Monday, December 17, 2012
Saturday, December 15, 2012
I enjoy reading this blog http://ccssimath.blogspot.com/
Here's an attempt. You'll have to imagine a couple of things since I don't have the right equipment on this computer: the parallel lines were "constructed" and the curve shown is a compass mark of length AB with center at A.
Construction Example 1 - Construct the perpendicular bisector of the line connecting the two points on the cressent.
Construction Example 2 - Construct the pendicular to segment OB through O, intersecting arc AB at R. Then bisect angle AOR to locate P on arc AB.
Construction Example 3 - Construct the perpendicular bisector of segment XY, this line will intersect line l in the desired point O.
Construction Example 4 - Construct the perpendicular to segment AB at A, then bisect it. At point B, construct an equilateral triangle having one side on segment AB. Extend the lines to locate point C in triangle ABC.
Still thinking about Construction Example 5
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Private Data - The Real Story:
A Huge Problem with
R. James Milgram†
Professor of Mathematics Emeritus,
Stanford University, 12/7/2012
A very influential paper on improving math outcomes was published in 2008. The authors refused to divulge their data claiming that agreements with the schools and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) rules prevented it.
- It turns out that this is not true.
- The claimed legal foundations do not say what these authors said they do.
When we found the identities of the schools by other means, serious problems with the conclusions of the article were quickly revealed.
- The 2008 paper was far from unique in this respect.
- There are many papers that have had huge influences on K-12 mathematics curricula, and could not be independently verified because the authors refused to reveal their data.
In this article we describe how we were able to find the missing data for the 2008 paper. We discuss the huge difficulties they revealed, and point out the legal constraints that should make it very difficult for authors of such papers to legally withhold their data in the future.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Friday, August 10, 2012
William Schmidt's "Math Commentary [on CC standards] Doesn't Add Up"
Published Online: August 6, 2012
Published in Print: August 8, 2012, as Math Commentary Doesn't Add Up
Letter to the Editor
William Schmidt claims his research “found an overlap of roughly 90 percent between the common math standards and the A+ [TIMSS high achievers] standards” (“Seizing the Moment for Mathematics,” July 18, 2012). Unfortunately, his own data, which can be found in a PowerPoint presentation at www.achieve.org, belie this claim.
The A+ country data in his PowerPoint show 99 intended grade-level topics spread over 32 topics and eight grades. The common-core data, shown later in the same presentation, include 131 grade-level topics spread over 35 topics and eight grades.
Perhaps the good professor would be so kind to explain how he got “roughly 90 percent correlation” when the common core has 30 percent more grade-level topics than the A+ countries to begin with.
And while he is at it, perhaps he would also explain why he needed to use a magician-like sleight of hand to rearrange the order of the common-core topics so they would give the impression of being visually similar to the A+ countries’ sequence. When, in reality, if both slides have the same order of topics, they would differ widely.
Perhaps Professor Schmidt seizes the moment a bit too enthusiastically.
Palo Alto, Calif.
The writer served as a senior adviser in the U.S. Department of Education
from 2007 to 2009.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Monday, June 11, 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012
One big, under-the-radar success story is TeacherPayTeachers, an open marketplace in which teachers can buy, sell, and share their original lesson plans. A former teacher, Edelman launched TeachersPayTeachers in 2006 and sold it to Scholastic later that year. But the recession saw the site’s growth dwindle, so Edelman offered to buy the site back from its acquirer. Scholastic agreed, and it’s been profitable ever since.
Friday, June 8, 2012
"Don’t let the ferocity of the oncoming debate fool you. The empirical evidence suggests that the Common Core will have little effect on American students’ achievement. The nation will have to look elsewhere for ways to improve its schools."
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Special thanks to Ze'ev Wurman for sharing his observations on Dr. William Schmidt's presentation last week. In an event co-sponsored by Achieve, Chiefs for Change and the Foundation for Excellence in Education, Dr. Schmidt presented a briefing on his work: Common Core State Standards Math: The Relationship Between High Standards, Systemic Implementation and Student Achievement.
I'd like to share this information posted by Ze'ev last August, in order to highlight his work experiences and expertise in ed policy as well as the technology sector.
Last week, Bill Schmidt, of Michigan State University, held a highly publicized national press event, the “key conclusions” from his recent research. We can’t see any of the underlying research, as Schmidt did not publish it; its supposed findings, however, already got so much uncritical exposure and praise that it is important to put Schmidt’s words in context. That context seems more problematic than organizations like Achieve, or Chiefs for Change, who sponsored this research, would like us to believe. I have reviewed Schmidt’s presentation and these are some of my observations.
1) First, we should note how carefully Schmidt hedges his bets. His first (and last) slide says that the Common Core Standards for Mathematics "[c]an potentially elevate the academic performance of America's student," with the emphasis on the “potentially” in the original. It is hard to imagine a more sweeping disclaimer—almost anything can "potentially" elevate academic performance. More money; more professional development; more unionization; more school choice; more selectivity in choosing teachers; better textbooks; better parent education via public campaigns; better movies from Hollywood that will improve character education and discipline of youth; and so on.
2) Schmidt repeats in multiple slides that parents and teachers support them and claim to be familiar with them. A large fraction of teachers even believes it is prepared to teach them. I can believe that teachers have heard about them, but I doubt many have any real basis for liking them, or for claiming to be prepared to teach them. Other surveys found most teachers and parents don't really know or understand the actual content of the standards and the implications of teaching them. After teachers actually try teaching them in the classroom and we see the assessments, maybe we could put more trust in these surveys.
3) On slide #2 Schmidt, gives the old picture (from TIMSS '95 and '99) of topics progressions based on the so-called "A+" countries (TIMSS very high achievers). In the next slide (#3) he shows state "averages" generally following this pattern (due to his own influence a decade ago, to some degree). But then, on slide #4, he shows the Common Core mapping. It looks, at first glance, similar to the previous overall shape. Upon closer examination, however, we see that the order of the topics has changed, and a few new ones show up!
This sleight of hand is doubly troublesome because Schmidt, during the press conference, repeatedly referred to “looking at the pattern” that emerges and the “coherence” it implies. He never mentioned anything about rearranging old topics or adding new topics for the Common Core categorization. Clearly, the “coherent pattern” that is supposed to emerge is completely different if one re-arranges the sequence and the nature of the topics.
To observe how misleading—and, frequently, simply wrong—Schmidt is, one should closely compare slides #2 and #5. For example, the “3D Geometry” topic is taught in the A+ countries in grade 7 and 8. In contrast, Common Core teaches this topic starting in grade 1(!) and until grade 8, with a two-year break in grades 3 and 4. To hide this, Schmidt moved this topic from the bottom in slide #2 to close to the top in slide #5. With respect to “Measurement Estimation & Errors” and “Number Theory,” not only were these topics significantly moved between slides #2 and #5 to hide the fact that Common Core starts teaching them in grade 2 (while the A+ countries teach them only in grades 7 or 8), but also slide #5 wrongly (and misleadingly) marks the A+ countries as if they teach them starting already in grades 4-5, further minimizing the visual difference between them.
To convince yourself simply check those same topics on slide #2. Another example is “Functions” that are handled by the A+ countries in grade 8, while Common Core topic (called “Patterns, Relations, & Functions” in slide #5) teaches them starting in grade 4 for a full five years, up to grade 8. There are many more examples of such mislabeling between slides #2 and #5, such as “Properties of Whole Number Operations,” “Fractions,” “Percentages,” and more. All this does not speak kindly of the focus and coherence of the Common Core, and does not show a progression closely similar to that of the A+ countries.
Specifically, here is what Schmidt says (minute 14 of the press conference):
"Using the very same TIMSS methodology of coding we took the documents from the Common Core and coded those. And I just want to make a one really important point, all of which is saying it is not somebody’s opinion whether the Common Core’s good or bad or indifferent. They really simply were graduate students given the job of coding and finding out what topics were taught at what grade levels. … Here is the graph that represents the CCSSM and you can see a very similar sort of shape to this to what you saw with the earlier slide with the A+ or the top achieving countries so this alone suggests a great deal of conformity between the two sets of standards."
Note his misleading use of “very same TIMSS methodology.” This means that the methodology of assigning standards to topics is the same, but not the order of the topics, or the topics themselves. Yet it is clearly his implication that they are identical when he urges us to “see a very similar sort of shape to this to what you saw with the earlier slide with the A+ countries.”
What Schmidt is doing here borders on the dishonest. He switches the underlying topics and their order and then urges us to watch “a very similar” pattern, never mentioning that the pattern represents completely different underlying topics on the different charts—just as a magician makes sure the audience watches his face and not his hands.
If Schmidt’s misleading way of reorganizing topics and mislabeling what A+ countries do was not enough, one cannot even trust his underlying categorization of the standards. For example, he marks “Constructions Using Straightedge and Compass” as taught in grade 7 by the Common Core. Yet the Common Core clearly does not teach it before high school geometry. In grade seven, the Common Core only expects students to draw shapes with ruler and protractor, not with straightedge and compass. This major difference between informal and formal geometrical constructions somehow escaped those “graduate students” who coded the standards “using the very same TIMSS methodology.”
4) In slide #5 we see that Schmidt, even with the tabulating errors, finds about 15% (18 of ~130) of the A+ standards in different grades than Common Core, sometimes two grades apart; some of the Common Core topics are not in A+ countries and vice versa. But not all standards are made equal—not every topic is as important as the next, as any mathematician will easily tell you. Except that Bill Schmidt, a statistician, does not go there—he’s after simplistic statistical correlation of badly classified standards.
5) An even bigger issue with the new list of categories is that we don’t know how these categories were put in place, and we still have no idea of the relative importance of topics. Was the categorization created long ago as the result of Schmidt’s research on curriculum over the last decade, or was it custom made for the Common Core? If it’s the latter, the whole comparison is meaningless and serves effectively only as an advocacy research. It is easy to “tune” the categories so that they will show excellent alignment between standards of high-achieving countries and Common Core, or show a pseudo-coherent progression pattern by rearranging the topics. I don’t know the answer to that, but at his talk Schmidt did not mention what caused him to make the changes, or when.
6) Slide 6 shows a number-of-topics table, and other than observing general reduction among the states between 1995 and now, there is little to say -- it doesn't show that Common Core is significantly "slimmer" than the state average, and certainly doesn't show that the Common Core is slimmer than any given state. All this -- even if we were sure that reducing number of topics is of cardinal importance -- which we are not! One can easily accept that having a huge number of topics per grade is a problem, but at the same time once you get to below 20-25 it is quite unclear that 21 is better than 25 and worse than 17. Could be just the opposite! This slide is yet another example of Schmidt's statistical leanings rather than his understanding of content -- it pretends to say something meaningful yet throws mostly meaningless data up in the air.
7) Slide #14 is probably the most indicative of the overall weakness of this whole story. Schmidt’s research is supposed to show “alignment” between Common Core and standards of high-achieving A+ nations, and hence “conclude” that Common Core will lead us to higher achievement because of that alignment. Yet here we see California at the top of the scale being Common Core-like, and Massachusetts being somewhere in the middle of the pack. One does not need a PhD in statistics, however, to realize that Massachusetts had made extraordinary progress with their “mediocre” (by his measure) standards, while California made only a mediocre progress with its “exceptionally-aligned” standards. This, yet again, brings up Tom Loveless’s recent argument that the correlations (standards=>achievement) are small and the causality argument is highly problematic.
Schmidt tries to address this visible problem in his story by developing a new measure of congruence that adds the rigor of state’s cut-scores, arguing that, in some mysterious way, cut-scores are reflective of the quality of the standards themselves. With this correction, Massachusetts suddenly moves up on his scale of congruency, and this is supposed to explain why it achieves so well. Yet adding cut-scores to a measure of the quality of the standards is unsupported by logic or reason. Cut-scores may indicate the seriousness that the state attaches to student achievement, its level of expectations from them, and possibly its quality of curriculum implementation. But cut-scores have little to do with the quality of the standards themselves. This seems yet another example of creating a fancy statistical “measure of congruence” to “prove” a statistician’s point, while hiding the fact this measure has neither educational nor policy logic behind it.
(As an aside, it is interesting that Schmidt studiously avoids mentioning cut-scores of the Common Core; we don’t know how high—or low—they will be set, and this is potentially a huge area of contention; it’s hard to see how Massachusetts and Mississippi will agree on common cut scores.)
To conclude, Bill Schmidt centers his argument around two themes: that the Common Core standards are similar to those of the A+ countries; and that states with standards more congruent to the A+ countries show bigger progress on the NAEP. To make the last claim work, Schmidt redefines “congruency” to include cut-scores for no logical reason. Both claims are unsupported by his own data and, in addition, his own data is riddled with errors. Yet the Chiefs for Change already tout that “Dr. Schmidt’s research shows that state leaders are on the right track. Common Core State Standards have the potential to raise student learning and performance across America. Most importantly, they are competitive with the standards found in the highest achieving countries.” What Dr. Schmidt presented is just another piece of misleading advocacy research, brought to you and paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and channeled through the friendly services of Achieve (which received a recent $375K grant for advocacy from the Gates Foundation), the Foundation for Excellence in Education (which received a recent $1M grant for advocacy from the Gates Foundation), CCSSO (which received $9.5M last year from the Gates Foundation to promote the Common Core), and Chiefs for Change (funded by the Foundation for Excellence in Education).
Monday, April 2, 2012
In May, 2011 Greg Forster explained perfectly how the feds have been able to takeover public education. In "Closing the Door on Innovation" he may have sounded panoid at the time, saying "The feds are working behind the scenes to nationalize K-12 curriculum, including a national test. This would be bad for schools, and disastrous for the culture." But he was right!
In the past, [nationalization of education] has usually produced a lot of fireworks but burned out pretty quickly. This year is very different. The nationalizers have learned from their past mistakes; they understand now that the American people don’t want the federal government to control schools. So they’ve adopted clever tactics to disguise what they’re doing and misdirect public attention, and as a result, they are already dangerously close to getting everything they want.
Just the other day, Neal McCluskey @Cato posted an entry entitled "The Other Federal Takeover" in which he points out that
"the federal government is on the precipice of dictating the basic curriculum for every public school in America, and doing so without even the semblance of following the constitutional, legislative process. It’s not just a federal takeover, but an executive branch takeover."
And concludes, this "is why, after the ObamaCare Supreme Court arguments are over, we need to turn our attention to the other, almost complete, federal takeover: education."
The EdWorkforce Committee is well aware of what this administration is doing, but they need to bring they need everyone's support in exercising their congressional and constitutional power to stop the wheels that are in motion.
Sherena Arrington, a political consultant and policy researcher, issues a very timely warning to states in "An Uncommon Approach to Costly Common Core Education Standards"
The Common Core provides a perfect example of how quickly a state can lose control of its K-12 educational system. Obviously, curriculum is central to education. With Georgia supposedly locked into the Common Core as a condition of the Race to the Top federal grant as well as the No Child Left Behind waiver, it appears the state will simply become the administrative agent for a nationalized curriculum through the adoption of nationalized standards, and the citizens will pick up the expensive tab.
This is what should be called, “education without representation.” Such a hands-off approach to K-12 educational policy is an abandonment of the Legislature’s constitutional duty to keep the agencies of state government accountable to the people, especially so when it comes to an agency whose mission consumes at least $7 billion in state taxpayer funds and $6 billion in local taxes annually.
When you consider this information in tandem with a couple of other things that I ran across today, I hope that you will agree that it really is time to act.
Surely a Federal Agency isn't trying to influence the market!
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Analysis by former DOE general counsel on the Legal Aspects of CommonCore [Education] Standards, RttT, & Conditional Waivers http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120208_RoadNationalCurriculum.pdf
Waiving Goodbye to the Constitution http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/waiving-goodbye-to-the-constitution/
"At this point, it is almost impossible to keep track of the federal savaging of the Constitution in supposed service of education." Neal McCluskey
U.S. Department of Ed Really is Breaking the Law http://wp.me/peH0y-2ta
CONDITIONS-BASED WAIVERS CIRCUMVENT CONGRESS and represent a significant NEW EXECUTIVE OVERREACH http://blog.heritage.org/2012/02/09/no-child-left-behind-waivers-surrender-education-control-to-washington/
NCLB Waivers Let Team Obama Seize Control Of Your Child's Education | Fox News http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/02/09/no-child-left-behind-waivers-let-team-obama-seize-control-your-childs-education/
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Alabama's Mathematics Textbook Selection is just the most recent example...
Read the Comments from the Governor's Appointees. They were basically excluded from "the process" but their reports were accepted AFTER Alabama's DoE had completed the "Recommendations for Adoption"
Tell me no $tring$ were pulled in "the process"
This is pretty typical though, so don't mistakenly believe it wouldn't happen in your state.
I don't think the authors of this Wall Street Journal article have ANY IDEA what's going on right now in K-12 Ed with Common Core...
"features that most define America, and that are essential for unleashing the promises of technological change: our youthful demographics, dynamic culture and diverse educational system"
"[Our culture] is distinguished by incontrovertibly powerful features, namely open-mindedness, risk-taking, hard work, playfulness, and, critical for nascent new ideas, a healthy dose of anti-establishment thinking."
They make a pretty good case for signing:
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Proponents say that Common Core "drew on" ideas from abroad, but Milgram and Stotsky spell out the truth in this article.
They state Common Core is not "comparable to the expectation of other leading nations."
As Rep. John Kline of the EdWorkforce Committee said "people often ask what the classroom has in common with the workplace. The answer is fairly simple: both are vital to the economic success of our country and the future prosperity of its people."
Clearly weak math standards inevitably lead to weak science standards. Ze'ev Wurman explains why CommonCore is Education to Raise Technology Consumers instead of Technology Creators
Although a few states, such as California, want all 8th graders to take Algebra 1, the writers decided to "strike a balance," crafting guidelines that "get into serious algebra in 8th grade," without requiring classic Algebra 1 elements such as quadratic equations, he says.
That choice, among others, stoked an argument that the common standards don't meet international or university-preparation levels.
"It's absolutely a mistake not to require all of Algebra 1 [content] in 8th grade. They've got very little of Algebra 2 in there," says R. James Milgram, a professor emeritus of math at Stanford University. He served on the common standards' validation committee, but refused to approve them, in part because in his judgment they did not meet their own stated criteria of being "comparable to the expectations of other leading nations."
BTW: If/when you meet a math teacher that supports CommonCore standards, please ask them if they have ever taught Algebra II and if they have actually read the Common Core Math Standards. I have yet to meet any supporter that can answer "yes" to both questions.
Sandra Stotsky helped shape the highly regarded standards in Massachusetts, and, like Milgram, a fellow member of the validation committee, refused to endorse the standards' international comparability. She notes that leaders of the common-standards initiative now describe them as being "informed by" other countries, not "benchmarked" to those nations' standards.
" 'Benchmarking' means you use a set of agreed-upon criteria for judging something," says Stotsky, a professor of education at the University of Arkansas, in Fayetteville. "To be 'informed' by other countries' standards means simply that they were read. Some other countries are light years ahead of what the common standards require for college readiness."
Thursday, January 12, 2012
We the undersigned do not agree on all things, but we are in close agreement on education, and in particular these five propositions:
1. The federal government is barred by the United States Constitution from imposing academic standards and public school curriculum on the states, the very thing it is attempting to do through the Obama administration programs Race to the Top (RttT) and the Common Core Standards (CCS).
2. In addition to imposing standards and curriculum on the states, RttT mandates that states collect extensive and detailed personal information on students, and that this information be submitted to the federal Department of Education, from which it will be available to other agencies. We oppose this on Constitutional grounds.
3. The national price tag for CCS is estimated at $30 billion (and perhaps as much as $210 billion) most of which cost is to be borne by the states. This money will enrich special interests- the publishing and testing empires- but will do very little to save America's bankrupted public schools. The undersigned believe that spending $30 billion on standards is like painting a car before junking it- good for the painters, a useless expense for the car owner.
4. The news media has decided that since conservatives object to spending money, and since conservative views are represented in the Republican party, then people who object to RttT and CCS must be represented by the Republican party. The undersigned have found, however, that the Republican party, as distinct from individual candidates, does not represent those seeking sound education policy. Time and again, at all levels from local to federal, the undersigned have encountered ignorance and indifference regarding RttT and CCS from the Republican party and the people it has helped to achieve office. Republicans as much as Democrats have been seduced by the $30 billion and slick sales talk into acquiescence to RttT and CCS.
5. Therefore, we the undersigned here state that the Republican party does not represent our views on American education, that the Republican party is in fact aligned with the Democratic party in pushing through wasteful and highly problematical Democratic programs, and that we therefore disavow allegiance to and support of the Republican party in its policies towards education, and we ask that the media acknowledge that this diminution of Republican support has occurred.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
UNAMERICAN: "Individual 'profiles' must be considered in the light of goals pursued by the wider society"
`ultimately, the educational plans that are pursued need to be orchestrated across various interest groups of the society so that they can, taken together, help the society to achieve its larger goals. Individual profiles must be considered in the light of goals pursued by the wider society; and sometimes, in fact, individuals with gifts in certain directions must nonetheless be guided along other less favored paths, simply because the needs of the culture are particularly urgent in that realm at that time.'