Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Math Standards

I went to the presentation on the new Washington State K-12 Math Standards last night at Roosevelt High School. The new standards are supposed to be more rigorous, more narrowly focused on core content priorities, they are supposed to require greater depth in those core content priorities, they are clearer and more detailed, and they are supposed to be pedagogically neutral - not preferring either reform math or traditional math.

In the end, however, the change in the Standards won't help the state improve the number of students meeting the Standards. The problem isn't that the old Standards were bad - they were bad, but that wasn't the problem. The problem is that the Standards - all of the Standards - are meaningless because neither the State nor the Districts have a "then what".

Education is a human endeavor. That means, among other things, that it is going to have a broad diversity of outcomes. Since there is only one outcome that we deem as positive (student meets standard), we should be ready for other outcomes. Particularly in the case of the Math Standards where about half of the students are not seeing the positive outcome. Astonishly, we have no contingency plan for such a result.

Let's say that a student in grades 3-8 doesn't meet the math standard - as is the case for about half of them - then what? Well, then nothing. There is no intervention. There is no package of services ready to deploy and no package of services that gets reliably deployed when a student doesn't meet the standard. We have no reaction. We take no action to address the situation. We simply pass the student along to the next grade level. Hey, if a child can't swim in a pool four feet deep, it doesn't help to toss that kid into a five-foot deep pool.

What happens for the student who doesn't pass the fourth grade WASL? Nothing. They are placed in a general education fifth grade class along with everyone else. Only that student isn't ready to do fifth grade work. The work doesn't make sense to the student. In the language of current education trends, the content isn't relevent for the student. So what happens? The student is not engaged. And what is the result? The student underperforms and commonly becomes a behavior problem.

So now, the failure to act on the part of the State, the District, and the school, grows from being a personal tragedy for the underperforming student to becoming an inhibitor on the academic progress of every other student in the class. The underperforming student with a behavior problem takes teacher time away from the grade level curriculum to address their remedial needs and takes teacher time away from instruction to address their behavior issues. It negatively impacts the education of every other student in the class. And it isn't just one underperforming student with a behavior problem in a class; there are lots of them.

Underperforming students with behavior problems don't just create negative impacts for individual classrooms, they negatively impact all of public K-12 education. Why do families feel they need to choose a private school? To escape underperforming students with behavior problems. Why do families want their children in Spectrum classes? To escape underperforming students with behavior problems. What is the big "kick me" sign on public education for critics - the people who are always saying "no more money for schools until they start showing better results" and "public schools are no good" and "we need charter schools"? Underperforming students with behavior problems. Let's strip away the varnish, the euphomisms, and the political correctness and be brutally honest about what is wrong with K-12 public education: underperforming students with behavior problems.

The school and the District must develop and implement some process for turning underperforming students with behavior problems into high performing motivated students. Put more nicely and positively, the State, the District, and the schools must provide underperforming students with behavior problems the support they need to become motivated high performing students. Can they? Well, it's a yes or no question. If the answer is "Yes", then they better start doing it. They certainly aren't doing it now. This should be their top priority. Seattle Public Schools has said, for years and years, that their top priority is to close the academic achievement gap by bringing every student up to Standards, yet the District has not developed or implemented any effort to achieve that goal. Isn't that odd? Can you imagine any other organization stating - so clearly and emphatically - a top priority and then not taking even the first step towards that goal? Weird. The solution is obvious: we need a package of services ready to deploy for underperforming students and we need to deploy those services reliably for every student identified as having that need.

Of course, it is possible that the answer is "No". Maybe there is nothing that the State, the District, or a school can do to turn underperforming students with behavior problems into high performing motivated students. In that case, the State, the District and the schools need a plan to separate those students from the others to reduce the negative impacts that underperforming students with behavior problems have on the academic progress of other students and on the effectiveness and reputation of public K-12 education. I know that's harsh, but what else can we do? I know that there are those who think some community goal (I'm not sure what goal it is in this case) takes precedence over the individual goals of academic achievement. But I must ask, should every student suffer because some students are intent on making them suffer? How is this any different from bullying?

Fortunately, I believe that there are steps that the State, the Districts, and the schools can take to support underperforming students with behavior problems and convert them to high performing motivated students. They just need to take those steps. Until they do, the Standards - whatever they are - will be meaningless. They will be meaningless because it will make no difference - there will be no consequences - whether a student meets the Standards or not.

What can be done to change underperforming students with behavior problems into high performing motivated students? I recommend diverting them - temporarily - into an extended, intensive, and enriched program designed to quickly bring them up to Standards and then return them to their general education classroom. It's got to work better than what we're doing now - which is nothing.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. Couple of questions.
Did you get the sense the reform math will still be the implemented cirriculum in SPS?
Do you have any thoughts on how the high school math adoption will go in light of these "new standards?"

Anonymous said...

I'm on the mailing list for Wheresthemath.com and they sent out a mailing yesterday saying that the standards from the Dana Center (who OSPI hired to rewrite them) are still heavily favoring reform math. Wheresthemath went as far as to publish their own K-12 Math standards yesterday. I looked at both and I'd have to agree that I favor Wheresthemath.com's version.

This is supposed to be the final revision. For those of you who are more involved, what is the chance that wheresthemath will be able to have an impact on getting the legislature to get them to revise them again to more closely meet the specified goals of the SBE?

Jet City mom said...

good detailed post Charlie.
What is heartbreaking from a parental perspective, is when you have a child in the position of the 3rd grader who isn't getting it , who doesn't pass the WASL & even when they have an IEP in place , they aren't getting appropriate help in many schools.

Some schools are putting measures in place to support students- ( besides putting them into Special Education which isn't always appropriate)- but as they have been administering the WASL for over a decade, the state as well as the district should have had broad support for students and schools.

I have gone to many of the math workshops- and agree that reform/new-new-new math is not the answer, but neither is traditional singapore math. Why can't we use curriculum that covers both memorization and utilization of basic skills and concepts but also allows for practical application and problem solving.

We don't teach reading either/ or phonics/sight reading, and I think math for many students would be more successful with a mix of strategies.

I also think disconnected from WASL- that classrooms could utilize new methods of evaluating students. I am in college currently, taking several classes that are fairly math intensive ( soils & chem)
tests- are either open book- where we can bring our notes- or open mouth, where we can talk to the others at our table. I think for me, that is is a much more effective way to show my own understanding of the material.

I agree that we do need some memorization & memorization does make things speedier. But IRL, we will not be sitting in a room with a blank piece of paper, we will be working with our colleagues or have other reference guides at hand.

For some of us, we have a great deal of understanding & we can use what we have learned in practice, but we have difficulty spelling out what we know in a test situation. It will come in time, but to hold kids back until their short term memory keeps up with their understanding , is when you start to have behavior problems IMO.

Michael Rice said...

Mr. Mas makes a very good point. I have many underperforming students with behavior problems. Since the district has not provided me with a solution for these students, when they act up in my class, I have them removed from class. Our security guy comes and takes them away. Now I have to say this kills me because that just puts this student further behind, but I am not going to allow some knucklehead to disrupt my class and impact the students that want to learn. I have underperforming students who want to learn, I do all I can to get them back on track. It is hard to do this and I cannot allow someone who isn't interested in learning to take away from that.

All this being said, the fact that I have basically kicked someone to the curb breaks my heart. It goes against everything that I went in to education for. However, until the district grows a backbone and stops automatic promotions in grade school and middle school, I will continue to do what I have been doing.
I'm not saying that if a student can't make it out of middle school, they should continue in middle school (we don't want 17 year olds wandering the halls with 11 and 12 year olds), but there needs to be someplace for these students who are not ready for high school to go. If the district continues on the path they are on, it will just continue the cycle of underperforming and behavior problems that we see now.
The district is doing plenty for students who are close to meeting standards (extra classes and after school classes), but they have basically punted on the students who are not close to meeting standards. It is a shame and it will have long term social and economic ramifications.

Charlie Mas said...

Most of the interventions in place for underperforming students come in high school after they have failed the 10th grade WASL.

How much better would it have been if the intervention had come after the third grade? Not only would the remediation have been easier, but the student would not have had seven more years of negative experiences with school.

Anonymous said...

This situation as you lay out is absolutely appalling, and I would urge you to submit what you have written as an op ed piece in one of the local papers. It is so well written and reasoned. It is a great shame on all of us if this is not addressed.

Charlie Mas said...

In answer to the questions:

Yes, SPS and all of the people in authority at the local and state level continue to strongly prefer reform math over traditional math. They are not interpreting the outcome data in the same way as folks from Where's The Math.

I will say that all of them have been carefully trained to talk as if they understand, appreciate, and accept the perspective of those who oppose reform math. They all talk about valuing knowledge of math facts and practical functionality. Despite the talk it is very clear that they don't mean a word of it. They are true believers in a religious war. The topic is not open for discussion.

The Dana Center does heavily favor reform math. Although the new Standards are supposed to be pedagogically neutral, they are not. They include references to students knowing multiple algorithms in a way which clearly promotes reform math. The balance of concept to content clearly promotes reform math.

Regardless of the impact that Wheres the Math might have on the legislature, it does not appear that the legislature can have any impact on the new Standards.

Anonymous said...

wow, it's so depressing from so many angles..

Anonymous said...

Charlie, bravo. This is brilliant, and heartbreaking, and oh so true. I agree with anon at 10:38, please submit this to the Times/P-I.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Charlie. I wish the Times or PI had an education reporter half as good -- please get this wider circulation.

Anonymous said...

Are schools given autonomy to intervene when a student is not succeeding? I ask this because in our elementary school, there are actions that take place if a child fails the WASL.

First the child's family has to meet with the principal to make an action plan. The action plan consists of follow up throughout the year, tutoring (with a scholorship if need be) and extra support from the classroom teacher. Our school has a high math WASL pass rate (88%) and they want to keep it that way. Our older child goes to a Shoreline middle school and they also have plans in place for children who fail the WASL. They are automatically assigned to WASL "help" classes, which is basically like tutoring. They are also pulled out of regular math and put into a "catch up" class, where they work until they can mainstream back into their regular class.

Perhaps, it is not the district that offers the intervention?? Perhaps it is the individual schools responsibility. Do all schools have some measures in place to work with these children, of just mine??

Anonymous said...

Charlie says: “There is no package of services ready to deploy and no package of services that gets reliably deployed when a student doesn't meet the standard…..The student underperforms and commonly becomes a behavior problem.” (emphasis added)

I agree with much of what Charlie says, however I think he is over stating his point. The words I want to point out above are “reliably” and “commonly.”

Charlie, how much experience do you have in academically diverse classrooms? While it may be true that the District is not “reliably” intervening in a standardized way for children who underperform, most (all?) schools are intervening to help children who don’t meet standards. Often this intervention is accomplished in part through parent fundraising or time but there are also LAP teachers, ESL aides, counselors, family support workers, tutors and psychologists in most (all?) buildings with diverse populations. That may not be optimal, and it certainly isn’t standardized, but I’m not sure that ripping kids away from their communities in response to their score on a test like the WASL would be optimal either. And what do we do about the kids who meet standard in one subject but not another?

As far as the claim that kids who underperform “commonly” become behavior problems: some of the ‘substandard’ kids I volunteer with exhibit behavior problems, but that is also true of some of the kids who meet or exceed standards. I can believe that if they are made to feel stupid (just as if they are ridiculed because they are 'too smart') they are more likely to misbehave, but children who are valued for their other traits seem to behave just fine.

You seem to believe that the kids who don’t meet standards are all parentless waifs adrift in the District or members of families who don’t care where they go to school. I’m willing to bet that quite a few kids who don’t meet standard haven’t chosen their school because it spits out WASL passers; they are there for other reasons. Would you force those families to send their kids to ‘WASL Elementary?’

It is probably true that removing the kids who don’t meet standards from the classroom would make my kids’ lives easier. But in the meantime, they wouldn’t be learning important lessons about patience and valuing people for more than their ability to spit out answers quickly. Personally, if I valued that sort of environment, then I could have sent my kids to Lowell. I didn’t.

I think that the more meaningful question here is whether the fragmented attention these kids get is effective—and it is a question, I have no evidence one way or the other. In my experience, interventions seem to involve being pulled out of classrooms for small group or one on one attention. This means that the kids end up missing blocks of instructional time with their primary teacher (often during the ‘extras’ like science or social studies). I would support interventions that happened after school or in the summer (summer school happens already of course, is it based on WASL performance?). Ideally, this would include time for the type of enriching experiences that middle class kids get all the time.

I agree that if we are going to use the WASL, then we should support the kids who aren’t meeting standards. I’m not sure that dragging them all off to “WASL Elementary” for a couple of months of standards bootcamp is the solution. There may be evidence to support that approach. If there is then I would like to see it.

Anonymous said...

charlie & maureen

as someone who has to deal with the disruptions in class (not all of us work for supportive administrations, like Mr. Rice) from passing WASL and failing WASL kids,

classroom behavior is a major problem.

Maureen, I think you've read stuff into Charlie's statements which weren't intended.

My take on it is that kids who disrupt need to go out of math class, because the majority, everyday and every class, want to learn.

I have NO clue about where they should go and what they should do when they get there - maybe among all the tens of thousands of people who work in education who have all kinds of fancy degrees - maybe those people could come up with some concrete ideas and pay for those ideas?

There are over 6 billion people in the world who need / want clean water, clothes, food, shelter, health care, education, retirement, vacation, fun ...

and there are NOT enough people, nor enough resources, for all of us to have our own personal contingents of nose wipers.

adolescents need to start growing up - 14 and 15 years old is NOT an adult, but, it is a lot closer to adult than to 4 or 5 years old.

anon on wed.

Anonymous said...

My post is geared toward elementary intervention. I agree that if kids can't keep up in High School they shouldn't be allowed to disrupt a class of kids who want to learn. But aren't kids in HS pretty much segregated by met standards/didn't already? Charlie didn't propose segregating by behaves/doesn't behave did he?

Anonymous said...

maureen at 6:41

in my few years experience at the high school level, I think the only kids who are really segregated are the truely high math achievers --

the rest of the classes are little better than a crap shoot of skills.

at the middle school where I student taught in fall of 2004 - we got our WASL scores 2 or 3 weeks into Sept.

last year at my high school we got our WASL scores ... sometime during the pandemonium of the end of the year.

in both cases, we had some muddle of fuzzy gle speak shortcomings per student, and

there is / was no real remediation for kids bombing - other than for the 10+ graders who've bombed math WASL already.

even without all the classroom buffoonery, the hgih school math placement is a mess.

anon on wed

Anonymous said...


Patience is a great thing, but when your kids cannot get an education because of constant disruption and behavioral issue, due to kids who do not want to learn - what do you suggest?

I am sincere here - my kids are not in APP, so I have experienced the "diverse" classroom you praise first hand, and can tell you, it is not a picnic. What do you suggest for that?

(I also thought the comment about Lowell was rather snide as well)

Charlie Mas said...

maureen, you raise valid questions which deserve to be addressed.

I chose my words with care. When I wrote "reliably", I acknowledged that there are schools - some schools - who work to identify struggling students and provide them with additional support. Surely there are also individual teachers who do the same. The efforts, however, are catch-as-catch-can and spotty from site to site. I would advocate for something applied more systematically. I'm thinking of something funded, directed, and supported from the District level.

So, yes, support does appear for some of these students in some form, but I'm looking for support that comes more reliably.

As for "commonly", that was a careful choice as well. It is not to say "as a rule" or even "typically". If a student who is not engaged in the lesson because they lack the foundation knowledge to understand it acts out, would that not be a common event? It certainly wouldn't be uncommon.

I have a lifetime of experience in academically diverse classrooms, not that it makes any difference.

I regret to say that not most - and certainly not all - schools are intervening to help children who don't meet standards. Now, I don't think that's what the schools would say. I think that if you were to ask them, they would say that they do. So let's phrase it another way. Do schools intervene effectively when students don't meet standards? Now I think we must all agree that they do not, since we know that students fall further behind rather than catch up.

I would not propose ripping kids away from their communities in response to their score on a test like the WASL. I'm a little discouraged that you or anyone would think that I have proposed such a thing.

While I have proposed a separate program for underperforming students, there is no reason that program could not be housed within the students' current cluster if not their current schools, much as Spectrum is sited in every cluster and ALOs could be sited in every school. Moreover, there would certainly be effective measure other than a separate program. The important thing here is that we reliably do something and that it be something that provides positive results.

One of these other possible measures could be the appropriate response for students who are struggling in only one or two subjects. On the other hand, it might not be bad to have some academic diversity in the diversion program so students can have areas in which they can be leaders and other students can have role models of proficiency.

I would not rely on the WASL to place a student. First of all, the WASL was designed to assess schools and districts, not individual students. Secondly, the technical notes on the WASL specifically caution people from making program placement decisions based on student WASL scores.

If you were to ask me, I would say that the performance reports from the teachers are the best determinant of whether or not students are meeting the Standards. The teachers are supposed to be making exactly that determination on the progress reports. I think that the progress report incorporates multiple measures and takes into consideration nine months of work rather than nine days of testing.

I certainly don't believe underperforming students "are all parentless waifs adrift in the District or members of families who don’t care where they go to school." In future, I would appreciate it if you did not make conjectures of this sort about my beliefs when they cannot be substantiated by my statements. In fact, if you check my original post, you will see that there is no reference in it anywhere to family structure, socio-economic status, culture, native language, or race. Those simply should not be factors.

Not only would I not force families to send their kids to "WASL Elementary", if you have read some of my writings on the extended, intensive, and enriched program that I envision, you would see that it features a signficant amount of art, music, and field trips. I believe that it is critical that the program include a large enrichment element. The absence of this sort of enrichment in children's lives is a proven contributor to the academic achievement gap. In addition, the field trips to the zoo, the aquarium, museums, and performances, make it clear that the program is NOT a punishment for the children.

I think it is important that your children learn about patience and valuing people for all of their gifts. If you had sent your children to Lowell, they would have gotten a healthy share of that lesson from the interaction with the Special Education students there. They would have gotten a more rigorous academic education as well.

I acknowledge that academics are not the sole purpose of school, but they are the primary purpose. I understand that everyone learns at a different pace. That isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a student who lacks the foundational knowledge or skills to do grade level work. Consequently, that student is not well-served in the general education classroom - however that child's presence may contribute to your child's social and emotional benefit. There should be patience, but it should have a limit and that patience should bring a net benefit to everyone. Right now it is simply wasted time.

There will be fast students and slow students, but at least everyone will be ready to step on the track together. Right now, some kids can't get out of the locker room.

I don't mean to be unkind. I'm thinking about what is in the best interests of a student who has not completed the work of the previous grade level. I don't think it benefits that student to be thrown into a class where they are not ready and able to succeed. I think that student would be best served if they could get what they need to be quickly brought up to grade level and then returned to their general education class. When they get back, it is very likely that they will be among the stronger students in the room. Wouldn't that be a refreshing experience for them?

In fact, as anxious as I am that the students be put back in the general education program as quickly as possible - mostly because I fear a permanent assignment to the diversion program and I fear that the program will become the slow program with lower expectations rather than the accelerated program it has to be - I think it important that these students be seen by their peers as "smart" and well-prepared when they come back. They should model exemplary study skills and time management skills. That will go a long way to avoid any stigma associated with participation in the program.

It will be an intensive program - no doubt. But that's what these kids need. It won't be a boot camp, and I assure you that I don't envision anything driven by the WASL.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Class of 75,

You expressed the sentiment that.."but neither is traditional Singapore math".

You you looked carefully at Singapore's various Math Curricula?
Primary Math through grade 6

New Elementary Math grades 7 - 10
New Syllabus Math grades 7 -10
New Math Counts slower paced and slightly less rigorous grades 7-11

There is very little that I would call traditional in Singapore's materials.

Singapore Math is carefully developed and very modern. This small nation which teaches all their math classes in English even though over half their grade one students come from Non-English speaking homes certainly did not become the worlds top performing math nation at grades 4 and 8 by using traditional materials.

India did not decide to partner with Singapore in further accelerating advanced students because India was looking for a traditional curriculum.

dan dempsey said...

Here is the crux of the problem as it now exists.

1. The WA Standards had way way too many topics per grade in the grades 1,2,3

2. Ms. Santorno unilaterally decided to adopt Everyday Math a book with not only way too many topics per grade but way too many topics per week.

3. The wording Spiral Curriculum in regard to Everyday Math means beginning and leaving topics so rapidly the child never has time to learn a topic effectively.

4. There are no required grade level math skills on which to base either grade level retention or much more importantly effective interventions.

5. It seems that we have no one in an educational decision making capacity in this state or city that will do anything but support the defective "group think".

Solution lies in:

1. Reduce the number of topics in all grades.

2. Teach topics long enough so that the teacher can introduce them in an engaging way and carefully develop student understanding complete with some effective practice.

3. Stop teaching the same topic at an excessive number of grade levels. We are introducing topics as quickly as possible in a hap-hazzard fashion. Example Singapore will teach a topic like statistics or probability over a limited number of grade levels. This is not to say it will not be reviewed later but it will not need to be re-taught. Since EM and other reform programs do not effectively teach a topic long enough for a child to learn it. It may wind up being retaught over and over and over through a huge number of grades (and still not really mastered).


I wish the promoters of reformed math knew enough statistics to realize that when your nation is the worst math performing English speaking nation on both the TIMSS and the PISA, it is time for a change. [TIMSS for grades 4 and 8 and the PISA test of 15 year olds has the USA surpassing only one industrial power nation Italy]

As even the Rainman would know:
Definitely, definitely time to change plans.

Ms. Santorno and crew are now trying to use a much bigger more expensive hammer to pound a square peg into a round hole. The result is more splintered kids.

Decision making is not currently a strong point in the SPS.

dan dempsey said...

An article in the Everett Herald:

Commentary in regard to New Math Standards

Fuzzy Math is Failing our Kids
by Senator Val Stevens


Senator Stevens appears to have a reasonably complete picture of what is happening.

I am not sure that all of Senator Stevens stats are correct.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to state for the record that many parents--at least this one--want their children in Spectrum (or similar) not to avoid disruptive under-performers, but to prevent their child from becoming a disruptive, bored, under-challenged WASL-passer.

And I don't know what percentage of "failing" students become actually disruptive in class--I'm sure it varies with social situation. Many just tune out quietly and slip to the margins unnoticed.

Charlie Mas said...

In a class in which all of the students are working at grade level, the teacher is able to support students working beyond the Standards. In such a classroom, Spectrum- and APP-eligible students can be kept challenged and engaged.

Beth Bakeman said...

In a class with a talented teacher who has been trained in delivering differentiated instruction, the teacher is able to support students working beyond the Standards. In such a classroom, Spectrum- and APP-eligible students, as well as all other students, can be kept challenged and engaged.

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Anonymous said...

Is the closure of alternative schools in Seattle a structural issue or is it because they are out of compliance and they don't accomplish what their proponents claim?

The idea that you could differentiate learning with a textbook like Everyday math or Core Plus is absolutely nonsensical. You have much to learn grasshopper. Most teachers spend their days xeroxing textbook pages because a) they have no textbooks or b) the kids destroy the textbooks.

Next time choose textbooks that kids like, not what someone else likes. The research was dishonest. Get over it.

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Anonymous said...

Oh my god...someone stop the anonymous who posted the last 6 posts. Enough now. We get it. Sorry you had such a miserable school experience. Sorry you're Hispanic. Sorry your math students can't read!!!

Stop now, control yourself. Alto.

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Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 6: 34.....Are you teaching in a Seattle public school?

Anonymous said...

Could we possibly start another thread that addresses these new math standards from a global "all students" standpoint. I have looked through the DANA report and have found some pretty big concepts missing from the HS standards. It won't matter much if more of the same is allowed for all students. I see these standards setting up for the K-12 continued implementation of EM, CMP2 and CorePlus. (Anybody seen Singapore math yet, my school has told parents it is optional.) We all know what a nightmare CMP2 is....CorePlus is the continuation of CMP2!

We need to work at making sure excellent standards are implemented at the state level that will in turn force SPS to implement solid cirriculum at our level.
All our students will benefit!

Anonymous said...

I was born here, but received my Masters from UCSD - I consider myself educated in California. I am a veteran from the first Persian Gulf War. My own children are bilingual. I choose to listen to kids because I feel it is important for children to be heard. I am afraid even Treisman will agree Washington's dropout rates are appalling. Of course we disagree on the reasons. Worse kids are leaving school without even a drop of education. I've looked and I won't sacrifice my career working in a school here, its too dangerous and life is too short. I prefer waiting for a revolution. It boils down to money and who's commingling Title I funds.

An alternative school for instance east of seattle that advertises itself as a magnet for Hispanics has actually seen a reduction of Hispanics in the past ten years and aptly renamed itself.

How about an alternative program that was created this year for a school near Everett. It was then reported a nearby HS raised its test scores near 85% - why? was it for the new assistant superintendent. You need new leaders and what is the point of an ESD? This problem wont be getting any better until you do.

Anonymous said...

Do you realize how funny that sounds? Treisman (Dana Center) for the third? time writing standards for Washington State, getting paid millions and sending consultants to major cities to 'reeducate' teachers. He sits on the boards of three of the textbook committees. He wrote one of the textbooks with his buddies Schoenfeld and Isaacs. He's made outrageous claims that can't be backed up. He is the math reform guru. His own colleagues are hitting the blogs - there's one professor - Markov that gave grant money back in 2003, a real Cretan. How about Gupta Krishna from Philadelphia - he's doing your MSP's evaluation (the rodney dangerfield of education) - why not ask the Maharishi - he's read Core Plus and given it his blessing. Lets not forget the Institute of Noetic Sciences (anyone observe an aura around Bellevue lately). Lets not forget New Horizons and Carkuff. Whatever happenned to the pink pyramids? Who did a recent documentary on the Sasquatch? I'll give you a hint, he works for the MAA. I liked the matched study using WASL results a real trick. Washington schools have got some serious problems.

So you found gaps in the DANA standards. I'm not surprised. This state can't get past content, let alone methodology. There are lots of standards that work better and your chief paid a million for DANA to do it. Surely you're joking.

Even Feynman couldn't believe it -you should read his commentary...standard science textbook answer: energy makes objects move. Actually he's more polite. He refuses to identify the troubled thinking behind that comment. But just to play along - If energy makes objects move, then what makes objects stop. We are teaching science the way Plato would. And you wonder why kids can't pass the WASL?

Charlie Mas said...

I am the "administrator" who deleted the comments. I have never deleted anyone's comments before and I doubt I will feel the need to do it with any greater frequency in the future.

I did it because the comments included statements that were blatantly false, because they were unintelligible, and because they created a significant detriment to productive discussion.

Anonymous said...

From the Dana Center website RE: timeline

Revised draft presented to Superintendent Bergeson and the Standards Revision Team for feedback. January 14, 2008

Clean draft revised standards to Superintendent Bergeson, along with plans for critical next steps. January 21, 2008

Superintendent Bergeson approves document. January 28, 2008

Where is the Governer in this role, she comissioned the revamping of the standards, yet does't appear anywhere in the process.

Anonymous said...

The truth about washington's schools is stranger than fiction. Tell me what you found offensive and I'll be sure to remove them next time. Please tell me more about Spectrum and your involvement. I'd like to hear more.

add said...

I attended a brief presentation by the National Math & Science Initiative and it was very impressive. The basic premise is about replicating existing programs that have proven to be successful rather than experimenting with hundreds of "pilots". The initial results were impressive as well. Anyone know more about this?

Anonymous said...

CEO Luce -

Former United States Assistant Secretary of Education for Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development Initiative, Inc.

Served on the boards of the Texas Education Reform Caucus

Served as a member of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future and on the Executive Committee of the Dallas Citizens Council, an organization composed of CEOs of Dallas' largest businesses.

He is perhaps best known for his role as the Chief of Staff of the Texas Select Committee of Public Education, which produced one of the first major reform efforts among public schools in 1984.

Mr. Luce was a co-founder of the National Center for Educational Accountability

He also founded Communities Just for the Kids and served as its Chairman until 2005. In 1995 Mr. Luce wrote Now or Never - How We Can Save Our Public Schools, a book that defined his educational philosophy and outlined a preliminary plan for educational reform that called for broader support for public education.

His second book, Do What Works, was published in December 2004

A Southern Methodist...how quaint. Believes in protestant baconianism. No doubt, I smell a skunk. Another tall tale about reforming public education. An acquaintance of Treisman and Rod Paige.

Back to the laws of small numbers and another miracle about to be performed. I just knew it had to be connected to Boulder, CO. It is now common knowledge publishers always pair communities for the purposes of selling their textbooks - Boulder and Denver, Bellevue and Seattle, etc. There's also a connection to the Rombergs through the Freudenthal Institute, the impetus for Core Plus and IONS. But what do I know, I'm just a teacher.

So what were those impressive numbers and how will Seattle be affected?

Is it a stimulus package or we just going to water down the test some more?

Anonymous said...

I was fearful our anonymous commenter was a teacher.....thank goodness he/she ISN'T. He/she clearly has a mental health issue.

Charlie, please continue deleting the comments. They are difficult to read and counter productive. Depressing, too.

Anonymous said...

You should look at yourself 401 "mental?" He is more sane than you think - separating children on the basis of their behavior or even passing the WASL is a violation of constitutional rights. Sadly, its being done anyway. Brewster is only one case. You don't think there are more.

Have you not walked on a campus in Seattle and felt the racial tension? California schools are just now becoming integrated. But its taken years of effort. Where is it in this state? At my school the students are in five tracks and the vast majority of students in lower tracks are Hispanic. That's ability grouping. So you see, things have got to change. Put the lowest three tracks into the proposed WASL school and there you go - you're not inventing anything new, only now the school is out of compliance.

Tracks are separated by classes in the master schedule and then by building. Hispanics and whites are effectively separated and yes there were lots of racial incidents. Latinoes were being dropped off in other parking lots. And naturally who is going to be misunderstood first? Hispanics - and why is that? The teachers are all white.

So I know why you feel uncomfortable. After all its your group that proposed this intervention and its a natural conclusion, but that doesn't make it right.

I have been through more sensitivity training and peer mediation than you will ever see in three lifetimes. Don't tell me that I don't know my job.

Perhaps you should think this proposal through more carefully. Maybe Peninsula will remind experts, that students have rights too. Perhaps, there is a higher calling than teaching.

Anonymous said...

In my field, people who make policy by relying on their natural inclinations get into big trouble. Be careful.

Anonymous said...

I just came across a perfect example - 6 male students that didn't pass the WASL in 7th grade were told they had to attend a special summer school before they could attend the high school. During class, students were made to sit on the laps of two male counselors and confess things that they had done. A girl chose not to attend and was living with a group of homeless teenagers in the neighboring community. They were living near a Dominoes pizza - not Hispanic.

Students were repeatedly asked if they had ever used drugs. Two said that they had used drugs once before. Although the students were considered learning disabled the HS said they were ineligible for assistance, because they were asked to enroll in a drug treatment program and they refused because according to the two boys the program was too far away (Eastern Washington) and they didn't have the money to pay for the program. Neither of the boys attends this school any longer.

These are real stories and they've been reported to the appropriate race/human rights groups. This community was also affected by several suicide attempts by 13 year old boys - one was successful. These were not Hispanics by the way - they were boys affiliated with a Lost Boys Movement known as ICP which originated from Detroit, and was forced to move its base of operations to Tacoma of all places.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, there's more....

None of the boys apparently passed the WASL summer school and all of them were put into alternative school as ninth graders. During the year, none of the student earned a single credit and this year none of the six are attending school - none of these students ever took the WASL after 7th grade.

I have many, many stories like these.

Anonymous said...

At some point Washington will have to decide whether to focus on WASL scores or keep children in school. Calfornia had to make that choice.

I don't expect it will happen though until there are so many children walking about unsupervised that eventually either the courts fill up with juveniles or the number of teenage pregnancies becomes noticeable.

Currently, where I work its already high. And that is all that the kids talk about is who's getting pregnant - and its both whites and hispanics.

About Christmas last year, 7 out of 24 girls I recollect attending the alternative school were expecting and the high school nearby had another ten or so pregnancies. That in itself requires a teacher to make house visits.

Demographics, not academics, will eventually determine school policy.

Anonymous said...

"Have you not walked on a campus in Seattle and felt the racial tension?"

No, honestly I can say that I haven't. We have bi-racial kids and live in NE Seattle, which is not extremely diverse, ethically. I have not seen, heard of any racial issues at either of my kids schools. My kids have certainly not had any racist or racial issues to deal with. It has never been an issue for us. I'm not saying that it doesn't happen or has never happened to other people. Clearly racism still exists and should be dealt with severely and appropriately when it does occur. I just don't believe that it happens often, and I certainly don't feel the "tension" that you are talking about.

I agree with the above anon poster. You sound like you need some type of mental health issue, and really should seek professional attention.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 809 said "I have been through more sensitivity training and peer mediation than you will ever see in three lifetimes."

Are you saying that you are a teacher?? Are you teaching in a Seattle school?

Anonymous said...


Figuring out which of hundreds of violent incidents in Seattle Public Schools were reported to police last year is so complicated that it requires a search of two databases and a pile of handwritten paper records.

If that doesn't work, the principal may have the case number jotted on a business card in his desk drawer, said Interim Director of Safety and Security Pegi McEvoy.

Two years of district databases list more than 1,000 violent incidents — including assaults, threats, robberies and weapons possession — that don't appear to have been reported to police. But the district's record-keeping is so spotty that it's difficult to know for sure. The database field set aside for police case numbers was so seldom used that security officers sometimes used the space to jot down other facts about the incident.

This year, a federal Department of Education grant has allowed the district to implement a new computer system that will combine information about incidents and make it easier for security staff to keep track.


Principals, teachers, and students do not report incidents as racially motivated for very good reasons. The punishment is expulsion from school and a headline making the school a target for public criticism. The numbers of violent incidents is in the thousands. A central database is vital for schools, since repeat offenders transfer to different schools. Seattle didn't get one until this school year?

This is only violent incidents. But there are other things that you sense which are not illegal but very uncomfortable for some students.

I've interviewed kids who were bothered by little things, like pictures of people reading together posted all over campus, partly because its been faked. If you don't read well, that is a difficult picture to understand. Why would people enjoy reading?

Being given a textbook that is unreadable and told to construct meaning from it, is culturally insensitive, and furthermore there is no research showing it is an effective way of teaching. Yet some principals hold this 'method' as state mandated. They have simply found it an effective policy for fencing out minorities and unwanted teachers and they are calling it constructivism.

Finally, there are structural issues, like tracking and teachers preferring affluent neighborhoods or better classes of students. If you are working in a Title I school, how easy is it do you think it is for that teacher to get their Masters or attend meetings. It is extremely difficult. How about going to work every day? Do you think teachers with children would risk living near the low performing school where they teach?

I've done mediation between gangs, kids, teachers, counselors - whoever is challenging, your insensitivity only shows that you will never know what its like to feel the way some kids do. And in some math classrooms they are powerless. This is a shameful to conduct a classroom.

The misbehaviors you are dealing with in the classroom come in three stages - you will have to treat each stage before the student will begin learning.
1. it starts with defiance caused by frustration which translates into anger.
2. depression caused by the fear of failure.
3. and finally addiction which is an escape. Most of the kids I've talked to with addictions use meth or ecstasy. A police profile will show these kids on average won't live past 30.

For every year you ignore a student, it will take two years to undo it. That is why this will become a health issue and not an academic one.

A student can survive for one year and still graduate on time. Two years of neglect and you have all but sentenced him to an extra year of high school and furthermore his chances of dropping out are increased by around a third.

Anonymous said...

This is such a good site for references I felt I should post it.



In the average New Jersey public school, African-American students are almost 60 times as likely as white students to be expelled for serious disciplinary infractions.

In Minnesota, black students are suspended 6 times as often as whites.

In Iowa, blacks make up just 5 percent of the statewide public school enrollment but account for 22 percent of the students who get suspended.

In every state but Idaho, a Tribune analysis of the data shows, black students are being suspended in numbers greater than would be expected from their proportion of the student population. In 21 states—Illinois among them—that disproportionality is so pronounced that the percentage of black suspensions is more than double their percentage of the student body. And on average across the nation, black students are suspended and expelled at nearly three times the rate of white students.

There's more at stake than just a few bad marks in a student's school record. Studies show that a history of school suspensions or expulsions is a strong predictor of future trouble with the law—and the first step on what civil rights leaders have described as a "school-to-prison pipeline" for black youths, who represent 16 percent of U.S. adolescents but 38 percent of those incarcerated in youth prisons.



Despite methamphetamine's addictive and sometimes deadly effects, one in three youths sees little or no risk in trying the illegal drug, a new survey finds.

Nearly one in four youths believes meth "makes you feel euphoric or happy" or helps you lose weight, and the same number said it would be "very" or "somewhat easy" to obtain meth, according to a first-ever national use and attitudes survey about the drug released Tuesday.

And yet, in a finding that might be of comfort to parents, three out of four youths said they are strongly opposed to using meth.

Anonymous said...

Another factor that partly accounts for whites not understanding the extent of the problem are that incidents are also committed between minorities since they often live in the same neighborhood. Hmong families relocated into an African American neighborhood developed into a multiple shooting incident (not here, but it was memorable). To be safe students know to stay in their own neighborhood.

The tagging you see marks boundaries for gangs and even kids who don't belong are familiar with certain symbols - 13 being an obvious one.

Anonymous said...

"I've interviewed kids who were bothered by little things, like pictures of people reading together posted all over campus, partly because its been faked. If you don't read well, that is a difficult picture to understand. Why would people enjoy reading?"

Are you serious?? Or dillusional? You are scaring me now. Charlie delete, please.

Anonymous said...

What is your business? I cannot imagine why you would be offended by what children have to say about school?

The laws in this state no longer protect teachers, because they are state employees.

Anonymous said...

From a Thinkquest - child's point of view. I did not right this, chill out.

"Some of the very common reasons for racism to arise are fear or the need for a "scapegoat". If things are going badly many people’s natural reaction is to blame somebody else"

Don't scapegoat noncooperative kids that can't pass the WASL for the reason other kids get low math scores on the WASL.

The WASL only tests whether a person is performing beyond a sixth grade level by world standards and an eighth grade level by NCTM standards. Its not a hard test, there are very few questions that go beyond prealgebra - 6th grade Singapore and 7th grade College Prep. or Saxon.

Anonymous said...

My son's geometry teacher resigned in October and last year his algebra teacher and science teacher both quit. He says in 9th grade they studied phase changes with dry ice - Robert Tinker's book. He has gotten solid D's. I'm putting him in Running Start and getting him tested. He has moderate disgraphia, but the school won't put him on an iep. They say there's nothing they can do about it. His friends are all AP students. This semester he's taking four music and one cooking class as well as english, history, and spanish. I told him he needs to learn how to sing so eventually he can write about his experiences in school which he finds very strange to begin with. He's a chamber musician and plays three different instruments. My daughter who also has a disability and again no IEP but is physically gifted. Doesn't have time for school and can't wait to join Running Start. Both students have been told they won't pass the WASL. I told them not to worry.

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