Thursday, November 5, 2015

NAEP Math collapse and Common Core connection

He’s Dead, Jim: Why Common Core Is a Goner and Just Doesn’t Know It Yet  by Ze'ev Wurman on June 7, 2015

The underlying message is that Common Core standards are so excellent and unique that states attempting to distance themselves from them won’t do any better.

Yet this message is incorrect, and Common Core is dying. Consider the following. First, the curricula of high achieving nations vary widely. Singapore’s curriculum differs from Japan’s, which in turn differs from Hong Kong’s. Pretending that Common Core succeeded in finding the unique and perfect combination where others failed—and without any evidence of success—is both arrogant and foolish. Further, all serious studies have found Common Core academically mediocre, trailing behind international high achievers in its expectations. As for the proponents’ definition of “alignment,” they consider having the same content but in a different grade as “aligned.” One is forced to conclude that Common Core’s “excellence” exists only in the mind of its peddlers.

But mediocre academics are not the reason for Common Core’s death. Rather, its death comes because states are abandoning its goal of lock-step national uniformity.

Why did NAEP scores drop?    by : Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst  on October 28, 2015

A five point decline in NAEP would mean that eighth graders in 2015 were roughly six months of school behind eighth graders in 2013.  The same calculations using the more conservative actual decline of three points leads to an estimated loss of roughly four months of school.  This is serious.

I’ve examined this issue empirically by exploring whether differences among states in the 2015 versus 2013 NAEP results in mathematics are associated with differences among states in whether students participated in a full blown Common Core assessment through one of the two assessment consortia (Smarter Balanced, and PARCC) at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.  Twenty-eight states participated in a full blown Common Core assessment whereas 22 did not." How can an entirely different exam effect the outcome of this - or any to be more inclusive - exam? 
Easy.  In spite of the excessive time spent in the actual administration (so much that the testing process collapsed entirely in some states), FAR more time was spent in preparation for them.  Combined with the implicit non-teaching aspects of Constructivism (blessed nationally by the Standards for Mathematical Practice of the CCSS-M), the explicit non-teaching aspects of learning how to put numeric/symbolic answers down in a form that the computer will accept them and to write a bunch of BS pretending to have achieved "deeper understanding", a great deal of time that should have been devoted to the teaching and learning of mathematics in a zero-sum, math-time situation was lost.


Quick View -  CCSS created Math Chaos and scores declined ... When can we stop?   Do not ask permission demand this stop.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

If Looking for STEM Truth .. Ask a retired Professional.

I've goofed on some of my STEM education opinions. I will stand by my statement that a big reason for STEM emphasis is the vendors' goal of selling tech stuff to schools but there is a shortage of STEM professionals.  The IEEE maintains wages have been stagnant for 20 years as evidence of no shortage but apparently complex factors suppress wages despite a shortage.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education.

The more I look at the actions of Administration, Politicians, Researchers, and other “leaders” the less inclined I am to believe they convey the “whole truth”.  The Gates Foundation has so heavily funded so many organizations that truth about education issues is on its way to non-existent.

I have a lot more faith in finding truth in the words of retirees, who were experts in their field back in the day.  They have no current vested interest in individual advancement, which so characterizes many “education leaders” climbing the totem pole today.

In pursuit of some STEM truth, I put forth the following words from a retiree on STEM and education:

Regarding stem, one concern of mine is an overemphasis on "job training" …..  and the de-emphasis of  general education, subjects like history and ethics which I view as essential I suspect are lacking. 

Are there enough qualified engineers in the US? Here is my view.

My last job in xxxx County was at a high tech company, xxxx, where I was a VP of engineering for a group of engineers, software, hardware etc. It was interesting that there were very few Caucasians in my group and no females.  I participated in the hiring and I can tell you that there was no intent to discriminate. We had many Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans, Pakistani, Afghani, etc.  Not a single Mexican, but a few South Americans. Almost all hires were American citizens.  We would get very few Caucasian applications. I don't understand the lack of Caucasians.  There are more Mexicans in xxxx county than whites. We used all kinds of methods to try to get candidates, but job openings could take 6 months or more to fill. 

I can tell you that there are definitely not enough qualified engineers in xxxx County. To solve this, you can train more (STEM growth), bring in offshore engineers (xxxx company has done this), move work offshore (xxxx company does this in India), hire from outside the area (expensive and difficult because of the housing costs in xxxx), or hire from competitors (wage inflation, xxxx company doesn't do much of this for a variety of reasons).  It is clear to me that there are not enough engineers in southern CA to meet the needs of industry.  

I participated in offshoring to India and found it very difficult.

I was involved in a program to demonstrate to local high school kids what our jobs were like.  When the kids saw engineers working at a terminal in a cube, or even in the lab, and talked with them about what they do, the response was not positive.  I am not a salesman and it was not my intent to influence either way.  But I was shocked and even a bit offended at the response.

My brother’s son graduated from an Ivy League School with an engineering major/economics minor degree.  He and ALL of his friends took jobs on Wall Street.  He is out for about 5 years now, works in xxxx city, owns a nice home and is involved with trading natural gas.  I don't know if he is happy, but he is doing very well economically. 

The above is one knowledgeable honest voice about STEM.

Ed Week: In L.A., Tensions Rise Over Teacher-Misconduct Investigations

Here we go.... at last this hits Big News: The suit, filed this month, charges that the district has unfairly targeted veteran teachers on trumped-up claims of misconduct. It is being brought by the nationally prominent teacher Rafe Esquith, who was recently fired by the school board after a district investigation leveled charges of personal misconduct.
I have no way of knowing if Rafe Equith is innocent or guilty.
"United Teachers Los Angeles, the district union, has not taken a stance on Esquith's case. But it has repeatedly expressed concerns about whether investigators are targeting teachers for minor infractions or reasons other than misconduct."

My gripe has been that districts prefer to get rid of expensive career teachers and replace them with less experienced newbies.   This is particularly true for veteran teachers who prefer to speak out on education issues that rub admin the wrong way.  Unlike  employment in the private sector where support for the company line is appropriate, public school employment allows teachers to speak out on issues.  Unfortunately such speech may be the route to termination.

It is often pointed out that most teachers support the Common Core. Of course publicly most teachers support CCSS as they like staying employed. 
Link to EdWeek article:

In L.A., Tensions Rise Over Teacher-Misconduct Investigations

  The law firm representing Esquith says that some 2,000 teachers said that they, too, have been harmed by district investigations, and could potentially join the suit. .....

.....   But pressing too aggressively risks raising concerns of profiling or overzealousness. Indeed, the firm representing Esquith, helmed by big-name criminal-defense lawyer Mark Geragos, has called the team that investigated his client "an investigative hit squad."

------ addendum from Seattle teacher on "Whistleblowing" ..  =>    Ha, ha.  Sure we have freedom of speech, but when I spoke out (whistleblowing) at a school board meeting on my principal misusing funds for her own purpose, she filed an harassment charge against me (for asking for the school budget-- from my union who then informed her of my request!)  and I was transferred, over the protests of many parents at the school board. 

 I eventually "won" my grievance for wrongful transfer (the union refused to enforce the more powerful "no retaliation for whistleblowing" clause in the CBA) but the arbitrator agreed with the district that I should be transferred nonetheless!  SEA claimed a win, even though I lost!    Sure, speak out but beware the union will betray you and the district will retaliate.

Know what the district's whistleblower policy is?   Go get 'em! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Ed Week: Drop in U.S. NAEP Math, Reading Scores Prompts Blame Game .. .... (Serious CYA game begins)

Drop in U.S. Math, Reading Scores Prompts Blame Game

Blame Laid on Economy, Demography, Standards  

With U.S. students' math and reading scores showing statistically significant declines on a national test for the first time in more than two decades, advocates on all sides have begun pointing fingers. It is the CYA game that is really beginning.

....  U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a separate media call about the results that this sort of "implementation dip" is fairly common. He pointed to Massachusetts, which saw a temporary drop in test scores in the early 2000s after changing its standards. "This is the ultimate long-term play," he said.

Arne Duncan is leaving this crap shooting soon but the nation's children are stuck with it.

But Brookings' Loveless dismissed the idea of a post-implementation drop being the norm. "I don't buy it," he said. "If that whole theory is right, we should have seen it two years ago," when the common standards were also being implemented.

About Duncan's dip claim based on Massachusetts,  Ze'ev Wurman writes HERE. =>   " It is also interesting to note that Secretary Duncan pointed to Massachusetts, that supposedly saw a drop in test scores after raising standards two decades ago before becoming a consistently high-achieving state, as his way of “excusing” the NAEP drop. It seems Duncan attempts to rewrite history. Massachusetts suffered a significant decline only in fourth grade reading once in 2003 … truly a “blip.” Otherwise it continued its impressive climb to the top of the states … until losing ground since 2011 in all four NAEP indicators. That certainly is not even close to past Massachusetts’ record, despite what Mr. Duncan would have us believe."


Meanwhile, Michael Petrilli, the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, wrote initially that the economy would be to blame if NAEP scores dropped but revoked that interpretation after digging into the state data. Instead, he asked onlookers to be patient, "to wait for more sophisticated analyses to emerge, and to wait until 2017 to see if these numbers are a one-time blip or the beginning of a disturbing trend."

Really Mr. Petrilli wait two years until 2017. So when grade 3 students are in grade 5, then we can think about changes.  You must be kidding.  Right?




Sunday, November 1, 2015

WAPO: How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution

How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution

 June 2014, The Washington Post has this in the Politics section.  CCSS was a lot more about politics than about education.  States adopted CCSS before it was even completed.  Talk about buying a Pig in a Poke.

enVisionmath2.0 ©2016 -- A wordy mess impedes the learning of arithmetic

enVisionmath2.0 ©2016

If  children are struggling readers, EnVisions 2.0 will make sure they struggle with math.
Here is one person's opinion:
EnVision Math was terrible even before their CC 2.0 edition. But, you can't tell how bad it is until slightly later than K-2. It's even more constructivist than Everyday Math, but it isn't as rapidly changing of content (every 2-3 days in Everyday Math.) It falls apart for kids around grades 3-5.

The word problems aren't bad per se; Singapore math is incredibly heavy in word problems. The issue is that Singapore math also teaches mental math and then mastery of the algorithms, and a method for doing the word problem (bar modeling.) EnVision doesn't teach the algorithms, and they don't teach mental math strategies to mastery, nor the consistent technique of bar modeling. Everything is a lesson in pure constructivism, starting over from no knowledge every grade.

Word problem heavy math is something that people saw in other nations' math curricula, and thought they should try to bring here.
 But they lack:
 a) the mathematical knowledge to write mathematically correct word problems, (if Sarah has two pints of milks, and Tom has 1 cup of rice, how many pounds do they have?) and 
b) they don't teach reading well enough for students to succeed at it. Instead, the teacher teaches "key words" because the student doesn't know how to parse the sentences with their anaphora or prepositions. 
This turns math into "-less than- means subtract", and "-of- means multiply." Which works right up until the problem is ....
Alice has 10 fewer pieces of candy than Bob. If Alice has 22, how many does Bob have? Or, even better, if 6 of 8 socks are red, what fraction are red?
Another person teaching 2nd grade observes of EnVision CCSS 2.0
I and another teacher discarded Everyday Math early in last school year. We began using EnVisions it was considerably better than Everyday Math.  During the summer the District purchased EnVisions 2.0.  That book is considerably weaker than the previous version.  The tests 2.0 provides are so word problem heavy that it is hard to tell if the students understand arithmetic.  I am teaching first semester grade 2 and many students are not way above grade level readers.  The 2.0 materials are making the learning of arithmetic far to confusing for too many students.  I am rewriting tests to test arithmetic  to see if my grade 2 students are learning arithmetic.  If a student is currently struggling with reading, they should not automatically be forced to struggle in math class; but that is exactly what EnVisions2.0 imposes on such children.


Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Freedom to Teach or be Imprisoned by Data

Common Core’s Panopticon: The Freedom to Teach or be Imprisoned by Data

from Asia's Think Tank

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) has created a system to produce and sell standards, curriculum materials, textbooks, and assessments. Working with federal agencies and corporate sponsors, the CCSSI has foisted itself upon half the states. The last piece of the system is data collection. Bill Gates and government officials have long sought to track students’ beliefs and performance. Now they would like to micromanage educators, as well. This puts the CCSSI on a collision course with parents, teachers, and civil libertarians who do not trust the government to use such data wisely.

  … All states and districts should collect common data on teachers and students.

 One shudders to think where we are headed. Do children have any right to privacy, or does “affective computing” preempt it? Will teachers remain free to adjust lesson plans to better serve students, or will a new Taylorism be the wave of the future? Will the new mind-reading technologies obviate the need for the reflective practice of teaching? Are there any limits on government or on how intrusive technocrats can be?

Welcome to the Brave New World of Education brought to you by Mr. Gates and the Oligarchs using largely your tax dollars.