COMET • Vol. 6, No. 07 – 5 March 2005


(1)  New California Teacher Advisory Council Established to Strengthen Mathematics and Science Education

Source:  The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning


Twelve highly accomplished teachers have been selected to serve as members of the newly formed California Teacher Advisory Council (Cal TAC), an effort by the California Council on Science and Technology and The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning to strengthen mathematics and science instruction in California. The new Teacher Advisory Council is being developed in collaboration with the National Academies and is the first state Council to join the National AcademiesÕ effort to establish state-level teacher advisory councils.

Seeking to “draw on the wisdom of practice” from outstanding teachers, Cal TAC will connect outstanding mathematics and science teachers with other educational experts and policymakers. Council members will inform and guide the development of policies and practices to strengthen the quality of mathematics, science and technical education in California and provide guidance in the analysis of CaliforniaÕs K-14 teacher development system.

Teachers selected to participate in Cal TAC include: Pete Arvedson, La Puente High School, Hacienda–La Puente Unified School District; Anne Marie Bergen, Oakdale Joint Unified School District; Janet English, Serrano Intermediate School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District; Sandie Gilliam, San Lorenzo Valley High School, San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District; Javier Gonz‡lez, Pioneer High School, Whittier Union High School District; Stan Hitomi, Executive Director, Edward Teller Education Center, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Glenn Hunt, Associate Professor in math and chemistry, Riverside Community College; Juliana Jones, Montera Middle School, Oakland Unified School District; Suzanne Nakashima, Lincrest Elementary School, Yuba City Unified School District; Tracy Pearse, Fremont Middle School, Stockton City Unified School District; Barbara Shannon, Westridge School, Pasadena; Mark Stefanski, Marin Academy, Marin.

CalTACÕs first effort will be to advise “CaliforniaÕs Science and Math Teacher Shortage: A Critical Path Analysis,” a new project examining the stateÕs mathematics and science workforce. This analysis will target the gap between the supply and demand for science and math teachers throughout the state, determine where the teacher development system is failing likely teacher candidates, and identify strategies to boost production of math and science teachers. A 2004 report by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning found that significant numbers of mathematics and science teachers lacked the background, training and authorization needed to teach mathematics or science. At the 8th grade level over 40% of those assigned to teach Algebra I lack the required background to teach mathematics. The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning and the California Council on Science and Technology will work with Cal TAC to expand and refine that research.

Initial funding for Cal TAC has been provided by a grant from the Stuart Foundation. Cal TAC will be jointly managed by the California Council on Science and Technology and The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. Additional information is available at  or  (this site contains a link to the agenda for the Cal TACÕs first meeting, held in Sacramento on February 1.  Also see

(2) March State Board of Education Meeting: Public Hearing and Adoption of Updated Mathematics Framework

Source: California State Board of Education

URL (SBE Meeting Agenda):

URL (Mathematics Framework Draft):

(Wednesday, March 9) Agenda Item 24: “Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve: Public Hearing and Adoption of Updated Mathematics Framework”


The Curriculum Commission, as the advisory body to the State Board of Education (SBE) on the adoption of curriculum and instructional materials, is submitting this updated draft Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve, to the SBE for public hearing and action. On January 27-28, 2005, the Curriculum Commission conducted a public hearing and approved the draft Mathematics Framework for submission to the SBE. As part of the action, the Curriculum Commission also authorized Chair Norma Baker to work with Charles Munger, Mathematics Subject Matter Committee Chair, and staff to incorporate additional mathematical corrections, as necessary.

The framework has been updated to include recent legislation, current assessment and accountability information, new research on the use of technology, and revised sample problems to improve the clarity and mathematical accuracy of the document… Chapter 10, “Criteria for Evaluating Mathematics Instructional Material[s],” explains the type of programs wanted, and Appendix E, “Mathematics Intervention and Algebra Readiness Instructional Materials,” describes the features of materials for accelerating students to grade level.

Statutory Requirements

According to Education Code Section 60200(b)(1), the SBE shall produce a framework and adopt instructional materials for mathematics on a six-year cycle.

Standards in mathematics were developed according to Education Code Section 60605. The SBE approved the standards in December 1997.

Education Code Section 60200(c)(6) requires that the SBE approve criteria for the adoption of instructional materials at least 30 months prior to the date that instructional materials are scheduled to be adopted. The next major adoption of instructional materials for mathematics is scheduled for November 2007, thus the SBE must approve the updated Mathematics Framework (which includes the criteria) no later than May 2005.

Framework Development and Approval Timeline

In January 2003–The SBE directed the Curriculum Commission to update the Mathematics Framework. Over the past two years, updating the framework has represented a significant portion of the agenda at each Commission meeting and at several meetings of the Mathematics Subject Matter Committee (SMC). The development of the draft framework is summarized below:

January 2003 through January 2004–The draft document was revised to include current and relevant legislation, updated assessment and accountability information, and new sample problems and language to improve the clarity and mathematical accuracy of the document. In January 2004, the Commission approved most of the draft framework for field review and directed the Mathematics SMC to develop criteria for evaluating instructional materials for mathematics intervention and algebra readiness (also at the direction of the SBE).

May 2004–The Commission organized a seminar on mathematics intervention and algebra readiness materials. During the seminar, Commissioners received information from publishers about currently available instructional materials and heard presentations from educators (from both classroom teachers and county office staff) on their work with schools, the instructional materials they use, and the types of intervention materials they need. Presentations included lessons learned from Reading Language Arts intervention program implementation and materials. The seminar helped Commissioners in their development of the evaluation criteria.

June 2004 through August 2004–The Mathematics SMC had several conference call meetings to continue development of the evaluation criteria for algebra readiness and mathematics intervention materials. In addition, SMC Chair Norma Baker (at that time) and Commissioner Stan Metzenberg participated in conference call meetings with representatives from the California Mathematics Council (CMC) to provide an opportunity for teachers to directly participate in the design of the evaluation criteria (refer to Chapter 10, “Criteria for Evaluating Mathematics Instructional Materials,” and Appendix E, “Mathematics Intervention and Algebra Readiness Instructional Materials”).

September 13, 2004, through November 9, 2004–The field review draft of the Mathematics Framework and the evaluation survey form were posted on the CDE Web site for public comment. Field review responses were received from more than 160 individuals, higher education faculty, county and district offices of education staff, classroom teachers, representatives from the publishing industry, and various education organizations. Public comment opportunities included a series of statewide videoconferences on the draft framework hosted by the California Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), a statewide association of educators that promotes exemplary practices related to curriculum, instruction and leadership.  From December 2004 through January 2005, the Mathematics SMC revised the draft framework to reflect field review results.

January 10, 2005–The Mathematics SMC approved revised drafts of Chapter 10 (Evaluation Criteria), Chapter 9 (Technology), and Appendix E (Intervention and Algebra Readiness). The revised drafts of these sections of the framework were posted on the CDE Web site prior to the January 28, 2005, Commission meeting.

January 28, 2005–The Commission conducted a public hearing and approved the draft Mathematics Framework for submission to the SBE.

March 2005–The draft framework is submitted to the SBE for public hearing and action; the draft framework is posted on the CDE Web site at If the SBE adopts this draft Mathematics Framework in March 2005, production and distribution will follow in late fall of 2005.

Highlights of Changes to the Draft Mathematics Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve

The framework serves as the basis for mathematics instruction in California public schools. The Mathematics Content Standards, contained in the framework and adopted by the SBE in 1997, remain unchanged, as do other sections of the framework (e.g., Chapters 1, 4, 7, and 8). However, the following sections of the draft framework were changed:

— Chapter 2 (Mathematics Content Standards). Mathematical errors corrected, plus new or revised sample problems added.

— Chapter 3 (Grade-Level Considerations). Additional explanation and clarification in some grades (including grades 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6).

— Chapter 5 (Assessment). Updated testing information.

— Chapter 6 (Universal Access). Added guidance on 504 accommodation plans and Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

— Chapter 9 (Technology). Updated research references.

— Chapter 10 (Criteria for Evaluating Mathematics Instructional Materials). Revised to allow for adoption submission and review of three program types in 2007 (Basic K-8; Intervention Materials, grades 4-7; Algebra Readiness Materials, grade 8 and above).

— Appendix A (Sample Instructional Profile). Revised for clarity.

— NEW – Appendix F (Design Principles). Provides guidelines for publishers to use in creating materials that will allow access for all students.

— NEW – Appendix E (Mathematics Intervention and Algebra Readiness Instructional Materials). Defines two types of specialized instructional mathematics materials for students having difficulty achieving at grade levelÉ

(3) March State Board of Education Meeting: 2005 Follow-Up Adoption of Instructional Materials for Mathematics–Appointment of Instructional Materials Advisory Panel (IMAP) members and Content Review Panel (CRP) experts

Source: California State Board of Education


(March 10) Agenda Item #23–Recommendation: Approve Instructional Materials Advisory Panel (IMAP) members and Content Review Panel (CRP) members.


In November 2004, following SBE action establishing the Schedule of Significant Events for the 2005 Follow-Up Adoptions, applications were sent to IMAP (Instructional Materials Advisory Panel) and CRP (Content Review Panel) members who previously served as reviewers for the 2001 Mathematics Adoption, the 2002 RLA/ELD Adoption, and the 2003 Foreign Language Adoption. In addition, copies of the applications were placed on the CDE Web site for the recruitment of new applicants for these panels.

The Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission met December 2-3, 2004. No applications for the follow-up adoptions had been received as of December 2, 2004. The Commission Chair and the Chairs of the three Subject Matter Committees (SMC) were designated to review applications of those IMAP and CRP candidates who had served during the primary adoptions and forward the recommendations to the SBE for consideration at its January 11-12, 2005, meeting. However, due to the full SBE schedule in January, an item was not presented at that time.

The full Commission reviewed the submitted applications from the IMAP/CRP applicants at its January 26-28, 2005, meeting. The Commission voted to recommend for appointment É eight CRP and 13 IMAP applicants for mathematics; five CRP and 21 IMAP applicants for reading/language arts/English language development; and one CRP and one IMAP applicant for foreign language…

Estimated Number of Panels

The number of actual submissions will not be known until late February 2005. Information based on a preliminary publishersÕ survey indicates that we will need three to four panels for RLA/ELD, two for mathematics, and one for foreign language. Based on these estimates, we need approximately twenty-eight RLA/ELD IMAP members, and six CRP members. For mathematics, we need twelve IMAP members, and four CRP members. For foreign language, we need at least six IMAP members, and one CRP memberÉ

[See for a summary of the 16 applicants for the Math IMAP. See for a summary of the 8 applicants for the Math CRP.]

(4) “High School Exit Exam Comes Under Fire Again” by Jim Sanders

Source:  Modesto Bee – 4 March 2005


With the moment of truth fast approaching for California students, a high-powered drive has begun in the Legislature to delay or eliminate tying high school graduation to passage of a controversial exit examination.

Beginning with the class of 2006, state law requires high schools to deny diplomas to any student who doesn’t pass a mathematics and English test, a consequence that was delayed two years ago to give schools more time to prepare.

Two new bills, proposed by Democrats, take separate approaches to the issue. But both question the fairness of the exit examination and neither would allow imposition of high-stakes consequences next year.

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata of Oakland and Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg of Los Angeles, chairwoman of the Assembly Education Committee, are among legislators who support some type of intervention on behalf of 12th-graders who fail the test next year.

Perata and Goldberg argue that some campuses have been shortchanging children for years, providing inadequate instruction or textbooks. To deny diplomas to students at deficient schools would essentially victimize them twice, they contend.

“A test is a very cheap way to get by,” Perata said. “We don’t invest enough money in our educational system. We don’t provide enough resources. We’ve only recently begun to align curriculum with the test. And all of a sudden the test becomes sacred?”

Perata predicted that the Senate will pass an intervention measure. Gov. Schwarzenegger supports the high-stakes exam, which requires graduates to know math at about the seventh-grade level and English language arts at roughly the 10th-grade level.

Hold Schools Accountable

Richard Riordan, Schwarzenegger’s secretary for education, declined to comment specifically on the pending legislation, but said it’s “high time” to hold schools accountable for failure.

“I’m not blaming the kids on this,” he said. “I’m just saying that the kids ought to know (when) they don’t have the tools to compete adequately in life. Their parents ought to know, and they ought to be damn mad about it.”

Public hearings have not been held on the pending legislation–Senate Bill 517 by Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, and Assembly Bill 1531 by Assemblywoman Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles. Both proposals are loosely worded, expressing intent but anticipating substantial amendments.

Romero’s bill would delay imposition of high stakes for the exit exam until the state provides “adequate resources” for public schools and the exit exam is deemed by independent experts to meet “ethical standards.”

SB 517 also would require the state to receive and consider recommendations by the Quality Education Commission, created by the Legislature in 2002 to determine the cost of adequately educating students. The commission has never met because Schwarzenegger has appointed no members.

AB 1531 is meant to permanently eliminate the test’s high-stakes consequences, not merely delay them. She wants diplomas to be based on “multiple measures,” not a single test score.

AB 1531 would not specify additional graduation criteria, but would ask the state Board of Education to make recommendations by February.

Stakes May Cause Anxiety

Bass said some students who fail the exit exam may simply suffer from test anxiety. An all-or-nothing exam disregards other measures of student achievement, such as passing courses or completing research projects, she said.

“With the high school exit exam, you go through 12 years of classes and everything rests on that one thing,” Bass said.

When all members of the class of 2006 took the test early last year, 75 percent passed both sections.

The numbers were lower, however, for English learners and for African-American and Latino students.

State schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell, a Democrat and former senator who proposed the exit exam in 1999, does not favor weakening its stakes, except perhaps for students with disabilities.

“I think we’ve given students ample notification, ample opportunity to learn,” he said. “We’ve postponed it once already. I think to do so again would send the wrong signal to schools.”

Supporters of the exit exam note that students begin taking the test in the 10th grade, so they have plenty of time to improve their weaknesses and get a passing score before graduation.

But Goldberg, chairwoman of the Assembly Education Committee, asked, “Whose fault is it that a kid can’t pass an exit exam? I want to hold the adults accountable first.”

Romero said the test’s high stakes could have serious unintended consequences, creating a permanent underclass of students–largely minority or disadvantaged–who have no diploma and little hope for the future.

“It may sound like a tough-on-education measure,” she said of the exit exam. “But it’s not very smart in the long run.”

The California Teachers Association declined comment, pending analysis of the bills.

Bob Wells, executive director of the Association of California School Administrators, said his group is concerned about the number of students who might fail the exit exam next year, but that “another delay would be deadly” for schools.

“We think the more appropriate thing is to leave the high stakes in place, but probably come up with an alternative certificate–a certificate of completion or something” that would give credit to students who pass their classes but fail the test, Wells said.


(1) NGA Center, Foundations to Play Large Role in High School Summit Follow-Up

Source: National Governors Association (NGA)


At the close of the National Education Summit on High Schools on February 27th, the NGA (National Governors Association) Center for Best Practices and six partner foundations announced a $42 million initiative to translate summit discussions to action. Forty-five governors joined educators and business leaders for the two-day summit to address the nation’s alarming dropout rates and the fact that most students leave high school without the skills necessary for success in college or the workplace.

The six foundations joining forces to support state efforts are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Wallace Foundation, The Prudential Foundation and the State Farm Foundation. The six foundations committed $23 million to help states create and implement policy strategies designed to improve graduation and college-readiness rates. A portion of the funding requires a one-to-one match from state grant recipients, bringing the total to $42 million.

Funds will be distributed by the NGA Center for Best Practices through a competitive grant process open to all states. An RFP will be released in April and grant awards will be announced at NGA’s annual meeting in Des Moines, Iowa this July.

The summit’s action agenda outlined key state-level reforms aimed at preparing students for college and the workplace. They include aligning high school graduation requirements with college-readiness standards; helping low-performing schools and students; increasing the number of high-quality teachers and principals; collecting data to better measure progress; strengthening accountability for high schools and colleges; and integrating K-12 and postsecondary education. To supplement the action agenda, on March 2, the NGA Center for Best Practices released, “Getting it Done: Ten Steps to a State Action Agenda,” which offers Governors practical information for implementing the 10 recommendations for relatively inexpensive, short-term high school improvement efforts.

The 2005 National Education Summit on High Schools was sponsored by NGA and Achieve, Inc. in partnership with the Business Roundtable, the James B. Hunt Institute and the Education Commission of the States.

Related Links:

*  Chairman’s Initiative homepage:,2441,7895,00.html

*  Getting it Done: Ten Steps to a State Action Agenda:,1188,C_ISSUE_BRIEF^D_7990,00.html

*  Getting it Done: Ten Steps to a State Action Agenda: A Guidebook of Promising State and Local Practices:,1188,C_ISSUE_BRIEF^D_8033,00.html

*  NGA Press Release:,1169,C_PRESS_RELEASE^D_8030,00.html


(2) Prepared Remarks by Bill Gates, Keynote Speaker for the National Education Summit on High Schools on 26 February 2005

Source: National Governors Association (NGA)


ÉIf there is one single issue worth your focused attention, it is the state of AmericaÕs high schoolsÉ

Everything Melinda and I do through our foundation is designed to advance equity. Around the world, we believe we can do the most by investing in health–especially in the poorest countries.

Here in America, we believe we can do the most to promote equity through education. A few years ago, when Melinda and I really began to explore opportunities in philanthropy, we heard very compelling stories and statistics about how financial barriers kept minority students from taking their talents to college and making the most of their lives.

That led to one of the largest projects of our foundation. We created the Gates Millennium Scholars program to ensure that talent and energy meet with opportunity for thousands of promising minority students who want to go to college.

Many of our Scholars come from tough backgrounds, and they could bring you to tears with their hopeful plans for the future. They reinforced our belief that higher education is the best possible path for promoting equality and improving lives here in America.

Yet the more we looked at the data, the more we came to see that there is more than one barrier to college. ThereÕs the barrier of being able to pay for college; and thereÕs the barrier of being prepared for it.

When we looked at the millions of students that our high schools are not preparing for higher education–and we looked at the damaging impact that has on their lives–we came to a painful conclusion:

AmericaÕs high schools are obsolete.

By obsolete, I donÕt just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed, and under-funded–though a case could be made for every one of those points.

By obsolete, I mean that our high schools–even when theyÕre working exactly as designed–cannot teach our kids what they need to know today. Training the workforce of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about todayÕs computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. ItÕs the wrong tool for the times.

Our high schools were designed fifty years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting–even ruining–the lives of millions of Americans every yearÉ

It can be helped. We designed these high schools; we can redesign them.

But first we have to understand that todayÕs high schools are not the cause of the problem; they are the result. The key problem is political will. Elected officials have not yet done away with the idea underlying the old design. The idea behind the old design was that you could train an adequate workforce by sending only a third of your kids to college–and that the other kids either couldnÕt do college work or didnÕt need to. The idea behind the new design is that all students can do rigorous work, and–for their sake and ours–they have toÉ.

The basic building blocks of better high schools:

— The first R is Rigor–making sure all students are given a challenging curriculum that prepares them for college or work;

— The second R is Relevance–making sure kids have courses and projects that clearly relate to their lives and their goals;

— The third R is Relationships–making sure kids have a number of adults who know them, look out for them, and push them to achieveÉ

You have to be able to make systems of schools work for all students. For this, we believe we need stable and effective governance. We need equitable school choice. We need performance-oriented employment agreements. And we need the capacity to intervene in low-performing schoolsÉ

If we keep the system as it is, millions of children will never get a chance to fulfill their promise because of their zip code, their skin color, or the income of their parents.

That is offensive to our values, and itÕs an insult to who we are.

Every kid can graduate ready for college. Every kid should have the chance.

LetÕs redesign our schools to make it happen.