Monday, February 21, 2011

Math Survey

The AJC tells us that State School Superintendent John Barge plans to ask the state school board to vote to reinstate the traditional math courses (often referred to as discreet math courses) on the state-approved, state-funded course list with the intention of allowing local school officials to decide which courses they want to teach. In response, DCSS' Dept. Superintendent Morcease Beasley sent out this memo:

From DCSS Dept. Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Morcease Beasley

From: MORCEASE J. BEASLEY Wednesday, February 16, 2011 6:12:10 PM
Subject: Parent Feedback on Discreet Math Option
To: HS Principals 10-11 MS Principals 10-11
Cc: ALICE A. THOMPSON Woods, Walter


To: MS and HS Principals


From: Dr. Morcease Beasley, Interim Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning


Re: Parent Feedback on Discreet (Traditional) Math Option


All MS and HS parents are requested to share feedback on the district's intention to offer the discreet math option (referred to as the traditional approach) using the CCGPS/CCSS appropriately sequenced for such an option if the state BOE approves to grant such flexibility. This discreet math approach would be offered to incoming 9th graders beginning the 2011-12 school year. Parents may share feedback by going to the district's website or by utilizing the link below.

===

And then from a differnt email he sent:

The discreet math approach, taught using the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) sequenced as appropriate, would be as follows:


9th Grade Course Intermediate Algebra with Statics
10th Grade Course Geometry and Statistics
11th Grade Course Advanced Algebra and Statistics
12th Grade Course Multiple Course Offerings in Mathematics

===

To take the survey, click here.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually, it is "discrete" math and not "discreet" math.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to let Beasley know.

Anonymous said...

Give the guy a break. He only has a PhD, has taught for 3.5 years, and is vying for a new job.

Typical DCSS

Wish they had included elementary math. The middle and high school kids have problem with math, because the elementary math program is the pits. It all builds on itself.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Beasley!

Define "discrete" math.

I thought you taught math, but you don't know the difference between "discrete" math and "discreet" math?

Here's a hint: "discreet" math is what CLewless used for his tryst-related expense accounts. It turned out to be not all that discreet. I don't think "discreet" math is what we want to teach our children.

Nice.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Beasley!

Define "discrete" math.

I thought you taught math, but you don't know the difference between "discrete" math and "discreet" math?

Here's a hint: "discreet" math is what CLewless used for his tryst-related expense accounts. It turned out to be not all that discreet. I don't think "discreet" math is what we want to teach our children.

Nice.

Anonymous said...

Too many American mothers think there is a math gene. Oriental mothers think that hard work and an interest in education produces students that excel in math (or anything else). Guess what countries consistently out perform our students on the math tests? Did you include China, Japan, Korea, India? The sad part is that of the 23 countries who rank ahead of the US our nieghbor to the north is in the top 5.

Anonymous said...

Calling it "discreet" math is pathetic, but calling it "discrete" math also shows ignorance on the part of the curriculum staff because "discrete math" already means something else.

Discrete Math is a state-approved course (27.069) that is an alternative to AP Calculus and AP Statistics for students who have finished the Accelerated Math 1-3 sequence. It was offered last year, for example, at Chamblee High, and is offered by the Georgia Virtual School.

More generally, discrete math is the study of mathematical structures which are discrete (like the integers) as opposed to continuous (like the real numbers). It is closely associated with computer science, and Georgia Tech offers a major in it.

Dunwoody Mom said...

A "discrete course", which is the term that the GADOE is using to define this offering, simply means "single unconnected course."

Anonymous said...

DM, it's interesting to know that the name "discrete math" comes from the GADOE, not from DCSS.

I still object to the name and to the DOE's implication that traditional math courses are not connected. Trigonometry is very much connected to algebra and geometry. Algebra 2 is connected to Algebra 1.

And the GADOE should know better. The Discrete Math course is in documents on their website.

I don't expect DCSS to have enough mathematical knowledge to have heard of the field of discrete math, but surely there are people at the state DOE who have. They might as well name the traditional sequence "calculus" because it's about calculating.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I think you're getting hung up on the term "discrete". No one is referring to this as a "Discrete Math course".

From John Barge's winter presentation:

"Divide the current GPS math standards into discrete
courses and allow incoming freshmen and ANY current 9th – 11th grader, who is struggling to earn credit in the integrated approach, the opportunity to
switch over and take the SAME RIGOROUS standards but delivered in discrete courses."

Anonymous said...

Barge calls it discrete courses, but DCSS seems to be calling it discrete math. ("often referred to as discreet math courses"... "offer the discreet math option"...)

I figured that using the phrase "discrete math" betrayed an institutional lack of interest in or understanding of advanced math content. Maybe I am biased because over the years, I've seen students who try to go above and beyond the curriculum in competitions or whatnot, only to be frustrated by institutional ignorance.

Sorry for getting hung up. Enough for now!

Dunwoody Mom said...

I will agree that this letter from Beasley was poorly worded, along with the wrong use of "discrete"...

Anonymous said...

That is not a survey. That is a simple yes/no poll.

Anonymous said...

Why bother with a "yes/no" poll? Who's in charge anyway?

Anonymous said...

The DCSS online survey is awful. It's a yes or no answer. I don't like the math now in place and I don't like the DCSS replacement being proposed. Why in the heck do high schoolers need to take 3 years of statistics? Did anyone see today's AJC front page article stating the millions neighboring districts have spent on implementing the "new" math? Money was spent on training teachers and new text books. Comments from DCSS spokesman Walter Woods-integrated math was not a significant expense for Dek. schools. We taught integrated math out of the old textbooks. Huh??
Well, well there's a shocker. This should mean that each high schooler was issued 2-4 math textbooks then. That didn't happen, teachers were expected run off copies. But they only have a certain allotment of county issued copy paper. Last I heard each teacher was issued two packages of paper. So I guess the copies either didn't happen or they were expected to come out of pocket on their already cut salaries.
Would it be indiscrete of me to say that we should kick Beasley and the whole lot at DCSS in de skreet?

Anonymous said...

"...as we set the standard for excellence in teaching and learning."

Those of you who read Dr. Beasley's regular email pronouncements may be tired of this repeated verbatim in each and every one. For him to use this language in our system is a fine irony.

MathMomma from Doraville said...

Why did the math teacher cross discreet?

To get to da udder side!

Anonymous said...

I informed Dr. B of his error with discreet vs. discrete. He acknowledged it and sent out corrected versions to principals today. In his response to me, he made another gramatical error. Very concerning--the head of instruction for DCSS cannot write (or speak from what I've observed)with any clarity. Wonder if his bosses realize any of this, especially those who are considering him as the new super.

Anonymous said...

The problems with the integrated math program lies squarely with the state of GA, not DCSS. The state should have tested the curriculum in a pilot in a handful of high schools first. Instead they rolled it out statewide, but with too little teacher training.

It may be that the integrated approach (used in many European and Asian countries) is a better way to teach math. But the state DOE only developed one year of curriculum at a time. They were horribly unprepared.

It may be that DeKalb compounded the problem by not putting sufficient resources into the program. Frankly, I attended a few meetings and tried to discuss the implementation. I never felt that the DCSS mathematics hierarchy had a sufficient grasp of the integrated program. But then having an internet PhD or ED in Educational Leadership does not prepare one to teach higher level mathematics.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:58 I beg to differ with you. The problem is that our students do not have the mathematical ability to truly understand the basic concepts of math taught in elementary school to make a transition to middle and high school math. Our elementary math department has done a different curriculum plan for the past four years since getting the new curriculum. The math benchmarks have been poorly written and often times questions have nothing to do with what has been asked to be taught.

Our students have little understand of place value, number sense, basic mathematical skills of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, etc., and have difficulty with word problems. Teachers have little time to teach and what they are asked to teach via the board of education. It's also mind boggling, as huge assumptions are made in student knowledge that simply does not exist.

Math in general needs to be revamped via the state/DCSS or whatever, as it cannot stay the way that it is if we expect our students to be able to succeed in demanding math and science curriculum.

As an ex-elementary teacher in DCSS, I am convinced that the math curriculum people do not know what they are doing in general. You can not have trainers training trainers at the county level, who train the teachers who train the teachers at the school model, just doesn't work. Our county wastes money on law suits, expensive computer programs that do not work properly,expensive salaries, but does not spend on developing teachers' skills.

If the middle and high school math curriculum was handled in any way that the elementary math curriculum adoption was handled that it was set up for failure from the very beginning. I agree that the state may not have handled things properly, but DCSS has not handled things in the best light either and has probably exasperated the errors of the state.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:43 Many of the other administrators have the problems with the English language whether in print or the spoken language. One wonders how they have their advanced degrees without anyone addressing these issues with them, so that they are extra careful.

Anonymous said...

LOL - Discreet math! I'm sorry - but that is too funny that the Curriculum and Instruction head whose only claim to instructional fame is 3 1/2 years as a math teacher many years ago does not know how to spell Discrete Math.

DCSS Teacher said...

What a moron. This is the guy we are supposed to look up to as a curriculum leader?

Anonymous said...

And I am sure that Beasley never actually took a Discrete Math class in college or graduate school. If had had, he would have known that the high school math curriculum also covers topics not classified as Discrete Math. Once again, we see those guiding instruction for our school systems have little "in field" knowledge. This is true for the science coordinators, as well. Our educators should master subject matter FIRST, then learn how to teach it. Instead, most go to school to learn how to teach a particular subject, but never really gain in-depth understanding of the subject they are trying to teach. This is the difference between EdD and PhD.

And, it was another true math expert, Kathy Cox, who got us into this mess.

Anonymous said...

Integrated math is more rigorous but if taught well teaches kids ro understand and apply mathematical concepts. A student can perform well in the traditional math curriculum without really understanding math but by learning how to perform a defined set of operations to do certain types of problems. But for a teacher to teach integrated math, he/she much have mastery and understanding of mathematical concepts from algebra, geometry, trig, statistics and calculus. Most of our high school math teachers do not and thus cannot convey the principles to the students. We simply must change the way we are educating our teachers and elevate the standards required to qualify to be a teacher at the high school level, particulary for math and science.

Anonymous said...

So true. I don't actually care whether the math curriculum is integrated or differentiated, discreet or indiscreet, as long as students gain understanding and mastery from teachers who have understanding and mastery.

The "survey" doesn't ask me whether I want a well-designed curriculum with proper books and materials taught by teachers who thoroughly understand the subject and who have the freedom to teach in whatever ways they can be most effective. Since that is not an option, there isn't much point responding to the survey.

I think a student's prospects for learning math are slightly better with the traditional curriculum only because the teachers and textbook publishers have years of experience with it.

Anonymous said...

Integrated, Smintegrated...doesn't fricken matter!!

You could have Albert Einstein himself standing in front of a number of these high school students and he would not be able to teach many of them because these students lack the foundation neccessary to do much of what is being asked of them.

Traditional or new, fandangled, makes no difference if a child does not understand the simplest of operations, has no clue as to mathematical properties (associative, commutative, distributive) and then HOLY MOLY, can not read well enough to begin to understand a word problem.

This is not a high school problem.

This is a from the cradle problem!

We need to begin building the solid fundamentals and require mastery way, way before high school!

Cerebration said...

That's the way I've heard it. The program is supposedly very good, but requires an enormous amount of teacher training. Some counties poured millions into this training - and may even keep the math program. Others tried to train their teachers, but were very ineffective (probably used "train the trainer" methods).

The AJC published a good article on the subject yesterday. Gwinnett spent a fortune on the new math, as did Clayton. This article isn't available online, but it tells us that "Gwinnett county, the state's largest system, spent nearly $3.5 million to implement the three-in-one math classes that frustrated parents and students across the state and have been linked by some to a statewide nose dive in test scores."

However, by and large, the new math doesn't have many cheerleaders:
Integrated math finds little support among superintendents

Here's a post from last May highlighting the failure rate of new math students -

The state’s new math program: “Kids are failing left and right”

But then, Maureen Downey has an interesting blog post - defending the new math program -

State math supervisors: Don’t change. Maintain integrated math.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:09: The first thing our educators need to master is the English language, then the subject matter, then how to teach the subject matter! Then when they become the Beasley administrators of the world, they can at least speak and write correctly so they don't embarass us and don't set a poor example for the teachers and students under them!

Cerebration said...

Placing Morcease Beasley in this position was the first thing to really make me question Ramona Tyson's leadership ability as it concerns education. Don't get me wrong - I think she has done a remarkable job with budgeting, buildings, redistricting, etc - business management type decisions. In fact, I would say that her leadership and the implementation of the changes she has initiated have probably saved the system from a SACS intervention.

However, she does not appear to be a leader in creating a vision for students - in the classroom. This, IMO, makes the case for steering clear of hiring a business-minded full-time superintendent and instead focusing on someone who truly understands learning - and children. Someone who can recognize qualified curriculum leaders and principal leaders and put them in place. Someone who values teachers and will support them, giving them all the necessary tools and enforcing the necessary discipline to get the job done.

We really needed Ramona's leadership in this particular time period. We were in budgetary crisis, with too much bloat and too few resources spread too thin. SACS was breathing down our necks and we were going literally broke. She has made some tough decisions that led our system to a more stable platform. That said, I seriously hope that she will continue -- making further cuts to the top level administration - streamlining services so that resources flow directly to the classroom first - and consolidating schools in order to make the most of our dollars. Then, she can hand the reins over to someone with the ability to focus on education - knowing that she gave that person a "house in good order"...

Cerebration said...

Funnily enough, Dr. Lewis promised OVER A YEAR AGO - that he was going to make major cuts to administration...(his "cabinet")...

DeKalb to close four schools and lose 15 bigwigs. Gwinnett sets furlough days.

The budget axe is falling on four schools and the central office staff in DeKalb County where Superintendent Crawford Lewis announced Friday, “We can no longer afford to operate schools which are at half capacity.” Lewis said he will pare his cabinet back from 27 administrators to about 12, a move that should placate critics who contend that the central office is full of people who don’t have a real impact on student learning in the county.

The financially struggling DeKalb school system – the deficit is now at $88 million from state cuts and falling revenue — will name the four elementary schools that will close next week, choosing from among 29 schools with enrollments of less than 300 students.

Anonymous said...

I believe that we need the person running the money side to be business minded, so that the spending on programs, materials, and jobs that are really not needed is what we need along with a person who has a strong teaching record who understands how to develop curriculum and get teachers the best training possible. Together two people running our schools could make our schools great again. I believe that one without the other will keep us down the path we are currently on with little hopes of ever getting better.

Cerebration said...

But shouldn't your Operations COO be that "business-person"? How about the CFO? How about the head of transportation? Head of plant services? Human resources? Right now, the ONLY top-level person under Tyson charged with education as their duty at DCSS is Beasley. Then, you have Ms Berry and the Office of School Improvement and an enormous cast and crew -- all under Beasley.

Anonymous said...

The entire top administrators need to be replaced because we don't have any top notch people. If they are the best that DCSS can find, we are in more trouble than anyone can even believe. If we can't find better people for these top positions, we need to close the district down, and allow start up charter schools to run the eduction program in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Word on the street is Beaseley and the Teaching and Learning Dept. have decided to do a 4 day pre-CRCT test in March. Anyone else hear this?

Anonymous said...

What a waste of time, if the CRCT mock is true. Giving the kids a solid foundation in education will get the kids ready for their CRCT, not giving them coach books and mock tests.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:09am
I'm sure most of the educational degrees that our top administrators have received are
GED's instead of PhD's.

I'm just saying.

Anonymous said...

People like you and me can say such things because we never made a mistake.

"Anon 8:09: The first thing our educators need to master is the English language, then the subject matter, then how to teach the subject matter!"

Anyone else want to join the Throw the First Stone Club? One of the problems in the computer age is we depend too much on Spell Check. It lets you use the wrong word sometimes.

The motto of the club by the way is “sit on the sidelines and criticize”.

Oh wait, is that a mote in our eye?