Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Math Adoption Threatens Math Waiver Schools Experiencing Success

A letter from the Schmitz Park PTA was sent this week to the Board, the Superintendent and other district officials:

Dear Seattle Public School Board Directors and District Staff,

On behalf of the Schmitz Park PTA, we write this letter in opposition to the Math Adoption Committee’s recommendation to implement the enVision Math Program as the new math curriculum for all elementary schools in September 2014. Schmitz Park is in an advanced, and deliberate, position as one of six schools across the district currently using a Singapore Math-based curriculum to teach math and a transition to enVision will be a step backwards for our students.

As part of our opposition to the recommendation, the Schmitz Park PTA states that:

1. The rubric and implementation process used in the Math curriculum evaluation was inadequate and based entirely on Common Core State Standards alignment. Common Core State Standards are standards, not curriculum. If the evaluation was based on CCSS and discussions were centered on CCSS – that did not leave sufficient time to discuss the teaching, mastery and quality of a strong math curriculum.  (Editor's note: this is precisely the point that the teacher on the Math Committee made in her minority report to the Board which is attached to this agenda item.)

2. A Singapore Math-based curriculum is structured to introduce, practice and master mathematics. This structure is what drew Schmitz Park to the curriculum. It was the best way to teach math. During the development of the new STEM School, the Design Team for Math was tasked with evaluating math curriculum to identify the best way to teach mastery of math. Again, the Team was drawn to Singapore Math. Public Input from the Adoption Process was in favor of Math in Focus as a curriculum desired by the community. Repeatedly, when it is the quality of math being examined we come to the same conclusion – Singapore Math.

3. enVision Math will not maintain the rigor and momentum Singapore Math has created for Schmitz Park students. Since 2008, we have been building this program for our children to master math. A review of Madison Middle School placement tests will show that a Singapore Math-based curriculum has Schmitz Park students testing above grade level for 6th grade and 8th grade math placement year over year. (Editor's note: that last sentence is a very important point.  If Schmitz Park students have better math scores than other incoming middle school/high school students, the district should consider their plea.)

Therefore, as a result of a unanimous vote at our membership meeting last night, we ask the board and district to consider the following alternatives:

1. Reject the Math Adoption Committee’s recommendation of enVision and adopt Math in Focus as the new K-5 Math Curriculum.

2. Amend Policy No. 2020 on the Waiver of Basic Instructional Materials to allow Schmitz Park and other schools using, or desiring to use, a Singapore Math-based curriculum like Math in Focus to ensure funding will be provided from the district to support an approved alternative math curriculum.

3. Approve a Dual-Adoption giving schools the choice to implement enVision – OR – Math in Focus

At Schmitz Park, we made a commitment to our students seven years ago to provide them with a Singapore Math-based curriculum to advance their math skills. We believe all schools should have access to the best way to teach math and advocate for a district-wide, Singapore-Math based curriculum. This is a serious, long term investment and Schmitz Park is not willing to risk what we have accomplished by shifting to something new and untested. We ask that the Board Directors and District Staff respect the investment our parents, students, teachers, and the district, have made in Singapore Math at Schmitz Park. Thank you for your consideration of our alternatives and your commitment to the adoption process.

Jeff Rayner
Schmitz Park PTA President
Emily Giaquinta
Schmitz Park PTA Student Capacity Chair


Anonymous said...

Schmitz Park Elementary: Another Great Big Reason we love West Seattle. I don't see their PTA sitting idly by and letting this happen. They will push back, hard. Some of them drive bulldozers. Seriously. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Schmitz Park families, for your commitment to learning for ALL students in our entire District,

Well done

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Wow...I wish every school would do that. Especially my daughter's school.


Anonymous said...

I hope Schmitz Park gets their waiver or a dual-choice of curricula. However, to claim that enVision is untested or a step backwards is misleading. The schools that are currently using enVision have also experienced success. They were planning to fight just as hard to keep enVision had MIF been chosen.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if there's any timeline in place to work on adopting a new middle school math curriculum?

EnVision? said...

Very thoughtful letter from Schmitz part. Concerns regarding EnVision need to be taken seriousl.

Anonymous said...

Listen SPS: It's the 21st Century, not the Middle Ages. We are not a society of illiterates that only gets information handed down to them by Monks who know how to read and write. Knowledge sources are widely and freely - yes freely - available. There is NO REASON to be focusing on ONE set of BOOKS to educate thousands of SPS students in MATH for the next FIVE YEARS. Do you, SPS, not understand the rate at which worldwide human knowledge is exploding?! Yes, there is a math formula for this! Bet top SPS administrators have never used it though. The administrative mindset in this adoption is LUDICROUS.

Adopt both enVision and MIF. Let schools decide which works best for their students and give teachers appropriate training from there. Further, if a school has a DIFFERENT method of teaching that still meets Common Core knowledge expectations per grade, let them do that too.

Don't bring up the cost of multi-adoption. Anyone in SPS quantify the amount of money WASTED on Kumon-type tutoring by families all over this city? How is that cost-efficient? How is that equitable?

For a wanna-be World Class City, filled with literally thousands of academically brilliant adults and cutting edge high tech industries (Hey SPS: High tech equals MATH) this District has the most ludicrous bass-ackwards approach to STEM that I've ever experienced, and that includes some pretty unsophisticated other US cities.

Math Enlightened

Anonymous said...

Wow, Schmitz Park! What leadership, and what good sense. Wishing you good luck from the NE. Thank you for fighting for your kids and for all of our kids.


Po3 said...

"enVision Math will not maintain the rigor..."

that pretty much sums it up.

Linh-Co said...

Shauna Heath was asked to survey if schools were interested in enVision or Math in Focus this week.

Parents let your principal and staff know if you are interested in MIF. This will be used as gauge for dual adoption.

Final decision will be made June 4th. An amendment will be needed for dual adoption.

Anonymous said...

BBC has article about how US is in denial about its poor math standards…..

From the article…..
"There are 23 US states which would be ranked below 30th place in an international ranking of 34 OECD countries at maths."

(Washington sits around 20th, but before you read on before you start to feel complacent about than a relatively well-off city like Seattle probably doing better than reflected in the stats for the whole of Washington state)

……the study overturns the idea that middle-class children in the US are as good as their international counterparts. It shows that in the US, as in other countries, children from better educated, wealthier families will achieve better results than poorer children.
In the US, among children of parents with a low level of education, only 17% were proficient in maths, compared with 43% of children from well-educated families.
But this standard of maths among well-educated families in US is well below their counterparts in other countries. In Poland, 71% of children from well-educated families were likely to be proficient in maths. In Germany, 64% of better-off children were proficient at maths and 55% in France.

…. the tendency to make internal comparisons between different groups (e.g. white versus minority, urban versus suburban, rich versus poor) within the US had shielded the country from recognising how much they are being overtaken by international rivals. The outcome was a misleading sense of complacency about middle-class education, which always appeared to be ahead…… has been easy even for sophisticated Americans to be seduced by apologists who would have the public believe the problems are simply those of poor kids in central city schools.

……."results point in quite the opposite direction," says Andreas Schleicher, responsible for the OECD's Pisa tests, said this study was a challenge to middle-class households who thought that debates about school standards did not apply to them.

We really need to get this elementary math adoption right - and then take a hard look at the middle/high school curriculum

McMath (yes, I do think some of the curricula equates to this)

Anonymous said...

Our problems stem from decades of inquiry-based math, which rely on story problems to teach math. Students are confused by this approach and do not get enough practice to become proficient. Current textbooks do not have examples to follow and are especially difficult for students with ADHD or language challenges.

Math in Focus textbooks are straightforward and do not rely on distracting graphics to teach math.

I have no faith in SPS administrators to pick a good curriculum. They blew it with Discovering textbooks for high schools and ignored parents who wanted a different curriculum. The administrators will pick any book with a seal of approval for Common Core.

It is up to parents to lean on the School Board and their schools to select Math in Focus as an option.

S parent

Anonymous said...

Still would like to know the answer as to whether or not Singapore Math (not MIF) was left off the RFP list and why. Does NOT pass the sniff/gut test(s).

What Schmitz Park's letter didn't mention is that they as a school ponied up $35-45K per year from their PTSA until last year for their Singapore materials and training - last year the district absorbed the cost. How is this equitable to schools that do not have such financial and PTSA Support?


Anonymous said...

Can someone please tell me, once we finally get the K5 books approved when the earliest redo of middle school math would be? It looks grim too.

Also, the district site is super vague. Do kids in accelerated math get a different middle school book publisher than those in standard math?

Also, sorry for the questions, but math choices suddenly seem urgent, What is the criteria for getting nominated for faster math in middle school? I seem to remember it is teacher recommendation plus a certain score on spring MAP but now I cannot find the district information.

Thank you to this community for pushing for better options for all.

middle-school-to-be mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Leslie, that is kind of the point. These schools have largely paid to use other math, found it works so the district should give schools a choice AND pay for it.

Anonymous said...

Next year for 8th grade math, we are doing math online rather than CMP again. We just cannot take it anymore. Discover the Pythagorean theorum? Really? The inquiry based stuff in CMP just does not work for our child.

Can anyone share any information on high school math textbooks? I have heard that some teachers use the Discovering series in high school, but that some use more traditional texts. Anyone have any experiences/knowledge to share?


Anonymous said...

MathMADical, if you are asking for recommendations for high school math texts, Algebra Structure and Method Book 1, by Brown, Dolciani, Sorgenfrey, and Cole, is highly recommended for those wanting a solid, traditional text (see reviews on Amazon). There are also books by the same group of authors for pre-algebra, Geometry, and Algebra 2.

mathy parent

Linh-Co said...

Ingraham uses the Unified Math books for Algebra II Honors and IB has its own textbooks for SL and HL math. They use Structure and Method Algebra 1 and the same series for Geometry.

Some of the teachers at Roosevelt do not use the Discovering series. I don't believe they have a school wide agreement.

I'm not certain about Ballard but there are some fuzzy teachers. I know Ted Nutting does not use Discovering. I think he also uses a lot of

Kuta has solid worksheets you can download for free. A lot of high school teachers use the program as a supplement. It's a great way to teach discrete skills.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:30 pm watching the Math Adoption Intro Item.

the technology piece is handled by OPs (who are not here @ the mtg, but "we'll get back to you on that"); we don't know about the online issues, "we'll get back to you on that"

Can anyone address the online instructional industry - how it has changed and how much it will be expected to change in the next. 6 years but apparently wasn't part of the RFP, and/ or materials the committee reviewed and that the committee didn't see/ address - "we'll get back to you on that".

So this is about texts NOT online media.

Director Carr states "have been through so many of these - it was a very clean process" and "my Gene Juarez buddy on Prom Night was pleased with Envision...." What is the feedback/, status on RFP that did NOT included Singapore Math ???

Mobility rate/ Dual adoption - didn't impede Asa 'Mercer and the waivers already granted .....

McBeth "doth protest too much"

Better than theater, but much sadder- we apparently have learned not much since the last sad adoption....

Anonymous said...

Carr/ Tolley responses to Carr's questions...

Waivers @ cost to the schools - we'll provide in Friday update - which will be published after 06-04-14

So NOT transparent. And too late to analyze?


No analysis of finance of dual adoption.. "We'll get back to you on that". Carr: "church and state"

@ 7:00 pm


mirmac1 said...

Listening to live stream:

Sue Peters feels good math is worth fighting for!

mirmac1 said...

Right on Sherry Carr. Show us the data!

Staff put on their full court press, and I see Tolley getting whipped.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Really? Because when I left -before this discussion - it didn't sound like the Board would step up at all.

The Superintendent, in his remarks, said it was about equity (but didn't explain how - for the past 6+ years - other schools were allowed to keep using other math curriculum). He also didn't seem to get that the issue if a student moves to a school not using the district math, that student will fall apart. So that didn't happen in the last 6 years either but now it's a huge possibility?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Banda is doubling down! Good for him.

He is ineffective, bad decisions have been made/are getting made... decisions with real consequences (bell times, capital,text books), and he thinks he can just skate away without getting tripped up by any of this??? Ha!

Look at what happened to MGJ -- the community was so incensed they they reached out to future potential employers and made sure they knew all about her train wreckage.

Same thing for Banda. He is in over his head. When you don't know what you are doing, classic tactic is to delegate and be inflexible and unresponsive. Circle them wagons! And, keep hiring lots and lots is suits (like everyday math: diffuse and confuse). That doge stuff, he is a master at. But, he ain't Teflon. The Mayor knows it. The Legislatures does too.

If the Board is going to be passive on this monumental issue of math, we may as well have rocks in those chairs. Dual adoption only makes sense. Anything else is undefendable, especially because of equity, when we have schools who can opt out, but others, with 96% F&RL, who are hostage, absolute hostages, and have no choice! Where's the equity in that?? If envision is all that, then why not do dual adoption? Every school will run to envision, so go team. So then, you can be proved how right, smart, knowing and awesome you, Tolley and Heath, really are.

If we get the miracle of dual adoption - and if the majority adopt MIF - and get results, then Tolley and Heath should resign or be fired. It's called accountability. And, take Banda when you go.


BTDT said...

The board cannot do a dual adoption unless the Instructional Materials Committee changes its recommendation to a dual adoption. Under state law, the board can only approve or reject an IMC recommendation, they can substitute their judgement for the IMC. It is a very interesting law that I think was tied to McCarthyism and not wanting school boards to be swayed by the political whims of the day. It assumes that the IMC is the professionals who can make the recommendation without the influence of politics.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there are different metrics for what success looks like. And no curriculum will teach math without good professional development. But it sounds like success in the case of the Schmitz Park PTA is measured by parent satisfaction more than actual data. Also, I believe that the MiF curriculum and development is over three times the cost of Envision, so should the Envision schools get a rebate? Lastly, common core is the law; MiF is not aligned to it (and prior post aside, Envision is as close as you are going to get at this point-much higher than 38%)

-another opinion

Linh-Co said...

MIF is not 3 times the cost of enVision. Staff wanted us to believe that MIF requires 8 days of professional development. This is absolutely not true! I spoke with Highline SD and they did 3-5 days of PD the first year. After that, the training was done in house.

Linh-Co said...

I heard Sue Peters was a rock star at the meeting today. Kudos to Marty McLaren and Sharon Peaslee as well.

WallyMom said...

@another opinion
I didn't understand your 38% comment and how it relates to the linked report card on Schmitz Park?

Also note common core is not a curriculum, it is a set of standards. Best aligment does not equal best way to teach math.

For example,The State of California reviwed Math curricula and found many aligned to CC that had nonetheless different learning approaches . Then districts can choose from a list which suits their students.

mirmac1 said...

Actually I think Banda set the right tone at the end of the discussion, acknowledging the work of staff AND board members. And stressing the most important end result is what is best for students. He's not my way or the highway. Neither is he Caspar the friendly ghost.

Anonymous said...


I was referring to the other article Melissa posted about alignment (actually had Envision at 34%). I understand that the common core is not a curriculum.

Standards set the learning targets and the Common Core also sets up progressions to theoretically sequence those targets. The CCSS-M also outline standards for mathematical practice which are more affective aspects of doing math outside of specific content objectives. There are a lot of opinions about the "best" way to teach math, and this blog seems heavily in favor of a Singapore approach. My point is that the students and teachers are going to be evaluated on a different set of content objectives than are covered in Singapore.

My opinion is that math instruction needs to give teachers an opportunity to guide students to an understanding of those objectives (not all that different from current Wa. State standards actually, in terms of content with some things moved and others de-emphasised)- more importantly to becoming mathematically literate is the practice of doing math.

The Singapore approach, and others that are favored by the "Where's the Math" crowd don't align not only in content but in rigor. Parents like it because they can understand it, and it is not confusing. Wouldn't it be nice if the world of real problems were like that. The last 15 years of what is called derogatively "reform math" has actually improved our performance in the international and national assessments (all be it incrementally). I don't understand the logic of moving backwards so problems are simple to solve in textbooks, more like "when we were kids."

The data on Schmitz Park, and Alki (which also uses Singapore) both show a downward trend over the years since they were adopted. Highline has an uptick but there is not enough data to establish a trend, and they also have a different population that started quite a bit lower; perhaps all they needed was 5 days of professional development?

Some people just get math, many more need conceptual development and time to work on novel and engaging application problems. And yes, they do need to be fluent in the basic facts to do that, but math can be so much more than just that.

-another opinion

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Parents like it because they can understand it, and it is not confusing. Wouldn't it be nice if the world of real problems were like that."

Did you mean this to be condescending? Because it feels that way.

Anonymous said...

The Schmitz Park math data is interesting. There is a low blip in 2011 for 3rd graders, then in 2012 for 4th graders, then slightly lower pass rates for 5th graders in 2013. It was as if one cohort of students was not doing as well on average. Not sure how to interpret the data...


Anonymous said...

In the board meeting last night, McLaren mentioned that Schmitz Park has grown quite a bit in the past few years, with lots of new teachers. She wondered if an influx of new students and teachers could impact the data. Anyone have a comment about this? I don't know anything about Schmitz Park.

Loved Sue Peters' remarks about the purpose of education.


Anonymous said...

The 'Where'sThe Math' crowd also includes a very large number of university and college professors who have seen a decline in student math preparation for years now. The uncomfortable truth is that students are far less prepared for college level math than they used to be.


Anonymous said...

Below you can see the effect of increasing school size on the data at Schmitz Park. 94.5% - 5th graders passed the MSP (Math) in the year 2010. After that the school had a huge influx of students that were new to Singapore Math. New teachers also arrived concurrently. So, sort your data by "continuing students."

Grade 5 Schmitz Park
2005-06 WASL
2006-07 WASL
2007-08 WASL
2008-09 WASL
2009-10 MSP
2010-11 MSP
2011-12 MSP
2012-13 MSP

Data Sorting Wonk

Anonymous said...

And...2005-2006 was the first year Schmitz Park used Singapore Math.

Data Sorting Wonk

Kathleen V. said...

I was at the meeting last night. I testified and stayed 'til the bitter end of the Director comments/questions. If you were not able to be there or to stay until 8:00, here are some takeaways:

1. Sue Peters is spot-on in her comments and detailed analysis of the BAR presented. She was deliberate in flushing out the red herrings, the inconsistencies, and the hypocrisy that was written into the process. (Carr can honestly complement them on their clear follow through on process but the issue is the process being flawed from the start). If you watch nothing else in the video of the meeting, watch Peters.

2. McLaren has seen, firsthand, what a difference Singapore has made to schools in her region. I am eager to send off the newest data from K-5 STEM @ Boren which will offer a much needed additional piece of info on how well Singapore has closed achievement gaps in diverse populations. Granted, it is only 2 years of data but it is impressive.

3. Peaslee, as well, is justifiably incensed at the way that community input was set-up to be roundly dismissed if it didn't agree with the staff recommendations.

4. The district attempted to mandate its desires into every school in the district with EDM. Look how that turned out.

5. Dual adoption eliminates the inequity caused by schools, unfunded by the district, making up the difference through PTAs. Schools, principals, and communities decide which approach works best for their community and population and the district funds the decision. Period. Equality in access to the highest quality programs -- whether you believe this is MiF or enVison.

6. It was interesting to note the lack of specific financial data on a lot of the questions posed about enVision adoption. In contrast, they seemed to have every damning number against MiF on the tips of their tongues. Too bad their numbers were easily rebuffed by better researched reality.

7. Schmitz Park will need to put together their own comprehensive information on the status of Singapore and their community over the past years. Staff is anxious to only include the last 3 years (stated by them) because the data is impacted by the fact that nearly 600 students are now crammed onto a campus designed for 217. They seem very excited to play off any plateau or decline on Singapore and not the outrageous conditions under which students are being asked to learn. They say they will have apples to apples comparisons to other schools and their numbers. I have a hard time believing that they will find another school with 3x as many students as the school was designed for with, what 50% of students operating out of portables for years. Entire cohorts whose whole elementary experience has been in portables? Whatever they submit will need to be closely scrutinized for bias. Seriously.

8. Apparently, $1M of the cost of MiF can be easily cut due to the fact that the district already owns 95%+ of the manipulatives needed for MiF.

9. So, the MAC was told the cost (incorrectly apparently) but then told to not consider it. Perhaps I watch a few too many law shows on TV but this seems to clearly be a way to influence the committee while still being able to say that they didn't.

10. The district, at the start of this process stated that they didn't want cost to be a factor in selection. Yet, here we are, arguing cost as justification to dismiss a reasonable compromise.

OK, I've gone on long enough. I do want to say that I honestly respect all of the work that the MAC put in. They did the best they could with what they were given. Unfortunately, what they were given (60% weight on strict CCSS alignment) is misguided.

Bravo if you got to the end of this ridiculously long post.

Linh-Co said...

@another opinion

You obviously are not familiar with Singapore Math. Its complex multi-step problems are more rigorous than any problems in the US math textbooks. This is why Singapore is especially popular with our APP parents.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Peaslee, as well, is justifiably incensed at the way that community input was set-up to be roundly dismissed if it didn't agree with the staff recommendations."

I will have to watch the tape because I left after the Board Comments. I missed Peaslee at the last Board meeting but apparently she was quite tart from the dais. Last night was no exception during her Board comments on Wilson-Pacific.

One speaker, a teacher on the MAC, said she thought a "vocal minority" on the committee might have coached some comments sent in because they "sounded the same."

Patrick said...

Kathleen V., thank you very much for the comprehensive post.

Linh-Co said...

Here's are typical problems taken from Singapore 5A (5th grade):

Ali sold 5 oven toasters and 3 rice cookers for $500. If a rice cooker cost $20 less than an oven toaster, find the cost of a rice cooker.

The ratio of Bill's money to Henry's money was 5:6. After Bill spent $800 on a TV set, the ratio became 1:2. How much money did Henry have at first?

Please do share with us if you can find more rigorous word problems in a 5th grade US math textbook.

Patrick said...

Another Opinion posted: The Singapore approach, and others that are favored by the "Where's the Math" crowd don't align not only in content but in rigor. Parents like it because they can understand it, and it is not confusing.

To most people, a math book that is not unnecessarily confusing is a good thing. Singapore's explanations are clear and concise. These are important virtues. They save everybody's time and allow the books to be understood by students whose English is shaky and do not have English-speaking family at home. Singapore is more rigorous than Everyday Math, not less. Everyday Math writes lots and lots of words describing math, but doesn't have the student actually do very much of it. It's math as a spectator sport. They make a pass through a topic but don't worry at all if the students don't get it because it's poorly presented and not practiced, because they present it again (equally poorly) a few more times. Singapore Math teaches math techniques that should be presented, but never touched on in Everyday Math. Like long division, for instance, not taught at all in Everyday Math. Okay, calculators are ubiquitous now, but long division is a great way to teach multiplication and subtraction and estimating as well, and being able to do those things rapidly in one's head is a valuable skill. A person skilled in estimating can dismiss an entire approach while someone who is not skilled is still getting their calculator out.

Wouldn't it be nice if the world of real problems were like that.

Solving real-world problems is not helped by a vague and confusing textbook that doesn't offer enough practice problems.

The last 15 years of what is called derogatively "reform math" has actually improved our performance in the international and national assessments

Citation please?

I don't understand the logic of moving backwards so problems are simple to solve in textbooks, more like "when we were kids."

Math at the K-12 level has not changed much in the last 50 years or so. There's zero reason to throw out old textbooks like last season's fashions, especially when the new books are worse at actually teaching.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen V, thank you very much for that post! And I since I have lately not been shy about expressing my displeasure with some board members, I want to say how happy I am to have Peters, Peaslee, and Carr exposing the problems with this process and fighting for better math. I still hope we can have MiF for the sake of all our kids.


curious said...

OK, sorry if I am missing it, but what was the outcome of the vote on Envision? It sounds like it was a good discussion, but did the Board cave in the end? I hope not based on these comments, but I've seen lots of good questions come from the Board and then they just vote through what staff wanted.

What happened?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Curious, the item was Introduced, not voted on.

There are still two weeks left to talk to the Board about this issue. Sadly, there are no community meetings on Saturday but there are three next Saturday.

If you want a different outcome than the one presented by staff, e-mail the Board,

robyn said...

Ah, OK, thanks!!! I knew I must have been missing something.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Patrick, for describing exactly what is wrong with Everyday Math. For years English major administrators, like Terry Bergesen, pushed text based math textbooks. There was a love for “real world problem solving,” which sounded good to many parents. Unfortunately, this approach did not teach math. The tutoring market surged.

Math is a big weakness for Seattle Public Schools. It is one reason so many parents choose private schools.

It does not have to be this way. Parents sick of tutoring should be vocal in favoring a better curriculum like Math in Focus. It will benefit students left behind by Everyday Math.

S parent

Kathleen V. said...

"One speaker, a teacher on the MAC, said she thought a "vocal minority" on the committee might have coached some comments sent in because they "sounded the same."

When any group of people is interested in making their thoughts known and counted it is perfectly reasonable to forward/cut/paste/quote from opinions that are the same as your own. Not everyone has time to petition the government or, in this case, SPS by composing a thoughtful email in their own words.For those who work, have kids to raise, or have lives, the process of sending a "ditto" email to those in charge is meant as a way of saying "I agree with this. Count me as well."

Remember, again, that to review the math materials you had to be available during school hours and travel to a regional school or JSCEE. This ruled out the possibility for working families to weigh in. Yes, I am dismissing the notion that having it available at a single library (Douglass-Truth) constitutes true availability to most people.

So, what does a working parent do? They listen to their friends or PTA Board members that did have time to review the materials and voice support one way or the other. They then echo these sentiments to make sure that their vote was counted as well.,, etc. are all based on the idea that it is not feasible for every single person who has an opinion on a topic is able to write a comprehensive appeal to the powers that be. What people can do is gather knowledge the best they can and add their name onto a list to show support in numbers.

THIS is why you have emails or comments that sound the same. Would it be better to have 258 unique responses? Of course. But this is not how real life works. People let the district know their choices in the best way they could at the time. This should not invalidate their input.

Anonymous said...

I was slated to testify last night, but was not able to due to an family emergency.

Basically, my testimony cited assertions made by Shauna Heath at May 12 Curriculum and Instruction meeting (I was present, taking notes) versus what my own research revealed. I found major discrepancies. My research is based on talking to both publishers, and talking to a district that has adopted MIF and is very happy with it.

Below, list of what Shauna asserted, followed by facts.

1.Envision Math professional development is one day, and is free.
2.MIF will not sell their curriculum unless the school district purchases eight days of professional development services per teacher.
3.MIF does not have a train-the-trainer model.
4.A full adoption of MIF will cost $6.4 million for materials and services (materials for 1000 teachers and 30,0000 students; eight days of training services for 1000 teachers). [The Board Action Report puts the cost at $6.8 million.]
5. For a full implementation of MIF, SPS will incur a cost of about $2.5 million to pay teachers $40 for each hour of professional development over the eight days of MIF professional development.
6. A full adoption of Envision Math will cost $4.268 million (materials for 1000 teachers and 30,0000 students; one day of professional development)
7. MIF will not negotiate on the price

The facts:

1.MIF does not require eight days of professional development (written commun,from MIF)

2.Four days of MIF training should be sufficient (written commun.from MIF)

3.MIF has a train-the-trainer model in 2nd year. (written commun. from MIF)

4.Envision free ½ day is for “activation.” (oral commun. from EM)

5. Districts often purchase up to two additional days of EnVision Math training, at a cost of about $120 per teacher (one trainer, max 30 teachers, $3500 per day). That would be $120x1000x2 = $232,000 additional cost for two days of PD for 1000 teachers. (oral commun. from EM)

6.It should not be necessary to purchase any additional manipulatives for MIF beyond what the schools already own (written communication from MIF) (written commun.from MIF)

I have indirect information that MIF trainers suggesting that per-day fee for MIF trainers may be significantly less EnvM's fee.
We need to see if outside trainers or MIF trainers would consider groups much large than 30 teachers per trainer. If so, the PD cost would come way day. There is a lot of room for getting great MIF training at a much lower rate than EnvM charges.

Taking this information into account, plus information from on-line publisher's catalogues and price lists, and with a little help from publishers to figure out what items are essential, I came up with a dual adoptoin cost scenario. I sent this to the board. I find that Dual adoption is not much more costly than single adoption of EnvM.

Joan S.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Joan, what a lot of effort on your part, thanks.

One thing I want from the Board is just some healthy oversight and maybe some skepticism. I hear it in Sue Peters and Sherry Carr; I'd like to hear it from others.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it appalling that it took a community member to do for the Board work that staff should have done?

As for oversight, I think the certain board member(s) calling for an emergency board work session in Feb., due to concerns about staff manipulation of the MAC process, was immensely helpful.

It was some or all of the grass roots majority coalition members that called for this .


Anonymous said...

While I dislike discovery math and those kind of approaches I understand
what they are trying and failing to accomplish.

While in school my dyslexia keep me from being successful in most subjects that required me to communicate in written words.

Math was much simpler to work with, but without real world hands on experience in applying what I was learning my interest began to fade.

Then I attended a shop class run by my favorite teacher ever, Mr Lauber. Shop class was filled with wonderfully dangerous machines that could inflict sever damage in milliseconds to any operator not in the moment.

Mr lauber controlled access to the machines using math as the key to access..yes to use various machines you must have first passed a math test tailored to each type of machine. Some test required simple manipulation of measurements or maybe some geometry, but the holy grail of all machines was the CC milling machine. (Think of it has a machine that can make anything if you know it's secrets).

BTW C stands for computer and in the 80s that was magic.

So what stood in the way of me and the CC? it was trigonometry and calculus and programming. Those who made it to the level of CC operator could walk out of high school and into any professional machine shop and get a high paying job! Like at Boeing and many did just that.

My interest turned out to be what was inside the magic box that controlled the machine which meant more math, but not everyday math it was a new type of mathematically controlled language.

Not all students see value in math
at first and some may never unless there is a bridge built between the theory and reality. In my opinion that's the key to success and it can't by performed in a book! any book!

It takes a special kind of teacher.


n said...

I watched part of the math discussion on TV last night and the hope was articulated that teachers would have the materials in their hands by the second week of school.

I'm sorry. Why can't the schools have it out two weeks before the first day of school. We are so busy. We always start out behind and many of us stay behind because we are always catching up. Can't the hours of some of these District employees be flexed in order to get schools and teachers ready to go by the first day of school? Every custodian that has worked summers at my school has time to help. Nobody is there to see it, but they have time on their hands.

The tail wags the dog in every way in education.