Wednesday, February 17, 2010

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.

No comments: