Friday, January 30, 2009

Differing Points Of View

There have been several readers posting comments in the last couple of days. There have been a couple that I thought I would post. In the event you do not keep up with the comments, I thought you might find these to be of interest.

iteachmath said...

Stacy- You say you want to see some research so I am providing it. I care about our students and want what is best for them so please post the following (sorry it is so lengthy):

Regardless of what math program is used, every school will be eventually listed as “needs improvement” by the state. This is because the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act requires that all students be at 100% by 2014. It does not take a brain surgeon to figure out that this is an impossible task. If you look at the DESE website, it shows what level each school has to be at as the years progress. The levels increase each year as it approaches that 100% for 2014.

All the research I have done indicates that children will learn what they are taught no matter what the math program is. The research also indicates that providing data with an inquiry-based series is difficult when teachers do not all use it in the way it was intended.
My proof: and (look under “Research Evidence for Effectiveness”). I am sure that this is due to the fact that all math series require some kind of supplementation and not all teachers use the same supplement.

When I found out that I was going to be teaching Investigations this year, I was petrified. The reason being is that I knew I was going to have to learn new approaches to math. Now that I am over half way through the school year, I am in awe at the math language and processes students are using. As long as the teacher monitors and follows the grade level expectations, your child will learn. Teaching Investigations has made me become a better math teacher, and I now know what I have to do to reach all children. Do I have to supplement? Yes, a little. Did I have to supplement with the traditional math series. Yes, a little. The big difference I see now is that students are taking charge of their learning and exploring more in-depth to develop an understanding as to why certain processes work. For teachers who dislike the program, I cannot speak for them. If they are having difficulty with the program, I would hope that they would seek out help from those teachers who are experiencing success with it.

The proof that inquiry-based math does work is on the U.S. Department of EducationInstitute of Education Sciences. The results of their research shows that Everyday Math does work. Everyday Math has been around for 25 years and has had 17 different research projects done on it. Investigations (also inquiry-based) is currently undergoing a 5 year study that will end in 2010. The description of the study can be seen at

Again research on Investigations thus far has been difficult due to inconsistent implementation of the program. True research on Investigations has not been completed or done from what I can find. If you have found true research on it, I would like to see it. I know there are schools that can provide data based on using the program. My question would still be: Was there consistent implementation practices within that school district?

My thoughts are that if parents are so unhappy with Investigations, why not consider going with an inquiry-based math program that has proven itself… Everyday Mathematics? With being an inquiry-based math program, I doubt it is much different in its practices than Investigations. Again, the research proves it works if you trust the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Services.
January 29, 2009 2:06 PM

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Stacy said...
Dear iteachmath,

I sincerely appreciate your commitment to our children and the fact that you do wholeheartedly believe in what you do. I can see that. I appreciate that you have research that you can offer to back up your beliefs and are willing to share that with us. I am familiar with most of your research. And I do have a response to most of it.

With reference to the WWC (What Works Clearinghouse). I do not find that research to be credible for several reasons. Please refer to the post "Their Silence Is Broken" it will go into depth as to why I believe that research to be outdated and unreliable.

As posted:
This is an archival copy of material that originally appeared at:
(And this information can be verified through the What Works Clearinghouse site as well.)

"Here’s what we know about the effectiveness of Everyday Math, based on the research reviewed by the What Works Clearinghouse:Sixty-six studies have been found to focus on the effectiveness of Elementary School Mathematics programs. Of these 66 studies, 57 did not meet basic “evidence screens,” meaning that the US Department of Education does not deem these studies to have merit because of flaws in their research design. So most of the so-called “research” is thrown out at the get-go because the studies are too small, too poorly constructed, or otherwise shoddy.Only one of the studies passed evidence standards. You got that right: only 1 of 66 studies was considered to be reliable. That’s a whopping 1.5%, for you mathematicians out there.

The government’s review of this article focused on Scott-Foresman Addison Wesley mathematics concluded that the program had “no discernable effect” on mathematics performance. So to repeat, the only decent study on elementary school mathematics curricula tells us that the curriculum under review has no effect one way or another on student achievement. So no Holy Grail here, folks.

Four of the 66 studies “meet evidence standards with reservations,” meaning that these studies may or may not have spotted the Holy Grail. In other words, these four studies have imperfections: tehy are not so bad as to force them out of consideration, but they contain flaws that may (or may not) undermine their conclusions.

As it happens, fully 61 of the 66 studies cited the What Works Clearinghouse focus on Everyday Math, at least in part. Fifty-seven (57) of them were thrown out because they did not meet the evidence screen. None fully meets the evidence standards. Four (the same four described above) meet the standards “with reservations.”Based on only these four studies, each of which passes Department of Education standards for evidence “with reservations,” the What Works Clearinghouse declares in its “Intervention Report” on Everyday Math that the University of Chicago program has “potentially positive effects.”by:

It is also widely known as documented in an email from Stanford University Math professor James Milgram that the Everyday Math findings for the WWC were "flawed".
See his email below:On Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 9:17 AM, Jim Milgram wrote:

"I sent a request that they remove my name from their report. The people who did the original EM report were not renewed as contractors for the WWC web-site, and I believe a number of the studies are supposed to be redone. I think a key problem was the Everyday Math report, where they leaned heavily on the P. Noyce paper on EM in Massachusetts. But nobody reliable really believes it represents solid research, especially since Penny Noyce has refused to name the schools, and the results appear to be an isolated case."

With reference to Investigations there is NO conclusive evidence that it works when considered by our Department of Education. It is still "under review". After over 20 years of use in this country there is NO conclusive data to show that it works.

As well, I personally, have spoke to parents, administrators, and teachers from all over this country that can tell me what a huge disaster that it was for their children. Over and over and over again the stories are the same. It does not prepare children for Algebra. It does not give them the foundation to find success in true higher level mathematics. That fact is proven over and over again in talking to literally dozens and dozens of people who have been exposed first hand. Again, please refer to my post "Their Silence Is Broken" to see my rebuttal a little more in depth to this subject of the WWC.

The research is not enough to justify this method of teaching ESPECIALLY in light of the fact that our DOE has a new report out in March of 2008 called The Foundations For Success. It is a report handed out by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel mandated by our Department of Education. (All information was pulled directly from the "Foundations For Success Final Report 2008" the findings of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. My words follow each number in parenthesis)."

In all, the Panel reviewed more than 16,000 research publications and policy reports and received public testimony from 110 individuals of whom 69 appeared before the Panel on their own word and 41 others were invited on the basis of expertise to cover particular topics. In addition, the Panel reviewed written commentary from 160 organizations and individuals, and analyzed survey results from over 743 active teachers of algebra.

They found:
1. A focused, coherent progression of mathematics learning, with an emphasis on proficiency with key topics, should become the norm in elementary and middle school mathematics curricula. Any approach that continually revisits topics year after year without closure IS TO BE AVOIDED.(This condemns spiraling without mastery. Meaning that a child should learn to add before they subtract. They should learn to multiply before they can divide. Those subjects should be practiced and "mastered" before moving on to the next subject.)

2. By the term proficiency, the Panel means that students should understand concepts, achieve automaticity as appropriate, develop flexible, accurate, and AUTOMATIC execution of the STANDARD ALGORITHMS, and use these competencies to solve problems. (Most teachers will tell you that they have been preached at that memorization is a waste of brain power. Rote memorization is not part of Investigations and the teachers manuals for Investigations condemns memorizing. See earlier posts.Also encourages the standard algorithm which is not even introduced in some parts of Investigations until 5th grade. The standard algorithm is shown as one of many ways to solve a problem but never taught as the fastest most efficient way to solve a problem.)

3. The essence of the Panel's message is to "put first things first". Use should be made of what is clearly known from rigorous research about how children learn, especially by recognizing
a.)the advantages for children in having a strong start
b.)the mutually reinforcing benefits of conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and AUTOMATIC (i.e., quick and effortless)RECALL OF FACTS; and
c.)that effort, not just inherent talent, counts in mathematical achievement."(Again, the validity of memorizing key facts is essential...not allowed by Investigations.)see***

4.The Panel's survey of the nation's algebra teachers indicated that the use of calculators in prior grades was one of their concerns. "
(Remember that our 1st graders are using calculators as part of their math ALREADY. Right or wrong...this is not what our DOE is advocating. However if you read the teachers manual from Investigations/TERC recommends a text for teachers called "Beyond Arithmetic".
***In this book it says ...and I quote: traditional elementary math must be discarded because:
BA, Page 2• Requires that students "memorize many facts,procedures, definitions, and formulas."
BA, Page 2• "Focuses on learning a particular set of proceduresfor addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals."
BA, Page 2• Results in "over practiced students."
BA, Page 3• Ignores the fact that "today's students have an important tool available to them: the calculator."
(Proves that Investigations does not approve of memorizing facts.)

Also, (this is a biggie)the National Mathematics Advisory Panel; Foundations For Success also says: "U.S. mathematic textbooks are extremely long. With study guides and answers, they sometimes exceed 1000 pages. Even elementary school textbooks sometimes exceed 700 pages. Mathematics textbooks were much shorter in previous decades and continue to be much shorter in many nations with higher mathematics achievement than in the United States. Thus, the great length is not needed for effective instruction. " (Our 3rd and 4th graders have 9 editions in their math curriculum this year. NINE teachers manuals. Of which the principal from Hawthorn acknowledged at the last board meeting that it would not be possible to get through all NINE of those texts completely this year..Wow. Then why are we using it?)

Also...the National Mathematics Advisory Panel says pg.22: "The curricula of high achieving nations in the TIMSS study do not follow the single-subject sequence of Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II, but they also differ from the approach used in most U.S. integrated curricula. Instead Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry are divided into blocks. The teaching of each block typically extends over several months and aims for mathematical closure. As a result, these curricula avoid the need to revisit essentially the same material over several years, often referred to as "spiraling."(Mathematical closure...AVOID SPIRALING!!! Need I say more?)

Please read mathematician, Bill Quirk's article: 2008 TERC Math vs. 2008 National Math Panel Recommendations
TERC 2008 Math Fails to Provide the Foundations of Algebra

Bill Quirk (
For a brief analysis of TERC 2008 math, click on
TERC 2008 Math vs. NMP 2008 Math: A Snapshot View.

With reference to your comment:"why not consider going with an inquiry-based math program that has proven itself… Everyday Mathematics? "
First of all...we do not believe that EM is proven. See the research with reference to the WWC and the what the National Mathematics Advisory Panel says about those fundamental beliefs of must know that our elementary schools have used the inquiry based curricula only since 1994 as their core. EM has been around in the Camdenton Schools for over 15 years. If our math has not been working maybe we should go to a traditional approach for the first time in 15 long years and maybe try something that just may work. I think change is long overdue. Our children have weak skills because EM is weak. Our school recongnizes Investigations as being similar to EM (see note: the research section under math.) why not try something new? A more traditional approach may just work, why not give it a try?

I, too, apologize for my lengthy response. There is just so much to respond with.

I do appreciate your offering your research. I do not believe that it is strong enough to merit use on our children. Being that I have spent countless hours speaking with people who have had first hand experience with this type of math and confirm over and over what a disaster it has been for thier children along with the abundance of strong research that rejects this way of teaching...I cannot say that the research you have used is terribly convincing.Even though we may not agree I appreciate the dialogue on this matter. I think productive debate brings to light both perspectives and why we feel as strongly as we do. Again, thank you for offering your research. I appreciate your taking the time to present your argument.

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Also from an anonymous math teacher in response to the initial research done by iteachmath:

iteachmathtoo said...
The commenter sortof conveys a mixed message. On the one hand he/she says that the programs must be implemented properly, but on the other hand he/she says they do supplement.

SO what is it?

Does the program contain appropriate content or not??

This passage, "Now that I am over half way through the school year, I am in awe at the math language and processes students are using. As long as the teacher monitors and follows the grade level expectations, your child will learn."
leads me to believe that maybe this teacher might be learning more than her students. She thinks the GLEs are good? Your child will learn. Learn WHAT is really the question, isn't it? What content is supplemented? And WHY buy a program that needs to be supplemented if you believe that it must be implemented "with fidelity"??

It makes no sense.

Another comment was "The results of their research shows that Everyday Math does work. Everyday Math has been around for 25 years and has had 17 different research projects done on it."
The findings in this topic report summarize the first wave of WWC elementary school math intervention reports produced in 2006–07. "We looked at 340 studies. Of these, 237 were assessments of interventions that qualified for our review; the other 103 could not be categorized by intervention. 3 Of the 237 studies, 9 studies of 5 curricula met our evidence standards, 2 without reservations and 7 with reservations. Altogether, the WWC looked at 73 interventions: 5 had studies that met WWC standards with or without reservations, 67 had studies that did not meet WWC evidence screens, and 1 had a single-case study, which is still under review. (The identification of eligible programs ended in September 2005, and that of eligible studies, in July 2006.) In looking at the one outcome domain for the five elementary school math curricula: Everyday Mathematics had potentially positive effects on math achievement "
I'm sorry, but I hardly call that evidence when it has been reported : ( )that "Everyday Mathematics is a 25-year-old prekindergarten through sixth grade mathematics curriculum developed by the University of Chicago School of Mathematics Project and published by Wright Group/McGraw-Hill. According to that university's website, it is being used in more than 185,000 classrooms by almost 3 million students." Affecting 3 million students? So why did so few of their studies meet WWC evidence standards or screens?

Another comment was "Again research on Investigations thus far has been difficult due to inconsistent implementation of the program. True research on Investigations has not been completed or done from what I can find. If you have found true research on it, I would like to see it. I know there are schools that can provide data based on using the program. My question would still be: Was there consistent implementation practices within that school district?

"And if you read this one closely:
it will definitely answer the question about whether or not your children are being experimented on...
January 29, 2009 8:56 PM

If you are not reading the "comments" I encourage you to take a look. There is productive insight that comes from some of those dialogues.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No "Spin" Allowed Here!

I received this comment this morning from a reader. I am so proud that this reader took it upon themself to do their own research and NOT take someone else's word for it!!!! This is what we should all be doing from now on. Remember the "fuzzy math double speak"? Some of us are catching on to it and are CHOOSING TO BE OUR OWN EXPERTS! Great job parents. Keep up the good work. The comment is shown below. Remember you, too, need to check any facts thrown your way by any administrator/teacher/newspaper who may leave you with questions. The facts are the facts. You cannot "spin" the truth is not allowed! Great job "groupie"!

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Answers Offered": I just read a very interesting article in the Lake Sun Leader. It is titled: In Eldon, it’s just called math. A quote from the article reads, "While there is very little hard proof - Eldon’s MAP scores have remained about the same since implementation - Investigations math does show signs of working."
About the same?

Let's investigate...From DESE website...
Eldon (% of students in proficient & advanced)

3rd grade 2007 46.1
..............2008 39.9

4th grade 2007 46.9
..............2008 36.9


3rd grade 2007 49.8
..............2008 39.9

*remember 3 classes used Investigations completely this year (2008) and two used it half.

Wow! Do any of these look "about the same to you"? I didn't think so. Unless 10 percent drops in one year are "normal" then I beg to differ! Hmmmm ....if it was working so well, then why did Eldon's scores drop so dramatically? I don't know about you all...but, I don't think these facts make me feel all warm and fuzzy about the success of Investigations!!! *** Remember... if it was "working" so well then why did they (Eldon) order the Scott Foresman text mid way through the first semester of THIS school year to rescue this situation? Let's all be honest here...if something is "working" then why change it mid year? Be your own judge.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Answers Offered

In continued efforts to present a fair and balanced blog...I thought I would share a recent comment from a very distressed reader. I did my best to answer those questions that he/she accused me of not being willing to answer. Just thought you might want to take a peek, and realize that some people are really mad about this on the other side and want to make this a personal attack. I hope that the majority of you understand this is not personal for me and should not be for any of you. This is about math ONLY. Anyway...I did my best to answer the questions offered. Hope this helps.

I have been reading your blog and listening to your arguments for some time, and I have never responded until now.I feel very comfortable responding because we all know that the blogs that have a different opinion than yours, never seem to make it to your blogspot. (So, if this is the first time to would you even know that I reject any posts? Looks to me like you are THAT "hate" poster....again. But, I will post you this time not just in the comment portion. I will post your comment front and center since you have felt so neglected to this point. Sorry about that, but typically when comments come in that are hateful in nature and show unfounded research they don't make the cut. Also, if your comment is so "ignorant" I hate to post it because it invites unproductive banter on my site...which I prefer to avoid if possible. None-the-less, I hope this makes up for any hurt feelings. Anyway...understand that this is my blog and I have no responsibility to post things I believe to be off color or poor research. I am allowed to post whatever I want on my blog. That is why it is called a blog.

Furthermore what makes an anonymous poster's research so valid? At least I am willing to put my name on it. As far as I am concerned speculation by some angry blogger isn't worthy of making the cut...sorry.) I find that amazing. (What? Start your own site if you don't like it. It makes me laugh to think that someone is having an "anonymous tantrum" because they can't manipulate me into posting their very skewed opinion on my blog. FYI: Only the truth is allowed here. NO SPIN.). I think that there are many, many issues that you have yet to address or even think about. So lets get started. (Gladly)

#1 When was it that you acquired your educational degree? Since you have now appointed yourself as the "educational expert " for the Camdenton School District, I was just interested in your credentials. First of all, I have not appointed myself the educational expert for the Camdenton Schools. I have never said that. I am simply asking questions with merit that have been asked for months now that no one knows how to answer in our administration. And when you are managing something as precious as our children the answers that have been asked should not be hard. Yet we have still not heard one answer. I am asking for accountability from those who have made the decisions. Nothing more. Nothing less.

With reference to the matter of credentials, that is a very good question. I am glad you bring this up. Not with reference to mine. My credentials do not rest in the field of education. However, credentials of those administering these programs and have chosen them should be questioned I agree. I would love to see that done and those credentials carefully evaluated. You are so right...when it comes to the education of our children those credentials should bear much weight.

#2 On your blog you stated in one of your ramblings that the math scores for the school were not "that bad". (Okay...let's go there. I was making reference to "not bad" in comparison to where we were in relation to reading. They definitely did not need as much attention as our falling comm art scores. That is why we are so upset. This is a reading rich curriculum that requires proficient reading scores. We do not post even decent reading scores. So whose bright idea was it to deviate from working on the obvious area of decline? Why are we focusing on Math when reading is so much worse and has shown steady decline in recent years in all grade levels? Why were we not looking at a much needed change with our reading curriculum? Why did we set up our children for failure by taking them to a curriculum that is centered around word problems when we know they can't read? That is the true context that those words were spoken in.) When I looked up the information it shows that our test scores have been at 45%,( while there did you notice that our third graders last year took a 10% decline over the third graders the year before in MAP testing? Yes, this may be a coincidence, but it looks suspicious when you factor that 3 teachers went to this curriculum without supplementation last year and 2 teachers went part time. I think you need to get your facts straight. 45% is not accurate, at least for our third grade. ) which to me means that 55% of our students are not "getting it". (At this point you can look at that in this way is better than 65% not getting it, and that is really what is happening. I am a glass half full kind of girl;) That really seems like an okay percentage to you? The test scores I believe are the results of the "old way" of math that you love, right? (If you have read any research or anything that I have ever written, I am asking for balance. I do not want JUST a traditional approach. Our kids have NOT had that in grades k-2 in Camdenton since 1994. Yep, that is right that is when Everyday Math was first piloted. So...I say it is long overdue that our children get to try the "old way" for a change. We have failed with the reform math for well over a decade now in our elementary schools. Is that not a long enough time for you to deduce it does not work? For me, I think the writing is on the wall and has been for years now. My son and all of his peers in third grade have had their math changed 4 TIMES IN 4 YEARS!!!!! And guess what...he has not had traditional math in any of those 4 years as his core! NOT ONE TIME!!! So, call me crazy but, yes I think that it is long overdue that we look into something that just might work for a change. ) Just for thought, if this "old way" of math is so terrific, why then do we as the United States score so terribly on EVERY international math test? (Maybe that is because since 1989 this hideous and insidious kind of math has plagued our country. Read the research.)

#3 I love that you have an online petition that has people who: have asked for their names to be removed, but you have not done it, people who do not live in our district, and people listed twice. Shows that you are lacking integrity I believe. ( I hate to disappoint you, but I don't spend my days counting our online votes and validating every single voter at this point. Between the paper push and the online votes I cannot and do not "police" that. It has gotten way too big for me to track at this point. I have, however, spoke with Roland Todd (our county clerk) weeks ago and have asked him to verify/validate all of our petition signers when the time comes. Ask him yourself. That has already been addressed. I am impressed that you apparently are on patrol, though. You apparently have way more time on your hands than I do. I have not heard from one person who wants their name taken off. That is news to me. As far as the person who voted twice...she hit the submit button twice accidentally. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out as her name appears twice in a row. I have no idea how to remove that. For you to call my integrity into question Mr./Mrs. Anonymous is almost comical. Again, your speculation is nothing more than that to me at this point...pure speculation. )

#4 Are you more interested in what you would consider "winning", than in doing what is best for our kids? ( You know what... if "winning" means that they will receive the quality of education that they deserve, then yes. If "winning" IS doing what is best for our kids and I believe that to be the most worthwhile cause that I could ever fight for....then the answer to that question is a whole-hearted "YES"!)

#5 Just wondered how many of your little groupies have ever attended a Math night at school? I have never seen any of you there. Oh, I forgot you hold your meetings at the same time. ( I will be honest, I don't know the answer to that question. My little groupies are too many to count these days and I am not their keeper. Those "groupies" I think might find that connotation offensive. These are educated moms and dads who love their children. They have a right to be concerned, they have a vested interest in this fight called their children. I find it insulting to address those very concerned parents in such a belittling way. They are respected members of this community who deserve a voice when it comes to their children. They are not a part of this because it is fun, they have chosen to take a stand because they fear for their children which is more than I can say for you "anonymous".

I, personally, feel the math nights to be a complete and total waste of my time as I will never be persuaded that this math as anything more than a supplement is okay. It is irresponsible and damaging to our childrens' futures, and at some point that will be acknowledged. I just about guarantee it. It will manifest through our childrens' scores or the outcries of high school teachers who see the damage on the front lines sooner or later just as it has ALL OVER THE NATION! It is what it is, and I want no part of accepting it as our core.

I am educated. I know what it is and I know the damage that it causes. I have a legion of "teachers" from all over the state and in all parts of the United States. You see, I KNOW the truth. I really know the truth. I have chosen to spend my extra time at home helping my child with real math. I can't say that I will never go for the purpose of accountability, but to this point I have had no desire to attend. I, frankly, view it as a waste of my time.

#6 If you are truly so concerned that your kids are not getting the education that you want for them, and you can do it better, why not pull them out and homeschool? (Why should I have to? I bet you would love that wouldn't you? Why don't we just buck up and find some accountability and fix it? We have fabulous teachers whom I trust implicitly with the care of my children. Why can't our administration put the same trust in them that I do and just let them be the teachers? )

#7 If I understand correctly, the reason that OBE did not have to use the math program was because they do not have to make the progress that the town schools do.(Hello....hint: Maybe if we took a few lessons from them we might see some success. Ever thought of that? Are you hearing yourself? The solution seems pretty simple doesn't it?) If the town schools scores were at 80% we would not have had to do something different either, right? (Why not...we have had something different for the past 4 years for the poor children in Camdenton...heck, what is one more year? I know...let's just experiment with these kids who have had no continuity since they have been in school and see how the fare with this off-the-wall I said, what is just one more year of experimentation on them...who cares?) When I looked at how many students OBE has I think that they have 2 classrooms of about 15 students, versus 11 classrooms of 21-22 students. Do you think that could factor into any of this? (NO. I think that EVERY child in this school district should be offered the same quality of education irregardless of class size. Your argument is weak when you see that our third graders last year in comparison to OBE showed a margin of approximately 50% to the deficit (see graph in prior post). Is that because of a class size differentiation of 6-7 students? I don't think so. There is a much bigger problem here. That is the simple fact that the children of Camdenton in elementary school have NOT been offered ONE steady curriculum or changes every year. That is what part of our problem is. Our problem is that our teachers have no voice. Our problem is accountability. So, if you would like to keep offering weak excuses as to why our children should not be allowed the same opportunities as those at OBE, then don't waste your breath. Excuses don't impress us much.)

#8 While I see that you have a handful of people who think that you are championing there cause, I wonder if any of you have enough sense to see how your behavior and constant complaining is truly embarrassing,I have yet to hear you offer ONE solution. (I will tell you what is embarrassing...this math is embarrassing. It is embarrassing that our administration has adopted such a controversial curriculum with no substantive research to support it. It is embarrassing that our third graders have had FOUR math curricula in FOUR YEARS! It is embarrassing that someone made the oversight of sticking our kids who can't read into a math curriculum that is incumbent on their reading ability to be successful. It is embarrassing that when our school offers names of other schools supposedly doing this math as their core over half of them have never used it EVER! It is embarrassing that NONE of those schools use this math as anything more than a supplement! It is embarrassing when talking to a multitude of other districts throughout our state and they laugh when you tell them that our kids are forced to do it without supplementation. MOST OF THEM HAD NEVER HEARD OF SUCH A THING! That is embarrassing. It is embarrassing when some of the schools we were given to support our school's argument as to the "who else is doing this" have never even heard of Investigations or TERC math. It is embarrassing that we would be so arrogant to think we could pull off something that Columbia or Raymore Peculiar (just to name only a couple in a sea of failures) could not. It is embarrassing that our district officials wrote it off as "political" without even digesting all of the failing test scores from Columbia across the board. It is embarrassing that our administration apparently ignored the Department of Educations warnings that came out in March of 2008 with reference to this way of teaching math in their report called the Foundations For Success. It is embarrassing that our school board and administration cannot and will not answer our very valid questions. It is embarrassing that they would ask a group of very educated parents to just give our blessings to the experimenting with our children with no valid research to support this choice. It is embarrassing that we don't give our teachers a voice in something as important as this. That is embarrassing.

If you view my demand for accountability and questions that should have been answered long before our school district chose to drag our children down this ridiculous path as embarrassing, then what do you call those oversights that our school continues to make? I am sorry if I make you so uncomfortable, but a very wise man reminded us just this week "You are your child's only advocate. There is no cause more worthwhile." I happen to agree with him. So, I guess what I am saying is this...I don't really care if I embarrass you. I don't even know who you are. Since you won't use your name, it is pretty hard for me to make sure I don't offend you in public. I hate that, but that is what "anonymous" will get you. With reference to the solution we are offering... I am pretty sure that you know how to navigate the petition portion of this site. So, next time before you police the signature page stop for just a second and read the petition. There in very detailed terms is the "solution" we are looking for, since apparently you have missed that before. It is all there. )

I know I will never see a response from any of the above mentioned things, I just wanted to let you know that there are people who are not buying into what you are doing. (I think that if you had ever really read this site the answers to those questions should be pretty obvious, but I am happy to spell them out for you. I hope it helped. As I have said many times, this is not about people. This is about a math program that we don't agree on. There are very good people who like this way of teaching whom I believe to be outstanding people. I have nothing against any person involved. I just want was is best for my child and yours. )

Please read the comment portion from "How Do You Like Them Apples II" to have a better idea of what precipitated this post.

Monday, January 19, 2009

How Do You Like Them Apples...Part II

The school board meeting this morning went well. On behalf of all of us I did let the school board know how much we appreciate those supplements that have been available to all other 3rd and 4th graders in our district. It is definitely the first step in the right direction that we had all been pressing for. From what we got from the dialogue today the Otter Creek/Rocket Math (it is the same thing), will be used daily for 10 minutes separate from their math lesson. It is a timed test on the basics, i.e. fact families, multiplication tables, etc., etc. It is a step. Maybe a baby step, but a step none-the-less. Thank you school board.

However, one point that did get addressed is illustrated below. It is a huge question that those of us who have done any research feel MUST be addressed. When you realize that our own Osage Beach Elementary is scoring incredibly well on the 2008 MAP test....especially in math. In 2008 MAP test the 4th grade at Osage Beach scored an unheard of 89% in the advanced and proficient range. That is arguably one of the highest scores documented by DESE in the advanced and proficient range in the STATE OF MISSOURI. Osage Beach is what you call the elementary school's math equivalent of a rock star when it comes to the MAP test. They are undoubtedly in the top 5 according to and may be have the best MAP scores in Math in the whole state. Wow. Great job OBE! (Check out and see that in 2007 out of over 1100 elementary schools in our state that OBE was ranked 55th...that is awesome.)

Anyway...the question becomes this..."Why on earth would ANYONE make them move away from what they were doing better than almost every other school in the state?" When asked this morning if they are supposed to be doing ONLY INVESTIGATIONS AND ROCKET MATH just as Hawthorn is now doing, the curriculum director answered..."THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING."

Is anyone else scratching their head and asking why? If not yet, take a look at the graph below and then answer that question. The gold are OBE's scores from 2008 and the purple are Hawthorn's scores from 2008. From left to right it shows Hawthorn/OBE math scores 3rd grade...then 4th grade....then reading scores...third grade...then fourth grade. (I had trouble getting the graph to convey to blogger. Sorry that it is hard to read. ) Click on graph to make it larger. are you scratching? When you read the graph understand that our third grade at Hawthorn piloted this program "whole hog" with 3 teachers teaching ONLY Investigations without supplementation in 2007-2008 school year. 2 teachers used it half of the time. So at Hawthorn, 5 of the 11 teachers used Investigations last year. Also, keep in mind that two of the three classes piloted on were Capstone classes ....just like they did to my Capstone daughter the year before without my knowledge or consent. She just always got an A on everything, and she did not know that what she was doing was any different. It was not until I talked to her 4th grade teacher a couple of weeks ago (she is now a 5th grader) that I realized how far behind she was coming into 4th grade. And that should have never happened. She is usually, or should be, at the top of her class (those are our "gifted" students for those of you who don't know what Capstone means.)

So, you ask what exactly are the OBE students doing this year? We are not sure. A couple of parents have compared what is coming home from OBE with what we are seeing at Hawthorn. It is NOT the same by a long shot. (I, personally, hope that they are doing what they did last year. It would be cuuurrrraaaazzzzyyyy not to!) Why would they be asked to change in light of their phenomenal scores? Why won't anyone from our school ask what it is they are doing so well, and then WE TRY TO EMULATE THEIR SUCCESS? Why are we taking off in a totally different direction? Is this fair to our children?

I thought that the vision statement of the Camdenton Schools says (and I quote) that our curriculum is "guaranteed and viable" also says that it will be "horizontally and vertically aligned". (Not my words...our school mission statement says this.) From the best I can tell that is not what is happening. I am sure that the 3rd and 4th grades at OBE are NOT doing what the 3rd and 4th grades are doing at Hawthorn. We are not sure about what is going on at Hurricane Deck. We have parents talking with other parents to get copies of what their kids are bringing home. We have a hunch....but, until we know for sure we won't go there. If anyone knows what they are doing let us know. We would love to hear.
Again, we are making baby steps in the right direction. However, Investigations when used in the right format (as a supplement never as a core) is the ONLY way to guarantee our children the success they deserve. Do you feel like our kids in Hawthorn are an experiment? If you are not okay with them being guinea pigs, put your foot down. Make sure you let your voice be heard. United we stand.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Why Is This So Hard?

This is an email from a 5th grade teacher from Lee's Summit, Missouri. They have great Map scores...and below is HOW they do it! How many times do we hear the same thing over and over again. Investigations when used as a supplement is successful. It SHOULD NOT BE A CORE!!!!! Why is it so hard for our administrators to "get it"? Why reinvent the wheel?

"We use Scott Foresman and Investigations. Primarily, we use the 80% 20% rule. (80% Scott Foresman, 20% Investigations). Investigations is used more as an introduction to any unit to get kids hands-on in learning. We have found that this approach works best for the kids because using both encompasses all types of learning. We also felt that we would not be truly preparing the kiddos when they get to 5th and middle school which focuses more on text material. .....thus, we use a combination. My MAP scores and team scores have been in the top for several years now and the parents love the combination of both. We switch series every 6 years so we will be up for another series in three.Hope this helps."

Spoken by a 6th grade teacher from Jeff City. Why is it so hard?

"Some people in the education world feel a need to use different methods to teach. Sometimes those methods are wonderful, but many times our students just fall behind. The whole language reading approach that was popular about 13 years ago is a prime example. Teachers stopped teaching phonics, and then there was this group of children who really struggled to read and spell. As the old adage goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Good luck! Let me know what happens. "

Folks, I will say it again and again...our children are experiments right now. This math will prove to fail for our children if not used correctly. I am not being negative, I am just predicting the future based on the past performance of multitudes that have gone before us all across our great nation and our state. The content is not there. There is no practice. The reading is WAY TOO HARD! And, we are not teaching our children the fastest most efficient ways to be problem solvers. Why is this so hard when the answers seem so simple and are right in front of our faces? United we stand. Fight the good fight for our children. Nothing in life matters more than our children.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Questions For The School Board

Questions For The School Board
Math Curriculum For Hawthorn
December 12, 2009

1. On what basis did we choose this math curriculum? Aside from information provided by the publisher, what independent research showed merit in using this curriculum?
(Refer to earlier post done in the last week "Their Silence Is Broken".)

2. Name 5 schools in the state of Missouri who are currently using this as their core without any supplementation?
(Remember the school has provided over 30 schools who we have called to find that none of them were using Investigations as their core without supplementation...and only 3 of them were using it as their core, but each of those schools said that they were REQUIRED to use supplements.)

3. Did anyone consider that this was a reading rich math curriculum? In light of the fact that our children in Hawthorn are not proficient readers overall, how did this oversight happen? Was that taken into consideration? How are we addressing the fact that those math problems are written by adults for adults? How are we ensuring that each child is reading and understanding each problem inside and outside of the classroom?
(**See below).

4. Now that we have been given the "green light" to supplement, what are we going to use to ensure that there is uniformity in the supplementation? Are the teachers going to be provided with materials to assist them in supplementation?
(Osage Beach and Hurricane Deck have been allowed to use supplements ALL year long...we have not. Our teachers have been strong armed all year and NOT allowed to use supplements until right before Christmas. However, there was no direction on what those would be. It just came out publicly for the fist time that the other two schools in our district ARE using something that we have not been allowed to use.)

5. Why are we not using our own Osage Beach Elementary School as a guide to improve our elementary schools throughout the district? Why are Hurricane Deck and Osage Beach allowed to use supplements that were not offered in Hawthorn? Why is there no uniformity?
(Few schools in the state do as well in testing as Osage Beach Elementary. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that. Why are we not doing what they are doing?)

6. Why was I, as a parent, not informed when my child was being experimented on with Investigations when it was piloted on her as a third grader? By the school's own admission on their website: "Without question, these programs do represent a completely new method of learning mathematics, which is foreign to parents and teachers alike and this creates discomfort."(There should be full disclosure when something so controversial is experimented on with our kids being the guinea pigs. I don't know about you, but had I known what was going on I would have never given consent. Some of you parents with Capstone Kids need to start asking those same questions. If you don't KNOW exactly what your kids have been learning the past couple of years...take it from me...ask questions. I didn't. I had never asked a single question in the past 6 years that my kids have been in school. I trusted. But, NEVER again. Some of you are not going to like what you are going to find.)

How can this happen without full parental knowledge and consent?

Understand that in not one meeting has the school board publicly discussed ANY of the math issues. We have asked for questions to be answered since the first of November and the school board on more than one occasion has told us they would look into this and get answers, yet we still have not heard a peep. Remember that the school board is required to have dialogue ONLY publicly...executive session is for personell issues. So we are left to believe that it has not been an important enough topic for our school board since we have never seen them speak openly about this issue. That is troubling for many of us. After being placed on the agenda twice, and having a special meeting where they were in attendance...yet we have never seen them publicly speak about this? Why does it not matter to them? None-the-less, the above questions were handed to each one of them personally. We are anxious to have questions that all have merit answered. Accountability is a must in this situation. These oversights need to be explained and the assurance needs to be offered that this will not happen again.

With reference to question #3...I gave the board just ONE example of my third graders homework so they could see what our third graders (remember the third graders last year from Hawthorn only saw children in the 30th percentile read in the advanced and proficient categories according to the MAP test)are reading with their math.

Combining Collections:

If these two Negro Leagues memorabilia collections were put together, how many items would there be in all? First, make an estimate. Then, write an equation, solve the problem, and show your solution below.

Details: Referring to the "Negro Leagues Baseball Museum". In the first decades of the 1900s when baseball was a segregated sport, many African American players broke world records and made a name for themselves in the Negro Leagues.

Details: Referring to the "Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues".
Here is a collection of posters, photographs, uniforms, and artifacts connected with some of the greatest ballplayer in history.

Then from there it is a simple estimate and show the equation problem.
2 whopping practice problems.
I kid you not, this is my third graders math problem. For those of you who do not see what our kids are bringing home from school...I hope this is an eye opener as to WHY question #3 is so important. Who made such a HUGE oversight!

We want to know the answers to these question because we deserve to know. This is a public school whose mission statement encourages open dialogue and invites parent involvement. That is what these questions represent...questions from a concerned parent.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Thank you for hearing us and acting so swiftly to make sure that our children in Hawthorn and Oak Ridge were rescued. Thank you for making sure that those children will now be offered what all others have had all year long. We appreciate your attention to this very urgent matter.

There will be a special session of the school board to discuss math on Monday morning at 7:30am. I know that, for most of you, it will be impossible to make this meeting. Don't worry. I will be there to let you know what those answers to all of our questions are. However, the most important first step has been taken. Our children have been given what they need to ensure that they will have a fighting chance and not miss out on this next half of the school year.

Let your school board members know that you appreciate their swift attention to this matter following the Monday night meeting. We sincerely appreciate their willingness to make sure all children are offered the same quality of education in our district.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How Do You Like Them Apples?

For those of you at the school board meeting last night, thank you. We did learn some news that confused all of us in attendance. We learned that Osage Beach Elementary School's 3rd and 4th grades are supplementing with Rocket Math, and Hurricane Deck Elementary School's 3rd and 4th grade are supplementing with Rocket Math also. In addition Dogwood, Hurricane Deck, and Osage Beach Elementary Schools' grades K - 2 are also supplementing with Rocket Math. The only 3rd and 4th graders NOT being offered supplements outside of the curriculum in our district are our Hawthorn students. This is unacceptable! After three months of begging for strong supplements for our children in Hawthorn we have only been met with frustration and no real definitive direction on what those will be. HOW UNFAIR IS THIS? HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

For those of you wondering what Rocket Math teaches the basics. It is "drill and kill". It is traditional math. (It is everything we have been asking for in recent weeks...we just had no idea that it was being used for some, but not ALL kids in our district.)

How can it be recognized that Everyday Math and Investigations cannot "stand alone" and require supplementation for all other elementary students in our district other than the kids in Hawthorn and Oak Ridge? WHAT? WHO DECIDED THIS FOR OUR CHILDREN? Once again...what is going on? How can this be fair? Why is there not equality? Why is there not the same quality of education offered for all children? Someone now tell us that our children ARE NOT GUINEA PIGS? YOU WILL NOT CONVINCE US THAT OUR CHILDREN ARE NOT YOUR EXPERIMENT!!!! We let our school board know that we fully object and EXPECT the same treatment for our children in Hawthorn. The question was also asked...why is this just now becoming public information? There was no answer for this question. Big surprise.

Parents, make your voice heard. Let our district officials know how ridiculously unfair this is! CALL THEM AND DEMAND THE SAME FOR OUR CHILDREN IN HAWTHORN AND OAK RIDGE. Our 5th and 6th graders MUST have supplements also. This is ridiculous. Let your voices be heard! What is good for one is good for all, don't you think?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Their silence is broken....

Okay. We finally hear from our school district. I don't know how many of you got to read their response to the "research" done to justify this "new math" but, for those of you who did not get to read it before they removed it from their site...I saved it for posterity. I thought it was certainly noteworthy enough to share with all of you. For some reason their information was removed in the last week. The following information was pulled from under "quick links" section on the left. Look under new math and then you will see the "research" portion. The following is pulled directly from that section earlier this month. Let us look at a few excerpts together and break it down. There is a lot of information, but I encourage you to read it more than once and try to process what it really says as to the "why" our district chose this math for our children.

Without question, these programs do represent a completely new method of learning mathematics, which is foreign to parents and teachers alike and this creates discomfort. Our district, wanting to proceed cautiously with the implementation of a dramatically new approach to teaching math, was not an early adopter of one of these new programs.

Okay. So I ask you it supposed to make us feel any better that our school district says that they were "cautious" because they were not "an early adopter"? If they were so "cautious" why did they not learn from the overwhelming failures that have followed this curriculum all over our state and nation? If they were so "cautious" then why did we not let experience be our teacher? Most would not call that "cautious". Most would call that negligent. I believe it to be condescending to insinuate that our discomfort originates with the ignorance that we are threatened by something "new". Any educated person understands and appreciates new ideas and ingenuity in any endeavour. We are not threatened by the concept of "something new". We are, however, sharply adverse to the idea of our children being experimented on without our consent. THAT is what gives us discomfort, for the record.

We were aware of the controversy existing in several districts having adopted standards based programs, but when considering the research we felt and still believe wholeheartedly that this is a worthwhile endeavor to pilot this program.

Okay...hang with me when looking at the "research" that our district officials apparently used to justify this choice. I am continually asking the question to myself..."is that the best research you can come up with? Because when you really understand their research, I must say that it is incredibly weak in light of so much newer data that our district had to pull from if only they would have looked at both sides of the coin?"

To explore the possibility of standards based math in the Camdenton R-III School District, several teachers were selected by the department of curriculum and instruction to receive training and attend professional conferences related to standards based math as well as reviewing research related to standards based programs.

Okay. So I ask this question...Was the "PLC" considered in this decision? Was there a consensus? What did the MAJORITY of teachers REALLY feel about this decision? Based on the FACT that our district says that it is a "PLC" (Professional Learning Community) and claims that "consensus" is critical...then should our teachers have not had a voice? I am under the absolute understanding from the MAJORITY of the teachers that this did not occur.

Research, like many words in our language, can mean different things to different people. we go. Just as the word "supplements", "basics", "traditional math" apparently can all have different meanings too. Many of us have learned that the hard way through this process. This is why it is SOOOO important to KNOW exactly what administrators mean when they say something anymore. I do not feel that we have been lied to deliberately. I just believe that the "truth" as we understand it must be interpreted now so we KNOW what is being said.

Investigating topics and considering the opinions of individuals in the field is certainly one method of researching; however, the trend in education through expectations being placed on public education by the federal government is to hold educational research to the level of rigor equivalent to fields such as science and medicine. This is very difficult, because little educational research has been conducted to this level of scrutiny, and clinically controlled trials are often hard to find, therefore the Institute of Education Sciences has created the What Works Clearing House to analyze research and determine if studies are, in fact, valid (Dynarski, 2008).

Okay. Let's look at this statement together. Is our school district really saying that our federal government (OUR DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION) should be considered as an authority? I certainly read it that way...but, if that is what they are saying then I am compelled to ask if they even KNEW about the National Mathematics Advisory Panels findings BEFORE they made their decision to take this route for our children. The report came out in March 2008. (The WWC was created in 2002.) Why did our decision makers defer to the WWC and not the Foundations For Success? It was a much newer report drafted at the request of our President. It was compiled and distributed by our Department of Education. It was out BEFORE the decision was made to jump into this math feet first. Our district needs to be very careful when referring to the federal government and the Department of Education when attempting to justify their argument. Most of you remember the DOE's findings in the "Foundations For Success" (Do you remember that?...The new report out in 2008...the one that says "less is more" and "mastery and closure is critical"..stuff like that. Remember that report that the National Mathematics Advisory Panel put together after appointing top experts at the request of the President of the United States to study what is wrong with how math is taught in our nation. Remember the Panel that worked for 2 WHOLE YEARS compiling research and studying what is wrong with how our kids are learning math? Was that report entirely disregarded when choosing this program for our children?

(In the next paragraph our district used several leading authorities and mathematicians that are strongly opposed to the use of standards based math as part of their argument that the evidence to support or deny any particular math programs success. Cited are the last names of some of the leading experts in the field.)

Prior to the creation of the What Works Clearing House, Budd, Carson, Garelick, Klein, Milgram, Raimi, Schwartz, Stotsky, Williams, Wilson in association with advocacy organizations of parents, mathematicians, and K-12 educators (2005), all of whom incidentally support the removal of standards based math and a return of the back to basics instruction, recognized that, “There is no conclusive evidence of the efficacy of any math instructional program."

Okay. But, is that what the experts really believe? Well, many of you might be interested to know that Stephen Wilson of John Hopkins University Math Department and James Milgram of Stanford University Math Department (both cited above) contacted our school by way of email and requested that their names be removed from the above mentioned statement as they both felt it to misrepresent their beliefs. Note their emails below:

On Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 7:25 AM, W. Stephen Wilson wrote:
For what it's worth, I sent them an email asking them to take my name off because they've misrepresented me entirely.
That comment you can even post and share with anyone.
They attribute beliefs to me that I do not hold.
I am misrepresented and misunderstood.

On Tue, Dec 23, 2008 at 9:17 AM, Jim Milgram wrote:

I sent a request that they remove my name from their report. The people who did the original EM report were not renewed as contractors for the WWC web-site, and I believe a number of the studies are supposed to be redone. I think a key problem was the Everyday Math report, where they leaned heavily on the P. Noyce paper on EM in Massachusetts. But nobody reliable really believes it represents solid research, especially since Penny Noyce has refused to name the schools, and the results appear to be an isolated case.

Okay. To understand EXACTLY what Jim Milgram of Stanford University is saying above is so important, but we will touch on this again in just a minute. Read on about what our district has to say.

Given the scant valid research supporting either side of the argument prior to the creation of the clearing house, it is clear that In the case of elementary mathematics programs, the only program receiving a rating of possibly effective is Everyday Mathematics, which is a standards based program similar to the program we are using. Programs such as Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Elementary Mathematics and Saxon Elementary School Mathematics, which are considered traditional programs, were both rated to have no discernable effects on student achievements.

Okay. Wow...Did they really say "Given the scant valid research supporting either side"? You see, there are a multitude of believers who would disagree fully with this statement. OUR DISTRICT OFFICIALS may believe that there is very little research to show what or what does not work...HOWEVER, there are many, many of us who believe that our college professors and mathematicians who have protested as to how hideously this way of teaching our children in preparation for high school algebra and thus, higher level mathematics should be given a voice.

SOME OF US believe that there is abundant research if you are willing to look for it. They are right about one thing...if they are looking for successes with this program in abundance...there is SCANT VALID RESEARCH. However, if you are really looking for the truth, then it is as simple as just looking at the scores from DESE for our neighbors down the road in Columbia WHO JUST GOT RID OF IT BECAUSE THEY FOUND IT TO BE A FAILURE FOR THEIR CHILDREN. There is TONS of "VALID RESEARCH" that shows over and over again the FAILURE of Investigations if one would be willing to look even just a tiny bit. ALL of the research that I have found that looks to be credible speaks loud and clear to what a failure this math has been all across our nation. It is not research that is hard to find. And I would think that falling test scores in school district after school district should count as viable research. In fact...take a look at what the WWC REALLY says about TERC/Investigations. The WWC does NOT endorse investigations. It shows it as "Under Review" as of November 2008. A link is provided below.

Remember what our district says above...
The What Works Clearinghouse is a positive contribution of the era of accountability and we should consult the evidence listed on the What Works Clearing House website ( to inform instructional decision making.

Should we? Apparently the WWC's positive contribution to the "era of accountability" is what our district used to inform themselves in their pursuit for "instructional decision making". Soooo...if this is the "research" used to justify the "why" we are using this program, can you understand why many of us believe it to be very weak? The funny thing is that below is how the "Investigations" is noted on the "what works clearinghouse". Check it out.

Investigations in Number, Data, and Space® Under Review November 2008

As well, the school site noted:
"the only program receiving a rating of possibly effective is Everyday Mathematics, which is a standards based program similar to the program we are using."(Noted above).

Okay. My response to all of the above is that is simply this.... "POSSIBLY EFFECTIVE" and "PROGRAM SIMILAR" ...
I don't know about you, but "POSSIBLY EFFECTIVE" and "SIMILAR" mean two things to me. First, this program (INVESTIGATIONS) is not even close to PROVEN (after over 20 years of use all over our nation should there not be a few legitimate successes recognized by our department of education?). Second, keep in mind that our district is saying that it is "SIMILAR" to another program we are using (EM). IT IS NOT EVEN THE PROGRAM THAT IS "POSSIBLY EFFECTIVE". Wow...drink that one in for a second. Nope, it doesn't make any of us feel very good about the research that our school used to SUPPORT their decision.

Remember...the Investigations is still "Under Review" according to the WWC. It hasn't even earned its "Possibly Effective" status yet (as if the "Possibly Effective" gives us warm fuzzies). It is just as likely that at the end of the "UNDER REVIEW" period that the WWC might find it to be a miserable failure. We don't know since the jury is apparently still out. It is a roll of the dice at this point. If we are lucky it MAY be upgraded to "POSSIBLY EFFECTIVE", but if we are not lucky our kids will be part of the research that deems it a "HIDEOUS FAILURE". (I am not sure if that category really exists or not...sounds good to me ;).

Okay. I know that most of you have probably had enough already, but since our school district opened the can of worms called the What Works Clearinghouse, I must make one more point. It appears that our school is trying to really do the hard sell on us when it comes to the "What Works Clearinghouse" and their ringing endorsements of TERC/Investigations and Everyday Math (if that is what you want to call it). That is why it is essential to understand that if this is the strongest data they have for leading us down this path, well it simply should not be enough for any educated individual to ever blindly follow without questions when one truly understands what this data REALLY says.

Understand one more time what the WWC says about Investigations...that it is still "UNDER REVIEW". So, it is fair to say that our decision makers have rested their hats on the "Possibly Effective" status of Everyday Math (that we use in K-2) to engage our 3rd-5th graders in Investigations because it is "similar". What? Is that considered good research? Is that really enough? (Did you really just get what I said? If that makes no sense to you, understand that I did not confuse my words. It is crazy. You read it right...just read it again and then scratch your head...a lot of us have been doing a lot of that lately.) So if all of the above information is not already enough to convince you...recognize what PROFESSOR JAMES MILGRAM OF STANFORD UNIVERISTY KINDLY REMINDS US IN A DECEMBER 23, 2008 EMAIL ABOVE WITH REFERERNCE TO THE RESEARCH OUR SCHOOL HAS DONE:

In Professor Milgram's words...
"I sent a request that they remove my name from their report. The people who did the original EM report were not renewed as contractors for the WWC web-site, and I believe a number of the studies are supposed to be redone. I think a key problem was the Everyday Math report, where they leaned heavily on the P. Noyce paper on EM in Massachusetts. But
nobody reliable really believes it represents solid research, especially since Penny Noyce has refused to name the schools, and the results appear to be an isolated case."

Make sure you get that point. That even the "Possibly Effective" is tainted in the eyes of any reliable researcher. The people who did the original report were not renewed as contractors with a number of studies to be redone. The lead researcher REFUSED to name the schools and the results appear to be an isolated case.

If this is the "research" our school is using to argue the credibility of TERC and EM, I hope this information enlightens many of you to exactly why so many of us are so upset. We deserve answers for our children. So, my question to you all is simple. How much longer are we going to tolerate the experimenting on our children? If this "research" does not rest well with you, don't be afraid to ask questions. As I said earlier...if this is all that they have got, then it is incredibly weak in light of the evidence to the contrary. Make your voices heard for our children. They deserve so much better.

Also, remember how many times that I have asked and asked for our district to give us a list of names of other schools in Missouri who are currently using Investigations without supplementation (as they have imposed on our children)with great success. I felt this "research" to be the most potentially credible. I sadly report that after contacting in excess of 30 school districts all across our state that I was led to believe used Investigations, NOT ONE that I have yet to identify is using Investigations as its core without the use of supplementation. This SHOULD NOT BE SUCH A HARD QUESTION!!! I would hope that since we proceeded so "cautiously" we would have a few schools that would be considered our "models". There should be many, wouldn't you think? This should only have been a part of our district's decision making process BEFORE engaging our children in this curriculum! Is it not reasonable that we are given more "research" than the very weak findings of the WWC? I sure think so. I would hope that at a minimum they will put their "research" back on their website so all patrons of the district can view their findings sooner than later because we all deserve to understand "why".

By The Way...if any of you are really curious about what Stephen Wilson and James Milgram really believe, check out the article listed below. It truly represents the postition of these two very distinguished scholars. Ten Myths About Mathematics Education and Why You Shouldn’t Believe Them. ""

(As of January 12, 2009 it was brought to my attention that the Camdenton website now has their "research" link up and running again as of today. The information naming the professors mentioned above has been removed. Check out the revised information at .)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Happy New Year

Like so many of you...I am just getting back in the swing of things after a crazy Christmas break. I must say that there is something nice about a routine. Please KNOW that I have not forgotten about our little issue here called "math". I have simply taken a little step back over our break so my husband and children could have their "commander and chief" overseeing the holiday festivities with a whole heart while I had them all to myself. As a very good friend who has fought this battle much, much longer than I have reminds me often.."balance in all areas is a must". Thank you "L" you are so very right. The injustice of this issue can overtake you and consume you at times if you are not careful. So, I have taken my friend's advice and taken a little break. But, I am rested. I have clarity of thought. And I am ready to continue to make our voices heard on behalf of our children.

There is so much to share that I have learned over break. There have been several of us researching our MAP scores at DESE and learning so much about what is going on in our school district based on the scores that are available for public consumption. I have learned SO MUCH, and of course as a result of what I have learned I have EVEN MORE QUESTIONS!!!! Imagine that! I am still processing all of the information that I have learned. I will share soon.

I had the privilege of getting to speak to the incredibly knowledgable Elizabeth Carson from the NYC Hold for quite some time. I have learned so much from her and the years of research and work that she has spent fighting this issue all over our nation. She is an invaluable resource, and an amazing woman. If any of you have seen her work at the NYC know that we owe her such a debt of gratitude for her endless hours of devotion to fighting this the good fight for our children. Thank you Elizabeth for educating me and the priceless insights that you shared.

I also had the opportunity to speak with a woman I admire so very much. I met her through this site, and I am so grateful for her careful wisdom and precious insights to what we are experiencing. She is a high school math teacher from up north. She, too, has been a part of this fight much longer than I. She has been on the front lines for many years and as a high school math teacher who is passionate about her "calling" she fights this the good fight because she has seen firsthand what this way of teaching does to our children. Her heart breaks for the children who are the byproduct of this "experimental" kind of teaching. I have learned so much from her, and am ever so grateful for her profound guidance and insight. She continues to point me in the right directions and imparts so much knowledge my way that I would not have ever known about without her. Thank you "L". Out of something so ridiculously trying at times you are a true bright spot for me. Thank you for being my teacher.

We will be holding another very informal forum soon to retrieve all of those signatures that you all collected over Christmas break. Just hold on to those for now. We will come together again soon. I will keep you posted on that, too. We will have more petitions to pass out and an opportunity to meet a couple of the school board candidates at that time.