Dear Sherry, Harium, and Steve, 2-28-2009

Attached you will find an interesting analysis from a Math teacher at Sidwell Friends School where the Obama girl's attend. The teacher is from Poland.

On teachers she states (page 10):

"Teachers of mathematics need to know mathematics. Every teacher of mathematics, in grades 5 or higher should hold a degree in mathematics (possibly master’s degree). A diploma in math education is not always an equivalent. Only those who possess enough knowledge of their subject can efficiently teach others."

By contrast it is particularly odd that the Seattle Schools expect math program managers without math degrees to guide math decision making. (Check the last decade of math results it is not pretty.)

From Dr. James Milgram of Stanford:

“The math wars, at least on the part of the professional mathematics community and the business community were not about minor issues like whether constructivist pedagogy or direct instruction should be used in delivering mathematics, but the major issue that our student outcomes are too weak to be competitive with the rest of the world. It should be clearly understood that I don’t mean just our average students, but even our very best are not competitive any longer. While the rest of the world has learned a great deal about how to teach mathematics to young children, we are essentially recycling old ideas every 10-20 years, and have been doing so for a very long time.”

Seattle Schools have done nothing to become competitive with the rest of the world in math.. The Seattle School board has done nothing significant to make our schools math competitive. The avoidance of the Immediate actions in "Excellence for All" (p.17) only compounds long standing defects.

Can any of you explain the failure of the board to discuss the extremely poor performance and direction of EDM ? ... especially in light of the failure to implement immediate actions (p17).

Couple this with the administration's conspiracy to defeat the boards decision to use Singapore math as a supplement and the board seems impotent in regard to math direction.

There is an extreme reliance in SPS textbook adoptions on the process .... the fact that this process has continually selected loser textbooks seems to be of little concern. (Check the last decade of math text selections it is not pretty either.)

I've been carefully examining the process and could name specific elements that are defective but does anyone care?

Remember Dr. MG-J said the IMP adoption process was just fine ... it was just politically derailed.

IMP was the worst rated textbook in the State's preliminary High School materials screening. Does anyone want to know what the process problems are?

As a math teacher I really do not care as much about the materials as I do about having clear well defined standards that I can teach to. The Seattle schools now have extremely poor materials and no grade level expectations to teach to.

The School Board apparently does nothing to hold anyone accountable for this ongoing disaster ... except wait.

Sincerely,

Dan

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#2

Dear Directors, 3 -01 - 2009

The NMAP recommends, “All school districts should ensure that all prepared students have access to an authentic algebra course.” (see p. 22 -23).

Currently of the three core math text series still under consideration by the SPS only Prentice Hall could be used to satisfy the above recommendation.

Having taught from Discovering Algebra for one pilot year in 2000-2001, I can assure you that the only books you could find that are further away from Authentic Algebra than Discovering Algebra would not have algebra in the title; cooking books come to mind.

It is time to get the Seattle School central administration to align math teaching to the State Math standards k-8. The following of the EDM pacing plan for k-5 and using CMP2 for grades 6,7,8 leaves most students unprepared to begin Authentic Algebra.

"All prepared students have access to an authentic algebra course"

Perhaps the SPS could make some effort to prepare the students as this year's math actions k-8 do not.

**If I was a Seattle School director, I would be more than a little concerned about a process that produced only 1 book series out of three that aims at "Authentic Algebra" competence. There are many text series available that teach authentic algebra, they just did not make it through the "SPS selection process".**

Sincerely,

Dan Dempsey

## 16 comments:

Dan,

Would you consider the Holt Algebra textbook to contain authentic Algebra?

T^2

Massachusetts recently reported that they are among the top 5 countries in the world in math scores (see http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2008/12/10/bright_sign_for_tech_in_mass/?page=1). 40% of Massachussetts K-5 classrooms use Everyday Mathematics. It seems that this feat would be impossible were Everyday Mathematics the sole cause of the Seattle Schools' difficulties in teaching mathematics.

Minnesota also entered TIMSS as a country and scored among the top countries. About 37% of elementary school classrooms in Minnesota use Everyday Mathematics. The argument is the same. If it is Everyday Mathematics that is the problem, how did Massachusetts and Minnesota score so high?

Food for thought.

Where's your research anon - I didn't know Massachusetts had declared its independence. Food for thought.

T^2 - Authentic algebra? I would be careful before you use it. It doesn't mean very much.

I think Dan should run a story on Beaverton - its getting better by the day.

One of the school board members is a former math teacher from Beaverton's high school. PRISM is the MSP pushing the reform and some concern has been drawn to the TOSA's (Curriculum enforcers) who get paid to police, nay terrorize teachers.

http://www.kathyandcalvin.com/some-background-beaverton-math-struggle

"Teachers who used "contraband" curriculum, have had no voice and are at risk to be relocated to different schools as punishment for speaking up. Furthermore, I have concerns that the teacher's union will not represent teachers well because a growing number of teachers are TOSAs, teachers on special assignment. TOSAs are better categorized as administrators because they tend to have no direct contact with children. (This is one way to hide administrative costs and potentially skew student:teacher ratios.) The "independent" investigation requested of our district and done by Miller Nash law firm included the investigation of 3 TOSAs. 3 teachers who are members of the teachers union. One of the Board members is my daughter's former math teacher, Geoff Hunnicutt."

If you want a war lets go to it.

This website has some Beaverton stats that show how test scores have plumetted - particularly ELLs and minorities.

Here are stats in 3 demographically similar schools. They are within one mile of each other. 2 OMLI schools are Raleigh Park and Raleigh Hills. Montclair, where my son attended, is a non-OMLI school.

http://www.ode.state.or.us/data/reportcard/AYPpdfs/07/07-AYP-1172.pdf

On page 3, we see declines in ALL statistically significant cells in mathematics at Raleigh Hills. Not surprisingly, as I predicted in the spring to administration, the worst declines were in ELL and students with disabilities. (For comparison purposes, there was an increase of academic growth overall in English/Language Arts at Raleigh Hills.)

White -3.82

Hispanic -1.43

Students with Disabilities -19.13

ELL -25.00

Economically Disadvantaged -11.41

All -6.37

Raleigh Park is another OMLI school with even worse declines for disadvantaged kids.

http://www.ode.state.or.us/data/reportcard/AYPpdfs/07/07-AYP-1173.pdf

White -3.44

Hispanic -28.36

Students with Disabilities -33.33

ELL -35.71

Economically Disadvantaged -12.70

All -5.62

There are very good reasons why test scores plummet for historically disadvantaged students. 1. The materials were never tested with low performing students. 2. The textbook authors never tested the reading level of the books before and after they were evaluated. 3. The books were not initially written for younger students.

This is an injustice and a travesty. These hacks are screwed. I'm counting down.

This is a travesty.

When the grant goes, so do the TOSAs. When districts accept grant money, they forget to acknowledge there are strings attached. Best to just say no.

I really doubt Sandra Stotsky would be out pitching Everyday Math to Massachusans. Get your facts straight. Her and Hyman are like polar opposites.

http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ806633&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ806633

This article recounts the battle in the "math wars" that took place in Massachusetts, United States in 1999-2000 over the scope, content and teaching of the state's K-12 mathematics curriculum. Harsh controversies arose between the partisans of a "reform-math" movement stressing an undefined "conceptual understanding" and student-created algorithms and those, including the author, advocating an academically stronger mathematics curriculum as well as fluency in students' computational skills with whole numbers and fractions. While "reform-math" supporters privileged and fought for a radical constructivist view of mathematics learning, the Massachusetts Board of Education decided to implement mathematics standards that linked strong academic content to the development of authentic computational competencies in students. Following the introduction of newly revised mathematic standards in 2000, real progress was reached in terms of student achievement. According to the results of the 2007 tests in reading and in mathematics for Grade 4 and Grade 8, reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Massachusetts ranked first nationwide in mathematics and tied for first place in reading, with its students having made significant gains from 2005 to 2007. The article makes a strong case for evidence-based curriculum design and implementation, freed, as much as possible, of mythologies and misconceptions. It explains why it was necessary to reject the theoretical assumptions and pedagogical strategies embedded in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' 1989 and 2000 standards documents. It also highlights the importance of a strong personal life and working "principles" underpinning the mission of curriculum developers: successful reform "strategies" are indeed meaningless in the absence of such durable personal beliefs and values.

I really doubt Sandra Stotsky would be out pitching Everyday Math to Massachusans. Get your facts straight. Her and Hyman are like polar opposites.

http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/custom/portlets/recordDetails/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ806633&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ806633

This article recounts the battle in the "math wars" that took place in Massachusetts, United States in 1999-2000 over the scope, content and teaching of the state's K-12 mathematics curriculum. Harsh controversies arose between the partisans of a "reform-math" movement stressing an undefined "conceptual understanding" and student-created algorithms and those, including the author, advocating an academically stronger mathematics curriculum as well as fluency in students' computational skills with whole numbers and fractions. While "reform-math" supporters privileged and fought for a radical constructivist view of mathematics learning, the Massachusetts Board of Education decided to implement mathematics standards that linked strong academic content to the development of authentic computational competencies in students. Following the introduction of newly revised mathematic standards in 2000, real progress was reached in terms of student achievement. According to the results of the 2007 tests in reading and in mathematics for Grade 4 and Grade 8, reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Massachusetts ranked first nationwide in mathematics and tied for first place in reading, with its students having made significant gains from 2005 to 2007. The article makes a strong case for evidence-based curriculum design and implementation, freed, as much as possible, of mythologies and misconceptions. It explains why it was necessary to reject the theoretical assumptions and pedagogical strategies embedded in the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' 1989 and 2000 standards documents. It also highlights the importance of a strong personal life and working "principles" underpinning the mission of curriculum developers: successful reform "strategies" are indeed meaningless in the absence of such durable personal beliefs and values.

Here's an example from a fourth grade Everyday Math homework problem? Try to identify the reading level.

“Homer’s is selling roller blades at 25 percent off the regular price of $52.00. Martin’s is selling them for one-third off the regular price of $60. Which store is offering the better buy?”

You see...no one bothered to check the reading level of the material the students are being asked to learn.

Lets also recall that no one is taught standard multiplication until fifth grade. How long have been learning fractions? What about percentages? The entire math program is like this. I don't even tackle formal algebra until at least a semester of basic mathematics exercises, like times tables, fractions, and division.

You can see these textbook writers are idiots of the nth order.

When I teach 'without a textbook', I use geometry and simple sentences to help me instruct students what to do. 80% of my students are Hispanic. It is difficult work, but the kids enjoy learning because they understand what I'm teaching. I have two year extended algebra students doing better than the ones struggling through Intermediate algebra. MSPs and their TOSAs can go suck on eggs.

Check out the new Plattner study at the SBE website.

T^2,

In regard to Holt....Looks like marginally so. Check this link:

http://www.math.jhu.edu/~wsw/ED/wahighschoolwsw.pdf

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out the new Plattner study at the SBE website.

What are you referring to?? Give us a date and/or title please.

Great information. Logical and coherent.

T^2 :)

I'm all for NMAP's definition of "authentic" algebra - an older (6th edition) Dulciani textbook - this seems reasonable for making comparisons to new(er) curriculum and most people are familiar with it. This is not McDougal's algebra which is written for advanced level readers.

CMP/IMP/EDM/? writers were not pleased, and not to beat a dead horse, but they would say their curriculum was authentic too.

Authentic is actually borrowed from "authentic" or "alternative" assessment which is often seen used in urban classrooms. So it can mean many different things to outsiders.

We (meaning us educators) must be careful when we throw this terminology around because education is so broad and general and we tend to act like a bunch of hacks.

Its sort of like parenting, we all believe ourselves to be experts at something we know nothing about.

Back in the days before the Fuzzies came to power. Algebra meant being able to solve problems with algebraic manipulation. This also included Factoring etc..

Now who knows what algebra means?

Thus the term authentic algebra is used to refer to pre-Fuzzy Algebra.

Here is an interesting quotation from Virginia Warfield's WaToTom Newsletter #137

http://www.math.washington.edu/~warfield/news/news137.html

A group called "Where's the Math" is doing its level best to persuade the legislature to throw out the EALRs

in favor of standards that mandate exactly what skills each child is to master at which grade, and to replace the WASL with something like the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.It is a forceful and energetic group, whose lobbying skills are modeled on those of the highly effective Mathematically Correct group. We need to write to legislators (our own and those on education committees). Even more importantly, we need to ask some of the many teachers and parents who like what is going on to write and let legislators know that they do and why they do.So when did defining what skills a child should learn become an unreasonable idea?Leave it to UW the architects of total BS.The UW seems to have a content is bad viewpoint.

Pre-fuzzy algebra was not exactly perfect - I would disagree that it was authentic. The reform textbooks are far worse and that has been widely publicized. We need to agree on a particular text, not on some standard that no book effectively meets. Teaching standards (content) is not really effective teaching. Singapore is effective because the problems are effective and challenge students. If I use Singapore in the classroom, I'm not worried about covering standards, its a given.

The state can't analyze a textbook using only content standards.

There has to be some guidance on literacy and reading level.

You have to explore problems that cover multiple standards.

And you get diminishing returns when you cover algebra standards without a strong background in elementary mathematics. Students quickly fall behind.

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