Saturday, February 2, 2008

More Bizarre by the Day from UW's Education Department

The University of Washington put out a peculiar 32 page glossy brochure on the current math situation. You can find links to part 1 and part 2 of Research That Matters for 02-02-2008 on this page.

Below is my letter to the UW's President and Provost.

February 2, 2008

Dear President Mark Emmert and Provost Phyllis Wise,

I am displeased that the UW department of Education issued an expensive “math wars” propaganda piece and failed to include the most relevant data which would have nullified most of their fluffy statements. It is one thing to believe in fairy-tales but quite another to advise that important decisions be based upon them. Major research universities should do a lot better than this.

I find that the current math failure, in the state of Washington announced by Dr Bergeson in August of 2006, is not being corrected by the UW but rather compounded by UW’s Education Dept. The Ed. Dept. should be making use of the most relevant data, not painting a battle against a straw man. The alternative to our current failing reform math programs is not a return to traditional programs of the past. It is in following internationally competitive math standards and the practices employed in the most successful math nations in the world. Please read “What is Important in School Mathematics?” and contrast it with the UW Education School’s recommendations.

Dr. Emmert I urge you to read the 32 pages of the UW Ed. School brochure and consider these facts:

1. Quality Counts 2008 – Change in achievement gap in 8th grade math for children of poverty from 2003-2007 Washington ranks #48 / 51. The national average shows a shrinking achievement gap while Washington’s grows.

2. There have been continually widening achievement gaps in WASL math for both Black and Hispanic students in the Seattle School district over the last decade.

3. Bellevue has adopted reform curricula and a “fidelity of implementation model” allowing few teacher alterations or supplements of the reform curricula. Their WASL pass rates for Black and Hispanic children now mirror Seattle’s.

4. At Seattle Central Community College recent high school graduates place into math classes as follows: 50% can not place above the equivalent of high school math one → 3% into arithmetic, 17% the equivalent of middle school math, 30% the equivalent of high school math one. →Only 22% of recent high school graduates can place into a college level math class that counts for credit. This situation is similar to Community Colleges throughout the state.

5. Although entering students GPA’s rose over the last two decades at U of W, math placement test scores declined.

6. In the PISA international testing of 15 year olds given every three years, in 2003 the USA scored the worst of every English-speaking nation tested. In 2006, the USA scored statistically significantly worse than in 2003. Canada continually pummels the USA on the PISA.

7. The TIMSS test reveals that at grade four the US math situation is only slightly better than the disastrous PISA results and by grade 8 very similar to the PISA results.

8. The NAEP scores (based only on US data) are interesting in that they show improvement at grades 4 and 8 over the last two decades but not for grade 12.

9. The number of students majoring in Engineering in the USA has declined over the last two decades despite an increase in the number of students attending college.

10. The Hook-Bishop-Hook study (William Hook of University of Victoria is the principal author) of California School Districts that adopted an internationally competitive math program and compared these with LAUSD and San Diego, which continued with the reform math advocated by the U of W. The results overwhelmingly indicate that reform math is ineffective. Check the similar demographics of Sacramento to LA and SD and the great improvement in Sacramento math once they abandon the reform math for which the U of W department of Education so strongly advocates.

11. The Clover Park School District is ethnically and economically diverse and have been early adopters of the OSPI most WASL aligned curricula TERC/Investigations and Connected Math Project. Clover Park high school had their worst math performance ever (a 30% gap) on the Spring 2007 WASL the state passing rate was 50% CPHS was 20%.

12. In the 2006-2007 School year Seattle adopted the 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%

I could go on but I am sure you get the point. I would like to know where the funds came from to produce this extremely biased piece of apparent lobbying material. When literature is sent from a research University to PTA presidents and Washington legislators and fails to include relevant data, I would certainly consider it lobbying material.

I read in the Seattle Times in December of 2006 an opinion "Making Math Instruction Add Up" written by Dr. Catherine S. Taylor of the UW Education department (undergraduate degree in Languages Arts, Masters in Counseling, PhD. in Education). It contained only opinion no data. Now it appears that the same types of unfounded opinions are being produced and disseminated at taxpayer expense – Why?

I do not believe there is a math war. I think this is a math hoax. It seems clear that the UW education department would like to be on the winning side in backing a defective teaching philosophy of mathematics against non-existent traditional opponents. The UW education department actions mislead the public and do not even mention the strong case that can be made for an internationally competitive mathematics program.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

BA in Mathematics, M.Ed.,
SBE Math Panelist,
NCLB Highly Qualified in Math, Chemistry, and Science,
Segmented Math teacher at “The Alternative for Individuals High School”
-- Clover Park School District, Lakewood, WA


Anonymous said...

Surveys and matched studies with WASL results have become standard items for reading. Meaningless and deplorable. Synarchy is ruling by co-opting existing elites and powers, bringing them into the system and then legitimising them. This is quite the opposite of a democracy.

UW published a standardized textbook review by a panel of their professors and they labeled it as research! Biased, cheap, twisted propaganda.

Gerald Kulm did the mathematics Curriculum materials analysis, another survey for the AAAS Project 2061. He was also on the WASL alignment panel with Norm Webb, Edward haertel and John Woodward. All of these people made enormous amounts of money either writing, selling, or evaluating curriculum.

The Haertels are associated with SRI/Duke, the Maharishi, UChicago, and Michael Scribner who debriefed the original committee to select the standardized textbooks (Hyman Bass). Webb is an evaluator for an MSP grant in Washington along with Merlino who did the original piloting of IMP and Everyday Math in Philadelphia.

Yes, this is nothing but bizarre. Are these people really so stupid to not anticipate a backlash of public opinion. Their ethics are non-existent.

Education research (ERIC), MAA, and the NSF have been undermined and turned into nothing but a propagandist, racialist institutes.

We'll be undoing for years what Project 2061 and the MAA started in 1957.

Anonymous said...

Anne Taylor repeatedly gets press along with her co-conspirator Warfield. They either don't understand the harm they've caused in school or they're getting paid lots of money to obfuscate through fraudulent research. Never has there been such chaos observed in school. A common complaint heard from the Warfield-Dana cliche is "but perhaps these children don't want to learn." is just plain sick.

Despite objections by independent researchers, the work of Catherine Taylor, paid for by special grants to oversee the WASL, is the only opinion recognized by OSPI. Independent analyses of the WASL has been studied, including those of Professor Donald Orlich, of Washington State University, and Dr. Doug Carnine, of Oregon State University. Orlich was very nearly correct when he predicted only about 40% of the students would pass. The only reason for higher numbers was that teachers and parents were forced to supplement the curriculum that is currently being used in classrooms.

Some teachers have even claimed rightly that administrators actually interfered with instruction by suggesting that the idiot books were far better at teaching than the teachers. What foolish nonsense and only believable if one were attempting to promote widespread rebellion and panic.

NSF sponsoring biased research at the expense of children in school only lends more evidence to suggest a group of very arrogant right wing synarchists are cynically running our academic programs into the dirt.