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

1 comment:

concerned said...

Great work going on in cognitive load theory. Here are a couple more items of interest:

It will be argued that all evidence supporting the discovery elements of constructivist theory is based on studies that failed to vary the type and amount of guidance provided. It is also argued that the debate can be resolved by reference to research that systematically varies the type, amount, and beneficiaries of instructional guidance needed to solve problems or perform tasks.

p. 164
For the past half-century,studies examining the interaction between student aptitudes and different forms of instructional treatments (most often called aptitude x treatment or ATI studies)have consistently reported that students with lower ability levels and/or less prior knowledge and/or lower motivation are more vulnerable to learning difficulties when instruction is incomplete, unstructured,or gives inaccurate information (e.g., Cronbach & Snow, 1977; Kyllonen & Lajoie, 2003).

p. 174
Guidance advocates (e.g., Mayer, 2004; Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2006;Sweller, Kirschner, & Clark, 2007)argue that cognitive architecture places severe restrictions on working-memory capacity and so forced guidance allows students to allocate limited cognitive capacity to learning a successful performance routine without limiting transfer. They present consistent evidence from the past half-century where guidance results in significantly more learning than constructing solutions to problems and tasks.

p. 24
One does read claims that such cognitive analyses are no longer relevant to the new curriculum standards but such claims are simply false. Instead, we have found that the learning of the new curriculum consists of componential learning just like the old curriculum (Koedinger, Anderson, Hadley & Mark, 1995). It is every bit as important to practice these components of “new look” curriculum to achieve a high level of mastery as it was to practice the components of the “traditional” curriculum.