Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Times Differs with the PI

Following up on the PI's endorsement of the math adoption plan yesterday, here's the Times' take on it. Their reasoning:

"The decision would be made before new state standards are in place, before the new district superintendent is in her job and before Seattle voters have had a chance to realign the School Board. It would be best to delay this decision until those things are done first. Delay would come at a cost. Forty percent of fourth-graders are failing the WASL test in math, the scores have not substantially improved in three years, and there is a large achievement gap between the races. There is reason to hurry, but only if the district is hurrying to do the right thing — and that is not obvious."

I didn't realize that the state standards weren't in place so it does seem logical (especially considering the costs involved) to wait. I'm not so sure you need a new Superintendent/Board to make this decision but that's their belief. I think the last sentence in that paragraph is well stated.

4 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

I think the Board should not wait for the State to adopt new Math Standards before deciding on a curriculum. The new Standards will not be radically different from what we've seen before and whatever curriculum the Board chooses will be able to support them.

The Board does not have to wait for the new Superintendent; selecting curricula is a Board responsibility. The new Superintendent will work with what she finds when she gets here. Let's try to remember who works for whom in this relationship. Besides, it's not as if the staff didn't have input into this recommendation. The proposal was written by Ms Santorno.

As for waiting for the voters to re-align the School Board, well, talk about counting your chicks before they hatch. The Times didn't think that the old Board should have held off on hiring Mr. Manhas as Superintendent to give the voters a chance to realign the Board. They just don't like this Board. Even if the Board changes, there is no reason to believe that the new Board would not also approve this math curriculum.

There is no hurry. This does not represent hurry. The District has been working on this for a long time. It is right on pace, not hurried at all.

The Times themselves gives reason not to delay: "Forty percent of fourth-graders are failing the WASL test in math, the scores have not substantially improved in three years, and there is a large achievement gap between the races. "

The Times is just trying to make trouble for the Board. Just using this as an opportunity to take a shot. They would run something negative no matter what the Board decided to do.

Anonymous said...

I think the 'standards' are adopted. However, a, the, some ... curriculum haven't been adopted to achieve those standards.

The standards are the Grade Level Expectations, GLEs, found on ospi's website. Because of ... local control nonsense? the state hasn't / hadn't adopted a curriculum to map to the fuzzy-wuzzy GLEs.

Try taking your math books and mapping them to the fuzzy-wuzzies, and, oh, by the way ... teaching.


The current system works fabuously if the point of the system is to insure the affluent really do well, the non-affluent don't have the skills to compete with the affluent, but, they can service the affluent.

anon on thurs.

Charlie Mas said...

anon on thurs. raises an important point.

A primary factor that drives the academic achievement gap is the nature and extent of educational support students receive at home.

The constructivist math curricula accentuate this difference because those curricula require a tremendous amount of support, more than is typically provided in the classroom. Consequently, the students who get the support at home (or from a tutor) do well - or well enough - with these programs and those without that support are left behind.

Believe me, I know. I spend hours every week re-teaching my daughters math classes.

Due to the fractured and spiralling content of the curricula, it isn't always clear when students aren't keeping up. They change workbooks every few weeks so a student's lack of understanding the previous investigation doesn't show up in the current investigation.

In the ideal, these curricula are presented by teachers who understand the material, are committed to the teaching method and are properly trained in the delivery of it.

In real life, the teachers don't all understand the material, are not committed to teaching in this way, and have not been adequately trained in the curriculum's delivery.

So no matter what constructivist math education is supposed to do in the ideal, in the real world - where our children live - it widens the academic achievement gap.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I would hate to see anyone crediting my daughters' good showing on the math SAT to the effects of CMP II. A few of their teachers do deserve some credit, I will say.

I'm less worried about the curriculum choice itself than about the notion I saw floated that everyone would have to be on the same page on the same day. So much for differentiation!

I hope the new standards are better written (they could hardly be worse), but am not holding my breath.

Helen Schinske