Thursday, May 4, 2017

Math history 1999 and CCSS thoughts today

In 1999 US Secretary of Education, Richard Riley endorsed the use of a selection of math programs judged Exemplary and Promising.  This endorsement of selected programs was not based on any large successful implementations.  These were math programs that experimented with nontraditional teaching methods.

Experts Attack Math Teaching Programs

Education: Top mathematicians and scientists urge U.S. to withdraw endorsement of methods that leave out basic skills. Federal official says change is unlikely.

Nearly 200 top mathematicians and scientists, including four Nobel laureates, are urging U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley to withdraw the government's endorsement of math programs that experiment with nontraditional teaching methods.
The strongly worded letter expresses outrage that some of the 10 widely used programs leave out such basic skills as multiplying two-digit numbers and dividing fractions.
"These curricula are among the worst in existence," said David Klein, a Cal State Northridge math professor who was one of the letter's authors. "To recommend these books as exemplary and promising would be a joke if it weren't so damaging."
Those signing the letter fear that a government endorsement of the programs will be a powerful force pushing teachers and school districts to use "dumbed down" instructional materials and methods. Several said they see the letter, which is to be publicized widely today, as providing a countervailing argument.
Steven Leinwand, a member of the federal panel that judged the books, defended the selection process.
"Every one of the programs designated as exemplary had real, clean data that showed test scores going up," said Leinwand, a consultant to the Connecticut Department of Education.
But he acknowledged a difference of opinion among mathematicians as to what constitutes good mathematics. "These programs do not teach kids to do five-digit by three-digit long division problems," he said. "Instead, they teach all kids, not just a few kids, when and why people need to divide."
(But many of the programs failed to teach division.  Then district math program directors wondered why students had so little number sense.)
But Leinwand was a poor judge of materials as most of these programs tanked and 10 years later the (NCTM) National Council of Teachers of Mathematics released Focal Points (2009), which attempted to correct the incoherence that the 1989 NCTM Math Curriculum and Evaluation Standards produced.....   As they say:  A day late and a dollar short for students, except it was 20 years late.

Common Core State Standards, which Leinwand likes, do not require proficiency in addition and subtraction with the common historical algorithms until the end of grade 4.

While the CCSS have some strengths over the previous math standards in certain states, the Washington State Math Standards of 2008 were significantly better.

In California, at least, the traditionalists have gained the upper hand. The state adopted standards for math classes that stress memorization of multiplication tables and only limited use of calculators, as well as an understanding of concepts such as place value.
As a result, the state rejected, or did not consider, all of the math programs recommended by the federal government except for a part of one, so school districts are prevented from using state textbook funds to buy them.  [This was true in 1999 but today California is a Common Core Math State.]
Unfortunately many districts in Washington State, like Seattle bought these defective "exemplary and promising" instructional materials.  Washington State has the legacy of Math Education believers that continually buy into recommended stuff with no track record of success.  CCSS is the latest of these.
Dear Secretary Riley:
In early October of 1999, the United States Department of Education endorsed ten K-12 mathematics programs by describing them as "exemplary" or "promising." There are five programs in each category. The "exemplary" programs announced by the Department of Education are:

    Cognitive Tutor Algebra
    College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM)
    Connected Mathematics Program (CMP)
    Core-Plus Mathematics Project
    Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP)
The "promising" programs are:
    Everyday Mathematics
    Middle-school Mathematics through Applications Project (MMAP)
    Number Power
    The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP)
So how is the Common Core Math program implementation going?
Early indicators signal not well.

NAEP 2015 (National Assessment of Educational Progress)
results showed a statistically significant decline in grade 8 math scores from 2013.

Fourth-grade mathematics scores increase in 3 states/jurisdictions and decrease in 16 compared to 2013.. WA state drops 1 point

Eighth-grade mathematics scores increase in 1 jurisdiction and decrease in 22 states compared to 2013.. WA state drops 3 points

Hillsborough County Florida (Tampa) was an early CCSS adopter with huge funding from Gates and the district.  The Urban NAEP revealed in 2015 an enormous proficiency score differential from grade 4 to  grade 8 of 16 points (43 to 27), while the nation declined 7 points (39 to 32).  Grade 8 2013 - avg score 284: 2015 avg 276...  2013 below standard 27%; 2015 below standard 36%.

While WA State dropped 3 points from 2013 to 2015, the percent of grade 8 students scoring at below standards rose from 2013 - 21% to 2015 - 26%.  Just like Hillsborough, WA State scores from the last testing cycle reveal a big weakness in the performance of struggling learners.

In WA State in grade 4 NAEP showed an overall decline of 1 point but at the Advanced Level an improvement of 1 point (from 2013 - 11% to 2015 - 12%.  Once again for struggling learners the picture was not pretty.  At below standard:  2013 - 14% ; 2015 17%.

Most early indicators especially from jurisdictions pushing CCSS the soonest show much poorer performance at grade 8 in 2015 than in 2013. Especially so for struggling learners at both 4th and 8th grades in WA State.

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