Monday, April 7, 2008

School Board Math Work Session
Scheduled for 4 PM on 4-09-2008

Here are my current thoughts for a few substantive changes for SPS math.

It would be wonderful if each board member took the following into consideration.

The following is most apparent now that the NMAP is out along with a lot of information from the sub-panels. 964 pages worth.

1... There is NO evidence that any of the following 19 programs produce positive results:

a.. The 13 curricula generated from NSF funds, some of which are vigorously pushed by UW. Four of the ineffective 13 are: Everyday Math, Connected Math, Core-Plus and Interactive Math Program (IMP) -- could you please instruct your supposed experts from the SPS and the UW to look elsewhere for math curricula? A decade of disaster is enough thank you.

b.. The 6 publisher produced math programs from the 1990s

2... Unlike in reading where a great deal is known about how to produce improved results because there are best practices that really are best practices, in Math Ed very little is known.

3... The SPS are extremely poor at admitting mistakes or taking rational direction from others. Currently SPS have a direction of anything but Authentic Algebra. The Director of Instruction is still trying to find supportive evidence to calm the populace in the low level rebellion against EM. Are we to really expect that the totally uninformed SPS Math leadership will suddenly get a clue and change direction 180 degrees, could they do so even if required?

4... There are NO Best Practices in Math!!! It is not even known what makes effective math teachers effective. There are indications that example based instruction and well-constructed practice may produce positive results while droning lectures and poorly designed practice do not. The NMAP calls for a big inquiry along these lines and producing real research. NAMP found 16,000 worthless studies of math. It looks like these 16,000 are a great source for SPS admins cherry-picking to justify their actions. Unfortunately false justifications for actions have yet to produce positive measurable results.

5... Given number 4 above, what is the $2+ million spent annually on math coaches for teachers accomplishing? A comparison of Seattle’s CMP2 adoption and Tacoma’s Saxon adoption in 2006-2007 reveals Seattle is likely wasting lots of money.

6... Is any Math content training ever going to take place? Then lets save the annual expenditure of $2+ million.

7... Anyone care to explain the ever-expanding math achievement Gap of the last decade?

8... It is hard to beat an addiction without admitting to it. The SPS has at least two major problems in Math.
a.. Failure to admit disaster produced by reform math practice.
b.. Failure to use valid research to guide decision-making.

The board voted 7-0 to adopt Everyday Math just 10 months ago. In the words of one board member, we trust our hired professional experts. {Check the data you have no math experts} Such was the rationale for rejecting every piece of objective research I presented in favor of continuing a philosophical alignment with failed results and no positive data.

A different board member even adopted the jargon and used it incorrectly. “Fidelity of Implementation” by definition is the use of one curriculum without supplements. It is not possible to have “Fidelity of Implementation” with EM and use a Singapore supplement. This board member was advocating for the equivalent of square circles. CAO Ms Santorno was pleased with his buy-in I’m sure.

I do not mean to extensively dwell on the past but without some recognition as to how we continued and continue to support an ongoing failure it is unlikely any substantial long lasting effective correction will take place.

9... If not by public proclamation, please at least privately admit the SPS adoptions of the last two years and the support of these failed decisions have been and continue to be multi-million dollar mistakes.

10... So what to do about it? Solution is easy but politically difficult just read or watch my bi-monthly testimony from the last 14 months nothing has changed since Jan 17, 2007.

Authentic Algebra

To prepare kids to take Authentic Algebra say that Authentic Algebra is the TOP Priority in Math for the SPS. NMAP says so and the SPS board should say so.

i... Acknowledge that many of the SPS kids have been extremely poorly served for a decade and do something about it. Face the truth and do not spin this.

ii... ASAP adopt the remedial program Algebra Readiness from the Mind Institute to prepare students to take Authentic Algebra. SPS cannot use Saxon for this group, as the kids do not know enough arithmetic to be successful. MIND’s program is designed to teach all the arithmetic needed to take Authentic Algebra in one school year. That is arithmetic topical content from grades 2 through 7 in one year. It features a great book and excellent accompanying software. This program has great focus on the task at hand, which makes it the exact opposite of EM and CMP2. The MIND Algebra Readiness program passed CA state’s recommended text review in one try with no modifications needed.

iii... Mind’s program should be in grade 8 and in high school placed as needed at both levels.

iv... Acknowledge that neither EM nor CMP2 are adequate preparation for Authentic Algebra. ... Get rid of the ineffective differentiated instruction model and get a plan for dealing with the hierarchical structure of Authentic Algebra skills.

v... Talk to the few teachers with Singapore Math experience about their experience teaching Singapore Math.

vi... Look at Project Follow Through results

vii... Read the 2004 MSSG

viii... There are actually 964 pages in the entire NMAP – have Ms Wise, the math program manager, begin her reprogramming mind relocation training on page 1.

ix... Read the draft of the K-8 WA standards from Strategic Teaching’s Linda Plattner on the SBE website or through my blog. It needs some work but it has pretty good alignment with NMAP as stands.

x... Is the board’s intension to continue the academic fraud of having D43.00 D44.00 D45.00 D46.00 policies posted but ignored. Without effective interventions as described in these school board policies, the current insanity will just keep rolling along. A nice start would be to actually inform the children, parents, teachers, and math coaches of what is supposed to be learned at each grade level. At least then a few people might believe the SPS was not an entirely vacuous institution. How can the board continue to ignore months of testimony on this with no responses. The SPS board adopted two multi-millions dollar math programs and yet allowed the administration to never define what the children were to learn. What is the matter with you people?

xi... Is the board planning on letting Ms Santorno continue to bully people rather than explaining her reasons for decisions?
a.. I never got an apology from her for calling me a racist. It is never a great strategy when without suitable answers to questions to call the questioner names, unless of course you live in the land of no accountability ever the SPS.
b.. I get insulted and the district gets a multi-million dollar bill for math nonsense - is this an accepted M.O. for this institution?

xii... Have Mr Bernatek stop mining for irrelevant material to justify Ms Santorno actions as data driven after the fact. He was as were a number of the Math admin and board members aware of the EM – Connected Math failure in Denver. Why are people allowed to waste several million dollars and years of student and parent and teacher time to continue programs** known to be failures?

**To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. ... Duh...

It is extremely frustrating for me to watch the destruction of mathematics, which has as its primary source SPS decisions to follow OSPI failures. Being one of the effective teachers of math and then being told by admin how to use supposed best practices is absolute insanity. How people who authored an expanding achievement Gap over ten years could even think they could recognize a best practice is beyond me.

A characteristic of Large Urban School districts with diverse constituents is they tend to spend far too little time carefully planning programs that can be sustained over time.

Their programs tend to be changed by complaints from the public, because poor planning leaves them with few answers based upon their programs’ supposed strengths. The result is knee jerk responses to public concerns and no progress.

The Everyday Math implementation is one step worse than the above. The questions could not even be answered before the adoption.

The last thing that needs to be done right now is to hurry up and make the next big decision another unsustainable mistake.

Carefully think through a plan for incremental improvement that can be sustained over time. The decision to focus on Authentic Algebra is imperative but thoughtful actions must be carefully developed if long-term success is to be the result.

If there is any magic bullet for improvement, it would be to clean out the Administration’s math decision-makers.

Please dump this:

............ Mathematics is the language and science of patterns and connections. Doing mathematics is an active process of constructing meaning through exploration and inquiry.

This definition says nothing about learning mathematics. It is so narrow as to be useless and is actually destructive. For most in our society math is an incredible tool for both job and daily living. As an instructional methodology the cognitive model of exploration and inquiry when used exclusively is perhaps the worst method imaginable for learning mathematics. USA PISA score 474 and falling can we stop now?

--- Good Luck on this,

Remember that no matter which side of the mouth your supposed experts speak from or what day of the week it is the following are always true:

A... Equality of opportunity should mean allowing children to maximize their potential; instead it appears we are trying to assure equal outcomes...

B... The idea that children rise to higher expectations is total nonsense unless the children have adequate supports in place to reach those higher expectations. .. You have not even told the kids or the teachers what should be learned and taught... just follow the pacing plan of an ineffective chaotic incoherent book that the NMAP says to avoid

C... It is your job to act in the best interests of the children...with things this bad that clearly has not been happening... the data speaks far louder than this school board or the at best marginally competent SPS administration can. Please correctly do your job.

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