Thursday, March 13, 2008

So Seattle Schools............
............. Now What Move is Next??

Dear Seattle School Directors and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson,

Last night in my testimony, which is attached, I outlined why the decision making model of the SPS needs great improvement. The just released National Math Panel report confirms my observations. I've included 10 recommendations at the end of this communication.

The National Math Panel report was released today.

It contains the following:

Schools must streamline their math courses, focusing on "a well-defined set of the most critical topics" from early elementary school through middle school. "Any approach that continually revisits topics year after year without closure is to be avoided," the report says.

Now that we have wasted a year and a few million dollars are you still dedicated to going the wrong direction?

I strongly advise the following:

1.. decision making based on the intelligent application of relevant data, needs to replace the model of aligning all change to philosophy that has yet to produce significant improvement in Math.

2.. defining grade level expectations in mathematics.

3.. providing the necessary interventions as per D44 and D45 of SPS policy.

4.. The realization that approximately one third of entering 9th graders next fall will not have tested above level one on the Math WASL. That would place them at perhaps grade three on the Singapore placement tests, and more at grade two than at grade 4.
Why is this continuing to happen in a district with D44 & D45 on the books?

5.. the immediate abandonment of alignment to the philosophy and the practices that saw a continual widening of the achievement gap in math for low income, Black, and Hispanic students.

6.. the abandonment of expensive largely useless custom assessment instruments like those produced by Edusoft. These must be replaced by off the shelf inexpensive assessments that are nationally normed like the Iowa tests or better yet the MAP test as given by the Highline school district and others.

The MAP can be given two or three times per year and each child's progress is easily measured and the MAP is a diagnostic test - thus it may be suitable for determining where necessary interventions for particular students need to occur.

7.. Since each child is an individual, abandon following the pacing plan - "This Fidelity of Implementation Model" did not work in Bellevue for Low Income, Black, or Hispanic students over the last few years.

8.. By the adoption of better curricula the necessity for expensive interventions often of little value can be reduced. More teachers less coaches please.

9.. The implementation and training for Everyday Math had little to no emphasis on improving math content knowledge of teachers. This needs to happen. Teachers need improved math content knowledge how ill this occur?

10.. The reading of Don Orlich's:
School Reform: The Great American Brain Robbery

There are lots more but 10 is enough to start with after a decade of neglect.

I would appreciate the courtesy of a response.

Thank you,

Dan Dempsey

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