Sunday, April 26, 2009

The 11th hour - Stop the execution

Dear Director DeBell, 4-26-09

Thank you for your eloquent speech against the adoption of the “Discovering Series”. Unfortunately it appears Seattle will make another colossal math mistake that will damage children. I appreciate on 4-22-09 you cast a dissenting opinion, and backed it with excellent reasoning. I think that you may need additional empirical data to make your point with new board members as three expressed a preference to adopt the Central Administration’s recommendation. I would hope your dissent becomes part of a majority on May 6. The SPS as you well know should not continue in the failing math direction recommended by past and current administration.

It seems that four board members are very uninformed of the District’s Math reality. Three of those are new members and may not have been around long enough to get it. Please help them get it.

Director Sundquist said the process was followed so his job is to vote yes. I am reminded when the Governor steps in to stop an unjust execution at the 11th hour, even though the process has been followed.

On numerous occasions in the past I’ve spoken about the flawed process in adoptions. The district still uses the same poor definition of math and still tilts the table toward that definition and wilts under the weight of the Cash Cow University of Washington NSF reform math bias.

It is beyond belief that the district believes better outcomes for students will ever result from using the same defective process over and over again. Now Anna-Maria is going to follow another UW idea, which is already a proven failure. The UW directed NSF EHR funded Professional Development Cubed projects at Garfield and Cleveland are now in their third year at each school and things could hardly be worse for ELL students and many others.

It was clear to me that you are tired of being fooled by the district in regard to math. You also realize that the amount of money it would require to give the district’s proposed HS math plan even a ghost of a chance at success is just not available.

Seattle is planning to use a mathematically unsound text series, in an overall design plan that is a proven failure. Here is the background and the empirical data.

As you look at the following, keep in mind the volume of money that poured into Cleveland and Garfield, which allowed extra planning time and a reduced class load so that professional learning communities could operate and which should have produced effective interventions. This funding level will not be available for each Seattle High School in a $1.2 million math adoption.

Math program manager Anna-Maria de la Fuente is planning to adopt no texts below Discovering Algebra but there will be lots of interventions to assist the children. In the SPS, 30% of 8th graders cannot score above level 1 on the math WASL. These students will be entering 9th grade. To believe that this plan will succeed seems unjustified. Using an unsound text for students with such poor skill levels without the availability of example based texts and with no adoption materials below first year high school math is illogical. This did not work at Garfield or Cleveland.

This exact plan is now in its third year at Garfield and Cleveland. The plan was the same as her proposal except “Interactive Math Program” texts were used instead of the defective “Discovering Series” texts.

In the SPS in 2008 English Language Learners passed the grade 10 math WASL at a 19.5% rate. At Garfield that rate was 0.0% and at Cleveland 4.8%. see pass rates:

Year .. Garfield .. Cleveland .. SPS rate
2006 ... 11.1% ... .. 18.8% ... 16.3% ..Year before project

2007 .... 5.0% ... .. 15.4% ... 13.6% ..First year of project
2008 .... 0.0% ... .. 4.8% ... 19.5% .. 2nd year of project

As you are aware the SPS achievement gap in math steadily expanded over the last decade+. Please stop the experimentation on Seattle Children.

The NMAP tells us that example based learning is needed for certain students. The SPS refuses to adopt example based math books. The UW does not like them (for such books are anti-Cash Cow programs). Now Seattle is on the verge of adopting “Discovering Geometry”. The textbook without a Glossary and without a written definition of equilateral triangle (but was found mathematically sound by PD cubed project director Dr. James King). This is a disaster that Seattle children and families are being led into by Central Administrative incompetence.

The Discovering Algebra textbook has a glossary but it is as defective as the geometry text. Look here ( for a PowerPoint on how “Discovering Algebra” handles a topic when compared with Prentice-Hall.

The SBE found the “Discovering Series” defective for actual reasons not political considerations.

Please contact Randy Dorn and ask him to immediately announce that OSPI agrees with the SBE finding that the Discovering Series is mathematically unsound and that OSPI does not recommend using it. It appears at this time the board will vote 4-3 to execute the children and someone needs to intervene at the 11th hour in this horrible process.


Dan Dempsey

SBE Math Advisory Panelist 2007-2009


Anonymous said...

For writing that a 3-3 vote was a vote of no confidence must have hit a nerve. Or writing (eek) "The elementary programs were deplorable." I was censorized! Everyday math's days are numbered.

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't OSPI made a pronouncement? The public expects it. Washington needs to know - Are they going to continue on this naive lemming's journey or plead sanity and choose the low road instead. I'd rather have a tail between my legs than go headless. This isn't a war, its butchery.

Anonymous said...

The Quakertown PA reform movement is going through a reform reform phase only its Integrated Math and Core Plus. They adopted Everyday Math first - the MSP PI is Merlino. The evaluator of the MSP here in Washington, which uses the same curriculum. Two other consultants are former educators from Mercer Island School District and were employed at the UW LIFE Center. I think MISD uses Core Plus still. I saw that my friend's son was using the textbook.

Anonymous said...

This is off Ohanian:

"Ohanian Comment: Watch Vallas position himself for a position at federal level. He's not joining the chorus of complainer but standing out as someone who will make NCLB work.

The superintendent of the Quakertown Community School District told a Senate hearing in Washington yesterday that the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act had been "destructive" to the children of Pennsylvania.

Superintendent James R. Scanlon said that special-education students and non-English speakers had been especially hurt by the law.

In prepared remarks, Scanlon urged Congress to halt the damage by fully funding the law.

The Bucks County educator was among several Pennsylvanians who testified before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, and education, chaired by Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).

Specter had invited the group after a Monday meeting at Norristown Area High School in which 138 school superintendents from 14 Pennsylvania counties protested the federal law.

Scanlon told the subcommittee yesterday that he was speaking for his 137 colleagues; together, they represent more than a fourth of the state's 500 districts, with more than a third of the state's 1.8 million students.

At their meeting in Norristown, the educators said the federal law costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement, places too much priority on testing, and sets unrealistic goals for students to meet. They called for better funding and asked that special-education students be exempt from taking the mandated tests and that testing of students with limited English skills be delayed.

The law has elicited a groundswell of protest in some states and has become a flash point for candidates in the Democratic primaries.

U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige went before the panel yesterday to discuss the law, and Specter said he wanted Paige to hear the criticisms of the Pennsylvania superintendents."

Paige is a nit. Privateering public schools is a loser's game, like stealing from poor morals or scruples.

Anonymous said...

Here is Quakertown's reform the reform plan and worth a read.

It gives a fair description of the tactics used by officials and the school board to intimidate the community.

Once again the cornerstone of a good public school system is curriculum and it starts with the textbooks. The best system is a single track that gets students past high school and into either an occupational track or a college track. There should not be so many students failing in school. You simply cannot sustain the growing numbers of hs dropouts and expect the economy to grow.

China has a relatively easy time growing because it is still building their infrastructure. To achieve their growth rate in the US or in Europe is impossible. Its like a balloon that is nearly fully inflated. They can sustain a bubble burst very easily - while the US cannot.

I think Quakertown retroreformer's point about using a SAT or an Iowa referenced test is good. We need to measure student's knowledge in the most competitive sectors of our economy - not every waitress, cook, carpenter, landscaper, or hairdresser. There's no point to it. Do I care that someone who milks cows for a living can do algebra? Not really.

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 12:43 pm - can you please explain your "censoring" comment? Where did you write your comments?

I too think the elementary EDM program is deplorable. I've seen 4 years of it as a parent (K-1st for younger child and 2nd-3rd for older child) since it was adopted by SPS in 2007. Standard algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are not taught, as required by the new WA State Math Standards.

At this rate, kids will not be ready for algebra without lots of support at home. My child asked for a calculator to do her 2nd grade math homework - it involved adding 4 multi-digit numbers (more than the EDM max. of 2). When I explained that she didn't need a calulator, you just add the columns of numbers and carry like other problems, she said "oh", and proceeded to do the math, WITHOUT the calculator.

When will this nonsense end?

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected again. Dang! I did find an editorial by Dan however... so I provided the link its dated May 29, 2007. The big fish sometimes take the longest to land.

What a fish!