COMET • Vol. 7, No. 29 – 28 October 2006


(1) CSU and California Community Colleges Join Together to Boost Number of Math and Science Teachers

Source: The California State University (CSU) Office of Public Affairs

The California State University (CSU) and the California Community Colleges (CCC) have joined together in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at increasing the number of qualified math and science teachers and to establish clearer pathways for transfer to the CSU.

California faces a shortage of fully credentialed and qualified math and science teachers, and particularly teachers from diverse backgrounds that are represented in the K-12 student population. The MOU is part of a larger CSU initiative launched in 2004 to at least double the number of math and science teachers over the next five years to a minimum of 1,500 new teachers in these fields by 2009-2010.

“The community colleges are the largest source of transfer students for the CSU and it is vital that we partner together to help students transfer into teaching programs and complete the essential lower-division coursework,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “We want to provide the needed resources and support for students interested in teaching careers, particularly in the math and science fields where the need is the greatest.”

Chancellor Marshall (Mark) Drummond noted that California’s 109 community colleges enroll more than half of all freshmen college students in the state and the majority of students from underrepresented communities, as well as serve as feeder schools to all 23 CSU campuses. “Because of this fact, we’re in a unique position to coordinate our effort with CSU to increase the number of fully credentialed and qualified math and science teachers in California,” Chancellor Drummond said.

As part of the agreement, resources made available through recently enacted legislation (Senate Bill 70–Scott, Statutes of 2005) will be targeted to aligned programs. The CSU and the CCC will provide Web-based resources on recruiting, academic advising, and financial aid to transfer centers at the community colleges, with details on grants, scholarships, and loan programs available. Math and science faculty from both the CSU and the CCCs will be tasked with identifying a minimum of six units of lower-division coursework in math and science majors that focus on teacher preparation. In addition, CSU campuses will form a series of advisory groups in connection with teacher recruitment projects that include representatives from community colleges and CSU mathematics, science and education faculty to assist in the design of programs and courses for math and science transfer students.

In addition, the CCC and CSU math and science faculty will partner with local high school math and science instructors to align and integrate curriculum and field experiences, provide mentoring to students interested in entering the field and provide funding for community college students to serve as paid tutors to develop their K-12 teaching experience.


(2) Schools Chief Jack O’Connell Announces Final 
Exit Exam Results for the Class Of 2006 Senior Year

Source: California Department of Education

Last Thursday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced at Santa Monica High School that an additional 819 students in the Class of 2006 passed the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) administered in July, the last time the test was offered during the Class of 2006’s traditional senior year.

The Class of 2006 was the first graduating class required to pass the Exit Exam as a condition of graduation–91.4% have met the Exit Exam requirement by passing both the math and English-language arts (ELA) portion of the test. However, passage rates among African American students, Latino students, economically disadvantaged students, and those learning the English language are significantly lower (see below).

“With each administration of the Exit Exam, more students succeeded in mastering the critically essential skills in English and math that they must have to survive and thrive after high school,” O’Connell said. “While I am so proud of the students who have met this challenge, the results also continue to reflect the disturbing achievement gap that must be addressed. I’m convinced that the exam has actually helped poor and minority students by focusing extra attention on those students lacking the skills to pass the exam. If students are allowed to graduate without necessary skills, we all fail them.”

O’Connell urged students in the Class of 2006 who have not yet passed the Exit Exam not to give up on their education and encouraged them to attend community college, adult school, or continue as a senior for another year. He also urged districts and schools to continue to reach out to students in the Class of 2006 who still need to complete the CAHSEE requirement and help those students find an appropriate educational venue to continue their studies.


Below are the estimated percentages of Class of 2006 students in each of the major subgroups who passed the CAHSEE Mathematics / English Language Arts sections through July 2006:

Total: 93.9% (mathematics) / 94.3% (English language arts)

African American: 86.5% / 91.1%

Asian: 98.1% / 96.0%

Hispanic: 90.0% / 90.2%

White, Non-Hispanic: 98.0% / 98.6%

Economically Disadvantaged: 90.4% / 90.2%

b>English Learners: 86.1% / 81.2%



(1) Secretary Spellings Announces More Choices in Single Sex Education–Amended Regulations Give Communities More Flexibility to Offer Single Sex Schools and Classes

Source: U.S. Department of Education – 24 October 2006

Last Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced the release of final Title IX single-sex regulations that give communities more flexibility in offering additional choices to parents in the education of their children. The regulations give educators more flexibility, under Title IX, to offer single-sex classes, extracurricular activities and schools at the elementary and secondary education levels.

These new regulations amend existing regulations that implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 which prohibit sex discrimination in education programs or activities that receive federal funds. The final regulations were published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, October 25 and take effect November 24, 2006.

“Research shows that some students may learn better in single-sex education environments,” said Secretary Spellings. “The Department of Education is committed to giving communities more choices in how they go about offering varied learning environments to their students. These final regulations permit communities to establish single sex schools and classes as another means of meeting the needs of students. They also establish that enrollment in a single sex class should be a completely voluntary option for students and their families and they uphold the prohibitions against discrimination of Title IX. Every child should receive a high quality education in America and every school and district deserves the tools to provide it.”

Prior to today’s announcement, the Title IX regulations generally prohibited single-sex classes and extracurricular activities in public and private coeducational schools with very limited exceptions such as for physical education classes involving contact sports or sex education classes. Under the new regulations, public and private coeducational elementary and secondary schools may offer single-sex classes and activities.

Under this new exception, non-vocational single-sex classes are permitted and must be substantially related to the achievement of an important objective such as improving the educational achievement of students, providing diverse educational opportunities or meeting the particular, identified needs of students. If a single-sex class is provided, the important objective must be implemented in a manner that treats male and female students even-handedly.

In some cases, a substantially equal single sex class in the same subject may be required in addition to the required coeducational class. The new regulations also require that school districts and private schools conduct evaluations of their single-sex classes at least every two years to ensure their compliance with regulatory requirements.


(2) “Rags to Riches in U.S. Largely a Myth, Scholars Write” by Debra Viadero

Source: Education Week – 25 October 2006
URL (Report):

Among Americans’ most cherished beliefs is the idea that the United States is a land of opportunity, a place where all children have an equal shot at success regardless of the circumstances of their birth. A growing body of research suggests, however, that idea may be a myth.

Going from rags to riches in this country, some studies conducted over the past 10 to 15 years say, may be harder than it used to be. In fact, newer international studies suggest that children born into poor families in the United States have a smaller chance of rising out of poverty than their counterparts in many other industrialized nations.

Given those bleak assessments, some analysts say that education–perhaps now more than ever–is critical to breaking or perpetuating that intergenerational cycle.

“Education is the quintessential way in which people move beyond the circumstances of their birth,” said Isabel V. Sawhill, a senior fellow in economics at the Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington that is generally seen as centrist in its political orientation. “Yet when you look at education under a microscope, you discover it’s not as much of an opportunity-enhancing vehicle as many of us thought it was.”

Ms. Sawhill edited a volume of papers published by Brookings last month that explores education’s potential for increasing intergenerational mobility. Focusing public attention on that issue is particularly important now, she said, because statistics show that the income gap between America’s poorest and richest citizens has widened since the 1980s.

“Greater inequality means it takes longer for any income differences to disappear in subsequent generations,” Ms. Sawhill writes. “The United States could be in danger of creating a poverty trap at the bottom and an enclave of wealth at the top.”

Better Data

Experts differ, though, over how much social mobility has changed in the United States. Some contend opportunities to get ahead were more plentiful in the 19th century, when frontier land was still widely available. The Brookings scholars say opportunities to move forward–or fall behind–remained high for much of the next century but appeared to diminish in the 1980s.

Other scholars contend that the nation may never have been as open a society as it was believed to be.

“It’s just that now, researchers have gotten more interested in this, and they’ve gotten better data,” said Gary Solon, an economics professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “We don’t have good data from 100 years ago.”

There is more consensus around the idea that the United States has no unique claim, among nations, as a land of opportunity. Measured in terms of income, studies over the past two or three years have shown, the nation offers less opportunity for upward or downward mobility than Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and possibly Germany. In terms of occupational mobility, the United States remains around the middle of pack, according to the Brookings report.

A study released in January by the Institute for the Study of Labor, a research group based in Bonn, Germany, suggests one reason for the United States’ poor showing. While wealth begets wealth in most countries, the United States is different in that there is “stickiness” across generations at both ends of the income scale. Compared with other industrialized nations, such as the Scandinavian countries, relatively smaller proportions of poor American children ever rise out of poverty, those scholars say.

In the new Brookings volume, “Opportunity in America: The Role of Education,” the writers contend that opportunities to break those persistent economic cycles exist across the education spectrum–in preschool, in K-12 schools, and in higher education. The problem, though, is that education systems operate in some ways that can reinforce the gaps between the haves and have-nots.

During early childhood, for instance, children from wealthier families are still more likely than poor children to attend preschool, and more likely to attend a better-quality preschool, the Brookings authors say. That is true, they add, even though more than half of poor 3- and 4-year-olds now attend some form of preschool.

Likewise, school districts in poorer areas spend on average about the same per pupil as wealthier districts do, according to another essay.

Class Disparities

Yet disadvantaged children are more likely to attend elementary and secondary school in buildings with fewer certified or experienced teachers, less adequate facilities, and fewer Advanced Placement courses than is the case in the schools that more advantaged children attend. Children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are also more likely to drop out of school and rack up low test scores than their better-off peers, the volume points out.

At the postsecondary level, the scholars find, class disparities are widening even as college attendance rises. Nearly three-quarters of students enrolled in top-tier colleges and universities come from families in the highest socioeconomic group. Three percent are from the lowest group.

The Brookings scholars explore a variety of strategies for increasing intergenerational mobility. At the preschool level, they write, policymakers get stymied over whether to increase access to preschool for all children or to target more-intensive programs to disadvantaged children. A better idea, the authors say, is to do both.

“That way, you’re moving everybody up the ladder, and you’re moving the bottom of the ladder up more steps,” said W. Steven Barnett, who is the director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, N.J., and the co-author of the essay on early-childhood education.

After reviewing research on strategies for improving K-12 schools, Princeton University economist Cecelia E. Rouse and her co-author conclude that programs aimed at reducing class sizes and raising the quality of teachers in the schools that poor children attend may be a better bet than school choice programs or measures, such as the federal No Child Left Behind Act, that hold schools accountable for improving students’ test scores.

“We have a lot of theories in education, but not as much direct evidence,” Ms. Rouse said in an interview. “But we see larger gains with interventions, such as reducing class sizes, that are much more expensive.”

To even the playing field in higher education, policymakers have to pay attention to both preparing precollegiate students to be able to succeed and to increasing public financing of college tuition, argue Robert H. Haveman, a professor of economics and public affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Timothy M. Smeeding, a public-policy professor at Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y.

Colleges can also cut tuition costs, they say, by focusing on their core educational missions and letting others provide services such as room and board. They also call for funneling state aid for higher education directly to students, rather than to institutions.

Though education “may be the best escalator we’ve got,” said Christopher S. Jencks, a professor of social policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, such solutions to reducing social disparities also raise a lot of questions.

“How on earth would you imagine getting the best teachers to the most disadvantaged kids?” said Mr. Jencks, who was not part of the Brookings project. “I don’t know how far down that road we can get before there would be a revolt in the upper classes.”


(3) Census Bureau Data Underscore Value of College Degree

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Adults age 18 and older with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $51,554 in 2004, while those with a high school diploma earned $28,645, according to new tabulations released last Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Those without a high school diploma earned an average of $19,169.

The series of tables, “Educational Attainment in the United States: 2005” (, also showed advanced-degree holders made an average of $78,093.

Other highlights from the tables include the following:

— In 2005, 85% of all adults 25 years or older reported they had completed at least high school. More than one-quarter (28%) of adults age 25 years and older had attained at least a bachelor’s degree.

— High school graduation rates for women (ages 25 years and older) continued to exceed those of men, 85.4% and 84.9%, respectively. On the other hand, men had a greater proportion of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher (28.9% compared with 26.5% of women).

Non-Hispanic whites had the highest proportion of adults with a high school diploma or higher (90%), followed by Asians (88%), blacks (81$) and Hispanics (59%).

Utah, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire and Alaska continued to have the highest proportions of people 25 years and older with a high school diploma or higher (around 92%).

The District of Columbia had the highest proportion of people 25 years and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher (47%), followed closely by Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey.

Fourteen tables of data on educational trends are available in the report, and attainment levels are shown by characteristics such as age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, marital status, occupation, industry, nativity and period of entry, as well as metropolitan and nonmetropolitan residence. The tabulations also include data on earnings and educational attainment. Although the statistics provided are primarily at the national level, some data are shown for regions and states.

The data are from the 2005 Current Population Survey’s (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC). The ASEC is conducted in February, March and April at about 100,000 addresses nationwide.


(4) NSF Report Reveals Century of Doctoral Education Trends in the United States

Source: National Science Foundation – 10 October 2006

A new report released by the National Science Foundation (NSF) documents trends and patterns that reveal the rapid growth and changing demographics of doctoral education during the 20th century, especially over the last 25 years.

U.S. Doctorates in the 20th Century reveals many factors about who is educated and where. It also describes the complex changes taking place in the pursuit of doctoral degrees, many in new interdisciplinary fields. For example, relatively small Oberlin College in Ohio provided the baccalaureate origins of more science and engineering doctorates over an 80-year period (nearly 2,800) than the University of Nebraska, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Virginia Tech and the University of Iowa. Another example is that five of the eight leading doctorate-granting universities from 1920-1999 were Midwest-based, Big Ten schools. Prior to that period, the majority of doctorate-granting institutions were East Coast institutions.

“The report shows how much has changed in doctoral education in just 25 years,” says Susan T. Hill, director of the Doctorate Data Project in NSF’s Division of Science Resources Statistics. “For one thing, nearly two-thirds of all doctorates awarded in this country occurred in the last 25 years of the 20th century. Second, the United States has become an educator of the world, expanding its role in providing doctorates to foreign-born and U.S. students. Third, the U.S. system reveals a great flexibility in opening varied pathways for Ph.D. recipients into career opportunities both in and outside their fields. This has increased U.S. innovation, competitiveness and leadership in many fields.”

The report is based on the Survey of Earned Doctorates, which had a 95 percent response rate. Some of the report’s major findings include the following:

Changes in demographics

— Men received 73 percent of all doctorates awarded in the 20th century, but in the 1990s, women made significant gains, receiving over 40 percent of all doctorates.

— Foreign nationals held less than 10 percent of all doctorates before 1960 but received more than a third of all science and engineering (S&E) doctorates by 1999, and 17 percent of non-S&E doctorates.

New pathways to doctoral degrees

— Two-year colleges vastly increased their role in educating those who go on to pursue a Ph.D. In the century’s final 5 years, 1995-1999, one-fifth of all American Indians/Alaska Natives who received doctorates attended two-year colleges. One-sixth of all Hispanic Ph.D. recipients also reported having attended two-year colleges.

— From 1995-1999, almost a third of African-American Ph.D. recipients reported receiving an undergraduate degree from a Historically Black College or University (HBCU).

Increasing Indebtedness

— In 1999, for the first time, more than half of all graduating doctorates reported debt from their undergraduate and graduate education.

— In non-S&E fields, doctorates owing more than $20,000 from education loans quadrupled between the late 1980s and late 1990s. The corresponding percentage for science and engineering doctorates owing more than $20,000 was also significant, more than doubling during the same period.

“The report is an essential reference for understanding how the nation’s educational system evolved. It’s an indispensable starting point for those who plan the next steps we take in this remarkable enterprise,” Hill says. “The increasing reliance on loans to support doctoral study is a trend we should follow as students from lower income groups make decisions on whether or not to seek advanced degrees.”

U.S. Doctorates in the 20th Century was produced under an NSF contract with SRI International and authored by Lori Thurgood, Mary J. Golladay (NSF), and Susan T. Hill (NSF). NSF provided funding for the report, along with the National Institutes of Health, National Endowment for the Humanities, NASA, the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture.

To view the NSF report, U.S. Doctorates in the 20th Century, see


(5) Grant and Funding Information from the Public Education Network (PEN)


Public Education Network (PEN) is a national association of local education funds (LEFs) and individuals working to advance public school reform in low-income communities across our country.

This network of LEFs operates in 34 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, serving 11.5 million students (22 percent of America’s public school population) in 18,000 schools in more than 1,600 school districts in low-income areas. PEN’s international affiliates serve over 7,000,000 children in Mexico, Peru and the Philippines.

PEN seeks to build public demand and mobilize resources for quality public education for all children. PEN believes community engagement is the missing ingredient in school reform, and that the level of public involvement ultimately determines the quality of education provided by public schools.

On its Web site, PEN provides information on grants and other sources of funds available to teachers: