Sunday, April 13, 2008

More OSPI Math NONSENSE -- 5 min 30 sec
............This time from Dr George Bright

On 4-08-2008

Dr Bergeson’s special assistant for math Dr George Bright called the Dave Ross show on KIRO. I listened to a pod-cast of Dr Bright’s comments and found his comments:

far more appropriate for someone trying to get Dr Bergeson re-elected than someone trying to fix the Washington State math meltdown.

I found Dr Bright’s analysis of the current situation lacking and his recommendation for years of professional development to bring teachers to a full knowledge of the standards very misguided.

The fact that Dr Bright is in a decision-making capacity and expressed the views that he did after half a year of employment in his current position is extremely disturbing.

At the end of the conversation Dr Bright says: We are currently designing professional development for this summer.

This leaves me particularly ill at ease. I fear that the two very small windows for the SBE Math Advisory panel to review and comment on the k-8 standards are inadequate. The k-8 math standards are to be presented on April 18, 2008 at 1:30.

Given the fact that Dr Bright is currently designing professional development and given that his preference has been to avoid the math realities in this state, I fear it is possible that the April 18th k-8 math standards may align more to his expressed views than they would if we were actually interested in producing world class standards.

Some highlights of Dr Bright’s conversation with Dave Ross.

Background: The National Research Council found in 2004 that all 13 of 13 reform math curricula generated by the NSF had no evidence that they produce academic improvement.

Dave R: Do you agree that the new math curricula have been a failure?

Dr George Bright: I don’t agree with that.
The New math curricula are an attempt to make math more accessible to more kinds of students than were taught math than when I went to school fifty years ago.

Dave: Is it working with those students?
Dr Bright: There is some evidence that it is working with those students. Etc.

Dan Dempsey’s analysis:
There is enormous evidence that Reform Math is not working in Washington State and elsewhere in making math more accessible to more students. It could be argued that we’ve changed math from being about numbers to being more about logic and writing. In that process everyone is served in a poor manner but Black, Hispanic, and Low Income students are served even worse than the others.

Look at constantly growing achievement Gaps for Black, Hispanic, and Low Income Students on the Math WASL over the last decade in the Seattle Schools at grade 4, 7, and 10. Bellevue has employed a “Fidelity of Implementation” model where outside supplements are not used and teachers must follow a pacing guide. Bellevue’s all reform math curricula of TERC/Investigations k-5, Connected Math 6-8, and Core-Plus 9-12 has produced results very similar to Seattle’s results. In Bellevue Black students had a Spring 2007 Grade 10 math WASL pass rate of 18%, this was their lowest pass rate ever. Statewide there has been a steady increase in WASL math scores but for Black students in Bellevue this has not happened.

-- {In the six years from Spring 2000 – Spring 2005 IOWA test scores were flat at grades 6 and 9 while WASL scores showed fairly big increases at grades 4, 7, 10, whether in reading or math our State's WASL results are equally suspicious}

The fact that Dr. Bright has the view that Reform Math is making math more accessible for traditionally excluded students is absolutely incorrect. He has failed to recognize either the Seattle Situation or the Bellevue Situation. This makes me wonder if he is forming his views from some of the 16,000 studies judged useless by the National Math Advisory Panel.

The peer reviewed research of Hook-Bishop-Hook looked at the results of student performance in California School Districts that switched from reform math to internationally competitive math curricula. It compared them with LAUSD and San Diego that continued with reform math. Districts with similar demographics to LA and SD like Sacramento had very large gains in achievement while LA and SD had little if any.
Again let me emphasize that Dr Bright is incorrect in expressing the thought that reform math has improved accessibility.

Dave: What do the statistics show? Do they show that the level of math achievement in America is going up or going down?

Dr Bright: NAEP shows slow improvement. Etc. …
…..First step to improvement is to create a very good set of standards.

…April 2008 –
….The current WASL is designed on the current standards in place for over a dozen years.

…. Because expectations have increased over the decade we need new more rigorous standards

…..10th grade WASL asks about material that has been taught much earlier than the year they are tested. Children do not remember that material.

…..I would anticipate that year end testing will help.

….More rigorous standards bring about better achievement when teachers are assisted in how to teach the new standards.

… We are currently designing professional development for this summer.

…. Designing professional development to help teachers learn about the new standards …. It will take two or three years for them to learn about the standards

Dan Dempsey’s Analysis:
Dr Bright mentions only NAEP in regard to America’s math achievement. NAEP testing occurs at grade 4, 8, 12. Grade 12 achievement is virtually constant over time. We’ve seen slow improvement for NAEP at grades 4 and 8. The rest of the High Achieving Math Countries are making rapid improvement in mathematics. The USA is not making any NAEP improvement at grade 12.

In international testing USA math results are a disaster. When Dr Bright was asked if the level of math achievement in America was going up or down, he failed to mention any international testing comparisons. This certainly calls into question whether his biases and employment by Dr Bergeson are preventing him from doing his job adequately. Washington needs to get into Math repair mode. My current concern is that OSPI and the SBE are in such a great hurry to produce something before the summer that a less than truly high-level product may be the result. Is this OSPI hurry-up plan to train teachers in how to read a standards document worth botching the final phase of the standards production process?

The fact that Dr Bright talks about slight improvement in NAEP scores and yet fails to mention our PISA free fall is deceptive and misleading. {PISA is given every three years to 15 year olds} In 2003 the USA was by far the worst of all English Speaking nations tested. Then in 2006 we dropped a statistically significant 9 points from 483 to 474. USA now places above one modern industrialized country – Italy.

Japan revised their math standards in 1982, 1992, 2002. In 2002 Japan made some changes to their standards along the USA reform math lines. The result was a drop in PISA scores of 11 points from 2003 to 2006. Japan is going to fix this mess now rather than wait until 2012.

Dr Bright is in denial of the Washington Math failure. How can or will he fix what he does not believe is broken?

The idea that teachers need three years of professional development to learn about the standards is beyond bizarre. The idea of funding this is another example of OSPI sending money in every direction except to the classroom. Let us invest in programs that improve results. These standards should be well enough written that a third grade teacher could easily read and fully understand the third grade math standards in an afternoon.

A teacher upon reading sections of the standards relevant to their teaching assignment should say: Yes I get this. This a clear document that has well written specifications. Now give me the curriculum you want me to teach so I can prepare to teach it.

Some specific math content training may be useful. Some instruction in regard to a specific curriculum may be useful. More yammering about broad generalizations is not needed and to pay for three years of it – not with my money.

It seems quite clear from Dr Bright’s statement about students performing poorly on the grade 10 math WASL because they do not remember material from years previous to grade 10, tells us a lot about him. He is not a believer in the idea from the 2004 MSSG report, which states that: The essence of mathematical learning is the process of understanding each new layer of knowledge and thoroughly mastering that knowledge in order to be able to understand the next layer.

I believe that Dr Bright has an allegiance to the reform math position of advocating for the use of inquiry and exploration as effective ways to learn mathematics.

Dr. Bright’s statement that: “The New math curricula are an attempt to make math more accessible to more kinds of students than were taught math than when I went to school fifty years ago.” Coupled with his statement that there is some evidence that this is working, show Dr. Bright to be disconnected from both the relevant data in Washington State and the results of Project Follow Through.

Project Follow Through results for the Cognitive Curriculum model of Exploration and Inquiry show it to be the worst way possible to teach math to disadvantaged learners in grades k, 1, 2, 3. The fact that Dr Bergeson has placed someone in a math leadership position that is in philosophical alignment with her failed math direction should not be tolerated by anyone. Our children deserve a whole lot more than a slightly modified continuation of expensive failure.

The NMAP reports that there are no best practices in math as we know hardly anything about what really produces good results. If someone says research shows - respond with show me the research. A friend of mine tells me there is clearly one best practice in math. He knows because he has seen it so often.

If a child is in middle school and using Connected Math Project materials, then send the child home to a highly involved math capable parent. Have the parent teach the child real math and then when the child performs well on the State tests claim that Connected Math materials are responsible. That is the best practice under current conditions and apparently Dr Bright wishes us to continue this best practice.

Dr Bright's last comment was that it was going to take two or three years for the teachers to come to understand what these new math standards are about.

Consider the following:
1... 62% of Washington teachers have Masters degrees.

2... The new standards are designed to be so clear that parents can understand them.

3... It is said that Washington teachers need a great deal more mathematics content training.

4... Dr Bright says that: It is going to take 2 or 3 years for our teachers to come to an understanding of what these new math standards are about. (Parents are going to understand them because they will be clear, but Teacher's will need two to three years of training --- WOW!!! the teaching force is in far worse shape than I imagined.)

5... When Dr Bergeson awarded the contract for $770,000 to the Dana Center rather than either of the low bidders Standard Works at $130,000 and WestEd at $255,000, It appeared she was purchasing the Math Standards development team to continue our disaster with only small modifications. She hired Dr George Bright to assist in that process.

6... The Dana Center ignored the law and produced a Dec 4 2007 draft that simply attempted modifications to the old standards rather than following the Law.

7... The Washington legislature took OSPI and the Dana Center out of the loop and gave many elements of the math standards production back to Strategic Teaching, because the Dana Center failed to deliver.

Dr Bright never once mentioned the NMAP's major emphasis on Authentic Algebra. Sadly after listening to Dr Bright it appears that we are back where we started with Professional Development: Spending money without teaching math content to teachers and without any decent curricula yet. I hope the teachers are looking forward to getting paid for going to training, perhaps those dollars will inspire them to vote for Dr Bergeson. Clearly Dr Bergeson's management of this situation will produce very few votes for her.

How extremely disappointing. Despite the best efforts of so many legislators, citizens, journalists, and researchers it is now even more apparent that OSPI will not be producing those internationally competitive standards.


Anonymous said...

Teachers need more Professional Development in Bright Bergeson Debacle-ism

= MORE Bright Bergeson failure for our state's kids, and

= MORE employment for Bright Bergeson minions / associates / collaborators who created this failure and dumped it on our state's kids.

Bright Bergeson math has been a staggering, colossal failure for TENS OF THOUSANDS of our state's kids without the family affluence to overcome Bright Bergeson math - the affluent still take the SAT and AP at higher rates than the less affluent, and the affluent PROBABLY pass at higher rates than non affluent* ?

(*I can't find data on scores by family income on the College Board sites - I have a day job that is 50+ hours already -

how about this for a fact -

IF some kind of data is hard to find, it is because it reflects badly on those in charge and they don't want that data available!)

There is data that lower income kids don't do well on WASL from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy,

and there is data from the same group that the Bright Beregson math programs to help kids pass didn't work,


1. What happens when about 38000 kids can't take 52% of 74000?

about 38000 of them fail the 2006 Math WASL!

2. What happens when about 38000 kids don't understand how to divide 38000 by 74000? About 52% of 74000 fail the 2006 Math WASL!

3. If you are 1 of the 38000, what are your chances for getting a job better than minimun wage?

4. If you are 1 of the 38000, what are your chances for moving beyond the income of that first job?

5. If you are 1 of the THIRTY EIGHT THOUSAND, what is YOUR chance for getting high level skills so that it is YOUR choice between Boeing, Microsoft, the next Google, or delivering pizzas?


Here is the REALITY of the Bright Bergeson ideology:

IF we math teachers had practiced their pedagody turned ideology,
THEN the kids would be successful.

Ignore the 38000 of 2006
(and the 34000? of 2007

There is a perverse beauty in Bright Beregson's blame-the-teachers ideology - it keeps him employed and it keeps district headquarters math 'gurus' employed and it keeps College of Ed math 'gurus' employed ...

it keeps employed ALL the people who've brought us this 20 year failure


it blames the teachers for their failure! (Jeesh, did I say that again?)

IF we math teachers had practiced their pedagody turned ideology,
THEN the kids would be successful.

Anonymous said...


You've said it extremely well! Thank you.

Marty McLaren (not Anonymous!)

dan dempsey said...

Thanks Marty,

I really find this continuing fraud that I call the Great Math Hoax, something that should be subject to legal prosecution, as apparently there is no way to stop this.

Thank God the SPS school directors may have finally decided to STOP our kids from be washed down the Politically Correct stream and out to sea any longer.

I was just really tired. Today I found the information in the Report appendices listed as a separate file on the SPS website.

It is a beauty look at report page 8 which is .pdf page 9.

How did Dr Bright miss that???

dan dempsey said...

Finally with Dr Bright's help I now know why so much educational data presented appears to be cherry-picked.

It is because most Superintendents only hire Cherry-Pickers.

WOW !!! How could I have missed that this long??

dan dempsey said...

Listening to Dr Bright very carefully and how he managed to miss reality on every point, I finally got it.

He was Hired by Dr Bergeson to get her out of the math mess with as little political damage as possible.

Listen to the Dave Ross conversation with him keeping that in mind.

What you will find is a total miss on almost everything he mentions. I do not think he is that ignorant of the truth. I see him as fulfilling his job to get Dr B reelected. His arguments on the Dave Ross show would lead you to believe the kids are learning lots of math, we just have a little testing problem. No big deal.