Saturday, May 10, 2008

Math Instructional Materials Selection
......Urgent Attention Needed

Dear Elected Leaders, May 10, 2008

I received the first draft of the Math Curricula Review Instrument on May 1. I gave draft #1 a thorough inspection and found it extremely likely to deliver more of the same type of instructional materials that have produced our poor Math performance at both the State and National level for more than a decade.

I wondered how such a defective instrument was produced given the great effort that so many in the Washington Legislature and on the SBE side of this Math improvement process have expended.

The answer is once again that OSPI seems all about continuing the failures of the past. Dr Bergeson and her office seem incapable of self-correction.

On Friday May 9, 2008 I received a list of the twenty-two individuals who OSPI are working with to develop the Math Curricula Review Instrument and criteria.

The group composing the Math Curricula Review Instrument largely contains individuals that are unfamiliar with what truly effective math materials look like. This group’s members are a part of the larger group that produced or endorsed a decade of ethnically discriminatory materials for Washington students, which increased math remediation rates at the collegiate level.

This panel had few if any persons who are aware of:
1.. what relevant data shows in regard to achievement gap growth in the last decade for students using the NSF NCTM materials that draft #1 points towards
2.. the studies of research that reveal there are no best practices in Math
3.. the factors that contributed to the USA’s free fall in international math testing

There was not a single individual in the group of twenty-two participants that met on April 25 from:
1.. The ranks of current Math teachers
2.. The SBE Math Panel
3.. The large number of highly math proficient industry professionals

A continuation of the defective materials of the past seemed assured with the OSPI decision on how to select members:

This group was identified given their curriculum-level roles within school districts and their experience leading/participating in instructional materials reviews and/or mathematics adoptions processes. --- Jessica Vavrus of OSPI (see attached letter)

Translation = this group was selected largely if not entirely from persons who have yet to contribute to the production of positive results in the mathematical performance of our children.

This group seems to mirror a major problem in our state: it is largely about process and has little to do with significantly improving content.

The lack of example based instructional materials and instructional materials with far too many topics per grade level contributed to producing a situation in which:

1… Students who were absent were unable to make much progress in catching up without extensive teacher assistance.

2… Most parents were largely unable to assist their children in learning the material.

3… The essence of the learning of mathematics was neglected. 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. – 2004 Mathematicians Standards Study Group

4… Teachers without an adequate math background had difficulty learning the material from the instructional materials they were using. This necessitated an annual $2+ million for instructional coaches for math teachers in Seattle.

Just so that you are aware, the IMR Advisory group will be meeting one more time to review the input from the Math Panel and to finalize their recommendations on the review instrument/criteria. This meeting is scheduled for May 21st. Following that meeting we will finalize the review instrument/criteria in preparation for the review beginning June 22nd, and send to you to share with the Math Panel. – Jessica Vavrus of OSPI

A principal cause of our current statewide math disaster has been OSPI’s dedication to NSF funded NCTM aligned reform math programs. It is very clear from draft #1 produced on April 25th that this line of action is likely to be continued.

The language used and course of action recommended in draft #1 shows a complete lack of understanding of both the problem and possible the solutions.

There is quite an accumulated record of OSPI subverting the will of the legislature and subverting attempts of the SBE contractor Strategic Teaching to produce an improved situation for the learning of K-12 mathematics in our state.

The criteria for selection of this IMR group that produced draft #1 certainly falls right in line with OSPI’s past defective actions.

I urge you to devote great attention to stopping the current direction of Math Curricula Review Instrument.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Washington State Board of Education Math Advisory Panelist


Anonymous said...

Dan or anyone else with an opinion,

Given the history of standards development in Washington state should a district considering a new 9-11 math curriculum even worry what the state is going to recommend? Our district committeeis recommending Core-plus, even though teachers voted 7-4 for CPM. Any thoughts or ideas?

Anonymous said...

This sounds like Oak Harbor - who is on the committee that is making the recommendations. I think you should make them delay the decision until the district has more information. What's the rush? Who did the presentation on Core Plus? Did this person provide any study to back up their claims. It was probably flawed.

Districts usually balk at the costs of training teachers to use CPM. But its more realistic when you consider the alternative to the training provided by SMATE (grant funded) and the publisher (hardly anything more than a perusal of the textbook).

Both CPM and Core Plus are eligible for the grant incentives, so you should point that out - Are they considering Core Plus because Pinky Nelson recommended it? Don't forget his cousin, is the regional consultant for Core Plus. So I find that to be a conflict of interest. A good look at a problem near you that is becoming more divisive politically is Central Kitsap School District - have your school board take a look at that mess and perhaps they'll change their tune. The Core Plus regional training center is located in Bellevue. Oak Harbor is considered a key district, since it matches the SES profile they need to get better than average results.

Anonymous said...

Look at the MSP Grant for North Puget Sound - it provides the incentives for districts that adopt an NCTM aligned textbook, dont forget that was in 1999.

$5 rebate per textbook (how does the district intend to use that money.

To use Core Plus all classrooms will need a set of graphing calculators ($85 each) Has the district looked at the added expense.

Does the district realize that teachers will spend most of class time tethered to a calculator displayed on a tv screen atttempting to show puzzled students how to push buttons on the calculator. Give a school administrator a calcutor and have them do an exercise in the textbook. Better yet, do this with a board member present. They're welcome to use the handouts provided in the 'enrichment' guide...

Ask them to figure what NOW-NEXT statements mean? Try to find an explanation in the book. That will be fun, because it isn't there. Its not even in the standards.

Compare the first two units of Core Plus and CPM Algebra I. Core plus spend the first three months learning about statistics all over again for the 3rd or fouth time.

Invite the parents to the school board meetings so they can hear the decision straight from the Superintendent.

I think its time that sups took some responsibility for making not only bad decisions, but irresponsible ones. This is like child neglect - this lot is aware of the risks and the derision, yet they continue making lame excuses. Throw the rascals out of office.

Anonymous said...

I forgot - SMATE provides matching funds for training teachers and the trainers, in return they provide student teachers. Stop using SMATE for your new teachers, if they want to only provide Core Plus and these stupid science kits that are hardly worth the effort of taking out of their boxes, then as more districts retaliate, colleges will need to start providing better servies or find work elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Core 1 is not an algebra class. You are taking the equivalent of three years worth of mathematics topics by dividing the subject into six strands. Then you jumble it all up and do a poor job of making it look like you thought it all up on your own (whoever heard of standards for writing) Throw in a calculator manual, so kids can learn to do a spreadsheet on a graphing calculator.

When you are finished, you will be so confused after three years, you won't even know how to draw line when you're given a formula, except to push it into a calculator register. The majority of kids after three years won't be able to add x + 2x. Why? Well it wasn't taught, they just forgot about it.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Anon at 3:46 PM,

Core-Plus is so far removed from the National Math Panel ideas for success, this recommendation can only have come from the dupes and backers of NCTM trash.

Core-Plus has an amazing record of preparing virtually no students for a mathematically intensive career.

I would like to find out more about these grants that appear to be bribes to adopt inferior materials to make particular publishing houses or in the case of CPM non-profit organizations richer.


Anonymous said...

These are systemic change grants that are in the final phase of implementation. So the grants began as pilots in six major cities - these cities were also in the same cities where Project Seed was funded (Project Seed began as a project sponsored by the American Chemical Society for elementary students in urban schools) - Dallas, San Francisco, Detroit, Philadelphia, New York, and a few others. I'm going by memory. Fascinating that it became a remedial math program for college students using inquiry-based learning (I call it independent study)

So the Math-Science Partnership Initiatives are the final phase for implementing the exemplary curriculum into all districts and retooling teacher education programs to match the new curriculum.

CPM (college preparatory math) should not get dinged - yes, it is a non-profit, but all curriculum projects start out that way, but there is a risk element involved that publishers are unwilling to take. The non-profits are grant funded and insulate the college from being sued for whatever. When the piloting and implementing is approved, and the publisher is satisfied - they buy the textbook rights.

Core plus was also a non-profit at Western Michigan University. In fact, CPM wanted to retain control of its textbooks because it had the means and they believe development is a continual process.

College Preparatory Math teaches practical algebraic skills - it is a methods-based curriculum and superior to Saxon, although most parents educated with Saxon believe differently (Muirlands at La Jolla - these were the only parents, led by a statistics professor from UCSD, who thought CPM was out to destroy the world. Results in California show otherwise.

CPM doesn't get nearly the complaints that other textbooks get - and you might also observe that its the other textbook salss reps voicing the complaints - as if their opinions really counted. Core Plus reps are especially aggressive.

Ask yourself, why isn't CPM more popular? CPM staff doesn't have the ability to market or mass produce their material - frankly, they don't care either. They are geared for research, not selling textbooks. They serve primarily the student population of their region, which is Central Valley and Southern California. They do recommend a year of training (monthly meetings) for each of their textbooks. In clock-hours it is at least four times more than what other publishers recommend and I agree with them. Do they tell you to teach everything? You can't possibly, but it doesn't matter. You will find that it is challenging for students if you pace classes correctly. Muirlands kids do well using any traditional textbook - would they stoop to something like IMP or Core Plus or yech, Everyday (I don't think so)

Also, CPM's database of test results is far superior to that of the other publishers; not to mention the parent resources (they do real research for the entire state of California (UC Davis has the capability and they are located conveniently near Sacramento; and finally CPM provides curriculum for grades 6 - 12 (I maintain this alone makes it a superior product); Madison, WI is not exactly as diverse as Los Angeles, CA.

because there are themes throughout the series which enhance the learning -this is not really spiraling which as you can see by what curriculum writers - do there are many ways to spin education jargon to fit the product and therefore makes it unique from other products (that's called marketing); we should all be familiar by now with- Everyday, Interactive, Connected Math, Core Plus, and Cognitive Tutor.

These are akin to the jurassic dinosaurs - what was left after evolution made its mark on the world. Everyday is like T-Rex, very few students going through school with just EM will manage to get through a 'real' algebra course in high school. I maintain that it is impossible (someone is lying)

The difficulty that I saw with projects like Math Renaissance was that teachers were so innocent.

If I were going to say that I was piloting a curriculum for educational research, I would attach stipulations, like did you and your students do all of the unit (that's data); did you have to add your own material (more data); were the children satisfied with the unit (data) - simple questions, difficult to find data or analysis. Honesty is crucial. Too often I found that the project leaders were cheeleading - and not attending to the business of collecting real data.

As a former grant recipient for a technology grant, I was told to say good things or I wasn't going to get funded. I'm apolitical - I don't give a s... (comes from my time spent in the military) I can't see the Navy changing its methods for training sailors - didactic damage control 101 anybody???

This gets so ridiculous, because talking to a reformer is like talking to a valley girl - like duh, its math okay, what's the problemo?

dan dempsey said...

Rainier Beach has been teaching from College Prep Math and improved student performance on the 10th grade WASL substantially. Garfield and Cleveland have been using IMP as part of the PD^3 NSF grant thorough the UW.

Let me check some WASL Stats over the last year looking at improvement from Spring 2006 to Spring 2007.
passing rate% - % level 1 +No Score
2006 - 70.9% - 15.7% + 0.3%NS
2007 - 68.9% - 18.7% + 2.6%NS
change -2.0% +3.0% +2.3%

2006 - 21.1% - 37.8% + 8.9%NS
2007 - 17.6% - 55.4% + 11.6%NS
change -3.5% +17.6% +2.7%

2006 - 27.3% - 43.9% + 1.5%NS
2007 - 36.7% - 33.7% + 9.2%NS
change +9.4% -10.2% + 7.7%

*Cleveland was at an alternate site in West Seattle while the building was remodeled in both 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years. If we count No Scores as level 1 scores which is likely for most No Scores if they had taken the test.

We find the following changes in the math clueless level from Spring 2006 to 2007
Garfield up 5.3%
Cleveland up 20.3%
RBHS down 2.5%

Change in passing rate percentages shows RBHS up 9.4% while both Garfield and Cleveland were negative.

Looks like a big thumbs up for RBHS.

Ms. Santorno's strawman for the West Seattle mandate for 6 periods was math at WSHS.

Lets check out WSHS
pass rate% - level 1% + No scores
2006 - 44.6% - 24.3% + 2.0%
2007 - 44.8% - 17.1% +12.5%
change +0.2% -7.2% +10.5%

We find the following changes in the math clueless level from Spring 2006 to 2007
up 3.3% at West Seattle

Hummm that puts West Seattle in Better shape than Garfield or Cleveland on a one year change.

West Seattle has been plagued with the Interactive Math Program books in over half their classes. WOW I wonder why district admin likes to blame every thing on the four period day.

West Seattle had score changes on year to year WASL second only to Rainier Beach for all WASL subjects. This rise at WSHS could be attributable to many of the old administration leaving.

The Central Administration Clowns decided to really punish the SPS faculty for their good deeds by mandating going to a 6 period day.
(14+ years on four periods I believe)

No good deed goes unpunished in the topsy-turvey world of the SPS.

Anyway CPM looks better than IMP but I am still a long way from singing its praises.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. Any more ideas?

Anonymous said...

I can agree with you that CPM could be improved and they would also agree, Singapore is terrific; however, the trick for them is they have to write curriculum that meets California's standards. Sounds like Catch 22 and it is. Singapore doesn't fit US standards. US publishers are not stupid.

From a practical point of view, the five exemplary curriculums the Department of Education has blessed with its wisdom:

1. Cognitive tutor????
2. IMP
3. EM
4. CPM
5. Connected Math

CT is the ET of curriculum since its on a computer and developed by Carnegie Learning, LLC - this has Briars name written on it. She's the diva of Philadelphia fame (care to meet the bride of frankenstein)

I see very few choices if I were a district strapped for cash, because each of these is eligible for assistance through grants. A pittance, but chicken feed if your a chicken.

On the other hand, if we reverted to Saxon, Seattle would actually save the $2 million/per year they spend to police rebel math teachers. And I know there are still copies of Saxon around with my name still in them.

Are you teaching constructively today?

Didn't I read Philadelphia's training for math teachers topped $1 billion.
(EM, CM, IMP) Lets all puke together. Your tax dollars at work.

It pays to wait...I'm waiting to see what happens after the grant expires.

I've a feeling there's going to be more xeroxing of Prentice hall worksheets and lots of copies of vandalized textbooks lying on dusty shelves - the philosophy of most teachers is stoicism. They would live without shoes, if they were told to.

I would probably go with Saxon grades 1 -5. And CPM grades 6 - 12.
I'm cheap and practical.

With proper training and a flexible mind, over time CPM classrooms will outperform all other classrooms.

Kids can read the textbooks!!
They understand how to do the problems.
They learn methods for problem-solving.
The methods are standard, so they count on tests.
I'm all for one track. One school for everyone. That's egalitarian.

If anything there is too much in CPM. For instance, the cognitive model for adding and subracting integers and unknowns is a bit much and not a requirement for understanding algebra. so skip it.

The problems were created by teachers. What a concept? Each problem progresses or teaches a new concept.

The reason CPM expanded into the middle school level was they realized that kids weren't getting enough practice with operations with fractions and just everything in math in general. So you will see some fascinating examples of what serious writers can do with textbooks at the middle school level. Connected math doesn't count and told Lappen that during dinner. I didn't realize at the time that she wrote the book.

Its easy for kids to stay organized when they use CPM. This is borrowed from Singapore. You will see many similarities if you open both these textbooks up and look inside. don't scan; read and do the problems - think like a kid - then you'll start seeing some of the nuances. Problems are meant to teach you something. Its not a random guess that someone wrote a problem for the reader to solve - there's a purpose behind it -- even the traditional textbooks have some pattern to them that we all understood as we were growing up - these books were teaching methodology. Singapore and CPM teach methodology. The goal of the exemplary curriculum (I'm not sure about CT) but it was to put math in a practical context - this is work that was started in the 50's and by now most of these original professors are dead. They've since been replaced by 'discrete' jockeys. So unit 4 of Core 1 is about networks and other crap that's not really in the WASL and has little to do with algebra.

The industry calls traditional textbooks a 2-page spread and that is an appropriate description. The primary criticism was there was not enough explanation.

I much prefer traditional over Poor Cuss and PIG (IMP Unit that teaches kids to throw dice, no kidding - kids throw dice for three weeks and record how many times they rolled a six).

At least with traditional, kids stay busy and they're not scribbling over everything and dropping their calculators (little rascals).

Lastly, the key problem with cpm is that kids who haven't had much success with basic operations and number sense will need at least a year of support (direct instruction - Marcy Cook - fast, doesn't require reading to be successful) before they will be prepared to start CPM.

In this state, you have 20 yo. adults sitting in alternative programs that can't multiply two integers together. They haven't passed math since seventh grade. Washington has a real problem that not even I have ever encountered.

A sensitive, intelligent 4 y.o. (blonde or brown) would be better off moving to Mexico, learning Spanish, and going to public school down there.

Anonymous said...

In AP classes, we use problems from Kumon and Singapore.

Exemplary curriculum is so much Bull...oney!!!

My theory is the greater the disparity in income; the greater the disparity in education and the lower the intelligence. As evidence, anyone tried to watch television lately.

I don't mind living in the US, so long as I'm not one of the slaves.

dan dempsey said...

Anon at 12:03 PM,

Get ready for the following link:

Singapore Math for California

Singapore is now approved for Caifornia grades k-5.

They did a small rewrite and through in a small bit of Stats to make the Edu-Crats happy.

It is one fine program even in the California Edition format.

Hopefully the WA State Instructional Materials Review folks will figure this one out.

Anonymous said...

You know this has got to get plenty worse, before it gets better.

Typical Core 1 kid can program y = 2x into the calculator. they can't tell you what the slope is, but they know b= 2

from y = a + bx; non-standard format - but this is how Core 1 teaches lines - this is so fubar, because kids are lucky that they do as well as they do - probably because its a multiple choice test and a random guess is 20% chance of success.

they won't know what a equals...

Now ask the core 1 kid to program
x = 2y?

You will get all sorts of variations, none of which are correct because core 1 kids are not told to divide. Or they will get 0. :) because x/2 = 0 hee hee.

Most will then take a stab and say its

y = 2x

So let the constructivist 'know it alls' try to make sense out of that.

Did they go to college and study constructivism? I doubt it. Did they ever bother to read Vygotsky? I doubt it. Could they write a constructivist plan? No, not any better than I can.

Tell me, why would I want to be a math teacher in washington state --if you were being told told by Principal Bovine and AP Pigtail, who has a degree in social studies and a minor in typing how to teach Core 1.

Why would I waste my time as an administrator doing classroom observations everyday in the same class during the same period for an entire year if I wasn't trying to hide the obvious fact that I was an incompetent nincompoop.

Oh, Ginger? What's your answer? Why don't you go ask ms. frankenstein, she invented the 8.5 minute lesson plan.

Didactic calculus anyone?

Ms Bovine (POY) says they have 10 classes of calculus (Core 3???) at their school. Does it matter what they say anymore? Is anyone even listening?

You've got to love the fact that education is blessed with so many morons. If it weren't for school, they would be making work a terrible place.

My recommendation - throw the books away - that's what I saw kids at Lincoln do.

Anonymous said...

Go to a high school and ask the Principal what kids are learning in Core 3?

How many kids are currently in Core 3?

How many kids go beyond core 3?

What do kids take at alternative school in the way of math? science?

Is this equal access?

If you are white (and can read at a sixth grade level) you will graduate.

What's a principal have to do to keep their job?
Answer: Lie, Lie, and Lie.

Ask the principal how many kids have left their school during the year?

The book showing how many kids transferred out of that school is in the attendance office.

Its probably about 30% per year. each transfer increases the probability of dropping out by 15% or prolonging school by another 4 mos. Most kids won't have the wherewithall to enroll in a GED program at their local community college. Running start is not an alternative for most failing students.

If you don't stabilize the student population, you can't make progress.

Anonymous said...

That's an excellent link - Singapore for California, I wonder who helped with the rewrite. This looks like a new webpage.

I wonder how the state will help with the implementation and piloting. I might like to get involved.

Anonymous said...

Dan- What do you think about OSPI's amendment to the Dana Center contract? Have you had the opportunity to review it? Just curious, as your posts are always honest and insightful.

Anonymous said...

I just ran across this piece by Arthur Hu - its too long to copy, so here's a link that provides more insight into the statewide systemics intiative (SSI) - this article is from 2000, so what you have now is the final phase of the SSI (year 9) and what you now have in washington public schools - a long, expensive road to math hell, courtesy of Dr. Bergerson and Uri Treisman.

Add to this fine mess, Obama's education consultant, Darling-Hammond, and we're in for more of the same nonsense. Lets presume dumb or dumber gets elected president (does it matter for teachers?? Not really)

Sen. Obama has a unique perspective. He led Chicago’s portion of the Annenberg Challenge school reform initiative.

An experience that shaped Mr. Obama’s perspective on the critical importance of principals and teachers.

The Chicago Annenberg Challenge provided $49.2 million in an effort to support emerging community-based public school reforms in the nation’s third-largest district.

It was unsuccessful in raising student achievement, according to evaluations of the project. But its leaders and participants agreed that high-quality teachers were the key ingredient the school system was missing. (I think it made some people very rich)

“All of the networks [of Chicago schools] we were funding came to that same conclusion after about three years,” said Ken Rolling, the former executive director of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. To improve urban schools, said Mr. Rolling, “we have to increase and improve the pool of qualified teachers.”

Hmm... sounds familiar, if you replace a third of the non-performing teachers with 'other' teachers will that make textbooks any better. I don't think so. I don't know of any countries anywhere else in the world that have as many bad teachers as our leaders complain about in the US.

Mr. Obama led the Chicago group’s board from the start in 1995 and for about the next three years, Mr. Rolling said. He stayed on the board until the project closed in 2001.

And who did the piloting for Everyday Math back in 1995??? Chicago and the Annenberg Foundation.

Where did Mr Riley attend graduate school? Loyola

more later... I have to eat.

Anonymous said...

Pedro Noguera, criticism regarding NCLB - Professor in the graduate School of Education at Harvard University

"In pursuit of higher test scores, "failing" schools have enacted measures that have actually undermined the quality of education and social well-being of students.

Schools and districts striving to "teach to the test" have eliminated or reduced access to art, music and even science if they are not covered on standardized tests. Some have eliminated field trips, recess and physical education.

In many secondary schools, students have been required to enroll in test prep courses, some of which meet for nearly two hours a day.

NCLB has done nothing to insure that students are taught in enriched learning environments, exposed to creative and effective teachers and given access to stimulating and rigorous curriculums.

In the area of accountability, NCLB has opted for the path of least resistance, holding accountable the most vulnerable (students) and the least protected (principals), but not other parties--elected officials, senior school administrators, teachers and parents. In cities such as Chicago, New York, Boston and now Los Angeles, mayors have demanded control over the public schools but mayoral control does not include specific accountability standards.

What happens if schools don't improve under their leadership? In a public debate, I asked the superintendent of a large urban district who was an advocate for high-stakes exams how many administrators would be fired if as many as 50 percent of his seniors were denied diplomas, as was expected the first year the exams were implemented. Puzzled, he responded, "Maybe a principal or two will have to go." That June 6,000 students who would have graduated under previous standards were denied diplomas, and the same superintendent, the governor and the leading newspapers declared the results a victory for high standards. The fact that a third of those students were recent immigrants who were illiterate in English, another third were identified as learning disabled and the final third were students who came from high poverty districts long known for their failing schools didn't seem to trouble any of the "standards" advocates.

Now I am not sure if Noguera is advocating charter schools? What person would not advocate for higher standards? No one critic to my knowledge has advocated the US should opt for better textbooks?
That is what I take offense to mostly.

Obama is definitely in this reform the reformers movement, which some have described as radical (Bill Ayers and Pedro Noguera) This is also a movement that attempted to pilot Everyday in Chicago and have ties to reformed protestants, which treat poverty and its ailments a disease.

The achievement gap, they say is more like an achievement debt. Something that has accrued over a long period of time.

There are many people who might agree with that concept, but they are really two different things. It is not clear to me what achievement debt is to them. I understand achievement gap, since you are comparing the difference between test scores of minorities and whites. Debt makes that number seem bigger than a gap.

What they fail to describe is that the gap is increasing and this is more alarming at least from a researchers pov. I can't measure debt - but I suppose it makes they argument that more money is needed for Title I schools, than what they are receiving.

I don't think you can fire principals or teachers - there's just not enough of them now and they jump through so many hurtles to become teachers, that it becomes a negative incentive - what you end up with are lower paid tutors working in the private sector - where qualified, but non-certified teachers are working for $15 per hour, hardly a living wage for a college educated professional. I could make a better living pruning trees.

Working in an urban school environment is stressful enough without the stress of merit pay, renewing credentials (150 hours/5 years), or the fear of being fired because your students (bless their hearts) cant pass the WASL.

Firing amounts to a witch hunt, hardly something that supports freedom of speech (teachers post anonymous messages anyway on bbs; and whistleblower laws don't protect state employees; gee, does washington really trust its leadership that much! have you got a lot to learn. Who's going to get their ass fired - the guy or gal that files a complaint that's who.

I would love to hear what someone thinks of Connected Math. I've taught that too and it sucks.

Anonymous said...

Here's a charter school nightmare from chicago (march, 2008)

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration presented a confusing picture Wednesday of what his office knew about a woman who received a criminal pardon from the governor in 2007, even as her school received a $1 million state grant to reopen after being burned out of the Pilgrim Baptist Church.

Blagojevich ducked out of a news conference Wednesday morning without answering questions about why he granted the pardon to Chandra N. Gill, who at the time was working with state officials to obtain the grant for the Loop Lab School. The school had rented space at the church until it was gutted in a 2006 fire.

William Quinlan, general counsel to the governor, told reporters that the January 2007 pardon for Gill "had absolutely nothing to do" with the school's request for grant money and that the governor's office learned of the link between Gill and the school only "recently."

On Wednesday, the Tribune reported that the connection to the school was at the heart of her 2006 request for the pardon.

Quinlan later said he forwarded the recommendation of the Illinois Prisoner Review Board to the governor to pardon her without reading Gill's full petition, in which she stated her connection to the school and made reference to the then-pending $1 million grant.

"I didn't mean to mislead anyone," Quinlan said.

The governor's office later issued a statement saying Blagojevich did not know about Gill's connection to the school when he approved her pardon and the expungement of her aggravated battery conviction for a 2002 fight with an Urbana police officer. Abby Ottenhoff, spokeswoman for the governor, said Blagojevich was swayed by her "good works," including obtaining a PhD from the University of Illinois.

"She clearly showed that she was improving her life and doing good things with her life," Ottenhoff said.

In her August 2006 petition for clemency, Gill said she was a volunteer at Loop Lab School but could not assume a full-time administrative position held open for her at the school unless her felony record was expunged.

"I perform administrative duties [at Loop Lab School] and am currently responsible for securing the necessary funds to help rebuild the school," Gill wrote, after pointing out that Loop Lab School was the school forced out by the recent fire in Pilgrim Baptist Church. After the fire, Blagojevich publicly had declared his intent to help the church recover by steering state grants in its direction.

In her request, Gill mentions her conversations with the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity over the grant. Exhibit 1 of her petition is a June 7, 2006, memorandum from DCEO that refers to the $1 million grant. Though there are several other letters written on her behalf enclosed in the petition, including one from Rev. Jesse Jackson, the DCEO reference is the only one she notes specifically as she outlines her reasons for seeking the pardon.

In separate documentation from DCEO in November, 2006—a month after Gill's pardon and expungement hearing—the $1 million grant is signed off to Loop Lab School at its new 318 W. Adams St. address in Chicago. Chandra Gill is listed as the school's administrator to receive the funds. She received her pardon Jan. 23, 2007, in between the first and second disbursements of the grant.

The school had already been on the state's radar.

In July 2006, the Illinois Department of Human Rights issued a decision saying the school and its personnel director should pay $40,000 to a kindergarten teacher who alleged she was sexually harassed and degraded by the personnel director, a relative of Gill.

The teacher, who was paid $16.50 an hour and hired in 2000, claimed that personnel director Tyrone Johnson shoved a candy bar between her legs, touched her pants zipper and buttocks and twice tried to put his hand inside her shirt.

The teacher said that when she complained to school director Elmira Mayes—whom Gill identified as an aunt in her pardon request—Mayes "suggested that perhaps the school needed only one kindergarten teacher." The kindergarten teacher resigned.

Blagojevich on Wednesday once again defended the grant while calling it a bureaucratic mistake.

"If we find out—and we're hopeful—that this school that is in question is providing good services to kids, then we're happy that they get an extra million dollars to educate kids," Blagojevich said.

The governor has said he will seek to send a second $1 million grant for the church to rebuild its administration center, which is used for children's, senior citizen and other social programs.

Tribune reporter David Jackson contributed to this report.

Anonymous said...

More details to show you how charter schools work when they start going downhill - key here is who Loop School (Gill) purchased the condo from Antoin Tony Rezko, Blagovedich's friend - the fellow the wrote the grant was a former Rezko employee. Blgovedich pardoned Gill. So that's a clear case of fraud - its how pro's siphon money out of education.

now Obama worked for Rezko --

Much of the criticism has centered on two real estate deals involving Obama's South Side mansion. In the first, Obama paid $300,000 less than the asking price for a doctor's home, while Rezko's wife paid the doctor full price for the vacant lot next door. Then -- a few months before Rezko was indicted -- Obama bought part of that lot from Rezko's wife.

But Obama's ties with Rezko go beyond those two real estate sales and the political support, the Sun-Times found. Obama was an attorney with a small Chicago law firm -- Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland -- that helped Rezmar get more than $43 million in government funding to rehab 15 of their 30 apartment buildings for the poor.

Here's the Loop Lab School finances and there are some interesting similarities in both stories. Obama was on the Board for the Annenburg Project, and wouldn't you know it, the project was closed because it failed to raise achievement after throwing $126 million toward improving education. What a load of BS.

moral: charter schools are about real estate and gov. subsidies tied to grants which have no oversight; this is not about educating children in urban schools.

Loop Lab School had $243 in cash and a $32,000 debt at the start of 2006, just six days before it lost the space it was renting when fire destroyed Pilgrim Baptist Church, according to a financial report the school filed with the state and reviewed by The Associated Press.

The school had been losing money for several years, the school's accountant told the AP Tuesday. Founded in 1983 in Chicago's Loop to serve children of downtown workers, the school was forced to move to the church several years ago and the new location hurt enrollment and cut revenue, said Timothy Watson, a certified public accountant who prepared the new report.

Blagojevich has acknowledged a "bureaucratic mistake" in sending the $1 million grant to Loop Lab. He originally promised it to help rebuild the historic, century-old church, Loop Lab's landlord, shortly after the Jan. 6, 2006 blaze.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which wrote the check, and Attorney General Lisa Madigan are investigating how the mistake occurred. Officials will say little about the botched effort.

The school used the money to buy a Loop business condo, hoping to return the enterprise to financial stability, said Watson, who has completed the school's financial reports dating to 2003.

Watson said the school was forced to move from its original location several years ago, but he didn't know why. It leased space at Pilgrim Baptist, about five miles south of the Loop, but suffered at the site.

"Location is key. The idea is for people who work in the Loop to have a place for their children," Watson said. "Just being at Pilgrim had a significant effect on the ability to generate tuition."

School administrator Chandra Gill has not returned repeated calls for comment from The Associated Press.

DCEO spokeswoman Marcelyn Love did not comment on whether the agency scrutinizes potential grant recipients' economic viability. But a survey Loop Lab filled out to get the grant does not mention finances, and a document submitted to DCEO before it got the grant shows the school had assets of $105,000 at the end of 2003, $77,000 a year later, but just $243 at the end of 2005.

The grant and a $305,000 loan allowed the school to purchase the condo to start over. But it has not reopened.

Nonetheless, the financial document filed with Madigan's office shows Loop Lab had $68,000 in expenses in 2006 and, despite contributions of $58,000, ended the year $37,710 in the red.

The expenses include $26,000 in salaries and $20,000 in rent, just slightly less than the $26,200 it paid a year earlier, despite using the space for less than a week in 2006 before being burned out. Watson said he didn't know details of the other finances.

The return shows Loop Lab claimed $113,000 in property lost in the fire, including $44,800 in furniture and $68,800 in computer equipment. It doesn't mention insurance coverage.

Loop Lab received the grant despite not disclosing that a state agency had punished it for sexual harassment of a staff member. And Gill got a hastily arranged pardon for an unrelated 2003 felony conviction from Blagojevich, who has issued fewer than 70 out of 1,600 pardon requests in five years in office. Gill was represented by a lawyer brought in at the request of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The updated tax form concedes for the first time a member of its staff was charged with a felony, the earlier omission of which could allow the state to seek reimbursement of the money.

Loop Lab's declining revenue contributed to its inability to pay payroll taxes, Watson said, leading to an Internal Revenue Service lien for $29,000. And the state withheld $953 in unpaid taxes when it issued the grant.

Loop Lab is a not-for-profit corporation, which doesn't pay taxes but is required to file a tax-like return with Madigan's office. After the mistaken grant was discovered, Madigan's staff found the school's 2006 form was insufficient and ordered that it be updated.

Its report for 2007 is not due until this summer.

The school bought the condo from a business associate of Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a Blagojevich fundraiser and friend currently on trial in federal court in Chicago for fraud. The grant came from DCEO, headed by Jack Lavin, a former Rezko employee.

Here's a list of the projects funded by the Chicago Annenburg Challenge Fund

The list of over sixty networks funded by the
Chicago Challenge during the past six years
takes up more than a page, including efforts as
broad and diverse as

the Best Practices Network,
the Center for International Technology, the
Chicago Comer School Network, the Chicago
Middle Grades Network, the Flower Cluster, the
Beverly/Morgan Park International
Baccalaureate Middle Years Program, the
Network for Experiential and Adventure
Learning, and the Woodlawn Schools/Community

Perhaps more than any
other factor, the passage of the
1995 reform and the arrival of Paul Vallas had a
tremendous effect on the Chicago Challenge.
Neither the school-reform groups in Chicago nor
the new Challenge staff had imagined all these
changes when conceiving of the Chicago
Challenge the year before. And no other
Challenge site has ended up so enmeshed in a
very public war between the district and the
school-reform community.
The nearly-simultaneous arrival of the
Annenberg grant and the 1995 legislation seems
to have surprised just about everybody. “It was
strange timing for everyone,” said Chapman. By
several accounts, very little publicity was given
to the possible mayoral takeover of the city
schools before it was announced in 1995 and
implemented in 1996. “My recollection is that
the 1995 mayoral control piece was subterranean,”
said McKersie. While he had long
desired it, a direct takeover was not prominently
featured in Mayor Daley’s education platform at
the time.

Anonymous said...

In the last post was this

chicago comer school network

and there is some issue with Dr. Comer and wouldn't you know it Centenniel School, Mt vernon is used as an example of a Comer School at their website.

Now here's a website that says the Comer School Model allowed administrators to violate the collective bargaining agreement with the local union:

Chula Vista Elementary School District at Castle Park Elementary.

Don't prepare a paper trail, and if you do, don't release it even if the court
demands it," seems to be the advice to districts of SDCOE Joint Powers
Authority lawyers.

While there are many excellent teachers and administrators in
Chula Vista Elementary School District, the fact remains that individuals who
have violated the collective bargaining agreement, the
Labor Code, the Education Code, and
other California Codes, for the purpose
of maintaining their personal power,
are still calling the shots in the district.

When will this change?

When we replace corrupt
school board members &
corrupt teachers union leaders
with citizens who are not in anybody's pocket.

Teacher wins $1 million lawsuit

Baltimore Sun education blog

A third-grade teacher from California has been awarded a $1 million judgment
after a jury found the Chula Vista Elementary School District (in San Diego
County) had discriminated against her when she lost her job after becoming

"Danielle Coziahr was a probationary teacher at Silver Wing Elementary
School in Otay Mesa for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years. School
districts can choose not to renew the contracts of such teachers without giving
a reason," according to an article in today's Union Tribune. "A jury decided
Friday that there was a reason – Coziahr was discriminated against. The jury
found that the school district decided not to continue her employment, which
would have made her a tenured teacher, because she is a woman."

what is the comer school model all about????

The Castle Park Elementary fiasco was partly a result of the way
the James Comer Program was implemented. The Comer process
lends itself readily to those who wish to abuse it.

This is way off track, but I thought it was fascinating to read about how reform movements can upset the balance of power in school districts and the fact that politicians as savvy as Barack Obama can still wind up in hot water, even though their intentions were hopefully honest.

Anonymous said...

Here's the explanation given for Centenniel's fall in test scores.

Centennial Elementary School is located in the quiet community of Mt. Vernon, Washington, which lies in the Skagit Valley between the Cascade Mountains and the Puget Sound.

Due in part to its proximity to Seattle, 60 miles to the south, Mt. Vernon has grown rapidly in recent years. However, this town of 27,060 remains bucolic, and relies heavily on the farming of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

The agricultural industry was responsible for a major shift in Mt. Vernon’s demographics. Migrant workers traditionally came to Mt. Vernon for seasonal work, but in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, companies started to help workers with housing, and they began to live in the area year round. As a result, the Mt. Vernon School District has experienced a significant shift in the needs of the children they teach. At Centennial, the percentage of Hispanic children has increased steadily, from 33% in 1997 to 54% in 2003. The percentage of children on the free and reduced lunch program jumped from 50% in 1997 to 72% in 2003.

As the school’s demographics shifted, its test scores fell. In 1997, only 49.5% of Centennial students met state reading standards. But after adopting Success for All in 1999 to help them address the needs of their changing student population, reading scores started to climb. In 2004, 74% of children met state reading standards. Centennial also saw a remarkable jump in math scores. Only 23% of children met the state math standards in 1997. By 2004, that number more than doubled to 56.6 percent.

Centenniel feeds into Mount vernon High School and now you see a different story entirely. This article fails to identify the test that was used to measure growth. It was the WASL naturally. How many Hispanics actually graduate from Mount Vernon is not nearly as high as you might think. Certainly not stated in this article, however it is higher than Burlington.

"Success for all"
Is also used by the Core Plus people. catchy phrase.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking they should either throw out the stats part(because its taught throughout elementary anyway) or teach a bit more depth than mode, median, range, and mean. More practical. I would put more emphasis on algebra and geometry and skip the stat part.

Teachers around here have been so beat up they won't offer anymore opinions. Leave it to the english department their kids are so smart, now they can read and pass and the WASL. (where's warfield? ..I need a pillow.)

dan dempsey said...

Dear Anon at 2:48 PM,

Singapore does not play the Stats game in elementary school. Instead they do the authentic algebra preparation and leave the stats until high school.

The new standards edition produced to meet the California Standards does have some Stats in k-5 but it is presented in an effective way rather than what we see in the materials judged most aligned with the Washington GLEs and EALRs.

I just received a list of the math materials used by each Washington School district K-12. It is a year out of data and while not perfect as there are a few ommissions, it sure explains why kids have learned so little math.


Anonymous said...

that should immediately explain why you can't blend curriculum's - to avoid overlap and yes it makes more sense to focus on stats later than earlier. although the stats taught in elementary is certainly nothing to write home about.

Core Plus carpet bombing - Core 1spend 3-4 months trying to explain how data is real and lines are not. Have the sup try to find the Mean Absolute Deviation (MAD) using his graphing calculator spreadsheet. Wow!!! Good luck, now can he tell you what it is ...

How about this one.... Given a set of data points (10 points) use the graphing calculator to find the y-intercept of a line of best fit. Hmm, is that statistics or algebra? You won't find out how to do regression until core 2. But if you look carefully at the calculator's library - you won't have to do it by hand.

There are very few problems, if any, in Core Plus that show patterns, making it easier for students to see that a line fits a pattern. Even tables are filled with random points.

Recognizing patterns is not the focus of Core 1, however it is certainly the approach taken by traditional algebraic textbooks. The inductive approach (the most practical and innovative method for teaching algebra) is totally removed from Core Plus.

Anonymous said...

How does Core Plus help students prepare for the WASL?

Short answer it doesn't - the students who take the WASL only have to be able to do topics taught in traditional textbooks from about 6th grade. Students don't use the textbook to prepare for the WASL - they use handouts and they learn math skills.

If you adopt Singapore, you won't have lines of teachers at the xerox copying math skill warmups.

Someone should ask Terry if students really need Core Plus or for that matter any standardized high school textbook to pass the Math WASL.

Is the institution of education equitable? Nope.

Anonymous said...

Seat time paradox.

The more you sit, the less you learn.

The less you learn, the more you sit.

dan dempsey said...

It was said how does Core-Plus help Students prepare for the WASL.

This must be some kind of Sadistic riddle.

I just found out that almost every member of the IMR criteria Panel is from a district using Core-Plus.

See the posting for May 14th on the IMR.

Anonymous said...

or statistics riddle?

or mutually exclusive?

or in any case....

its not iff.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of treisman's and warfield's aristocratic monologisms regarding students ...

'If only they wanted to learn...'

I wonder who would play a better Hamlet.

Anesha said...

Hi Nice Blog .I think HR understands the importance of other people tracking time--IT, Lawyers, non-exempt employees, but struggles with the idea of employee time attendance.