Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bellingham's undercover adoption expenditure

It is amazing how true John Hattie's statement that
"Education is NOT an evidence based profession" proves to be on an almost daily basis.

Check out the actions of Bellingham school officials in continuing ongoing ineffective mathematics.

No More Cheerleaders Please

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Brief Filed in Court Challenge of
Seattle High School Math Text Adoption

Seattle, Washington – Dec. 3, 2009

Brief Filed in Court Challenge of Seattle High School Math Text Adoption

A brief was filed Monday, Nov. 23, in King County Superior Court appealing a May 6, 2009 Seattle School Board vote to adopt the Discovering Mathematics high school textbook series. The brief contends that the school district acted arbitrarily and capriciously in voting 4 to 3 to adopt a type of textbook associated with a widening achievement gap between minority students and white students, and between low-income students and other students.

Seeking to prevent the school district from adopting this series are plaintiffs DaZanne Porter, an African American and mother of a 9th-grade student in Seattle Public Schools; Martha McLaren, retired Seattle math teacher and grandparent of a Seattle Public Schools fourth grader; and Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington.

According to the brief filed Monday, Seattle Public Schools began eliminating "traditional" math texts in the 1990s, moving toward an approach called "reform," "discovery learning," or "constructivism," among other names. Reform texts rely heavily on written language, presenting complicated, “real-life” problems. Memorization and skills practice is de-emphasized, and calculator work is encouraged from kindergarten on. Students generally work in small groups to devise their own approaches and solutions. With traditional "explicit" texts, however, students are given the opportunity to master key topics through examples, practice and extensive teacher feedback.

The brief claims the district committee chosen to review mathematics textbooks was biased toward reform, and that the textbook criteria were similarly biased, so that the resulting recommendation would be a reform textbook.
The brief also states that the board voted to adopt the Discovering textbook series in contradiction of information presented prior to the vote.

The plaintiffs contend that the district superintendent and school board had access to data and research, including WASL scores, indicating that math skills of minority students have continually declined for all grades since reform textbooks were introduced.
The plaintiffs also claim the school board was informed that the Discovering series was not a good candidate program to reverse this negative trend.

Citizens testifying to the board prior to the May 6 vote emphasized that the Discovering textbook series had been rated “unsound” in a review conducted by the Washington State Board of Education, and that the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction had passed over the Discovering program, instead recommending Holt Mathematics, a balanced textbook series featuring increased explicit instruction.

In Seattle, the movement toward reform texts has culminated in the adoption of the Everyday Math K-5 texts, Connected Mathematics Project (CMP2) texts for grades 6 - 8, and now the Discovering texts for high school. At Cleveland High School, which has 95% ethnic minority and 70% free and reduced lunch students, a similar “Discovery/Inquiry” text was piloted from September 2006 to June 2009. In those three years, the WASL pass rates for Cleveland's Black 10th graders averaged around 10%, while the district average for Black 10th graders was about 22%; scores for limited English students declined dramatically, from 15.4% to 0% of students passing the exam.

The appeal of the School Board's May 6, 2009 vote was filed June 5 by attorney Keith Scully of Gendler and Mann, LLP. A hearing on the appeal is set for Jan. 11, 2010, in the court of Judge Julie Spector.


Contact: Martha McLaren

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tom Loveless- Misplaced Students in Algebra

Here is the full report with charts and data. Tom Loveless is a member of the National Advisory Math Panel.

Favorite lines from this report:

In eighth grade they are now expected to learn, in a single year, the six years of math that they have not yet learned along with a full year of algebra.

No one—no teacher, no researcher, no governor, no school board member, no philanthropist— knows how to teach in one year what has not been learned in six and then how to teach algebra on top of that. Algebra teachers are being asked to do the impossible.

The greatest teachers in the world do not know how to teach algebra to students who do not know basic arithmetic.

WTM on OSPI's Math Graduation Requirements

Where’s the Math?

Statement on OSPI Mathematics Graduation Requirements

November 30, 2009

Where’s the Math has been a consistent voice advocating for high math standards. Our members have worked from kitchen tables to the legislature floor to improve standards, instructional materials, assessments, and educational policy statewide. This month, Superintendent Randy Dorn called for a delay in the math graduation requirement and adoption of a two-tiered passage requirement. We believe that Dorn’s suggestions are in the best interest of Washington State’s students.

By asking for delay of the math graduation requirement, Dorn is facing reality: today’s high school students have been so badly damaged by a decade of deficient math that many will be unable to pass the new state exam. Washington students have suffered from unsound instructional materials, ineffective teaching practices, and vague assessment using the WASL. Unproven mathematical philosophies originating in colleges of education have not lived up to the promise of making math accessible to all students. Washington’s socioeconomic and racial achievement gaps in mathematics remain staggering, and high stakes testing without comprehensive improvements in curriculum and teacher competency will hurt the disadvantaged most.

The math problem is prevalent throughout the entire K-12 progression. Thus, expecting a high school graduation requirement to improve this situation is fantasy. Significant progress will only come from focused initiatives to improve standards, curricula, and teacher math knowledge at all grade levels. As math proficiency increases in lower grades, more students will be able to succeed both in higher level math and high school assessments.

Where’s the Math recognizes that not every student is college bound or destined to pursue a career in science, math or technology. Not every student needs to take Algebra II for their future career goals. But every student must have the opportunity to achieve at the highest levels. Therefore we support Dorn’s proposal for multiple math graduation pathways. Supt. Dorn’s recommendation took courage, and we applaud him for doing the right thing.

Where’s the Math officially endorses these focused legislative actions:

1. Supt. Randy Dorn’s recommendation to create two paths for the math graduation requirement starting in 2015 should be adopted.

2. The newly developed high school end-of-course assessments must be subjected to complete evaluation before they become graduation requirements.

3. The current development of the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) assessment for grades 3-8 must consider the entire set of State math standards when selecting items for assessment.

4. Clear remediation guidelines should be identified for grades 3-8 that require school and/or district intervention for students who score one or more years behind grade level.

In addition, OSPI must retire the ineffective reform math programs and practices still in favor by many entrenched educational interests. Randy Dorn needs to insure that his entire team at OSPI is fully committed to the success of his agenda to improve math outcomes for Washington students.

Where’s the Math Executive Committee