple exercise that will be emailed to them, answer a set of questions about using the tool, and return their responses to us.  Our goal is to determine the added value that these tools provide to sighted and blind/visually impaired (BVI) students beyond the methods currently in use.

If you would like to participate in this evaluation or have information about other potential evaluators, please feel free to drop us a line at Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

(2) Designing Powerful Professional Development for Teachers and Principals by Dennis Sparks

Source:  National Staff Development Council


The National Staff Development Council (NSDC) is an organization committed to ensuring success for all students through staff development and school improvement. NSDC’s goal is that all teachers in all schools will experience high-quality learning by 2007 as part of their daily work.

Dennis Sparks, the Executive Director of NSDC, has compiled his ideas for connecting the quality of teaching and leadership to the improvement of schools in a 14-chapter book entitled Designing Powerful Professional Development for Teachers and Principals. In this book, Sparks makes his case for powerful professional learning and then demonstrates to readers how their schools and school systems can provide that learning for their teachers and principals. The book is available for free download at  Links to nearly 100 articles by Sparks on a variety of issues related to professional development are available at

(3) “Seeking Alternatives to Standardized Testing” by Jay Mathews

Source: The Washington Post – 17 February 2004


Deborah Meier is my favorite answer to an important question: Is there some other way to make low-income neighborhood schools better than through the annual standardized testing required by the new federal No Child Left Behind law?

In 1974 she created the Central Park East School in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City. That school showed, through its students’ success in college and the workplace, that the children of day laborers, garment workers and welfare recipients could achieve academic success by being treated in public school as if they were graduate students. Instead of being given regular standardized multiple-choice tests, they were evaluated through reviews of their written work and interviews with experts in the subject matter they had studied.

It has been more than a year since I last wrote about Meier, co-principal of the Mission Hill School in Boston, and her latest book, “In Schools We Trust.” Her perspective has become even more significant as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) rules hit all American public schools. So I asked her if she would be willing to have an e-mail conversation with me about what is going on, and what we should be doing about it. [To read this extensive interview, access the above Web site.]

(4) Newsletters and Journals from the U.S. Department of Education


The U.S. Department of Education (ED) provides links to a number of education-related publications and news reports at the above Web site. Below are brief descriptions of these electronic resources:

= “The Achiever,” an electronic newsletter, provides information, events and announcements about No Child Left Behind.

= “Extra Credit” provides a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act.

= “E-Press Release Digest” offers one email message per week describing press releases ED issued that week.

= “EDInfo” provides 1-2 email messages a week on new learning resources, ED reports, and ED grant opportunities.

= “ED Review” is a bi-weekly update on ED activities relevant to the intergovernmental and corporate community.

= “The Education Innovator” is a weekly look at innovations in education.

= The Education Statistics Quarterly gives a comprehensive overview of work done across all parts of the National Center for Education Statistics. Each issue includes short publications, summaries, and descriptions that cover all NCES publications and data products released during a 3-month period.