Saturday, May 24, 2008

Seattle Unvails Strategic Plan

5-24-2008 .... I waited 10 months for this and the SPS website still thinks that Mathematics is only the language and science of patterns and connections. Doing mathematics is an active process of constructing meaning through exploration and inquiry. Clearly the SPS has no interest in producing carpenters, plumbers, accountants, electricians, engineers, doctors or scientists. Now if we can only run an economy based on the output of philosopher kings, we will be in phat city dudes.

The SPS continue to advocate for the use of math materials in direct opposition to Project Follow Through results and yet the SPS administration still maintain that there is an interest in Equity and Accessibility. The district has used materials that have expanded the achievement gap over the last decade and it is clear the plan is to continue to use the same type of defective materials for the next five years. But the five year Strategic Plan tells us this time this stuff will work, except comparison data from Seattle's CMP2 adoption and Tacoma's Saxon adoption 2006-2007 tell us the exact opposite is true. This stuff still does not work. The kids know it. The parents know it. The teachers know it. Unfortunately Dr MG-J and the CAO prefer to believe otherwise.

Here is the Strategic Plan as it was presented to the Board at their regular legislative meeting on the 21st. This is a living document and it will change both before and after Board adoption. As reported HERE.

I am becoming progressively more and more disgusted with the direction of k-12 Mathematics Education in this State and in the Seattle Schools.

I’ve spent sometime reading…

Rigorous Evidence: The Key to Progress in Education?
Lessons from Medicine, Welfare and Other Fields

A forum with The Honorable Rod Paige
U.S. Secretary of Education

Forum Proceedings – November 18, 2002

From the report…

Life skills training, which is a substance abuse prevention program for junior high students that teaches social skills including techniques on how to say no to your peers who are offering you drugs.

That program has been shown effective in several large randomized controlled trials, involving thousands of students in different sites, different populations. In long-term follow- up, it reduces serious levels of substance abuse by over 40 percent by the end of high school - -It used comparative controls.

Given the theme of this meeting, let me give one example from outside education.
There's a program of nurse visitation for women who are poor, pregnant and single, which has been shown in a number of randomized trials to have a major effect on the life outcomes of both the women and their children.

For the children at age 15 it results in 50 to 80 percent reductions in arrest rates, alcohol abuse, the number of sexual partners, as compared to the control group.

Now, at the other end of the spectrum, I think it's important to mention that randomized trial have also identified some interventions that are not effective. One illustrative example is the DARE program, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, where the policeman comes into the junior high school and talks about drugs.

DARE is the nation's most widely used school based substance abuse prevention program. And randomized trials have shown that it has no affect on substance use.

In the last two SPS math adoptions of CMP2 and EDM, the School Board on the advice of staff selected the DARE programs of math; the widely used programs with no evidence of producing positive academic improvement.

The SPS staff was headed to complete the trifecta of math disaster with IMP, less than two months ago at the school board work session in early April. Am I now to believe that all is well because there is a strategic plan?

It remains apparent that the Fix is in Statewide and was in place when Ms Santorno unilaterally selected EDM in the Spring of 2007.

I see virtually nothing in the Strategic Plan to inspire confidence for math improvement. The SPS remains wedded to EDM and CMP2. This pair still have all the defects they had when adopted.
The solution seems to be to devote more student task time and more dollars to keep the sinking ship afloat.

This is clearly a decision being made in the best interests of certain administrators not students or families.

In regard to the USA's manufacturing crisis...

In 1980 Deming wrote "Out of the Crisis" addressing the manufacturing difficulties and was heeded. Improvement resulted.

About the USA's education crisis...

In 1993 Deming wrote “The New Economics for Industry, Government and Education” he addressed the education situation and was ignored and no improvement resulted.

W. Edwards Deming said:
“To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data”

In Washington with the WASL we have no relevant data. With job postings like the one for the ESD State Wide Math Science coordinator at $100,000 to $130,000 per annum which requires no knowledge of math or science we are assured there will be no intelligent application of relevant data even if we could find some.

Forest Gump said it best: Stupid is as stupid does.

The following from Seattle’s Strategic Plan certainly demonstrates several things; here are five.

#1… The plan reveals a belief in the factory model of education in which equal outcomes are incorrectly equated with equal opportunity.

#2… The plan denies the relevant field data in preference for continuing to use the prejudices of the profession. EDM is a disaster in Urban settings as is CMP2. Example based instructional materials are superior to the multi-millions that the SPS is spending on inferior materials and practices that have yet to demonstrate positive results.

#3… The plan looks to increase reliance on SPS centralized decision makers that have not produced anything worthwhile for SPS math.

#4… The idea that culturally competent and accessible materials can be determined while ignoring the performance data is hardly a research driven idea. Look at how well or NOT the CMP2 adoption is doing in comparison to Tacoma's Saxon - exactly same initial adoption year 2006-2007 HERE

#5… The plan is in apparent denial of the fact that students do not have uniform capabilities for learning. The factory-pacing model of this year’s EDM adoption is certainly in line with the prejudices of the profession just in total misalignment with the realities of human variation or the needs of the children.


SPS will adopt an “aligned curriculum” for grades PK-12 in math and science. An aligned curriculum means that students in any one grade in the District are held to the same high expectations (with the same high quality materials- The SPS is using EDM and CMP2 how can these folks claim to have any understanding of NMAP and yet still say high quality materials) and that those expectations build on one another as students advance in the system ( Note the similarity in the language from the 2004 MSSG: The value of a mathematical education and the power of mathematics in the modern world arise from the cumulative nature of mathematics knowledge. A small collection of simple facts combined with appropriate theory is used to build layer upon layer upon layer of ever more sophisticated mathematical knowledge. 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 principles presented here are designed to promote such mathematical learning. EXCEPT EDM and CMP2 Do NOT do that). An aligned curriculum allows the District to provide targeted support for teachers and schools, and a common set of expectations across the District will allow us to better focus our professional development offerings. All SPS curricula are designed to meet cultural competence and accessibility standards.

SPS will write a scope and sequence for math and science. SPS will adopt common grade level instructional materials where not already in existence. ( So clearly the SPS are planning on staying with common but defective math materials, What kind of plan is this? A plan to get a lot more families to leave the SPS over the next five years. I wonder what this plan would look like if Dr Goodloe-Johnson was not focused on math and science achievement and had not taken ten months to produce this document.)

• Grades K-5 Everyday Math and Singapore Math (implemented 2007-08)
• Grades 6-8 CMP2 (implemented 2006-07)
• Grades 9-12 (to be developed Fall 2008)..... Say when?? High School materials??

In Spring 2007 the 8th grade students on the Math WASL 50% did not pass and a full 1/3 could not score above level one. What high quality High School Math Materials will be selected for this group. This district needs to step up to the plate Twelve Step style and admit their enormous past failings and start a repair process. Instead more flim-flam nonsense educationese floats about the Edu-Sphere.

In doing this work, SPS will ensure there is coherence (no unnecessary overlap and no gaps) (in my opinion and the opinion of many others the SPS are using mathematically incoherent materials) and will address the following components: curriculum/instructional guides; pacing guides; identified best practices (the only known best practice that I can find is to use example based instructional materials and that is not being done) or high leverage practices; common understanding on use of manipulatives, equipment, and technology (which with the adoption of EDM means calculators for all from kindergarten on); common understanding on use of grading; identified mastery/core standards for PK-12 in math and science; common assessments and pre-post assessments; exemplary lessons for each grade; use of rubrics; and modifications for Special Education, English Language Learners and Advanced Learning students.

(Reading through the above could be an excellent argument for banning schools of education from practicing.)

SPS will support this math/science work through an integrated effort. The school performance framework (referenced later in this plan) will help identify which schools are struggling and in what areas and then provide targeted professional development that will directly support teachers in building the skills they need to effectively deliver content. (To effectively deliver content try using textbooks with example based instruction. There is no reason to make this as hard as possible just so we can spend $2+million on Coaches annually to say nothing of increased expenditures for professional development. It seems that in the SPS we see more methodology and little increase in teachers math content knowledge despite these large expenditures.)That framework will also allow SPS to provide targeted student-level supports.

page 16:

Immediate Actions

• Math: A Math Project Team will develop an implementation plan and timeline for action during summer 2008. Alignment of the elementary and middle school instructional materials to the new State Performance Expectations will happen this summer. Teacher leaders from each elementary, middle and high school will be trained during the summer of 2008 to facilitate professional development sessions for their schools around the mathematics content and the pedagogy needed to support implementation of an aligned K-12 program. Every math teacher will be provided up to four days of professional development to learn to use the online resources included with the Curriculum Guide. ...........

Longer-term Actions

Project teams will outline the full scope of work for development and implementation of key materials and related support for both math and science and will have detailed timelines complete by fall 2008.

page 17:
Recommended Work

SPS will design, develop and implement common district-wide formative and summative assessments in math and reading from kindergarten through grade 12 with full implementation beginning in 2009-10. These assessments will inform instructional practice, provide an additional measure of student achievement, track student growth and inform district-level decision-making.

Immediate Actions
Good News MAP testing is mentioned, that is one of the few cost effective ideas presented by the SPS in regard to assessment in recent years.

A project plan will be completed by fall 2008, with an immediate focus on refining current assessments, specifically redesigning grades 3-8 math benchmark assessments. SPS will develop improved assessment reports and provide training to instructional coaches. For the 2008-09 school year, the District is planning on piloting the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment system, which incorporates a growth model that will allow teachers & principals to more effectively measure student growth over time.

Longer-term Actions

A comprehensive assessment system will be developed during 2008-09 and implemented beginning in the 2009-10 school year.

I am hardly optimistic after reading the Strategic Plan.

WOW what a choice:
“a”… Dr Bergeson’s plans or
the “b”… Strategic Plan.

Multiple choice which of the two Fixed Flawed plans is the best.

I am going for “c” … none of the above.

Until the Strategic Plan undergoes substantial revision in the area of Mathematics Education I am sticking with “c"
Page 3 of the plan under Setting the Context says...

The plan outlines a set of foundational strategies that must be undertaken immediately and accomplished within the next few years to ensure equal access to excellence for every student in Seattle’s schools.

Sorry I see nothing in regard to mathematics in the Strategic Plan that leads be to believe the above sentence.



Anonymous said...

4 days of staff development to learn how to use an 'online' curriculum guide. That's real empowerment.

Gee, did you remember to get your alignment done this year?

Warfield: Your classroom looks aligned, but are they learning anything?

I'm aligned to Connected Math! Oh I forgot, I'm not supposed to say that. Its Washington's standards that I'm aligned too. Hee Hee.

Align yourself to the Bergerson math standard and you will empower more high school dropouts. That's as good as getting more funding so we can pay for Dana Center bureaucrats who can tell us how hosed up teachers, parents, and students are...

The Bergeson standard is the standard for a dropout.

Anonymous said...

This article might create more confusion - but I agree it was wrong to put Skip Fennell on the Math Panel. The NCTM Standards are a major reason, math education is in such a mess.

Second, Gary makes a good point that we should not focus only on the fact students aren't learning fractions - which might be interpreted as a return to basics, like phonics. It is certainly not the only reason students don't learn algebra. So once again, its what the panel has omitted that is alarming.

Third, once again the report calls for tighter standards in public education and advocates more funding of private education.
The most alarming aspect is that it calls for further experimentation, once again broadening the definitions of what we allow for schools and teachers.

So I'm sitting tight with my reservations about where all this going. It is gonna get worse, before it gets better.

Presidential Math Panel Vows to Increase Learning Disabilities
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 5:17 AM
Gary Stager

In the last year of his term, the President of the United States and the Department of Education are now trying to do for math what they did for reading. The notable achievements of Reading First include massive fraud,
profiteering, junk science, federal control over classroom practice, fear and hysteria.

While the National Reading Panel was stacked with ideologues
sharing the same educational philosophy, the National Math Panel co-opted the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) by appointing the
organization’s President to serve on the committee.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, never known for its
radicalism, swung hard towards “the basics” last year in its Curriculum Focal Points and now finds itself in the uncomfortable position of having to disagree with NCTM’s President and the President of the United States. “Skip” Fennell did neither his members nor millions of American school kids any favors by participating in this unnecessary process.

These federal education expeditions seek to narrow both the range of content and pedagogy permissible in public schools. The private and religious schools the GOP wants to support with taxpayer-funded vouchers are immune from these intrusions. The one-size-fits-all prescriptions for
what ails public education are justified by claiming that schemes are research-based.

The rigid definition of “scientific evidence” enforced by Department of Education may be fine in testing remedies for restless leg syndrome, but
is ill-suited for the complexities of education. But hey, these are the folks who have mangled the English language to imply that theory is merely an unproven guess.

There is a lot wrong with the recent math report, but making Algebra the holy grail of K-8 mathematics is wrong-headed and goes unquestioned. Stressing the importance of fractions as critical prerequisites for
Algebra adds insult to injury.

In a world-class display of side-splitting math teacher humor, panel
member Frances “Skip” Fennell told the New York Times , “Just as
“plastics” was the catchword in the 1967 movie The Graduate, the catchword for math teachers today should be ‘fractions.’“ What Fennell doesn’t realize is that the person who said, “Plastics,” in The Graduate was emblematic of everything wrong with society. “Plastics,” was a metaphor for a shallow, superficial, inauthentic culture focused on the wrong values. The National Math Advisory Panel’s greater focus on fractions represents a “plastic” version of mathematics that will do more
harm than good.

It’s easy to see how someone might think that several years worth of
fraction study prepares a child for Algebra. Fractions have numerators over denominators, separated by a horizontal line. Many algebraic equations have something over something else, also separated by a line.
That’s all you need to know. Right?

Not only is the progression from arithmetic manipulation of fractions to Algebra tenuous, but neither of the assumptions underlying the value of
teaching fractions or Algebra are ever questioned. The President’s Math Panel, like most of the math education community maintains a Kabbalah-like belief in an antiquated scope and sequence.

Such curricular superstition
fuels a multigenerational feud in which educators fight over who has the best trick for forcing kids to learn something useless, irrelevant or unpleasant.

Despite the remarkable statement in the 1989 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards, “Fifty percent of all mathematics has been
invented since World War Two,” the NCTM has been in full retreat ever
since. Although much of this “new” mathematics is playful, practical,
beautiful or capable of being visualized via the computer, little new content has made its way into the curriculum. Against this backdrop of unimaginative heuristics and a leadership vacuum, math class has become
increasingly torturous for too many students.

Children who struggle to manipulate fractions do so because the skills are taught absent a meaningful context in a culture where fractions are rarely ever used. Fraction fans might argue that fractions are important in following a recipe, but little cooking is done during fraction
instruction. Even if kids did get to learn fractions by cooking, they
might add, subtract or even multiply fractions, but one hardly ever divides fractions. The fact that there are four arithmetic functions doesn’t justify drilling kids for several grade levels. I wonder how many members of the Presidential panel can coherently explain how division of
fractions works beyond repeating the trick – multiply the first fraction by the reciprocal of the second fraction?

The Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel
does not dispute that teachers spend lots of time teaching fractions. The report merely urges that teachers do even more of the same while hoping for a different result. A definition of insanity comes to mind. It would be bad enough if wasted time was the only consequence of the fanatical fraction focus, but too many students get the idea that they
can’t do math. This damages their inclination towards learning other forms of mathematics. Given the importance of mathematics and the widespread mathphobia sweeping the land, students can ill afford to a diminution in their self-image as capable mathematicians.

Educators should not be complicit in creating learning disabilities
regardless of what the President or his friends say.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading more from the and I think these are members from the curriculum industry speaking out (not to be confused with the textbook industry - standardized textbooks). While they have some self-interest, writers like Gary Stager are well worth careful reading since they are close to the politics. Skip Fennell would be the first to defend the NCTM standards and its 'cursed' textbooks.

This is a release by the Key Curriculum Press, CEO. Let's not forget the math panel waited for two years before releasing their report. I am fairly sure the timing for the release was deliberate.

Key Curriculum Press Release
National Mathematics Advisory Panel Preliminary Report Disappoints

Devoid of any substance or even preliminary findings, The National Mathematics Advisory Panel’s Preliminary Report is a major disappointment, Key Curriculum Press President Steve Rasmussen said Tuesday.

Like many individuals and organizations, Key offered testimony during the Panel’s public hearings.

Released to the public six weeks after it was due, the fifteen-page report provides a scant two paragraphs containing any new information. And even those don’t reveal much. “It is premature for the Panel to convey major findings and conclusions,” the document concludes.

Rasmussen sharply responded to the report:

By failing to offer any insight into its preliminary view, the Panel denies the public the opportunity to respond and comment thoughtfully throughout the next stage of the Panel’s deliberations prior to its final report. This is unacceptable.

Those of us devoting our careers and energies to making positive differences for our nation’s children deserve useful guidance and support. We deserve to hear from Panel members, even if they offer differing opinions.

Undoubtedly, they are learning a lot from the data and testimony they have received. I hope we too get to learn from their experience. Our country needs a discussion of the critical issues facing mathematics educators.

Perhaps the Panel is too divided to issue a meaningful report. Perhaps politics has gotten in the way of their mission.

The National Mathematics Advisory Panel was, after all, established by an administration with a highly questionable track record of using scientific evidence to make policy.

The sad fact is that, over the past six years, politics has consistently trumped science in such areas ranging from global warming (Federal Climate Research) to education (Reading First). Given this record, and given the
composition of the Panel, it is entirely reasonable to raise serious questions about the Panel’s work.

Despite the presence of highly respected individuals on the Panel, I worry that its final report will reflect the educational views of the administration that appointed it.

It is critical that Panel members whose views are not clouded by politics offer us their opinions, even if they contrast those held by other members. Meaningful proposals that could have a profound impact on the lives of students will not come without rigorous, un-politicized debate.

Anonymous said...

Here's another political pundit urging the panel to scrap its report. Fraser is one of the authors of IMP.

I have to laugh at Fraser when she says Where's the Math is a secret organization that is funding the demise of math reform through fear. Calling parents terrorists is not exactly going to win over friends.

Fraser also uses California as an example of a state that threw out the NCTM standards - the reason given by NCTM pundits is a rogue school board member. And Fraser uses California test scores as evidence of their policy failure, to imply that their program works any better? It should not be forgotten that the standardized test cutoffs are arbitrary and you can't make comparisons between states. California's cutoff happens to be higher than other states. The funding for schools in California is more liberal, therefore, allocations are based on need, not performance. That is the primary difference between fiscal models in public education. It is also a factor that depends on the size of the school district.

The standardized curriculum is far worse than the traditional curriculum in that it is mostly irrelevent for children, not to mention poorly written, poorly implemented, and poorly evaluated.

Comparing Washington and California, I think you should look foremost at the support programs that are in place for rescuing drop outs. California is years ahead. I don't agree that either state is anywhere close to achieving world standards. At least California has taken steps to rectify the situation, rather than mask the truth.

Lets not forget the science curriculum that Lawrence Hall is pandering to public schools through the MSP grants. That's a joke too.

Here's her little adios speech....

Sherry Fraser
Director, Interactive Mathematics Program Network Coordinator, COMPASS POINTS
Faculty Member, Marilyn Burns Education Associates []

National Math Panel Testimony
Stanford, California
November 6, 2006

Good morning. My name is Sherry Fraser and I have been involved in
mathematics education for over 30 years. I have a degree in mathematics and taught high school in Buffalo, New York, Los Angeles, California, and in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I am one of the developers of the Equals program and the Family Math program that originated at the Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley.

I am also one of the developers of the Interactive Mathematics Program, a high school curriculum designed to meet the needs of all high school students.

All three of these programs have spread worldwide and through these programs I've had the opportunity to visit high schools and classrooms around the world. The transcripts of the previous meetings of this panel trouble me and I want to be certain several points about school mathematics education become part of the record. That is why I am here today.

1) We have failed our kids in the past when we paid most of our attention to the list of mathematical topics that should be included in a curriculum
without factoring in how students learn, without giving attention to what might be the best teaching strategies to facilitate that learning, and without giving serious attention to providing access to important mathematics for all students.

How many of you remember your high school algebra? Close your eyes and
imagine your algebra class. Do you see students sitting in rows, listening to a teacher at the front of the room, writing on the chalkboard and demonstrating how to solve problems? Do you remember how boring and mindless it was?

Research has shown this type of instruction to be largely
ineffective. Too many mathematics classes have not prepared students to use mathematics, to be real problem-solvers, both in the math classroom and beyond as critical analyzers of their world.

Unfortunately my experience and probably most of yours is what we refer to today as the "good old days." This was when students knew what was expected of them, did exactly as they were told, and learned arithmetic and algebra
through direct instruction of rules and procedures. Some of us could add, subtract, multiply, and divide quickly. But many of us just never understood when to use these algorithms, why we might want to use them, how they worked, or what they were good for. And it showed. In 1967, when U.S.
mathematics students were compared to their peers in the First
International Mathematics Study, the U. S. learned there was a positive correlation between student achievement at the middle school and students' view that mathematics learning is an open and inquiry-centered process.

In the Second International Mathematics Study, in 1981, teachers were still
using whole-class instructional techniques, relying heavily on prescribed textbooks, and rarely giving differentiated instruction on assignments. Twenty years later, the Third International Study just reinforced what we
should have already known. We were doing a poor job of educating our youth in mathematics.

2) This crisis in mathematics education is at least 25 years old. I remember in the 1980's when the crisis in school mathematics became part of the national agenda with such publications as An Agenda For Action (NCTM,
1980), A Nation at Risk (National Commission of Excellence in Education, 1983), and Everybody Counts: A Report to the Nation on the Future of Mathematics Education (NRC, 1989). Those of you on the board who have been
involved with mathematics education should remember these documents as well. Our country was in trouble. We were not preparing students for their future. Sure, some could remember their basic facts, but that wasn't enough. Something different needed to be done if our country was going to
compete in a global economy.

It was at the end of that decade that the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics released their Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School
Mathematics (1989). Contrary to what you hear today, they were widely accepted and endorsed. This set of standards had the potential to help the American mathematics educational community begin to address the problems articulated throughout the 1980's.

Shortly after publication, the National Science Foundation began funding the development of large scale, multi-grade instructional materials in mathematics to support the realization of the NCTM Standards in the classroom. Thirteen projects were funded. Each of the projects included
updates in content and in the context in which mathematics topics are presented. Each also affected the role of the teacher. Each has been through rigorous development that included design, piloting, redesign, field-testing, redesign, and publication. This amount of carefuldevelopment and evaluation is rarely seen in textbook production.

3) These NSF projects were developed to address the crisis in mathematics education. They did not cause the problem; they were the solution to the problem. Their focus went beyond memorizing basic skills to include thinking and reasoning mathematically.

4) These model curriculum programs show potential for improving school
mathematics education. When implemented as intended, research has shown a different picture of mathematics education to be more effective. In fact, the U.S. Dept of Education, through an act of Congress, evaluated mathematics programs, K-12, and in 1999 found five programs that deserved
exemplary status. One of the criteria was that the program must have evidence that it made a measurable difference in student learning. The program had to provide evidence of gains in student understanding of
mathematics, evidence of gains in inquiry, reasoning, and problem solving skills, evidence of improvements in course enrollments, graduation rates,
and post-secondary school attendance and evidence of improved attitudes towards learning. Three NSF curriculum projects met all the criteria and
received exemplary awards from the U.S. Department of Education.
Another study by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) evaluated 24 algebra textbooks for the potential to help students
understand algebra and, once again, the NSF-funded curriculum programs rated at the top of the list. And in 2004 the National Academy of Sciences released a book, On Evaluating Curricular Effectiveness: Judging the
Quality of K-12 Mathematics Programs, which looked at the evaluation studies for the thirteen NSF projects and six commercial textbooks. Based
on the 147 research studies accepted it is quite clear which curriculum programs have promise to improve mathematics education in our country. They are the NSF-funded curriculum projects.

5) You might be asking yourself why hasn't mathematics education improved if we have all this promising data from these promising programs?

Let me use California as an example. In 1997 California was developing a set of mathematics standards for K-12. A State Board member hijacked the process. She gave the standards, which
had been developed through a public process, to a group of four
mathematicians to fix. She wanted California's standards to address just content and content that was easily measurable by multiple-choice exams. The NCTM standards, which the original CA standards were based on, were banned and a new set of CA standards was adopted instead. This new set
punished students who were in secondary integrated programs and called for Algebra 1 for all 8th grade students, even though the rest of the world, including Singapore, teaches an integrated curriculum in 8th grade and
throughout high school.

The four mathematicians and a few others called California's standards "world class". But saying something is world class
doesn't make it so. In fact, we now have data to show these standards haven't improved mathematics education at all.

Most of California's
students have had all of their instruction based on these standards since they were adopted almost ten years ago. Yet, if you go to the California Department of Education's website on testing and look at the 2006 data you will find that only 23% of students are proficient in Algebra I by the end
of high school, a gain of 2 points over four years. At the Algebra II
level, only 45% of California's students actually take the course and only 25% of those are proficient. This is a loss of four percentage points over the last four years.

Three years of college preparatory mathematics is required, four
recommended, for entrance into our colleges and universities, yet less than 12% of California's high school graduates now have the minimum proficiencies expected by higher institutions. And these numbers don't even take into account the 30% of California students who drop out of high
school. World class? Hardly. California is one state you do not want to emulate or look to for solutions to the problems in mathematics education.

Why, then, do you read in newspapers about how terrible the mathematics programs developed in the 1990's are and how successful California is?

It has to do with an organization called Mathematically Correct, whose membership and funding is secret. Their goal is to have schools, districts, and states adopt the California standards and they recommend Saxon materials as the answer to today's problems.

They are radicals, out of the
mainstream, who use fear to get their way.

I urge this panel to look at the data and make recommendations based on the desire to improve mathematics education for all of our students. Direct instruction of basic skills does not suffice. Moving backwards to ineffective habits does not make sense. Our children deserve more. Thank

Anonymous said...

I hope the report does everything Mr. Garfunkel says it will do. Cut off funding for the type of poor research that has taken place since the adoption of the NCTM standards.

Replacing the current disaster with a k-12 curriculum, like Singapore will be a revolution in education - it should replace all the disasters which currently plague public school.

The curriculum writers for the NSF exemplary textbooks are nothing but parasites. Give them a charter school to screw up, not a nation.

MR. GARFUNKEL: Good morning. My name is Sol Garfunkel. I'm the Executive Director of the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications. I have a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin. And I have been a principle investigator on one or more National Science Foundation projects and in mathematics education continuously since 1976.

Basically, my comment to this panel is don't do this, don't write the report that we all expect to come out of this Panel, because I think it will set back mathematics education for a number of years.

Don't write a report that says there is a lot we don't know, or a seemingly reasonable report that says there is a lot we don't know about mathematics education. There is a lot of research that needs to be done.

It should be funded by the Department of Education. And until that research is complete, we should stop innovation in curriculum development, except if we adopt something like the Singapore Program, and that we should cut off funding for that curriculum development, we should cut off funding for the National Science Foundation.

I suspect that that's what this report will eventually say and it's a terrible mistake. I think people forget, purposely possibly, why the standards were written in 1989 by a much more courageous National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

They were written because we were here. The problems were there, we recognized them and things were not working. And to be honest,there was a remarkable consensus about that. Everyone came up and said the kinds of things you are hearing today, students don't learn, teachers don't know any mathematics, nothing good is happening. By the way, nothing good is happening at the low end and the high end and we've got to do something about it. The NCTM Commission issued standards with their own funding. It was a very brave act. What the standards said and what I think gets lost, by the way, is that those standards were supported by every major mathematics organization at the time, including the American Mathematic Society (AMS) and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). And what those standards said was we need to innovate, and we need to look at content, pedagogy, applications, and technology. We have to think hard about the choices we've made and the choices we might make.

Yes, they made some suggestions about ways to go, but the point was dissatisfaction with where we were and a desire to try some new things. The National Science Foundation supported a lot of grants, a lot of work of innovators, of content developers, not, and I say this at every possible opportunity, not with the sense that we've got to replace where we were. We've got to take the pre 1989 materials, throw it out and replace it with these new curriculum just to see whether we could, on a day to day basis, make the vision of NCTM extend, that we could actually create materials that embodied that vision, those ideals, and to experiment with them, to innovate, to try things, to see what worked, to give researchers a body of material that they could work with to see in fact whether this was going to do any good.

And I think what's happened is that there is evidence, a significant amount of evidence, that some of those innovations, some of the changes that we've made in content, some of the changes that we've made in applications, in pedagogy and technology have done some good. Look at the ARC Center report. Look at Joe Boehler's research. I'm not saying it says take this curriculum and replace it with that one, but it does say that there is a place for that innovation.

What this panel should not do is, in their report, cut off that funding, cut off that generation of people who have started doing this work, who you will need when it comes time to do the kind of actual changes, homemade, not imported, real change, with real innovation, with the American mathematics educators who have been working on this problem for 20, 30, 40 years. And that's all I have to say.

MR. FAULKNER: Questions or comments from the panel? MR. SIEGLER: Why is it relevant if a program was developed in the United States or in Singapore?

MR. GARFUNKEL: Well I will say the relevance is there are two kinds of --. By the way, the people in Singapore, I go there, I talk to them. They come here to look for innovation. They come here to look for creativity. They argue that their students can do lots of very nice and manipulative technical things that we test for, but they can't create. They are not the students who come to MIT. They are the students who do well on these exams, fine.

But I'm worried about that pipeline as much as anybody else here and unless we have that innovation, unless we have that creativity, unless we build in the things that Americans are actually good at, then we are just doomed to having kids who do well on tests. Fine, if we want kids who do well on tests but can't compete in the society. People from Singapore come here to learn how we get creativity.

MR. WU: Sol, there are just a few points of factual error. One is that AMS, yes, approved of the NCTM standards in 1989, but the fact had been documented that it was approved with actually no reading of the standards, that's number one.

Number two, about Joe Boehler's research, it's in great
dispute, and there are scholarly concerns about the quality and the methodology.

Number three, about Singapore, indeed Japanese educators and Singapore educators came here to look for answers. They looked for answers and in the case of Japanese educators. They took a lot of information back, and I believe that three or four years ago they have since made a U-turn and decided that it couldn't be done, so I think I should stop here.

MR. SCHMID: I mean of course there is a frequent complaint that somehow the East Asian countries emphasize calculation at the expense of mathematical thinking. You should be very careful when you say that Singapore children don't get mathematical understanding and then they have no ability to excel, let's say, at a higher level. First of all, Singapore of course is rather small, so if you talk about the number of people who do various things, we have to be careful in making such comparisons. Take South Korea, South Korea has a curriculum that in many ways has similar characteristics to the Singapore curriculum. Of course it isn't written in English, it is therefore not as well known as the Singapore curriculum. At Harvard, we see a very large number of graduate students from South Korea, who have gone through a curricula of that sort, who are certainly capable of functioning at the highest level. What you said about the Singapore curriculum is a slur.

MR. GARFUNKEL: My point is that the answer is not to simply import a curriculum because you find it to your liking. We have in mathematics education in the United States, we are quite capable
of taking the best of those other curricula and the best of what's done here. You wouldn't do it with other things. You only do it here because this curriculum happens to be to your liking. I will say that you should not cut off the research and the development of materials that are going on by homemade people just because one curriculum happens 14
to appeal. It's a mistake.

MR. SCHMID: This committee cannot cut off funding for curricular innovation in the United
States and even if we could, we would not ask for that, that is not the point. It is, as you say, one needs to be guided also by international comparisons, that is one reason for focusing, let's say, on the Singapore curriculum, to see what is good there and that that be properly appreciated. It does not mean that there has to be a wholesale importation of
foreign curricula.

MR. GARFUNKEL: But you don't focus on the Dutch curriculum, for example.

MR. FAULKNER: Let me go to Tom. I think we are not going to get to everyone who is signed up if we aren't crisp with our comments

MR. LOVELESS: Just one quick question. I assume you heard the testimony of Holly Horrigan just before you. As someone who supports these new curricula, how would you respond to her, as a parent, with her concerns?

MR. GARFUNKEL: I want to be careful about this. What I am supporting is not any one curriculum, what I am supporting, what I am supporting are the ideas behind a number of those curricula.

There were horror stories in 1989. You think you couldn't come up with a parent in 1988 who said that their kids, who were very bright at home, weren't doing well at school, hated math, aren't going into math. Read those reports, read those articles, we could easily, of course that's going to happen with any experimentation, we don't have the right, the one curriculum. But if you look at data over large numbers of students, take the ARC Center report, for instance, you do see positive effects. I think a horror story here, a horror story there, it's just anecdotal. It doesn't do any good, it doesn't tell you what the policy should be.

MR. FAULKNER: Thank you, Dr. Garfunkel, I appreciate your being here.