Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Success Stories"?????

I got an email this morning from a friend in Virginia, Greg Barlow. He sent me a divine piece of research that beautifully illustrates the FACT that Investigations is not a proven method by which to teach children. A group of parents there took it upon themselves to find out if the "success stories" touted by Pearson (the publisher of Investigations) were REALLY TRUE. They conducted their own study on a national level. They picked up their phones and got on their computers and contacted these "success stories" to find out what was really going on. Their results were eerily familiar to those results that a few of us moms in Camdenton experienced when our administration handed out a list of schools in Missouri using Investigations. We all found the same results. I think you will find those results very alarming, as well!

The following report in entirety can be read here:
Independent_Survey_-_Math_Investigations_Success_Stories.pdf It is a MUST READ!!!

Excerpts taken from the above mentioned article:

Independent Research & Analysis
A Survey of School Districts Profiled in
Pearson Scott Foresman Publishers’
January 2007 Publication,
"Investigations in Number, Data, and Space: Evidence for Success"i
(Data as of February 24, 2009)

Survey Purpose and Methodology

The purpose of this survey was to examine claims of success regarding districts and schools utilizing Pearson Publishers’ elementary mathematics curriculum, Investigations in Number, Data, and Space as profiled in the publisher’s marketing / validation study.

In considering the adoption of the Investigations elementary math curriculum, school districts regularly cite the Pearson document as "research" to support school system selection of the materials. Each of the school and district "data cases" presented in the Pearson document are said to represent, "Cross sectional information about the schools and districts included."ii The Pearson document further asserts, "The data, taken as a whole, document the success of this Scott Foresman instructional material across a wide range of situations, including differing student body compositions (socioeconomic and ethnic), and urban, suburban and rural locales," and finally, "In designing this study, the aim was to provide the kind of information that schools and districts already use to support their curriculum decisions."iii

Survey Purpose and Methodology (Continued)

Though lauded as "success stories" in the January 2007 Pearson publication, many of the included schools, districts, and in fact state Departments of Education have rejected Investigations outright and have long since ceased using the curricula and materials. Many others are in the process of removing the curricula and materials from primary/basal use in mathematics instruction in their districts. The following is a compilation of findings from contact made with those schools, districts, and state level agencies associated with the schools and districts cited as Math Investigations success stories in the January 2007 edition of the Pearson Scott Foresman "Evidence for Success" publication.

The information presented puts the Pearson Scott Foresman "Success Stories" in a larger achievement-oriented perspective in light of the high numbers of districts no longer using or in the process of abandoning Investigations in Number, Data, and Space in districts and states across the country. In the spirit of a "Caveat Emptor" (buyer beware) concern for districts and schools considering adoption of this mathematics curriculum, the authors of this survey remain optimistic that these such agencies will have the foresight to look beyond the glossy publisher sales brochures when considering the mathematical content that should be provided in instructional programs to the children in public school systems .

Part I – Summary of Findings

A majority of districts reporting have either discontinued using the Investigations curriculum and materials or are in the process of dropping the program as of February, 2009.

• 62 of 70 "Evidence for Success" school districts responded to the survey
• 36 of these districts have discontinued use or are
in the process of discontinuing the use of Investigations (58% of districts responding; 51% of districts overall)
So...more than half of all of the "success stories" have dropped Investigations.
• 17 of these districts currently using Investigations are Title I (schools/districts and/or receiving National Science Foundation funding and/or other grants for continued implementation of the curricula
(27% of districts responding; 24% of districts overall). So another 1/4 of those "success stories are getting funding or incentives in the form of grants to use this inquiry based form of teaching.
• 8 of the districts using Investigations are using supplemental material to support gaps in the mathematical content of the program. (7 of these districts are comprised of 7 elementary schools or less; the 8th has only 15 elementary schools) appears that most schools who still do use Investigations believe it MUST be supplemented to fill in all of those GAPS!

• Only two district responding were using Investigations without supplementation (3.2% of districts responding; 2.9% of districts overall)
(I would LOVE to see their test scores...true test scores).
• To date (24 Feb 2009) 8 districts had yet to respond; 6 of these are Title I districts).

Part II –District Math Curriculum Director/Coordinator Remarks
Testimony of School District Math Curriculum Directors and Coordinators on Math Investigations
February, 2009
"Success Stories"?

Coventry Local School District, OH – Curriculum Director
"I find it somewhat funny that we dropped Investigations around the 2002-2003 school year. It was not a successful program in our school district, and we decided to return to a more traditional program k-12. So, I am not sure why Pearson has us listed as a success story. We saw the dramatic increase in state test scores AFTER we dropped the program and went with a more traditional approach........ (This is classic. On the list that was given to us by our administration we even found there were schools on the list that had never heard of Investigations.)

..........In my opinion, the program was created by professors and researchers who do not deal with the day to day situation of elementary classrooms. It could be a nice supplemental to a traditional math program but it is nothing more than that."
(I love this one...we got this answer more than once in Missouri.)

Lebanon School District, OH - Director of Instruction and Tech.

"We do not use MI as our core textbook because it had many gaps in the alignment to our state standards ......
........We discovered the gaps in MI after the fact when implemented. Scores increased in grades k-4 but then dropped in grades 5-7 .
[Email dated 2/5/09]

Black River Falls School District, WI – Curriculum Coordinator

The activities were too "open-ended" for some of our teachers. We decided to switch in order to get more consistent use by all teachers. There seems to be a very positive attitude toward the change."
[Email dated 2/6/09]

Naperville School District, IL – Gifted Coordinator & Math Project Manager

"We supplemented with Investigations only since 2000. In fact, we never purchased the student work books. Rather, we created our own math curriculum - binders for our 14 elementary school math teachers... We are now reviewing two new text books and will not be considering Investigations for ’09-‘10.
[Telephone conversation of 2/6/09]

La Crosse School District, WI– Director of Math/Curriculum

"No improvement at all with the math scores since 2002. We dropped MI and are now using a different text book. We are very happy to date."
[Telephone conversation of 2/6/09]

Columbia School District, MO – Curriculum Director
"We will not be using MI as of the Fall of ’09. MI is not among the materials we are considering......

......"we will return to a traditional program"

.......Our scores at the elementary level have fallen the past few years.
[Email dated 2/5/09]

Framingham School District, MA – Director of Curriculum & Staff Development:

"We have just completed a math pilot review and are dropping MI. We found, through the current pilot programs that Investigations did not meet current MA curriculum standards. For example, Kindergarten time and money. We also found that professional development was based on how to use the text. Our new text book focuses on Mathematics… more important to us."
[Email dated 2/6/09]

Three Rivers School District, OH – Curriculum Administrator

Last year the math adoption team chose a replacement for MI.

......One of the major concerns of our staff members was that students were lagging behind in basic computational skills. We believe our new text book will help us close that gap.
[Email dated 2/5/09]

Chariho School District, RI – Curriculum Director

"We no longer use MI. ....

.....The curriculum should align with the standards without relying on supplementation. A balanced approach to teaching math is an undertaking I’d not dare implement with MI....

.....I would never recommend a text book that doesn’t align with our state standards.
[Telephone conversation of 2/4/09]

Gadsden School District, NM – Director for Instructional Support

We received a grant to provide monies to sustain professional development to support teachers to implement reformed pedagogy and the materials that best exemplify that pedagogy is MI.
[Email dated 2/5/09]

Please look at all of Greg's research!!! It is so interesting. I think it validates the truth that so many of us already know. It would appear that the research used to support the implementation of Investigations is VERY flawed...not just in Missouri, but all over the United States.

Our district is trying to make the argument that schools that have not liked Investigations was because they were using the OLD version. They say that we are using version 2 which is soooo much better. No one can answer why they believe that to be true. I would love to see the research within our own state that supports that notion, but when asked at the last school board meeting where it has been used and who believes it to be better, it was said that our district is one of the first to go to Version 2. Do you feel like our kids are research? Some of us sure do! If the success stories provided by the publisher have been so consistently weak...does it now make sense why we are demanding answers and why those answers are nowhere to be found?

So, draw your own conclusions from the data taken from cities all over the country. Do we want to continue in a program that is consistently being dropped over and over and over again? Do we want to wake up in 4 or 5 years and realize that we should have done something differently? Our kids cannot lose these their most formative learning years to this garbage. If all of Pearson's "success stories" are dropping it left and right...why should we stick around and try it out? Remember...these are Pearson's SUCCESS STORIES! If this is success in their opinion, then what does failure look you find that thought scary? You should.

i, "Evidence of Success with Investigations in Other School Districts." Mathematics Online, Prince William County Schools. February 2009. February 6, 2009;