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.

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