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. . - . - .

No comments: