Monday, July 27, 2009

Feds ignore laws and expand power in Education

from Laurie Rogers....

Welcome to your new paradigm, folks. Parents are not the “stakeholders” that matter to these bureaucrats. They behave as if we don’t know anything and have nothing to contribute. They seem to think we should sit down, shut up and stop bothering the true professionals. We are not supposed to take notice of their obvious disregard for inconvenient laws and policies.
This message is coming through loud and clear, and I reject it completely.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The Seattle School Board needs to step up to the plate and act differently than those that produced the last 30 years of substandard education.

On July 20, 2009 eSchool News published retiring Intel Chairman Craig Barrett’s speech


Dr. Barrett makes several points worthy of consideration. The most striking aspect of what he wrote is how poorly the education system has performed in the last 35 years. This made me think of the old saying think globally and act locally. It is particularly imperative for the board to act thoughtfully and forcefully if we are to see significant academic improvement in Seattle. While I was disgusted on May 30, 2007, when the board voted 6-0 for Everyday Math, the most disturbing part for me occurred when Director DeBell said to me in informal conversation that the math situation would likely be settled by the state.

Fortunately Director DeBell is no longer buying the math line and hopefully questions everything coming from the state and the Feds. In many areas I see the overall situation as worse than two years ago. To any director thinking of using a path of incremental change check Barrett’s commentary. Incremental change is woefully insufficient for the mess Seattle and the nation are in.

In regard to State leadership I find that despite teachers with Masters degrees, ongoing credits required for continued certification, frequent professional development offerings, late start and early release days and much more that the result is a worsened math situation.

Dr. Barrett writes: “America has 30-plus years of high quality reports saying K-12 education is in serious trouble”….. “Nobody has done a thing. The system has not done a thing.” ….. “to run a good education system your education system cannot be any better than the quality of the teachers in it”…. “America has become #1 in the world at one thing – making excuses for failure.” … “my proposal is to blow up all undergraduate schools of education in the United States.”

What has Seattle done to effect significant positive change in k-12 mathematics?
Nobody has done a thing.

#1… Seattle’s EDM Professional Development for the elementary school teachers focused on pedagogy and games not increasing mathematical content knowledge of teachers. It was well known that Seattle had unacceptably high and growing math achievement gaps. Washington State from 2003-2007 had among the worst changes in NAEP math achievement gaps in the nation at grades 4 and 8.

Given the above background why anyone would elect to continue to use the most used k-8 materials in the state and be expecting significant improvement, is beyond my understanding.

#2… The Board had the data from the Cleveland Math disaster and yet adopted a math program that uses almost the exact same design with slightly different materials. It’s plain crazy.

#3… Now Seattle is headed off to “Managed Instruction” another proven failure is being undertaken.

#4… No one in administration is ever held accountable for misleading the board. Ms. Santorno’s deception in May 2007 includes this partial list: achievement gaps will close, focus on fewer topics, arithmetic fluency to the point of automaticity, Singapore will be used 15 minutes per day.

#5… Ms. de la Fuente has stated that the math materials are not particularly important. According to her, it is the other things that are really important. Supposedly all those other things were provided at Cleveland and produced an incredible failure. The idea that the instructional materials are not particularly important is a uniquely American thought. The careful development of Singapore Math texts over the last 25 years was an important component in producing that nation’s planned phenomenal math improvement. When Seattle math leaders believe otherwise it explains why USA math goes nowhere. Directors must stop accepting Central Office nonsense.

Where is the accountability for #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5?
“We can have a crummy education product and be okay,” it’s plain crazy.

The average American kid is sub-standard, well below the average of most of the developed countries, and how we … can tolerate that is absolutely beyond me.

Clearly in Seattle we not only tolerate it, we plan for it.

The text of Dr. Barrett’s speech is linked.

He states: There are only three things we can do to compete with the rest of the world, and one of them is our educational system, our base educational system.

It does not appear that Seattle has much interest in competing. No one could look at “Discovering” and then the high school math texts used in Singapore, Japan, Korea, or Poland, and believe there is any competition intended.

The only driving force behind the HS math adoption appeared to be the politics of covering for ongoing mistakes. It appears adults’ interests trumped children’s interests once again.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Centralized Control : Deborah Meier
NOT a fan

My opposition probably reflects the views of the founders of our Constitution and the vast majority of Americans up to….yesterday (so to speak). The current DOE/Duncan agenda—Mayoral control, tougher national tests based on a national curriculum, teachers paid by test score results, etc, in fact, was never even mentioned in Obama’s political campaign. (Similarly, recent studies indicate that neither mayoral control has produced almost no statistical changes in its two most prominent trials—NYC and Chicago. What’s interesting is how in such a short time we went from practically no one agreeing with it—much less assuming it was an imminent plan!—to its being official policy–already in the works! The process itself chills me. The “behind the scenes” nature of the decision-making by interlocking circles of “influential” interests on matters affecting the minds of our children appalls me.

Accountability and Measurement if any

David Orbits writes in response to an article about the United Nations titled:
After $196 billion, no proof U.N. programs help:
Some programs may actually hurt health care by disrupting local services

The lack of effective measurement is not limited to Education. Results in the UN health programs can also be both ineffective and unintended. See below. All that money spent and no plan in place to measure effectiveness and efficiency.

The underlying problem is the same with Education at all levels from the school, to the district, state, federal … to the NSF Education Directorate. Any organization of humans, unencumbered by independent measures of the organization’s efficiency and effectiveness relative to its goals, has little incentive to be either efficient or highly effective. This is simple human nature. Absent any data, everyone is above average. In health care more people will die than should have, in Education more people will be stuck in low-wage jobs for the rest of their lives. All because of the natural human tendency to evade accountability.

Does anyone know if companies exist that perform audits of the educational effectiveness of a school, or a district, by grade level and demographic group for a selected subject? A properly selected sample with an “appropriate” standards based test for the grade level by an independent 3rd party could certainly shine some light on things. Need to be very careful to avoid conflict of interest issues. Having a bunch of Ed School folks or curriculum publishers constructing tests and performing audits would be very bad.
As close to what Mr. Orbits suggests was the Phi Delta Kappa curriculum audit done for Seattle.
It is not exactly what Mr. Orbits suggested but was quietly brushed under the rug.

In the same way that it can be said:
About the UN that some programs may actually hurt health care by disrupting local services, in Seattle the plan for centrally directed "Managed Instruction" hurts local school classroom instruction.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Accumulated Damage :
Out of sight and Out of mind

Words from Dave Orbits:

“Is it reasonable to expect that kids who have never met a math benchmark in grades 1-8 will miraculously pass the WASL or any other type of high standards exam?”

These delusions are simply astonishing. Our education system is not doing the kid any favors when he/she is promoted without any intervention. Not until years later will the kids realize they were really cheated (along with society at large). This is shameful on the part of the adults. We need to have students achieve minimum required subject goals every year or either hold them back or require summer remediation to get them to minimum grade level. Doing this at an early age would do really good things for the kid who needs that extra help. Additionally it would help give him/her some motivational kick and let the parents know the kid is having some problems with the subject(s) …

The negative effects of sweeping low achievement under the rug are just so profound for both the student’s future success in school and career options that it makes you wonder how the educrats, the “experts” in educating the child, the stewards of our public education system, could ever allow this to occur? Perhaps it is a natural human tendency to not want to inflict or experience pain that makes us err on the side of wishful thinking hoping for a magic pill to make everything better. Meanwhile social promotion just kicks the kid down the road while the damage accumulates where it’s out of sight, out of mind.

A Plan to Increase Achievement:
Explicit Instruction, School Autonomy, Not National Standards.

A Plan to Increase Achievement:
Explicit Instruction, School Autonomy, Not National Standards.

If you've been suspicious of "discovery" or "inquiry" learning that can be found throughout our schools, your suspicions are well founded.

Good teachers design classroom instruction not just on past experiences but also on relevant data. One of the best places to look for empirical evidence likely to increase achievement is the book, Visible Learning by John Hattie, a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement that collectively looked at 83 million students. It reports the following “effect sizes”:

Problem based teaching = 0.15
Inquiry based teaching = 0.31
Direct Instruction = 0.59

An “effect size” of 0.30 or lower is ineffective. So put to rest the example based "Explicit/Direct Instruction" vs. "Discovery/Inquiry" controversy by using this major report. Teaching students directly is superior to go figure it out on your own. There is a reason that people pay for golf lessons and piano lessons; they wish to learn by direct instruction because it works.

Studies, occasionally underwritten by publishers and other special interest vendors, often conflict with one another generating confusion and rendering the phrase “research shows” meaningless. Fortunately, other respected peer reviewed empirically validated studies show direct instruction can be the source of increased achievement. Kirschner-Sweller-Clark’s (2006) “Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching” is excellent.

A special issue on “Evolution and Education” of the Educational Psychologist journal, October 2008, contained the following target article: "An Evolutionarily Informed Education Science" by David C. Geary. It also contained an accompanying piece “Instructional Implications of David C. Geary’s Evolutionary Educational Psychology” by John Sweller. These contain a history of how the constructivist discovery/inquiry approach began and explain why, based on brain architecture, it remains an ineffective pedagogical approach.

While few math teachers may reference the above studies, most teachers interested in increasing the measurable academic achievement of their students are aware of the inadequacies of the inquiry approach. Some guided discovery activities may be beneficial but inquiry based teaching fails. It’s true that research mathematicians and highly trained, knowledgeable scientists use inquiry to extend acquired knowledge, make discoveries, and spawn invention. But that in no way legitimizes “inquiry” as an exclusive pedagogical approach. Expecting students who are not experts, but novices, to discover through inquiry the knowledge accumulated by experts over centuries is neither efficient nor realistic.

Those running our schools operate as an oligarchy and often mandate that teachers do the opposite of what empirical evidence indicates. After a decade of failure in mathematics, many choose to stay the course with costly “reform math” and show no interest in correcting their errors. For them, ideology and profits trump evidence. In Washington State, the former Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson produced mathematical chaos throughout the state by pushing her inquiry-based reform math agenda during 12 years in office. Nationally, the story has been much the same via National Science Foundation (NSF) grants, which funded the development, promotion, establishment, and use of “reform math.” The universities welcome this money for it increases department budgets and prestige. It should be noted that much of what math teachers and the public have “suffered through” and been “oppressed by” came from a few hundred million dollars in NSF funding that was initiated over 20 years ago.

Since results matter, it is time to move from the suspicion that “reform math” might not be a good idea to political activism to stop it. Currently, members from a select group of ideologues are involved in directing the development of National Common Core Standards. These unelected developers were not even appointed by elected officials. The question that must be answered is how these individuals are qualified to serve and why aren’t there active teachers involved in the writing? Many were the authors of past chaos. Phil Daro immediately comes to mind from the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas. The Dana Center became the hired ($770,000+) agents of Dr. Bergeson and worked to continue the “reform math” chaos until that was halted by the legislature. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the nation’s report card, reported from 2003 to 2007 that the achievement gap changes in mathematics were among the worst in the nation for Washington’s Black students in 4th grade as well as 8th grade. These same miserable results were reported for Hispanic students.

To obtain academic improvement, classroom environments must be improved not by administrative fiat but by supporting teachers, parents, and students through developing, improving, and maintaining learning communities to meet the needs of each student as they increase core knowledge.

The acknowledgment that students are individuals having differences in interests, genetic abilities, environmental skills, and intellectual capabilities would be an excellent antidote to the insanity of broad general government mandates about what all students will do.

Since we are already captives of vendor-based standards, I trust we will not be far off if we refer to the coming Common Core Standards as the No Vendor Left Behind Law. These vendor-friendly standards will be products of the oligarchy and not of democratic decision-making. Vendor-friendly standards are biased toward spending on expensive to develop and administer annual tests, which increase corporate profits but not learning. Often technological spending is advocated, which usually fails to increase achievement. It is time to focus on providing each child with the education they need for successful lives and careers. Both remediation and acceleration through effective interventions are needed. The ending of social promotion will do far more than another artificially raised and expensively annually monitored bar. Support of democratic reforms for greater local autonomy in the classroom and school may enable teachers to use explicit instruction instead of being required to use ineffective approaches.

All the talk about accountability in public education produces little if any improvement. It is time to end the trend toward centralized authority in education at both the state and national level. Sham accountability must end. No Child Left Behind sanctions were often counterproductive. A school with its own board of trustees and a principal having greater control over both budget and instructional decisions would be a significant improvement. Then the principal as leader could be easily supported and held responsible by both the board and school community. This structure would greatly reduce central administration inefficiency as well as fad- and vendor-based decisions. Such schools are necessary if we are to make the substantial improvements needed in public education. Learning improvement occurs locally. Believing otherwise is folly.

copyright@Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Not national standards draft #3

A Plan to Increase Achievement: Explicit Instruction Not National Standards.

see final copy ...

2nd Draft Increasing Achievement

Increasing Math Achievement via Oligarchy or Democracy
see final copy ....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Statistics that Colleges hate to share

The statistics that colleges hate to share or Accountability, K-12 and beyond! or Recession comes to college or Is the college bubble about to burst? This article apparently hit a nerve as there were a lot of comments posted.

From CNN

First Draft

Increasing Math achievement
........................... via Oligarchy or Democracy

... see final copy

Steve ... There is a Serious Problem

Dear Steve Sundquist,

It is clear that in regard to the High school Math adoption the empirical evidence you needed as a Seattle School Director to make an informed decision was easily available, but the Central Administration did not provide it.

It is clear that the UW and the Central Admin have been faking and deceiving for at least 2.6 years. Can we stop yet?

The only way this stops is if the board stops endorsing and approving the deception.

If you review my letter to Director Sherry Carr, you will find a huge effect size difference between Direct Instruction and Inquiry from John Hattie's meta-analysis. Or just look at the UW directed Cleveland math disaster.

Hattie's analysis provides additional validation of the peer reviewed, empirically validated Kirschner-Sweller-Clark Study "Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work:"

Meta-analysis is a method for pooling the quantitative estimates of effects of interventions from multiple studies to (hopefully) give a more reliable and precise estimate of their benefits (or potential harm). Comparing these estimates across different types of interventions can also pinpoint which aspects of interventions offer the most potential in the classroom. Meta-analysis is proving to be a useful approach to addressing the key question of ‘What works?’ by providing an opportunity for ‘ground-clearing’ and priority- setting, since by offering comparative information about how well different interventions work, teachers can make informed decisions. Hattie is author of the largest meta-analysis. Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement.

* ‘We need to make relative statements about what impacts on student work.
* We need estimates of magnitude as well as statistical significance – it is not good enough to say that this works because lots of people use it etc, but that this works because of the magnitude of impact.
* We need to be building a model based on these relative magnitudes of effects.’ (Hattie, 2003)

The district is now firmly planted in the wrong direction.
The district has wasted many years of student's mathematical lives. Now we have many more years of frustration to look forward to, unless the board has an action in mind to make Every student achieving, everyone accountable more than a cruel hoax.

The High School math adoption was a fraudulent action, rigged by the Central Administration to look fair and unbiased to the casual observer.

When children fall behind they often give up. The SPS has a system in place that frustrates parents and children both. Seattle already has a poor H.S. graduation rate. Discovering Algebra etc. will certainly not improve college math remediation rates of SPS grads.

As Charlie Mas wrote on the SPS Blog: There has been little or no public discussion of what teachers are supposed to do for students who are working below grade level and lack the necessary foundation to do grade level work.

Looks like the Social Promotion plan will stay firmly in place for yet another year. Not a single math text k-12 is a State recommended text book. The k-12 materials do not allow for much "Explicit Instruction" instead the plan rests on a failed inquiry ideology.

Everyday math is terrible in a variety of ways as I've noted earlier. It is the antithesis of many of NMAP's recommendations.

So what is the plan? Are you going to rely on those who deceived you?

Either way I would like to know what the plan is and whether the Board is planning on abdicating its responsibility to educate all the children or not?

The empirical evidence clearly indicates the path to take and once again in math the SPS has failed to take the correct action.


Dan Dempsey

Letter to Seattle and others

Problem based teaching = 0.15
Inquiry based teaching = 0.31
Direct Instruction = 0.59

Dear Decision Makers,

If you are interested in increasing student achievement, then

Empirical evidence should be considered in making decisions.
In the SPS this has often NOT been the case.

Math teachers throughout Washington State watched the abysmal results as Administration forced changes in instructional decision making through a bizarre top down destruction of more effective practices (often under the guise of best practices).

Check this:
John Hattie published "Visible Learning" which uses "A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement" which collectively looks at 83 million students and found the following effect sizes:

Problem based teaching = 0.15
Inquiry based teaching = 0.31
Direct Instruction = 0.59

The following should be a non-issue:
"Discovery/Inquiry" vs: Example Based "Explicit/Direct Instruction"

But it is not, much to the chagrin of teachers interested in results.

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


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Student Math Video in 3 parts

From Peninsula High School, a Project, by Andrea Gagliano examines the controversy regarding math instruction with minimal guidance.

It’s in 3 parts:

Math Divided:

Pro and Cons of Both Sides:

SAT Preparation:

Making Learning Visible

In regard to:
"Discovery/Inquiry" vs: Example Based "Explicit/Direct Instruction"

Meta Studies examine the results of many, many, studies in a search for what works best so that better instruction decisions can be made.

John Hattie published "Visible Learning" which uses 800 meta studies which collectively looks at 83 million students and found the following effect sizes:

Problem based teaching = 0.15
Inquiry based teaching = 0.31
Direct Instruction = 0.59

Effect sizes below 0.40 indicate that practice is very likely to be ineffective,
while those above 0.40 should be seriously looked at for classroom use.

It is clear from Hattie's work as to why under Dr. Bergeson's 12 year push (1996-2008) for Inquiry based "Reform Math" math remediation rates soared. Mathematically weaker and weaker high school graduates entered Washington colleges. This continues today.

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

-- -- W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

The Central Administration and School Directors in far too many school districts are lacking intelligent application of the relevant data when making math related decisions.
If you wish to really know what works rather than being manipulated by anecdotes presented during "Professional Development", then order Visible Learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement by John Hattie.
The video is great because she attempts to be fair. But, the majority of people watching the video are going to take away the following as very important points:

1) The student saying that math class was better when the teacher guided them, because when it was student guided they didn't necessarily learn the math as well.

2) The student complaining that he didn't even recognize some of the math required on the PSAT.

3) The teachers explaining that the parents could not use the book to help their student.

4) The teachers explaining that the student could not make up work or self-guide learning because the book was for discovery only.

5) The science teachers unanimously opposed the reform math because the students came unprepared for science class.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Keeping the School Board in the Dark

This is a letter to Seattle's new CAO.

Dear Susan Enfield,

In regard to empirical evidence and peer-reviewed research:

At the High School Math adoption that concluded in a 4-3 vote on May 6, 2009, Director Steve Sundquist lamented the lack of empirical evidence.

Director Sundquist lacked empirical evidence because the Central Administration fails to provide it to the School Board.

Why??? Because there is no empirical research that supports the flawed math decisions that the Central Administration wants the Board to approve. So the administration presents no empirical research. This has been a major defining characteristic of Seattle's math decision making.

Consider the following:

"The goal of this article is to suggest that based on our current knowledge of human cognitive architecture, minimally guided instruction is likely to be ineffective. The past half-century of empirical research on this issue has provided overwhelming and unambiguous evidence that minimal guidance during instruction is significantly less effective and efficient than guidance specifically designed to support the cognitive processing necessary for learning."

Had Directors Carr, Sundquist, Maier, and Chow been presented with the half-century of empirical research, I find it difficult to believe the vote would have been 4-3 approving the Superintendent' s recommendation for High School Mathematics instructional materials. The same could be said for the elementary school adoption of Everyday Math on May 30, 2007. In fact the then CAO Carla Santorno made sure no empirical evidence was presented. The same half-century of empical evidence explains why k-8 math in Seattle and in this State has been so ineffective.

Check both the authors and the title on the attached article:
( download here:

Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work:
An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching

Paul A. Kirschner

Educational Technology Expertise Center
Open University of the Netherlands Research Centre
Learning in Interaction Utrecht University,
The Netherlands

John Sweller
School of Education
University of New South Wales

Richard E. Clark
Rossier School of Education
University of Southern California

There is plenty of empirical research available and it all points out undeniably that Seattle's irrational decision-making in mathematics harms children.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Fads could end with corrected beliefs

After making a few such “errors” in public, reading scientists have begun, in the last 20 years, to get it right. But the only reason teachers can have confidence that researchers are now “getting it right” is that researchers made it open, public knowledge when they got things wrong. Proponents of untested and pseudo-scientific educational practices will never point to cases where they “got it wrong” because they are not committed to public knowledge in the way that actual science is. These proponents do not need, as Dennett says, “to get others to help in making the corrections” because they have no intention of correcting their beliefs and prescriptions based on empirical evidence.

Education is so susceptible to fads and unproven practices because of its tacit endorsement of a personalistic view of knowledge acquisition—one that is antithetical to the scientific value of the public verifiability of knowledge claims. Many educators believe that knowledge resides within particular individuals—with particularly elite insights—who then must be called upon to dispense this knowledge to others.

from Stankovich & Stankovich page 10 (first full paragraph)
available as a .pdf HERE.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Biologically Secondary Knowledge
takes effort to acquire

In his paper:

Instructional Implications of David C. Geary’s Evolutionary Educational Psychology

John Sweller School of Education
University of New South Wales, Australia

David C. Geary’s thesis has the potential to alter our understanding of those aspects of human cognition relevant to instruction. His distinction between biologically primary knowledge that we have evolved to acquire and biologically secondary knowledge that is culturally important, taught in educational institutions and which we have not evolved to acquire in modular form, is critical to instructional design.


Sweller explains that the revival of the constructivist reform math trend can be dated to ideas that originated around J. Bruner's work in 1961. Large amounts of knowledge are acquired "outside of school" with little effort, while in school many things require substantial effort to learn. The flawed idea brought forth from this is that school should be made like "outside school".

While these ideas produced popular trends in education (i.e. Whole Language, Reform Math), the altered instructional design of educational programs around "more like outside school" never produced positive results.

In 2000 a panel of Language Arts experts drove the stake through the heart of Whole Language, declaring that without "Explicit Instruction" there was an insufficient amount of learning happening. Geary believes that finding should be extended to the learning of all biologically secondary knowledge. If that happened the debilitating controversy referred to as the Math Wars would end.

Geary's observations about biologically primary knowledge explain the ease with which we acquire the ability to talk. Reading on the other hand is in evolutionary terms a recent innovation and is classified as biologically secondary knowledge.

For the vast majority of the student population the acquisition of biologically secondary knowledge requires "Explicit Instruction" and effort.

It is interesting to note that at Seattle's Garfield High School, a quotation from the math department head stated that student engagement in some of her classes that were using Interactive Math Program materials had gone from about 20% to 90% . However, from declining test results (WASL 2007 and 2008) of those IMP students and students at Cleveland high school, it could be inferred that math appreciation ideas of talking about math and writing about math are not as effective as doing math if the goal is to learn mathematics. Oddly despite 10 years of widening achievement gap for Black students, the Seattle Schools still choose to continue with debilitating reform math practices.

Message to Seattle Schools about math:
Dr. Geary has it correct and Seattle has it wrong.
Read Dr. Geary's study.
The study, "An Evolutionarily Informed Education Science," was recently published as the target article in a special issue on Evolution and Education in the Educational Psychologist journal. (see link at bottom)

This Study demonstrates the Connection Between Evolution and Classroom Learning. It suggests using more repetition learning in U.S. schools, and fewer 'fun' activities.
It seems that as Vince Lombardi said "Perfect Practice makes perfect" is relevant even off the football field.

The reason it is called school work is that to acquire biologically secondary knowledge requires work.

Sweller's paper states:
For several decades, the dominant theoretical framework of instructional psychologists has been various versions of a discovery learning/constructivist teaching paradigm (Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006). Although that framework can probably be sourced back to philosophers such as Dewey or even Rousseau, in more recent times, Bruner’s (1961) advocacy of discovery learning can be considered as the origin of the current movement.

If we wish to improve the math skills of the students, decision makers must intelligently apply the mountains of data that show Reform Math is a failed experiment. There is no point in continuing to listen to misinformed instructional psychologists. Let the engineers, scientists, mathematicians and other users of high powered math have their words heeded.

It is well past time to admit that most of the world had this one correct and the USA's different idea "Reform Math" is ineffective and needs to be discarded.
Great work by Matt.....

EdWeek article below includes a link to download a .pdf of the Geary study.
Many thanks to Elizabeth Carson of NYC HOLD that sent me the Press Release issued by University of Missouri on Geary's work.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Arne's Impact in Chicago = Zero+

Just like Rod Paige .... Arne is a master of illusion.

Just what we need another guy who has a lot of answers but has no track record of having correct answers.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

WASL Data 2005 and 2008

Here are 2008 WASL pass rates for all students and Black students from OSPI

Grade 4 Reading all 72.6% : Math all 53.6%
Black Students Reading 60.5% : Math 31.3%

Grade 7 Reading all 63.1% : Math all 50.5%
Black Students Reading 48.3% : Math 28.0%

Grade 10 Reading all 81.8% : Math all 49.6%
Black Students Reading 69.5% : Math 22.2%


Here are 2005 WASL pass rates for all students and Black students from OSPI

Grade 4 Reading all 79.5% : Math all 60.8%
Black Students Reading 69.1% : Math 37.7%

Grade 7 Reading all 69.0% : Math all 50.8%
Black Students Reading 51.7% : Math 25.4%

Grade 10 Reading all 72.9% : Math all 47.5%
Black Students Reading 53.7% : Math 20.4%

The 5 subgroups below are Black, Hispanic, American Indian, Limited English, and Low Income students.

In Statistical Summary of 2005 to 2008 changes:

Grade 4 Reading State Change -6.9 : Math change -7.2
5 Subgroups
average change -2.38 additional : math -0.14 additional drop
Black students absolute change -8.6 : Math absolute change -6.4
worse than state all ( -1.7) : better than state all (+0.8)

Grade 7 Reading State Change -5.9 : Math change -0.3
5 Subgroups
average change +0.08 additional : math -0.14 additional drop
Black students absolute change -3.4 : Math absolute change +2.6
better than state all (+2.5) : better than state all (+2.9)

Grade 10 Reading State Change +8.9 : Math change +2.1
5 Subgroups
average change +5.28 additional : math -0.32 additional drop
Black students absolute change +15.8 : Math absolute change +1.8
better than state all (+6.9) : worse than state all (-0.3)

Given the amount of money pumped into WASL testing the questions now must be:
Do we have bad tests or just a lousy system of education?

Looking at all the six sections above is Grade 10 reading improvement real or fake?

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.

I know Seattle is in clear violation of the State Constitution in regard to Mathematics. This will become very apparent in the McLaren, Porter, Mass appeal of the "Discovering Math" series decision on May 6, 2009 filed on June 5, 2009 in King County Superior Court when this comes to trial in early 2010.

The larger issues is:
Do the policies, WASL aligned recommended materials, and WASL testing that Dr. Bergeson put in place also lead many other school districts to violate article IX?

Large Achievement Gaps that do not narrow certainly are more than a statistical coincidence. In Seattle math this situation for educationally disadvantaged learners in math has consistently worsened for more than a decade.

In regard to grades kindergarten to Four ... a reading of Project Follow Through would help.
In regard to Math a serious application of NMAP documents is drastically needed.

And How About the WASL reading anomaly for grade 10 to make sure the kids can graduate.

Just another reminder of the huge difference in WASL reading score improvement from 2000 to 2005 while IOWA reading test scores were flat.

Conceptual Understanding

About some of those Administrators

Former Principal Niki Hayes writes to us from Texas.

1) It gets tiresome hearing factual data be "explained" away with education spin and knowing that legislators and business "leaders" take that spin at face value. But, then, it seems that everyone in decision-making roles is into spin these days. We thus go in circles and get nowhere.

The takeover of urban districts by mayors is one effort to "fix" systems, but it's still one government entity running another government entity. I maintain the public school system has run its course and a total transformation in education has to be implemented. Instead, we're going to put a bigger (federal) government entity in charge of everything with national standards and more layers of bureaucracy. My own personal efforts now are to push for CHOICE in every way, whether it's within a school or district regarding pedagogy/curriculum (traditional vs reform), and for choice of school environments (charter, private, vouchers, etc.).

2) As an administrator who earned her credentials at Gonzaga in the early 1990's, I can tell you we had a few lousy instructors and some really good ones. The woman who taught us legal issues nearly scared all of us away because she was so clear about the laws that work against education today. Anne Fox was my adviser and she later became state supt of Idaho for one term; she was excellent in training me about the realities of administration. Dr. Fox asked each one of the 16 original members of my group why he/she was getting an administrative certificate. I was the the last one to answer and I was the only one who said I wanted to be a principal so I could affect curriculum and productivity. The rest said, flatly, they wanted "out of the classroom" and into a district office position. In essence, they weren't concerned about making life better for learners, just for themselves. At least they were honest. And, their dollars were gratefully accepted by the admissions office for the graduate program.

It seemed to me that those individuals who think they want to be principals need to have a very different path to take in coursework. Those who want a seat in the "district office" need to take a different path. Regardless of whichever path is taken, ALL administrators who want to work in education should have to renew their certificate every five years by working for one-half a day, for at least one quarter (preferably one semester), with a regular ed classroom. My only misgiving would be the potential damage they could do to those trying to learn from them.

After being out of the classroom for 10 years and then going back into teaching for the two years prior to my retirement, I was a stunned. (My doctor had ordered me out of the principal's job because of physical health issues.) I was always a maverick as a principal, and one administrator told me once my "problem" was I thought too much like a teacher, but I was still ashamed to learn that I had been part of a system that helped make teachers' AND STUDENTS' lives unnecessarily difficult.

I just keep picturing children as collateral damage in our present culture of defined ideologies that are supported by those in power or with massive money resources. We will suffer because of our willingness to have allowed this to happen.


WASL Math change vs Reading : 2005-2008 for grade 10

State WASL score change from 2005 to 2008 for READING at grade 10 went up

by 8.9 points from 72.9% passing to 81.8% passing

what I find of greater interest is that every subgroup I compared
went up more than the State rise of 8.9 points
Hispanics by 6.7 points more
American Indians by 3.3 points more
Limited English by 4 points
Black by 6.9 points
Low Income by 5.5 points

For Reading these 5 subgroups have an average gain of 5.28 points
more than the 8.9 point rise.
Hooray for Reading!!!

------------ --------- --------- ---------
Now for Math....

State WASL score change from 2005 to 2008 for MATH at grade 10 went up

by 2.1 points from 47.5% passing to 49.6% passing

(preliminary stats for WASL Math gr 10 2009 = 45.26% passing)

Now lets look at the 5 subgroups in comparison to the
State rise of 2.1 points
Hispanics up by 0.1 points more
American Indians up by 0.4 points more
Limited English down by 1.3 points
Black down by 0.3 points
Low Income down by 0.5 points

For MATH these 5 subgroups have an average loss of 0.32 points

Now if that preliminary WASL number of 45.26% Math Passing for the Class of 2011
is accurate, then Math score from 2005 to 2009 will be down by 2.24 points.

Looking to the UW or OSPI for math guidance is problematic.
NMAP is a better choice.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Common Core State Standards Development Work Group and Feedback Group Announced

Common Core State Standards Development Work Group and Feedback Group Announced

So now we have a small idea on what is happening or at least who is making it happen.

On the Math Work Group:
Few Mathematicians and no teachers but filled with consultants.

On the Math Feedback group:
Several Mathematicians and one teacher
middle school teacher Vern Williams, a former National Math Advisory Panelist.

Who did the selections????

About the Seattle legal Appeal

Seattle uses Everyday Math ... CMP2 ... and just adopted "Discovering Math" from Key Curriculum Press. It is this High School Adoption that is the subject of our legal appeal.

Martha McLaren has in her possession 1200 pages of documentation submitted by the SPS that was used by the SPS in making the “Discovering Math” adoption. In looking through these 1200 pages, some documents that should have been available and used by the stacked core-adoption committee are not present, so perhaps an unbiased selection process was not desired. {Big Surprise ..duh!!}

#1… State Board of Education Math Advisory Panelist Dan Dempsey's letter to Math Program Manager Ms. de la Fuente in early March alerting her to the fact that “Discovering Math” had been found “Mathematically Unsound” by the SBE consultants and alerting her to make this information immediately available to the core-committee was not present. The next core-committee meeting happened without mention of the SBE finding.

#2… The mathematician W. Stephen Wilson’s review of soundness was not in the SPS documents submitted on which the Discovering Math recommendation was made.

#3… The mathematician Guershon Harel’s review of soundness was not in the SPS documents submitted on which the Discovering Math recommendation was made.

#2b & #3b… The favorable review from OSPI’s favorites King and Bright was present although far less detailed than Wilson’s and Harel’s reviews. The State board of Education Consultant hired independent mathematicians to review matheamtical soundness but Seattle's adoption committee does not even read their work. … How do these things happen?

#4… The NMAP final report “Foundations for Success” the current most pertainent math document for k-12 math direction is also curiously absent. What is available is a reference to the "NMAP Report" in a PowerPoint. This one page was part of a power point entitled High School Mathematics Materials Adoption, presented on 4/22/09
With quotations from page 30:
"for all a content areas, conceptual understanding, computational fluency, and problem-solving skills are each essential... ."
and page 45:
"All-encompassing recommendations that instruction should be entirely
"student centered" or "teacher directed" are not supported by research..."

Particularly odd was Director Sundquist’s statement that he turned to NMAP for guidance when apparently the adoption committees were not using this document.

So how can a high school math adoption committee meet for over six months and not reference NMAP???? I hope this happens only in Seattle.

The public will have totally lost control of everything if these actions are acceptable. Should not Math Program Manager explain all this or resign? That would be accountability.