Thursday, June 12, 2008

$200 gets me in Court against OSPI and the SBE

To anyone still concerned. 6-12-2008

It seems that few are particularly concerned, as the law is regularly neglected.

Most recently the IMR criteria document draft #1 neglected to even mention the NCTM Focal Points as a reference either primary or secondary. A strange oversight for a 22-person committee developing Criteria as the Focal Points are mentioned on page 2 of HB1906 and page 2 of SB6534 as a requirement.

It appears that laws do not need to be followed. Consider the k-8 math adoption.

SB 6534 says:
(c) By May 15, 2008, the state board of education shall review the consultant's draft report, consult the mathematics advisory panel, hold a public hearing to receive comment, and direct any subsequent modifications to the consultant's report. After the modifications are made, the state board of education shall forward the final report and recommendations to the superintendent of public instruction for implementation.

I contend that the SBE did not consult the MAP as required by SB 6534 and as a result adopted a poor product that is very likely to continue with the inequities revealed on the back of this document.

IMR Draft#2 contains the following: One of the goals of the Content/Standards Alignment process will be to identify the necessary supplementation for existing materials to meet state standards. Neither HB1906 nor SB6534 ask for this. Why is it here?

The statement is in IMR draft#2 because the current direction this is headed continues to cover for those who failed to adequately serve the students of this state for the last decade.

This rush to product by shortcuts clearly does not serve the students of this state. In shortening the timelines provided by the legislature the k-8 product was not adequately reviewed. The MAP never met, never discussed, never even communicated with each other via email after the consultant’s draft report. The High School standards are also severely affected by this shortened timeline, as there was inadequate development time. At the May 1, 2008 MAP meeting, Bob McIntosh and I commented to each other: “Wow all of Geometry in Seven Days”.

I will be in Thurston County Superior Court in July seeking to have the law followed and the children served. The math direction of last decade under the OSPI and SBE leadership needs to be substantially altered. See backside.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

page 2

For Black and Hispanic students, Dr. Terry Bergeson’s Reform Math agenda works equally poorly on both sides of the lake. Look at the expanding achievement Gaps in math between 1998 or 1999 and 2007 for three reform math centered school districts = A decade of disaster.

Seattle ... Black .... grade 4 .... grade 7 ... grade 10
98 ..or 99 gap .... -38.3% .... -32.7% .... -35.9%
08 …gap -47.8% -49.3% -50.8%
gap growth increase 9.5% 16.4 14.9%
08 pass rate 32.0% 24.1% 19.6%

Seattle Hispanic grade 4 grade 7 grade 10
98 ..or 99 gap -29.0% -24.1% -30.4%
08 gap -36.3% -40.7% -39.5%
gap growth increase 7.3% 16.6% 9.1%
08 pass rate 43.5% 32.7% 31.3%

Bellevue Black grade 4 grade 7 grade 10
97 ..or 99 gap -23.6% -32.3 -37.8%
08 …gap -59.0% -51.9 -55.4%
gap growth increase 35.4% 19.6 17.6%
08 pass rate 25.0% 29.0% 17.9%

Bellevue Hispanic grade 4 grade 7 grade 10
97 ..or 99 gap -26.6% -27.7% -38.5%
08 gap -39.8% -46.2% -41.3%
gap growth increased 13.2% 18.5% 2.8%
08 pass rate 44.2% 34.7% 32.0%

Clover Park Black grade 4 grade 7 grade 10
98.. or 99 gap - 2.5% -3.8% -20.2%
08 -26.7% -25.1% -19.1%
gap growth increased 24.2% 21.3% shrunk 1.1%
08 pass rate 25.2% 21.8% 18.8%

Clover Park Hispanic grade 4 grade 7 grade 10
98..or 99 gap -14.4% -11.1% -17.6%
08 …gap -18.6% -16.8% -16.8%
gap growth increased 4.2% 5.7% shrunk 0.8%
08 pass rate 33.3% 30.1% 21.1%

Ethnicity achievement gaps computed from ethnic group rate minus White WASL math pass rate in each district. For $770,000 OSPI purchased a sales force with a defective product. The SBE seems unaware of the damage caused by Fidelity of Implementation to the Reform Math agenda in Bellevue and elsewhere.

Sorry about the cramped stats to be fixed later.


Anonymous said...


I am concerned about the math doings or not doings in Washington State. This was expressed by me in an earlier blog. A grass roots effort is needed, though I believe most people are waiting to see what information is produced.

Thanks again,


Anonymous said...

Well done, you know who is ticked so you are doing something right. In addition to pointing out inconsistencies, it would be beneficial to remind our elected leaders that we are building a policy to educate young people by making worthwhile curriculum available, not cogitating over what students are thinking about during a so-called math lesson - that entails a very long discussion at infinite expense.

Anonymous said...

You may have to wait a long time to get info from OSPI. What I learned - there is the college track and then there's everybody else. The math leadership panel is stacked with professors that represent the NSF systemic grant initiatives. TEACHERS get outvoted on nearly all the issues.

This is what I reckon is the EVERYBODY ELSE TRACK:

Math 7
Math 8
Bridge to Algebra: Does not count as a hs prerequisite.
Authentic Algebra

Does anyone else infer something different?

The curriculum is thick with statistics and thin on algebraic thinking. The key is the integrated textbooks approach to graphs as models for data points as opposed to using lines to solve systems of equations. Traditional algebra by the end of Int Alg. teach students up to 10 different standard ways to solve equations and that includes quadratic and exponential functions via factoring or rational fiction. None of this is in the lower track which relies significantly on non-standard approaches such as graphing with calculators.

Anonymous said...

rational fiction, my bad, I was thinking of division with rational functions and factoring - guessing roots and etc.

Authentic algebra like most everything else invented in Washington is a curriculum that emphasizes Achieve standards (definitely substandard) which I feel was created to support some of the 'exemplary' curriculum - namely core plus (Bellevue adoption)

Substandard curriculum is shaping the standards of Washington's schools and its going to end up being used in the 'everybody' else track that I keep hear being mentioned at OSPI.

Anonymous said...

The problem I see is that standards are being authored by teacher education programs, not curriculum experts. So when humpty dump jumps up and says we need more statistics and probability because I never use trig; they're forgetting what's normally taught in Algebra 2. Who's the curriculum expert here? Excuse me, trig is what separates the officers from the enlisted. This is what is meant by a road-building society. You can't build a road without trig.

At meetings I suggest looking for the core plus hammer, this is the person with an NSF multimillion dollar grant to train teachers with 'exemplary' curriculum.

The hammer will say repeatedly "Children need to be able to think critically when they read the news - they have to know statistics." As with Washington's panel there's a whole chorus in unison "statistics - make it real."
And then a teacher in the back row will retort - but that's not how its done traditionally or for that matter in the rest of the world."
Lets take a vote - statistics, right, lets move on.

So I think this is the end of OSPI credibility. They don't know textbooks - but with their laptops they can recite standards in unison and it sounds like Achieve Inc. Good show, Ms. Hardboiled.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what's needed to win. But Singapore standards is different from Washington's standards and its different from other curriculum because its also a standard and its the best curriculum in the world that is written in English.

NCTM standards (and Achieve Standards) fail miserably where Singapore gets high marks for algebraic reasoning and trigonomety. These are subject areas that students get tested for on college entrance tests.

Achieve standards are a lower standard than NCTM standards even.

Has age-appropriate curriculum been provided for all students and is it equitable? These are the questions I wish could be decided in court. It would put OSPI in contempt. Steering the majority of students into the 'everybody else' track should be against the law.

Anonymous said...

When I know what can be achieved in other places? Washington schools just break your heart.

Anonymous said...

As just an ordinary parent I am grateful for all you do for our kids. You don't need to be a math teacher to see what is wrong with our math curriculum but we have no credibility. I finally decided to try to educate my daughter at home after school to try to teach her basic math. Thank you Thank you .

Anonymous said...

I encourage all parents to try Singapore, but if you are more comfortable with Saxon than by all means use it for my hard to reach students who've lost interest because everything had to be done with a pencil - try some of the Marcy Cook activities. They're self-checking and really help with memorizing basic facts and you don't need pencils.

You get a lot for $15 and I sent them home with students - always got them back. They use counting tiles 0-9 and we used them over and over. Kids never got tired of them. I'd get a group of parents together and pool your resources together. Get the library to buy into something like that. I wonder if someone would take an interest.

Anonymous said...

The difficulty I see is this petition does not give answers. It points to the problem, but what's the solution.

I'd like to see Singapore adopted? Is there an organization or group of people that would support that cause?

Anonymous said...

Mar 9 2008 La Times
I've copied the article in full - but this is the kind of news that should be watched - Singapore adoptions - if its repeatable than I think it will spark a revolution in education. This is not a case of miracle, this is for real - I've seen it plus you have a whole country that uses it and its in English. Americans should start doing what the rest of the world does, copy what works.

The meetings you watch being run asking for inputs on what's the vision, what's the vision are misspent dollars -- its turned into the integrated math fetish which only sees a track for college students who have to enroll in remedial classes and then a track for those others (helots).

"In 2005, just 45% of the fifth-graders at Ramona Elementary School in Hollywood scored at grade level on a standardized state test. In 2006, that figure rose to 76%. What was the difference?

If you answered 31 percentage points, you are correct. You could also express it as a 69% increase.

But there is another, more intriguing answer: The difference between the two years may have been Singapore math.

At the start of the 2005-06 school year, Ramona began using textbooks developed for use in Singapore, a Southeast Asian city-state whose pupils consistently rank No. 1 in international math comparisons. Ramona’s math scores soared.

“It’s wonderful,” said Principal Susan Arcaris. “Seven out of 10 of the students in our school are proficient or better in math, and that’s pretty startling when you consider that this is an inner-city, Title 1 school.”

Ramona easily qualifies for federal Title 1 funds, which are intended to alleviate the effects of poverty. Nine of every 10 students at the school are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. For the most part, these are the children of immigrants, the majority from Central America, some from Armenia. Nearly six in 10 students speak English as a second language.

Yet here they are, outpacing their counterparts in more affluent schools and succeeding in a math curriculum designed for students who are the very stereotype of Asian dominance in math and science.

How did that happen?

It’s a question with potentially big implications, because California recently became the first state to include the Singapore series on its list of state-approved elementary math texts. Public schools aren’t required to use the books – there are a number of other, more conventional texts on the state list – but the state will subsidize the purchase if they do. And being on the list puts an important imprimatur on the books, because California is by far the largest, most influential textbook buyer in the country.

The decision to approve the books could place California ahead of the national curve. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel, appointed by President Bush, will issue a report Thursday that is expected to endorse K-8 math reforms that, in many ways, mirror the Singapore curriculum.

The report could also signal a cease-fire in the state’s math wars, which raged between traditionalists and reformers throughout the 1990s and shook up math teachers nationwide. Fundamentalists called for a return to basics; reformers demanded a curriculum that would emphasize conceptual understanding.

Mathematicians on both sides of the divide say the Singapore curriculum teaches both. By hammering on the basics, it instills a deep understanding of key concepts, they say.

Kids – at least the kids at Ramona – seem to love it.

Ramona, which received a grant to introduce the Singapore curriculum, is one of a sprinkling of schools around the country to do so.

Not all teachers like it, and not all use it. The Singapore books aren’t easy for teachers to use without training, and some veterans are more comfortable with the curriculum they have always followed. But you can tell when you walk into a classroom using Singapore math.

“On your mark … get set … THINK!”

First-grade teacher Arpie Liparian stands in front of her class with a stopwatch. The only sound is of pencils scratching paper as the students race through the daily “sprint,” a 60-second drill that is a key part of the Singapore system. The problems at this age are simple: 2+3, 3+4, 8+2. The idea, once commonplace in math classrooms, is to practice them until they become second nature.

Critics call this “drill and kill,” but Ramona’s math coach, Robin Ramos, calls it “drill and thrill.” The children act as though it’s a game. Not everyone finishes all 30 problems in 60 seconds, and only one girl gets all the answers right, but the students are bubbling with excitement. And Liparian praises every effort.

“Give yourselves a hand, boys and girls,” she says when all the drills have been corrected. “You did a wonderful job.”

Reinforcing patterns

What isn’t obvious to a casual observer is that this drill is carefully thought out to reinforce patterns of mathematical thinking that carry through the curriculum. “These are ‘procedures with connections,’ ” Ramos said, arranged to convey sometimes subtle points. This thoughtfulness – some say brilliance – is the true hallmark of the Singapore books, advocates say.

After 10 years of studying the Singapore curriculum, Yoram Sagher, a math professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said he still has “very pleasant surprises and realizations” while reading the books. Sagher, who helped train Ramos and the other teachers at Ramona, said he is constantly amazed by “the gentle, clever ways that the mathematics is brought to the intuition of the students.”

The books, with the no-nonsense title “Primary Mathematics,” are published for the U.S. market by a small company in Oregon, Marshall Cavendish International. They are slim volumes, weighing a fraction of a conventional American text. They have a spare, stripped-down look, and a given page contains no material that isn’t directly related to the lesson at hand.

Standing in an empty classroom one recent morning, Ramos flipped through two sets of texts: the Singapore books and those of a conventional math series published by Harcourt. She began with the first lesson in the first chapter of first grade.

In Harcourt Math, there was a picture of eight trees. There were two circles in the sky. The instructions told the students: “There are 2 birds in all.” There were no birds on the page.

The instructions directed the students to draw little yellow disks in the circles to represent the birds.

Ramos gave a look of exasperation. Without a visual representation of birds, she said, the math is confusing and overly abstract for a 5- or 6-year-old. “The math doesn’t jump out of the page here,” she said.

The Singapore first-grade text, by contrast, could hardly have been clearer. It began with a blank rectangle and the number and word for “zero.” Below that was a rectangle with a single robot in it, and the number and word for “one.” Then a rectangle with two dolls, and the number and word for “two,” and so on.

“This page is very pictorial, but it refers to something very concrete,” Ramos said. “Something they can understand.”

Next to the pictures were dots. Beginning with the number six (represented by six pineapples), the dots were arranged in two rows, so that six was presented as one row of five dots and a second row with one dot.

Day one, first grade: the beginnings of set theory.

“This concept, right at the beginning, is the foundation for very important mathematics,” Ramos said. As it progresses, the Singapore math builds on this, often in ways that are invisible to the children.

Word problems in the early grades are always solved the same way: Draw a picture representing the problem and its solution. Then express it with numbers, and finally write it in words. “The whole concept,” Ramos says, “is concrete to pictorial to abstract.”

Another hallmark of the Singapore books is that there is little repetition. Students are expected to attain mastery of a concept and move on. Each concept builds upon the next. As a result, the books cover far fewer topics in a given year than standard American texts.

Skilled at math

Singapore is a prosperous, multicultural, multilingual nation of 4.5 million people whose fourth- and eighth-grade students have never scored lower than No. 1 in a widely accepted comparison of global math skills, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. U.S. students score in the middle of the pack.

When the U.S. Department of Education commissioned a study in 2005 to find out why, it concluded, in part: “Singapore’s textbooks build deep understanding of mathematical concepts through multi-step problems and concrete illustrations that demonstrate how abstract mathematical concepts are used to solve problems from different perspectives.”

By contrast, the study said, “traditional U.S. textbooks rarely get beyond definitions and formulas, developing only students’ mechanical ability to apply mathematical concepts.”

Many eminent mathematicians agree. In fact, it is difficult to find a mathematician who likes the standard American texts or dislikes Singapore’s.

“The Singapore texts don’t make a huge deal about the concepts, but they present them in the correct and economical form,” said Roger Howe, a professor of mathematics at Yale University. “It provides the basis for a very orderly and systematic conceptual understanding of arithmetic and mathematics.”

The Singapore curriculum is not strikingly different from that used in many countries known for their math prowess, especially in Asia and Eastern Europe, math educators say. According to James Milgram, a math professor at Stanford who is one of the authors of California’s math standards, the Singapore system has its roots in math curricula developed in the former Soviet Union, whose success in math and science sent shivers through American policymakers during the Cold War.

The Soviets, Milgram said, brought together mathematicians and developmental psychologists to devise the best way to teach math to children. They did “exactly what I would have done had I been given free rein to design the math standards in California. They cut the thing down to its core.”

The Soviet curriculum was adopted by China in the mid-1950s, he said, and later made its way to Singapore, where it was rewritten and refined. The Singapore texts could easily be adapted for use in the United States because children there are taught in English.

“American textbooks are handicapped by many things,” said Hung-Hsi Wu, who has taught math at UC Berkeley for 42 years, “the most important of which is to regard mathematics as a collection of factoids to be memorized.”

One might think that school districts would be lining up to get their hands on the Singapore texts, but no one expects many to take the plunge this fall.

“Maybe in seven or eight years, but not yet,” said Wu. For now, he said he’d be surprised if the Singapore books claim 10% of the market.

In part, that may reflect the inherent conservatism of the education establishment, especially in large districts such as Los Angeles Unified, whose math curriculum specialists said in December, a month after the Singapore texts were adopted by the state, that they hadn’t even heard of them – or of the successful experiment taking place in one of their own schools.

But there is also an understandable reluctance to rush into a new curriculum before teachers are trained to use it. Complicating that, experts said, is that most American elementary school teachers – reflecting a generally math-phobic society – lack a strong foundation in the subject to begin with.

The Singapore curriculum “requires a considerable amount of math background on the part of the teachers who are teaching it,” said Milgram, “and in the elementary grades, most of our teachers aren’t capable of teaching it… . It isn’t that they can’t learn it; it’s just that they’ve never seen it.”

Training is key

Adding to the difficulty is that the Singapore texts are not as teacher-friendly as most American texts. “They don’t come with teachers editions, or two-page fold-outs with comments, or step-by-step instructions about how to give the lessons,” said Yale’s Howe. “Most U.S. elementary teachers don’t currently have that kind of understanding, so successful use of the Singapore books would require substantial professional development.”

Although some U.S. schools have had spectacular results using Singapore texts, others have fared less well. A study found that success in Montgomery County, Md., schools using the Singapore books was directly related to teacher training. At schools where teachers weren’t trained as well, student achievement declined.

Sagher, the Illinois professor, said that he would love to see Ramona Elementary become a training ground for L.A. Unified teachers and that Singapore math could radiate out from its Hollywood beachhead. Districtwide, only 43% of fifth-graders last year scored at grade level or above in math, 33 points below Ramona students. “If LAUSD is smart enough to do it, it will be a revolution,” he said."

Singapore is esaier to implement than any integrated math you'll ever do and you get results that add up. You'll go home feeling like kids learned something.

Anonymous said...

Now that's smart - did Washington do this?

It’s a question with potentially big implications, because California recently became the first state to include the Singapore series on its list of state-approved elementary math texts. Public schools aren’t required to use the books – there are a number of other, more conventional texts on the state list – but the state will subsidize the purchase if they do.

Anonymous said...

why not a petition to get the state to put singapore on its approved list of curriculum, so the state will help districts purchase the textbooks.

Anonymous said...

Singapore does not require a considerable amount of math background - its easier to implement than core plus. Trust me on that.

Anonymous said...

Executive Summary
Evaluation of the Singapore Math
Pilot Program:
Year 1 Report of Findings
Dr. Susan Gross
Suzanne Merchlinsky
Office of Shared Accountability
(May 2002)

Connected Math Disconnects Parents
By Timothy P. Williams

A group of parents concerned about changes in the middle school math curriculum has been slapped down repeatedly by the Plano Independent School District. In PISD, such antagonism toward parents is typical, but if a non-profit legal foundation from San Antonio has its say in the matter, PISD may finally have to acknowledge parents’ rights.

Over the past two years, Plano ISD has used a curriculum based on Dale Seymour Publications’ Connected Mathematics text books in several middle schools. Called a pilot program, this test has really run on auto-pilot, neither soliciting, nor welcoming, input from parents. At the March 16th meeting of the Board of Trustees public input on the text was allowed. Every parent with children in the program who spoke that night was strongly opposed to Connected Math. Even the district-appointed Blue Ribbon Committee failed to endorse the text. Trustees voted to adopt it anyway.

Connected Math is part of a nationwide fad sometimes called "Fuzzy Math," "Whole Math," or "New New Math." The approach relies on group work, calculators and "discovery learning" "It's an issue of a district purposely turning a deaf ear to hundreds of parents."
Tom Stack, Attorney
(read: teaching yourself). The text has been criticized by independent groups, such as California’s Mathematically Correct, and has been adopted by fewer than 4% of districts statewide. Connected Math’s increased calculator use is additionally troubling in light of SB103, recently signed into law by Gov. Bush, which prohibits calculator use on the TAAS.

Parents, having failed to stop the textbook’s adoption, turned their efforts to requesting an alternate class for families who would prefer traditional math. When district officials rebuffed these requests, they first took their case to a private attorney, then to the Education Committee of the Texas House of Representatives. There, the authors of Section 26.003 of the Texas Education Code, relating to parental rights, made clear that it was their belief the law would specifically require PISD to honor the parents’ request for an alternative course. Deputy Superintendent Keith Sockwell, making an impromptu appearance before the committee, was forced to concede the point. Upon his return to Plano, however, Sockwell reversed course, indicating in a letter to parents that no option would be offered, and "that decision is final."

The parents group, calling itself Math Choice, continued in its efforts, drafting a petition that was mailed to some 5,000 households in PISD. So far, over 500 families have signed and returned it, requesting traditional math in place of Connected Math.

In response, Superintendent Doug Otto spent $2,600 taxpayer dollars to send a letter to 10,000 households, reasserting PISD’s position that they have no obligation to offer another course. The response was effective, slowing the petition response to a trickle. There is some question whether this, and previous district actions designed to stifle parents’ opinions, constitute content-based discrimination, in violation of Federal laws.

Now, the Texas Justice Foundation, a non-profit legal foundation based in San Antonio, has taken notice. TJF attorney Thomas Stack, who presented the 500 petitions at the June 15th board meeting, seems confident that the parents are on solid ground.

"I think the issue facing the district has changed," says Stack, "From a question of the curriculum complying with TEKS, to a question of parental rights to direct the education of their children, a recognized and firm right. It's an issue of a district purposely turning a deaf ear to hundreds of parents."

Anonymous said...

Its sort of amusing that its faculty from the ed department writing math standards for Washington state and not math faculty. This could be one reason for the slanted bias favoring statistics and avoiding traditional engineering topics, like trigonomety.

Here is a letter from Warfield's organization - WaToToM (washington teachers of teachers of mathematics) to the Professional Standards Board offering to volunteer its services for writing new questions to replace the Praxis?

October 1, 2005

Jennifer Wallace

Washington State Professional Educator Standards Board

Old Capitol Building

Dear Ms. Wallace,

I am writing to express a firm stance of the Washington Teachers of Teachers of Mathematics (WaToToM) about the testing of future teachers. WaToToM is a group of people with a professional focus on the teaching of K-12 mathematics teachers. It includes faculty members of universities, four-year colleges and community colleges throughout the state, some people in state and local school administration and some in-service teachers who help us stay connected with the K-12 system. As we understand it, the current screening mechanism is the set of West-B and Praxis tests whose description is linked to the OSPI web page. When we examined the tests, they seemed to us extremely inappropriate.

The state of Washington has been moving forward in an impressive way with its educational standards. The EALRs were written well and thoughtfully, and the GLEs that further define them are also sound. What distinguishes us from most other states, though, is that we have a testing system that supports both of them. The WASLs were put together with great care by experts, with feedback from many people who are involved and passionately interested. They are designed so that in order to "teach to the test", teachers need to provide their students with exactly the kind of conceptual understanding and skill in reasoning and communication that the EALRs and GLEs emphasize.

To provide that understanding and those skills, teachers need a profound understanding of mathematics at the level they are teaching and enough confidence and competence to be able to support their students' intellectual growth. Those are heavy demands to put on teachers, but absolutely essential if we are to make the progress we so much desire. Since this analysis of what teachers need is relatively new, assessing whether they have acquired it is hard – not much material is yet available. On the other hand, using a test whose emphasis is directly contrary to what we are aiming for is as disastrous at the teacher level as it is at the student level. The Praxis exams, especially the ones at the elementary level, are very closely equivalent to the tests of basic skills that we finally got rid of for our K-12 students, and convey just the message that they did: what matters is skill at procedures, not understanding of them or anything else. We can't afford to undermine our own efforts by conveying that message.

As I said before, WaToToM as an organization has taken a firm stand on this issue. In support of this stand, many individuals in WaToToM feel sufficiently strongly to be willing to offer our time and experience to help seek out other existing options (there are at least a few). We would also be willing if necessary to help develop them further. If there is any help that we can provide that will support your efforts in this direction, a message to me will result in immediate notification of everyone in the group. We very much hope that you will involve us as you make the decision of how to test Washington's teachers.
Yours truly,

Virginia M. Warfield
Department of Mathematics

Ginger use the tab key. It'll save time.

Lets not forget that Ginger was one of the co PI's in the original systemic change grant back in 1999? I'm getting in old.

Here's an abstract.
My recollection is Viriginia Stimpson and James Minstrell taught together at Mercer Island School District and Jim now is working with the WWU staff.

Local Systemic Change Grants

Creating a Community of Mathematics Learners

Principal Investigator: Ramesh GangolliInstitution: University of Washington., C/o Rosemary Sheffield, 5001 25th Ave. NE, Box 354221, Seattle, WA 98195-4190Phone: (206) 685-6405Email: rsheffield@ese.washington.eduCo-Principal Investigators: Jack Beal, Virginia Stimpson and Virginia Warfield
Building on a prior-planning grant, this five-year project aims at systemic and lasting change in the way in which mathematics is taught in middle and high schools in six school districts in and around Seattle, Washington. It is based on the belief that creating a community of learners which supports ongoing exploration and improvement is critical to meeting the challenge of providing quality mathematics program for all students. This project involves all 595 middle and high school teachers of mathematics in the six targeted districts.
The project's three major goals are: (1) to provide all middle and high school teachers with at least 132 hours of professional development designed to deepen their knowledge of the mathematics they teach, as well as to increase their understanding and appreciation of successful models of pedagogy, exemplary instructional materials, successful uses of technology, and various issues of assessment; (2) to set up a continuing culture of dialogue and discussion between mathematics educators at all levels (K-16) in the region, aimed at improving the learning environment in each school, with the mathematics teachers in each school acting as the team that spearheads change; (3) to inform parents and the community at large about the goals and methods of standards-based mathematics education, and help them to become effective partners in the enterprise of ensuring excellence in mathematics education. This collaborative project is a partnership between the Department of Mathematics and the College of Education at the University of Washington, and the Bellevue, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Northshore, Seattle, and Shoreline School Districts.
The 310 middle school teachers and 285 high school teachers participating in the project engage in academic year workshops and discussion sessions, summer institutes, informal working sessions, optional workshops for special purposes (e.g., Internet sessions), and parent and community outreach meetings. A continuing electronic user group is an important strategic component of the project.
Impact: 6 districts; 55 schools; 595 teachers; 110,000 students.NSF Support: $2,677,152; Cost-Share: $407,513.

Kim Vincent at WSU runs a Quantitative Literacy Program - also there is Project Prism.

So one could safely conclude that Washington's Math Standards, in fact every facet of mathematics education was at least for the 'everybody else' track being created by the education departments in Washington State (supported by NSF grants) and their ideas draw heavily upon the Quantitative Literacy Movement and their source document by the way are the Achieve Standards (Lynn Steen).

This standard if you remember was the one created in partnership with Boeing and Bellevue School District (Everyday, Connected, Core Plus) for a fabulous amount of money of which I'm not sure if we ever did see the final result. does anyone have a copy - I've only seen what I think is a draft.

Anonymous said...

Patricia Wasley at the UW by the way is trying to clean up their act and added a 'Research that matters' section to their website. Its joyful reading for parents and teachers frustrated by the quality of the mathematics education they're receiving.

I found Wasley was involved early in the process of 'whole-school' change movement. Quite a ride, yes indeed!

The puzzle of whole-school change.

by Patricia Wasley , Robert Hampel , Richard Clark

The authors' study of five high schools, each with different demographics but all members of the Coalition of Essential Schools and involved in reform for at least seven years, yielded a number of clues that might help solve a central puzzle of school reform: Is it possible for an entire school to move forward together to make changes that will positively affect students?

During the past decade, many secondary schools have redesigned their practices in hopes that the changes would better serve students. One of the central difficulties discovered early in research on schools involved in the processes of reform was that, while it was easy to get small groups of teachers to work on reform, it was much more difficult to gain agreement from a school's entire faculty.(1) High school staffs - larger than elementary school staffs, trained as subject-area specialists, wedded to curriculum coverage, and affiliated with departments - found it difficult to agree that change was necessary and what changes, if any, warranted collective effort.

Members of the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES), a partnership of some 900 member schools and a small staff at Brown University, learned early on that divisiveness among faculty members about whether and what to change could defeat the best efforts of those interested in significant school improvement. The answer to the question of whether entire secondary faculties can make significant changes in an effort to increase student achievement still remains one of the central mysteries of school reform.

To explore that question, we studied five schools that had been members of the CES for three years. We followed students, teachers, parents, and administrators in an effort to determine whether they were able to move toward whole-school change and, if so, what strategies supported their ability to involve all parties.(2) We also wanted to determine how the changes adults make in CES schools affect the educational experiences of students.(3) We are currently at work on a book that addresses the second question, and so...

Anonymous said...

think of it this way. the NCTM focal points are not there because the panel bias favors quantitative literacy (QL). The members of the QL faction are provided with the teacher training grants (notably UW and WSU math ed departments) and they are using the Achieve standards as a template in order to align the document to fit the 'exemplary' curriculum. You know I have a suspicion that Bellingham School District is using Romberg's Math in Context but I haven't verified that. That would explain a few things.

Washington needs to decide if math education departments should be making public education policy. The lack of other input from parents, teachers, business in the community is telling.

Washington (like california) should adopt Singapore k-12, so the materials can be purchased with state funds.

The Achieve Standards should be rejected since it reflects a movement in math education that does not represent the majority of stake holders.

Engineers are the largest profession in the world; not statisticians. I would much rather see students learning trigonometry than statistics in high school.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if you saw this, these are minutes to the meeting we're talking about (the one that was cancelled) but it explains quite a bit about the underlying motives and rationale. I found it sort of amusing and transparent how 'high officials' take control of board meetings to push through an agenda.

Washington State Board of Education
Regular Meeting
Highline Community College
November 1, 2007
Members Present: Dr. Sheila Fox, Dr. Steve Dal Porto, Ms. Lorilyn Roller, Dr. Bernal Baca, Chair
Mary Jean Ryan, Mr. Jack Schuster, Dr. Kris Mayer, Ms. Linda Lamb, Mr. Jeff
Vincent, Ms. Phyllis Bunker Frank (10)
Members Absent: Mr. Steve Floyd (excused), Vice Chair Warren Smith (excused), Dr. Terry
Bergeson (excused) (3)
Staff Present: Ms. Edie Harding, Dr. Evelyn Hawkins, Dr. Kathe Taylor,
Ms. Loy McColm, Ms. Ashley Harris, Mr. Brad Burnham,
Ms. Colleen Warren (7)
The meeting was called to order at 9:16 a.m. by Chair Ryan.
Vice Chair Warren Smith was recently appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board by the
U.S. Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings. Mr. Smith was one of five new members appointed from
across the nation to join the 16 member governing board that assesses national progress in student
OSPI Update on Math Standards Revision
Dr. George Bright, Curriculum Specialist for K-12 Mathematics, OSPI
Ms. Jessica Vavrus, Teaching and Learning Administrator, OSPI
The Board has retained the services of Strategic Teaching to continue work with the Board and the Math
Panel to review the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction standards rewrite, which is due to
the legislature January 31, 2008. The Math Panel will review the work with Ms. Plattner and give
feedback to the team preparing the rewrite. The Panel met October 17th and will meet again on December
13th. A look at curricular menus is due from OSPI on May 15th and the Board will provide feedback to
OSPI at the end of June 2008. Outreach meetings are underway throughout the state regarding the third
credit of math. Information about these meetings can be obtained on the SBE Website. Ms. Harding
asked the Board to talk about the December 1, 2007 deadline and decide if that is still a realistic date
since we need to see the rewrite from OSPI first.
Ms. Vavrus explained the contractor selection process and reported that The Dana A. Center for
Mathematics and Science Education was selected for the project. The Dana Center, with Dr. Cathy
Seeley leading the team, will manage and facilitate the standards and revision process to assure fidelity
and alignment with the Board review and recommendations. The Center will also develop comprehensive
drafts of the revised standards by compiling the work of OSPI’s Standards Revision Team and the
Editorial and Articulation Team.
􀀹 Is there a parent on the teams?
The PTSA has a math stakeholder group of parents that will be looking at the draft.
􀀹 Who is responsible for communicating with school districts?
The districts have been told the timeline and OSPI will be sending out communication to the
districts on further timelines.
􀀹 When should new curriculum materials be selected?
May 15, 2008 will be the date for submission to the Board and criteria will be decided in the
SBE Review of Math Credit Content
Mr. Steve Floyd, Board Lead
Ms. Linda Plattner, Strategic Teaching (via phone)
The legislature has asked the Board to adopt a third credit of math. They want to be sure there are ways
to “cross credit” career and technical education courses with math content that could count as a math
credit. They have also asked that the Board outline the core concepts needed for high school courses
such as Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II.
Currently, the Board requires that the two high school math credits align with 9th and 10th grade level
expectations. As part of the pending adoption the Board needs to decide whether the third credit of math
must align with 11th and/or 12th grade level expectations and whether it wants to require math in the
senior year. Employers are looking for higher skilled, better trained, and educated workers. Dr. Kathe
Taylor is working with Board members to revise the other graduation requirements.
The Board has directed Ms. Plattner and her team to define content in Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra
II, along with Integrated Math I, II, and III. The draft was due to the Board by the end of October and
public feedback will occur in the fall with a final report due to the Board in early December.
Dr. Cathy Seeley gave an overview of Texas requirements saying that there is a strong push from the
business community to require four credits of math for a high school diploma. They want students not
only to take the courses but understand the content. She said that good math will not drive students out of
school. The problem is math that is not relevant and repeated each year. Texas is a textbook adoption
state. An endowment fund pays for students’ textbooks.
Charter Proposals
Dr. Kathe Taylor, Policy Director
Ms. Edie Harding, Executive Director
Strategies for chartering current projects and committees were discussed at the August Retreat and the
results are as follows:
1. System Performance Accountability
The project purpose is to develop a statewide accountability system with state and local policy
makers, educators, parents, and citizens working together to ensure no student falls through the
cracks and that no school fails its students. The three draft concepts for the scope of work
include: performance improvement goals and indicators to measure system progress; a tiered
system of continuous improvement for all schools; and targeted strategies for chronically
underperforming schools. Consultant studies and video of student voices will help the Board to
make the case for the importance of this work.
2. Meaningful High School Diploma Charter
The project purpose is to review current Board mandated high school graduation requirements in
order to assess what changes may be needed to provide all students the opportunity to succeed,
as well as review the external tasks the Board has received from the legislature. The draft
concepts include: purpose of a diploma, one diploma for all, and proposed guiding principles.
3. End-of-Course Assessment Study
The project purpose is to conduct the study requested by the Governor and legislature from the
2007 legislative session on the research questions, which include: 1) What are the strengths and
weaknesses of Washington moving in the direction of EOCs, which could be used in conjunction
with the WASL or in place of the WASL at the high school level and, 2) What role do norm
referenced tests have as alternative tests for graduation? Under the scope of work, the contractor
will examine the following major areas of the end-of-course assessment study:
􀀀 Review of primary and secondary literature on EOCs and high school assessment systems
and documentation of what states are using EOCs and norm referenced tests currently;
􀀀 In-depth case studies of states with extensive experience implementing EOCs; and
􀀀 Policy implications for Washington’s high school assessment system based on lessons
learned from states with EOCs.
4. Science Standards
The project purpose is to review K-10 science standards and provide feedback on the Office of
Superintendent of Public Instruction’s recommended science curricula. The scope of work will
􀀀 Review of science standards by June 30, 2008;
􀀀 Official comment and recommendations on science curricula proposed by OSPI; and
􀀀 Facilitation of a science advisory panel to provide review and formal comment on proposed
recommendations for revised science standards and proposed curricula.
􀀹 Who is the audience for the case study and video?
It will be used as a communication tool with outside stakeholders, particularly at public outreach
session in the spring.
􀀹 Will the Board be looking at a list of Washington schools that are underperforming?
There is still a lot of work that needs to be done before a list will be available. More discussion
needs to occur regarding the list and what further data we need.
Board Work Plan
Ms. Edie Harding, Executive Director
The main focus of the Work Plan for 2007-08 will be to continue with the meaningful high school diploma
and system performance accountability work. Work sessions will be set in place to allow Board members
and interested public to attend, along with outreach meetings statewide. It was also recommended that a
symposium be planned with experts on underperforming schools. Ms. Harding gave an outline of the
Work Plan and Budget and asked that both be approved as presented to carry out the projects set forth in
the Plan.
2007 WASL and No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Update
Ms. Gayle Pauley, Director of Special Programs, Title I/LAP & Title V, OSPI
Dr. Evelyn Hawkins, Research Associate
A memo was presented to the Board regarding the recently released information on the results of the
spring 2007 WASL testing. It included information on how students performed in the different grades and
content areas, and the progress of students in the classes of 2008 and 2009 on meeting the WASL,
Certificate of Academic Achievement, Certificate of Individual Achievement, and high school diploma
requirements. The memo also provided preliminary information on how Washington schools and school
districts performed in meeting the state’s NCLB annual yearly progress targets (AYP). The report
presented by Ms. Pauley included: 1) review of AYP basics; 2) 2007 accountability workbook; 3) AYP
calculations 2007; 4) AYP results; and 5) reauthorization. The Board asked for additional information on
the number of schools that did not make AYP in 2007, reasons why schools did not make AYP and what
we can do with those not required to participate in NCLB if they do not receive Title 1 funds.
Collection of Evidence: What is Working?
Dr. Lesley Klenk, Administrator, Assessment Alternatives & Innovations, OSPI
The Collection of Evidence (COE) is an alternative option to meeting proficiency on the state standards
and earning a Certificate of Academic Achievement. Students must take the WASL before accessing the
COE. The student must demonstrate the same or higher level of skill necessary to pass the WASL in the
designated content area. Dr. Klenk explained the characteristics of the COE as follows:
• Contains examples of student work that show accurate demonstrations of student performance;
• Can be collected over time;
• Can include teacher assistance;
• Allows opportunities for students to review, revise, and select their best work; and
• Can be geared towards a student’s particular interests, cultural background, and/or specific academic or technical area of focus. Steps in the COE process include:
• Student and teacher identify appropriate tasks;
• Student completes specific tasks and adds to collection;
• Teacher monitors student work;
• Teacher/counselor and student review work;
• When assignment is complete both teacher and student sign off;
• The work sample is added to the student collection; and
• When the collection is complete and has been reviewed for sufficiency, the collection is signed by the principal and sent to the district. Of 1800 students registered for math COE, 727 were received, 718 qualified for consideration and 332
met standard (including 52 of 62 English Language Learner (ELL) students from one district alone). Of 250 students registered for writing COE, 31 were received and qualified for consideration, and 332 met standard. Of 237 students registered for reading COE, 18 were received and qualified for consideration, and 15 met standard.
Proposal for Cut Scores for SAT and ACT as Alternative to WASL
Dr. Joe Willhoft, Assistant Superintendent, Assessment and Student Information, OSPI
The legislature has approved a number of alternatives to the WASL that students can use to meet the
state’s assessment graduation requirements, which are referred to as CAA Options. These options
include: the Collection of Evidence, the WASL/GPA Cohort, a score of three or higher on selected
Advanced Placement exams, and adequate scores on SAT, PSAT, and ACT math exams. During the
2007 legislative session the options were expanded to include scores on SAT and ACT for reading and
writing exams, with the direction that the Board set cut scores on those exams by December 1, 2007. The
analysis will identify the score on the SAT or ACT that represents the same, or higher, level of rigor as
required by the WASL.
A recommendation to the Board was brought forward to adopt the cut scores for SAT-Reading at 350,
SAT-Writing at 380, and ACT-Reading at 13, that result from the analysis that will be completed by OSPI.
The ACT writing score was not yet available because OSPI is waiting for the SAT/ACT concordance
Trends in Teacher Retention and Mobility in Selected Washington Middle and High Schools
Dr. Ana Elfers, University of Washington
Dr. Marge Plecki, University of Washington
Research has shown that teacher resources in terms of teaching quality and qualifications are often
unevenly distributed among schools and districts. The argument made is that more economically
disadvantaged students or more students from racial and ethnic backgrounds are not given their share of
the best teachers, which has surfaced during the Board’s System Performance Accountability work.
The Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession was selected to do a study of teacher resource
distribution in a select group of middle and high schools. The findings included: 1) a high degree of
mobility among middle school teachers with significantly more experience among high school teachers; 2)
greater differences among schools within a district than across districts in teacher mobility rates and
percent of teachers with less than five years of teaching experience; and 3) relationships between teacher
mobility and student and teacher characteristics.
In conducting the study, the researchers noted important factors that influence teacher retention and
mobility that are not readily available for analyses, such as school climate, school leadership, parental
involvement, and teacher assignment and transfer policies. Information is also lacking regarding teacher
certification, endorsements, and assignments, which limits the ability to understand completely the impact of teacher resources on student learning. There is not data available on those who leave or exit our state teaching pool; where or why; or, what subject matter. Nor is there data on movement within a school; changes in assignment or subject matter

Anonymous said...

I went to my daughter's 8th grade moving up ceremony - she took 2 classes of math for two years (connectd math and cognitive tutor). I didn't choose the school for its academics - its a small community and about 50% Hispanic. The kids and staff are overall terrific. Also, I like the Principal, he is young and charismatic.

Foremost, this is a school that is devoted to athletics, but its not geared for academics.

Nearly all of the kids will be taking Bridge to Algebra class in ninth grade. This means they will be taking Algebra 2 (Achieve standards) as seniors. Farewell Washington.

My daughter, like my son, will go elsewehere.

Anonymous said...

The math ed departments really doesn't understand the traditional high school curriculum, especially methodology. How could they, if they've never taught it. The first chapter of Intermediate Algebra (as opposed to Authentic Algebra), students review the six methods of solving a system of equations. All of the approaches are standard methods. There are (I recollect) at least 10 methods for solving a system of equations taught in this class. None of this came up during the meeting on Thursdays. What I reacall was statistics and an interesting conversation relating to the binomial theorem since it has applications in both algebra and statistics.

The harm to math education is not the content of QL, but rather what gets omitted from teaching. Solving systems of equations, regardless whether its linear or non-linear functions.

College Preparatory Math very much gets students to that point where they are prepared for calculas. They begin solving systems involving exponential functions in the 8th grade (course 1) - the panel seemed to not have that awareness during the meeting.

There is a structure in traditional mathematics that gets students prepared for college, it is very much similiar to the approach taken by Singapore. The difference is that researchers discovered later that children could be taught algebra at an earlier age (better cognitive models of instruction - its reasonable to conclude that we could create better curriculum, educate better teachers so that if we made textbooks at the approapriate reading level we could have younger students.

Yet the very arguments we made for this curriculum were used by an opposing group of math reformers, which I call the QL movement to push through the integrated textbooks.

Constructivism has absolutely no relevance to integrated math. It applies no different to traditional math.

In math education it means simply that children who can't read, can still participate in activities that promote thinking. Teachers are overly concerned by pencils and papers and when you think about so do professors because they have to justify they're own research so they 'assess' learning.

'Red's my favorite color' - gives cholic to a researcher, since there is no standard for that answer (so it gets omitted). I think it needs to be accounted for.

Anonymous said...

This math reform movement is confusing the emotion of people with its own cutting agression.

Anonymous said...

Part of what you could prove are that OSPI slanted the committee in favor of the Achieve standards (Marc Tucker and the Business Roundtable) which is biased toward reform math (QL literacy v. World standards). The reason for the bias is the substantial profits that can be made by adopting substandard curriculums, but entails students taking more math at their own expense. OSPI and the reformers never deliver what they promise to taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

The Denver situation is much worse than that letter addressed to Mayors Webb and Pena from Superintendent Bennet. As the letter suggests enrollment dropped at Manual by over half. District wide it was an exodus. Moreover, it would be wiser to keep track of the graduation rate of disadvantaged students (those qualiifying for title I ) obviously it will be lower. For Hispanics its only about a 45% graduation rate in Colorado and this population constitutes the highest percentage of students overall.

Here's the problem - will the state ever admit that its the curriculum? You see that's the crux of the whole issue. In 2006, denver laid off 430 teachers.

Recently, in detroit public school enrollment dropped below 100,000 students. 50,000 students enrolled in charter schools. The effect of the lower enrollment will be a collapse of the public school system altogether.

Gov. Ted Strickland called Ohio's schools superintendent "one of our nation's premier education leaders" as she annouced her resignation about two months after he criticized her as being neither a leader, an advocate nor a good manger.

Here's Milwaukee's next year numbers declined almost 5% as parents enrolled students in charters.

Milwaukee Public Schools is expected to shrink another 4.7% by September, Superintendent William Andrekopoulos said Monday as he released a $1.2 billion budget proposal for the coming school year.

That means the number of students in the main roster of MPS schools - elementary, middle and high schools staffed by teachers employed by MPS - will be 20% smaller than it was 10 years earlier and will be below 80,000 for the first time in decades. Half of that decline of more than 19,000 students will have come between fall 2005 and fall 2008, if the forecast is correct.

At the same time, participation in the private school voucher program may exceed 20,000 next year, MPS officials projected. That compares to about 6,000 students 10 years ago.

Evidence of resegregation in Denver Public Schools (2006)

Segregation by Language: Isolation of English Language Learners
Increasingly, students are not only isolated by race but by language as well. Nationally, the average Latino English Language Learner attends a school where over three-fifths of the students are Latino.14 In the Denver Public Schools, Latino students in general and Latino English Language Learners in particular are especially isolated compared to other English Language Speakers (Table 7). The average Latino ELL student attends a school that is 73 percent Latino compared to the exposure of the average English Language Speaker to Latino students (57%). Asian ELL students also attend schools with large percentages of Latino students; the average Asian ELL student attends a school where more than half (52%) of the students are Latino. In short, Latino English Language Learners in Denver are more isolated with other Latino students than the national average.
(chungmei lee, 2006)

In northwest Denver, many schools are half empty. Young professionals without kids and affluent families with preschoolers are gentrifying the area and aren't yet adding to public school enrollment. At the same time, the blue-collar Hispanic families living there are taking greater advantage of school choice for their children.
North High School and the three middle schools feeding into it are less than 60 percent full. One of the three — Horace Mann — is only 34 percent full.

School choice is not only draining students from DPS, it is redistributing them within the district. About 40 percent now skip their neighborhood schools in favor of other options, from dual-language programs to performing arts magnets to back-to-basics charter schools.

Anonymous said...

By the sheer weight of evidence I can identify all sorts of trends from this data.

The politization of public school systems that results in resegregation and declining enrollments is turning education upside down. Seattle is certainly headed in the direction of Denver.

Singapore would be a vast improvement in curriculum and stop the trend.

Anonymous said...

Twenty-six percent of Anglo children in Denver go to private schools, and middle-income black families are the least likely to attend their neighborhood schools, the analysis found.

"We don't want 100 percent of the Anglo community checking out altogether. Then we are in a death spiral," said DPS Superintendent Michael Bennet. "We want middle-class African-Americans just as much. We want everyone."

Death spiral isn't exactly a hopeful thought coming from a superintendent. I wonder when they will start thinking about curriculum? My guess Bennet might be a history major, so little good that might do.

Anonymous said...

This is quite a good history of denver that matches identical with Seattle and San Diego.

Emerging federal policies and a political shift during the early 1980s chipped away much
of the civil rights foundation upon which Keyes rested. President Reagan’s first term in
office brought sweeping changes by calling for less federal action in civil rights cases,
strongly opposing court-ordered busing, and arguing for decision makers to be colorblind
in their approaches to race related issues. In particular, the foundation of the Keyes
decision was rejected when Assistant Attorney General for civil rights said, “the Justice
Department would no longer seek to desegregate an entire school district on the basis of
segregation found to exist in just part of it” (Pear, 1981). In 1987, the District Judge in
Denver made the desegregation orders less stringent, but refused to completely remove
them (Stevens, 1992).
By early 1992, DPS sought a release from the court-mandated busing; the school district
filed a motion to end all busing in the district (Stevens, 1992). In September 1995, Judge
Matsch, who had presided over the court order, lifted the busing mandate and eliminated
racial integration as a decisive factor in determining school boundaries. In response, the
School Board voted for a return to neighborhood schools, a policy that would send
students to the school nearest their home (Weberrocky, 1996).

Anonymous said...

From the same report

First, there is evidence of
much more segregation (as measured by percent White enrollment) in 1998 than in 1994,
as indicated by the “clumping” of schools in Figure 5 in the zero to 20 percent White
enrollment band relative to the more dispersed spread of schools across a wider range of
White enrollment in Figure 4. In fact, in 1994, there were virtually no elementary schools
with fewer than 10 percent Whites enrolled; by 1998, that proportion had jumped to onethird
of all elementary schools. Given that the reversal of Keyes shifted DPS back to a
neighborhood-based school assignment plan and Denver displays significant residential
segregation patterns, this is not surprising. Further, there is a substantially stronger
association between White enrollment and average math test scores in 1998 than there is
in 1994. Thus, just three years after the end of court-ordered school desegregation, we see
that the variation in aggregate school test scores is more strongly correlated with the
presence of White students in the school than merely four years earlier

Anonymous said...

(The strongest evidence linking literacy and textbooks I can find is probably the Denver area, since the impact on Hispanics and Blacks has been devastating.

this site has quite a bit of info, but here's an example)

Denver Public Schools ESL Administrators Bungle Adoption Process
Posted by Mark Montgomery on August 20th 2006 to Education Trends, Textbook Evaluations, ESL/ELA

Denver Public Schools, in its attempt to boost performance of its English language learners, has decided to spend a bunch more money on textbooks. I wrote here about how DPS had decided to adopt Pearson’s “Shining Star” series as its’ ESL “curriculum.”

A little bird told me the story behind the news. Apparently district administrators were keen to purchase a different series, called Highpoint from Hampton-Brown. The district had already invested untold thousands of dollars in this Highpoint series over the past few years, so administrators (being a frugal lot) felt that this would be the best way to make their textbook adoption money go further–just buy more of the books they already have. And DPS middle and high schools do already have many copies of the Highpoint series, but not enough to go around. So for the past several years, some teachers were able to use the Highpoint series (if they wanted to), and the rest were relying on whatever older, tattier books they have on their shelves or whatever they can beg, borrow, or steal from elsewhere. So from a practical, budgetary viewpoint, the administrators’ plans seem reasonable.

Except for one thing. My sources tell me most teachers in DPS seem to dislike the Highpoint series. Some hate the series. Intensely. And those who hate them do not use them. Instead, they use the tatty books describe above, or they invent their own units.

Apparently unaware of the strong feelings some have about the Highpoint series, district ELA administrators sallied forth into the textbook evaluation process, hoping that their wisdom would carry the day. They pulled together a panel of teachers from around the district, who spent the summer reading books, filling out check boxes, and finally gathering to vote on which to adopt for the district.
The vote was a tie. Half fell in behind the district, half wanted the Pearson book. Stalemate. What to do? Finally one teacher got up enough gumption to say to the Highpoit partisans, “Look. I know you all want the Highpoint series. But think about it. We’ve got this book in our classrooms now. We don’t use it. We all hate it. We have had no success with it. I don’t understand why we should continue to buy to a series that isn’t working.”

With that, one other committee member changed her vote, and Pearson became the “curriculum” for middle and high school ESL in a district of 60,000 students.

Now, who is happy about this outcome (besides the sales representative from Pearson)? Certainly not district ELA adminstrators, who feel undercut by a maverick teacher who simply could not keep her mouth shut. How about the people how voted for Highpoint? If they really like that series, do you think they will use the new Pearson book? Unlikely, because the administrators will not go around to the schools and remove the series from the classrooms (heck, the administrators wanted to stick with the Highpoint books…they might be happy to be proven “right”). How about the teachers who voted for the Pearson series? Well, they may be happier, but they may not get the support they need to implement the new series, because the administrators are put out that their plans were foiled.

And what about the district students who are struggling to learn English? I’d like to know how they were taken into account in this process. I’d love to see the rubric or matrix that was used to evaluate the two programs. Did the panel of teacher/evaluators discuss how people learn languages? Did they discuss the ways in which the new textbook series would become the de facto curriculum in the district?

Well, whatever happened, the process itself could have been more thorough and the committee less divided in its recommendations. If the district administrators had developed a process and a set of priorities that reflected district goals, their own understanding of the needs of the kids and teachers in their district, and really spent the time and energy unpacking the different instructional designs of the various textbook series, they may have been able to get a clearer outcome…one that the overwhelming majority of evaluators agreed would be the best for the district. This is how we do our reviews of instructional materials at EdVantage Consulting, and in every case, the teachers we work with come to a consensus about what to adopt.

I heard more about how DPS is planning to implement this Pearson series. More on that in another post.

Anonymous said...

John Adams wrote about the achievement gap

"Before any great things can be accomplished, a memorable change must be made in the system of education and knowledge must become so general as to raise the lower ranks of society nearer to the higher. The education of a nation instead of being confined to a few schools and universities for the instruction of the few, ust become the national care and expense for the formation of the many."

Anonymous said...

This is some excellent commentary

Fun and Games with Everyday Math
Posted by Mark Montgomery on December 07th 2006 to Education Trends, Textbook Evaluations, Math Education
My son is learning his math from the 4th grade version of Everyday Math. I have written about Everyday Math here. In some sense, the program is okay but not great, and fortunately my son’s teacher has begun supplementing the book with reinforcements of basic math facts and operations.

But sometimes the homework assigned (copied right out of the book and handed to the kids) is downright silly, and the fun and games are devised with no clue about what 8 and 9 year-olds know about the world.

Example #1: In an exercise to practice converting fractions to decimals, kids were asked to do a matching game, so that answers were associated with letters, which then spelled out the answer to a riddle. The riddle: “What is the name of a frog who is also a famous comedian?” Answer: “Bob Hop”.

Tell me, please, what 9 year-old so you know who has ANY familiarity with Bob Hope? Clearly the person who came up with this riddle was a retired teacher with a penchant for stupid gags. Today’s kids are raised on Bart Simpson, South Park, and Captain Underpants. It took me forever to explain who Bob Hope is (or was) and even then, my son just stared at me with an expression that read, “yeah, dad, gosh, you really ARE old…”.

Example #2: Again, in a lesson about decimals, kids were given statements about certain ideas, and then given the “answer” to the statement or or a number associated with the statement that was missing a decimal point. For example, to send a one-ounce letter via air mail in the US costs. $33 (insert a decimal point to make it read $0.33). But do all kids know how much a letter costs to mail? Mine did not. Nor did he know that a marathon races was about 42 kilometers, or that a plane travels at 500 miles an hour. My kid understood the math, but he didn’t understand the adult-oriented referents that would have made this exercise more useful.

Why is this important? Well, first off, it show us that Everyday Math, with all its emphasis on “real world” applications of mathematical principles, falls down sometimes because the problems or games may refer to the adult world more than the world young children inhabit. If you’re going to make it interesting, you have to use examples that kids will understand.

Second, it demonstrates that teachers blindly use textbook exercises in their classrooms. Their assumption is, “well, it’s in the textbook, so it must be good enough.” They do not spend the time, nor do they have the expertise, to vet every problem, every assignment, every example to ascertain whether it will really work for their kids. Sometimes the teacher doesn’t even read the homework carefully before assigning it. It’s not that the teacher are stupid or ignorant: they simply do not have the time (example: name a teacher you know who uses his or her “planning period” for actual instructional planning).

Despite what instructional leaders may tell you (or me) about how their teachers are encouraged to get away from the textbook, to use their professional judgment, to “use assessments to inform instruction,” the FACT is that most teachers, even in the very best schools, blindly use textbooks as the curriculum, as the main instructional resource, and as the primary source of classroom exercises and homework.

So, once again, my question is: why don’t we spend more time and energy vetting the textbooks our schools buy–at enormous expense? Is it because we believe that they’re all horrible, so what does it matter? Or do we trust the “brand names” like Pearson and McGraw-Hill to deliver the best possible quality? Or do we really believe our own baloney that teachers are smart enough and have the time enough to create their own materials?

Fact: teachers use textbooks religiously. No matter what they tell you. No matter what their supervisors tell you. Parents know. Kids know. Textbooks are the curriculum.

Anonymous said...

Textbooks as Test Prep
Textbook company Harcourt Brace was exposed in 1999 for using its position as the creator of Texas’s standardized tests to push its math books. Fliers circulated by the company read in part: "Why choose Harcourt Brace for your math program? . . . [It is the] only program to have tests written by the same company that helps to write the TAAS [Texas Assessment of Academic Skills] tests and actually wrote the Parents’ Study Guide for TAAS: Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement." Through its lobbyist at the Texas State Legislature, which was considering banning textbooks published by companies that write the tests, the company denied any collusion, saying that a separate and distinct branch of the company produces the test and calling the person who wrote the flier an "idiot." With the help of such "idiots," Harcourt Brace had sold Texas $25 million of its K—8 math texts the previous school year.

This book and others like it were a direct assault on progressive education. Verne Kaub was also the author of Satan Goes to School, and the Yale Whitewash.

Anonymous said...

Gerald W. Bracey is an independent researcher and writer and author of The War Against America's Public Schools (Allyn & Bacon, 2002).

The No Child Left Behind Act is a trap. Its purpose is to ensnare public schools and kill them. Then the vultures who want to privatize the schools will swoop in and pick the bones. Hyperbole? I don't think so. An administration that is de-regulating every pollution producing industry in sight has hypocritically imposed straitjacket requirements on schools that would bankrupt any business. Why? Recall that Bush's original proposal provided vouchers to let children attend private schools at taxpayer expense.