Sunday, March 9, 2008

Great News
Legislators say NO to Dr Bergeson
and Shift Math Standards revision from OSPI to SBE

Last week in Olympia the Legislature told Dr Bergeson that it was time for Pencils UP.

After OSPI spent about $1 million, in the production of three flawed drafts of the Math Standards the Legislature said:
1... No more time
2... No more money

The State board of Education will now finish the job.

In September OSPI was handed the 7 recommendations of the SBE Expert Linda Plattner.
Ms Plattner had produced a 50 page report complete with recommendations by listening to the Math Panel members and doing relevant research.

The OSPI handoff was when things went hay-wire. Dr Bergeson rejected bids of $130,000 from StandardsWorks and $255,000 from WestEd preferring instead the $770,000 bid from the Dana Center. The Dana Center from University of Texas at Austin had previously worked with OSPI on other projects. Dr Bergeson then selected members of the Standards revision team that included not one math expert from industry. It appears that the principle requirement for OSPI SRT members was to be a GroupThink Tribe member.

The Dec 4, 2007 draft appeared to ignore both HB 1906 - the law that was supposedly being followed as well as Plattner's recommendations.

The Jan 2008 draft looked at the law but failed to deliver on the Plattner recommendations. Instead of internationally competitive math standards that used the exemplar standards of places like Singapore, we received more of Dr Bergeson's same old stuff.

The Middle School Standards resembled a Connected Math Program syllabus more than anything else.

The Feb 29, 2008 draft instead of being a fine tuning, as most third drafts are, had incredibly large changes as only about 15% of the material was unchanged from the January draft.

Perhaps this is the beginning of a return to sanity.


Anonymous said...

From: OSPI Superintendent
To: All School Principals

Re: This is WASL Week – Did you check your school’s water quality?

1. This year’s WASL is a ‘new’ test to replace the ‘old’ test. Do not be afraid. It is designed to measure the lowest elements of student learning that previous tests ignored. It was designed at great expense to measure what was mandated by EALRs and have absolutely no bearing on teaching.

2. Despite appearances, the WASL took years of work by experts who also happened to have written and evaluated the curriculum. After that came more time spent spinning a way to make it look fair and equitable, since critics charged it didn’t.

3. Unfortunately, just as it was being finished, it so happened No Child Left Behind legislation went into effect. Thus turning what was intended as a test to show how poorly teachers were doing, into a finance reform policy for redirecting Title I funding to private vendors and creative administrators.

4. This kind of legislation turned school into a high-stakes, heavily, politicized behemoth and distorted many people’s views of education. With the decision to use the 10th grade WASL as a graduation requirement the situation became even more volatile. That is not our fault.

5. This year’s discovery that 57% of the state’s sophomores couldn’t pass the test produced public criticism in which two basic facts tended to surface. One is that this year’s test results were distressing, despite our added attempts to manipulate it to make it look better than last year’s. How did we do that? We combined WASL reading and math scores.

6. And the other criticism was the WASL was measuring students’ understanding of basic material of which any “citizen” stands in need. Does that mean we are all ignorant of that basic material, since we didn’t learn it when we went to school? Yes. So maybe I’m not a “citizen” any longer. I don’t know. Tell parents it’s the water quality in their school district. Schools need new pipes so kids and teachers can drink unleaded water.

7. The fact that this understanding wasn’t tested for before reduced the pressure on teachers and school systems to not teach it. Now the pressure is there, and a great deal of effort is going into building the needed understanding from pre-school on up. But a change of that scope cannot happen quickly, and this is still very much a work in progress. Meanwhile, we will not be graduating a number of our students, and we don’t know for sure how many. We’ve never managed to keep track of them. Oh well.

8. We will be saddled with the WASL for a long time. Its like eating cake. How does it help students? You don’t need it for college. I guess I’m saying some Washingtonians are undeserving of a high school diploma. But remember, I am not a citizen either – we are all Helots together. And isn’t that what success is all about – being the king of the jungle.

Hail the Berg

dan dempsey said...

Dear Berg Hailer,

It is interesting that the WASL was put in place to raise achievement.. I've seen advanced classes canceled so more sections of remedial classes can be added to try to get more folks over the low bar.

This WASL lunacy has cost millions and made things worse.

Anonymous said...

Absotutely right - in the 70's there were two cases in washington. One with Slade Gordon and SPS that had to do with adequate funding of special programs. The other was a civil rights case in Spokane. Who was to pay for the education of teenagers locked up in the county jail.

The Washington Supreme Court judges did not have any clue as to what one meant by adequate education. I believe the WASL concept was a plan to remedy the dilemma with funding.

It would be difficult to point a finger at any one entity - but the novelty of the WASL is that it is based on the average education of what a 12 year old ought to know. It makes no sense to anyone other than a judge who has to decide whether that person received an adequate education.

The most recent change faces homeschoolers, I believe Wisconsin courts decided parents had to be teacher certified to educate their children at home.

The idea of building curriculum on moral virtues is a Puritan concept dating back to the early 19th century. It forms the backbone for American and British civil ethics. I just don't think our lawyers should be building bridges.