Friday, May 16, 2008

Letter to Priscilla

Dear Priscilla,

In Tacoma Saxon k-8 was started for 2006-2007 same exact time as CMP2 for Seattle. The data from Spring 2006 to Spring 2007 showed Saxon Clearly superior to CMP2 . To be honest this shocked me I did not think that waiting until grades 6, or 7 or 8 to start Saxon for kids would work really well.

It did in Tacoma I think the second year stats could be much more dramatic. Unfortunately data from spring 2008 not available until fall.

The huge implication about dumping CMP is the idea of dumping differentiated instruction. Here is where things stand. Differentiated instruction is one of those best practices that is NOT. Sandra Stotsky national math panelist makes a major point about this -- research in support of differentiated instruction is MISSING there is none. This fairytale makes social promotion from grade to grade acceptable that is why districts like to believe this fairytale of differentiated instruction.

No data.
In fact Hook-Bishop-Hook shows ability grouping with at least 3 groups per age level was fundamental to the astonishing improvement in Sacramento with Saxon.

Singapore is pretty much Homogeneous Grouping through grade 6 ---
BUT-- Does some big time tracking after that point.

The following comes directly from the 2004 MSSG essence of Math learning statement:

The essence of mathematical learning is the process of understanding each new layer of knowledge and thoroughly mastering that knowledge in order to be able to understand the next layer.

The rest of the world recognizes this as true. USA does not believe it and as a result thinks CMP2 and IMP and Everyday etc will work. The data shows they do not.

Thus this is not just a materials change but an acceptance that the rest of the math successful world has it right and we do not.

The amazingly successful Bright Star schools in LA, model themselves on John Wooden's principals of success and run a school that starts in grade 5.
100% poverty 100% Hispanic. They have achieved incredible results in math. NO Social promotion. Very long school day and the incredibly traditional Mary P Dolciani Algebra I book. Their results are spectacular but they demand that the kids at Bright Star Middle Charter Academy know arithmetic.

Singpore math is again the best math series in the English speaking world but the chance of a kid moving from CMP grade 6 to Singapore New Elementary math book 1 and being successful is quite slim.

When the district throws away grades k-5 or k-6 it is tough to recover from.
You might enjoy reading the following two pieces.
Carnine and PFT. on How not to throw away k-5 (these two are attached).

The following would definitely beat Connected math.

My number one choice for kids who are totally unprepared for Algebra is to take in either grade 8 or grade 9


next choice is to consider use of the Singapore program.
New Math Counts. used in Singapore grades 7 thru 11
It has more examples and moves a bit slower than New Elementary Math.

Remember Singapore is big on results not marketing
Primary is for k-6
and elementary is for grades 7 thru 10 or 11

This would be done after Singapore primary 6B.
Singapore Challenging word problems grades 5 and 6 are great stuff.

I would have all board members read the following so they have some of the background on which to make a decision.
2004 MSSG.

The big deal is to move toward some type of alignment with NMAP and the new WA standards ideas of reduced number of topics and mastery of content that layer upon layer of what you know. This is not present in CMP or most Reform materials in widespread use.

For middle school supplementary stuff I would be using Lane County Problem Solving and Visual Math from the Math Learning center. also from math learning center Algebra through visual patterns but this is all supplementary base program should be:

One of the following depending on skills and abilities of students:

1: Mind Institute materials

2.. Dolciani if the kids had the excellent basics which they don't but after a year in Mind research this could be a possibility.

3. Based on Tacoma's success Saxon and Saxon definitely is inline with 2004 MSSG thought.

4. Singapore primary stuff followed by Singapore elementary stuff.

The most important move is toward the thinking about how the effective learning of math actually happens. Follow 2004 MSSG.


It is not only the extremely poor books that came from OSPI's recommendations but the defective mindset behind those materials.

School districts need to escape the mindset not just the materials.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its easier to recover than you might think. What slows the learning process is the transmission of ideas through textbooks - that in itself is unnatural.

I think constructivism shows ideas can be transmitted through discourse more quickly.

Schools are revolutionary constructs and so it makes sense that governments would either impede or change content. Its easier to learn mathematics than it is to read. Learning math is natural, while learning to read is not.

One of the revolutions in education this century was the discovery that even illiterate children can be taught algebra.

By looking at the way students are taught in the US, you could never tell.