COMET • Vol. 7, No. 17 – 12 May 2006


(1) CCTC Seeks Single Subject Program Reviewers

Source: Helen Hawley-Kelley, California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) –

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is scheduling 2-day training meetings in Sacramento for new single subject program reviewers this month and during June (dates TBA). Reviewers are needed for the following subjects: math, science, social science, art, music, languages other than English (Spanish, Japanese, French, German, and Latin), and physical education. Reviewers in mathematics are especially needed.

Minimum qualifications for reviewers are an academic degree and teaching experience (K-16) in the subject matter area. Attendees must participate in both full days of the meeting to complete the review training. Travel and per diem expenses will be reimbursed. Please complete a nomination form (links below) or contact Helen Hawley-Kelley ( as soon as possible, for space is limited.

Download the nomination form from  or

(2) O’Connell Congratulates Two Californians Named By President as Among Nation’s Top Math and Science Teachers

Source: California Department of Education

Last Friday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell congratulated two California teachers who were honored last week in Washington, D.C. along with 108 other educators who were named by President Bush as the nation’s top secondary mathematics and science teachers for 2005.

Caleb Cheung and Margaret Cagle were selected as finalists by O’Connell last summer for the honor as part of the prestigious Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“Mr. Cheung’s and Ms. Cagle’s enthusiasm and innovative teaching methods are precisely what California students need to help them meet our high academic standards,” said O’Connell.  “They serve as models to emulate, because they have made education compelling and relevant at a time when California is challenging students with more difficult coursework to prepare them for jobs or college.”

Caleb Cheung is California’s 2005 Science Awardee.  He lives in Oakland and teaches seventh grade life science at Frick Middle School in the Oakland Unified School District. He also chairs the school’s science department.  Cheung mentors other science teachers and plans special science activities for students and their families. He earned his National Board Certification in 2000.

“Mr. Cheung believes in helping his students develop a curiosity and love for science that will carry them through their studies in school and beyond,” said O’Connell.  “These are the kinds of gateway skills students need to acquire for more sophisticated and analytical thinking they will need to sustain their career or acquire a higher education.”

Margaret Cagle is California’s 2005 Mathematics Awardee.  She lives in Woodland Hills and teaches eighth grade honors algebra, geometry, and French at Lawrence Gifted/Highly Gifted Magnet in the Los Angeles Unified School District.  Cagle was originally trained as an architect then became an educator after learning there was a critical shortage of math teachers. She earned her National Board Certification in 1999.

“Ms. Cagle has an interesting way of teaching. She has her students take notes in ink rather than pencil and has them correct their notes in a different color ink,” said O’Connell.  “This helps students embrace the inherent beauty and messiness of learning, while creating a permanent record of their thought processes and building their analytical skills.”

For more on PAEMST, including a photograph and complete listing of this year’s awardees plus information about the nomination and application process, please visit


(1) National Mathematics Advisory Panel Update

Source: Tyrrell Flawn, Executive Director, National Mathematics Advisory Panel – (202) 260-8354
URL (May 22 meeting):

The members of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel will be announced on Monday, May 15. Shortly thereafter, their names and biographical information will be posted on the Panel’s Web site:  Information about the Panel’s progress will also be posted on this site as it becomes available.


The National Mathematics Advisory Panel will hold its first meeting on Monday, May 22, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington, DC.

The meeting agenda will include introduction of all the members and a background briefing on the operation of the Panel. In addition, the Panel will discuss plans for upcoming meetings and the work of the Panel…

Individuals interested in attending the meeting must register in advance due to limited space. Please contact Tyrrell Flawn at (202) 260-8354 or by e-mail at

Opportunities for public comment are available through the National Math Panel Web site at

As reported earlier in COMET, the purpose of the Panel is “to foster greater knowledge of and improved performance in mathematics among American students, in order to keep America competitive, support American talent and creativity, encourage innovation throughout the American economy and help State, local, territorial, and tribal governments give the nation’s children and youth the education they need to succeed.

“The Panel will submit to the President, through the Secretary, a preliminary report not later than January 31, 2007, and a final report not later than February 28, 2008. Both reports shall, at a minimum, contain recommendations, based on the best available scientific evidence, on the following:

(a) The critical skills and skill progressions for students to acquire competence in algebra and readiness for higher levels of mathematics;

(b) the role and appropriate design of standards and assessment in promoting mathematical competence;

(c) the process by which students of various abilities and backgrounds learn mathematics;

(d) instructional practices, programs, and materials that are effective for improving mathematics learning;

(e) the training, selection, placement, and professional development of teachers of mathematics in order to enhance students’ learning of mathematics;

(f) the role and appropriate design of systems for delivering instruction in mathematics that combine the different elements of learning processes, curricula, instruction, teacher training and support, and standards, assessments, and accountability;

(g) needs for research in support of mathematics education;

(h) ideas for strengthening capabilities to teach children and youth basic mathematics, geometry, algebra, and calculus and other mathematical disciplines;

(i) such other matters relating to mathematics education as the Panel deems appropriate; and

(j) such other matters relating to mathematics education as the Secretary may require.”

(2) U.S. Department of Education Announces New Academic Grants for Students

Source: U.S. Department of Education

High school seniors may now be eligible for new Academic Competitiveness grants, and college students may be eligible for new National SMART Grants for the 2006-07 academic year, the U.S. Department of Education has announced. Students who complete rigorous coursework in high school or who are pursuing degrees in math, science and critical foreign languages are eligible for a portion of $790 million in new federal funding for higher education.

Academic Competitiveness Grants

Under the Academic Competitiveness Grants program, grants will be available to students in their first and second years of college. Congress has established that an eligible first-year student may receive up to $750 and eligible second-year students may receive up to $1,300. In order to be eligible, students must have completed a rigorous secondary school program of study and be enrolled in or accepted at a two- or four-year degree-granting institution of higher education.

For the 2006-07 academic year, the Department will immediately recognize four options for demonstrating successful completion of a rigorous program of study:

* Advanced or honors diplomas conferred by States;

* State Scholars Initiative requirements;

* A set of courses similar to those under the State Scholars Initiative (four years of English, three years of math, three years of science, three years of social studies, and one year of a foreign language); or

* Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses and scores (two AP or IB courses and passing scores on the exams for those courses).

National SMART Grants

Under the National SMART Grants program, up to $4000 will be available to eligible students in the third and fourth years of college and pursuing a major in mathematics, physical sciences, life sciences, computer sciences, technology, engineering, or a critical-need foreign language. Students must have a cumulative 3.0 college GPA. Federal guidelines provide students and institutions of higher education with information about which eligible postsecondary majors will qualify students for grants.

* Guidelines are posted on the Federal Student Aid website:

* A list of eligible majors is posted at

More information is available at

(3) NSF Academies for Young Scientists (NSFAYS)–Program Solicitation

Source: National Science Foundation, Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) seeks to support NSF Academies for Young Scientists (NSFAYS) projects that will create, implement, evaluate, and disseminate effective models to attract K-8 students to, prepare them for, and retain them in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, leading to an increase in the pool of students continuing in STEM coursework in high school and considering careers in STEM fields.

Models must be built on sustainable partnerships of formal and informal education providers, business/industry, and Colleges of Education. The Foundation solicits highly innovative projects that expose students to innovative out-of-school time (OST) learning experiences that demonstrate effective synergies with in-school curricula, and take full advantage of the special attributes of each educational setting in synergistic ways.

Projects should structure highly motivational experiences for students while providing essential STEM preparation. Professional development for classroom teachers and OST education providers will be critical to the success of NSFAYS Projects. The portfolio of NSFAYS Projects is intended to explore a variety of implementation models in urban, rural and suburban settings representing diverse student populations. This portfolio of projects, taken as a whole, should inform NSF and the broader educational community of what works and what does not, for whom, in what settings. One NSFAYS Research and Evaluation Center will be funded to provide research and evaluation support for the NSFAYS program. It is anticipated that the Center will synthesize research emerging from the funded NSFAYS Projects and have responsibility for national dissemination of program models, findings, and best practices.

* Letter of Intent Due Date (required): May 31, 2006

* Full Proposal Deadline: June 30, 2006

* Estimated Number of Awards: 17 to 19 – including 16 to 18 NSFAYS Projects (maximum funding $800,000 each) and one NSFAYS Research and Evaluation Center (maximum funding of $1,400,000).

For more information, visit

(4) Science Committee Members Introduce Bills to Improve Education and Research for Competitiveness

Source: House Committee on Science

House Science Committee Members introduced three bills yesterday that will strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness by improving math and science education and research.

The bills would strengthen and expand existing K-12 and undergraduate education programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE) and would strengthen and expand programs at those two agencies that fund innovative research by new faculty.

The three bills, which have been endorsed by a wide range of business, education, science and engineering groups, are as follows: (a) the Science and Mathematics Education for Competitiveness Act, sponsored by Rep. Joe Schwarz (R-MI); (b) the Early Career Research Act, sponsored by Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-TX); and (c) the Research for Competitiveness Act, also sponsored by Rep. McCaul…

“Our nation is facing a true crisis of competitiveness,” Rep. Schwarz said. “Our workforce is not dominant in the global economy. Our primary and secondary schools are lagging behind the rest of the world. Countries like China and India are graduating millions more math, science, and engineering students than the United States. We cannot afford to sit idly by or we face a realistic chance of a decline in our standard of living.

“Part of the solution to this problem is improving our education system. We need highly qualified individuals teaching our students at all levels, especially in the fields of math, science, and engineering. This legislation will provide the financial incentive to create this necessary teacher workforce, and get our nation back on track to being the technological leader in the global economy.”

Rep. McCaul said, “Nothing less than America’s strong-hold in the global IT (information technology) marketplace is at stake.  These two bills put the support and resources in place to give our nation’s brightest minds the opportunities to bring their innovations to industry and build and develop their skills to help America maintain its high-tech workforce and its foothold as the world’s top technology leader.”

Chairman Boehlert said, “As a nation, we must do everything possible to remain competitive, and that starts with ensuring that we have the best scientists and engineers in the world. That won’t be the case if we don’t invest more and more wisely in attracting the best teachers, in teacher training, in improving undergraduate education, and in funding bright, young researchers with the most creative ideas. These bills, following the lead of the ‘Gathering Storm’ and related reports, are designed to achieve all of those goals. Along with the spending increases called for in the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative, these bills will help secure the nation’s future prosperity”…

The Science and Mathematics Education for Competitiveness Act reflects testimony the Committee received at a recent series of hearings on education. The Act particularly emphasizes the importance of bolstering undergraduate math and science education programs, which witnesses at a March 15 Research Subcommittee hearing cited as a key to increasing the American technological workforce, improving overall science literacy, and especially strengthening K-12 math and science education by improving teacher training in those fields.

Specifically, the bill would:

* Strengthen and expand the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program at NSF, created by legislation the Committee passed in 2002, which provides scholarships to students majoring in STEM fields who commit to teaching after graduation;

* Strengthen and focus the Math and Science Partnership Program at NSF, also created by legislation the Committee passed in 2002, to fund teacher training to improve math and science instruction at the elementary and secondary levels;

* Extend the authorization of and expand NSF’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP), also created by legislation the Committee passed in 2002, which provides grants to colleges and universities to increase the number of students majoring in STEM fields;

* Ensure that funding for the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program grows as NSF’s budget increases. IGERT supports graduate students in cutting-edge interdisciplinary fields;

* Establish a program to fund Centers for Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering at NSF to improve the quality of teaching and curricula in undergraduate classes in STEM fields;

* Authorize education programs at the Department of Energy, and require DOE to inventory and evaluate its education programs.

(5) Mathematical Imagery

Source: Math Forum Internet News – 12 May 2006
URL (Radical Math):

“A mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas,” wrote mathematician G.H. Hardy in A Mathematician’s Apology.

Mathematics and art come together on the American Mathematical Society’s new webpage, Mathematical Imagery. The site includes albums of math-inspired and mathematically-generated works which may be sent as e-postcards, links to online galleries and museums, and links to other resources about mathematics and art.

(6) Special Programs for Teachers at Office Supply Stores

URL (Office Depot):

URL (Office Max):

URL (Staples):

Office Depot, Office Max, and Staples all offer shopping incentive programs for teachers (including college/university professors).

Office Depot’s Star Teacher Program:  Teachers receive an instant 5% savings on all purchases (10% savings on Copy Center purchases).  During the year, teachers receive notification of special discounts and promotions. For example, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week, so teachers receive an additional 5% discount on all purchases (15% in the Copy Center and 10% on other purchases) through Saturday, May 13.

MaxPerks for Teachers: For every $75 spent, teachers can earn $10 in MaxPerks rewards (payable each quarter), up to a maximum of $100 per year. Teachers can also receive 15% off the price of photocopies.

Staples Teacher Rewards Program:  Teachers can earn 2% back in rewards (up to $15) when they spend at least $200 for purchases in a quarter. From July 15 to September 15 and from December 15 to January 15, every $1 spent counts as $2 toward earning rewards. In addition, every $1 spent on featured quarterly products counts as $2 toward earning rewards. Further, teachers receive free delivery on telephone and online orders. Visit the Web site above for more information about this program.