Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Odds and Ends on Math Adoption

The Times finally got around to writing an article on this issue.  I didn't really like their take on it but I'm not surprised that it is made to sound like the cost was the main issue.  The article said that MIF is "nearly twice as expensive" as enVision but forgot to say that was based on the staff's reading of it.  The article then waits until nearly the end to say "the exact cost won't be known until the district places the order."  Oh. 

They also made it sound like the MAC recommendation was a done deal - when that was never the case - and it caught all these principals off-guard.  Well, whose fault is that?  Not the Board's.

Got some interesting e-mails in my most recent public disclosure request from Seattle Schools.

 Director Peters had some back and forth with Michael Tolley over edits to the BAR on the math adoption.  She had tried to get some edits in on-time about the math adoption BAR for the Board meeting but was told she hadn't gotten them in on-time so they would not be reflected until the next week.  (The agenda was to be posted that day.) This was around May 16th.


Peters answers, saying that there appeared to be a "number of inaccuracies" and expressed concern over posting them.  She had them in by 2 pm with a 4 pm deadline to post the agenda.  She expresses her concern in another e-mail to the Superintendent.

The Superintendent answers back that what she submitted was too "extensive" and would take time for "staff to sort through."  He said they were busy and it would not be possible to get them done before the 4 pm cut-off.  Then, he says,

A special 2-hour meeting has been scheduled for Monday to thoroughly review your edits and make any adjustments that may be necessary.



Two weeks later, President Peaslee sends a long e-mail to Banda and Tolley about concerns she has over the pricing for MIF.  She points out that staff took five weeks to respond to Peters' requests for the RFPs?  The Board did not see them until after the MAC recommendation was made. 

She has a long list including why the FAQ said MIF is "not synonymous with " Singapore Math when it is stated as such on MIF materials and the RFP. 

It seems that there was some kind of "phone survey" of schools (and I assume that was principals?) and yet none of us was told there was one by anyone.  She also references a dual adoption.

Mr. Tolley replies back that staff is working on "detailed and complete responses" to all questions and concerns and would have them to the Board by June 2. 

What I find odd is that the issue of the legality of a dual adoption would have been one that could been easily put to rest early on and yet by May 30th, the issue of using a dual adoption was still up for discussion.  That seems like a waste of time for all.

Another is an e-mail dated Feb. 27, 2014 between a woman from Mind Research Institute and the Superintendent.  Their stated website mission is to "change math education in America."   They sell a math program called ST Math.  They are a non-profit with quite a varied list of contributors (none Gates or Walton).

Through our uniquely visual, non-language-based approach to teaching math — delivered through our ST Math instructional software — students across the country are deeply understanding math, developing perseverance and problem-solving skills, and becoming life-long learners prepared for success.

Fascinating given that staff wanted enVision which is much more literacy-based.

What was troubling was this from the e-mail from the ST woman to Banda where she says this (in reference to free PD to schools):


The schools will not be charged for any of this professional development however, they will need to provide adequate substitute time for teachers to participate in these trainings and agree to share data with the MIND team in regards to student outcomes and teacher surveys. 
 
Of course, I would ask - what data, on who and how much?  I appreciate they want to know how their ST math is working but again, we need to keep a tight lid on what data about students gets passed out.

25 comments:

HappyMom said...

So she got them in 2 hours ahead of her deadline (4pm)--and was told that wasn't good enough? In the Superintendent's shoes I would have been deeply concerned if there was such extensive documentation of errors and would have asked to stop the presses to get it right. Giving someone a deadline (which she seemed to meet) and then saying they can't do anything about it is flawed.

Anonymous said...

Clarification-

ST math is not a stand alone math program.....schools use it for intervention work or as a supplement to an existing program. You may want to remove your comment about it in the posting as it misleads the reader into thinking it could have been a program that would have been considered during the adoption.

Teacher

Melissa Westbrook said...

I said ST is a math program (not curriculum). Adding it as part of what is in e-mails discussing math adoption is valid.

I didn't say it was part of the math adoption process.

But thanks for letting me know that it IS being used. Because I'd like to see what student data is going to them and what those costs are.

dan dempsey said...

ST Math was used at Banda's California district. Highline with MiF has 90 minutes per day math instruction and uses ST Math. I've heard costs of $50,000 per school for ST Math but have no idea what Highline paid.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thing is Dan, when the district cries poor, it is important to know what is being funded and why. This may be a very good program but I still want to know what student/teacher data they will get from it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thing is Dan, when the district cries poor, it is important to know what is being funded and why. This may be a very good program but I still want to know what student/teacher data they will get from it.

Linh-Co said...

ST math had good results with the high free and reduced lunch mostly Hispanic population in Anaheim.

ben said...

ST Math was in use at JAK8 for the last several years. I have no idea about the cost or data sharing however as a program it seemed fairly useful.

Ben

Anonymous said...

ST Math has been used for the past two years at John Rogers, too.

I don't know the cost details.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

ST Math is used at Queen Anne Elementary - this is year one, they started in January.

QA Parent

Linh-Co said...

Dan,

Are you sure about $50,000 a school? That seems a little rich.

jl said...

I think ST math is in the range of $20 ish per student and I believe schools who use it pay for it themselves. I wonder if that email was just a spammy pitch as opposed to a legitimate correspondence? Just speculating.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Nope, it was legit.

Leon said...

What is ST? Banda's former school district used Envision. The contract is on the internet.

n said...

Kind of old but best I could find on google: http://www.intmath.com/blog/yet-another-computer-based-math-system/940

Apparently, you can buy it on Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/MIND-Research-Institute-ST-Math/dp/B008VYAEKS

Mixed reviews. Who knows? I liked Dreambox which the District did not renew this year but was a hit my kids. At my school all the teachers are missing Dreambox.

Anonymous said...

I love using ST Math (spatial temporal math). It has allowed me to differentiate with small groups in an incredibly effective way. Kids love it, and their skills improve tremendously. It's a win-win. The curriculum and student work (one grade per child per year) is stored on the ST Math server so they can access/work on it from home, not just school. At our last training the list of SPS schools using it showed on a drop-down menu as our trainer logged in. It was a long list.

Great TED Talk about it: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=https://www.mheonline.com/program/view/1/1/412/0076237583/#program&feature=kp

TS

Anonymous said...

Oh and when I create a new account for a student I use any name I want- it isn't connected in any way to SPS identification data.

TS

Anonymous said...

Now that I'm reading this, I'm wondering, what is the computer component of Envision and MiF, and do either collect data on individual students?

SM

dan dempsey said...

DreamBox will expand to middle school grades next school year. The cost will be $25 per student for 12 months.

John said...

Dan,

Is Dream Box presently being used in SPS?



Ragweed said...

Wednesday I spoke to the Principal at our school about how the principals meeting went on Tuesday. He said there was a lot of anger directed at the board for not following the MAC recommendation. It seems that many of the principals felt that the MAC had represented their input and concerns and that by rejected the curriculum the board was dismissing the Principals input and choice.

This report-back is interesting for 2 reasons:

1. I think it shows that some of the push for waivers and the call for SCPA to weigh in on a blanket waiver was coming not from Tolley and Heath, but from the principals themselves.

2. The principals seem to feel that their input should be given first priority over teachers and parents.

It may also explain some of the push for common-core alignment, if the principals are evaluated more closely on school test-score performance.

Anonymous said...

Common Core alignment in and of itself may not be the best predictor or assurance of student performance. This goes for ELA (English Language Arts) as well. With CCSS, we have seen an increased emphasis on "skills" while content gets sacrificed. No time for vocabulary. Very limited writing instruction. Poorly chosen reading selections.

So, when CCSS "alignment" is held as the be all and end all, it gives me pause.

If the math content and coverage is solid, students should do fine on the CCSS assessments. CCSS are not some magic bullet.

parent

dw said...

TS said: Oh and when I create a new account for a student I use any name I want- it isn't connected in any way to SPS identification data.

Thank you for paying attention to this and sharing.

Parents and teachers, please be aware that when you use any online tools, kids names and student#s should not, in most cases, be associated with those accounts. When you do so, you are giving away personal student data to outside organizations.

That goes for textbook publishers as well, like math with Pearson.

mirmac1 said...

That's how the (now bankrupt) ConnectEdu got your secondary students' info and now can sell it as an asset through bankruptcy court. The student ID. AND the student's gmail account.

Dreamaker $$ said...

The owner of Dreambox is Ben Slivka, and he was instrumental in pushing charter schools.

Nice to see he is profiting from Seattle Public Schools.

Similar to other computer progams that create individual student learning opportunities, Dreambox will collect many data points on students. Privacy can not be guaranteed.