Friday, September 18, 2015

Why not do what is known to work?

First of all let us check the math data in the Seattle Schools.  In the last three years grades 3 through 8 math scores have improved at a greater rate than previously.  It could be due to somewhat greater autonomy for schools and teachers prior to the Math in Focus adoption.  Let it be known in the year of the MiF adoption the difference between SPS SBAC Math scores and the State scores was at its largest positive difference ever in grades 4 and 5 on state math testing.

As folks squabble over the Standards for Mathematical Practice and the Content Standards in Common Core.... why not cut to the chase and do what works?  Do the best scores ever indicate a huge correction is needed for MiF? I think not.

The confusion:  The documents about the Standards for Mathematical Practice have the cart before the horse.  The practices rest on important “processes and proficiencies” with longstanding importance in mathematics education. However these practices grow from student math content proficiency not the other way around.  The SPS math leadership apparently has this backwards.

John Mighton, the originator of JUMP math, states that the teaching that develops a student's skills, and content knowledge will produce those "standards for mathematical practice" and only through mathematical proficiency and problem solving will conceptual understanding occur.  Yet far too many places are attempting to "teach" the "standards for mathematical practice" directly.

I find the hub bub about Common Core alignment repulsive.  It smacks of test preparation for the sake of higher test scores and little else.

Consider what Tom Loveless had to say about CCSS-M alignment in k-4 elementary school math and how that adversely effects students in middle school math.

Implementing Common Core: The problem of instructional time

Placing the CCSS-M standard for knowing the standard algorithms of addition and subtraction in fourth grade delays this progression by two years.  Placing the standard for the division algorithm in sixth grade continues the two-year delay.   For many fourth graders, time spent working on addition and subtraction will be wasted time.  .... 

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.

The net result is that a lot of time is wasted in grades k-4 so that too much material needs to be covered in grades 5-8. 

Looking at what works 

Gildo Rey Elementary School in the Auburn School District:  82% Low Income,  42% Bilingual, and regularly places in the top 5% of elementary schools in the state in math at Grade 5.  The change to SBAC math testing produced the following positive differences above the state passing averages for students passing the math SBAC at Gildo Rey:  

Grade 3: +9.30% ;; Grade 4: +12.60%  ;; Grade 5: +15.40% 

SPS averages using MiF were the best ever in 2015:

Grade 3: +7.20% ;; Grade 4: +9.40%  ;; Grade 5: +7.90% 

But when comparing SPS low income students with the all student state average pass rates, it is a different story:

SPS Low Income pass rate differentials =>

Grade 3: -13.70% ;; Grade 4: -12.90%  ;; Grade 5: -15.10%   

Gildo Rey Low Income pass rate differentials =>

                              ;; Grade 4: +9.20%  ;; Grade 5: +14.20%

If the SPS was concerned about closing or eliminating the achievement gap, the SPS would be following Gildo Rey's example instead of revising Scope and Sequence. 

High poverty, high test scores: Auburn school is a shouting success

A huge blending of effective efficient instruction is happening.  Whole group instruction with lots of questions, explicit example based instruction with guided practice, and a whole lot more.  

Oddly the SPS seems oblivious to the amount of time and energy it takes to provide effective efficient instruction.  Teachers need time to plan to deliver excellent lessons, instead they are encumbered with central administrative mandates that do little to produce what is needed.



No comments: