Monday, May 22, 2017

MVP and Alignment thoughts vs What is known to Work.

Recently I was reading the introduction to the Mathematics Vision Project (MVP) and was immediately reminded of (IMP) the Interactive Mathematics Program.  See this link on IMP.

Upon a first reading of the link you might find it hard to believe that IMP was a complete and total failure when used as part of the University of Washington NSF funded 5 year professional development "PD Cubed" at Cleveland High School in Seattle, WA. ...   from 2004-2005 through 2008-2009.  IMP was used for three years as the school based project.  [06-07; 07-08; 08-09.]  See this link for Cleveland HS data.

As incredibly poor as these Cleveland math results were, these types of results are far from unusual when the "experts" produce or rate programs as worthy of use.  The 1999 Exemplary and Promising Mathematics Programs were largely a complete bust. See this link as to how these programs gained the "Exemplary or Promising" rating.  Reading the beginning one-paragraph abstract from the 71 page download is quite revealing and demonstrates how wrong "supposed math experts" can be.
Exemplary = Cognitive Tutor Algebra; College Preparatory Math; Connected Mathematics; Core-Plus Mathematics Project; Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP)
Promising = Everyday Mathematics; MathLand; Middle-school Mathematics Through Applications Project (MMAP); Number Power; University of Chicago School Mathematics Project (UCSMP)

The USA suffers from extremely poor decision-making in many aspects of k-12 education.  In 2010 the US Department of Education announced a $3.5 billion project to turnaround "failing schools" through the use of four turnaround models.  In January of 2017, it was announced that the program had cost $7 billion and had been a complete failure as none of the four models had increased any measure of student proficiency.

... in the final evaluation, Mathematica and the American Institutes of Research found none of the program's four school improvement models led to significant gains in students' math or reading test scores, graduation rates, or college enrollment, when compared to similar struggling schools who had not participated in the grants. Researchers had compared student achievement at schools that barely did or did not make the cutoff to be identified for turnaround under the grant. 
"There were such high expectations for the program when it first started, that these would become dramatically different and better schools," said Robin Lake, the director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington at Bothell. "They didn't hit dramatically different; unfortunately, they didn't even hit better."

In 1995 the first TIMSS International Mathematics Testing occurred and every four years TIMSS is given. The most recent TIMSS occurred in 2015.  The highest scoring TIMSS countries are in East Asia and each of these far surpasses the USA.  It is particularly interesting to examine what takes place in Singapore and contrast it with the bizarre recommendations that occur in the USA.

Singapore bases its instructional program not on “inquiry” or “student-centered design” but on a combination of teacher-centered Traditional Instruction with Direct Instruction and then builds from this to Teaching for Understanding.   Why is the USA not doing the same?

In the USA over the last 25 years there has been a large increase in holders of the Math Education degree and these individuals have had a huge impact on decision-making.  Note: very few of these individuals have a degree in Mathematics.  The US Math Education degree holders have very little use for data and much prefer to follow strongly held beliefs in making decisions. 

From the introduction to MVP: The Mathematics Vision Project was created as a resource to teachers who wish to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) using a task-based approach that leads to skill and proficiency in mathematics by first developing understanding.

Since the "New Math" of the late 1950s attempts to have conceptual understanding precede the development of skill and proficiency in mathematics have been incredibly unsuccessful. MVP is founded on an incredibly flawed idea for which there is no supporting data but it falls right in line which what math education degree holders believe should work.  Do these folks ever inquire as to how mathematics is taught in Singapore?  How many of these believers have at least an undergraduate degree in mathematics?   Here is the MVP crew.

The Digital Learning Department of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Olympia, WA finds no problems with MVP.  Here is its review.  The review focused specifically on alignment with Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.  That narrow focus misses the fact there is no data to support the "flawed approach" used in this program.  Procedural efficiency precedes the development of conceptual understanding in effective efficient math programs.  MVP's task-based approach ignores this fact.

Mr. Donald Pedersen, principal of Eagle Ridge High School in Klamath Falls, OR said:  My school is a Project Based Learning high school.  We use Project Based Learning for all subjects except math because Project Based Learning does not work for math.

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