Thursday, May 21, 2009

Interesting Editorial from the NY Times

The title of this editorial was Dropout Factories and naturally, it was about American high schools. Despite what we know in Seattle, there were still frightening stats.

"About one in five American students drops out of high school today, and there are some schools where students have only a 50-50 chance of getting a diploma."

But here's the kicker:

"To solve it, federal, state and local governments will all need to focus intensely on the relatively small number of troubled schools that produce a majority of the nation’s dropouts."

"According to Robert Balfanz, of Johns Hopkins University’s Everyone Graduates Center, just 12 percent of the nation’s 20,000 high schools account for half of the country’s dropouts and almost three-quarters of its minority dropouts.

Seriously? They know where the most troubled schools are that produce the majority of dropouts? Do Something! If ever the feds needed to trump states' rights on education, this would be it.

The editorial lays some blame at the feet of NCLB which had states creating dummy stats to meet requirements.

"A belated rule change issued last year will at last require the states to keep track of students from the time they enter high school to the day they get their diplomas — or leave school without one."

Washington state has been guilty of this crime. But, if you are desperate to meet NCLB, you might just drop those kids off the list. The problem is...they still exist and still aren't finishing high school.


owlhouse said...

The conversation re: the Alliance for Ed Breakfast speaks to this, but I wanted to connect the dots...

It does not seem all that surprising that we know where the largest percentage of drop-outs will occur. The data is consistent, high poverty is the biggest predicting factor in student success- including HS graduation. And that's where I get stuck. Why do we expect a school to be the solution to multi-generational societal ills? I'd really like to reframe the issue, so that we're not looking to schools as the sole agency responsible for correcting systemic neglect/inequity that impedes student (citizen) success. This expectation of schools (and teachers) as the great equalizer allows for the deflection of responsibility by other government/social agencies.

Until we recognize the role of schools has grown far beyond basic education, and respond with resources and structures aimed at full child/human development, we will not see a big improvement. An added bonus of updating our vision of public education could be a shift away from standardized tests as the primary measure of "successful schools" and student achievement. I don't have an ideal model in mind, but home-grown community schools, in partnership with city government, might be a good start.

dan dempsey said...

Owlhouse is on the money.

Example: I believe the first high school in the state to hit NCLB restructuring based on repeated failure to meet AYP was Toppenish High School.
Ethnicity (October 2007)
American Indian/Alaskan Native 15.1%Asian ... 0.2%
Hispanic . 80.8%White ... 3.8%

Special Programs
Free or Reduced-Price Meals (May 2008) 96.6%Special Education (May 2008) 11.7%
Transitional Bilingual (May 2008) 33.8%
Migrant (May 2008) 16.5%
So the solution is to fire the principal and fire the teachers and start over ??????

This school has a hard time finding teachers to work there.

Until we focus our attention on the fact that students are a greatly diverse group and the job is to provide the best education possible to each unique individual within the constraints of the resources available.....we will run in circles of confusion.

Only inexperienced naive fools, who need to get out more, wish to provide the same education for everyone.

The MG-J factory model, where class size is of no importance and where students are socially promoted because "Seattle Style" differentiated instruction can meet the needs of every child, is TOTAL NONSENSE.

I am really tired of the teacher needs further professional development because ..... they can not make this insane plan work.

Check the math data from Cleveland from Spring 2007 and Spring 2008... this is the UW led NSF funded PD^3 project in action. Looking at what happened with Black and English Language learners this program should have been shut down at the end of year two. Instead at the end of year three, Seattle will export all these ideas to all Seattle High Schools. The books will be the mathematically unsound "Discovering Series" instead of IMP but everything else is almost identical..... except Cleveland had way more resources from NSF funds.

The professional development and development of learning communities at Garfield, Cleveland and West Seattle was part of a three city, three university grant, that involved 9 high schools. The NSF EHR grant total for this is now $7.1 million......
Check those Cleveland math results..

WSHS had no project. Although WSHS math faculty were told by UW's Dr. James King (Spring 2007)that WSHS could choose any project .... our choice of remediating any mathematically unskilled 9th graders upon entrance with Singapore materials was turned down because Dr King wanted us to choose IMP. WSHS chose no project rather than more IMP nonsense.

Results for English Language learner math pass rates:* indicates PD^3 school project under UW direction.

2005 ... 10.3%
2006 ... 11.1%2007* ... 5.0%
2008* ... 0.0%
2005 .... 8.3%
2006 ... 18.8%2007* .. 15.4%
2008* ... 4.8%
West Seattle
2005 .... 7.1%
2006 .... 5.9%
2007 ... 16.7%
2008 ... 19.0%

In 2008 the Math ELL pass rate was 19.5% district-wide

dan dempsey said...


Cleveland showed great improvement in reading and writing but after 2 years of UW Math guidance in 9th grade and 10th grade the class of 2010 bombed the math WASL for grade 10 in 2008. Look Here:
http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/wasltrend.aspx?groupLevel=District&schoolId=1070&reportLevel=School&orgLinkId=1070&yrs=&gradeLevelId=10&waslCategory=1&chartType=1 So now Cleveland is to be a S.T.E.M. school ... well good luck with that .... then what? Do we need more UW guidance?

dan dempsey said...

Researchers can now predict as early as sixth grade which students are likely to leave school without diplomas. These children are often easy to reach because they feel bad about performing poorly in school and want desperately to succeed.So Seattle keeps kids and families confused with reform mathematics... clear example based instruction has shown positive results with disadvantaged learners ... so Seattle continually chooses reform math materials and the achievement gap grows.

A big congratulations to Directors Maier, Carr, Sundquist, and Chow for continuing Seattle's fine tradition of discrimination of disadvantaged learners in math.

NMAP "Foundations for Success"... which director Sundquist purports to have studied....finds...

pg xv: we found no research or insufficient research relating to a great many matters of concern in educational policy and practice. In those areas, the Panel has been very limited in what it can report.

A focused, coherent progression of mathematics learning, with an
emphasis on proficiency with key topics, should become the norm in
elementary and middle school mathematics curricula. Any approach that continually revisits topics year after year without closure is to be avoided. {that describes EveryDayMath}

Here is the part that Director Sundquist clearly missed in his NMAP reading:
pg xxiii #27)

Explicit instruction with students who have mathematical difficulties has shown consistently positive effects on performance with word problems and computation. Results are consistent for students with learning disabilities, as
well as other students who perform in the lowest third of a typical class.
By the term explicit instruction, the Panel means that teachers provide clear models for solving a problem type using an array of examples, that students
receive extensive practice in use of newly learned strategies and skills,
that students are provided with opportunities to think aloud (i.e., talk through the
decisions they make and the steps they take), and that students are provided with extensive feedback.
This finding does not mean that all of a student’s mathematics instruction should be delivered in an explicit fashion. However, the Panel recommends that struggling students receive some explicit mathematics instruction regularly. Some of this time should be dedicated to ensuring
that these students possess the foundational skills and conceptual
knowledge necessary for understanding the mathematics they are learning at their grade level.

{so SPS picks the "Discovering Series" with few examples and insufficient practice}

A major goal for K–8 mathematics education should be proficiency with fractions (including decimals, percent, and negative fractions), for such proficiency is foundational for algebra and, at the present time, seems to be severely underdeveloped. Proficiency with whole numbers is a necessary precursor for the study of fractions, as are aspects of measurement and geometry. These three areas—whole numbers, fractions, and particular aspects of geometry and measurement—are the Critical Foundations of Algebra.

{The SPS social promotes rather than bother with the above items.}
The Critical Foundations are not meant to comprise a complete
mathematics curriculum leading to algebra; however, they deserve
primary attention and ample time in any mathematics curriculum.
Computational proficiency with whole number operations is dependent on sufficient and appropriate practice to develop automatic recall of addition and related subtraction facts, and of multiplication and related division facts. It also requires fluency with the standard algorithms for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.[and EDM ignores standard algorithms]

SPS Math Plan to Nowhere...

dan dempsey said...


A critical component of this recommendation is that teachers be given ample opportunities to learn mathematics for teaching.

{Chinese teachers have two years post high school education ... they admit to learning a lot of the math content through the great books they teach from. These feature clear example based instruction ... meanwhile in the USA : Fife, University Place, & Peninsula received a $535,000 grant to teach elementary teachers about fractions, decimals, and percents}

In an attempt to improve mathematics learning at the elementary level, a number of school districts around the country are using “math specialist teachers” of three different types—math coaches (lead teachers), full-time elementary mathematics teachers, and pull-out teachers. However, the Panel found no high-quality research showing that the use of any of these types of math specialist teachers improves students’ learning.{ah yes another keystone of the SPS math plans supported by Vaporware research}

Federal Court calls ... I'll see if I can make this ongoing discrimination charge stick.

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