Saturday, June 27, 2009

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.


Anonymous said...

Here's some math reform 'crackpot' testimony about what works - we'll just ignore 25 years of math stupidity.

"Everyday Mathematics is the most researched and trusted elementary math curriculum in the United States. It is the program of choice for nearly four million students nationwide. No other program has been developed as thoroughly and carefully over time, with full field testing prior to publication. In addition, no other program has the extensive verification that it works."

Billions wasted on a lousy set of textbooks and 'aligning' teachers and children to doing math their way.

There'll be no rock to hide under, once the public has decided they're being yanked around hook, line, and sinker.

Isabel D'Ambrosia said...


Have you been working with the NAACP or other local African American groups on this?

dan dempsey said...


I was a member of NAACP when living in Seattle. They are aware of what we are trying to accomplish but we are not working together on this attempt to reduce or eliminate the discriminatory nature of SPS mathematics.

I sure wish we had more contact with all of Seattle but I am pretty burned out. After watching 3 years of SPS unchecked math incompetence roll on I am discouraged.

I will be testifying at the July 1 board meeting.... wow a big three minutes ... they hire Education First a group whose reading material does not even include NMAP but rather the crap that produced this math calamity....
Fat chance for improvement 3 minutes vs. $753,000 .... so now we shall see if in a republic the laws will protect the students ... I sure have my doubts but that is apparently all that is left.

I will send you Dave Orbits disturbing latest graphs on SPS elementary school math inequity.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you. There's no interest from civil rights groups because they're not well-educated enough to even know where to begin with this. The ACLU seems more concerned with protecting the publishers than the children who are obliged to read the textbooks -sometimes over and over. its enough to drive anyone crazy. Standards is a fool's game - and Americans are paying for it dearly.

There is a curious flaw in our language that seems to permeate our thinking. Evidence suggests English-speakers tend to blame other people, even when the accident is accidental. Other cultures do not.

A car is a good analogy to a textbook. If the car has an accident, then we don't blame the car, we blame the driver.

We tend to not think about cars as being different, but they are. We recognize cars by their name and their shape, but we don't think about the environment they operate in and how it affects the car. If I'm driving a dirt road in the Andes, I'm not going to use a BMW.

A textbook using computationsl-based instruction (calculators)and without the teacher supplementing, might work for high school, but is not going to prepare you for college if you enroll in math or science.

Honestly! What teacher does not supplement! If you don't then you are being dishonest (you want your job), and you don't care, and you are just a darn fool for not speaking up. Because some day, you'll wake up and you will care.

Anonymous said...

My mistake - these 'exemplary and promising' textbooks won't even get you through high school by themselves. I hear now Washington has a '38%' drop out rate. I'll bet guitar sales are going up in your state. Washington has got the education blues bad. OSPI better go find a rock to slide under.

Anonymous said...

Publishers oughtta go try sell their wares to Singapore or China. What a bunch of schmucks. They know how treat crackpots, put them in prison for a long time.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the grant proposal criteria for NSF's "dissemination and implementation" centers that push these fuzzy math texts, there's a huge emphasis that these texts can bring equity and build social justice.

An effective way to close the achievement gap is to limit the instruction anyone receives at school. Equity thus becomes everyone drowning in ignorance together.

Some kids though will always be able to hire tutors or have their parents step in and remediate. These curricula thus reenforce SES patterns.

K - 12 education should be a passport to a better tomorrow, not the yoke that keeps one down.

Anonymous said...

And that's a good point. Its the misrepresentation by the researchers evaluating the curriculum that has all the lawyers stymied. How do you "prove" a textbook is as bad as everyone says it is. - Especially when you have nothing else to compare it with. e.g. Everyday Math compared to Connected Math! Neither is evenly remotely suitable for use as a standalone textbook. You have to compare it with Singapore to see how good a textbook can really be. And not read the accolades of praise from something that resembles the NY Times bestseller list. Compare a Hemmingway or Steinbeck novel to a Harry Potter caper.

US schools are drama - there's little substance.