2002 Archive‎ > ‎

Vol. 3, No. 31 - 25 October 2002



ARTICLES & ANNOUNCEMENTS (CALIFORNIA FOCUS)

CCTC Proposes Foundational-Level Mathematics Credential and Science (Specialized) Credential

Source:  California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) - 18 October 2992

URL: http://www.ctc.ca.gov/codcor.doc/020024/020024.html

The CCTC is proposing the addition of Sections 80416, 80416.1, and 80416.2 of Title 5, California Code of Regulations, pertaining to Single Subject Teaching Credentials in Science (Specialized) and in Foundational-Level Mathematics... The public hearing is scheduled for December 5, 2002, at 10:00 a.m. (Location: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing; 1900 Capitol Avenue; Sacramento, California 95814).

Statement of Reasons

One of the requirements needed to obtain a Single Subject Teaching Credential is verification of subject matter competency. Currently there are sixteen subject matter areas: Agriculture, Art, Business, English, Foreign Languages, Home Economics, Health Science, Industrial and Technology Education, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education, Science: Biological Sciences, Science: Chemistry, Science: Geosciences, Science: Physics, and Social Science. The proposed addition of Sections 80416, 80416.1, and 80416.2 to the Title 5 Regulations would increase the number of subject matter areas to twenty-one by adding Foundational-Level Mathematics and four new areas in science: Biological Sciences (Specialized), Chemistry (Specialized), Physics (Specialized), and Geosciences (Specialized). The current mathematics and science authorizations will remain available to credential candidates.

...The proposed Science (Specialized) authorization would allow instruction in a specific science area (biology, chemistry, physics, or geosciences) in California public schools but would not authorize instruction in general or integrated science. The proposed Foundational-Level Mathematics authorization would permit the holder to teach the content areas taught to the vast majority of K-12 math students: general mathematics, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics, and consumer mathematics. It is anticipated that the adoption of these two proposed subject matter areas will attract knowledgeable and experienced individuals, including engineers, environmentalists and others, to investigate a second career in teaching...

As part of the task of reviewing the new K-12 Student Academic Content Standards, the Commission charged its Subject Matter Advisory Panels in Science and Mathematics with exploring possible changes in the existing single subject credential structures that might encourage more individuals to obtain science and mathematics certification. The panel members, who are practicing science and mathematics teachers, faculty members and other California educators, proposed the addition of the Science (Specialized) and Foundational-Level Mathematics subject matter areas with the hope of attracting an untapped pool of candidates. Their proposals were made based on the provision that individuals seeking certification in these new areas would need to complete all other requirements for the Single Subject Teaching Credential, including a baccalaureate degree, an appropriate teacher preparation program, the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST), and personal and professional fitness verification...

Û80416.2. Single Subject Teaching Credential in Foundational-Level Mathematics

This proposed section would allow Single Subject Teaching Credential candidates to verify subject matter competence in the area of Foundational-Level Mathematics. These candidates would have the option of satisfying competency in this subject matter area either by completing a Commission-approved subject matter program or by passing an appropriate Commission-approved subject matter examination. The content knowledge verified by either of these two options, as stipulated in the proposed Û80416, is derived from and aligned with the current K-12 student standards, focusing on the fields of mathematics to be authorized by this subject matter area. The knowledge needed in these specific fields of mathematics is equivalent in depth and rigor to that required in these fields for the current Mathematics subject matter area. Because of this, individuals verifying competency in Foundational-Level Mathematics will be fully prepared in these specific fields. Unlike the current Mathematics subject matter area and as reflected in the authorization for this proposal, the individual seeking certification in Foundational-Level Mathematics will not be required to verify in-depth knowledge of advanced mathematics nor will they be authorized to teach in these fields.

The subject matter area in Foundational-Level Mathematics is proposed as a measure to help alleviate some of the teacher shortage in mathematics by attracting more individuals into this area. When the Subject Matter Advisory Panel in Mathematics initially investigated the difficulties facing California school districts, the points that impacted their decision to recommend a Foundational-Level Mathematics authorization were the high percentage of teachers functioning on emergency permits and the low number of candidates qualifying for the Single Subject Teaching Credential in Mathematics. They also considered the rising need for mathematics teachers, not only to replace those leaving through attrition but also to staff new classes resulting from increases in the student population and class-size reduction. Another issue that they considered was the fields of mathematics predominantly taught to California students. In the 1999-2000 school year, more than 97% of high school mathematics students were enrolled in classes that covered fields in mathematics that were below calculus or other advanced level coursework. When the panel considered a two-tiered mathematics authorization, they, along with the Commission, sought further information regarding the likelihood of any benefits that this credential structure might have. Based on their advice, a study was conducted, surveying district human resource directors, middle and high school principals, middle and high school mathematics teachers, mathematics faculty, and mathematics education faculty at institutions with approved mathematics programs. The majority of responses supported this concept and affirmed the respondents' belief that a two-tiered mathematics credential would increase the potential pool of mathematics teachers available for the basic mathematics courses.

This proposed section of the regulation would specify the fields in mathematics that the holder of a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Foundational-Level Mathematics would be authorized to teach: general mathematics, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics, and consumer mathematics. Individuals will not be authorized to teach any of these fields if students receive advanced placement credit for the course or to teach courses in any more advanced fields of mathematics. Additionally, as with the Science (Specialized) authorization, this proposed regulation re-emphasizes that holders of the Foundational-Level Mathematics authorization may teach this in any grades in which the subject or subjects will be taught, to include preschool, grades kindergarten, grades one through twelve, inclusive, and classes organized primarily for adults...

Written Comment Period and Submission of Written Comments

Any interested person, or his or her authorized representative, may submit written comments by fax, through the mail, or by e-mail on the proposed actions. The written comment period closes at 5:00 p.m. on December 4, 2002. Comments must be received by that time or may be submitted at the public hearing. You may fax your response to (916) 327-3165, mail it to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, Attention: Yvonne Novelli, 1900 Capitol Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95814, or submit an e-mail at ynovelli@ctc.ca.gov.

Any written comments received 14 days prior to the public hearing will be reproduced by the Commission's staff for each Commissioner as a courtesy to the person submitting the comments and will be included in the written agenda prepared for and presented to the full Commission at the hearing.

Public Hearing

Oral comments on the proposed action will be taken at the public hearing. We would appreciate 14 days advance notice in order to schedule sufficient time on the agenda for all speakers. Please contact Yvonne Novelli at (916) 323-6512 regarding this...

Contact Person/Further Information

Inquiries concerning the proposed action may be directed to Yvonne Novelli at (916) 323-6512 or to Dr. Philip A. Fitch at (916) 324-3054. They will respond to questions concerning the substance of the proposed regulations...

[Feedback may be provided on the response form available at http://www.ctc.ca.gov/codcor.doc/020024/020024_response.pdf]


ARTICLES & ANNOUNCEMENTS (NATIONAL FOCUS)

(1) "Congress Passes Bill to Overhaul Federal Education Research" by Richard Morgan

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education - 21 October 2002

URL: http://chronicle.com/daily/2002/10/2002102101n.htm (registration required)

The history and text of H.R. 3801 can be found at

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d107:11:./temp/~bdbD4a:@@@D&summ2=m&|/bss/d107query.html|

The Department of Education's Office of Educational Research and Improvement will be replaced by an autonomous Institute of Education Sciences, with the goal of infusing the beleaguered area of federal education research with "scientific rigor," under legislation passed by Congress last week. President Bush is expected to sign the bill.

The legislation, HR 3801, the Education Sciences Reform Act, is the brainchild of Rep. Michael N. Castle, a Delaware Republican and chairman of the Subcommittee on Education Reform of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

The new institute is needed, according to Mr. Castle, to end the current practice of following "one education fad after another" and instead to conduct rigorous, large-scale studies to determine the best teaching methods...

The new institute would be part of the Department of Education, but would function as a separate office under the direction of a 15-member National Board for Education Sciences, whose members would be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The board would advise and consult with the director of the Institute of Education Sciences in setting the institute's policies and priorities. The director would also be appointed by the president, subject to Senate confirmation.

A Knowledge Utilization Office, under the director, would pool research findings and other information, and present them in accessible language to teachers, school administrators, policy makers, government officials, and the public.

The Office of Educational Research and Improvement, which was created in 1979 by the same legislation that established the Education Department, coordinates, develops, and disseminates federally supported education research. It sponsors five national institutes, which focus on curriculum and assessment, early-childhood education, policy and management, continuing education, and education for at-risk students. The office also finances a dozen campus-based research-and-development centers and 10 regional laboratories that transform research findings into programs and products.

The new legislation calls for re-establishing many of those agencies and functions under 10 regional boards across the nation.

Roderick R. Paige, the education secretary, praised the legislation. "One of the major tenets of our education policy is that teaching and learning practices be based on sound scientific research," he said. "Congress shares that understanding with us, and it is clear from this bill that they view the role of research as the cornerstone of educational reform."

Officials of the American Educational Research Association were also pleased with the legislation. Gerald E. Sroufe, the association's director of government relations, said that the measure "provides an important degree of political independence for the agency" and "improves prospects for developing a culture of research that has been lacking" in federal studies of education.

(2) "Math Debate is a Problem of Which Way Adds up Better"  by Carmen Lee

Source:  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - 24 October 2002

URL: http://postgazette.com/neigh_city/20021024math1024P3.asp

Remember what learning multiplication used to be like? There were the flash cards with equations like "7 x 6" on one side and "42" on the other. And worksheets filled with "times tables" -- "8 x 1 = __," "8 x 2 =__ ," "8 x 3 = __" and so on.

Now, suppose you could have practiced multiplication by playing a card game like War. You and a classmate put down two cards from each of your decks, multiply the numbers in your heads and then quickly call out the answers to see who had the largest product.

So if you had "8 x 6" and said "48" and your classmate had "4 x 3" and said "12," you could put his cards in your pile. But if you said "42" or "54" by mistake, he'd take the cards.

Would it have made a difference in how much you enjoyed and learned in math class? Maybe, maybe not.

That's the essence of the discussion that will be heard tonight when four nationally-known education experts meet with Pittsburgh school board members to discuss whether the latest math reform programs help youngsters learn the basics of mathematics as well as traditional approaches did.

Pittsburgh Public Schools' elementary and middle school programs began using the math reform programs, Everyday Math and Connected Math, in the mid-1990s.

The two programs differ from more traditional curriculums by emphasizing problem-solving and the application of math to real-life experiences. Less stress is put on pencil and paper drills and rote learning. Both teach advanced math concepts and the use of calculators to younger children.

More traditional math is taught in the district's high schools, but school officials earlier this year proposed changing to a math reform approach.

When that request was made, members of the school board's five-member majority said they were not only apprehensive about expanding math reform to the high schools but were also worried about the elementary and middle school programs.

Nationally, advocates of math reform say well-taught, high-quality programs make math more enjoyable and relevant so that pupils understand it better -- and sooner.

As proof of that, Pittsburgh officials say, elementary and middle school pupils' math scores on state tests have risen steadily since the two new approaches were introduced.

At more advanced levels, the reform programs also mix some branches of math that are usually taught separately, so that students can see how they're related, such as when an architect or engineer uses algebra, geometry and probability on a single project.

The basics are practiced through exercises such as "Numbers Top-It," the card game that resembles War, and word problems that describe situations that could occur in real life.

But critics say the fun and games and long-winded, problem-solving methods designed to help youngsters "understand" math actually water down the curriculum.

Such techniques don't give teachers enough time to cover material as thoroughly as they could with a traditional approach, they argue. The same goes for programs that blend aspects of subjects such as algebra, geometry and probability.

The result in both cases, according to critics, is that students don't learn as much math as they could, and fall behind their peers...

Critics of math reform programs like to point out how the California State Board of Education adopted standards in 1997 that supported more traditional programs.

But two years later, state officials decided to support a balance between basic math skills and conceptual understanding, said Tom Lester, mathematics director for WestEd, a nonprofit education agency in California, Utah, Nevada and Arizona.

Lester was a math consultant with the California State Department of Education when state officials were deciding on the standards. Despite lengthy debates and various recommendations for change, no curriculum was identified as the best for all children, or even most of them, he said.

Lester believes basic skills can be taught in interesting, innovative ways, and that the curriculum doesn't matter as much as what teachers know, how well they are trained and how effectively they teach.

"The bottom line is that it's the teaching, not the textbook itself," he said. "What matters is if teachers know their content and can teach it."

That may be why there's no winner yet in this education war.

Advocates and critics of math reform give competing anecdotes about students who thrived or failed under math reform programs and about teachers who loved or hated the programs.

Each side cites statistics showing dramatic improvement or decline in math scores where such programs have been used and then accuses the opposing side of not correctly analyzing or presenting the data.

Part of the debate also touches on issues of class and race.

Math reform supporters contend opponents don't like such curriculums because they demystify math and make it understandable to a wider range of students.

They accuse the critics of wanting to maintain a status quo that says some people understand math and some don't, with some of the difference based on socioeconomic factors.

Math reform critics counter that it's actually the reformers who are biased because they develop programs that dumb down the curriculum, as if they believe youngsters of certain races or backgrounds can't comprehend straightforward math...

Charles Haynes, a senior program officer with the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va., works with schools and communities on resolving conflicts on education issues.

He said the math debate, like many others in education, reflects a larger culture war over how children should be educated in this country.

"We have people who are more traditionalist, lining themselves up against those who have new ideas in reading and math," he said.

"The problem with the reading and math wars is that we need both traditional things that work and innovative programs. We have to have different strategies because kids don't all learn the same way."

Haynes was sympathetic to parents and board members who are skeptical of reform programs.

"Some people are not just being resistant. They are coming out of a history where educators have been quick to innovate in ways that later proved to be disastrous," he said. "They don't want schools to experiment too broadly because they don't want their kids to be the ones who fail to learn."

He believes a broader group that includes school board members, district administrators, teachers, parents and residents should study the various options and viewpoints about math education, even if such a process means it will take longer to reach a consensus.

"To take a few months now in the interest of helping kids be literate for life in math is worth the time," he said. "To make a bad decision now in favor of either side could hurt them for life. It does take a little time, but it's worth it."

(3) "Pittsburgh School Board Gets Math Class" by Carmen J. Lee and Eleanor Chute

Source:  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - 25 October 2002

URL: http://www.post-gazette.com/neigh_city/20021025mathcity3p3.asp

Four national experts retained by the Pittsburgh Public Schools agreed on several points about improvements that could be made in the district math program.

They said city school officials need to improve the way they collect information on student performance in math so they can accurately evaluate the effectiveness of instructional techniques. They also agreed that elementary and middle school students need more practice in basic math skills than they now receive.

But while the four made every effort to show respect for each other's opinions and downplay any disagreements during last night's three-hour school board forum, there were apparent differences in their perspectives.

Philip Uri Treisman, a professor of mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin, and Philip Daro, executive director of the Public Forum on School Accountability at the University of California, encouraged school officials to strengthen the current elementary and middle school programs rather than change them entirely.

They urged school officials to use the revised versions of Everyday Math, used in district elementary schools, and Connected Math, used in middle schools. The updated versions have clearer methods for teaching basic skills than the versions the district now uses.

Treisman and Daro said the district should extend the length of class periods in some instances from the current 45 to 60 minutes to 60 to 90 minutes.

They also said the district should require teachers to participate in professional development programs designed to improve math instruction.

Both men said that despite the deficiencies in the way the district records student math scores -- which they pointed out was not unusual among school systems -- they said math scores are improving.

Treisman added that when Pittsburgh is compared to similar districts in the state, it was second only to Lancaster in the percentage improvement on its average state test scores. And Lancaster, which has shown exceptional gains in the past four years, did so because of its commitment to Everyday Math in terms of teacher training and length of class period time, he said.

"Claims that Everyday Math destroys students' lives is rhetoric. It just doesn't hold water," Treisman said.

R. James Milgram, a professor of mathematics at Stanford University, neither praised nor panned the district's math programs. But he also did not view district student performance as showing that much improvement, particularly when looking at SAT scores.

Milgram also was critical of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test and said that he did not believe school officials should rely too heavily on it as indicator of student performance.

Wayne Bishop, professor of mathematics at California State University, was the most insistent of the four that district should change its curriculum.

He questioned whether recent reports that Pittsburgh students had steadily increasing scores on the PSSA were accurate or just "smoke and mirrors."

He dismissed the national tests the district administers as not good measures of student performance.

The four men were brought to Pittsburgh because the board's five-member majority have been skeptical of the effectiveness of the district's math programs, particularly in the area of teaching basic skills.

School officials said after the discussion they found the educators' suggestions helpful.

Some officials said they already had been considering changing the way they collected data on math instruction and instituting longer math periods.

Rick Sternberg, president of the Pittsburgh Administrators Association, said it would be possible to supplement the curriculum with materials that would include clearer ways to practice basic skills. But he did not believe that Bishop's recommendation to change the curriculum was practical.

"The fact that the other three had more agreements than disagreements makes me believe that they are making suggestions that will be useful for the district to consider," Sternberg said.

Sherman Shrager, a representative of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, agreed that the experts' suggestions were useful but noted that under the current teacher contract, professional development can't be mandated. He said a greater portion of existing teacher training days could be devoted to math instruction but didn't believe the district's curriculum had to be changed.

Barbara Rudiak, principal of Philips Elementary on the South Side and a board member of the Pittsburgh Council on Public Education, said, "I thought the information was interesting." She said that Treisman, Milgram and Daro presented information that related particularly to Pittsburgh and compared it to other places.

(4) "Pitt Has Lead Role in Improving Math, Science Education" by Carmen J. Lee

Source:  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - 25 October 2002

URL: http://www.post-gazette.com/neigh_city/20021025grantcity8p8.asp

While Pittsburgh school board members consider how to judge what's best in math education, the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center is being given a leadership role in a five-year, $35 million project to reform math and science education in schools throughout the nation.

The LRDC has long been involved in education reform nationally as well as locally. As part of the project being funded by the National Science Foundation, LRDC, Pitt and the University of Wisconsin will form a partnership known as Systemwide Change for All Learners and Educators, or SCALE.

The partnership is a component of the National Science Foundation's Math and Science Partnership program, a five-year national effort to unite higher education institutions with K-12 school districts. The program also is part of the federal No Child Left Behind plan to improve education.

The SCALE project includes four urban school districts -- Los Angeles Unified School District, Denver Public Schools, Providence, R.I., Public Schools and Madison, Wis., Metropolitan School District -- serving a total of nearly 900,000 students.

Its goals include implementing the best current math and science programs in each of the four districts, reforming teacher training and creating a research and evaluation component. SCALE is designed to help improve student achievement in math, science, technology and engineering, particularly among minority, low-income and non-English-speaking students.

LRDC and its Institute for Learning will receive $2.85 million per year for its role in the project, which also will involve Pitt's science and engineering departments and School of Education. Lauren Resnick, the director of LRDC, and Christian Schunn, an LRDC research scientist, will co-direct the project.

"Reforming math and science education is an extremely complex task with many interconnected problems," Schunn said. "The goal is to make major improvements in the way almost a million kids in our partner schools learn math and science, and then to spread that success across the country."



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