Monday, July 27, 2015

Problems with Common Core Math

Wayne Bishop PhD.  who taught at Cal State LA and worked with Jaime "Stand and Deliver" Escalante's high school kids,  puts forth these thoughts.

Youngsters who struggle with math simply need their teachers to show them how to do the math and then practice themselves how to do it—a lot! Why is such instruction so hard for them to come by?

The question may have been rhetorical but the answer is obvious and, regrettably, endorsed nationally by Common Core-Math.  The “professional” math ed industry has had a love affair with Constructivism for decades so teachers are taught and centrally-approved math curricula reflects heavy emphasis on small learning groups using manipulatives with everybody - even the “facilitator” (as opposed to knowledgeable teacher teaching) - discovering heretofore unknown mathematics including a variety of equally-valued computational algorithms.  A na├»ve mathematician can read the chapter, that is an immediate preamble to all actual math content specifications, Standards for Mathematical Practice, and exclaim, “Right on!”  Having first worked with its primary author and one of the three primary authors of the entire CCSS-M almost 30 years ago, Phil Daro, my immediate reaction was, “We’re dead.  From here on, everything is rearranging deck chairs.”  That is, in spite of the language, it will be interpreted exactly as he intended that it be interpreted, a national endorsement for Constructivism.

  Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institute recently nailed it in his “Implementing CCSS-M”:

From the Conclusion

In the study of numbers, a coherent K-12 math curriculum, similar to that of the previous California and Massachusetts frameworks, can be sketched in a few short sentences.  Addition with whole numbers (including the standard algorithm) is taught in first grade, subtraction in second grade, multiplication in third grade, and division in fourth grade.  Thus, the study of whole number arithmetic is completed by the end of fourth grade.  Grades five through seven focus on rational numbers (fractions, decimals, percentages), and grades eight through twelve study advanced mathematics.  Proficiency is sought along three dimensions:  1) fluency with calculations, 2) conceptual understanding, 3) ability to solve problems.

 ‘It is true that standards, any standards, cannot control implementation, especially the twists and turns in how they are interpreted by educators and brought to life in classroom instruction. But in this case, the standards themselves are responsible for the myriad approaches, many unproductive, that we are sure to see as schools teach various algorithms under the Common Core.”

Career and College Ready for All ???? No WAY

Washington State ACT results for Career and College Readiness

In 2014 14,667 Washington State HS Graduates took the ACT test.  This was approximately 22% of the graduates in Washington State.

The following percents of this group met the ACT benchmarks in each area.

English 74%
Reading 58%
Math 62%
Science 52%
All Four 41%  <= These students are really College Ready.

What about the other students in this 14,667 group of graduates that decided to take the ACT?

The following percent of students missed the benchmark score by 3 or more points in each area.

English 19%
Reading 30%
Math 31%
Science 35%

It is really time to put in place graduation requirements that realistically deal with reality.

Career or College ready ==>

General Diploma

Academic Diploma - current requirements

Advanced Academic Diploma => 3.0+ GPA and meet all 4 ACT benchmarks .. 4 credits of English and Math credits through Pre-Calculus etc.

5% of Black students tested show college ready in 4 areas of ACT

ACT report for 2014  National and States scores  & African American Students

 241,678 African-American students took the ACT in 2014

Here are the percents of students that met ACT benchmarks in various disciplines.

Black students percent in (  )  

English 64% ( 34% )

Reading 44% ( 17% )

Math 43% ( 14 % )

Science 37% ( 10% )

All Four Subjects 26% ( 5% )

When will WA State stop the fraud of "Career & College Ready" Graduation requirements?

Parents want to know grades their schools got - says Washington Policy Center

The Washington Policy Center on July 25, 2015 proclaimed THIS.

A quick look at the chart provided by WPC shows a bell shaped distribution of schools and assigned ratings.  Note the "Letter Grades" are from the policy center.  The state provides descriptions.

The descriptions give a parent very little information.  The WPC's grades are deceptive.
Look at the WPC labeled " F- " schools.  A quick look at the schools in the lowest 5% of the state's schools shows high student poverty and many other factors that produce educationally disadvantaged students.  This can hardly be remedied by school choice.

Yet WPC faults the schools and suggests school choice is a solution.

The WPC needs to be demanding an abandonment of one-size-fits-all educational requirements.

The effectiveness of instructional practices for first-grade math

The effectiveness of instructional

 practices for first-grade math

July 22, 2015
A new study by Pennsylvania State University researchers examines which types of instructional practices are most effective with first-grade math students—both with and without mathematical difficulties (MD).
They analyzed survey responses from roughly 3,600 teachers and data from over thirteen thousand kindergarten children in the class of 1998–99. The database is known as the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ECLS). The authors then controlled for students’ prior math and reading achievement, family income, classroom and school contexts, and other factors. (MD was defined as falling in the bottom 15 percent of the score distribution on the ECLS-K Math test.)

The key findings: In first-grade classrooms with higher percentages of MD students, teachers were more likely to use practices not associated with greater math achievement by these students. These non-effective practices included using manipulatives, calculators, movement, and music to learn math. It should be noted that these practices were also ineffective for students without math difficulties.
Yet more frequent use of teacher-directed instructional practices was consistently associated with gains in math achievement for first graders with MD. More specifically, the most effective instructional practice teachers could use with these struggling students was routine practice and drills (that’s right, drill and kill!). Similarly, lots of chalkboard instruction, traditional textbook practice problems, and worksheets that went over math skills and concepts were also effective with them.

Source material:
Paul L. Morgan, George Farkas, and Steve Maczuga,
 "Which Instructional Practices Most Help First-Grade Students With and Without Mathematics Difficulties?,"
 Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis vol. 37 no. 2 (June 2015).

First-grade teachers in the United States may need to increase their use of teacher-directed instruction if they are to raise the mathematics achievement of students with MD. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

-------- HS Graduation requirements ----------------------- need a serious reality check

ONE SIZE does NOT fit all.

Students have a great diversity of needs and talents. Our job is to educate each child. Equality of opportunity should mean allowing each child to maximize their potential instead it appears bureaucrats are trying to produce equal outcomes. This process is destroying and will continue to destroy the equality of opportunity for many children.

Our "leaders" are locked into one size fits all thinking.  Consider current and coming WA State HS Graduation requirements with an eye toward the students in schools ranked in the lowest 5% of WA State's schools. The following Seattle schools are each ranked in the lowest 5% of schools listed in the state's 2014 academic index - the Washington Policy Center labels them " F- " )

(% Low Income) .. name .. [ % transitional bilingual]
four elementary schools
(82.2%) Emerson El. .. [ 25.8%]
(73.5%) Hawthorne …. [ 31.5%]
(77.3%) Highland Park .[ 27.0%] 
(90.6%) Martin L. King .[ 45.7%]

(66.7%) Madrona k-8 …….. [ 7.5%]

(81.2%) Rainier Beach HS . [ 22.2%]

(24.0%) Cascade Parent Partnership [ 1.1%]
(72.1%) Interagency Programs …….  [ 6.1%]
(00.8%) Private School Services …..  [ 0.4%]
(97.3%) Seattle World School ……..   [ 99.7%]

The above schools with a high percentage of low income students and a high percentage of transitional bilingual students are not performing well…(no surprise there) …..  " F- " for those schools.

But what about the students?
  It is way past time to end the belief that "All students" need to meet the "College and Career Ready" requirements.

The passage of HB 2214  "An Act Relating to increasing academic rigor and streamlining assessment requirements for high school students" states:

The legislature recognizes that, in today's competitive global economy, it is not enough for Washington's students to meet a minimum level of competency. Success in postsecondary education, gainful employment, and citizenship requires increased rigor and achievement. To that end, the state has recently adopted new, academically rigorous policies to better prepare students for future success. 

The legislature fails to recognize reality.

In WA State 25% of 8th graders score well below standard on the 8th grade Math MSP.  Make that 43% for Black 8th graders. American Indian/Alaska Native 51.2%.

Yet rather than put in place three different diplomas the legislature rides the Common Core State Standards - Smarter Balanced Consortium bus to "one-size-fits-all" oblivion.

What is needed are three different high school diplomas.

#1 General Diploma
#2 Academic Diploma (current diploma)
#3 Advanced Academic Diploma 

The obligation should be to present a program for each student in which each student is presented with the opportunity to maximize their learning and skills.  Apparently the State Board of Education and legislature have no plan to meet that obligation.

Now consider Mabton 8th graders

2013 - MSP Math 8th grade
Not Meeting Standard 80.6%
-- below standard … …. 24.1%
-- well below standard 56.4%

Mabton School District
100% Low Income Students
38.9% Transitional Bilingual
15% Migrant