Monday, November 9, 2009

Open thread

Discuss whatever you like!

26 comments:

Mercermom said...

I saw a suggestion about working to undo the split. I think that would be an unproductive use of our energy in trying to support advanced learning. The split had significant costs, and is tied to a middle-school split. I have heard from parents who are happy with their childrens' experiences so far at Hamilton, even with respect to the music program, which was a big concern. Nothing is impossible, but reaching that goal is not something that would happen for years. Meanwhile, parental energy that could be focused on more immediate change would be used on that long-term and unlikely outcome.

ArchStanton said...

It's sometimes hard to know whether people who continually rail against certain things are legitimately concerned about them or unreasaonably fixated.

More and more I am becoming conviced that the Everyday Math curriculum is doing more harm than good.

This past weekend, we showed our daughter a workbook for Singapore Math and select a page that seemed would challenge her but still was at a level where she could succeed. It walked her through a process of figuring volume with visual representations of cubes. Without an instruction book - just with a well presented sequence of problems - she figred out (discovered!) how to multiply three numbers and calculate volume. Not to mention that she felt successful!

Some friends with older kids in Spokane have been dealing with this and sent us this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr1gee-bTZI

What's really astounding is where the curricula themselves basically acknowledge that "math is hard" and don't expect anyone to master it because they can rely on calculators.

It's enough to make me want to homeschool. Especially having a daughter who is capable, given the right instruction.

Anonymous said...

The math issue is a continuing problem. For middle school math we were instructed to purchase the "Algebra To Go"" textbook in order to assist with homework, if needed, in our child's 6HH (APP) class for 6th grade. Question is - why weren't we instructed to purchase the teacher issue of the CMP book? The obvious answer is that the CMP curriculum is totally useless. After sitting down with our child for a few minutes with the new book, he was working algebraic equations, understanding "isolating" the "x" variable etc. with ease. Something that they haven't even talked about yet in their CMP class. We haven't supplemented our kids in math at all up to this point - but this makes us think that we really have done them a disservice - assuming that they were getting what they needed at school. Frustrating - but at least the instructor gave us a useful tool to teach at home.

Skeptic said...

Oh, ArchStanton, don't get me started on APP's failure to teach our kids math! I have an APP third grader and watched in confusion last year as he was made to go through the goofy "lattice method" when learning to multiply. I've been told that the math instruction only gets wackier as the years go by, and that, for instance, if I'd like him to learn long division, I'm going to have to teach him myself. Then there are the even bigger frustrations I'm facing with my APP first-grader. He was home-schooled last year and pick up all kinds of math basically by osmosis, but now that he's in school, his math learning has ground to a halt. His teacher seems too overwhelmed by teaching in general to even tackle the notion of differentiation. And when I asked Bob Vaughan himself if he thought it was fair for a child who had been working on multiplication and division and fractions at home to sit through endless lessons on two-digit addition and subtraction for the entire first grade, he actually told me that it might be a good chance for him to go back "and appreciate some of the nuance of all the math he had already learned." Because there's so much nuance in adding 8 and 7 ?!? So now, we're going to try WAVA for math only and keep him enrolled for now in APP for the rest of his subjects. We've handed in all the paperwork and are just waiting for the application to grind its way through all the school-district cogs. I hope it works out for us, and I only wish scores and scores of APP parents would join us in opting out of classroom math if it's not meeting their kids' needs. Maybe Bob Vaughan would rethink his satisfaction with the APP math curriculum and the unspoken no-differentiation rule if more parents made their frustrations known.

Robert said...

WAVA?

Anonymous said...

Mercermom, I am not sure anyone is advocating undoing the split. Can you please point to the specific comment?

I do see people arguing that the split may undo itself if Thurgood Marshall is not successful (because people will choose against enrolling their children in the APP program there) and therefore we should make sure that Thurgood Marshall is successful.

I do see people arguing that we should know if the APP split is meeting its goals and hold the administration and advocates of the split accountable for meeting those goals.

There also appears to be quite a bit of frustration in the APP community that this split, which was not wanted or supported by the majority of the APP community and was advised against by the administration's own review committee, does not appear to be going well.

Are those things that you are objecting to?

Mercermom said...

Anonymous said...
This from "Anonymous" on another thread:

How about a discussion about reunifying elementary APP?
It seems like there must be a lot of operational inefficiencies associated with the split and minimal benefits.

November 9, 2009 6:44 AM

I'm not objecting; I'm offering my opinion, which I see was also offered by someone else in response to the comment above, that it's probably not a fruitful aim; and that there are other goals for which some impact is more likely, such as each elementary APP community focusing on ways to ensure that its program is meeting students' academic and social needs as well as is possible, etc.

ArchStanton said...

Robert,

WAVA: http://www.k12.com/wava

We are looking into it that, as well. Does anyone suppose they'd care if more families opted out of EDM? I'm guessing not.

/why can't I copy & paste or make links in this blog, but I can in the other...

Robert said...

Thanks Arch!

ArchStanton said...

Anon @9:47am said: "We haven't supplemented our kids in math at all up to this point - but this makes us think that we really have done them a disservice - assuming that they were getting what they needed at school."

Regarding getting what they need at school, They are assessing the kids addition and subtraction math facts (to 20, I think) in my daughter's class and sending their results home for the parents to teach/drill them on. They sent a note earlier this Fall saying that the kids were expected to know them upon entering second grade. Which begs the question: why didn't they teach/drill them on the math facts they wanted them to know in first grade?

They don't want to waste valuable seat time teaching them to master something useful, but would rather I spend my valuable family time doing it. Fine. If I have to teach my kids math, don't waste our valuable time with EDM.

/this isn't directed at the teachers who have little control over the curriculum - just at the system

hschinske said...

They always make a big fuss over drilling math facts. I think actually it's more image than substance -- they don't want to LOOK as if they didn't care whether the kids were fluent in math facts. I spent a lot of time worrying about my older kids not being fluent, and much less when my son was going through the system (after his older sisters had developed fluency apparently in spite of, rather than because of, flashcards, Multiplication Rock, etc., none of which worked as advertised, though Multiplication Rock was at least fun).

Anonymous said...

The irony about the math situation is that many kids are in APP because of their math abilities. Yet, in our experience, when they get into APP there is no differentiation. Being in APP is actually holding them back.

Anonymous said...

This comment was just posted on Save Seattle Schools. Did they change the APP entrance criteria without anyone knowing:

"lak367 said...
My 1st grader thought it was kind of fun to do. They did it in the beginning of the year, and the information was used in part to place children into appropriate reading groups based on skill. I am hoping that they use it to differentiate math teaching as well, but I have no evidence that that is happening yet for her as the homework she is getting is way beneath her skill set.

They are supposedly also using MAP results as part of gifted testing. My daughter took the cognitive abilities test up at school this past Saturday, and rather than bring her back for more testing of reading and math, the letters we got said they will use MAP results instead of standardized Woodcock-Johnson Achievement tests."

Anonymous said...

Applications for testing this year did say that MAP would be used as part of the placement. The question is what data point will be used as the cutoff.

hschinske said...

MAP results have percentiles -- I'd assume it's 95th percentile as they haven't changed the eligibility chart at http://www.seattleschools.org/area/advlearning/eligtestcriteria.htm.

Ben said...

Can someone enlighten me on the recent history of the math curriculum?

What I see in my son's homework is that his 1st grade (APP) math seemed more involved than his current (2nd grade APP) math work. Is this all in my head? Because of a change in curriculum or other policies? A function of his teachers?

Anonymous said...

From what I've read, a child is more likely to hit the 95% level with the MAP than with other tests typically used for gifted testing. So, will the benchmark be 95% at one grade level ahead, or 95% at grade level? The Advanced Learning website doesn't get to specifics. Last year some students were given achievement tests at one grade level ahead.

Anonymous said...

Ben - it's the curriculum. In 1st grade, kids did 1st and 2nd grade EDM and the teacher could skip around a bit. Now they're doing 3rd grade EDM (not exactly two years ahead...). You can ask to see their books if you want a better idea of what they'll be doing this year.

What you won't see them doing are the standard algorithms for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing (unless you've taught these at home).

Anonymous said...

My daughter is in 4th grade APP at Lowell and after last year of that awful math, it looks like they are using the standard algorithms for multiplication and long division (which they learned last year, but didn't seems to practice much). I'm not sure if that is due to her teacher or if that is the curriculum. She also doesn't have much math homework at all (I'm sure that's due to the teacher), which is fine by me.

hschinske said...

By fourth grade, they should be out of EDM and on to CMP (at least that's the way it worked a couple of years ago). I imagine some teachers do more supplementation of traditional algorithms than others (the mult/long div. isn't in CMP).

Dorothy said...

"Last year some students were given achievement tests at one grade level ahead."

Details? That would be very different than the way things were done in the past.

Dorothy said...

I should clarify. I suppose what was meant was that the CoGat - the Aptitude portion - was given one grade level ahead. That is newish, but is actually in accordance with the folks who created the CoGat. The Woodcock Johnson is an individualized achievement assessment that is not grade based. It's like MAP but administered by a human. What I have been disappointed with was the move a few years ago to minimize the WJ and use the WASL as the achievement portion. The WASL has never been (except to 9th graders one year) been offered out of level. As far as I know. So I was curious if that had happened.

hschinske said...

A 95th percentile result is just as difficult to get on one test as another -- only 5% of students will reach it. It may be largely a *different* 5% on one test compared to another, though. Typically any student scoring in the top 5% on the MAP will have reached out of level problems. They may not have reached the median level for two years ahead, however. According to http://www.nwea.org/sites/www.nwea.org/files/support_articles/Comparative Data Final.pdf, the 95th percentile in math for a 2nd grader would be a RIT score of 198, which is only half a standard deviation above the median for a third grader, and below the median for a fourth grader. On the other hand, the 95th percentile for a 6th grade student is above the mean score for 11th grade. (On most achievement tests the difference between median scores from one year to the next is much less in high school than in elementary school.)

Anonymous said...

Dorothy - I think you are right about the above grade level placement testing - it was for the CogAt (the first test given by the District to qualify for advanced learning) and not the achievement testing. The issue is that it was also administered according to the above grade level standards. So whereas the test may have been administered verbally the previous year, the next year that same grade level was taking it independently. This can really have an effect on children's scores. The above grade level material was not the issue so much as the way the test was administered.

hschinske said...

Riverside (publisher of the CogAT -- yes, it's been capped three different ways in this thread, and I think my version is right :-) ) does recommend that out-of-level testing be done with the on-level protocols (it is perfectly okay to read the third-grade test to second-graders). I don't know why that wasn't done.

Dorothy said...

Ah yes, how frustrating, that the district try to get it right, but then muck it up. I worry about the MAP used for qualifying though, given that right now kids don't really understand the significance and some are playing around -- getting questions wrong on purpose. What made sense about the human delivered assessments like WJ is that one on one, it can be made very clear that there will be questions they can't answer and that's ok. and the kid knows to try their best.