COMET • Vol. 8, No. 09 – 19 March 2007


(1) California Faces Critical Shortage of Math and Science Teachers

Source: Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning – 5 March 2007
URL (Report):

California faces a persistent and critical shortage of fully prepared math and science teachers and lacks the capacity to produce enough math and science teachers to meet future needs, according to a new report released on March 5 by the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) and the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning (CFTL).

“The shortage of fully prepared math and science teachers is undermining the quality of the state’s education system and hampering the ability to produce college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Susan Hackwood, Executive Director of the California Council on Science and Technology. “Already, more than a third of novice high school math and science teachers are teaching before completing a preliminary teaching credential for the subjects they teach. Without focused action, California will continue to fall far short of producing the skilled and knowledgeable math and science teachers it desperately needs over the next decade.”

“Unfortunately, the shortage of math and science teachers hits hardest at low performing schools serving poor and minority students,” added Margaret Gaston, Executive Director of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.  “It is exactly these students that most need a chance to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to participate in the higher paying jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics that drive our economy.”

The report, Critical Path Analysis of California’s Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation System, reveals that more than ten percent of all math and science teachers are underprepared, meaning they lack the training and experience necessary for a teaching credential in the subject they teach. More than one third of novice teachers (those in their first or second year) teaching math or science are underprepared. The report also finds that the percentage of underprepared math and science teachers is much higher in low performing schools.  The report projects that due to attrition and retirement, the state will need to produce more than 16,000 new math and science teachers within five years and more than 33,000 over the next decade.  At the current rate of teacher preparation, California will fall short by 30 percent of the fully prepared math and science teachers needed by California schools.

Citing recent data projecting significant declines in personal income and a low rate of STEM degrees produced in California, the report concludes that strengthening the teaching of mathematics and science is critical if California is to maintain its competitive edge and economic growth.

“California literally cannot afford to fail to increase the number and quality of math and science teachers in California,” said Lawrence Papay, CEO and Principal, PQR, LLC and CCST Council Chair.  “If we are to remain a leader in science, technology, and engineering, if we want to maintain our economic vitality, California must make high quality math and science instruction a top priority.”

“California’s system of science and mathematics teacher development, from the recruitment of candidates to the support of experienced teachers is not meeting the current or future needs of our state,” said Karl Pister, Board Chair of the California Council on Science and Technology and past Board Chair of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning. “Prompt and concrete action is needed by the state’s policymakers to ensure that all students have access to the high quality math and science instruction needed in the 21st Century.”

Critical Path Analysis of California’s Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation System is a project of the California Council on Science and Technology in collaboration with the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.

While acknowledging important progress made by policymakers in strengthening teaching in California in recent years, the report calls for concrete action to ensure high quality math and science instruction for all students in all grades.  The report offers a series of recommendations to state-wide education leadership and policy organizations, institutions of higher education, school districts, industry, federal laboratories and informal science learning centers to increase the quantity and strengthen the quality of math and science teachers in California:

* Support the development of programs designed to bolster the supply of fully prepared science and mathematics teachers.

* Reinforce efforts of the state’s public universities and community colleges to streamline and strengthen pathways for aspiring science and mathematics teachers.

* Build on progress made in the last legislative session to establish a coherent system to recruit, prepare, assign and retain K-12 science and mathematics teachers.

* Increase support for professional development for science and mathematics teachers, especially through the California Science and Mathematics Projects and summer institutes.

* Ensure a coordinated, cohesive induction into the profession for all new science and mathematics teachers by using the new Mentor Teacher Support Program provided in SB 1209.

* Expand support by industry, federal labs and informal science learning centers for high quality professional development for science and mathematics teachers.

The report, Critical Path Analysis of California’s Science and Mathematics Teacher Preparation System, including the recommendations, is available online at or  Print copies of the report may be obtained from the California Council on Science and Technology via email at or by phone at 916-492-0996.



(1) National Mathematics Advisory Panel Releases Preliminary Report

Source: Tyrrell Flawn, Panel Executive Director –
URL (Report):

The 15-page Preliminary Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel has been released and is available as a PDF file at the above Web site.

This report includes the following sections:

I. The President’s Charge

II. Composition of the Panel and Process of Work

III. Current Status

IV. References

Appendices (including summaries of past meetings)

The “Composition of the Panel and Process of Work” includes an overview of the four task groups the Panel formulated last May (Learning Processes, Conceptual Knowledge and Skills, Instructional Practices and Materials, and Teachers and Teacher Education), as well as the two subcommittees that were formed to address (a) the development of a stated approach concerning standards of evidence and (b) a plan for a survey of teachers in the field.

The “Current Status” section appears below in its entirety:

“At the time this report was accepted by the Panel at its New Orleans meeting in January 2007, progress was described as follows:

“All four task groups are deeply engaged in their tasks, and are in the process of examining relevant literature and materials.  The findings of the task groups will inform each other and will ultimately be aligned in forming conclusions.  Accordingly, it is premature for the Panel to convey major findings and conclusions.

“The Subcommittee on Standards of Evidence has made good progress toward a guide for use by the task groups as they address their issues and the pertinent evidence.  However, the Panel believes that methodological principles and details still must be refined as the members use them in reviews of the research.  The Subcommittee on the Survey of Teachers has developed goals for the planned survey.

“As the present agenda unfolds, the Panel expects to take up parts of the President’s charge that cannot be covered with the current task groups. ”


A transcript of the January meeting, which was held in New Orleans, can be downloaded as a PDF file at   The sixth meeting of the Panel will be held on April 19-20, 2007 in Chicago, IL.


(2) Newest Addition to NAEP Data Explorer: Long-Term Trend Data for 1970-2004

Source: Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education

All of the data from the NAEP long-term trend (LTT) assessments in reading (beginning with the 1970-1971 school year) and in mathematics (beginning with 1977-1978) that were formerly available only in part and only in static tables, can now be explored in many ways! The NAEP Data Explorer offers you the ability to produce customized results from this rich database.

Three NAEP datasets are now covered by the Explorer: (a) main NAEP (comprised of results from national, state, and selected urban district assessments–available in Quick Start or Advanced interfaces), (b) NAEP High School Transcript Study, and (c) LTT. Choose among these datasets at

With the NAEP Data Explorer, you can work with LTT data using performance measures such as average scale scores, performance levels, percentiles, percentages, and standard deviations in table or graph form. Also, you can cross-tabulate results by two or more variables, format tables by moving or deleting columns, perform significance tests and regression analyses, and copy results to other applications.

LTT most recently assessed mathematics and reading performance for approximately 75,000 students at ages 9, 13, and 17 in schools throughout the nation during the 2003-2004 school year. The next LTT is scheduled for 2007-2008. You can learn about all facets of the assessment itself at the following Web site:

(3) National Science Foundation Releases Statistics on Women, Minorities and Persons with Disabilities

Source: National Science Foundation – 5 March 2007

On March 5, the National Science Foundation released the latest statistics on women, minorities and persons with disabilities in science and engineering. The report focuses on education and employment statistics for these groups.

Figures and tables detail degrees earned, occupations, age, country of birth, and salary. The latest figures are from 2004, and were updated in December 2006.

A complete update of the report is issued by NSF every two years. NSF obtains the data from many sources, including NSF surveys, other federal agencies, and non-federal organizations.

The report is available at


(4) Encouraging Youth in Scientific Discovery and Innovation: the Intel Science Talent Search

Source:  Intel Corporation

The Science Talent Search (STS) is America’s oldest and most highly regarded pre-college science competition. For more than 60 years, this competition–often referred to as the “junior Nobel Prize”–has provided an incentive and an arena for U.S. high school seniors to complete an original research project and have it recognized by a national jury of highly regarded professional scientists. The projects are a result of inquiry-based learning methods designed to nurture critical reasoning skills, to experience science through the use of the scientific method, and to demonstrate how math and science skills are crucial to making sense of today’s technological world and making the best decisions for tomorrow.

Since its inception, the STS has recognized more than 2,500 finalists with millions of dollars in scholarships. More than 100 winners of the world’s most coveted science and math honors are alumni of the event, including three National Medal of Science winners, 10 MacArthur Foundation Fellows, two Fields Medalists, and five Nobel Laureates.

Intel’s Sponsorship

In 1998, Intel Corporation assumed sponsorship of the program previously sponsored by the Westinghouse Foundation as a way to recognize and reward excellence in science and to encourage more young people to explore science and technology.

Since assuming the sponsorship, Intel has increased awards and scholarships from $207,000 to $1,250,000 a year and woven technology into the program through a Student Web Center, the Intel STS Web site, and computer awards. Intel’s sponsorship of the Intel STS is part of the Intel Education Initiative to prepare today’s teachers and students for tomorrow’s demands.

Awards and Scholarships

Semifinalists: Each of the 300 students who is named a semifinalist in the Intel STS receives a $1,000 award for his or her outstanding science research. These awards are mailed to the semifinalists after the Science Talent Institute (STI) in March.

Schools: Each school receives an award of $1,000 for each semifinalist named in the Intel STS. The award must be used to further support excellence in science, math, or engineering education at the receiving school. In the case of home schooling, the awards are given to the affiliated school or school district of the home school. The award is mailed to the school after the STI in March.

Finalists: The top prize is a $100,000 four-year scholarship. The second-place finalist receives a $75,000 scholarship, and the third-prize winner gets a $50,000 scholarship. Fourth-through sixth-place finalists each receive a $25,000 scholarship; seventh-through tenth-prize winners each receive a $20,000 scholarship. In addition to the scholarship awards, each of the finalists participating in the STS will receive a new laptop with the Intel Centrino Duo mobile technology-based laptop.

Visit for information on how to participate in this competition.


Winners of the 2007 Talent Search

The Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS) recently named its top ten winners at the annual Intel STS 2007 awards. Forty finalists were selected to travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in the rigorous judging process, meet with national leaders, interact with leading scientists and display their research at the National Academy of Sciences. For the first time in the history of the program there were an equal number of female and male finalists who represent 38 schools from 20 different states. Two of the top three projects were in the area of mathematics. Visit the Web site immediately above to read more about the top ten winners and their projects.

Also visit to read the New York Times article, ” Intel Competition Is Where Science Rules and Research Is the Key.”


(5) “Grants to Fund Participation in High-Quality Professional Development”

Source: PEN (Public Education Network) Weekly NewsBlast for March 16, 2007
Contact: National Education Association’s Foundation for the Improvement of Education

NEA Foundation Learning & Leadership Grants support public school teachers, public education support professionals, and/or faculty and staff in public institutions of higher education for one of two purposes: grants to individuals fund participation in high-quality professional development experiences, such as summer institutes or action research; grants to groups fund collegial study, including study groups, action research, lesson study, or mentoring experiences for faculty or staff new to an assignment. Maximum Award: $5,000. Eligibility: Public school teachers grades K-12, public school education support professionals, or faculty and staff at public higher education institutions. Deadline: June 1, 2007.



(1) Mathematics Preservice Course Materials: Adapting Inservice Materials to Preservice Environments

Source: Judy Mumme –
Contact: Nanette Seago
- 951-682-1070;

Finding practice-based materials for preservice course work in mathematics can sometimes be challenging.  WestEd is sponsoring a conference in Denver on June 25-28, 2007 to examine how high quality practice-based professional development (PD) materials can be adapted to preservice environments. Three sets of PD materials will be featured:

— Fostering Algebraic Thinking Toolkit

— Improving Instruction in Algebra: Using Cases to Transform Mathematics Teaching

— Learning and Teaching Linear Functions

The ideas examined using these materials can be applied to adapting other practice-based PD materials.

Presenters include Mark Driscoll, Judy Mumme, Nanette Seago, Margaret (Peg) Smith and Laura Van Zoest.

Because of NSF funding, the conference costs only a nominal $300 registration fee, which covers housing, materials from the three projects involved, and many meals. For more information about the conference and the PD materials, visit the above Web site or contact Judy Mumme or Nanette Seago (information above).