Sunday, March 30, 2008

OSPI Press Release on
National Math Panel Alignment

Here is the latest piece of Math disinformation issued by OSPI.
Sorry I guess I had been to busy to notice this piece earlier.
Eleven reasons why this press release is nonsense are numbered below.

Even the title of this OSPI release is nonsense.

Washington’s Revised Math Standards Consistent with New National Report Who is believing this?

OLYMPIA - March 14, 2008 - Washington state’s newly revised math standards are in sync with a number of key recommendations made in a report just released by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel.

The state has no accepted newly revised standards that have been approved [1]

"Substantial and sustained changes" in math education is needed if the United States is to retain its international leadership in engineering, science and economics, the report said. "Sound education across the population is a national interest."

The changes recommended have no similarity with what Dr Bergeson has been pushing for the last decade [2]

Washington State Superintendent Terry Bergeson agrees. "Once our new math standards are implemented, our students will be able to compete with the best students in the nation and in the world," she said.

Highly unlikely this could occur even if really good standards were implemented tomorrow. To be prepared for Authentic Algebra requires preparation. Under Dr Bergeson's math leadership students have been prepared to never take Authentic Algebra. A successful transition will take a long time. It will require a great deal more than Excellent standards. Our current system of math education in WA is in a really distressed condition in a large number of ways. This statement from OSPI is an attempt to mislead the public as to the nature and extent of our current Math disaster that Dr Bergeson and other supposed education leaders have attempted to hide. [3]

The panel, which has studied this issue for two years, recommends that teachers educate students and parents against "the erroneous idea that (math) success is largely a matter of inherent talent or ability," and instead let people young and old know that anyone can be successful in mathematics with effort and support.

Dr Bergeson has advocated for reform math programs that have led to a disconnect between the hard work of actually mastering arithmetic skills and concepts and becoming successful in mathematics. [4]

To achieve "sound education," the panel lists a number of core principles, including:

* Math curriculum in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade should be streamlined and emphasize core math topics in early grades.

All of OPSI most aligned texts have had way too many topics per grade level [5]

* Knowledge of fractions, fundamental for learning algebra but underdeveloped among American students, should be emphasized.

Continually widening achievement gaps for Low Income, Black, and Hispanic students grew in districts that used the OSPI most aligned materials. These texts did not emphasize any real preparation for Authentic Algebra. [6]

* The definition and application of "algebra" should be consistent across the nation.

Most districts could start with a reasonable definition of mathematics, which has been sorely lacking under OSPI leadership. ....i.e. Seattle’s:
.......Mathematics is the language and science of patterns and connections. Doing mathematics is an active process of constructing meaning through exploration and inquiry. Try telling that line to a carpenter, electrician, physicist, or engineer.
Why do we keep electing and paying for decision-makers that spew this nonsense? [7]

* Teachers should be thoroughly prepared for the math they teach.

How interesting of OSPI to bring this up with all the continuing professional development required by OSPI of teachers? Now 62% of the teaching force has Masters degrees. OSPI's continuing emphasis on process over content has produced a situation in which it seems that often neither the teacher nor the students know much math content. Core Knowledge has been deemphasized and largely discarded in favor of methods and process. [8]

* Teachers should incorporate into their instruction the ongoing use of tests, observations and other ways to monitor students, and adjust teaching techniques accordingly to improve learning.

So why did Dr Bergeson fail to submit the MAP test as a WASL replacement for NCLB Adequate Yearly Process. The MAP test is substantially cheaper and easier to use. MAP is in compliance with the above recommendation and the WASL is essentially very expensive and virtually useless in regard to improving instruction as described above. [9]

The national panel report comes less than two weeks after the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction delivered its revised math standards to the state Legislature and to the state Board of Education for review and approval. The state’s new standards, which are scheduled to be final by late this spring, reflect three key aspects of the panel’s report. The standards:

The Legislature removed control of the revision of the New Math standards from OSPI and the $770,000 contractor and turned the process over to the State Board of Education. The reason can easily be found in looking at the Dec 4, January and February 29th, drafts of the standards. OSPI showed little interest in following the Law HB 1906 as written. [10]

* focus on a few key priorities;
* balance computation skills, conceptual understanding and problem solving; and
* teach fundamental skills at or before the panel’s benchmark grade levels. For example, students will learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers, fractions and decimals by the end of grade six.

Dr. Bergeson says the national report will help the nation take a big step toward developing a cohesive, consistent approach for the teaching of math.

The question remains as to why Dr Bergeson paid so little regard to what actually works and to recommendations that are based on what actually works. Project Follow Through and the 2004 Mathematics Standards Study Group’s recommendations for revising state standards spring immediately to mind.

Why was Dr Bergeson's Washington Way always to develop everything from scratch in house rather than using proven successes from other countries as recommended by the Mathematics Standards Study Group? The materials, for those high school students that failed the math WASL, the math Modules and the Segmented Math curriculum seem to have suffered from precisely the same short comings that the NAMP lists. Perhaps that may be why WSIPP's researcher Wade Cole found the math modules ineffective in producing improved results.[11]

I do agree with Dr Terry Bergeson that reading the actual National Mathematics Panel’s report is an excellent idea. Reading it would be much better than accepting her spin on it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Bergerson is a donkey's ass. She has caused more pain for this state, than any other person I know. The sad part is she doesn't care enough to know. Cold is what that one is.