\doc\web\99\sayno.txt
wa-math-sci@esd113.wednet.edu/CC
carlsona@destiny.esd105.wednet.edu,
wa-math-sci@mickey.esd113.wednet.edu,
wa-ed-deform@egroups.com,
education-consumers@lists.dundee.net
Say No to Higher Standards, World Class Standards, Problem Solving Skills
I don't understand how you folks can sit there and complain
how hard the WASL G4 is, and then ignore me when I'm trying
to tell the state that not only the test, but indeed most
NCTM based reform math is based on content which was previously
found only at G7 and G10 texts, if not post college
computer science, even though the benchmarks are so wimpy
that area = height x width is G7, as is ratio, proportionality,
multiples, and algebra story problem were at grade 10, and
the scale sorting problem is something they did not even
asess for computer science students at MIT. The official
position of the press, industry, OSPI, and Commission on
Student Learning is that the test is consistent with NTCM
guidelines, and is compliant with test benchmarks and
specifications, and Terry Bergeson personally told me that
they had a second look, and just because area = height x width
is a g7 benchmark doesn't mean you can't ask kids to compare
rectangles given their height and width in the G4 tests (??)
The Boston Globe at least has raised the question by quoting
students and teachers who were willing to state that their
tests were entirely inappropriate for the grade levels.
Unfortunately, the Seattle Times and other Washington press
has consistently refused to air the opinion that the tests are
not only very difficult, they are much TOO difficult.
New "aligned" text books appear to cover about half of the
material that was not covered in pre-1995 texts, but the
"new" content does not appear to be standardized. It's very
easy to come up with difficult problems that most students
can't solve to "prove" the new skills that need to be
taught for the 21st century. It is much more difficult to
show that students can actually be taught to solve these
problems at a 80% rate, which is the promise, yet in the whole
NTCM process, no one has ever proved or shown a cross section
of students who has actually been taught to "proficiency" at
such a high rate.
The other disturbing aspect about these tests, besides expecting
and promising that "all will be above" average by promising that
ALL students will rise above a pass point currrently set at the
80% percentile is that "90th percentile isn't good enough". The
best school Somerset in Bellevue is a 99th percentile school, yet
only 70% passed vs 80% state goal. These kids in the story below
perform at 80-90% with Saxon math, but it doesn't matter because
you could be proficient at 99% at traditional 4th grade math and
still flunk WASL because half of the test assesses content which
simply was not and still is largely not taught by any existing
curriculum.
That these poor minority kids were able to do so well with
traditional content, yet do no better than other minority kids on
WASL content proves that when you test for content that is not
taught, the only kids that will pass are those from very high
SES with very high IQ, or exposure to math from highly educated
parents. Arthur Jensen in his book the G factor says it is widely
known that poor minorities perform much WORSE on tests that
require mental thinking than rote recall of material that was
taught. This is precisely the opposite of the assumption of ed
reform, that rote-learning is bad for minorities, but they will
shine on "higher order thinking". In fact, the school below
proves that minorities CAN be taught math skills to very high
levels of proficiency, but they will lag even further on very
difficult tests based on content which has not been taught. In fact
the very NTCM philosiphy is that children should NOT be taught
how to solve these problems, but use "problem solving" strategies
instead of ratio, proportionality, statistics etc.
For a review, please go to my reform testing page at
http://www.leconsulting.com/arthurhu/index/washtest.htm
with sample test at
http://www.leconsulting.com/arthurhu/97/08/samptest.htm
I have examples with solutions for most of the problems that
were presented in the samples. I am also willing to give
free "tutoring" to the first teachers, parents or students
willing to sit through a walk-through of these examples, and
why they correspond to G7, G10 or college level benchmarks,
and the "correct" solutions compared to official solutions
which are often incorrect or incomplete, or at least how
one MIT graduate has been taught to solve them.
My eve phone is
425-814-2183 in kirkland.
I have not yet done a comparison on the writing side, but it
is also my impression that they have moved middle school
level expecations down to G4, my kindergartener was just
given a homework assignment where they were supposed to read
a 8 page (1 sentence per page) book, and then answer
comprehesion questions with written answers. To answer what
zipped up the tree, you'd have to seach the story to page
1 and then write "the squirell". The principal
said that it was not intended for the parent to answer it for
them. Since when was this kindergarten level??? My first
grader was supposed to write sentences as home work his
2nd week. Freshmen at Skyline high in Issaquah are given
college level assignements, yet are still given half Cs
and Ds in the name of "higher standards" even though these
students are in the top 5 high school test scores in greater
seattle.
Integrated math covers solving ax+bx=c in about
a week instead of an entire year in traditional algebra one,
filling the rest of the year with reading charts, statistics,
pascal's triangle, and solving systems with matrix arithmetic
on $100 graphic calculators that none of these kids will
ever use on a real job.
These higher standards are not a good idea. International
standards are not a good idea when most nations essentially
stop high school ed at grade 10. Higher order thinking is
not a good idea when we know the poor can be taught basic
skills, and they stumble even farther on tasks not related to
explicitly taught curriculum.
We will not be able to wrestle with reform until we can confront
the fads and be willing to say no to higher standards, no to
world class standards, no to "accountability", no to higher
order thinking, and "yes" to high traditional standards like
Bill Gates and I were expected to reach to get in to Harvard
or MIT. These are standards that no child was ever expected
to demonstrate at these grade levels.
On 1999-04-11 wa-math-sci@esd113.wednet.edu said:
>CC: wa-math-sci@mickey.esd113.wednet.edu
>John--
>I live in Grandview---80% free and reduced lunch; 70+% Hispanic. I
>don't think we can compete with the rest of the state. I also don't
>think that much of the test is age appropriate. I'm all for raising
>standards, and my kids are already doing things I never thought
>they'd be able to do, but..... The District doubled our math score
>last year--from 6 to 12%. In reading and writing we actually
>scored worse. It's quite depressing because we are really working
>hard, and the stress(especially on fourth grade teachers!) is
>immense!! We have Saxon Math which I dearly love--even though many
>outside of our District disagree. My kids scored about 38% last
>year on CAT Reading test, but in the mid 80's on the Math CAT test
>(with computation in the 90's on the average). That makes me
>excited. Only about 30% of my kids passed the math WASL, but I've
>seen tremendous growth in their abilities and understanding. I was
>amazed last year that about 1/4 of the test was interpreting graphs.
>I've looked for similar graphs to use with my kids and found a few.
>Unfortunately they were in books for 6-8th grade with vocabulary to
>match. I guess my advice to you is to hang in there, try to keep
>that blood pressure under control, and realize that you certainly
>are not out there alone!! I'm doing a 3-4 loop so am not under the
>gun this year on the test. Good luck to you and yours!!
>Alix Carlson
>Grandview
Arthur Hu "Fairness in Diversity" Kirkland WA
http://www.leconsulting.com/arthurhu/