Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fund Raising at $1000 more Needed

Good News we've raised $1000 toward legal expense for the McLaren, Mass, Porter legal appeal of Seattle's discriminatory selection of Discovering Math. The appeal was filed on June 5, 2009 in King County Superior Court.

Keith Scully is the attorney and the estimate is around $5000 to see this through.
Much of the math work in the analysis is being done by Where's the Math? members.

Mr. Sculley received about 1200 pages of material that Seattle used in arriving at their decision.
Marty McLaren now has this in her possession. A response is due in November with a possible trial date set for perhaps January.

To donate an account has been set up:

Donations for attorney's fees:
Checks can be made out to "Seattle Math Group" and
mailed to:

Marty McLaren,
7020 18th SW, J22,
Seattle, WA 98106.

Donations can also be made directly to PayPal,
(a fee of about $3.30 per $100 is deducted).

Go to the Paypal site and click on the
"send money" tab. Then it will ask for email address

The Issaquah School District was on track to adopt Discovering Math
and decided to wait an additional year. They mentioned legal action in a nearby district in announcing their postponement.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rogue Elephants at OSPI and beyond


Standard Algorithm vs. EDM Focus Algorithms

Dear Seattle Math Program Manager Anna Maria de la Fuente,

It has come to my attention that in Seattle's k-5 mathematics there is confusion around what the State Standards say about which algorithms are to be taught.

As a member of the SBE Math Advisory Panel I've been a careful observer of the development of the Standards and the algorithm language.

In April 2008, I filed a lawsuit against OSPI and SBE because of the failure to follow the legislation in regard to the process of producing the Math Standards. I believe the Standards would be more specific and less vague had the Dana Center not interfered late in the Standards creation. If Math Panel had the required meeting legislated before the final draft was submitted to the SBE for approval the standards could have been far more specific.

While in some areas the standards are vague, the requirement to teach each of the four standard algorithms is extremely clear.

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

OSPI staffers have continuously attempted to subvert the language of the standards trying numerous times to get the words "using the standard algorithm" out of the revised standards. They were unsuccessful. ... The Math Panel, Strategic Teaching and the SBE made sure that standard algorithm language was in the revised standards and the only confusion is in the minds of OSPI staffers.... . See this link to Dr. George Bright for he along with Greta Bornemann, Dorian Drury, and Karrin Lewis are responsible for much of the current confusion with continued adovacy for their ideas expressed in their own Algorithms Paper instead of advocacy for the State Math Standards. Unfortunately this advocacy of misguided Algorithm Direction is practiced by many education employees throughout the state and is particularly popular in Seattle.

People need to be aware that any confusion about what the standard algorithms are or whether they should be taught originates in the refusal of certain OSPI staffers to follow the standards. There is and never was any confusion by SBE, Strategic Teaching, or the Math Panel. The final version of the revised standards uses the phrase "standard algorithms" to stand for a particular set of algorithms used for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and long division.... and that these algorithms are the only methods that are specifically required to be taught in the WA revised math standards in regard to algorithms.

The legislature took the final responsibility for the standards away from Terry Bergeson and OSPI in part because they refused to quit sabotaging the standards by using non specific and confusing language in an attempt to continue pushing the fuzzy reform philosophy that permeates OSPI. These attempts at confusion were as subtle as sneaking in an "s" on the end of "standard algorithm" so it would read "standard algorithms". This was an attempt to discredit the notion that indeed a standard algorithm for multiplication and division exist. The inclusion of this "s" raised great debate and it was specifically and purposely deleted from from the final WA revised standards in order to make sure that the one and only standard algorithm for multiplication was going to be taught.....the same argument and remedy was specified for the standard algorithm for long division.

Anyone from OSPI or others doing professional development who try to claim something otherwise about the algorithms specified in the Washington revised standards do so by either ignorantly or willfully misinterpreting those standards in order to continue to push a failing reform philosophy that has caused mathematical chaos in this state. The Bergeson Reform Math direction cased untold irreparable harm to so many students. Seattle's achievement gap differential size at grade 10 math for 10th grade black students is now (2008) greater than 50% but is exceeded by Bellevue's gap magnitude.
------------ --------- ------

It appears that the Seattle School District considers alignment to be not with the Washington Math Standards as written but instead prefers alignment to a failed reform ideology that has crippled math opportunity for so many children over the last decade. It seems that for Seattle the term alignment often refers to some type of k-12 vertical alignment of instructional materials. For k-5 math, alignment is not and has not been with the Washington Math Standards.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.

-- W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

Why in mathematics the Seattle Schools continue to fail to follow Deming's wisdom I have yet to understand.

The mindless pursuit of Andy Isaacs's ideas expressed in "The Case for Everyday Math" is precisely why despite 75 minute math classes student achievement is not rapidly increasing.

It is extremely clear from actions of the past year and current DMI training that Seattle math direction is not anchored in the Math Standards as written but rather still tethered to Dr. Beregson's Math failure.

If Seattle continues to follow the Everyday Math pacing plan, there can be no doubt in anyone's mind that SPS math leadership finds the State Math Standards nothing more than an inconvenient annoyance.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Seattle and Standard Algorithms

Dear Michael and Harium, 6-26-2009

I am deeply concerned at this point in time that the state math standards are unlikely to be the k-5 curriculum. Clearly up to this point the EDM pacing plan has been the curriculum. I’ve become painfully aware from DMI training that Terry Bergeson’s destructive direction is still being followed. This guarantees irreparable harm to disadvantaged learners.

#1… ST (Linda Plattner’s Strategic Teaching) is awarded the contract to see if the State Math Standards are in need of revision. Finding = improvement needed.

#2… Dr. Bergeson accepts the extremely high bid from the Dana Center for the standards work.

#3… The State Legislature removes Dana Center from the task and places ST in charge.

#4… The Dana Center remains involved beneath the surface and ST does multiple rewrites of standards. The State standards are eventually produced but not in the manner prescribed by law.

#5… SBE Math Panelist Danaher Dempsey (me) with assistance from Math Panelist Robert Dean files suit in Thurston County Superior Court challenging the validity of the Standards because they were not generated in the manner prescribed by law.

#6… The standards call for instruction in and mastery of each of the four standard arithmetic algorithms. Those four being addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, but before Dr. Bergeson loses the election four of those in her employ Greta Bornemann, Dorian “Boo” Drury, Dr. George Bright, and Karrin Lewis author a paper in which they contend that standard algorithms can not be narrowly defined and open the way for calling all those Everyday Math focus algorithms acceptable versions of the Standard Algorithms.

The problem with this is that their version is in serious error. It is quite clear to those of us that sat on the State Board of Education Math Advisory Panel that this paper is pure hokum. This is just an attempt to continue the failed OSPI direction that placed Washington among the worst in the nation for achievement gap changes on the NAEP from 2003 to 2007.

#7… It is painfully apparent that some DMI trainers have every intention of continuing instruction on EDM focus algorithms rather than emphasizing the ”genuine” Standard Algorithms.

#8… This district is so far away from NMAP that any reference to data based decision-making is fraudulent. As I have emphasized the first year of Everyday Math produced widened achievement gaps for Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, American Indians, Low Income, and English Language Learners. If this type of DMI training is allowed to continue it will be most apparent that the SPS has no intention of following the state math standards and little interest in using data to inform decisions to close the achievement gap. As in 2008-2009 the Everyday Math pacing plan will be the curriculum for 2009-2010. In 2008 Black students passed the 4th grade WASL math at a 28% rate, the lowest rate since 2002.

#9… The district has among the most discriminatory instructional materials possible in place and apparently no interest in modifying these to accommodate NMAP recommendations, the state standards, or disadvantaged learners.

I hardly think that board intervention in this matter would be micro-management. Please do something.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Friday, June 26, 2009

July 1 : the only Seattle School Board meeting for seven weeks

Yes indeed....
the school district that adopted the defective Discovering Series
and spent $474,440 on Consumable materials for Everyday Math a series out of whack with both NMAP and the State Math Standards,
the district that believes that class size is not important,
the district that thinks differentiated instruction coupled with socially promoting everyone is a best practice

is having their last school board on Wednesday July 1, 2009.

Beginning at 8:00 AM Monday morning you may call 206-252-0400 and obtain a three minute testimony slot for Wednesday evening.
7-01-2009 beginning at 6 PM.

Else wait until Wednesday August 19, 2009.
Here is my draft for 7-1-09

Dear Directors, I am Dan Dempsey

The WASL pass rate for fourth grade Black students is 28% the worst score since 2002. Everyday Math has no explicit instruction.

The WASL pass rate for seventh grade Black students is 24%. Connected Math has no explicit instruction.

Seattle in continuing their reform math ideology ignores the National Math Advisory Panel’s recommendation for “Explicit Instruction”. The WASL pass rate for tenth grade Black students is 16%. That is one reason the “Discovering Math” adoption is the subject of a legal appeal in Superior court. Why would anyone wish to extend the reform math failure a moment longer, rather than admitting “We got it all wrong”? Please abandon the denialBut you did get it all wrong.

STEM option for Cleveland: Just as it is not possible to build the “high rent” 9th through 12th floors of a building without those below it, a similar situation exists in Seattle mathematics for mathematics is hierarchical. Floors k-8 in Seattle math are in remarkably poor condition especially for educationally disadvantaged tenants.

To improve k-8 math will require attention to the State Math Standards and NMAP recommendations. A great deal more emphasis must be placed on teaching each standard algorithm. The district’s current emphasis on Everyday Math’s focus algorithms is counterproductive and an enormous waste of instructional time.

The Strategic Plan required an alignment to the State Math Standards by Fall 2008 but there was no noticeable alignment in the last school year. Without a large increase in “Explicit Instruction” Seattle will remain ineffective in educating all the children. Thus in violation of article IX of our state constitution.

Upon high school entrance approximately 25% of entering 9th graders are placed in remedial math classes. These classes are NOT the source of their math difficulties thus placing these students into Algebra I upon high school entrance is NOT a solution. But this is the plan for next year. The elimination of remedial classes has already been tried with disastrous results at Cleveland with WASL math pass rates at 12% the lowest in the district and at only 6% for Black students. (2008) Why expand that to every high school?

Let’s try a new plan instead: replace social promotion with effective interventions for struggling students. Then students would have the opportunity to be prepared for an “Authentic Algebra” class in grade 9, if the district ever chose to offer one.

Directors, focus on what works …
Please Stop defending and continuing the current math failure. For Gosh sakes look at the math data and figure it out.

Cleveland STEM looks like grasping for the next straw instead of confronting reality.

Thank you.

Key Press Sues OSPI

On June 2, 2009 Key Curriculum Press which produces
Discovering Algebra,
Discovering Geometry, and
Discovering Advanced Algebra sued OSPI.

The are steamed at OSPI's acceptance of only HOLT for high school core adoption recommendation.

OSPI removed from Discovering from consideration because the SBE found only HOLT mathematically sound enough for recommended adoption.

You can find the entire legal complaint at the bottom of the page on the following page

at SoundMath. The file is in two downloadable pieces.

A cyber-space analyst comments:

The premise of the case appears to be based on - of all things - inappropriate pedagogical considerations on the part of ST.

They claim that:
The discussion of "mathematical soundness" in the ST study quite explicitly uses this term not in its ordinary sense of "free of mathematical errors," but instead as a code word for pedagogical soundness, that is to say, in accord with the pedagogical preferences and beliefs of the ST reviewers.

Wilson and Harel are not mentioned at all, either by name or even indirectly. Their qualifications for the task that ST gave them are avoided altogether. On the other hand -
By contrast, in the OSPI review, two eminent scholars had reviewed the top-four ranked programs and determined that they all provided mathematically sound content. ........... The scholars avoided relying on their own pedagogical preferences in reviewing the mathematical soundness of the proposed curricula, although they expressed their own view that the Holt and KCP curricula "tie together mathematical ideas best."

Isn't this a hoot?

From the OSPI report, on page 104 is the following paragraph:
One characteristic that distinguishes integrated mathematics materials from more traditional materials is the extensive use of contexts and applications as the focus of attention. Mathematics ideas are typically not presented as “naked” mathematics, but rather as ways to solve problems. This does not mean that the mathematics is less important or less well developed, but it does make a review of mathematical soundness somewhat more complex.

Bright articulates the distinction between "traditional" and "integrated" curricula as being the shift in emphasis towards contexts and applications. Oh, well, there is certainly no pedagogy in play here! {ya sure you betcha}

The phrase "it does make a review of mathematical soundness somewhat more complex" means that those who can't find mathematical soundness fail to do so because they don't know how to look. And those who don't know how to look are clearly incapable because they are not in possession of the "revealed truth" that only select members of an elite club are in a position to know.

This is a hallmark of a cult, and as clear an example of pedagogical bias as any judge should need to see.

Friendly advice said:
Better to have some think you are a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt ... Key Press should keep quite.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The basis of the problem

Another Cyberspace find ... Concerned Citizen writes:

I would like to see the system of accountability that is going to be put on OSPI, the SBE, and the Legislature over education issues.....
It is these people who exemplify Ronald Regan's famous quote..... "Government is not the solution to the problem..... it is the problem."

Of course they like to say that the voters can make these corrections. .... However, it took twelve years to get rid of Terry Bergeson even though she drove math education in the state of Washington into the ground...... spent a billion dollars on to develop failing standards and state assessments. ..and left us in a mess that is still costing money. OSPI personnel continue to push her failed policies with little worry of any consequences for their actions.....

The SBE is largely shielded from any public scrutiny...the legislature made sure of that when they took away the right to vote for most positions and made them appointees of the Governor. The SBE has no members who are qualified to make math education decisions but they continue to push their ignorance on the school districts of this state without worry of retribution. .... The Algebra II for all decision is just one example of being completely out of touch with reality.....

The legislature continues to meddle in these issues even though they are clueless about the results of their actions....Their ignorant decisions are made behind closed doors where deals are made for political reasons not because they are in the best interest of students. The "in-common" standards EOC assessments are a perfect example of how you can take a logical academic subject and turn it into an illogical political football game that the public pays for but doesn't get to see any of the important plays.

Although we know that reform curriculum is the main cause for the increase of mathematical illiteracy, the deterioration of WASL scores in this state is a direct result of the educational chaos caused by the legislature, inaction by OSPI, and the ineptness of the SBE to affect logical changes in the state standards revision and assessment system.

It doesn't matter that the Geometry EOC is now a stupid test that is based on politics not Geometry.... . The legislature gets to say that "we know it is messed up but we will fix it in the future...." Did you know that this is standard operating procedure for the legislature? They can pass stupid laws and justify them by saying they will fix them in the future! That should give everyone great confidence about the laws enacted in this state! In the meanwhile all of these agencies are contributing to the ruination of the education of future generations.

Improvement Plan for Seattle Math

Dear Board Members and Ms. de la Fuente,

Washington State has approved new K – 12 mathematics standards, which state that a strong mathematics program should incorporate a balance of conceptual understanding, procedural proficiency, and problem solving and processes.

Unfortunately Seattle Math leaders have the mistaken idea that a balance of conceptual understanding, problem-solving and procedural proficiency means a balance between inquiry and direct instruction. Problem solving skills and deep conceptual understanding can result from programs that emphasize “Explicit Instruction”. Without procedural proficiency it is hard to believe there can be deep conceptual understanding {see Askey Lipping Ma’s statement page 6}. See Singapore Math “Challenging Word Problems” grade 6 for evidence of problem solving skills taught without excessive inquiry. This erroneous Seattle idea of what constitutes appropriate mathematical balance is one reason the Seattle math programs will remain sub-par until improved direction and guidance are in place.

Soon a Cleveland STEM decision will be made. Just as it is not possible to build the “high rent” 9th through 12th floors of a building without those below it, a similar situation exists in Seattle mathematics as mathematics is hierarchical. Floors k-8 in Seattle math are in remarkable poor condition especially for educationally disadvantaged tenants. If this situation for poor and or minority students is getting better, it is hard to notice.

As I pointed out 6 of 6 achievement gaps (grade 4) increased with EDM’s first year of use. The WASL math pass rate for Seattle Black students, in 2008, was 27.6% for grade 4 (lowest since 2002) ; 24.2% for grade 7 ; 16.0% for grade 10. Currently three items are painfully obvious:

#1… EDM {27.6% pass rate for grade 4 Black students (lowest since 2002)} is inappropriate for use in fulfilling the state standards without major modifications, which Seattle has thus far demonstrated will not be done. See EDM co-author Andy Isaac’s article The Case for Everyday Math and the 51 comments for detailed reasons that major EDM modifications are needed if the State Math Standards are the curriculum.

#2… OSPI’s Greta Bornemann, Dorian Drury, and George Bright authored a paper in which non-standard ways of recording an algorithm were presented as acceptable forms of the standard algorithm. Dr. Ruth Parker, a Reform Math leader, a consultant, and public presenter for the district’s reform math agenda in the past, recently gave a presentation at NCTM national. Her presentation centered on her belief that the Standard Algorithm always harms conceptual understanding. I fear that despite the district’s claim that the State Math Standards are the Curriculum, this is still not really the case. The SPS is still well stocked with personnel, who are EDM philosophical adherents, often giving presentations and guidance to Elementary School teachers. The national trend of sub-par mathematical content knowledge of teachers is also apparent in many presenters.

#3… The district now has in place k-12 materials that are incredibly misaligned with NMAP recommendations. The lack of explicit instruction is rampant. The spiraling in EDM is specifically mentioned in NMAP as a practice to be avoided. The April 8, 2009 HS Math Adoption recommendation from the Superintendent contained the following:

During the first semester of this school year, 76% of our ninth graders were enrolled in Math 1 or Algebra or above, meaning that nearly one-quarter of our students are entering high school in remedial mathematics courses. For students from the groups listed above, enrollment in Math 1 or Algebra is lower:

African-American 68%
Latino 66%
Native American 57%
Low-income 69%
English Language Learners 51%
Special Education 33%

Unfortunately instead of actually preparing students k-8 to take an authentic algebra course, the course of action will be 9th grade placement into a less than Authentic Algebra course that is mathematically unsound. This practice of few if any placements below grade 9 math proved to be an astonishing failure at Cleveland. Despite the math resources PD3 brought to Cleveland’s IMP implementation 2006-2009, which included no math classes below Integrated 1, it was an enormous failure. The idea that this practice should be extended to almost all Seattle high schools is another example of experimentation on the student population. The proven practice of “Explicit Instruction” is available and is ignored so the failing experiments can be continued.

A decade plus of math practices that discriminate against educationally disadvantaged learners needs to end. Given the current k-12 math materials, the ending of discriminatory practices seems unlikely unless significant efforts are made in that regard.

#1. Seattle needs to focus k-8 mathematics on practices recommended by NMAP. Focus k-8 on the State Math Standards. Stop wasting student’s valuable class time on EDM focus algorithms instead effectively teaching the Standard Algorithms.

#2. Increase not just the math content knowledge of teachers but presenters as well. The district wasted both time and money in the summer of 2007 with EDM training that did not focus on increasing teacher content knowledge.

Consider the following:

Some presenters "can't make any sense" of the standard algorithm and prefer the EDM focus algorithms. That's another stunning example of mathematical incompetence. See H Wu's paper, "Basis Skills vs Conceptual Understanding" :A Bogus Dichotomy in Mathematics Education, where he deconstructs the standard algorithms in all their glory, summarizing this with the multiplication algorithm from page 6:

"Finally, we call attention to the breathtaking simplicity of the multiplication algorithm itself despite the tediousness of its derivation. The conceptual understanding hidden in the algorithm is the kind that students eventually need in order to prepare for algebra. In short, this algorithm is a shining example of elementary mathematics at its finest and is fully deserving to be learned by every student. If there is any so-called harmful effect in learning the algorithms, it could only be because they are not taught properly."

In 2008-2009 the SPS taught lattice multiplication and failed to teach long division.

I am not asking the Board to micro-manage math. I would like to see NMAP used as a guide. I am asking the Board to hold Staff accountable to the State Math Standards, the Strategic Plan, and article IX of the State Constitution.

Given that the district prefers to socially promote many children rather than educate them, what should be happening to prepare students for Algebra? The answer is to prepare them using materials that work. See this Ed Week article Catching Up on Algebra, it mentions the Mind Institute’s Algebra Readiness materials that I gave directors Carr and Martin-Morris to preview. It certainly is a better option than spreading Cleveland’s nothing below high school level math for 9th graders to the entire district. Cleveland 2008 WASL gr 10 math pass rates:
All students = 12.2% ; Black students = 6.3%


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

51 comments on Everyday Math

The response to Andy Isaac's article on Everyday Math now has 51 comments.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

All about NMAP

I love this page:

PISA Finland a Great Line

From Education Week-Curriculum Matters:

"In every aspect, the challenge [for the U.S.] is getting deeper to the next level of knowledge," said Andreas Schleicher, the head of the indicators and analysis division of the OECD Directorate for Education, who was presenting.

There was a lot of chatter about Finland, which doesn't really use standardized tests for accountability, has an extremely strong teaching force, and little variation between the best and the worst schools.

But one interesting thing happened when a woman named Sirkku Kupianinen, a researcher with the Center for Education Assessment at the University of Helsinki who was serving on the panel responding to Mr. Schleicher's comments, gave her remarks.

Ms. Kupianinen said she felt awkward at all the attention her country's been given, particularly since Finland's system runs almost entirely on trust and is nearly devoid of the external accountability benchmarks used in other countries "I feel like the whole country has been raised to a miracle based on the results of this one test," she said about PISA.

What's more, despite Finland's strong showing in math on the test, academics in her country have been raising some fairly strong "cows" about the level of math education among students. "They say it's going down like the tail of a cow," she said. (Really, she did say that, and man, what a great expression. I'm officially appropriating it.) "Then PISA comes out, and math professors just stopped believing in PISA as ... a measure of what Finnish children can do," she said.

And her concern? That countries will start trying to encourage "teaching to the test" for PISA, by modifying curricula and so forth to resemble that test's tasks, which require students to synthesize knowledge. Publishers in Germany, she said, have already released books of "PISA-like" items.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Clover Park k-8 Math Adoption

Clover Park School District in Lakewood, WA
June 8, 2009 school board action

Kindergarten – Eighth Grade Mathematics Adoption:

Bridges In Mathematics The Math Learning Center

First through Fifth Grade:
Math Connects Macmillan McGraw-Hill

Sixth through Eighth Grade:
Holt Mathematics Courses 1-3 Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Instructionally Disabled

The Seattle Superintendent Dr. Goodloe Johnson has been concerned about an excessive number of educationally disadvantaged learners being classified as Special Education students.

Consider the following from _educator/issues/fall04/prevention.htm

"District administrators became convinced that most kids identified as learning disabled are actually “instructionally disabled” meaning they hadn’t received the instruction appropriate for their needs."

Sure sounds like Seattle math to me.

How else can the SPS WASL Math pass rate for Grade 10 Blacks be 16%?

Was it just random chance that all 6 SPS measured achievement gaps increased on the 2008 4th grade math WASL?

Is is just bad luck that WA NAEP math achievement gap changes for 2003-2007 were among the worst in the nation?

Yet the plan is apparently to keep traveling the reform math road.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.
From the Rocky Mountain News,1299,DRMN_957_5157346,00.html

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Connected Math Project in Seattle

Dear Director,

The attached piece by Dr. Richard Askey, which I sent you earlier explains quite well the difficulties with using the Connect Math Project materials.
See section #2 pages 1 through 8.

Dr. Askey also details many difficulties with the reform plans that the district has attempted to implement over the last decade.

It is time to accept the fact that the Reform Math attempt is not working nor will it ever work in Seattle. Dr. Askey details the short-comings and many of these will never be overcome in Seattle.

With the Board's recent decision to move forward and expand the reform math agenda despite huge public opposition the mathematical disabling of students will continue.

My wife brought to my attention a growing situation in USA education. The classification of "instructionally disabled" is expanding rapidly. These students appear similar to students classified as special education but when thoroughly investigated they have no disability. Their deficits are caused from a system that fails to educate them.

Seattle is certainly doing their part in expanding the number of instructionally disabled math students. Will it ever be time for a change of direction?


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Good intentions are not enough

Good intentions are not enough 6-20-2009

Dear Director,

WASL Math data reported by OSPI on 6-18-2009 for the class of 2011 our current 10th graders set a new record in math futility as the passing rate dropped by 4.34 points smashing the previous record drop of 1.60 points set in the Spring of 2002.

10th Grade
... Year to year
Year ...... State ...... change
1998-99 : 33.00%
1999-00 : 35.00% : 2.00%
2000-01 : 38.90% : 3.90%
2001-02 : 37.30% : -1.60%
2002-03 : 39.40% : 2.10%
2003-04 : 43.90% : 4.50%
2004-05 : 47.50% : 3.60%
2005-06 : 51.00% : 3.50%
2006-07 : 50.40% : -0.60%
2007-08 : 49.60% : -0.80%
2008-09 : 45.26% : -4.34%

The Seattle School District’s feeble attempts to educate students in mathematics are nearly legendary. The School Board continues to approve irrational decisions despite overwhelming evidence that illuminates how poor these decisions are.

The balance of this communication to each school director assumes an interest in improving the pathetic current situation. Keep in mind that only 16% of Seattle’s Black tenth grade students passed the Math WASL in 2008. Grade 4 WASL math data showed achievement gaps increasing after the first year of Everyday Math for Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Limited English, and Low Income students. Is Federal Court the only way to get a change in direction?

From the introduction to his paper “Good intentions are not enough” (attached), research mathematician and University of Wisconsin Professor emeritus Richard A. Askey states:

#1… NCTM did not face up to the most critical problem, the lack of firm content knowledge of far too many teachers.

#2... NCTM did not look seriously at mathematics education in other countries.

#3… Mathematicians were not involved in the development of the Standards.

#4 The NCTM authors of their Standards had the strange notion that it is possible to teach conceptual understanding without developing technical skill at the same time.

Seattle and Washington State are floundering and making little progress. The summer before Dr. Bergeson’s failed re-election campaign, a large amount of money (estimate $30 million) was spent to teach teachers about the new math standards. This money was squandered, as it did nothing to address the most critical problem, the lack of firm content knowledge of teachers.

In Seattle in similar fashion there was significant spending with the Everyday Math adoption. None of this was to address the lack of firm content knowledge of teachers. Seattle chose to spend money to inform teachers how to use specific activities and strategies in the Everyday Math series.

The University of Washington’s supposed math education experts influenced Dr. Bergeson, Governor Gregoire, and the Seattle Schools. Unfortunately the U.W. maintains a belief that it is possible to teach conceptual understanding without developing technical skill at the same time. The results of the last decade are an absolute disaster. HS Graduation rate dropped to #43 nationally and WA state’s NAEP math achievement gap changes from 2003-2007 were among the worst in the Nation.

The UW experts have failed to produce any credible results. The fact the math line UW pushes upon schools #1 contradicts the successful math practices in other countries, and #2 rarely if ever produces a positive result is apparently not a problem for some gullible Seattle School Directors.

Thanks to the final report “Foundations for Success” from the National Math Advisory Panel we now are aware that the often-used UW line “Research Shows” is meaningless.

“Foundations for Success” reveals there are some things that do produce consistently positive results in math. Unfortunately the School Board adopted a high school text series, which ignores those practices known to produce positive results for students struggling with mathematics.

The Seattle School Board has apparently been focused on Math achievement for sometime but has no positive results to report. Your achievement gap focus produced only widening achievement gaps.

In looking at math decisions in the Seattle School District over the last decade the record is clear. It is one of failed decision after failed decision.

Once again it is time to make a decision: this time the Cleveland STEM option.

As Charlie Mas asked: “What is the District hoping to accomplish with this change?” The introductory item materials passed out on 6-17-2009 contained no answer to his question.

The materials did contain the following: COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PROCESS : The course of study offered at Cleveland High School has increasingly been driven by a science and mathematics focus.

At first glance one would think that a course of study increasingly driven by a math and science focus would be a good preparation for STEM. Unfortunately there is no evidence that this focus has been anything other than an enormous waste of funds.

Cleveland began this intensive math focus as one of three Seattle high schools in the PD^3 N.S.F.-funded professional development collaboration between the UW College of Education, UW Mathematics Department, and Seattle Schools math leadership. The program initially focused on professional development of high school math teachers. In 2006 Cleveland began a school-based project. This project involved professional learning communities, collaborative planning, and other supposed advantages that were not available to other schools. This certainly should have guaranteed a successful implementation of the Interactive Math Program materials but the result was catastrophic failure as recorded in WASL grade 10 scores for Spring 2007 and 2008.

Black students pass rate on grade 10 math WASL for Spring 2005 through 2008
District = ... 12.9% : 21.7% : 19.6% : 16.0%
Cleveland = . 16.5% : 8.5% : 11.1% : 6.3%

All Students
District = ... 40.8% :*55.7% : 50.2% : 50.4%
Cleveland = . 23.2% : 21.1% : 17.9% : 12.2%

*Note: Spring 2005 vs. Spring *2006 the pool of tested students changed in 2004 all student who had entered grade 9 were tested as a group of second year high school students …. In 2005 students in addition to being second year high school students they had to have sophomore credits to be WASL tested. This was a district requirement, which raised Seattle scores; the state had no such requirement.

The Cleveland IMP school based project is a prime example of the needless expense and futility of pursuing the discovery/inquiry math direction in Seattle mathematics.

Today after over 10 years of math futility the SPS mathematics page still reads:
Mathematics is the language and science of patterns and connections. Learning and doing mathematics are active processes in which students construct meaning through exploration and inquiry of challenging problems.

Charlie asked about Cleveland STEM: “What is the District hoping to accomplish with this change?”

I ask about the district definition of math and the direction still pursued by Math Program Manager Anna-Maria de la Fuente and math coach Art Mabbott: “What is the District hoping to accomplish with its constantly failing direction of exploration and inquiry?”

Penn State can offer math guidance

It has come to light that the original State College committee of 11 people who chose “Investigations” K-5 in 2002 included five teachers who had 2.5 years or less experience teaching in elementary school. We also know that Penn State requires no more than just one semester of math to graduate with an elementary education degree. Is it sensible to entrust our district’s math curriculum to people for whom math is an elective academic subject?

[ Seattle chooses committee members selected for dedication to inquiry based mathematics … the results are a disaster … but four directors seem to find this practice and direction most acceptable. To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. If you have not done so, try it some time you might like it. ]

Considering we have the good fortune of living next to one of the largest universities in the country, with one of the most outstanding math departments and engineering schools, I do believe that as a district, we should have the intelligence and humility to acknowledge that the math professionals at Penn State are a phenomenal resource. Should we be so lucky!

At this juncture, how can we not consult those who-do-math and use-math, and stop assuming that “math education” is a different discipline, because it’s not. If we are to prepare our students for the 21st century and a global world, we must include in the process these outstanding folks, who represent and practice the language of math from all over the world.

Cecilia Dunoyer State College

A substantive response by the board to this ongoing problem would be appreciated.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Federal Way seriously under-performing

Check these graduation rates:

No wonder the public is upset.

WA grad rate in now #43 down from #39 ten years ago.
That would be great if we had 1000 states but at last count there are only 50.

The good news is we have lots of upside potential; the bad is lack of apparent leadership.

New top Right

Now listed in sites see column top right:

My Best School Board Testimony

Instead of joining the Toastmasters I've spent the last two and a half years writing and giving testimony at the Seattle School Board meetings. Although whether this has accomplished anything is unknown as the a majority of the board always rubber stamps the superintendent's proposals no matter how flawed. One thing is certain: I've improved writing a three minute speech and delivering it.

In part two of three for 6-17-2009:

You will need to use the slider by clicking just above the arrow head.
Move the slider to minute 101:30 and get ready for a three minute blasting.

Here is the text:

This evening you are asked to approve spending around $800,000 for legal fees. Let’s investigate why?

Recently Jennifer Aspeland eloquently testified the SPS is pursuing a legal position at great expense, which common sense says is indefensible. The district’s response to the Plaintiff in regard to Nathan Hale’s mold not only lacks common sense it lacks common decency. Who is accountable for this decision?

This is not an isolated incident there is a pattern.

$800,000 bought Seattle the knowledge that a racial tiebreaker is a legally bankrupt idea. This should have been obvious to anyone passing a high school civics class. Who is accountable for this decision?

The district ceased using race as a tiebreaker as soon as the case was filed. Instead of saying “We got that wrong and corrected it.” the district put the appropriate correction in place, but pushed “the wrong” indefensible position. Over one million dollars in combined legal expenditures achieved absolutely nothing.

The message from such actions is clear: the Seattle leadership does what they wish to do without regard for board policy, common sense, common decency, or the law.

Legal action is the only way to stop or even effectively challenge Seattle’s erroneous decision-making.

Last board meeting, four directors voted to continue the inefficient ineffective expensive Everyday Math program. Some of you appeared to vote yes out of an obligation to continue a two-year old defective math decision. This is not accountability. The obligation is to educate all the children effectively and efficiently. There is no obligation to continue failing programs.

Article IX of the state constitution states:

It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, {without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.}

The “Discovering Series” high school math adoption discriminates. The proven practice for under achieving students is explicit instruction, which the administration ignores. The Superior court action is a direct result of a decade of discriminatory math practices, which the board chose to ignore despite repeated warnings. Please fix these problems now and save the taxpayer legal costs. Fix k-12 math rather than forcing those continuing to be harmed to proceed to Federal Court.

When the administration and the children’s needs are at odds, the board should be the champion of the children not the administration. Where is your accountability?

When will be Math materials with the explicit instruction so needed by the children be available? Now? before or after large legal expenses? or NEVER? Where is any common sense or any accountability?

Seattle Cleveland HS STEM thoughts and Rigor

Director, 6-18-2009

Attached is a very recent publication from Columbia University on Understanding and Reporting on Academic Rigor. I hope you will find it a useful resource.

As you consider STEM for Cleveland ask: How does STEM fit into a comprehensive plan for improvement? Is the current path as outlined and practiced by Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson consistent, rational and capable fulfilling objectives over the long run?

AP classes and IB classes emphasize that the real preparation for these classes begins in the primary grades. Seattle has a graduation rate of about 60%. So what produces the 40% drop out rate?

There is plentiful research that finds leaving grade 3 below grade level is an incredible deficit that is often never overcome. Project Follow Through looked at disadvantaged learners in k-3 attempting to find the most appropriate learning model. The SPS neglects PFT results.

The Seattle public schools operate in a state with exceptionally large class sizes and with a Superintendent that thinks class size is not important. Class size is not important when the plan is to socially promote children instead of effectively educating all the children.

I find the neglect of the Promotion / Non-promotion policies and their required effective interventions for struggling students totally incompatible with the AP - IB thrust as well as any plan to close the achievement gap.

I urge you to find out more about STEM and assess it. Is STEM appropriate for Cleveland? Is it appropriate for other Seattle High Schools?

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. Unfortunately many Board decisions are made without examining relevant data.

If you have time I urge you to scan the attached Columbia Rigor brochure. On page 3, you will find:
A curriculum that exemplifies academic rigor is focused, coherent, and appropriately challenging. In the case of mathematics, such a curriculum focuses on a small number of topics at each grade to promote in-depth/mastery learning and sequences topics across grades in a coherent manner, reflecting the logic and structure of the academic discipline. Finally, such a curriculum is appropriately challenging from a cognitive or intellectual perspective in that topics are not excessively repeated but move students into an ever deeper and broader exposure to the discipline moving from basic concepts (e.g., meaning and operation of whole numbers) to more developed ones (e.g., the rational number system and its properties). William Schmidt is University Distinguished Professor in the College of Education at Michigan State University.

The fact is that the k-12 Seattle Math instructional materials do not do what Schmidt defines as "Rigor".

I will attempt to find out more about STEM but at this point it seems that Seattle may be grasping at yet another straw instead of making the fundamental changes necessary to have a successful math program for all students. A program that ends the discrimination of educationally disadvantaged learners by heeding NMAP recommendations is sorely needed.


Dan Dempsey

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


The Math site for Southwest Washington

Algebra II for all? What is the SBE thinking?

Thinking about Algebra II for all.

Here is some data from San Diego, that may make you think again.

How ironic San Diego went from a mid 1990s Integrated math adoption of McDougal-Littel Integrated to Discovering and is now tossing it out after three years.
Seattle's last adoption was in the early 90s and it was the same McDougal-Littel Integrated. The SPS board adopted Discovering on May 6. That decision is being appealed in Superior Court.

The sheet indicates from course ending assessments in San Diego that less than one in five students who test as Algebra Students attain a basic or better knowledge of Advanced Algebra (two years later).

What is the SBE thinking?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Brain Drain

-- Most students -- regardless of family income or background -- lose 2 to 2 1/2 months of the math computational skills that they learned during the school year.

-- Students from low-income homes lose two to three months in reading skills learned in the previous school year.

-- Middle-class students make slight gains in reading achievement as measured on standardized tests.

Heterogeneous grouping .. NY Times .. Connecticut

....which is among the last bastions of rigid educational tracking more than a decade after most school districts abandoned the practice.

So in an unusual experiment, Cloonan mixed up its sixth-grade science and social studies classes last month, combining zeros and ones with twos. These mixed-ability classes have reported fewer behavior problems and better grades for struggling students, but have also drawn complaints of boredom from some high-performing students who say they are not learning as much.


The long-running debate over whether students should be allowed to wield calculators during mathematics examinations may soon seem quaint.

The latest dilemma facing professors is whether to let students turn to a Web site called WolframAlpha, which not only solves complex math problems, but also can spell out the steps leading to those solutions. In other words, it can instantly do most of the homework and test questions found in many calculus textbooks.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Informative Website: US World Class Math

H.S. Math Books (good?).. Seattle Times

KPLU on Graduation rate drop's.High.School.Graduation.Rate.Drops

Math & Sci & Graduation ... delayed again?

Court Challenge of Seattle Math Text Adoption

Court Challenge of Seattle Math Text Adoption

A trio of plaintiffs has challenged Seattle Public Schools' recent adoption of the Discovering series of high school math texts. The three Seattle citizens -- a parent of an SPS student, a grandparent, and a UW professor of atmospheric sciences, contend that the textbooks will fail to adequately reduce the achievement gap between Caucasians and non-Caucasians, and between wealthy and poorer students. This failure will result from lack of "Explicit Instruction."

Seattle, Washington -- June 8, 2009 -- An appeal of the Seattle School Board's controversial May 6th decision to adopt the Discovering series of high school math texts was filed in King County Superior Court on Friday, June 5, 2009. Plaintiffs are DaZanne Porter, an African American and mother of an 8th grade student in Seattle Public Schools, Martha McLaren, retired Seattle math teacher and grandparent of a Seattle Public Schools fourth grader, and Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington.
Their appeal of the School Board's 4 to 3 decision was filed by attorney Keith Scully of Gendler and Mann, LLP. The Declaration cites recent WASL data showing a continually widening achievement gap in mathematics among ethnic minority and free-lunch students in 4th, 7th, and 10th grades. The plaintiffs state that this widening achievement gap corresponds with the expanded use of "inquiry based" texts books in Seattle public schools. According to their declaration, the SPS staff knew that the Discovering series had been deemed "unsound" in a study commissioned by the State Board of Education.

Ms. Porter, parent of an African American eighth grader and a teacher who is a reading coach at a Seattle elementary school, states that her son has already experienced unnecessary confusion and frustration caused by "inquiry based" curricula in Seattle elementary and middle schools. She wants the District to adopt a "balanced" text such as that recommended by the State Board of Education, by the Holt Publishing Company, which she says will give her son a much better chance to learn math skills needed for college and career. "I can't afford the tutoring that wealthier parents can afford in order for their children to learn the math skills they don't learn in Seattle Public Schools," stated Ms. Porter. "I've looked at these math textbooks, and they are not parent friendly, which means I will not be able to help my son, which will put him further behind."

Ms. McLaren, retired Seattle Math teacher and grandparent of a Seattle Public Schools fourth grader, states that as a math teacher and math substitute for 8 years, she witnessed students floundering with "inquiry based" math curricula throughout the district. She has spoken with numerous teachers who confirm her observation that the "inquiry-based" textbooks", used by students working in small groups, have resulted in confusion, discontent, and lost time for math education. She reports that the Seattle School District has denied the relationship between the widening achievement gap and the use of inquiry-based curricula. The achievement gap began to expand after the introduction of inquiry based materials at all grade levels in the late 90s, and continued to grow with the adoption of inquiry based middle school texts (CMP2) in 2006 and elementary texts (Everyday Math) in 2007. The elementary textbooks which district administrators predicted would reduce the achievement gap are instead linked to increases in the gaps for Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Low Income and Limited English students.

Professor Mass teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington. He has had to lower the math level of his classes due to the declining math competency of students entering the University of Washington. He states that use of "integrated" and "inquiry-based" math curricula in school districts such as Seattle are a major cause of these problems.

The Seattle Public School District has 20 days from June 5 to deliver the record of information available to it in making its adoption decision.

Contact: Martha McLaren ::

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Paramount Duty = Dump Reform Math

It is the paramount duty of the state to provide for the education of all children residing within its borders.

Each school board of directors has the final responsibility to set policies ensuring quality in the content and extent of its educational program. The program must provide students with the opportunity to achieve those skills generally recognized as requisite to learning.

This has not happened in Seattle math.

Most achievement Gaps have expanded and remain unaddressed. On May 6th two school directors who voted for the discriminatory math materials said there was a shortage of valid research. While this statement may be generally true in many situations it is NOT true for Seattle’s math adoptions.

NMAP made it very clear what needs to happen for struggling math students: Explicit Instruction.

Seattle socially promotes students rather than educating them. The directors never demanded the administration follow existing policies that required effective interventions for struggling students. For years Seattle has had no defined necessary math skills.

May 30, 2007 abundant data revealed Everyday Math as a failing program in Denver and by a multiplicity of other measures unsuitable for use in Seattle, but Everyday was adopted anyway. A year later achievement Gaps among Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Low Income, and Limited English students expanded.

May 6, 2009 by a 4-3 vote another disastrous exploratory math adoption was made; this time at the high school level. The inquiry/exploratory math plan was expanded and board sanctioned to: “blunder on”.

The NMAP report found that “explicit instruction with students who have mathematical difficulties has shown consistently positive effects on performance with word problems and computation.”

Unfortunately typical Seattle school decision-making prevailed: the discriminatory experimental math program was chosen instead of the consistently positive effects of “Explicit Instruction”.

Laws assure the orderly functioning of society. Hopefully the Superior Court will dispense some justice and stop any use of this discriminatory and unsound high school math text series.

Now is the time to educate mathematically struggling students. After more than a decade “The Board” needs to intelligently apply the relevant data and arrive at a solution for struggling students. “The Board” must fulfill their constitutionally mandated responsibilities to all children by providing students the opportunity to achieve those skills, which are generally recognized as requisite to learning.

The board could begin by dumping “Reform Math”

Begging for Dollars in Seattle

This is an alert.

We will soon be begging for dollars to fund our lawsuit against the Seattle School district. We are setting up an account before accepting donations.

I will post a press release within the next 48 hours.
You can view a video of what is up in Seattle.

My Testimony is in Part I at minute 33:00

Then on Part II the best part is from minute 26:00 on.
See Ms. Santorno attempt to sell more baloney.
See Director Carr object to past practice but then vote OK anyway.

To get correct placement of the minute slider you must have the cursor clicked above the arrow.

Once again you get to hear that research shows .....
Santorno fails to say there is overwhelming research that shows her plan is defective.
One year of Everyday Math enlarged every achievement gap:
Blacks, Asians, Hispanic, American Indians, Low Income, and English Language Learners.

(the easily identified old fat guy with the white hair and beard)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Legal update on Superior Court

Dear Directors DeBell and Martin-Morris, 6-09-2009

I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last 2 and one-half years in what thus far has been a failed attempt to stop discriminatory math actions. On May 30, 2007, the board voted 6-0 to approve Everyday Math for Elementary School. After one year of EDM use achievement gaps expanded beyond their already large deficits.

You know most of this story of ongoing discrimination. It culminated in the High School math text adoption with the 4-3 approval of Key Curriculum’s Discovering Math series.

There is ample evidence (Project Follow Through) that educationally disadvantaged learners are not well served at the k-3 level by the inquiry and exploration model used by the SPS. Hook-Bishop-Hook’s huge California study revealed that Reform Math does not perform as well as more explicit materials, when used in Districts with urban demographics.

The NMAP found ample research to recommend “Explicit Instruction” for those struggling with math. The Discovering Series provides little if any “Explicit Instruction”. It is more of the same failing Inquiry/Exploration model that has widened the achievement gaps over the last decade.

My question for each of you is:
How much must members of the public do to protect the children from the Central Administration’s incredibly poor recommendations and decisions?

Where else can people get away with completely ignoring good information with proven performance and acting on bad information with inadequate results - for DECADES? Nobody can reason with people who refuse to listen.

At this time if donations not cover the litigation cost, Martha McLaren and I are guaranteeing payment for the legal appeal of the May 6, 2009 high school math adoption decision.

I am sure you would agree that a speedy court decision in regard to this matter is needed.

Unfortunately at this time it appears that the Central Administration has other ideas. We received the following from our attorney, Keith Scully:

"I have already exchanged unpleasant emails with the School District’s attorney – they’re playing games with whether they were properly served. I urged her to speak to her supervisor before litigating on that – she has a tradition of filing frivolous motions. I’ll let you know if I see anything formal, but I strongly urge you to either get fund raising in place or find a pro bono attorney!"

No wonder this district is often not appreciated by the public, when there is a perception that a tradition of filing frivolous motions exists.

Please do what you can to get this matter resolved and please do your best to discontinue the tradition of filing frivolous motions.

Thank You,
Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr

June 8, 2009 Arne Duncan's latest idea

States Open to Charters Start Fast in 'Race to Top'

Education Secretary Seeking Autonomy with Real Accountability for School Innovators

Another Report ... Strong American Schools

As we close our doors at Strong American Schools, we have released a new report, Turning Campaign Pillars Into Presidential Priorities, that documents how Strong American Schools' ED in '08 campaign became one of the most successful independent advocacy initiatives of the 2008 election season and has helped turn the need for education reform from a low-priority campaign issue into one of the Obama Administration's top policy priorities.
The report cites several accomplishments of Strong American Schools, including:

Winning support from both major party nominees. Then-Senator Obama supported -and his priorities as president continue to include-all three Strong American Schools' policy pillars. Senator McCain advocated for two of the three pillars.

Shaping the views of other national figures. ED in '08 had significant input in the education plans produced by the campaigns of other presidential aspirants, some of whom continue to be influential within their parties: Then-Senators Clinton and Biden, Governor Romney and Mayor Giuliani.

Changing political paradigms. ED in '08 changed the debate around performance pay for teachers-previously a non-starter for Democrat candidates-and helped political leaders advocate for the reform initiative.

....... Sincerely,
Roy Romer Chairman ; Marc Lampkin Executive Director

....blah, blah, blah...

High School Ratings .. Newsweek

These are now available from Newsweek.

Take particular note of the E&E ratings as this counts participation.

Realistic Minimum Standards

A message from Cyber-Space:
What I would like to see is some specific minimum standards that every non-disabled child must meet to move from one grade to the next. Nothing too strenuous, just some minimum standards.

For example in Math I would like to see all Grade 2 kids knowing their single digit add/subtract facts.

For Grade 3 all kids must know their single digit Mult facts. Etc.

The new math standards include the above but I’m suggesting that these minimums be made absolute requirements for grade advancement. I don’t want to see a new law for this. Instead I would like to see each district (or school) establish minimum quality requirements for grade level advancement. I want them to show some pride in committing too and achieving specific goals. Have the parents and teachers come to agreement on which specific math requirements must be met, which specific books must be read, etc. at each grade level. Today, many schools and districts have “vision” or “mission” statements or both. For example, Laurelhurst Elementary in Seattle has a mission statement that reads:

“The teachers at Laurelhurst are facilitators of learning, posing questions that elicit creative and critical thinking, and nurturing in their students a life-long love of learning. By engaging with each student as an individual and validating and building on their strengths, we work to create community within the classroom, the school, and the larger community, while promoting independence, confidence and responsibility. We provide educational experiences for students which enable them to reach their highest potential and empower them to achieve their goals and dreams as successful, compassionate members of a diverse community. We provide stimulating, culturally enriching, creative experiences woven through a rigorous curriculum that integrates technology, science, and the arts."

Not to pick on Laurelhurst in particular, but this is nice and uplifting but essentially commitment and goal free. The teachers are facilitators, posers, nurturers, engagers, providers, and promoters. No specifics on what each non-learning-disabled child is required to learn to advance from grade to grade. No accountability for the child, the parent or the teacher. We need some commitment here and I think it starts with the teachers and school.

The parents need to be involved in making sure their kids meet the minimums too so they aren’t surprised at the end of the year. If the minimums are pretty reasonable then it’s hard to argue that a student shouldn’t graduate to the next grade level. Summer school for those that need it.

As things stand now there are no real standards so half the kids in the 4th grade at my school don’t know all their multiplication facts so they aren’t ready for multi-digit multiplication or long division. Some of the teachers complain about it but I don’t see them making sure the kids are learning this minimum content. It’s like the kids come to school, the teachers do their thing, if the kids learn then great. If not then that’s great too.

It’s like a bad paint job on a car. Sloppy work pure and simple. And this aspect of things has nothing to do with teachers being weak in subject content. Instead, for too many, it is no pride in their work product.

Business Week - National Standards & NCLB's+next

Moving Beyond No Child Left Behind

States are being encouraged to adopt common school curricula and tests, an idea business leaders may applaud ....By Steve LeVine

From Cyber-Space:

The NCTM is THRILLED at the prospect of a national curriculum.

So, reportedly, is Arne Duncan.
See above linked Businessweek article.

I believe it's already done. A few days ago, it was just national standards - voluntary, they said. Now they're talking standards AND curriculum. Voluntary, of course. I believe the thing's already been ordered; the check's already been written. All that's left is the crying.

I doubt any decision-maker will listen now. They'll all wait to see which way they should jump. And they will jump, without a twinge of regret. I'll keep fighting for better curricula here, but it's going to be a heckuva uphill slog now. I'm going to focus on informing parents and keeping parent rights intact. Otherwise -- I fear all could be lost.

National Standards - opinions worth reading

But instead of choosing nationally known scholars to chair and staff these committees–to assure us of the integrity and quality of the product–the NGA and the CCSSO have, for reasons best known to themselves, treated the initiative as a private game of their own. The NGA and the CCSSO haven’t even bothered to inform the public who is chairing these committees, who is on them, why they were chosen, what their credentials are, and why we should have any confidence whatsoever in what they come up with.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Five ways to Fix America's Schools Schools .. NY Times

Everyone has an opinion and here is another one.

Harold O. Levy, the New York City schools chancellor from 2000 to 2002, has been a trustee of several colleges.

Outrageous Learning by Scott Oki

Real Change & Dr. Warfield's thoughts

From a Seattle Street Newspaper "Real Change"

San Francisco Chronicle -- National Standards

The unintended consequence of this will be a lowering of academic standards. In the attempt to get everyone to a higher level. Classes like Geometry are filled with students that are ill prepared to be there. The net result is a lowering of academic quality.

I trust that the vendors of educational assessories and instructional materials will love this movment. Think I shall go out and found a professional development firm in preparation for the coming (waste of dollars) investment opportunity.

Conspiracy by avoidance (common)

There appears to be a conspiracy to avoid relevant documents that would contradict some districts' predetermined inquiry oriented math direction. Staying away from NMAP at all costs is particularly important if the wish is to continue an inquiry based direction with struggling students.

Look at South Whibey for a case in point. See here:

Here are South Whidbey percents of those failing to meet WASL math standard:
.............Spring 2007 ... Spring 2008

grade 8 ....45.3% .... 48.3%
grade 10 ...41.0% .... 47.7%

grade 4 ....52.5% .... 39.9%

So a great question to ask is: "Have the So.Whid. committee members read NMAP?" Reading of the NMAP recommendations for Struggling Math students of which SW has a sufficient quantity, should be required reading. Why are struggling students needs rarely considered?

Do these SW folks believe that "Discovering" provides "explicit intruction" ?

It appears they see a problem solving approach in "Discovering" which they prefer over "Explicit Instruction".

Is the So. Whidbey decision influenced by the fact that so many of their students are arithmetically unprepared for an "Authentic Algbra" Class?

Looking into the future it appears that many So. Whidbey kids will be placed at the first year high school math level (or lower) when the are placed into a first math class at community college.

At Seattle Central Community College for a period of a few years entering students who were recent high school graduates had the following placements: 22% into a college level math class that counts for credit; 30% into the equivalent of High School Math 1; 20% placed into a math class below the equivalent of High School math one.

South Whidbey is 89% white with 20% Low-Income and approx 2000 students. The 4th grade pass rates are in decline, never having exceeded 57%. Last year 4th grade WASL scores dropped from 52.2% to 39.9% passing. In third grade (2007) pass rate was 0.6% below state average. Same kids in grade 4 (2008) math pass rate was 13.7% lower than state average. state 53.6% vs. SW at 39.9% ... Pretty sad.

Curricula (From OSPI - School District Mathematics Curricula Adoption and Usage – Nov 2008)

Elementary -- Math Trailblazers ..Every 6-8 Years ..2009 yr of next adoption

Middle School -- Connected Math Project (CMP) Every 6-8 Years ..2009 yr of next adoption

High School -- Core Plus ..Every 6-8 Years ..2009 yr of next adoption

It's interesting how different teachers opinions can be between districts. Shoreline's process included an all high school teacher review of three programs. This is how the teacher preferences were scored:
69% PH 2011
28% Holt
3% Discovering

Additionally, parent input to the process, answering 15 questions like "provides clear and helpful examples to help me help my student" showed that Discovering received an average of about 30% agree or strongly agree, and about 75% agree or strongly agree with the Holt or Prentice Hall approach to teaching math. If the South Whidbey SD had provided a real opportunity for parents to participate in the process, as required by state law, the results may have turned out differently.

Connecticut District Tosses Algebra Textbooks and Goes Online

Connecticut District Tosses Algebra Textbooks and Goes Online

Westport teachers were frustrated at having to rush through the curriculum only to find students didn’t grasp important concepts, so they created their own online program.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

How we got here !!!

If you are wondering how things got so screwed up.

Your tax dollars at work.

NMAP pg xxiii Explicit Instruction

27) 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, that students are provided with opportunities to think aloud (i.e., talk through the decisions they make and the steps they take), and that students are provided with extensive feedback.

This finding does not mean that all of a student’s mathematics instruction should be delivered in an explicit fashion. However, the Panel recommends that struggling students receive some explicit mathematics instruction regularly. Some of this time should be dedicated to ensuring that these students possess the foundational skills and conceptual knowledge necessary for understanding the mathematics they are learning at their grade level.
Assessment pg xxv
36) The Panel recommends a more appropriate balance in how algebra is defined and assessed at both the Grade 4 and Grade 8 levels of the NAEP. The Panel strongly recommends that “algebra” problems involving patterns should be greatly reduced in these tests. The same consideration applies to state tests.
page 9
The Panel took consistent note of the President’s emphasis on “the best available scientific evidence” and set a high bar for admitting research results into consideration. In essence, the Panel required the work to have been carried out in a way that manifested rigor and could support generalization at the level of significance to policy.

Proficiency needed: ask any carpenter or electrician

Understanding (conceptual) is not superior to Knowing how (proficiency) . In other words I can understand the problem without knowing how to do or solve the problem. Two examples:

1) I understand how to hit a golf ball straight. I understand how I am supposed to stand, what I am to do when I swing the club and where the ball is supposed to go. However, I don't know how to do it. All the understanding in the world does not insure that you can perform the task. Certainly, knowing how to properly swing a golf club is far superior than understanding how you are supposed to swing a golf club.

2) When my car breaks down and I take it in to be fixed it is not enough for the mechanic to understand what is wrong.... the mechanic must know how to fix it.

Ideally, one has both understanding and knowledge of how to solve a problem. However, by far the most important of those two is know-how. Many times students tell me that they understand what the problem is asking....and they understand what they are supposed to do.....but they don't know how to do it. Understanding what division is does not mean that you know how to divide. It may be interesting to understand but unless you know how there is very little value in that understanding. In the real world, it is far superior to know how to do the math than it is to understand why it works.

The natural order of learning is to learn how and then to learn why not the other way around. Reform math would have us believe the opposite. Their claims indict know-how as mindless process while claiming that understanding alone is an ultimate goal. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Understanding is superficial and will not necessarily ever lead to know-how.... .. but know-how often leads to deep understanding. Understanding without knowledge can never be anything but superficial.

Bob Dean
Math Dept Chairman
Evergreen High School
In math the deep conceptual understanding is difficult to arrive at. It may take years and may not ever occur at a truly deep level for most students.

Traditional math gives students arithmetic, algebraic and geometric skills that can be used, with hopes for eventual deep understanding. Perhaps few arrive at such understanding. Result we have mathematically skilled persons able to live life and be employed.

Reform math plans to develop deep conceptual understanding and the have the math skills emerge from this understanding. The result thus far is a nation increasingly filled with mathematically crippled individuals.


Math Purge in Oak Harbor

Saturday, June 6, 2009

New Resource

Seattle Times Letters 6-06-2009

Love these lines:
The polarization surrounding math education is really between those who seek a revenue stream from it, and those who just want their kids to be successful and their taxes to be spent wisely.

Pick the right textbook tools and the job gets much easier all around.

In reality, from the student's point of view (and the parent's), presentation of the material is disorganized and does not build on previously learned skills nor emphasize mastery of skills before moving on to the next concept.

{On June 3, 2009 four school directors voted to spend $474,440 to continue this lunacy. The same four that voted to adopt the Discovering Math series for Seattle High Schools on May 6, 2009. None of these four directors are on the ballot this year.}

In Court "Discovering Math" decision appealled

{Seattle's discrimination of educationally disadvantaged learners in Mathematics must end.

Seattle has failed to intelligently apply either their own students' data or the recommendations of the National Math Advisory Panel and in so doing chooses to continue ongoing discrimination.

It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

What follows is in the court filing.

1. Plaintiffs Da-Zanne Porter, Martha McLaren, and Clifford Mass (Plaintiffs) allege that the Seattle School District No. 1, in King County, State of Washington (District), its Board of Directors (Board), and Superintendent and Secretary of the Board Maria Goodloe-Johnson (Superintendent) violated Wash. Const. Art. IX and RCW 28A by adopting a math textbook series and implementation plan that has failed to address the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and non-economically disadvantaged students, between non-Caucasian students and Caucasian students, and that has proven to be ineffective in teaching basic or advanced math skills to a large percentage of the student population served by Seattle Public Schools at the High School level.

2. Plaintiff Da-Zanne Porter is African-American, and the parent of an African-American child currently in 8th grade who will be using the math textbook at issue here in succeeding years. She is concerned that her child will be unable to succeed academically or professionally if he does not have math skills on a level with peers from other school districts using different textbooks, and on a level with Caucasian students in this District. She will be adversely affected by having to hire tutors or tutor her child herself in order to compensate for inadequate math instruction, or by having a child who is unable to succeed academically, including unable to get into the college of his choice, if his math skills are below those of peers using different math texts.
3. Plaintiff Martha McLaren is the grandparent of a Seattle Public School child, and a resident and taxpayer within the Seattle School District’s geographic boundaries. She will be adversely affected by having to hire tutors or tutor her grandchild herself in order to compensate for inadequate math instruction if her grandchild is unable to effectively use the curriculum chosen by the District, or by having a grandchild who is unable to succeed academically, including unable to get into the college of his choice, if his math skills are below those of peers using different math texts. She is affected by being a resident of the region who wants racial equality, and is concerned at the widening achievement gap, opportunities for advancement for economically disadvantaged persons and persons of color. She is aggrieved and adversely affected as a taxpayer, because a well-educated population increases the tax base of the region, thereby lowering personal taxes.
4. Plaintiff Clifford Mass is a University of Washington atmospheric science professor. Atmospheric science and atmospheric science instruction involves both basic and advanced math skills. He has had to lower the math level of his classes due to the declining math competency of students entering the University of Washington. Important material can no longer be taught in elementary classes such as ATMOS SCI 101. Some students are unable to major in atmospheric sciences because their math background is so weak. The use of "integrated" and "inquiry-based" math curricula in school districts such as Seattle are a major cause of these problems. The adoption of the "Discovering" Math series, "inquiry-based" textbooks found to be unsound by the State Board of Education, will deepen and extend deficient math backgrounds of students in the Seattle School District.
5. Plaintiffs’ interests are among those the District was required to consider when it made its decision.
6. A decision in favor of Plaintiffs will redress the harm done to Plaintiffs by the Board’s decisions.
7. Plaintiffs have exhausted their administrative remedies to the extent required by law. There are no further administrative appeals for Plaintiffs to exhaust.
8. Defendant District is a public corporation organized under ch. 28A, RCW.
9. Defendant Board is a body of elected officials charged with administering the laws of the State of Washington relating to common schools as they pertain to the District, and forming and administering the District’s policies.
10. Defendant Superintendent is the appointed executive of the District and the Secretary of the Board.

11. This Court has jurisdiction under RCW 28A.645.010 (Review of School District decisions).
12. Venue is proper in this Court under RCW 4.12.020(2) and RCW 4.12.025(1).

13. On May 6, 2009, the Seattle School Board adopted the High School Mathematics Committee’s Recommendations for Algebra, Geometry, Advanced Algebra, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Statistics (the “Recommendations”). These recommendations set the course of instruction for high school math, including selection of student and teacher edition textbooks and guidance in specific classroom instructional methods.
14. The Recommendations promote an inquiry-based mathematics teaching model over an explicit instruction model. The District and Board have used an inquiry-based mathematics model for several years, despite evidence that it is an ineffective teaching method.
15. Since the early to mid- 1990’s the Seattle School District has gradually phased in non-traditional math texts, starting with the “INTEGRATED” series of high school math text books, continuing in 2000 with the “CONNECTED MATH PROJECT” texts for middle schools, and with the “TERC INVESTIGATIONS” series in elementary schools in the late 90's, followed by “EVERYDAY MATH” in 2007. In addition, several high schools have piloted the “INTERACTIVE MATH PROGRAM” texts following the same implementation model adopted in the Recommendations. These programs all promote inquiry-based learning, rather than explicit instruction.
16. Corresponding with the introduction of these inquiry-based texts in the 1990s, student achievement in mathematics has stagnated. In particular, the achievement gap among ethnic minority students has increased over time.
17. There is currently an achievement gap between Caucasian and non-Caucasian students in the Seattle Public Schools. There is also an achievement gap between economically underprivileged students, including students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, and more affluent students. The achievement gap is present in standardized test scores and other measures.
18. The Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) is delivered annually to compare student performance against state academic standards. Seattle and the four largest districts in Washington with similar demographics to Seattle were analyzed for reduction in achievement gap. The WASL results show larger achievement gaps for Black and Hispanic students as opposed to White and Asian students at grades 4, 7, and 10. Seattle had the largest achievement gap growth in 5 of the 6 analysis subgroups evaluated by the WASL between 2003 and 2007.
19. Evidence in the record before the Board demonstrated that the inquiry-based teaching methods used in the Recommendations do not work for disadvantaged students, including low-income students, and non-Caucasian students. Inquiry-based teaching methods work for only a small percentage of students, and leave the rest behind.
20. Project Follow Through (PFT) was a federally funded study that compared different education models. PFT was ignored by the Board in adopting the Recommendations. Specifically, PFT showed that the Explicit Instruction model was the only instructional approach what actually helps disadvantaged students. The “cognitive model” and the “inquiry-based” model, used in Seattle for the last 8 to 15 years, were among the many models that clearly were shown not to be effective. Project Follow Through remains the most comprehensive study ever undertaken in this country, and the statistical validity of its design and conclusions is unquestionable, yet the District has ignored its findings.
21. In 2006 Cleveland and Garfield High Schools began projects at their schools using the Interactive Mathematics Program materials and an exploration/inquiry instructional model. These projects continued for three school years. Cleveland produced markedly worse math scores on the 10th grade 2008 Math WASL. West Seattle High School participated in the Interactive Mathematics project, but never had a school project.
22. The Board chose to ignore uncontroverted evidence that the program adopted in the Recommendations would not work for disadvantaged students. In regard to English Language Learners the 10th grade 2008 Math WASL pass rates are:
District average 19.5%
Cleveland 4.8%
Garfield 0.0%
West Seattle 19.0%

23. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMAP), a federal body convened by the President, wrote a comprehensive report in 2008 on different methods of mathematics instruction. The NMAP report found that “[e]xplicit instruction with students who have mathematical difficulties has shown consistently positive effects on performance with word problems and computation.” By the term ‘explicit instruction,’ the Panel meant that teachers should provide clear models for solving a problem type using an array of examples, that students should receive extensive practice in the use of newly learned strategies and skills, that students should be provided with opportunities to think aloud (i.e., talk through the decisions they make and the steps they take), and that students should be provided with extensive feedback. The explicit instruction described by the NMAP panel is found in explicit instruction teaching methods, and not in the inquiry-based mathematics adopted by the Board.
24. Ernest Boyer, then-U.S. Commissioner of Education, conducted an evaluation of mathematics teaching methods and acknowledged that an evaluation of relevant research “found that only one (Explicit Instruction) of the 22 models which were assessed in the evaluation consistently produced positive outcomes.”
25. The Washington State Board of Education has deemed the Discovering series, the series adopted in the Recommendation, as mathematically unsound. This series is fundamentally inquiry-based and is not aligned with instructional practices recommended for disadvantaged learners. Of the four texts submitted for review in 2008, only one, by the Holt Company, was deemed acceptable. The “Discovering” series was found to be the least acceptable of the four.
26. The Board failed to adjust its curriculum to address the achievement gaps between economic groups and non-Caucasian and Caucasian students, and failed to address the patent failings with the inquiry-based learning model.

Cause of Action
(RCW 28A.645)

1. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference Paragraphs 1 through 26 above.
2. Plaintiffs, severally and collectively, are aggrieved by the Board’s decision to adopt the Recommendations.
3. Plaintiffs, severally and collectively, are aggrieved by the Board’s failure to adjust its curriculum to address the achievement gaps between economic groups, and between non-Caucasian and Caucasian students, and failure address the patent failings with the inquiry-based learning model.
4. The Board and District’s decision to adopt the Recommendations was clearly erroneous as a matter of law, violated Wash. Const. Art. IX, RCW 28A, District policies, rested on errors of fact, and was arbitrary and capricious.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request the following relief:
a. That the court order Defendants to rescind the decision to adopt the Recommendations and re-open the consideration process for a math curriculum for high school.
b. Such other relief as the court may deem just and equitable.
Dated this 5th day of June, 2009.

Respectfully submitted,

Keith P. Scully
WSBA No. 28677
Attorney for Plaintiffs

RCW 28A.150.230
Basic education act — District school directors' responsibilities.

(1) It is the intent and purpose of this section to guarantee that each common school district board of directors, whether or not acting through its respective administrative staff, be held accountable for the proper operation of their district to the local community and its electorate. In accordance with the provisions of Title 28A RCW, as now or hereafter amended, each common school district board of directors shall be vested with the final responsibility for the setting of policies ensuring quality in the content and extent of its educational program and that such program provide students with the opportunity to achieve those skills which are generally recognized as requisite to learning.