COMET • Vol. 6, No. 20 – 31 August 2005


(1) Message to COMET Readers from Susie Hakansson, Executive Director of the California Mathematics Project


Welcome to the 2005-06 academic year!  May it be a successful, fulfilling one for you!

COMET is now entering its seventh academic year! As subscribers of COMET, you have had the opportunity to read about mathematics education issues, both in California and nationally. From my perspective, COMET keeps all of us updated on policy and newsworthy items, particularly in California. One of the strengths of COMET is its neutral approach to mathematics education news. It is up to the reader to synthesize, evaluate, and make use of the information.

The California Mathematics Project (CMP) is proud to sponsor COMET. If you misplace an issue or want to search a particular topic, you can visit the CMP website to retrieve past issues or to search the COMET archives (

The CMP has a long history in California. Its goal is “to enhance the quality of California’s K-12 mathematics education by increasing teachers’ mathematical content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, and by supporting and developing leadership skills” ( CMP supports regional sites throughout California. These sites are housed at colleges and universities with staff consisting of both K-12 and college/university mathematics faculty and mathematics educators. Most CMP sites have the capacity to design mathematics professional development programs to meet the needs of schools and districts. Programs can focus on increasing teachers’ knowledge of mathematics content and pedagogy, the California High School Exit Exam, or the California Mathematics Content Standards. Many sites can also provide an 80-hour follow-up AB 466 institute.

CMP was instrumental in the development of the online course, Lesson Study Through a Mathematics Lens, a 40-hour combination of online and face-to-face professional development that supports K-12 mathematics educators as they learn about the process and implementation of Lesson Study.

For more information about the CMP, please visit our website.  To contact a regional site in your area, visit and to contact staff in the CMP Executive Office, visit

~ Susie Hakansson, CMP Executive Director

(2) Timeline of California’s Standards-Based Education System (1996-2004)

Source: California Department of Education – 29 August 2005

A timeline of California’s standards-based education system covering the years 1996-2004 was posted earlier this week on the California Department of Education Web site. Reforms documented include the following:  standardized testing and assessment, accountability (API, NCLB), standards-aligned curriculum and instructional materials, professional development, assistance for struggling schools, and class size reduction.

(3) California Mathematics Framework Update

Source:  California Department of Education

On March 9, 2005, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved the draft Mathematics Framework with the understanding that edits and corrections would be necessary.

Additional SBE proposed edits to Chapter 10 and Appendix E were posted on the above Web site. Written comments were accepted through June 14, 2005, in addition to comments received at a stakeholders meeting [held on June 17 with CASCD]. The current draft (available for download by chapter from the above Web site) includes additional edits to Chapter 10 and Appendix E approved by the SBE…

Final editing and publishing of this document should be completed in the fall of 2005. Final editing will include correcting any mathematical errors; making grammatical and format changes; and verifying footnotes, works cited, and Web site references.

This draft framework is a revision (not a complete re-write) of the Mathematics Framework adopted by the SBE in December 1998.

(4) 2005 Follow-Up Adoption of K-8 Instructional Materials in Mathematics

Source:  California State Board of Education
URL: (Agenda) URL: (Item 4)

On September 7, the State Board of Education (SBE) plans to act on a recommendation from the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission (Curriculum Commission) on the follow-up adoption of K-8 instructional materials in mathematics. The entire SBE meeting agenda is available at the first Web site given above; documentation for Item 4, which pertains to this topic, can be downloaded from the second Web site.  The information below is excerpted from this document:


Follow-up adoptions expand the number of adopted programs available to school districts. The follow-up adoptions use the same evaluation criteria as the last primary adoption. Programs adopted under a follow-up adoption are added to the list of materials adopted in the last primary adoption. The follow-up materials list expires at the same time as the primary adoption list. For mathematics, both the 2001 primary adoption list and the 2005 follow-up adoption list will expire on June 30, 2007.

Deliberations for the 2005 Follow-Up Adoption in Mathematics were held June 13-15, 2005. Two IMAP/CRP panels for mathematics met at the California Department of Education to conduct deliberations and produce reports of findings for each of the six programs submitted for review and adoption.

At the July 15, 2005, Curriculum Commission meeting, the Commissioners reviewed the IMAP/CRP Reports of Findings for each of the submitted programs, held two public hearings, one during the Subject Matter Committee meeting, and one during the full Commission meeting, and took action on the six submitted programs.

An Edits and Corrections meeting has been scheduled for October 7, 2005. Programs are recommended for adoption, pending the resolution of minor edits and corrections.

Below are the recommendations of the Curriculum Commission on the submitted materials. Program details are provided in the full document.

Recommend Adoption:

(a) CGP California Standards-Driven Algebra I Program (Gr. 8)

(b) Glencoe Mathematics: Applications and Concepts, California Edition (c) 2006 (Gr. 6)

(c) Glencoe Pre-Algebra California Edition (c) 2006 (Gr. 7)

(d) Glencoe Algebra I California Edition (c) 2006 (Gr. 8)

(e) McDougal Littell Pre-Algebra (Gr. 7)

Do Not Recommend Adoption:

Glencoe Algebra: Concepts and Applications California Edition (c) 2005 (Gr. 8)

(5) O’Connell Announces Significant Gains in State API Results, Mixed Progress in Federal AYP Results

Source: California Department of Education – 31 August 2005

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell today announced that 81% of California’s public schools made significant gains this year in reaching their schoolwide growth targets, a 17-point increase over 2004. In addition, 83% of California schools posted increases in overall academic growth, compared to 64% last year.

The results are part of the 2004-05 Academic Performance Index (API), the state’s accountability system that measures the academic success of a school on the basis of how much it improves. Also released today are the results of the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), the federal government’s accountability model, which show that 56% of California schools successfully met their AYP targets. Both the state API and the federal AYP are calculated using the annual results of students tested in the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR) and the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE).

“The outstanding API results reflect the tremendous success we celebrated earlier this month when our annual test scores showed widespread gains in nearly every subject and grade level,” said O’Connell. “With data showing six years of improved student achievement, we know that California schools are headed in the right direction. We now need to maintain the focus on high standards to keep up the momentum for improved student achievement at all schools.”

At each grade level tested, from grade two through grade eleven, schools are making increases toward the state’s API performance target of 800 (out of a possible 1,000). In 2005, more than 27% of California schools attained or exceeded that mark, compared to 23% of schools in 2004. For elementary schools, 32% are at or above 800, compared to 27% last year; 21% of middle schools are at or above that mark, compared to 18% last year; and 12% of high schools reached or passed 800, compared to 9% last year.

When viewed over a six-year period a clear trend toward sustained improvement emerges. For example, from 1999-2005 California’s median elementary school API rose 122 points from 629 to 751. In addition, the percentage of elementary schools reaching the state’s target goal of 800 grew by 19 percentage points, from 13 percent to 32 percent. The six-year trend also shows that the base API for even the lowest performing schools is significantly higher than the base was in 1999. For example, a school ranked at the top of decile one this year would have been ranked in decile six if their current API score were used on the 1999 scale.

“While we can celebrate the progress our schools are making, we cannot forget the significant work still ahead of us, specifically on closing the pernicious achievement gap,” O’Connell said.

The progress report under the federal accountability system showed that fewer schools in 2005 met federal accountability targets, which nearly doubled this year. The percentage of schools making AYP fell to 56% in 2005 from 65% in 2004. Under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, schools must meet annual AYP targets, which increase over time, so that in 2013-14, 100% of students are expected to score at the proficient level or above.

“It is important to remember the dramatic escalation in the AYP targets when viewing this year’s results,” O’Connell noted. “The dichotomy in the progress reports released today underscores why we support our state API growth model as a more accurate reflection of trends in our schools.

“Under NCLB, each state defines what it considers a proficient level of performance for its students,” O’Connell continued. “In order to ensure our students are prepared to compete in a global economy, California has set our level for proficiency very high to reflect our world-class curriculum standards, which are some of the most rigorous in the nation.”

The 2005 API and AYP results are presented in the Accountability Progress Report (APR). Each school, school district, as well as the state as a whole has its own individual report. The APR provides a comprehensive view of academic results on key indicators, such as state tests, graduation rates, and student subgroup performance.

New this year, the 2005 APR consolidates a number of reports that were previously available separately into one report available at one Web site location. The various sections and elements of the APR are easily accessible through the use of navigation tabs. The 2005 APR is available at

The 2005 APR will also include information about Program Improvement (PI). On September 15, PI data will be posted into the APR. A school that receives federal Title I funds may be identified for PI if it does not make AYP for two consecutive years within specific areas.

The complete 2004-05 API Growth results, which will include information on subgroups (not currently available in today’s report), will be incorporated into the 2005 APR in October.

(6) Schools Chief Jack O’Connell Hails Increase in California Scores on SAT I College Entrance Exams

Source: California Department of Education – 30 August 2005

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced yesterday that California students are showing improvement on the SAT I College Entrance exam. California’s public high school class of 2005 showed progress on both the verbal and the mathematics portions of the SAT Reasoning Test, according to figures released today by The College Board. Scores improved by an aggregated total of 5 points in the past year.

“I am very encouraged by the SAT results,” O’Connell said. “It is clear that California students are benefiting from California’s move to higher standards and expectations, and more are setting their sights on higher education. I’m also particularly pleased that students in every numerically significant ethnic group in California showed gains in both participation and achievement on the exams. Results are on the rise at the same time more students are taking the tests and the pool of test takers is increasingly diverse.”

The average score for the state’s public high school students for the verbal section of the SAT increased three points–from 496 to 499–over last year, while mathematics scores increased two points–from 519 to 521. These scores compare with the average verbal score of 505 and with the average mathematics score of 515 for public school students nationwide.

The number of SAT takers in California public schools was also up sharply from last year. The number of California public high school students who took the college entrance exam was 146,877 this year, a 5.5 percent increase over the 139,000 public high school students who took the test last year.

Participation on Advanced Placement exams has also increased significantly, showing more students are taking the rigorous courses that will help them succeed in college and the workplace.


Related Story:

“SAT I Scores Rise in Math, Verbal Tests Statewide–Higher standards, expectations credited for 3-point improvement over last year” by Tanya Schevitz
Source: San Francisco Chronicle – 31 August 2005


(1) SAT Math Scores for 2005 Highest on Record

Source:  The College Board – 30 August 2005

The College Board announced SAT scores yesterday for students in the class of 2005, the last to take the former version of the SAT featuring math and verbal sections. The College Board also previewed results from the first three administrations of the new SAT. The new SAT features higher-level math, additional reading passages, and a new writing section with an essay.

For the class of 2005, the average SAT math scores continued their strong upward trend increasing from 518 in 2004 to 520 this year, 14 points above 10 years ago and an all-time high. Math scores for 2005 among females rose by 3 points over last year to 504 while male scores rose by 1 point to 538 over the same time period.

Average verbal scores, increasing only fractionally, remained at 508, for no change compared to last year. Verbal scores are only 4 points higher than they were 10 years ago.

“I am encouraged by the improvement demonstrated in math, a fundamental skill that students need to succeed in college and, later, in a highly competitive global marketplace,” said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board. “However, the relatively flat trend in verbal scores indicates what we have observed for years: the need to redouble efforts to emphasize the core literacy skills of reading and writing in all courses across the curriculum starting in the earliest grades.”

Math Improvement Widespread

The improvement in math capabilities is widespread with both males and females and all racial/ethnic groups showing increases. Males and females advanced about equally in math over the past decade, 13 points for males (525 in 1995 to 538 in 2005) and 14 points for females (490 in 1995 to 504 in 2005).  In math, all racial/ethnic groups registered increases compared to 1995, although some of the gains were minimal, especially among those with the fastest growth in the numbers of test-takers. Asian American students outperformed other racial/ethnic groups, scoring 580 in math in 2005. This is a 25-point gain since 1995, the largest among racial/ethnic groups.

Growth Related to More Demanding Math Course Work

These math gains were accompanied by more students taking demanding courses such as Precalculus, Calculus, and Physics. Since 1995 there has been an 11% increase in the number of students taking Precalculus (37 to 48 percent), and a 5% increase in Calculus (22 to 27 percent), as well as in Physics (46 to 51 percent). There were comparable increases in participation in these courses among males and females as well as an increase among all racial/ethnic groups.

Number of SAT Takers Reaches All-Time High

The number of SAT takers among the high school class of 2005 rose to an all-time high of 1,475,623. This marks the fifteenth year in a row that the total number of test-takers has risen. SAT volume increased by 57,000 students or +4 percent in the past year. Over the past decade, volume increased by 408,000 students, or +38 percent–more than twice the growth rate for graduating seniors in the United States. According to a recent Chronicle of Higher Education report using U.S. Census Bureau data, “the number of college students rose 15 percent in the decade ending in 2003.” SAT volume grew more than twice as fast–35 percent–over that same period (1993–2003).

Glimpse of New SAT Results for March, May, and June

The next graduating class, the class of 2006, has begun taking a new SAT, the results of which will be reported in August 2006. To date, three administrations of the new SAT have been offered, one each in March, May, and June this year, and nearly 1.4 million students have taken the new version of the SAT. Each essay was read, scored, and reported by two different professional readers (all high school or college teachers).

“The new SAT goes further than the old one in focusing on the twenty-first-century skills required for success in a more global economy,” said Caperton. “The more advanced math, the greater focus on reading, and the new emphasis on writing will help promote the mastery of skills that our young people will need as we face increasing competition from other nations, including rapidly emerging ones. Developed reasoning skills and advanced literacy skills in both reading and writing are essential in a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected and digital.”

For more information on the new SAT, visit

SAT Snapshot

*  789,325 (53%) of SAT takers are female and 686,298 (47%) are male.

*  38% of SAT takers in the class of 2005 were minorities, the largest percentage of any class of SAT takers to date.

*  36% of SAT takers are first-generation college students. 58% of first-generation college students are female. This female dominance holds true for all the racial/ethnic groups.

*  The amount and quality of academic preparation for college varies by racial/ethnic group, parental education, and family income. Precalculus, for example, was taken by:

— 62% of Asian American students versus 34% of Puerto Ricans and 32% of African Americans;

— 54% of students whose parents graduated from college versus 37% of those whose parents did not have high school diplomas; and

— 52% of students with family incomes of $50,000 and above versus 40% of those with lower incomes.

(2) “Comparative Studies on U.S. and Chinese Mathematics Learning and the Implications for Standards-Based Mathematics Teaching Reform” by Jian Wang and Emily Lin

Source:  Educational Researcher – June/July 2005 (pp. 3-13)

Summary:  Chinese students often outperform U.S. students on international tests in mathematics. Chinese students’ mathematics performances are assumed to be related directly to their teachers’ deep mathematics understanding and ability to represent concepts flexibly in their classrooms, which, in turn, are thought to be influenced by Chinese mathematics curriculum and policies. The authors examine this theoretical assumption through a systematic review of relevant literature and attempt to identify the relationship between Chinese students’ mathematics performance and the factors that contribute to their achievement. On the basis of their review, the authors raise questions about the assumption and propose research that can lead to a better understanding of the relationship between the quality of students’ mathematics learning and the contexts in which their learning occurs. [The full article is available for free download from the above Web site.]