COMET • Vol. 8, No. 19 – 31 August 2007


(1) Message to COMET Readers from Jack O’Connell, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Dear COMET Readers:

Welcome to the start of the traditional school year for 2007-08, and to the year’s first issue of COMET–California Online Mathematics Education Times. More than 4,000 mathematics educators and educational leaders receive this weekly news journal that provides vital updates and essential information.

This year at the California Department of Education has been an especially exciting one for mathematics due to the Instructional Materials adoption. This process, which occurs every six years, began in earnest in January when textbook publishers began submitting instructional materials for adoption consideration in three key math areas: basic or core materials for grades K through eight, intervention materials for grades four through seven, and algebra readiness materials for grade eight.

Panels of reviewers–Instructional Materials Advisory Panel (IMAP) and Curriculum Review Panel (CRP) members–convened in July to evaluate these materials and then reported their findings to the Curriculum Commission. After deliberations in September, the Curriculum Commission will forward its recommendations to the State Board of Education, which is scheduled to make a final decision on the adoption of mathematics instructional materials at its November meeting.

It’s a long process but one that results in a directory of recommended titles that reflect our mathematics content standards and framework so that all students may develop high levels of mathematics skills, knowledge, and understanding.

I am working harder than ever this year to ensure that all students have every opportunity to succeed in school. The latest test scores show that achievement gains made over the past five years are either increasing or holding steady. But they also demonstrate persistent achievement gaps in our system that California simply cannot afford to accept. It is my resolute goal to narrow these gaps in all subjects. I know you join me in this quest.

Thank you for your hard work in helping students acquire the mathematical skills and knowledge that will enable them to compete in today’s highly competitive world.



State Superintendent of Public Instruction

California Department of Education

(2) 2007 Mathematics Primary Adoption: Invitation for Public Input

Contact: Mary Sprague, California Department of Education – or

The public will have a number of opportunities in September to provide input regarding the mathematics instructional materials submitted for state adoption. The first opportunity will be during the September 14 meeting of the Curriculum Commission’s Mathematics Subject Matter Committee. During this meeting, public comment is invited on the IMAP/CRP Reports of Findings for submitted programs. These reports are available at the below Web sites:

 Basic Grade-Level Programs (grades K-8; 25 program reports):

— Intervention Programs (grades 4-7; 12 reports):

 Algebra Readiness Programs (grade 8; 17 reports):

The September 14 meeting will be held from approximately 9:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. in Conference Room 1101 at the California Department of Education (1430 N Street, Sacramento). The meeting agenda is available at

The Curriculum Commission will meet on September 26-28. Two public hearings will be scheduled at this meeting for additional public input. (The agenda for this meeting will be posted at a later date.) The Commission’s recommendations regarding the mathematics instructional materials will be sent to the State Board of Education, which will meet on November 7-8. The State Board plans to conduct a public hearing and then take adoption action on the submitted materials at this meeting. Approximately two months following the State Board of Education’s decision, the approved instructional materials will be available for purchase.

(3) Mathematics and Science Consultants Sought for the California Department of Education

Contacts: Sandra Frank –; Lisa Fassett (Science Consultant) –

Kathlan Latimer was hired recently to fill one of two open Education Program Consultant positions in the area of mathematics for the California Department of Education (CDE). Mathematics educators interested in applying for the second consultant position (secondary school mathematics experience/expertise preferred) should contact Sandra Frank for more information.  In addition, an Education Program Consultant position in the area of science is currently open; science educators with K-12 teaching experience who are interested in applying should contact Lisa Fassett.

Mathematics and science consultants work in the CDE’s Mathematics and Science Leadership Unit and provide statewide leadership in K-12 mathematics and science education. Among other services, they provide support to school districts in implementing the state Frameworks and in designing mathematics and science programs, provide technical support to the California Subject Matter Projects (science and mathematics), and assist awardees of California Mathematics and Science Partnership grants.

(4) Request for Applications: California Mathematics and Science Partnership Program Grants

Source: Lisa Fassett – – (916) 323-4963

The California Mathematics and Science Partnership (CaMSP) program seeks to establish partnerships to improve the academic achievement of students in mathematics and science. The focus is to create opportunities for enhanced and ongoing professional development for mathematics teachers (grade three through Algebra 1) and science teachers (grades three through eight). For more information, visit

The Request for Applications is available for download from

Proposals must be submitted by September 28, 2007.


(1) President Bush Signs the America COMPETES Act

Source: U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology
URL (Below text): ,,
URL (Bill Text):

Earlier this year, both the U.S. House and Senate passed comprehensive legislation (H.R. 2272, S. 761) to ensure our nation’s competitive position in the world through improvements to math and science education and a strong commitment to research.

H.R. 2272, the America COMPETES Act (the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act), is the culmination of a year and a half-long bipartisan effort led by members of the House Science and Technology Committee (Chairman, Bart Gordon) to pass a package of competitiveness bills in response to recommendations in the 2005 National Academies report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm.

The Conference Agreement follows through on a commitment to ensure that U.S. students, teachers, businesses, and workers are prepared to continue leading the world in innovation, research, and technology–well into the future.

H.R. 2272 was signed into law (Public Law No: 110-69) on August 9 by President Bush at the White House. The Act authorizes $33.6 billion over fiscal years 2008-2010 for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs. (For the full text of the Bill, visit the above Web site.) The measure authorizes multiple grant programs to help educate current and future teachers in the areas of science and math education (e.g., 2- and 3-year part-time master’s programs designed to enhance the mathematics and science content and pedagogy of teachers). The bill also invests in basic research and supports young researchers by expanding early career grant programs.

The Act authorizes the President’s Math Now proposal to improve instruction in mathematics. The programs will give teachers research-based tools and professional development to improve elementary and middle school students’ achievement in math. The Act also authorizes the President’s proposed Advanced Placement/ International Baccalaureate (AP/IB) program.  This program would expand low-income students’ access to AP/IB coursework by training more high school teachers to lead AP/IB courses in math, science, and critical foreign languages in high-need schools.

The Bill supports doubling the budgets of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Education Office of Science, and the National Science Foundation (e.g., to support the Math and Science Partnership Program and the Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program).

“This is not just an idle thought for those of us who have kids and grandkids. I am very concerned that the next generation of Americans can be the first generation of Americans to inherit a national standard of living less than their parents if we don’t do something,” Bill sponsor Gordon said. “This bill will help turn that corner.”

(2) National Science Board Approves National Action Plan for 21st Century STEM Education

Source: National Science Foundation
URL (Press Release):
URL (Action Plan):  (Also see

Earlier this month, the National Science Board unanimously adopted a motion to release for public comment a draft action plan to address critical 21st-century needs in the nation’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education system. Two overarching actions stressed in the plan are increasing coordination of STEM education–both horizontally among states and vertically through grade levels–and increasing the supply of qualified K-12 STEM teachers.

This national action plan lays out strategies to better enable and encourage stakeholders from local, state and federal governments, as well as nongovernmental STEM education stakeholder groups, to collaborate. The goal is to produce a numerate and scientifically literate society and to increase and improve the current STEM education workforce.

In recognition of the essential lead role of local and state jurisdictions in the nation’s P-12 education system, one of the Board’s recommendations would require that federal STEM education programs coordinate their activities with local and state education bodies, and a variety of stakeholder groups, through a new Congressionally chartered non-federal National Council for STEM Education.

Among its other recommended actions, the Board would also bolster STEM education programs at the National Science Foundation in order to address the needs of the U.S. for a competitive, well-educated workforce.

The Board developed this action plan, in part, based on a request from Congress in 2005. The Board held three public hearings around the U.S. and established a federal advisory committee, the Commission on 21st Century Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, to provide advice as the Board developed its action plan.

The Board is actively seeking public comment on the plan and hopes to integrate these comments into a final version for Board approval and release at its next meeting on October 3, 2007, the day before the historic 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik. [Note: Although the Public Comment period formally closed on August 30, comments submitted to may still be considered.]

(3) National Mathematics Advisory Panel Update

Source: U.S. Department of Education
(Meeting Announcement below):

The National Mathematics Panel was established by Executive Order…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 eighth meeting of the Panel will be held at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The meeting begins on Thursday, September 6 at 3:15 p.m. with introductory remarks by Dr. Larry Faulkner, Chair of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, and Dr. Mark Stephen Wrighton, Chancellor of Washington University. The Panel will meet from 3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. to receive the report of the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center (NORC) on the “Algebra Teachers’ Survey” commissioned by the National Math Panel. From 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. the Panel will receive public comment on the Executive Order and the Panel’s work. On Friday, September 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the subcommittee on Standards of Evidence and the five task groups–Conceptual Knowledge and Skills, Learning Processes, Instructional Practices, Teachers, and Assessment–will present progress reports to the entire Panel on their work to date…


Visit to read public comment transcripts from prior Panel meetings and to view progress reports from the Task Groups.

(4) First Professional Educator Astronaut: Barbara Morgan

URL (Biography):
URL (Interviews):  and

A NASA biography and two preflight interviews with Fresno, CA native Barbara Morgan, NASA’s first professional educator astronaut, can be found at the above Web sites. In addition to the relatively brief educational opportunities she had aboard the space shuttle Endeavour this month, Morgan assisted other members of the crew as they continued assembly of the International Space Station.

[From ] The former Idaho [elementary] school teacher said she hopes her flight is only the first of many for NASA’s educator astronauts. Since her selection, NASA has trained three new teachers to fly in space, and Morgan plans to eventually come full circle and return to classroom.

“I do look forward to going back [to teaching] in the future,” she said. “I taught for 24 years before taking this lateral move to do this job. And I loved every minute of it.”