COMET • Vol. 6, No. 34 – 16 December 2005


(1) “State Education Officials Get an Earful” by Laurel Rosenhall

SourceSacramento Bee – 16 December 2005

Begging, threatening and scolding, scores of people from across the state told education officials Thursday that students in the class of 2006 should be allowed to graduate even if they can’t pass the California High School Exit Exam.

Some spoke about special education students who have disabilities that could prevent them from passing the test. Others talked about students new to the country who might not possess the English skills necessary to pass. And some expressed concern for tens of thousands more who, for other reasons, haven’t been able to pass the math and English portions of the test in the three or four tries they’ve had so far.

A handful of speakers said the state should keep the exam as a graduation requirement this school year, but they were greatly outnumbered by critics.

The comments came during a daylong meeting in a packed hearing room at the Department of Education. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell invited the public to offer ideas about possible alternatives for students who can’t pass the exam.

The meeting drew professors, lawyers, civil rights advocates, business leaders, teachers, students, parents and grandparents–but not O’Connell. He was in Los Angeles at an event promoting preschool.

Many blasted the state for waiting so long to consider what to do with students failing the test. Even as they suggested alternatives–such as a different test, proof of good grades, tests in other languages or portfolios of work–many admitted it was too late to implement those ideas in time for graduation.

“In the short run, we’re unlikely–in fact, unable–to mount such a strategy between now and June,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford University education professor.

She, along with UCLA professors and attorneys from Public Advocates, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Morrison & Foerster law firm in San Francisco, called on the state to spend the next year developing an alternative and to allow students in the class of 2006 to graduate if they have met their school districts’ graduation requirements.

They also suggested that students who have passed the exam get a special designation from the state on their diplomas.

Other speakers suggested a nondiploma certificate for those who complete all requirements but don’t pass the exam.

So far, more than 90,000 students–about 22 percent of the senior class–have not passed the exit exam, which tests students on sixth-, seventh-and eighth-grade math skills and reading and writing at the 10th-grade level. Students must pass both parts to graduate.

Gary Hart, a former state senator and Gray Davis’ first education secretary, said he opposes the use of portfolios or tests in languages other than English.

But he said other standardized exams, such as the SAT, AP, UC and CSU placement tests and the 11th-grade California Standards Test, would be acceptable–even though only a fraction of students now failing the exit exam likely would pass such tests.

“Our purpose should not be to accommodate marginally proficient students,” Hart said.

Jim Lanich, president of California Business for Education Excellence, urged officials not to change the current requirement.

“It’s important to the business community that the folks they hire–the people who graduate from the 12th grade–are able to do seventh-grade math,” he said.

The meeting reached its most emotional point when parents and students confronted officials about their families’ struggles.

Rebecca Serafin, who lives near San Jose, said she has made arrangements for her daughter, a special education student, to move to another state for her final semester of high school in order to get a diploma. Her daughter has passed one section of the test but not the other.

“Now we’re here in the ninth inning and parents and students have to make very tough decisions,” Serafin said.

Madai Alarcon Robles, a 17-year-old senior at Pathways Charter High School in San Jose, spoke of the difficulty the exam poses for students learning English. “I been here for 10 years,” she said. “I have to work. I can speak English, but I can’t understand all the English. I have a hard time spelling.”

Robles said she supports younger siblings still in . She said she left them behind to find a better future. “Now, because of this exam, I’m not going to get it,” Robles said.

It’s unclear what effect, if any, the meeting will have on the exam. O’Connell and his staff will consider the suggestions, said spokeswoman Hilary McLean, and make recommendations to the state Board of Education and the Legislature in January.


[NOTE:  The agenda for the CAHSEE Alternatives Public Meeting is located at   Numerous documents submitted in advance of this meeting  can be found at  The California Department of Education plans to update this page with testimony/materials from yesterday’s meeting.]

(2) Openings for Teachers and Faculty on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC)

Source: Nick Pearce, CCTC Executive Office –  (916) 322-6253

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is an agency in the Executive Branch of California State Government. It was created in 1970 by the Ryan Act and is the oldest of the autonomous state standards boards in the nation. The major purpose of the agency is to serve as a state standards board for educator preparation for the public schools of California, the licensing and credentialing of professional educators in the State, the enforcement of professional practices of educators, and the discipline of credential holders in the State of California.

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing consists of nineteen Members, fifteen voting Members and four ex-officio, non-voting Members. The Governor appoints fourteen voting Commissioners and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction or his/her designee serves as the fifteenth voting Member. The four ex-officio Members are selected to represent each by the major elements of the California higher education constituency: Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities; Regents of the University of California; California Postsecondary Education Commission; and the California State University. The Governor-appointed Commissioners consist of six classroom teachers, one school administrator, one school board member, one school counselor or services credential holder, one higher education faculty member from an institution for teacher education, and four public members. Governor appointed Commissioners are typically appointed to four-year terms, and serve as volunteers in unpaid positions.

There are currently 8 vacancies (Governor-appointed) on the Commission:

– Teacher (3 vacancies)

– Non-Administrative Services Credential Holder (1 vacancy)

– Faculty Member (1 vacancy)

– Public Representative (3 vacancies)

Those interested in serving on the CCTC should visit the Governor’s Web site for application instructions:


NOTE:  Highlights of the November 30-December 1, 2005 meeting of the CCTC have been provided by the Credential Counselors & Analysts of California at the following Web site:

(3) New Report Raises Warning Over Assignment of Least Prepared Teachers and Resurgent Teacher Shortage in a High Stakes Education Environment

Source:   Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning

With the help of teachers entering the profession as interns, California has reduced the number of underprepared teachers by half, but the vast majority of intern teachers are assigned to low achieving schools serving poor and minority students, according to a new two-year study of teaching in California released today by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.  The report also warns that the state is facing a shortage of tens of thousands of teachers within the next decade.

With research by SRI International, The Status of the Teaching Profession 2005 provides the latest available data and analysis of California’s teaching workforce.

Key findings include:

The least experienced teachers are assigned to schools serving poor and minority students:

*  Eighty-five percent of teachers working as interns are assigned to schools where 61-100 percent of the students are minorities. The majority of intern teachers (53%) are assigned to schools where virtually all (91-100%) of students are minorities. Only 3 percent of interns work in schools where minorities make up 0-30 percent of the student population.

*  Seventy percent of intern teachers are assigned to schools where 51-100 percent of the students receive free or reduced-price lunch.

*  In schools with the most minority students (91-100%), 22 percent of special education teachers are underprepared, while 6 percent of special education teachers are underprepared in schools with the smallest minority populations (0-30%).

Students in low achieving schools are the most likely to have the least prepared teachers:

*  In California’s lowest achieving schools, the odds of today’s sixth graders having had one underprepared teacher is 4 in 10, and the odds of having had more than one underprepared teacher are 3 in 10.  In the highest achieving schools, today’s sixth graders have had a 2 in 10 chance of having and underprepared teacher, and only a 1 in 50 chance of having more than one underprepared teacher.

A looming teacher shortage:

*  California has reduced the number of underprepared teachers, from a high of over 42,000 in 2000-01, to around 20,000 in 2004-05.

*  But California is facing a new teacher shortage.  One-third (97,000 teachers) of the teaching force is expected to retire within the next ten years.

*  Enrollment in teacher credentialing programs has declined over the past 2 years, dropping 4% (from approximately 76,000 to 73,000) in 2002-03 and another 8% (from approximately 73,000 to 67,500) in 2003-04.

*  The state may face a shortage of approximately 27,000 teachers as soon as 2007-08 and is projected to face a shortage of nearly 33,000 fully credentialed teachers by the mid- 2010s.

*  The state must also deal with the current shortage: 24% of English teachers are underprepared or teaching out-of-field.  The same is also true for 25% of math teachers, 23% of social studies teachers, 22% of life science teachers, and 30% of physical science teachers.

California is at risk of failing to meet the academic needs of students, the requirements of No Child Left Behind and the Williams settlement agreement:

Beginning in June 2006, California high school students will have to pass the California High School Exit Exam in order to graduate, but the students least likely to pass the test also have the teachers least prepared to help them.

*  On average, in schools with the lowest achievement on the mathematics section of the California High School Exit Exam, 26 percent of teachers are underprepared and/or novice.  On average, only 14 percent of teachers in the highest performing schools are underprepared and/or novice.

*  1.6 million students in California are designated as English learners. California requires that teachers with one or more students designated as English learners be authorized to teach them.  But more than half (over 100,000) of the state’s veteran teachers with more than five years experience lack such authorization.

No Child Left Behind requires all students to achieve proficiency in mathematics and English by 2014, but student achievement in California remains very low, particularly for minority students.

*  In 2005, well under half of California’s students scored at the proficient or advanced levels in English (40%) or mathematics (38%) on the California Standards Test.

*  Only 32 percent of Latino, and 28 percent of African American fifth-graders scored at a proficient level or better on the state’s math test.

No Child Left Behind requires that every teacher in the state be “highly qualified’ by the end of 2005-06, but thousands of teachers do not meet the requirements, threatening California’s ability to be in full compliance by the end of the 2005-06 school year. And the number may grow.

*  Ten thousand California teachers did not meet the “highly qualified’ requirements of NCLB in 2004-05. Those teachers also do not meet the requirements of the Williams settlement agreement.

*  The projected shortage of teachers may once again mean that more non-NCLB-compliant teachers will still need to be employed–as many as 19,000 in 2014-15.

The Status of the Teaching Profession 2005 is a project of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.  The full report with recommendations and summary materials are available on the Center’s website at

The report’s call for involvement of California’s policy leaders in strengthening the teaching profession has been taken up in the State Senate.  Under the leadership of President Pro Tem Don Perata, Senator Jack Scott (D-Pasadena), chair of the Senate Education Committee, is already developing omnibus legislation to address the issues in the report.

(4) State Schools Chief O’Connell Congratulates Hundreds of National Board Certified Teachers From California

Source: California Department of Education – 8 December 2005

Last Thursday (December 8). State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell congratulated 298 California teachers who recently received advanced certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

This brings the total of National Board Certified Teachers in California to 3,379, the fourth highest number in any state in the nation according to NBPTS.  About 40 percent of these teachers are serving students in high-priority schools and earning a $20,000 incentive award for doing so.

“I am extremely proud of these outstanding teachers who have earned this prestigious certification,” said O’Connell.  “A growing body of research overwhelmingly supports National Board Certification as one of our country’s most powerful professional development experiences for improving teacher quality. I want to personally congratulate each of the California teachers who have earned this national recognition. Thank you for the work you do everyday to inspire California students to learn and achieve.”

A National Board Certified Teacher means an educator was judged by peers as being accomplished, making sound professional judgments about students, and acting effectively on those judgments.  NBPTS certification allows teachers to gauge their skills and knowledge against objective, peer-developed standards of advanced practice. Teachers may voluntarily seek certification that complements, but does not replace, state licensing.

Certification is designed to raise the quality of the teaching profession by establishing advanced standards for experienced educators.  Their knowledge and leadership are central to helping students achieve high academic standards, which is a cornerstone of O’Connell’s education initiatives.  National Board Certified Teachers meet the definition of a “highly qualified teacher” as defined in the federal No Child Left Behind Act.  This law requires teachers hired into Title I, Part A, programs in the 2002-03 school year be “highly qualified,” and that all educators teaching in core academic subjects be “highly qualified” by the end of the 2005-06 school year.  (California is in the process of seeking flexibility from the U.S. Department of Education on this issue, but in the meantime is complying with the requirement.)

Eligible candidates for National Board certification must have a baccalaureate, at least three years teaching experience, and a valid state teaching license.  Where a license is not required, educators must be teaching in schools recognized and approved by the state.  NBPTS offers candidates a performance-based assessment that takes about one year to complete and has two components.  Candidates must submit a portfolio of their work and also pass an assessment on their content knowledge.  For a complete list of National Board Certified Teachers in California, please visit For more information on NBPTS activity in California, please visit

(5) National Board Certification For California Mathematics Teachers

Source: Kay Garcia, California Department of Education

Twenty California mathematics teachers recently learned of their national certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.  National Board certification is the highest credential in the teaching profession.  A state teaching license or credential allows one to begin a career in teaching, while national certification is recognition of accomplished teaching.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers two certificates for mathematics teachers.  The Early Adolescence/Mathematics (EA/MATH) certificate is appropriate for teachers who teach students ages 11-15 and the Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Mathematics (AYA/MATH) certificate is appropriate for teachers who teach student ages 14-18.  Both certificates are appropriate for teachers who know the full range of the school mathematics curriculum: algebra and functions; geometry; calculus; discrete mathematics; and statistics and data analysis.

Over approximately a six-month period, teachers seeking national certification must create a portfolio as a showcase of their practice.  The 4-part portfolio includes written analyses of student work, two classroom videos, and evidence of candidates’ involvement outside the classroom with both their profession and the family and community of their students.

Candidates are also required to sit for six, 30-minute assessments on content.  For mathematics certifications teachers must be able to demonstrate content knowledge in the previously mentioned areas as well as various mathematical thinking processes and in the use of technology and manipulatives.

It can take up to three years to earn national certification.  Approximately 40% of first-time candidates achieve National Board certification.  Candidates receive ten scores (four portfolio and six assessment center) and may bank scores for two years while they retake entries.  In general, candidates who are part of a support group have a higher achievement rate.

The application fee for national certification is $2,500. The California Department of Education administers the federal Candidate Subsidy Program (CSP), which provides fee assistance to candidates. Additionally, many districts provide fee support for their teachers.

California currently has 247 math teachers who have earned National Board certification, 139 AYA/MATH and 108 EA/MATH.  You will find the names of the 3,379 NBCTs in California on the National Board Web site:

If you would like additional information, please contact Kay Garcia, NBCT, at the State Department of Education. Kay may be reached at or by calling (916) 323-5832.