Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lack of Direction in Seattle Continues

Dear Directors and Superintendent, 7-09-2008

In the SPS Math seems to be talked about but not dealt with.

The following is from Sen. Pflug:
"Legislators from both parties will be striving to support quality math curriculum and high standards in spite of the state superintendent' s reluctance to change."

It certainly looks from the SPS Strategic Plan that there is an enormous reluctance to change math direction in Seattle.

At the board work session on Math in which IMP was proposed and at least delayed, little positive direction was provided.

It is now July, where is anything being proposed other than an allegiance to the policies and practices that produced an ever widening achievement gap in mathematics accompanied by declining math competence?

You cannot successfully adopt a 9-12 math text that aligns with NMAP, when the k-8 program is inadequate.
Promotion/non- promotion policies that require effective interventions are still neglected.
We have more time and more resources being pumped into a defective k-5 program that is in clear misalignment with the National Math Advisory Panel recommendations.

If you looked at available grades 9-12 SPS data, which is little and insufficient, it appears that College Prep Math used at RBHS might be a reasonable choice, given the current situation.

I think that the Mind Institute's Algebra readiness system should be piloted in grades 8 and 9 at some locations. This is an intervention program designed to deal with the mess we have. It is approved for use in California and MIND materials have a positive track record. It is hard to deal with a mess effectively when SPS administration continues in failing to acknowledge the mess. That is why the Strategic Plan in regard to Math is inadequate and unlikely to produce anything other than more of the same.

No one can possibly believe that the enormous number of topics that are covered in a year of EDM could be effectively supplemented by anything. The rhetoric of focusing on a reduced number of topics seems hard to envision using the incoherent spiral of Everyday Math. Is there an SPS guide that explains this topic reduction?

Last year despite the rhetoric it was follow the pacing plan and even 75 minutes a day of EDM seemed inadequate. Where is the EDM topic reduction discussed and outlined and when will it be put in place?

As Paul Kurose of Seattle TMP has said, "when small improvement results it is often the result of enormous changes (greater time and resources and often changing testing conditions and/or population) not the curriculum, but the curriculum gets the credit." Everyday Math in New York city is an excellent example of this.

If the district used MAP testing at Schmitz Park and North Beach as well as other elementary schools, the schools with waivers could be evaluated as pilots.

Attached is my testimony for this evening as well as a resignation letter from an Olympia School Board member.

At the state k-8 instructional materials meeting in Spokane it was asked whether a program should address well prepared students that had been successful in a high quality program or the students we currently have?

It appears that the SPS is all in favor of producing more of what we currently have k-5.
How is a realistic k-12 plan going to emerge? or are we sticking to the Strategic Plan?


Dan Dempsey


Board Members I am Dan Dempsey, July 9, 2008

When most people buy a car, they consider proven reliability often using Consumer Reports. Proven reliability was not even taken into consideration in the Everyday Math adoption. Looking at the track record of Everyday Math in most large Urban School districts reveals no reliability; this was a terrible choice. The school board voted unanimously to approve an Everyday Math adoption with a small Singapore supplement that turned out to be a $6 supplement that went unused.

The Everyday Math adoption School Board meeting of May 30th 2007 was not videoed or televised. The plan as briefly posted on the website included closing the achievement gap to zero over four or five years.

Recently an Olympia school board member resigned. I’ve attached his resignation letter. It includes:
It is my opinion that the system does not work and does not serve the students, their parents or the staff very well. ……
There is one common denominator ………
the lack of understanding and conflicting views about the role of a school board member. It is my opinion that this is a major issue facing this board and the community. I believe the role of a board member is one of action and not simply one of a “potted plant”.

If we had the video from May 2007, we would have been watching a 6-0 vote by potted plants. This board needs to take some responsibility for math and soon.

The board has little idea what was approved on May 30th nor have I.

Mr DeBell sometimes speaks like a co-adoption happened.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson’s Strategic Plan says:
SPS will write a scope and sequence for math and science and will adopt common grade level instructional materials where these are not already in existence.

Math • Grades K-5 Everyday Math and Singapore Math (implemented 2007-08)
• Grades 6-8 CMP2 (implemented 2006-07)
• Grades 9-12 (to be developed Fall 2008)

What does this mean???
Are we actually going to use the Singapore $6 supplementary book for next four years?

The SPS needs to evaluate math choices not on alignment with the State recommendations but from a realistic plan for producing results.

A real scientist doing Fred Hutch Cancer research says:
"It is only in "Educational Science" that a trial is planned, promoted, and pursued, with no measurable objectives at all. My theory is that it is a defining characteristic of all education initiatives."

Wow, we have the WASL and Edu-Soft testing. We don’t even have a valid reliable measuring instrument.

When an economical instrument like MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing is available, why do we have an expensive contract with Edu-Soft testing? Are we afraid of what an objective measure would reveal?

We have a really poor plan and no way to measure it.

This board needs to direct great attention to k-12 math and soon.


Here is the link to Olympia School Director Russ Lehman's resignation. This Daily Olympian article contains a link to download the resignation letter.


Anonymous said...

If you're only using Singapore's supplementary book, then you are not implementing Singapore are you? Again I think its misleading what the public is actually happenning in school. I don't see how students could do the supplemental problems if they weren't learning standard algorithms, students could never finish the problems unless they supplemented the supplementary problems from Singapore.

Tomorrow's headlines: SPS fails the WASL

Anonymous said...

To make school more meaningful, I wonder if districts should have to take a district WASL?

Anonymous said...

The Mind Algebra Readiness program is an intervention program and that's the problem, SPS needs to implement a strong elementary program and then put the interventions in place.

An intervention with a weak curriculum is not going to raise AYP significantly. It doesn't have staying power, while EDM will continue being used in classrooms. At least SPS doesn't have TERC Investigations. 5 out of 7 districts in Skagit Valley have been using TERC since the 90's. No wonder Mt. Vernon math program suxs.

dan dempsey said...

Please provide names of those 5 districts and what are the other two districts using?

Anonymous said...

La Conner - 'Growing with Mathematics' I found out they were using College Prep Math Course 1 for one year??? hee hee

Burlington, Mount Vernon, Conway, Anacortes, and Sedro Wooley. use Investigations.

Concrete would be district seven, but I don't have that information.

The Conway parents decide what district they want to send their graduating eighth graders - many have selected La Conner over Burlington.

Here's a Mutterer reading from the Reformed Temple of the Hidden Curriculum:

"We have got to do something more progressive [about test scores]. If you keep doing what you've always done, then you'll get what you've always got. And we don't like what we've always got."

Say this with a straight-face....

"Instead of worksheets, students receive handouts to show their parents what they will study over the next two to four weeks. Parents can follow up with math games related to that unit."

How long has reform math been taught in Washington's schools?
10 years would you say. Sounds like kids are getting a full dose of reform math - that little bump in 2002 math test scores was big - that was probably the last group of 4th graders to have been taught long division. Parents in Conway thought their kids were learning traditional math. I guess, not according to what I read in the paper.

While you might see some low scores in fourth grade, the results really show in high school test scores and the drop out rates that follow. Suffice to say, a random sample of local adults show about 4 in 10 do not have diplomas.

Why do they come here to work? Well, they live here for one reason. Their need for school is dependent on the bs factor at school. Invoke the draft and maybe students will stay in school longer and change the bs.