Saturday, May 30, 2009

Proven Math Plan Needed 6-03-2009

Directors, I am Dan Dempsey. 6-03-2009

Over several years, you’ve heard compelling testimonies regarding the perils of reform math. Unfortunately the board has consistently chosen to follow the administration, rather than intelligently applying relevant data.

Consequently Seattle, like many districts, uses instructional materials discriminatory toward disadvantaged learners.

Many Seattle math decision-makers ignored WASL math achievement gaps and NAEP gaps. The board has continually failed to address Seattle’s discriminatory math practices.

You may not understand that most educationally disadvantaged learners do not have access to the help needed to gain math understanding from Seattle’s defective instructional materials. They have no access to paid tutors, or paid learning centers, and no tutorial help from math knowledgeable relatives.

On May 6th, four School Directors ignored the plight of disadvantaged learners. Disadvantaged learners went unmentioned. Not a single reference was made about the effects these tragically flawed materials would have on disadvantaged learners.

One board member voted “Yes”, and stated “Discovering Algebra” contained only algebra. The opening three chapters are packed with exploratory activities and little algebra. It is as much statistics as algebra.

Another board member voted “Yes”, mentioning a private lesson she and her daughter received from a math coach and the math program manager.

A third board member preferred the decision of a stacked committee above the needs of the children.

A fourth board member claimed NMAP to be his guide, citing two insignificant lame quotations from it. He missed the entire focus of the report: preparation for and access to “Authentic Algebra”. He also missed its recommendations for disadvantaged learners.

NMAP recommends Explicit Instruction for students who have mathematical difficulties. Explicit instruction means that teachers and textbooks provide clear models for solving a problem type using an array of examples, that students receive extensive practice in use of newly learned strategies and skills. ……The math materials, adopted K-12, provide Seattle’s students with few examples and little practice.

Four board members voted for a book series, which lacks the elements NMAP recommends for disadvantaged learners. A book series without answers to selected problems in the back of the book.

Tonight, when a proven math plan is needed, you are asked to approve a half-million bucks to continue funding an experimental “Discriminatory Math Plan to Nowhere”.

You’ve been deceived. Ms. Santorno continues to fool at least a majority of the directors all the time.

I wonder can Seattle’s district officials fool a Federal Court into allowing a continuation of their discriminatory math practices?

A large and important change in math direction is needed, please begin it tonight by voting no.

Cliff Mass in the Seattle Times

This is a fabulous piece. Bravo Professor Mass.

The comments should also be read.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Orbits speaks on Discovery learning and research

The attached doc file contains Math WASL data charts for the Bellevue School District.

The Bellevue School District 10-year achievement gap averages for Black and Hispanic students are very large (over 40 points). As in Lake WA, the number of Black and Hispanic students are relatively small compared to white students; one would think it shouldn’t be too difficult to teach enough math to a relatively small group so they can pass the WASL. Especially considering the claim by proponents that a Discovery curriculum makes math more accessible to all students. I think in reality the data suggests that middle and upper middle class students are receiving help with math learning outside of school to compensate for the shortcomings of teaching math using the Discovery method. This outside help is unavailable to Low-Income students. More about this at the end.

This has been going on for the last 10+ years in Bellevue (and in other districts). It seems clear that a new Math Curriculum is needed so all students can efficiently and effectively learn math in school.

By denying Low-Income students a successful math education, the current program almost seems designed to deselect them from higher paying STEM careers. The evil of “unintended consequences”, spawned from poor quality Education Research, strikes another school district.

I have added some comments on Education Research quality at the end.

A summary of the Bellevue Math WASL stats in the charts is as follows:

For 4th Grade Bellevue Students--

• White-Black achievement gap average = 44 points since 1998

• White-Hispanic achievement gap average = 42 points since 1998

• 8 of 10 Black & 7 of 10 Hispanic 4th graders failed Math WASL in 2007

For 7th Grade Bellevue Students—

• White-Black achievement gap average = 41 points since 1997

• White-Hispanic achievement gap average = 40 points since 1997

• 2 of 3 Black and Hispanic 7th graders failed Math WASL in 2007

For 10th Grade Bellevue Students—

• White-Black achievement gap average = 45 points since 1998

• White-Hispanic achievement gap average = 45 points since 1998

• 3 of 4 Black & 2 of 3 Hispanic 10th graders failed Math WASL in 2007

• Dropouts not reflected in 10th grade data

For Low-Income Bellevue Students as a group--

• 4th grade achievement gap average = 34 points since 2001

• 10th grade achievement gap average = 32 points since 2003

• 2 of 3 Low-Income 4th graders failed Math WASL in 2007

• 6 of 10 Low-Income 10th graders failed Math WASL in 2007

• Dropouts not reflected in 10th grade data

Data Source: WA OSPI Report Card

On Research Produced by the University Education Community:

The Report of the National Math Advisory Panel in 2008 clearly stated that most of the Education Community does not know how to conduct scientific research. A quote from their recommendations reads,

“the Subcommittee on Standards of Evidence recommends that the rigor and amount of course work in statistics and experimental design be increased in graduate training in education. Such knowledge is essential to produce and to evaluate scientific research in crucial areas of national need, including mathematics education.“

The NMAP panel made this recommendation because they found:

“The Panel’s systematic reviews have yielded hundreds of studies on important topics, but only a small proportion of those studies have met methodological standards. Most studies have failed to meet standards of quality because they do not permit strong inferences about causation or causal mechanisms (Mosteller & Boruch, 2002; Platt, 1964). Many studies rely on self-report, introspection about what has been learned or about learning processes, and open-ended interviewing techniques, despite well-known limitations of such methods (e.g., Brainerd, 1973; Nisbett & Ross, 1980; Woodworth, 1948).” Note that some of the Panel’s reference sources date back to 1948 and 1973.

The take away is to be very skeptical when you hear the phrase, “research shows”. Always ask the speaker to, “Please cite your specific reference to the research literature so I can read it myself.” I expect most speakers will not have such references to hand, and further, it should cut down on the flippant use of this phrase in the future. Then read the supplied research looking for the use of problematic methods noted above in the NMAP report.

For some recent research published in the Psychology Literature (vs. the Education Literature) on a comparison of the relative effectiveness of discovery learning and direct instruction see, “The equivalence of learning paths in early science instruction: effects of direct instruction and discovery learning”, David Klahrl and Milena Nigam, 2004 American Psychological Society, Volume 15—Number 10, pgs 661-667.

The authors found Direct Instruction was more effective than Discovery learning. They state, “That is, the focused, explicit, and didactic training in the direct-instruction condition produced a high proportion of CVS masters who were as proficient as the few discovery-learning masters (and experts) when subsequently asked to demonstrate richer, more authentic, scientific judgments.”


-- Dave

What Seattle needs for Math

Now that Seattle has selected the k-12 trifecta of math disaster.....
what can be done?

Here are some ideas

Assisting Students Struggling with Mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for Elementary and Middle Schools

Taking early action may be key to helping students struggling with mathematics. The eight recommendations in this guide are designed to help teachers, principals, and administrators use Response to Intervention for the early detection, prevention, and support of students struggling with mathematics.

Other ideas involve having the school board actually perform their jobs in a satisfactory manner. Since the Central administration intends to continue their decade plus of discriminatory actions toward educationally disadvantaged learners in math, it would be nice if the school board awakens to protect the children.

Since they just voted 4-3 to continue ongoing discrimination don't count on the school board to help much. Michael DeBell and Harium Martin-Morris are the guys that definitely have a clue. Michael DeBell has really stepped up his game in actually fulfilling his responsibility as director to supervise the Superintendent and crew.

Michael's actions are very nice to see since Steve Sundquist's refusal to take responsible action in regard to the "Discovering Series" adoption.

Steve's NMAP statement was absurd. NMAP gives specific recommendations and guidance that he failed to mention and instead ran for cover. WOW!!! once again "Steve's Effective New Leadership" failed to emerge.

There certainly will be lots of interventions needed as the SPS continues to instructionally disable children in mathematics.

Is differentiated instruction expected to be the intervention?
What are the intervention materials and what is the plan?
Is there a plan?

The real k-5 Math Curriculum in Seattle
is NOT the WA math standards

Dear Director,

Currently the WA math standards are NOT the SPS k-5 math curriculum.

The proof is in the article by Andy Isaacs

I think Andy Issac's statements below are correct.
Andy Isaac is one of the co-authors of Everyday Math.
He's part of the development team. He works out of Univ. of Chicago.

From his article:
------------ --------- --------

First, Everyday Mathematics does indeed teach multiple algorithms (strategies for solving math problems). Everyday Mathematics encourages students to learn multiple algorithms because it helps them understand both how to solve a problem and why the method is valid. Students can choose the way that works best for them, allowing them to not only feel more successful but to actually understand the math better.

Everyday Mathematics materials identify one algorithm for each operation as a “focus algorithm.” The purpose of a focus algorithm is to provide children with at least one accessible and correct paper-and-pencil method and thereby set a common basis for classroom work. Each focus algorithm is chosen for both efficiency and understandability.

The highly efficient paper-and-pencil algorithms that have been traditional in the U.S. may no longer be the best algorithms for children in today’s technologically demanding world. Today’s elementary school children will be in the workforce well into the second half of the 21st century and the school mathematics curriculum should reflect the technological age in which they will live, work, and compete.

------------ --------- --------

The WA math standards require the teaching of The highly efficient paper-and-pencil algorithms that have been traditional in the U.S.. The WA math standards do not require or advise the teaching of the EDM focus algorithms.

The math standards do not require the teaching of other algorithms.

In school year 2008-2009, the SPS central administration chose the EDM pacing plan instead of Standard Algorithms.

Clearly in 2008-2009, the curriculum for k-5 math was the EDM pacing plan. In May 2007 Ms. Santorno said "If the standards change we can easily adapt EDM."

In School year 2008-2009 that did not happen. It seems unlikely that Administration is either motivated or capable of making these changes. These changes should have been completed by Fall 2008 according to the Strategic Plan.

EDM is a bloated curriculum. It is jumbled and not well aligned with the WA math standards. There are vast quantities of material that should not be taught. Perhaps the best way to begin the adaptation would be to take a box cutter & paper shredder to a large portion of these instructional materials. You will need to do the same with the Discovering Algebra book.

You are now asked to approve a $474,440 purchase to continue the Math Plan to Nowhere. How much of what you are buying has nothing to do with the WA Math Standards?

Once again, I do not believe that the Washington Math Standards are the k-5 math curriculum in the SPS. I believe what I see, which is not what I am told.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Profession Development that worked in MA

Richard Bisk, Chair and Professor Mathematics, Worcester State College wrote:

We were successful in North Middlesex because the teachers got Professional Development that improved their math understanding and they got to use good materials (Singapore Math) with their students. I was the lead teacher (assisted by 2 or 3 of their teachers) for Professional Development.

My current view - start with a Professional Development course of 5-8 days that focuses on the math with some discussion of implementation. Then provide follow-up support during the school year and in subsequent summers. Most teachers will say up front that they want the implementation knowledge and not the math as they don't realize how their limited math background affects their ability to teach well. I've been fairly successful in convincing them that the math needs to come first.

Consider Seattle's professional D for the Everyday Math Adoption, it lacked any focus on the math.

Goodloe-Johnson's SC successor rated better

Seattle Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson's successor in Charleston S.C. is receiving higher ratings than MG-J did. Check the article.

Maryland Report

Contrast this report's first page with Mr. Issac's view.
Remember that EDM has the largest market share in the USA for elementary math texts.

The Case for Everyday Mathematics

The above article is a real piece of work.
Written by Andy Issacs.
Andy Isaacs is one of the co-authors of Everyday Math; he's part of the development team. He works out of U of Chicago.

The comments are better reading than the article.

Enjoy and toss in your own comments to this Education News. org article. No need to register to comment.
Mr. Issac's article was written in response to Barry Garelick's article
"One step ahead of the train wreck"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Letter from Queens College - Basic Math please

Latin? Try Basic Math

To the Editor:

A May 19 letter suggested teaching Latin to make college diplomas more readable.

Although making sure that the college population gets a well-rounded education is a laudable goal, I, a professor of college math for more than 30 years, bemoan the fact that people cannot do simple arithmetic.

Many college students (and, yes, college graduates) cannot add fractions, multiply decimals or calculate the square footage of an L-shaped room (forget about calculus or higher math.)

These things are required in everyday life to convert recipes, calculate a sale price or buy an air-conditioner. Calculators are a bad substitute. They absolve the student from the requirement of thinking.

On a recent exam, a student complained to me not that the exam was too long or too hard — but that he had to think.

Arnold Fischthal
New York , May 20, 2009

The writer is an assistant professor of mathematics at Queens College .

Education problems will be solved with home reform, not school reform

Education problems will be solved with home reform, not school reform
(not a math article)
By John Rosemond

Public school reformers are like a fellow who scoops a bucket of water from one end of a swimming pool, carries it to the other end, dumps it back in, and then repeats the sequence endlessly, convinced he is making the latter end deeper.

In the meantime, his labor causes the cost of the water to skyrocket as it becomes more contaminated. Our reformer is obviously suffering from some learning disability because despite the fact he's been at this for years, he seems incapable of understanding that he is accomplishing nothing and causing problems in the process.

Nonetheless, he can be heard constantly complaining that he needs more money with which to increase the pool's water level and improve the quality of the water.

The bankruptcy of the reformer's argument, as well as his myopia, is easily exposed. One of his objectives is to reduce the student/teacher ratio. He maintains that smaller class size improves learning. Oh, really? In the 1950s, when class size was much larger than it is today, and the student/teacher ratio was larger still, children at all socioeconomic levels achieved at much higher levels than their contemporary counterparts. And many of those kids - including yours truly - came to first grade not even knowing their ABCs!

Since the 1960s, reformers have succeeded at bringing about significant reductions in both class size and the student/teacher ratio. Their efforts have coincided with dramatic declines in student achievement. Yet, oblivious to facts, they continue to carry water from one end of the pool to the other.

The reason 1950s kids could be successfully taught in overcrowded classrooms (I've met women who in that decade taught as many as 95 first graders, by themselves, and with relatively few problems) is because they had been and were being properly disciplined in the home. They were not the center of parental attention in their homes; rather, they were expected to pay attention to their parents. They were not the object of great doing on their parents' parts; rather, they were expected to do, to carry their share of the weight (Does anyone remember when children had chores and were expected to find their own entertainment after school?) They were expected to do at school what they had been trained to do at home - pay attention and do what they were told. (Did I mention that these kids were also expected to do their own homework, without their mothers' help?) This training obviously paid off.

The good news is that this same training will pay the same dividends today. The problem, of course, is that few parents realize the solution to American's education woes lies in their hands. They have been persuaded that the reformers, given enough money, will solve the problems. When his efforts fail, they demand that he carry water faster, to which he responds with demands for even more money. And the beat goes on.

The problems in American education will be solved through home reform, not school reform. When parents wake up to the misleading they have endured for the past forty years and re-embrace a traditional (read: everlasting) point of view and restore traditional practice (the emphasis of which is not on spanking, but on leadership); when they once again back teachers when it comes to discipline; when they once again send children to school who have been properly prepared at home, not through academic exercises beginning at age 3, but through such things as chores beginning at age 3; then and only then will American schools be restored to their former glory.

Call it trickle-down edu-nomics.
JOHN ROSEMOND is a psychologist, family therapist and nationally known lecturer on parenting issues.

It's time to realize that what we (all) are doing in education reform is creating jobs. Jobs in government at all levels and jobs in think tanks trying to figure out what to try next, what experiment to offer the public next under the pretense on fixing our schools.

Simply imagine how many people would become unemployed if our schools worked perfectly. That is not in the interest of the "experts".

The answer is so simple. The schools worked in the 50's so why don't we just go back to that. But that is too simple and creates no jobs. This is actually getting very boring.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Discriminatory Math Plan to Nowhere

Many Seattleites see their city as better than other places in regard to social issues. Aren’t we the “Bluest of the Blue”? None of that supposed Red State lack of involvement on social issues for us. Shockingly Seattle and Washington Schools are among the most ethnically discriminatory in regard to mathematics education in the USA.

The recent focus on ending the two trends of increasing numbers of students in need of math remediation and falling scores on collegiate math placement exams needs to be expanded. K-12 math practices that instructionally disable learners must end. School should be a place where math content and skills can be efficiently learned. Unfortunately many Seattle parents find home to be the place where that happens NOT school, but what happens to children with no such supportive home environment. They are termed educationally disadvantaged. For math in Seattle they would appropriately be identified as out of luck. Seattle, whether by ignorance or design, chooses instructional materials and practices that are known to be ineffective for disadvantaged learners. The result is student confusion and overt discrimination of disadvantaged learners.

District policies requiring mastery of grade level expectations are ignored. Instead of offering mandated effective interventions, the choice has been to socially promote children rather than educate them. The claim that “Differentiated Instruction” in mathematics will be successful with masses of marginally skilled math students if only the teachers receive enough professional development and coaching has no research basis. This district’s plans are a “Math Plan to Nowhere” because those plans are based on neither sound research nor appropriate recommendations. This expensive continuing experimental voyage through “Fantasyland” needs to end.

Over the last decade, Seattle Schools consistently narrowed the achievement gap in reading and just as consistently expanded the gap in math. Seattle’s WASL measured math gaps surpass reading gaps by wide margins,
for Black students by: at grade 4 (+15.3), grade 7(+13.8), grade 10(+30.8);
for Hispanic students by: at grade 4 (+13.2), grade 7(+12.6), grade 10(+11.6).

Some argue WASL testing is unreliable. The real math problems are the choice of instructional materials and devotion to failed ideology. The NAEP test referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card” shows our State NAEP data changes from 2003 to 2007 in regard to math achievement gaps as:
Black grade 8 increased by 4.02 ranking #39 of 41
(2nd from the bottom)
Hispanic grade 8 increased by 5.93 ranking #36 of 37
(1 from the bottom)
Black grade 4 increased by 6.50 ranking #43 of 43
(dead last)
Hispanic grade 4 increased by 4.46 ranking #42 of 44
(2nd from the bottom)

Seattle bases math education on the cognitive model of exploration and inquiry. The largest study in education history, Project Follow Through, which studied the effectiveness in grades k-3 of nine education models on educationally disadvantaged learners, found the cognitive model the worst of all nine for math. Check those grade 4 gaps above for evidence of the cognitive model in action.

The National Math Advisory Panel’s final report “Foundations for Success” reported:

Explicit instruction with students who have mathematical difficulties has shown consistently positive effects on performance with word problems and computation. Results are consistent for students with learning disabilities, as well as other students who perform in the lowest third of a typical class. By the term explicit instruction, the Panel means that teachers provide clear models for solving a problem type using an array of examples, that students receive extensive practice in use of newly learned strategies and skills.

On May 6th, instead of NMAP’s recommended array of examples and extensive practice, four school directors chose the “Discovering Math” series with few examples and insufficient practice. This action continues Seattle’s ongoing process of ignoring what is recommended for educationally disadvantaged students.

NMAP stated: “A focused, coherent progression of mathematics learning, with an emphasis on proficiency with key topics, should become the norm in elementary and middle school mathematics curricula. Any approach that continually revisits topics year after year without closure is to be avoided.

Everyday Math continually revisits topics year after year without closure and without a focus on proficiency with key topics. On June 3, the directors will likely vote to support continuing ongoing discriminatory practices in mathematics education with a positive vote for the Superintendent’s recommended expenditure of $474,440 for one year of Everyday Math consumable materials.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. The data is available but where is the intelligence?

Intelligence would demand an end to this failed experiment. Will a Federal Court decision be needed to end these continuing discriminatory practices?

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
SBE Math Advisory Panelist 2007-2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Seattle fails to Stop on-going math discrimination ... but promotes discrimination through discriminatory pratices and materials

In 2006-2007 I taught at West Seattle High School. I was totally astonished that the School Directors had made reducing the achievement Gap a supposed priority and yet in math it had expanded annually.

Now I have word that at a recent Family Engagement meeting the district experts believe that NAEP data shows WA to be on the right track in math. NO they are not talking about the NEW WA math standards but rather that the old Bergeson Reform Math is the right track. Thus justifying the continued use of EDM, CMP2, and now the unsound "Discovering Series".

Let us look at the WA NAEP data and SPS math gaps.

2007 NAEP report for WA in grade 4 and in grade 8 from 2005 to 2007 WA is classified as No significant change in math achievement.
About half the states(23) showed significant improvement at grade 4 (but not WA) and about half(26) showed significant improvement at grade 8 (but not WA).

As a nation the USA is being blown into the weeds by the internationally competitive math taught in other countries. Math content counts.

The state of MA chose to be tested as a nation in the most recent TIMSS and while MA looks better than the USA. At the highest levels of proficiency MA is getting totally smoked by the really proficient math nations.

Pick up any of the adopted math texts approved for use in the SPS... the outcome is obvious as:
lack of content = poor results. duh???

I find that WA is definitely improving in its ability to discriminate against ethnic minorities through Math materials and practices. It is reported that in a recent community meeting District Family Engagement specialists said:

In terms of assessments, NAEP, shows Washington is improving.

In fact at grade 8 from 2005 to 2007 WA NAEP scores for Whites improved 1.86 points but for Blacks dropped 1.10 ranking WA a pathetic #36 out of 41 states for gap reduction as gap increased by 2.96

For Hispanics the Gap grew by 0.96 ranking WA #26 out of 36 states.

For grade 4 from 2005-2007 WA NAEP scores for Whites improved by 1.58 points but for Blacks dropped 8.86 the Gap increased by 10.44 rank WA #43 out of 43 (dead last).
Almost all Elementary schools in the State now use reform math materials. I doubt African American children are well served by this allegiance to Reform Math programs.

For Hispanics the Gap grew by 0.96 ranking WA #29 out of 43.

Did these family engagement experts actually present data at this meeting or was it the usual results show that blah blah blah?

From his Everyday Math adoption support in 2007, I realize that Mr. Bernatek is an expert Cherry Picker of data. I was just wondering what data they showed if anything.
Now you have the most recent of the Central Office attempts to support their incredibly discriminatory Math Plan to Nowhere.

Keep in mind that at grades 4 and 8 more states are reducing gaps than expanding them.
Black 8th ...reducing 26 : expanding 15
Hispanic 8th reducing 20 : expanding 18
Black 4th ...reducing 22 : expanding 21
Hispanic 4th reducing 23 : expanding 19

In WA we expand them all, which the District's Family Engagement experts see as improvement I guess?

Now on to SPS Reading Gaps and SPS Math Gaps.
Can you guess which one shrinks and which one expands?

The Seattle School District has significantly narrowed the achievement gaps in reading for Black and Hispanic students. A comparison of the average of the first two years of WASL testing with the average of the last two years, gives the following gaps changed:

Reading Gap
Black 10th grade shrinks by differential of 17.8 points
Black 7th grade shrinks by differential of 9.2 points
Black 4th grade shrinks by differential of 14.45 points

Hispanic 10th grade shrinks by differential of 10.05 points
Hispanic 7th grade shrinks by differential of 0.15 points
Hispanic 4th grade shrinks by differential of 7.85 points

English Lang. Learner 10th shrinks by 12.15 points
English Lang. Learner 7th grew by 1.30 points
English Lang. Learner 4th shrinks by 9.10 points

Something is seriously wrong with Seattle actions in Mathematics.

{As if you did not already know there was a serious problem. The Directors voted 4-3 to adopt a mathematically unsound text series perhaps because of the Bergeson left over OSPI blind faith math deceiver's preaching.}

Math Gap
Black 10th grade grew by differential of 13.70 points
Black 7th grade grew by differential of 11.70 points
Black 4th grade grew by differential of 6.35 points

Hispanic 10th grade grew by differential of 6.30 points
Hispanic 7th grade grew by differential of 16.60 points
Hispanic 4th grade grew by differential of 7.80 points

English Lang. Learner 10th grew by 6.30 points
English Lang. Learner 7th grew by 21.00 points
English Lang. Learner 4th grew by 1.95 points

Current Gaps for Spring 2008
..................Reading : Math : Math Gap greater by
Black grade 10 .. 21.70 : 52.30 : +30.6
Black grade 7 .. 34.80 : 48.60 : +13.8
Black grade 4 .. 31.00 : 46.30 : +15.30

Hispanic grade 10 .. 18.30 : 29.90 : +11.60
Hispanic grade 7 .. 35.10 : 47.70 : +12.60
Hispanic grade 4 .. 27.20 : 40.40 : +13.20

Eng Lang. L grade 10: 43.60 : 48.80 : +5.20
Eng Lang. L grade 7: 56.80 : 66.50 : +9.70
Eng Lang. L grade 4: 48.50 : 56.10 : +7.60

Soon to find out: if access to a decent math education is a civil right or not?

You can read the National Math Advisory Panel's final report "Foundations for Success" and find out how far off the tracks Seattle and those Four Directors are located.

I suppose that the SPS and OSPI will have already discounted the NMAP report as biased for it fails to support their ongoing discriminatory math lunacy.
This Mathematical catastrophe had been predicted and could easily have been avoided.
Here is a short article on PFT:
WA NAEP data changes from 2003 to 2007 in regard to achievement Gaps:
Black grade 8 increased by 4.02 ranking #39 of 41
Hispanic grade 8 increased by 5.93 ranking #36 of 37

Black grade 4 increased by 6.50 ranking #43 of 43
Hispanic grade 4 increased by 4.46 ranking #42 of 44


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

From 2003 NYC ... this does not work
How not to teach Math .. Everyday

In the City Journal --by Matthew Clavel
How Not to Teach Math
New York’s chancellor Klein’s plan doesn’t compute.
7 March 2003

It wasn’t working. We’d gone through six straight wrong answers, and now the kids were tired of feeling lost. It was only October, and already my fourth-grade public school class in the South Bronx was demoralized. Day after day of going over strange, seemingly disconnected math lessons had squelched my students’ interest in the subject.

Then, quietly, 10-year-old David spoke up. “Mr. Clavel, no one understands this stuff.” He looked up at me with a defeated expression; other children nodded pleadingly. We had clearly reached a crossroads. How would Mr. Clavel, a young teacher, inexperienced but trying hard, react to David’s statement—so obvious to everyone in the class that it didn’t even require seconding?

...... Since kindergarten, most of them had been taught math using this same dreadful curriculum, called Everyday Mathematics—a slightly older version of a program that New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein has now unwisely chosen for most of Gotham’s public elementary schools; the district had phased in Everyday Mathematics grade by grade, and it had just reached fourth grade during my first year of teaching.

Research shows .... a lotta bunk and a little truth
Time for you to write a letter

The Report of the National Math Advisory Panel clearly stated that most of the Education Community does not know how to conduct scientific research.
A quote from their recommendations reads,

“the Subcommittee on Standards of Evidence recommends that the rigor and amount of course work in statistics and experimental design be increased in graduate training in education. Such knowledge is essential to produce and to evaluate scientific research in crucial areas of national need, including mathematics education.“

The NMAP panel made this recommendation because they found [my emphasis]: “The Panel’s systematic reviews have yielded hundreds of studies on important topics, but only a small proportion of those studies have met methodological standards. Most studies have failed to meet standards of quality because they do not permit strong inferences about causation or causal mechanisms (Mosteller & Boruch, 2002; Platt, 1964). Many studies rely on self-report, introspection about what has been learned or about learning processes, and open-ended interviewing techniques, despite well-known limitations of such methods (e.g., Brainerd, 1973; Nisbett & Ross, 1980; Woodworth, 1948).” Note that some of the Panel’s reference sources date back to 1948 and 1973.

This means that the billions of dollars spend on Education Research over the last 20 years (and probably before) has largely been wasted.

A paper by Robert Rosenthal, “Science and Ethics in Conducting, Analyzing, and Reporting Psychological Research”, American Psychological Society, May 1994,'94.pdf

clearly states why poor quality of research is unethical. He states (in this paragraph he is discussing an example from education research),

“How does the poor quality of the design raise ethical objections to the proposed research? Because students', teachers', and administrators' time will be taken from potentially more beneficial educational experiences. Because the poor quality of the design is likely to lead to unwarranted and inaccurate conclusions that may be damaging to the society that directly or indirectly pays for the research. In addition, allocating time and money to this poor-quality science will serve to keep those finite resources of time and money from better quality science in a world that is undeniably zero-sum.”

The NSF Education Directorate has been funding this poor quality research for 20 years. This ethical failure meant, as the NMAP committee found, that when policy advisors went seeking results to guide important policy decisions they found the Education Research cupboard was largely bare. 20 years wasted while huge numbers of students failed to learn math. This ethical failure has two parties, the NSF grant officers and the researchers who requested and spent the money for their research proposals. Properly trained researchers in other science disciplines would not have submitted such poor proposals and if they had, their granting agency would have been unlikely to have approve them. The NSF Education Directorate must be revamped.

In contrast, the Economics Research Community has been having terrific success analyzing the river of data produced as a result of NCLB. For example, see the papers published by the Education Program of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) (a non-profit research org) at

They can do this work because Economics Researchers receive training in statistical analysis and research design. For a nice overview of the work published by the NBER Education Program see,

I would like you to send a letter to your WA DC legislator urging a major change to the leadership of the NSF Education Directorate in order to put this important agency on the path of conducting scientifically based research.

I also think that all WA state colleges and universities should conduct an ethics review of their education research projects using the points raised by the Rosenthal paper as a starting point. The WA state legislature needs to drive this by appointing an Independent Research and Ethics Review Board.

Please feel free to copy any of the above in your letters.

-- David Orbits

Here is another article on NSF misdirection and waste:

Hey Holt ... where's the truth?
My letter

"Take Your Students to New Heights with Discovery-Based Learning"

We all agree that students learn best when they are involved in the learning process. Research confirms what we know from our professional experiences — that discovery-based learning helps close the achievement gap...

No I do not agree.
Send me an email and I will send you my research.

I've analyzed achievement gap data over a twelve year period in Seattle and find that the achievement gap has constantly increased each year with the discovery-based learning advocated and practiced by the Seattle Schools.

I await your response and I will be happy to furnish you with data.

Studies which report gains from discovery-learning often have other factors operating that are ignored.

Read NMAP's recommendations about research.

Danaher Dempsey
Washington State Board of Education
Math Advisory Panelist (2007-2009)

Please take a little time to inform Holt about the nature of research and reality.

I urge you to use the response form
included on the Holt contact us page:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Discovering Geometry thoughts from LAUSD

I believe that in a true college prep program where in order to get into Geometry a student had to have a grade of B or higher in Alg 1, then a traditional axiomatic geometry would work and a teacher could teach two-column proofs and survive.

When students are in geometry with F's made up in summer school to D's then just about any class is going to be rough. In Discovering Geometry, it was still hard to get the students to draw the conclusions even with all the examples and activities. And since the entire class, up to the end is done with "inductive" reasoning, the presentation of deductive reasoning is very different and evident. But as I have said before, using that book is not easy. And be ready, if it fails, the teachers will be blamed for not implementing it correctly with all the group/cooperative learning gunk.

Good Luck!

Are US students really that bad?

By LIBBY QUAID, – Mon May 18,2009

WASHINGTON – America's moms and dads are getting a good scolding: Your kids are lagging behind students all around the world.

The White House says so, with concern bordering on alarm. So do institutions such as the Gates Foundation, citing performance tests, graduation rates and other benchmarks.

But don't measure for dunce caps just yet.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

TAG, talented and gifted (???)

Found in CyberSpace:

Please allow me to add my own word of caution. "Talented and Gifted" is a psychological phrase, and the field of TAG education is heavily freighted with psychological baggage. Thus, TAG children may be high achievers or not, they may be motivated to study a particular subject or not. TAG education looks nothing like sports training or music education. I find the psychologizing of education HIGHLY problematic. Please allow me to explain.

When Michael Phelps went into swimming, nobody insisted on first measuring his IQ or any other of his psychological attributes (at least, not for the purpose of swimming). That he had an interest in swimming was enough to let him jump into the pool and to progress at his own natural rate. The rest is history.

Exactly the same obtains in music education. If a child wants to pick up the violin, he is allowed. If he shows continuing interest and aptitude, he continues. And, he continues exactly according to his own natural abilities. No psychologist is gatekeeper in music education.

But in the public schools, if a child has an interest in and an aptitude for mathematics, psychologists must be consulted. The psychologist addresses a number of psychological concerns that usually do not include the child's own interests or desires, and the usual result is that the child is hindered from pursuing his mathematical interest according to his own abilities.

Because TAG is now a psychological attribute that attaches to a child regardless of actual interest or achievement, TAG has become an emblem of human worth. Claiming TAG status is tantamount to claiming that you are a better human being. Well, people resent this. They resist it and take satisfaction in frustrating TAG programs. Because the central American ideology is that all human beings are equal, it is only to be expected that educators will strenuously assert that all their children are gifted and talented.

When I was on my son's elementary school search committee, searching for a new assistant principal, I personally heard a teacher assert that TAG children should be put in their place. The committee was made up entirely of teachers, except for myself and one other parent, and the teacher's assertion was warmly received. The teacher probably meant that TAG children should be made to understand that they are not better than their classmates. Understood as a measure of human worth, even I agree with this.

But, if you believe as I do, that being better at math is not equivalent to being a better human being, then it is easy to see that math education and TAG education work at cross purposes. I have come to believe that TAG education is yet one more serious barrier to math education in the American public school.

From what I remember of the Johns Hopkins Center For Talented Youth, it is a mixed bag. Quite young children can be admitted to the program, but only on the basis of IQ scores. However, older children can be admitted on the basis of SAT scores, or something like them. Although originally conceived as group IQ tests, I think we now know that the SAT test is closer to an achievement test than to an IQ test.

The Hunter College schools, in NYC, work in the same way. Admission to the elementary school is based on IQ scores. Admission to the high school is based on academic achievement scores. It is a famously open secret that the elementary school students, who are automatically admitted to the high school, struggle academically much more than those students who are admitted on the basis of academic achievement.

If anyone would do the actual study, I would bet that we could mark the beginning of the decline of American public education with the advent of the field of educational psychology.

from a cyber-visitor:

Talented and Gifted is an interesting label.
I prefer Smart and Motivated--also known as S&M... ;-)
maybe it should be smart and/or motivated.

At the higher levels--high school-- it should be Smart AND Motivated, as neither one is enough by itself, for the highest levels of challenging classes and materials.

My boys were frustrated by "grinds" in their top math/science classes who were there because they did tons of work but did not have the brainpower to follow the discussion or absorb the content.

Georgia Superintendent of schools says:

Nontraditional math decried as 'fluff'
Baltimore Sun article

"Our primary objection is the lack of solid math content. It has been replaced with fluff," said Tom Neumark, a Frederick resident whose daughter will be a kindergartener next year.,0,6160328.story

Saturday, May 16, 2009

More from Barry Garelick

Here is an older article but quite relevant as the SPS considers
$474,440 for EDM consumables and $0 for Singapore Math.

Some folks are unhappy with the auto bailout because they do not think the Feds belong in the auto industry. Check Barry's dollar listing of the Fed's developing and pushing math programs.
This does not include all the dollars spent pushing the defective products.

In Spokane ...District Research Says ....

Just reviewing some email:

"How Students Learn Math" is probably one of the publications Spokane used when it adopted Core-Plus. This is what I was told when I asked what sort of research supported its adoption:

"Our research included studies of How Student Learn Mathematics, The Achievement Gap, the document from Achieve, the American Diploma Project, NCTM standards for instruction, assessment and curriculum and the Washington State Materials review, as well as several other articles and information from other districts, notably Bellevue Schools, Peninsula School District, Nine Mile Falls and Central Valley Schools."

That administrator said Spokane considered "about 20-25 textbooks preliminarily. " Her list of the four finalists was all reform:
1. College Prep Mathematics
3. Discovering Algebra/Geometry series, and
4. Contemporary Mathematics in Context.

This list isn't at all surprising when you know that a discovery learning style was one of the requirements for curriculum choice. Traditional instruction never had a seat at the table. I believe this is one of the big barriers to choosing a better curriculum. They will not give up on discovery learning. In every conversation I've had with Spokane administrators about it, discovery learning is the must-have. They appear to be absolutely committed to it.

$3.4 million for Ruth Parker and M.E.C.

Ruth Parker finds the NCTM Focal Points misguided ... she finds then off course because they emphasize the standard arithmetic algorithms for addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication.

Dr. Parker states that standard algorithms harm mathematical understanding.

$2.24 million for pedagogy of inquiry

Washington Post : Educators Are Challenging the Idea That Numerical Ability Must Come Naturally

The Push for Higher Math
In Search of a Better Teaching Formula
Educators Are Challenging the Idea That Numerical Ability Must Come Naturally

By Michael Alison Chandler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Word about Discovering Geometry

From a former Teacher of "Discovering Geometry":

As one who taught from Discovering, I never let the students "discover" the definitions. First of all, it takes too much time. Second, most of the definitions would be wrong. And third, I was the sage on the stage, not the guide on the side. I wanted the definitions to be correct, so I would prompt the definition. I "discovered" geometry with a map, headlamp, pith helmet, and a I dragged the students along with me. Left on their own, I fear they would still be discovering! !!

I can hardly wait for the SPS "Fidelity of Implementation" proclamation about how to teach the "Discovering Series".

Clowns to the left, Jokers to the right.
{apologies to Stealers Wheel
"Stuck in the middle with you"}

Well I don't know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain't right,
I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I'm wondering how I'll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck with Discovering Mathematics.

Yes I'm stuck in the middle with Reform,
And I'm wondering what it is I should do,
It's so hard to keep this smile from my face,
Losing control, yeah, I'm all over the place,
Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck with Reform Math k-12.

Well you started out with nothing,
And you're proud that you're a Club Ed Guru,
And your friends, they all come crawlin,
Slap you on the back and say,
Please.... Please.....STOP the Insanity.

Trying to make some sense of it all,
But I can see that it makes no sense at all,

Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor,
'Cause I don't think that I can take anymore
Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with your pathetic edicts.

Well you started out with nothing,
And you're proud that you're clueless,
And your friends, they all come crawlin,
Slap you on the back and say,
Please.... Please.....apply the relevant data.

Well I don't know why I came here tonight,
('cuz testifying before the school board is pointless)
I got the feeling that something ain't right,
I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I'm wondering how I'll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with Cheryl Chow,
Yes I'm stuck in the middle with Steve Sunqiust,
Stuck in the middle with Peter Maier,
Yes I'm stuck in the middle with Sherry Carr.
Stuck with continuing discriminatory SPS math practices by a 4-3 decision.
Stuck with SPS's Central Admin and JSCEE math professionals.

Stuck with an annual k-5 bill for $474,440.
and $ ZERO for Singapore Math.

Monday Morning 206-252-0040 at 8 AM

This says it all:
$474,440 for a year of EDM consumables and $0.00 for Singapore Math.

Please voice your concern about Everyday Math and the ineffective discriminatory system of mathematics that the Seattle schools have in place on by testifying on Wednesday at 6 PM May 20, 2009.

You may do so by calling 206-252-0040 after 8 AM Monday 5-18-2009 and signing up for a three-minute testimony.

EDM was adopted officially on May 30, 2007.
At that time 4 achievement gaps were referenced in the action document.

All four of those gaps expanded as measured on the fourth grade math WASL of Spring 2008.

The district has never chosen to confront the Math Achievement gap. Lots of rhetorical comments but no action other than continued discrimination.
This SPS nonsense approach to mathematics works best for those who pay for private tutoring using some other instructional materials to learn the math or for children with family members who assist them by doing the same.

See the Barry Garelick experience of tutoring his EDM 6th grade daughter using Singapore Math. "One Step Ahead of the Train Wreck".

Oligarchy or Republic?

Here is a ten minute video I found of interest.

If you watch this you might think about math direction nationally as well as in the SPS.

Think about the math achievement gap in the SPS for disadvantaged learners and how it expanded over a decade. Think about how the SPS ignored the promotion / non-promotion policies that require effective interventions.

Be sure and reflect on the slam/dunk one meeting contract extension and pay raise for MG-J and the Board By Law B.45 violated by this action.

Think about the ongoing push for exploration and inquiry discovery mathematics.
Think about the stacking of the adoption committee. Think about the public testimony at three school board meeting: April 8, April 22, May 6.

Oligarchy or Republic? You make the call.

These days it is beginning to look like:
Effective New Leadership = Oligarchy
Change = Oligarchy

Friday, May 15, 2009

$474,440 for Everyday Math (annually)

Time to call in and testify at the May 20th, School Board meeting.

Check the agenda under introductory items.

Everyday Math Consumables $474,440 for one year 2009-2010
that is about $22.50 per kid per year.

Making kids stupid is sure expensive.

It would have been much cheaper to make them smart with Singapore Math.

To trust or not to trust?

Once there was more trust in schools than currently. For math, part of the problem locally is the influence of UW College of Education in instructional materials decisions. Unfortunately decisions are often based on alignment with the ideology pushed by the College of Education. Rarely if ever are previous performance numbers ever considered. Equally strange is the failure to address reality later.

In 2007 the Seattle School Board disregarded Denver’s massive failure with the Everyday Math – Connected Math combination and adopted Everyday Math. At the time of the 2007 adoption achievement gaps were very large for five classifications of disadvantaged learners. After one year of Everyday Math all five gaps were larger.

The Seattle School Board by a 4-3 vote has recently decided to adopt a failed program from San Diego that has been found to be mathematically unsound.

Trust in Seattle Schools will not be rebounding in the foreseeable future.

WASL Irregularities

Oh no say it ain't so.....

One Step ahead of the Train Wreck

In EdNews:

The saga of Everyday Math with Singapore supplementation, or something like that.
From the author Barry Garelick:

It describes my experience tutoring my daughter and her friend with Singapore Math in order to escape the train wreck known as Everyday Math which her elementary school was (and still is) using. In fact, the piece is called "One Step Ahead of the Train Wreck".

I was intent on teaching them fractions and getting through to them before they were exposed to the EM approach of fractional division. In describing the positive attributes of Singapore's program, the article points up the weaknesses in EM's program. I resisted describing their insistence on teaching alternative algorithms, since that's been written about extensively (I refer to some of those articles). Instead, I focus on the spiral approach and how EM chooses to implement it (poorly, that is to say), and the effect it has on students.

Stupid media produces stupid nation

Here is a good explanation why we, as a society,
don't put as many resources into the top 10%
of our kids as we put into the bottom 10%

It is from the Onion, the Onion News Network.
Here is a truly creative clip.
Onion News has always had tongue in cheek.

The message however has a lot of truth.

The message is clear to our kids
... work hard and study so you can become an object of media persecution and societal ridicule.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Discrimination of Disadvantaged Learners in Seattle

Dear Seattle School Director, 5-13-2009

I keep hearing about a concern for the disadvantaged learner in Seattle. In mathematics I have seen no substantive action from the school board in behalf of the disadvantaged learner.

Attached you will find a document from the SPS 2007 EDM adoption. Contained in this document are statements pertaining to the achievement gap.

Of particular interest is this:

2. There is substantial variability in the mathematics content taught in classrooms, which contributes to the achievement gap. In 2006, the achievement gap between minority groups and white students on the 4th grade math WASL was as follows
(See Appendices for more detail):
I. Asian students: 9.6 percentage points
II. Black students: 44.7 percentage points
III. Hispanic students: 36.3 percentage points
IV. Native American students: 28.5 percentage points
(not mentioned in SPS report Limited English students: 53.8 points)

So after one year of EDM what did those GAPS look like?

Spring 2008 data.
I. Asian students: 11.4 percentage points
II. Black students: 46.3 percentage points
III. Hispanic students: 40.4 percentage points
IV. Native American students: 30.2 percentage points
(not mentioned in SPS report Limited English students: 56.1 points)

You will note after one year of EDM all five categories are worse:

The gaps are larger from the 2006 reference to spring 2008 for
I. Asian students: by 1.8
II. Black students: by 1.6
III. Hispanic students: by 4.1
IV. Native American students: by 1.7
(not mentioned in SPS report Limited English students: by 2.3)

I've spent since Jan 17th 2007 attempting to end this mathematical discrimination of disadvantaged learners. The school board has chosen to do nothing except continue ongoing discrimination.
This is not a recent occurrence the math achievement gap continually expanded over a decade and the school board did nothing, except to continue to approve more reform math materials that expanded the achievement gap.

I've advised you to "intelligently apply" the relevant data and the board has refused to do so.

I've suggested that you heed the message of Project Follow Through, which is the definitive study on k-3 disadvantaged learners but to no avail.

The NMAP recommends preparation for Authentic Algebra through development of understanding and arithmetic skills with rational numbers. The NMAP recommends all children have access to an "Authentic Algebra" class. You just voted approving Discovering Algebra a book that definitely is not Authentic Algebra. A "Discovering Series" supporter, SPU instructor Russ Killingsworth on the Kirby Wilbur show, called the approach of the "Discovering Series" novel.

The board has chosen to ignore D44.00 and D45.00 so that disadvantaged learners do not receive the interventions mentioned. The board condones social promotion rather than the effective interventions of D44.00 and D45.00. The board has now chosen after being misled by Ms. Greta Bornemann to select a book series which is clearly mathematically unsound in the areas of Linear equations, Quadratic functions, and the Triangle Sum Theorem.

In addition the Central Administration published the mathematics grade level performance expectations on the website (Oct. 2008), but the Everyday math pacing plan is followed instead of those posted expectations. Prior to this website posting the school district had a number of years in which there were no grade level requirements for math skills.

The NMAP advises example based instructional materials for disadvantaged learners.

With their adoption vote on the "Discovering Series" Four members of the Seattle School Board clearly endorse continuing the discriminatory actions of the Seattle School central administration. Why continue the decade plus of ongoing mathematical discrimination of disadvantaged learners? These four apparently had no problem with the Central Administration's stacking of the adoption committee through the use of an application form and scoring rubric that produced a committee filled with reform math advocates.

Reading the brochures published by Key Curriculum Press to describe the "Discovering Math" series there is no reference, I can find, to the balance that that Ms. de la Fuente mentioned. This is an exploration, discovery, inquiry series it is not balanced. It does not have enough practice.

The four board members chose to ignore the testimony of two Rainier Beach teachers and one Franklin teacher that directly addressed the deficiencies of this series and the negative effects it would have on the disadvantaged learners they teach.

I sent you the data on the PD^3 projects at Cleveland and Garfield and the disasterous effect these books and program had on Disadvantaged learners. IMP is a wordy book series that devastates English Language Learners and other disadvantaged learners.

PD^3 projects at Cleveland and Garfield were experiments on ELL students and should have had permission from the University of Washington's Institutional Review Board. This experimental disaster should have been stopped after year one. It is now in its third year. Why? The bigger question is why did you adopt "Discovering" given that is has several similarities to IMP and the PD^3 project.

The Seattle School board has chosen a wordy book that is not example based and it is exactly the type of book that has failed disadvantaged learners in Seattle over the last decade. Why are you discriminating against the students you are supposed to be serving?

I guess the only way to get appropriate instructional materials for disadvantaged learners and shrink the achievement gap is through action in court.

Do you have any other suggestion?


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

KIRO movie clip 5-07-2009

Letter to Seattle School Director Peter Maier

Peter –

During the battle for strong math, I developed a network of parent e-mail addresses and Twitter accounts that spans every single school in the Seattle School District.

My e-mail list includes parents from every elementary school, middle school, and high school in the city.

We are expanding this huge network to include members of local chambers of commerce, Rotary, and other business-oriented groups (all of whom are pleading for the district to produce students who are better prepared for the technologically challenging future) and we are expanding to church groups as well.

The growth of this parent e-mail/Twitter network has become organic and is soaring.

When you come up for re-election the same parents who were concerned enough to write e-mails to plead for Prentice-Hall or something other than fuzzy “Discovery” math, will be doing the same thing – only hugely magnified in scope – to put the word out that you should be defeated for School Board, City Council, or whatever other office you may ever want to hold.

You can spend all the money you want on yard signs or radio ads, you can spend all the weekends and week nights you want door-belling or addressing small community groups. I’ll put the multiplier effect of our network of very involved parents up against you and we will see what happens.

You failed to listen to your constituents on math.

You instead voted the party line of the School District bureaucrats.

School District bureaucrats might vote for you, but parents and business people won’t.

In the same way that Willie Horton became the unwelcomed running mate of Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis in the 1988 Presidential election ( our huge – and ever growing -- network of parents and others who care about educating the next generation will make sure your vote for fuzzy “Discovery” math will become your running mate in whatever elections you might enter in the future.

-- Grant Fjermedal

To underscore the poor choice you made in supporting District bureaucrats instead of your constituents, please see this article from yesterday’s Seattle Times:

Bellevue seeks parents for HS math adoption decision

Please complete the application form and submit it to Gwen Pazan by May 20,, 2009.

Applicants will be notified by email, if possible, or by telephone, not later than May 22, 2009.

Access Application for Parent Member Representative >

Bellingham schools using substandard math program

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Triumph of Delusion over Data in Seattle

David A. Orbits
Subject: A Triumph of Delusion over Data in Seattle

This HS math adoption is simply astonishing. These Algebra I / Geometry / Algebra II books by Key Curriculum Press do not provide sufficient student practice for students to generate long term memory. They don’t aid the parent who wants to help their child. They don’t aid the beginning teacher or the teacher whose math knowledge is weak. In some cases they don’t even teach the math correctly.

They burn too much class time with student discussion. Class time that would be better utilized with students working a variety of practice problems with one-on-one teacher feedback for the students who are getting stuck either because of holes in their math knowledge, gaps in their ability to pay attention or simple misunderstanding of the lesson. The saddest part of all is that the weakest of all math students, the student from a low income home, will suffer the most. The WASL scores over the last 5 – 6 years in Seattle and the state have shown little improvement, sitting at 50% pass rate (chart below) and the achievement gap between low-income 10th graders and non low-income 10th graders has stayed stable at 30 to 35 percentage points.

that the achievement rate is actually lower when you factor in the student dropouts that did not take the Math WASL. Ditto for the low income students which likely makes the gap even wider than we see below.

The four Seattle school board members that accepted the administration recommendation to continue with a discovery based math curriculum were more interested in getting new textbooks into the schools to replace the tattered textbooks (according to one of them) and going along with the administration recommendation than exercise their oversight responsibility. They should have asked the administration to justify how continuing the status quo with a discovery curriculum would result in any improvement in the data below?

The WASL math test certainly has faults but it is a test from which we have data produced by Terry B who was an ardent follower of discovery based curricula. That is, the test was designed to mate with Discovery curricula and the results we see below for Seattle are simply awful for students by the time they get to 10th grade.

The administration tried to make the point that the exact text is not important, quality teaching is important and further professional development will solve any problems. This is baloney. If professional development was the answer then why is the pass rate only at 50% after 10+ years and why is the gap sitting at 35 points. The text does matter. It helps the new teacher and those weak at teaching math. It helps the student as an extra resource beyond the teacher.
It helps the parent who wants to help their child. So to suggest that the text book doesn’t matter is just not credible. What really matters is who we hire as a superintendent and who we elect to the school board. It seems to me that the Seattle SD curriculum adoption committee was also negligent in not justifying how their selection of such a weak curriculum can expect to improve student performance. It is a triumph of the delusion over data. All in all it is a sad day for Seattle students, now and for the next 10 years. We should all be outraged at the career opportunities lost to the students who don’t ―get the math‖.

David's letter makes reference to WASL data not include here.

Priceless Ramsey in the Times

Seattle school leaders "discover" the math book they wanted

Then read "Algorithms" generated by OSPI


Definition of a Republic SPS style:

In this republic the decisions are so complex that the public elects 7 representatives, who are expected to take the time to thoroughly investigate issues and then vote in the best interests of our children.

What we get are worse than dart board results.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. --- has the school board missed the ongoing reform math disaster? The data look at the data.

Apparently they missed the data (or is intelligence the problem?) because 4 members are all for continuing this ongoing disaster.

Cheryl Chow thinks it is important to support the administration no matter what. This is like riding with a Kamikaze pilot at the school of aviation.


"Discovering Geometry" shows you segments that are chords and some that aren't. It asks you to write your own definition. Then it says, "Discuss your definitions with others in your group." The teacher is to stand back: "Ask questions to guide students," says the teacher's book, "but try to refrain from correcting the definitions yourself."

The Seattle schools continues their ongoing discrimination of disadvantaged learners ... OK I am ready to get some legal action going to restrain these deluded individuals from continuing this idiocy.

The is plenty of evidence to show what works with children of poverty and what does not. These Club Ed Math elites must be prohibited from continuing their ongoing discriminatory practices.

Club Ed is blinded by their "invested belief systems", our children have been led by the blind and it must stop.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Contract language in the SPS
Does MG-J need to repay that 10% salary bonus?

I am really confused. The Superintendent has or has not fired all the teachers because of contract language. The school board in regard to instructional math materials spent significant time on the process and whether instructional materials selection was within their domain.

The reason I am confused is because it seems that the Superintendent’s contract extension and 10% pay increase is invalid.
The union may make a point of her 10% pay increase but it should not have occurred.

B45.00, Motions and Resolutions.

Wherein it states:
"Motions and resolutions shall be presented in writing to provide opportunities for review and discussion. ……... Emergency motions may also be introduced and acted upon at the meeting at which they are introduced. Such emergency motions shall state that immediate adoption is in the best interest of the District. Non-routine, non-emergency items shall be introduced at one meeting, and the final vote for adoption shall take place no earlier than the next succeeding regular or special Board meeting."

Well there you have it. The Superintendent’s pay increase and contract extension happened in one meeting and it was not an emergency meeting. Perhaps by design the opportunity for public discussion was being curtailed?

Clear to me Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson does not have a valid contract from that one meeting slam dunk. So she needs to revert to her earlier shorter contract and repay the excess salary she received. Then the board can, if they so wish, rerun this over the required two meeting span, with appropriate time for discussion and then decide.

Yes let us hold everyone accountable. This will be an excellent opportunity for the Superintendent to model full accountability.

This is a no-brainer is it not?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Long Last Word.... on May 6th

May 10, 2009

Dear Directors Bass, DeBell, and Martin-Morris,

It is clear that whether unintentionally or by intention the district is now prepared to continue their discriminatory practices and use of discriminatory instructional materials in mathematics.

As someone who currently teaches at the Lummi Nation School and has spent several years with disadvantaged learners at various locations, I found the May 6th adoption action of the School Directors highly discriminatory toward disadvantaged learners.

Children of poverty and other less advantaged learners tend to move more often and have higher rates of absenteeism than others. This means that the state math standards need to be effectively taught at each grade level. It is a subject of debate as to whether the same instructional materials are needed district-wide to effectively teach the standards at each grade level. What are needed are instructional materials that work for students. Materials that work for children of poverty, whether African American or not, are never adopted in Seattle. (and only used when flown in under the radar like the PTA purchase of Saxon at North Beach or Schmitz Park’s Singapore use) Rarely are materials that work for children of poverty even considered in Seattle. The largest study in the history of education Project Follow Through showed what works for disadvantaged-learners k-3. Direct Instruction works and the inquiry and discovery model of the cognitive approach does not. The Seattle Schools definition of mathematics is tragically flawed and contributes to this discriminatory situation.

The Washington State Parent Teachers Association sees example based instructional materials for math as an extremely high priority, just behind their #1 item of school funding reform. The Seattle Public Schools continue to head in the exact opposite direction away from what works. The “Discovering Series” adopted on May 6, 2009 had been dumped in San Diego at least partially because it failed to effectively educate disadvantaged learners. The Seattle Schools do not intervene with the effective interventions needed when students are not meeting state math standards. Seattle School Board Policies D44.00 and D45.00 require these interventions but instead large numbers of mathematically unskilled children are promoted rather than educated. For years the Seattle Schools failed to define grade level math expectations. In October 2008, math performance expectations for grade levels were posted but some expectations are still ignored, like the standard algorithm for long division of a four-digit dividend by a two-digit divisor or the standard algorithm for multiplication of two multi-digit numbers. Who should be held accountable for this?

It can be shown that the Seattle Public Schools through their allegiance to reform math materials and ideology has harmed the population classified as disadvantaged learners and continues to harm them.
One way this can be shown is through a widening achievement gap as measured by the Washington Assessment of Student Learning math at grades 4, 7, and ten over the last decade. The district currently still disregards the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Focal Points document by not teaching standard algorithms for multiplication and division. The two high schools, Garfield and Cleveland, using the Reform Math text Interactive Math Program, showed extremely poor performance for English Language Learning students where this failing experiment is now in its third year. (Black students also were poorly served in this experiment.) The district continually disregards what works for disadvantaged learners by refusing to adopt example based instructional materials and refusing to abandon excessive inquiry/discovery approaches.

The district does not prepare students for "Authentic Algebra". The National Math Advisory Panel final report Foundations for Success, states that students need access to an authentic algebra course and that students need to be prepared to succeed in such a course. Adequate preparation includes a sound understanding of rational numbers, which includes well-developed skill in dealing with fractions, decimals, and percents. The Seattle Public Schools have failed and continue to fail to provide the effective interventions mandated in policies D44.00 and D45.00. Thus for a large proportion of students, many of the foundational skills needed for “Authentic Algebra” success are essentially ignored during the k-8 years.

Even at the African American Academy despite significant data indicating that reform math materials had failed economically disadvantaged African American Students, the use of these materials continued.
At AAA the district implemented the full and deficient Everyday Mathematics - Connected Math combination k-8 (with Everyday Math beginning in SY 2007-2008). Math results at AAA remain unacceptably low. Changing from one defective “Reform Math” program to another continued an ongoing failure. The district has recently decided to close AAA.

The Seattle School Board heard public testimony at three school board meetings from many members of the community against the adoption of the "Discovering Series". Of particular interest are the testimonies of three high school teachers: Michael Rice and Glenda Madison of Rainier Beach and Robert Murphy of Franklin. All three addressed what is needed by the disadvantaged learners they serve and that the "Discovering Series" in particular and "Reform Math" in general are grossly inadequate for fulfilling the mathematical needs of their student populations. A science professor from the University of Washington testified about the tragic effects reform math was having upon students and termed the “Discovering Series” a tragic mistake. A UW research mathematician, who has been a been a middle school and high school teacher, spoke about his through review of “Discovering Geometry” and how inadequate this textbook is.

It is clear that whether unintentionally or by intention the district is now prepared to continue their discriminatory practices and use of discriminatory instructional materials in mathematics.

Director DeBell, along with Directors Martin-Morris, and Bass stressed the need for a change in direction because this district has a track record and it is not a good one. The vote on May 6, 2009 was more than just about a high school math adoption of instructional materials. It was a vote on k-12 math direction. Both Directors DeBell and Martin-Morris expressed the need for books that were exampled based, which could be used as references to learn the math. The "Discovering Series" books are not example based and they are poor references.

Through a 4-3 vote the school board has given the approval required that allows the Central Administration to continue failing Seattle students and continue their discriminatory math practices toward disadvantaged learners.

The district has abandoned any plans for an "Authentic Algebra" course.
The National Math Advisory Panel final report recommends that students have access to an "Authentic Algebra" course. The district will not be offering an "Authentic Algebra" course. Instead the offering will be "Discovering Algebra" a pretend Algebra course.

The "Discovering Geometry" book was found inadequate and very problematic in an extensive review written by UW research mathematician John Lee. Dr. Lee had submitted his written review to the school board directors well in advance of the May 6, 2009 decision.

Do the Directors have any interest in stopping the ongoing discriminatory math practices of the Seattle Public Schools?
Perhaps some directors do. As a collective body acting on May 6, 2009 clearly the board authorized the Seattle Public Schools to continue discriminatory practices in the teaching of Mathematics. In the words of Professor Mass the “Trifecta” of disaster is now in place.

Greta Bornemann, director of Mathematics teaching and learning at OSPI, did a masterful sales job on the Seattle School Directors.
In her 9-minute presentation, she mentioned "alignment" six times in her talk. After her talk, were directors aware that Core-Plus was sixth in "alignment" to our new math standards? Here is a chart of alignment followed by the State Board's soundness rating. Please note that: Core-Plus, a discovery/inquiry series, was not considered unacceptable by the independent SBE mathematicians. Thus bias cannot be claimed. Note: that Prentice Hall has 82% alignment to our math standards compared to Discovering's 83.5%.

....................... OSPI Score : : SBE Soundness Rating
Holt ................ 0.838 : : Meets minimum standard
Discovering ....... 0.835 : : Unacceptable
Glencoe ........... 0.826 : : Approaches minimum standards
Prentice Hall ..... 0.820 : : Unknown
McDougal Littell.. 0.783 : : Unknown
CorePlus......... 0.780 : : Approaches minimum standards

The chart can be found at:

Ms. Bornemann seriously misled the directors and then they voted 4-3 to adopt an unsound curriculum for the next generation of kids in Seattle.

The SBE reviewed four text series:
Holt, Discovering, Glencoe, and Core-Plus.
The findings by the SBE in regard to mathematical soundness were:
As shown above Holt = Meets minimum standard
Glencoe & Core-Plus approach Minimum standards
Discovering Series = unacceptable

Despite the frequent statements that the adoption committee was composed of diverse members, they all shared something in common. They had high scores on the 5 questions asked on the application questionnaire. When the scoring rubric is examined for these five questions it is apparent that only applicants with an extreme Discovery/Inquiry “Reform Math” bias are usually selected.

Superintendent Dorn's initial preliminary recommendations after only two days in office on Jan 15, 2009 were Holt, Discovering, and Core-Plus. These recommendations took place before the SBE mathematical soundness review and recommendations. Superintendent Dorn now only recommends Holt. This recommendation was based on the four series reviewed by the SBE and only Holt met the minimum standards for mathematical soundness.

Ms Bornemann’s presentation was almost exclusively about alignment which means nothing if the materials are unsound.
Her 9-minute presentation can be viewed by selecting the SPS Board meeting of May 6th and then clicking down above the sliding arrow and moving to minute 117.

Currently the majority of the Seattle population, with opinions, is angered and disgusted with this board level decision. This mistake will continue to mathematically disable the children for several more years. Had one more director stepped forward we could have begun recovery efforts for our children. Clearly at least one OSPI leader opposes the recovery effort. Ms. Bornemann has an extensive history as a promoter of reform math and mislead the school board members. She like all of the OSPI math section leaders are Terry Bergeson’s people or are recently hired with Ms. Bornemann’s guidance.

If you go to the Access Center site (funded by US Dept of Ed, Special Ed Programs and look at math you will find briefs with the recommended instruction for learning disabled or at risk kids. The explicit instruction described and the rationales for it are not compatible with inquiry learning. Briefs explain why structure is essential for the retention of new skills.

You can't reconcile the 6 Teaching Functions described in the middle school brief with discovery math.

Also look carefully at "What does Direct/explicit Instruction Look Like for Mathematics"? The brief states:

Without textbook examples modeling desired outcomes, I believe there's a good argument to be made that the school system is not meeting it's federal obligation for FAPE.
There is some case law on this point with respect to "appropriate" including explicit instruction in phonetics for dyslexic children if sought. This should be analogous to math since they are essential, tested skills.

Douglas Carnine has written extensively on explicit instruction in math and states that "children of poverty need a structured approach and can't follow process and language heavy new math".


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
State Board of Education Math Advisory Panelist (2007-2009)
No Child Left Behind Highly Qualified Teacher of Mathematics

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Yet another lesson on how to mislead school directors

Seattle adopted Math texts that were clearly the worst of the four sets reviewed by the SBE MAP of which I was a member.

How could this occur?

The SBE independent review of aligned math texts was unanimously mandated by law as an oversight to OSPI's work because the Legislature - and public - did not trust Terry Bergeson and her direction for Washington Math.

Taxpayers paid good money for that crucial information so it would benefit WA students and help prevent school districts from wasting scarce money on “mathematically unsound” textbooks.

Seattle School Directors were in my opinion misled by Ms. Greta Bornemann on May 6, 2009.

In her presentation she discounted two years of work by SBE MAP when she failed to explain that: the finding of Mathematically Unsound was delivered not just by two mathematicians but by the MAP members after hours of discussion ... as required by law.

She referenced quick short reviews (by King & Bright) commissioned by Terry Bergeson in a way to make them seem equally valid as the SBE MAP findings, which they are not.

Ms. Bornemann has been an enthusiastic supporter of Inquiry/Discovery based materials through much of her career. She is a past recipient of NSF grants supporting Discovery/Inquiry work. She has written an article published in the March 2009 Mathematics Teacher, which clearly shows her preference for Reform Math Inquiry based materials. I would have little problem with her views (she can have opinions), but I have a major problem when she misleads public officials.

After three years of work ... trying to improve mathematics statewide but in particular for disadvantaged learners in Seattle, I am totally disgusted.

Instead of the NMAP recommendations to prepare children for Authentic Algebra and provide access to an "Authentic Algebra" class ... the Seattle kids get "Pretend Algebra" and "Pseudo Geometry".

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cliff Mass on KVI

Here is Cliff on the SPS math adoption Tragedy.
Move the slider to about the middle for Cliff's conversation with Kirby Wilbur.

(Kirby Wilbur Show) Fri. May 8th, 09

Click on Fri. May 8th, 09

Move the slider to the middle to hear Cliff on Math.

Letters to SBE and Director DeBell

May 8, 2009

Dear State Board of Education Members,

I have deep concerns about how SBE math recommendations are currently being handled and disseminated by OSPI.

I found much to be very concerned about in the Seattle Math Adoption Process.

The SPS has decided to purchase a text series that was by far the worst of the texts reviewed by the SBE MAP for high school adoption.

A presentation by Ms. Greta Bornemann of OPSI reduced two years work by SBE MAP panelists to essentially zero impact.

Details follow in my letter to the SPS board president:

May 8, 2009

Dear Board President and Director Michael DeBell,

I deeply appreciate your efforts and although you are extremely busy I would appreciate a response to this letter.

On May 16, and May 30, 2007, I was very displeased as Ms. Rosalind Wise with the assistance of Mr. Brad Bernetek presented cherry picked data as if the data were representative random samples. Seattle adopted Everyday Math (and something else that never appeared).

Deception has become a characteristic of the Seattle process.

(The committee selection application and rubric make any references to a diverse group laughable)

I felt I was sitting in a Kangaroo Court for Ms. Bornemann's presentation.

She had been asked by the Central Administration to speak and inform the directors about the process.

She delivered a presentation that would make every salesman proud.

Her presentation was incredibly deceptive and disrespectful to every member of the SBE MAP. We worked two years to provide better guidance to schools.

We provided you and your fellow Directors with next to nothing in the way of guidance thanks to the actions of Ms. Bornemann and the SPS Central Administration.

Please see the following link for exact details of why I see two years of effort discarded by a biased Olympia Bureaucrat.

With my Deepest appreciation for your efforts,

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
SBE MAP (2007-2009)

Check out the SPS meeting & deception

Now available on Streaming Video the SPS board meeting of May 6th 2009.

Do not miss the extremely misleading presentation at 117 minutes by Greta Bornemann of OSPI. (You will need to click on the slider to advance to 117)

She placed heavy emphasis on Alignment with Standards and essentially zero about the SBE Math Advisory Panel work in regard to mathematical soundness. (Alignment is pointless if the materials are defective). No slide or even mention of the extensive work that went into the SBE finding that Discovering Series was:

Linear equations -- mathematically unsound
Quadratic Equations -- mathematically unsound
Triangle Sum Theorem -- mathematically unsound

She failed to mention that Discovering Series was by far the worst of the four math series reviewed by the SBE MAP.

Ms. Bornemann was asked to present at the meeting by SPS central administration.
I wish to know where her script came from?
Was it of her design?
If it was of her design, it would be excellent if she receives a reprimand from Mr. Dorn. I question whether given her biased presentation should she continue in her present position at OSPI.

I and many SBE MAP members spent considerable time over two years to attempt to bring solid mathematics materials to schools.

Ms. Bornemann's presentation I take as extremely disrespectful to everyone involved with the State Board of Education's Math Advisory Panel.

The fact that her presentation may have contributed to selection of materials that are in stark opposition to NMAP recommendations is particularly disturbing. The NMAP focus is on Authentic Algebra ... Seattle just decided to purchase "Pretend" Algebra on May 6th 2009, along with "Pseudo" Geometry.

The Seattle School District has shown a remarkable dedication to trying to make the unworkable work.
On Wednesday night they went even further away from providing proven materials for students. The SPS will now try to make mathematically unsound materials that failed in San Diego, work in Seattle.

Let it be known that on May 6, 2009 the Seattle School Directors by a vote of 4-3 chose the Discovering Series from Key Curriculum Press to mathematically disable their students over the next decade.

Also let it be known that this Spring after a few hours of discussion the SBE MAP unanimously rejected the Discovering Series as a recommended text series for Washington State students because it is unacceptable. Why did Ms. Bornemann fail to mention this? Was she not there to inform?

The top six programs in regard to alignment are, when statistical variations of scoring are included essentially, all tied for first place. So why the big talk on alignment and how it was done and the near total neglect of how mathematical soundness was determined?

I believe the answer is obvious .. Ms. Bornemann is a pusher of the same programs that failed the state during the Terry Bergeson administration. In fact the supposed mathematicians she referenced were both Bergeson favorites.

Seattle kids now get another failing math selection.