Thursday, April 30, 2009

How to Stack an Adoption Committee ... SPS style

A guide on how to continue k-12 ineffective inquiry based mathematics. When will example based instructional materials ever be adopted by Seattle Schools?

I have wondered for over two years how Seattle gets such poor math text adoption finalists. At last I have an answer, helped by an FOIA release. Examine this 5 question form and the scoring rubric. The score from these 5 questions determines which teachers, staff and administrators are on the adoption committee.

In thinking about question #1, keep in mind that until this school year the Standards were the Terry Bergeson inquiry/discovery model standards, which were "F" rated and eventually replaced with the help of the Washington legislature. Is it a good thing for a teacher to get a 4 on the score scale below for question #1?

1. Describe your understanding of and your experience with standards-based instructional materials.

0- No Awareness of Standards
1- Awareness of the existence of Standards
2- Understanding of the Standards
3- Described how they implemented them in their teaching
4- Facilitate other teachers with their use of Standards

In thinking about question #2, remember the achievement gaps have increased for a decade+. These committees continually fail to select materials or devise plans that work for these groups listed.

2. Describe your experience with special needs groups ( eg: Special Ed. English Language Learners, and Advanced Learners) and diverse cultural groups.

0- No experience with diverse learning styles and cultures
1- Limited experience with diverse learning styles and cultures
2- New Spe. Needs teachers –or—Reg. w/ some experience with diverse learning styles and cultures
3- Exp. Spe. Needs teachers –or—Reg. w/ lots of experience with diverse learning styles and cultures
4- Spe. Needs teacher with wide variety of experience with diverse learning styles and cultures

In thinking about #3, remember that 95%+ of SPS math Professional Development is Discovery/Inquiry based.

3. What recent classes or professional development opportunities related to mathematics teaching and learning have you participated in?
(Note this says classes related to mathematics teaching and learning not mathematics (as in mathematics content). Very odd that the district speaks of teachers with math content deficiencies but fails to encourage the taking of math content courses.

0- No Training
1-Limited course work (1 day per year)
2- Some course work (2-5 days per year)
3- Lots of course work (more than 1 week)
4- See self as an adult learner – or – Facilitates others

In #4 these are likely discovery/inquiry based opportunities and good scores go to those with resulting pedagogical changes.

4. How have these opportunities impacted your approach to the teaching and learning of mathematics?

0- No change
1- Changed 1 thing (1 lesson or 1 minor pedagogical change)
2- Some changes (Several pedagogical changes/confirmation of beliefs)
3- Significant change of practice
4- moved to leadership

In thinking about #5, the concern is not about selection of suitable materials. It seems that none of these questions are actually about suitable materials but rather whether the applicant has the appropriate view. Little wonder the recommended instructional materials are poor. What amazes me is that finally we actually have a really good runner up in Prentice Hall.. Think about the Elementary adoption with TERC/Investigations or Everyday Math ...

5. Describe an experience where you were working with someone with a different perspective than yours and explain how you worked toward a common agreement.

0- Never have a problem Or Never dealt with conflicting views
1- Argued until someone gave in
2- “Learned from each other”
3- Worked with a compromise or consensus model
4- Facilitated a group process for decision making


This completes today's lesson on how to stack a committee so that a culture based on ineffective inquiry based mathematics continues on. When will example based instructional materials ever be adopted by Seattle Schools?

In the application form to be on the HS math adoption committee it is especially disturbing that under purpose: alignment is mentioned but not alignment with the Washington Math Standards. In fact there is no mention of the Washington Math Standards under purpose.

Under goal the following appears:
These materials will be aligned with the Washington State Performance expectations articulated across grade levels. I believe that this is k-8 language. There are Washington State Performance expectations for Algebra and Geometry but none for Pre-Calculus or Calculus.

If I were a board member, I would want to see the Algebra pacing plan to confirm that all the Algebra standards are covered. I would be looking for that Geometry pacing plan also. I would not spend $1.2 Million without those pacing plans.
This is High School not k-8.

I would assume that the Algebra and Geometry Standards were passed out to the committee but as to whether a lot of attention was paid to alignment to those standards I would doubt it given the language of the application form.

The really high scoring applicants on the above questionnaire would likely be those who were members of PD^3. PD^3 projects at Garfield and Cleveland produced particularly poor results for ELL and for many other students.

So here we go again ... adopting a math book with little emphasis on fractions, decimals, or percents ... because those mathematically unprepared 9th graders are going to be in "Discovering Algebra" not an Authentic Algebra class ... so students take out your graphing calculators.

PD^3 was a multi-year professional development opportunity that was directed by UW's Dr. James King and heavily slanted toward inquiry based learning. There were many PD^3 participants on the adoption committee.

Now you know why in math the Example Based Instructional Materials that the children need are not in use in the SPS for k-12 students. The committee selection process screens out most teachers who would advocate for example based materials.

The Central Administration is now advocating for the "Discovering Series" which has been found to be mathematically unsound in reviews by independent mathematicians working for the state board of education. In response the district has Dr. James King's claim that these materials are mathematically sound. Look at the results of Cleveland and Garfield for school years 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 ... does Doctor King's judgment produce improvement? He was the PD^3 director.... in those cases NO.
The purpose and goal of this adoption both fail to mention anything about: the math knowledge and proficiency a student needs to achieve in order to move into the workplace or onto college successfully.

Parents want textbooks for their children that will give their kids an opportunity to be adequately prepared for collegiate math success. Clear readable example based books are what is needed. The district's exclusive goal as indicated on the application form is this:

"Develop a collaborative committee of teachers to review and select a set of mathematics instructional materials for grades 9-12. These materials will be aligned with the Washington State Performance Expectations and articulated across grade levels."

No question about it. The district achieved the stated goal with this recommendation of the Key Curriculum Press "Discovering Series".... It is unfortunate the goal did not include the selection of math texts that could be effectively used district wide to adequately teach the children mathematics. The committee clearly neglected what should have been an obvious goal, but Director Bell did not.

You can look at how the books teach Algebra here:

Director DeBell on You Tube.


Anonymous said...

O.K. - play the game and fill out the paper the way they need it!

ASIDE - In 1996/7 I was finishing at the U.W. with my math B.A., I was 36, broke, wracking up debt like you couldn't believe trying to finish off a degree I started in 1978. Some of my young punk classmates at the U.W., stereotypical gamers, were working in software testing and were starting out at higher pay than I had made as a cook for 15 years. (UGH!) I was a MAC guy, I had zilch experience with DOS and UNIX, but, I helped people in my classes all the time. I thought ... well ... this ain't a bad way to keep the rent paid until I grow up and figure out what I want to do. So, I thought, ... HOW do I get into this racket?

Well ... I'll do what I did in cooking!

ASIDE #2. My 3rd cooking job was Boston, and it was a step up. I quickly noticed that LOTS of the people making more than me had MORE self confidence AND more bullshitting skills - they were only as good as me as a cook, OR, worse. My next job was a significant step up in prestige, AND, the bullshit skills went up exponentially. I decided that I was NEVER going to lose a good to a bullshitter, AND, that I was going to start marketing myself. End Aside #2.

Back to March 1997, the begining of the height of the dot.bomb thing. I'd go these huge job fairs and listen and go home and re-write my resume, and 1 day I asked a kid recruiter what 'scripting' was and he was bored and told me. I left Seattle Center, went to Tower Books, and skimmed "Scripting For Dummies". I went back to the job fair, I went to a different aisle, I told the 23 yr. old recruiter I knew how to script, he tripped me up quickly, I went to a new aisle with an upgraded spiel ... by the end of the next day my new resume was getting a lot of feedback, and the phone started ringing ... and on Jan 2 or 3, 2003, I left my msft blue badge on the table of the HR woman, and left that chapter behind.

This scoring rubric is INCREDIBLE. It tells YOU and it tells ME what nonsense to tell these people to get hired. For example, they value having some stupid group process with 'consensus' over figuring out an agreement and moving on!

Let me tell you, from 30+ years of doing things in Lefty kind of politics, 'consensus' and 'group' are code words for whoever has the most patience with idiotic processes wins. PERIOD. I have lots and lots and lots of lefty friends (I live in Seattle) who will NOT go to any meetings cuz the meetings run on this group consensus bullshit, and these friends want to get things done, NOT just waste more of their lives on dumb process where the most persistent WIN, oh, and, by the way, declare it 'consensus'.

Of course, IF you fill out their paperwork to get past their discovery groupthink nonsense, THEN you're on the waste-your-life committee.


fri p.m.

wseadawg said...

Awesome post Anonymous. DEAD ON!

Anonymous said...

It is code and usually the admins have an idea who they want on the committee anyway. So yes, it is a waste of others people's efforts if they don't already belong to the club.