Sunday, August 16, 2009

Seattle Testimony for Wed. August 19th

Studies by Lipping Ma and others inform us that for over 100 years US k-12 math education has been poor. Traditional Math, New Math, or Reform Math all were and are inadequate.

There is a new world, a flatter world, and internationally competitive math is required for national success. Some see US public education as a monopoly that chooses not to compete. I see Seattle choosing to be internationally non-competitive in math and out of touch with reality.

A competitive math program requires coherence in the order of topics taught and a focus on fewer topics at each grade level. Instead Seattle chooses the ineffective, incoherent, unfocused Everyday Math spiral with no mastery needed or intended.

NMAP recommends “Explicit Instruction” for struggling students based on “examples” but Seattle ignores this strongly recommended effective practice. The NCTM focal points recommend a narrowing of topics at each grade level. Seattle pursued the exact opposite last year “The Everyday Math” pacing plan.

Hattie reports: Direct Instruction, Mastery Learning, Problem Solving-Teaching, and Worked Examples all have effect sizes greater than half a standard deviation; but Seattle chooses inferior strategies.

Inquiry based teaching is only half as effective as direct instruction. Problem-based learning is only one fourth as effective as problem solving. There is no empirical research available on differentiated instruction.

NMAP recommends a focus on “Authentic Algebra”, but Seattle chooses to waste time off-task teaching inappropriate pseudo-statistics.

Intel and Microsoft use H1B Visas or relocate outside the US because districts like Seattle refuse to effectively teach Math to students.

The empirical research is there. Effective practices and programs are available but Seattle regularly chooses grossly ineffective fads over proven success. Job postings for math coaches talk about “Best Practices” and effective use of adopted instructional materials.

Seattle’s non-competitive math monopoly trains employees to be ineffective. Teachers must use poorly selected instructional materials and strategies with low effect sizes.

Deming tells us that at least 85% of any system’s performance inadequacies are structural in nature, while at most 15% could be due to employee inadequacy.

Seattle Math is a structural mess. How can the superintendent possibly suggest merit-based pay. Merit and Seattle’s math direction are polar opposites. To serve the children and the nation this board must require empirically based decision-making. Coaching teachers in using non-competitive materials and ineffective practices is typical in Seattle math and a continuing waste of resources. This must Stop.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately there are dozens of other districts in our state who have been drinking the same fuzzy kool-aid. I for one would like to see the Superintendent take a stronger stance in favor of traditional math programs.

Anonymous said...

Mount Vernon voted against their district's reform adoption in 1998when a neighboring consultant convinced the board to adopt Core Plus. It caused such an uproar the board fired their superintendent. Unfortunately, the elementary and middle school programs were also substandard
(Everyday and Connected Math).

With a large Hispanic community the hs graduation rates are atrocious and many families are sending their kids as far away as State Street Alternative School. I know plenty of kids in the valley that don't go to school through my own kids. School here is a terrible struggle and I would enjoy seeing these districts merged together in order to cut administrative costs.

Communities have choices, but its just never handed over to them. Citizens have to fight hard for what they believe.

Burlington-Edison purchased property for a hs on farmland for six times its market value and they can't build a school on it. Now they have balloon payments on the mortgage and they can't pass their bond. The citizens are pissed and I don't blame them.

The district will be taken over by the state and they will exert horrendous cost-saving measures. I favor handing it over to Mount Vernon and cut the administration, instead of firing teachers and closing schools. It will happen eventually anyway.