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.