Wednesday, August 19, 2009

12 of 13 HS's in Seattle scored Math WASL lower in 2009

Dear Seattle School Director,

This week you received an analysis of Math scores by David Orbits. Both Mr. Orbits and I are concerned with the failure of decision-makers in mathematics to adequately serve educationally disadvantaged learners. Empirical research is disregarded by decision-makers to the detriment of disadvantaged learners.

I have decided to look at results in Bethel SD, which uses EDM – Connected – Discovering just as Seattle will be doing this year. Bethel adopted EDM the same year as Seattle both have used Everyday Math for two full school years. Bethel has used the Discovering Series for three years. There are shocking similarities in the Discovering results from Bethel that parallel the inadequacies of IMP at Cleveland over the same three years. Bethel’s level 1 numbers were declining until Discovering was adopted and then began rising. Here are Bethel’s Level 1 absolute numbers for the three years before and then three years after:
2004 : 2005 : 2006 ::-:: 2007 : 2008 : 2009
525 ...478 ... 361 .:-: ..470 .. 501 : 555

In my comparisons, I tried to look over a span of years where the initial state score was near the 2009 state score for all students. Grade four from 2003 to 2009. Grade 7 from 2005 to 2007. Grade 10 from 2004 to 2009. Because in 2006 Seattle changed who was tested as a 10 grade WASL student I did not do a span comparison of Seattle at grade 10. This Seattle change resulted in 10th grade math pass rate moving from 40% to 55% in one year. The grade 7 Math WASL was significantly altered prior to 2005.

I wish I had a better test than the WASL to use.
I still have yet to get any results from the Fall 2008 PSAT given district wide to 10th graders.

It should be noted that the re-classification change in 2006 reduced the number of students classified as 10th graders substantially from 2005 numbers by the following percentages:
ALL = -24% ; White = -16% ; Black = -38.5% ; Low Income = -41.5% (This gives a nice guide to which student groups are not being well served by the district. Only 6 of 10 low Income Students advanced from grade 9 to grade 10 in 2006.)

I hope you find the following data pages useful. I leave you with three thoughts:
1… Where is the data that shows Seattle has achieved performance that is superior or equal to that achieved by successful programs (not simply the administration’s last unsuccessful attempt)?
2… Those in the direct instruction program (k-3) were twice as likely as their peers in other programs to graduate from high school. (Project Follow Through). Why does the district distain Direct Instruction in Math and other subjects and yet claim to be concerned about disadvantaged learners and the achievement gaps?
3… Cleveland increased its WASL math score in 2009 moving from last place in the district to above Rainier Beach. Only Cleveland scored higher in 2009 than in 2008. Still 56.6% of Cleveland Students could not score above level 1. All other 9 comprehensive high schools scored lower in Math than last year as did Nova, Center, and Pathfinder. A sound k-8 program is the basis for high school success and k-4 years are of most importance.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

If anyone would like the Bethel and SPS data write me at:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Teachers lack of trainiing in so-called discovery or inquiry-based learning is the often used excuse for the poor textbooks districts purchased from publishers.

Direct instruction works with any textbook, but it will not make up for a badly-written textbook. These textbooks don't even motivate students to do better.

Short of replacing reform textbooks with traditional textbooks - parents and students will find little comfort knowing this years adoption will probably send future test results downward. I rather like being right, even if nobody in charge cares or bothers to listen.