Monday, May 22, 2017

MVP and Alignment thoughts vs What is known to Work.

Recently I was reading the introduction to the Mathematics Vision Project (MVP) and was immediately reminded of (IMP) the Interactive Mathematics Program.  See this link on IMP.

Upon a first reading of the link you might find it hard to believe that IMP was a complete and total failure when used as part of the University of Washington NSF funded 5 year professional development "PD Cubed" at Cleveland High School in Seattle, WA. ...   from 2004-2005 through 2008-2009.  IMP was used for three years as the school based project.  [06-07; 07-08; 08-09.]  See this link for Cleveland HS data.

As incredibly poor as these Cleveland math results were, these types of results are far from unusual when the "experts" produce or rate programs as worthy of use.  The 1999 Exemplary and Promising Mathematics Programs were largely a complete bust. See this link as to how these programs gained the "Exemplary or Promising" rating.  Reading the beginning one-paragraph abstract from the 71 page download is quite revealing and demonstrates how wrong "supposed math experts" can be.
Exemplary = Cognitive Tutor Algebra; College Preparatory Math; Connected Mathematics; Core-Plus Mathematics Project; Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP)
Promising = Everyday Mathematics; MathLand; Middle-school Mathematics Through Applications Project (MMAP); Number Power; University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP)

The USA suffers from extremely poor decision-making in many aspects of k-12 education.  In 2010 the US Department of Education announced a $3.5 billion project to turnaround "failing schools" through the use of four turnaround models.  In January of 2017, it was announced that the program had cost $7 billion and had been a complete failure as none of the four models had increased any measure of student proficiency.

... in the final evaluation, Mathematica and the American Institutes of Research found none of the program's four school improvement models led to significant gains in students' math or reading test scores, graduation rates, or college enrollment, when compared to similar struggling schools who had not participated in the grants. Researchers had compared student achievement at schools that barely did or did not make the cutoff to be identified for turnaround under the grant. 
"There were such high expectations for the program when it first started, that these would become dramatically different and better schools," said Robin Lake, the director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington at Bothell. "They didn't hit dramatically different; unfortunately, they didn't even hit better."

In 1995 the first TIMSS International Mathematics Testing occurred and every four years TIMSS is given. The most recent TIMSS occurred in 2015.  The highest scoring TIMSS countries are in East Asia and each of these far surpasses the USA.  It is particularly interesting to examine what takes place in Singapore and contrast it with the bizarre recommendations that occur in the USA.

Singapore bases its instructional program not on “inquiry” or “student-centered design” but on a combination of teacher-centered Traditional Instruction with Direct Instruction and then builds from this to Teaching for Understanding.   Why is the USA not doing the same?

In the USA over the last 25 years there has been a large increase in holders of the Math Education degree and these individuals have had a huge impact on decision-making.  Note: very few of these individuals have a degree in Mathematics.  The US Math Education degree holders have very little use for data and much prefer to follow strongly held beliefs in making decisions. 

From the introduction to MVP: The Mathematics Vision Project was created as a resource to teachers who wish to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) using a task-based approach that leads to skill and proficiency in mathematics by first developing understanding.

Since the "New Math" of the late 1950s attempts to have conceptual understanding precede the development of skill and proficiency in mathematics have been incredibly unsuccessful. MVP is founded on an incredibly flawed idea for which there is no supporting data but it falls right in line which what math education degree holders believe should work.  Do these folks ever inquire as to how mathematics is taught in Singapore?  How many of these believers have at least an undergraduate degree in mathematics?   Here is the MVP crew.

The Digital Learning Department of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Olympia, WA finds no problems with MVP.  Here is its review.  The review focused specifically on alignment with Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.  That narrow focus misses the fact there is no data to support the "flawed approach" used in this program.  Procedural efficiency precedes the development of conceptual understanding in effective efficient math programs.  MVP's task-based approach ignores this fact.

Mr. Donald Pedersen, principal of Eagle Ridge High School in Klamath Falls, OR said:  My school is a Project Based Learning high school.  We use Project Based Learning for all subjects except math because Project Based Learning does not work for math.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

ESSA and DeVos: Is it time for Reykdal and Ferguson to Resist?

Recently WA State Attorney General has been at the forefront in resisting federal actions.  Chris Reykdal is WA State's recently elected Superintendent of Public Instruction.  Would they together resist the current  Secretary of the US Department of Education, Betsy DeVos, in her request for submitting a plan to her department for approval in regard to  WA State's plans to fulfill ESSA,

When DeVos says, "Power has been returned to state and local entities to be able to decide what standards and what expectations they are going to have of their students," she is referring to ESSA.  ESSA requires states to submit their ESSA plans to her for approval.  How is that local control?  It is a step towards federally mandated local control.

The US Constitution is very clear that many areas are reserved for control by the individual state. Education is such an area.  WA State should assert its sovereignty and refuse to comply on constitutional grounds. Superintendent Reykdal should not submit education plans to Secretary DeVos.

WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has done a good job resisting President Trump, why stop now? 

Did we learn nothing about  the manipulation of education issues from 8 years under Obama/Duncan/King and the 2002 No Child Left Behind act?  Time to ignore these Charlatans once and for all, because the US Constitution says we can.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Seattle Excludes JUMP Math from middle school math adoption consideration

Here are the materials under consideration for adoption by Seattle Public Schools.

This is a school district that supposedly seeks stakeholder engagement.  Seriously?  Such engagement is only sought after the materials from which the selection can be made has been determined.

Equity has been a big emphasis, here are NAEP stats

I compared the NAEP 2011 and 2015 for various population groups at grade 4 and grade 8.

Here are the 2015 8th grade average NAEP scores
followed by the cohort improvement (+__ ) from 2011 4th grade averages.
and [percent of students below standard] in grade 8 in 2015

307 [ 12 ]: Asian Students
306 (+50) [ 13 ]: Asian/Pacific Islander Students
276 [ 37 ]: Pacific Islander Students

296 [16]: Not eligible for Reduced Price Meals

292 (+43) [ 18 ]: White Students

282 (+41) [ ]: All Students

270 (+41) [ 40 ]: Hispanic Students

268 [42]: Eligible for Free and/or Reduced Price Meals

260 (+36) [ 52 ]: Black Students

257 (+47) [ ]: Low Density schools American Indian / Alaska Native students

--- (---) [ 43 ]: American Indian / Alaska Native students

247 (+51) [ ]: High Density schools American Indian / Alaska Native students

Low density public 2011 - 210     2015 - 211  grade 4 (+1)
Low density public 2011 - 258     2015 - 257  grade 8 (-1)

High density public 2011 - 196     2015 - 198  grade 4 (+2)
High density public 2011 - 244     2015 - 247  grade 8 (+3)

Low Density AI/AN Cohort improvement 2015-2011 = 257-210 = 47 points
High Density AI/AN Cohort improvement 2015-2011 = 247-196 = 51 points

Gap between High and Low density public schools
Grade 4  2011 14 pts  Grade 4 2015 13 pts
Grade 8  2011 14 pts  Grade 8 2015 10 pts.

National Average Scores
Grade 4 2011    241       Grade 4 2015  240 (-1)
Grade 8 2011    284       Grade 8 2015  282 (-2)

All student Cohort improvement 2015 -2011 = 282-241 = 41 points

Gap between National Average and High density public schools
Grade 4  2011 45 pts  Grade 4 2015 42 pts
Grade 8  2011 40 pts  Grade 8 2015 35 pts.

National Average Scores White Students
Grade 4 2011    249      Grade 4 2015  248 (-1)
Grade 8 2011    293       Grade 8 2015  292 (-1)

White student Cohort improvement 2015-2011 = 292-249 = 43 points

National Average Scores Black Students
Grade 4 2011    224       Grade 4 2015  224 (0)
Grade 8 2011    262       Grade 8 2015  260 (-2)

Black student Cohort improvement 2011 to 2015  260-224 = 36 points

National Average Scores Hispanic Students
Grade 4 2011    229       Grade 4 2015  230 (+1)
Grade 8 2011    270       Grade 8 2015  270 (0)

Hispanic  student Cohort improvement 2011 to 2015  270-229 = 41 points

National Average Scores Asian/Pacific Islander Students
Grade 4 2011    256      Grade 4 2015  257 (+1)
Grade 8 2011    303       Grade 8 2015  306 (+3)

Asian/Pacific Islander student Cohort improvement 2011 to 2015  306-256 = 50 points

Math history 1999 and CCSS thoughts today

In 1999 US Secretary of Education, Richard Riley endorsed the use of a selection of math programs judged Exemplary and Promising.  This endorsement of selected programs was not based on any large successful implementations.  These were math programs that experimented with nontraditional teaching methods.

Experts Attack Math Teaching Programs

Education: Top mathematicians and scientists urge U.S. to withdraw endorsement of methods that leave out basic skills. Federal official says change is unlikely.

Nearly 200 top mathematicians and scientists, including four Nobel laureates, are urging U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley to withdraw the government's endorsement of math programs that experiment with nontraditional teaching methods.
The strongly worded letter expresses outrage that some of the 10 widely used programs leave out such basic skills as multiplying two-digit numbers and dividing fractions.
"These curricula are among the worst in existence," said David Klein, a Cal State Northridge math professor who was one of the letter's authors. "To recommend these books as exemplary and promising would be a joke if it weren't so damaging."
Those signing the letter fear that a government endorsement of the programs will be a powerful force pushing teachers and school districts to use "dumbed down" instructional materials and methods. Several said they see the letter, which is to be publicized widely today, as providing a countervailing argument.
Steven Leinwand, a member of the federal panel that judged the books, defended the selection process.
"Every one of the programs designated as exemplary had real, clean data that showed test scores going up," said Leinwand, a consultant to the Connecticut Department of Education.
But he acknowledged a difference of opinion among mathematicians as to what constitutes good mathematics. "These programs do not teach kids to do five-digit by three-digit long division problems," he said. "Instead, they teach all kids, not just a few kids, when and why people need to divide."
(But many of the programs failed to teach division.  Then district math program directors wondered why students had so little number sense.)
But Leinwand was a poor judge of materials as most of these programs tanked and 10 years later the (NCTM) National Council of Teachers of Mathematics released Focal Points (2009), which attempted to correct the incoherence that the 1989 NCTM Math Curriculum and Evaluation Standards produced.....   As they say:  A day late and a dollar short for students, except it was 20 years late.

Common Core State Standards, which Leinwand likes, do not require proficiency in addition and subtraction with the common historical algorithms until the end of grade 4.

While the CCSS have some strengths over the previous math standards in certain states, the Washington State Math Standards of 2008 were significantly better.

In California, at least, the traditionalists have gained the upper hand. The state adopted standards for math classes that stress memorization of multiplication tables and only limited use of calculators, as well as an understanding of concepts such as place value.
As a result, the state rejected, or did not consider, all of the math programs recommended by the federal government except for a part of one, so school districts are prevented from using state textbook funds to buy them.  [This was true in 1999 but today California is a Common Core Math State.]
Unfortunately many districts in Washington State, like Seattle bought these defective "exemplary and promising" instructional materials.  Washington State has the legacy of Math Education believers that continually buy into recommended stuff with no track record of success.  CCSS is the latest of these.
Dear Secretary Riley:
In early October of 1999, the United States Department of Education endorsed ten K-12 mathematics programs by describing them as "exemplary" or "promising." There are five programs in each category. The "exemplary" programs announced by the Department of Education are:

    Cognitive Tutor Algebra
    College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM)
    Connected Mathematics Program (CMP)
    Core-Plus Mathematics Project
    Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP)
The "promising" programs are:
    Everyday Mathematics
    Middle-school Mathematics through Applications Project (MMAP)
    Number Power
    The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP)
So how is the Common Core Math program implementation going?
Early indicators signal not well.

NAEP 2015 (National Assessment of Educational Progress)
results showed a statistically significant decline in grade 8 math scores from 2013.

Fourth-grade mathematics scores increase in 3 states/jurisdictions and decrease in 16 compared to 2013.. WA state drops 1 point

Eighth-grade mathematics scores increase in 1 jurisdiction and decrease in 22 states compared to 2013.. WA state drops 3 points

Hillsborough County Florida (Tampa) was an early CCSS adopter with huge funding from Gates and the district.  The Urban NAEP revealed in 2015 an enormous proficiency score differential from grade 4 to  grade 8 of 16 points (43 to 27), while the nation declined 7 points (39 to 32).  Grade 8 2013 - avg score 284: 2015 avg 276...  2013 below standard 27%; 2015 below standard 36%.

While WA State dropped 3 points from 2013 to 2015, the percent of grade 8 students scoring at below standards rose from 2013 - 21% to 2015 - 26%.  Just like Hillsborough, WA State scores from the last testing cycle reveal a big weakness in the performance of struggling learners.

In WA State in grade 4 NAEP showed an overall decline of 1 point but at the Advanced Level an improvement of 1 point (from 2013 - 11% to 2015 - 12%.  Once again for struggling learners the picture was not pretty.  At below standard:  2013 - 14% ; 2015 17%.

Most early indicators especially from jurisdictions pushing CCSS the soonest show much poorer performance at grade 8 in 2015 than in 2013. Especially so for struggling learners at both 4th and 8th grades in WA State.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A former student writes - with Thank You

Some 49 years ago, teachers had a lot more latitude than is permitted today. Now administrators call teachers "Professionals" but treat them more like young children. Here is a note I just received from one of "my kids" I began teaching in fall of 1968 in grade 7.
I recently retired and during my career I became a story teller. I used stories to create emotion in listeners as a leadership tool. I had lots of stories about being raised in a small town and about lessons from my parents. I was also known for being a lifelong learner. I took classes every year I worked (picked up three masters degrees along the way).

When asked about my quest for learning, I shared a story about my seventh grade teacher. After having been taught by nuns for six years, a young teacher moved into this small town and lit a fire in me. He cared about all of us and taught me how to learn through his passion for mathematics. Using a high school math text, he challenged our ability to absorb new topics. The mathematical concepts served me well though high school and college. I wasn't really challenged again until college. Your gift for teaching became the basis for my BS and MS in Engineering which provided a path to leadership at Avista. I pointed to your math and teaching skills as the platform for all of my professional success.

I was very blessed to have you as my teacher at a pivotal time in my life. In case I never told you before, thank you for caring about me and for your guidance.

In that remote town, I fantasized about how great it could be to teach in a larger setting with all the support one might receive from administration. Well that is exactly what it was a fantasy. Today there are many intrusions from upper decision-makers that hinder teachers from being more effective and make the teaching job more difficult. I with the help of other teachers could create an enormous list.

If it had not been for the fabulous time I had teaching initially, I would have dumped this teaching gig long ago. It is extremely difficult to find a math teaching job in Western Washington in which suitable instructional materials are available for use. Way too many districts are using the Danielson Evaluation model because it is one-size fits-all, while being largely useless to math teachers. Some places are moving to "Standards based grading" what a waste of energy. The focus should be on great instruction not grading. Leadership today is defective it resembles "bullying" not "cooperative guidance". PLCs, Professional Learning Communities are now a cover for more top-down edicts and indoctrination.

I am flying to Albuquerque today to interview tomorrow for a School Year 2017-18 math position at Ramah Middle/High School in Ramah, NM. The school is grades 6-12 with 195 students, 80% American Indian, 10% Anglo, 10% Hispanic. I've heard good things about the principal ... Hopefully Ramah is not required by the district to use "no books EngageNY" the latest round of instructional lunacy, so popular in the Olympia, WA area.

Singapore’s Math Results, How Do They Do It?

Singapore’s Math Results, How Do They Do It?