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National Standards are Dangerous

There are certain appealing aspects to having national standards, such as looking at a country like Singapore or Japan that has very high standards and achieves great things through them. However, within the United States, we have already seen tendencies from those in power to dictate down to the local level things that are “best” for us when in fact they’ve been proven wrong over and over again.  This article by Laurie Rogers is an excellent summary of some of the issues.

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“No Common Denominator”

Two reports by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) do a fantastic job of showing just where education colleges are failing students who want to become teachers, and then our children who are taught by these teachers.  One report was released in June 2008 for mathematics preparation of teachers entitled “No Common Denominator–The Preparation of Elementary Teachers in Mathematics by America’s Education Schools.” The second, released in May 2006, is on reading and is titled “What Educations Schools Aren’t Teaching About Reading and What Elementary Teachers Aren’t Learning.”

The math report examined 77 schools around the country and Utah State University was the only college in Utah that was examined, and also received a failing mark for teacher preparation.

This August, thanks to a grant by a generous donor, a report will be revealed that examines all 8 major colleges in Utah. I understand that only 1 college has received a passing mark, while 3 would pass if they required more courses of elementary education students, and 4 fail completely.

The links below will take you to the math and reading reports, but the gist of them was to give a few standards for teachers and development of a proper education base before they go off to teach impressionable minds.  The math report details 5 standards as follows:

1) Teachers must acquire a deep conceptual knowledge of math focused on

1. numbers and operations,
2. algebra,
3. geometry and measurement, and — to a lesser degree —
4. data analysis and probability.

2) Higher entry standards into the program with teachers demonstrating mastery of geometry and algebra 2 at the high school level

3) Must demonstrate a deeper understanding of math than what they must teach to children

4) Elementary content courses must emphasize numbers and operations and student teaching must focus on delivery of math content

5) Math content delivered to teachers should be done within the purview of a MATH DEPARTMENT

The entire math report is 28 pages and contains some other interesting things should any of you wish to look over it.  I am eager for the report in August and can’t wait to see how <cough>BYU</cough> fares.  I’m not expecting it will be the lone passing school in the state.

Link to math report

The reading report is also great and tells us what we already knew, that phonics and explicit instruction work best.  Sorry whole language constructivism.  You lose again.

Link to reading report

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An excellent new site has popped up recently that is a great resource for those fighting Investigations math. Check it out here:

Loads of resources in one giant white paper.  Produced by people in Frederick County, Maryland, this site is a great topical view of the problems with TERC.

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ASD Math Teachers

Want to know which are the best math teachers for middle and high schools?  This is the place.

I will update this post with additional schools as volunteers help this list grow for every middle and upper school in the district. Please volunteer to comb the school website and call the school.  Find out which teachers use CMP (Connected math) or IMP (Interactive math) vs. a more solid program and send it to me.

The point that needs to be made to the schools and district is to have hundreds of parents at every school contact the school and request a “traditional” (aka. “real) math teacher and to demand to be removed from the fuzzy math teachers classes.

Here’s the information for AF Jr. High.

Traditional/real math teachers at AF Jr. High that you want your children in their classes are:

The others use Connected math or don’t cover as much material so CALL NOW and find out if your child is going to be in one a class by one of the other teachers and request to have one of these 3. Then tell  all your neighbors to request those teachers as well.  If enough people do this RIGHT NOW and not wait till fall when it’s too late, the schools should get the hint.

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Tragic Parent Story

Although it is tragic when I get stories like this expressing the frustration of a parent over how constructivism has destroyed a child’s love for math, it is not unexpected.  I have received many of these over the years but I believe this is a good time for middle and upper math constructivism to get the boot.

“Mr. [name removed]–I know that my son [name] has already spoken to you regarding
his grade.  Now I am coming to you as a parent.  Perhaps if you were able to
show us why he lost so many points on the “student taught” assignment or if
you had given him some way to make up for the lost points…I am so
frustrated as a parent.  I watched him put in many hours on your class.  I
watched as he and my husband had to go online to find out how to do things
because my son hadn’t been TAUGHT how to do them and had no textbook.  I
know the frustration that both my husband (a PhD and also an educator like
yourself) and my son felt over the lack of basic instruction that occurred
in the classroom.  I watched as my own father, also a PhD and a math
teacher, struggled to help [son] with assignments.  His assessment was
always that [son] has not been TAUGHT basic fundamentals.  I suppose that
you have to give him the grade that his points equal, but I assure you that
this is not over.  I am tired of watching the math program at Lone Peak High School, and all of Alpine
School District, be a joke.  And I guess you have lit a fire in me that has
long been waiting for a match.  I am sure we will meet as some future point.
A crusade has begun…”

Donna C.

Follow-up email about how this teacher “teaches”.

“My understanding is that he gives the assignment, without instruction and without a textbook to give any guidance.  Then the student is supposed to “figure it out”….the intention is to “go over it in class” but my son says they usually don’t have time.  What are they doing with their time?  I have no idea. “