Monday, January 21, 2008

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It is apparently easier to follow an outdated direction than to: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,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why don't you ask the kids what they think about their math program? They will give you a more honest appraisal than Treisman or Daro and they won't charge the state a million dollars either. How many kids go to college anymore prepared for math that is more advanced than algebra? The seniors at our school haven't had trig and they don't know matrices and they can only solve a 'simple' system of equations using substitution. In short kids hate this math. You still think its not the textbook? - then you must be really stupid. Their research is sloppy and its biased. Standards math ranks right up there with Enron and Abscam.