Tuesday, March 18, 2008

SPS High School Math Adoption
....SPS administration proposes IMP

Dear Seattle School Directors,

Attached you will find Seven Pages of
Crucial Importance that needs to be read
before the March 26th 2008
School Board Work Session on Mathematics.

The attachment is included as an easy to read word document without any additional comment from me. The Blue, Bold, and Italics are mine but the article words are unchanged.

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From Education Week [American Education's Newspaper of Record],
Wednesday, March 19, 2008, Volume 27, Issue 28, p. 1,12.
See http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/03/19/28math_ep.h27.html
....(Click above link for article)
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************ ********* ****
Panel Calls for Systematic, Basic Approach to Math

Federal advisory group's proposals may re-ignite debate on 'broken' content and instruction

By Sean Cavanagh
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I say on Mathematics rather than on the High School Math Adoption. This district's current math direction is so far off the National Math Panel's recommendations that to consider a high school adoption in isolation from the rest of this misdirected k-8 math program, will just mean tossing away more money. Without making the substantive changes needed to create the necessary program improvements, student math achievement can not be expected to improve much from its current pathetic levels.

Our math problems are far more wide reaching than just Seattle but your obligation is to Seattle's children. The math direction from your math decision-makers ignored the NCTM focal points of Sept 2006 and the SBE Math Panel direction at the time of the Everyday Math adoption May 30th, 2007.

Please get informed and do not allow this math decision-making crew to continue their expensive failures any longer.

Attached is Mr. Cavanagh's article.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.


Anonymous said...

In our district some key administrator staff were just 'fired' today due to their failure to provide sound academic programs for children. This is good news, although much belated.

[Duckspeak] Due to their contracts, they were promoted to positions where they would inflict the most benign damage and be the least effective.

So much for the union protecting teacher's jobs. What about the DOE or our elected representatives? How about that plan to put minorities in charter schools? If this state doesn't care to protect the integrity of teachers, then it is they who will suffer from their ignorance.

Why did it take so long for our community to notice when so many children were failing school and dropping out to become victims of street crime? It was convenient for our racially pure community to look the other way, as long as it wasn't white children that were failing.

It didn't matter Johnny couldn't multiply and divide anything more than whole numbers less than 100 and a line was something the calculator drew for you [another miracle]. I can think of many reasons why minorities should be angered by the schools, for one their lack of participation in the educational process. This is the Doctrine of Natural Slavery.

Eight years is a long time to be failing kids and it shows. Now the district doesn't have experienced staff and they don't have a support program. Some of the lead teachers who took part in this decade long fiasco took a sabbatical, rather than resign. They are looking for jobs somewhere else. [oh joy for the next district that hires them.]

The present administrator is being investigated, since the support program was no doubt being used like a private checking account.

What galls me are the grant experts, the researchers, and the textbook consultants. Why should they be held no less accountable than the people they were supporting? Why are there no standards for the industry? And how many other school districts have been victimized? 100s.

These 'virtuous' administrators who were fired for their lack of integrity, will no doubt leading another district to the brink of disaster.

Hurricane NCLB created a serious loophole and we will be spending at least another decade cleaning up the aftermath of its devastation. It is more serious than any form of student vandalism and far more objectionable.

Anonymous said...

(S)tandards-based instruction
(L)imits what our children
(A)chieve in schools.
(V)ain professors are the fools.
(E)veryday Math was their answer.
(R)eform spreads like cancer.
(Y)outhful ignorance is now Washington's affliction.

dan dempsey said...

Anonymous said...

In our district some key administrator staff were just 'fired' today due to their failure to provide sound academic programs for children. This is good news, although much belated.

The failure to provide sound academic programs .... that sounds like almost the entire USA. Forty years ago we were number 1 in high school graduation now we are lucky if USA is in the top 20. We are outside the top twenty in math and science for the 30 industrialized countries ranked.

So the question is why aren't the rest of these people making perennial poor decisions replaced?

It says more about the system that put these folks in place and keeps them there than about the people themselves. The system does not operate in a rational way. There is no data driven decision making.

Anonymous said...

This has been puzzling me, except I think what one should be looking for is a network of counselors, teachers, and administrators who broadly conspire together, usually along something that involves implementing an educational reform, perhaps with a grant or following the guidelines of the NCLB and in return they receive either direct financial gain or earn prestige from it.

Most of the time these teachers (and I use this term sparingly) didn't get things right, like dropping book titles. Who's ever heard of a book entitled "Reading to Learn"? What school in the US teaches calculas in the 10th grade after only one year of algebra taught with Core Plus. This is ridiculous, but puzzling nonetheless since these people were speaking half seriously, as though they believed their jobs still had any real significance. Because by this time the academic program has fallen into such a disreputable state and there are fewer and fewer high school graduates prepared for college, especially in a profession involving math or science.

One of the symptoms of a bad district are what I call serial grant writers. It becomes nearly impossible for a district with limited staff resources to meet the stipulations of a grant. Who did the grant writing should be a major concern. Another criticism of the NSF-EHM guidelines for reporting the outcomes of grants. I helped write some of those grants - mine was used as a template for obtaining more grants.

This is what makes NCLB an extra burden on school administrators, especially in urban schools. Look at Seattle's own difficulty coordinating SIP from the district level - if directors are continually moving on, that's an indicator.

But what if the project fails. If you've followed the regulations, run the meetings properly and accounted for the spending, then as the person responsible you've protected yourself. Look at the minutes to the meeting. Who's running the meetings and who is present at the meetings. Are there community members?

Another symptom of potential problems is data that either shows no improvement or little growth as the result of a program -the numbers look like they've been manipulated, especially when you talk to people in charge and they can only speak in generalities. Usually technical questions get redirected to an underling. What's wrong with phasing out a bad program.

In this country, we mistake money with improvement. Unfortunately, more money does not equate to real gains in student improvement. We don't include what students do after high school, only how they perform while they are in school. Schools have more incentive to lose non-performing kids than keep them at that school.

I've always disagreed with this philosophy and I once became very cross with a principal, who I respect by the way, when she suggested we address only the needs of those that were below standard and not the ones that were far below standard, since they would eventually weed themselves out.

This is a farmer's philosophy and I was constantly reminding her that we were not in the business of growing vegetables.

There's a loophole in the Title I governance - most schools have a school site council at each site. However, the SSC does not have to be site-based if the school district shows that it is rural, because its harder to make quorems.

I believe this means administrators only need to hold meetings at the district level - I can't say for sure, because I was never invited to a meeting although I've written several school site plans and chaired meetings with competent principals who worked as secretaries to 'protect themselves'.

In this other district it boiled down to meetings only involving high school administrators.

In the bad district, all supplemental expenditures only needed the approval of the principal. This was why eighth grade students got core plus textbooks, but no graphing calculators. Major bust. Want to talk about no learning taking place, I would have liked to have seen how that teacher taught math for a whole year.

The SSC administrator was inexperienced and simply did what she was being told to do. The grants coordinator was not a district employee. There was a non-credentialed employee who was the spouse of a local pastor - she was responsible for much of how the money got used at the school. There philosophy was use it for extracurricular purposes. If you had school infractions then you weren't allowed to participate. This is an illegal use of funds, but its difficult to convince people otherwise.

There were a number of grants also involved that staff were enriching themselves or being used to benefit the children of a local baptist church (e.g. as missionaries being sent to mexico)

Frequently, these people, want to include everyone in their schemes because they are playing a confidence game. There was at least one counselor involved who specialized in drug and alcohol treatment.

One of the beneficiaries was a textbook consultant and his cousin also directed the grant. I believe they published a study together on Core Plus, using WASL test scores, using only the consultant's name as the author.

The stories go back at least ten years ago, when the principal was first hired as an AP. And you can imagine how much has happenned to this district to bring it to the stage of what I consider paralysis. Its not yet chaos, but close. Wait until she has to turn over her job to someone else more competent.

Anonymous said...

I personally experienced big brother when I happenned to be speaking to a colleague in the parking lot, when her name was announced over the p.a. and she was summoned to the principal's office. Where she was asked what types of questions and concerns I was asking her. Afterward, she said she was promoted to 'instructional coach' and given a stipend and her new responsibility was ensuring that all teachers used the required curriculum. Our math department was expected to be doing the same lessons every day for the entire school year. I had students in class who were 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year core plus 1 students. In the alternative program most students did not even take math except through the vocational independent study program. So much for equitable education.

Do I blame Washington State bureaucrats and politicians for the low quality of our schools?
Yes, only a pathological liar would argue that we have anything remotely resembling an equitable system of educating children. I saw and heard the most god-awful stories of this place - an autocratic, educational travesty.

Anonymous said...

such are the people involved in reform. It seems when one rumor falls, the newspaper is ready the next day to circle the carcass that went by the name of Scandal.

It seems that these reform-minded administrators were pressured into retirement would now rather have their contracts paid in full rather than leave with some dignity intact.

The district can't afford that, so rather than a pay off they were offered newly vacated positions in the district.

No one is prepared to speak to the reporters, because apparently who ever speaks publicly first stands to lose some money due to the contracts that are in place for another year.

So this is one of the great ironies of this state. Teachers get treated poorly by the public, and I suspect socially it is rooted in Calvinist dogma supplied by white extremists who would rather have everyone fear their own shadows, than speak out in public. Why should I not detest such false brotherhood?

dan dempsey said...

Anon said...
....Yes, only a pathological liar would argue that we have anything remotely resembling an equitable system of educating children. I saw and heard the most god-awful stories of this place - an autocratic, educational travesty.

The widening achievement gap, in Seattle and Bellevue for Low Income and non-Asian minority Math students over the last decade, should tell us something about the integrity of those in charge. These admin repeatedly stated as a primary goal the closing of the achievement gap. ( Imagine what might have happened had that not been a stated goal ? )

Anonymous said...

This news (principal firing) has been front cover headlines for the last two days in our local newspaper.

The real story is of course the curriculum and the lack of success for minorities and students with disabilities. The programs existed in name only. There was no success.

From what I know, the high school teachers backed the principal. Of course they would - she hired them.

The superintendent had been trying to remove the principal, because of the poor academic and support programs. Test scores went way down, when this principal took over.

The superintendent was hired after the first one resigned over a controversy involving the principal. Its the length of the contract that becomes important, not the issue over academic achievement. Such are the politics of small school districts.

Anonymous said...

Why, for instance, would the staff support such a principal? There is a positive aspect to choosing a low academic curriculum, like Core Plus and then enforcing a strict adherence to the textbook and changing to a non-traditional model using inquiry and discovery learning.

Children who are illiterate cannot pass the class. Secondly, when the model is used in a support class - the same outcome, illiterate children cannot pass the class. Eventually, most of these children attend another school, drop out, or don't take the WASL.

So your school looks pretty good and all you have to do is make sure these kids don't stay at your school, so you have strict rules, but you just enforce the rules on the kids that are failing school. Double standard.

Don't forget that 25% of the community are Hispanics. Out of 100Hispanics that started 9th grade, most leave during their first and second year. After 4 years perhaps 8-10 Hispanics graduate. This HS has high english scores (83%) and low math scores (52%). Even gifted students usually wind up taking remedial math in college.

Meanwhile, the neighboring community, that has a more liberal philosophy, uses traditional curriculum and direct instruction becomes flooded with Hispanic families trying to get their kids into a school that will educate their children. Their wasl scores show the disparity between both communities. English 68% and Math 45%.

This district has shown considerable improvement over the last 10 years, because the quality of the middle school program has improved. This is not to say that there are problems (e.g. retaining students) The alternative ed school is privately contracted and it is a poor program - I noticed it might have been closed as with another school in a neighboring community. However, the high school climate reflects the diversity of the community; moreso, than the neighboring communities. And the middle schools have improved.

Schools that are still k -8 have not been successful with reform. These schools should be scrutinized more, since their curriculum is probably more blended and varied than other schools.

Anonymous said...

How would you rate CPM to Core?

t squared

dan dempsey said...

Dear T-squared,

Core Plus and IMP are in a hotly contested battle for worst curriculum ever created when used without supplementation. No supplementation is the "Fidelity of Implementation" model which the Dana Center and Ms Santorno prefer. I give Core-Plus the nod as the worst in a photo finish.

Keep in mind the National Math Panel recommendation for Authentic Algebra and the fact that IMP does not cover the distributive property (at best a 7th grade topic) until grade 10 in IMP book 2. Now you know a bit more about the photo finish and how far these nags lag the field.

CPM (College prep math) is not really adequate but given the fact that enormous numbers of students have been socially promoted grades k-8 and have few if any real math skills what other math curricula might be selected by the Gurus downtown for math repair?

It is time for a lobotomy of downtown's dysfunctional planning brain.

1) Look at relevant data and carefully check ed research as 95+% of it is baloney.
2) Let data start driving decisions
3) Stop ignoring the facts that central administration finds so inconvenient.

Start from Scratch by tossing Everyday Math ASAP (replace it with a non-spiraling skills based curriculum like Singapore). Realize that an SPS grade 5 student maybe at best a grade 3 Singapore student. This transition will require a lot of interventions.

Bring: A Blueprint for the Foundations of Algebra to grade 8 and and all grade 9 students in need of math remediation (which will be about 60+%). Define some skills to be learned at the middle school level and start teaching them.

We do not need to wait another minute - the NAMP - has clearly defined what is needed in Table #2 of the NAMP (National Math Panel) report.

Once again, why are school board policies D43.00, D44.00 and D.45.00 ignored? Where are the required grade level skills?
Where are the effective interventions?

Why does the Board allow this disorganized mess to continue?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if you've gone through the CPM training - but a CPM program implemented after the first year is going to keep getting better, as long as you can keep the staff that you trained during the first year.

The parents who complain most about CPM would be Bellevue and La Jolla. It looks very simple, and its because its been created that way for students who are low readers. The problems however are selected by teachers.

This was the only curriculum developed in collaboration with communities in California's Central Valley. It is the only standardized curriculum that was created by a non-profit. UC Davis curriculum staff also write the test questions for the Golden State Examination.

Their Course I program is top notch and the middle school kids in Poway outperformed kids from all over the state and their own high school which uses a traditional math program.

Obviously, I like using it. Districts don't like it because UC Davis likes teachers to go through a year of training for each textbook.

Course 1 can be used in 8th grade or accelerated 7th grade. Problems can be skipped without fear of missing important concepts. One of the advantages of spiraling.

Saxon spirals; but the spiraling in CPM is different. It follows an ESL model - so chapters start with reviewing more old material and finish with new material.

Its easier for kids to stay organized with CPM. And teachers can correct work more efficiently. Its a breeze to teach, compared to a traditional textbook, and nothing at all like other standardized textbooks. They have lots of really good research that says there product is quite good.

The downside is its only grades 6-12.

My class we do more discussions and problem solving - most kids find writing to be a waste of time.

CPM asks good questions for students and best of all you get a strong grounding in algebra and geometry.

Anonymous said...

CPM and Singapore will suffer initially because they are so much above the level of students who are taking those classes for the first time.

A district that has been using Core Plus, Everyday Math, TERC, CMP, or IMP - will find students and teachers unprepared for the types of problems they encounter in both CPM and Singapore.

dan dempsey said...

College Prep math is used at Rainier Beach and they are very pleased with it. They also have positive results to show.

Kim Lessig, Glenda Madison, and Mike Rice seem to be in it for the long haul.

WASL MATH for RBHS and SPS and STATE -- Black Students

10th Grade Math WASL pass rates
2000-01. 4.8%.. 6.1% .. 11.9%
2001-02. 6.5%.. 8.1% .. 13.0%
2002-03. 3.5%.. 7.0% .. 14.2%
2003-04 11.8%. 11.3% .. 16.1%
2004-05. 6.3%. 12.9% .. 20.4%
2005-06 22.0%. 21.7% .. 23.2%
2006-07 36.2%. 19.6% .. 22.5%

RBHS is using a lot of CPM in 06-07 and also this year 07-08.

It should be noted that after the 2005 spring test, the SPS strongly discouraged any student without 10th grade credits from taking the WASL even if they had been in high school for two or three years.

This accounted for a district passing rate improvement of 15% from 2005 to 2006 while 15 fewer students actually passed. Again the RBHS chart above is for Black students at RBHS, the SPS and the State. RBHS lists 62% of their students as Black students.