COMET • Vol. 8, No. 01 – 22 January 2007


(1) State Schools Chief Jack O’Connell Congratulates 293 California Teachers who Achieve National Board Certification in 2006

Source: California Department of Education

On January 10, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell congratulated 293 California teachers who recently received advanced certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS).

The total of National Board Certified Teachers in California now stands at 3,659, putting the state in sixth place in the number of teachers earning this certification, according to NBPTS. Nearly 40 percent of these teachers work in high-priority schools and earn a $20,000 incentive award.

California’s new National Board Certified Teachers are among nearly 7,800 teachers across the nation to reach this milestone in 2006, a 7 percent increase over 2005, according to NBPTS.

A National Board Certified Teacher means an educator was judged by peers as being accomplished, making sound professional judgments about students, and acting effectively on those judgments. NBPTS certification allows teachers to gauge their skills and knowledge against objective, peer-developed standards of advanced practice. Teachers may voluntarily seek certification that complements, but does not replace, state licensing. National Board Certified Teachers meet the definition of a “highly qualified teacher” as defined in the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Eligible candidates for National Board certification must have a baccalaureate, at least three years teaching experience, and a valid state teaching license. NBPTS offers candidates a performance-based assessment that has two components. Candidates must submit a portfolio of their work and also pass an assessment on their content knowledge.

For a complete list of National Board Certified Teachers in California, please visit . To access the recent NBPTS news release, go to . For more information on NBPTS activity in California, including a 50 percent candidate fee subsidy, please visit


(2) National Board Certification for California Mathematics Teachers

Source: Kay Garcia, California Department of Education CDE (after January 26, Regional Outreach Director with the National Board)
Contact:  Juliet Barbero, California Department of Education — or 916-323-5795

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers two certificates for mathematics teachers. The Early Adolescence/Mathematics (EA/MATH) certificate is appropriate for teachers who teach students ages 11-15, and the Adolescence and Young Adulthood/Mathematics (AYA/MATH) certificate is appropriate for teachers of students ages 14-18. Both certificates are appropriate for teachers who know the full range of the school mathematics curriculum: algebra and functions; geometry; calculus; discrete mathematics; and statistics and data analysis.

Over approximately a six-month period, teachers seeking national certification must create a portfolio as a showcase of their practice. The 4-part portfolio includes written analyses of student work, two classroom videos, and evidence of candidates’ involvement outside the classroom with both their profession and the family and community of their students.

Candidates are also required to sit for six, 30-minute assessments on content. For mathematics certifications, you must be able to demonstrate content knowledge in the areas mentioned above, as well as various mathematical thinking processes and in using technology and manipulatives.

It can take up to three years to earn national certification, and the majority of first-time candidates will find they need to retake at least one entry. Candidates receive ten scores (four portfolio and six assessment center) and may bank scores for two years while they retake entries. In general, candidates who are part of a support group have a higher achievement rate.

The application fee for national certification is $2,500. The California Department of Education administers the federal Candidate Subsidy Program (CSP), which provides fee assistance to candidates. Additionally, many districts provide fee support for their teachers.

California currently has 272 math teachers who have earned National Board certification, 160 AYA/MATH and 112 EA/MATH. The names and schools of the 2006 recipients follow below:

2006 NBCTS (High School Mathematics)

Alka Amar – Los Angeles Unified

Gary Eastvedt – Baldwin Park Unified

Lori Freiermuth – Sweetwater Union High

Nathaniel Lewis – Berkeley Unified

Lara Lomac – San Francisco Unified

Violet Mardirosian-Indejeyan – Los Angeles Unified

Elizabeth Martinez – Whittier Union High

Michelle McCormick – William S. Hart Union High

Tracy Suter – Folsom-Cordova Unified

Megan Taylor – Sequoia Union High

Tristen Voget – Tamalpais Union High

Daniel Yamamoto – San Francisco Unified

Karen Yu – San Francisco Unified

2006 NBCTs (Middle School)

Marcene Covington – Folsom-Cordova

Kimberly Fletcher – Los Angeles Unified

Kathleen Heritage – Carlsbad Unified

Cindy Kemp – Brawley Union High

Melissa Ornelas – Los Angeles Unified

Susan Thomas – Snowline Joint Union


(3) Call For Proposals: Secondary Mathematics Teaching Methods Monograph

Source: Michael Lutz, California State University, Bakersfield —


The Secondary Mathematics Teaching Methods Task Force of the California Association
 of Mathematics Teacher Educators (CAMTE) requests submissions of manuscripts for 
possible inclusion in an upcoming monograph that is planned to be online by next fall.
 The focus of the monograph will be an examination of the appropriate content for a 
university-level secondary mathematics methods course in California.  Manuscripts should go beyond what is common knowledge contained in textbooks for such courses. 
 Goals of the monograph include informing California mathematics methods instructors
 about best practices (and the accompanying research base for each) and helping to
 promote greater commonality among the courses offered on different campuses. The formal call for proposals can be downloaded from



(1) National Math Panel–Agenda for Fifth Meeting; Task Group Progress Reports

URL (Task Group Progress Reports):

[This paragraph is from] On April 18, 2006, President Bush issued an Executive Order creating the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. The [Panel’s charge is to] advise the President and the Secretary of Education on the best use of scientifically based research to advance the teaching and learning of mathematics… The National Math Panel [was charged with issuing] an interim report to the President and Secretary by January 31, 2007. A final report will be issued no later than February 28, 2008.

The fifth meeting of the National Math Panel Meeting was held at the InterContinental Hotel in New Orleans on January 11, 2007. The agenda for this meeting follows, with links provided to PDF versions of the progress reports of the four Task Groups. Readers are encouraged to review these presentation slides for insight into Task Group discussions and findings.  (Also see the Education Week article below for more details concerning the Panel’s interim report.)

NMP Agenda for January 11, 2007 Meeting

8:45 – 9:00 a.m. — Welcome and Opening Remarks by Larry Faulkner, Chair, and Norman C. Francis, President, Xavier University of Louisiana

9:00 – 10:00 a.m. — Open Session – Public Comment

10:00 – 10:15 a.m. — Morning Break

10:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Open Session – Consideration of Preliminary Report

– Overview

– Introductory Sections and Appendices of the Report and Discussion

– Task Group 1: Conceptual Knowledge and Skills []

– Task Group 2: Learning Processes []

– Task Group 3: Instructional Practices []

– Task Group 4: Teachers []

– Final Discussion and Action

– Discussion of Future Directions in the Task Groups

12:45 p.m. — Adjourn

The sixth meeting of the Panel will be held in Chicago, IL on April 19-20, 2007.


(2) “Math Panel Issues Its First Report, But Holds Off on Policy Proposals” by Sean Cavanagh

Source: Education Week – 17 January 2007

A national advisory panel studying mathematics instruction has completed an interim report on its work for the White House, though members of the group have not yet offered specific recommendations for improving teaching and learning in that subject.

The Bush administration, which appointed the 17 voting members of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel a year ago, originally had hoped the group’s preliminary report would give some specific advice, possibly to help guide the distribution of federal math grants.

But the panel’s chairman, former University of Texas President Larry R. Faulkner, said members did not want to issue detailed recommendations before their research is complete. The 16-page interim report instead briefly describes the panel’s progress so far, its organization into subcommittees studying different topics, and the rules it is following in its research.

“We are in the midst of a serious review of the evidence,” Mr. Faulkner said in an interview from New Orleans, the site of the panel’s fifth public meeting. “We’re not really in a [sufficiently advanced] state to communicate findings.”

Francis M. “Skip” Fennell, a panelist who is the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, said the group had collected detailed information through four separate committees studying different math topics. That work, however, is still ongoing, he said.

“We now have at least some substantial thinking about where this is moving,” he said. “All of the groups need more time to write and flesh things out.”

The interim report sets ground rules for how the panel will issue findings, saying that “every assertion or statement of fact in its final report [will] either be labeled as a definition or opinion, or backed up by a citation.” The group will also try to convey how strong or weak the pool of research is in every area of math instruction, it says.

President Bush announced the formation of the panel last February, charging it with providing recommendations on how schools and teachers could prepare students for algebra and higher-level math, and identify proven strategies for accomplishing that goal. The panel was asked to produce a preliminary report by Jan. 31 of this year, and a final document by Feb. 28, 2008. Mr. Faulkner said a complete set of recommendations would be issued in that final report.

Modeled on Reading

Mr. Bush formed the math panel amid a flurry of proposals made last year by his administration and federal lawmakers on math and science education. While most of those proposals stalled in Congress, the panel pressed ahead with its work, holding meetings across the country to review research, debate approaches to math instruction, and hear testimony from experts and the general public. Only last week, however, new legislation was unveiled with the goal of shoring up students’ mastery of math and science through voluntary national standards.

Bush administration officials modeled the math group after the National Reading Panel, which was convened during the Clinton presidency to identify effective classroom strategies in that subject. The reading panel’s report provided a basis for the Bush administration’s policies in awarding grants through its $1 billion-a-year Reading First program that has been mired in controversy.

The impact of the math panel’s activity, however, is less certain. Administration officials said last year they hoped the panel’s work–even its interim report–could shape the distribution of grants under the president’s proposed “Math Now” initiative, a $250 million grant program to support instruction in elementary and middle schools. So far, Congress has neither appropriated funds for nor authorized the creation of Math Now.

How Much Impact?

Mr. Faulkner acknowledged that the goals for the interim report have changed, because of both the uncertainty about Math Now and the panelists’ realization of how much work they have left to do. He believes administration officials were aware of the group’s progress, noting that Raymond J. Simon, the deputy U.S. secretary of education, serves on the panel as a nonvoting member.

During their meetings, several panelists have pointed out that several federally commissioned studies on how to improve math education have been conducted over the past 20 years–reports that were well received but ultimately had little bearing on school policy. They said they wanted their work to have a broader reach.

Math experts have engaged in bitter debates over the years about how best to teach math. That divide is often defined as pitting advocates of teaching basic skills against those who argue that students should be exposed to more conceptual learning.

Many in the math field were encouraged by the publication of “Curriculum Focal Points,” a document released by the influential National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in September. [See]

The 41-page guidelines offer a more concise, streamlined set of topics than teachers have had previously, and observers say the guidance will help educators sort through often-contradictory priorities presented in textbooks and academic standards.

Mr. Faulkner said while the panel “was not prepared to endorse a curriculum,” there was a sense among the group’s members that the NCTM was “on good footing” in having published the document.


(3) National Voluntary Mathematics and Science Standards–theStandards to Provide Educational Achievement for Kids (SPEAK) Act

Sources: American Chemical Society (ACS); American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS),
URL (Dodd Web site):

As the new 110th Congress settles in to begin its work, one education-policy area receiving renewed attention is that of national standards for math and science at the K-12 level. 

At a press conference [held on January 8] at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) introduced the Standards to Provide Educational Achievement for Kids (SPEAK) Act, a bill that would provide incentive grants to individual states that adopt more rigorous math and science standards…

“America’s reputation as an international leader rests in the hands of our youth, and it should be among our top priorities to equip our students with the tools they need to maintain and build upon this standing,” said Dodd before a packed room at the introduction of the SPEAK Act. “Math and science skills are essential to establish and maintain academic competitiveness on the global landscape. American students should have the same opportunities to learn and achieve success whether they study in large schools or small, or live in Connecticut or California.  I am confident that this legislation, combined with the supreme talent of our teachers nationwide, will help America’s students secure their place in the world as future leaders.”

The bi-partisan Dodd-Ehlers SPEAK Act is the latest example of the willingness of members of Congress to work together across ideological and party lines to address growing concerns about the ability of U.S. students to compete with their international peers.  The American Chemical Society joined with more than 40 other educational, scientific, and business organizations in supporting the introduction of the SPEAK Act.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) applauded the bipartisan proposal. Under the SPEAK Act proposal, voluntary, nationwide U.S. content standards in science and math would be developed by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). States choosing to adopt the new standards would then receive federal funds for implementation and to enhance data systems related to No Child Left Behind goals.

Currently in the United States, academic standards and learning goals differ from state to state, noted Shirley Malcom, director of Education and Human Resources at AAAS. Consequently, she said: “A child who is considered to be proficient in science and math in one state may not meet expectations if the family moves across state lines. As American families become increasingly mobile, the current patchwork approach to education is placing our young people at a disadvantage as they prepare to compete in a global economy.”

Nationwide science and math standards might be particularly important beginning in the 2007-2008 school year, when the No Child Left Behind law will require school districts to test students in science at least once in each of three grade spans: 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12.

Jo Ellen Roseman, director of Project 2061 at AAAS, noted that the Dodd-Ehlers proposal is well-timed. “As a nation, we’re in an excellent position to identify a uniform and coherent set of science and math standards because a sound knowledge base already exists, and AAAS stands ready to help,” Roseman said. “Fortunately, planners won’t need to start totally anew.”

For example, existing guidelines include standards set forth by Project 2061’s Benchmarks for Science Literacy, the National Research Council’s National Science Education Standards (NSES), and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ Principles and Standards for School Mathematics.


(4) Interview with Congressman George Miller, Chair of the Committee on Education and Labor

Source: Edutopia (George Lucas Education Foundation)
URL: (Part 1) and (Part 2)

The following is an excerpt from the Edutopia Web site (George Lucas Education Foundation–GLEF):

[This month] Congressman George Miller (D-CA) took the helm of the Committee on Education and Labor, one of the most important positions on Capitol Hill. Miller, a long-term advocate for improvement in public education (and a member of The George Lucas Educational Foundation’s advisory board) has a busy year ahead: The No Child Left Behind Act is up for reauthorization. Technology challenges face many districts. Some schools are physically crumbling. Dropout rates are unacceptable. A few days before Miller left for his leadership position in Washington, DC, Edutopiaeditor in chief James Daly sat down with him at his office in Walnut Creek, California.

[The full interview is available in PDF format at (Part 1) and (Part 2).

Below are two of the 16 questions posed to Congressman Miller and his responses.]

1. What are your highest priorities in terms of the reformation of the educational landscape?

To make sure that we have a system that addresses the needs of every student. We know that every student walks into that schoolroom door under a different set of circumstances, whether it’s their circumstances at home, their personal abilities, their talents, their attitudes — all those things. We’ve got to be able to address that. Otherwise, we’re going to continue to have a lot of students who check out of school. Either they’re not doing their work, they’re bored, or they drop out, and they find themselves later disadvantaged in life.

That means we need information about these individuals; we need real-time data on how they’re doing. You can’t wait until the end of the school year to have a high-stakes test. You can’t wait until they’re seniors in high school and tell them whether they’re going to graduate or not.

That’s what we’ve been doing, because we have not been paying enough attention to the individual students as they move through the system. When I think about the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, I really think about how you live up to the title of this federal education act. How do we address the needs of every one of these children? How do we put in place a system that responds to their talents, to their abilities? How do we put in place a system that really is conducive to both teaching and learning so that they happen, hopefully, at the same time, as the child is presented with that opportunity? We have a lot of work to do…

3. The No Child Left Behind Act is up for reauthorization this year. There are problems with it — a lot of complaints, at least, about teaching to the test, which has taken over the school day. How do we fix that?

First of all, what I think we’re starting to see emerge from NCLB is that those schools that are starting to be successful — where more and more students are learning at grade level, are being proficient — are those that are rejecting the idea of teaching to the test. The drill-and-kill is doing exactly that: It’s killing the appetite for learning among the students. They’re not doing any better on the drill-and-kill, and they’re not doing any better on the test.

But, again, you come back to this idea of engaging students in the learning experience, in the learning opportunity. And we’re starting to see where reading is incorporated throughout the entire curriculum, where mathematics is incorporated throughout much of the curriculum, that students are starting to be engaged in a different way, and it starts to appear that they’re doing better on some of the exams.

Where there’s cooperative learning, where students are learning from their peers, where teachers are sharing their teaching experiences, where they have time to plan programs, to align the programs to the proficiency of the children, there are a lot of successes out there that we have to focus on.

And then there are a lot of things we have to do to change the act that we’ve learned over the last five years. We really do have to think not just about Adequate Yearly Progress but also about the growth of each and every student, and giving teachers and schools credit for a year’s growth in a year in school; even if that child still may be behind in grade level, they’ve had a year’s improvement. How do we work that into the system? How do we account and educate and respond to children with disabilities in the system and yet recognize that you can’t unfairly hold the system accountable for some of those children who are not going to be able to make the progress of the rest of the students?

We also have to think about English-language learners and how are we dealing with them. One of the things we know in the education system is, if you’re not counting the kids, you’re probably not teaching the kids. You can’t just exit them from the system, because it makes things more difficult. Those are areas that have been raised with us and that we’re going to address in the reauthorization…

[Visit the above Web sites to read Congressman Miller’s responses to all 16 questions, including the following: How do our students stay competitive with kids around the world? Is it a question of more science and math education? Is it that simple, or is it much deeper and more complex? Do you support financial incentives for teacher performance? How important is it that we attract mid-career-level professionals to the teaching profession?]