Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What is Data? and ....
WHO makes decisions like these ??

A comment on a Post Intelligencer education blog follows:
"If not there are many many other ways to access school data."

Now I will follow this a bit further...

Has anyone noticed that this comment concerns a post titled a "Data Fair"? and that the data presented was for the most part not statistical data?

The word data has an extremely broad range of meanings. Check a dictionary or Wikipedia for examples.

I now know why the district's data decision making seems so bizarre to me .... Where's the data (as in NOT anecdotes)?

By this I mean statistical data.

Much of this data fair and the letters to the principal are data in the broadest sense of the word. Which is perhaps OK in this instance but could a better Fair title be found?

When I think of data, I think of data driven decision making (to which Dr MG-J often makes reference) and the definition of Statistical Data.

Data analysis is the process of looking at and summarizing data with the intent to extract useful information and develop conclusions. Data analysis is closely related to Data mining, but data mining tends to focus on larger data sets, with less emphasis on making inference, and often uses data that was originally collected for a different purpose. In statistical applications, some people divide data analysis into descriptive statistics, exploratory data analysis and confirmatory data analysis, where the EDA focuses on discovering new features in the data, and CDA on confirming or falsifying existing hypotheses.

That is what I miss in the SPS is the confirming or falsifying of hypotheses......

The major SPS decisions of the past two years that I find most objectionable and there are several, show ZERO evidence of being data driven. As in using data to determine a course of action in the conformation of or falsification of a hypothesis.
Here I should not just single out the SPS...... As this can apply to the State Board of Education's current ideas in regard to Core 24 and Algebra II required for graduation.

Most certainly OSPI probably trumps all as the Champion of Decision making through statistical ignorance.

Just this week Dr Bergeson heralded as REALLY GREAT the remarkable achievement that of the potential graduating Seniors in the class of 2008 .... 91% passed the reading and writing WASL.

That represents around 65% of the number of students that were in the class of 2008 as Freshman.

As long as that (35% did not make it) passes for GREAT we are in deep deep trouble.

Couple that with the SBE's Core 24 and Algebra II required for graduation and it is hard to imagine decision making more removed from the relevant statistics.

Want to use some data ? ........

Then use that 65% data to determine a course of action in the conformation of or falsification of the Core 24 and Algebra II for all hypotheses.

To Be Politically correct, means thinking that all of the above SBE, SPS, and OSPI decisions should be supported. Otherwise you are not a team player.

Try this for logic .... If you don't like the results get involved earlier.
Bulletin!!! It is impossible to get involved early enough to impact much of anything.

Most of the stuff that the SPS does is already so far developed in house that when any public input if ever is requested ...There is too much invested to stop now.

You might think that my getting on the SBE Math Advisory Panel would be early enough involvement.... Well think again..
The WA Math Standards were pushed through two months earlier than required and the last meeting required never happened as a result.

The Instructional Materials Review criteria Panel was secretly hand selected by OSPI and had their first meeting, which produced the IMR draft#1 document before the public was even aware of there existence. Try get involved in that ... hard to catch a train thats left the station and was never on the schedule.

This process is beyond control .... For the opinion of anyone not involved in the advocacy of its continuation and strong support is discarded ....

If this is government in a democracy, please read me the other choices for governance.

Then there are these great graduation stats to go with Dr Bergeson's Great 91% WASL results.


Anonymous said...

This was an excellent editorial and it raises alot of thorny issues, like data? being one of them.

For one, you need a reference point and as OSPI is learning by painful experience, you cannot measure success by benchmarking standards.

I'll use Singapore as an example, because they obviously understood that they needed more than a vision to be successful. Data collection mattered, so they focused on the problems, not the standards.

OSPI made their vision by hiring fuzzy visionaries like Carkhuff? and Treisman? They didn't think maybe teachers needed to have something so extravagent as a curriculum. This was already settled by the worthless pronouncements of the 'exemplary' curriculum made by the Department of Education and the NCTM.

Yes Virginia, textbooks do matter, especially when we teach algebra.

I have never advocated 'no late homework' policies - it makes for bad community relations, bad grades, and especially with middle school, there is either too much work given to students or it is arbitrarily graded.

The problems and curriculum are so screwed up in Washington, it makes the whole idea of assigning homework a community relations nightmare. Teachers are going to have to be more political or give up teaching unless they don't mind making children feel bad.

Anonymous said...

Why I think Seattle will adopt Everyday Math, Connected Math, and Interactive...

Carla Santorno and SCALE

Systemwide Change for All Learners and Educators — an NSF Funded Project;

University of Wisconsin, Madison;
University of Pittsburgh;
Denver Public Schools;
Los Angeles Unified School District;
Madison Public Schools;
Providence Public Schools

Which accountant did MGJ use when she took office? Boston Public Schools (Tom Payzant and Alan Birsin)

Anonymous said...

Put a face to a place...

University of Wisconsin, Madison;
Norm Webb

University of Pittsburgh;
Diane Briars

Denver Public Schools;
Freudenthal Institute

This is how they do their research to get the NSF grant money; they hire each other as consultants...

The Denver Public Schools (DPS) case study describes how the district is improving its instructional guidance system in math and science through policy initiatives, investments in ‘content capacity,’ and leveraging external resources to affect teacher workforce quality. The case draws on document review and extensive interviews of district administration to make explicit and then analyze the district theory of action, and it shows how SCALE is involved in the change process.

Clifford, M. February 2006. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Los Angeles Unified School District;

Madison Public Schools;

Providence Public Schools
Diane Lam

Here's a parent organization upset about the number of dropouts they're seeing in Madison Public Schools....

And it looks like they have the same problem as I'm observing in Washington State...

The main problem is the assumption that the number of students enrolled in 9th grade is the same as the number of students entering high school. This assumption artificially lowers the estimates of current graduation rates, especially for minorities who are more likely to be retained (repeat 9th grade). This measure also artificially reduces the growth of the graduation rate over time because the practice of grade retention has grown over time, again, especially among minorities.

The resulting errors are sufficiently large to artificially lower the graduation rate by 9 percentage points overall and by 14 percentage points for minorities. Grade retention also differs sharply across states and localities, distorting geographic comparisons. Last, these measures do not reflect the ultimate graduation rates of a cohort of students because the data do not capture diplomas provided by adult education and other sources than schools.

Isn't Norm in Washington evaluating an NSF project in North Puget Sound?

This stuff is outrageous, a bunch of lying scum. We are wasting millions on bogus research.

Here's Madison doing the research for LAUSD.

Eric J. Osthoff (Wisconsin Center for Education Research)
The Los Angeles Unified School District Case Study

Abstract: Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second largest district in the country after New York City, with a 2002 enrollment of 746,852 students. In the context of the SCALE partnership, in the 2003-03 school year, LAUSD had more than 10 times as many students the Denver Public Schools, 27 times more than the Providence Public Schools , and nearly 30 times the number of students enrolled in the Madison Metropolitan School District

More BS...

Measuring the Quality of Mathematics Instruction: Approaches, Issues, and Findings

Session Abstract: This symposium describes five different approaches to assessing instructional quality in mathematics. Research focused on students’ mathematical disposition is presented, followed by findings from two research projects focused on the use of classroom artifacts for measuring instructional practice. Findings from research focused on quantifying the impact of resources and mathematics knowledge for teaching on student achievement, and work regarding teacher responses to test-based accountability in terms of classroom practice also are presented. Implications for professional development efforts and curricular improvements in school districts, as well as monitoring the effect of reform efforts and accountability systems on instructional quality, are discussed throughout the session.

Chair: Steven M. Cantrell (Learning Point Associates)
Discussant: Steven M. Cantrell (Learning Point Associates)

Session Participants:

Teacher Quality as the Cultivation of Productive Mathematical Dispositions
Melissa Sommefeld Gresalfi (Vanderbilt University)
Participant: Paul A. Cobb (Vanderbilt University)

Using Classroom Artifacts to Measure Instructional Practice in Middle-School Mathematics: The SCOOP Notebook
Hilda Borko (University of Colorado), Brian Stecher (RAND)

and Learning Pointing Associates

Student Learning Plans: Education Management System Software Application Guide is the result of a cooperative effort on the part of staff at the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and Learning Point Associates.
The most current version of this guide is available at the Student Learning Plans Education Management System Web site (

Anonymous said...

This is the KidsDoCount! Excellence in Math website and it provides an excellent account of NCTM's flawed efforts to promote the reform curriculum. In particular, John Dossey and Jack Price are mentioned.

Here's another reference to the website that explains who it is.

Parents in Utah have been fighting an ineffective math program, Connected Mathematics, and at their website, Kids Do Count, you can read all about it. Don't miss this background page which effectively critiques the NCTM 1999 Standards (I've written about those before), and notes that former NCTM president John Dossey believes kids should get full credit for getting wrong answers in the "right" way. And, as KidsDoCount notes, a curriculum review provided on Connected Math's own website notes that the program does not put eighth-graders on track to reach calculus by 12th grade, nor does it promote a fundamental proficiency in math.

KidsDoCount linked to a CSM series from 2000 about the parental revolution against the "new-new" math, which provided this execrable example from an "exemplary" sixth-grade Connected Math program: