Sunday, October 12, 2008

Everyday Math adoption in Issaquah

Here is a great piece that Mike Miller wrote on the up coming Lake Washington School District math adoption process.

It sounds like you’re in for a chess match, but I suspect the Lake Washington School district will give you only a partial view of the gameboard. We went through an elementary adoption in Issaquah several years ago. I was not involved at the outset of the year long process. I became involved about half-way through the process.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the district administration did not want genuine parental input. Parental participation was limited to “rigged” & leading Zoomerang surveys, PTSA presentations by district administrators (late in process, decision already made), and informational nights to introduce parents to the new curriculum. Appeals to the school board (limited to 3 minutes) fell on deaf ears. In fairness, I suspect (but cannot prove conclusively) that maybe half of the school board members (along with many teachers & parents) were duped by misleading information from district administrators.

The following describes sequential deceitful steps in a textbook adoption in Washington D.C. Each of these steps was followed in Issaquah (except 1), yielding validity to the author’s assertion that this could be a nation-wide script.

Tactic 1- State the traditional approach is a failure.

This is where the district will not only disparage a traditional approach, but they must also make the case that the outgoing text is outdated & antiquated. The district will likely claim to seek a “balanced” approach that “blends computational fluency with conceptual understanding.” Shouldn’t that be the goal of every curriculum?

Tactic 2- Discredit those against the adoption as being ideologically/ politically motivated, or as being unqualified to render a professional “educator’s” opinion.

After presenting my concerns to the school board (I had left the microphone) one of the board members dismissed my testimony by saying that well meaning but generally uninformed parents can find all types of misleading information on the internet. Then sitting comfortably in his chair, he used his laptop to pull-up an article quoting a pro-reform NYC school administrator almost directly refuting my testimony. I’ve also heard WTM referred to as a “right-wing conservative group” (although not in my district).

Tactic 3- State the success of any program depends on the teacher.

This was done in a presentation by the administration to the school board as a lead-in to the accompanying “professional development.”

Tactic 4- Bring in teachers from different school districts as witnesses.

This was also done in Issaquah. Additionally, one of the candidates for the position of Issaquah Superintendent touted how well the curriculum under consideration had done in the district he was presently in. He’s now Issaquah’s new Superintendent. Teachers from other districts were also brought in to serve as facilitators for the “introductory curriculum nights” where EM was unveiled to parents. This proved to be a smart move by the district, as the evening was quite contentious with a bunch of angry parents.

Tactic 5- Bring in a witness from a University.

This tactic was not used in Issaquah to my knowledge.

Tactic 6- Assemble your own expert panel and have an independent consultant summarize the results.

This tactic took a bit of a twist in Issaquah. Our district formed a “workgroup” comprised of teachers to develop guidelines for curricula selection (facilitated by district administrators) , as it sounds like their doing in LWSD. Then the same “workgroup” recommended that the piloting that had been promised parents be eliminated, and go straight to “in depth studies” of Everyday Mathematics. They changed the process without parental input, totally eliminating a promised side-by-side piloting of finalist curricula. The following excerpt describes what the district did next. This is an excerpt from my presentation to the school board. No response was ever given.

“Immediately following the Workgroup’s decision to recommend that EDM be the sole curriculum to move forward for “in-depth studies,” the District, in an attempt to alleviate parental concerns (both over curriculum and procedural issues), stated on their web-site that a relationship had been entered into with NorthWest Regional Education Laboratories (NWREL) to conduct “studies of efficacy” on the curriculum in question (Everyday Mathematics) . The District’s implication was that an unbiased study by a presumably prestigious independent organization should alleviate any questions surrounding the curriculum. There is however, evidence that would suggest a possible conflict of interest. Our own Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Terry Bergeson, has been and continues to be a strong advocate for these “new-new curricula.” In fact, according to Everyday Mathematic’s own web-site, research compiled either by, or under the direction of Dr. Bergeson (Teaching and Learning Mathematics) is associated with the curriculum’s development. Additionally, a visit to the NWREL web-site will show that the same Dr. Terry Bergeson sits on the Board of Directors for that organization. Officials of ISD must either know, or should have known of this connection. The implication is that the District was not interested in a truly objective study, but rather a “rubber stamp of efficacy” to placate any parental resistance.”


Anonymous said...

How odd! 80% of Washington elementary schools use EDM, but nationwide only 20% of elementary schools use EDM.

This is dated 2006,

What Works Clearinghouse issued an intervention report on the execrable Everyday Math.

Everyday Math is one of those constructivist "problem solving" based curricula that progressive educators like so much. It's currently in use in about 20% of all elementary schools.

It also doesn't work, as WWC has finally determined.

A preliminary note. The iron-clad D-ed Reckoning rule of education research has been verified yet again:

ninety percent of all Ed research sucks.

In Everyday Math's case there were 61 "research" studies.

57 did not meet WWC's evidentiary standards.

That means that 93% of the Everyday Math research sucked.

None of the research fully met the evidentiary standards. Only four of the studies met the evidentiary standards with reservations.

These four studies were naturally done by interested parties or not statistically significant.

Here's one example -

"One of several shortcomings of [the Riordan/Noyce study] is that the schools studied are not identified. That makes it impossible to verify the results independently, thereby raising the possibility of fraud. This is a realistic possibility as the Noyce Foundation (headed by one of the authors of the study) has invested a lot of money in CMP, one of the programs found successful by the study."

dan dempsey said...

I believe the Data for WA is that 1/3 of elementary schools use EDM and 1/3 use TERC investigations and 1/3 use something else. This is to be expected given the OSPI recommendations over the last decade.

Nationally the last stats I saw were 30% using EDM and TERC investigations in second place with somewhere around 10%.

It boggles the mind that anyone could spend three hours examining EDM materials and think that they would work well. The National Math Advisory Panel got this one right when they referred to the incoherent spiraling of several curricula.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to know where you got that from - my statistic might have been districts that use reform math, but I'm not sure where I put my reference either - my desk is full.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised this didn't get more news or comments:

Rejection of math textbook sparks debate on state board's authority

Decision spurs debate on extent of state Board of Education's power

11:02 PM CST on Wednesday, January 16, 2008

This is over - the courts sided with the State Board.

These were the comments made by McGraw-Hill supporters (Texas Freedom Network) who used censorship as their leading argument.

The vote on the math book could set a dangerous precedent for controversial votes in the future, said Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, a group that aims to counter the arguments of the religious right in Texas.

"If they get away with it, that will open the door to widespread censorship of textbooks in a Texas classroom," Mr. Quinn said. "What we're likely to see is that textbooks will become based more on the personal beliefs of the state board members than the facts themselves."

This is more disinformation, but I'd thought you'd like to read from your nemesis. A parody will be forthright in short order.

Anonymous said...

I love this quote about EDM:

...the publisher's rep really doesn't disagree (in a sense) with that the book "is convoluted and lacks rigor" - they think it is its strength

Anonymous said...

This is a democratic country and the Gobandaws who wrote the textbooks weren't just censored; they were excoriated from the toes on up.

dan dempsey said...

Interestingly in Eastern WA the program Bridges in Mathematics from Math Learning Center has usually significantly out performed EDM in Hispanic Communities in WASL math results grade 4.....

Yesterday (10-14-2008) the SBE Math Panel and Strategic Teaching judged Bridges Mathematically inadequate. So where would that put EDM. EDM was not judged because only Bridges, Math Expressions, Math Connects, and TERC/Investigations were throughly analyzed by ST.

TERC/Investigation was also judged mathematically deficient.

Anonymous said...

What you are saying is significant and the more people know and understand the differences between curriculum, the sooner changes will come about. EDM and TERC are definitely at the low end of the math achievement spectrum.

Programs that choose to have fewer problems need to select better problems that exemplify concepts, not just hard problems. Plus there must be an explanation offered - not a discovery lesson. Other types of numbers should be used, not just whole numbers.