Thursday, January 31, 2008

Legislative draft of Math Standards available at Dana Center - Version 3.0

Click below for the webpage and download information

Washington Mathematics Standards Revision

Hunter & Anderson's Math Letter to SBE members

On January 29th I wrote:
Our only chance for success is if the legislature has the courage to say: "Dr. Bergeson you are not doing what HB 1906 was designed to do. You were to end the Math Mess you created and instead you plan to continue it."

I did not know that three days prior the letter below had been sent.

Check this for a nice bold reading. --- Dan

Here’s the letter Ross Hunter and Glenn Anderson sent to the SBE:

January 26, 2008
Washington State Board of Education

Dear State Board of Education Member,
This week the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction released the second draft of proposed new math standards for review and feedback. Also this week an alternative set was released by the “Where’s the Math” group. Both drafts were discussed at the House and Senate Education Committees’ meetings on January 24, 2008.

We understand the State Board of Education has retained Strategic Teaching to perform an independent review of the proposed OSPI standards. By February 5, 2008, Strategic Teaching is scheduled to complete its assessment of how well the draft standards comply with its recommendations as described in the Strategic Teaching’s report to the State Board of Education of August 30, 2007.

We understand that the timeline is short for such an important task. Choosing a new set of mathematics standards is a critical event that will significantly impact the success of many other education reform efforts over the next several years.

We hope that you will continue to retain the focus on quality and rigor that you showed in the original Strategic Teaching review of the standards. Specifically, we encourage you to come to a clear opinion about the relative alignment of the proposed standards from the superintendent and other standards, both adopted by other states and the proposed Where’s the Math proposal, according to the specified legislative intent and direction of HB1906.

We need an unambiguous plan to move forward and benefit our state’s children. We are willing to encourage our legislative colleagues to revise the timeline the Legislature initially provided if you deem that necessary to adopt high quality standards. We should not settle for mediocrity. If the current proposed alternatives aren’t close enough to the other high quality sets of standards you compared our original standards to, we suggest you request that we give you more time and/or a better process to follow.

Thank you for immediate attention to this matter, and for your work in improving math education in the State of Washington.


Monday, January 28, 2008

A Parent Comments about the Coming Spokane Input Session

In her presentation to the Senate Education Committee on Thursday (1-24) Dr. Terry Bergeson stated that her primary goal in presenting the 2nd Standards Draft to educators in Spokane would be to solicit feedback. I’m given to understand that she’s also requested and enabled members of the Standards Revision Teams (SRT) to travel to Spokane to meet 1 day in advance… on OSPI’s dime. She no doubt plans to have them aid in presentations and “guided discussions” of the draft documents. Having witnessed OSPI’s behavioral pattern throughout this revision process, it’s not difficult to discern her true intentions.

The real purpose is sell educators on the revised draft, and get them to be vocal about “owning this revision” as their own. She has herself said that there would be no time to incorporate input from Spokane into the 2nd draft, and of course she’s correct on that score.

In order to accomplish her objective, Dr. Bergeson needs to make certain that all her Generals (OSPI/Dana editors) and Officers (SRT members) are reading from the same script. This will give her the best chance at getting as many soldiers (educators) as possible to “own” this second draft. Undoubtedly there will be promises of “professional development” tied to the sales pitch package. Oh, and of course there will placatory attention given to “feedback” in whatever minimal input window is given. The real “feedback” she’s after will come from “loyalists” after they’ve been sold on the draft documents, and Dr. Bergeson’s vision for the future.

I’m constantly astonished at how few people are able or willing to read between the lines. This strategy is very apparent/transparent for those who are willing to think for themselves.

Michael Miller
Issaquah Parent,

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sub-Prime Math Melt Down to Continue?

1-28-2008 ( In a hurry just read the bold )

In any situation in which a decision is to be made, one’s Mode of Operation may leave one stuck with one’s point of view. The Mode of Operation is definitely sticking it to us Washington residents far too often.

Some of the components that are adverse to producing good decisions are:
1... Autocratic Process - which neglects genuine community input.
2... Flawed data, which is cherry-picked to support “the correct” “Group-think” point of view.
3... Political follow the leader decisions rather than searching for better solutions.
4... Always in a hurry -- unable to take the time to perform adequate research and thoughtfully develop plans that can be effectively implemented and are then able to be sustained over time to produce positive results. (Easier to fake the data)
5... Over-reliance on our “employed experts”. Often on the payroll but hardly able to be judged as experts based on current or past practice and performance.
6... Vindictive reprisals against those who do not buy the “Group Think”. This occurs not only at the School District level, even Dr. Bergeson selected almost exclusively "Politically Correct Group Thinkers" to the state math Standards Rewrite Team and employed the Dana Center at six times the cost of a well qualified low bidder.

This “Modus Operandi Nonsense Approach” has produced a continually widening achievement Gap in Math over the last decade in this state for Black, Hispanic and poor children. It leaves many of our children, whether advantaged or disadvantaged, mathematically impoverished despite funding increases and will continue to do so until someone with authority has the courage and initiative to act responsibly.

First a comparison: The sub-prime financial meltdown mess occurred because banks were allowed to write bad housing loans because agencies like Moodys failed to do their job. The banks wrote the bad loans because the credit rating agencies kept writing AAA and so the banks kept writing.

I doubt if any of those highly paid people who failed to make appropriate decisions in regard to stamping AAA are losing their jobs. That does not change the fact that they are responsible for this current sub-prime loan meltdown which is effecting our entire nation and is directly effecting school budgets in Montana and Florida as those states invested state monies in that mess.

Our legislature is supposed to be serving a similar role as a watch dog to protect the public. School boards are supposed to be alert in what is in the best interests of the education community. School boards are supposed to be leaders and major decision makers.

We have a sub-prime financial melt down because Moodys et al. did not do the job.
We have a Washington Math Melt Down for the same reason - abdication of responsibility.

Every nation in the world has math education decision makers who believe that Arithmetic Skills lead to Algebra Skills which lead to Calculus Skills except the USA. Results confirm that we have the worst math education decision makers in the world.

But someone always keeps stamping AAA; on May 30th, 2007 it was the Seattle School Board, so did Issaquah, Olympia, and Bethel School Boards who all recently stamped AAA rated on mathematical nonsense.

Irrational Seattle Schools math thoughts:
1... SPS concerned about achievement gaps in math.
2... Achievement gaps in math continually grew over the last decade.
3... The top preforming math materials in the world from Singapore are written in basic simple English to serve a student population the majority of whom come from homes in which English is not the primary language.
4... Seattle refused to even look at such materials until great community pressure and still Singapore math was not worthy of even primary adoption consideration.
5... Seattle spends millions on Everyday Math materials preferring to never deal with the real statistics in regard to this adoption. “Group Think gone wild”

As of Jan 22, 2008 there is no change in direction anticipated from SPS math decision makers. As the “Group Think faithful” believe that all students can be successful at 8th grade algebra, if it is conceptually based rather than computationally based algebra.

Many districts have only the choice of non-computationally based high school math programs because most of their children are prepared for nothing else coming out of k-8 materials that leave them unprepared to undertake a rigorous internationally competitive math program.

At Seattle Central Community College over the last four years recent high school graduates place into math classes as follows: 3% arithmetic, 17% middle school math, 30% the equivalent of high school math one, 28% the equivalents of high school math above math one, 22% begin with a collegiate level math course that counts for credit.

Clearly the SPS employed district math decision makers have no plan to alter this statistic to any meaningful degree.

Despite statements that the past math curricula has been a mile wide and an inch deep and being excited about increasing depth in math, many math decision makers continue adopting the same non-competitive unfocused programs, with just different covers on essentially the same ineffective material.

Everyday Math has far too many topics per grade level. There is no opportunity for depth because it incoherently jumps from one topic to the next way too rapidly. Linda Plattner of Strategic Teaching (paid $150,000 by SBE for her opinions and excellent work) said that the Spiraling in Everyday Math is no longer considered a best practice. Some parents have definitely figured this out on their own. How can district level administrators continue to ignore high school teachers as Olympia did and continue this downward spiral with the adoption of (Connected Math) CMP2? Books that continue to produce inadequate results continue to be adopted because they are in alignment with OSPI’s defective math standards. How can books with such an incoherent approach to teaching topics possibly be under consideration? The answer is “Group Think”.
It is highly unlikely that school boards will hear the truth very often from the teaching staff, as those who care to tell it get vindictive reprisals from their superiors and are usually ignored by school boards.

Originally one of the ideas behind HB 1906, was that it was difficult for kids to transfer within this state and be successful in math because of the wide number of texts in use. The theory was that limiting texts to three or fewer per school level would allow OSPI and ESDs to carefully focus coaching and professional development. { I think the problem is that kids do not know math - that lame transfer excuse was never given when grade level knowledge was required}.

On Jan 22, 2008 the evening of the second draft of the Washington Math Standards presentation, the audience at Roosevelt High School was told that even if Everyday Math is not selected as a recommended text by the state, OSPI will help those who adopted EM and Connected Math with coaching and professional development. I think it is far too expensive to restore a totaled vehicle. Time to buy new, only this time do some research and buy quality.

If you wish to see the height of odd thinking watch the State Senate Committee considering Algebra II as a graduation requirement. This in a state where less than 60% of the high school students in grade 10 can pass the mathematical equivalent of a 7th grade math exam.

Even more bizarre is the testimony of Ms. Shannon Edwards of Chief Leschi school and a member of the Standards Re-write Team in regard to the Algebra II requirement saying it is possible for all students to pass Algebra II and it should be a graduation requirement. Her testimony is at 1 hour 4 minutes on the video Here

Reality Gap at Chief Leschi - Check out the Chief Leschi situation.

2006-07 WASL Results:(percent of students passing)
Grade Level..Reading... Math......Writing.......Science
3rd Grade........ 47.2%.....40.3%
4th Grade........ 60.8%.....21.6%.....51.0%
5th Grade........ 65.3%.....26.5%....................12.2%
6th Grade........ 55.0%..... 5.0%
7th Grade........ 36.2%.....19.1%.....36.2%
8th Grade........ 40.4%.....17.0%....................17.0%
10th Grade....... 57.6%.....11.5%.....84.5%.........13.6%

I believe that this is either Ms. Shannon Edwards first or second year at Chief Leschi.

Things have improved greatly at Chief Leschi schools from 2003
2002-03 WASL Results:
Grade Level..Reading... Math......Writing
4th Grade........ 37.7%.....5.7%.....30.2%
7th Grade........ 16.1%.....12.5%.....8.9%
10th Grade........ 9.7%.....0.0%.....16.1%

Ms. Edwards is typical of the people that Dr. Bergeson placed on the Washington Math Standards Re-write Team. The State Board of Education put together a 20 person math panel that had wide diversity. Note that Dr. Bergeson’s SRT features almost no diversity of views. She had only one industry representative: Jane Broom from Microsoft who has no math background. There was not a single person from industry with a math background on that team. The only reason that “non-group thinker” Bob Dean, Evergreen High School math dept. head, was on that team was after an FOI request for the rubric used by OSPI for the Team selection and the applications. Mr. Dean, who had not been selected despite an extremely high score, was added by Dr. Bergeson by personal invitation after the FOI request.

We will still be suffering through failed math education decision making until someone decides to stop stamping AAA rated on mediocre materials..
In the larger picture, the education reform movement has largely bought into the idea that the state defines what should be learned and then creates or selects materials to learn it. This often times borders on irrelevant minutia. Unfortunately there is little if any analysis as to whether any of this works. It has not worked over the last decade in math - why will this approach work now?

Consider the old days when the book was the curriculum. (not the best plan but far better than what is now happening in many places).

Consider where our schools could be if we just looked at the best books and told the teachers to teach from them with emphasis on particular skills and topics. Then evaluated the results, and provided interventions as needed.

Despite all the education jargon, we now are doing precisely the same thing with “Fidelity of Implementation” except we are following the pacing plan and forcing our teachers and children through very poor materials without any prioritization of topics. In spite of the fact that even Dr. Bergeson insists that no one book can do it all. Seattle persists in having one very poor textbook series do it all. Again no priorities are in place. There are no meaningful interventions instead we have social promotion. Singapore math was adopted as a supplement but through December was unused. Singapore is successful in part because it greatly limits topics in the early grades and requires learning those topics.

I have continually advocated for fewer topics per grade level. In September of 2006 the NCTM focal points were released. The Focal points narrow the topics. Seattle's reform math leadership refuses to narrow topics.

Consider three items:

1. NCTM Curriculum Focal Points for mathematics in Pre-kindergarten through Grade 8 (free online download available)
2. Everyday Math Learning Goals by grade level. (Excel spreadsheet)
3. The 2004 MSSG paper: "What is Important in School Mathematics?"

Read the MSSG paper, then look at the Focal Points, and finally look at the EM learning goals by grade level. It will be most apparent why our current direction in Everyday Math and many other reform programs (but not all) is both ill advised and largely ineffective. (Seattle, Issaquah and Bethel adopted EM just this year instead of waiting for state guidance or employing rational decision making).

During Seattle’s May 16th 2007 Elementary Math Adoption introductory meeting, Math administrators said that the EM roll out would be very similar to the CMP2 rollout that was going so well. Referring to coaching, increased parent contact, teacher training etc.

Look at SPS middle school math scores from Spring 2006 to Spring 2007.
(I hate using WASL for math competence but that is all we have had since 2005).
The spring scores for 2006 and 2007 are given in relationship to the state averages

grade level: ............ 6th ............. 7th ............. 8th

Spring 2006 .......... -0.2% .......... -1.1% .......... -1.4%

Spring 2007 .......... +0.1% .......... -1.3% .......... -0.1%

net change ........... +0.3% ......... -0.2% ......... +1.3%

For Seattle’s limited English speaking students grades 6,7,& 8 and Hispanics at grades 6,7, & 8 the performance of each of these six groups was worse than the previous year. The Seattle School district is still widening not closing the achievement gap for Hispanics and Limited English students in mathematics.

It appears that this Seattle adoption of the CMP2 curriculum accomplished nothing positive as there were positive tactics employed in addition to the curriculum change and still no positive statistically significant results were obtained on the WASL.

Tacoma left CMP and adopted Saxon for fall 2006. I had great doubts about this as most WA children by middle school are already computational failures in many WA districts. At Grade 3, I thought it would be reasonable but Saxon success at middle school most unlikely and at high school just flat impossible.

Here are Tacoma’s results for grades 3 through 8:

grade level... 3rd ... 4th ..... 5th .... 6th ... 7th ... 8th ... 10th

Spring 2006 -12.6%. -15.9%. -10.1%. -16.9%. -15.5%. -14.1%

Spring 2007..+5.9%. -12.4%.. -5.8%.. -9.4%. -11.3%. -14.2%

net change..+6.7% .+3.5% .+4.3% .+7.5% .+4.2% ..-0.1% .+4.4%

Tacoma has very impressive year to year changes except for grade 8 using Saxon Math.
Not bad for a book series supposedly not well aligned with the State Math standards according to OSPI.

In Tacoma at grades 6, 7, and 8 WASL results show the following for the limited English speaking students grades 6, 7, & 8 and Hispanics at grades 6, 7, & 8 the performance of each of these six groups improved the exact opposite of Seattle.

Limited English (net results) grades
6th.... +8.9% ... 7th... +1.4% ... 8th... +3.4%

Hispanics (net results) grades
6th... +12.6% ... 7th... +5.5% ... 8th... +1.3%

It seems clear to me that the math “Group Think” of the last decade is continuing in Seattle. Remember all these groups scored worse in 2007 than in 2006 in Seattle despite the additional support provided during the Connected Math implementation year 2006-2007 in the SPS.

At the time Seattle adopted Everyday Math. It was already known that the Everyday Math - Connected Math combination was failing in Denver and in the Colorado Springs area.

The question now becomes:
Will those who have the decision making power in Washington Schools continue to stamp AAA and continue this defrauding of the public?

Seattle has absolutely no business making a High School math adoption when they continue to pass unskilled students into high school without the mandated provisions of Seattle School Board policies D43.00 D 44.00 and D45.00 being in place k-8. Despite the Focal Points plea for narrowing topics SPS math leadership refuses to do so and instead buys materials that are the exact opposite. There are no effective interventions because there are no necessary skills defined. The public is pacified by social promotion.

Dr. Bergeson and many school boards have managed to fool most of the people for the last decade, is the plan to continue?

Will the Washington legislature finally say the buck stops here?
by saying: "Sorry no AAA stamp this time" or instead allow the Great Washington Math Meltdown to continue?

It is extremely unfortunate that many in the public are buying into this current situation as a battle between traditionalists and reformers. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is about decision making based on:
1. Blind philosophical allegiance or
2. Rational decision making based on what is working in the most successful nations in the world at mathematically educating their children. {Finland, Canada, Singapore, etc}

This is not a contest between the Luddites and the philosophically enlightened. The matter is now whether Washington State decision makers have the courage to put our children on the very well documented track to math success or not.

The goal of this standards rewrite was to be to bring the Washington Math Standards from a grade of "F" to being internationally competitive.

The Washington Exemplary Mathematics Standards 2008
can bring our children closer to being mathematically competitive internationally.

Dr. Bergeson's Washington K-12 Mathematics Standards are improved but can not produce the desired outcome for our children.

TIMSS International Scores are here.

PISA International scores of 15 year olds


Dan Dempsey

Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education (109 minutes) VIDEO on the coming k-12 Math Standards and required third year of math

January 24, 2008 10:00am
Event Description:

Public: SB 6534 (Regarding the revision of mathematics standards); Work: Update on the revision of the mathematics standards/recommended math curriculum, Status on determination of content of the req. credit for high school mathematics, other.

This is 1 hour 49 minutes on what in happening in math. The standards revision process is explained and questions are asked.
Steve Floyd of the State Board of Education leads off, Cathy Seeley former NCTM president (2004-2006) currently of the Dana Center starts near minute 9:00. Dr. Terry Bergeson is there.

Senator McAuliffe asks questions of almost everyone.

There is testimony from teachers and educators beginning at 1:00:00
Three testimonies from others begin at 1:40:00

Steve Floyd of SBE begins with an overview.

Cathy Seeley of Dana Center starts at 9:00 min
testimony ends at 22:00 min then questions of Cathy Seeley go on until 29:00.

Dr. Bergeson speaks beginning at 29:00
Talks about curriculum at 35:00 until 46:00

Senator Oemig asks great question at around 43:30

Steve Floyd Talks about SBE and the required third credit of Mathematics 47:45
"The Meaningful High School Diploma" ready for success in post secondary education, or employment, and ready for success as a citizen.

Senator Zarelli of Ridgefield asks a great question about Algebra II requirement at 57:00 minutes

Teacher and Educator testimony start at 1:00:00
with four minute presentations

1:00 Rosalind O'Donnell, BS in math, 6th grade teacher from Ellensberg on the SRT

1:04:30 Shannon Edwards, BS in Math, teacher from Chief Leschi near Fife on the SRT

1:09 a new Algebra II

1:10 Travis Schuler, Spokane Principal

1:15 Larry Neiland, Marysville Superintendent

1:20 Dr. Elham Kazam, U of W professional expert on Elmentary Math gives an excellent explanation of algorithms in lower grades (Compute sums of two digit numerals). Huge importance of priorities at each grade level.

1:24:45 Bob Brandt co-founder of "Where's the Math?" retired math teacher and retired high tech professional. SBE Math Panelist. Speaks on the current K-12 draft #2 revised standards need for further improvement. Passes out an alternative set of Standards developed by Washington state residents at "Where's the Math?" these stands are titled the Washington Exemplary Math Standards. Senator McAuliffe says that her committee will look at this set of standards also.

1:31 Bob Dean, SBE Math panelist, SRT team, Math department chair at Evergreen High School in Vancouver. The SRT, Standards Revisions Team members, are not representative of the teachers in this state. This group was not capable of significantly changing the direction of the Washington State math direction these are not a change of course.

How can the idea of all students passing algebra II even be considered. Currently only a little over half our high school students can pass the equivalent of a 7th grade math test.

1:35:30 Dr. Helen Burn of Highline Community College, SBE Math Panelist. Transition Math Project member which is trying to revise high school math to better support what is needed at the community college level.

Community Input follows:

1:40:05 Elliot Paull, from "Where's the Math?" take a look at the new k-12 rewrite standards are below the expectations of the NCTM focal points. The Global environment in mathematics does not care about Washington Mathmatics

1:43:00 Polle Zelleweger, Teaches at U of W, has PhD. in Commuter Science and a BS in Math. Explains the "Where's the Math?" produced Washington Exemplary Mathematics Standards 2008

1:46:30 Donna Christensen on Gifted Education and support to accellerate the gifted within this document

1:48:30 Senator McAuliffe - Senate Education is adjourned

In another video you will find class size thoughts at 5:00 minutes

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Charlie Mas Speaks on the Math Situation

Check out the Jan 23, 2008 report from Charlie Mas on the Save Seattle Schools Blog.

It is great coverage of our current math situation.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Washington Math Standards are HERE

The second draft of the "Dana Center - Bergeson Math Standards" are now available.

Another set of standards the "Washington Exemplary Math Standards 2008" is also available released by an expert writing team at "Where's the Math?".

Draft #2 of the DC-B Standards looks to be greatly improved but still needs further significant improvement. Particularly troubling is the language that is likely to exclude most of the best math text books in the world. Draft #2 standards still require multiple arithmetic algorithms. In many top performing nations the books require and teach only one standard algorithm for each operation.

The goal of this standards rewrite was to be to bring the Washington Math Standards from a grade of "F" to being internationally competitive
Here are the links to both:

The Washington Exemplary Mathematics Standards 2008

Draft #2 from the Dana Center - Bergeson Rewrite team
currently titled -
Washington K-12 Mathematics Standards

A review of both documents will lead to the question how can a volunteer writing team produce an internationally competitive set of math standards when Dr. Bergeon is spending in excess of $750,000 on the Washington K-12 Mathematics Standards?

The answer is easy. The volunteer team did exactly what was asked. They looked at the Standards of the best states and nations and wrote their document. After all the low bid for this job was only $130,000 by StandardsWorks. Why did Dr. Bergeson choose to spend over $600,000 more than that is perhaps best answered by Senator Val Stevens article.

Everett Herald Commentary by Senator Stevens

Senator Stevens appears to have a reasonably complete picture of what is happening.


Are we being mislead again? At a cost of $750,000+

Previously posted: Dana Center experts speak on how to mislead the public.

The video below from You Tube shows, the Director of the Dana Center, Uri Treisman and Phil Daro who is also from the Dana Center explaining how to mislead the public.

Long Version

Short Version:


When looking at what Dr. Bergeson put together for the rewrite team. It appears she seriously neglected:

1. Representatives from the business community

Compare the composition of the SBE Math Panel with the Rewrite team. Business representatives were called for in the Plattner small team recommendations but business community representatives who use mathematics are curiously absent from the Rewrite team, the State Board of Education's Math Panel had several.

2. Active Mathematicians - who have published something in the last decade.


Here is the volunteer team that produced the Exemplary Standards:
(Notice the business experience.)

Bob Brandt,
MA Math Education, Stanford, BA Mathematics/Computer Science, UCLA, Retired Software Engineer and Educator

Richard Burke,
BSME, U of W, Engineer

Bob Dean,
BA Mathematics, MA Teaching; Math Dept Chair, Evergreen High School, Vancouver, WA

Norma Dermond,
BA U of W, Data Analyist

Tara Gallagher,
BS, Bookkeeper

Marta Gray,
MS, Education, BS University of Portland, Teacher

Ellen Lund,
BA+ Elementary Education, U of W, Retired Teacher, Educational Consultant and Curriculum Developer

Jock Mackinlay,
PhD, MS Computer Science, Stanford University, BA Mathematics and Computer Science, UC Berkeley, Computer Scientist at Tableau Software

Martha McLaren,
BA History, University of Washington, Middle School Math Teacher

Kathy Moellenberndt,
BA Education, U of W, MA Teacher Leadership, Lesley College, Gd 1-3 Teacher

Linh-Co Nguyen,
BA Mathematics U of W, K-8 Teacher

Ted Nutting,
BA Math, Notre Dame; M.Ed. Western Washington University, High School Math Teacher, Former Captain in US Coast Guard

Richard D. Padrick,
PE; BSCE, California State Polytechnic College, Retired Engineer

J. Wilson,
BA Sociology, Master of Education (M.Ed.), Education Specialist (Ed.S.), Teacher, Elementary School

Polle T. Zellweger,
PhD Computer Science, UC Berkeley, MS Computer Science, University of New Mexico, BA Mathematics, University of Alaska, Computer Scientist formerly at Xerox

Monday, January 21, 2008

January 17, 2007 testimony from one year ago

One year later very little has changed. Here is what I said:

Dear Members of the board, . . . . . . January 17, 2007

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you this evening. I am, Dan Dempsey, a Pathways Math Teacher at West Seattle High School.

Seattle Schools have had a nearly constant and continuing achievement gap for over thirty-five years. Today our country has a large mathematical achievement gap when measured internationally.

My few minutes tonight will focus on these two gaps.

Our current system is in need of great improvement.

Seven significant events have occurred since mid-August:

1. Terry Bergeson declared that we have a system wide failure in Mathematics education.

2. The NCTM focal points were published. These greatly reduce the number of suggested topics to be covered at each grade level k-8.

3. OSPI scrapped the Grade Level Expectations and has now substituted working drafts.

4. Many school districts are diverting resources away from the teaching of real high school mathematics content and into raising WASL grade 10 Math scores. A test which tests almost no high school mathematics content.

5. By December 2007, the State Board of Education will adopt international performance standards for math and science. ........ ( this was changed by the legislature in 2007 the Math date is now January 31, 2008 for OSPI to submit the New Math Standards )

6. Singapore and India have announced plans for the development of on-line resources based on Singapore Math to accelerate talented students even further.

7. Under the guidance of Paul Kurose the “Lost in Transition” project began to examine why so many Seattle High School graduates do not succeed at Community College level Mathematics.

The Seattle K-12 math adoption process began long before these seven events. A number of people have invested large amounts of time and energy in the adoption process. I regret to inform you that at this time you should not stay the course.

Why? Because the target has changed, the tide has changed and Seattle Public Schools are still pointed in the same direction.

If you are to ask: What is the Seattle School System doing differently in the light of the above seven events? The answer is essentially nothing. Yes nothing substantially different is happening.

The old Grade Level Expectations to which the three adoption committees were matching curriculum choices had far too many topics at each grade level. Curricula that may have been leading contenders in matching the old defective OSPI GLEs are not now appropriate curricular choices for Seattle School children.

TERC Investigations at the elementary school is internationally non-competitive as are IMP and Core-Plus. These choices remain inappropriate for disadvantaged learners as well as highly capable. I urge you to visit my website at and look at curriculum choices.

Read the Essay by Ralph Raimi on Why American kids aren’t learning math; in which you can compare TERC and Singapore sample problems.

It is my belief based on research and extensive experience that the school district’s recent adoption of CMP2 at the middle school will not narrow either of the two achievement gaps.

Seattle needs to look at schools that successfully educate disadvantaged students and students of color as well as highly capable students. Look in Eastern Washington at Bridgeport Elementary and the Bright Star Schools in Los Angeles among others.

Thank you for your time. I have handouts included.

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr. . - . - .

January 23, 2008 Seattle School Board Testimony

Members of the Board, . - . - . January 23, 2008

The report Quality Counts 2008 was just released by EdWeek with the help of Pew Research. ( January 10, 2008)

The excellent news is that the achievement Gap for “children of poverty” has been narrowing nationally in both math and reading. Unfortunately that is not the case in Washington State where both the Math and the Reading Achievement Gaps for “children of poverty” have been growing. Over the last four years in Washington the change in the Reading Gap rates #42 out of 51 and in Math we rank #48 out of 51. (page 5 poverty gap of Quality Counts 2008 for Washington)

I am now beginning my second year of testimony on two topics: decision making and math curricula. These topics cry out for substantive reform from this school board.

In mathematics we have seen an expanding achievement gap at both the district level and the state level. Nationally we never get better in math. We are the worst in Math of any English Speaking nation tested. (You already have my data)

One year ago (January 17th), I stood here and testified that:
Seven significant things had happened in Math education since July of 2006 and six months later the SPS was still pointed in the exact same direction. Tonight I can tell you it is 18 months later and still not much has changed; except that we are now spending millions to continue heading, all-ahead full throttle, in the wrong direction.

It is apparently easier to follow an outdated direction than to:
1. carefully examine relevant data,
2. thoughtfully develop and then
3. execute an effective plan of action.

This district has had a continually widening achievement gap in Math for the last decade, at least partially from following Dr. Bergeson’s misguided math direction.

I urge the voters of this state to hold Dr. Bergeson accountable in the 2008 elections by denying her a fourth term.

The NAEP Math data for Washington tells us that 65% of our children are not proficient in math. The SPS chose to adopt Everyday Mathematics as its primary text for the elementary grades; apparently because it was highly aligned with Dr. Bergeson's “F” rated math standards.

Dr. Bergeson is now attempting to evade the legislature’s intent by failing to follow the SBE recommendations in rewriting the Math Standards.

Will our current current City, State and National Math Mess improve? ...

My guess is that, until those in positions of responsibility actually care enough to do something positive, things will not improve.

Our children are depending upon your leadership to improve their math education. Please give them a clear shot at the important math and science jobs in our state. You owe them the time it takes to carefully examine the data and develop a plan to improve our math curriculum, even if it goes against Dr. Bergeson's entrenched state Math establishment.

Thanks for your time,

Senator Val Stevens: ........ ......Fuzzy math is Failing our Kids

An article in the Everett Herald:


Fuzzy Math is Failing our Kids
by Senator Val Stevens

Senator Stevens appears to have a reasonably complete picture of what is happening.

You can get up to speed really fast by reading his article.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Two Million Minutes

The Video trailer is above.

Bellevue Video shows Dana Center leaders explaining how to ..............Mislead the Math Public

Pushing of Math-O-Babble continues this week.

Tuesday January 22 at Roosevelt High School Seattle
at 6:00 PM:
Dr. Bergeson conducts a forum on the Current Math Standards Rewrite being done to satisfy the State Board of Education and the law 2SHB 1906.

Unless draft #2 is significantly improved from draft #1
the rewrite clearly fails to satisfy 2SHB 1906.

The video below from You Tube shows the Director of the Dana Center Uri Treisman and Phil Daro who is also from the Dana Center explaining how to mislead the public.

Long Version

Short Version:

In addition to teaching outright deception also particularly disturbing in the video is the idea that reform math will stand on its own without supplementation. Dr. Treisman insists that all supplementation is bad. This is all in apparent contradiction to the following of the recommended state and international standards mentioned in 2SHB 1906. This should be a Huge Problem - in draft #1 this rewrite team is not following the law. Draft #2 is to be published on Line tomorrow.

The Dana Center ($750,000+) was hired by Dr. Bergeson at a cost in excess of 6 times the well qualified low bidder StandardsWorks ($130,000) also rejected was WestEd ($255,000). Dr Bergeson prefers to hire those who are already pre-disposed to her views on Mathematics and selected rewrite panel members who share her math philosophy with perhaps a few exceptions. That however is not what the law 2SHB 1906 requires of her.

A note:
.. the TIMSS studies 4th grade and 8th grade performance internationally
-- the USA is very poor at both levels.
The PISA test is given every three years to 15 year olds.
.. The USA was the worst English Speaking nation in 2003.
-- Then in 2006 we were significantly worse than in 2003.
The only industrialized nation that the USA beat was Italy.

On PISA Math and Science the USA is thrashed by Canada.

No one wishes to return to the school math of 1955. To get to a competitive international position in math will require rejection of the reform Math pushed by Dr. Bergeson and OSPI. It is time to emulate what very successful math nations do. That is precisely what 2SHB 1906 calls for in following the August 30th 2007 recommendations from Strategic Teaching.

Dr Bergeson is defying the law if this rewrite continues in its current direction.

Other nations believe that arithmetic skills lead to algebra skills that then lead to calculus skills and have the Data to prove it. Dr Bergeson believes otherwise and has no data to support her belief. In fact she cherry-picks the data or makes it up (example Washington has an SAT participation rate of 70% according to her. It is actually 53%)

Math remediation rates for recent high school graduates entering community college are incredibly high, but Dr. Bergeson wishes to continue this failing path. Will the Legislature allow this sham to continue?

It is hard not to improve from a grade of "F" but becoming internationally competitive that is a brand new concept.

A summary of our current Math Standards "F" mess.
Scores from the overall review:

Depth Washington earns a 1
because numerous topics are missing and many of the topics that are included are underdeveloped.

Grade-to-grade coherence Washington earns a 1
because there are serious interruptions in the content, and single topics are sometimes scattered throughout the document, making it difficult to determine how a topic develops over grade levels.

Measurability Washington earns a 1
because the content is often vaguely defined and because verbs are unobservable and therefore not measurable.

Accessibility Washington earns a 1
because the format makes the standards difficult for most people to understand and easily use.

Balance Washington earns a 1
because the document underemphasizes mathematical content and algorithms.

The central problem is that crucial core content, such as fluency with the standard arithmetic algorithms, algebra II, and most of geometry, is missing.

Without the core content, the traits of grade-to-grade coherence, measurability, accessibility, and balance also are missing.

Here is an excerpt from 2SHB 1906:
(3) By September 30, 2007, the state board of education shall recommend to the superintendent of public instruction revised essential academic learning requirements and grade level expectations in mathematics.
The recommendations shall be based on:
(a) Considerations of clarity, rigor, content, depth, coherence from grade to grade, specificity, accessibility, and measurability;
(b) Study of:
(i) Standards used in countries whose students demonstrate high performance on the (TIMSS) trends in international mathematics and science study and the (PISA) programme for international student assessment;
(ii) College readiness standards;
(iii) The national council of teachers of mathematics focal points and the national assessment of educational progress content frameworks;
(iv) Standards used by three to five other states, including California, and the nation of Singapore; and
(c) Consideration of information presented during public comment periods.

(4) By January 31, 2008, the superintendent of public instruction shall revise the essential academic learning requirements and the grade level expectations for mathematics and present the revised standards to the state board of education and the education committees of the senate
and the house of representatives as required by RCW 28A.655.070(4)
The superintendent shall adopt the revised essential academic learning requirements and grade level expectations unless otherwise directed by the legislature during the 2008 legislative session.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Comment Opportunity

A new video on you tube:

Your opportunity to comment in person about the current math revision efforts taking place in Washington State is coming very soon.

* January 22: Seattle, Roosevelt High School , 6 to 8 p.m.

* January 28: Spokane, Spokane School District Administration Building Board Room, 6 to 8 p.m.

* February 6: Vancouver , Evergreen Public Schools Evergreen Room, 6 to 8 p.m.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Quality Counts 2008 - Math & Poverty Gap


Interesting data from Ed Week.

Remember this is the NAEP data and shenanigans may abound.

The NAEP is only useful for same state comparisons from year to year.
Look out for huge changes in exclusions and accommodations ala NY.

Here is poverty gap analysis from 8th grade NAEP score changes based on the Education Week's Quality Counts 2008 data tables.

Poverty Gap change from 2003 to 2007

negative values = narrowing the Gap

California 8th grade math -3.6 {#12}

Washington 8th grade math +3.3 {#48}

From the Best to the worst here we go #48 is WA out of 51

"Math 8th Grade
NAEP Scale Score"
-6.9 Georgia {#1}
-6.8 New York
-6.4 Tennessee
-5.8 Wisconsin
-5.6 Florida
-4.9 Maryland
-4.6 Louisiana
-4.5 Pennsylvania
-4.3 Vermont
-4.1 Illinois {#10}
-3.7 Delaware
-3.6 California {#12}
-3.2 New Jersey
-2.8 Hawaii
-2.4 Idaho
-2.4 Rhode Island
-2.3 Massachusetts
-2.3 Maine
-2.2 District of Columbia (the other Washington DC)
-2.0 North Dakota {#20}
-2.0 Iowa
-1.6 Colorado
-1.5 Michigan
-1.4 Kentucky
-1.3 Texas
-1.3 Oklahoma
-1.2 New Hampshire
-1.1 Wyoming
-0.9 South Carolina
-0.7 Arizona {#30}
-0.7 Mississippi
-0.6 Virginia
-0.5 Ohio
-0.4 Utah
-0.3 South Dakota
-0.2 Nevada
-0.1 Minnesota
+0.1 North Carolina
+0.5 Indiana
+0.7 West Virginia {#40}
+1.1 Alabama
+1.3 Alaska
+1.4 New Mexico
+1.6 Missouri
+2.2 Arkansas
+2.6 Nebraska
+2.9 Kansas
+3.3 Washington {#48}
+4.0 Oregon
+4.2 Connecticut
+4.3 Montana {#51}

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Great Article - Hinterlands Opinion from Eastern Washington

Here is a very informative article if you are new to the Washington Math Disaster. This article is extremely well written.

It comes from a local paper in Nine Mile Falls Washington:

The Lake Spokane Outpost link to the article is HERE

The article from the Lake Spokane OUTLOOK follows:

Where is the Math?
Juan Juan Moses

As we enter the threshold of a new leadership, the question that is most pertinent at this time is: Is the school doing its job of providing a good education for our children? In particular, how does our school measure up in math education in relation to the nation and the world? As math holds the key to a job market driven by technology and cutthroat global competition, are we giving our students the right tools with what we are teaching in the classroom? Where do our schools stand in the decades-old national math war? How will the new superintendent and the new leadership guide us in this murky, heated and emotional debate, with the future of our children as the high stake?

The battle on the reformed math, also dubbed as “fuzzy math”, has been ongoing nationally for decades. In 1983, Congress published a report “A Nation at Risk”, first sounding the alarm to the falling quality of American education, warning “a rising tide of mediocrity” in the schools. In response to the alarm and in an effort to make math “accessible” to everybody, The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics published its “Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics” in 1989, rewriting the standards and direction of math in this country that set off the debate to this date. The 258-page report called for reformed math programs where the traditional method of drills and memorization of formulas and algorithms gave way to student-led discovery of math principles and concepts, with written explanation. In reformed math, teacher facilitation guides students’ processes of determining their answer, rather than emphasizing the accuracy of their work. Process and discovery are the emphasis in reformed math education. “Guess and check” method replaces traditional drills and algorithm. So if you see your child coming home with math homework emphasizing the process, explanation and justification of the answer to a simple question; your child getting credit for the work even when the answer is incorrect, you are seeing reformed math. If you see your child’s math textbook as a book almost more in reading than numbers, you are seeing reformed math. And if you are taken aback by your 6th grader asking you what is 7x9, you are not alone. Reformed math swept across the nation in the 90’s and beyond. Soon, parents, educators, administrators from coast to coast were embattled in the fierce debate, with the opponents’ concern about the watering down on a subject central to one’s future career, and the proponents’ staunch defense that reformed math is “math for the masses” adapted to the changing times.

In late 1999, an open letter addressed to the then Secretary of Education, signed by over 200 mathematicians, including four Nobel Prize recipients, asked for the department’s withdrawal of endorsement on the curricula based upon the NCTM’s idea of reformed math. Most recently, (The NCTM Focal Points September 2007) NCTM reversed its own stand on reformed math and called for a return to the more traditional approach to the subject. But in the meantime, U.S. continues to tank at the bottom in international student assessment tests, while funding for education continues to go up. By 8th grade, US students are 2-3 years behind their global peers from places like Singapore and Japan. And the gap widens as the grade level rises. We continue to see the numbers of home grown engineers and mathematicians decline through the years. The academic and economic impact of the failure on this subject is staggering. According to the University of Washington –Seattle Student Planner for year 2007-2008, “almost half the entering freshmen place into MATH 098”, a remedial math class that is equivalent to the second year of high school algebra. While the country goes increasingly high tech, the supplies of technical workers increasingly comes from abroad. Is it any coincidence that tutoring services like Sylvan Learning Center are a booming business and home schooling is enjoying a robust growth?

But what do all these have to do with the superintendent search and new leadership?

Let’s take a look at how the battle unfolds closer to home. Terry Bergeson, the state superintendent of the Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction, herself a strong proponent of reformed math, took office in 1997. She has been largely responsible for the development of the WASL math test, a very important link that contributes to the shambles that the Washington math is in today. Since WASL is based on reformed math, schools state wide have to adapt to a curriculum that teaches to the concept in order to pass the test. Have you noticed when you talk to your child’s teacher, at conference or otherwise, just about everyone will evoke WASL sooner than later? It is important that we have a standard that we measure our success by, but in this case, is the standard the problem itself? In the State of State Math Standards, a state by state evaluation on math education published in January 2005 by Fordham Foundation, a Washington D.C based organization that supports the research and projects of national significance on elementary and secondary education, Washington state received a glaring F. (The average for the nation is C.) The score is based on the four categories of the state standard studied: Clarity, (F) content (D), Reason, (F) and negative qualities (F). The finding concluded that “Overall, the Washington Standards are poorly written and needlessly voluminous.” Which means, if you are trying to figure out what your child should be able to do by the end of the school year, and you get on the OSPI web site trying to find out, under the GLE heading (grade level expectation), instead of clear cut standard such as a 4th grader should be able to do long division by hand, and 3 digit multiplication, you get vague literature like this “the student uses mathematical reasoning,” and “the student understands how mathematical ideas connect within mathematics, to other subject areas, and to real-life situations.” After plowing through the cumbersome writing, chances are you will be more befuddled and frustrated than ever.

Reformed math was introduced in Nine Mile School District in 2002, just as many districts nation wide were reversing the fad. According to the superintendent’s message in Eye on Education, dated Dec 06, then Superintendent Michael Green wrote: “Five years ago, the Nine Mile Falls School District began a process aimed at the improvement of mathematics performance of Nine Mile students. After a lengthy research process we selected materials that were highly aligned to what the state of Washington was telling us we must teach in mathematics. These textbooks approached mathematics from a problem solving basis that has proven successful in other schools at improving achievement.” What kind of achievement did he mean? WASL scores or college placement rate, which is the ultimate measurement of a school’s achievement? But in this case, Green clearly meant the WASL scores as he went on to cite the improvement of WASL test scores afterwards, noting that with the implementation of reformed math curricula, the percentage for the two categories of students-----the ones well below the standard and the one just below the standard, fell dramatically. But such “achievement” is partly what is wrong with reformed math, critics argued. In the name of raising the bottom performers and trying to bring everybody to a middle ground, the system is set up at the expense of the high performers. Is the idea of bringing everybody to a minimal standard good enough? Is “equality” in class feasible or realistic in a capitalist society? Even in a socialist country like China, classroom competition has always been “no holds barred”.

Lakeside High School math teacher Larry Carpenter watched in frustration as the traditional math such as Algebra I and Geometry were replaced one by one by the reformed math curriculum. His analysis of the WASL numbers pointed out a different side of the numbers that Supt. Green did not cover. While the percentage of the bottom students is improving, the percentage of the top level math performers declined as well. It went from a 30.1% in 04 (the last year traditional math was taught) to a 20.9% in 05, and a 17.9% in 06. With a gain back to 23.2% in 07, the average is still a 6.9% decline in the four years since reformed math came to Nine Mile Falls. Carpenter points out the increase in WASL scores could be attributed to the extra classes and time devoted to teaching in align to the test. He compares teaching math to basketball drills.

“Core math (a curriculum of reformed math that LSH uses) is taught by organizing students into groups. The teacher is more of a facilitator. The students are expected to “discover” how to solve a problem, with the faster students leading the slower ones. When you are a basketball coach, you would not send your players out to the floor to “discover” an offense. If you are a medical student, you would be frustrated if your professor told you to get with a group and “discover” how to take out someone’s gall bladder. When I compared Core III (third year of reformed math) to Algebra II ( third year of traditional math) I found more than 70 topics that I normally taught in Algebra II missing in Core III”
For some local families, the wake up call was both dramatic and urgent. Virginia Ramshaw’s daughter, Rebecca Ramshaw, who had enjoyed straight A’s and a 3.925 GPA, an A student in the reformed math curriculum, took a pre-SAT test in her sophomore year in 2005 and scored in the 7th percentile of all sophomores who took the test nationwide. Virginia had witnessed Rebecca’s increasing frustration with math. It perplexed her as the child had always enjoyed school and excelled in every subject. Not until she saw the score of Rebecca’s SAT did she fully grasp the gravity of the failure of the math curriculum that Rebecca was suffering through. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending. Rebecca started taking traditional math with Larry Carpenter and the hard working child was determined to catch up. Her most recent SAT scores show a dramatic improvement from 7th percentile to a 63th percentile nationwide. As a participant who has abundant experience in both curriculums, Rebecca went on to testify the failure of reformed math to the state legislature in Jan 07, calling the reformed math “a poison to our educational system”.
The story of Maureen Joplin and her daughters illustrates just how far a concerned parent is willing to go to ensure her children get a good math education.
Trouble started when Maureen and her family moved back to Nine Mile back in 2003, the year the district implemented reformed math. Her oldest daughter, Lauren, who was a sixth-grader at Lakeside Middle School then, was bored with math. The curriculum moved at a snail pace. Maureen, who had some experience with reformed math in the districts the family moved from, was shocked to learn that reformed math curriculum had completely replaced traditional math, which a lot of districts were using still as a supplement. By 8th grade, Lauren was unable to do double digit multiplication and division without the aid of calculator. In addition, Lauren had no clue how to compute fractions. Still, Maureen kept waiting for the time when Lauren would enter high school and got some “real math”. When she was informed that the traditional subjects of Algebra, geometry, trigonometry were being replaced by the reformed curriculum, she realized precious time had been wasted by naively hoping it would get better. It was time to do something.

In Feb 06, Maureen, along with Virginia Ramshaw, Jill Lundgren, Larry Carpenter and a group of students, did a presentation to the school board. They invited Shannon Overbay and Tom Mckenzie, both math professors from Gonzaga University, and Lyle Cochran, math professor from Whitworth University, to testify to the inadequacy of the reformed math. The professors emphatically pointed out that reformed math did not adequately prepare students for college. In a letter addressed to Where’s The Math, a group dedicated to the return of traditional math, Prof. Overbay wrote: “We are raising a generation of mathematically illiterate kids. The irony is that the claim of these reform programs is that they make math more accessible. The problem is that in watering down the math, they have removed all rich mathematical content, the practice of standard skill and algorithms, and the foundation for later study of advanced mathematics. The kids can get A’s in this reformed math, they come out with no skills and no deep understanding (again, something the new programs claim to promote.)” Prof. Overbay went on to stress the importance of basic pencil and paper skills from elementary grades on, and the importance of providing opportunities for the ones with potential to develop and excel. “The current trend of one “math for the masses” hurts all students at all levels”, she wrote. “We need to ensure that “No Child Left Behind” does not become “No child Allowed to Excel.

At the Feb 06 presentation, the parents’ group asked the school board to offer a dual track option and let the students make the choice of either reformed math or traditional math. The high school students that testified voiced their frustration. The consistent complaint from these students was that they were put in a mixed group situation to work, compromising their ability to excel at their own pace. They were resentful of being held back and used to drag along slower achievers. Student James Gestner wrote: “I have taken both the Core math (reformed math) and traditional math these past three years. Many of my fellow students agree that Core Math is inferior to the traditional system. Crippling flaws in the learning process prevent us from learning to our fullest.” These were student William Yukl’s own words at the presentation: “I certainly don’t hate Core math, however, I feel that it is flawed. It attempts to make students work harder on their own in order to connect to the material more. This sounds good, but it is done with too much group work and the success of the group affects your grade. There are often groups made of “slackers” and “hard workers”, where the slackers refuse to work and the (hard) workers are forced to pick up the slack……….I don’t mind helping others in my class, but I hate the fact that part of my grade rests on the shoulders of students who just don’t feel like working. Another concern I have is about preparation for college. Isn’t high school the place and time to prepare for college? This Core program seems completely opposite of the college’s mathematics programs, so how is that properly preparing me for college?” Again and again, these frustrated students voiced their displeasure and concern of having their grade tied to group performance, the deception of good grades in reformed programs, the fallacy of “ discovery” and “guess and check” method, (imagine “guessing and checking” your way to that rocket launching pad when you are trying to send that rocket to the moon.)

In the end, the board collectively voted against a dual track option but kept Algebra 2 and Calculus in the system. But for Maureen Joplin, it was too late. “I never ever had thought I would home school”, she said. But the moment of truth hit like a brick when “during one of the meetings with the board, then Supt Green admitted that “Yes, I implemented a flawed curriculum because I had to.” Those words still echo in my head today. And that alone is what gave me the courage of pulling my then 8th grader from the school curriculum and home school my younger one today.” Maureen stated today. Her younger daughter, Carol, a 7th grader today, studies math daily in the family car in the parking lot of the middle school with her mother. Policy at the middle school rules out studying a non-district approved curriculum for math in the building. The school scheduled Carol’s math period for first period to avoid further disruption of the day. Because the family lives too far for the mother to drive her back after dropping off the older daughter at the high school, mother and daughter work in the parking lot every morning for 45 minutes on Carol’s math.

Bowing to the state-wide outcry of parents, educators and legislators alike, OSPI is currently in the process of rewriting the math standard. It has hired the Dana Center of Austin, Texas to oversee the revision of math standards. Dana Center wrote the standards for Texas that was rated by Fordham Foundation with a C. It was widely recognized that Dana was pivotal in Texas’ adoption of reformed curricula. The bid came at a price of $770 K to the taxpayers, almost 6 times more than the competing bid from the Standardswork, a consulting firm that guided California and Indiana to their present A rating as the best in the nation. So the question is WHY? What is the logic for the choice? Is there something more than just the math standards involved? Is there something the public is not being told?

The unfortunate fact is that while the political fallacy goes on, our children cannot wait. Grade after grade they grow up and enter an economy more and more driven by technology and a cutthroat global economy. They now not only face challenges from states with excellent math standards, but their peers from all over the world. In China, English has become a core subject, together with math and reading; which means, the Chinese teach English from first grade on. So does India. And a generation of new wealth brought on by the powerful economic advances in these countries will soon financially enable their children to attend American colleges. So in a global economy, if English is no longer a barrier for global competitors and dollars are not an issue for many, if we don’t have the universal language---math, to compete, what do we have?

In the end, there are many more questions than answers. Who decides what kind of math our children get based on what rationale? Are there justifications to the choice of curriculum that the public is not informed about? Should the taxpayer, after shouldering the burdens of taxes, be left to scramble to pay more for tutoring, supplementing, questioning and wondering? Where do the candidates stand on these issues? Where does the board, with its three new members, stand on these issue?
Perhaps the district will be able to answer some of these questions. Perhaps we can open the channels for dialogue between the policy makers and their constituents. If you are concerned, and do not know where to begin to navigate this maze, tonight’s candidates open forum will be a good place to start. Go find out who they are and what they stand for.

New Math Standards Draft Reviewed by Dr. David Klein

The Richland School District had Dr. David Klein review the OSPI produced first draft of the Washington Math Standards released on Dec 4th.

Here is the Link to his analysis

My take on this is that SHB 1906 told Dr. Bergeson to follow the recommendations in the Plattner Report (from Strategic Teaching) commissioned by the State Board of Education at a cost of $150,000.

Dr. Bergeson did not follow the recommendations (defied the law), instead continuing 11 years of doing her own thing much to the continuing detriment of our children.

Here is Dr. Klein's conclusion:

Mathematics is the most hierarchical of subjects. A flaw in the development of the subject at even just one grade level can have catastrophic consequences for the mathematical education of children at subsequent grade levels. The Washington Draft Standards are deeply flawed. The development is slower than that given by the standards of California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Singapore, and Finland.

Standard algorithms of arithmetic are not required. Mathematical reasoning is artificially separated from content, and pedagogical directives are imposed without justification. Statistics is overemphasized at the secondary level, and the GLEs there are not organized by course.

The Draft Standards are consistent with the most controversial textbooks described by detractors as "fuzzy math" books, and inconsistent with high quality programs such as those used by Singapore.

A viable course of action for the state of Washington would be to adopt an already existing set of high quality mathematics standards. If political considerations preclude that, standards writers with great mathematical expertise and impeccable credentials should be appointed to write new standards. Such a course was followed in California through the appointment of four Stanford University mathematics professors to develop that state's standards in 1997.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Quality Counts 2008 ( a report)

Here is a new national report Quality Counts 2008 sent to me by EdWeek.

(click) HERE is the LINK to the portion on Education in Washington state.

I'll comment further tomorrow. Notice that the achievement gap for children of poverty is being reduced nationally in both reading and writing. Unfortunately it is still growing in Washington State in both math and reading. If a child is poor, the state of Washington does not appear to be pulling its weight in regard to educating that child.
Check out page 5 of the linked report.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Why not the Obvious ???

January 9, 2008

Seattle can not find a certificated math teacher willing to accept employment at Aki Kurose. Why? I think it may have to do with trying to teach the unteachable--- No, No, my reference is not to the students at Aki Kurose but rather the district curriculum CMP2.

The district’s reform math efforts k-8 have produced chaos rather than improvement during the last decade. Everyday Math will hardly produce much of an improvement if we are looking for mathematically better prepared students to be entering Aki in the future. This will be especially true if the administrative mandate for “Fidelity of Implementation” is followed.

The SPS has been experimenting on the children in a haphazard fashion with reform math for several years with TERC/Investigations k-5 and CMP at the middle level. Despite SPS k-12 Mathematics Program Director Ms. Rosalind Wise’s statements about CMP2’s successful implementation in the school year 2006-2007 let us look at a bit of the Aki data. The best analytical tool is by cohort comparison data, unfortunately WASL math is all we have because SPS ended Iowa ITBS testing in Spring 2005. Let us follow scores as grade 6 moved to 7th and grade 7 moved to 8th during the implementation year.

Here is what happened to those two Aki cohort groups during the “supposed” successful implementation of CMP2 in the 2006-2007 School Year. Achievement GAPS for Aki cohort groups vs State all students and vs SPS white students. Reveal the following:

Following two cohort groups vs State All students
6th Grade Math Spring 2006 to 7th grade Math Spring 2007
GAP 29.6% increased to GAP 32.8%

7th Grade Math Spring 2006 to 8th grade Math Spring 2007
GAP 33% remained constant at GAP 33%

Following the same two cohort groups vs SPS White students,
6th Grade Math Spring 2006 to 7th grade Math Spring 2007
GAP 50.5% increased to GAP 51.6%

7th Grade Math Spring 2006 to 8th grade Math Spring 2007
GAP 52.1% increased to GAP 53.5%

If a goal was to reduce the achievement GAP in Mathematics at Aki Kurose, then CMP2 failed in meeting that goal during its implementation year.
Grade 6 to 7 reveals a failure to reduce the GAP and same for Grade 7 to 8.

For disadvantaged learners there appears to be no end in sight for the SPS’s unsuccessful experimentation on Students of Color with reform math curricula in the South End schools.

The new student assignment plan may increase scores somewhat by forcing many bussed students to return to Aki. Hopefully the South-East initiative will also have a positive impact. Why not do the obvious and adopt non-discriminatory, internationally competitive math curricula and practices?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Jan 9 2008 SPS School Board Testimony ....the Huge May 2007 Elementary Math Text Adoption Blunder

View the following at:
You Tube - three minutes

For a decade Seattle’s achievement gap in mathematics has significantly widened for the following groups: Blacks, Hispanics, Low Income, and Limited English.

This district very frequently talked about closing the Achievement Gap, while student math achievement steadily moved in the opposite direction.

Seattle’s recently adopted Everyday Math and Connected Math are particularly language intensive. This combination is not producing positive results in either Denver or the Colorado Springs area.

A year ago, I noticed that most of the math text adoption finalists, at all three school levels, were very poor. I was appalled that an adoption process could produce such poor results.

In Singapore, although school math instruction is in English, 57% of the students in the early grades come from homes in which English is not the primary language. Singapore Math at the early grades is written in very basic English which is far easier to understand than what has been used in Seattle.

Seattle used a defective adoption process. Initially failing to look at the k-6 curriculum used by Singapore, the world’s highest performing Math nation as measured at the 4th and 8th grade levels. A top curriculum written in easy to understand basic English was totally ignored.

The SPS elementary adoption plan from last May said the Achievement Gap would be eliminated in 5 years. This predicted improvement was based on drawing a straight line from an enormous gap to zero over 5 years. The likelihood of this predicted improvement occurring is ZERO.

Advice from the Mathematics Standards Study Group* should be heeded:

In every grade
, the mathematics curriculum needs to be carefully focused on a small number of topics.” *

Everyday Math and Connected Math do not do this.

This Board’s own policies** are defied by a continuing failure to identify required necessary skills. Please give some guidance. What are the small number of Topics to be focused upon?

The essence of mathematical learning is the process of understanding each new layer of knowledge and thoroughly mastering that knowledge in order to be able to understand the next layer.” *

Everyday Math and Connected Math do not encourage thorough mastery of any layer.

Is this the Board’s business or the Superintendent’s business?

It is clearly the Board's business:

1. The School Board approves the math adoptions
2. The School Board continues to allow Board policies** to be disregarded.

please fulfill your responsibility by providing better learning opportunities for all students. { Do so by fixing this ongoing math disaster. Correct the mistakes of the past which have resulted in the adoption of second-rate math curricula.

Thanks for your time. I look forward to your comments on this article.

* The MSSG, Mathematics Standards Study Group made these statements. Read their document: What is Important in School Mathematics?

** SPS Board policies D43.00 D44.00 & D45.00

The main languages spoken in most of non-English speaking homes for 57% of early elementary school children in Singapore are Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Indian languages (Tamil etc.). Clearly Singapore is hardly a nation with a uniform population. It is incomprehensible that a district that professes to be interested in closing the achievement gap would ignore Singapore Math as a primary text in an elementary math adoption.

Talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words.
The talk about closing the achievement gap appears to have just been administrative smoke and mirrors.

You can find out a lot more about Math as Taught in Singapore RIGHT HERE

Order Singapore Math Books RIGHT HERE

Download free placement tests RIGHT HERE for Singapore Math placement.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Prepared for College? ..... NO not really

Check the following table for High School graduates who are college ready.

These stats are from 2003 and you will see Washington State is not preparing many students for college. Our rate is among the worst in the USA.

The Table is HERE .. The following stats are from the table.

Proportion of all students who graduate with college ready transcripts by region:
North East 41%
South 41%
National Average 36%
Midwest 34%
West 29%

The four Lowest states in the USA are:
New Mexico 28%
Washington 28%
Alaska 27%
Nevada 26%

The top states in each region are:
North East = New Jersey 47%
South = West Virgina 54%
Midwest = North Dakota 39%
West = Utah 37%

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Teach Math and/or the WASL ??? .............but What about the SAT ???

This is from a High School Junior who took the WASL and then the PSAT. Danielle has concerns about the real tests that count: The SAT and The ACT.

From the letters in the Tacoma News Tribune.

Danielle Rucci of Gig harbor said ..
"The type of math on the PSAT is very different from what we are taught in class.

Classrooms shouldn’t be putting as much time into teaching WASL strategies when other tests such as the SAT and ACT can have a much bigger impact on our futures."

Follow this LINK to her analysis.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Former School Board Member Speaks

When it comes to Education we are “between a rock and a hard spot” and it isn’t going to be more funding that will solve this problem.

This past week I had the opportunity to chat with one of the more significant educational leaders of the state, who had recently attended an international conference on quality of education where Singapore, Finland and Alberta were clearly major topics of discussion. These places are thought to have some of the best education in the world by many measurements. Many are disheartened about the possibilities of Washington education ever approaching the level of these systems.

The philosophy of these three educational systems is in some ways quite different, but the outcomes are quite similar according to most who keep up with the “education race”. Just to give those of you are who aren’t following this race some perspective, Washington State is 50th in the nation in college completion, and the nation is 25th in mathematics worldwide.

What our Washington observer found in all three of these systems was an overwhelming engagement between the educational community and the parents of the children in the system.

In my years on the school board I often commented on the gap that exists in this community between the parents of the children who are not doing well, over 50% by most measurements are behind, and the school district.

Simply put we have many parents that don’t understand what it will take, in the non-school hours, to bring up a child that has a knowledge base to make mature decisions and we, schools, are more than reluctant to call this issue to their attention.

This Holiday season I noted that most sought after presents for children were electronic devices that would occupy hours and hours of their “free time”. For years we have also heard from children that they “have nothing to do” when not in school. Youth activities have flourished to occupy the time of our children. Meanwhile the knowledge base of these same children has diminished exponentially. Read a non-fiction book for pleasure? Not likely! When college interviewers ask “What do you know something about that wasn’t taught in school”? They get a lot of blank stares!

Why is it that any soccer match will bring out more parents than a PTA meeting? Is there a presumption that “others will handle the education stuff”? I think so. While parents are most willing to pony up time and dollars for any activity that will occupy their children, they are unwilling to do the same for insisting that they master the skills they will need in their future.

A few years ago I read in one of the national newspapers about the Singapore education system. In the article they quoted a secondary school principal from Singapore that had canceled Christmas vacation as he felt that the achievement scores of the school weren’t adequate and needed some additional time. I can’t decide who would be most upset in this community if this were to happen! Would it be the teachers? The students? Or the parents? I do know that the most attendance I ever saw at a school board work study was the evening we had to decide what vacations we would have to cut because of weather closures! Parents were more concerned about when we would not have school than when we would have school.

In other parts of the world school lasts considerably longer each day and there are more school days in the year. When this discussion comes up here there is uproar about the need for “free time” for our children. To do what? It certainly isn’t to broaden their knowledge for most of them.

Is it time that we insist parents take a more realistic view of their responsibilities for the upbringing of the next generation? There are only 24 hours in a day, and we seem bound and determined to occupy our children’s time with things that will satisfy them, rather than things that will prepare them for adulthood.

A recent poll of parents found that their primary concern about their children’s education was that they be “satisfied” while in school. I once had a parent tell me that their child no longer thought that school was “fun” and this disappointed her. I was reluctant to suggest that he “suck it up” but that is what is happening elsewhere in the world where what used to be considered “3rd world” countries are now the ones which we depend on!

Here we continue funding “gladiator training” and coliseums and call it “education”. But not in Singapore, Alberta, or Finland, education is just too important there. Have we lost our way?

Charles R. Hoff
Federal Way Washington

Texas Math Action reveals OSPI conflict of interest By Dr Bergeson

From the archives:
Texas School Districts Reject “Fuzzy Math” Textbooks
May 24, 1999
Major Defeat for Statewide Systemic Initiative
By Texas Public Policy Foundation

San Antonio
– According to an analysis of recent math textbook selections, Texas school districts have overwhelmingly rejected the latest fad in math instruction. Sometimes called “fuzzy math,” “whole math,” and “new new math,” textbooks based on this pedagogical approach received only 4% of the textbook orders for second grade math, 2% for fifth grade math, and 5.6% for seventh grade math. Ironically, those promoting this approach refer to it as “standards-based math”.

This rejection is particularly significant given the fact that this instructional approach was heavily promoted throughout the state by the Texas Statewide Systemic Initiative (SSI), with funding from the National Science Foundation, operated by the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin - both groups publicly funded by tax dollars.

“We are happy to see this educational fad bite the Texas dust. Fuzzy math has been shown to hurt children academically, especially disadvantaged and minority students. Thanks to discerning textbook committees in our school districts, parents can breathe a sigh of relief,” commented J.C. Bowman, TPPF Director of Research.

Parents should watch for signs that their children are enrolled in “standards-based” math programs when students: Direct their own learning; work in groups to teach one another; construct their own math language, facts, and computations; are not taught or required to memorize facts or formulas; are taught to use calculators as the first and primary form of computation; and, are taught that deriving correct solutions lacks importance.

TPPF, along with two other organizations Mathematically Correct and Education Connection of Texas released an analysis earlier this year to provide parents and school officials the information needed to make informed selections of elementary and middle school math textbooks. The analysis was sent to all school districts and local school board members throughout Texas and encouraged use of a “classical” instructional approach characterized by curricula that is taught directly, systematically, and incrementally in small structured and guided steps that progress from basic to more complex learning; instruction focused on specific academic content (not process or outcomes); repetition, practice, and memorization used to derive automaticity; and students receive immediate feedback and correction.

The “fuzzy math” textbooks that were unsuccessfully promoted by the Statewide Systemic Initiative and Charles A. Dana Center were: (second grade books) Everyday Mathematics published by Everyday Learning Corporation; and Investigations in Number, Data and Space published by Addison Wesley Longman; (fifth grade books) Everyday Mathematics; and Investigations in Number, Data and Space; (seventh grade books) Math Thematics published by McDougal Littell; and Connected Mathematics published by Addison Wesley Longman.
Texas Public Policy Foundation

This is amazing. Not only did Dr. Bergeson accept a late bid from the Dana Center for over $500,000 more than the second low bidder and over $600,000 more than the low bidder the experienced StandardsWorks in at $130,000, but in doing so she selected an organization, Charles A. Dana Center, far from the expected neutrality required in this game.

Clearly Dr. Bergeson, who with help from other experts (???), produced enormous confusion in Mathematics in Washington State over the last 10 years is failing to take responsibility for her part. She chooses instead to continue forcing teachers and students along her failed math path with only minor modifications. Look at her failure to speak out this spring as Bethel, Seattle, and Issaquah adopted Everyday Math, which is a very aligned text with Washington's failed math standards. If Dr Bergeson had planned to change things significantly would she not have urged districts to wait rather than lead them to believe things would be little changed? It appears she does not plan on playing her assigned role from SHB 1906. Dr Bergeson is now ignoring the law and directing not just the Washington Math Standards rewrite but also rewriting the role assigned her by SHB 1906. If 1906 is completed according to the legislature's plan before the end of school year 2007-2008, Washington will have new math standards and recommended text selections for schools.

Apparently Dr Bergeson has planned to have Everyday Math on this recommended text list for a long, long time. Hey wait, aren't the text selections supposed to happen later?

Friday, January 4, 2008


{ Narrowing the scope and requiring proficiency }

This project focuses on changes that need to be made so that high school students have better preparation for collegiate level mathematics. Seattle TMP is now in its second year. It is made up of Seattle High School math teachers and collegiate level teachers and administrators.

At Seattle Central Community College over the last four years, only 22% of recent high school graduates can place into a college level math class. A full 50% of those recent high school grads can not place into a class above the equivalent of high school math one.

(This huge math train wreck has occurred as Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Terry Bergeson spent 10 years on expensive WASL testing and then announced in August of 2006 that there was a State-Wide system failure in mathematics. Odd that with all that expensive testing going on this failure took 10 years to notice. Currently, as mandated by the legislature's SHB 1906, Dr. Bergeson is supposed to be conducting a "Rewrite" of Washington Math Standards using the recommendations from the State Board of Education's $150,000 consultant "Strategic Teaching". The Math Standards need enormous change but Dr. Bergeson is not changing things significantly enough. This is occurring because Dr. Bergeson selected a rewrite panel largely in favor of the reforms that she implemented that caused this disaster. She also rejected bids from two contractors for $130,000 and $255,000 in favor of accepting a bid in excess of $750,000 from a contractor more aligned with her math thinking.)

During the last 15 years, the number of topics taught at particular grade levels has expanded, with a decline in student proficiency of many topics. Arithmetic proficiency has dropped significantly at the elementary and middle school level. Despite higher entrance standards at the U of W in terms of GPA the mathematical proficiency has fallen for entering Freshman on the math placement test. NASA finds USA high school grads poorly prepared for entering College and pursuing engineering careers.

Seattle TMP would like to narrow the scope and require greater proficiency in the following topics:

1. Basic mathematics/ Pre-Algebra

2. Polynomials

3. Linear Equations and Inequalities (in one variable)

4. Linear Functions and Relations

5. Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities (in two or more variables)

6. Quadratic Equations

7. Quadratic Functions

8. Rational Expressions

9. Exponents

10. Radicals

11. Geometry
Students should also have a solid understanding of the following concepts (in addition to those listed above) before entering college at the Pre-calculus level (one course beyond the Seattle Community College District entry college-level mathematics course, College Algebra).

12. Trigonometry

13. Functions (including the definition of a function, domain and range, function notation, algebra of functions, and inverse functions)

14. Higher Order Polynomial Functions

15. Rational Functions

16. Conic Sections

17. Exponential and Logarithmic Functions

The math leadership in Seattle and in Washington State has been deficient in the last decade. Use of TERC/Investigations at the elementary level and Connected Math Project at the middle level, although considered best aligned with the Washington Standards have not prepared children with the skills necessary to complete a rigorous high school math program. (Is no one ever held accountable for a decade of mistakes?)

Seattle TMP thinks that the above topics need to be covered in high school. Not only are major changes needed at many high schools but the k-8 grade level math needs a complete overhaul in many places.

Districts that adopted math curricula most aligned with the Washington Math Standards have done a large disservice to many of our children. It appears that Dr. Bergeson is against making significant changes. The USA ranks worst among English speaking nations in the math proficiency of 15 year olds. Clearly a significant change is needed.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe meets with math concerned constituents

State Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe convened with 14 Northshore School District community members at the Bothell Police Station on Dec. 15 to discuss their concerns about the current NSD math programs, which were implemented as a result of state education policies in the last decade.

This diverse group ranged from elementary teachers to a university professor and Fred Hutchinson researcher, several engineers, a former attorney, business owners and executives, a nurse and some stay-at-home parents.

Their testimonies were clearly heartfelt and compelling. These stories encompassed the heartbreaking, where a business owner shared how a mother wept at her elementary child’s being tutored in math and having to pay $350 each month for the service.

A math teacher spoke of being guilt ridden when his son notified him of failing his college math entry exam and being placed in remedial math. He had entrusted his son’s high school math teachers to provide proper instruction on math and had not realized how insubstantial his son’s math program was.

In contrast, a retired Seattle school teacher, Carol Atkinson, shared how her elementary school deviated from her district’s mandated curriculum and successfully implemented Saxon Math to “teach children with severe learning disabilities as well as highly performing students.”

Sen. McAuliffe, who heads the Senate Education Committee, is among the legislators leading the path for revising and improving the current state (K-12) math education standards. During the last legislative session a bipartisan effort resulted in SHB 1906, which mandated that the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), led by Supt. Terry Bergeson, investigate, recommend, rewrite and oversee implementation of new state math standards that are comparable to high math achieving national and international standards.

During the summer, the State Board of Education (SBE) oversaw work by Strategic Teaching, which made recommendations to the current math standards that were widely supported by parent groups, bipartisan members of legislature and the business community. Some of the findings from the recommendations ( stated the state standards were severely lacking in rigor, content, clarity, specificity and measurability.

Furthermore, it was stated the state standards were heavily focused on conceptual knowledge and neglected the need for mastery of computational skills using standard math algorithms, thus creating a highly unbalanced math standard. Steve Wilson, professor of mathematics at Johns Hopkins University, was among the pivotal members in evaluating the state’s math standards.

Currently, OSPI has contracted the Dana Center (Texas) to facilitate rewriting the math standards. Dana has released its first standard draft (, which has been critically reviewed by the math advocacy group Where’s the Math? ( WTM recently issued its concerns to SBE, the legislature, and OSPI that the draft had not satisfactorily and successfully achieved those recommendations from the SBE.

In light of the concerns she heard from those at the meeting, Sen. McAuliffe stated, “The legislature and SBE are prepared to take action if we are not satisfied with the new math standards. We have several options available that we can consider.”

The community is counting on the senator to keep her word.

Submitted by:

Lying (Lyng) Wong
Bothell, WA