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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Walk to Math Follow-Up

Fellow activist Dorothy Neville went deeper after the discussion around Walk to Math and penned this thread.

I'd like to follow-up on the Walk-to-Math issue that I brought up at a recent Open Thread. I had heard Anna-Maria dela Fuente tell the board that Walk-to-Math was not ability grouping across classrooms, but rather students being instructed by a math specialist instead of their classroom teacher. Since I know some schools implement math instruction in ways that violate that, I gave the head's up.
I have now contacted Anna-Maria. We corresponded in email and spoke on the phone. I can now clarify the situation as far as I know it.
First, Anna-Maria did not deny my version of the May 4th Worksession, but said that it wasn't the whole picture. In particular, she pointed out to me that she doesn't make policy. So a lesson learned for her is that when she is speaking with the board or public, she needs to be clearer on that. There is no district wide policy on methods of math instruction involving walking. And as we all know, the board sets policy, so if there is to be such a policy, it would come from the board. Anna-Maria, however, is firm in her belief that distributing kids to different classrooms based on ability level often increases the achievement gap. The issue, she said is that when students are below grade level standards and are clumped together, sometimes the tendency is to teach them the standards of the lower grade level instead of accelerating them up to grade level standards. I completely agree that that is a terrible thing. I disagree with the notion that one is more likely to encounter that with across-classroom ability grouping than with in-class differentiation. Both scenarios have the possible pitfall of the kids at the bottom not getting their needs met, not getting targeted intervention. 

Other concerns that we both share. How do we keep kids from self-labeling themselves as bad at math? Anna-Maria seems to think this is another major pitfall of walk-to-math ability grouping. But she also admitted that it is more pervasive, that no matter what, kids seem to self-identify themselves as kids who cannot learn math. I agree that this is an issue with our larger culture and school culture and no matter what sort of differentiation strategy we use, we have to figure out ways to overcome this. Again though, I think that early and targeted arithmetic mastery intervention will allow more kids to accelerate their mastery of conceptual work up to (and beyond) grade level. 

We briefly touched on curriculum (which could have been a whole conversation and more). There are places where we agree and disagree. I said that the targeted interventions must include (or focus on) mastery of skills. Anna-Maria disagreed. Her example however, from her time teaching in a high poverty district, is that 9th graders would arrive with very little math knowledge because year after year all they got was worksheets to work on basic skills. She stated that kids needed access to real math, to more challenging work. Now I completely agree that her scenario is dreadful and must be eliminated. But it doesn't disagree with my claim, it simply shows that tracking with low expectations is unconscionable. 

My anecdote is completely different. I tutor kids who are in our current curriculum and being taught grade level work. But because they haven't been required to master arithmetic skills, the conceptual work frustrates and confuses them. I spoke of a 7th grade girl who wanted to move from regular math into honors math, ie, take algebra 1 in 8th grade. I worked with her over the summer and much to her dismay, I did not start teaching her algebra or pre-algebra. I first determined her level of fluency with factoring; the curriculum is weak on this and I consider it key. She was dreadful. This was a rising 8th grader who had always gotten decent grades in math, but could not accurately and fluently factor a two digit number. So for 6 weeks, that's what we did. Finally, she could take two numbers of any number of digits and find both their GCF and LCM. I do believe that the key to algebra is fluency with prime factorization and GCF/LCM. She did well in 8th grade algebra and her teacher reported to me that she was fast with understanding the new concepts, sometimes the fastest. Did she love our summer together of drill, baby, drill? No. But she was motivated to move to honors, she trusted my judgment that this work would help and she knew it was just for the summer. 

Again, back to curriculum, I suggested that the district mandated curriculum is too weak in mastery of skills. Well, that's a can of worms that we didn't get into, but Anna-Maria disagreed. But Anna-Maria said that often elementary school teachers are not strong in the math content area. So they simply plow through the curriculum they have, without having the knowledge or confidence to know what to emphasize and how to make the curriculum work for their students. I think that this is valid and is most likely valid no matter the curricular materials the teachers have. (But I do think our particular math adoptions exacerbate the problems, but that's another whole discussion.) To combat that, the district is providing week long math content professional development for elementary school teachers this summer. I think (from my notes from May 4th) that there are 330 elementary school teachers signed up and 70 on a waiting list. 

Anna-Maria also thinks highly of employing math specialists. This can be a distinct math specialist working in the school, or a scenario where kids move to a classroom of someone who is stronger in math instruction for math, while that class of students is taught science or something else by a different teacher. She definitely thinks that those are two better scenarios than walk-to-math by ability grouping. I pointed out that I had heard at a previous meeting that was discouraged or problematic because of using MAP scores to identify effective teachers. If kids moved to a different classroom or were taught by a specialist, who would get credit for those kids' growth (or flagged for lack of growth)? She didn't think that was an issue, but we didn't dig into it and I cannot recall the event or which staff person had brought up the issue. 

But she wants to know more. In particular, Peter Maier has asked for a board workshop focusing on walk-to-math. So, did I know of schools where it was working? Well, as I have a 17 year old, I do not have direct current knowledge of elementary schools but have heard people praising various school models. One neighbor told me that their walk-to-math employed flexible grouping (which Anna-Maria agrees could be beneficial, but is certainly more of an organizational challenge). I heard that the groupings change for the different math topics that are covered throughout the year. She said she would follow up to get more information.

Now I do not like the use of student test scores to identify effective teachers, because I think that the science shows that is just not reliable. But I do like using information to guide decision-making.  I pointed out that Mark Teoh defended MAP because -- even though parents and teachers are pointing out that it is not useful to inform instruction and teachers already use assessments that do -- it is the one assessment that is district wide and can compare across schools. I said that I found that frustrating because even though the district already gets that sort of analysis from the state, the "Beating the Odds" schools that do much better than predicted based on their demographic, we never seem to use that information. She recalled, as I did, Brad Bernatek presenting the chart with the schools that Beat the Odds in math.  Identifying the schools was only the first step and that what should have happened next was someone researching the schools that performed much better than expected and the schools that performed worse than expected and use that information to help schools improve. If I were on the board, that's exactly the kind of math workshop I would want. What schools are identified with doing better than predicted on Math achievement, what are they doing and how can we replicate it? Wouldn't that be so much better than an abstract discussion of tracking, ability grouping and walk-to-math instruction? 

63 comments:

From Waldon Pond said...

If you don't group kids by ability are you going to let those that a behind flounder while you teach to the higher achievers or are you going to let the higher achievers wither away while you teach to those with less ability?

Anonymous said...

My questions are in the same vein as Waldon Pond's - I don't understand what the word "tracking" means in eduspeak, and why it is a terrible thing. I also don't know why teaching kids who aren't at grade level (which to me means they haven't learned the standards from a previous grade) the standards from a previous grade is a bad thing. Yes, it would be best to cram lots of learning into one year and get them up to grade level, but don't they have to have the skills from the previous grade before they can be successful on new material? You need to have mastered the previous level skills to be successful in math, as in any other area.

Teaching standards from a previous year, or working on remedial skills doesn't have to equate to kids getting nothing more than worksheets every day. That sounds like a really boring de-motivating presentation, not inappropriate subject matter.

Sure, kids feel bad if they are in remedial math - and no matter what name you give it, they will figure out what it is. But the kids who aren't doing well in a group with more capable kids also feel bad (that's where we are at our house). To tell you the truth, the MAP test scores have helped ameliorate some of the "I'm bad at math" talk for my kid, becuase he can see his scores improving over time. Not just % of current expectations wrong, or comparing himself with other kids in a mixed ability classroom.

Math Mom

Anonymous said...

Ana Maria is a complete idiot. Is that clear? She will look decades of solid data debunking her social promotion mythology in the face and say, "I disagree."

Look at the Discovery/EDM Scores, Ana Maria! It does not work. Not only does it not work, it fails miserably on the kids you're supposedly so concerned about. Her solution? More coaches. More experts. More dollars.

This idealogue cannot be persuaded by facts and must be fired as soon as possible. She was the key, unwavering advocate for the adoption of Discovery Math in the face of all of the research and date that said it stinks, including our own State's Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

But she is nice and poised before the board, who lapped up all her nonsense and adopted the crap we fight over every night at the dinner table.

She is wrong, wrong, WRONG about how to teach math, and cannot even explain how teachers are supposed to do it. Hence, her reliance on experts and coaches to bail out her wrong-headed theories.

Let's talk about accountability, indeed: Get rid of this flat earther. Her policies are hurting kids and families every day, day after day. Enough already.

I agree with others who are tired of hearing "tracking" as the boogeyman. Kids who can do Algrebra belong in Algebra. Kids who can't, don't. That's life. We are not helping our kids by constantly telling them they are just as good as Johnny at math, when they aren't. Instead, we are lying to them and giving them and excuse not to work harder, leaving them further and further behind.

Look at the data. It couldn't be any clearer.

WSEADAWG

Anonymous said...

Some additional reading on the tracking debate-

http://www.joannejacobs.com/2011/05/the-new-tracking/

mirmac1 said...

Dorothy,

Will you teach my daughter math? As an engineer, I'm sure I could but I don't have the patience. That's why I have so much admiration for teachers!

Charlie Mas said...

Professional educators who gasp in horror at "tracking" can sometimes be strong advocates of "skills-based grouping". To us, there's no difference.

The difference, when there is one, lies in mobility. If students can move among the groups - from low performing to at standard to high performing or the other way - then it's okay. If the groupings are rigid and there's no mobility among the groups then it is bad.

Tracking sounds more permanent - and it often is. The very word sounds predictive.

Skills-based grouping, on the other hand, sounds much more ad hoc and temporary.

The actual fact, of course, is that the mobility among groups isn't determined by the name of the system, it is determined by the people operating it.

Anonymous said...

I think one basic flaw in the school system is that we teach to MINIMUM standards. All of our standards are MINIMUM standards. Our teachers "teach to the test" because the minimum standards measured by the tests are the standards by which the teacher's ability will be measured. So everything in our school system is based on minimum. Why aren't we striving for maximum? Why aren't we trying to take our students past the minimum? Why is it that math tutors and reading tutors (or specialists as they like to be called) work with students who are struggling or behind grade level only until they meet the minimum standard? Why can't they work with those students until they are ahead, maybe only just a bit, but ahead enough to give them a feeling of accomplishment and faith in their abilities to continue their ability to learn without the tutor? You can bet that countries who are ahead of us in terms of education and academic achievement don't settle for minimum standards.

The Favorite One

Charlie Mas said...

Just a few words about Ms delaFuente and her perspective as she has described it to me.

She believes that the inquiry-based / student-led / discovery math is a better way for students to learn math. That's her belief. I have a different belief.

She acknowledges the disappointing outcomes that Seattle students have experienced with EDM and CMP2. She attributes the under-performance to low quality of instruction. She thinks that there are a lot of teachers in the district who just don't teach math very well. Consequently, she is a big fan of the version of "walk to math" that puts more students in front of an effective math teacher for math instruction.

Let's be clear. There was no attribution analysis done to determine the root cause of these specific disappointing outcomes. While she attributes it to poor instructional quality, she has no data to support that conclusion. Others could attribute the poor outcomes to the instructional strategy (as opposed to the execution of that strategy) and they would have only slim evidence to support their contention.

That said, if our teachers are weak, then why choose an instructional strategy that is beyond their meager abilities?

Ironically, the inquiry-based math was initially introduced, in part, because it was supposed to be easier for teachers - particularly those who were themselves weak on the math concepts. Makes me want to ask the Dr. Phil question: "How's that working out for you?"

Any fair analysis of the data would lead reasonable people to the conclusion that it doesn't matter what part of the EDM/CMP/Discovery system isn't working - the strategy or the execution; either way the system isn't working. We need to mark this experiment as a failure and try something else. Singapore math appears very promising. Direct instruction has also worked well and, with some tweaks, could work better.

As for the contentious tracking/skills-based grouping question, the key isn't how the students are divided. The key is that the students working below grade level get the support they need to quickly accelerate their skill acquisition.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anonymous@10:33 and Charlie for a little more info on "tracking." I can see why putting people into tracks from which they can't escape would be a bad idea. But it sure does make sense to offer Pre-Algebra, then Algebra I and so on in high school so students have a chance to start at an appropriate level, have some success, and then move up! I guess that's what would be called ability grouping instead.

Math Mom

Anonymous said...

This is indeed a challenge. At TAF Academy our middle school students did very well on the problem solving portion of the tests--mainly because we put a lot of emphasis on that particular skill overall which is easy to do in a project based environment--and very poorly on the computation portion.

We tried a number of things that were successful for some, but not really worth the effort because they weren’t successful for the majority of students.

We came up with a solution we believe is the ticket--Onsite Tutoring. Of course it costs $$, but we’re not going to solve these problems for free.

We have a block schedule. Electives are rotated every 6 weeks. If students are struggling in math (we know what "struggling" is based on their assessments) they are assigned to the Onsite Tutoring instead of their elective. We don't keep kids more than 3 6 week rotations. The students are taught by tutors in groups of 4-6 and are grouped based on their math gaps. They are assessed at the end of each class. The tutors communicate daily with the classroom teachers. If gaps are closed before the 6 weeks are up, then they are taught ahead.

The district computation test (basically the equivalent of MAP in Seattle) results from the three tests September, January and April are pretty astonishing. 6th graders went from 59% passing to 80%, 7th graders went from 31% passing to 92% and 8th graders went from 23% passing to 76% (they only get tested Sept and Jan).

Essentially we were able to give the kids more time without adding more time to the school day. By the end of July we'll have a full case analysis completed and we'll publish it. But I'll have to tell you it's a huge relief to have this piece tackled 'cause we certainly have other things to work on.

Anonymous said...

Your example of on-site tutoring - which seems comparable to flexible ability grouping - shows that it works! So using this model, kids of various abilities could rotate through enrichment or supportive tutoring without "tracking."

For an elementary school, could the same thing be done by incorporating it into PCP time?

I'm looking forward to the final report. Thanks, Trish.

SPS parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, thank you Trish because it's great to hear what other schools are doing and their outcomes.

Anonymous said...

SPS Parent, I believe it can be done in the elementary school during the PCP time (if I understand that right as the flexible time). In fact, we offer our TechStart program at White Center Heights Elementary(Highline) to 2 5th grade classrooms, 3 periods a week and it's during their flex time.

Charlie Mas said...

What's working at TAF is combination of common sense ideas.

1. Identify stuggling students

2. Give those students targeted support.

3. Provide the support in an intensive setting (small groups).

4. Direct the support towards quickly bringing the student's work up to the Standard and ending the support.

This is PRECISELY the sort of early and effective interventions that Seattle Public Schools (and every other school) should be providing. Unfortunately, the District gathers the data but does not act on it.

Tracking or skills-based grouping is only necessary when there are students who are working behind. When every student is prepared to do the grade level work, then all of the students can be taught together. The advanced students can focus on depth and breadth more than simply acceleration. They can pursue a deeper understanding of the concepts and explore a greater variety of contexts in which the concepts are applied.

StopTFA said...

Some of these students will be walking to a TFA "math teacher". I'm curious how the hell a TFA-er can become a Special Educator expert in behavioral disorders in five weeks....

TFA's projected staffing at SPS

Write to the School Board and ask whether they know anything about this. Is this another case of staff blowing smoke up their...nostrils?

WenD said...

@WSEADAWG: Word. My daughter is an EDM Survivor. I'm not being overly dramatic when I say this. Grades 2 to 5 were a wash out, thanks to a "spiral" of poor examples, confusing materials, and lack of mastery. There's that word. By grade 6, our district (Northshore) decided to dump EDM. Our teacher devoted 90 minutes a day to math and had help, a parent volunteer who was also a math teacher. It took class time, one on one, after school help, and reinforcement at home to help my daughter basically recover and learn what she was capable of learning all along. EDM was confusing. Her teacher admitted as much. The other factor that held her back was the peer pressure of the table group, you know, that group of kids you're supposed to "collaborate with" to solve the math problems of the world. There was no way my already defeated 5th grader was going to raise her hand and admit she needed help, not with a group of kids who either got it or were pretending to understand. She would've welcomed whatever Ms. Del la Fuente calls tracking if it meant she had materials that made sense and support in mastering things like fractions and division. Needless to say, we found EDM to be equally obtuse, which didn't give our child the confidence to solve problems the old school way. Today she's at grade level, thanks to a year of recovery. Her favorite math materials? Saxon. Her older sister, who truly loves math, swears by Prentice Hall. This was the book her 6th grade teacher was secretly supplementing EDM with before the end of the year. She'll tell you it helped her score high enough to be placed in Honors Math. You can have excellent teachers who are held back by crap. You can have a teacher weak in math who will follow the lesson plan and wisely call in extra help and quitely forget about Fact Triangles and just do fractions drill because it works.

I'm curious. How many math grades has Ms. Del la Fuente worked with? How much classroom experience does she have? I like the way Ms. Dziko helps her students. My daughter would've enjoyed the learning environment in TAF.

dan dempsey said...

It is increasingly clear that for AMdF "Club Ed" ideology trumps everything. This is the UW CoE line of nonsense that she promotes. The CoE Math Education Project "assistance" was a complete disaster at Rainier Beach.

Amazing to me AMdF is able to sell this line of "It's the teachers fault". The Math scores are dropping in SPS and in Bethel ... are the teachers getting worse over time? At Rainier Beach do Kim Lessig and Mike Rice and Glenda Madison not know their math?

I believe Anna Maria has an undergrad degree in English from Cal Berkeley and buys all the math nonsense required to be in a UW PhD Education program.

Seattle continues to follow a failing ideology .... and blame teachers for their inability to make defective programs work.

The UW unleashed a math disaster upon Cleveland and then unleashed one on Rainier Beach .... these provided huge amounts of professional Development with disastrous results.

============
The school board policies as we see from Promotion /Non-promotion are not followed for huge amounts of time and then changed to say little and require even less.

dan dempsey said...

I really like what Trish had to say.

Consider this.... I spent a year teaching in a middle school program at a 7th/8th ungraded middle school.

60-64 student in our classroom with two teachers and a full-time para-professional. We did a whole group activity to start each day... then went into ability groups ... these groups were redetermined every 5 weeks.

We had the exact situation Trish mentioned in the afternoon where students in need would attend a tutorial.

This worked incredibly well.

I should mention we were on an alternating day schedule with 97 minute classes for math, science, Language Arts, and Social studies.

Anonymous said...

A-M has an undergrad degree in English and Masters in Ed. Yet, according to her bio, has taught middle school and high school math.

Don't you need a math endorsement of some kind to teach HS level math?

Dan?

dan dempsey said...

Before the high school math adoption, I made text books from the Mind Research Institute available to Rosalind Wise & Linda Host & Harium & Sherry Carr. These were a one year intervention to prepare students for algebra.

Here is that Algebra Readiness System.

This is a one year course to teach all the content covered in grades 2 through 7 in math. It also includes game software that needs to be used for at least 50 minutes per week.

I see Mind now has a similar offering for some type of secondary intervention.

Dr. Stephen Wilson, of Johns Hopkins, carefully reviewed all of the material in "Mind's" Algebra readiness system before Mind Published it. Dr. Wilson was one of the mathematicians employed by Strategic Teaching that rated "Discovering" mathematically unsound for the State Board of Education .... all this was known to Sherry Carr and she voted for the "Discovering" adoption .... just like Chow, Maier, and Sundquist.

----------
Clearly dumping unprepared students into Algebra I .... did not work ... but it was so much easier than actually intervening at the 9th grade level.

OSPI annual test results for Black students grade 10
pass rate
2007 19.6%
2008 16.0%
2009 16.3%
2010 12.5%

Here is the info on level 1
far below basic and no score
for Black students.

year - Level1 - no score - total
2007 -45.1- 18.0 - 63.1
2008 -55.5- 14.9 - 70.4
2009 -52.0- 16.5 - 68.5
2010 -59.0-- 9.8 - 68.8

For Black 10th grade students
65 to 70% are math clueless on OSPI annual testing

(and Anna Maria is still tinkering and the Board is still doing nothing)

dan dempsey said...

Don't you need a math endorsement of some kind to teach HS level math?

It all depends on when the teaching was done. The requirement for No Child Left Behind ... highly qualified status came in at some point but there were various ways to get that qualification.

Currently 45 qtr. hours will get one HQ status in math. Any collegiate math credits will do. Sometimes Ed methods in math are listed as math credits depending on the course and institution.

Nick said...

All this talk of homogeneous math class has destroyed all math programs in South East Seattle. When I move into the Rainer Beach neighborhood it had math magnet program. Since then we have tried numerous educational strategies, to my knowledge none have worked. My solution would be: to simply offer rigorous math classes that have both behavioral and academic standards. Students that fail to meet the standards are quickly moved out. I am extremely tiered of listening to yet another solution, given by an overpaid and under qualified expert. The net result is that even those that wish to study math have no program to go to.

none1111 said...

WSEADAWG got up feisty this morning!

And I absolutely agree with every single word in your post. Everything from Anna Maria is a complete idiot. to Kids who can do Algrebra belong in Algebra. Kids who can't, don't. That's life. We are not helping our kids by constantly telling them they are just as good as Johnny at math, when they aren't. Instead, we are lying to them and giving them and excuse not to work harder, leaving them further and further behind.

I'll take it one small step further. I think most people agree that when kids fall behind, some form of intervention is desired. In a way, ability grouping is the simplest form of intervention. It's the best way to make sure those kids that are struggling get some extra attention at an appropriate level. What could be better to ensure they learn the material?! In fact, if we don't do ability grouping, we are purposely leaving them to founder and fall behind.

The truth of the matter is that for some kids math is going to take more time and effort, just as with most subjects or skills, including art or PE. In some cases, ability grouping can be temporary, to get through some particular hurdle, and a child might be able to move up to the next group. But when it doesn't come easily, either a student is motivated to work a bit harder than other kids, or they will continue to fall behind, and at some point (particularly without ability grouping) they will flat out be too far behind to keep up, and they'll be lost forever. This is an ongoing occurrence in SPS and it's dreadful.

none1111 said...

Oops, my previous post was written right after WSEADAWG's, but didn't get posted. Meanwhile many other great comments have appeared.

Trish, what you guys are doing is awesome. It makes perfect sense, and the results are plain as day. Charlie's 1/2/3/4 assessment is spot on as well.

Can we not take this model and bring it into SPS? Is there anyone that can take the reins and be a champion for this model? Perhaps we should all start pitching it to the current and aspiring Board members. I know I will. No matter what your philosophical beliefs are about math instruction, results are results!

I fear that Anna Maria is a lost cause, but the board is at least in a position to encourage staff to consider something along these lines.

dan dempsey said...

none 1111 wrote:

I fear that Anna Maria is a lost cause, but the board is at least in a position to encourage staff to consider something along these lines.

I agree that Anna Maria is a lost cause.... check the data ... more tinkering is hardly a solution while maintaining the same failing approach.

Anna Maria disregarded NMAP and brought in Greta B to address the Board to push "Discovering" series and cover up "mathematically unsound" ... Anna Maria is still wrong-way all ahead full.

The Board may be in a position to do lots of things .... but this is hardly what the board has ever done. Check the recent Non-promotion policy revision.... This Board appears to be running away from any academic responsibility as rapidly as possible. I am hardly looking for the Board to stop on a dime and rapidly turn around ... The Board's well established direction of programmed academic dysfunctional decision-making will likely be maintained.
=========

Anna Maria needs to get a clue when an $800,000 text adoption with $400,000 in professional development lowers scores ... do not blame the teachers ... look in the mirror.

Bird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bird said...

Anna-Maria disagreed. Her example however, from her time teaching in a high poverty district, is that 9th graders would arrive with very little math knowledge because year after year all they got was worksheets to work on basic skills.

I appreciate hearing about her past experience working with a system that was failing for students.

But I can't help but notice that the current system, her system, is also failing students in large numbers. It makes any of her arguments appear very, very unconvincing.

I, too, appreciate hearing Trish's experiences. She describes exactly the sort of interventions I'd like to see more of in SPS.

Anonymous said...

It's pretty sad state of affairs in SPS when Trish Dziko's Common Sense 101 sounds like a great, new idea to the readers of this blog.

1. Kids need extra help 2. You give them extra help 3. They catch up

For the love of God, is this news?
Unfortunately, it is (in SPS) when money goes to coaches rather than warm bodies who actually have to teach small groups of students.

Kids can catch up somewhat independently in reading when they have a basic proficiency to start
with. They don't catch up in math without instruction.

Was Susan Enfield MIA or what when she was CAO? What did she do to help underachieving students?

I'd love to know

BL said...

The personnel report attached to the April 6 board meeting agenda shows that Anna Maria DeLaFuente is leaving SPS on Sept 1.
True?

Dorothy Neville said...

I've been away from computer all day (what a concept!) but am back now and appreciate the discussion. Thanks to all and especially thanks to Trish, because your methods are exactly what make sense to me.

As for the concern that: well, if they are behind, they need to meet the previous year's standards first, don't they? My response is that in math, that's not really the case. There is so much spiralling and so much fluff to the standards that really there is just a core of knowledge and skills needed to do well in higher math. Really, all kids need is solid skills mastery of arithmetic. With solid mastery of arithmetic, the conceptual understanding of higher math will be much easier to grasp. Without solid mastery of the basics, the conceptual stuff just won't happen.

Example. When you drive, do you consciously think about how to brake? Do you every time have to remember that it involves a FOOT, or which FOOT or where exactly do you have to place that foot and with what pressure? No! If that wasn't an automatic skill, there is no way you would be able to drive, to use your higher order thinking to navigate traffic, to follow written directions to a new destination. Same with math. If you want to teach kids how to add fractions with unlike denominators, but they are not fluent in prime factoring, then you are stuck. If students are truly fluent in factoring, then they will be able to grok the equivalences of different ways of writing a fraction and they will be able to understand (and perhaps even discover themselves!) the hows and whys of adding fractions.

So, kids are behind in conceptual understanding? Swift intervention with the goal of accelerating progress with skills mastery, along with tying in the new concepts is key. Ability grouping where the teacher or the school does not work toward that goal WILL result in kids getting further and further behind. Ability grouping where under-performing kids know they are temporarily in an accelerated program to ensure they master some fundamentals ought to get most kids up to speed (some with special needs might require specialized intervention).

Kids can understand that, especially if they know that it is temporary and is just overcoming a deficit.

Regarding MAP scores helping student overcome feeling of not being good at math. I have the same experience with my son and the JHU PLUS assessment (taken at 5th grade, normed for 8th grade). He did Very Well on that, even though he hated math and thought he stunk at it. Seeing his score did help. Then I helped further by homeschooling math for a year and first semester we ignored math -- he took an on-line course in logic instead.

"Kids can catch up somewhat independently in reading when they have a basic proficiency to start
with. They don't catch up in math without instruction." YES! That's it in a nutshell.

Anonymous said...

Former teacher says....

As somebody who has known de la Fuente I can confirm that she had/has an excellent reputation as a teacher, was at RB for a few years, taught overall for about 8 years, and that the educational organization she ran has reportedly suffered since her leaving. Admittedly I'm less pro-reform, but as to those who challenge her personal teaching abilities it's not fair to remain silent for such anonymous ad hominem attacks. Know that if in the future your child has her as a teacher you can consider yourself and your children as lucky, regardless of differences of opinion on district/regional math policy.

Coaches - yes, can them all... both district staff and especially the very expensive consulting company coaches. Although a few are good, many were not even very good teachers to begin with. Many liked the idea of not having to grade homework/tests while considering the higher pay as a "who could pass this up" bonus. The compromise for a coach is one has to stick dogmatically to district pro-reform agendas. Hopefully the current economics will put an end to the coaching experiment (although there are some federal $ involved which can be spent on coaching but not classroom supplies - go figure!).

Charlie/Melissa - can you start a separate thread on a semi-related topic that I have heard a lot about lately. Indeed, today I met a teacher friend that theoretically now confirms 3 local districts supposedly practicing the technique of giving negative evaluations to older (read "non-reform" and/or expensive) teachers to help force them out as a combo cost-saving/pro-reform move. Ok, I did hear one person state it's maybe just the in-vogue principal technique to deflect leadership concerns by blaming it on the teachers. Can't wait to see the next round of science/math teacher shortages once the economy recovers if this is really the new district/principal technique to shift the blame. (Of course there are a few teachers past their prime, but all inexperienced newbies is just a different problem, not a teacher quality solution). Would love to hear parent responses to see if this is being seen in the schools or is just rampant speculation.

Anonymous said...

My child's principal at a Tier 5 school told me today that Exec Dirs' that are young and inexperienced are NOT an ideal situation. I respect this person for confiding this in me.

Mr. Ed

Bird said...

What the heck are "very expensive consulting company coaches"?

Anonymous said...

Bird,

Would you consider math coaches whose contract rate exceeds $1,000 per day as an appropriate expense? Some are even $2K/day although I don't know if Seattle is still using coaches at that rate. Some local districts still are.

former teacher

StepJ said...

Dorothy,

Thank you for following up on the allowables of Walk to Math.

It is a debate my school is currently going through, so appreciate the specifics.

Erin said...

Dorothy or anyone else in the know - Who are these "Math Specialists" that Ms. De La Fuente refers to? At our school, the FTE's and discretionary budget is so slim and enrollment so high, there is no money for a math specialist or a reading specialist. There simply aren't enough teachers to support her idea of "walk to math," even if it had merit (which it doesn't).

Linh-Co said...

I took one of these professional development training classes offered by SPS math coaches from Anna-Maria delaFuente's department. Very little content was addressed - mostly mind-numbing values were espoused. There were discussions about the process being more important than the correct answers, and questioning whether we should even care about correct answers. Standard algorithms were thought to hinder understanding because student's didn't "own their learning" and similar eduspeak drivel.
One of the facilitators (math coach) thought that 7 x 10^3 was 2100. And he was teaching elementary teachers how to teach math. These are the coaches who consider themselves experts.

Anna-Maria delaFuente is a lovely lady and was well liked as a teacher. I think she even adopted or fostered one of her students. However, I don't know if she produced any results in math. Her choices don't bode well for our students.

Anonymous said...

If you get a chance to listen to the testimony during the vote to adopt the "Discovering..." disaster books, you might notice a code, a language, a jargon used by GretaB, AMDef, Ginny Stimpson ... and it is a theoretical math nirvana jargon used by the current Sup, the ex Sup, Rosilind Wise & Carla Santorno and countless others I've heard over the years.

There are endless horror stories about drill and kill killing the spark to pursue the Great Thoughts, and, of course the newest new math is failing because all the teachers learned their theology under the old theology and they're not trained in the new theology therefore they can't implement it!

I'll tell you 1 of the biggest problems with mastering ANY set of basic rules or basic procedures or basic anything - it is NOT an endless loop of Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street! It is practice and ... practice ... and tough, get over it, grow up.

Give any decent math teacher 100 kids who can manipulate fractions to decimals to percents, who can manipulate positive & negative numbers, who can handle order of operations - and who aren't any good with more complex conceptual problems - and a decent math teacher can make some progress with conceptual complex problems WHILE teaching them the more complex algorithms which took humans thousands of years to perfect.

When kids do NOT have those basic skills, the complex problems flounder. AND, when your curriculum is predominantly complex problems, these kids turn into a bunch of kids who think, feel and believe they're dumb - when they just need to master the basics, AND then the complex stuff will work a little better for them.

Sadly, if you need to keep your mortgage paid and you're NOT in the classroom, and you're in math education policy, you better excel in the jargon of theoretical math nirvana.

You Probably No-Me

Somewhat anonymous said...

In my naivete, I actually contacted GretaB at OSPI just shocked, shocked that Seattle was not following the state math standards (you know, teaching standard algorithms and the like) and wondered what recourse a parent had.

One person I talked to said districts usually contact them with help in trying to meet the standards (as opposed to actively avoiding them).

Who knew they were all in cahoots. The adoption of the Discovering text, with none other than GretaB, brought it to light for me.

It's maddening I tell you.

Anonymous said...

LinCo and You Probably No Me are dead on. Sorry to offend by calling AMDLF an idiot, but I stand by it. I never said she wasn't nice, nor didn't believe in what she was pushing. But she is flat out deaf, dumb and blind to the outcomes and the damage her relentless, high-minded, pie-in-the-sky theories are causing.

She may be a fine English teacher, but she does not know math. The scores and her advocacy prove it. Over and over.

All of her arguments given in support of the new math are theoretical and smack of "yes we can, if only" idealism, while the reality of "new math" is a train wreck that any reasonable person can plainly see.

Look no further than what the countries who are excelling in math are studying: Traditional Math, not this junk.

While I'm sure I'd be happy with AMDLF as a neighbor or fine arts teacher, she flat out stinks at math and should be counseled out like any other "bad teacher."

Sadly, nothing she said to the board supported the discovery materials adoption. I was shocked as AMDLF talked over and over again about "extra support" and "coaches" and "math specialists" that were necessary to teach discovery, which had me thinking: Holy Cow! If it takes that much extra time, money and effort to teach this crap, why aren't its obvious shortcomings self-evident to this board?

To me, every one of AMDLF's arguments in support of DiscMath were reasons NOT to adopt it. She was basically telling the board: "It won't work without all the extras" and yet, the board just bobbled their heads and rubber stamped as usual.

So, in the end, it wasn't just AMDLF who was an idiot, but the idiots on the board who voted in favor of paying 25 million for a jalopy curriculum.

Idiots, or just stooopid? Take your pick.

WSEADAWG

Anonymous said...

re: Walk to Math, from the C&I meeting this week:

June 1st Board meeting will have a Walk to Math update by MdFuente, but apparently the new Super. limits updates to 5 minutes.

The June 27th C&I meeting will have a longer report and C&I committee discussions about W2M from MdFuente. Peter Maier requested that she cover which schools are currently using W2M, which strategies they are using, etc.

SP

Tutored A Lot said...

I hear a lot of complaints about EDM, which my child uses(5th grade) and I have tutored in the classroom for several years. I find that EDM does all the usual math and then some. I know parents and teachers hate it and think it doesn't teach the "basics", but I don't find that to be true. It also gives kids many different ways to learn, which is the goal, I believe. I know kids who consistently use the lattice method for multiplication and, yes, it's wierd, but I don't see the problem. If kids are going into engineering or science, they will learn the other stuff. If not, they can figure out how many fence boards they need or whatever people do in normal life using lattice or partial quotient mmethods. Fractions to decimals to percentage is done over and over in EDM, I don't know if the posters have actually seen the material. Ya, some kids have a hrd time with it, but some kids can't do regular old school math. I find it almost comical the number of parents who can't understand 3rd or 4th grade EDM and therefore ridicule it as useless. It's different, for sure, but it is math. I have noticed, however, that kids get very familiar with the methodology of EDM and have a hard time transitioning to other more traditional math, particularly word problems. A good teacher would throw some other material at them from time to time to keep them from getting to used to one style. But as I said, it works both ways. These kids that I work with can do things with numbers their parents can't and I think that is one reason parents don't like it.

Anonymous said...

Tutored a Lot - As a parent, EDM was tough for my kid exactly because of all the different ways they are taught to do things. He wasn't able to pick the one method that worked for him and really work at it until he had mastered it. He had to demonstrate that he could do it all the different ways presented...some of which worked for his style and some of which didn't. He was also very discouraged by the spiraling curriculum. I remember one Winter Break, poring through the text and exercises and creating my own worksheets for him to practice all the different ways they wanted him to be able to work with decimals. He spent a couple of hours almost every day during that break doing my worksheets - and by the end of that time was actually doing well. He proudly brought his work in and showed his teacher - who gave him lots of positive attention for that. Unfortunately, he came home that day telling me again how stupid he was - because none of his work over the break mattered any more. They were on a new topic. Sadly, when in school for a full day (and when I'm at work all day) there isn't time for an additional two hours of home made worksheets designed for him to master each new topic. Those were my issues with EDM.

Math Mom

Confused this morning said...

OMG. Walk to math for remedial use only? Not going to happen I hope. At Lawton, it's the cornerstone of our new"cluster grouping".
If you haven't read about Lawton's new plan to avoid totally removing Spectrum from the school as it's detractors wanted to do, go read the message from the principal on our website.
Ability grouping is a very effective teaching tool according to mountains of research. Of course dumping kids in low achieving groups with low expectations is horrible, as it would be with any group. But a teacher, and this is in the academic literature, who wants to work with struggling students can make greater gains with them if they are at a similar level and can benefit from different teaching methods.According to the minutes of the Lawton Challenge All Students Team, this was hashed out at their meetings and the Advanced Learning Dept man, Mr. Daniels, was there to back it up. I know grouping creates social and other perception problems, but those should be addressed, the program should not be watered down. The problem is how to explain to young kids that some have more ability than others and not make it sound bad. We don't treat our athletes as special until high school and by then kids are better able to understand these things. I've heard talk of students having the option to self-select for advanced classes and see for themselves if they want to do the work, or can do the work. This might help. It seems that most students want to work at a challenging level and feel part of special group. We should find a way to do that for all kids.

Tutored said...

Math Mom,
Mastery is a long process in EDM, which is why people don't like it. It uses a jump around format that returns again and again to subjects, which, I feel, helps reinforce the material. In my day, it was drill, drill and then move on and never revisit. I wouldn't worry about "mastery" of material except times tables.

Bird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bird said...

Mastery is a long process in EDM, which is why people don't like it.

My kid has barely started on the EDM road, but from what I've seen in later grades, I am worried.

According to the EDM published grade level goals, it doesn't target mastery of multiplication facts until 4th grade.

When we toured schools for Kindergarten, I saw whole classes of fifth graders working on mastering multiplication facts.

All very alarming considering that kids who aren't fluent with multiplication and division facts aren't going to be able to become fluent with fractions, and kids who aren't fluent with fractions won't be able to become fluent with decimals and percentages.

I guess it's cool that a kid knows three different ways to do multi-digit multiplication, but I'd rather have my kid come out of elementary having mastered all the operations for all rational numbers.

Tutored may not be worried about mastery of the math material, but I am.

On the plus side, since my kid will be ready for learning multiplication and division in second grade, we can make sure we get solid ground work established early at home before EDM picks it up and takes the kids hither and yon over the history of algorithms.

Pity for the other kids though.

Tutored said...

Here's what is interesting about EDM.
Geometry and algebra are introduced very early - 3rd and 4th grade respectively. I find for the students I work with that this prepares them for the future in math and demystifies math for them. I don't see them finding math as foreign and I sure don't see the mind numbing drills of yesteryear. Will it pan out long term? I don't know. And is it better than Singapore? Again, I don't know. I can only say from my experience it does the job, keeps kids pretty focused and I wish that I had it as a kid.

Anonymous said...

Tutored,

I also tutor in math and reading for nearly 4 years at various ESs. Singapore Math introduces geometry at 3rd and 4th grade as well. Singapore is more depth than breadth and I find the workbooks have great word problems. This is something I wish EDM has more of- word problems that take the concepts you are teaching into everyday scenarios. In someways, Singapore is more "everyday" than EDM.

I teach from both texts depending on what works for the kids.
- another tutor

Bird said...

The thing that I find the oddest about the educational methods currently in vogue is the disjunct between the methods used in reading and the methods used in math.

Seems like the methods used in teaching a kid to read involve a lot of continuous assessment and vigilence in making sure kids get extensive practice at their "just right" level until they reach fluency. Kids still working on mastering the basic mechanics of reading are not excluded from instruction of higher order comprehension skills, but they also get lots daily practice on basic skills at their level.

Oddly enough there's also a lot of emphasis on providing very explicit instruction on the methods kids should use for decoding text. We don't expect kids to figure out those methods themselves. They then practice these methods on books at their level.

In math, however, we apparently want to keep all the kids on the same material. We don't bother with the constant individualized assessment or with keeping kids focused on mastering the basic skills at their level.

Reform math also favors not providing explicit instruction, in favor of letting kids figure out the methods for doing math themselves.

That these two radically different philosophies operate at the same time in the same schools is remarkable.

Pure reform math seems much like teaching kids to read by having them all read from the same basal reader without a lot of explicit instruction in phonics -- which, of course, is anathema generally in education circles these days.

Very odd.

Maya said...

"These kids that I work with can do things with numbers their parents can't and I think that is one reason parents don't like it."

No, it's because when the system inevitably breaks down (more than 50% of the middle-class children in my child's class failing math MSP), we have no way to help them within the EDM system. It's frustrating to have no clue how to do the "math" your child struggles with. It's like deciding to suddenly teach all children using an abacus and roll your eyes because these dumb parents can't go along with the plan. I've got a grad degree, but the EDM materials are baffling on multiple levels, starting with poorly worded explanations. At least with the traditional approaches, we could help. Does it make sense to adopt an approach that cuts parents out of the educational loop? And no, one "math night" doesn't cut it.

So then one might teach the kids traditional math and oh look, they actually understand math again and perform well on tests involving both straight algorithms and real-world problem-solving abilities. That was all the proof I needed that no, my child wasn't exceptionally dull or "bad at math." As it turns out, it doesn't make sense to my kid, either.

I'm sure that the EDM competence varies from classroom to classroom and teacher to teacher. But I don't understand why EDM wants every child to reinvent the wheel of math, as Bird mentions. It was in vogue years 20 ago to ask kids to read only through whole words, somehow naturally deducing grammatical rules and sound-letter mapping. It's true, some children possess this ability, but the majority don't. I think it's a knee-jerk reaction against the previous traditional generation, and the whole thing gets pretty silly after a while. Really, the only two solutions are "find your own math" vs. "drill and kill?" Why not make traditional methods more fun? Or use traditional approaches to find collaborative solutions to multi-step problems, the traditional Japanese method.

Some of the mental math tricks are cool, but they're not revolutionary. Those tricks, and more tricks like them, are found in any math book for the general public.

One teacher did not even want parents to teach children how to perform the traditional methods of multiplication or division, lest we screw up the golden EDM approaches.

SPS had its chance at teaching our kid with (expensive, I'm sure) EDM and EDM failed, so now we -- as parents -- must do cleanup or hire tutors. What a colossal waste of taxpayer and familial money.

Sorry for the rant. I've been holding it in for a couple of years now. I feel better, thank you.

Maureen said...

I think Bird's observation is really interesting. Can any teachers out there who use EDM and Readers/Writers Workshop support or refute Bird's point?

Tutored said...

Maya,
I don't know what to say. I wonder though, if your child can understand the math they give him/her at school better than you, and you have a graduate degree, it seems your child is learning something pretty challenging. Maybe you need to hit the books a little harder! I have had my trouble with it too, but the on-line reference book is fantastic. I'm so glad to be learning along with my child new things about math that I was never taught. But my wife is so far behind, she can't really help anymore and she has masters too.

dan dempsey said...

As I read Tutored Said ...
This is one weird thread.
The lattice method is definitely destructive if one plans on working with any efficiency. The goal is not to know lots of different ways to perform one operation.

Take a look at the highly successful Jump Math.

New York Times on Jump Math.

From the article:
(1) In particular, math teachers often fail to make sufficient allowances for the limitations of working memory and the fact that we all need extensive practice to gain mastery in just about anything. {[EDM fails here]}

(2) As the children experienced repeated success, it seemed to Mighton that their brains actually began to work more efficiently. Sometimes adding one more drop of knowledge led to a leap in understanding. One day, a child would be struggling; the next day she would solve a problem that was harder than anything she’d previously handled. Mighton saw that if you provided painstaking guidance, children would make their own discoveries. That’s why he calls his approach guided discovery.”
{[EDM has "zero for painstaking guidance]}

(3) Math is well-suited to build confidence. Teachers can reduce things to tiny steps, gauge the size of each step to the student and raise the bar incrementally. {[There are few if any tiny steps in EDM which lead to mastery]}

(4) In five months, researchers found substantial differences in learning. The Jump group achieved more than double the academic growth in core mathematical competencies evaluated using a well known set of standardized tests. (The study has not yet been published.) “Kids have to make pretty substantial gains in order to see this kind of difference,
{[Since EDM was adopted - math instructional time increased enormously to 75 minutes daily ... but where are the gains after a few years?]}

(5) Solomon believes that the key to Jump’s effectiveness is the way it “breaks math down to its component parts and builds it back up.” And she notes that this “flies in the face of the way math is typically taught.”

------------
It seems that what many teachers see as a one step move may actually be composed of up to seven micro-steps. The "painstaking guidance" deals with where difficulties are actually encountered.

Jump Math shows positive results in 5 months... check out those graphs in the NY Times article.

The EDM approach is now a multi-year disaster in the SPS. The "HS Discovering Approach" fits right in as "It is a one year disaster after one year".

-------
I have enormous problems with k-12 math in Seattle because the results show it is a failure. EDM anecdotes based on ideological purity are hardly reassuring.

dan dempsey said...

Bird's questions do a nice job of leading us to why SPS math is such a disaster.

After almost two decades of "Whole Language" instruction in some places... which was "futile Destruction" the practice was halted.

Yet "Whole Math" continues on in Seattle in spite of Destruction.

========
Most of the "Whole" disasters were based on the fact that children learn to talk without much if any instruction.... so why not do the same thing for reading, writing, and math?

The answer to that was explained in great detail by David C. Geary...

Geary explains that humans are evolutionarily disposed to acquisition of verbal language as this has been developed over 100s of thousands of years. Those who could acquire language survived and those who could not dropped out of the gene pool.

Since Reading, Writing, and Math are by comparison infants in time being less than 10,000 years old, there has been no such evolutionary disposition that allows easy acquisition to reading, writing, and math skills through unguided immersion.

Geary pretty much drove the last stake through the heart of "Whole Language" in 2000 ... to those who pay any attention.

In Seattle over a decade of crappy data is not enough to create a change in math practices. The NSF and a variety of "Ed Elites" are still pushing this Math Crap, so the SPS is still buying.

Anonymous said...

What I observe in middle school math class is that the lack of automaticity holds kids back. Kids understand the concepts of multiplication, division, adding fractions, factoring etc. but they can’t perform those operations quickly & correctly. So they often have an involved word problem that requires several operations and is a problem that requires some creative problem solving to figure out. The kids spend so much of their mental energy on trying to do the operations that they can’t really think about the bigger problem that requires them to discover or leap to some new math concept. They end up getting the computations wrong and not even being able to approach the larger conceptual leap.

Sometimes it reminds me of a music appreciation class. Where you learn a lot about pitch, tempo, instrumentation, composers, various periods of music and can expertly describe what you hear. But being able to recognize and understand concepts of music doesn’t mean you can play it. We would never tell a kid that they can learn to play an instrument without practicing and developing automaticity. Why is practice good for piano lessons but bad for math?

And why is it ok to understand math concepts but not master them well enough to use those conceptual tools to do problems?

math volunteer

Maya said...

"I don't know what to say. I wonder though, if your child can understand the math they give him/her at school better than you, and you have a graduate degree, it seems your child is learning something pretty challenging."

Hmm, maybe you missed that part about "when they fail" and that over 50% of my kid's class couldn't pass the math portion of the MSP. Let me be more clear. My kid could not pass ANY standardized math test until I tutored with traditional methods. He was failing in the extreme. He did not get it at all.

Did you even read this?: "It's frustrating to have no clue how to do the 'math' your child struggles with."

So no, most of the kids certainly do not understand any better than the parents. But that's OK, because they'll spiral around to the topic again, right? Oh wait, but these kids are in fifth grade now and still don't get the basic algorithms...

Tutored said...

OK Maya. Take a deep breath. I did a little homework and found some items that might interest you.

1st Schooldigger reports 4 out of 10 of the state's best testing math schools are in SPS, although I think Shmitz Park is the Singapore waiver school.
http://www.schooldigger.com/go/WA/schoolrank.aspx?pagetype=top10

2nd US Dept of Ed reports EDM as "having evidence of positive effect effect". Compare it to Saxon which is found to have no positive effect.

http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/reports/Topicarea.aspx?tid=04

3rd Story from Washington Post on EDM success in DC public schools.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/07/AR2010030702885.html?wprss=rss_metro

Of course California had bad results with EDM so the point is that there's no magic bullet to math. A good teacher will use additional material, that what happens at my school. But EDM seems like an adequate core for learning math.



Food for thought

PS I don't know how to links on this blog so you might have to enter the addresses yourself.

Tutored said...

OK Maya. Take a deep breath. I did a little homework and found some items that might interest you.

1st Schooldigger reports 4 out of 10 of the state's best testing math schools are in SPS, although I think Shmitz Park is the Singapore waiver school.
http://www.schooldigger.com/go/WA/schoolrank.aspx?pagetype=top10

2nd US Dept of Ed reports EDM as "having evidence of positive effect effect". Compare it to Saxon which is found to have no positive effect.

http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/reports/Topicarea.aspx?tid=04

3rd Story from Washington Post on EDM success in DC public schools.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/07/AR2010030702885.html?wprss=rss_metro

Of course California had bad results with EDM so the point is that there's no magic bullet to math. A good teacher will use additional material, that what happens at my school. But EDM seems like an adequate core for learning math.



Food for thought

Anonymous said...

My kid belongs to the first generation of EDM, and she loves Math. She is a year ahead, and she is not alone, thanks to walk to Math, about 3/4 of her generation are doing 4th grade Math even though not all 3/4 of the 3rd graders are Spectrum identified. After reading this thread I feel like I live in a parallel universe. I'm sure there are better Math programs, but the teachers at her school have managed to adapt to EDM, fill in the gaps, and make students learn what they're supposed to. Don't understand EDM? Go online and find out how and what your kid's learning, that's what I did...
"Parallel universe mom"

ArchStanton said...

math volunteer said: What I observe in middle school math class is that the lack of automaticity holds kids back. Kids understand the concepts of multiplication, division, adding fractions, factoring etc. but they can’t perform those operations quickly & correctly.[...] The kids spend so much of their mental energy on trying to do the operations that they can’t really think about the bigger problem that requires them to discover or leap to some new math concept. They end up getting the computations wrong and not even being able to approach the larger conceptual leap.

I see this every week with some of the kids I tutor. They understand how multiplication works, but it's not automatic for them, so they spend several minutes working through part of a problem only to lose track of the bigger problem or become discouraged at how long it takes to do one problem and give up. Really frustrating to try and help them with harder concepts when you feel like you have to review multiplication facts just to prepare them. Sigh.

/WV thinks it's a tragi

dan dempsey said...

Let us take a look at where the evidence stands today from the What Works Clearing house.

The WWC data on EDM that was shown to the Board in 2007 was flawed: Additionally, three studies that met standards with reservations in the previous version no longer meet evidence standards.

The current situation:
Seventy-two studies reviewed by the WWC investigated the effects of Everyday Mathematics® on elementary students. One study (Waite, 2000) is a quasi-experimental design that meets WWC evidence standards with reservations. The remaining 71 studies do not meet either WWC evidence standards or eligibility screens.

Waite (2000) included 732 third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students in six schools using Everyday Mathematics® and a comparison group of 2,704 third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students in 12 similar schools, matched on baseline math achievement scores, student demographics, and geographical location. The schools in the intervention group were in their first year of implementing the first version of Everyday Mathematics®. The comparison group used a more traditional mathematics curriculum approved by the school district.

The Link for EDM One Study of 3, 4, 5th graders in Texas comparing EDM 1st edition with a traditional text book.

Elementary School Math Comparison study underway on 8000 first and second grade students in 10 states. In comparing results from TERC/Investigations, Saxon, Scott Foresman/Addison-Wesley, and Math Expressions .... For second graders, one difference was statistically significant after taking multiple curricula comparisons into account. Second-grade students attending Saxon Math schools scored 0.17 standard deviations higher than students attending Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Mathematics schools, roughly equivalent to moving a student from the 50th to the 57th percentile in math achievement.

Before the new recommendations for math texts came out from OSPI, at least 95% of WA elementary students were taught using Reform Math texts. Given school finances most of those districts are still using Reform Math textbooks.

Seattle showed gains in math v. rest of state on 2010 Math MSP at grade 4. This is to be expected as Seattle is teaching math in most schools at least 75 minutes a day everyday.

Unfortunately overall the results for Black students and English language learners are substandard and not improving. Even with the large increase in instructional time accompanying EDM ** the following occurred.

Black student OSPI test performance
year : failing to pass :: unable to score above level 1

WASL 06 : 68.8% :: 41.9%
WASL 07 : 68.0% :: 41.8%
WASL 08 : 72.4% :: 46.7% **
WASL 09 : 70.9% :: 49.2% **
MSP . 10 : 71.8% :: 51.6% **

** is an EDM use school year

Here are the results of HSPE testing at grade 10 in Reading and MATH 2010

Percentages of students unable to score above far below basic grade 10 in Reading and Math


Black Students
Reading = 24.2%
Math = 68.8%


Hispanic Students
Reading = 25.2%
Math = 56.4%

Limited English
Reading = 57.3%
Math = 80.5%

===============
This is a serious problem that is currently ignored by the District. On May 18th 2011 The Board adopted a new policy D 43.00 with no mention of providing interventions to struggling students.

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