Sunday, February 1, 2009

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


Anonymous said...

My understanding of the standards for the integrated track is that formal proofs related to Geometry are not really required until the third year, while of course this takes place in the second year of a Geometry course for the AGA track. Therefore, different tests would be the norm for the second year of the integrated or AGA track. This to me is an unfair and stupid approach to testing and with it we will end up right back where we are now with the WASL and its inherent problems. The state needs to be real careful with this two track system it seems intent on developing. They would indeed be wise not to recommend any fuzzy math curriculum.


Anonymous said...

I think the root of the problem stems from World War 2!

The USA had about 50% of the world's GDP at the end, and as long as you got ANY kind of college degree, you could get a good job. That started to fall apart in the 60's and 70's, and too many Americans, especially college grads, still haven't figured that out. In the decades since the 70's we've had 3 huge bubbles based upon debt, debt, debt and speculation, so LOTS of people with a college degree and no skills ,or soft skills AND some kind of financial family base, lots of those people still did o.k.

Even though the economy has been transitioning towards rewarding those with skills with income security via skills ... NOT job security, however, most Americans are clueless about this reality.

In education bureaucracies, those who've risen have probably won the arms race of fuzzy credential upon fuzzy credential. They're people who probably didn't slug it out or suffer through or enjoy really really really HARD science / math classes. They're people who had enough family wealth to keep getting fuzzy degrees AND were able to afford suffering the slings and arrows of ridiculous bureaucratic hiring processes. They're people who look at the ken lays or donald trumps and think they aren't wealthy, and they aren't by THAT standard, BUT, if your family income is over 75 grand your doing better than about 80 million american families AND you probably haven't a clue what their lives are like - reading nickled and dimed ain't living on nickles and dimes. They're probably people who do NOT know that the median job tenure is 4 years, AND, only a small % of the working population stays at a job for a decade or more, AND, just how shitty that job market is to the unskilled. They probably don't know much of this stuff cuz they live amoung the 30 million families making above 75 grand a year.

FINALLY, I've had some great help since I started this thing 5 years ago. I haven't had 1 trainer / coach work with me who has taught math to kids who don't want to learn math AND WHO HAS BEEN A SUCCESS WITH THE TOUGH KIDS.

I've had hundreds of hours of b.s. powerpoints and videos and edu-babble books, where this stuff works in admin / consultant world


show me the RESULTS of kids from any income level achieving at the same rate as the affluent kids!

I haven't see the results because they aren't there.

Finally, I'm not completely dumping on incompetend edu-crats. Anyone who wants do defend the managements of GM or Chrysler AND their junk cars, or the managements of AIG & Freddie & Fannie AND their JUNK 'securities' and JUNK 'insurance', or the managements of the big oil companies and their legalized stealing for the last 30 years, or the management of the defense contractors and their major major league public treasury pilfering ...

I think the educrats are just another bunch of mediocre managers who excel at staying unjustifiably employed.


Anonymous said...

The problem is these people know exactly what they are doing. Your group will have to short circuit the system if you expect change to happen.

There once was a copper named Pinky.
Who became rich selling textbooks with grant money.
When parents cried foul - He said "How rude -
These math books were inspired by Truth.
And we all know children learn better by divinity."

Success for all - that is for those who 'know' the one truth!

dan dempsey said...

dear rmm,

Anna Maria just took a few days to go to a conference.

Check this out for more bad news..

the Urban Mathematics Leadership Network conference in Austin, TX
from 1/28/09 - 1/30/09.

Seattle just joined in 2008. This Leadership Network began in 2004.

Another example of NSF and Gates money pushing the EDM, Connected Math nonsense.