COMET • Vol. 7, No. 06 – 15 February 2006


(1) Update: 2007 K-8 Mathematics Instructional Materials Adoption

Source (Interview):  Suzanne Rios, Administrator, Instructional Resources Unit, California Department of Education – (916) 319-0665;

Teachers, curriculum coordinators, mathematics teacher educators, and others with knowledge and expertise in K-8 mathematics education are urged to submit an application to serve on an Instructional Materials Advisory Panel (IMAP) for the 2007 K-8 mathematics instructional materials adoption. Mathematicians are urged to consider service on a Content Review Panel (CRP). It is estimated that there will be 12 CRPs, each consisting of 2-3 panel members. Approximately 90 IMAP members will be needed to serve on a total of 12 IMAPs.

Teachers who have had experience teaching algebra and prealgebra courses are especially needed for service on an IMAP, as numerous submissions in these areas are anticipated. In addition, teachers who instruct students who are 1-2 years behind grade level will be needed to review intervention programs for grades 4-7. Teachers with experience teaching English Learners are also needed, as are those with strong computer skills, since a number of programs are expected to include a technology component.

IMAP and CRP application forms should be posted by early next week on the above Web site and will be due this summer. The Curriculum Commission will review the applications at its September meeting. Applications of those selected by the Commission will be forwarded to the State Board of Education for approval consideration at its November meeting.

Training for CRP and IMAP members will be held in Orange County on March 26-29, 2007. Panelists will review the materials selected for their particular panel (matching the members’ areas of expertise as much as possible), and deliberations will be held on July 16-19, again in Orange County. (Travel and hotel expenses will be reimbursed.)

Questions may be directed to Suzanne Rios (contact information above) or to Mary Sprague (; 916-319-0510).

(2) Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) Leadership Institute

URL (Conferences):

The Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project (MDTP) is an intersegmental educational project in California that develops, distributes, scores, and reports the results of tests that measure student readiness for mathematics courses from pre-algebra to calculus. MDTP provides scoring services for California’s precollegiate schools and precollegiate outreach programs. Funding from the California Academic Partnership Program (CAPP) supports providing MDTP materials and services without cost to California’s precollegiate schools.

MDTP is holding a leadership institute in August for middle and high school teachers who use MDTP materials. The institute’s four-day, intensive residential format provides excellent opportunities for collegial interaction and new learning about uses of MDTP for improving classroom instruction.

The institute begins with dinner on Sunday, August 13th, and continues through the morning of Thursday, August 17th. The institute includes an in-depth look at the structure and development of the MDTP tests and written response items, effective uses of MDTP materials in secondary schools and presentation skills.

This year, participants will stay on the UCLA campus at the Sunset Village Conference Center. Room and board is provided and travel will be reimbursed. Participants will also receive a $500 stipend. A speaker’s fee and travel expenses will be paid for any subsequent presentations given at MDTP’s request.

If you are an MDTP user, consider applying for this year’s institute. If you have any questions, please call or email Grace Chu at 310-825-8030 or email

(3) Raising the Floor: Progress and Setbacks in the Struggle for Quality Mathematics Education for All

Source: Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute will host a conference on 7-10 May 2006 entitled “Progress and Setbacks in the Struggle for Quality Mathematics Education for All.” This workshop is being organized by Deborah Ball, Herb Clemens, Carlos Cabana, Ruth Cossey, Bob Megginson, and Bob Moses.

Knowledge of mathematics in the technology and information age has been likened to reading literacy in the industrial age. In each case knowledge is the enabler, the ticket to full participation in society and to some measure of economic well-being. This conference will explore the historical and current challenges to quality and equity in the teaching and learning of mathematics, both in the U.S. and internationally. The exploration will feature case studies of successful and not-so-successful efforts, with the goal of learning together how to improve and refine that which works and correct that which doesn’t.

Visit the above Web site for more information or to register. The registration deadline is 1 May 2006. If you are applying for travel support, the funding deadline is 3 March 2006. (The funding section of the form follows the registration section).


(1) “U.S. Urged to Remain Tech Leader” by Jim Puzzanghera

Source:  San Jose Mercury News – 9 February 2006

A group of 142 prominent business, academic and political leaders–including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the president of Stanford University, and the heads of Intel, Cisco and Google–are urging the United States to take steps to remain the world’s leader in technological innovation.

On the heels of President Bush’s proposed American Competitiveness Initiative, the bipartisan group made its plea for increased funding for basic research and math and science education in large ads [February 8] in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, said Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, who helped organize the ad.

“There’s a lot of latent interest in this topic and a lot of latent support for this, and we’re just trying to bring that out in public,” Barrett said. The ads will be paid for by the corporations that have backed the effort and will be run in other publications in coming weeks, Barrett said.

Under the heading, “Where in the world will the next big idea come from?” the group warns of increasing competition from other countries. “Make no mistake: The search for scientific breakthroughs and new technologies will go forward whether we lead or follow,” the ad says.

It points readers to the Web site of the National Innovation Initiative (, a group that issued a report in 2004 warning that the United States needed a bold new commitment to fostering technological innovation.

Several of the people who signed the ad were involved in drafting the report, including Stanford President John Hennessy… The group includes 30 state and territorial governors, heads of major companies ranging from Microsoft to General Motors to Lockheed Martin, presidents of major research universities, and former government figures, including former Secretaries of State Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright and George Shultz.

Bush’s competitiveness initiative came after several bipartisan proposals in Congress to increase basic research funding and improve math and science education. Barrett said the group backing the ad hopes to build support for those plans.

“It just seems it was absolutely the right time to get something done, and what we want to do with the ad campaign is add a little momentum to this,” he said.


Note: Visit to view the ad.

(2) NSF’s Math and Science Partnerships Make the Grade

Source: National Science Foundation – 9 February 2006

Elementary, middle school, and high school students participating in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program during the 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 school years showed significant improvements in mathematics proficiency test scores, according to a first analysis of data the foundation has gathered.

During the same period, MSP elementary school students showed significant gains in science proficiency.

High school math students showed the greatest improvement with an increase of 14.2% “at or above proficiency” after one year of MSP participation. Elementary school students performed better in both math and science with 7.3% and 8.6% more reaching or exceeding proficiency, respectively.

These data, the first available since MSP’s establishment in 2002, were collected from 130 partnership schools that received first-round awards.

“It was very exciting for everyone to see that high school math students could reverse the typical trend of declining scores,” said Diane Spresser, senior program coordinator for MSP at NSF.

The NSF-MSP program supports partnerships among higher education, local K-12 school systems, and supporting stakeholders such as businesses or informal science education organizations. At a minimum, each partnership must contain one institution of higher education and one K-12 school system.

The University of Massachusetts, Boston, for example, collaborates with Northeastern University and the Boston public school system to form the Boston Science Partnership’s (BSP) core. The Harvard Medical School and the College Board are supporting partners. The BSP potentially impacts more than 23,000 science students in grades 6-12.

The University of Kentucky leads the Appalachian Mathematics and Science Partnership (AMSP) of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee to improve math and science achievement for almost 170,000 students. AMSP connects 10 institutions of higher education with 38 school districts in Kentucky, nine in Tennessee, and five in Virginia.

Sample MSP efforts include after-school, weekend, and summer enrichment activities for students, professional development activities for teachers, revised math and science curricula, and new teacher training programs at participating universities.

“MSP is engaged in an expansive strategy to learn what works and what doesn’t, for whom, and under what circumstances. As more data come in, we’ll get a better understanding of how to approach math and science education to maximize student potential,” Spresser said.

The COSMOS Corporation, faculty at Brown University, George Mason University, and Vanderbilt University are working collaboratively to analyze incoming data. Using data collected by the Partnerships since inception, the evaluation began in 2004 and covers the entirety of the program’s activities.

“Although the scope of MSP activities makes for a challenging evaluation, assessments of educational tools and approaches are necessary for the long-term success of our nation’s educational enterprise,” commented Robert Yin, principal investigator at COSMOS.

Through MSP, NSF assumed important responsibilities to build capacity for implementing the President’s No Child Left Behind vision for K-12 education. The program seeks to improve K-12 student achievement by focusing on three interrelated issues:

*  Ensuring student participation and success in challenging and advanced math and science courses

*  Enhancing the quality, quantity and diversity of the K-12 math and science teacher workforce

*  Developing evidence-based outcomes to increase the understanding of how students best learn math and science

Forty-eight partnerships and more than 30 other tool-development and evaluation projects comprise NSF’s current MSP portfolio, representing a total investment of nearly $600 million to date. NSF’s research and development MSP complements programs at the U.S. Department of Education that disseminate educational tools and strategies to all 50 states via formula funds.

After a complete analysis of the data, results from the first-year evaluation will be publicly available at the NSF’s MSP Web site in spring 2006. Math and Science Partnership data will be evaluated for at least three more years.

(3) “Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents” by Angela L. Duckworth and Martin E.P. Seligman

Source: Psychological Science – December 2005
URL (abstract):
URL (news report):

Abstract–In a longitudinal study of 140 eighth-grade students, self-discipline measured by self-report, parent report, teacher report, and monetary choice questionnaires in the fall predicted final grades, school attendance, standardized achievement-test scores, and selection into a competitive high school program the following spring. In a replication with 164 eighth graders, a behavioral delay-of-gratification task, a questionnaire on study habits, and a group-administered IQ test were added. Self-discipline measured in the fall accounted for more than twice as much variance as IQ in final grades, high school selection, school attendance, hours spent doing homework, hours spent watching television (inversely), and the time of day students began their homework. The effect of self-discipline on final grades held even when controlling for first-marking-period grades, achievement-test scores, and measured IQ…