Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bill Speaks

In yet another speech, more opining from Bill Gates; we need better data. From an article in the AP:

"The U.S. must improve its educational standing in the world by rewarding effective teaching and by developing better, universal measures of performance for students and teachers, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said Tuesday.

Speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures' annual legislative summit, Gates told hundreds of lawmakers how federal stimulus money should be used to spark educational innovation, spread best practices and improve accountability."

Sadly, I don't believe any stimulus money will be used for innovation but likely to backfill sagging budgets. Best practices? How come we know things that work and don't replicate them? "It's not possible." "They have a different district." Okay, so which best practices? That's what I wish the Gates Foundation would help with; not creating new things but spreading existing good ideas that work. Accountability? The million-dollar question but read on.

Also from the article:

"U.S. schools lag their international counterparts because of "old beliefs and bad habits," and it's not clear how to get them back on track without uniform achievement standards, he said.

"We don't know the answers because we're not even asking the right questions and making the right measurements," Gates said.

On Tuesday, he urged legislators to ask colleges and universities in their districts to publish their graduation rates. The institutions should be rewarded with funding based on the number of degrees granted, not just students enrolled, Gates said.

Teachers, too, should be rewarded for effectiveness and not just for seniority and master's degrees, he said."

Okay, I'll bite. What bad habits? Late bell times for elementary and early for high school? What old beliefs? That seat time equals learning?

As far as the funding of colleges and universities, well, you cannot fairly punish them for graduation rates that may be out of their control. There are a myriad of reasons why students may not finish college (or finish at that college or university). So private schools don't have to show their graduation rates and they get no fallout?

He couldn't leave out his own kids:

"In an interview later Tuesday with The Associated Press, Gates, 51, talked of the importance of improving the quality, quantity and searchability of online lectures, which he noted his own kids have used.

Community colleges and other financially strapped schools might find online lectures to be the most cost-effective way to teach introductory courses such as Physics 101, Gates said. The savings could then be spent on student-oriented discussion and lab sessions."

He may be right especially in more rural or poor areas of the country. But his kids aren't all that old so I'd love to know what online lectures they've used. (His kids are around 13 and 11.) It's interesting because I don't hear much about on-line lectures offered at the high school level (but my son is taking a Running Start on-line class). I think the district worries about losing students if they make more options like those available.

And then he explains some of his thinking:

"Last year, I went to Texas, walked into a classroom, sat down, and thought: “What’s going on here?” The energy was so high I thought, "I must be in a pep rally or something." The teacher was running around, scanning the classroom, pulling in every kid, putting things up on the board. It was a very exciting class.

I was at a KIPP School. KIPP stands for the “Knowledge is Power Program.” Eighty percent of KIPP students are low-income kids; 95% are Black or Hispanic. Among eighth graders who have gone to one of 30 KIPP middle schools for four years, average percentile scores jumped from 31 to 58 in reading; and 41 to 80 in math.

KIPP Schools are amazing, but they are not isolated examples. There are public schools and charter schools serving some of the most disadvantaged students in the country and getting astounding results.

In my experience, when you find a stunning success—you let it grow.

Unfortunately, states are putting caps on the number of these high-performing schools. Why do we want to put caps on the greatest success stories in American education?

Caps should be lifted for charter school operators who have a proven record of success—and charters should be offered the same per-pupil funding as other public schools. As you know, a relatively small percentage of schools are responsible for a high percentage of the dropouts. We can make dramatic advances by replacing the worst schools with high-performing charters —operated by organizations with a great track record"

Ah charters and KIPP. There you go. I'm not sure that replacing the worst schools with charters is the answer in total as he suggests. And Bill, we put caps on charters OVERALL to protect public education dollars. Not every charter is high-performing. And, define high performing, please.

Then he offers specifics:

"We need to take two enabling steps: we need longitudinal data systems that track student performance and are linked to the teacher; and we need fewer, clearer, higher standards that are common from state to state. The standards will tell the teachers what their students are supposed to learn, and the data will tell them whether they’re learning it. These two changes will open up options we’ve never had before."

Amen, fewer, clearer, higher standards. Sign me up.

Then:

"Fortunately, the state-led Common Core State Standards Initiative is developing clear, rigorous common standards that match the best in the world. Last month, 46 Governors and Chief State School Officers made a public commitment to embrace these common standards.

This is encouraging—but identifying common standards is not enough. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards.

Secretary Arne Duncan recently announced that $350 million of the stimulus package will be used to create just these kinds of tests—next-generation assessments aligned to the common core. "

I haven't heard of the Common Core State Standards but again, sign me up. The core issue (and I hope Mr. Gates understands this) is that education has ALWAYS been a local control issue. Not even a state control issue. We may see this less here but it is very true throughout the country. Here's what he says:

"There are dozens of different data points a state could use to define aspects of student and teacher performance. That difference is compounded across 50 states and the federal government. And states use different products that manage that data in different ways – so states can’t compare their results to see what works best.

All states and districts should collect common data on teachers and students. We need to define the data in a standardized way, we need to collect all of it for all of our students, and we need to enter it in something cheap and simple that people can share. The stimulus bill includes competitive grant funding for these efforts. I hope you make use of it for the people in your state."

Great but NCLB didn't advocate one national test. Where was he then? Oh that's right, he was advocating small schools within schools. Where did that go?

I have said this for years - if we want to know how American students are doing, we do need one national test and national standards.

How to measure teachers?

"Last year the New York legislature passed a law that says you can’t consider student test scores when you make teacher tenure decisions. That was a strategic win for people who oppose reform – because no real reform will happen until we can evaluate teachers based on their students’ achievement.

I understand the legitimate concern of teachers who point out that, without the right design, teacher measurement systems based on student performance could seem arbitrary.

But without them, we won’t be able to identify our best teachers, reward them, help others learn from them, or deploy them where they’re most needed. We won’t be able to see what curriculum, instructional tools, and teacher training work best.

The solution is not to block teacher evaluations. The solution is to work with teachers who are eager to help build measurement systems that are transparent, that make sense, that lead teachers to say: “This works. It’s fair. It helps me become a better teacher.”

These systems would include test scores, but they would also involve classroom observation, parent and student surveys, and video taken in the classroom."

I have to say that I feel that this is one of the first real layouts for measuring teacher performance so good for Gates.

Here's a link to the speech.

29 comments:

dan dempsey said...

Bill Speaks but should we listen? He has quite a track-record of nonsense. As Melissa pointed out his small school initiative was a substantial bust. This went on far too long. There was lots of negative data accumulating and yet this ill fated project continued far too long. Gates also produced an astonishing failure with a Philadelphia high school with no books, just computers and hi-tec.

Mr. Gates is well intentioned but good intentions are not enough. I believe that Gates and Boeing have had a hand in the promotion and funding of middle school math materials.

I think that Craig Barrett's retirement speech should also be read.

dan dempsey said...

In regard to the Common Core Standards, this is a process of insanity. Who would support something before it has even been divulged who is doing the writing or how these writers were selected? Well now you have the answer....lots of Governors.

Read what 78 year-old education reformer Deborah Meier thinks about this.

For me I will value Meier's highly informed opinion over the marginally informed Governors and Mr. Gates.

It seems that those driving the education BUS have little idea where to go but are highly endorsed by the marginally informed. I find that situation far from encouraging.

.......
To obtain academic improvement, classroom environments must be improved. Improved not by administrative fiat but by supporting teachers, parents, and students through developing, improving, and maintaining learning communities to meet the needs of each student as they increase core knowledge.

The acknowledgment that students are individuals having differences in interests, genetic abilities, environmental skills, and intellectual capabilities would be an excellent antidote to the insanity of broad general government mandates about what all students will do.

Since we are already captives of vendor-based standards, I trust we will not be far off if we refer to the coming Common Core Standards as the No Vendor Left Behind Law. ......... It is time to focus on providing each child with the education they need for successful lives and careers. ......
.......The ending of social promotion will do far more than another artificially raised and expensively annually monitored bar. Support of democratic reforms for greater local autonomy in the classroom and school may enable teachers to use explicit instruction instead of being required to use ineffective approaches.

All the talk about accountability in public education produces little if any improvement. It is time to end the trend toward centralized authority in education at both the state and national level. Sham accountability must end. No Child Left Behind sanctions were often counterproductive. ....
....... Localizing structures would greatly reduce central administration inefficiency as well as fad- and vendor-based decisions. Locally controlled schools are necessary if we are to make the substantial improvements needed in public education. Learning improvement occurs locally. Believing otherwise is folly.
-----------------------
KIPP schools do have impressive results for those students who stick it out for the long school days and Saturday school. The Seattle School Administration should ask the School Board to rubber stamp "Alternative Core-Knowledge Schools" to give parents a choice...... but wait that would screw-up the plans for centralized "Managed Instruction."

Oh to find a way off this careening education BUS... It is worse than Sandra Bullock's plight in "Speed". Where is Keanu Reeves when we need him?

Josh Hayes said...

Either Bill is disingenuous or he's just downright mendacious. We're all for teacher assessments that are not just about test scores, but also all these other expensive time-consuming things? Come on! Nobody living in the real world thinks that teacher assessments will EVER involve anything BUT the test scores of the kids in their classes. Start, finish, end of story.

The sad thing is, a lot of people think that'd be just fine. But really, just to cite one example, teachers should be assessed based on "classroom observation" -- well, surely that would involve something like 100 hours of observation during the school year, because there's a lot of variation during the year, during the week, during the day.... and that's true for each teacher, of course, so we'd need to hire a couple of people for even a small school to do the assessments every year, and you can see where I'm going here. Sure, SPS loves spending money on nebulously-defined central office jobs, but they're not going to hire a hundred "teacher assessers". In the end, it'll come down to test scores, and of course test scores, and then they'll probably try to average in test scores.

Nobody with two brain cells to rub together can possibly believe otherwise, and I know Bill's got more than two. Come on, Mr. Gates. You can do better than that.

dan dempsey said...

Josh is on the mark again. It was interesting that when 30 essays were each read by 53 teachers, 11 of the 30 essays received every possible grade from A+ to F.

Now just imagine trained observers rating teachers.

reader said...

I sat on a building leadership meeting and was pretty appalled to discover that there was nothing our teachers resisted more than "teacher observation". The district did have some initiative to help teachers teach math by doing teacher observations. No dice. These teachers dug their heels in... "hell no, we won't be observed". Here we have an obvious way to get some objective feedback, and we have a group that's so unprofessional, they don't want to improve.... "We're already good enough".

reader said...

And by the way, this had nothing to do with evaluating the teachers. It simply was attempt to prduce better results.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I will point out (and you teachers know this) that the job of the principal is to be the academic leader. He or she is supposed to be in the classroom observing teachers and making suggestions and/or guiding teachers. And, when you have a problem teacher, those observations are key to forming a background to get that teacher to change or leave.

But agreed, how to do it in a measurable way that is fair to teachers? What do you think about video observations? Parent and student surveys (UW professors have student surveys after every single course they teach. It can be sobering but helpful and yes, it counts in job reviews.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I will point out (and you teachers know this) that the job of the principal is to be the academic leader. He or she is supposed to be in the classroom observing teachers and making suggestions and/or guiding teachers. And, when you have a problem teacher, those observations are key to forming a background to get that teacher to change or leave.

But agreed, how to do it in a measurable way that is fair to teachers? What do you think about video observations? Parent and student surveys (UW professors have student surveys after every single course they teach. It can be sobering but helpful and yes, it counts in job reviews.)

Michael Rice said...

Hello

Please allow me to chime in on teacher observations. I would love to be observed more. I would love for people who are experts in teaching mathematics to high school children (and this does NOT mean people from university math education departments, they really do NOT know how to teach high school students) come in and watch my interaction with students and how I try to engage them and how I try to teach them. I would love to have some feedback that is useful and meaningful.

Ms. Westbrook points out that teacher observation and evaluation is the job of the principal. Yes it is, but a high school principal has so many other things on his plate (or at least the principal at RBHS does), that it is darn near impossible for the prinicpal to do more than just a drive-by observation. I don't blame the principal for this, I think it is part of a larger problem.

Most of the students I teach are below grade level and have low test scores. This is for a variety of reasons, but if you come observe ny classroom, you will see it is not because of what goes on my classroom. I work hard, know my material and am well prepared. I welcome all observers in my classroom. I don't understand the attitude of a teacher who is not interested in being observed and being offered suggestions.

wseadawg said...

Okay, Bill. How many public schools did he attend, do his kids attend, did he teach at or sit on the PTA of? Zero.

After excising Bill's speach of bromides and platitudes, not much is left. Frankly, I'm tired of hearing from someone who thinks planting one's butt in front of a computer screen is an adequate and desireable substitute for engaging with fellow human beings in a collegial learning environment. Are we educating and socializing children, or training the next generation of widget-makers and programmers?

Standardization is the enemy of individualism. Do we want individual thinkers and problem solvers, or group thinkers who just go with the flow, no matter where it leads?

hschinske said...

Devil's advocate: Bill Gates did attend public school through sixth grade.

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not true; Gates attended Laurelhurst Elementary for all or part of his K-5 schooling.

Another Mom said...

The idea of common state standards seems good in theory, but I am very skeptical that the Common Core State Standards will develop “rigorous common standards that match the best of the world.”

Phil Daro (English degree from Berkeley) is part of the Mathematics Work Group and Uri Treisman is part of the Mathematics Feedback Group. Google them to view the YouTube video of them in Bellevue discussing how to mislead “worried and frightened parents” when they ask about calculator use. “They say calculators, you say technology.”

Also read through the Achieve-Dana Center Benchmarks which will most likely be influencing the Common Core Standards. Of the 15 members of the Mathematics Work Group, at least 5 are associated with Achieve.

www.achieve.org/files/elementarybygrade.pdf

They suggest that starting in Grade 1, students should know how to use a calculator to check answers. There is no sign or mention of standard algorithms for basic arithmetic. Common denominators are redefined as "equal" denominators. Run of the mill reform math.

Megan Mc said...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Editorial: Different animals

Mon, Jul 20, 2009
Editorial: Different animals
Policy makers shouldn't confuse schools with businesses
By Dennis Pierce, Managing Editor

eSchoolNews



In the July issue of eSchool News, we published the text of the final speech given by Craig Barrett as chairman of Intel Corp. In his speech, Barrett--who retired as Intel's chairman in May--offered five suggestions for improving American education. And while I agree wholeheartedly with his first four suggestions--good teachers, high expectations, pay for performance, and real student incentives--I think he's dead wrong on the fifth.

Don't get me wrong; I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Barrett and what he's accomplished as chairman of Intel. His business savvy speaks for itself, and for many years he's been a leading voice in the call for education reform. When he says U.S. schools need to change to keep America globally competitive with the rest of the world, I believe him. But when he says this change will only come from more competition to the American public school system--a belief shared by many in the school-reform movement, including our own Education Secretary--I strongly disagree.

Dr. Barrett, and most others with a background in the private sector, make a fundamental mistake in assuming what's good for business will work in public education, too. It's neither an apt, nor a fair, comparison.

I'd like to see Intel try to compete head to head with other companies using not the best and brightest intellectual capital it can recruit from all over the world, but only those citizens who live within its immediate geographic area--all of them, with no exceptions, including those who aren't motivated to work hard, and those with developmental disabilities, and those whose first focus isn't how to calculate the area of a circle but whether they've had enough to eat that day or how they're going to survive.

Maybe that would work OK in wealthy Silicone Valley, but would Intel be a success if it operated by these rules in urban Los Angeles instead? Or would the quality of its "products" suffer when viewed against the competition?

And what if Intel were confined to a budget that consisted of a rigid state formula, supplemented by local property tax revenues and some funding--insufficient to meet its needs--from the federal government for each poor or disabled worker? Would the company be able to distinguish itself from the competition in that case? Probably, if it were located in Santa Clara, California … and probably not if it were forced to operate in the outskirts of L.A, or much of rural America.

Competition works in the private sector because business leaders have the freedom to choose their own products and resources, and their budgets aren't restricted by their ZIP code. But our public schools are vastly different organizations. They're democratic institutions that must take all comers, however ready these participants are to learn or perform. They're judged by test scores and a host of other measures that are only partly under their control. And when they "fail," according to these measures, we encourage their stakeholders to abandon them in favor of other schools perceived as better--a move that only perpetuates the cycle of failure for the original institution.

to be continued...

Megan Mc said...

continued

Competition is killing many of our schools in poorer neighborhoods. I've seen it firsthand where I live, a city with a rich history and an ethnically diverse population with a large percentage of poor and minority students. Many upper- and middle-class parents "choice" their children to schools outside the district, or send them to private schools. Typically, these are the best-educated parents, and the ones most likely to be strong advocates for their children's education. So the absence of these children in our local district not only means less funding for its schools; it also means the students who are left don't have as strong a voice.

Imagine if these parents had to send their children to their local public schools. Imagine if those who push for greater public-school competition were forced to do the same thing. If we took everyone's passion and commitment to their own children's education and channeled it into improving their local schools, it's a safe bet those schools wouldn't struggle for long.

School board elections would get a lot more attention, for one thing, and board meetings would always be well attended--even without a budget vote on the agenda. In short, every student would stand to benefit--not just those with the means or the savvy to escape to a "better" school.

Now, I'm not suggesting we could ever mandate such a radical change--or even that we should. There are still several institutional barriers to school improvement that need overcoming, and as a parent myself, I'm glad I have a choice in where I send my children to school.

But I'm wary of any sweeping arguments about how to improve public education that rely on private-sector business tenets, such as the one that says competition is good for the herd. Policy makers should remember: Schools and businesses are very different animals.

Megan Mc said...

I'd love to hear Barrett's or Gate's response to this editorial.

reader said...

What could be better than having teachers observe each other? learn from each other? and offer suggestions and pass on tips of the trade? Even using video's would be a great way to share information. That is why I was so appalled at the teaching staff at my school when they were completely closed to the idea. I don't know if it would be good to make "observation" the basis of an evaluation, or that there would be any way to "standardize" classroom teacher performance using observations. But, when teachers are so set in their ways that they can't even imagine a positive result coming from observations... it makes you feel that they've got something to hide. Thanks to Michael Rice for being willing to improve his craft and being such an advocate for students.

TechyMom said...

I'm still undecided on charters in general. They seem like they could be a way to get the same sorts of things that we do in alternative schools, and to have more protection from central admin caprice.

However, I am not at all impressed with KIPP. It sounds like prison. I would never send my child there. If a child were choosing this for him or herself, I guess I could see it as an option. But these are elementary schools. I'm not really comfortable with parents putting their kids in an environment like this. It reminds me of overly controlling parents sending their kids off to military school. That happened to some friends of mine, and it was not a good thing.

owlhouse said...

Techy mom- KIPP schools weren't meant for your child and family. They're an experiment akin to the forced assimilation schools Native American children suffered through a century ago. You're right is describing them as reminiscent of prison or military school. In my opinion, they are abusive of the students, families, communities and teachers involved and should in no way be supported or funded through our public system. They distract us from the root causes of public school failure and the "achievement gap" perpetuating the bootstrap myth.

I know this is a crazy thought, but if Gates can reason that seniority and masters degrees are not an indication of a quality teacher, couldn't we reason that increasing hs graduation rates in not an indication of an improving education system? Really, I'm so tired of the billionaires and their irrelevant if not harmful ideals for raising and educating the masses.

Gates says, "Imagine having the people who create electrifying video games applying their intelligence to online tools that pull kids in and make algebra fun." Here's another idea: Imagine teacher/student/school relations built on trust, respect and collaboration, where mastery of new skills earns internal and external satisfaction. Imagine if it wasn't a cutting edge educational goal to trick kids into enjoying algebra, but rather to structure classes and schools to carry lessons from books to real life applications of algebra. Do we really think if lessons are not constantly thrilling students won't learn? I wish Bill Gates would study with Alfie Kohn.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Great discussion and great links. I have some reading to do here. Thanks.

Josh Hayes said...

Now that I think of it, I'd like to soften my tone a little -- I don't mean to suggest that school administrators (read: principals) will rub their evil little hands together and cackle with glee at the prospect of using test scores to assess teacher performance.

The fact is, however, that they've been put in the position of having to build a brand new building, but they've been given no tools.

The old saw (Heh. Saw. No pun intended.) is that when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Maybe the more appropriate, and even sadder, description is, when the only tool you have is a hammer, the only tool you have is a hammer. Nobody will want to rely solely on test scores, but really, what else will they have? Our own principal at AS1 last year was so totally swamped with administrative work he had virtually no time to visit classrooms. I can't see how that'll change in the future.

Color me gloomy, I guess.

dan dempsey said...

"The U.S. must improve its educational standing in the world by rewarding effective teaching"
---- Bill Gates

So how about having Seattle allow effective teaching? In k-8 math that is not happening as the pacing plan rules.

How do teachers get rewarded? By defying the mandates of superiors?

No Mr. Gates the entire system is in need of major transformation not just tinkering with rewards.

The culture is not one of achievement. Supposed building leaders are rewarded for supporting the central administration rather than producing achievement. 19 out of 19 principals supported the High School math adoption just like all the elementary principals supported Everyday Math in May 2007. If the principals continued employment depended on producing significant gains in math achievement they surely would be more discriminating in their recommendations.

Maureen said...

I would never send my kids to a KIPP school either. But, my reading is that they are designed NOT to attract people like me. If educated, middle class parents start choosing KIPP schools then pressure would be put on the administrators to offer broader, more child based curriculum and the positive impact on test scores for the poorest kids would be diluted.

I read Whatever It Takes , which describes The Harlem Children's Zone set up by Geoffrey Canada. The KIPP school is only one small part of a cradle to grave effort he is making to pull children out of the lower class in Harlem. I actually think it is a great idea, but KIPP isn't what makes it work--it starts prenatally with "Baby College" and goes from there. It involves a HUGE, expensive, focused effort. Is the Gates Foundation ready to step up and fund something like the Harlem Children's Zone in every inner city neighborhood, or are they just advocating transferring public school money to charter schools like KIPP's?

Megan Mc said...

This person lays out a perfect example, using actual classroom data, of the slippery slope of looking at student test scores to evaluate teachers:
Measuring Teacher Effectiveness
http://ithoughtathink.blogspot.com/2009/07/measuring-teacher-effectiveness.html

The thing that bothers me most about the topic of teacher evaluations is that the relationship piece is completely ignored by education pundits. No kid is going to work hard for a robot not matter how good their lesson plans are. Great teachers inspire kids to want to learn and they need a flexible environment to reach as many kids as possible.

What about a teacher who keeps a failing kid from dropping out? Or inspires a kid to pursue a subject for the first time? Or nurtures a child's sense of worth for the first time in his/her life? None of that will show up on test scores but those teachers have been tremendously effective.

Why not have students rate their teachers? After all, they have to observe them everyday.

Josh Hayes said...

Megan, this is a wonderful point -- in college, of course, students evaluate their instructors and those evaluations are important (in theory, anyway) in determining the future role of the instructor.

I made a point of posting my student evaluations outside my office when I was teaching college A&P -- err, I mean, anatomy and physiology -- even the terrible ones. (One, I remember, said that I was sarcastic, rude, and a terrible dresser. It was a very useful assessment, on two out of three things. Guess which one didn't take!)

The whole point is, evaluations of teachers must be grounded in something. If they're grounded in WASL scores, which we know are next to meaningless, then the evaluations will have virtually no value. If my kids have a teacher who excites them about learning, makes them eager to come back to school every day, and helps them achieve proficiency in whatever it is they teach, I'm a very happy guy! But how do we measure that? And how will the district screw up that measurement, because, after all, they will?

In a lot of ways, I think Bill is talking about how great Lakeside was. That has nothing to do with SPS.

dan dempsey said...

I've been reading "Visual Learning" by John Hattie of Univ. of Auckland in NZ and "Children's Mathematical Development" by David C. Geary (National Math Advisory Panelist and world renown cognitive psychologist).

Both of these experts speak about how education decisions are fad-based and follow a political ideology rather than the empirical results known to improve achievement. Hattie mentions Project Follow Through as the classic case of the above.

PFT clearly showed that Direct Instruction (Explicit and Direct Instruction encompasses much more that the idea of lecture driven classes) produced huge gains in achievement among educationally disadvantaged populations, while none of the other models tested had results even close. In fact several of the models tested produced negative results.

The education establishment rejected these results and pursued the paths that the empirical evidence reported did not work.

Seattle's expanding achievement gap in math over the last decade and more is a direct result of fad-based nonsense education. PFT was a k-3 program. The Children taught using Direct Instruction (k-3) wound up graduating from high school at double the rate of those in the other groups.

MG-J is a classic example of the continuation of nonsense decision making.

Background:
NSF/EHR funding spawned "Reform Math" which is certainly fad based and has not produced positive results despite large government expenditures.

IMP failed in University Place and Tacoma. MG-J and crew were still pushing this for high school adoption in Spring 2008 but could not get it past the school board. In 2009 they switched to the similar in many ways "Discovering Series" and pushed it past the board 4-3.

Seattle now will have k-12 math instructional materials that are proven ineffective.

Both Geary and Hattie note that the USA has been an under-performer in math since the first international test of 12 countries in 1964.

Seattle's current k-8 materials and practices do not follow what are actually best practices as evidenced in worldwide empirical results. Hattie's "Visual Learning" examines 800 meta-analyses and NMAP reading points to the fact that a lot of what SPS has pushed as best practices in Math are not.

...continued

John Tenny, Ph.D. said...

On Observations: Observations are currently defined as an evaluation tool, something for the 'expert/authority' to use to make a judgment about a teacher's worth. However, if you replace the observer checklist or likert-scale form with an objective data-collection tool such as the eCOVE Observation Software the purpose and effectiveness changes.

eCOVE is a collection of timers and counters that track teacher and student behavior in the classroom, such as Time On Task, Class Learning Time, Response to Misbehavior, Teacher Talk, Level of Questions, Types of Praise, etc. etc -- the best practices and student engagement behaviors for which research exists. This is so much better than an observer's opinion about what's going on in the classroom - and since the observation is a data collection process, not one of making summative judgments, the observer can be anyone who can operate the easy-to-use eCOVE.

The outcome test data is a very important piece of information, and it does measure the value delivered by our education system. However, it doesn't do anything to determine what, or where, things are going wrong. We need data on how well the teacher is using the researched best teaching practices; on the fidelity of implementation of curriculum or behavior plans; and on the effectiveness of those efforts on the in-class behavior of students. eCOVE Observation Software makes this a very easy process, and the objective results can be used to facilitate professional discussions on both an individual and a school/district wide basis.

dan dempsey said...

(...continued)
The Common Core Standards writers appear to be a self-appointed group, which in math are many of the same folks who have produced the ongoing math chaos.

You would think that after the flailing attempts to fix math over the last 50 years, we might acknowledge that k-3 is of prime importance and that PFT really was spot on. Then we could begin using those Singapore Math books and narrow things down to what works.

By Singapore Math books I mean the program actually used in Singapore of 2 Textbooks, 2 Workbooks, and supplemental practice books (at each grade through grade 6) and NOT the bizarre mess that CAO Santorno left us.

It is time for the four board members who voted for continuing the Seattle Math Mess to realize that the UW is all about getting more NSF grants which has nothing to do with either improving Math in Seattle or the Nation. Those grants have been in place for more than 20 years and the nation has actually gotten slightly worse during that time.

Bergeson and Gregoire were also UW influenced with "Exemplary and Promising" programs like Everyday Math, Connected Math, IMP, College Prep Math, and Core-Plus which led to the current national, state, and city chaos.

It is the job of school directors to adopt the best instructional materials possible NOT to follow the recommendations of failed idealogues.
Unfortunately four directors failed to do their jobs. How much longer must the children suffer through the continuing saga of reform math initiated with TERC/Investigations passed to Everyday Math then Connected Math and finally Discovering Math.

Seattle remains wedded to inquiry based mathematics. Hattie rates inquiry based teaching with an effect size of 0.31 - his hinge point is 0.40 -
Effect sizes below 0.40 are not worth doing, Direct Instruction = 0.59

Blunder on Seattle, Blunder on.
If improvement is desired, PLEASE Don't look to the Common Core Standards for math guidance.

NMAP, Geary, Hattie, PFT, Singapore show the way ... but those in power just choose something else. Something ineffective in too many cases.

Fads and politically correct ideology drive educational decision-making in Seattle to believe otherwise is naive.

How many times have we heard that "differentiated instruction" is needed for success in Seattle School classrooms?

FROM NMAP research comes:
Although most teacher educators and professional development providers highly recommend a technique called Differentiated Instruction (DI) at all educational levels, there is no basis in research for promoting DI in the mathematics (or any other) classroom. The Panel could not evaluate the quality or weight of the evidence for DI because there is no empirical research on it at all.
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Hattie makes no mention of Differentiated Instruction because he is looking at empirical research.

Blunder on, Blunder on.

dan dempsey said...

Are the recent and current actions taken by Arne Duncan and President Obama prohibited by the US Constitution and the prohibitions placed on the Department of Education at its founding? It appears so.

The original act (Public Law 96-88) says “the establishment of the Department of Education shall not increase the authority of the Federal Government over education or diminish the responsibility for education which is reserved to the States and the local school systems and other instrumentalities of the States.”

According to "20 USC Sec. 3403," the DoE is prohibited from “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system.”

Read about it HERE.

If this stands it looks like another instance where our Republic is giving way to Oligarchy.