Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Common Core, the anti-reformists, and Connected Mathematics

The Common Core Standards are getting tons of press in the blogs, websites, and media.  It is interesting to read the opinions of many.  It is clear to me that the anti-reformists are aligned against the common core no matter what the core content is.  They clearly have their own agenda and compromise is not in their vocabulary.  

What is the anti-reformist's agenda?  Rid all schools of any NSF program and rid schools of inquiry driven pedagogy.  In particular, Connected Math and Everyday Mathematics are especially evil.  Thus, I post new research about Connected Math below.   The study is THE EFFECTS OF CONNECTED MATHEMATICS PROJECT 2 ON STUDENT PERFORMANCE: RANDOMIZED CONTROL TRIAL.  The results are summarized below:

Those using CMP2 and those using another curriculum scored comparably on standardized mathematics assessments, however, less conservative tests comparing CMP2 and non-CMP2 students indicated that CMP2 students significantly outperformed control students on the Balanced Assessment that reflects mathematical reasoning, problem solving and communication. In this study, it is clear that implementation of the CMP2 curriculum varied greatly across study sites and teachers despite the extensive professional development teachers received prior to implementing the program in their classrooms. However, we suspect that the level of implementation in the classroom, and consequently, teachers’ efficacy, may play a role in the extent to which students might be successful in using CMP2. A second year study will be conducted to investigate this hypothesis and determine more precisely whet her or not t he CMP2 curriculum is superior for students in comparison to alternative mathematics curricula. Student attitudes and achievement are better for those student s in CMP2 classrooms with higher levels of implementation, and consequently, it is expected that teachers implementing CMP2 for a second year would have greater fidelity of implementation as compared to their first year of using the curriculum. Comparing performance of students and teachers in a second year of implementation is a fairer test of the efficacy of the curriculum than the model used in the current study.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Education Week: Draft Content Standards Elicit Mixed Reviews

Education Week: Draft Content Standards Elicit Mixed Reviews

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More on Common Standards

Draft Common Standards Hit the Internet
We're getting a peek at the draft academic standards that a work group is putting together.
Core Knowledge, an advocacy group that calls for giving students deep grounding in content across subjects, has posted a draft copy of the common, multistate standards on its Web site—and it argues that the document completely misses the mark.
The draft document represents the first step in an effort being led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to create common academic standards across states. Achieve, the ACT, and the College Board are also working on the project. The first set of standards, which the organizations have said they hoped to have completed by the end of this month, focuses on the standards for college and career readiness in language arts and math. Copies of the draft document had been circulating among some organizations for review, Robert Pondiscio, the communications director at Core Knowledge, wrote on the blog entry. His group decided to post them, because they saw no restrictions on doing so, he said.
The organization's view of the draft document is highly negative. Here's a piece from the online blog entry:
"The draft insists that the voluntary standards be 'coherent' but defines coherence to mean they 'should convey a unified vision of the big ideas and supporting concepts within a discipline and reflect a progression of learning that is meaningful and appropriate.' Framed as a series of benchmarks students must reach 'to be college and career ready,' the draft enumerates standards such as the ability to 'determine what text says explicitly and use evidence within text to infer what is implied by or follows logically from the text.'
"To put this as blandly as possible, this is neither a revelatory insight nor a meaningful standard. Educators hoping for guidance on what particular texts are expected to be taught, or how to get students to reach the bland and obvious standards will be disappointed."

Obviously, Core Knowledge has its own view of what should go into academic standards, and others reviewing the document will have their own. After you've had a look, give me your opinion.

UPDATE from guest blogger Catherine Gewertz: Gene Wilhoit of the CCSSO and Dane Linn of the NGA said it's too early to draw conclusions about the draft, since it lacks the feedback from working groups tasked to review it, and from governors and state chiefs. Once all that feedback is in, a revised draft—with evidence supporting each standard—will be available online, in mid-August, for further public comment. Wilhoit and Linn's overall message? That this draft represents just the first step in a much longer process.

Common Core Standards

Common Core Standards have been leaked today and they look DOA.
You can see them here

Monday, July 20, 2009

Some Interesting Questions

Some interesting questions appear at the EduWonk Blog below.    As the common standards are about to be released, please keep these questions in mind.

When people talk about “what (students) know and are able to do” they seem to mean: what they learn in school. Does anyone study the knowledge and skills young people actually have; look at what’s been learned outside school? Have a look at this to get a sense for how much more there is.

Are there to be consequences, ‘high stakes’, for a student not meeting standards? If so, then the standards will be fairly low, won’t they? The politics of this public institution mean that K-12 realistically can’t deny success to more than a small proportion of students. (Probably this explains the interest now in ‘benchmarking’, which lets everyone see performance compared to others while imposing no sanction.)

Is there a concept of achievement, then, above the standards? Surely high achievement (as in the STEM areas) must be important, especially for the country’s economic success. Where and how is that assessed? Who works to encourage high achievement?

Beyond a ‘basic’ level is it essential that all students achieve the same thing? Why are standards set in terms of exit from high school rather than in terms of entrance into what a young person wants to do next? Would it be OK to differentiate ‘achievement’ for different groups of students; for individual students? Might that diversification better serve to produce the breadth of accomplishment the country needs?

Is it really important for all students to master algebra? What fraction of the occupations actually require knowledge of Algebra II? Might it be better to try to get students to understand something of statistics: probability, risk, rates, proportions and such?

Do schools achieve — or is it only students who achieve? Is the students’ achievement the school’s achievement? Or is Professor Raudenbush correct that one cannot properly use measures of student proficiency to draw conclusions about school performance?

Should achievement be treated as something adults do? That seems implied when we talk of education being ‘delivered’. But in the end who does determine what a student knows and is able to do?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

NJDOE Math Task Force Update

Nearly two months after the last NJDOE math task force meeting, NJDOE has found the time to issue the following statement:

TO:     Members of the Math Standards Task Force
FROM:   Willa Spicer, Deputy Commissioner & Sandra M. Alberti, Director, Office of Math and Science Education
DATE:   July 10, 2009
RE:   Update on New Jersey Math Standards

It has been well over a month since the last time we all formally gathered as a task force.  Certainly, a lot has happened during that time.  Attached please find a document that captures the products of our discussions and work together as a task force as well as a brief update regarding the common core initiative. Our intention in bringing this group together was to address many of the issues being debated regarding the math standards. We are very pleased with the commitment of task force members to grapple with these issues as a group. We believe that this experience was valuable to our staff as well as to many of the participants.

In moving forward, we will first consider the documents that come from the common core initiative. We look forward to sharing the drafts with you as well as larger stakeholder groups throughout the state. Our collective work that is represented in this packet, as well as the resources that each of you brought to this work, will certainly help to inform this process. Please accept our sincere gratitude and appreciation for your dedication and commitment to mathematics education in New Jersey. We look forward to more opportunities to work together in the future as we continue our work.

Notice, in particular, the words "we will first consider the documents that come from the common core initiative".  I will share some insight about the common core initiative in the next post.  Full memo from the NJDOE.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Common Core State Standards Development Work Group and Feedback Group Announced

Common Core State Standards Development Work Group and Feedback Group Announced
NGA Center, CCSSO Unveil New Web site
Outline Process to Develop Common English-language Arts and Mathematics Standards