Friday, December 5, 2008

Irrational decision making Cubed

It was reported that the following statement was made at the first meeting (of the current cycle) of the Seattle Schools High School Math adoption committee on Dec 4, 2008.

The Superintendent spoke for a couple of minutes. She said that the last high school adoption process failed because of "politics" and that the actual committee process was just fine.

This is not the case. The IMP adoption failed not because of politics but because the school board acted in a responsible manner.
IMP had previously failed in Tacoma and in University Place. The fact that the UW's Dr James King used NSF dollars at Garfield and Cleveland to implement IMP was hardly a reason to adopt a failing curriculum. We can also see that recommendations in regard to math k-12 by OSPI were extremely flawed. IMP was recommended by OSPI until recently. The fact that the School Board had the courage not to waste millions on IMP should not be viewed as anything other than wonderful. If only they had done the same for Everyday Math, instead of following the recommendations of their hired professionals and wasting millions.

Some members of the administration have apparently cooperated in a conspiracy to subvert the intention of the School Board in regard to the Elementary School Math adoption by neglecting the intent of the board in regard to Singapore Math. Our k-8 students continue to be poorly prepared to take high school algebra because of a very poor k-8 math curriculum. Cleveland used IMP in SY 2006-2007 and SY 2007-2008. Take a look at the WASL Math data from Cleveland for spring 2007 and spring 2008... it is a disaster. This is what happened using IMP with support from the UW directed NSF funds (PD^3 project) and UW guidance. Imagine what the IMP implementation would have been like district wide without additional resources. (Think Tacoma). The SPS IMP high school adoption failed because the selection was extremely flawed.

The fact that SPS administrative politics and deception did not push IMP through was a blessing as this process was terribly flawed. That made the last attempt at a high school math adoption not much different from most SPS math decisions of the last decade with the exception that this recommendation did not become an expensive mistake.

I testified to the school board questioning how TERC/Investigations, Everyday Math, CMP2 and IMP could be finalists. When four extremely flawed programs are the finalists, the process is a disaster.

The fact that the Superintendent believes the last high school math adoption process was just fine, is a cause of great concern.

Given that the first year of EDM was a statistical and economic failure and that in year two of EDM finds the WA k-5 math standards not being addressed and the NMAP recommendations being ignored, makes the SPS math future look like more of the same disasters of the past repeated.

The thought that IMP was in anyway a reasonable choice for high school level mathematics is unbelievable. This shows how far out of touch the SPS administration still is in regard to math. Where are the results? There clearly is no accountability for bad judgments in the past and as a result it seems flawed decisions are viewed as acceptable. We must stop continued flawed decision making. This district is still avoiding dealing with the k-8 math disaster apparently preferring to think an excessive dollar expenditure is producing acceptable results.

A quick look at EDM reveals that High School Math will be a continuing problem as students are not properly prepared to do mathematics in the critical k-3 grades. Again the district chooses to ignore relevant research on disadvantaged learners k-3 in math. This district has publicly voiced concern about the achievement gap and for a decade usually expanded that gap in math on an annual basis.

Now a large expenditure of both time and money is producing substandard results but the SPS administrators continue on as if all is going well.

It is time to end "Club Ed" decision making and focus on making decisions that will produce substantial academic improvement in a cost efficient manner.


Anonymous said...

Can you post the "relevant research on disadvantaged learners k-3 in math." I'd like to have some fire power.

dan dempsey said...

The best research comes from Project Follow Through. PFT started in 1967 as part of Lyndon Johnson's great society. This study eventually followed results for 10 of thousands of kids. It was part of research for appropriate Federal funding decisions for Head Start programs.

Close to 1 billion dollars was expended over 28 years making this the largest study in education history and its focus was success in grades k-3 for disadvantaged learners.

The finding was overwhelmingly positive for direct instruction.
DI was superior to all other methods. This is not far away from NMAP's thoughts about example based instruction for math.

What definitely does not work in math or much else is the discovery method seen in TERC/Investigations and Connected Math etc. This is referred to as the Cognitive model in PFT.

Take a look at these graphs and then Google Project Follow Through.
The graphs:

About PFT:

Good luck trying to stop irrational decision making.

Anonymous said...

The difficulty you will have is that the published research is almost entirely supported by NSF grants that draw comparisons using only the DOE's 'exemplary' curriculum. Which is better EDM, TERC, or IMP? What a joke...

There is no research being funded drawing comparisons between 'constructivist?' curriculum and textbooks, like Saxon and Singapore.

What Works Clearinghouse is a privatized shill for publishers.

This year, the DOE did not participate with PISA.

So far as education research is concerned in the US or Great Britain, any results will likely be skewed or manipulated for appearances and should only be treated as zombie propaganda.

The best evidence will be anecdotal.

One only wonders after reading an EDM textbook how teachers can compensate by trying to fill in all the gaps (most don't). My recommendation is put the authors through drug rehab so they can sober up to reality. They've probably been sniffing too much incense....didactic calculas anyone?

Anonymous said...

The superintendent is pitching for McGraw-Hill. SPS has got money for EDM, but not Singapore. Whichever is least effective and most expensive gets picked everytime. Nothing wrong with that committee's selection.

Bring test scores down and the feds won't have to fund public education and their friends will get rich selling remedial curriculum written by Amy Toidi...

Anonymous said...

Here's Milgram's criticism of the Core Plus research and primarily how it was slanted.

"...Using this problem to compare Core-Plus students and traditional students
is like this: imagine that I arranged to teach mathematics in German since that is really a better language for the subject than English. Then, to see how well my students did, I would test both my students and the control
group with problems stated in German. How do you think the control group
would do?"

Any district that is using Core Plus as a core program or a support program is off its rocker or absolutely racist.

Anonymous said...

1984? Anyone?

Here's a reference to Chancellor Klein's 'Truth' squad.

David Cantor, the chancellor’s press secretary, said that he had notified Mr. Klein about Mr. Petrilli’s posting, but that it had nothing to do with the existence of the “Truth Squad” — an effort by press officers to monitor blogs, listservs and Web sites for inaccurate (or unfavorable) portrayals of department policies.

“If I see something that I think may be interesting to him, I pass it on,” Mr. Cantor said. “It’s unrelated to my office correcting factual inaccuracies in news and blog accounts.”

Mr. Cantor played down the significance of Mr. Klein’s telephone call.

“He knows Mike well and thinks that Mike completely misunderstood the issue and just picked the phone up and called him,” Mr. Cantor said.

Update, Aug. 29 | On Tuesday, it was Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, calling a blogger who had written a critical posting about the city’s longtime reading program.

As we noted above, that was unrelated to the Department of Education’s Truth Squad.

But late Thursday night, City Room got its own truth-squadding.

Mr. Klein’s chief spokesman, David Cantor, emailed at 11:07 p.m. to take issue with our description of the squad as “an effort by press officers to monitor blogs, listservs and Web sites for inaccurate (or unfavorable) portrayals of department policies.”

Mr. Cantor, in a further email Friday morning, wrote that the Truth Squad was “very careful to address only factual issues” ­– not those that are merely unfavorable.

“We would never do anything but write blog replies if we just responded to attacks,” he said in an interview

I think someone needs to clue in adults that kids need to get a high school diploma. What happenned to learning in the classroom?

dan dempsey said...

Anon at 9:57 PM,

You have that right. The NSF et al. prefer to avoid investigating what works. "Club Ed" only finances for "Club Ed" results.

Hook-Bishop-Hook produced a fabulous statistical analysis involving Sacramento and other districts with demographics similar to Los Angles and San Diego. LA and SD stayed with Reform Math and the other districts in this comparison changed to an internationally competitive curriculum as specified in the 1998 California Math Standards.

Recently William Hook sought to continue that work by analysis on those students performance in Algebra Class based on k-7 or k-8 math curriculum background.

The question is which preparation may lead to more algebra success?

Apparently few want to know because...

You guessed it. No funding available.

"Club Ed" refuses to finance anything that might undermine the "Club Ed" gurus.

Now you know why school administrators keep saying research shows, while we have a continuing disaster on PISA math and TIMSS.

Seattle is now going for the Trifecta or Hat-Trick of incompetence .... will is be a shut-out ZERO for THREE on math adoptions?

Middle School ... tanked
Elementary School .... tanked
High School ..... coming up.

In the words of Seattle Director Darlene Flynn at the 5-16-2007 school board meeting:
"We do not have a good record on math adoptions."

Anonymous said...

Our district had an AP censoring email...Funny guy had to be told it was a violation of civil rights.

Anonymous said...

AP (I am never wrong) response:

"I thought the US was at war with Iraq."

Anonymous said...

Speaking of trifecta's I love this piece:

Bush, in the weeks before September 11, pledged to honor the sanctity of the Social Security lockbox except in the event of recession, war, or a national emergency.

But after "everything changed" on 9/11, he reportedly gloated to his budget director, Mitch Daniels, "Lucky me--I hit the trifecta!" At the time, this comment (a variation of which is being recycled for laughs at current GOP fundraisers) seemed merely offensive. But in light of revelations that Bush's August 6 briefing memo was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S.," Bush's "luck" and weird prescience are worth more than passing scrutiny.