Wednesday, December 10, 2008

TIMSS blog in the Washington Post


Anonymous said...

I think you are at a point in education where kids in some places are so difficult to control that you will need team teachers - not so much experts at algebra, but experts in managing people.

Our school is at the point where we are replacing algebra sections with extended algebra and formal geometry with informal geometry. The science department does not have science curriculum for underachieving students and the teachers are not willing to risk having kids use expensive and somewhat dangerous lab equipment.

Once again, I think our government has lost touch with the people. Rather than raising standards for teachers, our efforts should be focused on finding practical and efficient ways to educate kids. This might actually mean lowering standards for teaching, just to find the necessary adults. The majority of our math teachers in our district are not credentialed in math anyway.

My classroom of underachievers is getting very crowded and difficult.

dan dempsey said...

Excellent points...

There is little doubt that most decision makers are staying far away from the reality you describe.

Their actions seem to indicate:
if they do not acknowledge something ... then it does not exist.

Now let us all get together and write another one of those statements that begins with ...
All Students will _ _ _
{for surely that will make things better if the future}

dan dempsey said...

Discipline in the Classroom

California and Washington have state laws on the books about disruptive students ....

If schools allowed the teachers to follow the law in regard to Classroom Disruption ... the situation of student behavior management would be entirely different.

RCW 28A 600.020

Anonymous said...

Disruptions are the norm - fail the majority of students and where will they go.

The majority of my students are one step away from an adult school anyway - it would be wiser to team teach, have fewer classrooms, and improve the activities so kids can learn. High schools should lower standards (practice multiplication), until middle and elementary school students get better curriculum and are fluent in division (the opposite of multiplication), decimals and fractions.

Today I had three more kids wander in from other classrooms to visit mine in order to learn algebra. I pleaded with them to go but they wouldn't listen - I don't use the textbook, I use Marcy Cook and we work in groups!-- Hah

If you have disruptive students, well there is a reason for that. They don't understand what they are learning.

Anonymous said...

My white students were upset that my non-English speaking students were doing better. 'We can do this, its easy.' And I told them -'No, I didn't think they could.' So now they are working extra hard to prove me wrong. Good luck.

dan dempsey said...

I disagree with lowering high school standards, I think we need to have classes that are designed so that students can be successful given their current proficiency level.

I think existing high school classes in math should be kept with appropriate but with many fewer sections. Many students (as you point out) do not belong in these high school level math classes.

The idea that differentiated instruction can successfully serve large numbers of students in a class where students have enormous differences in proficiency is just an administrator's pipe dream. There is plenty of data to show this idea has not worked.

Mathematics proficiency is for the most part attained by mastering layer upon layer of skills and in the process improving understanding.

These layers require knowledge of subsequent layers.

High School needs classes that teach math based on this hierarchy of skills. In Seattle I would think about 60% of entering HS students are not prepared to be successful in a traditional algebra class. The solution is not pre-Algebra for all 60%.

A more reasonable approach is to realize the deficit and provide students with two math classes. The first based on current ability.
Mind Institutes Algebra readiness is appropriate for some. Singapore Math placement via the placement testing and then at indicated level could be used. A second math class that consisted of Logo Programming and some robotics and experiments like math applied science. Texas instruments CBL2 could be used.

Currently Seattle just keeps on turning out ill equipped students k-8 with EDM and CMP2 ... so look for their next big mistake with the coming high school math adoption.

The SPS will be for more of the same with an integrated math text that promises great results for all via differentiated instruction.

But there will also be a second period of math for low performers.

These materials guarantee that there will be few high performers and college remedial math instructors in the Seattle Area will have continuing job security for at least the next decade.

Anonymous said...

There are fewer students enrolling in high school that are prepared for algebra. High schools refuse to offer basic math classes for those students. I don't disagree with you, but the reality needs to be treated not ignored.

dan dempsey said...

Exactly ....
Ignored is what administration is all about .... can't let the public know how bad this situation is ...... similar to the AAA rating of financial instuments that are actually junk.

Anonymous said...

In the extended algebra class - lowest track offered in high school - students were learning place value - ...tens, ones, tenths, hundredths. Also, I included the exponential series to offer an explanation, but primarily we worked on place value. The material that gets adopted by districts (and the training) does not attack the problem - kids are not prepared for algebra.

I suppose when I wrote about 'lowering' standards, that I really meant writing standards that were more inclusive of the students as a whole. If they are not prepared in grade school, it is equally likely they didn't learn it before entering high school.