the Path to Algebra -- and Why It Matters.
Educators should keep it simple: Define a few key topics and teach them until students master them. Students should memorize basic arithmetic math facts and spend more time on learning to manipulate fractions. How teachers achieve the goals is up to them.
The panel had difficulty relying on sound science as they could find so little of it. Few of the 16,000 studies it examined turned out to be useful. Most were of insufficient quality, too narrow in scope, or lacked conclusive findings. The literature has little on how to train teachers and how good teachers help students learn. So exactly what is going on with those Math Coaches in the SPS and the failure of the SPS to even define grade level necessary skills. Wow what is the school board thinking?
The U.S. secretary of education will hold a national summit this year on implementing the panel’s 45 recommendations. Local control over education could allow the SPS to continue on their same defective math path if the people are continually ignored as in the past. Perhaps the Board can do better than their 7-0 vote to continue reform math nonsense and the continual disregard of preparing students for Authentic Algebra.
Looking at success rates in algebra or proficiency in algebraic concepts, it is incredibly clear that students are not succeeding.
Many students have trouble with fractions?
In recent decades foolishly fractions were viewed as less important than other forms of numbers because you can express everything in decimals or in spreadsheets. If a student has no feel for numbers and what a fifth of a pie is, or what 20% of something is, how can they understand the ratio of numbers involved and what happens as you manipulate any ratio?
Schools lost sight of these important things. In Seattle, the School board, the SPS math leadership, and the UW educators of teachers all facilitated this loss of vision and loss of student math skills.
Many math studies are not very generalizable. The panel found a serious lack of studies with adequate scale and design for them to reach conclusions about their applicability for implementation. What does that tell you when the UW or the SPS says research shows when they attempt a change. The questions now must always be: What research and exactly what do you think it showed and why do you think so? The public statements of Dr Bergeson and written posts by several math reformers do not stand up when we search for positive results on a local scale. We have been the victims of Snake Oil Propaganda posing as research.
An excellent question is: Should the Federal Government be paying for more Research? Looking at the NSF's HED department's mindless funding of no results reform math over the last two decades, the immediate response could be NO WAY. If the NSF would stop the funding of all grant proposals that are in clear opposition to the NAMP recommendations, I would be in favor of Government funding to further the NAMP recommendations. If it is just going to be the continuation of Math gravy train nonsense that helped the UW promote math nonsense in Seattle over the last decade Do NOT spend one cent more.
Professional development math programs for teachers have been in large part a total joke. Look at the results of following the SPS math experts and OSPI over the last decade. There has been little attempt to have teachers learn more math content. Now 62% of Washington teachers have masters degrees but still do not know enough content to teach elementary school math. The math knowledge of the average US teacher is abysmal when compared to teachers in the top performing math countries. Most states refuse to pay competitive wages for math experts and have a shortage of math teachers. Contrast that with Korea, and Finland where they expect to have only the top 10% to 30% of math graduates teaching math. Washington has a math teacher and math knowledge shortage in schools and no plan to do anything about it. OSPI and SPS are clueless in this regard.
Look at the SPS Calculator insanity. Ms Santorno spoke of the need for automaticity [memorization of basic facts]; then ordered classroom sets of calculators so the students in the primary grades would have the calculators required for the Everyday Math books. ---- Now consider the money expended on educational math software and the effectiveness of that pedagogical software. Currently there’s no evidence of substantial benefit or damage. It is conceivable that a product could demonstrate effectiveness on a sizable scale under certain conditions; if it did could OSPI or the SPS even recognize that? Given the failure to heed Project Follow Through research it seems most unlikely.
Success in Math creates real opportunities for people and for the well-being of our nation, the fact that Seattle has entrusted Mathematical decision making to Ms Santorno, Ms Wise, and Dr Bergeson, is beyond the comprehension of informed rational individuals. What category will the current SPS seven member school board fall into? -- Three of the current seven members chose to be members of the irrational uninformed camp just 10 months ago. The same uninformed SPS administrative math leaders will soon be presenting a proposed High School math adoption believed to be Interactive Math Program as posted on Harium's Blog. If that is the case the plan continues to be NO AUTHENTIC ALGEBRA ever.
To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. Prepare yourself for little improvement in the Seattle Schools.