Wednesday, October 27, 2010

48th is Not a Good Place : NY Times

48th Is Not a Good Place Published: October 26, 2010

The National Academies, the country’s leading advisory group on science and technology, warned in 2005 that unless the United States improved the quality of math and science education, at all levels, it would continue to lose economic ground to foreign competitors.

and Blah, Blah, Blah

About this piece Al says:

Their conclusion is SO flawed: "Too often, science curriculums are grinding and unimaginative, which may help explain why more than half of all college science majors quit the discipline before they earn their degrees."

How about the lack of math ability that dooms many to failure? Ya think?

Al is exactly spot on. To be more precise the lack of ability, to which Al refers, comes from lack of skills. Note the solution that this NYT article proposes does little to remedy the poor results coming from the widespread use of too much Discovery/Inquiry teaching in both math and science in the USA.

It seems that few if any of the "big gun Education decision-makers" care to acknowledge the truth contained in John Hattie's Visible Learning that shows the following effect sizes:

The SPS continues to use ineffective methods, which produce poor results, when proven
better methods are available. John Hattie’s reported effect sizes in Visible Learning are:

Problem Based Learning 0.15
Inquiry based learning 0.31
Direct Instruction 0.59
Mastery learning 0.61

The Seattle Central Admin pushes what does not work far too much “Project Based Learning & Inquiry” and ignores what works. The Everyday Math pacing plan is a prime example. Defective materials made worse through pacing.

The National Math panel calls for increased “Explicit Instruction” for students struggling to learn math. To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. Will Seattle ever intelligently apply relevant data?

Try these results (graph here) in Advanced Algebra, from the High Tech Project Based Learning school New Tech Sacramento, this is a demonstration school that Seattle is paying $800,000 to copy.
New Tech Network schools by contract must use Project Based Learning as the primary instructional mode in all classes. So in the words of Dr. Phil: "How's that working out?"

At New Tech Sacramento:
Of Advanced Algebra
50 students tested on
CA State End of Course testing in 2009 ==>

0 Advanced
1 proficient
2 basic
18 below basic
29 far below basic

New Technology High in Sacramento is one of the older NTN schools. It has been stated that these schools get better over time. Test scores at NT Sacramento have not.
California classifies schools each year with API numbers. The API rankings are determined by academic performance standing relative to all CA schools. A 10 = highest 10% of CA schools and a 1 = lowest 10%, thus a 6 is slightly above average and a 5 is slightly below.

Here are API rankings for NT Sacramento & enrollment:
Year : API ranking : enrollment
2005 .:..:. 6 .:..:. 240
2006 .:..:. 5 .:..:. 239
2007 .:..:. 4 .:..:. 236
2008 .:..:. 3 .:..:. 223

The Seattle administration did a poor job of researching NTN schools prior to selection. Why are they not disclosing the actual performance of NTN schools? Instead they say all 41 NTN schools are successful.

So here is yet another article or editorial from the New York Times that follows the same formula as most of the other NYT education thoughts.

#1.. There is a problem.

#2.. A proposed change is put forth which masquerades as a solution to the problem.

#3.. The original problem continues largely unchanged despite the full implementation of the proposed change.

#4.. Repeat #1, #2, and #3.

To which Al responds:
Or in this case (math) the "original problem" is not just largely unchanged when implementation of the "solution" occurs, it is actually actively made worse. From what I have seen since 1981 moving around so much, I think there is a HUGE chunk of "middle kids" that would have been able to get a solid math education in the early 70s that now are eliminated from math-related pursuits because the reform approach has convinced them they can NEVER learn!

Must we be doomed to operate under the dictates of moron leaders for eternity in education? Apparently so given the limited range of coverage and analysis in the NYT.

Its the defective instructional materials, pedagogy and the curricula. Without foundational skills, students are left to flounder in a sea of expensive gadgets purchased from vendors.

Education in the USA focuses around NO VENDOR LEFT BEHIND.

"To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data."
-- W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

It would help if the NYT kept Deming's words in mind, rather than continuing to produce more educationally misleading recommendations and analyses.

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