Friday, April 10, 2009

West Newbury .... detailed math confusion article

Administrators summarize current program
By Jennifer Solis correspondent

WEST NEWBURY — Pentucket administrators provided a written summary on the status of the district's math curriculum in this week's School Committee packet. According to the summary, math curriculum assessment is currently underway at the elementary and secondary school levels with a goal of coordinating and articulating content, instruction and assessment.


... This article contains descriptions of almost all the same unproductive nonsense seen everywhere when districts attempt to make defective instructional materials work.

..... a math curriculum specialist was hired in 2007 ...... Teachers at that level have worked within their professional learning communities .... with grade-level teams ...... A group of parents and administrators began meeting monthly last September to review improvements and challenges i....

They held an Everyday Math night in October 2008 to educate parents about the Every Day Math program used at the elementary level and to gather input from parents.

Math teachers ... discussed ways to better facilitate the transition between sixth and seventh grade; gaps in student math facts are being addressed; and teachers have access to an after-school professional development series aimed at improving math instruction competency.

.....falling standardized math scores .... the district took an aggressive approach to ensuring student achievement.
..."Staff analyzed data and identified specific math concepts presenting the greatest challenge to students
The article continues with more of this attempted math repair.

If you are playing tennis with a two by four, you might need lessons but the initial move should be to get a tennis racket.

Please administrators and school board members get decent instructional materials before flushing more time, effort, and dollars. It is really not as difficult as the marketeers of professional development and high $$$ services would like us to believe.

Read "What is Important in School Mathematics" here:


Anonymous said...

This is another of Alan Tucker's essays and a pasted an excerpt of it. - he's aware of the complexity of the issues and so most of his work is very technical.

I want to alert mathematicians to some troubling problems that can affect the standards-based
mathematics tests mandated by recent state and federal legislation. These problems became
apparent during my work on a New York Board of Regents’ special panel investigating the high
failure rate on the June 2003 New York mathematics graduation test. Major deficiencies were
found both in setting performance standards and in maintaining the performance standards. Many
of these problems involve very technical aspects of the psychometric methodology, based on Item
Response Theory, for maintaining a constant performance standard over time. The New York State
Education Department has only one psychometrician who oversees dozens of tests. Outside
vendors do the actual psychometric work. My analysis indicated that instead of requiring a score
51 out of 85 to pass the June 2003 Math A test, the true cutoff should have been around 30. The
report of the special Regents panel [2] led to a lowering of the passing score and a total reworking
of future math graduation tests. While the panel did not have the time to fully analyze the
psychometric reasons for this flawed passing score, subsequent study by this writer was able to
supply many of these details (see [4]). The findings of this study are summarized here.
Any test whose problems are not totally predictable is likely to be affected by many of these
psychometric problems, especially if the test is aiming to raise the performance of students over
time, as mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act.
Here is what Item Response Theory claims to do in a nutshell: it can calculate a consistent
passing score on future tests based on the projected performance of a hypothetical student who can
solve a certain problem correctly with probability 2/3rds. Clearly, this theory involves a lot of

I prefer a sapper's life. Alan's apologetic, but I doubt these idiots will listen, on a human scale they have the attention spans of baby chimps.

Change comes from within classrooms, not on the floor of some dusty college building where lurks some Calvinist apothegmatical pedant.

Anonymous said...

Gee 30 out of 80 should have been the passing cutoff on the Regent's test and not 51.

We're test-driven, not student-driven. That's what performance-based means. Conveniently, textbooks no longer matter. College education professors deserve dunce caps.

Anonymous said...

Newburyport News has decided not to publish comments about their math adoption?

I like this beginning:

"After several false starts, these goals have continued to evade us for two years," the report states. (more like 20 years if you count other districts)

In January, eighth- and ninth-grade math teachers "were brought together to make needed adjustments in our math curriculum to ensure students were prepared for an aggressive secondary math program."

Staff was taught how to keenly focus curriculum and "selected the most powerful standards to teach to mastery."

Was staff reluctant before January? Or were they dull, idiotic, ignorant, obtuse, or just plain stupid (the opposite of keen).

Everyday Math was part of their aggressive math program. I wonder what else? Connected Math and IMP? So why don't they try Discovering algebra? What else is left? Core Plus?

This seems more like good exercise in waving one's hands then using one's brains. I'm almost retired.

Anonymous said...

Listening to school districts is like looking at thousands of individual fishbowls. All of them are utterly clueless. The Doe is doing wonderfully. Kids love learning and that's all that matters. No problems in the USA.