Saturday, February 28, 2009

An investigation of TERC/Investigations by PWCS parents

Let us hear it for the Prince William County grassroots versus the Publishers of bogus material accompanied by questionable claims.

Just when the folks at Mathematica research show Investigations is easily out performed by Saxon and Math Expressions along comes this.

Here is a fascinating debunking of publisher claims, a dynamite read that features deceit, distortion and falsity. It should be titled: Investigations Confidential by the PWCS Parents.

This is a study that debunks Pearson Publishing's "Evidence of Success" of Investigations. It can be downloaded here:


What is my problem with ...
Differentiated Instruction Seattle style?

In looking at recent research and some of the recommendations made, there is a push for differentiated instruction by some. Finland, a top performing country on PISA math, used very little if any tracking in math prior to grade 10. Finland is PISA ranked near the top with Korea, Hong Kong, & China Tapei. Finland advocates for mixed ability grouping prior to grade 10.

I asked myself so what is my difficulty with the differentiated instruction advocated by the SPS?

Upon further reading it became quite apparent that Finland and the SPS have a huge difference in the implementation of no ability grouping.....

The difference is that in Finland if children fall behind there are intensive interventions that the children receive in addition to regular math instruction. Some of this may be outside the regular school day.

That does not regularly happen with the SPS.

Perhaps it could ... but it does not.

D44.00 the elementary school policy states:
Identification occurs early in the school year and will enable a timely intervention program to be implemented in order to optimize the student's chance of earning promotion. (fairytale #1)

D45.00 the middle school policy states:
Generally, except for unusual and compelling circumstances, a student who has not achieved the necessary skills will not be considered eligible for promotion to the next higher grade. Grade-level curricula and associated student learning objectives of the District represent the expectations for student performance. Classroom instruction is planned to accommodate a reasonable range of student performance. However, some students’ skill deficiencies may be so severe that allowing more than one year for completion of a particular grade is a reasonable alternative to promotion. (fairytale #2)

If students had required necessary skills and had effective interventions then differentiated instruction might be preferred. The SPS has neither required necessary skills nor effective interventions. Instead the SPS has a math circus, where the State Math Grade Level Expectations are ignored and as a result there are no effective interventions because there are a massive number of learning goals each school year, which fall into the following categories: Beginning, beginning/developing, Developing, developing/securing, Securing.

Social promotion is the result.

It is quite apparent that the SPS does not use education research to find effective ways to educate children but rather uses research to justify supporting existing programs, which often are not working.

Note the big push for differentiated instruction but the failure to identify required necessary skills and the lack of interventions for those failing to meet the required skills. This is an extremely important component to producing an effective math education program but for the SPS it is ignored. {Instead we get Edu-Crats speaking Edu-Fluff}

I am all for effective programs like the one in Finland ... but Seattle is very confused and remains unable to improve their system through the intelligent applications of relevant data.

Singapore has a definite division of Students in grade 7 after the 6th grade exams.

Though the programs in Finland and Singapore are very different they are both thoughtfully developed and produce very positive results. The same can not be said for Seattle.

Math Placement Initiative from TMP

But the UW has their own idea....

Here's more, from the UW page:

In a nutshell, the CRMT is a new college math placement test that will replace the currently used MPT, at least for general admission.

From the link above:
Participants of the May and June working meetings determined that the existing Intermediate Math Placement Test (MPT-I) should be retained in its current form to optimize placement into precalculus courses, and a new General Math Placement Test (MPT-G) should be created for placement into general entry-level college math courses other than pre-calculus. The new test would contain items assessing each of the five CRMT Content Standards in contrast to the heavier weighting given to algebra and functions by the MPT-I.

So is the UW hatching its own CRMT and calling it the MPT-G?

It is laudable that the UW is going to look at 5 content areas to assess students placement.

My big concern from looking at the weak cognitive demand and weak results from the current Compass test is not just about correct college placement but of greater importance fixing the system that is producing such poor results.

In regard to the UW actions, could it be viewed that since so many current students are so bad at traditional mathematics content, the kind necessary for engineering and physical sciences, just don't ask them much about real algebra or functions. Asking students less about Authentic Algebra and functions kinda sorta makes the UW look a lot like CitiBank or AIG just in a different setting.

Can we spin off great derivatives with weak fundamentals and succeed? or will we need a math bailout from India?

Will Core-Plus be an OSPI recommendation?

The Studies:
Dr. Bachelis' original (Wayne State) study on the CorePlus in Michigan schools.
This is a peer reviewed and published study on CorePlus. papers/milgram/andover-report.htm

Dr. James Milgrim's analysis of the same schools with CorePlus.. including student retrospectives.

So what might we expect?

CorePlus does NOT align well with either the traditional or the integrated WA state math standards.

It will therefore take enormous supplementation, hand-holding and expense to twist it to work. These manipulations can only reduce the effectiveness of any curricula.. so the end result would be expected to be worse than that indicated by these studies.

Bottom line is this: Authentic Algebra or NOT?
Core-Plus is a definite NOT.


"Does Superintendent Dorn believe it's important to offer a vastly inferior product for those districts that believe in integrated math? If no integrated program currently comes close to meeting our new math standards, then none should be recommended. The point of the math standards are to ensure every student is given the opportunity to learn all that is within the standards. With Core Plus students will not have that opportunity."

Elementary Math Curricula .. A New Study

{subtitle: How Seattle spends lots of time and piles of money to get worse results.}

Here is recent research worth reading.

Achievement Effects of Four Early Elementary School Math Curricula: Findings from First Graders in 39 Schools.

The four curricula are TERC/Investigations in Number, Data, and Space; Math Expressions; Saxon Math; and Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Mathematics. First-grade math achievement was significantly higher in schools randomly assigned to Math Expressions or Saxon Math than in those schools assigned to Investigations in Number, Data, and Space or to Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Mathematics.

Some interesting pieces from the research report:

The purpose of this large-scale, national study is to determine whether some early elementary school math curricula are more effective than others at improving student math achievement, thereby providing educators with information that may be useful for making AYP.

A small number of curricula dominate elementary math instruction (seven math curricula make up 91 percent of the curricula used by K-2 educators), and the curricula are based on different theories for developing student math skills.

This study will help to fill that knowledge gap. The study is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education and is being conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR) and its subcontractor SRI International (SRI).

Curricula Included in the Study:
A competitive process was used to select four curricula for the evaluation that represent many of the diverse approaches used to teach elementary school math in the United States.

The process for selecting the curricula began with the study team inviting developers and publishers of early elementary school math curricula to submit a proposal to include their curricula in the evaluation. A panel of outside experts in math and math instruction then reviewed the submissions and recommended to IES curricula suitable for the study. The goal of the review process was to identify widely used curricula that draw on different instructional approaches and that hold promise for improving student math achievement.

My comment:
So why was the most widely used Elementary Math series in the USA .. NOT included? Everyday Math where are you?

Either the panel of experts felt EDM did not hold enough promise for improving student math achievement or another selection adequately demonstrated the instructional approaches that are used in Everyday Math.

Math Expressions and Saxon Math were the two programs that showed the significantly better results in this study. Neither of those programs is in anyway similar to Everyday Math.

It now appears that districts like Seattle that are devoting large expenditures to Everyday Math and advocate a strict "Fidelity of Implementation" to the EDM pacing plan are really off the mark. The NMAP recommendations are not followed by EDM.

In the study the average instructional time per week was 4.8 hours for the non-Saxon three and 6.1 hours per week for Saxon. Saxon = 366 min/ 5 day week = 73 minutes per week.

In Seattle EDM is used 75 minutes / day (big increase in math time with EDM use) and on the 4th grade Math WASL the results were worse in 2007-2008 than in the year previous when far less time was spent on Math and EDM not used.

Seattle in 2008-2009 chose to follow the EDM pacing plan rather than heed the newly adopted State Math Standards. This decision to consciously ignore the WA State Standards based Math Grade Level Performance Expectations posted on the SPS website is yet another example of the failing SPS direction for math. Interesting also is the fact that this following of the State Math standards was to be immediate action (Superintendent's Strategic Plan of June 2008 p.17) that was to happen in 2008-2009, but did NOT.

Seattle WASL pass scores:
Grade 4 Hispanics down from 43.5 to 33.5

Grade 4 White students down from 79.8 to 73.9

Grade 4 Black students down from 32.0 to 27.6

After a decade of an expanding math achievement gap in Seattle it appears the only thing that has changed is more money is being thrown at the problem.

Is it time for a civil rights lawsuit?

EDM costs in terms of annual expenditures for consumables and teacher coaching more than any other program. In comparison with Saxon and Math Expressions about 50% to 100%+ more annually.

James includes another possible explanation for the non-participation of EDM:
Why EDM was not included in the study?

Maybe EDM was considered for the study by the researchers and the EDM folks choose not to participate.

hmmm... why? The EDM folks wouldn't be able to control the research and the outcome? real research---maybe they knew the program would not withstand the scrutiny of real research...

(Since I spent considerable time looking at EDM in the Spring of 2007 ... I find James' thought very plausible.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bridgewater New Jersey goodbye EDM

It is goodbye to Everyday Math in New Jersey at the Bridgewater School District.

A Singapore Math trip this summer

Check this out: Interested in the Singapore Math Summer Program 2009?

Organized by (SMath Resources)

July 18 (Saturday) to July 25 (Saturday), 2009

- Teachers, academics, researchers, leaders and others interested in Singapore Mathematics

Number of participants: Limited to 24 participants

Purpose of This Trip:

· To facilitate opportunities to learn, understand and experience first-hand how Mathematics is taught and learned in Singapore.

· To provide participants with Singapore Mathematics resources in the form of books, CDs, notes, seminars and practical experiences.

· To reflect on own professional development, teaching, and learning in the areas of Mathematics by learning about the Singapore approach to Mathematics teaching and learning.

Utah may provide Singapore Math grants

In the Salt Lake Tribune:

"America doesn't grow the number of engineering scientists and mathematicians that we need for even our most basic needs in the military as well as our space administration,"

The measure now goes to the House for consideration.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Singaore Math on the move in Utah

Legislation moving in Utah... from the Salt Lake Tribune:

Cultural Competence and Core Knowledge .. E.D. Hirsch

C-Span radio (.mp3)...
A panel on December 16th 2008 in Boston, which includes a main event speech by Professor E.D. Hirsch, addressing proposed Massachusetts legislation.
Access to rich knowledge through academic content.

Good books, good teachers, and midnight oil ....

Download here:

Please let us have knowledge based learning. Perhaps our education policy needs to include many of Hirsch's ideas. Knowledge really is a good thing to have.
E.D. Hirsch was originally an English professor before he became an education expert.
In Massachusetts prior to 1992 gross funding inequities in public education resulted in so districts with only 30% of others. Many poor school districts practiced social promotion. Resulting in a failure to transmit knowledge.

Infusion of dollars came and with it standards that needed to be met.
This produced significant measurable educational improvement.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Everyday Math & math content

Here is a particularly nice website about Math in the
Plymouth-Canton Community School District.

Teach Our Kids!
"As a public educational institution, the Plymouth-Canton Community School District will lead our state in educating students to thrive in a complex global community"

Now take a look on this great website at how absurd that statement is for a district using Everyday Math.

The Seattle School district math leadership apparently believes that they are addressing the New k-8 Math Standards adopted in April of 2008 by simply following the Everyday Math pacing guide. I guess these people are unable to quickly read the performance expectations from the state and look at the EDM textbooks and see an enormous disconnect.

The SPS Superintendent's strategic plan "Excellence for All" June 2008 states:

Immediate Actions

• Math: A Math Project Team will develop an implementation plan and timeline for action during summer 2008. Alignment of the elementary and middle school instructional materials to the new State Performance Expectations will be completed this summer.

Is anyone accountable for this failure to perform?

All we have is this:

Attempting to satisfy this:

Did that math project team even meet?
Where's the Beef? I can find no product even remotely connected to Alignment with State performance expectations.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What do Our Kids Know? by C.R. Hoff


This past week in my copy of “Education Week” there was an excellent column by Robert Pondiscio. Mr. Pondiscio suggests that many of our children do not begin to understand many of the references President Obama made in his Inaugural Address.

I offer the following quote: “If you do not know what happened at Concord, Gettysburg, Normandy, and Khe Sanh, the sacrifices of those who “fought and died” for us in those places is lost on you. As uncomfortable as it is to consider, if our children are ignorant of that history, then at least some measure of that sacrifice was, alas, in vain.”

I have seen many examples of this “ignorance” in discussions with students and even among some school board members with whom I served.

Why is this the case? Some educators would suggest that this is a result of the intense focus on Reading, Writing and Mathematics that the WASL and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) have required. Others, including many in our district’s Social Studies Department would suggest that they “do not cover specific events” as they are trying to “develop critical thinking!” So much for the idea that an understanding of History is of any importance!

In the past schools in this state have been pretty proud of their ability “to raise the reading levels” of their students and point out that WASL scores, in reading, have risen above 90%. One might ask, “What were these kids reading?” Evidently not anything that included any significant facts. Instead of reading about Wolfe, Pitt, Paine, MacKenzie, Coulter, Shackleton, Curie, Pasteur, Tesla etc. they have been given assignments that may have improved their reading skills, but did not give them any sense of progress in either History or Science. Many Blacks can’t identify Martin Luther, and many Mexican Americans can not describe “Cinco de Mayo.” I should have figured this out many years ago when I was in one of our high schools using the telephone, and asked a couple of students ”who had invented it?” Will “Dick and Jane” and “Catcher in the Rye” add to a child’s basic knowledge of History or Science? Will reading these novels portray the concept that it is through effort that success is achieved? No in both cases!

Why is it that most of us, who went to high school 40 years ago, would recognize most of these significant personages and most, if not nearly all, of current students have no idea what we are talking about? Why is it that most of us of that era can figure out how much a 10% discount is?

Could it be that we had parents, and teachers, who made it clear to us that these were priorities? I think so.
Thomas Friedman, highly regarded columnist of the New York Times, wrote the other day about a solution to our current financial problems that was suggested to him when he was visiting India. “All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.”
Jobs for Americans? I am not sure if there are any Americans who would either qualify for these jobs, or be willing to take them. The good paying jobs that they would offer would require “knowledge” and the other jobs they offer would, as the President of the University of Washington suggested, be “washing the cars” of those with knowledge.

Knowledge would appear to be the desired commodity of the 21st Century. Yet in schools, and after schools, there seems to be very little regard for this by a majority of students who seem to either not be planning a future, or planning one that they think will not require “learning.” Rock stars, NBA player seem to a vocational aim for a very significant portion of our children, and the adults in their lives seem to be willing to allow this kind of thinking.

In the New York Times this past week there was an article entitled “Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes.” This article, written by a college professor, put forth some concepts that students have evidently learned in their K-12 experience.

“I tell my classes that if they just do what they are supposed to do and meet the standard requirements, that they will earn a C,” he said. “That is the default grade. They see the default grade as an A.” “Students often confuse the level of effort with the quality of work. There is a mentality in students that ‘if I work hard, I deserve a high grade.’ “ “I feel that if I do all of the readings and attend class regularly that I should be able to achieve a grade of at least a B.” These are all quotes from this article!

Could this be why the Indians, Koreans, and Chinese do so well in our flaccid education system? If we were to judge our system on the basis of passing Advanced Placement exams versus ethics of test takers, I think we might be able to reinforce this theory.

If “Knowledge is the Commodity of the 21st Century,” and we keep this up, car washing in the slums of the future America just might be the highest goal for many of our students. Remember only 14% of Washington’s 9th graders finish college in 10 years. This means that there will be no shortage of car wash candidates.

Are we switching from the “Village Idiot” to the “Village of Idiots?” School Board members and parents please take note of these trends, and act!

------------- by Charles R. Hoff

Monday, February 16, 2009

Grade 5 Division and Everyday Math in Seattle

In grade 5 EDM lists as a developing learning goal division with one and two digit divisors. Unfortunately this is a long way away from the WA State Math Standards 5th grade expectation of students having a secure mastery of the standard algorithm for long division with a two digit divisor.

Here is what appears to be going on in grade 5 of the Seattle Public Schools if the EDM pacing plan is followed:

Division is covered in Unit 4 (pp. 230-272 in teacher's guide) of Everyday Math in 5th grade:


4.1 Division Facts and Extensions - Reviewing multiplication and division facts and apply basic facts to division w/ 1-digit divisors.

4.2 Partial Quotients Division Algorithm - Review algorithm w/ whole numbers

4.3 American Tour Finding Distances on a Map ( I don't know what this has to do w/ division as defined in WA Standards)

4.4 Partial-Quotients Algorithm Strategies - Providing practice w/ algorithms

4.5 Division of Decimal Numbers - Providing experience w/ magnitude estimates for quotients and using partial-quotients algorithm w/ decimals

4.6 Interpreting the Remainder - Interpreting remainders in story problems

4.7 Skills Review w/ First to 100 - game where 2 dice are rolled and the product found and it is multiplied by variable to get answer. If one gets correct answer then they get to keep the product of the two dice just rolled. ( there is an entire section about this with lots of games and calculator activities.) So what is happening to the Standard Division algorithm? As near as I can tell it is not present in Grade 5 EDM.

4.8 Progress Check 4.

It seems that in EDM, there are not too many 2-digit divisor problems. The only method shown is partial quotient or calculator use. Students are encouraged to estimate using multiples of 10. At one point in the "Informing Instruction" teachers are encouraged to have the child make the following list if divisor is 6:
5 x 6
10 x 6
20 x 6
50 x 6
100 x 6
200 x 6

This list is supposed to get students to go beyond using multiples of 10.
In perusing the problems a lot of "friendly numbers" for 2-digit divisors such as 11, 25, 50, etc. This must be intentional as in EDM it is likely that many of the students haven't memorized multiplication facts to a level of automaticity.

Have I missed something here?

What is the District doing to meet the following performance standard for grade 5?

Fluently and accurately divide up to a four digit number by one- or two-digit divisors using the standard long-division algorithm.

In the EDM standard pacing plan, it appears that EDM avoids the standard long division algorithm in favor of partial quotients and calculators.

Is there a revised pacing plan that shows how the WA State Math grade level performance expectations as posted on the SPS website are being met?

I've asked this question of the SPS hopefully there is a a good answer about how the needs of the students are being met.

Charlie Mas followed this with Seattle Schools Blog material at:

Nice work Mr. Mas.

Education Proposal Repackaged

From the Boston Globe:

The 25 comments with this article make interesting reading.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

10 year old IMP lies are still alive

I went to examine Beaverton Oregon's proposed math adoption.
Here is what I found. A link to Interactive Math Program, which seems like a blatantly dishonest IMP sales pitch!!!

The following appears here

IMP™ Receives Award from the U.S. Department of Education

In 1999, Assistant Education Secretary Kent McGuire announced the selection of ten mathematics-education programs as being exemplary and promising. The K–12 programs were chosen for their outstanding quality and demonstrated effectiveness, following a national search.

Five of the programs, including IMP, were designated “exemplary” because they provided convincing evidence of their effectiveness in multiple sites with multiple populations. “The exemplary programs have met the highest standards set by our nation’s leading mathematics experts and educators,” McGuire said. “These programs work, and we encourage teachers, administrators, and policymakers to learn more about them as potential additions to their curriculum.”

{ says who?? where ?? when ??

When these selections were determined as exemplary, promising etc. to the best of my knowledge none of this was based on field testing.

It was just some folks sitting down and looking at the books and deciding what should work. Unfortunately at a multiplicity of sites IMP has NOT worked.

In the Puget Sound area. IMP was abandon by Tacoma and University Place S.D. as ineffective. In 2006- 2008 Cleveland High school in Seattle using an NSF Grant through the University of Washington implemented IMP and their WASL grade 10 math scores declined despite considerable expenditures from the PD^3 project.

Look here for Cleveland data:

So I am I wrong ... or are the claims made on this website a fraud? }

The search for quality mathematics programs began in 1994 when Congress directed the department’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement to establish “panels of appropriate qualified experts and practitioners” to evaluate educational programs and recommend the best to the secretary of education. The Expert Panel in Mathematics and Science is comprised of 15 mathematicians, scientists, educators, and policymakers from around the country. Ya you betcha' We all believe this!!

Bob Dean's Letter to Education Committee Members

This is a letter sent to the house and senate education committee members

February 9th, 2009

Representative (Name)

First, I want to express my thanks for your attempts to strengthen education in the state of Washington. I know these issues can be frustrating, complicated and require a lot of time. I have also invested a considerable amount of time towards these issues and as a result I feel the need to offer my perspective about two issues: 1) End of Course Testing and 2) High School Curriculum Recommendations.

End of Course Assessments

I was a supporter of EOC’s long before RCW 28A.655.066 was enacted. I want to refer specifically to the passage below:

The superintendent shall develop end-of-course assessments in algebra I, geometry, integrated mathematics I, and integrated mathematics II

This legislation was originally passed prior to the time that the new math standards were developed. It was correctly determined at that time that we would need to develop end of course assessments in both traditional and integrated courses. However, now that the new standards do exist we need to reevaluate this decision based on the new standards.

The end-of-course assessments will be made to assess a student’s knowledge of the algebra I standards or the integrated 1 standards as described in the revised Washington K-12 mathematics standards. It was originally assumed the standards for algebra I and integrated I would be quite different however it turns out that the standards are not that different at all.

Of the 40 standards that are contained in algebra I and integrated I, 33 of them are identical. This alone would insure that the end of course assessments based on the revised standards would be almost the same. Further, 4 of the remaining 7 standards found in algebra I are covered in every popular integrated program despite the fact that they are not in the integrated 1 state standards. That means that there are only 3 of the 40 standards in algebra I that would not be either mandated or covered in a typical integrated 1 program. Considering the cost of developing and administering these assessments, it hardly seems logical that you would have two different assessments because of 3 out of 40 standards. Obviously, these three standards could easily be covered with supplementary materials. The original legislation that led to the changes in RCW 28A.655.066 never anticipated that we would end up with standards for algebra I and integrated 1 that are almost identical but that is exactly what we have.

High School Curriculum Recommendations

Although the final high school curriculum recommendations have not yet been determined, I am concerned that the preliminary recommendations are problematic. In particular, OSPI and SBE recommended two programs that were highly aligned to the new revised math standards and one integrated program, Core Plus, that is poorly aligned to the standards. The reasoning behind selecting an integrated program, despite its lack of alignment, is that approximately 40% of the high school students use some kind of Integrated curriculum thus the state should include an Integrated curriculum in the recommendations. There are two major reasons why this idea is a very bad idea.

First, there is no such thing as a typical integrated program. Core-Plus is only used by 16% of the students in the state and it doesn’t come close to resembling other integrated programs. Thus recommending this program will hardly give comfort to the majority schools who use a different Integrated program. Secondly, Core-Plus simply does not align to the standards by course. For example, OSPI’s initial findings show that the Core-Plus Integrated 1 course is either missing or deficient in 18 of the 32 content standards. A student taking Core-Plus 1 would not be prepared to take and end-of course assessment on the integrated 1 standards. Core-Plus 2 is even worse: 22 of the 32 Integrated 2 content standards are either missing or deficient.

The curriculum review process is not completed as of yet. The consultant, Strategic Teaching, is presently making its own review of the top 3 rated curricula and Core Plus. They will present their results at our next Math Panel meeting on March 3rd. Based on what I know at this time, I don’t see how Core Plus can survive this process; nor should it. The data is clear that students in Core Plus would have a very difficult time trying to pass an end-of-course assessment based on either the integrated 1 or integrated 2 standards.

The fact is there is no integrated program that will align well to the revised math standards. This is no surprise because when we initially wrote the standards we formed the standards based on courses in algebra I, geometry, algebra II and statistics. The integrated courses were formed by simply taking those standards and rearranging them into Integrated 1, 2 and 3. This is not how any integrated curriculum is created and that is why you will not find an integrated curriculum that will align to the Washington revised math standards. Should we recommend an integrated curriculum for high school anyway based on the fact that 40% of the schools use some kind of integrated program? Consider that we did not recommend Connected Math at the middle school level because it did not align to the state standards: This, despite the fact that 65% of the middle schools in this state use Connected Math.

Finally, we find ourselves in a dilemma. If we recommend an integrated curriculum that does not align to the state standards then we risk having mass test failures and a repeat of the WASL fiasco. If we don’t recommend an integrated curriculum then it is hard to justify having an integrated end-of-course assessment that by necessity will almost duplicate any algebra I end-of-course assessment. This matter needs to be given much thought if we don’t want to repeat past errors.

In my professional judgment, the only responsible decision, given our current standards, is to have only one end-of-course assessment in both algebra I and geometry. I hope you will think deeply about these issues. As a good legislator told me, “We have to get this right…people are waiting to see if government works.” I am available at any time to expound on these issues in person if it would help to clarify the situation.


Bob Dean
Math Dept Chairman
Evergreen High School
State Board of Education
Math Advisory Panel Member
OSPI Standards Revision Team
WTM Executive Committee

No Grade levels and No Grades (in Colorado district)

Try this link,2933,490805,00.html

W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993) advocated for this.

Let's follow this over time and see if it can work.
How will we know who it works for? Will there be meaningful data collection.

The article says this has worked in some locations.
It would be nice to know where and how the judgment of "it works" was made.

Beaverton and proposed Everyday Math

What can these folks possibly be thinking?

Read the article:

If Beaverton adopts EDM we will know they do not think much.

Sudhakar writes from India
...... Educating-Middle-India

Sudhakar Kudva has a unique perspective on education as well as American life. He is a Vancouver, Washington resident and retired Intel manager who was born in India. He is a graduate of the famous Indian Institute of Technology, and has an American PhD.

Currently (2-10-2009) Sudhakar writes from India.

Monday, February 9, 2009

More on Teacher Quality and preparation

Paul Dunham writes:

If a test of teacher competence isn't available, at least it could be. I think we're in deeper trouble right here:

Standard 2:

"Education schools should insist upon higher entry standards for admittance into their programs. As a condition for admission, aspiring elementary teachers should demonstrate that their knowledge of mathematics is at the high school level (geometry and coursework equivalent to second-year algebra). Appropriate tests include standardized achievement tests, college placement tests, and sufficiently rigorous high school exit tests."

While it is clear that this is what should be the case, we might as well ask for an end to hunger or a lasting peace in the Mideast. Currently our high schools can't graduate enough students capable of meeting this requirement to go on to technical careers promising higher pay and status! If Ed schools were to change their admission requirements overnight according to this statement, their halls would be empty very soon.
Why? Because the system of Ed schools / K-12 is caught in a feed-back loop that resonates with mathematical mediocrity. Ed schools MUST admit students with weak qualifications to keep their lights on. The set of students that have good math skills and the set of students that wish to be K-12 teachers are disjoint. The Ed school standards for math proficiency start low and stay low. They will process and graduate these folks and send them out to work where they will perpetuate our national numeracy crisis.

Look at the syllabus for Math 100 and 102 at UW. These are V. Warfileld's courses for "students admitted with a deficiency in mathematics", covering topics comprised of topics that belong in grades 5-8, and offered for college credit in the school of Ed. Here is a description of requrements for admission. The only Math class listed here that I can find is for Math 170. This is not a math course. It is a V Warfield Math Ed course, also described in the link above. There is no advanced content here, just grade-school fundamentals with a heaping helping of empty-calorie pedagogical fluff. Surely somewhere there is a school of Ed where this is situation is different (the NCTQ report has praise for a few programs), but I suspect that the pattern entrenched at UW is common across the nation.
Be sure and read Sudhakar's comment that follows

National Council on Teacher Quality

How bad are things? This bad...

The National Council on Teacher Quality speaks.....

From the Mathematics preparation for elementary school teachers

Standard 3:
As conditions for completing their teacher preparation and earning a license, elementary teacher candidates should demonstrate a deeper understanding of mathematics content than is expected of children. Unfortunately, no current assessment is up to this task.

Are you kidding me? No current assessment is up to the task.

Well take a weekend and write one.

We are talking Elementary school math content knowledge ... I'll settle for an understanding of the math content that can be demonstrated. I would like it demonstrated through Algebra and Geometry. We are going to have end of course testing in those subjects for High School students .. is it a reach to expect the same of elementary teachers?

Since in Washington 2/3 of elementary schools are using TERC/Investigations or Everyday Math it is unlikely that the teachers will learn much math content while teaching. If other districts are like the SPS then teacher professional development will center on the process of how to organize the games and skip the math content.

It is odd that the effectiveness of the teacher correlates quite well with teacher math content knowledge and yet the school districts do little if anything to improve teacher math content knowledge.

Take a look at all that teacher training that took place last summer to explain the math standards to the teachers, any content happening??? Very little is done to improve teacher content knowledge of mathematics ... why??

finding 1:
Few education schools cover the mathematics content that elementary teachers need. In fact, the education schools in our sample are remarkable for having achieved little consensus about what teachers need. There is one unfortunate area of agreement: a widespread inattention to algebra.

finding 2:
States contribute to the chaos. While most state education agencies issue guidelines for the mathematics preparation of elementary teachers, states do not appear to know what is needed.

finding 3:
Most education schools use mathematics textbooks that are inadequate. The mathematics textbooks in the sample varied enormously in quality. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the courses use no textbook or a textbook that is inadequate in one or more of four critical areas of mathematics. Again, algebra is shortchanged, with no textbook providing the strongest possible support.

finding 4:
Almost anyone can get in. Compared to the admissions standards found in other countries, American education schools set exceedingly low expectations for the mathematics knowledge that aspiring teachers must demonstrate.

finding 5:
Almost anyone can get out. The standards used to determine successful completion of education schools’ elementary teacher preparation programs are essentially no different than the low standards used to enter those programs.

finding 6:
The elementary mathematics in mathematics methods coursework is too often relegated to the sidelines. In particular, any practice teaching that may occur fails to emphasize the need to capably convey mathematics content to children.

finding 7:
Too often, the person assigned to teach mathematics to elementary teacher candidates is not professionally equipped to do so. Commendably, most elementary content courses are taught within mathematics departments, although the issue of just who is best qualified and motivated to impart the content of elementary mathematics to teachers remains a conundrum.

finding 8:
Almost anyone can do the work. Elementary mathematics courses are neither demanding in their content nor their expectations of students.

We suspect that in several decades we will look back on the current landscape of the mathematics preparation of elementary teachers and have the benefit of hindsight to realize that some education schools were poised for significant and salutary change. These are the schools that now have the basic “3/1” framework already in place for adequate preparation, that is, three mathematics courses that teach the elementary mathematics content that a teacher needs to know and one well-aligned mathematics methods course. Our recommendations here are addressed to professionals responsible for elementary teacher preparation: professional organizations, states, education schools, higher education institutions, and textbook publishers. We also propose initiatives that would build on the 3/1 framework in order to achieve a truly rigorous integration of content and methods instruction.

My observation is that content instruction is minimal and methods instruction often centers on best practices that in fact are not best practices. In short much of this preparation is largely a waste of everyone's time.

“This report should help counter the common belief that the only skill needed to teach second-grade arithmetic is a good grasp of third-grade arithmetic. Our education schools urgently need to ensure that our elementary teachers do not represent in the classroom the substantial portion of our citizenry that is mathematically disabled. We must not have the mathematically blind leading the blind.”
— Donald N. Langenberg ...Chancellor Emeritus, University of Maryland

I wonder what D. N. Langenberg would have to say about central office administrators that make decisions about math curriculum. Sure looks like the blind leading the blind in Washington State and certainly in Seattle. The Seattle School Board has an opportunity to begin turning this sorry mess around by adopting Prentice Hall mathematics.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Seattle Math Myth Buster Charlie Mas writes

As usual Charlie Mas puts together a very fine piece.

Does the SPS have a definition of curriculum and if so do they use it? Charlie again points out how incredibly inconsistent the SPS appears to be.

How can the SPS tell us much when there is no internal consistency?

I really like Charlie's writing.

TERC/Investigations .. long term happiness??

Here is a link to an interesting attempt to gain ideas about the continuing use of TERC/Investigations in TERC happy districts.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dollar and a Penny
.....No difference at Verizon
.... and NO math skills

Should Verizon be allowed to handle money?

Here is a You Tube video that will let you know just how bizarre the mathematical reasoning is that is used by those who advertise rates and handle complaints.

Yes there is a difference between a dollar and a penny.
Yes there is a difference between half a dollar and half a penny.

But for two tenths of a dollar and two tenths of a penny there is NO difference.

(Totally WACKO)
Why because Verizon wants to bill you $0.002 when they advertised 0.002 cents per KB.

Apparently few at Verizon know the difference.

Ralph says:

I remember hearing this billing problem a couple of years ago,
with a more complete introduction. The man was charged for N kb usage (of
something) at a rate *stated* as .002 cents per kb, but he was charged at
a rate of .002 dollars per kb, and could not get the company to admit that
these rates were not the same. To them a rate of .002 settled the matter,
since -- I guess -- it was the number they put in their billing computer
program. Evidently one had to be a very high official to know what was
inside the program. I suspect the rate really was .002 dollars and that
the transition was owing to some advertising executive who thought "cents"
made the rate more attractive. He seems to have been right.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Only an 8th Grade education

Here it is the final Exam to exit grade 8 in 1895.

This is clearly in the days before social promotion went rampant.

What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895...

Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? .......Well, check this out.
Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina!, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina , KS - 1895
Grammar (Time, one hour)

1 Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of 'lie,''play, ' and 'run.'
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/ bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5 Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. Long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas .
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)
[Do we even know what this is??]

1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph,
subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.' (HUH?)
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two
exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word:
bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and
name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena , ! Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco ..
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclinaton of the earth.

Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete.
Gives the saying 'he only had an 8th grade education' a whole new
meaning, doesn't it?!

Also shows you how poor our education system
has become!

Unfortunately, the Salina Journal neglected to print the answers for us.

--many thanks to Jim Milgrim for the above

Yes We Can ....... by Charles R. Hoff

Yes WE can! This is the motto of our newly elected President. Please note that I have underlined the “we”! A few years ago Hillary Clinton wrote a book titled “It takes a Village.” While my conservative leanings usually don’t coincide with either of these two distinguished public servants on most issues, I am afraid I have to admit that they may be right about what appears to be a major shortfall in our nation’s success.

Perhaps the last time that “we” included most of us was the Second World War when there was, I believe, almost a complete unity on the need to work, sacrifice, and even die, to overcome a danger to our nation. In 1983 the National Commission on Excellence in Education suggested that if the education system that existed in 1983 were imposed upon our nation, we would regard this as an “Act of War.” Perhaps this war, like the Korean, and Viet Nam wars had no victory.

Why? I would suggest that there was no “we” in all cases. Americans haven’t had a focus on important issues since 1945. In the cases of the two wars mentioned, and the educational crisis described in “A Nation at Risk” there has been much discussion, billions spent, but no agreement that this “war” deserved the kind of changes that civilians made to win the Second World War. We have operated on the “guns and butter” premise, unlike the rationing system that severely altered lifestyles from 1941 to 1945.

President Obama has asked for all of us to “sacrifice” for the good of all to overcome the fiscal crisis that is in large part due to our inability to live within our means for the past several decades. The house of cards has fallen in.

Since 1945 “we” have all crawled into our caves to watch the “Simpsons!” To help us with this idea of comfort local governments, such as our school board, have limited the public’s ability to discuss any issues in any constructive manner. It would appear that school board members do not want to have to defend the policies that they are responsible for.

We have become a nation of individual islands. When I first moved here we had block parties on our street. Now I am not sure of the names of most of the residents of my block. Service clubs have declined in membership and volunteer organizations have a great deal of trouble getting members. We have all crawled under our individual rocks, with our TV’s, video games, Facebook, etc., instead of working with our neighbors to the betterment of our community.

The impact that this has on education has been a disaster. On a talk show this past week I heard a caller who was concerned about the possibility of a 4 day school week. There were two concerns. This would affect his daycare, and he didn’t believe that children had the attention span for a longer day.

This pretty well summarizes the educational problem. Education has become, for far too many kids, a warehouse for daily storage of kids who are so inoculated in the instant rewards of television and video games. They find almost all other inputs as “boring.” If it is “boring” then it cannot be important in their minds.

In Seattle President Obama stated, “No amount of money can buy achievement.” I certainly believe he is right, but our politicians seem bent on “solving” the educational problems with more money. After all, the lobbyists need our dollars.

Where is the “we?” At the last school board meeting, we learned that Truman High School is going to be “reformed,” and one class in one of our high schools had 80% of its students pass the math WASL. At that same high school less than 50% of the 10th graders met the minimum standard for mathematics, but this wasn’t mentioned. There were only three “we” present! One was there to assist his son with his Boy Scout badge. The budget of this organization is over $ 200 Million. Yet there isn’t anyone watching!

Perhaps it is the new policy of the School Board to limit public comment to a time before the public even learns about the items being presented! The Politburo worked that way also.

Has our country reached a turning point where we either have to get the “we” involved or become an Argentina in the new world? Argentina, in 1938, was the 6th most prosperous country in the world. A documentary produced in the 1960’s suggested that the citizens of Argentina had lost confidence in their government. Does anyone see some similarity?

Is it time that politicians and governments become more candid with their public? When things aren’t working admit it! When things don’t work is there any measurable impact upon the public? In the current system there isn’t, and this leads to the “we” being “comfortably numb.” This “numbness” is leading us down some pretty rough roads with several bridges “out.”

Explaining Division of Fractions
.......(circa 1910)

Some things are definitely better old school.

Exhibit A:

Elementary Arithmetic
By Charles William Morey

I leave it to you to decide if you think this explanation of division of fractions from 1910 is better than what you have seen recently.,M1

The explanation of division of fractions
is on pages 279-280.

This is in the intermediate Arithmetic section ...

bulletin: arithmetic still matters ... duh.

The Impact of Reform Instruction on Student Mathematics Achievement

Book Title

The Impact of Reform Instruction on Student Mathematics Achievement

Link to Book's huge preview:,M1

I do not have the $125.00 available for this at the moment.

9th grade WASL ... bye bye

From the Tacoma News Tribune

WASL in ninth grade junked
Schools chief acts to save some $500,000

(Really $500,000 -- is this political spin?)

So let me understand this more fully ....
Having grade 9 students take the tenth grade WASL a year early was costing about $500,000/annum and how was that benefiting the public?

I wonder if Dr. Bergeson spent much time thinking about cost-benefit analysis with her decisions.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

From Las Vegas
Local businesses struggle with products of school district

EDITORIAL: Real world ramifications

Local businesses struggle with products of school district

In the third installment of a series reporting results of a poll of nearly 70 Southern Nevada business owners and managers, published in Tuesday's Review-Journal, 43 percent of respondents said local schools and colleges are "not at all effective" in preparing students for the workplace.

A startling 0 percent -- not a one -- found the schools "very effective" at that task.

The largest plurality -- 37 percent -- said the solution is stricter accountability for teachers and administrators. Seventeen percent said the answer is greater focus on teaching hard skills for basic employment. Only a slim 9 percent said the answer was throwing more money at the schools as currently organized. {How is that for a built in biased statement - throwing more money}

Seattle HS Math .. 3 choices

The Seattle Schools have narrowed the HS Math adoption choices down to three.

The Discovering Series from Key Curriculum Press.
Discovering Algebra
Discovering Geometry
Discovering Advanced Algebra

College Preparatory Math
Algebra Connections,
Geometry Connections,
Algebra 2

Prentice Hall's
Advanced Algebra

Prentice Hall would be my choice.

These are for the Math Core group.
The Advanced math finalists will be coming next week.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shocking News about the Experts ..... They sometimes Lie

Article from Sandra Stotsky
a National Math Advisory Panelist who is the 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality with the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas

from the article:

Even where Wagner does use research, it's not clear that we can trust what he reports as fact. On page 92, to discredit attempts to increase the number of high school students studying algebra and advanced mathematics courses, he refers to a "study" of MIT graduates that he claims found only a few mentioning anything "more than arithmetic, statistics and probability" as useful to their work. Curious, I checked out the "study" using the URL provided in an end note for Chapter 3. It consisted of 17, yes 17, MIT graduates, and, according to my count, 11 of the 17 explicitly mentioned linear algebra, trig, proofs and/ or calculus, or other advanced mathematics courses as vital to their work - exactly the opposite of what Wagner reports! Perhaps exposure to higher mathematics is not the worst problem facing American students!

More on Everyday math from Pittsburgh

I would add that the elementary panel was much more practical about the issue of dumping EM than the middle school panel was about getting rid of CMP. And, the secondary people were emphatic that students were arriving in their classrooms unprepared to work on more advanced math beginning with Algebra 1. I might add that the report from the National Math Panel, with its timely release during the review period, was a big help - its emphasis on learning the standard algorithms challenged the way EM approaches the issue. When EM made their presentation to the Pittsburgh math review panel they were asked whether, given the National Math Panel report, EM would change their approach to teaching the standard algorithms. The answer: basically, "no"; they would continue to approach teaching the algorithms as they had always taught (or not taught) them. The National Panel's emphasis on procedural fluency also influenced the Pittsburgh reviewers. And, EM, despite its games, wasn't getting that job done.

I would also note that Pittsburgh's move away from these two programs, though certainly not complete, is probably the best that could be expected given the district's history with "discovery" math. Teachers are steeped in it; they believe in their bones that it works. Relegating EM to supplement status would likely never have happened if the district still employed its last math coordinator - Diane Briars. She left the district about two years ago. I noticed in the information on the UMLN (Urban Math Leadership Network) that she has resurfaced. She's now the president-elect of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics. She's also appears to be working on an algebra project it seems for students who are underprepared for Algebra 1. Perhaps she has seen the error of her ways and is doing penance?


The Formula for Dealing with math parents

A formula for school districts on how to handle parents uprisings against reform math programs.

Step 1. Feign concern - Listen sympathetically and change nothing

Step 2. Isolate - If complaints persist, tell concerned parents they are in the minority and everyone else is happy with the program

Step 3. Divide and conquer - If parents organize, offer multiple parent math nights spreading "all is well - don't worry" vibes

Step 4. Interest will die down over time - Form a Math Committee to look into things and report back at a later date

Step 5. We're doing something - Put in some band aids- a computer program, extra help

Step 6. Tell them what they want to hear - Talk about a blended curriculum and change nothing. Repeat "Arithmetic Fluency" often when speaking in public.

Step 7. Show them what they want to see - Send home recognizable homework but continue to promote reform math at school

Repeat as necessary.

From the Washington Post:
Return of the Math Wars

The curriculum in question is called "Investigations in Number, Data, and Space" It’s also used in Frederick, Loudoun, Arlington, Charles and St. Mary's counties. Some schools in Fairfax use it too.

School officials say the textbook series helps students understand daily applications of math and why algorithms work by using games or manipulatives to deepen their understanding of math concepts. They say it builds on how kids learn naturally, by exploring.

It would be wonderful if we could leave "the land of they say" and enter the world of decision making based on results.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Letter to Seattle School Directors

Dear Sherry and Harium,

#1) I would encourage both of you to watch:
Two Million Minutes
and especially the one year follow up on India
------------ --------- --------- --------- -----
Bluntly .. EDM is defective
and it is pointless to attempt to build a successful High School program upon this base.

I assume that Art Mabbott will still be trying to get IMP as the high school adoption because our kids k-8 are largely unprepared for high school math ... so the answer is lets not do high school math lets do IMP.
Check the Cleveland H.S. results .. IMP = Insanity.

Cleveland H.S. results with IMP
introduced 2006-2007
with lots of help from UW and NSF

10th Grade Math
Year .. School .. District .. State
1998-99 ..... 5.3% ... 24.8% ... 33.0%
1999-00 ... 11.6% ... 32.2% ... 35.0%
2000-01 ..... 8.1% ... 33.7% ... 38.9%
2001-02 ..... 5.2% ... 35.3% ... 37.3%
2002-03 ..... 9.0% ... 34.9% ... 39.4%
2003-04 ..... 4.8% ... 38.6% ... 43.9%
2004-05 ... 23.2% ... 40.8% ... 47.5%
2005-06 ... 21.1% ... 55.7% ... 51.0%
2006-07 ... 17.9% ... 50.2% ... 50.4%
2007-08 ... 12.2% ... 50.4% ... 49.6%

Is anyone planning on fixing this mess?
Is anyone ever held accountable?

Contrast Seattle with what you see in India.
What are the math deciders in Seattle possibly thinking?

I am not saying we must be like India ... but we must stop being like Seattle.

I have some concerns that Anna-Maria went to the Urban Math Network Leadership conference in Austin, TX January 28, 29, 30. That would be home to the Dana Center and Uri Triesman. Uri has been a big proponent of Everyday Math and Connected Math. I do not find much in the way of results to recommend either of these programs .. but we are stuck with them.

I continue to advocate against this allegiance to reform math in SPS.
We are not getting suitable results and things will be even worse when actual testing of the WA math standards arrives in spring 2010, as currently SPS is ignoring the WA Math Standards at this time in the elementary school grades.

The District seems unable to even follow the June 2008 Strategic Plan's going to do these things by September 2008 and going to do these things by December 2008.

It is clear that for School Year 2008-2009 the posted Math Grade level expectations have been ignored in favor of the EDM pacing plan.

Look at the grade 5 standards of long division with a two digit divisor.
EDM does not even teach division of this type ( book recommends to pick up calculator ).
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- -----

Here is a Pittsburgh update:

------------ --------- --------- --------- ------

I'm quite familiar with the Dana Center and specifically Uri Treisman.

As to where Pittsburgh is with EM and CMP - Pittsburgh is probably one of the original districts to have used these two programs. EM has been in the district since 1994 and CMP since 1996. CMP was partially developed in this district. So, the district is steeped in fuzzy math and has strong connections to the likes of the Learning and Research Development Center and the Institute for Learning, both located at the University of Pittsburgh - the district's administration building and the University of Pittsburgh are next door neighbors. Now, having said that, student achievement is nothing to write home about, especially among the populations allegedly targeted by EM and CMP - minorities and low income students. Despite lots of money being spent, with lots of professional development, the introduction of math coaches in every school at every level, not to mention expanded amounts of time spent on math, too many students are still failing to demonstrate proficiency in math. Moreover, they are not prepared for high school level math. This past spring the district decided to chuck EM for enVision Math - to be implemented September, 2009. EM will continue to be used as a supplement. At the middle school level, the district has blended two programs - Prentice Hall Mathematics and CMP. Both programs are to be used equally. I'm not sure how they have managed to blend what would appear to be incompatible programs, but that's what they decided to do. CMP has been described as a program that never tells a kid anything. The Prentice Hall text is very traditional. The panel that made the recommendation was very inclined to stick with Connected Math - there was no consensus in the group to do this - it was a pure majority vote. It was the director of curriculum and instruction who made the suggestion to use two texts, noting that the board would not be pleased to get a recommendation to continue with CMP alone. Prentice Hall will support directed math skills development (procedural fluency) and CMP discovery-based, mathematical reasoning (conceptual fluency). Each student receives a Prentice Hall textbook and materials. CMP2 materials are used as classroom sets. At the very least, this approach provides the students and parents with some materials to reference when the "discovery" doesn't happen and the teacher isn't very good - both of which are frequent occurrences.

The bottom line is that Pittsburgh has, at least in theory, taken a giant step away from the discovery-based programs.


------------ --------- ------

SPS did the same in regard to:

Despite lots of money being spent, with lots of professional development, the introduction of math coaches in every school at every level, not to mention expanded amounts of time spent on math

Except unlike Pittsburgh, Seattle has not yet devised any correction of their course.
The SPS continues to seemingly say: NO Correction needed.

Results in Seattle are ...

Pretty much exactly what Denver and Pittsburgh got.

Grade 4 Seattle's Hispanic Students Math
4th Grade Math

Year .. District .. State
1997-98 ... 23.5% ... 11.4%
1998-99 ... 23.0% ... 14.2%
1999-00 ... 31.5% ... 18.2%
2000-01 ... 28.7% ... 20.0%
2001-02 ... 38.1% ... 29.3%
2002-03 ... 36.3% ... 30.7%
2003-04 ... 43.9% ... 38.8%
2004-05 ... 37.4% ... 35.8%
2005-06 ... 39.6% ... 36.9%
2006-07 ... 43.5% ... 35.5%
2007-08 ... 33.5% .. 31.3%

Grade 4 all students Math in Seattle
4th Grade Math

Year .. District .. State
1997-98 ... 34.8% ... 31.2%
1998-99 ... 35.8% ... 37.3%
1999-00 ... 44.3% ... 41.8%
2000-01 ... 43.5% ... 43.4%
2001-02 ... 51.1% ... 51.8%
2002-03 ... 53.1% ... 55.2%
2003-04 ... 59.6% ... 59.9%
2004-05 ... 59.1% ... 60.8%
2005-06 ... 59.5% ... 58.9%
2006-07 ... 61.9% ... 58.1%
2007-08 ... 56.4% .. 53.6%

To Improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.


Dan Dempsey

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Critical thinking through the years

We used to teach plane geometry, where students actually learned to reason.
We didn't do it in groups.

Each student worked on it -- worked hard, if they wanted to learn it. Students learned real logical thinking, real reasoning skills.

Now we put them in groups to have deep "conceptual thoughts" and do "critical thinking" on stuff they know nothing about. Of course, we've thrown plane geometry overboard.

Sounds like a recipe for producing a population that will accept anything the spin doctors put forth.

School Choice in Federal Way
... by Charles Hoff

This article is primarily for parents, or those who have some influence on parents, and are concerned about the education of children.

This is the “Choice Season” in the Federal Way School District. Those of you who live in the district are so fortunate to have some choices in the education of children. Sadly most of the parents, and others concerned with the education of children, have left “choice” up to the District, or the friends of their children. I have often said “You can get some of the finest education in the State of Washington in the Federal Way Schools. I did not say you will get the finest education.” It is a matter of choosing the education you are getting.

Let’s first look at those students who are now in the 5th grade and moving on to the “Middle School Years.” This is a time period where “things go wrong” for a large portion of children. Parents seem to “sign off” from supervision and leave some major decisions about their children’s future to others. Kids who have done well in elementary school often do not make a satisfactory exit from the middle school years.

If parents leave it up to the school district, the needs of their children will be subjugated to your address! Your child will be assigned to the closest school as school administrators will tell you that “all schools are good.” This reminds me of “Animal Farm” where “all were equal, but some were ‘more equal.’”

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) provides all parents with a “School Report Card” that will tell you a great deal about the “equality” of schools. They don’t make it very easy to find this “Report Card,” but here is where to find it for any school in Federal Way.

I would encourage all who are concerned about the education of children to explore this web site in detail to determine “how equal” all schools are in Federal Way.

If you are not satisfied with your address being the best indication of which school is best for your child, you may still defer to your child’s demands “that they go to school with their friends.” Friendships change over the years, or days, and peer pressure is a major factor for success in middle schools. Unfortunately some of the friends that kids make in middle schools are not focused on success in school. This is one of the major reasons for lack of success in middle schools. If you feel that your 5th grader is capable of making decisions that are life changing, why don’t you let them make this choice and also give them your check book? They certainly can’t make any worse decisions with your finances than they might make about friends!

What are the other choices? I don’t believe the school district does a very good job of making every parent aware of these. If you are concerned about the success of your child you should be able to defend your decision, in my mind, not to have enrolled in one of these options:

1. Federal Way Public Academy. One look at the report card for this school should convince you these people are serious about your child getting a great education. In the 10 years that this school has been open, it has educated some of the most accomplished students in South King County, if not the State. Admission here is limited by lottery. If you are not in the lottery you can’t win. If you lose the lottery I would suggest that you band together with the rest of the losers, and march to the next school board meeting demanding that more capacity be made available. This education is available to 6th through 10th graders.

2. Technology Access Foundation Academy. In conjunction with the Technology Access Foundation, the school district has begun a program to educate children in not only the fundamentals of a proper education, but in the latest technology. This program is a program for grades 6 through 12. While it is in its early stages there is little doubt that graduates of this program will be far better educated than those who went to a school based on their address.

3. Cambridge Program (Checkpoint). In conjunction with Cambridge University, it doesn’t get much better than this, Federal Way School District has offered a middle school program that is aligned with the admission requirements of Cambridge for the past two years. Since they have been in the education business since 1209, and set the standards for most education offered outside of the United States, this program will allow your child to develop into a fine candidate for admission to any competitive college in America, or elsewhere. This program is housed in two of the district’s middle schools.

4. K-8 Programs. Two of our elementary schools, recognizing the shortcomings of middle schools, and following the actions of some of the major school districts of America, have started programs that allow students to remain in their schools through the turmoil laced middle school years. Woodmont School will be in its third year of this program, and Nautilus School will be in its second year of this program. You may request your child join in either of these two programs.

Where will your 6th grader go to school? It is up to you to decide. I do believe that you should be able to defend your decision after a serious investigation of these alternatives, if you are serious about your child’s education.

Next week. Choices for 8th graders.

Measuring Impact in Seattle

From the Strategic Plan June 2008:

Measuring Impact (page 17)

Success in this work is about products and processes as well as outcomes. The products and processes that will result from the math and science curriculum alignment include a curriculum guide that can be used (and differentiated) for all students with grade-level targets, exemplary lessons and assessments. Students and their families will have a clear understanding of what students need to know at each grade level and how they will learn it. Most importantly, we expect to see significant growth in math and science scores at all levels (both on the WASL and on District assessments). We also expect to see more students taking and succeeding in AP, International Baccalaureate (IB) and other college-preparatory courses.

Students and their families will have a clear understanding of what students need to know at each grade level and how they will learn it.

Do you think this has happened?

Seems clear that in actual practice k-5 it is the EDM pacing plan that drives daily class design. EDM has so many goals per year that no one has a clear understanding of much. Clearly the posted Grade Level Math expectations do not guide instruction design.

So what is the problem?

In international comparisons the USA shows declining math performance. The problem appears to be in multiple areas. Yet the biggest problem in my opinion is with those who are making the decisions.
Bob Dean submits the following:
EOC = for End of Course Exam
AGA = Algebra Geometry Algebra II (as opposed to integrated math)
The problem is ignorance on the part of SBE, OSPI and the legislature. ....

The EOC in Integrated 1 and 2 is mandated by 3166, and I don't think we will do anybody any favors by eliminating it quickly, as many schools use the Integrated form.

Here is what they don't understand.. ... The AGA standards and the Integrated standards are the exact same standards... word for word.... The only difference is how they are arranged. There are 40 standards in Algebra I..... There are only 7 of those 40 that are not in Integrated 1. Four of those 7 standards involve simple quadratics. Two of the most popular Integrated Curriculua.. .. Core Plus and McDougal Littel cover simple quadratrics in their Integrated 1 courses. Therefore between what is mandated and what is covered in the poplular Integrated programs there are only 3 standards that would not be covered in a typical Integrated course. These 3 standards could easily be added by supplementing the curricula... ... If there is an EOC for both Algebra I and Integrated 1 they will be almost exactly the same test..... Is there a justification for having two different tests? Absolutely not....

Further..... .. Recommending Core Plus (the 6th rated program) because 40 percent of the state uses an Integrated program shows further lack of knowledge about Integrated programs. First, there is no typical Integrated program and Core Plus is far from any other Integrated Program. Only 16% of the school districts use Core Plus.... The districts who use McDougal Littel Integrated are much closer to the AGA programs than they are to Core Plus.... Students in McDougal Littel Integrated 1 would have little problem passing an Algebra 1 EOC. Any Integrated EOC will give Core Plus students fits..... because the Integrated standards were not written with any particular Integrated curricula in mind..... Instead they are simply a redistribution of the AGA standards... ..

The irony is that all of the Integrated programs were sold to parents and teachers on the basis that they teach students the same things that are in the traditional AGA books.....
(Of course math teachers instantly recognized that this was totally false.).... McDougal Littel even went so far as to put the names Algebra and Geometry on the covers of their Integrated 1 & 2 books. I asked a McDougal Littel representative why Geometry was on the front of the Integrated 2 book when there was very little Geometry in the book. I was told because that is what parents expect..... What parents don't expect is that they are being told one thing while the truth is somewhere far away.... In any case, now the Integrated texts are going to have to put their "money where there mouth" is....... they are going to have to prepare kids in the same standards that are in the AGA curricula... . The radical Integrated programs like Core Plus will fail miserably at this task.... By recommending Core Plus, the SBE and OSPI are dooming kids to failure in any EOC that tests over the AGA standards... .and make no mistake.... The Washington Integrated Standards are simply the AGA standards rearranged.. ... The problem is that the people who are making these decisions really have absolutely no clue what they are doing......but it sure sounds good to the ignorant!

Bob Dean
Math Dept Chairman
Evergreen High School
State Board of Education
Math Advisory Panel Member
OSPI Standards Revision Team
WTM Executive Committee

Thoughts on what needs to be done

Evergreen High School's math Department chair Bob Dean's current recommendations:

1) The state should not recommend any curricula... .

The premise behind recommending curricula was that students around the state are being taught different things..... This is only true for those who are using reform curricula... .At the HS level it is only true for those using Integrated programs.... and mostly in the radical Integrated programs like Core Plus, IMP and SIMMS.... The truth is that the traditional programs all rank very close to each other......If you examine the OSPI ratings it is obvious that there is little difference in the traditional programs.... It really doesn't matter which one you chose because they all come close to the Revised Standards... . It is the programs like Core Plus etc that have a major problem.... If you look at the ratings of the content sections of the standards you will see that the integrated programs fail miserably at preparing kids to pass any EOC. The only thing that keeps them in the ballpark is alignment to the process standards... . which are so vague anything could align to them.... It is a huge mistake for the state to recommend Core Plus or any other Integrated programs if they want the average to low end kids to pass an EOC. Solution.... Let the assessment decide the curriculum.. . We used to have totally fuzzy standards... that is why districts got away with choosing fuzzy math programs.... Now, despite many weaknesses, we have traditional standards... .. The Integrated programs simply won't work.

2) Clean up the standards... . Get rid of those that are not measurable or at least rewrite them so they are clear and specific. If I was in charge, I would hire Dave Obits to clean up the k-8 standards... . He has the best handle on which standards in k-8 are poorly written than anyone I know of. I would clean up high school standards myself....
Regardless of who does it.... this has to be done in order to design a new state assessment that has a chance of being successful.. .. If the standards are not cleaned up and assessments are made based on the ambiguous standards, we will be right back where we are with the WASL.... teachers will be teaching all over the map....students will not be prepared for a particular set of skills.....many students will not do well on the state assessment.. ...because it will be impossible for teachers to predict what kids might be tested on.

3) EOC's I would start with developing an EOC for Algebra I.... this would be the new WASL or WCAP.... My experience with teaching kids who struggle with passing the WASL is that they would instantly do better on an Algebra I test.... That is because most of the 9th math courses focus on Algebra (however Core Plus does not)...9th grade math does not focus on the kind of problems that are on the WASL... There is very little Algebra on the existing WASL... After I gave the Alg 1 EOC, I would set a cut score that would allow 80% of the students to pass.... then I would bump up the cut score each year until I arrived at an acceptable skill level.

4) Professional Development changes You can't have proper professional development until you properly identify what is wrong with our system.... We are spending huge amounts of money on experimental pedagogies that have no widespread record of success anywhere. This also includes state programs like PASS Math, Segmented Math, and the Collection of Evidence program. None of these programs have been successful because they don't recognize the real problem..... .The real problem is that a large number kids are failing math every year that they are in school....and nothing is being done about the time they reach high school they are DOA..... Huge amounts of money is being spent on "Silver Bullet" programs that are supposed to make every student successful.. ..if you just teach the right way. Therefore you fund the "Math cops"....more commonly called "math coaches." These people are in place to force teachers to use the latest fad in teaching...often called "Best Practices." ......What do the facts show.... 95% of students who come to high school close to grade level pass the WASL and go on to graduate from high school. The majority (not all) of the students who are failing the WASL are kids that are coming in with basic skill levels at 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade.... There is no way to get these kids to pass any high school level math test no matter what kind of magic teaching methods you are peddling.... ..I challenge anyone to provide me with data and statistics that shows a different result for these kids.... In many places the number of kids that fall into this category is staggering.. ...Not only will school districts not admit this fact..... they don't even know it because very few districts test kids to find out this information. ...Thus they prescribe professional development that has nothing to do with the problem. How would I solve this problem.... I would develop EOC's at every grade level.... these could be taken online and would be used for diagnositc and informative purposes. Kids that were identified as being behind grade level would receive intervention immediately and from then on..... What is happening now is that a student who did not pass math in the 2nd and 3rd grade enters the 4th grade two years behind. Do they get help on what they don't know from previous grades....the answer is NO. They have to try to learn 4th grade math based on 4th grade standards even though they have little chance of being successful.. ..from there on it snowballs until they finally give up and/or arrive DOA at high school.... The professional development we need would be to help teachers identify the critical skills kids need at each grade level and make sure they could teach them to the kids who are behind.... This PD would be based on content knowledge not "silver bullet" pedagogy tricks that turn our kids into guinea pigs.... Future PD would be based on proven results not the latest fad.

5) Dual Tracks Not all kids have the same needs.... Kids heading for Engineering and careers that require mathematics as a foundation should not be forced into the same classes with kids who are headed for the work world or careers that don't need advanced mathematics (most careers). The idea that all kids need to be prepared for higher level abstract mathematics is lunacy.... No one else in the world is trying to do this...... for one doesn't and hasn't worked and it never will.

Seattle's coming PSAT Math results?
(any day now)

I received the following email from an SPS High School teacher:

"We took a day out of teaching in October to give those PSAT tests and I've seen kids with the results. Why aren't the results publicly posted with medians and percentiles?"

Let me see now.... it is February and we are into Second Semester...
(for when) I just must say ... any day now.
(For why) Maybe not so open and transparent as advertised

Not to worry because in the words of the Superintendent:
Excellence for all and Everyone held accountable.

Do you think the results will be excellent?
Do you think anyone will be accountable other than classroom teachers if the results are not excellent?

Keep in mind ...
After the Carla Santorno led nearly autocratic adoption of Everyday Math (April & May 2007), Classroom Math time was increased to 75 minutes per day during SY 2007-2008 and coupled with big expenditures on Professional development and consumable materials.
These other interventions and expenditures should have produced improvement regardless of the curriculum.

But grade 4 Math WASL scores declined from 61.9% to 56.4% from spring 2007 to Spring 2008 (adoption year results were worse for grade 4).
................. SPS .. State
2004-05 .... 59.1% . 60.8%
2005-06 .... 59.5% . 58.9%
2006-07 .... 61.9% . 58.1%
2007-08 .... 56.4% 53.6%

But for Hispanic Students
2004-05 .... 37.4% . 35.8%
2005-06 .... 39.6% . 36.9%
2006-07 .... 43.5% . 35.5%
2007-08 .... 33.5% . 31.3%

No one held accountable for the above
in fact no one noticed.

Will the same be true for PSAT Math?
For the Future where the district might be going:

Strategic Plan "Excellence for All"

At Seattle Public Schools (SPS), we see a city where:

• All students achieve at high levels, receive the support they need and leave high school prepared for college, career and life;

• Every school is a high quality school;

• District leadership and staff model excellence and accountability; and

• The whole community is engaged as partners in supporting and strengthening the school system.
The Immediate plans as of "Excellence for All" June 2008

• Math: A Math Project Team will develop an implementation plan and timeline for action during summer 2008. Alignment of the elementary and middle school instructional materials to the new State Performance Expectations will be completed this summer.
(the above never happened)
(EDM is followed with a pacing plan that has nothing to do with Grade Level Performance expectations)
Teacher leaders from each elementary, middle and high school will be trained during the summer of 2008 to facilitate professional development sessions for their schools around the mathematics content and the pedagogy needed to support implementation of an aligned program.

Every math teacher will be provided up to four days of professional development to learn to use the online resources included with the Curriculum Guide.