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?)

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