Friday, July 24, 2009

All About Math

by Shayna Steinfeld


Please read this keeping in mind that the United States ranks between 15 and 20 of the top 20 industrialized countries in education around the world. Then remember that Georgia is perpetually ranked in the bottom five in the U.S. Layer onto that the fact that DeKalb seems to be headed away from the top in Georgia ...

A few years ago, the State changed the math curriculum to make it more “competitive” and shifted it from QCC to GPS for “more rigor.” The theory is that if we give the kids more rigor, they will ultimately rise to the occasion and perform better in the long run. My biggest problem with the math curriculum is that Georgia seems to have manufactured it by piecing together curricula from at least three other places “to compete internationally” (this is before we make it to the top 10 domestically). I believe it is primarily from South Carolina, Texas and Japan. Although my in-laws, who taught in the New York City schools for 25 or 30 years (not as math teachers) swear it looks an awful lot like the botched math curriculum that the NY schools tried for a few years and gave up on when none of their kids - from the ghetto or the wealthy suburbs - performed well on the Regents exams. I think it lasted in NY for at most three years.

My problem is that states like Massachusetts seem to always score in the top three states in math on the NAEP test (National Assessment for Educational Progress – a nationally normed test), which the Henderson Middle School 8th graders took this year but no results were released (along with those "missing in action" EOCT for Math I). There is, therefore, a math curriculum in Massachusetts, that has trained teachers, teaching materials, curriculum, etc. for K-12 (or K-8 if you leave high school alone for Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus/Trigonometry and Calculus, Statistics). There are teachers, I am sure, who would prefer our climate who could be swayed to moved south. Instead, our taxpayers, paid for our board of education to research a new curriculum in South Carolina, Texas and Japan and paid for new textbooks to be created (which since no other state teaches our math, they must have been created from scratch for all grades in all districts). Supplemental materials needed to be written, training materials needed to be created, and testing materials needed to be created. At each step of this process, entities and individuals made money – from tax dollars. All of this was already available for purchase in a place like Massachusetts. And the flip side? Our children get to be guinea pigs for the new Georgia curriculum to see if it works. We need the legislature to pass a law: If there is a state in the top five or top ten doing well, our state department of education isn’t allowed to make up our own version and test it on our kids (e.g. math, English, social studies (except Georgia Studies), Economics, etc.).

The Asian kids always did really well at the Sagamore Hills Math Tournament when my kids were in elementary school. They were the vast majority of the top five in each grade. It turns out that many of them attend “Saturday School” – a program called Kumon. It even turns out that some legislators I know use this program for their kids too. It’s all about drilling math facts. Over, and over, and over again. If the Kumon program works so well, why don’t we incorporate it and it’s teachers into our standard elementary school curriculum? I’m frustrated that we are recreating the wheel and testing it on our kids rather than using the “tried and true.”

Part of the new math curriculum uses a “train the teacher” approach – at the elementary level, at least in the DeKalb, one teacher per school – and not necessarily one trained in training other teachers or one who knows the most about math – but a teacher who was willing to spend the time for some extra cash, went for training on the curriculum. They were then supposed to train the others in their building on how to teach this really new math (some without text books).

Another aspect of the curriculum that could be a real problem was pointed out by a psychologist friend. She’s has a Ph.D. in psychology and listened to a mom describe 2nd grade math to her and commented that if a child were ADD or ADHD they would lose it. This is because, apparently, these kids need concepts drilled, the curriculum has a lot of jumping around and not too much drilling. This would be particularly bad if you had a child doing poorly in math and it was due to an undiagnosed problem along these lines, particularly leading up to those all important 3rd grade CRCTs. I’m not a psychologist or an expert on this curriculum so here I’m just passing on a conversation.

Another component of the curriculum is that the children are supposed to teach each other in learning groups (at least at the middle school level). This doesn’t work if there isn’t anyone in a group that knows what they are doing. It really doesn’t work if the teacher can’t help them figure it out. One of my son’s 8th grade friends is starting with Algebra I in 9th grade at a private school next year after last year at Henderson due to the ineffectiveness of this group work. My son, who was in Accelerated Math I this past year with an excellent teacher, should be ready for Algebra 2 according to the color-coded state chart on the curriculum. The chart indicates that he was supposed to have covered nearly all of geometry by now. The private schools we’ve spoken with believe he has only received half of a regular (old) geometry curriculum. The other half of the curriculum is not in the Math II curriculum either, it seems to be missing altogether. This does not facilitate the ability of families with teenaged children to move in and out of the state for business purposes (Coke – UPS – Chamber of Commerce.... WHERE ARE YOU?).

One of the top math teachers in the state, who helped develop the curriculum (a DCCS teacher), has told one of my twelfth grader’s friends that he has no idea what he will teach to his Math II kids this fall. When I was campaigning last year, a middle school math teacher I met said he was at a training session and he was told that Math II was going to be trained by DVD. Math I was trained so well that they have decided not to release the EOCT results. When I asked members of the school board how they were going to gauge whether the curriculum was working, the answer was the EOCT. For me, that isn’t the answer because that tests the state curriculum, it does not test whether they are receiving what they need to know for the PSAT, SAT, ACT and College. How about giving all 9th graders an old (already existing) Algebra EOCT at the start of the year to see just how much algebra they’ve absorbed under the new curriculum. Same for 10th graders for geometry?

My sister-in-law is not a math person. She has been enrolled in a Master of Arts, Teaching program at Brandies in Boston this past year. One of her first classes was on teaching Elementary math. One of the components of the Georgia math curriculum (possibly where they should have stopped on the elementary curriculum) is called “Everyday Math” and it is used by many of the private schools. It is not how we as adults were taught to do math – for example: they add across the page and they don’t borrow or re-group. My non-mathematical sister-in-law spent at least an hour a day in this class, five days a week for a month, with a top teacher, who has written a textbook series now being used in NY. They discussed the Georgia curriculum, which is being cited in this academic world as an example of what shouldn’t be done. By the end of the month in this class, the lightbulb went off for her and she told me that she could now teach math to any type of learner. Her brain, which is only 28 years old, had finally been reprogrammed successfully – she understood Everyday Math herself and appreciated its merits and tools and she felt as though she could adequately and appropriately convey these concepts to any child in elementary school. In Georgia, we are using “train the trainer” to reprogram the math teacher, over a much shorter duration of time, and many of these teachers are not new teachers but they have been teaching for many years. And we expect this to be successful?

Another good friend is involved in the AP Computer Science world here in Georgia. She trains those teachers and grades those exams. She has commented to me that she has seen a tremendous influx of math teachers who are all of a sudden interested in teaching computer science. That’s very good for computer science. What does it say about math?

The counties were given some latitude in how they implemented the state-wide standards. My understanding of how this was done is that DeKalb went “whole hog” and scratched the old curriculum and implemented the new curriculum. Cobb and Gwinnett, on the other hand, kept their old curriculum, and layered the integrated math on top of the old curriculum. It seems to me that the Cobb and Gwinnett approach may be working better (see, e.g. the CRCT middle school scores in each of these counties). There is also a program that enables the counties to opt around the curriculum that Gwinnett is pursuing.

I’m wondering how long it will take for all of this to play out. I’ve decided to post this column so I could share what I’ve pieced together and to provide a place for you to comment. Anyone want to take on getting a law passed?

93 comments:

Dekalbparent said...

Whoa. I don't know what to say. Gotta process it.

Ken Thompson said...

"This does not facilitate the ability of families with teenaged children to move in and out of the state for business purposes (Coke – UPS – Chamber of Commerce.... WHERE ARE YOU?). [...] Anyone want to take on getting a law passed?"

1. what would facilitate this is a national curriculum. Sort of the antithesis of "local".

2. Coke and UPS are doing more than their fair share to pay for this both in taxes and dealing with the products of a failed system.

3. OK, I'll bite: "Anyone want to take on getting a law passed?" Just what law would that be?

Cerebration said...

I'm guessing here - but I think she may mean a law that ensures that Georgia offers a curriculum that can easily transfer to other states. This new math may or may not. Same thing with college applications - Georgia students will stick out due to their unusual math training - which remains to be proven effective.

Ella Smith said...

I do know that many math professors at Tech. came out very strongly against the math curriculum. But, I have heard from others like my principal who used to be a math teacher that the current program is excellent. The problem does appear to be training the teachers. Our principal sent our math teachers to classes this year because of concern with the teachers' teaching the new curriculum. But still North Springs Charter Math, Science, and Art did not meet AYP expectations in math.

My freshman students who are special needs students really struggled this year in math. They indicated they just did not get the new way of teaching math over and over. They all were very frustrated.

I do not think the math curriculum is going to change for awhile as they will have to give the program time to be successful. The problem is that this could be at the expense of our children currently in school.

Thank God, my son, who is a sophomore at Lakeside is on the old track and last year took Advanced Alg. II, and Advanced Geometry as a freshman. Otherwise I would probable be more upset than I currently am. As an advocate for the children I do feel Cathy Cox did make a big mistake with this one and we all need to look closely at the individuals who run against her in 2010. I know of a few individuals who are willing to take her own partly over the new math curriculum.

fedupindcss said...

One of the problems (out of many) with the change in math is that it should have started with a class of 1st graders, and worked its way up. Instead, they started it at
6th grade a few years ago, causing a sea change for these students.

One teacher I spoke with said that because of the spiraling nature of the curriculum, the students who take the PSAT may not have had all the math they need by the time they test. Another teacher said that the nature of math is that you must master a concept in order to move on to the next level--with this curriculum, they skip around and come back to concepts they got about halfway through.

This works in Japan because, as Shayna pointed out, those students also attend "cram schools" after school and on Saturdays, where they drill, drill, drill (the regular school day is for concepts). This curriculum won't work without the cramming part, and that sure isn't going to happen.

Square Peg said...

To see the Learning Tasks for the new curriculum, go to www.georgiastandards.org, select Frameworks, then pick Mathematics.

For instance, here's a link to the student edition of Math I Unit 2, "Algebra Investigations."

http://gadoe.georgiastandards.org/mathframework.aspx

I am a person who is very comfortable using math, but I have to read and reread to figure out what these tasks are getting at. The language used in these tasks obfuscates the concepts. Here's an example, and remember that it is Math 1, not Math 1 Accelerated, so it is aimed at general-level 9th grade students.

"8. a) Compare the triangular-number figures to Mario’s figures. Write a sentence comparing the triangular-number figures and Mario’s figures.
b) Write an equation using Mk and Tk to express the relationship between the number tiles in the k-th one of Mario’s figures and the k-th triangular number figure.
c) What is another name for the sequence M1, M2, M3, M4, . . . ?
d) Write a sentence expressing the relationship expressed in part b); use the familiar name for the numbers in the sequence M1, M2, M3, M4, . . .

Because of the way the tasks are written, it isn't easy to see whether the curriculum covers as much as the old one or whether it will prepare students for national exams such as PSAT and SATs and ACTs or AP and college classes.

Anonymous said...

Brava, Shayna. My (rising) sophomore student opted out and, like Ella's son, took both algebra II and geometery this past year. It was hard for him; he had six academic courses and P.E. all year long. But I'm so happy we made that decision. I know he'll be prepared for the SAT and for college.

I attended state DOE meetings regarding this new math, and all criticisms were dismissed. The party line was that so many of Georgia's children were failing math, we had to raise the bar to facilitate success. (I thought I would vomit if I heard the word "rigorous" one more time.) The party line is illogical. If the kids couldn't master the "easy," old math, then how in the heck are they supposed to master this more difficult, new math? Merely raising the bar for failing students will not help them succeed.

From the way I read the piece, the law Shayna urges to be passed is one that would prevent the DOE from creating a new curriculum when successful, tried and true curricula are available from other states. Wouldn't it make more sense to adopt another state's successful curriculum instead of imposing upon our poor students an untried curriculum?

Anon South Side said...

I have one child that is currently on the old system. He took Algebra I in the 8th grade for credit and has just completed Algebra II. My next child is caught....... I am considering having this child take an online class or summer course so that the transcript will read Algebra I, Algebra II, and so on.....if Boston was setting the trend I would not be as concerned but with Georgia setting the pace, I'm afraid our children will loose in this crazy transition.

I've asked private schools and they apparently have not changed to Math 1 yet.....

Anonymous said...

Another Board Meeting


To: All DeKalb Employees
From: Dr. Crawford Lewis, Superintendent
Subject: Called Board Meeting
Date: 24 July 2009


The Board of Education will hold an emergency called meeting on Monday, July 27, 2009, 10:30 AM at Arabia Mountain High School in the media center to discuss and vote on how to address the Governor's budget cuts.

mykidsmom said...

DCSS has to decide whether to adhere to the furloughs as requested by the Governor.

fedupindcss said...

They can furlough The administration...

Private schools aren't doing this math curriculum. They send a lot of their kids to colleges other than in GA, so they need to be able to show a rational math sequence on their transcript (not something that needs an explanation from GA stapled to it).

One Fed Up Insider said...

Please do not forget that all DCSS employees have to take May 30, 2010as a furlough day. Remember when they could not give teachers their step increase and everyone making over 100k per year had to take a 2 percent reduction is salary.

My thinking is that if they can find over 9 million dollars to start the Military school, then there must be a way to get a least one of the states furlough days.

Anonymous said...

They send a lot of their kids to colleges other than in GA, so they need to be able to show a rational math sequence on their transcript (not something that needs an explanation from GA stapled to it).

The description of what is covered in the Math courses is part of the HS transcript from what I understand.

mykidsmom said...

Please do not forget that all DCSS employees have to take May 30, 2010as a furlough day.

That date is after school is out, so there would be few DCSS employees to "furlough".

Ella Smith said...

Fulton County posted their decision last week. Cerebration is going to post my article today for me I believe.

I am outranged at having to take off three days of my planning time the first week of school, and then these two days are full of registration and administrative meetings. How unfair to the teachers and to the students of Fulton County.

The Governor has taken another three percent from the school boards in these already trying times. By furloughing the teachers three more days this will be 1% so that means the school board needs to cut 2 more percent from the budget.

The teachers are already forming to make sure that we have a Governor that supports teachers and education. The teachers and their families spoke several years ago and a governor was not re-elected. This time they may be supporting the candidate they told out of office.

Times are hard and the budget does need to be balanced in this great state but not on the backs for the children of this great state. This will have an affect on the preparation of our teachers which will have an affect on the achievement of our children.

Cerebration said...

This math issue couldn't be more important, IMO. It really seems to me that this is a gamble for Georgia - either this will really work and we'll jump ahead - or it will really fail - and we'll have a large group of people who were never taught basic math.

I'm concerned that our leaders in Georgia are willing to take this risk. I agree with Shayna - we should play "follow the leader" and just replicate a proven curriculum - perhaps enticing the math teachers from MA here with good pay and warm weather! We have no business "setting the pace" and "inventing" an all-new curriculum.

Ella Smith said...

I also agree with Shayna. I just do not think anything will change until the current curriculum has an opportunity to produce results.

My son-in-law is a math teacher. He used to teacher in South Georgia. He now teaches in
South Carolina. He says that students who do poorly in math will do poorly regardless of the new curriculum. He does not think changing to the current curriculum will make a difference in Ga. math scores. He also feels that other states have proven programs that Ga. should have adopted instead of spending all the money for their own curriculum.

One Fed Up Insider said...

mykidsmom...

Our contract was less this year for one day without pay. Yes school is out but we get a check for 12 months. Not 10. That is why all all DCSS employees have to take that day as the one day furlough.

Please if there are teachers out there remember your contracts that we signed.

Anonymous said...

The new GPS Math program is a train wreck waiting to happen-especially for grades 8-12. I have watched with dismay as the state DOE dismantled math education in GA. Here are a few more important points to add to Shayna's comments:

1) GA modeled the GPS standards on NC, not SC. However NC has taken the time to pilot test their program in the public high schools. They have been working on a HS integrated math curriculum for many years, but are taking it slowly to work out the kinks. I think next school year it will be introduced as an ALTERNATIVE, not a mandatory program. Part of the reason why NC has moved so slowly is because they recognize that there are a) no quality textbooks, and b) too few mathmeticians in the public schools to teach the curriculum. Notice I said "mathemeticians" not math teachers. I have talked to a number of the Ga State and Ga Tech professors who were consulted when the state was developing the curriculum. They all say that they told the DOE that the success of the program depended almost entirely on having sufficient highly motivated and highly trained HS math teachers.
2) The new math (for all grades) involves susbstantial reading so if a child has a reading disability they are sunk.
3) Yes, part of the middle and high school pedagogy is that students are supposed to work in small groups and "discover" complex math proofs and formula themselves. Sounds great in theory but you try to do this in DCSS classroom with 25 students and over half are disruptive, bored and are two to three grade levels behind when it comes to fundamental math skills.
4) State DOE completely dropped ball for the accelerated kids. They forced the Math 8 on the schools the year before last, eliminating Algebra I. While parents made a stink in DCSS, parents in other school systems were not so lucky.
5) The textbooks for the basic level courses are very poor and are essentially non-existent for the accelerated track.
6) Math teacher in HS math magnet program who took the state training told me that there is no true integration of the math strands. He said the GPS curriculum just jumps back and forth between Algebra, Geometry, Trig and Statistics and the students rarely get that "Ah Ha" moment that Shayna's sister finally got after an intensive daily college instruction.
7) It would be interesting to send DOE a FOIA to see just how much taxpayer money was spent on consultants, trips to Asia, and other trips to develop the new curriculum. Any one want to do this?
8) And why won't DOE release the Math I EOCT scores from last year? They must have been awful.

Bottom line: Shayna is right. There was no reason for Georgia to try and be a trendsetter. What a waste of education money when we could have just modeled our curriculum on a state where the public school students are doing the best on NEAP, SAT and ACT.

Anonymous said...

Singapore and other foreign countries select math and other educational programs based on proven results - Georgia DOE wrote the GPS math standards based on untested ideology.

This fundamental flaw, plus possibly the worst implementation of a new curriculum in history, has doomed this grand experiment.

Cerebration said...

Truly, if I still had children in DCSS, I would take them out. I would not be willing to subject their lifelong understanding of mathematics to an untested, cobbled together curriculum – one that has been created by "leaders" of a state that consistently lags in the bottom 5 educationally.

It really is time for the feds to step in.

Ken Thompson said...

"...still had children in DCSS, I would take them out..."

Been there. Done that. Now it's just about money. Thank god.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the math program is state wide in public schools, not just DeKalb. Although I understand other school systems have done a better job of developing the "accelerated track" for the advanced students and generally hiring and training teachers to teach the program.

It really should have been phased in - not started in middle school.

And as Shayna said- transferring to and from out-of-state or private schools is now very difficult.

Anonymous said...

cerebration, don't assume private schools "get it" either. Parents and teachers at those schools have ZERO input into the curriculum that is used. If you complain, then they tell you that you "are welcome to take your child somewhere else".

mykidsmom said...

With regards to Federal standards:

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today released the names of the states and territories that have joined the Common Core State Standards Initiative: Alabama; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; District of Columbia; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Puerto Rico; Rhode Island; South Dakota; Tennessee; Utah; Vermont; Virgin Islands; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming.

In the twenty-six years since the release of A Nation at Risk, states have made great strides in increasing the academic rigor of education standards. Yet, America's children still remain behind other nations in terms of academic achievement and preparedness to succeed.

By signing on to the common core state standards initiative, governors and state commissioners of education across the country are committing to joining a state-led process to develop a common core of state standards in English language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. These standards will be research and evidence-based, internationally benchmarked, aligned with college and work expectations and include rigorous content and skills.


http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.6c9a8a9ebc6ae07eee28aca9501010a0/?vgnextoid=263a584a61c91210VgnVCM1000005e00100aRCRD

Square Peg said...

Georgia's new math curriculum isn't a trendsetter. We're actually way behind the curve. Other parts of the country have already tried "reform teaching" of mathematics.

Don't think that a national math curriculum would rescue Georgia. The ideology behind our new curriculum is backed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and funded by the National Science Foundation.

Don't ask for something "research-based," either, because in math education, the results of the research seem to depend on who is doing or sponsoring the study. Note also that the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education is the official journal of the NCTM.

See http://nctm.org for the reformist view. See http://www.nychold.com for many links putting forth the opposing view.

If you don't believe that we're almost a decade behind the times, read this quote from a New York Times article from April, 2000. The article is titled "The New, Flexible Math Meets Parental Rebellion" http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/regional/042700ny-math-edu.html

"Parents chafing at constructivist math tell stories of their children coming home confused and dispirited by lessons in which getting the right answer to problems is devalued in favor of strategies that are often primitive, cumbersome and indirect. Used by inexperienced teachers who are weak in math, they say, the curriculum can be murky. And tutoring services say that they are seeing an epidemic of children coming to them for basic math instruction."

It is hard to predict how this fashion will unwind. Until then, what can we do? NYC HOLD offers suggestions for first ensuring that your own child learns math, then for getting involved in advocacy. http://www.nychold.com/parents0.html

Anonymous said...

"It is hard to predict how this fashion will unwind. Until then, what can we do?"

Here is what you can do:

Write your state legislators and everyone on the Education committee and tell them that you don't want your children to be Cathy Cox's mathematics guinea pigs. You don't want your children in a boat that has a history of capsizing with a skipper who has never sailed before...

Cerebration said...

Great resources, square peg - thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the NYT article, Square Peg. Many of the described scenarios sound just like our Georgia curriculum! The descriptions of the looming disaster is pretty clear. My wish is that GA DOE would take the best of the best of the curriculums that are out there already and adopt them, in toto, for the core subjects. It's not so hard to determine what is the best of the best -- one just needs to look at the NAEP, SAT, ACT and IOWA scores and a few states per subject areas would stand out as the best of the best. Also, if we choose to use states from parts of the country with bad weather, we could probably recruit their teachers, who would already be trained on the curriculum.

Anonymous said...

Obviously SAT scores aren't as important for business relocation as we are led to believe by the media.

See article:
http://atlanta.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2009/07/27/daily5.html?ed=2009-07-27&ana=e_du_pap

CNBC poll shows Georgia #1 in "workforce", which includes education.

Theres a disconnect here and the 48th state in the nation nonsense.

This--not SATs-- is where the rubber meets the economic development road, baby.

Cerebration said...

As a "damn" Yankee (one who stayed) I can say that a lot of the workforce motivation is the lack of unions in the south. The unions up north have stifled business for a long time.

Also - there are plenty of highly educated people in Georgia - plenty. And plenty of really good schools (lots of them private). We just have a serious inverted bell curve - as in - not so many people in the middle.

Plus, I must say, the governor's work-ready programs in the technical colleges are terrific. We need to encourage many more of our high schoolers to take advantage of these great tech programs.

Anonymous said...

http://www.cnbc.com/id/31965872

27th in education in econ dev poll. Beats our oft-mentioned 48th in SATs. Maybe we (or the press) needs to discuss public ed "rankings" a little more broadly.

SATs are not indicative of preparation for the workforce in the general case.

As far as i'm concerned this is good news...and news that needs repeating.

Kicker:
Also, our rank improved from 32 to 27 from last year.

Cerebration said...

Some very important reasons to have really good math education are outlined in an article in CNN Money online.

The top 15 highest-earning college degrees all have one thing in common -- math skills. That's according to a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which tracks college graduates' job offers.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb Elementary teachers weren't trained on how to teach or use the math curriculum. The math curriculum requires teachers to actually understand the math that they are teaching. I was trained in another state and think that Expressions, along with added skill and drill is an excellent, though provoking program if used correctly. We aren't using it correctly and don't have time to do so. Most teachers have had less than a day of training on using Expressions and it requires so much more training.

I don't know specifics about high school/middle school math, but from what I've heard, it's even more messed up.

Parents need to wise up and raise their voices. It is a crime what we are doing to our kids!! Please spread the word and make our elected school board officials along with the superintendent accountable for our kid's math education at all levels.

elementary teacher said...

Great post! The GPS at the elementary level focus very little on basic skills and more on higher-order processes. While this may be appropriate for mathematically gifted students, the terminology quickly goes over the heads of average students. This results in most students sitting through a math curriculum full of logic games while not learning basic skills.

To give you an example…Instead of 4th graders just focusing on learning of basics of division this is one of the standards:

M4N4. Students will further develop their understanding of division of whole
numbers and divide in problem solving situations without calculators.
c. Understand the relationship between dividend, divisor, quotient, and
remainder.

And here are 2 sample CRCT questions on this standard:

How do you check the answer when there is a remainder in the quotient?
A. Multiply the quotient by the divisor. Then add the remainder to the product.
B. Multiply the quotient by the divisor. Then subtract the remainder from the product.
C. Add the remainder to the quotient. Then multiply the sum by the divisor.
D. Subtract the remainder from the quotient. Then multiply the difference by the divisor.

If the quotient is correct, doing this will produce a number that matches the dividend.
A. Subtract the dividend from the quotient.
B. Divide the quotient by the divisor.
C. Add the dividend and the quotient.
D. Multiply the quotient by the divisor.

Is this an English test, or a Math test? Students do need to know these terms, but teachers have to spend so much time explaining how to navigate these questions they are left with less time to teach the children how to actually do division. Most questions on the CRCT are like this. There are only a couple of straightforward computation questions (450/5=?)The wording of the questions cause many students to shut down and just guess…remember these questions are for a 4th grader!
We are really harming kids! I hope GA throws out the GPS!

Square Peg said...

Those CRCT questions are awful for all the reasons you said. On top of that, by juxtaposing them, you show that the second question isn't even correct as written. (It doesn't account for the remainder.)

Georgia has redesigned the curriculum so that not only the kids who are weak in math will fail, but now kids who excel at math but have poor-to-average English language skills will also fail (and will be denied the opportunity to nurture their math talent in accelerated courses). But if you question it, you're told that's to be expected and everything is fine because it's "rigorous."

Ken Thompson said...

They should publish the previous year CRTC each fall. I've seen some of them and many similar tests from other states and most taxpayers would be appalled.

Shayna Steinfeld said...

On the CRCT front, when my rising 9th grader was in 7th grade, he came home from the social studies CRCT and said "mom, they tested us on things we weren't taught." I was then at our Elementary School and the teachers who had Middle Schoolers were fuming. There is some "formula" the teachers must follow when teaching the kids (e.g. when this son was in 6th grade, most of the kids were very confused the first few weeks of math and the parents were complaining at back to school night -- the teacher, who I rank as one of the best we've had in 12 years of 3 kids in DCSS -- stated that she was absolutely required to follow the pacing chart and that she had no flexibility with the curriculum -- she was, therefore, required to begin with that chapter in the book, which made no sense and was confusing to the kids and she apologized -- years before she could begin at other places that made more sense and return to this chapter but the rules had changed and she would now get into too much trouble if she didn't follow the pacing chart. In social studies in 7th grade (and those other middle school grades), those teachers had the same pacing charts, from which they taught the kids, but the pacing charts did not allign with the CRCT that year. That was the year they spent taxpayer money on the CRCT but threw out the scores because they were so bad. Some of the questions -- what type of government does Cuba have -- (we debated whether it was a dictatorship or an oligacharchy) and what was the oldest game (mah johng, bridge, chess or backgammon)? He managed to "meet" expectations (he usually exceeds in the 99th percentiles - he was furious on the day of test. My recollection is that my 6h graders social studies CRCT this year was not scored.

Anonymous said...

The middle school CRCT scores were not scored this year due to the re-write of the test.

Anonymous said...

You can easily find past year's CRCT scores on the DCSS website.

Square Peg said...

I think the request was for publication of the CRCT questions, not just the scores. Sure, it would cost more to develop new tests each year, but without release of the questions, these high-stakes tests are very opaque and lack accountability.

We don't even have SCORES from the Math 1 EOCT or the social studies CRCT for grades 6 and 7, so the public can't judge how these new curricula are going.

Shayna Steinfeld said...

I also understand that they "curve" the EOCT scores -- the State DOE does not release raw data -- the released results have been curved. Therefore, Math I must have been really, really abysmal. I'm not sure if this is accurate or not. I'm also not sure if this is done on the CRCT --I do know that for the CRCT they sometimes have "test" sections that don't count. Again, I shake my head, frustrated that we're not using something that is actually proven to be working effectively in some other state that has tests that have been in use for a few years. I don't understand why we are trying to be a leader rather than following something that is "tried and true."

Anonymous said...

You know, the Georgia DOE website has a ton of information.

One task associated with the development and implementation of any test is the design of appropriate
methods for reporting test performance. The use of scale scores has distinct advantages
over other methods such as raw scores and proportion correct information. The short analysis
below outlines the advantages and purposes for using scale scores.
A scale score is based on the raw score (i.e., number of items correct) on a test. The changing of
raw score to scale scores is analogous to converting from the centigrade scale to the Fahrenheit
scale to report temperature. Scale scores are commonly used in large assessment programs. As an
example, scores for each section of the SAT, the widely used college entrance exam, are reported
on a scale ranging from 200 to 800. Each time a new version of the SAT is administered, the raw
scores are converted to this same scale, in order to take into account any differences between
various forms of the tests.
Using scale scores to report student performance has other advantages. First, the process of
equating scores on multiple forms of the same test is made easier by using a common scale of
measurement. Having equated forms is critical if individuals are to be compared to a standard or to
one another in terms of performance.

Anonymous said...

I think what Shayna meant is that the state DOE writes the CRCT test questions AND sets the "cut" scores. The"cut" scores are the break points between below expectations, meets expectations and exceeds expectations. As far as I know, the DOE has not provided the raw scores for the Math 8 CRCT tests. Not sure if they have even released the raw cut scores so you don't know whether a student could have gotten less than 50% of the questions correct yet still have met expectations.

I heard Math I teachers say that their students really struggled with the Math I EOCT test and they felt many good students did poorly. But parents will never know how their child did- I guess they all get promoted to Math II?

My child took the "double math" advanced courses and while this was an enormous amount of work (and homework) I am very pleased with his math progress.

Anonymous said...

On another thread Cerebration posted the agenda for an upcoming Board retreat. It referenced the math program.

Does anyone know why the Board is discussing this? Or what the issue is? Is it fallout from EOCT and CRCT scores?

Anonymous said...

Or have they seen this thread? The EOCT scores for Math 1 were not released.... (my understanding). No training of any substance for Math II -- yet, everyone was applauding all efforts to raise math scores in the coming year... How is that going to happen in high school with the current curriculum?

Cerebration said...

Maybe that's why businesses like ALOHA mental math are flourishing - read on about the program in Dunwoody --

Dunwoody Children Sharpening their Math Skills with Revolutionary New Program

Abacus-Based, Math Enrichment Program
For Children Ages 5 - 12

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(2) Introduce tools (the abacus) and techniques (mental math) that teach the children to use visualization, listening, and object based representation during critical thinking which involves and develops the right side of the brain as well as the left.

(3) Math concepts become easier to understand; math skills improve dramatically; speed and accuracy of thinking processes are enhanced; concentration, listening and retention capabilities are dramatically improved; the ability for holistic thinking is developed.

So far, we have almost 100 Dunwoody children enrolled in our classes. Click here to learn more about the curriculum, pricing and class schedules.
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Cerebration said...

There's a new document at the DCSS website explaining the math curriculum -

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/files/6A95F3437BDB49A0B507F91DD15658FA.pdf

Molly said...

I've read the document and am underwhelmed. It is aimed at teachers and administrators, as a means of improving classroom instruction. One strategy for improvement is the "focused walk" wherein a team of administrator interrupts a teacher in the middle of a lesson to quiz her about lesson plans while also interrupting the students at work to ask them about their math performance.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Cere. I also read the document, concentrating on middle and high school. Agree with Molly that all those focus visits strike me as disruptive. I see enormous wasted time doing exercises such as "student peer reflections" and "student reflections." Hey folks- if you haven't noticed you have high schoolers who still count on their fingers under the desk. How about lots of drill on computation? I don't think you need to pay $1M in consultants to show middle school teachers how to teach fractions and decimals.

Tons of benchmark testing, pre testing, post testing. This chews up even more instructional time.

I see way too many different groups involved. And if you are Title I you will have even more consultants and coaches in and out of your classroom. I think all these different programs would confuse me if I were the teacher.

Non-title I training still looks like it is the train-the-trainer model.

Anonymous said...

Scaffolding! I learned a new term from reading this educrat stuff.

First our kids were learning math by spiraling. Then the National Math Panel said "spiraling" was awful. Students should learn the concept and not move on until they do. No more "exposing" them to an algebraic theory year after year hoping that it might stick. So last year we had "laddering" - building on each concept.

Now, we have scaffolding! Who the heck comes up with this stuff?

Molly said...

Anon 9:09 is right on the money about "student peer reflections." An Australian study found that 80% of feedback students received from other students was incorrect. Why waste time with something that will have to unlearned and retaught correctly?

Anonymous said...

I heard today that some of the private schools are reporting that newly enrolled kids coming from public school are way behind in math. Don't know if this is true but don't find it hard to believe (this is coming from some of the better private schools).

Anonymous said...

A friend enrolled her 9th grader in one of the top private schools this year. She had been an A math student with high ITBS scores. Her daughter was very upset that they are requiring her to retake Algebra I because the public school integrated math course does not cover all the sections of a traditional Algebra I course.

themommy said...

When the state was in the adoption part of the new math curriculum, several parents expressed concerns about portability. Whether a child is moving to or from public schools or in or out states, this was going to be a problem. Our concerns were brushed away. Basically, we were told that we can't worry about "those students."

BUT GA has some of the fastest growing counties in the country. We get new high school students constantly.

Lefty said...

Re: Math Expressions elementary school curriculum -- I just returned from the workshop that I think No Duh mentioned somewhere on the blog. The leader, Alisha Waller, was great! She has a PhD in math and engineering. Her enthusiasm for ME was inspiring. And her explanations and demonstrations were perfect. I'm now very excited about helping my kids with math.

We didn't go into detail, but she doesn't think too much of the HS curriculum.

Anonymous said...

Lefty, was this a seminar for public school teachers? If so, that is great news that the system is providing good quality teacher support and training.

I attended many of the math debates and what really pissed off parents about the grade school and middle school math program was 1) the low quality (or absence) of textbooks and 2) lack of a solid foundation in computation skills. I really didn't care if the math gurus changed the terminology as long as I could follow along if my child was struggling. I really hit the ceiling when I found my child spending half of 5th grade learning six different ways to "estimate." The beauty of math is that there is a correct answer yet the children spent little time in 5th and 6th grade learning how to multiple and divide. Same problem with fractions and decimals.

And if a parent dared to voice a valid concern (and some parents were tenured math professors at Emory and GT), they were summarily dismissed by the state folks, Gloria Talley, and the worst was Vonzia Phillips, the middle school coordinator.

"the mommy" is right on that many parents voiced concerns about the portability of the high school curriculum. I think we won't know the verdict on the high school curriculum until the current 9th and 10th graders take the SAT and ACT tests.

Lefty said...

This workshop was open to any parents, teachers or independent tutors. Dr. Waller is fantastic. I plan on sharing this with my principal and pta presidents. Maybe the pta can fund some more training for the teachers. Unfortunately, DeKalb didn't train teachers adequately so most of them don't fully understand how great the program is. I know my kids' teachers are not teaching the curriculum properly. If Dr. Waller can show me in 3 hours, she can do wonders with teachers.

Lefty said...

As far as Math Expressions goes, there is also really helpful info on Houghton Mifflin's web site. With each unit, the workbooks have explanatory letters for teachers to send home to parents so we can help our kids. Last year, I didn't get a single one of these letters. Here is the link to the info:
http://eduplace.com/math/mthexp/

Cerebration said...

Awesome link, Lefty! Those family letters are incredible --- all teachers have to do is send copies home. Hopefully, that is a goal of Dr Lewis' parent initiative -- how much easier could Houghton Mifflin have made the communication for the math?!

Anonymous said...

Maybe some school are better are communicating vital information than others, but I know in my children's elementary school, this information was provided. I just looked at this school's website and the course syllabi for all grades is located on the website, along with any and all useful websites, including the one Lefty referred to.

These types of link should be a standard part of a schools and teachers website.

Alisha! said...

Hi. I am Alisha Waller, who led the workshop that Lefty mentions. My company, Learning with Alisha!, has as its fundamental goal the improvement of learning in math, science, and engineering. We develop manipulatives and materials for teaching (one product is currently available, several more to release by early Oct) and provide services for students, parents, and teachers. I have lots to say (and hence my own blog), but for now, I'll just make a few comments.
1. I do think that the high school curriculum is a huge mistake and am disappointed, but not surprised, that GA has moved this direction. For now, that's all I'll say about that.
2. Adopting the Math Expressions (M.E.) curriculm is the best decision that DCSS has ever made regarding mathematics education. However, they simultaniously made the huge mistake of not buying the training teachers need to implement the curriculum well. Nor have they made the commitment (in time or money) to support teachers as they learn to teach this curriculum.
The workshop which I offer to parents has the goal of enabling parents to support their child's learning by understanding the structure and the fundamentals of M.E. and by understanding some of the basic ideas in teaching people mathematics. I plan on offering the workshop again in late Sept, if I get the sense that the demand is there. Please email me off-list at alisha@learningwithalisha.com if you would be interested in attending the workshop or sponsoring the workshop for your PTA or group.
3. It is worthwhile for taxpayers to skim & read carefully some of the strategic math plan posted on DCSS (which was referenced in an earlier comment) for one important insight: Teachers (and Ps, APs, etc) are being strangled by the paperwork and requirements from those on DCSS staff and higher up. Look at the ridiculous requirements that teachers have to deal with. It's like trying to play baseball in a straight jacket! It makes me furious! I want to put all the teachers and students in the middle of a circle of parents, who are facing outward, standing shoulder-to-shoulder to push back against the onslaught of not-only-useless-but-harmful "accountability" circus, thereby creating sufficient time, space, and breathing room for teachers and learners to do what they are really supposed to do. (* Note to self: Breathe. :-) *)
4. Regarding CRCT or Iowa scores and the "progress" of DCSS. Has anyone else plotted the scores of a class (e.g. Senior class of 2015) and seen the distribution of Level 1, 2, & 3 change? NCLB, combined with GA DoEduc decisions, is harming our children who are Level 3.
Sigh. That's all for now. Please feel free to contact me off-list or on my personal blog at www.LearningWithAlisha.com.

Cerebration said...

Below is an article from the Dunwoody (Dekalb) Neighbor

09/02/09

The Score: Schools need improvement

By Kyle Dominy
kdominy@neighbornewspapers.com

County and state officials say public schools need to improve student math skills to help boost their students’ SAT scores.

The average SAT score for Georgia’s high school students fell for the third consecutive year from 1466 in 2008 to 1460 in 2009. Georgia is ranked 47th in the nation in SAT scores.

One of the state’s weak points, according to State School Superintendent Kathy Cox, is math.

Georgia’s average in the math portion of the test, which is worth 800 points total, is 491 — down from 493 last year. The national average is 515 points.

Gloria Talley, the deputy superintendent of teaching and learning for the DeKalb County School System, said the system’s average math score dropped from 443 last year to 441 this year.

“We’re not happy we didn’t improve, but it’s nothing to be alarmed about,” Ms. Talley said. “There is a sense of urgency to focus on math in our schools.”

To help DeKalb students with their math skills, the school system partnered with America’s Choice, an organization that specializes in instruction design and teacher development.

The partnership will provide DeKalb schools with coaches to assist teachers each week.

Ms. Talley also said the school system will monitor freshmen and sophomore math classes to determine if a more rigorous curriculum is needed.

Chamblee High School fared the best in DeKalb.

The school had a total average SAT score of 1662; the maximum score on the test is 2400.

The school’s average math score is 541.

Chamblee High School AP calculus teacher Zareen Hagen credited the school’s math score to its seven-class schedule, meaning students are in math classes year round rather than only one semester as is typical in a block schedule arrangement.

“Math is like a foreign language,” she said. “If you don’t speak it, you forget it.”

DeKalb SAT Scores

Avondale High School: 1152
Chamblee High School: 1662
Cross Keys High School: 1249
Decatur High School: 1577
DeKalb School of the Arts: 1589
Druid Hills High School: 1522
Dunwoody High School: 1533
Lakeside High School: 1598
Open Campus High School: 1183
Redan High School: 1288
Stephenson High School: 1272
Stone Mountain High School: 1185
Tucker High School: 1306

Source: Georgia Department of Education

Anonymous said...

I would be curious to see the break out of the Chamblee High scores of magnet versus resident. A different story you will see.

Cerebration said...

Me too. Imagine if those kids were separated into a real, true high-achiever magnet that pulled only the top 2% from all over the county... we should treasure and value them more than we do.

Also - the article surprised me once again at the positive spin Gloria Talley consistently delivers. She has one thick pair of rose-colored glasses.

The article says that the national average on the math portion of the SAT is 515. Georgia's average dropped from 493 to 491. DeKalb's average dropped from 443 to 441.

Gloria's response: “We’re not happy we didn’t improve, but it’s nothing to be alarmed about.”

The teacher of the highest-achievers in the county stated that daily math instruction all year is necessary for success. So - what does Gloria do? She (and our school leaders) maintain the block schedule (half year math) and hire "teacher coaches" to implement the "America's Choice" curriculum - as if the problem is the curriculum and the poor teachers.

Obviously, she doesn't think the problem is the block schedule. Does anyone have data on this? Has anyone tracked the math scores for block schedule schools vs traditional? Does Gloria have data to back up her plan to keep the block but implement a new curriculum and coach the teachers? Has this been successful anywhere else in the country?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Yes, Gloria Talley seems to be entrenched with her view on block scheduling. Hopefully, Dr. Lewis will hold true to his word that it should be up to each school to do what is best for their students. There should not a "one-size" fits all approach.

Cerebration said...

Beyond its ineffectiveness for so many classes, the block is outrageously expensive to operate.

Think about it - as we've discussed here before, on the block each student is offered 32 credits over 4 years. The traditional schedule only offers 28. (You only need 24 to graduate.) So the block offers every student 4 more credits than non-blocks. If there are 400 students in each class, that's 1600 extra credits offered. Divide that by 30 students per class and that's about 52 extra classes over 4 years (with teachers, supplies and classroom space) for each grade level that passes through. So basically, over 50 classes more have to be offered each year on the block master schedule.

A simpler way to do the math is that the block offers one more credit each year (8 v 7). So for a class of 400 students divided by 30 students in a classroom yields 13+ extra classes that have to be offered per grade level. (13x4=52)

That's 52 teachers, 52 sets of textbooks & supplies, 52 extra classrooms (trailers?), 52 more things to juggle in the master schedule.

$$$$$

Anonymous said...

My prediction is the that the scores on the SAT will continue to plummet in DCSS based on the new curriculum -- between it's massive all-at-once rollout and the lack of teacher training, not to mention what it contains -- monitoring freshmen and sophmores and looking for "more rigor" isn't going to cut it because the teachers aren't prepare to teach what the kids need to know for the SAT under the new curriculum (which is partially why other states, which have tried the integrated curriculum have bailed on it).

Dunwoody Mom said...

I'm willing to wait and see whether the new curriculum helps - though we won't know anything until last year's 9th graders take their SAT's.

Anonymous said...

Should DCSS stop teaching math on a block? I think so but the stats are split.

The five schools with the highest math SAT scores this yea:

Chamblee (563) -no block
Lakeside (532) - no block
Dunwoody (514) - block
Druid Hills (502) - block
DSA (495)- modified block- math is full year course.

Dun Mom- I am also curious to see how the students who complete the full high school GPS curriculum perform on the SAT, but the current 10th graders will not be a good cohort to compare because so many of the students opted out of the GPS math by taking the "hybrid" Algebra 1 in 8th grade and the double math classes in 9th grade.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody SAT scores have been flat since the block began and frankly, are far lower than they should be. Math should be a year long course. Our students are getting ripped off.

Cerebration said...

Forsyth county recently got rid of the block. I think the trend is going away from it. I do like the idea of a modified block of some sort - or maybe just reduce the graduation requirements to the same level as the state (23 credits - one less in social studies) and go back to a 6 period day.

Cerebration said...

Just for kicks -- see if you can answer this sample SAT math question --

The price of 10 pounds of apples is d dollars. If the apples weigh an average of 1 pound for every 6 apples, which of the following is the average price, in cents, of a dozen such apples?

A. 20d
B. 50d/3
C. 5d
D. 5d/3
E. d/20

(B, D, and E are supposed to be fractions, but this is the best way I can type them here...)

No Duh said...

Two journalism majors came up with d/5 -- which isn't listed. :)

So, is that the point?

Square Peg said...

It stumped me too for a minute. The trick is that they ask for the answer in cents, not dollars. A mean trick, in my opinion. I agree with the journalism majors that the cost of 12 apples is d/5 DOLLARS (since 10 pounds = 60 apples cost d dollars), but that's 20d in CENTS.

Cerebration said...

Good job people! Here's the actual answer -

A (20d)

Here's Why:
If 6 apples weigh 1 pound, then a dozen (12) apples weigh 2 pounds. The price of a dozen apples is the price of 2 pounds of apples. The price of 10 pounds of apples isd dollars, or 100d cents, so the price of 2 pounds of apples is of 100d cents, or 20d cents.

Difficulty: Hard
Question Type: Standard Multiple Choice
(Mathematics)


=====

Go to the College Board website and sign up for the SAT question of the day -- it's great brain exercise and helps you understand the thinking involved on the tests... Have your high schooler sign up too. -- The English questions are easier for us bloggers! ;-)

Square Peg said...

Cere, I've enjoyed the puzzles on this blog the last couple of days. Spanish translation brainteasers and math problems are a nice change of pace from the usual puzzles posted here, which generally have depressingly similar answers, at least as far as I can figure out: "Why was Person X promoted to Executive Position Y?" "Why does it take many hours for a teacher to enter grades into eSIS?" "Why is one of these districts not shaped like the others?"

Cerebration said...

I agree! Let's try to find more things to ponder in the future and rise above the pettiness (but still keep an eye on it!) We'll shift our paradigm - Grinch-like!

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

—Dr. Seuss

Square Peg said...

Regarding rising above pettiness: a big salute to Cere and everybody on this blog for keeping the discussions civil and meaningful.

An apology for being flip; I feel that my last post reduced the MundoHispano article to a "Spanish translation brainteaser." While it was a fun challenge to figure out the Spanish, there was nothing fun about the content of the story. Very glad Cere found it (how did you ever find it, I wonder) and put a different perspective on the blog.

Shining a spotlight on the bad stuff is a vital service, and is the main thing a blog like this can accomplish. But Cere's words about shifting paradigms got me thinking about the antidote to feeling overwhelmed - do something, anything! Donate a book. Tutor a child. Encourage a teacher. Volunteer in a school. You all seem to be very caring and involved people. I wish we didn't have to stay anonymous, because I'd enjoy hearing the stories of how you work to make a positive difference in your little corners of the DeKalb County School System. Too bad that telling them would blow your cover.

Cerebration said...

Thanks SP... I am proud of the conversations we have at this blog - while we're certainly not perfect and we sometimes venture into testy arguments, by and large, we are all pretty civil and thoughtful. I think it's because we all really just care about our schools.

As far as how I find articles -- much of it is sent to us via email and I just repost (that was the case with the article about Woodward, although, I have to take the blame for the first - bad - Google translation.) Several regulars have writing privileges and post their own articles directly. Some of it comes from articles written for other publications that we reprint with permission. (Shayna Steinfeld has allowed us to reprint some of her articles from the Atlanta Bar newsletter as well as some of her original articles like this one.) Kim Gokce contributes a whole new (positive) insight on his community as well as writes up meeting reports from meetings he attends. John Heneghan keeps us up to date on Dunwoody issues and Jody Steinberg allows us to print her reports from Brookhaven. Pscexb often has huge amounts of facts, data and insight to share. No Duh recently posted an article for the first time. And of course, Open & Transparent brought us the heartbreaking Jaheem Herrera story, which won the highest click-throughs for the quarter at Community Radar - and in response, O&T donated those winnings to the book drive at Cross Keys.

Many people come here and identify themselves and are open about their thoughts - especially Ella - she is so sincere and insightful and contributes much. Others of us use a moniker - - but I think sometimes that only serves to add honesty to the debate. You tend to tell it like it is when you use a moniker and we really have no one who abuses their anonymity.

This is a great blog - hosting thoughtful conversation and debate -- you are all so important to our success. Hopefully, we serve to make a difference - or at least cause some more thoughtful decisions to be made, as those in charge realize that we are watching, reporting and discussing.

If anyone else would like writing privileges, just send us an email from an anonymous email account (one that uses your moniker) and we can set you up. If you'd rather just send us your ideas or a written article, you can do that too and I'll post it for you and keep your name out of it. Here's the address:

reparteeforfun@gmail.com

Cerebration said...

Ok - here's an easy one for you journalism majors --

Choose the word or set of words that, when inserted in the sentence, best fits the meaning of the sentence as a whole.

Milan's friends were confused by the drastic change in his demeanor; usually ------- and calm, Milan had recently become ------- .

A. serene . . unflappable
B. amiable . . irascible
C. kind . . imperturbable
D. reserved . . withdrawn
E. imperious . . surly


ANSWER:
=====

The sentence focuses on a contrast between Milan's usual demeanor (which includes being calm) and his current behavior.* If Milan used to be amiable and kind, his recent irascibility would be confusing to his friends.

* Only choice (B) support this contrast.
(only 54% of the respondents got it right)

Cerebration said...

Ok - here's good one -- today's SAT question for math -- (the 2s are 'squared' - they just won't print up from the baseline here.)

If (x + y)2 = x2 + y2, which of the following statements must also be true?

I. x = 0
II. (x – y)2 = x2 + y2
III. xy = 0

A. None
B. I only
C. II only
D. III only
E. II and III

Cerebration said...

ANSWER-

The quantity (x + y)2 can be expressed as x2 + 2xy + y2. If (x + y)2 = x2 + y2, then 2xy = 0 and xy = 0. Since xy = 0, either x = 0 or y = 0 or both. Therefore, statement III must be true, but statement I, x = 0, is not always true. For statement II, you can write (x – y)2 = x 2 – 2xy + y2, and since xy = 0, it follows that (x – y)2 = x2 + y2. Therefore, both statements II and III must be true.

Difficulty: Hard
Question Type: Standard Multiple Choice
(Mathematics)

(therefore the answer is "E")

Cerebration said...

One more - this one's kind of hard --

A manager estimates that if the company charges p dollars for their new product, where 0 p 200, then the revenue from the product will be r(p) = 2,000p – 10p2 dollars each week. According to this model, for which of the following values of p would the company's weekly revenue for the product be the greatest?

A. 10
B. 20
C. 50
D. 100
E. 200

Cerebration said...

The graph of r(p) = 2,000p – 10p2 is a downward-facing parabola that intersects the x-axis at 0 and at 200. Parabolas are symmetric, so the maximum value of r occurs at 100, which is halfway between 0 and 200. (When p = 100, the value of r is r(100)= 2,000(100) – 10(1002) = 100,000.)
Therefore, the Correct Answer is: D
Difficulty: Hard

No Duh said...

Thanks a lot Cere!! I just blew out what few left-brain brain cells I still had!!

But, I did get the English one correct. :)

Please tell me our kids are being taught how to do these types of math problems in high school, cause I am sure not going to be able to help.

Anonymous said...

Another feature of Georgia Math is that it does not lend itself to students who want to take AP calculus or physics. Not that we do enough to encourage gifted students in DCSS other than gripe about how much extra kids get at Chamblee and DSA.

Did it ever occur to anyone that if we wanted to make sure our public schools failed and were dismantled to be replaced by private for profit charter schools that the first thing we would do is make sure we dumbed down the curriculum including math, move to make sure that no child was left behind by ignoring the gifted and brightest and teaching to the low middle? To make AYP 95% of every sub group has to show up on test day. How many major businesses have absentee rates of 5% or lower? Then we say every child will pass by 2020. Sure they will-maybe in Lake Woebegone where every child is above average. Rather than aid schools that don't meet the standards we penalize them and take away funding by letting students transfer out. And when the only students who transfer come from families who care-then those students departure further lowers the test scores at the troubled school. And in the cases where at risk students do transfer, often their new schools have lowered test scores and trouble making AYP.

God forbid we should have national standards and a normed national test. Evidently the first right in states rights is the right to be stupid.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:14 p.m.

AMEN.

Anonymous said...

Having trouble arguing with this logic.....

Cerebration said...

We were recently given a link to the DeKalb Mathematics Curriculum. It's actually pretty in-depth! This is the kind of publication and organization we've been asking for. Thanks guys!

2009-2010
Foundations for Success, Raising the Bar to Strengthen Mathematics Instruction, K-12

Cerebration said...

oh boy! There's a good (read that weird) SAT question of the day today -- here 'tis -

In a supermarket, Shakira bought 5 items from aisles 1 through 7, inclusive, and 7 items from aisles 4 through 10, inclusive. Which of the following could be the total number of items that Shakira bought?

I) 9
II) 10
III) 11

A. II only
B. I and II only
C. I and III only
D. II and III only
E. I, II, and III


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

The explanation is more bizarre than the question -

E - Correct! Here's Why:
A purchase from aisles 4 through 7, inclusive, would count in both Shakira’s purchases from aisles 1 through 7, inclusive, and those from aisles 4 through 10, inclusive. So, for example, she could have bought as few as 7 items total: say 5 items from aisle 6 and 2 from aisle 9. Or the total could be as high as 12: say 5 items from aisle 1 and 7 from aisle 10. Any total number of items between 7 and 12 is also possible. In particular, Shakira could have bought 9 items total (for example, 2 items from aisle 1, 3 from aisle 6, and 4 from aisle 10), 10 items total (for example, 3 items from aisle 1, 2 from aisle 6, and 5 from aisle 10), or 11 items total (for example, 4 items from aisle 1, 1 from aisle 6, and 6 from aisle 10). Therefore, the correct answer is I, II, and III.

Difficulty: Hard
Question Type: Standard Multiple Choice
(Mathematics)

Jay said...

I stumbled upon this, and it's great info. I had no idea of the recent switchover in math.

When did this change begin?

I have a rising 10th grader at DHHS (class of 2013), so she is in the middle of this math switch. She struggled through advanced math I this past year (1st semester 9th grade), and I'm trying to review last year and dig into next year's math II with over the summer.

First, I agree that block with Math is horrible (foreign language, too). It's possible that my daughter can be scheduled to have NO MATH AT ALL FOR 12 MONTHS between advanced math I and advanced math II. In my opinion, this is absolutely nuts! So one priority for me personally is to somehow make sure she is in math II first semester for the 10-11 school year (only missing a still ridiculous seven months of math).

I had what seemed a good high school math education then what seemed a logical mathematics progression at GA Tech. For at least the last two years, I've seen my daughter's math curriculum jump all over the place, never spending enough time on anything for it to sink in or register (just as quadratics were registering in Math I, boom -- they moved onto something else). That's just one example in an overall pattern I've seen.

For summer study, I've so far used the posted EOCT documents as guides for studying Math I and II.

Are the current Math I and II posted EOCT Study Guides correct and representative of the switchover? Does Math II begin by digging further into quadratics as per the study guide?

To make matters worse, we've lost the great math teacher who had our kids last year and was hopefully slated to pick up with them again in advanced math II. We've now lost her, and I may have to contend with another teacher for math II who is less than fluent with the material. As always, you never know.

Arrrgh. After reading all of this, I'm not hopeful anything will change for the better math-wise in time enough to help any of our kids currently in the first couple of grades in high school. This stinks.

Math Parent said...

My son has just started Accelerated Math 1 through Georgia Virtual School, and I am desperately looking for the old EOCT copies. Where can I find them?

Our school district took best math students and gave them 8th grade math in 7th grade, and is now making them take Accelerated Math 1 as a computer taught course from Georgia Virtual School. It is really frustrating, and I would like to see the EOCT to see if he is learning what is on there. Poor kids, not only do they have to deal with this jumble of a course, but they have no teacher to look at their work unless/until they have submitted it for a grade. And the assignments they have for homework are timed, so they do not even get to think long enough to do them. Avoid this course at all costs.

I fully agree with the fact that block scheduling for math is a horrible idea, that should be banned. But who do we appeal to?

Distressed Math Parent.