Thursday, June 26, 2008

Math Panel Meeting June 12, 2008

Math Panel Meeting
June 12, 2008
Puget Sound ESD, Renton
Members Present: Bob Brandt, Jane Broom, Dr. Helen Burn, Dr. Christopher Carlson, Timothy Christensen, Bob Dean, Danaher Dempsey, Dr. Elham Kazemi, Linh-Co Nguyen, Dr. Larry Nyland, Amanda Shearer-Hannah, Dr. Kimberly Vincent
Board Members: Steve Floyd, Dr. Terry Bergeson, Bunker Frank, Linda Lamb,
Warren T. Smith

Staff: Edie Harding and Brad Burnham

Draft Report on Math Standards Revision for Algebra II
Linda Plattner, Strategic Teaching
Linda reviewed some of the questions that have been posed or exist for Algebra II in the work of the Math Panel and Strategic Teaching, such as the role for Algebra II in preparing students for college math. Algebra II serves at least three groups of students: those heading toward math-intensive careers such as engineering, those heading toward college or other training that require limited amounts of mathematics, such as journalism; and those for which Algebra II may be their last formal mathematics course.
Linda also discussed the process used by Strategic Teaching to review and recommend changes to the Algebra II standards. Strategic teaching modified some of the structure, added a “solving problem” section, similar to Algebra I. They reorganized the document so that Algebra II is parallel to Algebra I and stresses the types of functions that are studied. The language is also simplified in language of some sections. Content was added in a few key cases based on three documents that have increased in importance since the March 5 draft, Achieve, National Mathematics Advisory Panel, and the Washington College Readiness Standards.
Linda also highlighted similarities and differences between the March 5 version of the standards and Strategic Teaching’s recommended revisions. She also invited the panel members to send her comments via email by June 18th to augment what was discussed during the meeting. The presentation included the following information:
Similarities in Content
 Includes all of the functions in March 5 version
 Includes statistics
 Includes Core Processes
 Adds “solving problem” section
• Parallel to Algebra I
 Expands functions
• Logarithm functions - Achieve’s Algebra II Exam
• Sine, cosine, tangent functions – Introduced in Geometry
• Simple rationale functions - National Math Panel
• Includes adding and subtracting functions – Washington College Readiness Standards
 Adds probability
• Moved up from grade 9
 Compacts statistics
• Restricted “inferences,” “bias,” “analyze…misleading,” “defend conclusions”
 Simplifies Core Process language
Questions and comments during the presentation and after the breakout sessions:
The Math Panel members and Linda discussed the inclusion of some strands in the standards, such as statistics, which would possibly move the standards away from traditional Algebra II. There was also discussion of the inclusion of logarithms, inverse functions, probability, exponentials, complex numbers, and discreet data. All agreed of the importance of the strands but there was disagreement about whether they should be included in the Algebra II. The inclusion of these strands may help students not taking any additional math in high school or college, however, some strands may not be necessary for students continuing in mathematics through high school and into college.
Some panel members were worried about any additional requirements deviating from traditional Algebra due to the added number of topics the teacher would need to cover and the added complexity they would create for some students. The inclusion of them may make it more difficult for struggling students to do well in the course. Some thought that some of the strands were related to each other and would need to be treated together, such as logarithms and inverse functions. A majority of the math panel members believed that complex numbers should be given some attention in Algebra II but not fully developed. Computation with complex numbers should be saved for Algebra II.
Some panel members thought that the inclusion of some statistics would benefit most students but to take out the higher level elements of it in the standards. Some panel members thought that students would need an introduction of statistics in math classes to be prepared for some science classes. The discussion of the inclusion of statistics ended with a discussion of having the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the SBE Science Panel consider including statistics in the science standards.
Linda stated that the Algebra I and Geometry standards had changed very little done since the last version. Next, Linda explained how Strategic Teaching approached the introductory piece of the standards and highlighted some areas that were pulled out to be addressed more specifically. One new area in the introduction, which panel members appreciated having in the document, was a statement about what the standards were not intended to be.
The discussion moved to the Comments/Examples column of the document and whether it should be stated to be an official part of the standards, which are the column under Performance Expectations or a supplement to those standards. Some panel members recalled other states’ standards including some or all of their comments in the standards. Some panel members thought that the inclusion of the comments may help clarify parts and lessen the variation in lessons that students receive from teachers. Other panel members pointed out that the comments/examples were not written with the intent of inclusion in the standards. Other panel members were concerned about the comments being included because pedagogy occasionally appears in them. There was further discussion of whether the examples should be at random levels of complexity or illustrate the maximum degree of depth for students to learn. Linda maintained that she felt the standards pertain only to the performance expectations as examples will continue to grow over time.
Math panel members reviewed and commented on Strategic Teaching’s draft language about calculator use. Many panel members liked some of the language that Strategic Teaching used to address their use, such as paragraph four and five. Some panel members were concerned that the language was not strong enough and should be explicit about calculators not being used in grades K-5. These panel members were worried about students’ reliance on calculators for simple math. They see students turning to calculators in high school for simple multiplication and division. Other panel members were worried about dictating how a tool should or shouldn’t be used and that the teachers or schools should be able to determine when a tool is appropriate for use in the classroom. It was agreed that the technology language needed further work but that an outright ban on calculators was inappropriate.
The State Board of Education will consider approval of the Strategic Teaching report on the high school mathematics standards at its July 23-24 Board meeting. The public is welcome to submit comments to the Board prior to that meeting or to provide public comment at the meeting.
The Math Panel will resume meeting in the fall of 2008 to review the new OSPI proposed curricular menus for elementary, middle and high school. The Board is in the process of advertising nationally for a consultant to assist them and the Math Panel with this effort and expects to make a decision on the consultant by mid July.


Anonymous said...

My only comment on these standards is really a question. Is there enough time to cover all this material in one course? I would challenge anyone working on these standards to develop a pacing guide which establishes a time frame to cover the standards for each course. I personally do not believe there is enough time to cover all this material in one year. We are again setting ourselves up for failure. Math is a simple discipline, but not an easy one.


dan dempsey said...


A lot depends on the knowledge and skills of the students at the beginning of the year.

With the prevalence of social promotion it is difficult to get satisfactory coverage of course material. When many students should not have been promoted from an earlier course, instruction is very difficult.


Anonymous said...

This is not algebra 2 - the purpose of this class is for a lower track intermediate algebra class aligned to the reform textbooks - in fact, the TEP profs were using the Achieve Standards when they were asked to make their inputs regarding changes to the curriculum.

I was told school districts do not have to offer this class. Its designed as an alternative for the third year requirement, but I don't think it meets the A-G requirements for college. The standards are too low, which begs the question how will these students perform on the WASL since the majority do lousy anyway.

A student who enrolls in authentic algebra will graduate from hs with an American diploma and be eligible to attend vocational school. It is doubtful they will be able to do any sort of meaningful algebra. And we're talking about 80% of the hs graduates in Washington.

Thanks, but no thanks - I could do the same thing in Mexico, only with higher standards, and get a vocational certificate before I turned 17.

Which document is currently dictating education policy in the United States? NAFTA.

Under NAFTA there are three educational tracks: Vocational, Practical, and Professional. States are still grappling with the standards required for each track. We've got the kids pegged, we just don't know what classes they should be taking. Reformers are even bigger crackpots than we care to write about.

NAFTA is a trinational agreement among the governments of three nations and it is the first trade agreement that also includes services and education.

NAFTA contains a set of regulations that substantially changes the direction and administration of education, especially higher education. NAFTA signifies a radical expansion of private education at the expense of public education.

These days if you want your kids to grow up being professionals (college educated) You don't take chances, you pay to send them to private school.

Signed, American Helot

Anonymous said...

Dan is correct - practically speaking authentic algebra is a rehashing of old content that wasn't taught very well in the first place.

This is a real problem with context-embedded math or science instruction. How do you identify EALR's? Its an educated guess and its also a matter of opinion.

So if the world looks like a rose through Norm Webb's eyes, then schools have got standards covered. Right.

Bushful UnDead - Who cares, its only children and they don't vote. We care more about Michigan votes, because they helped get us elected.

Anonymous said...

Good comment. This is exactly what I am talking about. My challenge still stands for those writing the standards. I would love to see a pacing guide written by those who are writing these standards. There is not enough time in the school day or school year to cover all this material. If it walks and talks like a duck, my Geometry learnings tell me it might not be a duck.


Anonymous said...

Maria Cantwell explains some of the legislation regarding teacher training -

I am glad that you emphasize the importance of math and science education. We need more students willing to pursue challenging career paths in these subjects if our nation is to stay competitive in a rapidly changing global economy.

As you may know, Congress took an important step in advancing education in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields when it passed the America COMPETES Act (H.R.2272) in 2007. This law calls for spending $33.6 billion for science, technology, engineering and math research, and education programs in five federal agencies. Among other things, the legislation establishes a teacher education program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to build partnerships between science professionals and educators, increases scholarship awards for college students who enter the STEM fields, and authorizes summer training programs focusing on Advance Placement education at NSF and the Education Department. Student-focused STEM programs, such as Math Now, would be implemented as early as elementary school nationwide. It would also double research programs at NSF, the National Institute of Standard and Technology, and the Energy Department's science office and would add NASA as a participant in federal efforts to promote competitiveness and innovation.

Anonymous said...

These programs all sound excellent. How about spending some money on the following idea? For every hour a student spends in a high school math class they spend an hour with a person who actually uses the math on the job. Call it, practical application of math to work. Students need to see a direct link of math to career. This needs to be not just talk, but an internship with a human being actually using whatever math is being studied by the student. To develop this program would take a lot of work, but if we are serious about motivating students it must be accomplished.


Anonymous said...

I don't see the America Competes Act as a serious attempt to educate kids because of the flaws already in NAFTA (privatization and ability tracks)

The reason US doesn't use a nationalized curriculum, like Singapore, is because districts have multiple tracks, and each track uses a different curriculum, which for math, translates into textooks. Publishers sell more textbooks and more curriculum.

Low tracks (for everybody else) use reform textbooks.

College track (<20%) use traditional textbooks.

The result: US not only has a shortage of engineers and math-trained professions, but also a shortage of qualified teachers.

With all the waste and excess that's been exposed to the public, its ridiculous to call any of our schools exemplary.