COMET • Vol. 5, No. 09 – 23 March 2004


(1) TIMSS 1999 Mathematics Video Study

This past weekend, Jim Hiebert, director of the mathematics portion of the TIMSS 1999 Video Study, discussed the results and implications of this study at presentations on the California State University, Fresno campus ( Below are some quick links to a selection of Web sites for those interested in learning more about the 1999 Video Study:

(a) Highlights from the TIMSS 1999 Video Study of Eighth-Grade Mathematics Teaching:

(b) Current research and links to downloadable reports and highlights from the TIMSS 1999 Mathematics Video Study:

(c) Third International Mathematics and Science Study 1999 Video Study Technical Report, Volume 1–Mathematics (only available online; 536 pages):

“This first volume of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 1999 Video Study Technical Report focuses on every aspect of the planning, implementation, processing, analysis, and reporting of the mathematics component of the TIMSS 1999 Video Study. The report is intended to serve as a record of the actions and documentation of outcomes, to be used in interpreting the results, and as a reference for future studies.”

(d) Article from the February 2004 issue of Educational Leadership on the Video Study results (“Improving Mathematics Teaching” by James W. Stigler and James Hiebert):

(e) Books and articles related to TIMSS findings–includes a link to a downloadable article entitled “A Knowledge Base for the Teaching Profession: What Would It Look Like and How Can We Get One?” by Hiebert, Gallimore, and Stigler:

(f) TIMSS 1999 Video Study Mathematics Public Release Lessons–Four-CD set that contains video and related materials for 28 complete mathematics lessons (four from each country in the video study). These complete lessons are intended for use by district administrators and professional development providers who want to use the videos as part of their teacher learning programs:

(2) Update: California Mathematics Framework Draft

Source: Tom Akin, Curriculum Frameworks Unit, California Department of Education – 23 March 2004

According to Tom Akin, the draft mathematics framework “should be posted on the Web [] within the next week or two.”

(3) No Child Left Behind Teacher Requirements Resource Guide Regional Workshops

Source: California Department of Education (CDE)

The California Department of Education staff from the Professional Development Division will present information, clarification, and answers to your questions regarding the NCLB Teacher Requirements Resource Guide at a series of workshops for district and county administrators. All regional workshops are open to participants on a first come, first served basis.  Please use the county contacts listed below to register or to obtain further information about the regional workshops. (Workshops that have already occurred are not listed.)

Region 5 (Santa Clara, San Jose County Office of Education [COE]) – Contact Brenda Mariano 408-453-4322, 408-453-6888;; Date: April 5, 2004

Region 6 (Stanislaus, Modesto COE) – Contact Kandy Woerz  209-525-6602, 209-525-4613;; Date: March 30, 2004

Region 7 (Madera, Madera COE) – Contact Cyndy Dolph 559-673-6051, 559-673-5569;; Date: April 14, 2004

Region 9 (Riverside, Riverside COE) – Contact Linda Childress 909-826-6632, 909-826-6950;; Date: April 8, 2004

Region 11 (Los Angeles, Downey COE) – Contact Karen Ryback 562-922-6354 562-940- 1798;; Date: March 25, 2004


Related article:

“Paige Eased ‘No Child Left Behind’ Teacher Training Requirements” by Anastasia Ustinova

Source: San Jose Mercury News – 15 March 2004


(4) Announcement of Three Regional Public Hearings: Proposed Performance Standards (Levels) for Grade 5 Science Test (Grade 5 Science California Standards Test )

Source: California State Board of Education – 19 March 2004


These hearings are to discuss the proposed performance levels to be used in reporting the results of the Grade 5 Science California Standards Test administered in Spring 2004 and thereafter.

Wednesday, April 7, 2004  (10:00 a.m. -11:00 a.m.) Videoconference

South/Inland Empire Region

Santa Clara County Office of Education – Saratoga Room

1290 Ridder Park Drive

San Jose, CA 95131

(408) 453-6500

Thursday, April 8, 2004 (1:00 p.m. -2:00 p.m.) Videoconference

Bay Area/Coastal Region

Orange County Department of Education

200 Kalmus Drive

Building D, Room 1002

Costa Mesa, CA 92628

(714) 966-4108

Wednesday, May 12, 2004 (10:00 a.m. -as necessary)

North/Central Valley/Sierra Region

California Department of Education

1430 N Street, Room 1101

Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 319-0827

In 2001, California’s Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program reports included student performance results in only English-language arts. Performance standards (levels) relate exclusively to students’ scores on the California Standards Tests, which are aligned to California’s academic content standards. The designations for these performance standards (levels) are Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic, and Far Below Basic.

For 2002 and thereafter, reporting of student achievement based on these performance standards (levels) was expanded to include the California Standards Tests in history-social science, mathematics, and (in part) science. In addition, the performance standards in English language arts were modified at grades four and seven to incorporate students’ scores on the direct writing assessment conducted at those grades. For 2003 and thereafter, performance standards were reported on the California Standards Tests in integrated science in high school.

The State Board of Education is now proposing to adopt performance standards (levels) for the new Grade 5 Science California Standards Test, which is being administered to students in grade five in 2004…

The regional public hearings are for the purpose of gathering comments from a cross-section of interested parties, including teachers, administrators, school board members, and other local elected officials, business leaders, parents, guardians, and students.

Comments and suggestions are sought on the proposed “cut scores” (minimum number and percentage of correct responses) on the respective tests that determine students’ performance standards (levels). [See above PDF file for the proposed cut scores.]

The regional public hearings at the Orange County Department of Education and Santa Clara County Office of Education will be videoconferences. State Board members (whose schedules permit them to attend) and State Board and Department of Education executive staff will be prepared to accept public comments and input on a continuous basis during the videoconferences. Individuals are not required to pre-arrange a specific time to present their comments. Oral comments will be accepted as individuals arrive. Some delays may occur if many individuals arrive at the same time, and patience in that event will be appreciated.

The third and final regional public hearing will be conducted in Sacramento in conjunction with the State Board’s regular May meeting. It will begin as close to 10:00 a.m. as possible, but will be only as long as necessary to hear from those wishing to testify orally at that time.

Individuals need not come to one of the regional public hearings to present their comments. The State Board would be pleased to receive comments by mail, e-mail, or fax.

By mail:  1430 N Street, Room 5111; Sacramento, CA 95814

By e-mail:

By fax:  (916) 319-0175

(5) Superintendent O’Connell Releases 2003 API Base, Growth Targets, School Rankings

Source: California Department of Education


On March 9, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell released the 2003 Academic Performance Index (API) Base scores, growth targets, and school rankings for more than 8,000 eligible California schools.

Schools are expected to meet their annual API growth targets during the 2004 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) and California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) examinations. The academic performance and progress of schools are measured by using a numeric index that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1000. The growth target for a school is 5 percent of the difference between a school’s API Base and the statewide performance target of 800.

California’s schools are making steady progress toward reaching the state’s 800 mark with 21.7 percent currently at or above this threshold, compared to 15.5 percent in 2002. The percentage of the state’s elementary schools at or above 800 is 26.3 percent, up from 20.1 percent; middle schools is 15.6 percent, up from 12.7 percent; and high schools is at 7.4 percent, up from 4 percent.

“Over the past few years, students have made impressive gains in our elementary schools, where most of our standards-based reforms have been focused. It is clear, however, that while high schools are moving in the right direction they are still struggling,” O’Connell said. “That is why I announced in my State of Education address last month we must infuse them with a new sense of purpose and direction. I have proposed a series of tough, roll-up-our-sleeves measures aimed at improving high school achievement. Our students deserve nothing less.”

Schools are also ranked academically on a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) to determine a school’s standing compared to other schools statewide (statewide ranks) and to schools with similar characteristics (similar schools ranks). The similar schools characteristics include average class size, percent of students who are English learners, percent of teachers who hold emergency credentials or are fully credentialed, and student mobility, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

The API reports school performance on student assessments that are a part of STAR program, plus results from the CAHSEE. In the calculation of the API, the majority of weight is placed on tests specifically geared toward California ‘s high standards. Eighty percent of the API for elementary and middle schools rests on the California Standards Tests (CST); while almost 90 percent of the API for high schools rests on the CST and the CAHSEE.

The 2003 API Base adds two new indicators, the CST Science and the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA), which is taken by students with significant cognitive disabilities. As a result, the indicator weights change slightly from the previous API cycle for grades 9-11. Another change from the previous API cycle is that the CAHSEE indicator will include only grade 10 results. As in the past cycle, the API includes the CST English Language Arts, as well as results for CST Mathematics for grades 2-11, and CST Social Science results for grades 10-11.

The remainder of the weight in calculating the API continues to be placed on the nationally normed California Achievement Test, Sixth Edition Survey (CAT/6). By placing limited weight on the nationally normed test, it is then possible to focus on testing to California ‘s high standards while maintaining the ability to benchmark our students against the nation’s school children.

Because the 2003 API Base includes new CSTs as well as the CAPA, and because the calculation of the 2003 API Base is different from the 2002-03 API Growth released last October, any comparison of between the 2003 Base and 2003 Growth would be inappropriate.

The 2003 API Base results and school rankings are posted at: The 2003 API Base Report Information Guide is available at:


Related article:

“Test Scores Explained:  What the API Represents and What it Means for Students” by Joelle Tessler

Source:  San Jose Mercury News – 14 March 2004


(6) “Schools Chief Jack O’Connell Welcomes New Members of State Board of Education”

Source:  California Department of Education


On March 16, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell welcomed new members Ruth Bloom, Ruth Green, Glee Johnson, Jeannine Martineau, Bonnie Reiss, and Johnathan Williams to the State Board of Education. He also welcomed back Board member Reed Hastings.

O’Connell asked the members of the State Board to support his proposal to improve high school student achievement. He is sponsoring legislation that would provide flexibility in the use of $450 million in categorical funds if high schools agree to focus on five areas: increasing expectations for student performance; expand professional development for teachers and principals to improve instruction and school leadership; improve high school instructional materials and encourage the use of standards-based texts; smooth transitions between middle school, high school, and college or career options; and build a community of support for improving high school achievement.

“My plan combines flexibility with accountability by focusing on programs that have shown success in our elementary schools but now need to be expanded to benefit high school students,” O’Connell said. “It is a reasonable, cost-effective way to move us forward to the next important step in standards-based reform.”

O’Connell called on the State Board to join him in seeking changes in California’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Accountability Workbook. The revisions proposed by O’Connell aim to make the law more flexible and fair to California schools by addressing inconsistencies and areas of unfairness that particularly affect small and rural schools and schools with a small number of students in identified subgroups. The proposed changes would remove the penalty to schools where parental opt-outs of testing lead to a school’s failure to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), as measured by the federal law. The amendments also are designed to correct situations where every school in a district makes AYP, but the district itself does not. Under federal law, the changes to California’s NCLB Workbook must be made by April 1 if they are to take effect this year.

O’Connell added, “Over the past several years, the State Board has been an integral force for raising standards and improving achievement in our schools,” O’Connell concluded. “We cannot afford to lose ground on the progress we are seeing. We must focus on closing the achievement gap that leaves poor children, English learners, and children of color lagging behind their peers. And to do that, we cannot give ground on our high standards-based reforms.”


(1) Preservice Teachers–Chat with Johnny Lott, March 23, 11:00 p.m. EST

Invitation from Johnny Lott, President, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

I’d like to make a special invitation to all future teachers to participate in my upcoming online chat, which will be at 11:00 p.m. EST, Tuesday, March 23.

Since beginning these monthly chats last year, I’ve been able to communicate with members on a wide range of topics.  And in my 2 years as president, I’ve seen and learned a lot in my visits to classrooms.  I’d be happy to hear your ideas and answer your questions.  We can talk about NCTM’s Principles and Standards in the classroom, No Child Left Behind, challenges first-year teachers face, how to involve parents, or whatever you have questions about.

You can submit your questions ahead of time or during the chat at , and we’ll do our best to answer as many as we can.  A complete transcript of the chat will be posted at the next day.

Thanks for your interest and commitment to teaching students math.  I look forward to chatting with you the evening of March 23.  (If you’re a teacher educator, please forward this message to your students who might be interested in participating in the chat.)

(2) Nation’s Best Mathematics and Science Teachers Visit Washington to Receive Presidential Award

Source:  National Science Foundation – 17 March 2004

URL (press release and picture):

URL (Awardees):

Pickles, Oreos, cell phone billing plans and Barbie dolls have everything to do with raising achievement in secondary mathematics and science, according to some of the nation’s top teachers in these subjects.

Innovation, humor, expert knowledge of their subject and an ability to inspire student creativity are among the qualities common to the 95 mathematics and science teachers honored last week with the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST), the nation’s highest commendation for work in the classroom.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) administers the awards program for the White House.  The teachers visited Washington, D.C. last week for an awards ceremony, congressional meetings, conversations with education leaders and a series of professional development activities.

“These outstanding teachers show us what excellent teaching looks like,” says Mark Saul, NSF’s PAEMST project director.  “They have a passion for their subject and a dedication to their students. They know how to bring out the best in every student, in every kind of school.  We hope their example will stimulate the creativity of other teachers and help to attract new recruits to the mathematics and science teaching profession.”

Among the activities award-winning teachers use to spark the learning process:

– Analyzing the DNA from a mock classroom crime scene

– Videotaping basketball free throws to study projectile motion

– Using a Barbie doll in a bungee-jump to test laws of motion

The award-winning teachers overwhelmingly agree that students frequently respond best to lessons that relate to recognizable phenomena from their own lives or that allow for hands-on learning.  They have observed that an engaging teaching style prompts students to pose their own questions, test their own theories, and arrive at their own solutions, with the teacher as a facilitator and guide.

“Today’s workers need to know how to make quick decisions, adapt to ever-changing demands and solve problems independently or in teams.  Such skills are likely to come from the kind of teaching these award winners practice,” said Saul.

Since 1983, the White House and NSF have sought nominations of exemplary math and science teachers from every state and four U.S. jurisdictions.  In addition to honoring their achievement, the goal of the awards is to expand and exemplify the definition of excellent science and mathematics teaching.

“Research indicates that nothing is so important in raising student achievement as a good teacher-not class size, not Internet access, not students’ income level or ethnicity,” said Saul.  “Ensuring an adequate supply of eager, skilled teachers depends as much upon rewarding and retaining the best of them as it does upon improving the average teacher’s abilities.”

U.S. student performance in mathematics and science has been lagging, and many schools are experiencing shortages of math and science teachers.  “The teachers who can turn this around are constantly searching for meaningful ways to spark the learning process,” said Saul.  “If you’re lucky, you’ll have a chance to experience at least one such teacher in your lifetime.”

“Our hope is that these great teachers will return to their communities feeling intellectually invigorated, professionally connected and publicly appreciated,” said Saul. “We are confident they will go on to ignite sparks in others – just as they have inspired and affected their students.”

The 2004 nominations are currently open for mathematics and science teachers in grades K-6 (  Candidates can be nominated by anyone who knows an excellent teacher: school principals, other teachers, students, parents and members of the general public.


California’s PAEMST Awardees:

Janet English

Serrano Intermediate School

Lake Forest, CA

Discipline: Science

Ana England

Lakeview Middle School

Watsonville, CA

Discipline: Mathematics

(3) Science Education Highlighted at Summit, House Science Committee Hearing

Source: “Legislative and Policy Update” (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) – 22 March 2004

This past week, science teachers from across the nation came to Washington, D.C. to attend the Education Secretary’s Science Summit and attend a House Science Committee hearing honoring Presidential Award winners for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

The Summit, held on March 16, brought together officials from the Department of Education, National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal agencies, as well as Members of Congress, to discuss issues concerning research, professional development, student achievement and other science-education related issues.

The House Science Committee hearing on March 18, seemed more like a rally than a congressional hearing with witnesses standing on chairs and standing ovations from both the general public and the members of the Committee for the National Science Foundation and the Presidential awardees.  Four award winners testified at the hearing and members of the audience were given significant time to directly ask Committee members questions and offer their own comments on education issues.

Those that testified or spoke from the gallery shared many of the same points emphasizing the need for peer-networks for teachers and the importance of NSF programs including the Math and Science Partnership program.  Many of the witnesses and audience members addressed assessment and accountability issues found in No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Many voiced their concerns that the assessment standards of NCLB are limiting the amount of time teachers can devote to creative lesson plans.  Ironically, one Presidential award winner, Jason Cushner, said that due to NCLB content requirements, his school district was forcing him to change his teaching style (which won him the Presidential award) so his students could have a better shot at passing NCLB assessments.

For more information on the hearing or the Secretary’s Science Summit contact Andrew Stringer at