Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Do we have enough Math teachers??

Added May 1 after SBE Math Panel meeting:
BIG Correction--
The SBE will not act until probably July 2008 on this issue. While they would like all children to consider algebra II as the third credit for math. If a parent and a school official think a different third choice is in order, they can make a decision for a more appropriate class. Now we need to start the design of a third math credit for those who survived Algebra I and Geometry but did not prosper. Statistics, applications of algebra and geometry, and financial literacy pop immediately to mind.

Looking at the new SBE requirement for 3rd credit of high school math. (which was enacted by the SBE on April 29, 2008) ( My mistake this was circulated but is still in a proposed stage.) It requires essentially math through Advanced Algebra for most. I think this is another disconnection from reality for the decision makers.

Now the the K-8 standards have been approved by the SBE, I thought I would take a look at the Washington Educators that Dr Bergeson Selected to be on the Standards Revision Team.

Dr Bergeson said she had the best math mind's in the state. If we look at those who are not University Professors, we find 21 people on the Team. Of those 21, seven have an undergraduate degree or better in Mathematics or Computers Science. Fourteen do not not.

That is 2/3 of those involved in the day to day life of schools ( this includes Microsoft's Jane Broom ) do not have an undergraduate degree in Mathematics or Computer Science or better. Now you may have some idea of why this process when no where.

We do not have enough Math teachers in this state currently. What is the plan - just pass more legislation, clearly the legislation does not need to make any sense.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The BIG GAPS !!!

Some people wonder about why I am putting so much energy into this effort.

Here is the answer. Note the Clover Park School District uses TERC/Investigations for Elementary and Connected Math Project for Middle School. I've included CPSD scores for grade 4, 7, & 10

Why are we continuing to allow this to go on?

Please put a comment below to explain this.

These three districts followed Dr Bergeson's math recommendations to the letter.

School District Officials are waiting for what Dr Bergeson will say next.

Look at the results posted above.

VOTE Dr Rich Semler for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

K-8 Math Standards Adopted by SBE

April 28, 2008
Meeting Highlights

On April 28th, the State Board of Education had a special meeting in Olympia to review the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s proposed K-8 mathematics standards.

State Board of Education Actions

The Board approved the K-8 mathematics standards for adoption by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Strategic Teaching April 25 Letter

Strategic Teaching confirmed by letter to the Board that the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)’s April 25th, 2008 version is faithful to the revised Expectations offered by Strategic Teaching in its report “Edited Expectations for the K-8 Standards” submitted to the
Board on April 14, 2008. Additional examples have been added to the standards document by OSPI. Strategic Teaching will develop recommended guidance on the use of calculators once the high school standards are complete. OSPI has conducted a final proof read of the K-8 math standards.

For additional information and Board meeting materials go to: www.sbe.wa.gov or call the Board office at: 360-725-6025.

This Math Standards Revision is an inadequate attempt. It is largely political and is insufficient. The real need is to educate every child to fulfill their capability. We seem far more interested in equal outcomes than in serving each individual child appropriately.

Check out the following:
You get a 30 second comercial and the the ABC News report begins.

Check this out HERE
for how well things are going for Blacks, Hispanics, and Low Income students in Fourth Grade Math in the reform HOT BEDS of Seattle, Bellevue, and Clover Park.

If kids do not get a good start in grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4 what are their chances of ever catching up? How long would you trust leaders like these???

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Trends in Japan: Japan Continues Search for Academic Triumph

Published Online: April 22, 2008
Published in Print: April 23, 2008
Trends in Japan: Japan Continues Search for Academic Triumph
By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Japan’s education system has long been viewed as a model because of its strong performance on international- comparison tests and its celebrated mathematics curriculum.

But among its citizens, schooling in the nation is seen as inadequate, a sentiment that has led to significant changes over the past two decades. The insecurity has been driven more recently by a protracted economic downturn and increasing social problems among Japanese youths.
In 2002, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology rolled out the Rainbow Plan. Among its priorities are several designed to soften the harsh reputation of the exam-driven system, which had increasingly been blamed for rises in bullying, truancy, and student stress. The plan sought to improve basic academic proficiency in “easy-to-understand classes,” nurture students’ warmhearted tendencies toward community, and create a learning environment that is “enjoyable and free of worries.”

Japanese officials were also hoping to foster some qualities they admire in Americans, particularly those deemed essential in the global economy: critical thinking, innovation, and the ability to adapt knowledge to a variety of tasks.

A new course of study was introduced to direct the changes. It called for a 30 percent reduction in curriculum content, the elimination of Saturday school, and the addition of an integrated course that relied on hands-on and student-directed lessons. At the same time, more control in the country’s centralized system is shifting to local boards, school administrators, and teachers.

The reform program produced a backlash within a few years, after a drop in test scores and amid complaints that children were not achieving to the high levels that had earned Japan its international reputation for educational excellence. More at the EdWeek LINK.

America Scouts Overseas to Boost Education Skills

Published Online: April 22, 2008
Published in Print: April 23, 2008

America Scouts Overseas to Boost Education Skills
By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo and Sean Cavanagh

U.S. still feeling academically inadequate in face of evolving global competition.

The miles that separate Ohio from Singapore and other countries rapidly developing into economic and education success stories have all but evaporated over the past decade for policymakers and educators trying to solve the complicated school improvement puzzle.

Hard-hit by global economic pressures that have closed companies and sent thousands of jobs overseas, once-parochial states are beginning to look abroad for answers to their challenges in business, industry, and education.

As leaders in Ohio and other states start to reassess the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in a competitive economy, they are weighing plans to gauge how their schools measure up against those of Singapore, South Korea, and Japan, as well as Finland and other European nations—all perennial leaders on international assessments.

Except in Washington State in Math Dr Bergeson and OSPI have thrown a big monkey wrench into the HB 1906 - SB 6534 mechanism and nullified the legislatures attempt to produce a quality product.

Find out more at the link about what others are doing.

An Epoch-Making Report, But What About the Early Grades?

Education Week
Published Online: April 22, 2008
Published in Print: April 23, 2008

An Epoch-Making Report, But What About the Early Grades?
By E.D. Hirsch Jr.

In American educational history, A Nation at Risk is significant as a very dramatic official recognition in the 1980s that our schools were declining in effectiveness not only in relation to schools of other nations, but also in relation to our own results in earlier decades. In the 25 years since the report was issued, energetic reform efforts have been put forth, to small overall effect. The best single gauge of overall national school effectiveness— the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test of 12th graders—has remained flat, and has even declined slightly. This persistent lack of significant improvement is owing to the unwavering persistence of the very ideas that caused the decline in the first place—the repudiation of a definite academic curriculum in the early grades by the child-centered movement of the early 20th century. Given the continued content vagueness of state standards in early grades, especially in language arts, that underlying condition has not much changed. There is still no definite, coherent academic curriculum in the early grades. That is the principal source of the low academic achievement of our high school students.
The elementary grades are much more important than is apparently credited by philanthropies like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has recently been giving many millions to high school reform—with negligible results per dollar. For many years, the philanthropic and policy worlds have placed a lot of emphasis on the two ends of precollegiate education—high school and preschool. They are right about preschool—but not about high school. The general knowledge and vocabulary required for effective learning at the high school level are the fruits of a long process. The way to reform high school is to prepare students effectively in the elementary years to thrive there. If, in recent decades, high school has become a place where students are offered a smorgasbord of watered-down subjects, that is because watered-down subjects are all that our ill-educated students are now prepared to understand. MORE at the LINK above.

Will the SBE continue to NOT follow the Law?

Dear Washington State Board of Education Members,

Have you watched the 60 minute Video "2 Million Minutes" ?

If we are trying to get internationally math competitive standards, it is essential that each of you have watched "2 Million Minutes".

Despite billions of dollars spent in the past quarter-century, the newest report finds high school graduation rates have actually dropped over the last 25 years. The United States once ranked first in graduation rates; now it ranks 21st.

Math scores are also troubling. "If you rate us against the rest of the world, 30 nations, we're 25th from the top," said former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, chairman of Strong American Schools. "We can do more intensive work. We can do more homework. We've got too much television and too much distraction in kids' lives."

Two teenagers visiting Washington, D.C., from India would agree. They came to meet with local high school students. They are also featured in a real-life movie, "2 Million Minutes," comparing their education in India to American schools. The movie also examines Chinese schools.

Both visiting teens told students in Washington they go to school six days a week, and take five years of math, physics and chemistry. They believe American students have it too easy.
"The [U.S.] education system is definitely not up to our standards," Apoorva Uppala said.
Both admired the facilities in U.S. schools, but Rohit Sridharan said American students "have everything but the motivation, it seems."
This above excerpt is from the ABC news coverage:
The reason that we are in our current mess is attributable to many factors. One of these is neglect of math content. Another is neglect as to how mathematics is actually learned. A third is inattention to detail. There are many more.
If you vote to approve on 4-28-2008, you will be furthering inattention to detail and inadequate attention to content.
I had questioned how the same institutions that produced this Math failure could have the courage to end the statewide math meltdown. The answer appears they won't have the courage to do so. The Legislature called for an independent consultant and a Math Advisory Panel. Strategic Teaching [ST] and the Math Advisory Panel [MAP] became the two agents that had no hand in producing the math disaster.

The Math Advisory Panel was selected by the SBE.

The Standards Revision Team was selected by OSPI.
OSPI chose to ignore the recommended selection criteria [*1] in forming the SRT. It was a requirement of HB 1906 that OSPI follow the Strategic Teaching recommendations.

The response of OSPI and the SBE seems to be to limit the effectiveness of these two independent agents, ST and MAP, of positive change as much as possible.
In fact this limiting of these two agents of positive change violates the law SB 6534
Take a look at how Seattle got to its current level of Math Education incompetence.

These are some of the criteria used for Seattle School District's math adoption in 2006. It was a rubric created by Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory which Dr Terry Bergeson serves as a Board of Director.

Here are some examples out of the criteria to be rated as:
P=Poor, F=Fair, G=Good, E=Excellent

**- The program includes activities that allow for in depth exploration of mathematical concepts. {pedagogy not content}

**- The program addressed the levels of cognitive demand identified in the GLEs and Transition Standards. {no mention of content}

**- The program promotes students as active learners through manipulatives, meaningful investigations, use of visual models, and written applications.
{time consuming activities that hold students back from effectively covering content- NMAP says there are NO Best Practices in Math - this focus explains why USA scores so poorly internationally in Math}

**- The program fosters mathematical communication and interaction in the classroom. {this communication is centered on words rather than equations, the true international language of mathematical thought, - to gain number sense requires more numbers and fewer words}

**- The program helps students learn through a variety of strategies and approaches. {One of those approaches has rarely been direct instruction with carefully developed practice - This duo has been actively discouraged in Seattle despite great success in the rest of the world}


**- The program is accessible by and supports learning for all students, regardless of their ability level, learning style or socio-economic level.{ The rest of the world goes to some type of ability focused model around grade 7 - because of social promotion practices in Seattle this differentiated instruction model is a colossal failure}

**- The program is relevant to all students.{Content?}

**- The program will be appealing to students.{Content?}

**- The program is aligned with Seattle Public Schools' criteria for culturally responsive instructional materials.{ Ignores Project Follow Through and Math content thus assuring little chance for cultural minority success}

The above sampling of criteria shows that: Every single item is subjective and qualitative. How typical of a system that fails to effectively teach mathematics there is no quantitative evaluation.


Little wonder that the OSPI's most aligned math texts were all Reform Math texts generated with NSF funds. None of these texts has generated success that can be traced to curricula. In the few places that claim success it can be seen that the success is largely attributable to increased instructional time, increase in the adult to student ratio, or other usually costs non-curricula factors.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.
This has not been done for at least a decade by OSPI in relation to Washington State education. How could the Math Meltdown announced in August of 2006 occur if all that supposedly relevant WASL math data had been intelligently applied??

Please vote NO on April 28th. As a citizen of this state I am tired of seeing the laws broken by those involved with Government.

Why would anyone believe that Low Income students non-Asian minorities are well served?

See the attached spread sheet and ask: "Why does Dr Bright believe the exact opposite of what the relevant data shows to be true?" Now the question becomes how can someone so removed from the intelligent application of the relevant data be Dr Bergeson's point person in getting us out of our current mess?

Why did Dr Bright have an agenda spot on 4-18-2008 with some SRT members while the Math Advisory Panel had been excluded? Who put the agenda together?

I can assure you that a vote YES on 4-28-2008 will be a continuation of:
"The [U.S.] education system that is definitely not up to our ( Indian) standards,"

Please do your job and Vote NO.

The fact that this process has excluded the focus group from the business community that includes representatives from mathematics-intensive fields; (recommended by Strategic Teaching in the August 30th 2007 report) assures us of substandard results from those who continually chose not to follow the Laws HB 1906 and SB 6534.

Please note that the 2004 Mathematics Standards Study Group which was formed to advise states on how to revise their standards. The MSSG recommended that [2*] the best mathematical minds from industry be involved in every step of the revision process. Instead we received more of Dr Bergeson's "Washington Way" in which HB 1906 and SB 6534 are violated to give us an inferior product.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
SBE Math Advisory Panelist

Blogging at:
The Math Underground

Co-founder of:
School Truth

Washington State Mathematics Standards: Review and Recommendations
August 30, 2007

Page 39
Recommendation 7: Create small, expert
Standards Revision Teams, and systematically collect
feedback on the revised standards

The OSPI has the responsibility of revising Washington’s
mathematics standards within a few months. This is a short time
frame for such work.
The best way to go about this is to create small teams for each
grade band. The teams need to include the people most
necessary to the success of the work: a mathematician, a
mathematics educator, a teacher from the relevant grade band,
and a curriculum specialist. One person with extensive standards
experience in multiple states should facilitate, organize, and
coordinate the work to be sure there is consistency across grade
Other perspectives — from business community members,
Transition Math Project members, parents, mathematics
educators, college educators, industry leaders, child
development experts, and mathematics researchers — are
valuable and also should be heard. But if OSPI is to keep the
ambitious schedule set by the legislature, the writing teams
must be small.
In lieu of inclusive writing teams, OSPI should convene formal
focus groups to listen to other stakeholders. Targeted focus
groups — one for mathematicians, mathematics educators, and
mathematics researchers; one for the business community that
includes representatives from mathematics-intensive fields
; one
for teachers; one for parents; and one for students — should
inform the standards revision process.

[*2] From the 2004 MSSG report which is attached:
III. Advice for Revising School Mathematics Standards and Curriculum

The design of school mathematics standards and curriculum is a very complex, intellectually challenging task. We offer the following advice about this task.

A. States should seek out the best mathematical thinkers from schools, higher education and the private sector to serve on committees to design school mathematics standards and curriculum.

The outstanding credentials of members of such committees must reflect the intellectually challenging nature of designing of school mathematics standards and curricula. If mathematics education is to be given a high priority by states and they want expert guidance, then we believe that states would be well advised to follow the model used by the federal government, which turns to the National Academy of Sciences for expert advice. The Academy assembles panels of the nation’s experts on a topic. These panels are chosen free of input from governmental officials or interest groups. -(Kathe Taylor is an SBE official. She was added to the math advisory panel after the selection process.)

Such an expert panel for school mathematics would ideally be composed of distinguished scholars in mathematics and in mathematics education, along with representatives from the schools where the instruction occurs-- practicing teachers-- and representatives from companies and institutions who employ graduates-- mathematical experts from the private sector. The expertise of these groups is needed to design a focused, incremental curriculum, as outlined in the previous section, and to resolve conflicting objectives, e.g., simplicity and age-appropriateness versus mathematical correctness and completeness.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Why NOT FOLLOW the Law SB 6534?

Dear Members of the State Board of Education, 4-26-2008

As you are aware from my previous email, I’ve filed legal action in Thurston County Superior Court (08-2-00974-0) on 4-24-2008 requesting injunctive relief in the form of the following of the law SB 6534.

I am a great believer in having parties resolve differences rather than going to court. It has been my experience that in a large number of situations Washington School Boards ignore policies and laws unless taken to court.

It is my observation that board members tend to trust those they supervise to make correct decisions rather than conducting a personal investigation of the matter at hand. I urge you to personally investigate this matter.

I would prefer not to proceed with legal action but given my past experience in all likelihood I will not even get a single response from a State Board of Education member on this issue prior to the April 28th, 2008 vote.

In reading SB 6534, I believe the public to be the victims of Bait and Switch.

My brief synopsis on the Bait & Switch

OSPI practices produced a decade of Math disaster (See attached Spreadsheet). Despite enormously expensive testing there was no public notice of the statewide math disaster until August of 2006 by Dr Bergeson. The Legislature and the SBE intervened and hired Strategic Teaching {SP} and selected a Math Advisory Panel {MP} of 20 members who went through an application process. The Legislature passed HB 1906. The ST with MP help made recommendations in August 2007.

September of 2007, OSPI selected the Dana Center for $770,000 over qualified competitors bidding $255,000 and $130,000. OSPI ignored ST’s recommendations in their selection of the Standards Revision Team, failing to include highly knowledgeable mathematical professionals from industry on each grade level team. OSPI selected far more representatives than recommended by ST. OSPI selected the SRT with a clear bias toward individuals likely to produce little change as they had in most cases a demonstrated bias for the reform mathematics pushed by OSPI over the last several years.

Robert J. Dean was initially not selected to the SRT. He was added later when an FOI revealed he had a higher score than many of those selected to be on the SRT. The Dec 4, 2007 first Draft produced by the Dana Center led SRT did not use the exemplary standards as a reference as required in HB 1906 but produced only a modification of the previously existing defective standards.
The Legislature eventually rejected the product of OSPI’s Dana Center led SRT. The Legislature produced SB 6534 as a remedy for this failure.

Here comes the Bait & Switch:
(1) SB 6534 there will be opportunity for meaningful public input
(2) SB 6534 removed the Dana Center, OSPI and OSPI’s SRT
(3) SB 6534 put in place the SBE, Strategic Teaching and the Math Advisory Panel to produce the effective Math Standards needed.
(4) SB 6534 put reasonable timelines in place.

Here is the Switch:
(1) The Drafts were continually changing; there was inadequate opportunity for public input. The last draft was posted less than 7 hours before the start of the approval meeting on April 18th, despite the promise that it was to have been available days earlier.
(2a) The Dana Center’s Cathy Seeley was still involved as evidenced in an email on 4-15-2008. This is a likely cause of (#1) above.
(2b) OSPI is altering the Timelines and as a result effectively excluding the Math Advisory Panel as well as causing the Standards to be split into pieces.
(2c) Dr George Bright and members of the SRT gave scheduled testimony before the SBE on 4-18-2008.
(3a) The Math Advisory Panel did not meet as a formal body, where collaborative discourse and interaction allows for clarification and out of which good useful recommendations arise. No Math Panel testimony was scheduled.
(4) Timelines are now so compressed that there is no hope of producing an optimal result. The standards should be produced as a k-12 package not split into pieces. Apparently the OSPI plan is for three pieces: k-8; 9,10; 11,12

Dr George Bright has continued involvement in the standards process. His statement on KIRO that the New Math has increased access to groups that historically had little access to mathematics is totally in error as evidenced by the attached spreadsheet of Black, Hispanic, and Low Income students in three Reform Math heavy districts of Clover Park, Seattle, and Bellevue. It would seem that civil rights organizations should consider filing legal action against the State of Washington’s State Board of Education and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. They might also wish to consider action against the Seattle School District, the Bellevue School District, the Clover Park School District, as well as many others. The reason for the suit would be the continued use and advocacy for ethnically discriminatory Math materials.

Dr Bright has an opinion that has no basis in fact. He was hired by Dr Bergeson to be her liaison to guide us out of the math melt down. Given his thoughts expressed on KIRO radio, he is ill equipped for this task. He apparently believes that the NSF reform math programs have increased access for non-Asian minority and low-income students, while the exact opposite is the case.

Before I started my blog, The Math Underground, I started a web site School Truth. In its statement of purpose is the following:

In regard to mathematics, our nation is becoming less and less internationally competitive. Thus the acknowledged power groups, which include the National Science Foundation, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, U.S. Department of Education, National Education Association, Washington Education Association, Washington State Board of Education, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, many local school boards, many local superintendents and district offices, should be viewed as possible agents in marching us into this continued decline. The ridicule expressed by many in these groups to any ideas different from their own is an effort to stifle questions for which they have no factually based answers.

There were no good old days but we can profit from the past. We need to intelligently direct our energy to the present and the future.

Our goal is therefore to direct energy to the present and the future with intelligence, which can be defined as knowing the right thing to do at the right time to produce results in the best interests of all our children.

I plan to bring whatever force to bear that I can muster to correct the discriminatory nature of the selection of Math materials in this state. These materials discriminate against almost everyone pursuing the learning of mathematics. Those with fewer resources are unable to escape the full force of this discrimination.

The Washington legislature attempted to fix this situation first with HB 1906 then with SB 6534. Unfortunately after the unanimous vote on April 18th, 2008 the Washington State Board of Education has little interest providing an optimal solution to the problem or in following SB 6534.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr. Plaintiff

attachments: spreadsheet data (.html), emails (.doc), SB 6534 (.pdf)
Dan with Dave Ross on KIRO

Friday, April 25, 2008

NYC Blog Post on HS Graduation Rates

From the Wonderful Education Blog in NYC comes the following on NCLB's look at HS Graduation rates.


More Stats this time from A.L.E.C.

Here is a great Source of Education Statistics by State:

American Legislative Exchange Council

2007 Report Card on
American Education


From School Reform News

A new report from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in March confirms Neal McCluskey's point, examining the effectiveness of spending as an educational reform solution. The 2007 Report Card on American Education reviews trends in educational spending and academic achievement.

"The historical data show we've been trying to buy our way out of low performance and it hasn't paid off." explained Matt Warner, director of ALEC's Education Task Force. "For example, class size reduction is a popular reform with a big price tag. But today's classes are already, on average, 15% smaller than they were 20 years ago, yet test scores haven't kept pace with the dollars invested.

"As a nation, we are spending, in constant dollars, 54% more than we did in the 1980's and our test scores are a mixed bag," Warner said. "The answer is not more money-we need real reform."


Let us not forget the cost of housing that has risen far more than inflation.
At one time a non-employed parent at home was common. Now the non-employed parent is becoming the exception.

There is no free lunch - who is raising the kids and at what cost?

Certainly many educational administrative leaders make extremely poor choices, but that hardly changes the fact that there are societal structural problems that are NOT being addressed.

U.S. Students' Achievement Is Mediocre in International Study

Not too surprising a finding:

U.S. Students' Achievement Is Mediocre in International Study

Written By: Neal McCluskey
Published In: School Reform News
Publication Date: February 1, 2008
Publisher: The Heartland Institute


Math and Science

The "good news," according to the report, is that "most states are performing as well as or better than most foreign countries."

And the bad news?

"The highest-achieving states ... are still significantly below the highest-achieving countries."

Nationally, the United States had a significantly smaller percentage of students score "proficient" in mathematics on the combined scale than did six, primarily Asian, countries, including Japan and Singapore.

Facts from WEA and
.....Facts with Opinions from C.R. Hoff

Charlie Hoff reports:

According to "The Advocate", the local WEA publication the following are "facts".

Italics are mine

1. Terry Bergeson promised that the WASL would not increase drop-out rates.

15% of the class of 2008 are not reported in the WASL pass rates

The class of 2008 has 17,000, out of about 68,000 (my estimate), students than the same count as 9th graders. Let's see 17/68 comes out to 25% in traditional math. By discovery math the answer might be something else.

The latest OSPI report shows that 45% of Native American students were not scheduled to graduate as were 41% of special ed students, 40% of Latinos, 39% of African-Americans and 35% of low-income students.

By any conventional "standards" is this a surprise? We knew this before the WASL and yet we are "shocked!" Is it any wonder that we are dead last in college completion?

2. As recently as 2006, when the WASL was still a graduation requirement, TB promised the Legislature and the public that there would be a student "motivational bump" which would increase the passing rates for the graduation WASL. She predicted the 42% pass rate of 2005 would increase to 94% for the class of 2008. As of last year, only 61.7% of the class of 2008 had passed the WASL and that percentage was stacked to include only the students that were scheduled to graduate on time and who had taken all three tests.

Why would anyone think this if the test were not required to graduate? As long as we run "consequence free" education we will have a group of kids that understand that these are idle threats. Remember this is supposed to be an 8th grade content test!

3. On the 4th and 7th grade WASL tests, less than 30% of Native Americans, Hispanic, and Afro-Americans pass the reading writing and math WASL in 2007.

And what are we doing to change this? Demanding parent involvement and concern? Nope! The message remains, "this too will pass" and "I will pass also".

4. The cost of the WASL is projected to increase by $ 41.7 M next year.

Could this be because the educational community designed an esoteric test that is very costly to administer instead of buying off the shelf one of the long ago standards of NY, VA, NC or any Canadian Province? Of course if you did this you would be "compared" to these places!

5. Overall, the WASL has cost at least $ 850M since its inception.

Way off on this figure. HB 1208 included a vast sum of money for "Student Learning Improvement Grants" (SLIG) that was distributed to every school in the state to allow schools to "get ready" for this testing. No results of this expenditure have been published.

6. The WASL has decreased the amount of time spent in schools teaching art, health and fitness, social studies, world languages, and career and technical classes.

True! However could this be true because the students do not have the necessary skills in the basics to even begin to comprehend most of the above subjects? It would seem to me that those that cannot do the three basics at the level called for have little hope for doing anything meaningful in other subjects such as social studies, world languages, and career and technical. Again the principle reason for this is the lack of engagement with the parents of these kids.

7. The WASL and the accompanying regulatory implementation decisions made by TB have created an intolerable workload for teachers, and have taken critical time and resources away from our primary task--bringing all students up to the state standards.

Wait a minute! If we have lost all of the time suggested in 6 for this and we still are unable to get kids to "standard" what will it take? I would suggest that it would take parent involvement and predictable consequences for students, parents, and teachers.

Due to these, and other impacts of the WASL brought on by TB's leadership many local associations throughout the state will be deciding their response.

I do believe that many members of this organization were responsible for the content of the WASL!

Possibilities of local response might be"

A vote of no confidence in TB

A call for TB to tell the truth to the public and legislators about the WASL performance results and total WASL costs.

She might also want to remind them that HB 1209 called for both Parent and Student responsibilities and that there is no evidence of this to date.

Affirming a statement that TB's lack of credibility makes her an ineffective spokesperson for Washington's students and public schools.

Well, if she said the truth we would all be very "shocked" to learn of our failures. Teachers, Parents, Students, School Boards, Superintendents are all here. She, alone, cannot do this.

Supporting a change in leadership in OSPI.

It this is more than rearranging the deck chairs so be it. What we need, I think, is to look this problem straight in the eye and determine rather quickly what each party's duties are and insist upon there efforts. One party cannot solve this problem when the other two are indifferent at best.

Many locals are working with their Executive Boards and Reps to craft their own response to TB.

Charlie Hoff, LOBT

A Stagnant Nation,
American Students Still at Risk

Read about it all here: http://www.edin08.com/anationatrisk/

A Stagnant Nation: Why American Students are Still at Risk shows the lack of progress in the school reform movement since the 1983 release of the National Commission on Excellence in Education’s letter to the American people, A Nation at Risk.

ED in 08’s report card explains that key recommendations related to time, teaching and standards have yet to be realized.

Read the executive summary.

Read the full report.

Read the press release.

Despite 25 years of reform,
U.S. schools still fall short

Read the full text of:

Despite 25 years of reform, U.S. schools still fall short

New studies echo a key call from landmark 1983 report: boost teacher training and pay.
By Amanda Paulson
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

from the April 24, 2008 edition

"I don't think you would have had No Child Left Behind without 'A Nation at Risk,' " says Jack Jennings, director of the Center on Education Policy in Washington, noting that it served as a "clarion call" for policymakers from the district level to the federal level. And he says some of that has borne fruit.

"I don't think there's much doubt that public schools today are better than they were 20 or 30 years ago," Mr. Jennings says. "The problem is that the demands are increasing, not just in the US but internationally, so we're measuring ourselves against higher standards than we've ever measured ourselves."

Some experts say that those concerns expressed in the Nation at Risk report are even more sharply defined today. The US, which once led the world in terms of higher-education participation and the education of its workforce, is now at the middle or bottom of the pack of industrialized nations on most education measures.

Two of the biggest issues, says Professor Darling-Hammond, are funding inequities and teaching quality.

"If you look at those countries at the top, [better teachers] is the way they've done it," she says, noting that countries as diverse as Finland, South Korea, and Singapore all tend to have programs where teachers are educated for free and sometimes even paid a salary during their studies, get on-the-job mentoring and significant professional development opportunities, and earn an excellent salary.

"They proposed more of these courses, more of those, and we've been doing that for years," he says. "The big difference [between the US and the countries that outperform it] isn't in programs or in money, it's in the design of the system."

Wayne Bishop's Wisdom

The one thing that A Nation At Risk (1983) missed was the magnetism of this great nation of ours; we have been saved by a mammoth influx of people better educated. We continue to need them. It isn't that we lack the potential to educate our own, we just find it progressive not to do so.

Why I am Taking SBE and OSPI to Court
......... a letter { Follow the Law}

Dear State Board of Education Voting Members, 4-25-2008

On April 24th, 2008 in Thurston County Superior Court, I filed a legal complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief #08-2-00974-0. The relief I seek is to have OSPI and SBE follow the law SB6534. In your unanimous vote on Friday April 18th, 2008 I think that you violated the law by choosing not to follow it.

Having spent the 2006-2007 school year in the Seattle Public Schools, I am experienced with a board’s decision making process that often chooses to trust the hired professionals rather than thoroughly researching the action under consideration. For one example consider the unanimous vote on May 30th, 2007 by the Seattle School Directors to approve the Everyday Mathematics texts in the elementary school math adoption.

In the Everyday Math situation, after one year Seattle will have expended in excess of $4 million for materials, coaching and professional development on a book that ignores the essence of mathematics. That essence is the fact that mathematics is best learned by mastering increasingly sophisticated material, which is built layer upon layer. Yes, $4 million dollars to move in a direction opposed by National Math Advisory Panel Report Foundations for Success of March 13, 2008. On page 20 in a section titled A Need for Coherence the report finds the top-performing countries are more likely to expect closure after exposure, development, and refinement of a particular topic. These critical differences distinguish a spiral curriculum (like Everyday Mathematics) from one built on developing proficiency—a curriculum that expects proficiency in the topics that are presented before more complex or difficult topics are introduced.
It is likely that Seattle adopted these materials with very little thought because Everyday Mathematics was rated by OSPI as a most aligned math series with the WA Math EALRs and GLEs.

There are several reasons that I decided to take the time and make the effort as well as pay the $200 filing fee to take legal action against OSPI and SBE. It has become increasingly apparent that in too many cases governmental bodies do not follow the law. This has been quite apparent though out the ongoing saga of HB 1906 and SB6534. I will not go into all the details of failure in this communication. I will ask you to reject the proposal which will be submitted to you on Monday April 28th, 2008 because the law SB6534 has not been followed.

Your current charge is to develop and approve World Class Math Standards by following SB6534. This has not occurred and the law SB6534 has not been followed.

I wrote a letter to many of you on February 11th, 2008. I sent a letter to each SBE member on April 17th, 2008. I received no response to either letter.

If you vote in the affirmative on Monday April 28th, 2008 to approve these standards, be aware of each of the following because it is apparent that you choose to over rule each of these points by your actions:

1. The Math Advisory Panel has not met and discussed any of this as required by law. The synergistic process of placing highly knowledgeable people about math together in a collaborative environment is exactly what I believe SB6534 required for Math Panel input. It should be noted that the Math Panel has several industry professionals who are very knowledgeable about mathematics on it. This is the recommended composition of a group involved in any standards revision as advocated by the 2004 NSF funded Mathematics Standards Study Group. Despite the fact that one of the recommendations of HB 1906 consultants Strategic Teaching was for mathematically knowledgeable industry professionals on the Math Standards Revision Team, OSPI ignored both the MSSG and Strategic Teaching recommendations in this regard.

2. Public Input was required but there was inadequate time to develop public input. When a document is continually revised and the promise is that the last revision will be posted on April 15th. Then that revision is sent out to Math Advisory Panelists at 7:00 AM on April 18th and posted a bit later on the Website, how is the public to intelligently respond in a meeting that is held at 1:30 PM of the same day as the release.

3. This development process has now been broken into a piecemeal arrangement. That was not done with the intention that it would help in the development of World Class Math Standards. It was done to provide summer professional development. This summer professional development was not mentioned as being necessary within the time frame of SB6534. Let us get the product correct, as SB6534 requires by following the process advocated by the law. In the current “Hurry Up Plan” huge gloss-overs are happening. Math panel does not meet. Public Input with less than 7 hours of reflective development time.

4. The meeting of April 18th had less than half of the SBE members physically present. I testified at that meeting as a member of the public as the Math Panel was not asked to prepare a statement. The Math Panel had never been consulted as an advisory panel in this situation. Strangely Dr George Bright and several members of the Standards Revision Team were on the agenda giving testimony and urging the SBE to adopt this report. I use the word strangely as they are not mentioned in SB6534. The failure of the Standards Revision Team to produce adequate Standards inspired the legislature to remove both the Dana Center and the Standards Revision Team from the Revision of Standards described in SB6534. Why is Dr Seeley of the Dana Center still involved with attempting to make modifications to the Standards less than one week prior to April 18? Why is the SBE hearing from the SRT team instead of the Math Panel?

5. Please reread my letter of April 17th, 2008 in its entirety.
a… I urge you to delay the Standards approval decision for at least another month.

b… Please do not finalize these K-8 standards this week.

c… Why are we panelists being deprived of time because OSPI wasted it?

d… The Advisory Panelists have been denied an opportunity to collaborate and discuss what you are being asked to approve.

e… I thought the intent of the (2008) legislature was to have the SBE correct the poor direction given by OSPI in this process. Please do so.

You can read the full text of my legal complaint at:


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
SBE Math Advisory Panelist
NCLB HQ Mathematics, Chemistry, Science
BA Mathematics, M.Ed

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"Real World" Examples Don't Make Math Any Easier
Best Practices??? says who?

As shown in the New York Times HERE.

It looks like another one of the pseudo best practices just bit the dust.

The Ohio State University study that challenges the widespread use of this approach in classrooms:

(Looks like NMAP may be right; there are no best practices. The USA had best get busy with some real research not just spew forth politically correct jargon and expect improvement to happen.)

"Real World" Examples Don't Make Math Any Easier
Those who learn concepts through abstract cases more likely to retain knowledge, study says

Elementary School Teacher Certification
..... Know any Math ????

From Sudhakar reporting:

A superintendent of a large school district said that they opened up some elementary school teacher positions, and he got hundreds of applicants! He made them all take a math test, but he said only a handful survived. Apparently, here is one superintendent who "gets it".

Other points he made:

.... * K-4 is the most crucial part of a child's education, when kids form lifelong opinions about whether they love or hate math. That is where the focus should be.
.... * Parental support is crucial for a child's academic success. Educate parents on how important math is to their child's future.
.... * Hire specialists to teach math in early grades. Split class times so teachers who love math get to teach it all day to different sections or grades.
.... * Understanding concepts and skill building have to go hand in hand. Focus on concepts alone does not produce results.
.... * OSPI and the Schools of Education need to have a separate track for math teachers, and require them to be proficient in the subject matter (even if they are elementary teachers). Right now, the certification requirements are apparently very lax.

When I hear these things, I feel happy that progress is being made at the grass roots level by leaders who do the right things, with or without help from OSPI.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Do OPSI and SBE have to follow the Law?
Legal Complaint Filed on April 24 for Injunctive Relief


DANAHER M. DEMPSEY, JR., an individual,Plaintiff,




Complaint filed and defendants notified on April 24, 2008


Plaintiff, Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr., a certified public school teacher in the State of Washington and member of the State Board of Education Math Advisory Panel, seeks injunctive relief against the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Washington State Board of Education, pursuant to the enactment of RCW 28A.305.215, including amendments under SB6534 passed during 2008 legislative session of the 60th legislature and signed into law by the Governor of the State of Washington. The Plaintiff alleges the intent and the letter of RCW 28A.305.215 are being disregarded by the State Board of Education and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and seeks the Courts’ injunctive relief by delaying the adoption of Washington State revised mathematics standards until the requirements of RCW 28A.305.215 are fully and completely met.


Over the last decade, the State of Washington has greatly increased spending in an attempt to insure that the children of Washington are receiving the correct and proper education in mathematics so they will be able to compete in the 21st century global economy. The measure of this success has been primarily based on the results of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). By all measures, the results of the WASL exams have indicated severe problems in the math education in this State. Many have indicated that the main source of the problem was the poorly written Washington State math standards, which are the basis for the content on the mathematics WASL. The standards provided the basis for determining the most standards’ aligned math texts. The most widely used texts in Washington are now Everyday Mathematics at the elementary level and Connected Mathematics Project at the middle level, neither of which is a good match for the recently released National Math Advisory Panel Report Foundations for Success of March 13, 2008. On page 20 in a section titled A Need for Coherence the report finds the top-performing countries are more likely to expect closure after exposure, development, and refinement of a particular topic. These critical differences distinguish a spiral curriculum (like Everyday Mathematics) from one built on developing proficiency—a curriculum that expects proficiency in the topics that are presented before more complex or difficult topics are introduced. Connected Mathematics Project does not focus on Authentic Algebra; see pages 16 – 20 of the Foundations for Success.

In recognition of this math standards problem, the 59th legislature amended RCW 28A.305.215 by passing 1906-S2 AMS ENGR which required the State Board of Education to complete an exhaustive review of the existing standards with the help of a national consultant and a newly appointed math advisory panel under RCW 28A.305.219. SB1906 states; ”The state board of education shall be assisted in its work under subsections (3) and (5) of this section by: (a) An expert national consultant in each of mathematics and science retained by the state board; and (b) the mathematics and science advisory panels created under section 2 of this act, as appropriate, which shall provide review and formal comment on proposed recommendations to the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education on new revised standards and curricula.”

In August of 2007, the State Board of Education completed this standards review using the report issued by Strategic Teaching, the national consultant chosen by the State Board of Education to review the mathematics standards. Strategic Teaching found that the existing standards were extremely deficient and made numerous recommendations, which necessitated a major revision of the existing state math standards.

Further provisions of RCW 28A.305.215 called for the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to submit the revised standards to the legislature for approval no later than January 31, 2008. If no objections were made by the legislature the standards were to be adopted at that time.

On January 31st, 2008 the Superintendent of Public Instruction, in accordance with RCW 28A.655.070(4), submitted a partially completed revision of the standards. However, this revision was found to be unsatisfactory by the House and Senate Education Committees. The submittal date was later amended by the Legislature to be February 29th, 2008. The Superintendent of Public Instruction submitted a 2nd revised draft of the standards on February 29th, 2008. Further drafts were submitted on March 5th, 2008 and following.

The legislature found all of these drafts lacking and as a result passed new legislation, SB6534, a further amendment to RCW 28A.305.215, which 1) extended the time period for the standards revisions 2) removed the Superintendent of Public Instruction as the sole director of developing the revised math standards and put the State Board of Education in charge of directing the revisions based on a new analysis to be made by a national consultant 3) and required “By July 1, 2008, the superintendent of public instruction shall revise the mathematics standards to conform precisely to and incorporate each of the recommendations of the state board of education under subsection (4)(c) of this section and submit the revisions to the state board of education."

Further, the amendments to RCW 28A.305.215 state “By May 15, 2008, the state board of education shall review the consultant's draft report, consult the mathematics advisory panel, hold a public hearing to receive comment, and direct any subsequent modifications to the consultant's report.” To date the State Board of Education’s Mathematics Advisory Panel has not been consulted and the public hearing was inadequate as it was held less than 9 hours after the release of last draft of the Revised Math Standards on April 18th, 2008.


The State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction have arbitrarily chosen not to follow the timelines set in RCW28A.305.215, as amended by SB6534. Instead, they split the state math standards into pieces and set up a timeline that does not allow for proper evaluation of the revised standards nor gives adequate time for formal input of the Math Advisory Panel as called for in RCW 28A.305.215. The State Board of Education's new timeline only allowed for 30 minutes of public input at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction on April 18th, 2008. The draft under consideration for approval had only been made public that morning April 18th, 2008. Further, instead of calling a meeting of the Math Advisory Panel to discuss and evaluate the new standards, panel members were advised on short notice in an email the evening of April 4th, 2008 from State Board of Education Executive Director, Edie Harding, to send an email with their comments on the revisions to Ms. Linda Plattner by April 8th, 2008. The individual panel member’s emailed comments were not sent to other panel members unless there were specific requests to do so, nor were panel members encouraged to communicate with each other. This was an unsatisfactory rushed procedure. From the April 4th, 2008 email: “Here is the report from Strategic Teaching on the K-8 Standards. I am sending it to you so that you can give Linda any comments you want by April 8th. We are on this tight turnaround because Linda is going to China and leaving me in the lurch. She will consider your comments and make final changes to me so I can get final report to the Board for the April 18 special meeting. I am also turning this report over to OSPI so they can start drafting the final standards from these very specific recommendations. Both Linda’s final report and the OSPI standards based on this report will be discussed at our special meeting on April 18th in Olympia from 1:30-3:30 pm. You mail (sic) send letters to us to distribute to the Board members sbe@wa.gov.us or give testimony in person.”

Very few math panelists were in attendance at the April 18th, 2008 meeting and Mr. Steve Floyd of the State Board of Education encouraged anyone testifying to try to be brief.

It is the professional opinion of the plaintiff that by presenting and approving the standards “piecemeal” it is impossible to ensure that the new standards will align coherently and form an acceptable set of math standards to guide this state for another decade. Further, this action is without precedent and does not comply with the intention of the legislature in RCW 28A.305.215 to provide math standards comparable to the top performing nations for the children of this state. There is no justification for this rush to judgment and arbitrary new timeline set by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education. It is clear that while some individual panel members may have provided input, the math advisory panel gave no input, as the math advisory panel was given no opportunity to function as a group. The compressed timeline and large number of revised drafts made input difficult for math advisory panel members as individuals and others who wanted to provide input. The panel did not provide the input required by state law.

On April 17th, 2008, I sent a letter to the State Board of Education members through Ms Edie Harding that said: (1) “I urge you to delay the Standards approval decision for at least another month.“ (2) “The Advisory Panelists have been denied an opportunity to collaborate and discuss what you are being asked to approve.” I did not receive a response from any member of the State Board of Education. The Washington State Board of Education voted unanimous approval of the Standards on April 18th, 2008.

In an email, dated April 15th, 2008, sent to Edie Harding, Executive Director of the State Board of Education, Cathy Seeley of the Dana Center stated: “I’m attaching the document that lists decisions we made to vary from the ST recommendations.” The Dana Center should not be making content changes to vary from the Strategic Teaching recommendations on April 15th, 2008, when SB6534 does not include them as a participant in this process. This may have caused further delay in public notification. Previous statements made by State Board of Education Executive Director Edie Harding indicated that the last draft would be available on April 15th, 2008. The last draft was not publicly released until 7:00 AM on April 18th, 2008, which was six and one-half hours before the start of the meeting to approve these recommendations.


Based on the foregoing, plaintiff seeks the following relief from the court:

A) A declaration requiring the State Board of Education to follow the intent of the legislature and provide adequate and formal input from the Math Advisory Panel as required in RCW 28A.305.215.

B) A declaration requiring the State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction to consider the revised Washington state math standards as a whole rather than cutting them into arbitrary pieces to be adopted separately.

C) A declaration requiring the State Board of Education to provide a realistic and appropriate time for public input into the new revised standards as called for in RCW 28A.305.215.

D) A declaration requiring the Superintendent of Public Instruction to make changes that “conform precisely to and incorporate each of the recommendations of the State Board of Education” as called for in RCW 28A.305.215, and

E) An injunction preventing The Superintendent of Public Instruction from adopting the revised standards until the provisions of RCW 28A.305.215 are fully met.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

School Board Testimony 4-23-2008

Members of the Board, Wednesday April 23, 2008

I am Dan Dempsey.

Our k-8 math curricula are misaligned with the National Math Panel’s recommended focus on Authentic Algebra. We spent in excess of 5 million dollars over 24 months to be in very poor alignment. Less than 12 months ago Everyday Math became our primary elementary math adoption, a series the National Math Panel recommends avoiding.

An investigation of Seattle math decision-making shows a disconnection from relevant data as well as classroom reality.

Seattle needs to develop a positive plan, not just wait for the state.

Dr Bergeson hired the Dana Center for $770,000 more than six times the low bidder. Then her hand picked math Standards Revision Team ignored the law with a first draft that largely advocated for continuing OSPI’s defective direction rather than developing the internationally competitive math standards legislated by the law (HB 1906).

The Legislature eventually rejected the million dollar standards as inadequate and wrote a new law (SB 6534). Dr Bergeson hired Dr George Bright to interface with others to get us out of the math disaster. This has hardly helped. The particularly odd thing about Dr Bright is that his opinions seem based on something other than data.

Seattle should be very careful about blindly following the state. Have we learned nothing from our decade of decline as we followed OSPI’s reform math?
Dr Bright spent a 5-minute call-in on KIRO with Dave Ross in which he stated that this modern math had produced more accessibility for populations historically having little math access. There is no data in support of his statement; in fact the exact opposite is true. Look at Seattle and Bellevue’s enthusiasm for reform math over the last decade and look at the constantly growing achievement gaps for Black, Hispanic, and Low Income students. Dr Bright’s job appears to be to get Dr Bergeson re-elected by speaking disconnected nonsense on the radio, disconnected from math data. Please DO NOT blindly follow the state without reservation; for Dr Bright is Dr Bergeson’s math expert. Perhaps he has her re-election interests in mind and not ours.

I congratulate Dr Bergeson on beginning her re-election campaign, now when do we do something about fixing a decade of education disaster?

Please Directors carefully evaluate the nonsense being peddled by the politicos. DO NOT trust the purveyors of nonsense, as our children deserve much better. When in doubt just say NO. Seattle now has k-8 math curricula in huge misalignment with the National Math Panel. Is Dr Goodloe-Johnson working on a plan or are we just going to wait? ….. and then what?

Please get a positive math plan going.

end of three minute public testimony

From the Math Adoption Home Page ( revised 4-16-2008)

Overview of the Process:

The curriculum adoption process for the Elementary and Middle Schools is complete. (If complete is to mean finished or adequate, we are still in a continuing disaster.)

The high schools have yet to adopt a new curriculum. (There can be no High School adoption of adequate materials until SPS figures out what to do about their mathematical neglect of the majority of the students over the last decade – when does the math repair begin? And how?)

Elementary Schools: .. The Elementary Schools are using Everyday Mathematics, which is being supplemented with Singapore Math. (SM is now supplementing - Not really)

Middle Schools: .. The Middle Schools are using Connected Mathematics 2 (and that is another big part of the problem).

Dan Dempsey’s Recommendations:

(1) Announce that Schmitz Park has been doing a year long pilot of 100% Singapore Math in 2007-2008 and this pilot will be continued next year as only Singapore Math will be used during 2008-2009 at Schmitz Park.

(2) Look at the Phi Delta Kappa audit. The math section is an absolute embarrassment because the only student expectations are the defective WA Math Standards which are too numerous and too vague to be of any use. Why despite D44 and D45 has this been allowed to continue? Math direction in the SPS from the central office has been and continues to be a near total failure. IMP was proposed just weeks ago. Did anyone read the NMAP report? Have someone get started on establishing focused math direction.

(3) Hold someone accountable for this continued failing direction and enormous waste of time, money, and resources. So far the plan appears to be to stay the course. The intelligent application of relevant data is necessary to improve a system – put someone in place in a decision making position that can make this happen.

This appears on the SPS website Math section:

(1) Select research-based materials to implement a balanced math program in 2009-2010. (SPS has demonstrated a remarkable inability to do this in recent adoptions – material selections are based on philosophical alignment not research)

(2) Continue with implementation of a professional development plan, focused on Best Practices, Complex Instruction and technology. (The NMAP states there are no known best practices in math as there has been insufficient valid research done. NMAP recommended conducting research to find best practices. Given the SPS results over the last decade it can not be argued that the SPS knows anything about best practices.)

(3) Align the math curriculum K-12.
(Align it to what? Does this mean take defective curricula and make them internally consistent? Why was this aligning not done with the K-8 NCTM focal points released in September of 2006? If it had been done, Everyday Math would never have been selected. Let’s align to either the NMAP or the coming state math Standards, then if NMAP is used what will we do with Everyday Math and CMP2?)

(4) Assemble a forum for Puget Sound Districts to discuss the State situation. (When this idea was presented on the afternoon of 4-9-2008, it sounded as if Ms. Wise intended to lobby the state on materials selections. – She then proposed IMP as a high school adoption. What is the purpose of this forum? If Ms Wise is planning to influence selections she would need to be able to use data to successfully make decisions, she has no record of success in this regard.)

(5) Work with Aspen Institute, which is nationally recognized for working with the top 20 districts in the country.
(Why? For what purpose? Top 20 districts based on what? We have had curriculum audits, and consultants’ reports, yet still failed to even write grade level skills and expectations for students and teachers. No one knows what is happening, but we spend millions annually on coaching.)

(6) Gather further research and best practices data. (NMAP found no best practices – SPS results would indicate the SPS have found no best practices so far. NMAP advocates for funding real math research to find best practices. It appears that the SPS wants to look through the 16,000 useless studies for best practice ideas. Given that SPS math decision-makers have been unable to find these supposed best practices over the last decade, why would we continue this failing effort?)
Gather further research (Look at all the research presented over the last 12 months – SPS ignored it. Look at the decade of failure in SPS math. The SPS math decision-makers have clearly demonstrated they have no ability to intelligently apply relevant data. What could possibly be the point of gathering further research?)

Open Meetings Law Violation in Tacoma

Education Headlines

* Audit finds Tacoma School Board violated open meetings law

An annual state audit has found the Tacoma School Board violated the state’s open meetings law when it made decisions in nonpublic executive sessions.

2 and 1/2 minutes on
Two Million Minutes
on You Tube

Dear Seattle School Directors,

Probably a time for thinking not just waiting as this nation is rapidly running out of time and dollars.

What is the SPS still waiting for in regard to competent Math decision making?

How long are we waiting?

Given the Following from Ms Fedio:

Now that the National Math Report is available and it clearly advises avoiding Everyday Math, what are the plans for k-5?

We have not changed our plans for K-5.

Now that the National Math Panel has a clear focus on Authentic Algebra; what is the district's math plan? The SPS put a system in place without a focus on Authentic Algebra --> EM, CMP2, IMP or Core-Plus are 180 degrees opposite the NAMP recommendations.

The high school math adoption is not completed. We have moved the timeline and plan to adopt new high school materials for the 2009-2010 school year.


Will it just be a continuation of the pathetic decisions of the last two years, brought to us by the same decision makers?

Any chance of ever paying any attention to School Board Policies D44 & D45?


Dan Dempsey

The Principal in Payson Arizona gets it.
Will we ever understand and act?



Sunday, April 20, 2008


Why Elect Rich Semler
for Superintendent of Public Instruction?

The WASL is a $1.17 Billion disaster.

Rich Semler has a better way to assess students. It takes less time, costs less money, and helps students and teachers meet their goals more effectively.

WA students aren’t being educated to get the high tech, highly skilled jobs of tomorrow.

Rich Semler ….

WA teachers are not treated or paid as the well educated professionals that they are.

Rich Semler ….

OSPI has misspent millions of tax payer dollars on programs that lack public support, with virtually no oversight or transparency.

Rich Semler….

The single most effective way to have world class education throughout WA is to vote for Rich Semler.

You can help by volunteering or donating at


VOTE RICH SEMLER FOR Superintendent of Public Instruction

WEA endorses Dr Rich Semler for Superintendent of Public Instruction

Great News for the Oppressed masses.

That would be children, parents, and teachers for those who have not been paying attention.


Friday, April 18, 2008

SBE gives K-8 Math Standards Approval

I certainly got a civics lesson over the last 15 months.
I have the Washington Legislature, the State Board of Education (SBE), and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to thank for this lesson. April 18 approval actions might be found here.

I am sure there are multiple things to learn from this lesson.
This lesson consisted of three parts.

A. The law and how it is created HB 1906, SB6534

B. What the intent of the law is.

C. Despite the intent of the law what actually happens.

I am going to take a nap. More later.

K-8 Standards Process
Not Open and Hardly Transparent

It is now the day of the SBE vote on Finalization of the K-8 standards but Draft 5 can not be found.

The SBE links to the Dana Center in Texas and yet nothing is posted there??
Letter #1:
I checked the links again this morning and the current version is still NOT available!! On the day of the vote we still haven't seen this document. Wish we had a time to review it and give you input as to it's "grade" but it looks like we won't have a chance to do so until it's printed and distributed by OSPI.

Letter #2:

A recent letter:

Dear Members of the State Board of Education:

The agenda for your meeting tomorrow afternoon calls for
presentations on and adoption of the K-8 math standards.
The link on your website goes to a website maintained by
the Dana Center, with an indication that a revision was
posted on 4/15/08. When I checked earlier today, this
revision was still not available.

Frankly, I don't understand why the Dana Center has
continued to be involved in the standards definition
process; the Center's contract should have been
terminated after Dana's (and OSPI's) abject failure to
produce what was required by the Legislature last year.

I, along with many others,had hoped that you would
rescue the standards development effort. However,
what I have seen to date, coupled with the continued
involvement of the Dana Center, suggests strongly that
not only has the effort not been rescued, but that the
intent of the Legislature is being subverted

Clearly there has been inadequate time for public review
and comment on what Dana/OSPI has done. Furthermore, the
proposed standards have not been compared explicitly to
the standards cited as exemplary in the Strategic
Teaching report you received last year. There is no
compelling reason to adopt this part of what is supposed
to be a K-12 document now. Therefore I *urge* you to
delay adoption until:

o A full set of standards is complete;
o They have been compared explicitly to the exemplary
o The public has been a reasonable opportunity to
review and comment.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


Lloyd B. Embry, Ph.D.
Hunts Point, WA


Thursday, April 17, 2008

K-8 Math Standards Delay Needed to Ensure Public Input

Respected Leaders,

I am writing to you today concerning the impending adoption of the K-8 math standards which will be considered and potentially adopted on Friday, April 18 th, 2008. I have attached a review that I completed regarding the most recent draft created by The Dana Center and OSPI. You will notice that the items of color are in need of revision in order to improve clarity, measurability, and rigor and to ensure that the standards we are to live with for the next decade are of world class quality.

I am asking as a math teacher, and as a mom, that we slow down this process so that the public has an opportunity to participate by giving input and to ensure that a comparison of these standards is done with the exemplar standards. I am not convinced that this process has lived up to the expectations put forth by the legislature in SB6534. Didn't this legislation require a comparison to the exemplars and a public process for input? Is there anything we can do to ensure that the intent of the legislature is fulfilled? This process feels like it's shrouded in secrecy if you ask me. There's miniscule turn around time for every input and it's practically impossible to complete a review and submit input before the next round of decisions are made. Draft 5 of the math standards just became available and the decision to adopt is tomorrow?? How is the public able to participate in this process if we are given insufficient time to react?

I'm sorry to sound cynical but I have tried in earnest to participate in this process but my efforts have been stymied at every turn. Once again, OSPI rams through their ideologically driven agenda and the constituents of this state are thrust to the sidelines to watch the special interests of those in power come to fruition. Makes me wonder if we live in a democracy.

Most Respectfully,

Marta Gray
Vancouver, Washington

Sudhakar's Letter -
An International Perspective on
Washington Math Leadership

Dear Members of the State Board of Education:

I intended to be able to make this testimony on Friday, April 18, on the state of the revised mathematics standards. Unfortunately, I cannot attend in person. However, I think it is of utmost importance that you consider this input from a very concerned Washington parent.

I have been following the changes in outlook towards math education in this country, and in this region in particular, for over sixteen years. Because I had a job that moved, I have had my children attend public and private schools in Texas, California, Oregon, and now Washington. In the same time period, I have worked with colleagues in India in connection with moving a large R&D project from the US to Bangalore. I have nieces and nephews who attend K-12 schools in India, so I get information on the progress being made there as well. Given all these experiences, I evaluated what my local school district had to offer my middle school child in terms of a world class education, one that would allow them to compete favorably with their peers in other developed and developing countries. Unfortunately, I could not find one. I am simply not convinced that the low expectations set by our education system in Washington will allow my children to be competitive in a global economy. As a result, I am home schooling my daughter through middle school.

In all my travails, I have found that of the leading causes of poor math performance at school is poor leadership at the state level. If the state standards do not reflect world class expectations, everything that follows them ends up below par. State standards MUST reflect the best of the best in the world. Otherwise, they will not stand up to competition from students from other states and countries in college. Worse, the likelihood that they will choose a non technical career increases dramatically. And leading Washington companies like Microsoft and Boeing will have to continue to look in other countries to hire their next wave of engineers, technicians, and programmers, as they are already doing.

I have been following the mathematics standards revision process for some time now. They have gone from absurdly ridiculous (the version rated F by the Fordham foundation) to barely acceptable in the second revision. Now I hear that the current version will be the last one, and the final approval is on April 18. The current version has not been posted long enough on the OSPI website for the public to digest and give quality comments. There has not been enough time allowed for public review and testimony, which will ferret out elements of old standards that had nothing to do with setting high expectations for students, but had more to do with continuing ineffective pedagogical practices. We need more public exposure and scrutiny of the next revision before it is approved. We get one chance in ten years to do this right. We cannot rush this through. Please demand an honest and open public review process from OSPI. You are where the buck stops. Please do the right thing for the future of our children.

Thanks in advance,

Sudhakar Kudva
Vancouver, WA

The Kilogram Crisis

International Bureau of Weights and Measures:

The international kilogram conundrum, we no longer know what a kilogram is.

Oh sure we have a rough approximation, but the real deal is very puzzling.

Check out this article. By Jia-Rui Chong, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer April 17, 2008

A copy of the international prototype kilogram under its protective casing. The real prototype, known as Le Grand K, is rarely removed from its temperature- and humidity-controlled vault to avoid damage.

In the more than a century since 'perfect' platinum-iridium cylinders were first used as the world's kilogram standards, their weights have mysteriously fluctuated.

Math Melt Down Alarm Still Sounding .... OSPI remains deaf

Dear State Board of Education Members, 4-17-2008

I am new to politics but I am an experienced teacher of Mathematics having started forty years ago in 1968. I am a Math Advisory Panelist.

I am sounding the Washington math meltdown alarm for clearly it has not been heard.
From all my experience and since 2003 in urban Los Angeles, in urban Seattle, with rural Eastern Washington children many of Hispanic descent, and this year with Alternative High School students, I can tell you that math with more words and less numbers is an astonishing failure (paragraphs 5 & 6).

Dr Bergeson, Dr Bright, Dr Seeley, and Dr Triesman would have you believe otherwise. I have the data (& lots more). From both my experience and my collection of data I can assure you they are wrong. Nationally the math disgrace is worsening. Why are we the only nation that uses these failing ideas?

I urge you to delay the Standards approval decision for at least another month.

The children that other teachers and I teach deserve a fair shake in this deal and are not getting one. The children have not received a fair shake for a long time.

Despite Dr Bright’s claim on KIRO radio that this reform math has broadened student access to mathematics, the exact opposite is the case. Despite Dr Triesman’s claim that “Fidelity of Implementation” (at 5:20) is what is needed, the data from Bellevue and other places shows the opposite to be true.

I have no idea why Dr Bergeson has guided this train down the wrong tracks for a decade, and even less of an idea as to why she is rushing this process (see #4) through today. Please do not finalize these K-8 standards this week.

OSPI’s choices for the math materials most aligned to the WASL have done great harm to large numbers of the very populations that Dr Bright claims are served by these materials. The cognitive model (graphs) of exploration and inquiry is defective.

Today we are in a hurry after enormous delays caused by OSPI’s failure to follow the law. Things were moving along quite well until the Strategic Teaching handoff to OSPI in September of 2007.

Since that time:
1… Dr Bergeson hired the highest bidding Dana Center for $770,000 over the $255,000 and $130,000 competitors.

2… Selected a Math Standards Revision Team who largely agreed with her math direction of the last decade. The SRT included few if any mathematics experts from industry. It bore little resemblance to the composition recommended by Strategic Teaching or the 2004 (.pdf) Mathematics Standards Study Group. (.html - see part III . A) → also see Introduction I. paragraph #4 where OSPI continually misses the essence of mathematics.

3… The Draft of December 4, 2007 ignored exactly what HB 1906 had called for: the construction of Standards based on specific internationally competitive standards. This first draft was just a time-consuming attempt to rework Washington’s failing standards. Ignoring what HB 1906 said to do wasted huge quantities of time. Why are we panelists being deprived of time because OSPI wasted it?

4… By the time the third draft rolled around it looked a lot like starting over again rather than a careful refinement.

5… The State Legislature chose the HB 1906 option of rejecting the standards and sent them to Strategic Teaching for repair.

6… A great deal has been made by OSPI that the Standards were judged greatly improved by ST. I attended an in-service on math curriculum direction in the Clover Park School District led by Maria Flores, CPSD math program manager. I mentioned that the improved statement was highly misleading as that statement was not based on content alignment with the international standards but on other factors. Strategic Teaching had not contracted for content analysis at the time and made no claim that this improved rating had anything to do with content improvement.

7… So here we are today, as my dad would say: Victims of the bum’s rush.
The Advisory Panelists have been denied an opportunity to collaborate and discuss what you are being asked to approve. Most of us on the panel work daily, we are panel volunteers. I have had little opportunity to inspect what you are being asked to approve today. A year ago I was informed that no one on the SBE had a degree in a mathematically intensive field and the comment was made why would we trust you to guide us out of a math disaster? I believe the answer must be because you have good judgment.

8… The authors of Washington’s math meltdown are now asking you to quickly approve their version of a repair. Use good judgment, just say NO.

I thought the intent of the (2008) legislature was to have the SBE correct the poor direction given by OSPI in this process. Please do so.

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

BA mathematics, M.Ed.; NCLB Highly Qualified Math, Chemistry, & Science
Teacher at Alternatives for Individuals High School, Clover Park School District

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More Time Learning or More Nonsense??

An Opinion from the

In Our View: More learning

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Justifiable demands for improved quality of public education will continue to reverberate fruitlessly until a stark confession is made: Students in Washington state and across America are not spending enough hours and enough days in classrooms.

In the context of parenting, we are simply abandoning our obligation to our children. .......
... According to one Ohio study, four years of high school in the U.S. yields about 1,460 hours per student, but in Japan it’s 3,190 total hours, and in Germany it’s 3,628 hours.....

Read it all HERE in Southwest Washington's Columbian

Even Pittsburgh hates Everyday Math k-5

Seattle Schools, in one of their classic non-transparent and non-data driven decisions, made the pronouncement to adopt Everyday Math on May 30th, 2007. This despite overwhelming evidence that EDM was an extremely poor choice.

Guess what? Everyday Math continues to demonstrate that it is a dismal k-5 choice most everywhere.

Some facts:

On March 13th NMAP informed teachers and administrators across the nation to avoid spiraling curricula that do not emphasize topic mastery.
Translation = AVOID EVERYDAY MATH and similar curriculum.

On March 13th NMAP said to avoid spiraling curricula that do not emphasis topic mastery.

Translation AVOID EVERYDAY MATH and similar books.

Pittsburgh decision-makers are now dumping Everyday Math k-5. See the linked article.

Whenever you see administrators directing teachers to utilize EDM in a supplementary role, the meaning is clear....
.... We we are stuck with this for a few years, we spent a lot of money, we can't just throw it away (even though we would like to) --- so let's call it a supplement.

When if ever will SPS extremely poor math decision makers ever be held accountable??
Thank God the Directors seem hesitant to follow this nonsense k-12 with the adoption of the zenith of math nonsense IMP at grades 9 - 12.

Just remember that Everyday Math was a textbook most aligned with the Math WASL...
... be sure to remember that when voting for Dr Rich Semler and against Dr Terry "WASL" Bergeson for superintendent of public instruction.

Unless of course you wish to continue the $1 billion dollar WASL voyage into ignorance.


Even more puzzling and confusing is why with Schmitz Park currently using the best k-5 curriculum in the world this year Singapore Math, did the district recently deliver Everyday Math books to Schmitz Park? .... Every teacher in West Seattle knows that this school delivers high caliber math students to local middle schools. Does Schmitz Park really need to use EDM next year just so it can be in line with a dubious math uniformity plan? Perhaps this one school should be given the opportunity to prove that a curriculum other than EDM is a more viable option for Seattle’s struggling math students.

All those who think positive academic results in math are important to the SPS, raise your hand.

You wonder why our USA PISA Math score is 474 and in free fall? I should think administrative direction (in the absence of data) like this would be an adequate explanation.

Also keep in mind the expensive consumables and $2 million worth of math coaches annually it takes to keep this house of cards standing. Gee pardon me, I almost forgot to mention the cost of the ongoing seemingly never ending Math Professional Development for teachers, which contains nary a shred of math content (I have no idea how much this costs annually).

If this incredible nonsense continues it is definitely time to get out those old barricades from 1789 and put them in place at 3rd and Lander.

Note: It took Ms Huong Nguyen less than 90 minutes to review EM and assess Everyday Math as choppy and incoherent prior to the EM math adoption decision. Imagine what might happen if the SPS leadership listened to teachers rather than bullied them.
The NMAP gives Ms Nguyen a big thumbs up on the results of her 90 minute assessment.

NMAP gives the SPS a big thumbs down on the Everyday Math adoption.
What are we going to do now? Probably more of the same if it is left up the the administration. Hopefully the School Directors will intervene.

From the Post Gazette Article:
"I think this is a really good opportunity for us to get math right," board member Jean Fink said.

Now there is a thought perhaps Seattle might try that after the last decade of math nonsense.

NASA calculations corrected by
............... a German school child
But the Kid is wrong, not NASA

The Original:

As if you did not think our Math situation was in dire straights,

we now have word that a NASA calculation was a bit off:

Instead of 1 in 45,000

It should be 1 in 450

NASA only missed by a factor of 100.
..... Was it a pesky decimal point placement???

This was noticed by a 13 year old German School Boy.

The good news is he discovered this when preparing for a Science competition.

So perhaps its not really a math problem, it could be a Physics problem or an Engineering problem.

It still could be important as the title of his project was:

"Apophis -- The Killer Astroid"

The Update:

Wednesday's Buzz You Missed
by Molly McCall

4 hours ago Wed, 16 Apr 2008 16:45:10 PDT

In today's round-up of some of the hottest stories in Buzz, the "NASA boy" is proved wrong, some Chinese Web users express their national pride, and a popular HBO actress reveals her health struggles...

NASA sets the record straight
It read like a space-age tale of David and Goliath. An enterprising 13-year-old German boy recalculates the likelihood of an asteroid hitting Earth, alerts NASA, and the big American space agency acknowledges he's right. Only problem? It's not true.

Officials from both NASA and the European Space Agency have refuted the account, which sped across the Web at the speed of light. The young man's asteroid-strike numbers were not correct and the U.S. space agency has not, repeat has not, changed its mind about the 1-in-45,000 chance that the hurtling hunk of rock will collide with our planet. (The student thought it was a 1-in-450 chance. Yikes!)

Unfortunately, all this came out after articles on the teen's statistical success soared in Buzz, and even made it to the Yahoo! front page. Lookups for "apophis," the asteroid in question, surged into the top hourly searches.