Math Talk in Friday Update

 Update: the Board meeting agenda was finally posted at the end of the day.  There is an amendment to the Math Adoption via President Peaslee and Director Peters. 

We move that the School Board amend the motion for adoption of K-5 Mathematics Materials to include a dual adoption of Math in Focus Singapore Math and enVisionMath Realize for the K-5 curriculum, and that the BAR be amended and updated to read as follows: 

Then a long list of enactments to the plan.

Moreover, we maintain that as a district we have a greater mandate; our greatest obligation is to our students, to provide them with the very best materials to master mathematics, and develop confidence in the subject. 

A dual adoption will offer more equitable opportunities to Seattle Schools by fully funding materials and choice for all schools.

There is, of course, no "staff analysis" yet as staff probably just saw it themselves.  (I do think they had the foresight to see this coming and probably already have some kind of draft.)

The Board's "alternatives" do not indicate that this proposal is not legally feasible.

I do like that they include information about Highline which is where former Superintendent Enfield is.  That her district embraces Math in Focus seems telling.

They back up their arguments even more by including a review done by a local Catholic K-8, St. Joseph's AND Sidwell Friends School (where President Obama's children attend school).  

It's a long and detailed amendment and shows a lot of hard work and thought.

End of update.

As you are probably aware, the Superintendent sends out a Friday update to staff and the Board.

There was this in it today.  It's titled, "3-Year Elementary Math Achievement Data (Schmitz Park)."  I see it as an effort to ward off schools using other math curriculum from arguing against the current recommendation for math adoption.

Okay, but isn't Mercer doing a lot better using a different math curriculum?  And North Beach?  Is the district able to say that for every school using something different, it's making no difference?  Hmm.

Also, the page mentions that McGilvra has been using enVisions since Jan. 2013.  I didn't know that.


Linh-Co said…
Here's the amendment sponsored by Director McLaren and Peters for dual adoption:
Anonymous said…
We moved our student in October from a K-8 in Ballard to North Beach due to instructional problems with math.

She has gone from being a year behind by doing her "BEST GUESS" to performing close to grade level.

She now enjoys doing math home work and will even use the net if she gets stuck!


Don't mess with NB or else!
Linh-Co said…
It's sure is nice to see staff put their resources into taking down one of their own schools yet can't get correct information about cost, PD. and implementation of materials to the Board.
Anonymous said…
Notice how the District looked at the last three years at Schmitz, a period when the school was in turmoil due to a near doubling in size. Neither did they factor in a doubling of staff who were teaching Singapore for the first time. Nor did they consider over-crowded facilities, the influx of trailer teaching units, and new parents unfamiliar with the program goals.

Looking at 2008-2010 would net far different data. But, they know that and don't want you to know that.

Remember, it's about continuously enrolled students, not the hodgepodge between 2011-2013.

And, there is nobody at the District capable of this kind of statistical analysis. They hired a "hit man" (or woman) to write this drivel, perhaps, the research department at a major textbook publisher.


Deja Vu
Anonymous said…
The Schmitz Park data from Central does not mention what the Schmitz Park principal spelled out in his memo (in previous thread's FOIA documents) to Heath: In the past three years the school has been inundated with new students and has tried accommodate crazy enrollment numbers.

Suddenly Central's "damning statistical comparison isn't all that.

One thing is clear: Schmitz Park is fired up about math. That's better than - what - 85%? 90% of SPS elementary schools. It's fantastic to have parents and students buying into a math program, and teachers who are happy teaching it.

Central should be embracing the situation, not trying to tear it down. Heath is making a huge mistake in going hardcore on EnVision alone.

Math Minded
Linh-Co said…
It looks like Eric Anderson was working on this for Ms. Heath.
Anonymous said…
Here is some important information to note about the dual math adoption amendment:

(b) Principals will elect, by written notice received by the Assistant Superintendent of
Teaching and Learning not later than June 20, 2014, either enVision or Math in Focus;

(c) Schools will be committed to the adoption choice for the course of the 7-year adoption
School Board Briefing/Proposed Action Report

(d) During the course of the adoption, principals of new schools coming online in the
following year may elect, by May 15th
of that year to adopt either enVision or Math in
Focus and receive it the subsequent year, with full district support.

June 20th is only 20 days away.

If schools don't already know which one they want, they might want to start the conversation.

Anonymous said…
St. Joe's = meh on academics as well as diversity. Double meh on ELL or SPED. But the kids sit in nice little lines in the classroom! Yeah! The amendment authors could have made a stronger argument than using St. Joe's data. Maybe they were going for a marketing argument, which then makes sense, as a lot of upper-mid-income Capitol Hill and Mt. Baker families think it's a lovely school. Highline was a better choice for comparison though the irony of choosing it is strong, when Peters and Peaslee actively pushed to get Enfield and her reform view of education out of the district. Math wars apparently make for strange bedfellows all around.

Sideline sitter

Anonymous said…
Saw this in the previous Math Adoption thread:

This from our 5th grade teacher - K-5 STEM uses Singapore Math.

UPDATED Singapore Math Instruction – Grade 5 Data
K5 STEM @ Boren

48% Minority Students
Languages Spoken at Home = Tagalog, Finnish, Oromo, Vietnamese, Hindi, English

Class Mean MAP Math (RIT Score): 243.6
On NWEA National Normative Scale this mean exceeds End-of-Year Mean for Grade 11.

Average Growth For Cohort – RIT Score (Fall 2012 – Spring 2014 – Two Year): 30.6
Normal expected growth for this period is 17.2 RIT Points

Growth Achieved by Targeted (struggling) Students (two year):
Student #1 : +31
Student#2: +16
Student #3: +29

National Normative Data Link:

I wonder if APP does this well at Grade 5.

South End Family
Linh-Co said…
Dr. Enfield did NOT bring Math in Focus to Highline. They have been using it since 2011-2012. It was brought in through a heavy push from parents.

Enfield was not willing to do anything for math. We met with her and asked her to support the supplemental use of Singapore Math since it was part of the previous adoption.
Anonymous said…
Honestly I think the kids at our school would do fine with either EnVision or MIF, but I care a lot about a bigger point so want to see the dual adoption thing go through. This is about who's the alpha dog on the block. Is it Tolley/Heath/Banda or the Board? Ultimately it's the Board in my mind and the sooner staff stops trying to work around, over, under, out-of-sight of the Board to get its own way the better. They need the message and a positive vote for the amendment sends it loud and clear.

North of 85th
Anonymous said…

Are you the tutor for Whitman students that home-school?

Any advice on what to do during the summer if you think your student needs summer tutoring?

Thanks for any advice you have.

N' by NW
mirmac1 said…
Isn't it time for Heath to update her resume and find that CAO job somewhere...?
Carol Simmons said…
Thank you to our School Board Directors McLaren and Peters for sponsoring the dual math adoption Amendment.
Linh-Co said…
@N by NW

Yes, I'm the tutor that provides single subject homeschooling for Whitman, Hamilton, and Salmon Bay students.

What grade is your child in? If you email me at, I can give you some specific advice. There are lots of free resources and good textbooks out there.

TechyMom said…
McGilvra has indeed been piloting EnVision since mid last year. It's better than EDM, but not a lot. It still has a bunch of explain your reasoning questions that really frustrate my math-inclined kid who can see the answers and doesn't have words for how. She still hates it. MAP percentiles are still going down. At least the word problems are better written and mostly make sense, have good grammar, etc. It has more practice, and does show some standard algorithms.

I would really like a math book made for math minds. I'd also love a textbook with explanations and examples to come home instead of single page worksheets. That way, even when they're doing something weird, you can figure out what. They have actual hardbound books at school, but they don't come home. That seems backwards, since the teacher can explain it at school, and at home they might need to look it up.
Anonymous said…
Dare I hope, this real? Awesome! The board, or more specifically, Ms. Peters and McClaren, riding heard on Mr. Banda, Ms. Heath, and Mr. Tolley, to focus on actual needs of actual kids in actual buildings!

Thank you. Fair, just, logical, reasonable.

Parents: contact your principals NOW and demand that sample texts be out into your library and do that parents can review both choices for a week (yes, short timeline) while your principal and her/his staff also review, then as she/he makes her/his selection for your school, at least there will be a parent stakeholder opportunity for input into your building's choice. Get on that now. Contact the publishers directly if you have to, but get this up and running now!

Fix the Math
Linh-Co said…
Thank God Peters won the election. This would not be a possibility if Estey was in office.

Thank you Directors Peters, McLaren, and Peaslee for hanging it out there for the community. We know it hasn't been easy and that amendment took a huge amount of time to put together.
Anonymous said…
This report that came out today doesn't discredit Schmitz Park. Rather it discredits the district.

Had Eric done the same analysis for the preceding 3-year period, I am almost certain the results would have looked much better for SP.

There was no good, honest reason
to use only the most recent three years of data.

There is no good, honest reason to fail to mention in the report that the test case (Schmitz Part) differed from the controls [peer schools, state average] in the magnitude of student population growth over the analysis period.

Schmitz Park had to bring in a significant # of teachers new to Singapore Math and get them trained. Unless each new teacher was already a really good math teacher and familiar with SPM, the classroom scores for the teacher's first couple years at least would be below typical for the school.

This report makes me embarrassed for SPS.

Sup. Banda: Are you embarrassed?

Joan NE
Anonymous said…
The SGP standard is yet another red-herring tossed in to make SP look bad. I'm surprised the SGP numbers weren't even higher at other schools that dumped EDM. Any school already doing well won't have high SGP #'s. This is an NCLB trick designed to declare anything but constant student "growth" a failure. "99% two years in a row? You fail!"

Anonymous said…
I'm taking bets on when the Times will publish it's first post-math adoption vote scolding the board for micro-managing and calling for the end to school boards. 12 hours? 24? WSDWG
Anonymous said…
Good point Deja vu,

Note that many of the schools, such as North Beach, have been using waivers for alternate math curricula for almost 10 years. The student improvement will have stabilized and appear to be static. My kid found that when she and her cohort of students went from North Beach elementary into the APP program in middle school they were WAY ahead of the other APP students computationally.

I think the district doesn't really care which programs work. They only want to erroneously cite data that appears to support their policy decisions.

Anonymous said…
Thank goodness the directors are doing a better job than the administrators on math adoption. The administrators wanted to ram through what they wanted, going against the survey favoring Math in Focus. This is exactly what happened on the adoptions of Discovering and Everyday Math, opposed by parents and science instructors at UW.

Math is the biggest weakness in curriculum at SPS. You would think Banda would want the best choice available. If he is supporting the administrators, then he is a big disappointment.

I am glad I volunteered for Marty McLaren on her campaign. She and Peters get the math.

S parent
Anonymous said…
It takes four to pass the amendment. Just Peters and McLaren is a nice gesture but gets nothing done for MIF.

Linh-Co said…
Of the current 5th grade class at Schmitz Park, 51% will or may skip 6th grade math. Of 70 students, 27 scored 235+ on the spring 2014 map math test and will automatically advance to 7th grade math. Another 9 scored 228-234 qualifying them to take the middle school assessment to be placed into 7th grade math.

How many of the other peer schools can cite those numbers?
Anonymous said…
Linh-Co, You seem to be more knowledgeable than staff on the math trajectory of SPS students. Thank you for sharing that knowledge and for advocating for better math. I also have a question for you.

My 5th grade student tested in the 240s for spring map at a K8 option school. No letter has come to our house about math advancement. No teacher at the school, nor principal, is offering even an ALO for 6th grade math, let alone move-to-7th-grade math. Are K8s exempt from the SPS math advancement rules? Is there some place I can take this problem beyond my school? Thank you again for your insight.

Brick Wall
Anonymous said…
PS: Our school uses District standard math curriculum nominally. Mostly it seems that teachers especially in middle school have cobbled together their own courses - for worse but also for better.

Brick Wall
Linh-Co said…
@ Brick Wall,

What school are you at? Does your school not offer advanced math classes for middle school?

Unfortunately, it is somewhat at the discretion of individual schools. For example, a 250 RIT score on the winter MAP will qualify 6th grade students at Hamilton for algebra. Whitman does not honor this score and does not offer anything beyond one grade level up for 6th graders.

You may consider single subject homeschooling. This idea is getting more popular with parents.

Here's the link to middle and high school placement:

6th & 9th Grade Math Course Placement Information

In early spring, schools will receive placement recommendations for students based on each student’s current math course, grade in that course (for 8th grade students), teacher recommendation, most recent state test scores, and MAP data.

The data will also be used to make recommendations for students who will benefit from either additional support or a more accelerated mathematics pathway as they enter middle or high school.

Schools may choose to send letters to notify parents of math placements, or they may choose to notify parents through the same methods they use to communicate other course placements and schedules.

Frequently asked questions about the Math Pathway and 6th/9th Grade Math Placement
Math Pathways Pathway Contract for 6th/9th Graders Opting Up
Anonymous said…
For math placement, you may want to think in terms of the ultimate goal for your child - is it to get through Calculus in high school? Then Algebra in 8th grade with a one-year math acceleration may be enough challenge, in which case you'd want to be in 7th grade math in 6th grade. The assistant principal at our school actually suggested taking 6th and 7th grade math, then accelerating to Algebra in 8th - so, skipping 8th grade math rather than 6th grade math. The reasoning was that much of 8th grade math is linear equations and topics covered in Algebra.

Whatever level of acceleration, you can't count on the school to fill in any gaps from leaping ahead a year or two. You should find out what concepts are covered in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade math and make sure your child covers them independently. It could be as simple as doing some workbooks on fractions and percents over the summer (we like the "Key to..." series they sell at Math-n-Stuff for specific topics). Even if your child doesn't accelerate, practicing skills outside of CMP homework may be beneficial.

-been there
Disgusted said…
IDK...Years ago, I trusted the district to make a math decision for my children and they bothched the adoption. I ended-up taking one child to Kumon. By the time my second child was in school..the school took it upon themselves to implement a different math program..I mean...the school supplemented Every Day Math....;0)

I trust Peaslee, Peters and McLaren to make a sound decision. I no longer trust the district.

I'm also concerned about the botched process that got McGraw thrown-out.
Sam said…
The document provided by Director Peters and Director McLaren is well researched, comprehensive and well Certainly, better than I've ever seen from SPS.

Concerned said…

Anything we can do to get away from Pearson is in our children's best interest!
Anonymous said…
Thank you Linh-Coh and the rest who have weighed in on my question. In answer, yes I'd like my student to have the option for calculus in HS. But more important now is keeping math engagement up in MS, and it just isn't happening at the current pace.

I guess I'm really confused - the SPS notification method gives schools a choice on how to notify families of suggested math coursework, but it doesn't spell out the choice for schools not to notify at all. My K8 does not seem to send out notifications and no it does not offer multi-math tracks.

We are invested in the otherwise-great fit school, but this seems a big problem and also possibly a violation of SPS procedure. If my principal doesn't care and our executive director is frankly worthless then do I have any hope or method at all for changing the system for my student and others in the same boat?

Brick Wall
Anonymous said…
Hamilton's 6th grade math placement info (which should not be different from other middle schools) has more detailed info in terms of MAP scores and placement. The skills listed for 7th grade math placement are the general 6th grade standards, and the skills listed for 8th grade math placement are the general 7th grade standards.

6th grade math placement

You don't say if your child is doing additional math outside of school, if your child has been tested for AL services, or what program your school is using (do they use CMP in middle school?). The chart will give you an idea of where your child should be concept wise in order to accelerate. There are many other standards not listed on the table such as geometry (area, surface area, angle relationships, etc.) and data, statistics, and probability.

If you've contacted your principal and Executive Director and have not gotten any resolution, then the Math Department head may be the person to contact for clarification. We have had many instances when we've been told something by the school or principal that was simply against district or state policy. If your child wants to accelerate, and you have evidence your child is capable (grades, MAP scores, or MSP scores) then you should continue to push for something different. Are there really no other students accelerating in math at your child's school?

What's more important, that your child remain at that school, or have access to more advanced work? You could spend your child's entire middle school years agitating for something different...but the school may not change.

Linh-Co said…
This is from the Hamilton 6th grade placement Q&A:

Should 6th grade APP students not attend Hamilton, will the same guidelines apply for placement? Is there a guarantee that an appropriate level class will be available in 8th grade (for those taking Algebra 1 in 6th grade)?

Not all middle schools are offering Algebra to 6th
grade students. Hamilton is committed to offering an appropriate 8th grade math class for students who take Algebra in 6th grade.

Once again, this highlights the inconsistencies and equity between schools.
Anonymous said…
That's true, Linh-Co, but really, if your child is taking Algebra in 6th then they should probably be in an APP school. Acceleration to Algebra in 8th grade, however, seems like something that should be offered at every school, K8s included. It sounds as though some schools don't even offer that (and I'm guessing Salmon Bay is one of those schools?).

There should be some minimum level of acceleration offered at every school, with clear guidelines on how to qualify...isn't that what ALO is supposed to offer?

As a side note - The Hamilton policy took years to materialize after parents agitated. Hamilton was not offering Algebra to advanced APP 6th graders, as an APP pathway school, even though WMS APP had provided that option pre-split. It will not be until next school year at Hamilton that they will be offering an Algebra 2 class. And it's been how many years since the first APP split?

Asking said…
If the board passes a dual adoption, what prevents the district and/or ex. directors from strong-arming the principals into adopting EnVision??

I think: Nothing.
dw said…

Bingo. You are right on the money here. A dual adoption, even if it does happen, can be subverted through other means. I don't know if it's realistic to push for MIF only, at this point, but I'm uncomfortable with Pearson having any reach into our district, our students and our data.

Speaking of Pearson, on the other thread there is a lot of talk about legal action, companies suing school districts, etc. But I also wonder about the shady stuff that we don't get to see. Doesn't it seem feasible that a company like Pearson has shadowy programs that attempt to influence staff around the country that make or inform these decisions? Perhaps not as explicit as "bribes", but why on earth would Heath, Tolley et al, be so damned set on Envision? It's clear they were from the onset, and the question is: Why?
dw said…

Bingo. You are right on the money here. A dual adoption, even if it does happen, can be subverted through other means. I don't know if it's realistic to push for MIF only, at this point, but I'm uncomfortable with Pearson having any reach into our district, our students and our data.

Speaking of Pearson, on the other thread there is a lot of talk about legal action, companies suing school districts, etc. But I also wonder about the shady stuff that we don't get to see. Doesn't it seem feasible that a company like Pearson has shadowy programs that attempt to influence staff around the country that make or inform these decisions? Perhaps not as explicit as "bribes", but why on earth would Heath, Tolley et al, be so damned set on Envision? It's clear they were from the onset, and the question is: Why?
I suspect some of the answer lies in Common Core. They all - either in words or blood - have pledged fidelity to CCSS even as there is virtually no real CC math book.
David said…
When my kid was at Salmon Bay 3 years ago, pretty much the entire 8th grade was doing algebra. That's how they phrased it anyway - all 8th graders are doing 9th grade math, they said. So when she was a freshman at Ballard she was automatically in Geometry. Has this changed?
Anonymous said…
@dw and asking: The way to ensure that doesn't happen is to remain vigilant on the issue and in support of the board. This matter is monumental for this district and a sea change from a few short years ago if we can pull it off.

I'm as skeptical and cynical as both of you, but if we get the dual adoption, it will signal a big power shift at JSCEE. If the IMC stubbornly insists on thwarting the community that is nearly 2 to 1 in favor of MIF, they might want to recall a place called Waterloo.

This community has suffered long enough at the hands of irresponsible, unaccountable administrative staff and overly deferential boards. This Board represents US, not a bunch of wealthy donors, finally.

JSCEE staff would do well to realize that, the sooner the better. We've read their playbook and it isn't going to work this time.


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