COMET • Vol. 7, No. 20 – 4 June 2006

This is the final issue of COMET for the 2005-2006 academic year. Production of COMET will resume in August following the summer recess. Access the COMET archives to revisit articles that you may not have had time to read carefully during the past academic year. Also, please let me know if you would like to change the address to which COMET is being sent. May you have an interesting and reinvigorating summer!  ~ CFB


 (1) California 2006 Primary Election Information

Source: California Voter Foundation

The California Online Voter Guide is an award-winning clearinghouse of election information and web site links produced by the California Voter Foundation (CVF) for every statewide election since 1994… The 2006 guide provides nonpartisan information on the statewide propositions and all of the congressional, legislative, and statewide constitutional office candidates in this election.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6, 2006. Across the state, voters will choose candidates in 8 statewide Constitutional Office races, one U.S. Senate race, 53 contests for the House of Representatives, and 100 state legislative contests (including 80 State Assembly and 20 State Senate races).

Also on the ballot are 2 statewide propositions (ballot measures): Proposition 81 is a public library bond act placed on the ballot by the legislature, and Proposition 82 is a public preschool funding initiative. Propositions require a simple majority to pass. Information about each of these propositions is found in the Official Voter Information Guide from the State of California (, as well as at

(2) State Superintendent Provides Update on the High School Exit Exam and on his Legislative Agenda

Source: California Department of Education

Last Tuesday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell discussed the status of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) and efforts to help students who have yet to pass the exam.

“I am pleased the Exit Exam remains a graduation requirement so that a diploma from a California public high school means that students have mastered essential skills in English and math,” O’Connell said. “With the reinstatement of the Exit Exam requirement, the state Supreme Court has brought needed certainty to our schools. Graduation ceremonies can proceed as planned before this exam was challenged in court.

“Later this summer, we look forward to arguing the merits of the exam before the Court of Appeal. I am confident that the Exit Exam will remain in effect for the Class of 2006, the Class of 2007, and beyond because the exam is helping create a better future for our students and our state.”

O’Connell discussed with local school officials options for students in the Class of 2006 who have not yet passed the Exit Exam. He also provided an update on the status of legislation he is sponsoring to expand options for students struggling to master the skills measured by the exam. O’Connell is also sponsoring bills to increase school accountability, to close the achievement gap, and expand programs to better train and support teachers and school leaders. His legislative package cleared key hurdles in the Legislative process with Appropriations Committees in the Senate and Assembly approving nearly every O’Connell-sponsored bill.

Visit the above Web site to view descriptions of the package of education bills that O’Connell is supporting.

(3) Legislation Tracked by the California Science Teachers Association


The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) tracks legislation of interest to educators (particularly K-12 science teachers) on its Web site.  Currently-tracked bills include those pertaining to teacher professional development, hands-on science, and textbook adoption. The Web page above contains a chart summarizing these bills (with links to the full text and bill history), bill status, and supporters.

(4) Reminder:  Consider Applying to Serve on a Mathematics Textbook Adoption Panel

Source: Mary Sprague (916-319-0172;

Summer may provide you with the time necessary to complete the application materials to serve on a panel for the 2007 K-8 mathematics instructional materials adoption. Applications are available online for service on an Instructional Materials Advisory Panel (IMAP) or a Content Review Panel (CRP).

IMAP applications (for teachers and mathematics educators) are available online at

CRP applications (for mathematicians) are available online at

Download the appropriate form and submit the completed application by 6 September 2006.

(5) Online Newsletters for Teachers are Available from the California Department of Education


The California Department of Education offers free online newsletters for teachers at all levels.  These publications provide “news for educational leaders highlighting issues, research, and resources pertinent to elementary, middle grades, and high schools.”

The “Elementary Education Newsletter” is a seasonal, topical newsletter for PreK-6 teachers. Issues are available online at

“The primary intent of [‘Middle Grades Spotlight’] is to illuminate the recommendations in ‘Taking Center Stage: A Commitment to Standards-Based Education for California’s Middle Grade Students.’ The objective is to highlight issues, research, and resources pertinent to middle grades; focus on best practices and strategies of middle schools; and showcase schools that are working toward a center stage position as high performers.” Issues are available at

The primary objective of “High School!” is the same as “Middle Grades Spotlight,” but with a high school focus. Issues are available at  Subscription information is also available at this Web site.

(6) Statewide Assessment of Career Technical Education Systems Survey

Source: California Department of Education
URL (Survey):

In preparation for California’s 2006 Carl D. Perkins Plan, the California Department of Education and the California Community College Chancellor’s Office contracted with WestEd to conduct a statewide needs assessment of California’s career-technical education (CTE) programs, also known as vocational or occupational education programs. The purpose of the needs assessment is to identify needed system improvements to inform future planning.

If you are a secondary or post-secondary educator (working at a school/college or at a district office or a county office of education), you are encouraged to take a short online survey available at the above Web site. The survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. All data will remain confidential. Only summary data will be reported, eliminating the possibility of identifying an individual’s survey responses.

The survey is available through July 15, 2006. The login information for the survey is as follows:

Login: cteneeds

Password: cteneeds

For more information about the survey, please contact Kerry Headington, WestEd at (415) 615-3225 or at

(7) “Modernizing the Functions of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing”

Source: Duarte M. Silva, Executive Director, California Foreign Language Project (Stanford University) via Susie Hakansson, Executive Director, California Mathematics Project

On April 27, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released a report entitled “Modernizing the Functions of the Commission on Teacher Credentialing [CTC].” As Duarte Silva writes, this report “proposes a major restructuring or elimination of CTC with the majority of the responsibility for credentialing and its related functions going to CDE [California Department of Education] and SBE [State Board of Education].”

From the report:  “State law establishes the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and entrusts it with accrediting teacher preparation programs, credentialing teachers, and monitoring teacher conduct.  In this report, we describe each of these three teacher-quality functions, identify related shortcomings, and propose various recommendations for overcoming them.  The recommendations seek to simplify existing teacher-quality processes, reduce redundancies, strengthen accountability, and foster greater coherence among education reforms. Taken as a package, these recommendations would improve how the state ensures teacher quality and eliminate CTC.”


(1) Mathematics Genealogy Project

Contact: Harry B. Coonce,

The goal of the Mathematics Genealogy Project is to compile information about all of the mathematicians in the world and make the information available online. Nearly 97,000 mathematicians’ names are currently included in a searchable database available at Also included for each entry are the mathematician’s dissertation title and advisor (“parent”), doctorate-granting institution, and the names of the mathematician’s own graduate students (“descendants”).

The managing director of the Mathematics Genealogy Project is Harry B. Coonce, who notes that “we are trying to help trace the intellectual history of our subject.”  Dr. Coonce requests that the following information be sent to him (email address above) for any Ph.D. mathematician not currently included in the list (or for whom there is an incomplete or inaccurate entry):

* The complete name of the degree recipient

* The name of the university that awarded the doctorate

* The year in which the degree was awarded

* The complete title of the dissertation

* The complete name(s) of the advisor(s)

(2) Sir Roger Penrose — Web Videos of Lectures on Black Holes and Twistor Theory

Source: Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI)

British mathematician Sir Roger Penrose worked with Stephen Hawking and calculated many of the features of black holes. He is the author of The Emperor’s New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics and The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe, as well as number of other books.  In March, he lectured at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. QuickTime videos of these presentations (“Before the Big Bang” and “Twistor Theory, Old and New”), along with his lecture notes, can be found at

(3) National Mathematics Advisory Panel Updates

Source: U.S. Department of Education

Follow the progress of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel at the above Web site. The following links are provided at this site:

About the Panel — Background, panel members, charter, fact sheets, photographs [includes photos from last month’s initial meeting]

Meetings — Remarks, transcripts, meeting materials

Public Comment — Questions, comments

You are encouraged to submit your thoughts to the Panel at

(4) “The State of Science Education”–Webcast Transcript

Source: Education Week – 25 May 2006

Last Thursday, Sean Cavanagh (staff writer for Education Week) and Michael Padilla (President of the National Science Teachers Association) participated in an online chat for Education Week. The topic of this chat was “The State of Science Education” and focused largely on the just-released results of the NAEP science assessment and the implications for improving science education. A transcript of this far-ranging interview is available at the above Web site.

(5) Comparing Mathematics Content in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2003 Assessments

Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) via Patsy Wang-Iverson

This report [which was released online last week] describes a study that was undertaken to compare the content of three mathematics assessments conducted in 2003: the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) fourth- and eighth-grade assessments; the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), which also assessed mathematics at the fourth- and eighth-grade levels; and the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which assessed the mathematical literacy of 15-year-old students. The report’s aim is to provide information that will be useful for interpreting and comparing the results from the three assessments, based on an in-depth look at the content of the respective frameworks and assessment items. It draws upon information provided by the developers of the assessments, as well as data obtained from an expert panel convened to compare the frameworks and items from the three assessments on various dimensions.

The entire report is available for download as a PDF file at