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.

Respectfully,

Where’s the Math Executive Committee

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