Thursday, January 7, 2010

Seattle data contadicts the Superintendent's claim.

Dear Directors, January 7, 2010

Many excellent questions were asked at the 1-6-2010 board meeting by directors.

As you know I am frustrated by the actions of Seattle’s schools as well as many schools in the nation to adequately teach mathematics. This failure has been particularly detrimental to English language learners as well as Black students and Hispanic students.

Seattle’s failure to adequately serve educationally disadvantaged minority students in mathematics closely parallels the state of Maryland.

Decline in Percent of MD HS Graduates Minimally Ready for College Math
when they entered a College in MD.

1998 2005 2006
Whites 67% 60% 58%
African-Americans 44% 33% 36%
Asian-Americans 79% 74% 76%
Hispanics 56% 42% 43%

Particularly disturbing to me was superintendent Goodloe-Johnson’s response during the STEM conversation at Wednesday’s meeting that the Southeast Initiative was having positive effects at Aki Kurose and Cleveland.

In math I find nothing to substantiate that claim for Black students at Aki in grade 6.
Despite an increase in instructional time for math at many schools the results at Aki contradict the Superintendent’s claim of improvement. Granted we may be looking at a small sample size (Black 6th graders at Aki) but nothing positive has happened. This is hardly surprising given the defective instructional materials and misguided approach to teaching math in Seattle schools. Does anyone believe that 70% of Black students at level 1 in 2009 is testament to improvement?

Grade 6 Math Black students
Aki Kurose percents
2006 7.00% 59.00% 22.00% 12.00% 0%
2007 1.40% 56.20% 17.80% 15.10% 9.60%
2008 0% 66% 22% 8.00% 4.00%
2009 0% 70.00% 11.70% 10.00% 6.70%
year no score level 1 level 2 level 3 level 4
Aki Kurose numbers
2006 7 59 22 12 0
2007 1 41 13 11 7
2008 0 33 11 4 2
2009 0 42 7 6 4

At grade 7 at Aki things are similar:
Grade 7 Math
Aki Kurose Black students
2006 4.90% 69.50% 18.30% 7.30% 0.00%
2007 4.70% 65.10% 17.40% 9.30% 3.50%
2008 4.90% 59.00% 19.70% 13.10% 3.30%
2009 4.20% 72.90% 14.60% 6.30% 2.10%
year no score level 1 level 2 level 3 level 4
Aki Kurose numbers
2006 4 57 15 6 0
2007 4 56 15 8 3
2008 3 36 12 8 2
2009 2 35 7 3 1

At Grade 8 at Aki things are better for the 8th grade in 2009.
This group scored the best of the 6th grade classes in 2007 and
The best of the 7th grade classes in 2008 and had the best results of 8th grade classes.
Grade 8 Black
Aki Kurose
2006 6.40% 67.00% 13.80% 11.70% 1.10%
2007 1.10% 75.00% 18.20% 4.50% 1.10%
2008 0.00% 62.70% 18.70% 18.70% 0.00%
2009 3.30% 47.50% 23.00% 11.50% 9.80%
year no score level 1 level 2 level 3 level 4
Aki Kurose
2006 6 63 13 11 1
2007 1 66 16 4 1
2008 0 47 14 14 0
2009 2 29 14 7 6

The results for all students in grade 7 show a fairly constant level of students at level 1.
Aki Kurose all Math grade 7
Aki Kurose
2006 3.70% 62.60% 18.20% 12.80% 2.70%
2007 4.00% 55.20% 19.00% 15.50% 6.30%
2008 3.30% 54.60% 19.70% 17.10% 5.30%
2009 1.70% 61.70% 14.20% 10.80% 11.70%
year no score level 1 level 2 level 3 level 4
Aki Kurose
2006 7 117 34 24 5
2007 7 96 33 27 11
2008 5 83 30 26 8
2009 2 74 17 13 14

The superintendent mentioned Cleveland as improving with the Southeast Initiative.
Since this was in the context of a STEM conversation, where can you find improvement in Cleveland math? Certainly using a WASL metric shows none for Black students.

Cleveland percents Black students
2006 10.60% 48.90% 31.90% 8.50% 0.00%
2007 12.70% 61.90% 14.30% 9.50% 1.60%
2008 16.70% 66.70% 11.50% 3.80% 1.30%
2009 11.30% 63.40% 12.70% 9.90% 1.40%
year no score level 1 level 2 level 3 level 4
Cleveland numbers
2006 5 23 15 4 0
2007 8 39 9 6 1
2008 13 52 9 3 1
2009 8 45 9 7 1

The Superintendent did not mention Rainier Beach:
Rainier Beach percents Black Students
2006 2.40% 41.50% 34.10% 22.00% 0.00%
2007 8.80% 31.60% 24.60% 29.80% 5.30%
2008 2.70% 67.60% 8.10% 18.90% 2.70%
2009 0.00% 64.50% 22.60% 12.90% 0.00%
year no score level 1 level 2 level 3 level 4
Rainier Beach numbers
2006 1 17 14 9 0
2007 5 18 14 17 3
2008 1 25 3 7 1
2009 0 20 7 4 0

I maintain that in mathematics the Seattle schools ignore the proven instructional materials and practices that would work for educationally disadvantaged students in mathematics.
Preferring to continue with a discovery/exploration/inquiry approach that has failed for more than a decade. This places the district in violation of the State Constitution’s requirement to provide an adequate education to all students.

I pointed out to you directors that the achievement gaps for Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, English Language learners, Low Income, and Native American students all increased since the adoption of Everyday Mathematics (measured by 4th grade WASL results). The district’s response has been to do nothing to change its discriminatory math materials and practices. Instead the Superintendent claims the Southeast initiative has had a positive effect and moves on to spending on a STEM program (which likely will eventually serve a different set of students than the 55% of black 7th graders who can not score above level 1 on the Math WASL). You have an extremely ineffective k-12 math program that is particularly discriminatory toward educationally disadvantaged learners and your choice has been to ignore fixing it. On May 6, 2009, the board voted (4-3) for a vertically aligned k-12 program based on a discriminatory ineffective k-8 program.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.


dan dempsey said...

More on the Seattle Schools Blog:

Anonymous said...

It stinks the reform camp can't draw a correct line through a set of data points. Every time I do this thing I feel like I'm talking to an ivory tower - there's nobody up there, at least that's what they want us to believe. Where's Nitocris? She'd know what to do.

Gigi said...

I hope Seattle schools aren't paying huge amounts of money to the BERC group for eduational advice like schools in Bellingham and Sedro Woolley are doing. BERC tells teachers that they shouldn't teach - rather that they should facilitate learning. The BERC protocols practically dictate that everyone use TERC Investigations type instruction for every subject. It is profoundly constructivist in its approach and advocates New New math as the best.

Teachers who are not on protocol are instructed to get on protocol. As a student teacher with perfect reviews from my host teacher and my clinical field supervisor, I was refused a recommendation from the principal who had observed me teaching (heaven forbid) geography and (shockingly) having students memorize the names and locations of the continents and oceans. I was told that memorizing facts shouldn't have been a focus of instruction. I was told that I should have been developing higher order thinking skills in the 8 year olds whom I was teaching. Has anyone told anybody that children do not develop critical thinking skills by 8 years of age?

So, I have just finished preparing to be a teacher, and because I did not follow BERC protocols and philosophies, I am probably unemployable locally. A National Merit semi-finalist who graduated Summa Cum Laude and who received perfect reviews from the people who trained me and observed my teaching skills the most often - I am not qualified to teach, according to BERC believers. Make sure your school districts are not paying this BERC group to ruin your schools.

dan dempsey said...


WOW!!! ... little wonder improvement rarely occurs.

Anonymous said...

You're better off teaching in a larger district. What I sense in Washington are budget cuts and teachers are going to be the politicians scapegoat. Teacher evaluations predicated on student performance is stupid. Starting this semester, our school is smaller by about 5% of its students and now 3 teachers. I foresee more district consolidations as districts enter binding conditions. BERC will have to go, this reform movement is not sustainable. I've resorted to homeschooling my own kids, they are graduating hs early, and they pursuing careers. Public school was an obstacle and I hope reformers choke on their own data. It is what it is, junk. SPU is deeply involved in Washington's reform - a very tight circle of friends.

Gigi said...

I wish that it were as simple as teaching at a larger district - I have no recommendation from the on site principal. This is huge. In this economy and with so much competition for jobs, I have little hope here - I can only hope to find work in a different type of system in another state.

And the sad thing is that my goal has been to become the kind of teacher that I had in private schools yet teach in public schools as an educator. I wanted public school kids to be as excited and turned on to the beauty of knowledge as I had been in school. That is my motivation. My education was the opposite of BERC and constructivist education.

The funny thing is that I know that all students are different and that different approaches work best for different students (to a certain degree). I am also a realist, though. If I have to teach a large group of students, I have to use what will likely bring the largest group of students to proficiency or better on basic skills and facts (my specialty is primary education). From what I have witnessed, "old-fashioned" private schools do this better, by far, than their counterparts in public education.

I have been a part of both worlds, and I feel more qualified to judge than those who have experienced only one form of education.

Personally, I would like to see a push for classical schools in Washington - Core Knowledge schools which adopt Singapore Math or Saxon Math - Riggs or Spalding reading and spelling programs, Shurley Grammar, etc., for primary grades at the least.

As it is, I will be applying to classical charter schools in other states, as their philosophy and curriculum match what I know to be the best methods for education - at least for the majority of our children. Washington state will likely lose me as a teacher - and from what I have seen might actually be glad to be rid of me. I don't fit in here. I believe children need to learn, process, and memorize basic skills. Sorry for being so old-fashioned.

What is really odd is that I am a devoted liberal in every other sense. I will be sad to move to a "redder" state. I don't think that education should be political, though. I know what is right and wrong for children in education. It has nothing to do with whom I might vote for during election cycles. NOTHING. Little ones need to learn basic facts and skills - not higher order thinking skills.