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Topic: How Can We Improve?
Replies: 39   Last Post: Aug 31, 2000 2:22 AM

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Wayne Bishop

Posts: 4,996
Registered: 12/6/04
How Can We Improve?
Posted: Aug 10, 2000 11:41 AM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

[Was: Re: multiple intelligences or just another flash in the pan?]

Thank you, Lou. Here we have exactly the reason that many self-proclaimed
experts in education, especially mathematics education, must be excluded from
the decision making processes. That has largely been effected in California at
an official statewide level, both legislatively and administratively, but the
entrenched resistance is enormous, including the leadership of the behemoth
LAUSD, although many of its individual schools are following the state's
direction. I have included the entire Ichinaga article to which MPG directed
us (but then selectively chose misrepresentative paragraphs).

Your position of yet more procrastination is enlightening, "Only when we have
decided what we want kids to know and why we want them to know it (based upon
the soundest available mathematical *and* pedagogical knowledge--though the
latter will never be as sound as the former) can we begin to decide how to test
that knowledge."

By contrast to this position of procrastination, California is well on its
way. The new Mathematics Framework built around the California Mathematics
Content Standards is clear and sensible. Chapter 10 of that document is very
helpful guidance in "bulleting" many aspects of coherent mathematics
presentation. Dr. Wu, one of the principal authors, gave an excellent
presentation to the CRP and IMAP members last week that highlights the more
important of these. It would have been better if that bolding occurred in the
original document but as yet it does not. Perhaps I'll scan and distribute the
list that he presented. In any case, we are well on our way to putting this
perspective of yet further delay into the dustbin of mathematics education
history.

Thank you for providing this platform from which to make the issues so clear to
others. Once again, I remain curiously amazed as to why outstanding
performance in heretofore weak schools, filled with underrepresented minority
students, is not viewed as evidence that *truly* liberal-minded folk would
jump on immediately. Now that remediation in college has been completely
discredited, and its counterpart in high school almost so, it would seem to be
time to replicate the common positive elements of the truly amazing Inglewood
Unified district, especially those of its flagships Bennett-Kew and Kelso. You,
of course, deny that they are doing any better since this information is based
only on tests that you dismiss as yet unproven as to whether they are
appropriate or not. Making this common position clear to the real decision
makers is very helpful and I thank you for it.

Mostly your words speak for themselves but there are a few comments along the
way:

At 11:33 PM 8/9/00 -0600, Lou Talman wrote in response to Wayne Bishop:

>> (wb)Perhaps I was not clear enough.
>
>(lt)What you wrote was clear enough. Perhaps you did not pay enough
>attention to the meaning of what you wrote. Or perhaps you did and are
>now trying to fudge.

>>
>> i. What *do* you propose - concrete, executable suggestions - for
>> identifying who is learning what they should be learning so we have
>> some way of improving the situation in other locations or

>
>You've ignored the most important part of the puzzle, though the
>"identifying who is learning" piece is certainly one of the more
>important ones. The most important thing is to identify what they
>*should* be learning before we try to identify those who are
>accomplishing it. I've made multiple suggestions along these lines, only
>to have you (and Jerry Rosen and David Klein, and all of MC, too) ignore
>them. As long as you are convinced that you *know* what we should
>teach, there can be very little rational discussion.


>Only when we have decided what we want kids to know and why we want
>them to know it (based upon the soundest available mathematical *and*
>pedagogical knowledge--though the latter will never be as sound as the
>former) can we begin to decide how to test that knowledge.


>But you have consistently refused to comment on the mathematical merits
>of topics or presentation of topics. Your answer to "Why?" is always
>"Because it gives good test scores." That begs the question; we must
>decide why on other grounds and then we *change* the tests if that's
>what's necessary. We change them to measure what *we* decide is
>important.


>The effects will not be immediate. It is not a short term project, and,
>in fact, it will never end.
>

>> ii. Is no improvement necessary, most is well in public education or
>
>Of course improvement is necessary; it would be necessary if we had the
>finest schools in the world. We are clearly far from that. *Some* of
>our schools work well. But to suggest that we can solve the problem by
>telling teachers that they should emulate Escalante or Ichinaga is like
>saying that we could have world peace if everyone would only emulate
>Mohandas Gandhi. Well, duh! Escalante, Ichinaga, Gandhi are all
>particular and unique individuals with unique talents.


The most interesting thing about the Ichinaga situation is that it is not *the*
Ichinaga situation. It is now the Inglewood *district* situation. As I've
mentioned several times, querying the 5000 California elementary school
database for low SES, modestly good (top four deciles) schools that test most
of their students comes up with fewer than 20 schools of which 5 are in
Inglewood. Several others of the 13 schools in the district are well on their
way. That is *stunning* information and speaks of emulation of the friendly
Nancy Ichinaga / Marge Thompson rivalry. Doing the things that work is
essential as opposed to (from the article):

"In 1993, a state compliance team learned that Ichinaga's school was in
violation of the state's bilingual mandates and threatened to withdraw the
school's Title I funding. After three years of filing for exemptions, Ichinaga
finally received a waiver based on her school's high test scores and the
English fluency of her students."

"For years, Bennett-Kew students have also been district leaders in math. All
students learn math concepts that are typically well above their grade level.
This year, the 3rd graders averaged in the 80th percentile on the Stanford-9.
All math instruction rigorously follows a monthly schedule that is enforced
through regular unit tests. The results of these tests allow teachers to
regroup and re-teach the students based on their individual mastery of the
concepts."

>> iii. Is no improvement necessary, much is ill in public education but
>> there is nothing we can do about it or

>
>There is much we can do about it, but we must be clear about our
>purposes, and about our reasoning, and about what we know and what we
>don't know. I, for one, will be the first to admit that I don't know
>very much. And one of the things I still don't know is this: "What is
>the place of long division in what Mark Van Doren once called 'the
>natural history of a mind'?"


>And it might prove, in the end, to be an intractable problem. Or it
>might prove to be intractable in a culture that, say, does not perceive
>teachers to be working if they are not directly engaged with students or
>with students' work. Simply changing this single cultural perception
>could have a salutary effect. K--12 teachers work in dreadful isolation
>from each other, and one of the things that Ma has identified as an
>important part of something successful is the collegiality of the
>Chinese system; *that* is something that is not predicated upon a single
>personality. How does that fit into your suggestion that we emulate
>what has been shown successful?


Very well, thank you. Again from the helpful article:

" Ichinaga believes that grade-level team teaching is one of the keys to their
success. In this way, the teachers work together to improve each other's
skills, and master teachers are close at hand to refine a younger teacher's
implementation of the curriculum. "We want experts in Open Court, experts in
Saxon math," she says. "We talk about the details of implementation all the
time."

'When a specific grade level is not working cohesively, Ichinaga personally
works with the team and gives them extra time to put their program back on
track. "Out of this forum teacher leaders naturally arise," she notes. Already,
she has sent three of her teachers off to principalships in other schools and
believes another three or four are currently among her staff.

'Professional satisfaction is another clear benefit of her methods. Sixteen
teachers now on staff either have children in the school or did in the past.
Ichinaga even sent two of her grandchildren to the school. Two teachers and
four aides are alumni. The average teacher tenure at Bennett-Kew is 16 years."

This is what is possible in current schools, with current curricula, with
current teachers, and with current funding. Thanks again for your help in
getting this important message to decision-makers.

Wayne.
-------------------------------------------------------

At 07:56 PM 8/9/00 -0600, me@talmanl1.mscd.edu wrote:

>Evidently, in Wayne's World, the negation of "p implies q" is "not-p
>implies not-q". This would help to explain many things.


Perhaps I was not clear enough:

i. What *do* you propose - concrete, executable suggestions - for identifying
who is learning what they should be learning so we have some way of improving
the situation in other locations or

ii. Is no improvement necessary, most is well in public education or

iii. Is no improvement necessary, much is ill in public education but there is
nothing we can do about it or

iv. You fill in the blank with something other than an ad hominem attack on
those with whom you disagree.

Thanks in advance,

Wayne.
-----------------------------------------------

http://www.noexcuses.org/report/ichinaga.html

When Nancy Ichinaga became principal of Andrew Bennett Elementary in 1974,
95 percent of her school was illiterate. In only four years, she raised the
school-wide reading performance from the 3rd to the 50th percentile in the
State of California. After that, achievement kept on climbing, and for 20
years, her school has been one of the highest performers in all of Los Angeles
County. A mastery of reading in kindergarten is one of the keys to her success.


"As elementary school teachers," Ichinaga says, "our primary mission is to
make children literate." Ichinaga has stuck to the principles she and her staff
agreed upon in 1974. They determined that they needed a good reading program
that had a systematic decoding component. In addition, they needed a teaching
method that would make all children accountable and responsible learners
beginning in the earliest years.

Beginning in kindergarten, all children in her school are taught to read and
write English and are promoted according to clearly defined standards of
achievement per grade level. Even kindergartners are held back if they don't
meet the promotion requirement. "One of our most successful interventions has
been to require kindergartners to know all the letter sounds and to be able to
blend three letters to read words," Ichinaga explains. The neediest
kindergartners are given an extra year before 1st grade to guarantee from the
beginning that promotion is tied to achievement. "These children generally
become successful 1st graders the following year," Ichinaga notes, "thereby
preventing any cycle of school failure from beginning."

The school is now bringing additional firepower to kindergarten in the form
of a supplementary computer program that claims to make up for 3,000 hours of
pre_reading experiences that children need to become successful readers. In its
first trial year, the program seems to have advanced four out of six children
who otherwise might have needed the extra year of kindergarten.

In 1986, Ichinaga organized her parents in support of her methods when she
fought and prevailed against a state ruling that required whole-language
reading instruction in all California schools. The State Curriculum Commission
rejected reading programs like hers that had a systematic phonics component,
thus forbidding her use of state funds to purchase these textbooks. Six weeks
after her parents papered the Commission with protest letters, her texts were
placed on the approval list.

Not even the building of the Century Freeway, which in 1992 merged Bennett
with the James Kew school, has stalled her school's achievement. Although
Bennett-Kew now draws many of its students from a part of urban Inglewood
fraught with drugs, violence, and crime, Ichinaga is no less committed to her
students' success.

"We believe every child can learn," she says. "You've already lost if you
begin making excuses, so our school culture is different. Here it's simple: If
you have a complaint, give me a solution."

Bilingual education has been another point of contention. Although 50
percent of her school is Hispanic and a full 30 percent have limited English
proficiency, no one is segregated out to a bilingual program. According to
Ichinaga, her school is allowed to do this because of an "achievement based
excuse" that she gained from the State Department of Education. But this waiver
did not come easily.

In 1993, a state compliance team learned that Ichinaga's school was in
violation of the state's bilingual mandates and threatened to withdraw the
school's Title I funding. After three years of filing for exemptions, Ichinaga
finally received a waiver based on her school's high test scores and the
English fluency of her students. Without interruption, Tongan, Thai, and
Spanish language students have been taught exclusively in English at
Bennett-Kew and accelerated based on their individual abilities. California's
recently passed Proposition 227 has lifted the bilingual constraint allowing
the practice at Bennett-Kew to be the norm.

For years, Bennett-Kew students have also been district leaders in math. All
students learn math concepts that are typically well above their grade level.
This year, the 3rd graders averaged in the 80th percentile on the
Stanford-9[2]. All math instruction rigorously follows a monthly schedule that
is enforced through regular unit tests. The results of these tests allow
teachers to regroup and re-teach the students based on their individual mastery
of the concepts.

Ichinaga believes that grade-level team teaching is one of the keys to their
success. In this way, the teachers work together to improve each other's
skills, and master teachers are close at hand to refine a younger teacher's
implementation of the curriculum. "We want experts in Open Court, experts in
Saxon math," she says. "We talk about the details of implementation all the
time."

When a specific grade level is not working cohesively, Ichinaga personally
works with the team and gives them extra time to put their program back on
track. "Out of this forum teacher leaders naturally arise," she notes. Already,
she has sent three of her teachers off to principalships in other schools and
believes another three or four are currently among her staff.

Professional satisfaction is another clear benefit of her methods. Sixteen
teachers now on staff either have children in the school or did in the past.
Ichinaga even sent two of her grandchildren to the school. Two teachers and
four aides are alumni. The average teacher tenure at Bennett-Kew is 16 years.

In grades 2-5, in addition to the regular curriculum, a gifted and talented
program offers certain students enrichment activities including research
projects, science presentations, art, poetry, music, dance, and leadership
training. "We'd gladly put our top 25 percent against any in the country,"
Ichinaga says, but that's not the point. These elite students are successful
because her mission is to secure the success of the entire school. "We believe
that all students at every level can be successful in a common, comprehensive,
academically oriented curriculum. We believe this irrespective of primary
language or ethic background."

And she puts her money where her mouth is. After the most recent Stanford-9
results showed a falling off in 4th grade reading, Ichinaga directed all of her
resources into that class and personally pulled 15 students for specialized
instruction. "We believe all children can learn. And they do."

NOTES:

1 Stanford-9 Achievement Test, Spring 1998. Provided by California Department
of Education, Standardized Testing and Reporting Program. See
http://star.cde.ca.gov/.

2 Stanford-9 Achievement Test, Spring 1998. Provided by California Department
of Education, Standardized Testing and Reporting Program.

-------------------------------------------------

No Excuses Campaign
214 Massachusetts Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002_4999

ph 202.608.6205
fax 202.608.6087
email hunter@noexcuses.org

========================================

At 11:33 PM 8/9/00 -0600, me@talmanl1.mscd.edu wrote:

Wayne Bishop wrote:

> At 07:56 PM 8/9/00 -0600, me@talmanl1.mscd.edu wrote:
>

> >Evidently, in Wayne's World, the negation of "p implies q" is "not-p
> >implies not-q". This would help to explain many things.

>
> Perhaps I was not clear enough.


What you wrote was clear enough. Perhaps you did not pay enough
attention to the meaning of what you wrote. Or perhaps you did and are
now trying to fudge.

>
> i. What *do* you propose - concrete, executable suggestions - for
> identifying who is learning what they should be learning so we have
> some way of improving the situation in other locations or


You've ignored the most important part of the puzzle, though the
"identifying who is learning" piece is certainly one of the more
important ones. The most important thing is to identify what they
*should* be learning before we try to identify those who are
accomplishing it. I've made multiple suggestions along these lines, only
to have you (and Jerry Rosen and David Klein, and all of MC, too) ignore
them. As long as you are convinced that you *know* what we should
teach, there can be very little rational discussion.

I've questioned whether kids *should* be learning long division, and,
regardless of how you may have taken that question, I have never
advocated, and do not now advocate, dropping long division from the
curriculum. Examine the record dispassionately. You've made a habit of
reading skepticism as advocacy, and the nonsense that you and K/M have
spewed concerning the mathematical necessity of long division does
nothing in the way of turning my skepticism away from advocacy. It
makes me wonder why, if those who call most strongly for its inclusion
must resort to hyperbole and rationalization based upon mathematical
statements that are clearly and demonstrably false, I should continue to
think that long division belongs in the curriculum.

Only when we have decided what we want kids to know and why we want them
to know it (based upon the soundest available mathematical *and*
pedagogical knowledge--though the latter will never be as sound as the
former) can we begin to decide how to test that knowledge. To do
otherwise would be like deciding that swimming the English Channel is a
good test for identifying big league ball players. That test would
certainly identify some fine athletes, but it would say very little
about whether they can hit, run, catch, or throw as a big league player
must do. And, of course, it would have nothing whatsoever to say about
how well they could read the play of a game. But success at swimming
the English Channel would correlate very highly with admission to big
league baseball teams after a few years.

But you have consistently refused to comment on the mathematical merits
of topics or presentation of topics. Your answer to "Why?" is always
"Because it gives good test scores." That begs the question; we must
decide why on other grounds and then we *change* the tests if that's
what's necessary. We change them to measure what *we* decide is
important. (No--this does not mean "dumbing down" the tests; it may
mean changing what they try to measure. I'm with Barbie: "Math class is
hard." She just didn't continue: "But if I work hard, I get things
done.") And I don't mean me and MPG and VS in that "we"; I mean me and
you and MPG and GG and CM and VS and RR and anyone--provided that they
will think rationally, present rational arguments and *listen* to
rational argument rationally. (The rest of us could *all* learn a lot
about doing this from Ralph Raimi.) But the first rational agreement has
to be that meaning and purpose come first, with tests a long way after.
The effects will not be immediate. It is not a short term project, and,
in fact, it will never end.

>
> ii. Is no improvement necessary, most is well in public education or


Of course improvement is necessary; it would be necessary if we had the
finest schools in the world. We are clearly far from that. *Some* of
our schools work well. But to suggest that we can solve the problem by
telling teachers that they should emulate Escalante or Ichinaga is like
saying that we could have world peace if everyone would only emulate
Mohandas Gandhi. Well, duh! Escalante, Ichinaga, Gandhi are all
particular and unique individuals with unique talents. No scheme that
is based upon the perfectibility of human nature (or even the
substantial improvement of a sizeable number of people's human nature)
has a snowball's chance in hell.

>
> iii. Is no improvement necessary, much is ill in public education but
> there is nothing we can do about it or


There is much we can do about it, but we must be clear about our
purposes, and about our reasoning, and about what we know and what we
don't know. I, for one, will be the first to admit that I don't know
very much. And one of the things I still don't know is this: "What is
the place of long division in what Mark Van Doren once called 'the
natural history of a mind'?" An attempt at a rational, instead of a
rationalized, answer to that question might be a good place to start.
K/M is full of sound bites and fury bites, but they are all also
signify-nothing bites, as Andy Isaacs has amply shown.

And it might prove, in the end, to be an intractible problem. Or it
might prove to be intractible in a culture that, say, does not perceive
teachers to be working if they are not directly engaged with students or
with students' work. Simply changing this single cultural perception
could have a salutory effect. K--12 teachers work in dreadful isolation
from each other, and one of the things that Ma has identified as an
important part of something successful is the collegiality of the
Chinese system; *that* is something that is not predicated upon a single
personality. How does that fit into your suggestion that we emulate
what has been shown successful? (Hint: "Exactly what has been
'shown'?" is the first question a rational skeptic must ask.)

--Lou Talman





Date Subject Author
8/10/00
Read How Can We Improve?
Wayne Bishop
8/10/00
Read Re: How Can We Improve?
me@talmanl1.mscd.edu
8/10/00
Read Re: How Can We Improve?
Wayne Bishop
8/10/00
Read Re: How Can We Improve?
me@talmanl1.mscd.edu
8/11/00
Read Re: How Can We Improve?
CJ Masenas
8/11/00
Read Re: How Can We Improve?
Michael Paul Goldenberg
8/11/00
Read Re: How Can We Improve?
Michael Paul Goldenberg
8/11/00
Read Re: How Can We Improve?
Ed Dickey
8/11/00
Read Re: How Can We Improve?
Michael Paul Goldenberg
8/12/00
Read Re: How Can We Improve?
Guy Brandenburg
8/26/00
Read Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
anonymous
8/26/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Guy Brandenburg
8/26/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Michael Paul Goldenberg
8/26/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
anonymous
8/26/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Wayne Bishop
8/26/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Greg Goodknight
8/26/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Guy Brandenburg
8/26/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
RayM
8/26/00
Read Math for Kindergartners (was "Guy's California Question...")
Carol Fry Bohlin
8/28/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Scott Farrand
8/29/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Wayne Bishop
8/29/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Guy Brandenburg
8/29/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Scott Farrand
8/29/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Wayne Bishop
8/29/00
Read Anticipated opening in Mathematics Education at Sam Houston State
Mark Klespis
8/29/00
Read SAT scores
Paul S. Ache III
8/29/00
Read SAT scores.
Paul S. Ache III
8/30/00
Read Re: SAT scores.
Wayne Bishop
8/30/00
Read Re: SAT scores.
Paul S. Ache III
8/30/00
Read Re: SAT scores.
Wayne Bishop
8/31/00
Read Mathematics Education Opening at Fresno State
Carol Fry Bohlin
8/30/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Scott Farrand
8/29/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Ze'ev Wurman
8/29/00
Read The California "Process"
rconnell@ed.brocku.ca
8/29/00
Read Re: The California "Process"
Greg Goodknight
8/29/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Scott Farrand
8/30/00
Read Re: Guy's California Question (was How Can We Improve?)
Ze'ev Wurman
8/12/00
Read Re: How Can We Improve?
RayM
8/12/00
Read Re: How Can We Improve?
Wayne Bishop
8/12/00
Read Re: How Can We Improve?
Greg Goodknight

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