COMET • Vol. 8, No. 02 – 29 January 2007


(1) Additional IMAP Members Recommended to the State Board of Education


At the State Board of Education’s January meeting, 76 individuals were recommended by the Curriculum Commission for appointment to the Instructional Materials Advisory Panel (IMAP). They join the 85 IMAP and 4 CRP applicants who were approved for appointment on November 9, 2006 (Cohort 1); draft minutes of the November meeting can be downloaded from (see Item 42). Information about each of those recommended for the second cohort can be found at .
(This recommendation was Item 23 on the January SBE agenda, available at

(2) “Research Experiences for Teachers” at Chico State this Summer

Source/Contact: Sergei Fomin, RET Director –; (530) 898-5274

[Announcement from the Web site] Through funding provided by the National Science Foundation, California State University, Chico will be hosting Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) this summer. A stipend of $4000 will be provided to successful applicants, who can also obtain graduate credit. The program provides a unique opportunity for teachers to engage in cutting-edge mathematical research under university faculty supervision. Dr. Sergei Fomin, Dr. Thomas Mattman, and Dr. Ben Levitt will each lead a research team made up of in-service teachers and undergraduates. Sergei will be our guide for an exploration of the marvels of math modeling using calculus and differential equations, Ben will lead us to some prime sites in the realm of numbers, and Thomas will be tying up the loose ends.  The program will take place in Chico from June 18 through July 27 and includes lectures by eminent mathematicians from northern California.

Visit for application information. Review of applications begins on March 1.


(3) MAA-Sponsored Workshop Highlights Online Sources of Mathematics Lessons, Class Activities, Projects, and Computer “Mathlets”

Source: Bruce Yoshiwara –

The National Science Digital Library (NSDL) was established by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2000 as an online library of exemplary collections for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. NSDL is sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and offers access to a wide variety of teaching materials at all levels, from K-12 to higher education, to lifelong learning, serving as a source for accurate, appropriate, and relevant information and services for educators and learners.

The Mathematical Sciences Digital Library (MathDL; is essentially the mathematics component of the NSDL.  It includes the Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications (JOMA), Digital Classroom ResourcesConvergence (for teaching mathematics using its history), MAA ReviewsClassroom Capsules and Notes, and MAA writing awards.

Because the resources of NSDL have grown tremendously, there are now several “pathway” partners offering discipline or audience-specific resource collections and services for NSDL.  The Math Gateway ( is one discipline pathway that grew out of MathDL, and its partners include the Math Forum, PlanetMath, the National Curve Bank, the NSDL Middle School Portal, and about a dozen others.On March 2, a workshop will be provided in Anaheim by Bruce Yoshiwara and will focus on the math resources available on the NSDL and Math Gateway Web sites. The target audience is anyone who might benefit from familiarity with these two rich and dependable resources of math education materials. Participants will come away with class-tested lessons/activities, ideas and computer “mathlets” around which activities can be designed, as well as opportunities for professional growth through online articles, tutorials, and discussions.

The cost of this workshop will be covered by MAA. Participants must bring a notebook computer with a wireless card. Visit the above Web site for more information and to register for this workshop.



(1) “K-12 Mathematics: What Should Students Learn and When Should They Learn It?”

–Free Live Webcast of National Conference will be Available
Contact: Barbara Reys (
URL (Conference Web Site):
URL (Webcast):

The recent development and release of K-12 mathematics curriculum standards by influential national groups (Achieve, American Statistical Association, College Board, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) represents a unique and important window of opportunity to promote and stimulate collaboration among users of standards. Thus, the Center for the Study of Mathematics Curriculum (CSMC) has organized a national conference focusing on K-12 mathematics curriculum standards. (See for a summary.) The conference will feature presentations on the most recent mathematics curriculum recommendations and engage “users” of standards (state and district curriculum specialists, textbook and assessment publishers, K-12 district and teacher leaders, and representatives from higher education and business) in discussions about implications for their work.

Conference Date:  5-6 February 2007

Organizer and Primary Sponsor: The Center for the Study of Mathematics Curriculum (CSMC)

Co-Sponsors: Achieve, Inc., American Statistical Association (ASA), The College Board, Mathematical Association of America (MAA), National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)

Site: National Rural Electric Cooperative Conference Center in Arlington, VA

Live Webcast: CLTNet, in collaboration with Elluminate, will host the webcast of this conference, including streaming video of most sessions and access to the PowerPoint presentations and other supporting documents. The agenda for the webcast can be found at Sign up to join the Webcast through Elluminate Live and receive updates and additional information. You must configure your system prior to the event. Information on installing the necessary software is available on the Elluminate support page in the “First Time Users” section. If you need assistance, call Elluminate’s help desk at 866-388-8674 x2. (See

A list of participants (as of January 11) can be found at


(2) Doctoral Programs in Mathematics Education: A Decade of Progress

Source: Robert Reys –

The second national conference on doctoral programs in mathematics education will include discussions on core elements associate with high quality doctoral programs; showcase major work and transportable products (such as course syllabi/resources) related to doctoral programs in mathematics education resulting for the current work of the NSF Centers for Learning and Teaching (CLTs); and provide discussions of ways to strengthen existing doctoral programs in mathematics education (such as recruitment, post-doctoral follow-up, and collaboration across institutions).

The primary goals of the conference are to:

– Document the current status and change of doctoral programs in mathematics education over the last decade.

– Share the expertise and products developed by the CLTs to inform mathematics education doctoral program development.

– Facilitate conversations and the development of action plans to foster improvements in the quality of doctoral programs in mathematics education in institutions (CLT and non-CLT) across the USA.

The conference is funded by the National Science Foundation. Information about the conference program is available at  The participation request form is available at


(3) Federal Resources for Education Excellence (FREE) Website

Source: U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education is pleased to announce the newly remodeled and updated Federal Resources for Education Excellence (FREE) website. It now provides richer, more expansive resources to teachers and students alike. There are over 1500 resources to take advantage of at FREE, ranging from primary historical documents, lesson plans, science visualizations, math simulations and online challenges, paintings, photos, mapping tools, and more. This easily accessible information is provided by federal organizations and agencies such as the Library of Congress, National Archives, NEH, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian, NSF, and NASA.


(4) National Science Foundation Issues Impact Report on Math and Science Partnership Program

Source: National Science Foundation – 26 January 2007

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has released its first national impact report assessing the NSF Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program, which was established in 2002 to integrate the work of higher education with K-12 to strengthen and reform mathematics and science education.

The document reports progress on improving teacher quality, quantity and diversity; developing challenging courses and curricula; emphasizing evidence-based design and outcomes; and promoting institutional change. It highlights examples of partnerships at all levels of education in communities across the country, and outlines impacts on student proficiency and benefits of professional development for teachers.

“The work of the MSP program is critical in order for students to gain the necessary skills to both prosper in a science and technology-driven society and to meet the increasing challenges of a global economy,” said Arden L. Bement, Jr., NSF director. “The MSP program is a successful model of partnering among universities and K-12 schools and corporations. As a comprehensive approach to build the learning capacity of both students and teachers, MSP develops the next generation of skilled science and technology workers.”

The MSP program has become a premiere research and development-focused program dedicated to improving teachers’ knowledge about how students learn. One of its goals is to support tools that contribute to increased teacher content knowledge and K-12 students’ learning proficiencies in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.”The examples in the report of partnerships doing fruitful work across the country are but a small sample of a larger set of MSP projects that are really making a difference in local schools,” said Diane Spresser, senior program coordinator for MSP at NSF. “We are learning something valuable from the work of each and every one. Educational work is very challenging, often two steps forward and one step back. While we are pleased with the findings to date, we are also very aware of how much more there is to do.”

In addition to the impact report, results of student proficiency data for math and science were just released by NSF for 2004-2005. Over a 3-year period, the data show the most significant improvements in mathematics proficiency, with a 13.7 percent increase for elementary, 6.2 percent increase for middle-school, and 17.1 percent increase for high-school students. Science proficiency at each level showed marked gains as well since 2002, with a 5.3 percent increase for elementary, 4.5 percent increase for middle-school, and 1.4 percent increase for high-school students.The most dramatic increases were documented by elementary grade students in mathematics, where 7.2 percent more students achieved or exceeded proficiency from 2002-2003 to 2003-2004, followed by an increase of 6.5 percent from 2003-2004 to 2004-2005.

One of NSF’s investment priorities is to build strong foundations and foster innovation to improve K-12 teaching, learning and evaluation in science and mathematics. The MSP program has demonstrated that the American educational system can adapt to the needs of our future workforce by reinforcing math, science, technology and engineering education.

Projects in the current MSP portfolio are expected to impact more than 141,500 science and mathematics teachers and 4.2 million students in more than 550 local school districts. Since its inception, MSP has funded 89 projects.

The MSP National Impact Report, executive summary and accompanying fact sheet can be found at the links below.

MSP Impact Fact Sheet:

MSP Impact Report:

Impact Report Executive Summary:


(5) “‘What Works’ Reviewers Find No Learning Edge for Leading Math Texts” by Debra Viadero

SourceEducation Week – 24 January 2007

As the federal What Works Clearinghouse rolls out long-awaited ratings on the effectiveness of math programs for the elementary grades, one trend is becoming clear: Most major commercial textbooks can’t yet muster the proof that they are any better than their competitors at improving student achievement.

Of four reviews published by the online clearinghouse since September, only one elementary school math program has received even a qualified nod from evaluators for its research record.

Yet while publishers and textbook evaluators are concerned about the message those lukewarm effectiveness ratings may send, they also say the ratings may have more to do with the clearinghouse’s strict reporting system than with the programs themselves.

The What Works site says a handful of rigorously conducted experiments show that Everyday Mathematics, published by Wright Group/McGraw-Hill of DeSoto, Texas, has “potentially positive effects” on achievement compared with more traditional math programs.

The other programs–Houghton Mifflin Mathematics, Saxon Elementary School Math, and Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Elementary Mathematics–were found in What Works reviews to have “no discernible effects” on learning.

Together, the four programs represent about half the U.S. market for elementary school math textbooks, according to a 2005 survey by Robert M. Resnick, the founder and president of Education Market Research, of Rockaway Park, N.Y…

Publishers and some scholars complain…that spare judgments such as “no discernible effect” or “potentially positive effects” give the wrong impression…

An experiment could turn up no effects if both the textbook under study and the program with which it is being compared are equally good-or equally bad-at improving student learning.

Ms. Herman said clearinghouse officials are aware of such concerns, which publishers have been voicing since the ratings system was in the planning stages. In response, she said, federal reviewers have moved some information about the composition of the comparison groups from a technical appendix to the body of the main report.

Still, the clearinghouse should go further, argued Bill Wilkinson, the vice president for research for Harcourt Achieve, the Austin, Texas-based company that publishes the Saxon math program. He said the What Works site should also put learning-growth data from studies that are not randomized into its main reports to give educators and policymakers more information.

“When you’ve got so many math programs showing ‘no discernible effects,’ it really makes it hard for the education community to make judgments,” Mr. Wilkinson said, “and, really, the clearinghouse is there for the education community to make judgments.”

Practical Impact

What’s not yet clear, though, is whether the ratings will carry any weight with the people charged with selecting instructional materials for schools. Texas and California-two of the three largest states that adopt textbooks at the state level-are scheduled to approve new elementary mathematics series this year.

The curriculum directors in those states said that the official state criteria for their upcoming adoptions require publishers to ensure that their programs are research-based. Yet they do not require publishers to submit proof that their products work, although that could change in Texas, where lawmakers this spring plan to rewrite the state’s textbook-adoption policies…

But the bottom line for most districts and states is ensuring that the instructional programs they choose adhere to local and state standards on what to teach and when to teach it…

The What Works Clearinghouse is part of a movement at the federal level to spur demand for rigorous research attesting to the effectiveness of educational programs.

The No Child Left Behind Act, for instance, requires that schools receiving funds under the law rely on “scientifically based evidence” in choosing a wide variety of educational programs, products, and practices.

Textbook publishers, in turn, have responded by commissioning randomized trials of their products. While the growth in company-sponsored studies has raised some eyebrows, experts by and large see the mounting piles of evidence as a positive development.

“Before, it was definitely more loosey-goosey,” said Ms. Azin of Planning Research and Evaluation Services Associates. But she believes the clearinghouse should expand the range of research that qualifies as evidence–a change that clearinghouse operators say they are not likely to favor…