COMET • Vol. 9, No. 28 – 19 November 2008


(1) Plan to Address Issues Related to Authorizations to Teach Mathematics

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

At the November meeting of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, an informational item was included on the agenda to continue discussion about last month’s agenda item, “Authorizations to Teach Mathematics” (see the October 13 issue of COMET for a summary: The document accompanying the November agenda item is available for download from and is excerpted below:


At the October 2008 Commission meeting, staff presented an agenda item that initiated a discussion about current authorizations to teach mathematics, including how these authorizations were related to the achievement of K-12 students in mathematics. The discussion was framed by a series of questions posed within the agenda item. At the conclusion of the discussion, Commissioners directed staff to return with further information for review and discussion relating to these questions. This agenda item reorganizes the discussion questions into four major topics and presents a plan for bringing back each topic over a period of several months for further Commission review and possible future action.

Background Information

The background information provided in the October 2008 agenda item covered several topics related not only to current authorizations to teach mathematics, but also to the preparation of teachers for each of these authorizations. These topics included:
*  Trends in student enrollment in K-12 mathematics courses
*  Number of K-12 mathematics courses in California, the number of FTE staff who teach these courses, and the type of authorization required for  these course instructors
*  K-12 student proficiency levels in mathematics
*  Overview of authorizations that allow an individual to teach mathematics
*  Number of mathematics credentials and other mathematics authorizations awarded from 2002 through 2007
*  Number of students completing mathematics majors in California’s postsecondary institutions
*  Subject matter preparation to teach mathematics, including the number and passing rate of candidates who satisfy the subject matter requirement through the examination route (CSET:MS and CSET: Single Subject Mathematics)
*  Pedagogical preparation to teach mathematics

In addition to the background information, staff posed a series of discussion questions that focused on several major themes relating to preparation and authorizations for mathematics. These major themes can be summarized in the following manner:
*  How do current preparation and authorizations for multiple subject teachers as well as for single subject Mathematics teachers relate to teaching of mathematics in general, and to Algebra I in particular?
*  How do the single subject preparation program standards address the methodology of teaching mathematics, and do these standards need revision?
*  What is the fidelity between the preparation standards and the actual program delivery services provided to candidates?
* What are the outcomes of the examination routes to establishing subject matter competency in mathematics for multiple and for single subject candidates? Does the content and /or organization of the current CSET: Multiple Subjects Mathematics and Science subtest need review and/or revision? Could using the CSET: Foundational Mathematics examination play a role with respect to multiple subject teachers who are assigned to teach Algebra I?
* Is there a role, and if so what is that role, for holders of the currently underutilized Mathematics Specialist credential?

Plan and Schedule to Address Identified Discussion Topics

After review and discussion of the range of topics, issues, and questions described above, the Commissioners requested that staff further organize these topics and their related questions, and provide more in-depth information for review and possible future Commission action. Staff has reorganized the range of discussion questions into four general discussion issues. Each issue will form the basis for a future agenda item at regularly-scheduled Commission meetings over the next several months, as described in the operational plan below.


December 2008 Meeting: Organization and Structure of Subject Matter Preparation and Authorizations for Teaching Mathematics  
Key Issue: What content should teachers of mathematics know and what is the optimum credential authorization structure for K-8 teachers of mathematics?

This agenda item will provide more in-depth information about the following types of issues:
* Does the subject matter preparation of multiple subject teachers include adequate subject matter preparation to allow the teachers to be successful with students at the full range of the K-8 credential authorization?
* Does the current authorization structure meet the needs for elementary teachers of mathematics and the range of their potential assignments, including Algebra I?
* Should a Supplementary Authorization in Mathematics authorize an individual to teach Algebra I or any classes having Algebra I as a prerequisite?


January 2009 Meeting:  Determining Subject Matter Competency 
Key Issue: How do we know that teachers of mathematics at all levels have sufficient content knowledge?

This agenda item will provide more in-depth information about the following types of issues:
* Do the subject matter requirements for mathematics for multiple subject teachers and for single subject teachers adequately address mathematics content? How do these subject matter requirements relate to the credential structure?
* Does the current CSET: Multiple Subjects examination sufficiently assess a prospective multiple subject teacher’s knowledge of mathematics content?
* What are the passing rates on the CSET: Multiple Subjects examination with respect to math content? What are the passing rates on the CSET: Foundational Level Mathematics examination?
* Is the content of the current CSET: Foundational Level Mathematics more appropriate to assess a prospective K-8 teacher’s knowledge of mathematics content if that teacher is expected to teach Algebra I in the 8th grade?
*  Should the current CSET: Multiple Subjects examination contain a separate subtest for Math and a separate subtest for Science rather than a single subtest that includes both subject areas?


March 2009 Meeting:  Pedagogical Preparation for Teaching Mathematics 
Key Issue: How do we know that teachers of mathematics know how to teach math 
appropriately to all students?

This agenda item will provide more in-depth information about the following types of issues:
* Does the teacher preparation program for multiple subject teachers include adequate pedagogical preparation for the successful teaching of mathematics in all of grades K-8, including the teaching of Algebra I?
* Do the adopted single subject preliminary preparation program standards adequately address the methodology of teaching mathematics, especially remediating students’ misunderstandings or filling in the holes in the students’ conceptual understanding of mathematics?
* Do the adopted single subject preliminary preparation program standards adequately address the methodology of teaching mathematics?  If the standards do adequately address the teaching of mathematics, are the approved preparation programs offering courses of study and field work that meet the adopted standards?
* Should the pedagogy statements in the adopted preliminary program standards be reviewed and possibly revised based on the more recent mathematics framework?

This agenda item [in March] will also report on a stakeholder review of the teacher preparation program standards addressing subject specific pedagogy (8A and 8B) and their alignment with the Mathematics Framework (2006)… As staff analyzes the information collected through the single subject pedagogy survey, the Commission plans to facilitate technical assistance for programs to share effective practices related to subject-specific methodology.

Staff also suggests that another venue for addressing the topic of subject-specific pedagogy could be a conference convened by the CTC focusing on “Subject-Specific Methodology and Effective Subject Matter Instructional Practices.”  Staff will explore the possibility, feasibility, and value of sponsoring a conference of this type.


April 2009 Meeting:  The Mathematics Specialist Credential 
Key Issue: What purpose does and/or could the Mathematics Specialist Credential serve?

This agenda item will provide more in-depth information about the following type of issues:
* What the current Mathematics Specialist Credential program requires and authorizes and why is the Mathematics Specialist credential currently being underutilized?
* Could the underutilized Mathematics Specialist credential help serve an important role, somewhat similar to a Reading Specialist, in the public schools?

This agenda item will also report on stakeholder feedback regarding the usefulness of the mathematics specialist credential.


(2) Who Wants to be a Mathematician Math Contests

Source: Math Zoom Academy; American Mathematical Society

The American Mathematical Society and the Math Zoom Academy are sponsoring “Who Wants to Be a Mathematician,” a math contest with Southern California high school students competing for cash and prizes. The event will take place on December 6, 2008 at California State University, Fullerton in the Titan Student Union. Questions will cover pre-calculus topics (including logic and history of mathematics). The top prize in the game is $2000. Visit for more information, including the names of the students who qualified for this contest and those who qualified to participate in the Southern California Mathematical Olympiad.

Visit for a report (and numerous photos) of the “Who Wants to Be a Mathematician” contest at the University of Arizona.




(1) Federal Resources for Education Excellence (FREE)

Source: U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education Federal Resources for Education Excellence (FREE) website contains over 1500 federally-supported teaching and learning resources, 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.

Visit to peruse the mathematics resources and  to view the science resources contained in FREE.


(2) Live Chat, November 19: The Evolving Definition of Giftedness

Source: Education Week
URL (article):

This live chat will be held from 1-2 p.m. Pacific Time today (Wednesday, November 19). Go to to participate. Questions can be submitted in advance to

For years, giftedness was considered to be a static category, with children either possessing the trait or not. But developmental theory has now led to more nuanced view of what makes some people gifted. Instead of being innate and immutable, giftedness can be nurtured and even taught-and if ignored, it can also be lost.

Please join our guests, the three editors of the upcoming book, The Development of Giftedness and Talent Across the Life Span, who will talk about what researchers currently believe about giftedness, and its implication for classroom practice.

About the guests:

– Frances Degen Horowitz is a university professor and president emerita at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

– Rena F. Subotnik is the director of the Center for Gifted Education Policy at the American Psychological Association.

– Dona J. Matthews is currently a visiting professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, engaged in several writing projects, and working with families and schools on issues relating to gifted education. From 2003 to 2007, she was the director of the Center for Gifted Studies and Education at Hunter College, the City University of New York.

For background, read “‘Gifted’ Label Said to Miss Dynamic Nature of Talent,” Education Week, 15 October 2008:  (Response to the article, many of which take issue with the authors, follow the article.)

No special equipment other than Internet access is needed to participate in this text-based chat. A transcript will be posted shortly after the completion of the chat.


(3) Knowles Science Teaching Foundation 2009 Teaching Fellowships


The Knowles Science Teaching Foundation (KSTF) is seeking applicants for Biology, Physical Science and Mathematics Teaching Fellowships. The fellowship supports exceptional individuals who are committed to becoming outstanding high school math and science teachers. KSTF seeks to promote excellence in science and mathematics teaching in United States high schools in order to help maintain our nation’s economic competitiveness and reverse the current national trend of high attrition rates among beginning teachers. We strive to elevate the perception of teaching as a complex, highly-skilled profession and to nurture future leaders and change agents in the field of education.

Eligibility Requirements:

Applicants should have at least a bachelor’s degree in science, engineering or mathematics, have received their most recent content degree within the past five years and be committed to teaching science or mathematics in U.S. high schools. Individuals who are currently enrolled in a secondary math or science teaching credential program are eligible if they are within five years of their most recent content degree and have not completed their credential before December, 2008. KSTF Teaching Fellowships are intended to support individuals early in their careers who have the potential to devote a lifetime to improving math and science education. Award information: Fellowships will be awarded to up to 15 individuals in each of three disciplinary strands: biology, physical science, and mathematics. Benefits of the fellowship include:

=  Financial and professional support for up to five years, including a maximum of $10,000 tuition assistance per year for up to two years and a monthly stipend while fellows are enrolled in a recognized teacher credential program.

=  Room, board, travel expenses and fees for summer professional development activities as well as a monthly stipend during the summer.

=  Yearly opportunities to apply for instructional materials, academic year professional development, school-site mentor support, support for National Board Certification and financial support for leadership activities.

=  Membership in a professional organization.

=  Room, board and travel expenses for three meetings per year with other KSTF Fellows.

Application information: Application instructions can be found online at  The deadline for applications is Wednesday, January 14, 2009, at 5:00 pm Eastern Standard Time. Only online applications will be considered. For more information, contact: Beth DiGesare Teaching Fellowship Program Coordinator: (856) 608-0001