Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Instructional Materials Review
....A letter about Flaws


Originally I was shocked that the selection of the IMR criteria panel sent out by Ms Vavrus of OSPI included no math teachers and no industry professionals highly knowledgeable in Math.

The individual criteria panel members were apparently experts in generating boiler plate process documents and were less than fully aware of the content struggles that produced the current state and National Math train wreck.

We have struggled both at the state and national level over Process emphasis or Core-Knowledge emphasis. In Washington state we have had a decade of Process emphasis rather than Knowledge emphasis. In Spring 2007 Math WASL State wide 28.5% of Washington 8th graders were unable to score above WASL level 1 in Math.

This content deficit will apparently continue as just as in the case of the Standards Revision Team, the IMR criteria panel contains ZERO industry representatives that would be judged as highly mathematically competent.

The contributions of the highly mathematically competent industry and former industry professionals Bob Brandt, T. Christiansen, Dr. Chris Carlson, and original SBE panelist Rick Burke have been substantial. These were SBE selections. Thus far in the SRT and now the IMR criteria panel OSPI has yet to select even one highly mathematically knowledgeable industry professional.

The continuing OSPI disregard for a content emphasis will continue to waste millions of dollars. OSPI's defective decision making is a major source of the problem. Current OSPI decision making has undergone little if any change from the last decade, OSPI is now poised to continue more of the same. Remember that Seattle, Bellevue and Clover Park we early adherents to OSPI recommendations and that resulted in a decade of colossal math failure for low income and non-Asian minority students.

The legislature saved the citizens from the Disaster of the Dana Center - OSPI standards with their Strategic Teaching Intervention. I fear there may be no escape from OSPI's continued malfeasance and misfeasance this time.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

SBE Math Advisory Panelist


Anonymous said...

This might be the reason administrators are pushing students to take AP classes. The scores on AP tests don't count in the Newsweek rating system. Dropout rates improve the rating.
Also, seniors usually take multiple exams so they get counted more than once.

The idea is that schools should be recognized for pushing even average students to take challenging AP courses, the more, the better.

How the students score on the AP tests does not figure into the Newsweek ranking. As Mr. Haas pointed out, "every student at the school can fail every AP test, but as long as lots of students take the tests, you can still be one of Newsweek's best high schools."

A rating system that rewards quantity without measuring quality produces some truly bizarre results.

For example, Foshay Learning Center, a high-poverty school in Los Angeles, is ranked No. 414 on Newsweek's list with a ratio of 1.888 AP tests per graduating senior; Lexington High, in well-to-do suburban Boston, is ranked No. 441, with a ratio of 1.831. For Newsweek, it does not matter that Foshay students failed 83 percent of their AP tests with scores of 1's or 2's; while at Lexington, 91 per cent were 3's, 4's or the top grade of 5 — qualifying those students for college credits.

"Shouldn't results on the test count for something?" asked Michael Jones, Lexington High's principal.

Newsweek's one-variable-takes-all ratings of the 1,200 best high schools are often at odds with federal, state and local assessment systems that typically use more than a dozen measurements of performance.

Newsweek ranks Eastside High in Gainesville, Fla., as the sixth best high school in America. The state of Florida gives Eastside a C grade, which means there are 1,846 A or B schools rated ahead of Eastside in Florida alone. The Florida report card reveals that Eastside has 1,028 students, more than half of them African-American; only 13 percent of those 589 African-American children are reading at grade level. At the sixth best school in America?

Nor is this an anomaly. Hillsborough High in Tampa, Newsweek's 21st best school in America, and Pensacola High, 38th best, both have D ratings from Florida, meaning that 2,465 of Florida's 2,773 schools are considered better. At both of these "Best" schools only 15 to 20 percent of black and Hispanic children read at grade level.

Los Angeles has 700 schools, and last year it singled out the nine lowest performing for reorganization. All failed to make adequate academic progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law for five straight years. On the city's nine-worst list were Locke High, 520th best on the 2005 Newsweek list, Fremont High, 872nd best on the list, and Roosevelt High, 990th best.

Locke's high dropout rate — two-thirds of the students leave between ninth grade and senior year — actually helps its Newsweek rating.

It means the number of graduating seniors is so small that even if they take a modest number of AP exams, Locke's ratio looks great. (Not that it matters, but Locke students failed 73 percent of their AP exams with 1's or 2's.)

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I'm putting this in, because it is evidence of where our leadership is taking us with regard to schooling or rather unschooling.

There is an irrational policy of enrolling kids into AP classes which serves no purpose whatsoever, except to impress the editors of Newsweek. We cannot afford to ignore the needs of our underserved community where literacy remains a critical issue. The use of textbooks that purport to teach math, when they do nothing but impede the education of children is immoral.

From the description given of the 'riot' at Locke HS on May 15. It looks from accounts to have been started by a stampede to see a fight that broke out between two rival gangs (browns and blacks) that then expanded into the group that was spectating. There was some interesting rather colorful comparisons from witnesses to the differences between gangs in Compton.

Too break up a fight like this the teachers have to break through the spectators -- usually there is food being thrown into the fight - bull baiting - the object being to encourage the fight to go on for as long as possible.

If the fight is not broken up quickly then it expands into the spectating. So this was a fairly mature fight and shows the staff's lack of experience overall -- getting to the fight before the spectators surrounded it, is critical. I've known teachers that were hospitalized trying to break up fights like this (attacked by spectators)

This was an organized event.
1. Occurred on a friday, most likely near the end of the lunch.
2. Students knew in advance.
3. Concerns were voiced by some of the students that they were not meeting the charter school expectations. Some of the kids said they were bored.

You have to think like a kid on this because some fights get settled in bathroom stalls, etc.
A school that doesn't have an exposed field is particularly difficult when there are rows of buildings and walkways with rails so innocent students are vulnerable - they are frequently in the path of the pursued and the pursuees followed by spekkies.

And yes, I blame administrators and school policy for this and other problems like it. I think open enrollment policies hurts education overall, yet we've followed this policy for 10 years and no one questions it. It gets used by districts as an excuse for integrating students, but I think it destabilizes and gives students false hope that they can do better at another school. That would be the fallacy of unifomity.