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.

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