Saturday, February 9, 2008

More on Bellevue and Sleight of Hand

As most of you know the Bellevue School District has been an advocate for Reform math with "Fidelity of Implementation" meaning no supplementing and follow the pacing guide or else.

As I reported for Black and Hispanic students it has been a steadily growing achievement gap in math over the last decade in both Seattle and Bellevue. Hopefully the Bellevue School District has at last reached the nadir, with only 18% of Black students passing the 10th grade Math WASL.

Bellevue has announced the trashing of TERC/Investigations and the adoption of "Math Expressions" from Houghton-Mifflin for the 2008-2009 school year. Now if only Connected Math Project and Core-Plus can meet a similar fate.

Here is an article from a year ago by Bill Hook on Bellevue:
The Bellevue [WA] Story

Some excerpts:
The Bellevue Story
Bill Hook, January 22, 2007
I've put only posted the summary here -- the question for WA state is:
Will the legislature allow Dr. Terry Bergeson to pull off the Bellevue deception described here only on a larger scale?

Summary: The Bellevue math program is built on a foundation of sand, as represented by the TERC textbooks which have been used in their elementary schools and the Connected Math (CMP) textbooks which have been used in their middle schools. These books are not aligned with leading international standards. WASL performance improvement is worse than the state average at the 4th and 7th grade levels since the year 2000, and 31% of their students failed the 10th grade test. These books do not prepare the students for even a weak middle school algebra course, never mind an international level Algebra I course such as taught in California.

Bellevue paid a large sum of money to hire a renowned consultant from Michigan State U. This consultant wrote that Bellevue 11th and 12 graders were operating at the level of the 8th graders from the top achieving countries. He sent them a recommended international set of math standards to use, and Bellevue promptly ignored them, deciding instead to write new ‘dumbed down’ standards to match their existing TERC and CMP textbooks.

Bellevue has wasted large amounts of Boeing grant money trying to apply band-aids to their dysfunctional elementary and middle school textbooks. Instead they should have accepted the math standards sent to them by their own consultant, and bought textbooks to match.

Stay tuned to the exciting adventures of As the Washington Math World Turns with special events in both February and March.

Coming Monday February 11, 2008 The State Board of Education and the SBE Math Panel hear more from Linda Plattner of Strategic Teaching, Dr Terry Bergeson of OSPI, and Cathy Seeley of the Dana Center.

The kickoff for this Five hour game is at 10 AM at the Puget Sound ESD in Renton - 800 Oakesdale avenue. Admission for the public is free and for the public observation is permitted but participation is not allowed.


Anonymous said...

are there any events in Oly / with legislators which are happening or could be impacted during the week of

Mon 18 Feb to Fri 22 Feb?

It is a vacation week.

Anonymous said...

Bellevue has just adopted another "reform" program that has escaped the attention of WTM, Math Expressions published by Houghton-Mifflin.
With all the attention WTM and Mr. Dempsey expend on reform math programs it would seem there would be more attention paid to all of the reform programs available. Math Expression(the only school in WA to use it is Bellevue), Bridges, Growing With Math (Shoreline). Why isn't WTM focusing attention on these programs that are not demonstrating any positive effects on achievement and certainly are not representative of rigor? Actually Everyday Mathematics is a more balanced program than any of the above. My kids have had EM for five years and have developed into incredible mathematicians. Might I say not with my help. Their teachers have been wonderful and the parent support is acceptional. My experience has been excellent. I dropped my membership in WTM because I believe the group is taking their eye off the original mission. I am a teacher in a Saxon school and believe me it is not the solution. In fact, if it were not for the supplementing I do the students would hate math. Saxon is boring, boring, boring. By the way my classroom is made up of 90% poverty and 8 of 24 students are learning english and 44% ethnic diversity (last year). All of the students in my class were proficient on the WASL, the SPED students also demonstrated proficiency. It can be done. I wish I could use EM. What I have seen is rigorous and basic facts are practiced regularly. I am glad my own kids are allowed to solve problems the way they understand them. They are able to explain how they got their answers and also show the algorithm that they used. Marvelous. Wish I could do that in my own classroom. Unfortunately the students in my classroom have to learn one way and only one way to perform algorithms. Not real world at all. The student in my class have memorized most and we have to frequently go over those standard algorithms because they are not natural to them. Oh well, at least no one is climbing down my throat (as some of the WTM members, my friends have in other district)another reason I dropped my membership. Their methods are not the way to attract people to their cause. I wish I could provide my name but my job necessitates that I remain anonymous. Also my friends that are active in WTM would make my life very difficult as they have with some of my colleagues in other districts.

Anonymous said...

SPS has not got a budget item for textbooks. It is very likely there will be a support grant provided by OSPI but only if the 'right' textbooks are adopted. I doubt Singapore would get approved. It is also doubtful there would be funds available for supplementary materials.

Teachers from other disciplines should be concerned because this will happen to them and that includes both science and social studies. SS as you know can't seem to agree on any standards. I wouldn't either if you saw what was in their textbooks.

The only way you will change this is call a stop to the whole nonsense and start an investigation. OSPI and its supporters want to start something then lets do this right. So far this has been the most underhanded and overwhelming debate I have ever participated in. There is so much evidence contrary to what reformers say that its time these people were exposed and lets have them eat their words before this election is over. Aim for the throat - some of the blame belongs to the NSF grant committee members who've been giving the funds to their fraudulent cronies. If they only saw what I see, they'd be singing a different tune, instead of whistling Dixie.

Anonymous said...

Anon924 - Do you teach in the same district as your kids. What grade are your kids and how long have they been taking EM? Do their teachers supplement? And are your children accellerated by any chance? You are a teacher and I'm wondering how much time you spend helping them with their homework? Its important because it does give researchers some measurement for how much effort beyond the classroom average kids need in order to achieve. Age and some tasks they can do by themselves, what you believe they are capable of doing by themselves?

Anonymous said...

If you've read the history of BSD's adoption, the teachers were misled - they agreed to use Core Plus, but they specifically asked that they be allowed to use supplementary materials. Their folly was believing their superintendent would fulfill that part of the agreement which they were assured by their union. It was a pact with the devil, because ultimately it affected not just them, but many of the districts in the area followed BSD. The fact remains that EM uses multiple algorithms, comes from a method that was first used in racially segregated communities. The belief was that you rose to your level of ability and the teacher was the inspirator. In some communities the book was what what inspired children.

Anonymous said...

Anon924 - WTM and Mr. Dempsey being criticized for their concerns and held to higher standards than textbook authors and publishers is plainly beyond reason. If the plan for school reform was to obscure objectivity, then what use is a number like the WASL. Why do we even have standards? If the protocols for the studies were flawed and I know because I was there piloting the idiot units and I told Lappen it was so - and I was brutal. Then why do we do research at all. If we don't hold colleges and universities accountable, then we've let our own children down.

Although you write as though you are well-educated, you haven't provided the details to what you are telling us. Show us that you know more than what you are telling and I'll believe you.

Anonymous said...

Anon924 - We have heard the same complaints from newspapers regarding the Saxon implementation in Tacoma. 'Saxon was boring...'

Aside from the fact that the implementation was flawed - teachers were attempting to blend more than two curriculums. It is also true, that when a patient is ill and doesn't get better, a doctor will prescribe a different medication. The difficulty with teachers is rather than use a different medicene they overprescribe, meaning they give more of the same medicene, meaning the student overdoses on too much repetitive work.

This is not a methodology for teaching. Yet that is exactly what happens in US classrooms. We overdose the patient and without good textbooks that teach sequentially how to solve problems with elegance. Teachers have been taught to teach skills in bits and pieces. This is not a very good way to teach.

The same can be said for any textbook - math is boring. It is not very descriptive, yet it is what we continually hear the media say about Saxon. What you should know is that math adoptions are dependent on funding - and right now the funding is in the form of grants with strings attached.

As far as I know Saxon is no longer published, yet for many years it satisfied the expectations of parents and teachers. Muirlands used it and parents wouldn't let go of it. They were raised with it. I don't see a problem with that.

Its feeder program was one of only three programs in California that had students eventually attending UCSD taking math classes by the time they were 17. Saxon format is predictable, easy to implement, easy to teach. Kids can learn mathematics from it. They could pass the WASL if they used Saxon.

With the reform textbooks, like EM, its impossible and more than likely it was intentionally done and that is even more frightening.

A student who has only had EM (no supplementing) up to 7th grade will probably not do long division or have been taught to correctly multiply with decimals or use fractions. With only knowledge of whole numbers, you cannot pass the WASL unless you can do those two things. I know its difficult for adults but read your kid's textbook sometime. It doesn't make any sense. In addition, students lack conceptual knowledge of fractions, integers, and the ability to manipulate abstractions and isn't that the foundation for algebraic reasoning. And you haven't made any allowances for children who speak non-standard english. So the whole program needs to be thought over again.

What students can do usually is apply a few algorithms that only apply to whole numbers in a few very constrained problems. This is unacceptable and the research has misrepresented itself.

Once more if you could provide us with more details perhaps we could unravel this mystery some more.

Anonymous said...

The difficulty when you overprescribe is that not only will students say math is boring. But they won't check their work and that means they could be doing the work wrong, unless the teacher checks 'all' their work and on the small space where 'work' is being done - student don't have room to show all their thinking - so wouldn't it be easier to just copy from your neighbor. Although Saxon looks primitive, its easy to run a class with it and you could just go right down each row and finish two pages in an hour. And then go back and do the same two pages another day, and etc. Each time changing the activity, but repeating the same problems and making sure that everyone did the work the same way. So that is very effective. And parents know Saxon. Once again I'm not advocating Saxon, but parents loved it. We should have something similiar and twice as effective.

Anonymous said...

Anon924 - You are teaching Saxon in which district and what age level? Is the school using Saxon or blending curriculum? You say that you are supplementing it - what materials are you using? If all your students passed the WASL, then shouldn't teachers be learning from what you are doing. Also, I'm not familiar with SPED? Your students are mainstreamed? How many qualify for free/reduced lunches? How many students do you teach? Are students allowed to carry books home? It would be interesting to get a few to write a math autobiography, could you put them online for us.

Anonymous said...

the autobiographies I mean posting and anonymous of course.

dan dempsey said...

Anon924 does make some excellent points.

At the math panel meeting today in the Elementary School Standards breakout session the need for additional algorithms was pointed out and we hope to have some additional algorithms inserted and the precise reason for using them as well as how to use them.

Saxon is very much still in print and widely used in California.

I agree that without supplementation Saxon becomes very boring for many students especially at the middle school & high school levels. In the Tacoma schools Saxon went into use last year and students of color and poverty had impressive improvement far better than with Seattle's CMP2 adoption.
Tacoma's 3rd grade WASL was a marked improvement. I was surprised that in an introductory year Saxon could show such improvement with Hisapnics at middle school. In talking with Tracey Fergeson a math panelist from Tacoma, there was more than just Saxon happening there was a focus on supplementing to meet standards.

I disagree greatly with some of Anon924 opinions on Everyday Math.
EM has extremely poor data results for non-Asian minorities and has 50 learning goals at grade 1 and 71 learning goals at grade 3.

I urge everyone the read:
What is Important in School Mathematics?

I prefer Singapore to Saxon but the question remains about Arithmetic practice and competency. Asians recognize the value of hard work and see incremental improvement as of great value. The US looks for the big deal the magic bullet.
Students who believe that hard work can not only give results but improve ability make great math gains vs: those who think math is all talent based.

There is a marked difference between Asian and US attitudes and that is another part of this problem. Check out Two Million Minutes.


Anonymous said...

Curriculum writers have a completely different process of developing curriculum. That is a major difference and its not discussed because curriculum writing in the US is business and its competitive. In Singapore the the curriculum is nationalized. Educators sought to create one curriculum and perfected it. They created standards and then the curriculum. The research focused on long term goals - what did they want students to accomplish after high school. What did engineers and scientists need in order to go to college?

US developed multiple curriculums that fit reformists expectations it is religous curriculum and focused on an entirely different set of skills - logic and statistics.

The problem with statistics is that each field of science uses different terminology for generating their statistics. And the logic is informal. So the relevance in US mathematics is minimal.

You really shouldn't generalize Asians preference over a particular learning style - they are as versatile and vulnerable as US students. Singapore uses better textbooks and the focus is learning algebra, combined with analytical geometry (I won't say integrated, because that's been coopted by reformists as well. Its a solid foundation for learning mathematical science, not natural science. Asians believe in mass education, the US hasn't got it right and that's that.

Anonymous said...

The difference in attitude is school climate and the greatest factor affecting classrooms is curriculum. Singapore is sound and perfected. If properly implemented it will substantially improve student attitudes, because it is relevant to learning mathematics.

Thinking without learning is dangerous, learning without thinking is pointless.

The sales reps from EM are posting fraudulent messages on blogs. They should go get another job.

Bellevue can do whatever it wants. They screwed up with Core Plus. They'll do it again. The kids and parents truly hated Core plus. The last sup sold that community a bad academic curriculum and their sat results prove it. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

Lets dummy down science curriculum too - lets call it natural science. And instead of calculas students can take integrated math. And why don't we just replace public with private and graduate with dropout. Doesn't faith-based learning mean putting everything into a religious context.

The miracle is we learn anything at all. Who tested these textbooks? The religious right? Who paid the Maharishi to read the textbook so kids could be more inspired? Iowa taxpayers?

With NCLB, we have more dropouts and failures than we have going to college.

Anonymous said...

RE math panelist Tracey Fergeson's comments on Saxon implementation -

Students made gains, but there was supplementation.

Was this a negative or positive comment? My understanding was the Tacoma implentation was a blend of textbooks, not just Saxon.

My understanding is that Saxon was designed as a primer, or a basal reader. It is considered what is minimal to be successful. So teachers naturally supplemented, once the class had mastered the lessons of the textbook. Its very much a skills-oriented model and any student that had mastered the lessons would be prepared for the WASL.

The confusion surrounding piloting and implementing. The lack of strict protocols - teacher training, supplementing, tracking student progress is hurting not only schools, but the entire profession.

You can't debate objectively, because you have nothing to quantify.

The only rational framework for making decisions would be ethnographic, interviewing students, teachers, and parents. And that simply isn't enough for choosing a textbook. I think school boards would prefer one standardized curriculum for all students. It would certainly make choosing simpler. Currently, the standards-based textbooks are imposed on students and that's not right either.

There are two models for a nationalized curriculum

Traditional model: A basal reader, like Saxon, which could be supplemented for accelerated students - standards and testing would focus on skills.

This is the model that we had before. And its the same model we use for granting driver's licenses.

Or the Singapore Model:
A textbook that prepared students for college - in which case schools provided support classes -and the focus would be algebraic/geometry thinking.

The standards would be what students needed for college, not what skills they have when they leave high school.

Students and parents want to know what follows high school. Not whether the child has mastered high school. That seems like a waste of money.

The reality is we have a test that addresses what kids need to know before they can leave high school. This is a traditional model. The curriculum model is a hybrid and it follows the teachings of Roman philosophers - like Aristotle.

Its emphasis is statistics and informal logic. It requires an advanced reading level. The textooks rely too much on student discovery and the methods for problem solving are non-standard, meaning students get their answers by inspiration or as in most cases, the non-believers guess?

This means that although right answers can be obtained, even multiple answers, the student did not show they had mastered the preferred method of problem solving. And this is what colleges math courses require.

The irony is that most of the world does not educate its children the way we do, and their students will be prepared for the engineering professions of the future.

Anonymous said...

To the "teacher" who uses Saxon in the classroom but wishes Everyday Mathematics were available to his/her students, I noticed you stated ALL the students in your Saxon class passed the WASL. Is the pass rate with EM 100% also at your children's school? It seems to me you have proven that Saxon math is exceptional for enabling students to pass the WASL.

Anonymous said...

Anon924 (teacher using Saxon, but wishes for EM) is faked, probably someone from the EM sales office. This is clearly someone out of the loop, has no idea what is happenning in classrooms all over Washington.

Briars and Resnick did the EM curriculum evaluation in Pittsburgh. Briars is connected to Carnegie Learning, the company that markets Cognitive Tutor. Their study is a complete fabrication - the truth as they see it.

The Multiplication Algorithm, specifically about the lattice algorithm that EM loves so much works only for whole numbers.

The imposition of EM on NYC, Philadelphia, DC, Dallas; the
list goes on and on. Washington state is threatening to impose it
statewide. This in spite of the fact that there is *no* solid
evidence that the program is even as effective as that which it
replaced, let alone Saxon Math.

More accurately, that EM is as
effective as that which was in place decades earlier (lots of places had already been using "Math Their Way", or some such CGI curriculum so Saxon might not even be the right comparison program.

In fact, some of the best data in support of EM has been thoroughly

That would be the Pittsburgh Public School situation that is widely quoted as offering great proof of the effectiveness of EM - especially for low SES black kids -when it was anything but.

Diane Briars imposed EM on the PPS - with millions of NSF-EHR dollars - but she has finally been forced out of her position and the PPS is in the process of replacing it with something more traditional and more effective. The way that she was able to make EM look good was to completely ignore the fact that Pennsylvania has a state testing system (the PSSA) and she used the New Standards Reference Exam as evidence to prove that poor black kids in Pittsburgh were performing at above the national average in 4th grade. Fantastic!

Except that she omitted the fact that these same kids' performance on the PSSA was in the toilet in 5th grade, one EM year later. [Briars & Resnick:]

It is *not* an exaggeration to suggest social republicans tend to want to impose their good ideas on everybody.