Friday, February 29, 2008

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,


dan dempsey said...

My response to the PI article as Posted by West Seattle Dan in SoundOff at 2/29/08 12:38 a.m.

Here must be Dr Warfield's assessment of WA better than the rest of the country. See if you think this is better than the rest of the country for a state that ranks #17 in family income #20 in parent education #14 in Adult educational attainment ( largely because of the high tech boom bringing in highly educated non-native Washingtonians). Children whose parents are native English speakers is on the national average. (#43 in spending on education).

NAEP Grade 4 Math- National then Washington in bold with subgroup percent of total followed by score.

White Black Hispanic Asian/Pacific AmerIndian

55/ 248 17/ 222 21/ 227 5/ 254 1/ 229
65/ 248 6/ 222 15/ 225 11/ 250 2/ 227

That would be 2 subgroups at average and 3 below average. Note that Whites and Asians are the two highest scoring subgroups and we have more of each group than the national average. Blacks and Hispanics are the two lowest scoring sub groups and we have less of each of those groups than the national average. So the fact that when view as a raw total WA appears to be above the national average has nothing to do with great math programs in this state. I would suggest to Dr Warfield the first step to recovery is to get out of denial.

NAEP Grade 8 Math - National then Washington in bold with subgroup percent of total followed by score.

White Black Hispanic Asian/Pacific AmerIndian

58/ 290 17/ 259 19/ 264 5/ 296 1/ 265
69/ 291 5/ 264 14/ 263 10/ 289 2/ 265

The UW College of Education for the last 5 years annually publishes a bright shiny brochure called Research That Matters. The only difficulty is that it contains no research only opinions. You can find the last two of these on my website = Google "Math Underground Blog".

Here is a typical quality research statement from the UW Research That Matters 4: Closing the Gap (2006). In the Introduction by CoE dean Pat Wasley.

Minority parents’ expectations are high, but too often, their children’s performances are low. Seattle Public School statistics show that the percentage of children of color who enter high school will increase 10 percent each year over the next century. What percentage will give up and quit? The drop-out rate is a constant worry.

My worry is the CoE and its effect on Math education. Seattle has had a constantly expanding achievement gap for children of color over the last decade. Bellevue just had their all time lowest 10th grade math WASL pass rate for blacks at 18%. Bellevue Whites pass at 73% the achievement gap is 55% in Bellevue and over 50% in Seattle.

Dean Wasley knows little about compound interest or exponential functions which is at best an Advanced Algebra topic.

Ethnicity (October 2006)
American Indian/Alaskan Native 2.2%
Asian 22.3%
Black 21.8%
Hispanic 11.4%
White 42.4%

Non-Asian Minority population = 2.2% + 21.8% + 11.4% = 35.4% = .354 ( as of October of 2006 )

In One Hundred years the percent non-Asian minority population of Seattle Public Schools will be
.354(1.10)^100 = 4878.336 = 487,833.6%

That seems impossible. Yes it is impossible can not have more than 100% non-Asian minority population. At a 10% annual growth rate starting in October of 2006, in 11 years this population will be at 101% in 2017. Quite a melting pot America - Math brains are melting.

PISA Math scores from 2006 (international test of 15 year olds done every three years) scores from top ten countries followed by change from 2003 and all English Speaking countries tested.
548 (+4) Finland
547 (+5) Korea
547 (-3) Hong Kong-China
531 (-7) Netherlands
530 (+3) Switzerland
527 (-5) Canada
525 (-2) Macao-China
525 (-11) Liechtenstein
523 (-11) Japan
522 (-1) New Zealand
520 (-4) Australia
501 (-1) Ireland
495 United Kingdom
474 (-9) United States

Here is the scoop - the USA is incompetent in mathematics we graduate about 65,000 to 70,000 engineers annually many coming from Asian nations perhaps 15,000 to 20,000 are info tech engineers.

The chairman of Intel has repeatedly testified before congress etc. over the last 20 years about the math mess but no fix has happened. Remember a Nation at Risk in 1983 that is 25 years ago and nothing has happened in the USA. This is not a secret conspiracy to move info tech jobs to India. USA is really bad in math - thanks to the UW and National Science Foundation's corrupting grants for reform mathematics. Not to mention totally ignorant school boards adopting pathetic math curricula aligned to Dr Bergeson's worthless WASL. Take a 6-0 bow Seattle School Board directors for your Everyday Math Adoption in May 2007 and your Connected Math adoption in 2006 [ I believe that one gets the 6-1 bow ]

Cisco plans to hire 360,000 highly trained IT workers over the next 5 years - could not possibly happen in USA as we know very little math and clearly have no intention of learning any. Seattle Math Program Manager Rosalind Wise thinks we need conceptually based non-computational algebra - so what is the job market demand for philosopher kings these days ? - non-computational math is not used much by IT, carpenters, engineers, scientists or health care professional the last I heard.

The top Engineering School in the world according to Mr Gates is the Indian Institute of Technology. Cisco's 360,000 jobs will be in India as the USA refuses to teach math, despite Intel's Andy Grove's repeated requests.

USA has 5% of World's population and 70% of Intel's business is outside the USA. Thanks to Dr Bergeson of OSPI, the National Science Foundation, Publishing houses, the Seattle Schools Math leadership, and Bellevue's Mike Riley you can wave bye bye to math and hello to McJob.

Last piece of data for Dr Warfield to chew on, after she tells you how well this is all going. At Seattle Central Community College over the last four years, recent high school graduates place into their first math class as follows: 3% Arithmetic, 17% middle school math, 30% the equivalent to first year high school math, 14% into the equivalent of second year high school math, 14% into Math 98, and 22% into a college class that counts toward graduation as a math class. Many other Community Colleges are similar this not a unique SCCC problem.

Do you suppose anyone will ever inspire the Governor or the legislature to fix this mess? Clearly the SPS has no intention of doing so. For they refuse to even define required necessary math skills at each grade level. Hard for a teacher to do anything but follow the Everyday Math pacing guide as no one knows what the priorities are. Whatever you do do not call downtown they certainly will not know.

A full one third of the ninth grade class arrives at high school totally math clueless in Seattle. Yes a full (1/3) can not score above level one on the 8th grade math WASL (scores of three and four are passing). I can hardly wait for Ms Rosalind Wise and Ms Carla Santorno to present the math texts that they believe will be suitable for the high school math adoption. I would suggest Singapore Math grade 3 for at least (1/3) of the class.

The rest of the world believes that arithmetic skills lead to algebra skills which can lead to Calculus skills but the USA leadership knows better than the rest of the world. HELLO we scored a 474 - do you suppose you might be wrong and the rest of the world has it correct?

Dr Warfield I await your response below. If you have any extra time drop in on Dean Wasley and teach her about compound interest, credit card debt, the sub-prime housing meltdown, and population growth rates for these are all exponential functions. Remember a part of a total population cannot be greater than 100%.



Anonymous said...

I forgot the line of questioning I started which thread. I'm saving these for future reference. I hope you don't mind. I'm preparing for another offensive while the bboys grow back some feathers.

This is BLT and the fiend pulling off legs from a phd student; bit of old boy pleasure.

When is a problem reduced to a puzzle?

On Fri, 12 Jul 1996, Lou Talman wrote:

Peter Appelbaum wrote:

...When the expected response on the part of the student is to figure out the right or best calculation to make, then the problem is no longer a "problem", it's been reduced to a PUZZLE. This happens a lot in school. Students respond to puzzles differently from "problems". In a
puzzle, one looks for how things fit together, possibly searching for identification clues, or patterns, based on how some parts fit together,and so on.

There is of course a lot of satisfaction in completing a puzzle, but there is not the same kind of learning about the content of the question that we could find in a response to a "problem". It's all surface, looking for word cues and noting the kinds of pieces that fit together for particular brands of puzzles, particular series of questions that are given at certain times of the year.
I am (dare I say it...) *puzzled* by the seemingly pejorative tone that Peter takes toward what he calls "puzzles". The behavior he describes in students who are confronted by a puzzle (looking for how things fit together, searching for identification clues or patterns, etc.) are
precisely good, desireable mathematical behavior. The other stuff ("It's all surface, looking for word cues,...") is unthinking, rote, mechanical behavior--not mathematics at all. The latter is not "problem-solving" as I would use the term.

> --Lou Talman
As someone who knows Peter a bit and who has on his dissertation
committee the same guy (Fred Goodman) who chaired Peter's thesis, I'm going to take the liberty of trying to explain what I think was his intent (knowing that he's correct me if I'm wrong.

Our mutual mentor, Fred, is fond of saying that the more one knows about a puzzle, the less interesting it becomes; the more one knows about a mystery, the more fascinating it becomes (or words to that effect). I
think Fred (and Peter) mean that with a "puzzle," once you understand the trick, there's not much more of interest. Whereas with a 'true mystery'
(e.g., how is it possible to learn something that you don't already know?) the more you learn about the issue, the more you realize there is to find out.

None of this is a comment on the enjoyment or value of mathematical
puzzle-solving per se. It is, I think, more of a comment on teaching and learning, both in and out of school. In the sense that our lessons are puzzles to be solved and dismissed, they're of definite, but limited value. To the extent that they are mysteries, they open up questions we are likely to be exploring for a very long time after the lesson ends.

So I wouldn't think that Peter (or Fred) are belittling puzzles, but
rather making a useful distinction.

Okay, Peter, here's your chance to make me look bad. ;^)


Michael Paul Goldenberg
University of Michigan 310 E. Cross St.

This is the 'gag' heart of reform research. I am standing in immense awe at the sheer quackery of their discussion.

BLT uses a metaphor for teaching mathematics as an unexplored mountain range. He is so full of himself, that I suggest he take up pastoring for the UU's. Virg would like the company. They write omnisciently and they like to sound very important all the time.

Anonymous said...

almost 2 decades of failure from Warfield and the COE quacks ...

can I use the phrase 'the research shows' ? because the WASL test results certainly show failure when 30 or 40 or whatever TENS OF THOUSANDS of washington kids fail a bunch of 8th grade math in the 10th grade.

I suppose that wouldn't qualify as research to prove that the COE and cronies are incompetent in math education and shouldn't be listened to, much less employed!

Anonymous said...

yes, too bad the WASL is not considered research - I'm not sure why they even have it.

How do you describe something like student achievement when the tool you've designed to show improvement isn't measuring any change.

And yet, we know or at least can infer, more students are dropping out of school, fewer students are going to college, more students are transferring to other schools, and fewer graduates know math and science.

Which only proves the WASL serves one function, and that is provide an arbitrarily, balanced number for propagandists so they can manipulate student chievement.

Anonymous said...
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