Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Math Adoption: Food for Thought

The Tampa Bay Times published this article in March 2014 about math textbooks not aligning to Common Core standards.

As with much of Common Core, the issue is - what's the rush?  Meaning, many of these textbooks do not fully (or even by half) align with CCSS because they had to rush into production in order to get them out for consideration.  A lot of this "alignment" is WILL have to happen at the school/district level.

To understand, there is no "CC seal of approval" - any publisher can say their books are aligned and unless a researcher or school district official thoroughly checks, there's no one to check publishers' claims.

Now, there's concern that a darker unreality is on the cover of textbooks in order to sell the books to adults: seals that say the texts are aligned to the new Common Core standards.

According to a study by a University of Southern California researcher, textbooks marketed as being in step with the Common Core and currently used in Tampa Bay classrooms fail to capture key concepts of the higher-level standards that have been adopted by Florida and most other states.

Key findings:

 Because of the time and money involved in overhauling a textbook, there are few incentives for publishers to make significant changes from one edition to the next, Polikoff says. "One of my inclinations is they don't want to make big revisions. This is what a typical textbook has looked like for a long time."

In all, he analyzed four textbooks approved by the Florida Department of Education to teach the Common Core math standards to fourth-grade students.

He found that Common Core content is left out of textbooks, the books spend pages on the wrong content, and they fail to reach the higher levels of cognitive demand that separate the new standards from the old.

For instance, the Common Core calls for 40 percent of a fourth-grader's time to be spent on advanced problem-solving such as demonstrating, generalizing and analyzing. But the textbooks require students to do so only 7 to 12 percent of the time, instead requiring them to memorize or do rote drills.

"The simple fact is that, for a lot of teachers, particularly elementary teachers, if something isn't in a textbook, it doesn't get taught," Polikoff says.

As well, another researcher, William Schmidt from Michigan State University, did his own analysis.

William Schmidt, the co-director of the education policy center at Michigan State University, conducted his own analysis of dozens of textbooks covering first through ninth grades and used by about 60 percent of students nationwide.

At a recent seminar hosted by the Education Writers Association in Los Angeles, Schmidt said that "page by page, paragraph by paragraph," many textbooks were identical to previous editions.

Schmidt does support CC but says there are really only two math books that currently align with CC (he declined to name them).  

These textbooks claim they are aligned to the Common Core standards. Florida approved them for use in local schools. But new research suggests there's only a modest correlation between the texts and the standards they purport to cover.

Go Math!: 38% alignment
enVisionMATH: 34% alignment
Math Connects: 28% alignment
Saxon: 27% alignment

Source: Morgan Polikoff, assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California


Anonymous said...

Have to put this out there: we are now single subject homeschooling. We are so fed up with the SPS math wars. Don't miss that the meh recommendation being voted on is only the K5 adoption. Middle and HS have not changed. We made the leap with reservations but have never looked back. Student thriving. Doing it during the day is so much better than the math tutor route. Why should our kids have to use their free time to learn a core subject that should happen in the school day?

Homeschool Happy

Anonymous said...

Hi Homeschool,

I'm wondering what you mean by single subject homeschooling? Is your child in school part time? And if so, what grade are they in? We were homeschooling, but my daughter wanted to go to school. She loves it, but I cringe all the time and wish there was a way for her to do it part time. Haven't found the answer though.

-Missing homeschooling

Anonymous said...

You can homeschool any or all subjects. The school is legally required to allow this. We homeschooled just in math last year, too. My kid got real algebra!!!! Imagine that.

If you can do late start or early release, that's best. The parent has to remove the kid from campus (middle school for us) during the homeschooled period. You can also homeschool in HS and elementary.

You could also homeschool all core subjects and have your kid just go in for band, PE, art. Schools may not love this, but they have to do it.

- pickle

Anonymous said...

We, too, homeschool in math. Did it for three years of middle school for one kid already, and getting ready to do the same for another. We've been able to arrange to start school late or get out early most years, which definitely helps with the load. But even if you have to do it 100% out of school, it's still feasible, especially for a motivated kid.

We haven't had any issues with the school re: being a part time student. We simply told the registrar we were homeschooling for math, and that we wanted a late start/early out if at all possible. We also submitted a copy of the district's Intent to Provide Home-Based Instruction form--I'm not sure it's required anymore if you're only doing limited homeschooling, but the registrar wanted a copy on file. Since we opt out of math and MSP tests, we submit transcripts from online math classes to show evidence of progress. It's never caused any problems yet.

Our biggest issue now is considering whether or not to also do homeschooling for LA and/or SS. We've been so disappointed in the curriculum--or lack thereof--but it seems like a lot more work to take on, with much less clarity around what to do. We'll likely try to stick it out another year and hope things start looking up.


Anonymous said...

And just to add on to what pickle said, we were told that a kid can retain their APP eligibility as long as they're taking at least one APP class.


Anonymous said...

@ Missing Homeschooling -- The commenters below answered before I could! I should note that some principals can make this a more difficult experience than it needs to be, but if it is right for your child, hang in there. No doubt you will have the satisfaction, at assessment time, of showing that your child has thrived by your extra attention to his/her academic needs.

Any educator worth his/her salt in wanting what is best for kids is not going to make a stink about this. But administrators or educators more worried about paperwork, their own job ratings, or their personal likes/dislikes of specific kids in the classroom may well have a hard time. In that case, you have to get a little hardnosed and tell them too bad.

Believe all of us who have posted: This is a great route to go, if your family daytime situation allows it.

Homeschool Happy

Anonymous said...

Part-time school attendance is a way for homeschooled students to access PE, band, electives, etc., at their public school, but it can also apply to those wanting to homeschool for just one or two subjects (thank you homeschool advocates!). Students are not counted as 1.0 FTE, but they maintain the same access to classes and services as full-time students.

It is much easier in middle school when the daily schedule is the same, though some parents do it in elementary as well.

Homeschooled students are required to show progress through some standard assessment, which could be the MSP. You have the option to opt out of the MSP, but you can also request your child take the MSP as part of the assessment requirement.

WAC 392-134-010

another homeschooler

curious too said...

For homeschooling single subject does anyone knows if you can do this at an option school?

Anonymous said...

WAC 392-134-010
Attendance rights of part-time public school students.

An eligible part-time public school student who qualifies as a resident of a public school district pursuant to the definition of a "resident student" set forth in chapter 392-137 WAC, as now or hereafter amended, shall be entitled to attend the schools of the district within his or her attendance area tuition free on a part-time basis. An eligible part-time public school student shall be entitled to take any course, receive any ancillary service, and take or receive any combination of courses and ancillary services which is made available by a public school to full-time students. Eligible nonresident part-time public school students may be enrolled at the discretion of a public school district pursuant to the terms and procedures established for nonresident student attendance in chapter 392-137 WAC, as now or hereafter amended.

Ragweed said...

It should be allowed at an option school. We have had a few part-time students at PK8. It has been a very useful strategy for kids who are homeschooling due to school anxiety / classroom trauma issues to ease back into school.

Anonymous said...

I started part-time homeschooling three years ago and love it.

I started one spring, as a trial, by partial-homeschooling all morning with my two elementary kids. I had identified wonderful curriculum (Susan Wise Bauer History and Writing. Saxon Math) so I was not afraid to try.

My kids went to school in the afternoon. We got a lot done, so it didn't matter to me what happened at school. My frustration with what little was happening at school dissipated immediately after starting.

In order to comply with state law, I listed on my declaration the subjects taught at school during the morning (when my kids would be at home), and then stated that the school is responsible for everything else.

In your declaration, you can give your plan for daily arrival, say if you want your child to attend full day certain days a week (for example to participate in weekly bookclub, or music lesson or whatever) You can also assert your child's right to participate in field trips, class plays, etc, though it goes without saying.

You can't make the teacher/school adjust their schedule to meet your preferences, but - in elementary - you can have a different plan for each day , depending on the teacher's schedule for each day, and what activities/subjects you want your child to study/participate in each day at school.

If the principal tells you PHS is not allowed, s/he is wrong. It is a right guaranteed by law. You don't need the principal's permission. You just need to submit your declaration. You don't have to use any particular form. It can just be a letter.

My kid's teacher is very good about working with us on the scheduling as things come up in her curriculum/planning through the school year. This teacher welcomes my child to come full time when it facilitates participation in certain class projects, activities. etc..


Charlie Mas said...

I homeschooled my daughter in Algebra when she was in the eighth grade. She took all of her other classes at Washington.