Thursday, May 04, 2017

District Wants Input on Middle School Math Curriculum

Here's the link to that information.

Before you read it, let me just say someone at SPS decided to carry on the theme of "are you bad at math" with this statement:

What Kind of Feedback Can I Give?
Even if math was not your strongest subject in school, you can still provide valuable feedback. The feedback form will ask six general questions like “will the resources provided help me support my student” or “does this book contain racist or sexist content?” It’s not necessary to be an expert in math to help review the materials. There is also an open comment section where you can provide additional thoughts for the adoption committee to consider.

Would they say that about LA? Or social studies? 

Maybe it's just me but we don't need anymore emphasis that math is hard.  I do appreciate the explanation of the many ways to review the materials to give input.  I just would like the district to not be one of the entities that keeps this idea alive.

On Thursday, May 11, Seattle Public Schools will hold an open house from 5-7 p.m. at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence for families, staff and community members to learn more about the instructional materials that are being considered for adoption.


Anonymous said...

So kid thought they were bad at math even though they got A's or B's in high school math. They did get a 2 on the AP Calculus test. Now they are in college and getting A's in calculus. Kid has admitted to themselves that maybe it wasn't that they were bad at math but that the materials used in high school were confusing and the classes were too large.

Math curriculum matters. How many kids are we convincing that they are bad at math becuase the curriculum is bad?


Math Man said...

There was just a great article about how contagious math anxiety can be.

My child came home from 2nd grade and told me she didn't like math. Which was weird because she's very good at math and enjoys it. I asked why and she said her teacher had given them a self assessment page with simple get-to-know-yourself questions like "do you enjoy counting to 20" and other similar questions. She had answered "no" to her enjoyment of the three math-related questions, because they were all too easy for her. Counting to 20 bored her. She was eager to learn about multiplication and division.

I found it tragic that the teacher let the kids come home from school believing that that one page questionnaire could tell that they really didn't like math. I explained how silly the questionnaire was. And how a person's enjoyment of counting to 20 in second grade actually couldn't tell you if they liked math or not. I feel sad for the kids who left class that day thinking they knew for sure that they didn't like math because that questionnaire told them so.

Anonymous said...

Ed Veteran says...

The concept of "a Math curriculum" is a 19th century notion.

We don't live in the world anymore. There are many, many curriculums, and all are (mostly) freely available to students, teachers, and parents -- anywhere, anytime.

School systems who think this way (choosing this OR that curriculum for everyone) are hopelessly lost in the industrial-age model of schooling.

Schools and school systems designed in THIS century have let go of such a notion and don't trouble their constituents with such nonsense.

Ed Veteran

Anonymous said...

CMP3 is GARBAGE. CMP2 has been degrading minds in Seattle for far too long. CMP3 is even worse.

JAMS started up and was given CMP3. The teachers, who are great, rejected it as garbage, and have never used the books. But, they didn't tell the district because using 'home brew', which is what they do, is something that could get them in trouble.

I urge all, even those who won't inspect the books: take the survey and register your displeasure with CMP. Don't let kids continue to suffer. Survey link is nested on this page, 2nd paragraph

Glencoe Math, aka "My Math" or just "Math" is excellent. Straightforward, uncluttered, easy to follow. Logical instruction, plentiful examples, lots of practice to build mastery, challenge problems, great supports. Homework is directly tied to instruction (some curricula teach you one thing, then grill you on a different thing). Also, homework pages are printed cleanly with lots of space for a student to work out the answers regardless of handwriting issues. That is important for students with ADHD who find 'busy' pages distracting (which can hurt their performance) and for many students who cannot write microscopically: without sufficient space, messy crammed writing leads to arithmetic errors.

Check it out online:
Glencoe Math
Username: GlencoeMath2016
Password: GlencoeMath2016


Anonymous said...

Error above: Mymath is entirely different than Glencoe Math. The district is considering Glencoe Math, which is excellent.


Anonymous said...

If telling the District would get them in trouble, why would you announce that info here? Don't you realize the district staff and board check in periodically?

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

@Ed Veteran--this is why Bellevue has a few vetted and approved curriculums and works to support teachers on how to select and use for various students, correct?

Fix AL

dan dempsey said...

So is JUMP Math under consideration and if not why not?

Math history 1999 and CCSS thoughts today

Equity has been a big emphasis, here are NAEP stats

Here are EdReports opinions after reviewing .... not too unusual is the fact that the JUMP Math review is still not finished.

dan dempsey said...

Typical of SPS... ask for feedback after already excluding JUMP Math.

Another fine example of Stakeholder engagement managed by SPS.

Note the NAEP stats on cohort improvement from grade 4 2011 to grade 8 2015.

Black students scored the lowest at +36.

SPS has already eliminated the series JUMP Math.

Anonymous said...

Fix AL

Why post about CMP3 being an abysmal failure, so that one school has shelved it? Because it matters that this info gets out!

Of course the district staff, and teachers, and board directors read the blog (kudos to Mel), that makes it doubly more important to give them a heads up about how bad CMP is and continues to be! Forewarned is forearmed.

So, to answer why posting is critical:

1) This adoption is TOO important and the impact of this adoption is TOO big to ignore the moral imperative to share out this CMP3 reality. This adoption decision is going to affect all kids in multiple communities for many, many years. To hold back vital info for fear of possible reprisal at a single school*, that would be completely selfish. The math teachers at JAMS came from Mercer, Mercer of the Mercer miracle. They know their stuff. They succeed teaching diverse populations. They got CMP3 to start with. The teachers turned to homebrew rather than foist this crap on their students. The adoption committee should know that in the real world, CMP3 was tried and was a disaster, and so caring teachers pitched it out. The frightening thing is that going into that first year, it LOOKED ok even to them, but, once you actually try to use it, that is when it became apparent that it was trash and harmful.

2) As this is an adoption, the impact is lessened because we will all get our current materials updated with whatever comes out of committee and is approved by the board.

So yes, sing it from the roof tops, CMP3 is like CMP2, and that textual material has been shown to be harmful.

Seattle kids deserve better.

And, while you are thinking about this, check out GLENCOE Math -- direct, clean, logical, straightforward, lots of support, workable for multiple types of learners, grounds students with solid foundations.


*fear of reprisal: shouldn't the district have better things to do than hunt down schools that are helping their students learn and succeed? In a perfect world, they would concentrate their efforts on helping schools help kids, not correcting schools that are doing well. Just saying.

dan dempsey said...

While some may take issue with Ed Reports findings, it is hard to miss the big red dots for CMP3 at grade 6 and grade 7.

dan dempsey said...

"On Thursday, May 11, Seattle Public Schools will hold an open house from 5-7 p.m. at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence for families, staff and community members to learn more about the instructional materials that are being considered for adoption."

Perhaps we could also learn more about the materials that were not considered for adoption and why.

Really... CMP3 is under consideration and JUMP Math is not.

dan dempsey said...

Please notice at Ed Reports
Gateway 2
Rigor and Mathematical Practices
Glencoe gets red dots at all three grade levels 6, 7, and 8.

dan dempsey said...

Let us take a look at Gateway 2
Rigor and Mathematical Practices
and find materials with 3 green dots
one each at grades 6, 7, 8

(1) Core Connections 6-8 (a CPM product)
(2) Eureka Math (Great Minds)
(3) Math Techbook (Discovery Education)

Gateway 3
Compare for usability
Best are only 3 yellow dots
one at each grade level 6, 7, 8
(1) Eureka Math
(2) Math Techbook
Core Connections get one green dot at grade 8

How can CMP3 and Big Ideas be under consideration and JUMP Math excluded?

JUMP Math believes that conceptual understanding comes about through procedural fluency and problem solving. This is the same position taken by Singapore's instructional leaders. For most of the last 60+ years the NCTM has had things upside down believing that Conceptual Understanding should be pushed. Notice the complete failure of almost every "exemplary and promising program" from 1999. YUP SPS used some of these turkeys.

Notice that Math Techbook is not under consideration for review.

Eureka Math has some real usability problems.

Sure would like to know how SPS came up with the materials that are to be examined.

"To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data" -- never a strong point at SPS Math Central.

Linh-Co said...

NO to CMP3!!! Garbage in garbage out.

Anonymous said...

@Dan Dempsey
Thank you for chiming in. I wish you were on this committee!! Your approach is logical and consistent and I always appreciate the lucidity of your insights. I wish you were on the board, actually. ANd, head of the math department. A person can dream...

Regarding Glencoe, my opinion is based on direct almost 4 student-years with it, for IEP students of varying abilities.

The link provided seems to support my positive experience: is the site biased in favor of discovery methods? I ask because it seems to ding Glencoe for not being discovery. If the site is pro-discovery, no wonder Glencoe was rated the way they did. However, their words paint a positive picture, and their criticism is about the text not 'allowing students' to write conclusions about what they found. I do NOT want students to have to write discovery essay questions in math. Students write such essays in LA, SS, Sci, etc. Math is for doing. Practice breeds conceptual strength and mastery and builds strong foundations. I do not want kids having to derive their own formula to figure out, for example, how to calculate the area of a circle.

From the Ed report:

The lessons to provide a coherent trajectory of learning. Materials reviewed for grades sevens and eights are found to appropriately focuse on the major clusters of the grade level and the lessons in these grades including numerous connections between mathematical topics. Grade 7 and eight we reviewed for rigor and MPs. All three aspects of rigor: procedural, conceptual, and application, are present in these lessons; however, they are not found to be balanced. Procedural problems are abundant, but opportunities for conceptual understanding are lacking. Students are often directed to use a given procedure to use on application problems.… The lessons are found to lack of structure allowing students to determine their own solution path, present their arguments, and justify their conclusions.

Students directed to be consistent and nail down the way to solve problems, and to do so over and over? That sounds good to me. That sounds like math. The opportunity to NOT write down an essay answer about what they are doing and why they are doing what they are doing? That also sounds good to me. I would rather students down 5 more math problems with little twists to nail down mastery and explore variation than explain in words what they do (which can be hard for ELL, dyslexic, dystrophic, etc students who are stars at math) . And by the way, the text does not do over kill. It doesn't make kids do 4 pages of problems for a simple procedure - it is very balanced in that regard.

Everyone: please participate. Look at materials, supply your opinions. ANd, even if you are too busy for that, at least tell the district your opinion of CMP.


dan dempsey said...

Dear CMP:DOA,. Thank you for the analysis. If you read my two articles in Ed News, you will find I am not a big fan of the push for conceptual understanding prior to procedural fluency and problem solving. I think anyone who studies the techniques used in Singapore and other really high scoring East Asian countries would reach the same conclusion. The NCTM's continual premature push for conceptual understanding has served struggling students very poorly.

The SPS drones on about equity and yet continues with instructional materials and practices that harm educationally disadvantaged learners. Check out the current state of affairs for various groups from 2015 NAEP.

dan dempsey said...


The only way to be head of math anyplace in WA is to push the gospel of NCTM which has been counter-productive for the last 60+ years. "To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data". Yet clearly that has never been the plan. The plan is alignment with what NCTM pushes. There is an enormous apparently unmovable mass of emperors without clothes who direct this expensive national farce.

dan dempsey said...


Consider this:

5) Also, District Curriculum and Instruction staff persons can request Purchasing to additionally and directly inform a particular vendor/publisher about an adoption opportunity.

Yet the public was locked out of communication with District Curriculum and Instruction staff persons... I and 3 others had been meeting in an attempt to be sure that JUMP was to be considered. Yet the district would not inform us as to what materials had been submitted for review. We wanted JUMP considered but it did not happen. Once the district informed the public about submitted materials the claim was that it was too late for additional materials to be added to the pool of submitted materials.

JUMP is by far the least expensive of the materials available at the middle school level and likely the most usable and teacher friendly.

Again here is the NY Times article on JUMP Math success.

Ms. Anna Box should be held accountable. As the Math Program director she should be acquainted with JUMP. If this process had been less secretive, our group of four would have made sure Ms. Box was aware of JUMP.

JUMP could have easily been added to the pool but Ms. Box could not have been less interested.

Benjamin Leis said...

@Dan -
I actually suspect Open Up Resources will end up being the cheapest since its non-profit and
being developed under a creative commons license but since pricing is so hard to find I can't tell for sure.

Linh-Co said...

I haven't looked at the current Glencoe but the old version was solid math. I don't have issues with Big Ideas. We are currently using it at my private school. It has worked examples and lots of practice. The scope and sequence is logical and the math is coherent.

Anonymous said...

Would they ever give thought to having two textbook options--one for kids headed toward STEM studies requiring superior math knowledge and one that's more accessible/less discouraging to those who won't need advanced math post secondary? It seems that SPS leans toward the latter type of textbook, that is not doing those headed for STEM careers any favors.


Anonymous said...

@Linh-Co, Dan Dempsey, Benjamin Leis & Melissa:

Aren't we all glad to be having this conversation in the first place?!?!!

Yeah, middle school math adoption! Thank god!!

And it is DIRECTLY because the citizens of QA/Mag choose SUE PETERS over Dale-Etsy.

Make no mistake, it has been PETERS who has kept the faith, DESPITE staff, and it was she who pushed HARD and consistently for this adoption in the first place. If not for her leadership and phenomenal dedication our kids wouldn't be getting this shot. She was backed up by Burke and together they've gotten this to not slip away from the agenda despite staff pressuring about budget woes. And, they have been supported by some other directors too, but it was Peters who birddogged this back when staff tried to cut the funding via a tactic back in committee that she would not allow to slide pass.

Let's remember that. Peters fought for kids. She did so, and does so, tirelessly, and always from the perspective of what's best for them, that is the priority that drives her. She knows CMP two is a disaster, she has made it a mission to get rid of that because kids deserve better. Not sure why Nyland has made it so difficult for her in this quest. You'd think that he as Superintendent would also want kids to do well, but, whatever. We have Peters watching our kids' backs. Thank God. And, Nyland's passive interference? Not important anymore, because she mustered support with her colleagues on the board, and this is happening.

Thank you director Peters. Please stay on the board (run again!!!). Please. Our kids need you. You make a difference. You are absolutely the best director this district has seen in 20 years. Smart, independent, hard-working, ethical, passionate.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Yup. Peters has been on this issue for a long time and now, joined with Director Burke who worked on this one a lot (with his wife, Linh-Co), they have pushed hard.

I do support Director Peters for all her efforts.

Anonymous said...

Solid curriculum and quality teacher aids will help a great deal in this district (eventually.) If we had a SPS Foundation, that could be the focus areas and it would be a big help.


dan dempsey said...

Here is .....

an article from Breitbart, which is Spot On about common core.

No Matter your political leanings, Breitbart nails it spot on about Common Core. The 1:17 Youtube video clip of CCSS-M co-author Jason Zimba tells it all, as far as inferior quality of "College Ready". Ready for what colleges and in what disciplines?

This entire push is just IMHO a visit to crazy-land. Pushing everyone through "passing a labeled Algebra II class" serves no real purpose other than to lower the quality of many of those Algebra II classes by forcing many students through it that have "Zero Interest" in it. (of course it has been good $$$$ for publishers)

The fact that CCSS is still too late in requiring proficiency in add, subtract, multiply, and divide with efficiency gets the vast majority of CCSS kids off to a math start 2 years behind the students in high performing East Asian countries.
The entire push for CCSS and its marketing is a national disgrace. (but the slow start and failed direction toward competent STEM grads is great for the sector that wants increases in H1-B visas)

The NCTM and so many of those holders of "Degrees in Math Education" are selling snake-oil to largely ignorant decision-makers that control the education of the children.

Meanwhile back at SPS Math Central, How did Anna Box and company miss JUMP Math?

Nice work Ms Box on locking out stakeholder engagement.


When DeVos says, "Power has been returned to state and local entities to be able to decide what standards and what expectations they are going to have of their students," she is referring to ESSA. ESSA requires states to submit their ESSA plans to her for approval. How is that local control? It is a step towards federally mandated local control.

Benjamin Leis said...

@Dan - I checked and FWIW the official response w.r.t JUMP was that they didn't submit any material for consideration so they weren't included in the set.

dan dempsey said...

Benjamin, thanks. Fact remains that JUMP was the second most preferred program in the elementary school adoption and Ms. Box did not request materials from JUMP. ... More info on this may be available after FOIA request.

Anonymous said...

When Lincoln got to pick materials for middle school math pilot, there were 4 materials considered. The internal teachers (4th & 5th grade) plus principal got to pick which, free from interference of JSCEE. The 4 considered were EnVision, Glencoe Math, Jump and another one whose name I forget.

Thurgood Marshall was using EnVision, at the time they had been for a year, and they were very happy. There was a sharing of info so that Lincoln got their colleagues' info and the scoop on what real world classroom experience had been like. In the end, Lincoln chose Glencoe Math. It has been a strong, complete, and well-liked text for teaching and learning.

So, don't know all the details, and Lincoln is but one school, but when Jump was compared head-to-head by actual teachers, Glencoe Math was chosen. They were some great teachers ... who've moved on (that is another story).

No doubt that Jump is great per Dan, who is a fantastic teacher and knows what he is talking about, but Glencoe is not just good, it has been great: it hits on all cylinders in terms of what's important: clarity, procedure, examples, coverage, practice, mastery.

Parents at Cascadia (as Lincoln is now called) still get their kids to jump into Algebra at Hamilton in 6th grade in order to avoid one poisonous year of CMP2.

Love to Director Peters for making this happen.

Math Parent

dan dempsey said...

Math Parent, Good to hear about Glencoe. There seems to be a big move away from books and toward software, Chromebooks, and worksheets. Very nice to find out about Glencoe. On the JUMP Math front, the Jump rep. wrote to Anna Box in early October offering free support for any Jump being used. Ms. Box never replied to that eMail.