Saturday, March 01, 2008

Math: Where Does This End?

Two articles of interest about math education. These were both in the PI. The first is an article about 60 UW professors (mostly in math, engineering and the sciences) who signed a letter saying that many entering students cannot do basic math. This was started by UW professor of atmospheric science, Cliff Mass (who does the weather outlook on Fridays on KUOW) who is also involved with the Where's the Math group. From the article:

"He and his colleagues have noticed a rising number of students in their freshman classes who are unable to solve math problems at even a middle school level, indicating there are serious problems with how the subject is taught in the state, he said.

Physics Department Chairman David Boulware said he co-signed the letter because he's appalled that students don't have a better grasp on math by the time they get to college.

"They're confounded by simple algebra," he said.

The letter is being distributed to state legislators, who last year directed the state superintendent of public instruction to review and revise the state's math standards."


"But Brian Jeffries, the graduation policy director for the state superintendent, said that's not really the case. The UW is required to report to the state the number of students who take remedial classes, and figures from 2005-06, the most recent data available, show only about 2 percent of the Washington public high school students who enter the university end up taking remedial math courses, he said."

In the Sound off remarks after the article, this was questioned:

"The 2% number as reported in the story is incorrect. According to The Graduate Follow-Up Study conducted for OSPI, the 4 year college number for the class of 2004 is 9% and 2005 is 10%. More alarming, roughly 50% of students entering the community colleges in WA State need remedial math.


"None of the instructors from the UW's College of Education, which trains future teachers, signed the letter."

The second article, More Time Given to Math Debate, was in today's PI.

"State lawmakers say they plan to wait until the end of the session to approve or reject new math standards, giving everyone involved in Washington's math debate a few weeks to catch their breath."

"Education officials presented their third draft of the new math standards to lawmakers on Friday. Quall, a Mount Vernon Democrat, said they would act by their March 13 adjournment deadline.

They might need that long because they are waiting for another review by an independent consultant, Linda Plattner of the Maryland-based firm Strategic Teaching. The firm was hired by the state to assess its math expectations, and Plattner said she expects to turn in her next report by March 10.

"We're going to rely heavily on Linda Plattner," Quall said. "Because of her recommendations, they did a third draft."


"The next deadline is June, when state officials are supposed to recommend a menu of three or four math programs for elementary, middle and high schools. Revision of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, to conform with the new math standards, is next on the agenda."

But what did Ms. Plattner say about these math standards?

"In a Feb. 5 review of the second draft, Plattner wrote that new standards for kindergarten through eighth grade were much improved, but she found serious problems with the high school standards.

The document was not organized in a way that would be helpful to teachers, parents and students, Plattner wrote, and the standards did not illustrate what students should learn in each high school math course, such as algebra and geometry. They also did not identify what a student needed to learn to be ready for college math.

The third draft appeared to fix those shortcomings. It has a new section outlining what standards fit into each of the most common high school math classes, and states what a student needs to be ready to take calculus in college."

It takes a third draft to (1) show parents what students need to be learning and (2) be ready for college math? OSPI needs to get its act together.


Anonymous said...

People can take this however they want -

Virginia Warfield contantly misrepresents those with ideas different than hers by using a dismissive, derogatroy variant on 'traditionalists'. This phrase has the conotation that there are people who want to go back to about 1958 becasue that was when the world was bwetter for stuffy old 'traditionalists'.

Ms. Warfield and her U.W. College of Ed Professors have had an enourmous impact on the math education in Seattle in the last decade plus, and this impact on Seattle reaches to OSPI, Terry Bergeson, and other districts.

These are the people who've brought us math ed policy and math ed curriculum and math ed pedagogy that has resulted in over 40,000 kids per year in the last 2 years who've failed a test on some 8th grade math, when they are in the 10th grade, in large part because they have almost no mastery of basic skills.

What does that edu-babble of 'no mastery of basic skills' mean?

For example, they can not take fractions and turn them into decimals or percents or divide or multiply


These 40,000 + have little hope of getting into the U.W., or any such school, much less ending up in those schools' remedial math classes.

How are these 40,000+++ 14 and 17 year olds - who've been raised in the U.W. College of Education math style edu-babble - going to participate in today's world, much less create the next technological break through that will ...

get housing to 6 billion people, and, oh, by the way, create millions of new jobs ... ?

Many of those with different views than what Virginai Warfield and company cling to want standards and curriculum and teaching that will prepare our young citizens to compete in today's world and make tomorrow's world.

The leadership of Ms. Warfield and company has lead to an appalling failure for tens of thousands of our kids. Ms. Warfield and company need to demonize opponents because they're worried that in a non math ed-babble world, they'd be DESERVEDLY unemployed.

anon the anti vogon

dan dempsey said...

But what did Ms. Plattner say about these math standards?

In a Feb. 5 review of the second draft, Plattner wrote that new standards for kindergarten through eighth grade were much improved, but she found serious problems with the high school standards.

On Feb 11 at the State Board of Education Math Panel Advisory meeting Ms Plattner stated that her statement in regard to K-8 indicated nothing about whether the content at each grade level was appropriate to be considered Internationally Competitive, that was not part of her duties.(at that time - but it is now)

At the meeting on Feb 11, a group of four of us spent about 90 minutes looking through the Jan 31 version of the Standards for grades 6,7,8. They appeared to be little more than the same old Bergeson nonsense in new wrapping paper.

There is a new draft out as of Feb 29. Ms Plattner is being paid to really look a this in the light of HB 1906 which is supposed to produce internationally competitive standards.

As anon said above the UW is a major contributor to the current disaster. Terry Bergeson has little interest in reversing her expensive failed directions in math as well as a great many other things. If she did it would complicate her run for a fourth term this year.

Dr Bergeson is a walking argument for term limits on the Superintendent of Public Instruction position. Hopefully the voters will limit her to 12 years by their choice of Dr Rich Semler this year.

dan dempsey said...

Since the adoption of Reform mathematics the Mathematical competency of USA students has plummeted. Twenty-five years ago in 1983 A Nation at Risk was published. It predicted a coming math crisis. In the last 25 years this prediction has come to pass.

During these 25 years, “High Tech Executives” have repeatedly testified about the math knowledge gap that our country faces. Now Industries are blamed for moving jobs offshore. There is rarely a public statement of the real reason for many USA job displacements, which is the math knowledge gap.

Dr. Bergeson’s selection of the Standards Revision Team for Math contained no highly competent math professionals from industry. The 2004 NSF team that recommended how to revise state math standards specifically recommended highly math knowledgeable industry representatives be a part of any revision processes. The new standards that the SRT is producing will likely have little impact on closing the math knowledge gap.

US produces 65,000 to 70,000 engineers annually. Perhaps 15,000 to 20,000 might be IT (Information Tech) professionals. How many of these were USA educated in grades K-12?

Sudhakar Kudva PhD., born in India retired Intel executive now living in Vancouver Washington, asks of those 15,000 to 20,000 how many are Asians educated K-12 outside the USA? Sang Park also living in Vancouver with 3 master’s degrees has the same question.

Cisco plans to hire 360,000 IT in the next 5 years. Cisco must go offshore. The number of trained IT professionals needed does not exist in the USA. Given current trends in math the future looks bleak.

Bill Gates has publicly stated that the best Engineering school in the world is the Indian Institute of Technology. Where would Cisco find enough IT professionals? - Not in the USA, where many of our kids lives are determined in grades K-3. The focus and thrust of things in Math education will see our nation rapidly sinking into the Sea of McJobs.

It is no surprise Cisco is headed to India. Will the Washington Legislature correct this problem at its source?

In the last few years there has been a tremendous change. Most Indians would rather stay home and attend the best school in the world and work at home rather than come to the US. Indians will no longer have to come to the USA to see $100,000+ jobs. Welcome to McJobs USA, land of the mathematically non-competitive.

This probably ends with the USA finally beating out Italy for the position of worst country in the modern industrialized world in Math on the 2009 PISA test of 15 year olds.

Anonymous said...

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The students referenced in the UW Professors' letter are our state's best and brightest, the very students who got the A's in high school "math" needed to get in to the UW. They are the students who are currently trying to earn a degree in engineering or the sciences, not those in the liberal arts programs avoiding college math. And even THESE kids can't do the math. And how much bleaker the future when their younger siblings enter college in a few years, armed only with the TERC they had in grade school, CMP2 in MS and whatever new fad is coming along soon for their high school years. This is an emergency. We don't need to pay another "committee" to formulate yet another set of math standards for Washington, we need to adopt California math standards now in our state and start adopting the many textbooks and curricula already available that match those California standards.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me, as I am not a math person. What I want to know is if a student is on the college track and takes higher level math....Integrated I,II and II, pre-calculus, AP calculus and/or AP statistics are they adequately prepared for college level math?? When you say kids are not prepared are you speaking of the kids that just take the required two years of math, or take business math courses instead of higher level classes?
Again, forgive me for asking, but I am not a math person.

Anonymous said...

continued from above....
The other thing that I wanted to mention was that my child has attended two alternative schools. One for elementary and one for middle school. Neither get the "best" test scores like some schools in our city, and while my son is bright he is not extraordinarily bright, did not test in to Spectrum, APP etc.

When I hear things like kids can't add fractions, or tell you that .25 is 25% or 1/4, it puzzles me. I asked my son who is in 6th grade to show me three ways to show twenty five percent, and he showed me all three and laughed at me for asking such a silly question. Is this atypical? Because as I said he has not attended those schools that people designate as "good" schools, nor has he had any higher level math, spectrum, honors etc. He has had 6 years of TERC and almost one year of CMP. Just curious.

Anonymous said...

"asked my son who is in 6th grade to show me three ways to show twenty five percent"

Can your 6th grader do these problems:
1. What is 30% of 20?

2. Write these numbers as the product of their prime factors, using exponents to show multiples of a factor if needed:
a. 48
b. 36

3. There are 20 bottles in a box. Each bottle weighs 1 3/4 pounds.
How many pounds do all the bottles weigh together?

4. y = 3x + 2, what is y if x is 7?

If not, he would probably be unable to pass the California Assessement for 5th Grade Standards.

For the full test:


Anonymous said...

Hi again, I'm the mother of the 6th grader that posted earlier. Thanks for offering these problems. I asked my son do them, and while it took him awhile, and his process was what I would consider unconventional, odd, and in my opinion cumbersome, he did get them all right.

dan dempsey said...

Anon at 9:09,

This is wonderful news as your child may be at or above grade level in one of the worst math performing nations outside the third world.

You live in a nation where the UW is proud that the NSF curricula they push have shown improvement nationally over the past few years. Now perhaps slightly over 25% of our kids are judged proficient in mathematics. Only around 75% are not proficient.

Given the multi-millions pumped into this, only institutions like the NSF and UW would consider continuing this mindless reform math direction.

Check out the true costs of the WASL for how to waste even more money faster.

While true academic achievement remains flat in every area - OSPI spending looks like an exponential growth curve.

The academic proficiency touted by OSPI comes on bogus instruments designed to show Adequate Yearly Progress for the NCLB act.

We know how to teach math. We just have no idea how to get OSPI and the SPS to allow teachers to do so.

Watch for the Nation Math Panel report on March 13th -- it will let you know how far off the tracks these dunder-heads have taken us. As if TIMSS and PISA and asking for change at a store from someone under 25 wasn't already enough information for us to conclude how far off the tracks the Edu-Babblers have us.

May 30, 2007 SPS board votes 6-0 to make Everyday Math the primary adoption for grades K-5 and approves massive spending to attempt to push this derailed train forward.

I though this was the most arrogant and fraudulent insane act possible, but I was wrong and they showed me I was wrong. The 5-2 Denny/Sealth vote for $125,000,000 is hopefully the most fraudulent insane act possible, but there are more decisions to come and they do just seem to be getting worse.

Anonymous said...

"This is wonderful news as your child may be at or above grade level in one of the worst math performing nations outside the third world"

NOTE: Those were 5th grade problems that took a mid-year 6th grader awhile to figure out using a cumbersome methodology....

Care to take a look at what California 6th Graders are learning:


dan dempsey said...

Math: Where Does This End?

Melissa has it correct again.
OSPI needs to get its act together.

The SBE had this thing rolling nicely through August 2007 but then came the hand-off to Dr Bergeson.

No surprise its been total chaos since then.

This ends when the legislators say: OSPI has wasted months and $1,000,000 since September to produce expensive garbage. Send the job not the garbage back to the SBE and have them finish this.

We know how to teach math successfully. You only need to follow the ideas in two documents:
"Project Follow Through" and the MSSG "What is Important in School Mathematics?"

It is beyond my comprehension that an agency unable to self correct for a decade, OSPI, should now be allowed additional time and money to produce a product they have been unable to produce since September.

This is the equivalent of paying a blind quadruple amputee extra money in the hope he can tie his shoes without assistance.

Anonymous said...

Dan (or anybody else) do you care to answer the above posters question about whether students that take the college track classes in HS (and all kids can choose to do this, even if they need tutoring generally offered for free to low income students)....Integrated 1, Integrated 2, pre calculus, calculus and physics, or AP calculus and physics are still at a disadvantage when they get to college compared to students from California and other states? It is a good question and I would like to know the answer. It is relevant as this empowers children, parents and counselors to get the most out of math.

Anonymous said...

The problem with SPS math is its rigor. Yes, they take IM I, II and III - but the title of a class doesn't reflect the content taught.

So, for example, the IMP (Interactive Math Project) that the district math department is recommending and the board will most likely approve for high school does not even come close to covering one year of basic algebra in its Year 1 and Year 2 books.

Translated, after taking Integrated I and II (9th and 10th grade) SPS high school students will be sorely lacking in basic algebra skills and most likely will need remedial math classes as college freshman in order to pass the required math classes to earn a college degree.

Anonymous said...

Please answer the entire question. I did not say intergrated I and II only. I said Int I, II, pre-calc, and then Calc and statistics or AP Calc and AP statistics. It they take this track, which is the track recommended for students wanting to go to a 4 year university, then are they prepared. Of course if they just take two years of math Int II and II (9th and 10th grade) they will be sorely unprepared for college math. My question is if they follow the college track then are they prepared? Where are all of the folks (Dan and others) who continually bash Seattle math?? Can you answer this question?

Anonymous said...

"I said Int I, II, pre-calc, and then Calc and statistics or AP Calc and AP statistics"

Yes, I suppose that if your student were to take all these courses they would be able to pass a basic college level algebra class.

But what this track will not do is prepare your student for advanced math needed for engineering related degrees, which was the basis of the letter from 60 UW professors to the OSPI.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 11:19
Which math classes would prepare a high schooler for college level math?

Anonymous said...

sorry i meant to ask Anonymous 1:08 that question.

Anonymous said...

So this really is not about what specific math classes in SPS will prep your kid for college math. What the UW profs are saying (and have been saying for quiet sometime) is students are entering college not skilled in basic math skills. Specifically, they stated:

"We the undersigned faculty in math, science and engineering at the University of Washington have become increasingly concerned about the declining level of math competency of students entering the university. Many students arrive with poor mastery of essential mathematical skills, such as algebra, manipulation of fractions, trigonometry, and basic mathematical operations. Increasing numbers of students are forced to take math remediation courses after admission to the UW. Over the past decade many of us have lowered the mathematical levels of our courses as math skills have declined. We believe that it is essential that steps be taken to ensure that Washington State students are provided with world-class mathematics standards, curricula, and instruction."

The issue is not highschool math per se, it is the entire K-12 cirriculum that is the problem. So to say to a parent, don't worry you can sign your kid up for IM I, II, III and then maybe PreCalc as a 12th grader and they will be fine, is just not going to work. We have a horrible middle school cirriculum that feeds into the highschool cirriculum so that after6-7 years of SPS math, our students are behind kids coming from states like California (for example)who reformed their standards several years ago and have greatly improved students overall math skills.

Anonymous said...

I have some feedback on my own experience with Connected Math curriculum in middle school.

I have a 6th grader currently at WMS. Math/Science are his strong subjects and I think it likely that he may pursue a career where they are needed. Both his parents are software engineers and have strong backgrounds and are therefore pretty involved in assessing his current math curriculum and whether it is on track for college.

During 5th grade he was bored in math and we didn't like TERC, so we enrolled him in EPGY (Educational Program for Gifted Youth). EPGY is an online program through Standford University that offers K-12 and University Math courses online. The concepts were very traditional and the curriculu was very rigorous and exactly what I would like my son to master. During 5th grade he completed 5th/6th grade curriculum and honors pre-algebra.

At the end of 5th grade we planned to continue EPGY because we had heard about CMP and wanted to steer clear of it. We were going to have him just skip math class at school but at the last minute we decided to give CMP a try. He placed into pre-integrated, which is supposed to be working 2 years ahead of grade-level and next year he should be in Integrated I (what most 9th graders take the first year of HS). He is on the math track where almost all the APP kids place and so it would supposedly be the one geared toward college bound kids that would achieve at a pretty high level.

What's particularly interesting about my perspective on this is that my son had completed pre-algebra through EPGY but he took the middle school placement test and did not get a high enough score to get into Integrated I. He placed in pre-integrated (the placement test is a test of CMP 6th grade content and he must not have known how to do things the "CMP WAY"). So this year he is repeating a lot of what he learned through EPGY and I can compare the two curriculums.

So far he has done proportions, similarity, probability, and is now starting data/statistics. There are two big issues I have found.

1) In each of the sections he has probably gone to only half the depth of what he learned through EPGY.

2) It is extremely rare that CMP ever gives a student an algorithm to generalize how to solve the problem in a more elegant way. I do think that some of the investigation is worthwhile and helps to cement the concepts he is learning, but students continually brute-force simple problems and never understand that there is a simpler way.

The probability section is a perfect example. In EPGY the curriculum went really far. He learned the algorithms for determining the probability of events in specific sequences and combinations and only wrote out all the possible outcomes in the beginning when he was learning the concepts.

In CMP he covered both of these scenarios, but never progressed beyond figuring out the probabilities by building tree diagrams or tables of possible outcomes and just counted up the number of outcomes that meet the criteria. It was ok for the first week or so, but after that it was just more of the same for the next four weeks and even after four weeks they never once gave the student an algorithm for how to solve these problems more generally. They did not give the student the algorithm to get the probability of two events in a specific sequence (which the were perfectly capable of understanding) or the algorithm for calculating the probability of different combinations of outcomes (which they may be less capable of handling because they probably haven't learned factorials yet it CMP).

What's really sad is there is a section called "Connections" in each chapter that's supposed to review earlier concepts. In his book it will include items like converting fractions to percents, decimals, doing division, etc. But the teacher lets them use a calculator!

So, in answer to your question about whether a student that is on the most advanced math track is going to be well prepared for college, I am not sure. I know from first-hand experience that the CMP curriculum falls far short of EPGY's curriculum (which is based on California's standards). From everything that I have read, Integrated I-III is the same if not worse than CMP.

I have been following the math standards and local math textbook adoption quite closely because I'm right on the edge of pulling my son back out of school math and returning to EPGY. I'm really fearful that he will not get the preparation he needs/deserves to allow him to pursue technical fields.

Anonymous said...

OK, so how are kids coming out of Integrated II and III going into calculus and statistics, and even AP calculus and AP statistics and doing well??? AP in a national curriculum and students have to take a national test to receive credit. I'm not arguing, just trying to understand. I realize that our elementary and middle school curriculum is not great, but somehow they are able to "catch up" in high school enough to take these higher level classes.

Anonymous said...

brief answer to college prep

IF some student took all those classes, and got a 3 or better on the AP Calc test, THEN they had been well served.

(assuming they worked - I don't need to hear about all the A's they got until they got to me, and, WOW! they don't take notes and they don't do homework and they spend much of class chatting with friends about anything but math AND they bomb the quizzes and the tests ... what a shock ! ?? )

I think you need to have them take the psat test in 9th grade to see where they are lining up, and take it again in 10th grade, and do the SAT in 11th ... and if they are off track at any of those points then more work more work more work needs to happen.

unfortunately the curriculum in seattle schools, and the state, is a joke

therefore NO ONE knows if that A in algebra 1 is the same from school to school

anon on mon.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are right about all As not being equal. My child went to Salmon Bay for 6th grade and was an A+ math student, and did not do much, and absolutely no homework, well, maybe a problem or two a week, but when he transferred to Kellogg MS in Shoreline he became a C student. They require a lot more classwork and homework from their students, and grades are based (in part) test scores. There is definitely grade inflation happening at some schools. I think the kids at Salmon Bay got an A just for effort, or maybe just for showing up.

Anonymous said...

"and they spend much of class chatting with friends about anything but math"

And whose fault is this???????????

Take some responsibility here, teacher.

Our child has some classes that the teacher requires order, respect, and full attention. And other classes that are chaotic, kids with headphones, chatting etc.

Teachers, it is up to you to enforce behavior in the classroom. Outside of the classrooms it is up to us parents, but in your classroom it is all on you.

Stop that chatting, and maybe math will improve.

And, I don't know where you teach, but my kids ALWAYS do their homework. So do all of their friends. If kids are not doing their homework are you enforcing consequences, or at least giving them a grade of 0 for that assignment?

Anonymous said...

"OK, so how are kids coming out of Integrated II and III going into calculus and statistics, and even AP calculus and AP statistics and doing well???"

That is the point, they aren't doing well, overall, and colleges are having to dumb down the cirriculum and in the worst case scenerio, a student with their heart set on an engineering degree must switch as they do not have the math skills required of the degree.

Also, note many parents supplement their students math education and students enrolled in the IB program are on another math program completely. So those students are doing great. There are also some great teachers who know what needs to be taught and teach it, turning a blind eye to the "district mandated" cirriculum. So those kids are doing great.

Anonymous said...

My 5th grader solved the problems in about 5 minutes. I guess he can go to college in California...whew.

Anonymous said...

At WMS the APP kids typically do Intergrated I and II in middle school. Integrated I is unfortunately taught using the CMP 8th grade curriculum, but Integrated II is taught by Mr. Pounder, who runs the Math Team, and his reputation among parents is that he is great and teaches the kids way into what they learn in Integrated III. Supposedly he uses his favorite textbooks of years past, not IMP.

The kids that go through his course are the most likely ones to make it through AP Calculus in HS at Garfield, so maybe they are the small minority that are better prepared tham most.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous at 6:46

you obviously know NOTHING about today's schools -

the kids who don't do well spend most to the class goofing off, and teachers who attempt to enforce discipline don't have jobs.

are there teachers not enforcing anything? I'm sure. I wonder how many times they were in trouble with administrators before they gave up taking the heat for brats.

people like you are completely worthless when it comes to establishing education policy and rules -

let me guess, you go out to dinner a lot, so you know everything about the food business.

you use a computer, so you're an expert in that.

you did well in school, as do your kids, so everyone should be like you.

Anonymous said...

What a shame that we have teachers like you in our schools. Teachers who are angry at the system, and have obviously given up. I'm no expert but I do know chaotic classrooms, with TEACHERS THAT ALLOW students to goof off and chat, instead of doing their work are robbing our children of the education that they deserve. Your mentality is wrong on so many levels I don't even know where to begin. Children deserve to be in a classroom that is conducive to teaching and learning. As a teacher it is your responsibility to provide that. Many teachers are able to do it so don't avoid responsibility by saying that it's "the districts fault". It's not. It's your fault. The district and admin is not inside of your classroom. You are, and you set the tone, and you earn the respect of your students. How do you think some teachers are able to manage behavior in their classrooms? I know you are raging as you read this, I can tell by your post how angry you are. All I can say is that I hope you are close to retirement, and I pray you are not one of my child's teachers.

Anonymous said...

Teacher at 9:09PM you should edit your rough draft post. It appears you did not capitalize your letters at the beginning of each sentence. Apparently you had teachers that did not hold you responsible either????

Anonymous said...

"I think you need to have them take the psat test in 9th grade to see where they are lining up, and take it again in 10th grade, and do the SAT in 11th ... "

At Garfield all students do take the PSAT in 9th and 10th grade. I get the impression Garfield doesn't find the WASL scores terribly useful...

The text favored by Mr. Pounder at WMS and the IB program at Ingraham is the Unified Math series. It is out of print and many copies are falling apart. Goodness knows what will happen when they are truly unusable.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

To WMS parent -- some kids *are* prepared to skip a year of math in middle school, and it definitely has been done in particular cases. There is a ton of repetition. I would ask about what he'd need to do to go into Integrated II next year (or even switch to Int. I this year).

It might not be right for him, but you should know that the option is there for that rare kid who is prepared. (It's not just a matter of background, but whether the kid's both developmentally ready and keen enough on math to be personally all over the idea.)

Anonymous said...

My child goes to Kellogg, a Shoreline middle school. They offer every 7th grader the opportunity to take 7th grade math, or honors math. Honors math is 8th grade math, so the 7th grader just skips 7th grade math and is placed into 8th grade math. Before January 1, if a child that chose to take honors math can't handle it they can change to a regular class, and if their grade drops below a 75 the teacher will move them to a regular class. Same process for 8th grade. A student can choose 8th grade math or 9th grade math, which is integrated I. There are two things that I love about the way Shoreline does honors. The first is that students and families make the choice. Teachers are available to offer guidance, but ultimately the choice is up to the family. The second is 7th grader doing 8th grade math, are in a classroom with only 7th graders. You don't have to worry about the social negatives of placing an advanced 7th grader in class with 8th graders. They use CMP II in Shoreline too.

Anonymous said...

"To WMS parent -- some kids *are* prepared to skip a year of math in middle school, ..."

Yes, there is definitely a lot of redundancy in pre-algebra and my son is being forced to go through it yet again.

When he didn't place into what I thought was the appropriate level at WMS, based on his experience in EPGY, I went to the department chair and was told that they rarely make exceptions in moving kids beyond where the CMP placement test says they are. He has to repeat two years to make up a few areas that he didn't learn in EPGY that are taught in CMP. But he learned so much more in EPGY than he is learning in CMP. He was already doing quite a bit of algebra in his honors pre-algebra course, so it's going to be a long time until he reaches that, if ever, through CMP.

As I said, I'm seriously considering pulling him back out of CMP and continuing EPGY.

Anonymous said...

They've skipped plenty of kids. I read on the Spectrum/APP listserv that one year they moved 15 7th-graders from Integrated I to Integrated II in the middle of the year. One was a kid who'd done 6th grade honors math in 6th and then placed into Integrated I for 7th (so had already skipped pre-integrated). Again, not for everyone, but it most certainly does happen.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Anon at 11:19 AM,

In regard to your prepared for Calculus question. Much of the following comes from the thoughts of many of the National Math Panel participants. It is available for the listening HERE.

Bill Schmidt says some students are being placed into Algebra before they have an adequate understanding of fractions, decimals, and percents (Rational numbers).

The SPS math program manager Rosalind Wise has publicly stated that 100% of the children can be successful in non-computationally based, conceptually based Algebra in eighth grade. This must be an Algebra different than the Algebra Dr Schmidt refers to. Do not look for Ms Wise to be invited to join the National Math Panel.

Since Newsweek a few years back started ranking high schools on number of AP courses taken rather than AP courses on which a score of 3 or more was attained on the AP test, we have seen Superintendents and Principals directing counselors to increase the number of students in AP Calculus and AP Statistics.

The AP tests are scored from 1 to 5. Some Colleges give credit for a score of 3 or higher. Most give credit for a 4 or higher. This is at the discretion of the University. Harvey Mudd has everyone take beginning Calculus unless they score a 5 on the Calculus BC test and then they take the Mudd test and are placed from that test.

With the profusion of unprepared students in algebra and the huge increase in AP Calculus many districts produce terrible AP Calc test scores. It is not unusual to have students who choose not to take the test and yet still have a high school average a score in the 1.3 to 1.9 range.

Roosevelt has strongly resisted the math nonsense advocated by OSPI and the SPS. At Ballard they have had truely impressive AP test scores the last few years. Ballard has been strongly opposed to SPS math direction but has not been as successful as Roosevelt in resisting the flow of lousy textbooks.

If you want to get a better handle on what your child knows sign them up for an SAT math achievement test. Unfortunately in WA state we only give the current WASL which tells next to ZERO about high school math skills.

You could write your legislators (the discussion is happening right now in Olympia) and ask for end of course testing at the high school level and norm-referenced tests for grades 3 through 8 rather than the current WA customized waste of money.

More at:

The Math Underground

I take exception to the term SPS math bashing. Check the data. Because I am not a fraudulent SPS OSPI huckster math snake oil salesman, does not make me a basher.

dan dempsey said...

From the SPS mathematics web pages:

The School Board will hold a work session on the High School Math Adoption on March 12th from 4 - 5:25 p.m.

From the School Board Calendar on the web: for March 12
City of Seattle Presentation on Memorial Stadium
4:00pm - 5:25pm
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- --------- ---
I give up --- Does anyone know what is going to happen from 4:00 PM to 5:25 PM before the
School Board Meeting
at 6:00pm - 9:00pm
on March 12th Wednesday?

I at this point am guessing that there is no high school math adoption discussion with the school board on March 12th. Does anyone know anything for sure?


PS. Perhaps someone should testify on decision making and accountability. It would flow perfectly with the Phi Delta Kappa curriculum audit that said in so many different ways:
"The SPS leadership does not know what they are doing."

Anonymous said...

"The School Board will hold a work session on the High School Math Adoption on March 12th from 4 - 5:25 p.m"

I think it has been moved to March 24th? Hard to say with these folks!

Why are they adopting new cirriculum with no standards in place?

Anonymous said...

The integrated series that is being mentioned uses Core plus. It would be impossible to take any higher level math without receiving some support in formal algebra.

You would need to take at least one additional year of Algebra and a student would be lacking most of the material taught in Intermediate Algebra. The best a student might do is take Core Plus in 8th grade - finish the series and possibly take an AP statistics class in the 12th grade. Our principal (attends math conferences around the country so she can be a 'math expert') claims students learn calculas throughout the entire series - she sounds like an idiot every time she opens her mouth. Eventually, this will all have repercussions.

We are talking success rates for all four years of about 8-10%? of the starting student population. The majority of students take two years and most repeat algebra. They get no analytical geometry. Its the most pathetic demonstration of success I have ever seen.

For IMP you are talking even less success. If parents can afford it, they would be better off sending kids to private school just to avoid the math textbooks. Without a good background in math, a student can't accomplish very much in science.

'Virtuous' mathematicians are nothing more than thieves and scoundrels.

Monkeys for brains are running our public schools. Worse they take perverse delight in what they're doing to children. It makes them feel superior to everyone else. Racist puritan cowards, so stupid that they don't realize their brand of educational research is only incestuous. Its fraud and if there were any justice in this country, they'd be going to prison.

Anonymous said...

Here's something even more stupid -have an eighth grade classes use Core 1 without graphing calculators. Hah!

Then the district used the same textbook for ninth graders with calculators. Two years of Core 1.

Who is more stupid than monkeys? Socratic Calvinists playing at teacher. Don't expect any minorities or special ed students to be graduating from their racist schools.

Which district did this implementation? Ask a Core Plus trainer in Seattle. It was their school district.

Anonymous said...

Math leadership in this state is ruining education. This is a war, that is turning into the Illiad. I have never seen so many incompetent generals. VW gets the star role of Hector. IMP anyone, anyone....