Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Seattle PI endores new math curriculum

I know I am rehashing old ground here but,The PI today says that the school board should adopt Everyday Math with an add-in of Singapore Math for the elementary schools. Sorry for the upcoming sarcasm, but my only thought on this is: "Oh boy, I can hardly wait till I get these students in high school and I get to teach them the basics they should have learned long ago."

If the elementary schools are going to do a blend of Everyday Math and Singapore math, it should be mostly Singapore Math with Everyday Math used to help students discover things after they have learned the basics.

The PI does say that teacher training will be the key to success, so at least they understand that you can't just adopt a curriculum in a vacuum and expect real learning to take place.

5 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

I wonder if Carla Santorno will mandate how much of each is used. Michael, is it reasonable to think that once a teacher gets a read on a class that he/she might want to put the focus more one way than the other?

jpr said...

I heard from a good source, that everyday math will be 45 minutes and 15 minutes for Singapore. i also have heard everyday math is supposed to be taught 90 minutes a day, what school has 90 minutes a day to teach math?

Anonymous said...

when 3x-5 = -10 stumps over 1/2 of scores of integrated 2 kids,

more than 1/2 of the time,

what big ideas are we going to mess with today?

anon on tues.

Anonymous said...

Seattle PI, May 29, 2007
Reform math at issue in Seattle schools

Guest columnists
Robert Femiano and
Danaher Dempsey Jr.

The Seattle School Board is poised to make its most important academic
decision in decades: whether to remain on the reform math bandwagon. We
urge members to look beneath the glittery wrapping of Reform math,
learn the lessons of California, Massachusetts and Indiana and not
adopt more "inquiry-based" math programs.

Sometimes called "discovery" or "investigative" math, reform math has
students constructing their own understanding of math concepts.
Unfortunately, the more efficient traditional algorithms (such as long
division), along with automatic factual recall and mental
manipulations, are generally downplayed in the teacher's handbook with
a "why bother" deference to the ubiquitous calculator.

While we applaud teaching for conceptual understanding, we cringe at
the thought of a program devoid of basic skill development that
produces students unsure of their own abilities and unready for
higher-level math and science classes. Reform math has been used in
Seattle, Shoreline, Bellevue, Lake Washington and numerous other
districts for the past five years and its impact is noted at Seattle
Community College where 78 percent of the entering students test into
remedial math, with 50 percent testing at or below ninth grade.

An ineffective curriculum affects all students; thus the School Board
needs to honestly address the following concerns: (1) Is Investigative
math an appropriate avenue for closing the achievement gaps for
children of poverty and students learning English? The 25-year
longitudinal research on poverty-bound elementary students, known as
Project Follow-Through, indicates that discovery teaching is least
effective in developing conceptual understanding for disadvantaged
students. The project's data showed greatest success when students were
given explicit instruction and practice supplemented with manipulative
models that underlie arithmetic thinking, such as place value blocks.
We know that direct instruction can move beyond rote learning and be
both rigorous and cognitively engaging. We have seen the soaring
successes in California with low-income and bilingual populations since
the state abandoned their experimental, reform math. We have not seen
the School Board given statistically reliable data to ensure the
proposed adoption will eliminate the achievement gap.

(2) Is the expensive outlay worth the return? The $2.5 million
"Everyday Math" textbook adoption has a layout so bewildering it
requires teacher training and a "math coach" in every building,
according to district plans. In 2006, the School Board projected a
deficit of $22 million rising to $55 million by 2010, so how can the
district afford an additional $4 million annually in coaches, not to
mention the professional training and expensive consumable texts? We
suspect that in order to afford such a fiscally intensive program,
class sizes will have to dramatically increase - in opposition to the
top recommendation of Gov. Chris Gregoire's Washington Learns
commission.

(3) The Washington State Board of Education has established a math
advisory panel to assist in revising the math standards, so why not
wait for the results of their work? Not long ago, the Fordham Institute
gave Washington's math standards an "F", in part because the grade
level expectations are too numerous to develop true mastery, a common
mistake also found in reform math textbooks. For example, Washington
has 20 topics outlined for first grade whereas the Singapore Math
series covers only five. Similarly, 82 topics are included for grades
first through fourth and only 42 are routinely covered in the top
performing countries. Thus, it would seem prudent to hold off on any
textbook adoption until these standards are renewed.

We urge parents and businesses to further familiarize themselves with
the concerns around reform math by visiting Wesites "Wheresthemath.org"
or "schooltruth.org." Finally, you may want to contact the board
(206-252-0040) or attend their textbook adoption meeting at 6 p.m.
Wednesday.

-------------------------------------------------
Robert Femiano teaches elementary school and was the Washington State
presidential math teacher of the year 2002.
Danaher M. Dempsey Jr. teaches high school math and is on the state
Board of Eduction math advisory panel.

Anonymous said...

Adopting three programs - Singapore, Everyday, and a mix is asking for trouble. You can't be serious. Santorno and Bergerson -- nod, nod, wink, wink. The Math Leadership Team all nod their heads in agreement. We'll do to Seattle what we did in Tacoma. This will show everyone math reform is the way to go.

So long as your leaders continue flying by the seat of their pants, Washington's schools will remain low on expectations and high school students will continue floundering on a sixth grade test aligned with world class standards and an eighth grade test aligned to NCTM standards.

The struggles facing American children have been pointed out in elaborate, decorative detail for the past 15 years. The exemplary textbooks, must they be spelled out continuously, are over-rated. The research is poorly contrived. Students usually wind up taking remedial math when they enroll in college.

Comments from around the world begin with - You can't be serious. Surely your joking....Depressing.

How could anyone want to do such a poor job for so long? This is not normal folks. Look at other states, look at how other students are being integrated. Washington has at least a decade more, before it will be near anything that remotely looks like a national standard. The schools in Washington are racially polarized. Its a result of poor curriculum and inadequately trained teachers. This is failure at the management level, not the classroom. As a result the public has rightfully lost confidence in public schools. Bergerson needs to resign and districts should be investigated. While stupidity is not a crime, perhaps mismanagement is.