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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Putting an End to the Math Wars?

I started a new class today called "Human Learning and Educational Practice," which provides an overview of theories of learning and their educational applications. Both the teacher and my fellow students seemed quite interesting. And I'm looking forward to sharing some of what I learn on this blog.

One of the interesting tangents the class discussion took was to touch briefly on the "math wars" and why they make no sense. Prof. Bransford believes, as I do, that good math instruction includes both a focus on math concepts and theories as well as fluency with mathematical operations.

He had the chance to talk with one of the leaders of Singapore math in Singapore, and learned that what the way Singapore math is discussed in the US is not how it was designed or implemented in Singapore. The three core principals of Singapore math are supposed to be:
  • Learning with understanding
  • Fluency with math facts
  • Managing the students' affective relationship with the subject (which translates into making sure students enjoy math and are excited about exploring the concepts and techniques and learning more)

Prof. Bransford also talked about the role of the media in promoting and sustaining the "math wars." I think, as part of the "new media" on this blog, we should try to play a role in putting an end to the "math wars."

No matter what you think and believe already, take some time to read some of the more balanced research and articles on the topic, ones that don't excessively promote either point of view, and see what you think.

I'd recommend starting with "Taking Measure: Does Modern Math Education Add Up?" a part of the "Research that Matters" series from the College of Education at the University of Washington.

And you might want to take a look at a couple of posts on math education on this blog:

But I'd also love to hear other ideas for non-polarizing articles and books on the topic. Your suggestions?

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

Only someone who has never experienced constructivist math as a parent or educator would consider an "end" to this debate. I suggest you tune in to local parents from Where's the Math.

UW College of Ed is hardly unbiased. Trendy math is keeping them employed.

Beth Bakeman said...

Anonymous, I am a parent with children in Seattle Public Schools and I would love to see an "end" to this debate. Keeping the focus on an argument that presents the choice of math instructional approaches as an either/or issue doesn't help improve math education for our kids.

I've read plenty of the "Where's the Math" posts and don't find them helpful. I was annoyed by M.J. McDermott's video making fun of TERC because, while she had valid points to make, she ruined them from my perspective by being so biased in her presentation that she didn't acknowledge any of the value of the TERC approach.

And I have friends who have kids at North Beach so I've heard plenty about the Saxon math curriculum.

I agree that math education in Washington (and in our country in general) needs to be improved. But I strongly disagree with a reform strategy that centers on ridiculing conceptual and hands-on math learning.

dan dempsey said...

Before I begin the main body of this let me say that I have been recognized for innovative hands on work almost every place I've taught. I focus on getting positive results and increasing student enthusiasm for mathematics. My Beef with TERC/Invstigations and Everyday Math and CMP2 is that they are unfocused incoherent texts and do not work very well. I've used a variety of reform materials from many places in my teaching. My favorite stuff comes from The Math Learning Center. Excellent focused material.

Seattle has math decision-makers that are removed from reality. It is not possible to teach students an adequate amount of material in a k-12 career using only the investigation and discovery methods advocated in the SPS definition of mathematics and repeatedly advocated by Ms Wise over the last few years. It is NOT possible to learn enough math to become an engineer using this technique. This district has chosen to totally ignore the 2004 Mathematics Standards Study Group report which gives advice on revising state standards and the essence of mathematical learning as a result our inefficient downward spiral continues. Fifth grade TERC makes you a third grader in most nations.
Until the SPS understands the MSSG,Project Follow Through, and NMAP do not expect much, except the continuing SPS math nonsense.

Look at the Project Follow Through graphs and compare direct instruction with the cognitive model ( of discovery and exploration) and you will get an idea of how far off the tracks this train has run.

The big recommendations are for fewer topics. I repeatedly pointed this out over months of testimony and the SPS by a vote of 7-0 adopted the book with the most topics they could find EM. I can only assume that Ms Santorno thought that the state would have this on some list for the future. It may have been the most aligned text with OSPI's failing standards but that was about it. During the adoption process there was not a shred of data other than cherry-picked nonsense. Completely ignored was the Everyday Math - Connected Math failure in Denver and in Colorado Springs.

Given the fact that the Legislature took the Math Standards revision away from OSPI and gave it back to Plattner to fix and she will you the NMAP recommendations to fix things Everyday math has a ZERO chance of meeting the new WA Math Standards.
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I still remember Ms Santorno saying at the first School board meeting in Feb 2007 that there would be no new math adoptions until further guidance from the State. Then we got her EM slam dunk.
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Now the NMAP advocates for Authentic Algebra and preparation for Authentic Algebra using a fair amount of fractions, decimals and percents. Just like all the really successful nations. This certainly does not eliminate conceptual understanding. Unfortunately we sit with a few million dollars worth of K-8 materials that do no tasks well.

As you consider Beth's suggestion to start with the UW's Research That Matters, see if you can find any research within that publication. It all looks more like opinionated marketing spin than research to me.
Here is my letter to UW President, Provost, and Dean Wasley.


Also consider the idea of Attribution Analysis when data is presented that suggests particular curriculum or practices produces particular results, investigate if in fact that really is the case.

In many cases there are so many other uncontrolled and often unmentioned variables influencing the outcomes that nothing is really learned but lots of things are promoted from such studies anyway.

Beth did not Mention the National Math Panel Report issued on March 13, 2008.

From my SPS testimony:

The National Math Panel report, released on March 13th, should have a major impact on this District.

Some of its recommendations:

+ A focused, coherent progression of mathematics learning, with an emphasis on proficiency with key topics, should become the norm.

+ Avoid approaches that revisit topics superficially, year after year without closure. (This means Everyday Math should be avoided).

----------------------
There is the rub. How did we wind up with Everyday Math?
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The answer is worthless research. Despite our close proximity to UW and their concern for minority success in math. SPS has had a virtually constantly growing achievement gap for a decade for Low Income, Black, and Hispanic Learners. Bellevue has been demanding "Fidelity of Implementation" the Use of the Books without supplements. This strategy is producing the same pathetic results for non-Asian minorities in Bellevue as in Seatle except even worse for Bellevue's Black Students last year who posted a worst ever absolute passing rate on the 10th grade Math WASL of 18% for Spring 2007.

OSPI’s most aligned math materials were most destructive for Black, Hispanic, and Low Income students. {I’ve done significant statistical analysis on Seattle, Bellevue, and Clover Park where these most aligned programs were heavily used and the math gaps increased annually for Low Income and Non-Asian minority students.} These materials were selected from the list of Exemplary and Promising Math Programs of 1999 US Dept. of ED. Recommendations that were based on NO field data. In fact these still have no evidence of success.

The following statement was taken from a publication written in 2006 by Sandra Stotsky of the National Math Advisory Panel:

………the status of the body of research in mathematics education. It is much smaller and newer than the body of research on reading and, by itself, does not provide sufficient evidence to guide policy or practice. Moreover, after a comprehensive review of the studies evaluating the 13 mathematics curricula (EM and CMP are two of the 13) funded by the National Science Foundation and six publisher-generated programs produced during the 1990s, the reviewing committee concluded that no valid body of studies supports the effectiveness of any of those programs.
(National Research Council, 2004).
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There you have it. Ms Wise touts Everyday Math as being classified as an Exemplary and Promising program from the US 1999 Department of Ed., which means absolutely nothing. Those who study research know this. CMP is equally rated and praised by her.
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The data often presented by any "side" or "person" often needs to be carefully examined.

I am absolutely certain that to improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. In Math education circles it is just really difficult to find the perhaps 4% of the data which is relevant amidst the 96% trash, when certain interests push the trash.
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When you do find it the Seattle Public Schools could not care less. This place runs on personal whim not data driven decision making.
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The UW has found it in their best interests due to the way that NSF HED grants are given to often be pushers of the trash.

I should not pick on UW we have quite a collection of trash pushers nationally thus our PISA score of 474 in 2006 placed our 15 year olds above one significantly industrialized first world nation Italy.
---------------------------

From Dean Wasley's introduction to last year's publication titled: Closing the Gap.
Minority parents’ expectations are high, but too often, their children’s performances are low. Seattle Public School statistics show that the percentage of children of color who enter high school will increase 10 percent each year over the next century. What percentage will give up and quit? The drop-out rate is a constant worry.
---------------------------------
Data analysis by UW Ed. Dept. is my constant worry.

Here Dean Wasley is looking at the equivalent of an exponential growth function applied to 59 cents with an annual compounded return of 10%. Am I to think that after 100 years my investment will be worth less than one dollar?

No wonder we have a sub-prime mortgage meltdown.

An exponential growth function with a growth rate of 10% annually for a century --> An investment of 59 cents in 2005 will be worth $1.04 in 2011 and in 2105 worth $8,130.56

Y = 0.59 (1.1)^x produces these results for Y given x years after 2005

Year after 2005 ---- percent of non-white students
0 --> 59%
1 --> 64.9%
2 --> 71.39%
3 --> 78.529%
4 --> 86.382%
5 --> 95.02%
6 -> 104.52% (this is for 2011. If you think this is strange try 100 years later in 2105)
100 --> 813,056.128%
Very odd I thought you could not have more than 100% of the population be non-white.
Oh well its a melting pot - It appears our math brains have melted.


So What is Seattle's Math Plan NOW???

Wise said the chosen texts have worked out well for middle schools, which have been using them for almost two years. Elementary schools are struggling a bit more since this is the first year with the new textbooks, but Wise said she expects the next year will go more smoothly.

If you check the data on Tacoma's Saxon and Seattle's CMP2 it is quite revealing. In regard to looking at the books Saxon is much more in line with NMAP recommendations and a statistical analysis of Low Income Students makes Tacoma the clear winner after year one. Now since Ms. Wise is in her 11th year with the district and we have watched a decade of constantly increasing math achievement Gaps for Low Income and Non-Asian Minority students. Investigation of data is clearly warranted HERE.

Here is where we need to go to begin to repair this mess.
.
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As always there is lots more at:
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The Math Underground

I am still after these incompetent folks to define the grade level necessary skills in D44.00 and D45.00.

Who spends millions on textbooks and does not even define what kids should know before selecting the books?

So what was the criteria on which these books were selected?

Perhaps Ms Wise and Ms Santorno could tell us. The adoption action board meeting was not videoed or telecast and the report on the website came down almost as fast as it when up.

Yes Open and Transparent did as poorly as Data Driven Decision making. I would not be thinking that Held Accountable will do any better.

dan dempsey said...

Beth said ...
....Professor Bransford had the chance to talk with one of the leaders of Singapore math in Singapore, and learned that what the way Singapore math is discussed in the US is not how it was designed or implemented in Singapore. The three core principals of Singapore math are supposed to be:

* Learning with understanding
* Fluency with math facts
* Managing the students' affective relationship with the subject (which translates into making sure students enjoy math and are excited about exploring the concepts and techniques and learning more)


Professor Bransford should have gone to the Saturday Singapore Training sponsored by the North Beach PTA. There three teachers who have been teaching Singapore Math at an Elementary School in Phoenix for a few years carefully went through precisely the 3 things he mentioned above.

It appears he is wrong if he made such a blanket statement. Has he visited the Middlesex Regional School District in Townsend Massachusetts?

I spent some time as an SBE math advisory panelist speaking with Dr Kimberley Vincent of WSU. She made a lot of statements about Singapore Math but guess what? --- She at that point had never opened a Singapore Textbook. Since I've used the materials I had a much more accurate view. So far I hope that Professor Bransford has been misquoted but he does sound a lot like the same kind of lines that came from Dr Vincent. In addition Dr Vincent talked about how Japan had moved a bit more toward USA style reform math.

Note Japan reworks their Math Standards every 10 years 1982, 1992, 2002. The PISA test is given every 3 years. From PISA 2003 to 2006 the Japanese score dropped 11 points. Japan is now looking at a correction as they are not planning on waiting until 2012 to fix this.

Hey USA only dropped 9 points but then again when you are really low it is harder to fall a great distance.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think it might be worth asking the question about what we want students to be able to do with the math they learn. It should be two-fold; offer enough high level math for those who are college-bound (and take a look at what is asked on the math portions of the SAT and ACT) and offer math that matches life skills needs.

If a kid says, why do I need math X, then ask them; are you ever going to buy a home, repair that home, buy anything, get a job, have a child, etc. All of life includes math and science and kids need to know that because otherwise they think it's "hard" or "boring".

Anonymous said...

Why not use the National Mathematics Advisory Panel report as a starting point, instead of UW School of Education report?

At this point, I believe the UW School of Ed itself is polarizing, plus their position is contradicted by other depts at UW (ironically, the math-centric disciplines such as engineering, atmospheric sciences), which lessens their credibility, in my opinion.

old salt said...

It does seem to be a debate between departments at UW. The Ed department claims, 'we know how kids learn, so this is how we should teach math'. The math & engineering departments maintain, 'we know what math skills are required to begin in our programs, so this is how we should teach math.'

Maybe a compromise would be that the ed department uses it's understanding about how kids learn to make sure that kids learn the math skills that are required by the math & engineering departments.

I also think that we must recognize that kids have different learning styles. Teachers need to be able to address them even if it compromises 'fidelity of implementation'.

Part of the parental frustration I see, is the change in which learning styles are successful in math. Traditionally kids who were more comfortable with numbers than words were the kids who excelled in math. With the new emphasis on writing in math that has changed. Some parents feel that the one subject their child did well, has been taken away from them. Those kids don't feel that they are good at math.

dan dempsey said...

Hey Wendy,

You make some interesting points.

...Maybe a compromise would be that the ed department uses it's understanding about how kids learn to make sure that kids learn the math skills that are required by the math & engineering departments.

What leads you to believe that UW Ed knows much about how kids learn math in a normal classroom setting that can be put into practice successfully?

UW ED has demonstrated that enormous interventions that can not be applied across the district, can sometimes produce improved outcomes. So what?

Check the math data for the SPS over the last decade. The district and UW Ed have supposedly had a big focus on the learning of Low Income and Non-Asian minority students. Results are likely worse than if these two institutions had never spoken to each other.

I think that individually Dr Elham Kazemi has some very insightful things to offer about improving math instruction. As institutions I see UW's COE collaboration with the SPS as largely an expensive waste of time, energy and resources to accomplish nothing. They did make each other feel good about their continued collaboration.

Anonymous said...

I don't actually think Singapore is as non-constructivist as people say ... lots of the "mental math" techniques it encourages seem to me to be the same things the constructivist methods are trying to get at in another way.

The biggest beef I have with the current curricula is not that they teach writing about math (though I think that part is overemphasized). It's that they teach BAD writing about math, and that the books themselves are badly written and frequently ambiguous.

I think it's very much like the whole language/phonics divide -- the whole "war" is silly, because what we really need is a sensible mixture of BOTH, and curriculum that addresses both sides of the matter WELL. Half-baked drill'n'kill or half-baked phonics is just as bad for kids as half-baked constructivism or whole language.

Helen Schinske

dan dempsey said...

Helen,

I think you are hitting the nail on the head.

I was watching the politicos and it was mentioned that when you do not have much of an argument it is important to pound on the table with great vigor.

After watching the destruction of a subject that I care deeply about by OSPI etc over the last 15 years. Here is what I've found. Those who focus most on the continuation of the current poorly written and ill devised ineffective curricula are continually erecting straw men to courageously knock down for the good of the children.

Most of the folks that I know who are all in favor of abandoning the current nonsense are advocates for a balanced curriculum. You will find that the NMAP very carefully leaves the choice of how to impart the skills and knowledge up to the teacher.

I find the following individuals unable to come up with relevant statistics to support their staunch reform position: Dr James King, Dr Ruth Parker, Dr Virginia Warfield, Ms Santorno, Ms Wise, Mr Dave Thielk ( HS editorial leader of the HS team on OSPI's handpicked math standards revision team - I wrote him and he had zero for data in support of his philosophy).

I have been looking for the data, I can not find it. That is precisely why I believe these people pound the table.

The attempt to use NAEP comparisons of WA and CA is ridiculous Washington is about at the average for *ELL students about 15% while Texas is next to last at 27% ELL and CA is dead-last with 37% ELL.

By *ELL I mean students who at home are in an environment where English is not the primary language.

Whenever the above crew is asked for justification of their positions there are lots of anecdotes but no real relevant data.

You are absolutely correct we need a balanced program delivered by the teacher who uses excellent materials. Unfortunately the SPS now own a few million worth of poorly written poorly constructed K-8 materials that are 180 degrees off from what we need.

Anonymous said...

The math wars are polarizing, but having a child that is likely to gravitate to a technical career, and being in a technical field myself, I tend to side with the Where's the Math side. Of course they are represented in the media as extreme, but I imagine the reality is much different, as in all polarizing debates.

What a child needs to know is different than how it is taught. I think that there is a fundamental difference between the reform math movement and the traditionalist.

The extreme end of reform math has changed what needs to be known. They believe that kids no longer need to do computation, know algorithms, or learn real algebra.

For example, in my son's CMP2 math text there in NEVER an algorithm. Why wouldn't you at least summarize an investigated topic with how it is commonly done in the end?

And in the review sections on basic computation he is allowed to use a calculator to compare to fractions to see which is larger!

I am all for improving the methods to teach kids what they need to know, but I don't believe that we should change what they need to know, to what I believe is much lower standards.

Anonymous said...

Math wars is the wrong paradigm. You need to discover a different set of ethics to find what is needed to resolve your dilemma. That is why it appears polarized.

Your 'War' is turning into an Iliad. And I can tell you straight out who Hector is.

Rather than focus on content, you should be looking at how Singapore was developed, who developed it, and how the lessons connect together.

Teaching math is more like weaving or playing music. The notes are the content. But there is so much more to music, than just notes. When you teach the story is supposed to unfold logically. Students shouldn't be guessing what comes next.

Some of the debate from the progressivist side is nonsensical. The UW ed department should focus more on classrooms, instead of students. They created a new disorder - EBD(extreme behavior disorder) to explain low student achievement.

And its definitely not the quality of the water as one math coach thinks.

Its when all logic is lost, that 'experts' resort to superstitions to prove what? That their textbooks work?

The only way to challenge a mainstream 'reform' movement is to challenge it with a newer reform that targets students who are not mainstream and that takes an administrator with a lot of ganas and a teacher that knows how to work with kids -- starting at the early elementary level.

The movement has to have time to gain acceptance and the students have to accept the new curriculum. A good secondary program takes seven years to build up and its a guarantee it won't be with standardized textbooks.

California only has better math programs, because teachers are allowed more freedom to teach and experiment with different curriculum. That is why they get asked to pilot more.

I think the administrators in California are more competent. The administrators listen and they try to spread difficult job assignments out.

This has not been my experience in Washington, which I believe instead is a human rights disaster.

Latinos in California would never tolerate such abuses. OSPI is either just lucky or good at covering up racial intolerance.

Anonymous said...

If you were investigating racial incidents in the state of Washington, I would start with the new alternative programs created in the last five years. They give the word 'support' a bad name. Alternative is supposed to mean equal or better, not substandard, and we are talking completely submerged.

Their enrollment numbers are overinflated and they're underfunded. So much for high school reform. The Bush DOE doesn't seem to care minorities and the disabled are getting shafted. Actions speak louder than words. Cowards die many times, before their deaths.

Support programs are your canary in a coal mine. If you can't keep students in these schools or give them an adequate education, then you know you are facing a crisis in regular classrooms.

Its hard to see where any of this has been balanced so far. Is Washington not results driven?

Its been 15 years, or so, and you can see how the quality of education in Washington has deteriorated to an all-time low.
Who's been in charge? What textbooks have we been using? Have we not been balanced or is the progressive camp going to claim otherwise.

It was the traditionalists who were in control all along? Is that what you are saying to us? I think the public has been overly patient and polite to Bergerson. The Trojans would probably advocate ostracizing.

But this has to end some time. Eventually, people will come to know they've been bamboozled. Apparently, when Johnny comes home and has to use a calculator to find 7 x 7 is not severe enough. How do we achieve balance when we're stuck with using the same curriculum?

What news?
None my Lord, but that the world's grown honest.
Then is doomsday near?

Anonymous said...

The core plus teachers I know admit that the textbooks are poor. They fear their administrators more than the students and parents they have to face every day. They say they have a clear conscience. They don't mind failing students - its not their problem, they didn't select the curriculum.

This is a coward's world and there are very few people who deserve to be called teacher.

Balance? Let's talk about changing the current standards for educational research. How do we select for the best curriculum when research can't agree on what works. I'm all in favor of nationalizing the curriculum industry. This is definitely a case where Democracy has failed children.

Anonymous said...

The NSF advocated balance over the the question of slavery to stop the Civil War.

The NSF, and like-minded individuals, currently advocate balance in the Math War.

The result will be the same, enslaving the illiterate (primarily the poor). In this country, ignorance is slavery and one only has to look at the quality of our education system to see where ignorance starts.

Math achievement is a literacy issue and has nothing to do with poverty.

American educators apparently don't see a difference -they are color-blind. Their system of rewarding students is also color-blind, but that does not mean it is unbiased.

Balanced means unbiased. So clearly then American education is not balanced, and that mostly includes mathematics.

How does an AP student get all the way through high school barely able to solve a simple algebra problem and then get accepted to the UW? Ans: They're white.

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely sick and tired of every conversation on this blog getting turned into a racial battle. I am tired of people continually slamming white folks just because they are white.

Beth, I have never asked you to censor anything before. But, I am asking you to delete racial comments, when they are made inappropriately and out of context to the conversation. Racial slams are hurtful, unproductive and damaging to dialog. Beth, be responsible and stop it. Melissa, Charlie....someone has to step up and put an end to it.

Anonymous said...

One of the things that has surprised me about the everyday math curriculum is how much parental involvement is required with the homework.

Much more than was previously the case.

I don't see how that will help close the achievement gap.

Anonymous said...

Beth-

I always find your posts to be so refreshingly optimistic and (sometimes purposefully?)naive that I wonder how you have maintained that attitude with kids in SPS. I really do admire you for that - the rest of us who have been around longer than you are just focused on getting kids through the best we can, with little hope of change from the district.I am glad there are people like you out there - I am too tired to continue fighting.

As regards the math debate - it will never resolve in balanced common ground as long as all the educators have drunk the kool-aid from the higher levels of SPS and the UW education department.

Anonymous said...

How many parents have I heard say they don't understand everyday math either - these are parents who are engineers and lawyers, not just homeless people.

There is nothing to support the claims made my everyday math advocates. 16,000 papers on progressive math and not one was deemed suitable for meeting research standards. That was the report of the national math panel. If you think balance is what is needed to end the math war. Start by doing research that qualifies for research. The Singapore Math authors wrote that math should be an enjoyable activity - motivation was critical for success. Currently, in the US there is no motivation to do better in math.

Ask the kids who matter, who need a high school diploma, stop asking UW professors and teachers from schools where learning doesn't matter. If you've got money, you don't need to send your child to a public school, they don't even have to do well to go to college, just average. Look at all the kids who get accepted to UW and have to pay to take remedial math again. Well documented - hardly a victory for education.

Anonymous said...

Since Seattle School District is all about choice on so many things.... why not make "math style" a choice too? And eventually, maybe we could get also have a choice in the style of WASL we wanted for our kids. That is, either the "talk about thinking about doing some math and hope the grader knew what you meant and liked it" math WASL or the "write (or circle) the right answer" math WASL, which would be graded by the computer in less than 1 second.

Anonymous said...

The achievement gap between disadvantaged and minorities and whites is well documented, primarily in high school. Seattle is often used as an example.

Math education is very much a race issue. There are intolerant communities that prefer schools remain the same, because of a misguided public perception that diversity creates discipline problems in the classroom.

What I would advocate is more education in tolerance, rather than purchasing expensive math programs that pretend to teach children using unproven methods that adversely affect learning. I would start by teaching administrators and teachers tolerance. At some point, the pressure for communities to grow and diversify will make the current policies untenable. Already you see some communities adapting just to survive.

As the disparity in the achievement gap rises, so will there be greater pressure to separate students as parents and community leaders attempt to find better ways to improve achievement.

This will only multiply the expense and time we spend educating children and communities will only be constrained by the number of qualified teachers they can afford to hire. This will cause salaries to go down and it will be harder to find qualified teachers.

At some point, there will need to be a shift toward improving curriculum and resorting to direct instruction, because it is the cheapest, most affordable, and democratic method of teaching.

As an example, could any of the armed services ever afford to train military personnel the way we try to operate a public school. Not likely. The public wouldn't allow it. War wouldn't allow it. So why does the public allow such strong arm tactics to control public schools?

For one, curriculum is dictated by "local school boards". This allows all sorts of shameless decisions to be made by unscrupulous administrators.

Just look at the way this state does accreditation. More than half the alt ed schools should be put out of business. We drop out more kids, than we send to college. That's hardly success.

How is it possible to be accredited, when more than half the seniors can't pass the WASL. A test that has nothing to do with algebra beyond first semester.

Progressivists don't even agree that students should be taught formal algebra. The algorithms they recommend are non-standard, informal methods for problem solving that don't count on any college entrance test, no less the WASL.

Anonymous said...

1. California went from FIRST to LAST in reading achievement when they adopted whole language reading. Trendy education does not mean quality.

2. University professors in most colleges of education do NOT send their kids to public schools. Private schools do NOT use CMP or IMP - not for long, anyway. People who pay taxes and tuition will not permit such useless curricula in their homes or schools.

College of ed professors remain employed by reinventing the wheel; publish or perish. We know how kids can learn to love math and we know that it takes practice and engagement. Math is not a new subject.

3. Did you know that boys are still called on more frequently than girls in math and science classes? Gender and race bias is real - and its shameful effects should be discussed here, not censored.

Anonymous said...

Race became an educational issue in Washington, when Republicans, like Dave Quall, suggested creating charter schools for Latinos and African Americans.

What was his reasoning? Why are students more segregated, now then before, and so many minorities being encouraged to change over to an alternative program?

I would advise everyone to continue staying in the mainstream, taking the WASL, so at least they could be counted. And that is no matter how much pain you suffered - its for your future.

If you don't take the WASL then it is just the same as if you were not a citizen and so you don't get counted. WASL scores don't reflect anything close to reality. It was the same for the Greeks and it amounted to slavery. Public education should not only serve the interests of an oligarchic government, it was created to mass educate children and move them out of poverty. It is not a tool for propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Race became an educational issue in Washington, when Republicans, like Dave Quall, suggested creating charter schools for Latinos and African Americans.

What was his reasoning? Why are students more segregated, now then before, and so many minorities being encouraged to change over to an alternative program?

I would advise everyone to continue staying in the mainstream, taking the WASL, so at least they could be counted. And that is no matter how much pain you suffered - its for your future.

If you don't take the WASL then it is just the same as if you were not a citizen and so you don't get counted. WASL scores don't reflect anything close to reality. It was the same for the Greeks and it amounted to slavery. Public education should not only serve the interests of an oligarchic government, it was created to mass educate children and move them out of poverty. It is not a tool for propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Anon445:
In an alt ed program where I taught there were no boys to call on, they had all dropped out of school for disciplinary reasons. Half the girls were pregnant. It was one of the saddest moments of my teaching career, was to look at how shallow our system of educating kids had become. I have never seen anything so backward. You can well imagine that no one ever graduated from this school. No one had ever taken a math or science class, nor ever passed one.

Some things have to improve; it can't get any worse.

Anonymous said...

"The biggest beef I have with the current curricula is not that they teach writing about math (though I think that part is overemphasized). It's that they teach BAD writing about math, and that the books themselves are badly written and frequently ambiguous."
Helen Schinske writes.

I noticed this in reading the report Beth linked us to. Take this question:

A toy is hidden in one of two cakes. One cake is a circle, cut into fourths. The other is a rectangle, cut into sixths. Students must choose the cake that
gives them the best chance of finding the toy.

So, this is a classic example of an under constrained problem. Unless you also know that the toy has equal probability of being anywhere in the cake, that the toy must be entirely contained within an individual piece, . . ., you can't answer the question. Why is under-constrained? presumably because it's really hard to write the question they're trying to ask in words. That's why we mathy-folk like equations; they're a very good way of defining a problem. On the other hand, the real world is full of words, and if you can't translate words into the math problem, you aren't going to be able to use math effectively in one's regular life. That, I suspect, is what the edu-folks are worried about, the transfer of the learning.

I think it's hard to get to teach kids to do the tough problem, and that we're still in the infancy in trying to figure out how to teach kids. But, I continue to be perplexed by the political tones of the battle, which are being repeated here, in a post where Beth begged people to look beyond the battles to the common goal. I honestly don't get why so many people spend so little time trying to listen hard to what the other side is saying. Honestly, the edu-folks want the children to learn math. They might be misguided, but their goal is the same. (and I comment on this side, 'cause the comments here are attacking that group, not the "other" side). I don't know what the right way to teach math is, but I do no that no good comes of calling the other side names or assuming that they have nothing to offer to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

As for California dropping from first to last when they adopted whole reading. There are a number of reasons, foremost there was a change in who took the reading tests, making it more inclusive. So ELL students were required to take the reading tests, although the tests were in English.

Second, ELL was no longer separated from mainstream education. So all teachers had to be retrained in sheltered instruction. ELL students were mainstreamed. Many people objected to these policies, and I think the results were embarrassing.

My opinion is the transition needs to be gradual by increasing instruction in English over time, but keeping critical subjects like math in native language for as long as possible - up to about the seventh grade. It takes 5-7 years to be proficient in CALP. So you have to supplement instruction in the native tongue.

It proved to me that politicians were not there to make a difference, but trying to make a point. That they had the ability to ruin public education.

Anonymous said...

"The biggest beef I have with the current curricula is not that they teach writing about math (though I think that part is overemphasized). It's that they teach BAD writing about math, and that the books themselves are badly written and frequently ambiguous."
Helen Schinske writes.

I noticed this in reading the report Beth linked us to. Take this question:

A toy is hidden in one of two cakes. One cake is a circle, cut into fourths. The other is a rectangle, cut into sixths. Students must choose the cake that
gives them the best chance of finding the toy.

So, this is a classic example of an under constrained problem. Unless you also know that the toy has equal probability of being anywhere in the cake, that the toy must be entirely contained within an individual piece, . . ., you can't answer the question. Why is under-constrained? presumably because it's really hard to write the question they're trying to ask in words. That's why we mathy-folk like equations; they're a very good way of defining a problem. On the other hand, the real world is full of words, and if you can't translate words into the math problem, you aren't going to be able to use math effectively in one's regular life. That, I suspect, is what the edu-folks are worried about, the transfer of the learning.

I think it's hard to get to teach kids to do the tough problem, and that we're still in the infancy in trying to figure out how to teach kids. But, I continue to be perplexed by the political tones of the battle, which are being repeated here, in a post where Beth begged people to look beyond the battles to the common goal. I honestly don't get why so many people spend so little time trying to listen hard to what the other side is saying. Honestly, the edu-folks want the children to learn math. They might be misguided, but their goal is the same. (and I comment on this side, 'cause the comments here are attacking that group, not the "other" side). I don't know what the right way to teach math is, but I do no that no good comes of calling the other side names or assuming that they have nothing to offer to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

It's so easy to blame white folks for everything. Then you never have to look in the mirror. Never have to take responsibility. Always have a convenient excuse. It's sick and crippling. Move on.

Anonymous said...

I think the point of the combative style you are hearing lately, is the progressive math advocates have stepped up their own efforts to repress positive efforts by parents angered that children are taking less math and science and being less successful in school.

It is much easier when you're the group that's being subsidized by the government to push through your reform efforts.

If you want balance, why not have the NSF fund efforts to adopt Singapore in communities that want it?


Why not support research that qualifies as research?


At this point, these so-called leaders deserve to be lauded with insults. That's how a democracy works. I hope the Progressivists choke on their textbooks, they deserve it. The NSF should be doing some soul-searching, if they only had one.

Anonymous said...

One of the MSP grants is funded here in North Puget Sound by one of the biggest advocates of reform math - they subsidize 'no strings' buy standardized textbooks and get 'free' training by college staff.

If you want to know why even core plus is a viable math program in Washington State. Look no further, his cousin is the regional core plus consultant who authored the bogus study matching math programs to WASL test scores. He's the guy that sells core plus in this region. His study cites one reference - OSPI website. That's how scientific these studies are and they don't amount to anything significant.

So by all means lets strive for balance, but lets start with the reform movement, they've got the 'expertise', so lets see some real gains in learning - outcomes with relevance, not mediocre test scores.

They've had how many years to produce something of merit and I don't see it yet. Show me some proof that their miracle math works. This has become one of the biggest fabrications in education history. And Washington leads in snookering. Its sort of like being bullied by big brother.

Merlino claims its the water!

UW ed dept says its EBD!

Next they'll be advocating miracle software. Oops they already are. Anything to steal more money from education.

You can't reason with these guys. They are either complete idiots, or else we are!

Anonymous said...

Anon513:
The most cited reason for not graduating from high school is failing math.

The growing disparity in achievement between minorities and white students is undeniable.

The increasing failure of lower achieving students is a symptom of a much larger problem.

Along with disparity and exclusion of minorities, fewer students are enrolling in colleges and taking higher math and science classes.

Increasing segregation as educators attempt to identify possible factors that would account for lower achievement.

Kids are quicker to point out racism exists in schools. Teachers and parents fear racism. Kids have to live with it. Schools punish students for reporting it.

If people are not allowed to be honest about what they see or hear everyday, then this is not a democracy. That is the first lesson in tolerance.

Besides, if the math instruction actually improved, schools would be more diverse, not less. Bad instruction/curriculum is what produces segregated schools.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 6:29 pm -

Thank you for an eloquent and gracious post amd response to
anon at 5:13. It was most
appreciated.

Anonymous said...

A previous poster stated...

"Private schools do NOT use CMP or IMP - not for long, anyway. People who pay taxes and tuition will not permit such useless curricula in their homes or schools."

Actually, when I was considering private schools for my middle schooler, the math curriculm was my biggest concern and the reason for considering private schools. I was shocked to find out that it's not much better in some of the most sought-after schools.

From Bush's Curriculum page...

"Students use the Connected Mathematics Project, which was developed at Michigan State University and is supported by the National Science Foundation. The Connected Mathematics Project II, published in 2006, supports the recommendations for improved teaching and learning of mathematics issued by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. In addition, some students will advance to study Pre-Algebra topics during the second and third trimesters."

I also think that University Prep uses CMP (I thought it was explicitly mentioned when we were looking last year, but this year it is not, just has the following reform math verbage).

"The Mathematics Department integrates the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards into each course as appropriate and applicable. All classes provide opportunities for students to organize their thinking, to reason logically, to choose critically from different problem-solving strategies, to learn and apply various technologies, to express their ideas both orally and in writing, and to work cooperatively with their peers."

Seattle Academy was one that I know teachers using traditional textbooks.

That alone was enough to make us suspicious of all the hype about the benefits of private schools and we decided to stick with WMS and supplement the math curriculum at home.

Buyer Beware!

Anonymous said...

"If people are not allowed to be honest about what they see or hear everyday, then this is not a democracy. "

What are you talking about? Don't make these types of blanket accusations. Give specific examples.

"Teachers and parents fear racism. Kids have to live with it. Schools punish students for reporting it. "

Again, a random, statement. What kids fear it? Certainly not mine, who are bi-racial?? What kids are punished for reporting it?? Who, what, where?? You just can't make these types of blanket statements. The statements themselves are racist if unfounded.

Making these types of blanket (unfounded)statements is as bad as a white person saying something like.....there is no achievement gap, black kids are just not as bright as white kids.

It stinks, doesn't it??

Anonymous said...

"That alone was enough to make us suspicious of all the hype about the benefits of private schools and we decided to stick with WMS and supplement the math curriculum at home."

Perhaps in 8th grade your student will be lucky enough to get Mr. Pounder. He uses a text book from the 1980s from the Unified Math series. Straight up algebra, geometry and trip. Fabulous, and way way ahead of the pack. His kids do very very well in higher level high school math.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

Could all of you Anonymous people please pick pretend names so we know who is responding to whom and who is backing up something they said earlier? (click on name/url below and plug in a fake name, just please use the same name for any given thread)

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Never ascribe to malice that which could be ascribed to incompetence. I have no doubt the the proponents of new math have all the best intentions when they came up with the instructional methodologies, including reducing the achievement gap, improving understanding, and real world connections. It just hasn't worked out that way. The real canary in the coal mine is students with disabilities, many of whom have trouble with language itself and understanding expectations, even if they have excellent math skills. But hey, if it's easier to notice failing minorities, I'm glad a few people are wringing their hands.

Anonymous said...

Anon744
This is a discussion about the academic programs, but poor programs do more than lower test scores. It creates chaos in the classroom and worse students are blamed for the disruptions.

These are not blanket generalizations about race. There are thousands of violent incidents between students reported each year in SPS. Until this year, they were not in a computer database and administrators did not have a reliable way of tracking individuals.

The district policy treats all racial incidents the same, automatic expulsion. Hence, most incidents go unreported. Kids don't report other kids, because everyone gets punished.

Since 1997, the district also has an open enrollment policy that encourages students to choose academic programs in other neighborhoods. Again this shows a lack of poor planning, principals had to adapt, not the superintendent.

Principals of charter schools are eager to encourage enrollment, especially minorities, despite these students' lack of success in such schools. Principals do not publish turnover rates, nor do they say how many minorities they actually graduate.

For most underprivileged children it would be far easier to improve the quality of their neighborhood schools, where they feel safer, than to have them driven to outlying schools where they are overly scrutinized. It is the worst way to integrate children and creates more segregation.

In 2002, former Ballard HS principal, David Engle resigned in protest over the superintendent's own remarks then that schools would become resegregated with the overturning of the 'tiebreaker' policy for admission into public schools. And he was supported then by fellow principals and thus far, everything he predicted would occur has happenned.

The controversy establishing the Center School and the African American Academy which pedagogically opposes Center School philosophy is a striking difference between how children are treated differently. As a former principal said - "It broke her heart to walk into these classrooms [African American Academy] and see children's eyes so dulled. She knows its not the only way to teach black children."

KIPP Schools are no less harsh in their treatment of children.

W.E.B. Dubois - "Its a hard thing to live haunted by the ghost of an untrue dream, to know that something was vanquished that deserved to live... All this is bitter hard...his people were the children of disappointment."

If Dubois were alive today he would say it is no less true for Latinos.

My children are biracial too - they will tell you flat out that minorities are treated differently in Washington than they are in California. Most kids up here say they're Mexican, not Latino or Mexican-American. Kids know which teachers prefer white kids and which schools too avoid. That's common knowledge where I live.

They will also tell you that lots of kids drop out by 10th grade and not just Latinos. So you can live in your fairy tale villages, but someday this country is going to look surprisingly different. I look more Mexican than my own kids and I'm a red-skinned German, while they're white and better looking - thank goodness.

Anonymous said...

I agree that students with disabilities are struggling, but they also have IEPs and more flexibility (legal rights) - some Latinos I know fake disabilities to avoid being mainstreamed and they do surprisingly well, but once again that increases the expense of educating kids, doesn't it.

The special education teacher uses Saxon and she doesn't try to mainstream her students. It leads to too many conflicts with regular teachers. In addition, the parents are usually well-informed in terms of their student's legal protections. Teachers don't even realize they can be sued for not following a 504. Math and science teachers are the worst at following IEPs.

So yes, while math has prevented these students from mainstreaming, they are nonetheless receiving instruction that is probably more effective than what could be given in the regular classroom -- don't mainstream math and science.

I absolutely agree with the special ed. teacher. I even think the label of 'sped' should be dropped from all teacher's vocabulary - I didn't hear that in California.

I made accommodations, but most of my colleagues were not sensitive enough to understand how difficult it was for disabled students to fit into the regular classroom - especially if its inquiry or discovery learning. Its not possible - they need more structure, than regular kids.

Progressivist math (Puritan education) is economically and structurally unsound, it died out during the last depression and it will certainly die out during the next one.

Reformers staked their reputations and careers making people believe they're curriculum worked. They've been trying for five decades. Its not true and presently they are in denial, just like the Holocaust.

I would hate to admit that I was selling obnoxious curriculum just to stroke my own ego. So I double dare Bergerson. Make my day, dimwit. You'll lose the election and then we'll find out what a real mess you've got us in.

Anonymous said...

"The district policy treats all racial incidents the same, automatic expulsion. Hence, most incidents go unreported. Kids don't report other kids, because everyone gets punished."

Well I guess if they are unreported, they are not proven. Don't write about unproven, opinions and guesstimates. It only causes more problems.

Anonymous said...

don't read anything from the College of Education and or Virginia Warfield -

they need to call people who've challenged their complete failure 'traditionalists' because it is an effective label for making opponents sound like a bunch of 1955 throwbacks.

Anonymous said...

"Principals of charter schools are eager to encourage enrollment, especially minorities, "

Seattle doesn't have charter schools. You are posting racial injustices in places that don't even exist.

Anonymous said...

"Well I guess if they are unreported, they are not proven. Don't write about unproven, opinions and guesstimates. It only causes more problems."

Wow. Sounds like a few people have the entire monopoly on the truth. How lucky of them. Yes, we really all want to hear more about how the all the white smarties are being ripped off by everyone else. Everyone else, stop causing more problems!

Anonymous said...

The NSF advocated balace on the issue of slavery?!?!? I hadn't heard that. Source, please?

Anonymous said...

Yes, well SPS cannot have charters, so lets call them something else. SPS cannot have racial incidents, so lets call them something else. SPS Blanket denial.

You don't have to be smart to figure that one out. You can't very well have high school reform without 'model' programs. Despite public opposition, school reform continues unopposed in Olympia.

Call it what you want, it still retains the characteristics of a charter school - its big business, somebody's being paid to lobby for reform.

Does anyone know how the Singapore implementation is going or is it not going in Seattle? Quack, Quack.

"Folks don’t like to have somebody around knowing more than they do. It aggravates them. You’re not going to change any of them by talking right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language."
-- Calpurnia, To kill a mockingbird

SPS and OSPI know talk is cheap - but actions speak louder than words. SPS only has authority so long as the public trusts the leadership will do the right thing. There is more than one institution in washington that has a poor track record for being truthful. At some point, this reform will indeed fall down hard.

Anonymous said...

Dear love to play the race card,

Nobody listens because we all know that no matter what anyone says the achievement gap is just not going to go away. Not because of racism, because white children are naturally smarter than minority children. Everyone knows that, we are all just beat around the bush.

Oh well...........

Anonymous said...

This article, though fairly technical, is quite interesting: http://act-r.psy.cmu.edu/papers/misapplied.html .

Helen Schinske

Paul said...

"Everyone knows that, we are all just beat around the bush."

Before you start espousing racist white supremacy theories, you should try to familiarize yourself with the concept of gerunds. That is unless you are "try" to be ironic on purpose.

kprugman said...

Whites can play the race card too:

You miss the point entirely.

You've been raised to say those things, but do you really believe what you mean, or do you think you believe what you said? Does it make sense or are you going to do a knee jerk reaction every time you hear the word white?

There is more here than an achievement gap. The low test scores affect all students, including those who get accepted to UW. Resegregation is a common expression used to describe the current efforts to reform school.

You are ignoring what I said initially - that an honors student was accepted to UW who can pass the WASL, but couldn't solve a two-step equation to save herself. She does not have a clue what trig is and she has never factored parabolas - this is with a tradiitional textbook mind you. She probably did have bad teachers.

Ignore race for a moment(following the logic of your color blind group think), could we now presume that math proficiency was not a criteria for deciding who gets accepted to university?

Or rather, what then is the minimum level of math knowledge required for attending UW, if it is not algebra?

So how is that going to affect college enrollment now that the SBE is recommending adding a third year (intermediate algebra) to the graduation requirement? Core Plus and IMP are so different from the norm, it would be near impossible for anyone to say what sorts of questions would be fair for all curriculum.

I am smiling, because this student was upset that she got an A- in statistics. Half the class was failing, so a parent/doctor came in to help. Wasn't my class....

Follow the logic of the policies leaders create for schools and one will find terrible inconsistencies. Ultimately, these lead to misunderstandings, until finally we resort to superstitions that are uniquely American.

The quality of the curriculum affects everyone, the issue concerns literacy, and children's lack of success is polarizing communities.

dan dempsey said...

Helen,

Thanks for your post at 3:11

Very Nice reading at the recommendations for instruction.

"The use with children of experimental methods, that is, methods that have not been finally assessed and found effective, might seem difficult to justify."

Which turns out to be a huge amount of what happens in many math classrooms.
-------------------------

The more I read the stranger this gets. All of Seattle's math selections that made the finals for elementary, middle, and high school were all rated as Exemplary or promising programs by US Ed in 1999. Ms Wise makes a big deal about this. That group only looked at reform math programs. 13 generated by NSF funds and 6 from private publishers. To this date not a single one has been found effective.

Here is a chunk from the CS Monitor complete with Core-Plus lunacy.

----------------------------------

This particular article is still of particular interest, as the NCTM/NSF
curriculums which survived the ensuing eight years that got the
"Exemplary and Promising" label are still trumpeting this.

"How a new math program rose to the top:* Critics say the process of
giving 'Core-Plus' a top rating lacked rigor and evidence of long-term positive impact*"

A sample: "The panel was a good idea," Dr. Berriozabal says, "but we made some bad judgments. From the best I could tell, none of the
programs we selected as 'promising' or 'exemplary' had any kind of
long-term track record of achievement" . After Berriozabal arrived in Washington, the panel began debating the criteria to determine a successful program. Berriozabal thought that long-term proof of achievement should top the list. "Most others on the panel wanted to require programs to conform to NCTM standards - then gauge achievement. "
TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2000
How a new math program rose to the top.


You read right... the panel only considered NCTM/NSF programs for the list, student performance was at best a secondary consideration. I still believe it was more than lacking rigor that was the problem, it was a good old fashioned case of conflict of interest.

Surprise Surprise the SPS now has a few million dollars worth of k-8 conflict of interest ineffective books.

Perhaps Ms Santorno would like to try open and transparent. Real relevant data intelligently applied rather than just whimsically spending a few million here and a few million there.

Well spending on WSHS was just as well done. Ignore the extremely positive data and spend money to produce a six period day amid great disruption to the majority of students, parents, and staff at the school.

Lots of $$$ are being spent on the re-configuation and for what reason???

Oh now I remember because Dr Goodloe-Johnson says so in a decision that she says cannot be appealed.

Where is that effective new leadership when you need it????

dan dempsey said...

Beth said ....
.... But I'd also love to hear other ideas for non-polarizing articles and books on the topic. Your suggestions?

The only way the controversy even gets close to ending is hardly by picking articles and books based on the 16,000 worthless research pieces.

It is time to come to the realization, that Mr Brad Bernatek failed to acknowledge that there is still no evidence that any of the 13 NSF financed curricula actually work.

Sorry about not doing for EM what I fully intend to do if IMP is the recommendation. The district must fill out paper work and submit it to the Feds 90 days before experimenting on our children. They pick IMP then I will seek a court order to delay IMP until they have filled out and submitted the paper work. When they get the OK from the Feds then they can implement the third round of math destruction. We know the SPS does not follow their own policies, let us see if Federal Law applies and if so have them follow it.

Math researcher Bill Hook told me to do this for EM as he said the chance of success for EM to work in SPS was far less than for a lot of the stuff , for which he is required to fill out Fed forms.

The fact is USA is close to rock bottom in the ranking of developed nations in the world for math. We are also the only country that believes children should devote a few years to mental math facts accompanied by using calculators instead of written pencil and paper calculation. Dr Ruth Parker who the SPS listens to and pays for her services sees Calculators as OK for Kindergarten.

We use books with a scarcity of numbers and huge abundance of words and then wonder why the children have such little number sense?

The UW and SPS base their entire argument for continuing this mess on Philosophical alignment with what should work.

NEWS FLASH!!! This is not working.

I've presented enormous amounts of data to SPS and elsewhere all I get in response is two items:

These curricula were found exemplary and promising by the US Ed dept. in 1999.

The California Standards are no good because WA has higher raw NAEP scores than CA.

---- failing to mention that in the 2008 Quality Counts report in the category grade 8 Math shows:

WA ranked #48/51 in achievement GAP reduction.
CA was around #10/51

Pretty easy to beat California in raw numbers as they have 37% of their kids in homes where English is not the primary language. In WA it is 15%.

This is not ending when the side that has the current politically powerful upper hand UW and SPS plan to continue ineffective and often harmful materials and practices.

Looking for some leadership from the SPS will likely put the entire city on anti-depressants before we find any leadership.

There might be hope for the future HERE.

Your question was a Good one. Beth books and articles based on the current state of flawed research in Math will hardly end anything.

Professor Bransford's generalizations of what is happening in US Math will hardly solve anything as they are inaccurate. WOW!!! an inaccurate oral statement coming from the UW.

As an example of the Nonsense in UW College of Education, check a document you recommended for backgound:
Research that Matters 5: Taking Measure, Does Modern Math Education Add Up?

Consider the following collection of words without any accompanying data:

From the two page section "LEARNING on the Front Lines"
column 2 page 20 of the .pdf

The collaboration between UW faculty and classroom teach-
ers started in one urban high school {Garfield} where teachers were frustrated when 75-80 percent of their students received D’s and F’s in introductory math.

Teachers decided it was time to
update their teaching skills and find a curriculum that would
engage struggling students. Partnering with a team led by Horn and UW math professor Jim King, the high school teachers revamped the math program, adopted a new interactive curriculum {IMP proven failure in Tacoma SD and University Place SD less than 30 miles away from SPS} focused on problem-solving, and changed their methods of teaching. The UW team offers training and support to help implement the curriculum effectively, including graduate students in math education as in-school coaches.

One of those coaches is Nicole Davis, who teaches two ninth-
grade mathematics classes in another project school {Cleveland}, freeing up time for math teachers to meet, plan curriculum, discuss student needs and write group-worthy tasks that involve students in engaging but complex mathematical problems. Davis and the other teachers also observe in one another’s classrooms, team-teach, and fill in for one another during student conferences. It’s a model of shared thinking and collaboration, she says. “We model in our learning the ways we want our students to learn: no one of us alone is as smart as
all of us together
.”
-------------------------------

Where is the data??? to support the effectiveness of this.

Despite these huge interventions scores at Cleveland actually went down = WASL Spring 2006 to 2007 comparison. [ granted there was the remodel etc. and that 10th grade class is perhaps below the previous year's class in overall academic attitude]

At Garfield a highly motivated faculty with huge expensive interventions managed to achieve a slight improvement. Does anyone see a problem with believing this will work on a district wide implementation into the other 8 comprehensive high schools. Where the $4.2 million we spend on academic coaches largely at k-8 would pale in comparison to the $$$ needed to put the Garfield and Cleveland interventions district wide as the NSF will not be paying the tab on that one.

The above is fairly typical of:
a... UW research recommendations spun off without attribution analysis -- Scores went up slightly at Garfield yes; but given the expensive interventions it was in spite of the IMP curriculum not because of it.

b... The typical decision making of SPS math Admin thoughts will be based on Hot Air Spin: The UW research shows that IMP produces improvement in an urban setting and IMP is recommended as an Exemplary or Promising program on the US department of ED 1999 report.

The the bobble-heads nod saying:
we vote to follow what the administration recommends by a vote of 7-0 or 6-1 or 5-2.

As long as the powerful side continues to operate by still attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of a now outraged public, don't go looking for articles based on flawed research to end this confrontation ever.

Ghandi took 25 years to get the British out of India. We can get the UW COE nonsense out of the SPS it just may take a while.

The sane side (which of course is my side because it is based on the intelligent application of data) is in much better shape NOW than when I began my math bi-monthly testimony marathon on Jan 17, 2007.

If you wish to see some progress tell the board to tell the Supt. to actually implement the Board policies D44.00 and D45.00 instead of spending more dollars on consultants do the obvious.

We have a K-8 math disaster which underlies the 9-12 disaster.

The fact that IMP or Core-Plus are likely recommended adoptions indicates that our high school students are unprepared to do high school math. The UW response to kids failing high school level math needs to be to improve K-8 math not to eliminate high school level math grades 9-12.

Of course the UW cannot do the obvious of improving k-8 math, because SPS are currently using the ineffective recently adopted materials the UW recommended.

Blunder on -- Blunder on --

They NMAP recommends Authentic Algebra based on actual arithmetic skills but not exclusively so, just like the successful rest of the world uses.

More books by philosophically inspired Ed Researchers will not end this. Doing what successful nations do, might end this.

Look to NMAP not UW for answers.

Only fools listen to advisers that brought a decade of math destruction in hopes of making things better.

We are now far beyond fool me once fool me twice. Aren't we to "fool me 11 times shame on me?

dan dempsey said...

Correction to Anon at 6:13 PM

You said:
....Look no further, his cousin is the regional core plus consultant who authored the bogus study matching math programs to WASL test scores. He's the guy that sells core plus in this region. His study cites one reference - OSPI website.

It is even worse than you state this was not done by test scores it was done by alignment with the Failing Math Standards. The fact that Core-Plus, IMP, Connected Math, TERC/investigations and Everyday Math were judged in graet alignment with what OSPI wanted should not be confused with actual results.

kprugman said...

One of the reasons, people should object to the research done at the UW, MSU, and elsewhere are that the underlying assumptions are flawed. The Dana Center should not even be construed as doing accurate research.

For instance, the studies do not count the numbers of students who fail the program or leave before finishing the school year. The authors state emphatically, they would get poor results and nobody would want to read or use their papers. Isn't honest research what the public wants? Research should not be an end to itself. This has been going on for at least 30 years, so it is quite possible the National Math Panel is correct when they stated that 16,000 studies were reviewed and none qualified as significant research.

How can one even make comparisons of Core plus, IMP, ... when the methods, philosophy, and content are so different that you might just as well teach them as separate classes at the same high school. Indeed, some high schools are so confused that's exactly what they do.

Their math programs are so confusing, that students rarely succeed beyond math year 2. I hesitate to use algebra or geometry, because once again the standardized curriculum is hardly standard or traditional. Do you see where the confusion starts? Right at the beginning.

Standard really means non-standard. Let me be clear, that means no matter how hard the student tries to answer a test and succeeds, their methods won't count - if they do not use formal algebra, because that's what universities and colleges expect students to use after high school. Hence, the high numbers of students taking remedial first year algebra and pre-algebra (real numbers, not just whole or natural numbers).

Its really pathetic watching some high schoolers try to draw a number line. Integers anyone?

Even if you multiplied two numbers correctly using peasant multiplication (Everyday Math) - if the student showed their work - they would not be given full credit, because it is non-standard. Student did not know how to use the standard algorithm. Progressivists don't view this as unfair. The student learned a method for multiplying two numbers together. Its not the textbooks fault they learned a non-standard algorithm.

This is worse then a cynical attempt at teaching children, its repressive and dishonest.

Indeed, Core and IMP have nothing remotely resembling formal algebra. They have lessons that use algebraic reasoning or deductive logic, but the algebra taught is informal or uses non-standard methods, discovered with calculators?!!!

Kids raised on these textbooks, may be the first generation ever considered as something akin to primitive 'two-headed' cyborgs, humans psychologically married to their electronic counterpart - either a graphing calculator, cell phone, or a gameboy, your child gets to pick for free.

In conclusion, researchers only focus on classrooms where the programs appear to work most effectively. They justify this by saying that they are observing effective teachers, using effective curriculum, with students who are motivated to learn.

Why should one not be surprised that fuzzy math research can show at least average results every time they publish new research?

And it gets even better. None of the results can be verified by independent researchers.

The schools and classrooms are anonymous. The testimonials that get published are polished - in some cases, the authors are not even aware that their statements have been published or quoted out of context.

So is educational research mostly just a tool for propaganda or are they serious about research that matters? Its been privatized and that's as good as faked. NSF-EHM and Project 2061 should be repealed and eliminated permanently.

Educational research has succeeded at making a few people wealthy and at the expense of classroom learning.


So are we at an end to the Math War? Hardly, 'standardized' math is like the Phoenix - it continues to be reborn, again and again. So long as its advocates have control of funding and research, you will see bogus claims made year after year, by the exact same people. Didactic calculas anyone??? Hee hee. How much did the Delphi Oracle get paid to say that?

kprugman said...

You know, the traditional multiplication and long division algorithms take longer to learn and are more difficult to use, because they are algorithms that work for all numbers, not just whole numbers (3-4 years). The algorithms are relevant, because they require background information that is relevant to more advanced mathematical concepts.

Kids start learning these algorthims in the third and fourth grade (traditionally) because most kids don't achieve mastery until completing the sixth or seventh grade.

Everyday math doesn't introduce these algorithms until 6th grade. Most kids don't even have it taught to them, because middle school teachers for one, assume they've mastered the harder formal algorithms and besides their curriculum, unless its Saxon doesn't teach it.

So now the teacher is faced with the problem of having to create the curriculum in order to fix the problem and that takes time away from other instruction. Adding to the screwed up scenario, a dictarial, academically dishonest adminstrator and you are now in a classroom bordering on revolution.

Multiply the problem with each skill that hasn't been taught - for instance, fractions and all the topics that go with that one revolutionary concept in mathematics...

This list gets good and long.

Meanwhile, in core 1 we have students learning obsolete topics that have absolutely no relevance, especially to the WASL - for example, finding the volume and surface area of prisms. Also, a variation of educational statistics that was relevant back in the 1930's before my grandparents were in high school.

Have I got a surprise...if your hard up for a math class your senior year and you don't know algebra yet - you can take statistics. No one needs to know that you've had to fake your way through algebra all these years.

By avoiding algebra, if you wait until after high school, you will surely pay and the cost will be more than a remedial class at the UW - its tens of thousands dollars in lost opportunity costs for the first five years after high school.

You will most definitely extend your time in college and that is lost opportunity in the job market.

Without algebra, how would a student ever have ambitions of choosing a higher paying profession, like engineering.

So when I'm saying educational research has been dishonest in failing to provide accurate information to the public - its a cost that multiplies over time exponentially.

By failing to teach algebra and arithmetic to the majority of our students (80%) it is costing this country billions of dollars in lost opportunity costs - more than the GDP of Iraq, which by the way, is less than what it costs us every year to send troops to 'police?' the new capital of terrorism.

There is a limit to intelligence, but stupidity has no bounds.

kprugman said...

Lets be straight too - testimonials count as soft research.

Fifty years of reform math and no hard data - a mountain of data probably printed on enough paper to reach the moon and none of it can be verified. After global warming, I predict there will be a math meltdown.

Only, instead of people swimming in water, educrats will be building their raft out of rolled up twigs and locks of their hair. Why not name it SS School? If you put out on a sea of numbers, it probably won't sink right away but I wouldn't trust it to go beyond knee deep.

Gee my dog, Oracle, can paddle better than that. And well, don't most of us tread water anyway.

So lets hear it for the standardized math folks, aren't they great. They sure know how to educate people. Their approach to learning is so natural.

Oracle, we should suggest to Treisman or Briars that they call their new alternative to new, new math, Fibermath. It would alleviate some of the confusion. Just bark one time, if you agree with me.

kprugman said...

Lets not forget to balance the raft. Reform people, including my didactic super dog, get to stand in the bow for some fresh sea air. Everyone else get in the stern. Oops. Belay that.

Dan, you're always starting trouble, stop picking on the reform people and go back to the stern of the boat where you belong.

This boat isn't going to be balanced unless we have some discipline around here.

Look at that, Bergerson figured out how to float on a t...

Oh, we haven't left the dock yet and and my feet are wet. Its awfully crowded back here. What gives.

Fortunately the water's only ankle deep. Everyone has their life preservers on just in case it rains.

Thin man says its Oracle's turn to drive the boat.

Uri is so helpful.

He says, Oracle knows how to make this boat walk on water. And for a billion dollars, he'll show everyone else how to walk on water.

I get it. That's how we'll get this whole raft to float, by everyone floating on top of the raft, that's on top of the water. That's group effort. And that's good, right?

Now I understand, I've got to live another century to see it happen.

Briars says she only has 8 minutes and constructivist math is too complex to explain. Go ask Cobb.

Thin man says seeing is believing.

Okay, I don't want to miss this. Wake me up when Oracle is ready to drive and we can sail in water that's deeper than six inches.

dan dempsey said...

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Look Here for info on the
High School Math Adoption


School Board Work Session
on Wednesday 4-09-2008
from 4 PM to 5:30 PM
at JSCEE