COMET  Vol. 12, No. 9 - 27 April 2011

In This Issue...


Summer Math Camps and Programs for Students

Source: American Mathematical Society

The American Mathematical Society (AMS) has compiled a list of 40 summer math camps and programs for gifted mathematics students where they can "explore the world of mathematics research." Most of the programs are residential, and four are located in California. More information can be found on

AMS has also compiled information about summer experiences for college undergraduates who are majoring in mathematics:  The Web page on which this information is located also contains a collection of useful information for mathematics undergraduates. Topics include (a) applying to graduate school in the mathematical sciences, (b) semester-long programs at various U.S. campuses and abroad, (c) interesting Web sites about mathematics, (d) mathematics clubs, conferences, events, and online journals, (e) competitions, prizes, and honorary societies, (f) careers, and (g) jobs and internships. Visit for details.


San Diego School is One of Six Finalists in Race to the Top Commencement Challenge

Source: The White House

The Race to the Top Commencement Challenge was designed to give students the chance to compete to have President Obama as a commencement speaker. The initial application required three short essays and information about student achievement. Each of the six finalists prepared a three-minute video and a short essay describing how their high school is preparing students for college and a career. These videos and statements are available at 

Visitors to the Web site can view each finalist's video and written submission, presented in random order. For each school, visitors are encouraged to watch the video and read the essay question before deciding on a rating. Visitors will be allowed to rate the finalists on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 as the lowest rating and 5 as the highest). After a rating is submitted, the next school's video and essay question will be presented for review and rating until all six schools have been viewed. The ability to rate videos will end at 8:59 p.m. PDT on Friday, April 29.

One of the finalists is High Tech High in San Diego: "Project-based learning, combined with the 21st century principle of technology as a vital tool, molds HTHI freshmen into graduates ready for the world beyond high school. Our graduate statistics are further proof of our success: 99% of our graduates go onto higher education and 93% of alumni are still enrolled after three years." (In addition to viewing the school's video and statement, those interested in more information about High Tech High can visit


National Study Links Challenging High School Curriculum and More Science to Higher Achievement Trends Show More Rigorous Course-taking Among All Racial/Ethnic Groups Girls Lag in Taking Key Science Courses

Source: National Assessment Governing Board

Results of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) High School Transcript Study were released earlier this month. The study, which is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics, analyzed transcripts from a representative sample of 37,700 public and private high school graduates nationwide to show what courses they are taking, how many credits they earn and their grade point averages (GPA). The study examined the relationship between course-taking patterns and student achievement as measured by the NAEP assessments using a subsample of approximately 30,100 of the graduates who also took NAEP. The 2009 data can be compared to results from 1990, 1994, 1998, 2000 and 2005 transcript studies, and are collected from students' actual academic transcripts. The report classifies student course-taking by three curriculum levels:

- Standard: At least four credits of English and three credits each in social studies, math and science.
- Midlevel: Includes all of the standard requirements plus specifically requires students to complete geometry
and algebra I or II; at least two courses from biology, chemistry and physics; and at least one credit of a foreign language.
Rigorous: Includes all of the midlevel requirements plus an additional credit in math (pre-calculus or higher); courses in biology, chemistry and physics; and at least three credits in a foreign language.

The study found an association between challenging coursework and higher math and science scores on the 12th Grade NAEP assessment. It also revealed that science, in particular, was the missing link for many students who fell short of a rigorous curriculum. In addition, science courses were missing more often for girls than for boys.

The study showed more minority students taking higher-level courses, although racial/ethnic gaps in course-taking persist. Further, nearly two-thirds of graduates who attained a rigorous curriculum took algebra I before high school.

Students whose first high school math course was geometry scored 31 points higher on the NAEP math assessment than graduates who started high school math in algebra I.

The study found that more than any other single subject, science was the key to reaching a higher curriculum level. Science was the requirement most often missing for students who completed less than a standard curriculum: Overall, 39 percent of these students lacked only the required three credits of science. In 2009, 52% of Black graduates and 50% of Hispanic graduates who did not complete a standard curriculum were missing only the science requirements needed to attain a standard curriculum.

However, progress is being made by minority students in regard to taking more rigorous courses. Black graduates showed a significant improvement, with the percentage of graduates completing a standard curriculum or better increasing dramatically, from 40 percent in 1990 to 79 percent in 2009. Improvements were also made by Asian, Hispanic and White students.

"The findings demonstrate a clear connection between course rigor and achievement, and they argue strongly for students to take a more challenging curriculum in our high schools," said David P. Driscoll, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP. "Rigor in high school is closely linked to success afterwards, and this study confirms that we need higher secondary standards across the board. In particular, we need stronger requirements in math and science."

Other highlights of the High School Transcript Study:

-- More rigorous coursework. More graduates are completing challenging curriculum levels. The percentage of graduates completing a midlevel curriculum increased from 26 percent in 1990 to 46 percent in 2009. The percentage completing a rigorous curriculum increased from 5 percent in 1990 to 13 percent in 2009.
-- Racial/ethnic gaps. Students in all racial/ethnic groups completed more challenging curriculum levels in 2009 than in 1990. During this period, the percentage of Black and Hispanic graduates attaining a rigorous curriculum level increased 4 percentage points and 6 percentage points, respectively, with Asian/Pacific Islanders increasing 16 percentage points.
-- Gender differences. In 2009, female graduates generally scored lower in math and science on NAEP than males completing the same curriculum. Nevertheless, a greater percentage of female graduates completed a midlevel or rigorous curriculum than in previous years--and female graduates continue to earn higher average GPAs than males (3.10 compared to 2.90).
-- Level GPAs. Overall, GPAs appear to be leveling off after rising for more than a decade. GPAs increased from 2.68 in 1990 to 3.00 in 2009, but they have not increased significantly from 2005. GPAs were not adjusted for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and other honors classes.
-- More credits. High school students are earning more credits. The average credits earned by high school graduates increased from 23.6 credits in 1990 to 26.8 credits in 2005 to 27.2 credits in 2009.

America's High School Graduates, Results of the 2009 NAEP High School Transcript Study is available at  Additional information is available at


University of Texas Dean of Natural Sciences to head National Math and Science Initiative


Last Friday, the board of directors of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) announced today that Dr. Mary Ann Rankin, dean of the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, will assume the role of president and chief executive officer of NMSI following the retirement of Tom Luce.

"It is my pleasure to hand over the reins of NMSI to Dr. Rankin, who has played a strong role in the success of NMSI since its inception and is well-prepared to take the organization to the next stage of its growth nationally," Luce said.

Dr. Rankin, who has been dean of the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin from 1994-2011, will assume her new duties at NMSI on August 1. Her leadership at the university was instrumental in establishing UTeach, a NMSI program for training math and science teachers, which has tripled in enrollment over the last three years.

"I'm very excited about this opportunity to further promote proven programs such as UTeach that was started at The University of Texas at Austin," said Rankin. "It's a critical time in this country. The Obama administration is very focused on improving science and math education in the United States, and I'm excited to be part of that national effort."

Luce, who has served in his current role at NMSI since its founding in 2007, was previously an assistant secretary of education of the United States. He will remain active with the non-profit organization as a member of the NMSI board. Under his leadership, NMSI has implemented the Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program in 10 states and expanded the UTeach program for training math and science teachers to 22 universities. The White House recently showcased the expansion of the NMSI's Initiative for Military Families, which Luce has pioneered, resulting in the establishment of the Advanced Placement (AP) program in 32 schools across the country serving students from military families.

A non-profit organization, NMSI has been at the forefront of public-private efforts to raise math and science achievement in the U.S. since 2007, when it was created with foundational support from Exxon Mobil Corporation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

For more information about NMSI, visit


The Lucile Cornetet Award for Professional Development

Source: Delta Kappa Gamma

URL (Form):

The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International is a professional honorary Society of women educators. The Society promotes professional and personal growth of its members and excellence in education. The Society established the Lucile Cornetet Award for Professional Development to assist educators in their participation in professional development opportunities. Grants are awarded to employed educators, both Delta Kappa Gamma members and non-members.

Educators may attend workshops, seminars, lecture series, courses or conferences. The award may pay for registration fees, travel, lodging, books, etc. The application process is competitive. Application deadlines for Individual Awards are February 1, May 1 and September 1 depending on the date of the activity. These professional development activities must be completed within six (6) months after the application deadline and may not have been completed before the deadline. Applicants may receive a Cornetet Award only once, but may apply up to two times a year, should earlier applications be unsuccessful.

Visit to view information about the recipients of this award during the February 1 competition. (Four of the recipients used their grant funds to attend the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual conference earlier this month.)


President Obama's Comments on STEM during Visit to Facebook Headquarters in Palo Alto

Source: The White House

President Obama visited Facebook Headquarters in Palo Alto last week. His full remarks are available on the Web site above. Regarding STEM education, the President stated, "We've got to do such a better job when it comes to STEM education.  And that's one of the reasons, by the way, that we had our first science fair at the White House in a very long time, just because we want to start making science cool.  I want people to feel the same way about the next big energy breakthrough or the next big Internet breakthrough, I want people to feel the same way they felt about the moon launch--that that's how we're going to stay competitive for the future.  And that's why these investments in education are so important.

"But, as I said, government alone can't do it.  There has got to be a shift in American culture, where once again we buckle down and we say this stuff is important and it's--that's why, Mark [Zuckerberg], the work you're doing in Newark, for example, the work that the Gates Foundation is doing in philanthropic investments, in best practices and education--especially around math and science training--are going to be so important.

"We've got to lift our game up when it comes to technology and math and science.  That's, hopefully, one of the most important legacies that I can have as President of the United States..."


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