Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bill & Melinda - they mean so well
...they're trying so hard...

Another story that again reveals a shocking lack of evidence on the part of the establishment and many of those seeking improvement.

Compton and Barrett rock!!!!

Bob Compton at 2 million minutes writes
http://2mm.typepad.com/usa/2009/08/poor-bill-melinda-they-mean-so-well-but-they-are-so-clueless.html

Bill & Melinda - they mean so well...they're trying so hard...

But they are so misguided.
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Here is my response:

Nice title "They mean so well"
..... reminds me of Dr. Richard A. Askey's paper:
"Good Intentions are not Enough".
http://www.math.wisc.edu/~askey/ask-gian.pdf

July 20, 21 more from GATES a (misguided) math conference......

IMAGINE: Mathematics Assessment For Learning
A Convening of Practitioners and Partners

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/edextranet/Pages/ImagineConvening2009.aspx

Again more talking about math education but no real concrete classroom recommendations.

Read John Hattie's "Visible Learning".
http://www.amazon.com/Visible-Learning-synthesis-meta-analyses-achievement/dp/0415476186
Hattie provides the evidence needed to make informed instructional decisions.

Education blunders on because "Fads" and a "Club Ed" politically correct ideology drive decision-making NOT evidence. Gates foundation has yet to interrupt this. The consultants and other pseudo-experts on education have helped push the USA into an enormous hole. I see NO evidence they are capable of guiding us out.

The local school districts like Seattle still believe in "Best Math Practices" etc. that have no evidentiary validation.

The UW in collaboration with the Seattle schools devised a school NSF/EHR funded project at Cleveland High School from 2006-2009 using the "exemplary" Interactive Math Program,
http://www.math.uic.edu/~cpmp/
a problem-based mathematics curriculum. The results were a disaster. Hattie found "problem-based" learning to have an effect size of 0.15. He recommends effect sizes of 0.40 or greater for proposed innovations. Check the Cleveland HS 10th grade 2008 math score for students who experienced the full two years of this program:

http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/waslTrend.aspx?groupLevel=District&schoolId=1070&reportLevel=School&orgLinkId=1070&yrs=&year=&gradeLevelId=10&waslCategory=1&chartType=1

Unfortunately .... accountability is absent and evidence is ignored.

Seattle has chosen to top off their misdirected k-8 math program of Everyday Math and Connected Math 2 with "Discovering Algebra" and "Discovering Geometry".

Discovering Algebra : An Investigative Approach
http://www.keypress.com/x5265.xml
Effect size of 0.31 for Inquiry Learning.

The National Math Advisory Panel recommends explicit instruction for those struggling to learn math, which in Seattle is at least 50% of the student population. Instead the district decides on:

1..... Investigations at the beginning of each lesson help you give all your students—regardless of their mathematical backgrounds—a shared experience from which to base their learning.
2.... You will be able to teach an algebra course that is both rigorous and accessible to your students because the investigations give meaning to mathematics that all students, regardless of their skill level, can understand.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data NOT just belief in publisher's fairy-tales.

Direct Instruction (0.59)
Mastery Learning (0.58)
Problem Solving teaching (0.61)
Worked Examples (0.57)

The above could have been a positive beginning in attempting to correct over a decade of malpractice. Instead Seattle blunders on.
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Compton wrote:

If America would just listen to Craig Barrett we'd be half way to a world class education. The steps are simple:

1- set the curriculum to the same level of difficulty as your economic competitors (sort of like training to win in a globally competitive sport - train as intensely as your competitors and you may have a shot)

2- hire teachers with Masters degrees in the discipline they are to teach and then coach them on being effective teachers. It is much easier to coach an MS in Physics on how to teach, than to coach an Education major to be a physicist. Try it at home; see for yourself.

{so is there any evidence Seattle could coach anyone in math or science to be an effective teacher?}

3- measure results - use the AP exams as national standards and test to see how students and teachers are progressing.

Has anyone other than a few US Charter schools (and 400 million Indians and Chinese) tried that simple formula?
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In regard to #1 Seattle prefers to run away and hide with "Discovering" Math series from Key Curriculum Press....... Seattle has not even figured out where the playing field is, thus competing is out of the question.

In regard to #2 Salaries and instructional materials selections are so bad who would even consider working in this system a reasonable undertaking? Seattle's last two math program managers produced the math show but had NO undergraduate degree in mathematics. Masters degrees in content areas for teachers is a big reach when the math program managers and math coaches often do not have undergraduate degrees in mathematics.

I would suggest as #4 a reasonable but often neglected starting place is to get grades k-4 squared away. "Project Follow Through" would be a great starting place.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

School boards are targets for financial abuse. For one, they do not have to seek legal counsel. Trying hard and meaning well are often used excuses aimed at a naive public.

There's a district north of Seattle that purchased 29 acres of farmland for $65k per acre. The land was purchased with the assumption that it would be paid for with a bond that unfortunately didn't pass. The second problem is that they can't build a school on it because its not urban. The land is currently worth $10k per acre.

When the state does take over the district it will probably eliminate 10% of the teacher positions and possibly close an elementary school in order for the district to make the balloon payments that come due in 2010.

The administration has been totally discredited, yet it continues on in the name of children - the hs has a 68% on time graduation rate AND an alternative program that has a 33% drop out rate and a 5% on time graduation rate.

There's more, much more...

Anonymous said...

What a deal! Schools districts can be insolvent, but can't declare bankruptcy.

Anonymous said...

Instead of a grant for daycare, Gates Foundation might do something equally useful like replace the Core plus and other reform-era textbooks used by this cursed district with Singapore textbooks.

Otherwise, why bother helping out the poor. On second thought, odds are most minorities don't even graduate from this high school.

Meanwhile, lets fill up Desolation Sound with those 100 foot yachts and submarines bought at the Westlake Mall. Did you see the sub races this summer?

From up there, you wouldn't even know there was a recession. Out of sight, out of mind.

britney said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

2- hire teachers with Masters degrees in the discipline they are to teach and then coach them on being effective teachers. It is much easier to coach an MS in Physics on how to teach, than to coach an Education major to be a physicist. Try it at home; see for yourself.
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This may make sense, but there are exceptions, namely ME! So don't make such broad generalizations.

I have a BS in Mathematics and an M.Ed. I teach precalculus and calculus. My students do very well on AP tests and our students participate in the annual Mathematical Association of America tests, doing a very creditable job.

By the way, other members of our Math Department have M.Ed. degrees, and I constantly remind them and thank them because they are the reason I'm successful.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Compton too -

there are very few teachers with a Masters Degree in their discipline. I would probably not be teaching high school if I had such a degree.

A Masters in Education makes sense because those programs are available for working teachers. A Masters Program in Physics that is within commuting distance and at night does not exist.

A Masters in Curriculum is far more useful and at least makes teachers begin to question the tools they are being given to use in the classroom.

Compton discounts textbook quality as much as the math and science reformers do. Choose a curriculum that kids and parents can understand, then I think you will solve a major portion of the current problem. And that includes all the extra layers of administration that goes into running a less efficient school system - such as scheduling extra remedial classes for students,...