Friday, February 29, 2008

Good Listening
National Math Panel coming

Listen to this piece:

Very informative looks like we may be coming to the end of reform nonsense.

60 UW Faculty Critical of
Current Washington Math

Public Statement by University of Washington Faculty on Math Preparation of Incoming Students

We the undersigned faculty in math, science and engineering at the University of Washington have become increasingly concerned about the declining level of math competency of students entering the university. Many students arrive with poor mastery of essential mathematical skills, such as algebra, manipulation of fractions, trigonometry, and basic mathematical operations. Increasing numbers of students are forced to take math remediation courses after admission to the UW. Over the past decade many of us have lowered the mathematical levels of our courses as math skills have declined. We believe that it is essential that steps be taken to ensure that Washington State students are provided with world-class mathematics standards, curricula, and instruction.

Related Story in the Post-Intelligencer

February 26, 2008

Becky Alexander, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sci.
Eric G. Adelberger, Professor of Physics
James M. Bardeen, Professor of Physics
Bruce Balick, Professor of Astronomy
Gaetano Borriello, Professor of Computer Science and
David G. Boulware, Professor and Chair, Physics
Neil Bruce, Professor of Economics
Aurel Bulgac, Professor of Physics
D.A. Clements, Lecturer, Information School and Extension
Julianne Dalcanton, Professor of Astronomy
Emer Dooley, Professor of Computer Science and
Jessica Dunmore, Professor of Physics
Theo Eicher, Professor of Economics
Sam Fain, Professor of Physics
Qiang Fu, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences
Michael H. Gelb, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Karen I. Goldberg, Professor and Lawton Distinguished
Scholar in Chemistry
Wick Haxton, Professor of Physics
Robert Halvorsen, Professor and Chair, Economics
David Hendry, Assistant Professor, The Information School
Paul B. Hopkins, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Chemistry
Werner Kaminsky, Professor of Chemistry
Andreas Karch, Assistant Professor of Physics
Dr. Sarah Keller, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Jirair Kevorkian, Professor Emeritus of Applied Mathematics
Rachel E. Klevit, Professor, Biomolecular Structure Center
Neal Koblitz, Professor of Mathematics
Alvin L. Kwiram, Professor of Chemistry, Past Vice-Provost
for Research
James A. Landay, Associate Professor of Computer Science
and Engineering
Bob Larson, Lecturer, Information School
Tim Larson, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Ed Lazowska, Professor and Past Chair of Computer Science
and Engineering
Dennis Lettenmaier, Professor of Civil Engineering
Cliff Mass, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences
Jeannine S. McCune, Associate Professor of Pharmacy
Forrest Michael, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Gerald A. Miller, Professor of Physics
Wanda Pratt, Associate Professor, Information School and
Biomedical & Health Informatics, School of Medicine
Hong Qian, Professor of Applied Mathematics
Markus B. Raschke, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Peter Rhines, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences
Fred Rieke, Professor of Physics
Charles E. Robertson, Senior Lecturer, emeritus
Haideh Salehi-Esfahani, Senior Lecture of
Martin Savage, Professor of Physics
Larry Snyder, Computer Science and Engineering
Linda Shapiro, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering
Eric Shea-Brown, Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics
Lan Shi, Assistant Professor of Economics
Michael Stiber, Associate Professor Computing & Software
Paula Szkody, Professor of Astronomy
Kurt Snover, Professor of Physics, emeritus
Edward A. Stern, Professor of Physics
Derek Storm, Res. Professor of Physics
Robert E. Synovec, Professor of Chemistry and associate chair
for the Graduate Program
Joel Thornton, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Sciences
George Wallerstein, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy
Dan Weld, Professor, Computer Science and Engineering
Robert Wood, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences
Polle Zellweger, Lecturer, School of Information

For more information contact: Professor Cliff Mass, 206 719-4064,

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How not to Adopt Materials
another lesson in mistakes
by the
Seattle Schools decision makers

On Harium Martin-Morris blog
Blogger dan dempsey said...

The Key to making really big mistakes is to ignore the data that is staring you smack in the face.

This is not some fabulously paid consultant project. All the statistics that follow are just the data from OSPI posted right on the web.

In the 2006-2007 School year Seattle used the newly adopted Connected Math Project2 materials complete with improved implementation and teacher training. Look at the results for children in “Title I targeted Math” at the 7th grade level WASL pass rates.

7th Grade Math-Seattle Public Schools
Year ....... District ...... State
2000-01 ... .. 4.2% ...... 12.8%
2001-02 ... .. 3.4% ...... 16.4%
2002-03 ... .. 7.3% ...... 15.8%
2003-04 .. .. 23.3% ….... 27.6%
2006-07 …... 16.7% .... 43.8%

So this is how the SPS performs a successful math adoption --- say what about children of poverty???

If someone calls this a success they have no standards for excellence or else they must think that the poor are incapable of educationally adequate performance.

Contrast this with the Hook Study in California or with the new Saxon implementation in Tacoma 2006-07.

Compare with Tacoma’s Saxon implementation in 2006-2007

Tacoma low income:
7th Grade Math
Year………District ……..State
2005-06….22.5%….30.3%….gap -7.8
2006-07….31.3%….35.9%….gap -4.6
improved by +3.2 with Saxon

Seattle low income:
7th Grade Math
Year …..….District….State
2001-02..…. 3.4%
2002-03..…. 7.1%….19.8%
2003-04…. 20.1%….27.0%
2004-05…. 24.4%….32.4%
2005-06…. 24.5%….30.3% gap -5.8
2006-07…. 29.5%….35.9% gap -6.4
worse by 0.6 with CMP2

In 2006 Seattle led Tacoma by 2% in passing rate differential
In 2007 Tacoma led Seattle by 1.8%

Given Hook's research it is reasonable to assume that since Seattle is still using CMP2 with little supplementation and Tacoma is now in year two with Saxon.
Tacoma should lead Seattle by at least 4% in Spring 2008 for low income kids.

Seattle has 40.5% on free and reduced meals, while Tacoma has 54.8%. The State average is 37%.

It is important to notice that Tacoma K-8 is establishing a base of arithmetic competence on which to build algebra skills. No one is quite sure what Seattle is establishing k-8 in math as the SPS has yet to define required necessary skills at each grade level.

Yes lets all go and spend another 2 million on books with an additional two million on academic literacy and math coaches for teachers and support - when we have absolutely no coherent plan for much of anything in math.

Blunder on SPS -- Blunder on.

Harium you definitely have your work cut out for you on this one.

Don't get hurt by having this unstructured program collapse on you. You did not build this mess.

Good Luck.


To continue what was started above.

6th Grade Math
Year...District . State
2005-06.. 20.8%.. 31.5% gap -10.7
2006-07.. 28.7%.. 30.7% gap -2.0
better by +8.7 with Saxon

6th Grade Math
Year...District . State
2005-06.. 25.0%.. 31.5% gap -6.5
2006-07.. 25.1%.. 30.7% gap -5.6
better by +0.9 with CMP2

2006 Seattle Led Tacoma by 4.2% in passing rate differential
2007 Tacoma Led Seattle by 3.6%

Ms Santorno the Everyday Math -Connected Math combination is not working in Denver why did you put this same combination in Seattle?

Is this a success? Oh that's right this takes time.

Seattle is spending $4.2 million on academic coaches for teachers this year. Hopefully we will see more improvement this year than last year.

Now let us take a look at grade 3 in Tacoma for the Saxon Implementation and compare it with whatever was happening in Seattle last year. Remember Seattle had no required grade level necessary skills at grade three and a hodge podge of TERC/Investigations Etc. were in use at various schools.

Here comes Low Income for grade three:
Tacoma low income:
3rd Grade Math
Year ... District-State
2005-06 . 41.8% . 48.8% gap -7.0
2006-07 . 55.3% . 55.7% gap -0.4
improved 6.6 with Saxon

Seattle low income:
3rd Grade Math
Year ... District -State
2005-06 . 49.0% . 48.8% gap +0.2
2006-07 . 54.3% . 55.7% gap -1.4
worse by 1.6 with little direction

Greenlake long term pilot of Everyday math
3rd Grade Math
Year School State
2005-06 61.5% 48.8% gap +12.7
2006-07 54.5% 55.7% gap -1.2
worse by 13.9 (small populations have big fluctuations school has 25% F&R meals)

4th Grade Math low income
Year . School .District State
2001-02............... 35.3%
2003-04 . 50.0% 40.3% 44.7%
2004-05 . 25.0% 37.5% 43.8%
2005-06............... 39.3% 42.5%
2006-07 . 42.9% 40.0% 40.7%

5th Grade Math low ioncome
Year . School District State
2005-06. 16.7% . 33.5% . 38.1%
2006-07...............40.7% . 42.0%

Are You shocked that the Everyday math used for several years at Greenlake with supposedly wonderful implementation did not produce results for Low Income students much different than the chaotic shotgun pattern of many different materials used at the other SPS schools?

Why did the SPS adopt this Everyday Math curriculum?

The reason is because Ms Santorno, Ms Hoste, and Ms Wise decided to ignore all the statistics and other relevant data that was submitted to them over months prior to the adoption decision and decided to ignore the testimonies at the introductory school board meeting and the non-televised action meeting of May 30th. The school board as usual was steam-rollered by their hired experts - with no data and no intelligent application of the relevant data --How can this repeatedly happen on so many issues?

Oh right the board does not need 100% buy-in.

When will that accountability ever show up.
Who is accountable for not fulfilling the requirements of D43.00 D44.00 and D45.00 ??

So how does this Everyday Math data square with the districts mantra about concern with the achievement gap for students of color?

You know the achievement gap in math that has constantly expanded over the last decade.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.
--(W. Edwards Deming 1900-1993)

Health Warning: Do not hold your breath waiting for the SPS to implement Deming's wisdom.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Another Math Appreciation Advocate with no data
that's no surprise

Executive Editor Potomac News - Susan Svihilik
Prince William Editor - Ellen Mitchell -
Manassas Editor - Keith Walker -
Editorial Pager Editor - Alex Granados -

Dear Newspaper Professionals,

I have attached some articles and research and I will send you one additional piece. The fact is simply this: What many people including MS Oppenhagen are attempting to pass off as Math Education is only math appreciation. Her article contains no research and I find it extremely difficult to believe she found any research to support her position as published.

The results from PISA 2003 and 2006 (included) and from Bellevue and Seattle make this quite clear. I have a degree in Math. It took me seven years to get it. I was the victim of the New Math my last three years in High School and entered University extremely unprepared in Math as a result.

There is very little doubt that I, is a child of today, would not be able to attain a degree in a highly technical field at the university level in Math, Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, or Computer Science because of the astonishing lack of k-12 math preparation provided to k-12 students.

In Washington State our math remediation rates are now above 75% for recent high school graduates at many Community Colleges and the University of Washington has surpassed the 33% mark. At Seattle Central Community College a full 50% of recent high school graduates can not place above the equivalent of High School math 1. A full 20% of recent high school graduates are placing below high school math 1 for their first math course at SCCC.

I am appalled that commentary with no basis in reality is allowed to be presented as research in Newspapers these days.

Attached is some research much of it original from me.

I sent this research along with the letter below to the author of what in my view is a biased opinion piece attempting to pass as research only because the author calls it research.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.


Dear Ms Oppenhagen,
You said:

I have done some additional research into the program

I haven’t seen anywhere in the math program where children would be disadvantaged by participating in Math Investigations. I have only seen advantages.

I have become more sure that this program needs the opportunity to succeed.

Please send me the research that led you to this conclusion. I am speaking of relevant data to which attribution analysis might possibly be applied.
To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. Your research at this point appears to be little more than delving into shallow analysis of vague philosophical constructs.
I can send you large amounts of data that lead to the exact opposite of your supposedly researched position. The most telling of which come from Bellevue, Washington and Seattle.

Bellevue is a supposed educational leader in the State of Washington-> rich suburb east of Seattle. Bellevue adopted TERC/Investigations, Connected Math and Core-Plus with a fidelity of implementation model. Seattle extensively used Investigations also but without an official adoption. Over the last decade both of these districts have seen a steady widening of the math achievement gap for Blacks, Hispanics, and children of poverty. Bellevue has seen a startling rise in outside school students assistance costs up by 340% for Kumon, Sylvan, and tutors. In short if you do not have knowledgeable relatives at home or dollars for outside help the likelihood of learning much math from most reformed math text series is extremely small.

Wshington State with lots of reform math texts in use now rates #48 / 51 from 2003 to 2007 in achievement gap change for children of poverty at the 8th grade level in math.

The USA increased the use of reform math texts during the last decade. PISA math 2003 showed USA as the poorest performing English speaking nation tested. PISA given every 3 years in 2006 showed a statistically significant decline for the USA from 2003 to 2006 in math. I guess we dropped from really really bad to totally pathetic.

We are the only nation that bought reform math hook, line and sinker.

The Japanese recently refused the sinker. Japan revises their Math Standards every 10 years: 1982, 1992, 2002.

In 2002 Japan made many reform changes. In the PISA test of 2006, which had a complete analysis available in early Decemeber 2007, Japan dropped significantly (note the similarity to the USA).

In recent weeks Japan announced a mid-course correction --- The 2002 Standards are being questioned and the country may return to the use of the 1992 standards.

Denise it must be of "research" like yours that we continue to swallow the sinker and go down down down.

Will anyone ever choose to intelligently apply the relevant data and end this mess?

It becomes extremely difficult with people like you writing opinion pieces and passing opinion like this column off as research.

I do have some faith that if the public gets smacked in the face often enough by the tails of the fish swimming down the politically correct stream often enough, that the public will eventually decide not to drift to the mathematical bottom.

Could you please send me your qualifications that might lead me to take your opinion more seriously.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

BA Mathematics, M.Ed.
NCLB Highly Qualified in Math, Chem, & Science.

Friday, February 22, 2008

More Instructional Time Needed
Advice from
Two Million Minutes

After looking at "Two Million Minutes" it is very obvious that more instructional time is needed K-12. While clearly there are many other changes that need to be met, the time issue must be addressed.

I am putting forth a proposal which you can feel free to comment on or voice your own ideas about this situation.

I am going to look at increasing the amount of instructional time at the high school level.

While the term instructional time is used it refers to the time a student spends in a classroom, hopefully learning.

I will for comparison sake compare with a 6 period day with 55 minute classes = 330 minutes per day --> 90 day semester = 59,400 min/ year = 237,600 per 4 year

or 4 periods at 85 minutes = 340 per day = 244,800 / 4 years
or 4 periods at 90 minutes = 360 per day = 259,200 / 4 years

My proposal is for a 70 minute classes taught on 60 day trimesters
at 5 classes per day this produces = 252,000 / 4 years

All of the above assume a 180 day school year and a fairly short school day with the large variations coming in teacher planning time 55 min/day or 70 min/day or 85 min/day or 90 min/ day. Another large variation is in the number of students seen by the teacher at 30 per class this will vary from 90 up to 150 students seen per day.

Since these schedules are all inadequate, why argue over your favorite and expect it to improve overall results?

We can definitely see differences in instructional time in an individual class like Algebra I if it is taught as:
1 semester at 85 minutes/ day = 7650 min (becoming very uncommon)
2 semesters at 55 min / day = 9900 min (very common)
3 trimesters at 70 min/day = 12600 min (Vashon Island High)
2 semesters at 90 min / day = 16200 min (Fife High School 2005-2006)

My proposal would be to lengthen the school year by using either 65 or 68 day trimesters and lengthening the school day to six 70 minute periods.
Teachers would teach 4 of the 70 minute periods each day.

At 6 periods at 180 days = 75600 min / year and 302,400 per 4 years

At 6 periods at 195 days = 81900 min / year and 327,600 per 4 years

At 6 periods at 204 days = 85680 min / year and 342,720 per 4 years

In comparison with the standard six-period 180 day year 237,600 per 4 year I find the following increases in instructional time by percent:

At 6 (70 min) periods at 180 days +27%
At 6 (70 min) periods at 195 days +38%
At 6 (70 min) periods at 204 days +44%
Notice that with a 44% increase in instruction time gets close to adding an addition two years of instructional time using our current time of 59,400 min/year for standard 6 period day at 55 min classes. The 44% increase adds 105,120 during years in high school as 237,600 + 105,120 = 342,720 minutes

To those that would argue that Washington State cannot afford to do this, I say "Two Million Minutes" shows why we cannot afford not to. It is definitely a case of pay me now or pay me later.

At trimesters of length 65 or even 68 days a high school schedule can be put in sync with community college schedules for running start compatibility.

Below are some thoughts from Vashon Island High School --
Home of the 5 period 70 minute day at 60 days per trimester.

I am really a fan of 5 period day on Trimesters (70 minute periods) of 60 days.

...............4200 min per trimester
-- 2 tri = 8,400 minutes
-- 3 tri = 12,600 minutes

180 days at 50 = 9000 min/year
180 days at 55 = 9900 min/year

Algebra I ( 3 trimesters)
Geometry ( 2 trimesters)
Adv. Algebra ( 3 trimesters)
Pre Calc ( 2 trimesters)
Calculus ( 3 trimesters)

continuously enrolled in math for four years:

........50 min ......... 55 min ......... 70 min

yr 1... 9000......... 9900 ........ 12,600

yr 2... 18,000...... 19,800...... 25,200

yr 3... 27,000..... 29,700...... 37,800

yr 4... 36,000..... 39,600...... 50,400

Watch the Video "Two Million Minutes"

What we need is a six period trimester schedule at 70 minutes where teachers teach 4 of the six periods.

USA is inadequate because of :
1.. Short school day
2.. Short School year
3.. Inadequate teacher planning time.
4.. Family collapse
5.. Inadequate motivation for many from anything other than selfish narcissism.

Vashon Island High School in Puget Sound just off West Seattle has been running a 5 period day on trimesters as shown above.
They've used a traditional math text series and cover every page of each book in Algebra, Geom, Adv. Algebra. Pre Calc.
They use a pacing guide.

course descriptions:

bell schedule:

Another way to look at the 5 period day with teachers teaching 4 classes at 70 minutes is:
teacher is teaching for 280 minutes per day

where 5 x 55 = 275

We desperately need a trimester schedule with 70 minute periods and periods per day

and at least 65 days per trimester - which lengthens the school year by 15 days to 195.

Teachers will gain a bit more (effective) planning time in this schedule because
they only teach 4 classes instead of the usual 5.

They also get 70 min plan per day vs 55 min.

Your thoughts are welcome.

Remember that students from India and China and Singapore are entering high school with a lot learning from more time in classes k-8 and with better skills than most of our very best students {not to mention - the many socially promoted in Seattle, where the public schools do not even define necessary skills needed in math k-8}
How can students effectively learn what the SPS fails to identify as important.
We not only need more time but better leadership. Clearly there are many other changes that need to me made.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Japanese children
to spend more time
on math, science
and end 6+ years of fuzzy reform direction

For the last few years the reform math boosters have noted that even Japan had become more centered on exploration and inquiry and proclaimed that the USA was just cutting edge with this stuff. Well now after 6 to 8 years of this cutting edge - Japan has watched their standing tailspin in Math. They are not as PC correct "group think" stupid as we are. The Japanese can recognize nonsense when they see it. They refuse to bleed to death on the cutting edge.

Sure would be wonderful if the Seattle School board could recognize nonsense, or notice the blood from the cutting edge. Looks like we will have to have more math fatalities from bleeding over this nonsense before anyone will act.

Here is the link to the Reuters news report.

Fri Feb 15, 2008 olt&sp=true

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese schoolchildren will spend more time on core subjects such as math and science under guidelines unveiled on Friday, in an effort to boost academic standards months after the country slipped in global education rankings.

The changes, to be implemented gradually from next year, reverse reforms implemented in 2000 to create a more "relaxed" environment that would foster creativity and reduce rote learning.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

New Math Standards Don't Add Up
in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

In the PI:

Jessica Blanchard writes on the math standards and the coming Seattle high school textbook adoption.

State's proposed new math standards don't add up, critics say
Problems cited in requirements for high-schoolers

A Third of Entering Ninth Graders
are Clueless about Math,
will Seattle attempt a High School
Math textbook selection??

Soon Seattle is scheduled for a High School math adoption.

Great short-term decisions cannot possibly be made because flawed past decisions produced our current sorry state of affairs.

Currently it is not possible to make an adequate math text selection for many students at the high school level. The SPS is producing far too many ninth grade students without an appropriate skill level to do high school mathematics. Around 1/3 of entering High School Ninth graders fall into the "Totally Clueless" about math category = WASL level 1. Recent K-8 Math adoptions are unlikely to significantly improve this situation. Expensive interventions would be far more effective with proven K-8 math curricula, which unfortunately the Seattle Public Schools choose not to use.

The letter from UW Math Professor Dr Paul Tseng should have great relevance for any SPS decision maker.

The Everyday Math adoption in May 2007 ignored the essentials of how Mathematics is actually learned. Some of the reasons this ethnically discriminatory ineffective material was adopted occurred because the SPS senior staff at the district level continually failed to respond to concerns and questions as well as failing to respond to questions asked by the NAACP. Watch the video of public testimony from May 30, 2007 – Oh.. it does not exist. Look on the website for the explanation of how this adoption is going to be implemented. No can’t do that it was quickly posted and removed.

The new school board can hardly expect to build public confidence by allowing their employees to deceive the public with presentations and responses that hide the truth. The current Denny/Sealth fiasco is the latest example of public deception. Put information in the voters guide and on the ballot to approve funding for one thing and then fail to provide what was described. Do the school board directors prefer option #2 at this time?

Dr Tseng’s letter is of great relevance to Seattle.

1...It shows exactly why D43.00 D44.00 and D45.00 should be applied essentially as written with a focus on grade level required necessary skills and effective interventions. Social promotion and the resulting dependence on vague differentiated instruction are the exact opposite of how to create an environment in which mathematics can be effectively learned.

2...When carefully read his letter allows discovery of why Everyday Math is such a poor text selection for Seattle. It also shows why the Everyday Math - Connected Math combination, which was known to be a large failure in Denver, [ via consultants report to Denver Public Schools on April 6, 2007 and made know to the SPS staff in April - which again elicited no response] only contributes to the ongoing slide in mathematical competence of Seattle School attendees.

3...I could go on with many further points from Dr Tseng's letter but Seattle School Directors can find out far more by seriously accepting their duty to children and realizing that Senior Staff often present misleading information and hide the truth.
The events that brought us to this sorry state of affairs are the direct result of vindictive autocratic enforcement of “Group Think”. Intimidation has a long history in the SPS. Consultants even mention it. However no one does anything about it.

The Everyday Math adoption happened because the directors failed to fulfill their responsibility to their constituents by:

1.. Trusting their hired experts.

2.. Believing that political pressures would produce an adequate outcome.

3.. Ignoring relevant data rather than intelligently applying it.

Please do not implement this three-pronged disaster process yet again and do not dump this issue to another agency or board. The Board needs to carefully consider Dr Paul Tseng’s letter not forward it and forget it.

We have already been down this road before. The job of the school director is to intelligently review all the relevant information and apply it for the good of the children.

#1...Trusting your hired experts, in math is not possible. The data from the last ten years indicates you have no experts in a decision-making capacity in mathematics. The SPS has assembled and paid individuals whose primary qualification is to be able to sense the correct direction of the PC wind and face with it.

#2…Believing that political pressures will produce an adequate outcome is not the job of a director and got us in this mess. OSPI ignored all the data to pursue a philosophical direction unsupported by data or merit. The UW College of Education has produced expensive empty rhetoric and no statistical analysis to indicate any of these math curricula they peddle are effective. I strongly think that attribution analysis would show: the positive results that they have achieved at a few isolated locations are due to many other interventions (like more time on math, collegiate students tutoring, reduction in class size, increased planning time, etc.) not the curricula used. That is why these results cannot be reproduced on a larger scale. In the vast majority of Seattle’s classrooms most of those other interventions will never be available.

#3… Ignoring relevant data rather than intelligently applying it still continues. At the k-12 Math Standards rollout in the small group setting K-12 Math Program Manager Rosalind Wise said the following:

All eighth grade students can be successful in Algebra. It will need to be conceptually based not computationally based Algebra.

Seattle’s continued reliance on a defective narrow definition of mathematics is a disgrace. Math needs to also be a useful tool for everyone: carpenters, electricians, welders, engineers, mathematicians, physicists, accountants, programmers, teachers, health care professionals, computers scientists, homeowners, etc.
This is not happening because in the past the directors abdicated their primary responsibility in this matter.

In the next few months, we shall see if there is any effective new leadership. So far it looks like the extremely defective decision making processes from the past are well-entrenched and unlikely to change.

I urge everyone to review the WASL grade level information below. These figures are for Level 1 performance – the “clueless” level. Then really ask yourself should the SPS board continue to play 1, 2, 3, or actually begin to take effective action on their own to respond to this incredible injustice. The Richland School Board had the courage and was awarded best school board of the year for districts above 5000 by WASDA in 2007.

As always the Directors have my best wishes and support in doing the most important job in Seattle and probably the most difficult if done well,

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Look at the Top Ten Questions Here

Seattle Public Schools 2007 Math WASL results by grade level. I list only unexcused absence, refusal, no scores, and level 1 WASL results by percent and number of students:

I urge you to compare the following data with the number of Grade level non-promotions and effective interventions as mandated in existing Board Policy.
I've never been able to find this data - Good Luck.

Seattle Public Schools (2007)
below level 2 WASL MATH results

Grade 3
Level 1 (well below standard)
446 12.60%
No Score
73 2.10%
Unexcused Absence, Refusal
39 1.10%
Total 558 15.71%

Grade 4
Level 1 (well below standard)
671 19.90%
No Score
66 2.00%
Unexcused Absence, Refusal
36 1.10%
Total 773 22.96%

Grade 5
Level 1 (well below standard)
617 18.60%
No Score
69 2.10%
Unexcused Absence, Refusal
40 1.20%
Total 726 21.89%

Grade 6
Level 1 (well below standard)
863 27.90%
No Score
57 1.80%
Unexcused Absence, Refusal
18 0.60%
Total 938 30.37%

Grade 7
Level 1 (well below standard)
863 28.20%
No Score
69 2.30%
Unexcused Absence, Refusal
31 1.00%
Total 963 31.45%

Grade 8
Level 1 (well below standard)
906 29.20%
No Score
97 3.10%
Unexcused Absence, Refusal
32 1.00%
Total 1035 33.35%

Grade 10 (2007)
Level 1 (well below standard)
675 22.90%
No Score
353 12.00%
Unexcused Absence, Refusal
108 3.70%
Total 1136 38.51%

Grade 10 (2005*)
Level 1 (well below standard)
1146 32.60%
No Score
337 9.60%
Unexcused Absence, Refusal
n/a n/a
Total 1483 42.25%

Grade 10 (2005*) total does not include No Scores in total or percent figured from that total. This would make both the total and percent higher if computed as in 2007.

Grade 10 in 2006 and 2007 had much higher passing rates and lower level 1 rates than in 2005 as in those two years anyone without sophomore credits was actively discouraged (or prohibited) from taking the WASL unlike in prior years when if students had been in high school for two years they were WASL tested. If the old rule was in place, I believe the 2007 grade 10 Level 1 total would exceed 45%. Although passing rate rose from 40% in 2005 to 55% in 2006, 15 fewer students passed the grade 10 Math WASL in 2006.

When you can't make the numerator larger shrink the denominator.

Let me go watch that legislative testimony again -- before the Washington Senate Education leaders with some teachers saying that Advanced Algebra should be a graduation requirement.
What planet are they on? Currently slightly over 50% can pass the equivalent of a middle school math test in grade 10 on the first try. Why don't we try for some arithmetic skills and some high school algebra skills for openers. Are we just trying to motivate 50% of the kids to drop out immediately?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Singapore Math:
Top Ten Big Questions
about Seattle Schools,

Singapore Math is the result of a very careful curriculum development process over decades. This program continually produces 4th grade and 8th grade TIMSS math scores that lead the world. Many people that I've met have lots of excuses about how the USA math system is really the best for us because we have a diverse culture.

Consider the following:
Canada has a very diverse population demographic but has not bought into the US reform math. Canada is a much better performer than the USA. Alberta developed a very internationally based math program and reports excellent results even when compared internationally.

Singapore is hardly a monolithic nation. Mathematics is taught in English in Singapore but over 50% of Singapore's students come from non-English speaking homes. These carefully developed math books are written in basic English as many students come from homes where the Primary language could be: Mandarin Chinese, Malay, or Tamil (and a few others). In kindergartens and pre-schools Children learn two languages, English and their official mother tongue (Chinese, Malay, or Tamil).

Now come the big questions:
1...Why have the Seattle Schools spoken about the achievement gap in math and never even considered Singapore for a Primary math adoption and only as a secondary adoption because of political pressure by math activists? The Seattle Schools have had a continually widening Achievement Gap over the last decade in Math for Black students, Hispanic students, and Children of poverty. Is anyone ever held responsible for anything in the Seattle Schools in regard to decision making? Why are calculators used in grade 2 in Everyday math?

2...Why did OSPI never have Singapore as a reviewed text when looking for alignment with the OSPI produced GLEs and EALRs? There were books that were most aligned with the WASL that were pushed on school districts almost all of which work extremely poorly for Black students, Hispanic students, and Children of poverty. Check the data. The recommended texts prepare no one for collegiate level mathematics.
The elementary school TERC/Investigations or Everyday Math followed by Middle School Connected Math and then Core-Plus or IMP at the High School will assure the nation of a continuing need for math professionals from other countries- not to mention Doctors, Engineers, Physicists, and other specialists.

3...Why, when I was at West Seattle High School last year, did Dr James King of the University of Washington come and address the Math teachers and tell us that the UW would assist us in a project of our choosing. Then when we chose something other than Interactive Math Program materials (IMP) refuse to help us?
What was the Professional Development Cubed Project supposed to accomplish - I guess even though it was billed as professional development, it appears a secondary goal was to push the IMP curriculum upon us. Funny that was never stated in the brochures.

4...At West Seattle last year we knew many of our students were greatly deficient in number sense and arithmetic that is why we wanted to develop a program using a Singapore Math component to address these difficulties. Does the UW's Dr King have a particular aversion to Singapore Math or is it just the idea of arithmetic competence? The Math Modules that OSPI produced were shown to be ineffective by (WSIPP) Cole and Barnofski's study. West Seattle has had IMP in use longer than any other Seattle High School. It worked its way into the building initially without faculty enthusiasm. IMP has failed in Tacoma and in University Place. Why is Dr King attempting to use NSF funds to force it on West Seattle High School? We just said no thanks to a project. If it was to be IMP or nothing, we chose nothing.

5...What in the World is going on with the College of Education at the UW? In their annual publications:
Research That Matters: #4(2006)Closing the Gap and
#5(2007) Taking Measure, Does Modern Math Education Add Up?
there is very little of substance. The relevant math data in the state of Washington is avoided. Philosophy is preached and what actually produces positive statistically verifiable results is seldom if ever mentioned. The key idea of attribution analysis is missing from so much of this Math discussion, this appears to be a Math Hoax not a war. If it is a war are not both sides supposed to have real ammunition? Where is the data and the attribution analysis. I thought the UW was a great research university, what happened to math in the College of Education?

6...On the math panel I came to quickly realize that a person from a University who often criticized Singapore materials, had never looked at them. Why is this? No publisher dollars from Singapore powering the gravy train?

7...Why is the NSF continuing to fund so many programs that are without positive results and in fact producing programs like PD^3 to coerce high schools into using these ineffective materials? or was Dr King a rogue PD^3 administrator?
Click HERE to see one of the many ways the NSF spends our money. The NSF spent about 100 million dollars funding the development of various reform k-12 math materials.

8... How long will it take for the NAACP to bring a class action lawsuit based on much of the above and the following:
a..the fact that the State of Washington was ranked #48/51 in achievement Gap change from 2003-2007 by Quality Counts 2008 for 8th Grade math
b.. and most of the US is closing the achievement Gap in Math for children of poverty but Washington's is widening
c..Washington ranked number 42/51 in gap change for grade 4 reading.

9... Why when we know how to teach children do we just refuse to do so?
Project Follow Through the largest Study in Education history specifically addressed the learning of children of poverty in grades k-3. From its findings, it can easily be seen many of the things that OSPI and NSF and SPS have been attempting will not ever work. PFT ran from 1967-1995. What does work is a greater amount of direct instruction. This is exactly the opposite of what OSPI and SPS have been pushing and look at the math gap grow. I guess we are just too arrogant to learn from the top performers in the world and the largest study in education history because we have better ideas which are based on absolute nonsense.

10...College entrance math placement into initial math courses clearly declined over the last decade. The average from Seattle Central Community College shows initial math placement for recent high school graduates as:
3% into Arithmetic
17% into the equivalent of middle school math
30% into the equivalent of high school math one
14% the equivalent of a second year high school course
14% Math 98 - equivalent to Advanced algebra
22% a Community College math class that counts for credit

The above results are similar to other community colleges.
Given that OSPI spent enormous dollars on WASL math testing over a decade, why did it take until the summer of 2006 for Dr Bergeson to recognize we had a statewide math meltdown?

Why did Dr Bergeson attempt to subvert the will of the legislature by rejecting the low bid of $130,000 the next bid of $255,000 to accept a bid of $770,000 from the Dana Center to continue with reform math?

Why did Dr Bergeson select a Standards Revision Team with so little diversity?
Where are the mathematical experts from industry?
Why did the Standards Revision Team ignore HB 1906 and clearly not use the exemplar standards from other states and nations to compose the first Standards Revision draft of Dec 4, 2007? This failure to do so wasted lots of time and now the revision has not been completed on time.
Why in February is the current Standards Revision document so incredibly far away from the grade level content required to be internationally competitive?
Why are the middle school standards so lacking in content and rigor? and why do these standards resemble a "Connected Math" syllabus?
Whatever happened to topic reduction so that material could be mastered like in other internationally competitive nations?

The legislature and the Governor can begin to really fix this mess in the next month or they can allow the nonsense to continue. We clearly need a new Superintendent of Public Instruction. We also need to end the current math appreciation and instead have our children begin the study of mathematics.

Number of Pages
in a Math Book
in Singapore grade 1

I really love this small chunk of comments from the Blog Kitchen Table Math.

Catherine Johnson said...
I like this passage:

The new Focal Points are also likely to cause a major shift in the content in textbooks. "There are 750-page math textbooks," Fennell said (NCTM President Skip Fennell). Faced with hundreds of state standards around the country, he said, publishers decided to try to cover everything that might be taught.

He and others would like to see textbooks get down to the essentials. Wilson said the sixth-grade math textbook for Singapore is 36 pages long, and Singapore scores highest on math exams worldwide.

"You have to have a car to carry around a textbook in the United States," he said.
January 2, 2007 6:52 AM

Catherine Johnson said...
Unfortunately, this passage is incorrect.

Primary Mathematics 6A: 96 pages
Primary Mathematics 6B: 120 pages

Primary Mathematics Workbook 6A: 96 pages
Primary Mathematics Workbook 6B: 112 pages

That's 400 pages, and there are no photographs of penguins diving off a snow cliff.

January 2, 2007 7:34 AM

On the brighter side the Singapore Books are only 7.5 by 10.25 inches and soft-cover so they are a lot lighter in weight than the big books. Also the workbooks have space for writing so there is useful white space.

Singpore Mathematics 1A workbook is 158 pages in size.

Singpore Mathematics 1B workbook is 176 pages in size.

These are first grade workbooks the kids write in the books.

Here are the Contents of the workbooks for first grade in Singapore:
Followed by (the number of exercises) devoted to the topic

Contents of Workbook 1A:
Numbers to 10 (4) .;. Number Bonds (7) .;. Addition (8) .;.

Subtraction (12) .;. Ordinal Numbers (3) .;. Reviews (3) .;.

Numbers to 20 (15) .;. Reviews (2) .;. Shapes (6) .;.

Length (3) .;. Weight (3) .;. Review (2)

Contents of Workbook 1B:
Comparing Numbers (6) .;. Graphs (3) .;. Numbers to 40 (23) .;.

review (1) .;. Multiplication (7) .;. Review (3) .;.

Division (4) .;. Haves and Quarters (3) .;. Time (2) .;.

Review (1) .;. Numbers to 100 (21) .;. Review (1) .;.

Money (4) .;. Review (2)

There you have it the workbook topics for Singapore in First grade.

Now if your child is advanced you can use Challenging Word problems grade one (137 pages),

Need some review or more repetition try Extra Practice grade one (96 pages).

Or perhaps Intensive Practice 1B for both some challenge and extra practice (106 pages)

Yes those are the facts of the flat world.

While our kids have been having discussions in math appreciation and attempting to discover math on their own usually unsuccessfully, others are doing arithmetic.
If you are thinking mindless drill and kill think again, pick up a Challenging Word Problems grade 6 and hand it to a pre-Calculus or Calculus student and see if they can do the problems and whether they think the problems are mindless drill and kill.

The rest of the world still believes that mathematical literacy comes through mastering Arithmetic - then Algebra - and Trigonometry. Statistics and Probability
come later as does calculus. { Note: the data shows their belief is correct and ours is NOT. }

Singapore introduces real algebra in grade 6 and in grade 8 Trig is used.
Because students in Singapore are taught the bar model and proportions to mastery the entry to real computational algebra is not a big deal.

In Seattle Rosalind Wise math program director believes that all children can be successful in 8th grade algebra of course it will be conceptually based not computationally based. It seems SPS children have little number sense so computationally based algebra is out of the question. WOW!!! an SPS high school math adoption is coming -- there is an impossible task - select a textbook for all the high school students in the district that will prepare them for collegiate mathematics in just four years when they enter high school with very few actual math skills.

The question is quite simple: Is the Washington Legislature going to allow Dr Bergeson to take us further down a failed philosophical math path or are we going to adopt international standards?

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant statistics.
The statistics are screaming at us, will we intelligently apply them or continue the OSPI decade of math disaster.

Big Wastes of Time in Math Classes

I found the following at:

The new Kitchen Table Math
Published by Joanne January 2nd, 2007 in Blogging and Education.

Kitchen Table Math, the sequel, now a group blog, is up at a new URL.

Ken DeRosa links to a Baltimore Sun story on Maryland’s attempt to focus the math curriculum on a few key ideas each year, taught to mastery, rather than skimming through dozens of math standards every year.

Everyday Mathematics has 50 learning goals in first grade and 71 learning goals in grade three. CAO Ms Santorno says she is excited about narrowing the topics and teaching to deep understanding -- OK I truly do NOT understand: Please explain why we are following the pacing guide with a "Fidelity of Implementation model". I took a logic course in College and got an "A". So please take me through this thinking slowly.

John Haven, whose children attended Montgomery County public schools, believes far too much time in classrooms is spent on nonessential math work,. He made an unscientific study of math teaching in Montgomery and concluded that, by his standards, 20 to 40 percent of what is taught is a waste of time. “It is a huge impact on math instruction. It is like having popcorn parties every Tuesday and Friday,” he said.

Some school districts supplement traditional math instruction with reform math. They’re buying two different sets of super-sized textbooks and telling teachers to mix and match. It’s hard to see how they’ll get to less-is-more math instruction that way.

Seattle's adopting of Everyday Math supplemented by Singapore Math comes immediately to mind for me --- September through January Elementary School Math occupied 75 minutes a day and the Singapore 25% supplement had yet to start -- Fabulous planning buy a defective book and have it occupy all the available time.

Legislative Update
Saturday 2-16-2008 2:40 PM

This may be the time to be writing your legislator or NOT.
It is very effective to call the legislative hot lines as these keep a numerical tally of responses. When things get intense during the session - a lot of written communication goes unread but those phone tally marks do still count.

Writing your legislator outside of the time the legislature is in session is a really good idea.
If you are not a political heavy weight, writing at this time is usually not productive - unless of course you have established a previous relationship.

Well here is today's 2-16-2008 run down:

Feb 15 --> HB 3166 - Concerning the design of the state assessment system and the WASL, passed out of the House 94 – 0 with Glenn Anderson’s amendment that removed end-of-course assessments in Integrated Math I and II, leaving only assessments in Algebra I and Geometry! This will replace the HS math WASL.

This is a very encouraging sign and will be fabulous if it makes it into law!

HB 3166 also improves the WASL by shortening it through reducing the number of short answer and extended response questions and requires SPI to provide diagnostic tools that are inexpensive, easily administered, and quickly and easily scored, with results provided in a format that may be easily shared with parents and students.
HB 3166 is scheduled for a public hearing 2/21, 6:00 pm.

What a plan - a return to a sane expenditure of money and actually creating a tool that has the potential to produce worthwhile results!!!! Not continuing down the expensive dead end current Math WASL road -- humm... think I heard Dr Rich Semler testify about this last year - Oh yes Richland SD piloted the MAP test to replace the WASL because it was diagnostic, inexpensive, easily administered, and quickly and easily scored, with results provided in a format is easily shared with parents and students.
The MAP went nowhere - it was piloted by several school districts as a possible WASL replacement but Dr Bergeson failed to submit the required paper work to the FEDS for them to perform a peer review to authorize the MAP as a WASL replacement for AYP (adequate yearly progress).

I believe that Dr. Semler's plan was to have achievement measured three times during the year using the MAP and gauge the child's progress on the progress the child makes rather than using some artificial bar as the goal. [WOW!! an educationally sound idea]

Dr Semler's plan was cheaper, less time consuming ( yes the MAP three times is faster than the WASL one time), provided instant analysis for use by the teacher as it is a computerize branching test. Of even greater importance is the fact that the MAP plan is educationally sound, while the WASL is not.

The idea of continuing with a more expensive, almost useless non-nationally normed test escapes me. Perhaps it keeps our unemployment rate low by employing a vast number of people both within and outside of Washington. Couldn't we find a more effective way to expend our funds. I just do not know.... but then I am not the Superintendent of Public Instruction - write Terry Bergeson or your legislator for possible answers as I have none. Wait I do have one -- Elect Dr Semler as Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Updates on the other bills that effect k-12 Math

HB 2598 - Directing the office of the superintendent of public instruction to issue a request for proposals for development of an online mathematics curriculum. It passed out of the House 91 -6. It requires the SPI to adapt an existing math curriculum to be aligned with new standards and available at no cost to school districts. {Will Singapore Math apply for an RFP? I think I shall notify Indian Math online to apply.} It also preserved the language of HB 1906 to keep SBE as final say in textbook selections, and extended the timelines.
HB2598 is scheduled for a public hearing 2/21, 10:00 am.

HB 6534 –Regarding the revision of math standards, passed out to the Senate 48 – 0. It’s still a shell and hopefully details will be added this week.

HB 3317 - Regarding standards and curriculum in mathematics and science, set to go the House Floor with Ross Hunter’s amendment that brings it inline with SB 6534.

More on BILL UPDATEs with url addresses:

HB 2598 – Online Math

OSPI shall develop and issue requests for proposals for private / nonprofit vendors to adapt existing math curriculum to the EALR’s and GLE’s. OSPI gets to review and analyze the responses and give a report to the Governor and ed committees in December.

Passed the house and is into the Senate for a hearing on Feb 21st – 10:00 am
All members of the education committee voted for the bill. 91 yes – 6 no votes

HB 3166 – Design of the State Assessment System and the WASL (focus on end-of-course)

The 2009 administration of OSPI is charged with redesigning the assessment system
OSPI, with consultation of the SBE, shall develop end-of-course tests that is aligned with state standards. These end-of-course assessments can replace the WASL.
Passed 96 yes 4 not voting
No Senate hearing scheduled yet.

Anderson amendment is on page 3 removed all references to “integrated math” and left the focus on algebra and geometry.

HB 2808 – Additional opportunities for students who fail the WASL to graduate

The bill promotes alternative ways to help students graduate including extensive training of mentors and teachers. The training for the teachers is through the summer / winter learning institutes and other programs
Passed 97 yes 1 not voting

HB 3317 – Regarding Standards and Curriculum in Mathematics and Science

The Hunter amendment tightens up the language to be stronger in promoting rigor, content, and specificity, similar to the Senate version of a place holder.

The bill has not passed out of the house yet.

SB 6534 – Regarding the revision of mathematics standards

The bill has passed out of the senate unchanged with 48 yes – 1 not voting.
Scheduled for House hearing Feb 21 at 6:00 pm.

SB 6673 – Creating learning opportunities for 11th and 12th graders

To help students that are not completing the normal options to graduate. Focus is on ESL and students with learning challenges. Opportunities include extended classroom time, PSAT for 9th graders and tuition assistance.

SB 6726 – Granting PESB authority

Grants more authority to the Professional Educators Standards Board to oversee teacher certification process.

Definitely time to pick up the phone.

Friday, February 15, 2008

UW Professor of Mathematics,
Paul Tseng
writes to Dr Bergeson

Dear Superintendent Bergeson:

At the suggestion of my UW colleagues Viginia Warfield and Cliff Mass, I am writing to convey my thoughts/comments on the current revision of the K-12 math standards in our state. I have been following the debate between the "reform math" and the "other" side for the last few years, as this is an important issue that impacts the future of math education in our state. FYI, a summary of my educational background is appended below.

First, I appreciate the passion and the efforts on all sides to improve the standards. Clearly we share a common goal that the revised standards lead to math curricula that promote interest and understanding, while preparing our K-12 students well for the future.

Which set of standards will best achieve that goal?

Upon comparing the OSPI standards draft (January 31, 2008 version) and the Where's The Math (WTM) standards draft (February 2008 version), I find the two to have much in common, though also with some key differences on calculator use, explanation, standard algorithms, and the level of arithmetic/algebra expected. This reflects differences in philosophies on what math K-12 students need to learn and can understand.

Another consideration is the availability of resources (textbooks, curricula, teacher training) to help students to meet the standards.

I agree with the Strategic Teaching review that the OSPI standards represent a significant improvement over the previous standards. I also agree with its critiques and recommendations that the OSPI draft has various deficiencies that need to be addressed. In fact, it will be worthwhile to have a side-by-side comparison of the OSPI standards with the WTM standards, conducted by Strategic Teaching or another independent source.

Comments on the two standards from the Gates Foundation and from leaders in the state's high-tech industry will also be insightful.

My preference would be for the two sides to work together to create a joint draft acceptable to both. Failing that, I take some encouragement that the two drafts are much closer to each other than I initially expected.

If I have to choose between the two current drafts, I would choose the WTM standards. Overall, I find the WTM standards to be clearer, more concise, more rigorous, and more measurable. Some example comparisons:

* Multiplication/ division:

The OSPI standards do not introduce multiplication until Grade 3 and ask students in Grade 4 to "demonstrate mastery of multiplication ... facts through 10 by 10". In contrast, the WTM standards introduce multiplication in Grade 2 and ask students in Grade 3 to "recall from memory multiplication facts for numbers between 1 and 10."

(For further contrast, my school in Taiwan required us to memorize the multiplication table for numbers 1 to 10 in Grade 2. This is still true today, as is the case in Japan . Here we debate whether children can/should memorize the multiplication table in Grade 2. In Japan this is given.)

Knowing the multiplication table by heart is essential for understanding division and multi-digit multiplication, which in turn are needed for understanding fractions, which in turn is needed to understand algebra and trignometry, so postponing the former to Grade 4 would force the other topics to either be postponed or be taught before the students are sufficiently ready.

* Explanation: The OSPI draft has more emphasis on explanation, such as the following requirements in Grade 2 (pages 16, 17):

"Explain and use strategies for remembering addition and subtraction facts to 20."

"Compute two-digit sums and differences efficiently and accurately using a method that can be generalized, including the standard algorithms, and explain why the procedure works."

"Add and subtract two-digit numbers mentally and explain the strategies used."

I appreciate the OSPI authors' desire to promote understanding by students, but simply asking students to explain may not be the best way to achieve that. It would be difficult to measure which explanation is valid and which is not, and students can just as easily end up memorizing one particular set of explanations instead of focusing on actual understanding.

It might be more effective to ask students to "show intermediate steps" in the case of an algorithm being used. If a student can do mental arithmetic correctly and quickly, there seems no need to ask for an explanation (just as there is no need for a students who has learned to play the notes on a piano correctly and quickly to be required to explain how he/she does it). Explanation may also disadvantage children from immigrant families for whom English is a second language.

* Core Processes:

The OSPI standards has a Core Processes section for each grade, with the aim of extending and deepening students' understanding of core mathematical concepts. However, the performance expectations look quite similar from grade to grade. And the given examples seem to fall well short of the stated aim.

For example, Grade 5 has the core concepts of "division of multi-digit numbers, surface area and volume of rectangles, ..., fractions and decimals, ..." (page 43).

But the given example of Armida buying 50 boxes of water bottle involves only simple 2-digit multiplications (e.g., 44 times 50) and a simple 4-digit subtraction (4500 subtract 2200).

Grade 7 has the core contents of negative numbers, rational numbers, linear equations, surface area and volume, proportionality.

But the given example involves only calculating the average and the median of the daily high and low temperatures in Spokane .

* Technology:

Our department has at one time banned all calculators from our first-year calculus classes due to concerns with students relying on calculator to multiply 7 by 9, say. We now allow calculators, but only those that have no graphing nor symbolic capabilities. This contrasts with the OSPI standards which write (in the section on Technology):

"At the high school level, graphing calculators become essential tools as all students tackle the challenges of algebra and geometry to prepare for a range of postsecondary options in a technological world."

I use technology all the time in my work, writing computer programs in different languages to implement mathematical algorithms for solving various optimization problems in real life. (One of my current programming project involves the Rosetta C++ computer package from David Baker's group at UW for predicting the 3D structure of proteins from their amino acid sequence. This is crucial for predicting the biochemical functions of new proteins.) However, for learning and understanding math, calculators should be used sparingly and only when the calculation is too tedious to do by hand (e.g., computing the square root of 7 to 3 decimal places). Computer programming is a great way for students to learn about rigor and algorithms, but it is different from using technology as a black box.

I was brought up on what one might label as "traditional" math, and I feel it prepared me well both in profiency and understanding, as well as finding possibly multiple solutions in multiple ways. To me, math is a language for quantifying and relating patterns through rigorous reasoning.

As in learning any new language (including music), memorizing and practicing in varied contexts using varied strategies are needed to build proficiency, working knowledge, and understanding. Profiency and understanding at one level is essential before proceeding to the next level. A student that cannot mentally calculate the fraction (1-8)/(8-1) will invariably struggle to simplify the algebraic expression (1-x)/(x-1), which I have seen in students of my first-year calculus class at the UW. Coherent and well motivated lesson plans can make all this fun and connect math to the real world, instead of becoming mindless drill-and-kill and teaching-to- the-test.

Regardless of which set of standards is adopted, I hope the OSPI will remain open to further improvements in the standards, and view this as an evolving process (albeit there are resource constraints) . It will be helpful to periodically seek the responses of parents, teachers, and K-12 graduates.

A number of my UW colleagues in math and stats (Ioana Dumitriu, Jack Lee, Boris Solomyak, Tatiana Toro, Marina Meila) have expressed their disappointments at various aspects of the curricula for their children based on Connected Math Project, Everyday Math, TERC, or Integrated Math.

Another UW math colleague William McGovern is happy with Integrated Math, though he also indicates that his son prefers Integrated Math III, which is written in a more "traditional" style, than I and II. Hence the choice of textbook, curricula, as well as teacher preparation, will be key.

Whatever the curricula, they should promote understanding as well as profiency, for example, by showing students more than one way to find the solution(s).

Thank you for patiently reading this far. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Paul Tseng
Professor, Mathematics, UW

A summary of my educational background: I lived in Taiwan until age 11 (Grade 6) when our family moved to Vancouver , Canada where I completed my middle and high school and undergraduate study (in engineering math at Queen's Univ.).

Thus I experienced math education in two different cultures.

In 1986 I received my PhD from MIT in Operations Research, which involves research in math with applications to decision/operation problems in the real world. The Operations Research program at MIT is interdepartmental, so my research background is mixed, ranging from Management Science to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. After PhD I spent 1 year as a research fellow at the Management Science department in Univ. British Columbia and then 3 years at the Laboratory for Information & Decision Systems, which is a part of the Electrical Enginnering & Computer Science Department, at MIT, before coming to the math department at UW in 1990, where I have stayed since. My research has both theoretical and applied aspects.

Some of it, in the form of computer programs that implement mathematical algorithms for solving large structured optimization problems, are used by companies like Boeing, UPS, AT&T to improve their operation efficiency.

I collaborate widely with colleagues in engineering, computer science, management science, math, biochemistry, statistics, economics from UW and from all over the world.

West Seattle Wins
Advanced Placement National
Math & Science Initiative Grant

West Seattle High School has been awarded a grant
for increasing the number of students enrolled in
Advanced Placement® English, Math, and Science programs.

The odds on this look like WSHS won the lottery. Check this out:
21 states were invited to submit full proposals
15 finalists received site visits
7 Grantee States: Arkansas, Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Washington

In WASHINGTON 31 Schools were asked to submit a proposal
28 applied
14 received site visits
7 were selected

Go Westside!!

The National Math and Science Initiative and Mentoring Advanced Programs for Students: Partnering for Academic Excellence

Primary Goals

Increase number of students enrolled in Advanced Placement® English, Math, and Science programs.

Increase number of students earning qualifying scores (>2) on the College Board’s National Examinations in AP® English, Math, and Science

Mentoring Advanced Programs for Students

• Washington State Non-Profit 2005
• Initial Mentoring Program in Clark County
• NMSI Grant September 2007

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Battling for Math Education

In the Seattle Post Intelligencer:
Battling for Math Education
Clifford F. Mass

UW College of Education's
Research That Matters:
My view by DMD jr.

2-13-2008 Seattle School Board Testimony

Good Evening , I am Dan Dempsey.

Research That Matters - YES - Research That Matters – that is the Title. – but ethnically discriminatory curricula is the result.

[For those Watching at Home -- You can Google:
Math Underground Blog to follow the data provided.]
( No need for you - for you are here NOW.)

Research That Matters is the title of a series of five publications produced annually by UW over the last five years.

The last two publications for 2006 and 2007 are:

Research That Matters 4:
Closing the Gap:
New Strategies for a Changing 21st Century Classroom

Research That Matters 5:
Taking Measure, Does Modern Math Education Add Up?

In reference to the above, here is some of the Research That I think really Matters, which unfortunately is not mentioned in either of these College of Education publications.

The Achievement Gap for non-Asian minorities and children of poverty has been constantly growing over the last decade in both Seattle and Bellevue. Tenth Grade WASL Math passing rates produced astonishingly poor numbers for non-Asian minority students in the Spring of 2007.

Let us compare three school districts, which have been riding on the reform math bandwagon. Clover Park 25% of Seattle’s Size, Bellevue 35% of Seattle’s Size, and the Seattle School District.

The percentage of students on Free or Reduced price meals:
Bellevue 17%, Seattle 41% and Clover Park 57%

The percentage of non-Asian minority students:
Bellevue 11.1%, Seattle 35.4% and Clover Park 38.4%
{In what follows: reform math could be mistaken for a covert attempt to maintain Asian-White superiority over non-Asian minority students in math — look at the last decade and the complete abandonment of Project Follow Through’s direct instruction principles replaced by patterns and connections with exploration and inquiry even in the SPS definition of mathematics – Do we wish to produce No Carpenters? – Whatever happened to learning mathematics to gain a useful tool? - You see the SPS neglects the learning of mathematics. Wow!!! is not that an SPS mission to teach mathematics? Guess not - that must be at the root of the current problem.}

For K-8 math:
- Seattle moved closer and closer to TERC/Investigations and Connected Math over the last Decade. Black Students passed the Spring 2007 Math WASL at a 20% rate. – Whites at 71%

- Clover Park officially adopted both TERC/Investigations and Connected Math years ago. Black Students currently passing at a 19% rate.

- Bellevue officially adopted both TERC/Investigations and Connected Math years ago and emphasizes “Fidelity of Implementation” without supplementation and following a strict pacing plan. Black Students passed the Spring 2007 Math WASL at an 18% rate. – Whites at 73%

For Bellevue these were the lowest WASL pass rates ever for Blacks at grade 10 in Math (Spring 2007).

Seattle the last two years encouraged only students who have at least Sophomore credits to take the WASL. Three years ago (2005) the Black pass rate was 13%.

These numbers and the reality they proclaim is entirely missing from UW’s Research That Matters publications.

The title of which should be “UW College of Education Fluffy Fuzzy Self-Promotions”.

In the introduction of Research That Matters 4: Closing the Gap, UW College of Education’s Dean says:

WASL scores for non-Asian Minorities are improving
But she provides NO DATA.
Where is the research??? .. This is not the case for math.

Thank You,

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
Washington State Board of Education Math Panelist

To Improve a System REQUIRES the intelligent application of relevant data.
-- W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

When will this intelligent application of relevant data ever happen in Washington State Mathematics Education?
Clearly Seattle needs to start now.

In the Quality Counts 2008 study:
Washington ranked #48/51 in eighth grade Math Gap change for "Children of Poverty" (2003-2007).
For most of the US this gap is shrinking but in Washington State it is growing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Washington Post reviews
Two million Minutes


The Washington Post's highly regarded and nationally recognized education writer, Jay Mathews, recently screened Two Million Minutes and interviewed me in some depth.

Today he posted his thoughts about my film and and the issues it raises in an article called "One Dad's Campaign to Save America".

Mathews is a very smart, very knowledgeable reporter on U.S. education and I enjoyed my conversation with him and found him very likable. Regrettably, I was unsuccessful in convincing him that the high global education standards being set and achieved by hundreds of millions of Indian and Chinese K-12 students represent any cause for concern in America.

Mathews sums his viewpoint with:

"I am not friendly to Compton's argument. I think the Chinese and Indian threat to the American economy is a myth. I have been convinced by economists who argue that the more prosperous they are, the more prosperous we are, since they will have more money to buy our stuff."

A Note from Bob Compton, Executive Producer, Two Million Minutes

Jay Mathews' views are widely read and held in high esteem, usually for very good reason - he's often right. On this issue I believe he underestimates the drive and will and sheer population size of Indian and Chinese students and if we remain complacent we risk our children's future standard of living.

If you have seen Two Million Minutes or if you have traveled in India or China and have views on the risks to America's prosperity by our not rising to meet the global education standards, I hope you'll take a moment to share your thoughts by posting to Jay's blog.

You can view the comments on Jay's blog HERE.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

State Board of Education
Letter 2-11-2008

Dear State Board of Education Members,

When I came to the first SBE math panel meeting, I brought with me the document: What is Important in School Mathematics? This document was written in 2004 by an NSF funded panel of 12 mathematicians as a Guide to States looking to revise their mathematics standards. I was very impressed with the work of Ms Linda Plattner and the review and recommendations that were produced in August of 2007. Since then things have departed from the Guide to States recommendations in several significant ways. This departure does give insight into the nature of much of the k-12 mathematical futility of the last decade. I urge you to read the guide for further insight into our current situation and possible solutions. I strongly believe based on my widely diverse experiences in teaching that this guide is remarkably accurate in its suggestions for revision of any state’s mathematics standards.

A few significant difficulties follow:

1. Disregard for extremely relevant data - An analysis of WASL math scores for Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, and Clover Park School Districts shows extremely poor WASL results for Low Income, Blacks, and Hispanics as achievement gaps grew over the last decade. In fact CPSD Blacks posted their lowest 10th grade Math WASL score in spring 2007 (18% passing same as Bellevue Black students’ score).

2. Dr Bergeson’s misleading public presentations that Washington is doing well in mathematics:
a.) Saying that Washington has a 70% SAT participation rate
The reality is in 2001 53% in 2006 53%
b.) Saying Washington is among the top in the NAEP results
The reality is for WA at grade 4 → two out of five subgroups are at the national average the others are below -Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, American Indians. The NAEP is not to be used for State to State comparison due to uncontrolled variables which effect outcomes substantially. (The fact that Washington has above average percentages for numbers of Asians and Whites, the two highest scoring subgroups, gives WA an above average grade 4 NAEP score). Given Washington’s favorable socioeconomic situation one would predict WA to be above average – except for our poor state spending level and very large class sizes.

The NAEP shows that for within state change in score for children of poverty the gap from 2003-2007 has Washington ranked #48/51 for 8th grade math gap change. In Washington the gap is growing and in the nation as a whole this gap is shrinking.

3. The University of Washington College of Education continues to advocate for ineffective math programs that are responsible for producing many of the above deficiencies.
In the UW’s College of Education 2006 publication Research That Matters 4: Closing the Gap, Dean Wasley in the introduction states:

"The gap in achievement in this state and in our nation resides squarely between races and is demarcated by poverty. In Washington, the dropout rate for most minority students and limited-English speakers is about twice that of whites. Test scores show similar divides. Although their numbers are showing improvement, non-Asian minorities typically score 20 or more points lower than their white counterparts on Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) tests."

Spring 2007 - In Bellevue Blacks scored 55 points lower than whites at grade 10 math, In Seattle 51.2 points lower. These two districts have advocated OSPI aligned materials as favored by UW CoE. Statewide the Black - White Gap is 33.8%. Clearly the CoE needs to pay closer attention to the actual facts of the situation and the harm the UW’s CoE Math position is causing. --- Contrary to what Dean Wasley says: The numbers are not showing improvement.

In addition other districts that adopted materials most closely aligned with OSPI math text recommendations served students of color and poverty poorly as a result – for example Clover Park SD

4. Dr Bergeson selected a Standards Revision Team that had very little balance. Where were the mathematically knowledgeable professionals from the business community? There was very little diversity of opinion in those selected. Despite the charge to follow the exemplar documents from top states and Finland and Singapore, it appeared that the Dana Center made the following decision. New standards should be created by revising the old standards. The Dr Bergeson-Dana Center draft one (Dec 4) bore little resemblance to what the original recommendations from Strategic Teaching advocated.

5. Incorrect and misleading comparisons using NAEP Data. Dr. Kimberly Vincent of WSU, and Dr Bergeson often bring up a California - Washington NAEP score comparison which is completely invalid. Applying the overall ranking without considering socioeconomic factors and accommodations shows a disregard for the intent of the study.

Table of Socioeconomic Indicators for MA, WA & CA (2006)
(From EdWeek’s Quality Counts 2008 with assistance from the Pew Research Center)
State Success Indicators (Early Foundations page 3) by National Ranking:
Family income #5 #17 #32
Parent Education #1 #20 #39
Parental Employment #19 #31 #38
Linguistic integration* #37 #40 #51
Adult educational Attainment #2 #14 #22
Spending (2005) #13 #43 #46
*Children whose parents are fluent English speakers: 86.8% 84.2% 63%
(Adjusted per-pupil expenditures (PPE) –Analysis accounts for regional cost differences)

NAEP accommodations and demographic for MA, WA & CA (2007)
(From NAEP 2007 Mathematics Assessment, 4th grade)

Students identified as
ELL/Disabled and assessed
without accommodations: 6% 8% 33%

Black/Hispanic: 18% 21% 61%

Eligible for National
School Lunch Program: 27% 39% 53%

6. Dr Bergeson continues to advocate for Washington creation of tests and materials rather than using proven inexpensive off the shelf materials.
From 2000-2005 both the WASL and the ITBS tests were given in Reading and Math at grades 6 and 9 the ITBS scores were flat for the six year period, while WASL scores rose continually really rocketing in grade 7 reading. Then after Spring 2005 there was no more nationally-normed standardized testing. Please resume either the ITBS or better yet use the MAP.

Dr Bergeson wishes to create online materials for math. Given the OSPI track record this seems like a very bad idea. Look at the Math modules that were created to help students pass the math WASL. WSIPP’s W.Cole & R.Barnofski found the use of these modules largely ineffective.

Dr Bergeson’s selection of the Dana Center and her revision team selections are spending about $1 million and not following the simple directions they were given and violating many critical points in the Guide to States from MSSG.

I urge you to read the MSSG document: What is Important in School Mathematics? Your reading particularly of sections III A & B (which follow) will enable you to gain a better understanding of how far off the tracks this process has gone since September of 2007.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr. SBE math panelist

NCLB Highly Qualified in Math, Chemistry, & Science
BA Mathematics, M.Ed.

Segmented Math teacher at Alternatives for Individuals High School
Clover Park School District, Lakewood, WA

from What is Important in School Mathematics?

III. Advice for Revising School Mathematics Standards and Curriculum

The design of school mathematics standards and curriculum is a very complex, intellectually challenging task. We offer the following advice about this task.

A. States should seek out the best mathematical thinkers from schools, higher education and the private sector to serve on committees to design school mathematics standards and curriculum.

The outstanding credentials of members of such committees must reflect the intellectually challenging nature of designing of school mathematics standards and curricula. If mathematics education is to be given a high priority by states and they want expert guidance, then we believe that states would be well advised to follow the model used by the federal government, which turns to the National Academy of Sciences for expert advice. The Academy assembles panels of the nation’s experts on a topic. These panels are chosen free of input from governmental officials or interest groups.

Such an expert panel for school mathematics would ideally be composed of distinguished scholars in mathematics and in mathematics education, along with representatives from the schools where the instruction occurs-- practicing teachers-- and representatives from companies and institutions who employ graduates-- mathematical experts from the private sector. The expertise of these groups is needed to design a focused, incremental curriculum, as outlined in the previous section, and to resolve conflicting objectives, e.g., simplicity and age-appropriateness versus mathematical correctness and completeness.

B. State mathematics programs have been redesigned too often. For help in developing more effective, stable mathematics programs, states are advised to draw heavily on successful mathematics programs in other countries, which have been gradually refined for many years.

All countries seek to teach their young people good mathematical skills and reasoning. It stands to reason that the experiences of other countries can be an important resource for U.S. standards developers. In virtually all commercial and intellectual activities, successful strategies incorporate the best ideas of others and then extend them. So it should be with school mathematics.

Teaching Needy Kids
in Our Backward System

Teaching Needy Kids in Our Backward System

by Siegfried (Zig) Engelmann
Price: $25.00

Teaching Needy Kids in Our Backward System documents the often-outrageous experiences of a man some consider the most important educator ever, Siegfried (Zig) Engelmann. Through a tapestry of vignettes that start in the 60s and continue through 06, Professor Engelmann describes the battles he has fought to provide effective instruction for at-risk kids, particularly children of poverty. The most incredible of Engelmann's battles occurred in Project Follow Through, the largest and most definitive educational experiment ever conducted, involving 180 communities and over 200,000 at-risk children in grades kindergarten through 3. To discover which approach was most effective, Follow Through installed and tested 22 models of teaching disadvantaged children, from 1968 to 1977. The models covered the spectrum of approaches that are in schools today form the discovery-oriented approaches to those based on behavioral principals of reinforcement. The evaluation measured the children's achievements in reading, math, language, and spelling. The study was also designed to discover which models were superior in teaching basic skills and which excelled in teaching higher order thinking skills, also which models had kids with the strongest sense of personal responsibility and which kids had the highest self images. The results astounded educators and made a mockery of their predictions. There were not various winners, but only one winner, and that one excelled in every category measured. The winning model was designed by Zig Engelmann and his colleagues Direct Instruction. Why haven't you heard about Follow Through, Direct Instruction, or Zig Engelmann? Because Follow Through outcomes were never disseminated, never made public, and never used to influence educational decision making. Why would the Feds spend half a billion to fund Follow Through and never disseminate the results? Read the book and discover the astonishing truths.


I am continually amazed at how education decisions are made without any regard for relevant statistically valid results. Politics continually trumps reason. Teachers need to be allowed to teach.

The last decade of mathematics in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue, Washington have been a disaster for children of poverty. Tacoma School District switched to Saxon math last school year and is beginning to have the results that Project Follow Through indicated can occur. Saxon math is in use in Tacoma in grades k-8 in 2007-2008.

The Clover Park School District carefully followed the OSPI math recommendations and adopted TERC/Investigations K-5, Connected Math Project k-8.
Here are 10th grade Clover Park SD 10th grade WASL pass rates for:

Low Income Children:
10th Grade Math
Year .... District .. State
2003-04 ... 15.5% ... 24.6%
2004-05 ... 24.7% ... 28.1%
2005-06 ... 18.2% ... 30.4%
2006-07 ... 19.6% ... 30.5%

Black Children:
10th Grade Math
Year District State
1998-99 8.3% 9.5%
1999-00 11.7% 11.7%
2000-01 7.7% 11.9%
2001-02 10.4% 13.0%
2002-03 12.1% 14.2%
2003-04 9.2% 16.1%
2004-05 17.9% 20.4%
2005-06 19.6% 23.2%
2006-07 18.8% 22.5%

Hispanic Children:
10th Grade Math
Year District State
1998-99 10.9% 11.6%
1999-00 12.7% 12.6%
2000-01 11.9% 14.6%
2001-02 8.6% 14.3%
2002-03 13.4% 16.2%
2003-04 16.4% 19.7%
2004-05 22.5% 23.9%
2005-06 19.4% 25.4%
2006-07 21.1% 25.6%

Contrast the above with the State Pass rates for White Children:
(as reported by OSPI)
10th Grade Math
Year State
1998-99 38.1%
1999-00 40.1%
2000-01 43.7%
2001-02 41.9%
2002-03 44.0%
2003-04 49.2%
2004-05 52.4%
2005-06 56.5%
2006-07 56.3%

It Works for Me: An Exploration of
“Traditional Math”

I must emphasize that I am an advocate for modern internationally competitive math as taught in the high performing TIMSS and PISA nations. Traditional math depends on your traditions.

As we approach the half-way point of the 60 day legislative session, I thought you might like to read an interesting three part series published in Education News and written in November of 2007 by Barry Garelick. The link below will take you to part I. Parts II and III have links at the bottom of part I.

It Works for Me: An Exploration of “Traditional Math”
Part I

Barry Garelick

Instructional Guidance rather than
Pure Discovery

Should There Be a Three-Strikes Rule Against Pure Discovery Learning?
The Case for Guided Methods of Instruction

Richard E. Mayer
University of California, Santa Barbara

American Psychologist, Vol. 59 (2004) pp. 14-19. (PDF format)

The author’s thesis is that there is sufficient research evidence to make any reasonable person skeptical about the benefits of discovery learning practiced under the guise of cognitive constructivism or social constructivism as a preferred instructional method. The author reviews research on discovery of problem-solving rules culminating in the 1960s, discovery of conservation strategies culminating in the 1970s, and discovery of LOGO programming strategies culminating in the 1980s. In each case, guided discovery was more effective than pure discovery in helping students learn and transfer. Overall, the constructivist view of learning may be best supported by methods of instruction that involve cognitive activity rather than behavioral activity, instructional guidance rather than pure discovery, and curricular focus rather than unstructured exploration. For promoting constructivist learning involve cognitive activity rather than behavioral activity, instructional guidance rather than pure discovery, and curricular focus rather than unstructured exploration. The self-correcting nature of scientific research can be useful in guiding educational decisions about which instructional methods work under which circumstances for which learners.


The Pure Discovery Method is well documented as nonsense.

Here is an article with relevant statistics showing that pure discovery does not work:

Honest Follow-through Needed on this Project

by Marian Kester Coombs
March 24, 1998
The Washington Times


Since Math education was far from perfect in the past, OSPI has substituted total nonsense in its place.

It appears that OSPI resists internationally competitive standards and accompanying well established curricula from Singapore because that plan would work and thereby slightly reduce the enormous size of the OSPI bureaucracy.

Dr Bergeson is proposing that Washington have its own standards and that publishers build materials for Washington.

It is much easier to use a well proven round wheel than expensively develop a trapezoidally shaped new one, which given the OSPI Math track record is virtually guaranteed not to work.


You might like to visit:
The Association for Direct Instruction