tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post917717535027842040..comments2011-03-31T16:04:57.656-04:00Comments on My School Committee Blog: Perhaps My Final Math Post?Catherine A. Sandersonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03523667921190365891noreply@blogger.comBlogger41125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-38216116908316840892011-03-23T12:43:17.470-04:002011-03-23T12:43:17.470-04:00Catherine, I don't know if this thread is stil...Catherine, I don't know if this thread is still being followed, but I want to respond here. Beth Graham may have been wrong about how she characterized the use of Saxon math in that study (I have no idea, as I wasn't there, so I'm going on hearsay), but she was not wrong about the more important point, which is that Saxon math is heavily drill and computation-oriented. To consider it would be going against one of Dr. Chen's important recommendations (and one supported by all recent thinking about math instruction) which is that a "balanced approach" between concepts building and mechanical fluency with numbers is needed. Saxon math also requires significantly more math instruction (in the study, 1 hour per week more)--the fact you keep raising it as an issue because the committee isn't considering it makes me wonder whether that is because it is an easy way to bash the committee, and/or a way to continue to bash the "long awaited" second edition of Investigations, or because you are advocating 30-35 hours more of math instruction a year and a heavily number drill approach. I don't know enough about ME to make any comments about it.<br /><br />About that study, one other grain of salt other than the 1-grade span of it is just the issue you raised, namely, the random assignment of curriculum to schools in the study. As Dr. Chen and others have noted, investigations is a complex program requiring a lot of teacher training to be done well. My question about that study is, were the teachers who were given the program to use sufficiently trained? I did not see anything about that in the WWC write-up about the study, and don't recall details from the study itself which I read a while ago. That is an important variable. Assuming appropriate in-depth training to use that program was not a part of a randomized study like that, this is the most we can conclude: Looking at just one grade in the elementary span of grades, ME and Saxon outperformed Investigations when teachers may have been insufficiently trained to use Investigations, and Saxon math had approximately 30-35 hours per year more instruction time than students in the Investigations group. What a rousing endorsement of ME and Saxon over Investigations for a K-5 math program!<br /><br />That said, I again would recommend that in the name of expedience, politics and the WWC research base, that the district change to Everyday Math, with sufficient teacher training.kennoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-6383465642789317482011-03-22T09:05:13.125-04:002011-03-22T09:05:13.125-04:00Anonymous 7:36 - unfortunately Ms. Graham was wron...Anonymous 7:36 - unfortunately Ms. Graham was wrong -- this was a random assignment study in which schools were assigned to use a particular curriculum, and the kids in this sample are actually lower in terms of the % of low income kids than our current kindergarteners. So, schools in this study didn't get to choose the curriculum they used, and the populations are virtually identical to ours. Nonetheless, I'm still surprised that Ms. Graham deliberately chose to eliminate even for consideration not only Saxon (which was indeed shown to be quite effective) but also Math Expressions (which was also shown to be quite effective and is a curriculum that balances skill/drill and conceptual understanding). I hope you'll take the time to actually read the study before misinterpreting my comments.Catherine A. Sandersonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03523667921190365891noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-73444935180510716602011-03-17T19:36:49.602-04:002011-03-17T19:36:49.602-04:00Thanks Ken, for offering factual analysis of the s...Thanks Ken, for offering factual analysis of the situation. It's very refreshing. Beth Graham tried to answer Catherine's questions about why Saxon wasn't considered (with similar concerns about the one year sample of 1st graders sited in the WWC results) at the SC meeting. Turns out, that sample consisted of a high percentage of underprivileged kids that they were intentionally using the Saxon skill and drill approach with in order to try to bring them quickly up to speed. Ms. Graham commented (repeatedly) that a strictly skill and drill approach, such as Saxon, does not fit with Amherst's broader mission educationally (in terms of encouraging deep conceptual understanding as opposed to more strictly rote types of learning). Unfortunately that explanation fell on deaf ears (as far as Catherine's in concerned).Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-59652100965950028372011-03-16T19:19:20.560-04:002011-03-16T19:19:20.560-04:00I don't think the phased in the Action Plan co...I don't think the phased in the Action Plan correspond to the phases of Policy IL reviews.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-30406574747486400712011-03-16T18:19:37.682-04:002011-03-16T18:19:37.682-04:00What's up on the timing aspect of the math act...What's up on the timing aspect of the math action plan? <br /><br />Earlier meetings and charts of program review schedules had the district moving toward wrapping up Phase 1 (the needs assessment phase) and 2 (the planning phase) by the end of May. This follows the formula of Policy IL. Phase 3 (the full implementation) would start in June 2011. <br /><br />But at the Wednesday Amherst School Commmittee meeting, Beth Graham said Phase 1 was beginning and the Math Action Plan itself contains many Phase 1 and 2 actions, as well as Phase 3 actions. No dates on anything. <br /><br />Can someone clear this up?<br /><br />the other JanetAnonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-64550149687285620192011-03-16T14:45:23.218-04:002011-03-16T14:45:23.218-04:00March 22nd public meeting to discuss the K-12 Math...March 22nd public meeting to discuss the K-12 Math Action Plan, 7 p.m., Town Hall<br /><br />Dr. Chen's math report was released on November 5th, 2010. Last week, the Director of Curriculum released her "K-12 Math Program Review 2010-2011: Recommendations and Action Plan." There has been no time for public comment between the Tuesday release on the plan and Superintendent Maria Geryk's acceptance of all recommendations. <br /> <br />The members of the Amherst School Committee saw the need for a public meeting to discuss the math action plan that will guide the district for the next 5 years. They voted unanimously to hold a public meeting on the Math Action plan and elementary this Tuesday, March 22nd at 7 p.m. in the Town Room. Please come. Find out more about the Math Action Plan and offer your ideas and views. I think the format will be to talk about the math action plan, hear some of the thinking that went into it and a general discussion for parents to talk about the plan and ask questions. And I also hope that Dr. Chen's findings and recommendations also will be discussed..<br /><br />Read the K-12 Math Action Plan before the meeting. It is long and hard to put your arms around (which is actually one of my concerns since it seems like it will be hard to implement and track). Here are some things that stood out:<br />•hiring 4.5 math coaches for each elementary school, <br />•hiring a K-8 math leadership position for mathematics <br />•to continue using Investigations for next year, with supplementation to patch up Investigations recognized weakness in "computational and procedural fluency," <br />•setting up a textbook committee to review already several elementary math curriculum <br />•many professional development activities, including offering graduate math courses to teachers <br />•using RTI (Response to Intervention) assessment to see how students are actually doing and whether they are advancing <br />•testing 6th graders for placement in 7th grade honors algebra or regular 7th grade math.<br /><br />There is still no plan to offer a regular algebra course (which is different than the current honors Algebra) to 7th and 8th graders. No acceleration pathways for elementary students are specifically created (a Dr. Chen recommendation). No budget numbers are included but the Superintendent thought the math coaches would be covered by grants.<br /><br />The Math Action Plan defers for future study:<br />•selection of a (possible) new elementary math curriculum by a textbook committee (just starting now, planning to be done by June) <br />•Dr. Chen's recommendation to let the better math teachers teach math to elementary students <br />•using a team teaching approach <br />•grouping practices in grades 5-9 <br />•identifying "structures and policies specifically aimed at closing the achievement gap"<br /><br />The reports, and where to find them:<br /><br />Beth Graham's March 1, 2011 K-12 Math Program Review 2010-2011: Recommendations and Action Plan -- arps.org/reports<br /><br />Dr. Chen's Nov. 5th Comprehensive K-12 Mathematics Program Review for Amherst-Pelham Regional School District -- arps.org/reports<br /><br />Beth Graham's November 4 memo on K-12 Math Review -- arps.org/reports<br />School Committee Policy IL on Evaluation of Instructional Programs -- www.arps.org/policy/IL<br /><br />Beth Graham's proposed schedule for math review cycle under Policy IL-- www.arps.org/node/2669<br /><br />Beth Graham's proposed schedules for all subject areas under Policy IL -- www.arps.org/node/2669<br /><br /><br />JanetAnonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-37745431091479044012011-03-16T09:55:05.877-04:002011-03-16T09:55:05.877-04:00And is there dialogue on the Amherst SC members ab...And is there dialogue on the Amherst SC members about how to close the achievement gap? I've never heard any discussion at all by the Amherst members about how to close the achievement gap. Only that it needs to be done. Does anyone here go to the Leverett or Shutesbury School Committee meetings? No? Then how do you know that they don't discuss the achievement gap at their meetings?<br /><br />Secondly, it is not up to the SC to figure out how to close the achievement gap, hence, there is no need for them to discuss how to do it, either at the Amherst level or at the hilltown level.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-44612512487701902442011-03-15T19:42:08.970-04:002011-03-15T19:42:08.970-04:00Ken
I admire your fortitude. You seem to be a ve...Ken<br /><br />I admire your fortitude. You seem to be a very bright guy, with a lot of detailed knowledge of several topics that come under consideration here, and someone who strives for a reasonably polite level of give and take.<br />Yet, you find yourself having words put in your mouth and your ideas twisted to the wind.<br />Find solace in the fact you are not alone.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-66104526298310495462011-03-15T18:32:08.759-04:002011-03-15T18:32:08.759-04:00I completely agree with anon 2:50.
Look, the real...I completely agree with anon 2:50.<br /><br />Look, the reality is that the Hilltowns chose the superintendent. They were vocal, lobbied and used bullying tactics to get what they wanted. <br />I'm not sure why Beth Graham and company are completely disregarding the Chen report, it is very discouraging.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-12042788709021504952011-03-15T17:40:37.994-04:002011-03-15T17:40:37.994-04:00Is the use of math coaches evidence-based?
This t...Is the use of math coaches evidence-based?<br /><br />This the biggest hire of new staff in years. What's behind it?Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-81667585929400950272011-03-15T17:18:14.331-04:002011-03-15T17:18:14.331-04:00One Shutesbury school committee member doesn't...One Shutesbury school committee member doesn't represent all the residents of the hilltowns any more then one blog post represents every who posts. But there does seem to be an Amherst/hilltowns split among most of the regional school committee members. And almost no dialogue on hilltown committee members about how to close the achievement gap.curious observernoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-16413482322261759112011-03-15T17:13:44.900-04:002011-03-15T17:13:44.900-04:00More on Dr. Chen suggestions:
1. Let better mathe...More on Dr. Chen suggestions:<br /><br />1. Let better mathematics teachers in elementary schools teach more mathematics classes. This focused approach will allow teachers strong in mathematics to impact more math students and free up other teachers so they can have more time to prepare and teach non- math subjects better. There is a strong national movement in this direction.... <br /><br />3. Support teachers of mathematics in elementary schools and the Middle school with <br />intensive content training. It is crucial to know that upgrading the textbook alone is <br />helpful but not enough. To produce dramatic improvement in student learning, this <br />recommendation must be followed. Stronger content knowledge (CK) allows teachers <br />to be more flexible with pedagogy and to have more capacity to diagnose and challenge <br />all students. Teachers need to know mathematics well enough to quickly understand <br />student thinking on the spot to adequately challenge low performing, regular, and high <br />performing students. Elementary and middle school teachers should be trained in <br />mathematics content that is at least 2-3 grades higher than what they teach. They should <br />also be trained in pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). PCK discussions should emerge organically in CK context, not the other way around. That means these courses for <br />teachers should be content-driven, not pedagogy-driven. Courses centered around <br />understanding student work, which may touch upon some content, are considered <br />pedagogy-driven. The content support should be ongoing since it takes time and sustained effort to acquire solid content knowledge. This recommendation is the most substantial of all, in terms of its duration, funds required and commitment. A productive low-cost alternative to serve teachers’ content need is described next in Recommendation <br />4. <br /><br />4. Build an embedded self-sustained mathematics learning community. This <br />recommendation is the most ambitious and potentially the most rewarding long- <br />term task to take on. It is a highly desirable and much cheaper option for carrying out <br />Recommendation #3. The in-house talents in the High School should be tapped into to <br />address the mathematics content knowledge needs of lower grade teachers. On the other <br />hand, any desirable pedagogy in the lower grades should be introduced to the middle/high school teachers. The districts should create a structure to encourage high school math teachers to understand elementary and middle school teachers’ content knowledge needs, and to learn about inquiry-based pedagogy. The learning can be accomplished through substantive classroom observations, down-to-earth discussions, and other collaborative mechanisms. The professional relationship thus formed can lead to teachers running substantive courses/workshops for fellow teachers. In effect, the district is investing in developing in-house capacity in providing content-based training.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-52681954437919622452011-03-15T14:50:05.555-04:002011-03-15T14:50:05.555-04:00"Do the readers of this blog really believe a..."Do the readers of this blog really believe all of us, in Leverett, Shutesbury, Amherst and Pelham don't want the best education for our students? Do you honestly believe Amherst parents care more about the education of their children then Leverett, Shutesbury or Pelham? Do you really believe Leverett and Shutesbury folks care what math curriculum Amherst is using?"<br /><br />I know for a fact that a member of the Shutesbury SC spoke publicly against Amherst changing math textbooks and made efforts to undermine people's confidence in the math consultant. So, yeah, I do believe that the hilltowns care about what curriculum Amherst uses.<br /><br />The other 2 questions you are asking are ridiculous. Of course all the towns want a quality education for their kids. <br /><br />My main point is that Amherst has very different needs because we serve a diverse population (in terms of SES, race, & English language skills). If a new curriculum can help us bridge the achievement gap - then we should do it and not care about what members of the Shutesbury SC think about our change. And this an example of how sharing admins with towns that have different needs does not work well for Amherst.<br /><br />It's not an us vs them sentiment -- it is a FACT that the students we serve in Amherst have different needs. Don't take it so personally.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-67636821537993670972011-03-15T12:59:44.766-04:002011-03-15T12:59:44.766-04:00More on Dr. Chen suggestions:
1. Let better mathe...More on Dr. Chen suggestions:<br /><br />1. Let better mathematics teachersiii in elementary schools teach more mathematics classes. This focused approach will allow teachers strong in mathematics to impact more math students and free up other teachers so they can have more time to prepare and teach non- math subjects better. There is a strong national movement in this direction. <br /><br />3. Support teachers of mathematics in elementary schools and the Middle school with <br />intensive content training. It is crucial to know that upgrading the textbook alone is <br />helpful but not enough. To produce dramatic improvement in student learning, this <br />recommendation must be followed. Stronger content knowledge (CK) allows teachers <br />to be more flexible with pedagogy and to have more capacity to diagnose and challenge <br />all students. Teachers need to know mathematics well enough to quickly understand <br />student thinking on the spot to adequately challenge low performing, regular, and high <br />performing students. Elementary and middle school teachers should be trained in <br />mathematics content that is at least 2-3 grades higher than what they teach. They should <br />also be trained in pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). PCK discussions should emerge organically in CK context, not the other way around. That means these courses for <br />teachers should be content-driven, not pedagogy-driven. Courses centered around <br />understanding student work, which may touch upon some content, are considered <br />pedagogy-driven. The content support should be ongoing since it takes time and <br />sustained effort to acquire solid content knowledge. This recommendation is the most <br />substantial of all, in terms of its duration, funds required and commitment. A productive <br />low-cost alternative to serve teachers’ content need is described next in Recommendation <br />4. <br /><br />organically in CK context, not the other way around. That means these courses for <br />teachers should be content-driven, not pedagogy-driven. Courses centered around <br /><br />4. Build an embedded self-sustained mathematics learning community. This <br />recommendation is the most ambitious and potentially the most rewarding long- <br />term task to take on. It is a highly desirable and much cheaper option for carrying out <br />Recommendation #3. The in-house talents in the High School should be tapped into to <br />address the mathematics content knowledge needs of lower grade teachers. On the other <br />hand, any desirable pedagogy in the lower grades should be introduced to the middle/high <br />school teachers. The districts should create a structure to encourage high school math <br />teachers to understand elementary and middle school teachers’ content knowledge needs, <br />and to learn about inquiry-based pedagogy. The learning can be accomplished through <br />substantive classroom observations, down-to-earth discussions, and other collaborative <br />mechanisms. The professional relationship thus formed can lead to teachers running <br />substantive courses/workshops for fellow teachers. In effect, the district is investing in <br />developing in-house capacity in providing content-based training.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-19019936333027223252011-03-15T11:29:20.517-04:002011-03-15T11:29:20.517-04:00Anon 10am said: "My guess is that she was lo...Anon 10am said: "My guess is that she was lobbied by individuals from the hilltowns who do not want to change their textbooks in response to Amherst changing - so again we are allowing the hilltowns to call the shots."<br /><br />First, it makes no difference to the hilltowns what ES math curriculum is used in Amherst. And it makes no difference to Amherst what is used in the hilltowns. The hilltowns have never been a consideration in terms of what math text book to use. It is hoped that all students arrive at the Middle School prepared for MS math. But whether they are prepared or not is not dependent on what curriculum is used.<br /><br />Second, because you make a personal assumption about the hilltowns re math curriculum, you then state as fact that Amherst is allowing the hilltowns to call the shots. That is unbelievably presumptious of you. <br /><br />And third, this us vs them is a false dichotomy. Do the readers of this blog really believe all of us, in Leverett, Shutesbury, Amherst and Pelham don't want the best education for our students? Do you honestly believe Amherst parents care more about the education of their children then Leverett, Shutesbury or Pelham? Do you really believe Leverett and Shutesbury folks care what math curriculum Amherst is using?Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-21324554355592864622011-03-15T10:00:41.645-04:002011-03-15T10:00:41.645-04:00Thanks for the review of Dr Chen's recs, Anon ...Thanks for the review of Dr Chen's recs, Anon 9:33. It is unfortunate that Beth Graham is ignoring this advice - especially because this curriculum could potentially address the achievement gap (less language dependent) and address the issue of some ES teachers not being strong in math content (Less textbook-specific PD required & Easier for teachers to learn mathematics content deeply). <br /><br />My guess is that she was lobbied by individuals from the hilltowns who do not want to change their textbooks in response to Amherst changing - so again we are allowing the hilltowns to call the shots.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-7436577679253416862011-03-15T09:33:26.296-04:002011-03-15T09:33:26.296-04:00From Dr. Chen's report re: elementary math in ...From Dr. Chen's report re: elementary math in amherst:<br /><br />Weaknesses: The use of a curriculum product that is too demanding on K-5 teachers in Amherst. Classroom observations documented good pedagogy in general. In most cases, the math program did actively engage students but failed to challenge most students. Low mathematics learning was observed in most elementary classrooms visited. Pelham teachers in upper grades use an eclectic approach in assembling curriculum material and in classroom interaction. Student learning appeared to be better.<br />----<br />His recommendation:<br />2. Replace Investigations II with Primary Mathematics (Standards Edition, from Singapore) for grades K-5. Primary Mathematics (PM) uses a Concrete --> Pictorial --> Abstract approach; it also emphasizes mental math and model drawing. [Cautionary Note]v <br />Compared to Investigations II, PM is <br /> Easier for teachers to use <br /> More rigorous—no repetition from year to year <br /> Faster paced <br /> Higher mathematics density <br /> Less language dependent <br /> Better balance of skills, concepts, and problem solving <br /> Better aligned with the Common Core Standards <br /> Clearer and more logical progression of topics <br /> Less textbook-specific PD required <br /> Easier for teachers to learn mathematics content deeply <br /> Less distracting <br /> Easier to CarryAnonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-77048091542755691122011-03-14T22:41:54.732-04:002011-03-14T22:41:54.732-04:00Anon 11:13:
Hysterical! I'm laughing, I'...Anon 11:13:<br /><br />Hysterical! I'm laughing, I'm crying.<br /><br /><i>It's the negative messaging...<br />It's the negative messaging...<br />It's the negative messaging...</i>Tom Porterhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/08763818256131443456noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-60889489444878303282011-03-14T16:39:15.144-04:002011-03-14T16:39:15.144-04:00Catherine, I didn't wonder if "the teache...Catherine, I didn't wonder if "the teachers" were "the problem," I wondered if "training teachers" was. I wondered about implementation, which you didn't address. I didn't only ask about FR, I said in Amherst, though you only spoke about FR teachers. I raised all these as questions because I don't know. And as I have written to you in the past so I know you know, the student cohort is more challenging at FR at least because %s of low income, SPED and ESL students in this 3rd grade are pretty substantially greater than in previous years. So, student demographics is more than just a "could be" in FR's case--as you know, though didn't acknowledge. I have't looked at the other schools in this regard. that's why it's a question. Finally, the issue could be the "long awaited" version of Investigations (the way you went out your way to phrase it--"long awaited"--positively drips with contempt), though that would mean lowered scores since 2007-8 when the "long awaited" second version was first used in the system, but that's not been the case. Could it be that the K-2 version of the "long awaited" second version is not strong compared to other grades? Could be. That's I guess what the math committee needs to be deciding.<br /><br />Anyway, Catherine, my main point in response to Wondering's questions about 3rd grade was that the problem hasn't been successfully identified yet (as far as I know), and that it seems as though it would be important to identify the problem before deciding on a solution. For some reason, you don't seem to agree that that approach is valid.kennoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-76555693148313815792011-03-14T14:00:19.305-04:002011-03-14T14:00:19.305-04:00Ken (and others) - I'd just like to point out ...Ken (and others) - I'd just like to point out that the staffing K to 3 in Fort River has been very stable (and is considered very strong). Of the 12 teachers who taught these grades for the last 4 years (the entire time last year's 3rd graders were in the building), 8 were at FR the entire time (and had been for years) and 2 others had been at WW for a long time. The two teachers who weren't stable both were 1-year teachers (1 in K, 1 in 1st) so that would have had virtually no impact on 3rd grade MCAS scores. Thus, I don't see how it could be the teachers. <br /><br />Could it be the kids in that cohort are different in some way? Sure. <br /><br />Could it be that the long-awaited new version of Investigations isn't really very strong, and thus these kids lack basic math skills? Sure. <br /><br />So, it is great that scores have tended to rise from 3rd to 6th ... but remember, this class has far lower 3rd grade scores than we've seen before -- so even if they rise, they may well not reach the same scores seen in prior years.Catherine A. Sandersonhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03523667921190365891noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-91504306778684040192011-03-14T12:52:05.122-04:002011-03-14T12:52:05.122-04:00Can someone create a K-12 Math Action Plan for Dum...Can someone create a K-12 Math Action Plan for Dummies? It's so big it's hard to get it.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-45671642190977197242011-03-13T23:13:45.071-04:002011-03-13T23:13:45.071-04:00With math as with trimesters and our deliberately ...With math as with trimesters and our deliberately half-baked elementary foreign language program, the plan is simple: if we just talk this stuff to death, and evaluate it without doing anything, and bombard our critics with bureaucratic jargon, eventually the critics will get exhausted and slink off the field. If they take their kids with them, who cares? <br /><br />We can wait these folks out, and go back to calling the shots the way we thought we were always entitled to. We'll belittle and marginalize their ideas as "top down reform" and if we just keep repeating it, with the limited time and energy people have to follow what's actually going on, eventually what we keep saying becomes the truth. We'll say that we're waiting for "buy in" when we have no intention of doing anything. <br /><br />Patience is all it takes and it's already working. Repeat after me: the only thing that's wrong with Amherst schools is the "negative messaging" about them. Now say it again and again.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-9233884329953273512011-03-13T20:48:53.259-04:002011-03-13T20:48:53.259-04:00Ken,
You should come to the math forum on Tuesday...Ken,<br /><br />You should come to the math forum on Tuesday the 22nd. You could really help people out and you could ask some good questions too.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-86180145319224910322011-03-13T16:46:57.418-04:002011-03-13T16:46:57.418-04:00Wondering--great questions. The one I can answer ...Wondering--great questions. The one I can answer pretty certainly is whether last year's 3rd grade MCAS was harder. I doubt it. If it were, results across the state would generally have been low, and they weren't. Also, our 3rd grade scores last year were definitely lower than in the past.<br /><br />Our MCAS math score trend has been to rise from 3rd to 5th and 6th. Will that continue? Who knows, but it is at least part of the context within which we can view these scores. But without access to data only the district has or could find, I can only raise questions that go towards answering the 3rd grade downturn--demographics? (did that student cohort have more challenging students for whatever reason; I do know that at least at FR, the %s of low income, SPED and ESL students was clearly higher than the previous 3rd grades there); more newer teachers at lower grades who were less trained in Investigations? (I have no idea, it's just a possibility); less consistent program implementation at lower grades for whatever reason? (again, I have no idea, it's a question I'd ask). One couldn't draw any firm conclusion about what the future might hold for that group or future groups of students without having a good grasp of what most likely caused the scores last year. <br /><br />Those who don't like Investigations will say, "Duh, Ken, it's the program!" But with the same program, we had much higher scores in the past, so that, to me, is the least satisfactory and least informative conclusion. In order to "fix a problem," one first has to be able to accurately define it. I don't think the district has really done that yet.kennoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-6270815429299703055.post-58219517622030582122011-03-13T11:52:59.332-04:002011-03-13T11:52:59.332-04:00Ken, are the MCAS math scores of last year's t...Ken, are the MCAS math scores of last year's third graders much lower than our third graders in previous years? Has there been a downward trend in these scores or is this just a big drop for that group?<br /><br /> If scores for last year's third graders are much lower than the usual, even with a bump up their score could still may be lower than the past 4th and 5th graders? <br /><br />Are last years' third graders the first group to be taught and tested under the second Investigations?<br /><br />Was that MCAS test harder than usual or is the test keep pretty even? (Did most other districts experience a big drop too?)<br /><br />I don't know the answers to any of these questions. I was just wondering if apples can be compared to apples.wonderingnoreply@blogger.com