Sunday, April 27, 2008

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.

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