Monday, April 27, 2009

Experimentation on Students

Date: April 28, 2009

To: Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson
Math Program Manager Anna-Maria de la Fuente

Cc: ... Director and President Michael DeBell

From: .. Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
Subject: . Experimentation on Students

It is my opinion that your current plan of action for next year and years following the coming high school math adoption constitutes an experiment on the ninth and tenth grade student populations. You are taking the design from failed PD^3 projects at Garfield and Cleveland and extending them to all the high schools.

The SPS plans to use “mathematically unsound” instructional materials and follow the same organizational plan used by Garfield and Cleveland High Schools in their Professional Development Cubed Projects, which began in SY 2006-2007.

Results on the 10th grade math WASL for ELL students could hardly have been worse for those students at Cleveland and Garfield. Cleveland math scores for all students plummeted over the initial two-year span of the projects and the results for year two of the project were worse than year one. PD^3 is a collaboration between the SPS, UW College of Education and UW Department of Mathematics; were the projects at Cleveland and Garfield approved by an Institutional Review Board? The subjects in this study that were ELL students certainly needed the protection an IRB is designed to afford them. The WASL results for Black Students and in fact all math students in grade ten at Cleveland showed them to be in need of those same protections.

From Ms. de la Fuente’s presentations and statements at recent school board meetings, the SPS intends to use the “mathematically unsound” texts Discovering Algebra and Discovering Geometry, in a program organizationally similar to the unsuccessful projects at Cleveland and Garfield. This constitutes an experiment on the children in grades 9 and 10. An Institutional Review Board reviews research protocols and monitors studies to ensure the protection of the human research subjects. Looking at the results, protections for Black Students and ELL students were inadequate in the recent past. Why is this instructional plan being expanded to all Seattle Schools?

Do you intend to have an Institutional Review Board examine the Garfield and Cleveland data and the texts and then decide if your proposed district-wide experiment for 2009-2010 should proceed? Vulnerable students were poorly served previously, how will they be protected?

Is a pacing plan available for how the district intends to provide instruction in grade 9 with Discovering Algebra and grade 10 with Discovering Geometry that covers all of the Washington Mathematics standards for those courses?
Please send me that plan. If it is unavailable, when will it be available? An Institutional Review Board would need that pacing plan. Will the school board approve this risky math adoption without pacing plans?

As a mathematics teacher, I fail to see how the Geometry Standards will be covered in a satisfactory manner as Discovering Geometry has no glossary, has no written definition of equilateral triangle and does not even mention theorems and postulates until chapter 13. This looks like an experiment from my vantage point. One destined to fail.
1. Were the original PD^3 projects at Cleveland and Garfield reviewed by an IRB?
2. Why is this plan being expanded to all Seattle Schools?
3. Will an Institutional Review Board examine the 2009-2010 proposal before it is enacted?
4. How will vulnerable students be protected?
5. Send me the pacing plan for grade 9 Discovering Algebra that covers all the Algebra standards.
6. Send me the pacing plan for Discovering Geometry that covers all the Geometry standards.
7. Will the school board approve this risky math adoption without those pacing plans?
8. What evidence is there that a high school math adoption without materials below Algebra will be successful for students, when approximately 30% of entering 9th graders could not score above level 1 on their grade 8 WASL math test? This element of the plan was a colossal failure for many students at Cleveland and Garfield.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
Washington State Board of Education Math Advisory Panelist (2007-2009)

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

An Evaluator’s Guide to the IRB J. MICHAEL OAKES University of Minnesota

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What are the authors of the math reform attempting to prove? How long will stupidity prevail? What is the lowest score possible on a WASL test? How high can they push the student dropout rate?