Saturday, March 22, 2008

Living in Post National Math Panel World

Living in a Post National Math Panel World
by Barry Garelick

Barry wanted the following link printed to go with his comment.


Anonymous said...

Edspresso is linked to the center for education reform. In addition to advocating religious content in school curriculum, there is a pro-reform bias.

Charter school advocates tend to argue for a balanced curriculum, although one is not sure what they mean by balanced - certainly not all charter schools think alike, although there probably is some sort of bias, there isn't much in the way of textbooks to choose from. I'm wondering why more charter schools don't use Singapore.

I would rather be a school that had the best curriculum, then a slug with the worst curriculum. The worst does not mean average, it means incomprehensible to most kids.

Traditional curriculum is average. Standards-based curriculum is the worst since most adults can't understand what the writers are asking kids to do.

I am convinced there is a linkage between the charter school movement and the implementation of standards-based mathematics. If public schools are being saddled with bad textbooks and low test scores this is what creates the demand for new products, like charter schools and skills-based software.

This is a very strange site, when you begin to analyze some of the articles dealing with the Math Wars - e.g. The Blob -The Grinches who thought they'd Stop Reform Math from Coming is a poem that favors using reform math.

Barry Garelick's article, which highlights NWP's most damning criticism of math reform, which is the lack of supporting research. That hardly supports the hypothetical need for balance in the math war controversy. Where does Singapore fit in their spectrum of educating kids? I'm not sure. Garelick advocates Singapore...

Why would an institution not take a chance and advocate using Singapore, since worldwide it is the best curriculum? Lets stop denigrating kids, by saying they're less competitive than other kids. Why doesn't Bill Gates advocate using Singapore? It makes the US look really stupid in my mind at least when we hold up a textbook like IMP or Everyday Math and say to the world this is what works for students.

Passing Eighth grade gets a little harder by Elissa Gootman - is an article critical of Bloomberg for making mandatory the passing of critical core courses in eighth grade. A policy that is unpopular with parents.

Bloomberg has supported using standardized math textbooks in public schools, but allotted charter schools money from the same needs grant (30%) to purchase other curriculum materials, not math textbooks.

CER has been a strong promoter of KIPP Schools, which were awarded contracts to educate minorities in major cities. KIPPS schools have since become embroiled in all kinds of legal controversy, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

So on the one hand they advocate reform math and on the other hand they don't. I think the editors either don't know what they're reading or else don't understand the issues involved in math instruction.

In summary, edspresso (center for education reform) is pro-charter, but their commentary on everything else about education is all over the place. Their over-zeolous support of KIPP schools would cause me to reconsider why we have charter schools at all.

dan dempsey said...

I went to a Singapore Presentation by three teachers from a charter school in Phoenix Az.

They are at a core knowledge school. Their elementary school teaches a lot of content to kids. Most refreshing after Dr Bergeson's decade of great emphasis on process with little on content.

I think the Post NMP world will have a lot more emphasis on content - As it clearly states that many of the emperors and empresses have had no clothes. This is something that the crunchers of relevant data have known for years.

Barry Garelick said...

I really don't know where anonymous is getting that CER is pro reform math. They are not. They write about the issues with math curricula at
In that discussion they advocate for programs like Singapore, Saxon and Sadlier Oxford.

As for the NMP's report, who says they are not for Singapore? They don't name specific programs but they certainly mention how math is taught in other nations and that in fact the benchmarks they recommend for K-8 are based on how math is taught in Asia and eastern Europe.

dan dempsey said...

Barry said .....

...they advocate for programs like Singapore, Saxon and Sadlier Oxford.

Hard to get much further away from reform math than those three. They all emphasize the development of arithmetic skills.

It seems that in many cases:

spiraling non-skill based -->
little student number sense -->
reform math = PISA 474 (2006)
Sudhakar said to me:

In India we have had math education happening for thousands of years. We believe in refinement we take the practices that work and continue them. What does not work is discontinued.

So the calculator has been invented - big deal so what - learn your math facts.

Unfortunately due to the influence of NSF, UW, and OSPI in Washington State, the exact opposite occurs.

The practices that work are thrown out and replaced with ones that do not work.

Consider Seattle.

Here comes their next Math adoption they are looking for a three strikes trifecta. 0 for three.

The significant studies and recommendations to look at for the Elementary Math adoption were:
1) Project Follow Through
2) NCTM Focal Points
3) Where the State Board of Education's Math Consultant had the state's math direction headed.

SPS ignored them all and went with the proven failure from Denver: Everyday Math. (Where Ms Santorno was previously employed)

Now the SPS is aimed 180 degrees opposite the National Math Panel recommendations for grades k-8.

I guess the plan is now to ignore the National Math Panel and adopt IMP at the high school level in Seattle.

Isn't Centralized Decision making in the Goodloe-Johnson era now something most everyone would like to avoid.

Pick any topic, it has usually been made worse by the Downtown's recommendations or outright mandates.

The decisions all seem to have the following characteristics:
1) No data driving decision making
2) As little genuine public input as possible
3) That air of "We professionals know better than you what is good for you."

The SPS math decision makers have given us a continually growing math achievement gap on the math WASL for student groups in grades 4, 7, and 10. The three groups very poorly served are: Black, Hispanic, and Low Income students.

That is three groups at three grade levels for a decade. Another Trifecta but this time it is a 3^2 trifecta = 0 for 9.

I hear that the SPS Math decision-makers will be recommending two text series for high school. Given that a third of incoming ninth graders are unable to score above level 1 on the 8th grade math WASL, perhaps we should adopt Singapore grades 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 for high school.


Looks like the SPS will prefer not to live in a Post National Math Panel Report world at this time.

The phase "miopic tunnel vision" comes to mind.

There in no light at the end of this mis-directed math tunnel that the SPS crew are digging. The only question now is how much longer will they dig before the big cave in.

Who finances this digging anyway?

Anonymous said...

Barry, Here's the link and the poem - maybe you know what this person was thinking when they wrote it?

The BLOB-Grinches Who Thought They Could Stop Reform From Coming
All the parents and teachers they wanted reform.
They looked for solutions to break from the norm.
They wanted things better, that's why they were fighting,
To make sure their kids would learn reading and writing
And science and math and history too
For everyone's children, not just a few.

But the Blob and its grinches, they hated reform.
"Imagine," they sniffed " trying to break from the norm."
Standards, and charters, and school choice and such
This ed-reform business is much, much too much.

Who are they, these people, this reform-minded crew
Who think they know better than us what to do?
We'll fix them,
We'll teach them,
We'll show them who's boss.

We'll make doubly sure that they suffer a loss.
We'll stop all their harping and carping and cries
We'll tell all the people their numbers are lies.
We'll say that they're wrong And without hesitation,
We'll say that they're out
To destroy education.

Oh, we'll offer solutions - the people will buy it,
All we will need say is, " It won't hurt to try it."
Whole language, new math,
And lots of things pending
(Which, of course, will require more billions in spending.)

And for those who ask questions or say it's a waste,
With great condescension, they'll be put in their place.
We'll stop the reformers, we'll stop them, we will,
Because after all,
We're the kings of the Hill.

So the Blob and it's grinches
Embarked on their task
To make sure that all things reform finished last.

But the parents and teachers and grandparents too,
Went on with their work, they knew what to do.

The Blob might have money and power and might.
But that didn't mean that they knew what was right.
And no matter the odds, or how long it might take,
The reformers were steadfast… a difference they'd make.

They wouldn't be quiet
And they wouldn't give in
And whenever they lost, they would just start again.
They offered suggestions and wrote legislation
And some ran for office, (to the Blob's consternation).

We'll stop these reformers the Blob-grinches blustered
And what we can't stop we will just filibuster.
We'll do all we can, oh we've got a few tricks,
After all it's our business to play politics.
Against our opponents we'll spend, spend galore.
And for those who are with us, we'll spend even more.

And when it was over the Blob danced with glee
Their efforts had let to a great victory.
They'd shown the reformers, and now they could say
"Just take your reforms, now take them away."
But the parents and teachers and grandparents too,
Just smiled at the Blob, because everyone knew:
That for all of its millions and for all of its might,
The Blob had not managed to carry the fight.

No matter the money and time overspent
No matter how much their support they had lent
In state after state they had failed to defeat
The education reformers they said they would beat.

And when it was over the fact remained still,
That they couldn't be really the King of the hill.
And for all of their ranting and raving and storm
They've really done nothing to stop ed-reform.

Our thanks to the CER alum who penned this ed-reform anthem for all the families and activists out in Whoville fighting the good fight to make schools work better for all children.

Anonymous said...

There's now legislation in California requiring all home-schoolers be taught by certificated teachers.

CER should at least acknowledge that the KIPP schools in Dallas were failures and and in one year cost the district at least $45 million. And administrators were investigated and charged for all kinds of fraudulent practices including overstating enrollment and misusing funds for technology.

If reform advocates could at least acknowledge there were some expensive mistakes and abuses that occurred in ed reform, perhaps the public would be more sympathetic to their cause. They have a serious problem with building public trust.

Anonymous said...

Once again I think the public should be choosing one curriculum and not three -

a. saxon
b. sadler
c. saxon

I'm thinking you mention these three because they each encompass all grades 1 to 12. CPM is secondary only, so I don't think it solves the current problem as well as Singapore.

Why can't WTM or CER actually come right out and state which curriculum they consider superior over all others. This is what should be debated. What's the solution, if its not standards-based reform.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that Barry Garelick had you add the link showing which math programs CER supports.

Hypothetically speaking, if public schools ever got around to adapting one of those curriculums and public schools started showing substantially improved math scores, how would that change the CER's stance on education reform. Would they continue lobbying against public schools, teachers, and unions?

What is the CER's position on integrating students? Does the CER find that charter schools reflect the diversity of the community? Lets only consider the students who graduate from charters.

Have charter schools been proven to be cheaper and more effective than public schools? What comparisons have been done?

One thing that I've noticed that's startling and different about the Seattle region, since returning, are the large numbers of nontrinitarian churches being built in the region to accommodate equally large numbers of reformed christians. I can't help but think how they've influenced our school system in the region.