Friday, February 12, 2010

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.

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