Sunday, February 28, 2010

Film Showing of ... ....."Race to Nowhere"
Mercer Island 3-2-2010

Seattle and Los Angeles Screenings
of Race to Nowhere

Dear Race to Nowhere Supporters,

Next week, we begin to take the film and its message national with screenings in Seattle and Los Angeles. Additional screenings are posted on our website. We need everyone to help spread the word so we reach the widest possible audience at these screenings.

March 1st, 6:30 PM at the Bainbridge Island High School in Bainbridge Island, WA.

March 2nd, 7 PM at the Mercer Island Presbyterian Church in Mercer Island, Washington

March 4th, 8:30 AM at The Pegasus School in Huntington Beach, CA

March 4th, 7 PM at The VanDamme Academy in Aliso Viejo, CA

March 5th, 7 PM at Sage Hill School in Newport Beach, CA

March 6th, 7 PM at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, CA

If you haven't done so yet, please sign the petition and join us on Facebook. It is exciting to have so many feeling empowered to take part in this movement to transform education and make the health and well being of our young people a national priority.

The TEAM at Race to Nowhere

Saturday, February 27, 2010

to defend the indefensible

Seattle schools Adopted "Discovering" Series for High School Math on May 6th 2009.
On February 4, 2010 Judge Julie Spector Remanded that choice back to the school board saying: "The court finds, based upon a review of the entire administrative record, that there is insufficient evidence for any reasonable Board member to approve the selection of the Discovering series."
...Dan at minute 22:15 and Marty at 25:30 ends at 28:30

The above video sets the background for much of the current Seattle Area Math controversy.
Once video starts move slider and watch Dan & Marty set the background and tell the SPS that we will take them to court. Recorded on May 20, 2009, legal appeal filed in Superior court June 5, 2009... Victory on February 4, 2010,

Since then Issaquah Superintendent Rassmussen, still considered adoption of "Discovering" even after Judge Spector's decision.

He got this letter from Professor Paul A. Kirschner, Director of the Learning and Cognition Program, University of the Netherlands.

In the letter reference is made to the work of John Sweller, the father of cognitive load theory.

"Inquiry-based instruction requires the learner to search a problem space for problem-relevant information. All problem-based searching makes heavy demands on working-memory. Furthermore, that working memory load does not contribute to the accumulation of knowledge in long-term memory because while working memory is being used to search for problem solutions, it is not available and cannot be used to learn. The goal of instruction is rarely simply to search for or discover information. The goal is to give learners specific guidance about how to cognitively manipulate information in ways that are consistent with a learning goal, and store the result in long-term memory.”

Subsequently Dr. Rasmussen web posted a 4 page letter explaining to the Issaquah community his decision to recommend Key Curriculum Press's "Discovering" series for adoption by High Schools to the Issaquah school board.

The father of cognitive load theory read this letter and described it as: “a long letter to defend the indefensible”

What is up with all this?
Why are Superintendents, school Boards and in many cases stacked adoption committees unable to intelligently apply relevant data to decision making and produce significant academic improvements?

To: Professor John Sweller . . . . February 26, 2010
School of Education
University of New South Wales
Sydney NSW 2052

Dear Dr. Sweller,

Your description of Dr. Rasmussen’s letter as “a long letter to defend the indefensible” is very appropriate, concise, and accurate, qualities lacking in Dr. Rasmussen’s letter. Had he used evidence in the evaluation of the practices used in the materials in question to make his recommendation, his letter could have been much shorter.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, our nation is not filled entirely with persons unable to intelligently apply the relevant data to decision-making. There’s obviously been a shortage of capable decision makers in many aspects of education. A myriad of factors seem to influence educational decision-making at the higher levels, unfortunately evidence of efficacy is rarely much of a factor.

Recently on February 4, 2010, it came to my attention that Superior Court Judges still have a high regard for evidence. If education USA is ever to move from its current level of immaturity to become a mature profession like medicine, decision-making must be based on evidence. With this in mind it seems best to prepare a solid case for superior court, a case which demonstrates the weakness of Dr. Rasmussen’s recommendation. Hopefully when such evidence is presented to the Issaquah School Board, its members will be able to intelligently apply the evidence to their decision, if not we may find out that King County Superior Court can assist them in the evaluation of the evidence.

In preparing our case for the Issaquah School Board and to inform the public, may I use your fine one sentence evaluation of Dr. Rasmussen’s position as expressed in his letter?

I also intend to use research evidence and professional opinions based on solid research in developing our case to Save Math in Issaquah. I thank you for the fine work that you have done, the work of a true professional. I look forward to reforming at least one small corner of flawed educational decision making in Education USA with your assistance.

As in the past, I intend to use some of your work to fully inform the public.

Thank You,

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

Member of the Washington State Board of Education Mathematics Advisory Panel
Comment #1 was by Concerned check out this posting

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A big response to Key Press

In case you have not been entirely in the loop......

Bulletin Key Curriculum Press is particularly unhappy with the great Northwest

... Well at least certain persons ... like Randy Dorn, who dropped "Discovering" off the recommended list. KCP sued OSPI in Olympia and lost as Judge McPhee said Dorn was perfectly within his role as SPI to drop what he saw as needing to be dropped. I suspect that "Mathematically Unsound" tag is becoming a bit cumbersome to carry around.

Then there is the Scientific American Article look at the comment from President & CEO Karen Coe

Here it is as she sets the record straight (her words not mine:

Karen Coe at 06:10 PM on 02/22/10

While this article is well-written and provides various viewpoints, it contains an important error regarding the Seattle case:

The three-year pilot referred to in the article did NOT include any materials from the Discovering Mathematics textbook series. The plaintiffs relied on data from other curricula to make their claims, not on any data regarding Discovering Mathematics.

In addition, Discovering Mathematics had not been used in the Seattle School District when the lawsuit was filed. The plaintiffs reacted to the choice of materials and not the results from the high-school classrooms.

Seattle’s textbook selection process chose Discovering Mathematics after exhaustive review by administrators, educators, curriculum and instruction department staff, parents, school board members, and mathematicians.

The Discovering Mathematics curriculum incorporates multiple teaching methods. You get the best of both worlds by learning not just “how” to do something, but also “why” you’re doing it.

The program is comprehensive with extensive resources for not only the classroom but also for parents and students to practice from home.

The Discovering Mathematics series teaches high school Algebra, Advanced Algebra, and Geometry. It is currently in use in all 50 states. Books from the Discovering Series are used abroad by the U.S. Department of Defense for its high schools, as well as by the schools in the US Virgin Islands, American International Schools, and have been translated for schools in Asia.

Thank you for allowing me to set the record straight. For more facts, please go to

Karen Coe
President & CEO, Key Curriculum Press
Publisher of Discovering Mathematics

Yes I have a response. The 18,000+ Bethel School district is my response. They have used "Discovering" for three years. Check the WASL data ... not impressive.

I made a nifty little report on all this complete with a detailed response to Ms. Coe.

Check it out here:
as a word .doc

Or as two .pdf
.. .. .. .. The .pdf came out much better than word
#1 .pdf and #2 .pdf

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Letter to Bellevue Reporter
(comment #1)
From the Preamble of Article IX Wash. Constitution: "It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex."

With the use of the inquiry based mathematics materials the Mathematics achievement gaps expanded greatly on WASL Math as measured at grades 4, 7, 10 over the decade from Spring 98 to Spring 07 for Black and Hispanic Students. The average change for all three levels tested was a math gap increase of 24.6 points for Blacks and 11.3 pt. for Hispanics. In reading the gap was narrowed for Hispanics by 17.8 pt. while for Blacks in reading the gap grew by 8.9. The point gap differential between Math and Reading shows Math worse by 15.7 pt. for Blacks and by 29.1 pt for Hispanics.
Clearly BSD has a Big Article IX Problem.

The BSD could be using an inefficient and discriminatory instructional approach for the teaching of Mathematics.

Professor John Sweller, School of Education, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
A coauthor of "Why Minimally Guided Instruction Does Not Work" wrote the following to me:

Despite decades of advocacy, there is no body of evidence based on randomised, controlled experiments demonstrating the superiority of inquiry-based over explicit instruction. There is a huge body of evidence from around the globe demonstrating the advantages of explicitly showing learners how to solve problems as opposed to having them discover how to solve the same problems. In the research literature, that body of evidence is associated with the "worked example effect". That literature is carefully ignored by the discovery learning advocates.

Thus far the BSD seems to assume that if they follow the correct adoption procedures they can avoid an embarrassing trip to Superior Court. Perhaps too much reform math thinking has led the BSD to believe that it is the process that counts and the results do not really matter.

Welcome to the real world ...
1.. Results Matter
2.. Data should drive decision making
3.. Making a decision without considering all the evidence will land you into Superior Court
4.. Continued Disregard For Article IX will lead to an embarrassing LOSS in Superior Court.

5.. Any Director casting an "Arbitrary and Capricious" vote, would be committing "Malfeasance"
6.. One act of "Malfeasance" is all that is required to successfully file a "ReCall" petition.
7.. Signatures from 25% of the voting populace will be a lot more embarrassing than a trip to Superior Court.

The moral of this story is that:
To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. It is time to require evidence in decision making. BSD Staff & Directors please begin using evidence or go home.

Ivaylo Ivanov states:
(comment #2)
The high school math curriculum in the Bellevue School District is garbage. A year ago, my parents divorced, and as a result I had to move to a town on the outskirts of Houston. The math curriculum here is just that: math. Actual math that the rest of the world does. Needless to say, I was not prepared to do this type of math, having attended Newport, which is supposedly one of the best high schools in the country.

The school district needs to implement a curriculum that teaches its students math, and not one that provides students with extra opportunities for socializing during these "group investigations" that the students are so used to doing.

Richard Lesh, Ph.D. has an opinion

It would be charitable to say that the Seattle court decision was based on an understanding of teaching and learning that is simplistic, naïve, or uninformed. But, in fact, the people who have propagated these ("A")distortions of truth about education are sufficiently well educated that it is hard to imagine that they are not distorting facts intentionally. And, in the process of coming to a decision about what textbooks to adopt, there has been sufficient discussion of educational research in Seattle that anyone who wanted to honestly answer such questions based on the existing body of educational research could easily have ("B") considered the scientific evidence. Unfortunately, precisely because the propagators of untruths in these attacks include university professors, ("C") I must believe that it is simply a lie to claim that research has shown that inquiry-oriented textbooks have been proven to be ineffective at teaching basic or advanced mathematics skills to a large percentage of the student population, or that they have been proven to be ineffective at addressing the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and non-economically disadvantaged students, or between non-Caucasian students and Caucasian students.


In regard to ("A") ("B") & ("C"), it seems that Dr. Lesh needs to get out more or read some statistics from the Bellevue school district or Seattle or many other districts using "inquiry Based materials".

Bellevue went inquiry whole hog with TERC/Investigations, CMP, and Core-Plus
the results were pathetic for Black and Hispanic Students. Contrary to the opinions of the distinguished professor.

Here are those Bellevue changes over a decade:

MATH Change
-35.3 Black
-13.1 Hispanic
READ Change
-5.1 Black
18.7 Hispanic
WRITE Change
4.2 Black
7.8 Hispanic

MATH Change
-21.1 Black
-18.3 Hispanic
READ Change
-24.1 Black
10.9 Hispanic
WRITE Change
-24.7 Black
0.7 Hispanic

MATH Change
-17.3 Black
-2.5 Hispanic
READ Change
2.4 Black
23.8 Hispanic
WRITE Change
7.2 Black
10.1 Hispanic

Average of all three levels

MATH Change
-24.6 Black
-11.3 Hispanic
READ Change
-8.9 Black
17.8 Hispanic
WRITE Change
-4.4 Black
6.2 Hispanic

Yes Richard Lesh has an opinion, but it is not supported by the evidence.

Everyday Math and Seattle's Math Gaps
+ publisher claims

It is most interesting that the Publishers bury us in studies of their materials that are glowing. Yet we get a mess.

Everyday Math was adopted for SY 2007-2008
at the time of the adoption the CAO Carla Santorno said that EDM would eliminated the Achievement gaps in 4 to 5 years. There are now two years of WASL math scores to look at. So how is it going after two years:

4th grade math WASL scores.

Change in Gap differentials
in 2009 since 2006
3.50% Amer.Indian
5.10% Asian/Pacific Islanders
5.10% Black
4.40% Hispanic
8.90% Limited English
12.70% Low Income

current Gaps with White students 2009
32.10% Amer.Indian
14.80% Asian/Pacific Islanders
49.80% Black
40.80% Hispanic
57.30% Limited English
43.40% Low Income

The situation was bad it got worse under EDM and we have no option but the legal system because our directors are unable to intelligently apply relevant data.

At Cleveland the IMP program materials were used in a problem based and inquiry teaching model with lots of NSF funds and the results were terrible.

Here is a brochure about the wonderful program, the Interactive Mathematics Program

Do these materials give any indication that would lead you to believe that English Language Learners would see falling scores like at Cleveland where in 2009 0% passed the grade 10 math WASL.

In 2009, Cleveland also had over 70% of Black students scoring at level 1 (the far below basic level)

Key Press Publisher writes about Judge Spector's decision
Part II

"..3.." Personally, the most troubling aspect of the brief and suit prepared by the plaintiffs is their contention that offering students of color anything other than a diet of “explicit instruction” is “racist.” This is a sad throwback to an era where education was segregated—rich experiences for the privileged, a dry and “learn-as-you-are-told” curriculum for those who are not. All students deserve engaging and well-developed materials that offer them access to powerful learning strategies—especially the students who have been denied such experiences for too long. The plaintiffs claim that: “Evidence in the record before the Board demonstrated that the inquiry-based teaching methods used in the Recommendations do not work for disadvantaged students, including low- income students, and non-Caucasian students. Inquiry-based teaching methods work for only a small percentage of students, and leave the rest behind,” is patently false. The notion that the plaintiffs have determined what teaching methodology works for all non- Caucasian students is ridiculous. Labeling those who do not adhere to their view as “racist” is abhorrent.

"..4.." The plaintiffs blame the achievement gap on “inquiry-based teaching methods” and because the textbooks published by Key Curriculum Press are labeled as “inquiry-based,” they must be barred from Seattle classrooms. Many, including the Seattle School Board, don’t think that this argument holds water. After extensive review, our mathematics texts were chosen in Seattle because of their potential to serve a diverse set of students and improve mathematics achievement. The Discovering Mathematics materials are not uni-dimensional in approach—just as mathematics activity is not uni-dimensional in its nature. Mathematics is an important branch of the physical sciences. Inquiry is a fundamental aspect of science. Painting “inquiry” as an instructional pedagogy to avoid at all costs makes as much sense as taking aim at “conceptual understanding” or “skill development.” Learning intertwines all of these.

"..5.." Finally, the Seattle court documents make clear that the essence of the Seattle School District’s defense is their belief that the school district—teachers, staff, parents, advisors—and its elected directors are responsible for determining educational policy, under state law. The Seattle decision, if upheld on appeal, will set a precedent that a judge can over-rule those school board decisions. That prospect frightens me.

After the court’s decision in Seattle was picked up by the local and national press, I was as curious as you probably are to learn of the specifics. I asked our staff at Key Curriculum Press to get the court arguments from both sides. I’ve read them and urge you to read them, too. We have posted them on this Web site so you can easily access them and make up your own mind on the issues. I suggest you start with the document that begins “DA- ZANNE PORTER, MARTHA MCLAREN, and CLIFFORD MASS, Plaintiffs, v. SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1, IN KING COUNTY, STATE OF WASHINGTON, BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF SEATTLE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 1, and MARIA GOODLOE-JOHNSON, Superintendent and
Secretary of the Board, Defendants.” It articulates the case from the plaintiffs’ perspective. You can continue to read the Seattle School District’s brief and then the two counter-briefs, and finally, the judge’s decision.

In addition to the court documents, we will use this site to post some of the letters we have received as a result of the publicity in Seattle.

Again, I urge you to read the court documents rather than rely on press accounts or even my own opinions to understand what’s going on in Seattle. Feel free to send me your own thoughts.

Steven Rasmussen
He is a free expression of my own thoughts in regard to
A... I provided lots of data to the school board over 3 years of testimony and letter writing. When I lived in Seattle I was a member of the NAACP education committee. In over 30 years of teaching in 4 states and a variety of situations including 2 Indian reservations, Summer school in So. Central LA, A year teaching on the renamed Compton Blvd., a year in a High Hispanic Population High School in Eastern WA, I rarely ever heard much of the racist tag.

B... The exception to that was when I sent the CAO of the Seattle Schools several questions in an email about Everyday Math after she offered to meet with me. In less than 24 hours she told me face to face that she would never meet with me because I was rude and impolite to her and likely because she was Black woman.

So what happened. My data had shown that EDM was a poor choice for educationally disadvantaged learners. She maintained that it would eliminate the achievement gap within 4 to 5 years. She bullied the board into adopting the materials.... and even though Math achievement gaps were very large from TERC/Investigations, EDM expanded those gaps for each of the following 6 groups Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Low Income, and Limited English students. As measured on the 4th grade WASL Math test, which was the measure that the CAO used for measures.

C... I've watched achievement gaps grow with Inquiry Math materials, our upscale suburb of Bellevue used reform math eventually with several years of TERC, and Connected Math, and Core-Plus for much of a decade. The results were staggering for Math gaps exploded for Black and Hispanic students at grades 4, 7, 10. The Gaps in English and Writing in many cases narrowed during the decade, further accentuating the large Math gap growth.

D... Project Follow Through was also mentioned by the plaintiffs, it was the largest study in education history. It aimed at finding the best instructional models for educationally disadvantaged learners k-3. Even though PFT was a k-3 study, it shows that the poor results from inquiry materials in both Seattle and Bellevue were to be expected.

E... From past experience I would rather see relevant data than see the word "racist" used.

F... The remark about steady diet .... misses the mark. Plaintiff McLaren has advocated for increased "explicit instruction" for students struggling to learn math. She and I have seen the inquiry failure upclose and personal. We have also tracked growing achievement gaps in schools near us. The fact that Publishers and Education experts think this inquiry is great stuff hardly compensates for the fact that it is failing kids that we care about. Read THIS from Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark on "Why Minimally guided instruction Does NOT WORK!!!

G... The University of Washington and the SPS collaborated on an NSF funded 3 year implementation of an inquiry program at Cleveland and Garfield High Schools, which despite lots of resources for each school for implementation miserably failed Black students and Limited English students. This project used Problem Based Learning and Inquiry based teaching. So if a particular practice like minimally guided inquiry instruction serves educationally disadvantaged students poorly, everyone needs to keep quiet just like during the last decade with Seattle's and Bellevue's reform fiasco. Is keeping quiet when things don't work a sound idea for improving instructional materials and practices?

"..4.."I first used "Discovering Algebra" in SY 2000-2001. It was the paper back black and white pre-hard cover edition. I was underwhelmed. Just as NMAP speaks about preparation for and access to "Authentic Algebra" this book seemed to be avoiding authentic algebra. I had hopes the hard cover color book would be improved. Take a look here. This is less than the coherence and structure I was looking for. More disturbing to me was the minimal coverage given to solving a system of two simultaneous equations in two variables by substitution and by elimination (linear combination) this happened all in only one section. This series in my opinion is short on examples and very lacking in practice. Three teachers who teach in Southeast Seattle high schools testified about the lack of practice and advised the board not to adopt these materials.

"..5.."What frightens me is that a school board can ignore 200+ pages of material submitted by the public. The Board did not send this material to the court when asked to send all the materials the decision was based on. They sent 1100 pages but ZERO pages from the public. The other thing that frightens me is a publisher seemingly endorsing this practice by saying: "The Seattle decision, if upheld on appeal, will set a precedent that a judge can over-rule those school board decisions. That prospect frightens me".

I would be far more frightening if judges endorsed Board decisions, which were made without examining and using all the evidence.

As Hattie says "Medicine" really accelerated when the public demanded that decision making be based on evidence. Hattie is still waiting to see education advance from the infantile stage to a mature profession where evidence drives decision making. That will be the true Victory from Judge Spector's decision if School Boards are required to make decisions based on all the evidence and do so.

Key Press Publisher writes about Judge Spector's decision
Part I

From the Desk of Steven Rasmussen:

The Seattle School District, in a series of adoption decisions over the last several years, has adopted new mathematics programs for elementary, middle, and high schools, most recently Key Curriculum’s Discovering Mathematics series and Foerster’s Precalculus and Calculus texts. I am the publisher of these high school textbooks (except the statistics text).

Our materials reflect current educational research and experience that establishes that students learn mathematics best from materials that simultaneously develop strong
conceptual foundations, skills, and 21st Century problem-solving strategies. Like educators around the world, I believe that when materials combine these important elements, students are engaged, challenged, and leave school with a solid mathematical foundation that will serve them in their college and university studies and ready them for the world of work. Our materials are used in every state in the United States by thousands of schools with diverse student bodies. For almost forty years students have found success with our materials.

When Seattle’s textbook selection process, composed of administrators, educators, curriculum and instruction department staff, parents, school board members, mathematicians, chose our materials over all of the other possible programs, I was proud. And since September, when the new school year began, our staff has worked well with Seattle teachers to support the district’s investment in our materials. Yet, I followed the Seattle textbook adoption process closely enough to know that not everyone in Seattle was happy with the Seattle School Board’s decision.

Suddenly, and surprisingly, as a result of a court decision in a case brought against the Seattle School District, Key Curriculum Press finds that our materials are “front-page news.” If you are reading this Web page, you are most likely here because you have heard about the issues in this case. Let me express a few of my own thoughts.

1. One thing is certain regarding the events in Seattle. The plaintiffs, who organized the suit against the Seattle School District, are clear about their goals: they want “explicit instruction” pedagogy used exclusively in Seattle mathematics classrooms. In their brief, the plaintiffs assert that the textbook recommendations of Seattle schools “promote an inquiry-based mathematics teaching model over an explicit instruction model. The District and Board have used an inquiry-based mathematics model for several years, despite evidence that it is an ineffective teaching method.” This challenge to Seattle schools is about instructional pedagogy. The quality of our textbooks hardly seems to enter into the picture.

2. Ignoring the preponderance of educational research conducted in the United States and around the world over the last decades, the plaintiffs justify their belief that only “explicit instruction” works in the classroom with a couple of vague claims. They state, for instance, “Ernest Boyer, then-U.S. Commissioner of Education, conducted an evaluation of mathematics teaching methods and acknowledged that an evaluation of relevant research found that only one (Explicit Instruction) of the 22 models which were assessed in the evaluation consistently produced positive outcomes.” Yet, Boyer, a professor of speech pathology who later went on to serve in the Carter administration, conducted the vast majority of his research over 30 years ago. What was the context of this evaluation? Has our student population remained the same over the past 30 years?
What is meant by “acknowledged”?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Key Press thoughts + my thoughts

The following is from Key Curriculum Press
the publishers of Discovering Mathematics
Discovering Mathematics is the Highest-Ranking,
Mathematically Sound, High School Math Curriculum

1. The Seattle lawsuit is about the choice of curriculum, not about the results for

• Discovering Mathematics had only been used for 6 weeks in the Seattle School
District when the lawsuit was filed. The plaintiffs reacted to the choice of materials
and not the results from the classroom. "..A.."

• The plaintiffs relied on data from other curricula to make their claims, not on any
data regarding Discovering Mathematics. "..B.."

• Seattle’s textbook selection process chose Discovering Mathematics after exhaustive
review by administrators, educators, curriculum and instruction department staff,
parents, school board members, and mathematicians. "..C.."

• Discovering Mathematics was chosen in Seattle because the School Board could see
the potential to serve a diverse student population and improve mathematical
achievement across the district. "..D.."

• The series is entirely mathematically correct and makes no errors or
misrepresentations. "..E.."

The following is what I saw. Perhaps I am wrong but this is my take.
Since the above from Key contains some errors I figure I'm entitled to my take.

"..A.." Not true. This lawsuit was filed on June 5, 2009 over two months before the books were in use not 6 weeks after. Key needs to read the documents they post for download. Better yet get them from the Seattle Math Group ... we like evidence and read what is written and attempt to report accurately.

On May 20th 2009, Martha McLaren stated that we intended to sue in Federal Court over the Rights of Educationally Disadvantaged Learners in Federal Court. Then we found out we could file an appeal in District Court. I began our 6 minute testimony and Marty finished it. You can watch it at minute 22 of part 1 of 5/20/2009 HERE

"..B.." The district's Strategic Plan was looking for a k-12 vertical alignment of instructional materials. We found it perfectly appropriate to look carefully at how badly the k-8 programs had failed. In my testimony above you will clearly see our dissatisfaction with Everyday Math, we did not want something that aligned with that.
Director Bass in explaining her vote essentially said that she was informed that "Discovering " aligned very well with the district's k-8 materials, so she voted NO.
Director DeBell also noted on April 22, 2009 that he saw "Discovering" as continuing a noble but failed experiment "reform math". YouTube DeBell explanation is HERE. He voted NO on May 6, 2009.

"..C.." The District clearly stacked the adoption Committee with a five question application and a rubric that favored the selection of "Inquiry Math" enthusiasts.
The process did not use the "NMAP" final report. In the process little interest was shown for the State Board of Education's Mathematical Soundness report from W. Stephen Wilson and report from Guershon Harel. The process included essentially no data from surrounding school districts and no data from Seattle's k-8 programs to which the "Discovering Materials" would vertically align. Three of seven School Board members were on the instructional materials committee, this is not like being on the adoption committee.

"..D.." which director's made this statement? If the directors were interested in "to serve a diverse student population" they would have examined the evidence of how poorly the k-8 program was serving educationally disadvantaged learners. I submitted this data to them on numerous occasions and in numerous testimonies. One of which is on the video of McLaren and I on May 20th. Granted the adoption decision was made on May 6, 2009. But I had submitted extensive similar information on numerous occasions prior to May 6, 2009. Again 4 directors voted for, you can watch their testimony here on May 6, 2009. Plaintiff McLaren speaks at 36:30 .. Board Questions begin at 126:30 .. you need to put cursor on the slider and move it in the slot to move to different sections. Voting with explanations starts at 134:30. I see and hear very little in the explanations of the four directors voting yes, that confirms much about "..D.." or mathematics instructional materials. Evidence for each of the Four Director's decisions is as Judge Spector points out lacking.

"..E.." Please report this to Johns Hopkins University as in your opinion W. Stephen Wilson, their department head in Mathematics, is wrong. Please alert U.C.San Diego that Dr. Guershon Harel has made serious, serious errors.

Please ....Research Before Writing:
an Open Letter to Ms. Normington

Dan Dempsey sends an open letter to:
Ms. Sara Normington of Portland Oregon.

Dear Ms. Normington,

You wrote the following letter, which reveals a remarkable ignorance of the legal case as well as little knowledge of what has happened and is happening to educationally disadvantaged learns in math. I suggest you familiarize your self with:
#1 .. NMAP's "Foundations for Success"
#2 .. Project Follow Through
#3 .. John Hattie's Visible Learning
#4 .. Nuthall's Hidden Lives of Learners
#5 .. The works of W. Edwards Deming and the fact that to improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. try His New-Economics-Industry-Government-Education.
#6 .. Start intelligently applying the data around you if it is relevant.

Some comments about your letter follow in blue:
Hello OCTM members,

A few days ago I heard about a Seattle judge ruling in favor of plaintiffs who sued the Seattle Public Schools over the SPS Board's choice for their mathematics textbook adoption. After months of study by the textbook adoption committee, three programs were submitted to the SPS Board of Directors for consideration for adoption. The Board selected the inquiry-based Discovering Mathematics series published by Key Curriculum Press for adoption.

The above paragraph is factually incorrect. The Board of Directors had only one choice under state law. The committee submits their choice, which was "Discovering" to the School Board and the Board can either accept or reject it. The board voted to accept by a 4-3 vote.

In their suit, among other statements, the plaintiffs claimed that non-white children cannot learn math using an inquiry based program and are best served by direct instruction.

Absolutely correct.. Educationally disadvantaged learners have more difficulty learning math from Inquiry texts. Read PFT results, Read Hattie's Visible Learning, Read NMAP, and start intelligently analyzing the relevant data around you.
Check the results of the spreadsheet from Bellevue which I am sending you. Seattle is similar.

NMAP states that students struggling to learn math need increased explicit instruct.
Do you even know what "Direct Instruction" is?
I suggest you pick up Visible Learning and find out exactly what it is rather than just assuming you know all about it an it must be bad.
Learning Effect sizes calculated by hattie from 800 meta-analyses
Mastery Learning, Worked Examples, Direct Instruction,
each equal or exceed 0.57
while Inquiry-Teaching = 0.31
and Problem Based Learning = 0.15

I'm also appalled that a county superior court judge would overrule a textbook adoption determined by the elected school board -- and refer to the school board's decision as "capricious" and "arbitrary."

The judge carefully studied all the facts in the case, while you clearly did not.
The decision was “Arbitrary and Capricious” and I am appalled that you voice your opinion with so little knowledge of the facts in this case.

Almost every thing is available for download from
Seattle Math Group.

I suggest you read: initial filing, plaintiffs’ first reponse, defendants’ response, plaintiffs reply, judges decision, and hearing transcript.

You will learn that Central Admin. stacked the adoption committee toward inquiry with a five-question questionnaire and a scoring rubric slanted toward inquiry.
The Board submitted 1100 pages within 20 days of the filing of the appeal as required by state law. This is the entire set of information of which the board based their decision………. The big problem was they failed to submit anything sent by the public: No testimonies, No letters, No charts, and No data.
The plaintiffs sent over 200 pages of relevant material that had been sent to the board and yet was not used. Much of this showed the failing inquiry math program k-8, which the "Discovering Program" was vertically aligned. Math achievement gaps had grown tremendously in the last decade in k-8, while the gaps shrank in Reading.

The Interactive Mathematics Program was used in a three-year project at Garfield and Cleveland high schools. These projects were directed by Dr. James King of the UW and featured NSF funding and lots of support. The percentage of Black students scoring at level 1 (far below basic) grew to where over 70% of Black students were at level 1.

Limited English students saw WASL math Pass rates go to 0%.

The Seattle Public Schools Board is considering an appeal at this time.

This is the school board that took a racial tie-breaker rule all the way to the US Supreme court and of course lost. They brilliantly negotiated the winning attorney's fee down to $800,000 from $1.4 million. This was a judgment that an 8th grader could have predicted. Do you think they have grounds for an appeal? Read all the material on the case at Seattle Math Group.

Please take a few minutes to visit http://www.keypress .com/seattle . You'll also find background information I've compiled below.

If you have concerns about the ruling and/or the process, please send a letter to Karen Coe, President of Key Curriculum Press at kcoe@keypress. com , Letters are most useful if sent in pdf form.

Your letters can make a difference. I hope you can find time to write one.

I hope letter writers will take the time to find out about what happened before writing.

Sara Normington
Portland, OR 97212

Some of what is in the Spreadsheet from Bellevue.

Also in regard to data: see what nearly a decade of Reform math in Bellevue, Washington
(just across the Lake from Seattle)
produced most of the time by TERC/Investigations, Connected Math, and Core-Plus:

Bellevue School District results.
Quick summary of gap changes over the decade studied 1998-2007

MATH Change
Black -35.3
Hispanic -13.1
READ Change
Black -5.1
Hispanic 18.7
WRITE Change
Black 4.2
Hispanic 7.8 =========

MATH Change
Black -21.1
Hispanic -18.3
READ Change
Black -24.1
Hispanic 10.9
WRITE Change
Black -24.7
Hispanic 0.7

MATH Change
Black -17.3
Hispanic -2.5
READ Change
Black 2.4
Hispanic 23.8
WRITE Change
Black 7.2
Hispanic 10.1

Here comes average change across all three grade levels

MATH Change
Black -24.6
Hispanic -11.3
READ Change
Black -8.9
Hispanic 17.8
WRITE Change
Black -4.4
Hispanic 6.2

Note: how much worse the situation is in Math than in reading or writing.

SB 6696

FEBRUARY 17, 2010

Members of the committee—

I'm Ted Nutting from Seattle, speaking for myself. I teach math at Ballard High School, and I've been involved for years in the effort to improve our students' performance in math. We had a huge success a few years ago when the legislature, led by this committee, provided for the development of new math standards to serve as the basis and the measure of our students' learning.

That was quite a chore. First, you, seeing that math education in this state was pretty much a failure, required the state superintendent, Dr. Bergeson, to come up with new standards. She did, and you saw that those new standards weren't much better than the old ones. You then required (by a unanimous vote, as I recall) that the State Board of Education become involved, essentially taking the authority away from Dr. Bergeson.

All this involved a long process that took quite a while, but we eventually emerged with standards which, while not quite what I would like, are far better than the ones they replaced and far better than those of most states. Most of the credit for this belongs to the legislature.

Senate Bill 6696 would throw out those standards, replacing them with ones drawn up by a "multistate consortium" of which Washington is a part, with a possibility of our state's adding 15% more standards specific to our state.

This might make sense if we knew what those multistate standards were and if we liked them. But we don’t! A draft dated January 13 was leaked and has circulated, and it falls far behind our state's standards in quality. Those draft standards are heavy on pedagogy – not a good idea. They don't require use of the standard algorithms for the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Students don't have to be automatic in their knowledge of basic math facts. The high school standards are not organized in a useful way.

What is going on here? How can we sign on to something that will override our own good work when we don't know what we are signing on to? Why is the possibility of significant money being dangled to make us negate our own earlier efforts when we don't even know that we'll get the money? And, if we do get the money, is it even worth it?

Superintendent Dorn assured us last September that changes to the state standards would be made only after an ample opportunity for public review and comment. SB 6696 provides for a comment period, but it requires the Superintendent to adopt the multistate standards REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE PUBLIC COMMENTS ARE! Please don't let this remain in the bill!

One more outrage: the word is that, when the draft multistate standards are released by the Council of Chief State School Officers, the public will have two and one-half weeks to comment. TWO AND ONE-HALF WEEKS! Ladies and gentlemen, teaching is a second career with me; I retired after 30 years in the Coast Guard. In the Coast Guard, I had some familiarity with changing federal regulations. If we wanted to change the opening hours for Seattle's Fremont Bridge, we had to publish notice in the Federal Register and allow 30 days for public comment. 30 DAYS!

Well, it seems to me that changing the learning standards for students in our state and across the country deserves more than TWO AND ONE-HALF WEEKS for receiving public input. What's the huge rush? SIX MONTHS might be more appropriate. Why are we apparently being snookered here? Does this make any sense?

I plead with you – don't pass any bill that doesn't give Washington final say over what its mathematics standards will be. You – and many others – have invested too much in the major changes we've made to throw that all out and buy a pig in a poke!

Thank you.

T-Shirt - Arbitrary & Capricious in Seattle

The Seattle Math Group announces a hopefully massive fundraiser.

T-Shirt Sales ----- On the front you get this

February 4th, 2010

and on the back you get

… in Seattle

Commemorate this Historic event with a wearable political statement. …. Help bring Washington Constitution Article IX awareness to Central School administrators and School Boards.
Especially suitable for any school board testimony anywhere.

Of course also suitable for any other place where you are normally dismissed as a know nothing.

On the other hand, when you are feeling crabby ….
… it serves as a warning to others.

First shirt is $25 addition shirts are $20 each.

Mixing of colors and sizes is allowable. All sizes and colors are the same price.
Mail your pre-order to:

Include quantity (no estimates actual positive integers please) size (see below) and color as well as shipping address.

We will be contacting you about payment. Paypal will be preferred but checks will be acceptable but shipping will be delayed. Our first run will be on or before March 1. Pay Nothing now.

Colors of shirt – lettering color;

On Black Shirt – white letters

On White Shirt – Navy Blue letters

On Blue Shirt – white letters
all colors available in … s, m, L, XL , XXL, & XXXL

You can also support us without buying a shirt by helping us pay out bills at:

Lots of information there also.

Parents Revolt Against Math Fads
by Joanne Jacobs blogger

Check the comments as well as the posting.

Breaking NEWS!!! from WWC
Charter School performance flat

Just release today February 17th.

The study examined the effect of charter school attendance on annual student achievement growth in math and reading.

The study analyzed data on a large sample of students in grades 1 through 12 who were attending charter schools and traditional public schools in 16 states.


The study found that charter school students’ reading and math test score growth was slightly lower than the test score growth of similar students attending traditional public schools. These differences were small, equivalent to moving a student from the 50th to the 49th percentile in math and less than that in reading.

In old WWC News, August 2008:
Even paying kids to get good grades and using other bribes may raise reading scores but our USA Math programs are so bad..... even that won't raise math scores:

What did the study authors report?

The study found that charters schools that offer student reward and incentive programs had higher gains in reading test scores than charter schools that did not offer these programs. The study found no difference in math test score gains.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You Tube Video : Manual High School Denver.
An Innovation School

Rob Stein principal delivers on his experiences as Manual is reformed as a Site based school. Rob has lots of control over what matters.

This is the exact opposite of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's plan for Seattle Schools.

Denver's overall organization seems just as chaotic and disturbed as Seattle's.

Stein has managed to escape the chaos at Manual High School.
--- ---
Former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice graduated from Manual H.S.

Singapore Math and Schmitz Park :
Seattle Times

Wow!!! It just keeps on coming!!! Another Math Article in the Seattle Times.

More Math results on a High School Test from UW

Much thanks is due Dr. Theo Eicher and Dr. Mass

From: "Cliff Mass"

A UW economic professor, Theo Eicher, gave my math assessment exam to a 400 level (senior) econ class. These kids had to have at least calculus. As expect, they did better than my 101 class..but there are still gaping holes...see the links below...cliff

Professor Clifford F. Mass, Department of Atmospheric Sciences,
University of Washington

There were some significant improvements as all these folks had taken at least Calculus because they were in a 400 level Economics class with 60% Seniors, still there were a few shockers when compared to Dr. Mass's Atmospheric Sciences 101 results.

64^(1/2) = ____ went from 64% to 95%

and 2^(-2) = _____ went from 48% to 76%

Amazingly the formula for the area of a circle = ______ only went from 57% to 59%

with an a,b,c right traingle pictured on the test.
the definition of cosine a = _______ only went from 53% to 67%

Wow .. Algebra II ... PreCalculus .... Calculus and cosine a = ?

See it all on the links above.

Comment #1

That is amazing, Cliff. Economics is a tough and math-based major. One would expect students graduating with a degree in economics to be able to do those problems easily. My son has a Masters Degree in Accounting, I gave him the test and he did every one of the problems in his head (most of them in seconds). He was shocked to find out that students entering the UW would struggle with such an easy test. It is definitely a problem with the way math is taught. Mastery based teaching (as opposed to Inquiry-based) results in student knowledge of such material.


RTI and Math Instruction


RTI and Math Instruction
by Amanda VanDerHeyden, Ph.D., Education Research and Consulting, Inc., Fairhope, AL

Using RTI to Improve Learning in Mathematics

Response to Intervention (RTI) has become a vehicle for system reform because it provides a framework in which data can be relied on as the basis for making relative judgments (e.g., determining who needs help the most and how much they need) and for distributing instructional resources to promote the greatest good for the greatest number of students.
Much of the writing and research on RTI has occurred in the area of reading, but RTI is not limited to reading. Rather, it is a science of decision making that can be applied to a variety of “problem” behaviors. RTI, properly understood and used, is focused on improving student learning. Ensuring the development of mathematics competence during the primary grades is essential to later learning success. Key findings in the literature highlight the need to focus on early mathematics instruction:

1.... Children who have had less experience or exposure to mathematical concepts and numeracy are at high risk for mathematics failure (Griffin & Case, 1997).

2.... Most students fail to meet minimal mathematics proficiency standards by the end of their formal schooling (U.S. Department of Education, 2003).

3.... Students identified with specific learning disabilities perform lower and grow at a slower pace relative to their peers in learning mathematics.

4.... Existing instructional tools and textbooks often do a poor job of adhering to important instructional principles for learning in mathematics (National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008).

5.... Math is highly proceduralized and continually builds on previous knowledge for successful learning. Hence, early deficits have enduring and devastating effects on later learning, as indicated in The Head Start Path to Positive Child Outcomes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001) and elsewhere (e.g., National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 2000; U.S. Department of Education, 2003).

6.... Early mathematics intervention can repair deficits and prevent future deficits (Clements & Sarama, 2007; Fuchs, Fuchs, & Karns, 2001; Fuchs, Fuchs, Yazdian, & Powell, 2002; Griffin & Case, 1997; Sophian, 2004).

In mathematics, a reform process similar to what occurred in reading in the 1990s appears to be underway. ... ... ....

Skydiving without Parachutes :
Oligarchs finally lose one

......Yet, school boards repeatedly tell parents the equivalent of “Yes you can jump out of an airplane without a parachute if it’s done the right way.” And of course, to be done the right way, instructors must be trained properly. It is obvious to the parents that for the various discovery math programs they are fighting against, no amount of training will make a difference because the programs are inherently bad. But school boards have had their minds made up.

.........Process trumps content: if students can show the thought process, it doesn’t matter if they get the right answer or not. Parents in affluent communities know this. In poorer communities, there isn’t as much protest.

I am hopeful that the Seattle court decision will at least force evidence to be considered. Of course, this means that school boards may now carefully craft answers to dismiss evidence that is presented and come to a decision that won’t be ruled arbitrary and capricious. But at least they will have to work a bit harder in refuting the evidence that jumping out of airplanes without parachutes leads to death.

In the comments to the article:

The Seattle's Central Administration said: They will appeal the Judge's decision. Appeal on what grounds?

I guess they will appeal on their right to continue to "Arbitrarily and Capriciously" violate article IX of the state constitution:
"It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex. "

Who does this Judge think she is, questioning the rights of the "SPS Oligarchy"?

Quite a forceful argument right?


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bellevue, Issaquah school districts seek legal advice on texts after court decisions

Quality of reporting is abysmal.

If you want to learn something read the comments after you read the article.

The Newspaper industry is failing to deliver much of a product here.

However they have provided a good venue for information the "comments".

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Do more AP classes = more Learning?

Charlie Hoff writes:

Recently the College Board released some important information on the success, and failures of the Advanced Placement exams. Advanced Placement (AP) exams are supposed to be “College Level” courses offered in high schools and they are sponsored by College Board.

Some comments that I have collected, mostly from Washington writers are as follows:

“Of the 2009 graduating class (Washington), 16 percent of all students scored a 3 or higher on the five-point scale”

“Show up for class. Don't be late. Do the work. Push yourself. Apply for internships. Apply to college. Never stop learning.”

“We must also expect more from our local school districts.”

“A few years ago they (College Board) started to look at what schools were calling an AP course, and making schools submit syllabi, etc. But if these scores don’t start to improve, one has to wonder what is going on in the classroom. The people who should really be paying attention, however, aren’t at the College Board. It’s students and parents that should really take notice.”

Locally we learned that the International Baccalaureate program, now 10 years old in Federal Way has moved from 6 graduates a year to only 36 in 10 years!

What we hear from the school district is the number taking AP or IB courses. I was snookered into thinking that this was an indication of increased achievement for many years. until I learned that taking the course isn’t really an indication of any advancing achievement.
Taking the exam and passing it with a college acceptable score is. Here we don’t do so well.

The School District will gleefully tell you that over 600 kids are taking an IB course, but they don’t tell you that most are not taking the test and passing it! As suggested in one of the quotes above, school districts have taken to “Labeling” courses as “IB” or “AP” that are not preparing kids for the exams. Doesn’t it sound good? Snookered me for several years.

What’s the problem here? Successful IB students, and their parents, will tell you that this level of learning takes some significant time and thinking commitments. Perhaps there is not a lot of time for “Hanging out,” MySpace, or any other distractions. In fact some parents have suggested they would not want their kids to do this again!

What are we expecting from our schools if we “Say” we want increased rigor, but we want this without increased study efforts? Are we still looking for the magic bullet that will allow this to be done in a “Multitasking” environment?

A local college admissions official tells us that when he asks Washington applicants “What did you learn in school that caused you to more deeply investigate this topic for your own benefit?” He draws a blank from some otherwise very qualified applicants and this usually eliminates them from consideration for admission!

Is this a matter of “Reduced Expectations?” I think so! Both by schools that continue to give passing report card grades to those who cannot pass the AP or IB exams, in many cases to appease the students or parent, and parents who are not being truthful about their expectations for their children.

A few years ago there was a national poll of students and parents about what was the most desirable attribute of a school. Both groups wanted “Satisfaction!” Often this isn’t closely related to “Rigor!”

What do you suppose a poll like this would say about Asian parents, parents in Korea, Japan, India, Singapore, or Taiwan?

I will close with Robertson Davies famous quote, I believe still very valid, about education.

"Education is hard work, not play, and its rewards are a seriously informed , wide ranging attitude towards real life, and the beginning of a great adventure."

Forget Waldo, Where is Everyday Math?

In the recently updated well controlled longitudinal study of elementary math programs, Everyday Math is oddly missing.


How can this be?

Seven math programs dominate 91% of the market and Everyday is #1.
Where are they?

It seems that programs were competitively selected.
I think Everyday Math purposely chose NOT to compete.

I could be wrong, perhaps the investigators figured TERC/Investigations was close enough to EDM so they picked TERC over EDM.

Many of us are sadly disappointed as we are certain that TERC and EDM are among the worse math programs ever created. We were looking forward to finding out which of these two is the most ineffective elementary instructional math program of the last 70 years.

Now well reasoned conjecture based on available evidence still leaves the "Title of Worse Elementary School Math Program Ever" in doubt.

Seattle's switching from TERC to EDM expanded already huge achievement gaps for Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Low Income and English Language Learning students. WOW!!! that is 6 out of 6 a double hat trick.

But TERC can counter with their clearly last place finish in a well controlled study of 4 elementary math series. Oh if only EDM had been there.

The other side of Obama's STEM
..from Stemology

Check this out:

Friday, February 12, 2010

But trust us… We’re the experts (another Discovery)

Mike speaks out on discovery.

“…but what about the "validity" that teaching procedural computation hinders student's conceptual understanding.”

We’ve heard that one for years, but I’ve never seen credible research to back it up. The fuzzies claim that teaching the standards algorithm impedes conceptual understanding because it impedes the student’s conceptual understanding of place value. Poppy-cock. That’s like saying that teaching someone to drive a car impedes their conceptual understanding of the workings of an internal combustion engine. Or, that teaching someone to tune a radio impedes their conceptual understanding of the differentiation between amplitude modulation and frequency modulation. The formers are tools of manipulation that work; the latter are concepts. Successful & expedient tools of manipulation are building blocks towards the acquisition of the critical mass of domain knowledge required to begin to achieve conceptual understanding. Requiring students to achieve conceptual understanding first, and then invent their own tools of manipulation, is a roadmap to the stone-age.

“Ok now kids… instead of teaching you how to drive a car, we are going to introduce you to the concept of the internal combustion engine. Then later, when you’re at home with your parents and your substandard curriculum, you must master this concept on your own. Then, armed with your new-found conceptual understanding of the internal combustion engine, you will design & build your own automobile. Through this process, you will miraculously learn to drive on your own, making your achievement more relevant to you. I know this would seem to defy logic, but trust us… we’re the experts.”

Asked & Answered on Common Core Standards
That was then, This is now!

Folks, last year Laurie Rogers of Spokane asked:
the federal government,
the governor's office and
OSPI about the national standards.

She got nothing from the federal government, despite a formal request for public information.

From the governor's office, she received heavily redacted documents and a referral to Judy Hartmann, who wouldn't call her back. Laurie persisted and Ms. Hartmann finally agreed to talk. She told her on the record that BEFORE the state signed on to the national standards, the state would follow the same process as our own standards - the standards would have to pass muster with the SBE, the superintendent, and the legislators.

On August 3, 2009, also after a formal request for public information, Laurie finally received this from Alan Burke, OSPI:

"I received your request for information regarding the common core standards initiative led by NGA and CCSSO. Responses to each of your questions are provided below:

1... Is this effort supported politically, practically or financially by the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) and/or the White House?

This question should be directed to the US Department of Education or the Obama Administration for an appropriate response.

2... How has the public been notified of Washington's participation?

Education leaders in Washington State have been notified about the CCSSO/NGA initiative for common core standards in regional and statewide meetings. The general public has been notified through press reports about the initiative.

3... The NGA/CCSSO talks about an "ongoing development process that can support continuous improvement of this first version." Will there therefore be an annual cost to taxpayers?

It is unknown to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) if there will be annual costs to taxpayers related to the development of the common core standards.

4... Does OSPI support the section in the MOA called "Federal Role"?

Once the common core standards are analyzed by OSPI with respect to their alignment to current standards for our state and a decision is made about Washington’s participation in this effort, a decision will be made with respect to accepting federal assistance.

5... Washington just revised its standards at a cost upward of $1.6 million.

Why is this state participating in this new movement?

What will be the cost to Washington taxpayers? If the cost is nothing, what kind of participation is it?

Washington has not decided to participate in implementation of the standards conceived of by this movement. OSPI has agreed to study the documents produced by CCSSO and NGA as the process evolves. Additionally, any costs to taxpayers is unknown.

6... Under what specific authority did Superintendent Dorn sign Washington on to this movement without public notification, input or consent?

Washington has not made a commitment to implement national standards; we have agreed to study the documents produced.

7... Who advised Superintendent Dorn on this effort? When did Washington State receive notice of this movement? How long was Washington given to decide whether to sign the MOA?

CCSSO is the organization advising OSPI about this movement, and OSPI first received notice on April 17, 2009. States were given approximately 3 weeks to sign the MOA.

8. Under what conditions will Washington refuse federal incentives to implement these new national standards? Who decides?

The decision process and conditions which would result in refusal of federal incentives to implement the proposed national standards is unknown at this time.

9. States had to agree that the CCS would represent "at least 85%" of the state's language arts and math standards. What happens if they only like 40%?

Adoption of the common core state standards is voluntary for states; if a percentage sharply greater than 15 percent of the proposed national standards are not acceptable, OSPI will not implement the standards in Washington State.

10... Will current federal funding be grandfathered for states that reject the CCS?

Federal fiscal impacts of not implementing common core standards are unknown at this time.

11. Once most of the states adopt these national standards, how will parents assess the standards to see if they're rigorous enough?

The process for parental review of the proposed common core standards is unknown at this time.

12. In this process, there appears to have been no public notice, no public comment, no public vote. When will voters have a say?

The process and timeline for public comment on the proposed common core standards is unknown at this time.

13. The MOA talks about a National Policy Forum comprised of "signatory national organizations" that will share ideas and build "public will and support."

Who are these organizations? Please contact CCSSO or NGA for an appropriate response regarding this information.

How will additions and deletions to this forum be made and announced? Unknown

How will the public be involved in this forum? Unknown

As this national movement progresses, I expect that public communications will become appropriate should Washington decide to take any formal action.

Alan Burke, Ed.D.

Deputy Superintendent K-12 Education, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Conceptual Understanding

In thinking about conceptual inderstanding, I bumped into the following, on "Why Long Division":

It contained the following:


* These skills ARE critical in today's technological society.
* What many math educators tell us represent examples and exercises for developing these skills are NOT relevant and/or NOT correct.


* For example, three of the 14 problems originally proposed by the presidential commission on the eighth grade national mathematics text and/or the "solutions" they gave were INCORRECT. This commission included many of the best known math education experts in the country.

News for Needham: Everyday = Yuck!!!

Here is a letter to the editor for February 25th, regarding Needham Schools Elementary Math adoption process thus far.
Needham’s Director of Curriculum is in the midst of reviewing our elementary school math curriculum. Her team has decided that we will not be renewing our subscription to the failed Investigations reform-math program. Thank goodness! Unfortunately, she is planning to replace the failed program with an equally terrible program called Everyday Math. Another reform program, Everyday Math has been criticized nationwide by mathematicians, parents, and educators.

Everyday Math has not proven to be an effective curriculum. {HERE} In districts around the country that adopted the program, achievement gaps increased. Everyday Math relies heavily on a continuous review approach called “spiraling”** that was solidly dismissed as counterproductive by the National Math Panel. It also fails to cover standard methods for calculation and it is not aligned with the Common Core Standards about to be released by the federal government.

It is imperative that every parent become informed on this topic. Children who are educated using this method hit a wall when they reach higher math (algebra) and require extensive tutoring to get caught up. It can be demoralizing and often the children never catch up.

For a quick overview of Investigations and Everyday Math, there is an excellent YouTube video by M.J. McDermott called Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth.

Several years ago I realized there were problems with my son’s math education at Newman when I looked over his Investigations workbooks. I knew he was not learning what he needed to know. I heard similar concerns from parents all over Needham. Ever since, he and my younger two children have been receiving their core math instruction outside of the Needham public schools. I think this is sad and unnecessary. There are better programs. If Everyday Math is selected (or a similar program called Think Math), afterschool teaching will be required indefinitely.

Our Director of Curriculum has dismissed stronger, proven programs like Singapore and Saxon for irrelevant or incorrect reasons. With a strong bias for the now-discredited reform math programs, she dismisses hard evidence in favor of subjective measures consistent with her personal preferences.

I hope our School Committee will step up and insist that Everyday Math be rejected. We owe it to our children to give them a great education in every subject – including math!

While an initial WWC review cited potentially positive effects .. Seattle's first two years of EDM use found these instructional materials ineffective and in fact increased the achievement gaps for each of the following sub-groups: Black, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, Low Income, and English Language Learning students.

It must be noted that Seattle's math achievement gaps were already huge from TERC/Investigations use. While math gaps were growing larger from TERC use, Seattle's reading achievement gaps shrank considerably. (note to Needham schools: this is looking at evidence, try it sometime.)

McLaren et al. won a lawsuit in Seattle, which was partially based on the damaging effects of EDM use on the 6 sub-groups listed above.
John Hattie in his book Visible Learning mentions that medicine began making giant improvement when evidence was used in decision making. He points out that the k-12 education field has made little improvement in large part because of the failure to use evidence.

W. Edwards Deming stated: "To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data."

It is quite apparent that Math decision-makers in Needham at the elementary level are failing to heed the wisdom provided by Hattie and Deming; preferring instead to use what??? .... My guess is they only use "Club Ed Elite" bias in decision-making.

In many districts Everyday Math is referred to as All Day Everyday Math because the lessons take seemingly forever to get through. The spiraling model used by EDM is as follows ... little mastery is ever required ... instead over several school years there is a shotgun approach to a huge number of topics and each year far too many are shallowly covered. The EDM plan is for 5 steps for each topic which is "called a learning goal":
1.. introducing
2.. introducing/developing
3.. developing
4.. developing/securing
5.. securing

Hattie reports effect sizes as follows:
0.59 = Direct Instruction
0.59 = Study Skills
0.58 = Mastery Learning
0.57 = Worked Examples

0.31 = Inquiry Based Teaching
0.15 = Problem Based Learning

EDM uses little if any of the top 4 preferring the bottom two.

This looks much like a replay from the past. See below:

0.60 = Phonics Instruction

0.06 = Whole Language

Will Needham Public Schools never learn?

If evidence is never used it is clear they will not.


See also:
"One Step Ahead of the Train Wreck" by Barry Garelick

and "The Case for Everyday Math" by Everyday's Andy Isaacs of "The University of Chicago School of Mathematics Project". Isaacs makes it clear that EDM is about its own "Focus Algorithms" not the four Standard Algorithms used by many to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. It seems the EDM preferred method of division is to pick up a calculator and focus.

Seattle School Board President Michael DeBell explaining his analysis of reform math as a noble attempt that has failed and how as a "newbie director" in May of 2007 he voted for Everyday Math. A vote he now regrets.

General Math information is available at
and for a counter view point
that pushes the reform math that Michael DeBell now sees as a failed experiment
Mathematically Sane
Seattle, Washington – February 4, 2010 – Judge Julie Spector today announced her finding of “arbitrary and capricious” in the Seattle School Board's May 6 vote to adopt the Discovering Math series of high school texts despite insufficient evidence of the series' effectiveness.

Judge Spector's decision states, “The court finds, based upon a review of the entire administrative record, that there is insufficient evidence for any reasonable Board member to approve the selection of the Discovering series.”

Wow!!! remember what Hattie said about evidence in k-12 education decision making.
This lack of evidence is a national education viral epidemic. Will the sick school systems ever recover? Not likely without applying evidence......

"For to improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data."

I carefully read the October 25, 2009 letter on the k-5 Mathematics Program sent to Dan Gutekanst, Needham Schools Superintendent by the Director of Program Development, the k-5 Math Curriculum and Instructional Leader, and a Principal.

I cannot find a single shred of usable evidence in it.

It is like needing a really good tractor
and handing folks rating forms based on Sport car beauty.

Then compiling the evidence and thinking that is relevant data on which to buy a tractor.

( Data on the pulling power of tractors is readily available but who would use that???? Clearly not people in the know.)
** Everyday Math's incoherent Spiraling** should not be confused with Saxon Math's shuffling which as aimed at mastery of material.

K-12 Common Core Standards --DRAFT FOR PUBLIC INPUT
2 weeks for public comment

NOTICE: K-12 Common Core Standards--DRAFT FOR PUBLIC INPUT

“Our best guess is that the public drafts will be made available sometime in late February or the first week in March.

"CCSSO/NGA have assured states that the window for public input will remain 2–2 ½ weeks long.

“We hope that once the public draft is released you will take time
{but not much time} to provide input on these important documents via the online surveys.”

A few comments so far:

2-2½ weeks for “facilitated” input via easy to manipulate online surveys? Are they kidding? Has everyone gone insane?

It is incredible. More care and time goes into the production of engineering standards than they seem to be willing to spend on a standard that effects the math education of every kid in the country. Unbelievable! Who are these people?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Common Core Standards ... what??????

In regard to SB6696 now working its way in Olympia toward becoming law...hopefully NOT.

The Common Core Standards, Phil Daro is on the math writing team. The states are signing on sight unseen to CCSS. Wow we are having our legislators sign on for an unknown product. This looks like a Race to the Bank from here for vested interests. Race to the Top ... top of what ... we don't even know what the standards are going to say.  In WA state Daro and the Dana center took $770,000 and failed to deliver a satisfactory product. The legislature did not like the product and rejected it. Now we are going to buy another unseen product..... good luck with that.

note: Even though Phil Daro is on the writing team, W. Stephen Wilson is one level removed on the official watching team. The CCSS could be quite good but what if they are not?

Try a local school board leader's thoughts.
Michael DeBell Seattle School Board President says.....

Me, I would prefer local control not federal mandates on our schools.

Contact you WA legislator and tell them NO Thanks on CCSS the Common Core Standards, until they see what they are buying into.


When Seattle screws up we can go to Superior Court ....

With common core the Feds will essentially own us and we will have little recourse.

I don't wish to buy that. Do you?

We in WA state just wrote improved Math Standards that are NON-Dana Center like., maybe the CCSS are better or maybe not ... can we see the product please before buying?

Can we inspect it? Do we have 7 days to return this item in unused condition?

Look at what Michael DeBell says. He did not have the vote go his way and got junk in Seattle ( but judge Spector provided us recourse ). We may not be so lucky if CCSS is junky.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Plan for Stopping on going Nonsense

Dear Seattle School Directors, 2-10-2010

I have huge concerns about the process that the SPS and the Board used, which resulted in the approval of the $800,000 NTN contract for Cleveland STEM on Feb 3, 2010.

Both the process and the result were pathetic.

Below you will find some bolded portions of an NCES document.

How the CAO Susan Enfield can be speaking about Calculus Required with the mathematically unprepared students coming from Southeast schools, which use the district's inferior k-8 math instructional materials, is completely beyond my understanding.

I believe it is likely that Ms. Enfield is a very nice person, has the best interests of many at heart, and interacts well in professional learning environments but good intentions are not a substitute for intelligent decision making based on evidence.

The AP Calculus "AB" exam is scored from 1 to 5. The SPS has had high Schools that average scores below 2 in fact below 1.5 ... why create a situation that guarantees this below 1.5 situation at Cleveland?

The SPS Staff failed to provide any ( I mean any as in ZERO) empirical evidence that measured the quality of NTN schools. [Why I and Ms. Diaz do the research and those that are paid do none puzzles me.] In the time from beginning my research on January 16, 2010 to the final 4-2 Board approval on February 3, 2010 I and Meg Diaz provided you with more than sufficient evidence needed to make a decision to reject the proposal.

In spite of the fact there was insufficient evidence for any reasonable Board member to approve the NTN contract, four directors did so, apparently by once again neglecting to use empirical evidence provided by the public.

In the successfully appealed math decision of February 4, 2010, the board failed to use the input from public testimony and other communications. A fundamental underpinning of TEAM McLaren's win was the submission of the public's submissions to the Board, which the Board chose not to use in making an "Arbitrary and Capricious" decision.

It certainly appears that February 3, 2010 was a replay of the same flawed and neglectful process used on May 6, 2009 and on May 30, 2007. This is a pattern that the Board needs to Stop.

I have no idea if I can mount the resources necessary to appeal what clearly was an "Arbitrary and Capricious" decision, the execution of which will violate article IX.

I hope that a coalition of citizens and civic organizations can band together and stop yet another SPS action that neglects the needs of educationally disadvantaged learners.

I would urge you to read the research and abandon project based learning for mathematics instruction as well as abandoning an extremely misguided Calculus requirement, as outlined below in the NCES bolding. Again Problem Based Learning has an effect size of 0.15 and all NTN schools are under-performers, why would anyone vote for that?

I would suggest that "The Algebra Readiness System"
from the Mind Reserch Institute, which includes the the three volume text "A Blueprint for the Foundations of Algebra" be used.

I would also suggest you immediately contact NTN and suspend the contract.

In closing, I ask once again for the evidence that making every school a quality school is attainable under Dr. Goodloe-Johnson' s current direction. What is the Superintendent' s plan to increase school quality? Remember "Every School a Quality school" is the foundation of the Student Assignment Plan. So far the STEM Option at Cleveland appears to be doing the exact opposite by sucking resources away from schools that need it.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

The Dummies Guide to:
....... The Seattle Court's Math ruling

Charlie Mas is among Seattle's best Education Bloggers:

Blogger Charlie Mas said...

I've re-read the judge's decision, and I think it comes down to this:

Inquiry-based math instruction has been demonstrated as non-effective, particularly with ELL students.
(This kind of book sucks)

The adopted texts support inquiry-based instruction only.
(The Discovering Math books suck)

Therefore, no reasonable Board member could select the materials from Key Curriculum Press.
(It's stupid to pick books that suck)

Honestly, I think that the only Board action that could be compliant with the order would be either the rejection of the Discovery Series or some really astonishing combination of evidence and argument that shows that inquiry-based math works for anyone and for ELL students in particular. The easier of the two paths would be former.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

LWSD looking at enVision and Math Connects "Only"


Redmond, Wash. – The Lake Washington School District Elementary Math Adoption Committee has narrowed the curricula to be considered for adoption to two possibilities, enVision Math (Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley) and Math Connects (McMillan-McGraw Hill). These two finalists were selected after a parent input process that included four public meetings and Web input.

Discovering Series is shot down again.

A hearing was held before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee on February 5th in the Key Press action disputing the recommendation of HOLT math only and rejection of "Discovering". After argument by counsel for the parties,

Judge McPhee ruled in OSPI’s favor affirming the Superintendent’s decision and dismissing the petition filed by Key Curriculum Press.

The court concluded (under the legal standard in RCW 34.05.570(4)(c)(ii) and (iii) of the APA) that the Superintendent’s decision was consistent with the statutory authority set forth in RCW 28A.305.215(7) and was not arbitrary or capricious.

The final order is expected to be entered in the case next week.

Wow!!! what a bad week for Key Press. Lost in Seattle on Thursday and in Olympia on Friday.

Architecture 101 for Kids, Teens and Adults

Architecture 101 for Kids, Teens and Adults for winter break and more.

What Is Learned
The emphasis for each class is dependent on the age of the students. Each class is taught by exploring ideas through drawing and model making.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mathematically Unsound "Discovering" Reviews

You can find links to all 25 pages on W. Stephen Wilson's home page HERE.


A few basic goals of high school mathematics will be looked at closely in the top programs chosen for high school by the state of Washington. Our concern will be with the mathematical development and coherence of the programs and not with issues of pedagogy.


Wilson On Discovering Algebra and Discovering Advanced Algebra:

Summary: In addition to the failure to deal with basic foundational issues associated with symmetry, the material is skewed toward the study of graphs rather than the study of quadratic functions. The low status afforded the functions and the algebra of the functions is disturbing. While the two textbooks have a nice collection of problems, including max/min problems, they have seldom done the mathematics to justify the solutions they find. Algebra tends to be better than Advanced Algebra in its development of the mathematics. However, logic breaks down at many points in the presentation. We have issues with the lack of development of symmetry, and going through three decimal place approximations using a calculator to end up with a precise function makes no sense. In this way and others, graphing calculators are used to undermine the structure of the mathematics. The logic of finite differences is not presented. Discovering relies on its claim to have shown that all quadratics are transformations of the function x-squared but it is a spurious claim. These problems detract from this program and keep it from being consistent, coherent, and mathematically sound.


Wilson on Discovering Geometry:

Summary: The text consists of 690 pages of inductive geometry followed by a short attempt to do rigorous deductive geometry. Unfortunately, the rigorous attempt depends on vague and “discovered” definitions scattered throughout the first 690 pages. This is a highly unsatisfactory geometry text.

Wilson on Holt Algebra:
Summary: Algebra 2 is much better than Algebra 1. In Algebra 1 formulas are given to you and the unjustified “second differences” is used. One could think of this as an empirical introduction, but it is perhaps better to avoid such an approach. The attempt to deal with symmetry is begun in Algebra 2 by actually showing that x2 is symmetrical around the y-axis. Transformations that take this parent function to the general quadratic in vertex form are quite explicit. Then Algebra 2 shows how to go between the general standard and vertex forms of quadratics. This is the best attempt at doing symmetry of the four programs. Much more detail would be better even here. The vertex and the line of symmetry area actually calculated. Although there are many well-conceived problems, there are few that require the students to produce quadratic functions or equations rather than solve those given in the problem.

Wilson on Holt Geometry:
Summary: The main criticism of this program is the use of redundant postulates. The mathematics is all in order. This is a sound, coherent presentation of the triangle sum theorem.



0.4 Criteria and Method
The task was to examine the mathematical soundness of the programs in relation to the aforementioned five standards. Pedagogy, per se, was not considered. I used the following criteria for mathematical soundness:
1. Mathematical justification
• Are central theorems stated and proved?
• Are solution methods to problems, conditions, and relations justified?
• Does the program develop norms for mathematical justification, where students gradually learn that empirical observations do not constitute justifications, though they can be a source for forming conjectures?
2. Symbolism and structure
• Does the program emphasize algebraic manipulations and reasoning in general terms?
• Is there an explicit attempt to help students organize what they have learned into a coherent logical structure?
• Does the program attend to crucial elements of deductive reasoning, such as “existence” and “uniqueness,” “necessary condition” and “sufficient condition,” and the distinction among “definition,” “theorem,” and “postulate?”
3. Language
• Is the language used clear and accurate?

Harel on Discovering:

2.4 Summary
The text does not justify fundamental theorems on linear and quadratic functions. In different places and in different contexts these theorems are demonstrated empirically. A common approach throughout the text is to present the problems and material through non-holistic problems, which mask the big ideas intended for students to learn. Consistently the text generalizes from empirical observations without attention to mathematical structure and justifications. There is nothing wrong with beginning with particular cases to understand something and make a conjecture about it. In many cases it is advantageous to do so and sometimes even necessary. However, students need to learn the difference between a conjecture generated from particular cases and an assertion that has been proved deductively. Unfortunately, the demarcation line between empirical reasoning and deductive reasoning is very vague in this program.
The approach the program applies to geometry is similar to that applies to algebra. It, too, amounts to empirical observations of geometric facts; it has little or nothing to do with deductive geometry. There is definitely a need for intuitive treatment of geometry in any textbook, especially one intended for high-school students. But the experimental geometry presented in the first 700 pages of the book is not utilized to develop geometry as deductive system. Most, if not all, assertions appear in the form of conjectures and most of the conjectures are not proved. It is difficult, if not impossible, to systematically differentiate which of the conjectures are postulates and which are theorems. It is difficult to learn from this text what a mathematical definition is or to distinguish between a necessary condition and sufficient condition.