COMET • Vol. 6, No. 23 – 21 September 2005


More California 11th-Graders Volunteer to Get “Early Signal” of Their Readiness for College

Source: California State University – 20 September 2005

The number of California 11th-graders who volunteered to take the California State University’s Early Assessment Program (EAP) test of readiness for college-level English and mathematics increased in 2005, a possible indicator that fewer of these students may need remediation when they attend college a year from now because they should be better prepared.

In spring 2005, 32,262 more students–a 21% increase–took the English test, and 3,786 more students–a 3% increase–took the mathematics test. A report was given at yesterday’s CSU Board of Trustees’ meeting on the program.

In all, 46% of high school 11th-graders took the English test in spring 2005. An even-higher 69% of students whose programs (course-taking patterns) in high school permitted them to take the mathematics part of the California Standards Test also took the EAP test.

Since CSU draws from the upper one-third of high school graduates, these rates of volunteering for the EAP assessment are welcome results. This is the second year that the EAP test has been administered. The test is part of a long-term plan to get more students ready for college while they are still in high school.

The Early Assessment Program (EAP) was developed by the California State University system in partnership with the state’s public schools and state Board of Education. The program encourages public school 11th-graders to take a test assessing their college readiness in English and mathematics. The test is an augmented version of the California Standards Test (CST) that includes additional English and math questions and a written essay.

“The strength of this program lies in providing those students who want to enter the California State University as first-time freshmen with an early signal as to their readiness to succeed in regular general education classes,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “If they show proficiency early via the EAP assessment, at the close of 11th-grade, they will be granted an exemption from the CSU English and mathematics placement tests. If they are not yet ready for college-level work, students will be encouraged to take classes during the 12th-grade to improve and strengthen their skills.”

In 12th-grade English courses, and in 12th-grade mathematics, students have an opportunity to develop their skills to a level that will avoid placement in remedial classes during their first year in college. In 2004, 37 percent of incoming CSU freshmen required remedial instruction in mathematics, and 47 percent required remedial instruction in English.

The EAP “early signal” is also of value to students planning to attend other universities. CSU’s expectations for performance in English are very similar to expectations in American higher education, so the EAP gives students headed elsewhere a strong signal. In mathematics, CSU’s expectations are higher than at many other American public universities.

An additional key component of the Early Assessment Program focuses on facilitating professional development for K-12 teachers by preparing them to provide instruction in expository, analytical and argumentative reading and writing. It also prepares teachers to align 12th grade math instruction with CSU’s expectations for entry-level students.

“The EAP identifies the students who need additional preparation in English and mathematics and assists the schools in providing that instruction in the 12th-grade,” said Roberta Achtenberg, vice chair of the CSU Board of Trustees and a developer of the CSU’s Graduation Initiative, of which the EAP assessment is a part.

Partners in this effort–State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, the state Board of Education and the California State University–are working to strengthen the senior year of high school by developing new courses and providing professional development for K-12 teachers.

EAP support for high school teachers includes the Twelfth Grade Expository Reading and Writing Course, developed by CSU and K-12 English faculty. CSU campuses and county offices of education across the state are cosponsoring workshops for teachers who would teach the modules to 11th- and 12th-grade students. In 2004-05, 700 teachers were trained and subsequently taught at least two English course modules in their classrooms.

A mathematics committee is working on developing similar professional development options for high school mathematics teachers.

In addition, the CSU offers a Mathematical Diagnostic Test and an English Success diagnostic test, which aid students in their preparation for college-level English and mathematics. Those may be accessed at and

More information on the EAP program and test results is available on the Internet at


(1) News for Teachers: Make Use of the FREE Web Site

Source:  U.S. Department of Education

The Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) Web site makes it easy to find teaching resources on federal government Web sites. The site was developed with the cooperation of more than 35 federal agencies and is updated each week with new materials and highlights.

FREE offers quick access to more than 1,500 resources in the arts, sciences, history, and other subjects from the Library of Congress, National Archives, Smithsonian, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and other federal agencies.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll find at FREE:

Mathematics Across the Curriculum — Materials for teaching math in art, history, literature and music, as well as science, engineering and other disciplines traditionally associated with math: — Make a map of your state or community by selecting features to display: cities, roads, rivers, population, crops or water quality. Find an aerial photo of your neighborhood:

Exploring Earth — 100 animations and images illuminating key concepts in earth science, including coal formation, nuclear fission and hurricanes:

(2) End of Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Network

Source:  Mark Kaufman, TERC

Dear Colleagues,

As of September 30, 2005, the Eisenhower Network of Mathematics and Science Regional Consortia will no longer be operating. Many of the Consortia parent organizations will continue to provide professional development, information, resources and technical assistance to K-12 educators in mathematics and science.

After October 1, we encourage you to visit the Network archive website ( that contains links to each of these organizations and learn about available products and services.

Also, the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse (ENC) will offer subscription-based services at its new site:

On behalf of the Eisenhower Network, thank you for your support and contributions to improving mathematics and science teaching and learning.


Mark Kaufman, TERC


Note (from

Mark Kaufman is Co-Director of TERC’s Center for Education Partnerships which supports broad-based school improvement efforts in mathematics and science (see He is also Director of the Eisenhower Regional Alliance for Mathematics and Science Education, the U.S. Department of Education funded Eisenhower regional consortium providing professional development, technical assistance, and information for K-12 mathematics and science improvement in New England, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Kaufman is currently serving on the Steering Committee of the National Research Council’s Math/Science Partnerships project and served as a member of the NRC’s Continuing to Learn From TIMSS Committee.

(3) Who Wants to Be a Mathematician?

Source:  American Mathematical Society

In the AMS game Who Wants to Be a Mathematician, high school students compete for cash and prizes by answering multiple choice mathematics questions. The cash prize in each game is donated by the AMS. Other prize donors are: Maplesoft Inc., Texas Instruments, and John Wiley & Sons. The game is a program of the AMS Public Awareness Office and was developed by Mike Breen (AMS Public Awareness Officer) and Bill Butterworth (DePaul University).

The archive contains articles about past performances of the game

A video is available of the game played in Danvers, MA at Danvers High School on April 29, 2004. Watching the game, and playing along, is a great activity for a math club or for individuals who want to match wits with the contestants. Each game lasts approximately 30 minutes.


Related topic:

A middle school bulletin board activity based on this game is available at Visit for more examples of interactive bulletin boards for secondary mathematics classrooms.

(4) “A Calculating MindChesterfield boy is a mathematical marvel” by Penelope M. Carrington

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch – 7 August 2005

If cars represented mathematical ability, Bobby Jacobs would whiz by too fast to determine his make and model.

The 11-year-old weaves in and out of labyrinthine logic problems with the dexterity of a speedway champion. He rattles off prime numbers as if singing the lyrics to his favorite song on a Sunday drive.

It’s nothing for this lanky boy, who wears his favorite prime numbers–2477 and 5113 are two of them–on his chest and never uses scratch paper, to crunch behemoth 18-digit numbers at a glance.

That’s all it took for Bobby to spot a mistake in Clifford Pickover’s Wonders of Numbers: Adventures in Mathematics, Mind, and Meaning. [Pickover’s home page:]

The nearly 400-page tome bubbles with puzzles, problems and the history behind numbers such as 365,365,365,365,365,365 squared.

“Wonders of Numbers” misprinted one of the digits in this, the correct answer: 133,491,850,208,566,925,016,658,299,941, 583,225.

Bobby spotted the error–last three digits of 255 instead of 225–in the number. His mother, Eileen, then wrote Pickover, and Bobby earned a mention in Pickover’s just-published book, A Passion for Mathematics: Numbers, Puzzles, Madness, Religion and the Quest for Reality. Pickover wrote that Bobby, then 10, was the only person to notice and inform Pickover of the mistake in the number, named for another math whiz, Truman Henry Safford.

“[Bobby] recognized something about the number that told him it was wrong,” said Pickover, speaking from his Yorktown Heights, N.Y., home. “The remarkable thing is that a child of this age was the exact same age Safford was when he [calculated] Safford was when he [calculated] this number.”

Safford, of Royalton, Vt., lived from 1836 to 1901. He was 10 when a church leader asked him to square the 365 sequence in his head and he did so, proving his reputation as a prodigy.

Bobby, who has a form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome, is the older of two children of Eileen and Robert Jacobs of Chesterfield County. Eileen home-schools Bobby and his 9-year-old sister, Morgan.

Having Asperger’s means Bobby has “quirks” that make social interaction a challenge. In addition, people with Asperger’s usually have a particular area of profound ability. For Bobby’s, it’s mathematics.

At 2, his mom said, he could add and subtract. At 4, he insisted on being called Pi because he could list 50 of its digits. Even his drawings featured people made of numbers. Today, he pens math books, creates his own category of numbers–funumbers– and devours, in mere minutes, coded crosswords that have no clues.

“I have no idea what mathematicians of history were like as children, but I can imagine some of them were like Bobby,” said Dr. John Barnes, a math teacher at the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government & International Studies. Barnes met with Bobby several times when he was about 9.

“He may be close to a genius,” said Raymond Smullyan, who lives in upstate New York and is considered mathematics royalty.

Smullyan said he invited Bobby and his family to his home two years ago. The invitation came after Bobby told his parents he wanted to meet the retired mathematics professor known in the math field as “The Logic King.” The distinction comes from Smullyan’s legendary logic problems that involve, among other things, knights and knaves.

“Knights always tell the truth and knaves always lie,” Bobby said last week in an interview at his home.

“He’s a good brother and he’s great at math,” said Morgan, a budding writer and illustrator with several local and state awards to her credit.

Asked if her big brother does her math homework, she didn’t hesitate: “No,” she said. “But he helps me.”

The siblings are close and are often in and out of each other’s rooms. Posters listing prime factorizations, squares and square roots hang on Bobby’s bedroom walls. Crossword and puzzle books are stacked on the floor. Clothes hang haphazardly from his dresser.

“All of us, at some point, have probably wished we were able to turn off some parts of our minds and have a single-minded focus without sacrificing crucial aspects of our coping skills,” said Pickover, who works at a large computer company in addition to his career as a writer. “We all hope for great things for Bobby in the future and that he makes a strong contribution to mathematics.”

Pickover noted that strides in math can lead to practical applications in scientific and other fields.

“Society can benefit from having eccentrics and people with unusual viewpoints who think differently,” he said. “We should learn to interact with extraordinary people so that we can learn from them and they can gain from us as the same time.”

Bobby’s father, a lawyer, said satisfying his son’s mathematics thirst has been mentally and intellectually challenging. But, Robert said, “seeing his enjoyment makes it worthwhile.”

Despite the interpersonal challenges associated with Asperger’s, mathematics, in many ways, has become Bobby’s social connection. In addition to winning a visit with The Logic King, he defeated 107 other contestants to place first in the oral and written categories of the regional MATHCOUNTS 2005 competition for middle school students. In the state competition, he placed 19th among 76 students.

“That’s why I felt so much happiness at the end, not because he won, but because he mastered the social aspect of it as well,” Eileen said of her son’s regional title. “It was the first time he had done something like that.”

(5) Executive Director Sought for the Benjamin Banneker Association, Inc.


The Benjamin Banneker Association is a national non-profit organization dedicated to mathematics education advocacy, establishing a presence for leadership, and professional development to support teachers in leveling the playing field for mathematics learning of the highest quality for African-American students. The Association is seeking a self-directed, motivated, and enthusiastic Executive Director to lead the organization in fulfilling its mission and goals. Please visit

Please visit[1]bc_2[1].htm for applicant qualifications and job responsibilities.