Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Contradictions to the Plan for Improvement
If there really is a plan.

The biggest contradiction is there apparently is no plan to recover from the current Math disaster. Draft #1 of the Instructional Materials Review contains more elements aimed at continuing the disaster than correcting it. I would strongly advise the legislature to continue their involvement in this process. OSPI has almost no interest in changing course. There is an installed defective math decision making infrastructure in place in WA that does not allow a course correction from the failing philosophy of the last decade. OSPI refuses to acknowledge or encourage contributions from those individuals opposed to continuing this math failure.

If improvement occurs it will be in spite of OSPI's involvement. The producer of the defect is often unable to correct the defect. That is why Strategic Teaching got involved and the Math Advisory Panel.

Note the direction of Math Advisory Panel and Strategic Teaching selected by SBE and contrast that with OSPI's direction and the direction of OSPI's selections.

OSPI selected the Dana Center, the SRT, and now the IMR panel.
Dr Bergeson employs Dr George Bright to be her point man.
That should be clear enough to explain why the likelihood of continued Math failure in WA is very strong.

From Draft #1 Instructional Materials Review:

The work of the Advisory Group is crucial to the success of the instructional materials review project. OSPI has committed to an inclusive process that actively solicits information and advice from many stakeholder groups. It is essential that the review methodology and process measures the appropriate factors, and takes into account a broad range of instructional materials-related criteria that contribute to effective teaching and learning. Ultimately, OSPI will recommend three mathematics texts at the elementary, middle and high school level. It is imperative that the process, evaluation and final recommendations support the success of all students in the Washington K-12 system.

This brings back memories from Nobel Physics Laureate Richard P. Feynman's stint on the California Math textbook adoption of 1964.

From R.P. Feynman comes Contraction #1:
Having a large number of people who are relatively uninformed about the task at hand make a decision by voting is hardly likely to bring about an optimal result. ( Sounds like the 100 IMR panelists to me)

........But this is education in Washington State and if there is one thing that history shows us it is that results are not important.

Corporation's invest heavily in developing professional individuals and strongly adhere to following process because their highly knowledgeable individuals are involved at every step in the process.

Contradiction #2
Broadening the Stakeholder base often means that OSPI and SBE pick people off the street who are often unqualified to be involved.

select a Standards Revision Team without even one Mathematically Knowledgeable representative from Industry - contrary to the ST recommendations and MSSG report. This is contradiction #3 as this even contradicts the recommendations required by the Law.

derail legislature's time line.
They supposedly wish to get the best product but do not wish to allot enough time for that to occur. Just another Contradiction.

now have a draft #1 that has little to do with improvement and everything to do with continuing the past math policies.

Ever since the hiring of Dana Center and Selection of SRT this has been more about covering past mistakes than correcting them. Now it appears likely we will continue them.

Contradiction #4 - the relevant data contradicts Dr Bergeson's expert.
Dr George Bright is a case in point. He seems to dispute that the actions taken by OSPI in regard to math in the past have been detrimental to Low Income and non-Asian Minorities. ( check the data there is no argument to be made - this was a total disaster)

Dave Thielk is another case. He was the 9-12 editor on the SRT. I sent him data, he said he would respond and never did. We are still voyaging through a make-believe land. Dave has a degree in Fisheries.

[John Freal in Blaine has a degree in English but he knows statistics and is a highly knowledgeable and successful math teacher. My gripe with Dave is about no stats to back up decisions and opinions.]

School Districts are great believers in process the bigger the district the bigger the belief. The problem is the lack of talented professionals involved in the process.

Consider the SBE, with no graduates or workers with Math, Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, or Computer Science degrees.

It seems every time there is a decision to be made it looks more like a sociology project than a process to create the best possible outcome.

Draft #1 of the IMR is a disgrace and it looks as if the process will be just another administrative task to be carried out as again results are apparently unimportant.




Anonymous said...

is there a url to this draft #1 you are writing about?


dan dempsey said...

Hey this is open Government in Washington --> NO URL available.

As I am on the SBE Math Panel I was sent a copy. HERE is my reformatting of what I was sent.

There must have been a meeting of a small core group of individuals that produced this draft #1. I do not know who they were or how they were selected. I do not know where or when they met. Another fine example of open Government under Dr Bergeson's regime.

You might write to Ms. Porsche Everson of a firm that was involved with the production of the document.

Porsche Everson porsche@relevantstrategies.com

That is as much as I can tell you in this era of supposedly open government.

dan dempsey said...

In the Executive Summary under Expected Outcomes, three states (OR, NC & CT) are listed as having apparently exemplar standards of selection criteria. These were rated by the Fordham Foundation in 2005 as having D, C, and F mathematics standards, respectively. D C and F hardly qualifies these states as exemplary.

The document in its current form equally weights all seven major criteria. The selection criteria should be more like a flowchart. The first and top priority should be mathematical content and how it aligns to our state math standards as well as the recent recommendations of NMAP.

The remaining six standards are of little consequence if the first criterion is either not met or barely acceptable.

In line with NMAP, there should be ample evidence of example-based instruction in the texts. This includes the adequate examples and explanations of new concepts, adequate practice problems and the (reintroduction) / inclusion of answer keys.

This requirement specifically addresses the following:

A... students can learn and catch up when they are absent;

B... parents can help children; and

C... perhaps equally important is that content based instructionally deficient teachers can actually learn the math.

One of the most important criteria will be textbooks that show examples of how to solve problems so a disadvantaged learner is able to help themselves at home without parental support.

This is a major deficiency of current reform texts. In addition, a top criterion should have to do with how well the curricula prepare students for algebra, again recognizing the recent NMAP report.

Particularly disturbing is the idea that anyone or group would reference the NCTM standards but not the Focal Points. This seems certain to produce more of the failing materials that OSPI has chosen to advocate for over the last several years.

Don't ask the agency that dug this pit you fell into to effectively repair their previous work; unless you are willing to accept more of the same.

Anonymous said...

If the selection were not biased, then the standardized textbooks would totally fail the examples criteria alone, because there are no examples provided anywhere - open up a Core Plus textbook!!

The authors have no idea what a non-standardized algorithm means. One wonders if they even read what they wrote in their own textbook.

It makes absolutely no sense to the reader. This is so shameful, it makes your blood boil. What the h... OSPI? Learn to read first, then take a math class in Washington State.

Here's what the math teacher did today for the culminating activity of the algebra unit??? The groups finished their cardboard houses (houses were spray painted black LOL) -on the way home with their new treasures a number of the kids set them on fire in the park and cheered!!!

Weeks spent building homes (learning algebra LOL) = 2.5

Nice job Washington.

Anonymous said...

that is right, the best students can achieve and the only outcome for math reform (poorly written) textbooks is average. The paradox is that average results lead to more differentiation of students in school as education leaders try to explain low scores on other factors.

We are approaching the extreme end of policy making

1. putting parents in prison because their 19 yo children can't understand the textbooks.

2. spending prohibitive amounts of money on 'experimenting' and forgetting to collect good data.

3. A good example is the grant that would have trained more AP teachers. This is exactly what we don't need. Its called teacher flight to higher quality classrooms. There are plenty of teaching jobs, just not any good assignments. The pressure to perform is put on the young teachers. This is not what school districts should be doing, especially when they are using such bad textbooks throughout elementary school. Imagine what children are doing in high school. Its really unbearable and there needs to be something done to assist those new teachers.

4. Principals and their cadres taking paid vacations using district funds, so they can forget about the mess they helped create.

Anonymous said...

Lets not forget the abuses created by charter mismanagement. Locke High School will definitely be written about in the textbooks. Thankfully, charter jockey will have imprisoned themselves through their own stupid practices.

Anonymous said...

The next step of this pretty little crisis will be a huge shortage of math and science teachers. You will also see an explosion of dropouts probably during the next school year after christmas. The school system has had about all it can take. What we see today will be nothing compared to the coming years.