KTM User Pages
27 Mar 2006 - 16:52
back story here
Ed just talked to the principal on the telephone. He was aggressive and unresponsive. The principal, I mean. Not Ed.
Hi Scott — I’m sending a detailed memo covering our experience with Ms. K’s class this year. But I’d like to respond to one point immediately. You observed that Ms. K does not know whether Christopher can do the calculations involved in constructing a scale drawing. Scott, I agree. Ms K does not know whether her students have learned the material she’s covered in class. This is true for all of her students, including those who did record their mental math. We know of one child in the class who has earned grades of C and D on his tests, while scoring an unbroken string of As on the Extended Response problems he takes home to do. What has that child learned about pre-algebra? Can Ms. K tell you? Punishing a child for failing to write down mental math is not teaching; nor is it information. Punitive grading is entirely negative. It demoralizes the child, angers the parents, and erodes trust. We have two core problems with Ms. K’s teaching, one concerning her ability to inspire, motivate and lead her students to success in mathematics, the other concerning her ability to assess performance. It’s the latter that concerns me here. Ms. K does not perform systematic, ongoing formative assessment. She covers material, gives tests, and assigns grades. And there her responsibility ends. This year Ed and I have been fully responsible for seeing to it that Christopher actually learns the math Ms. K has ‘covered.’ This wasn’t the case at Dows Lane; nor was it the case with all but one of Christopher’s teachers at Main Street School. That teacher was not asked to return. I would hope everyone involved in Ms. K’s tenure case would ask himself this question: Suppose Christopher—or any other student in the class—does not know how to construct a scale drawing? What happens now? Ms. K’s answer is: Nothing. Once she’s recorded a grade, she’s done. If Ms. K wanted to know whether Christopher can construct a scale drawing, she would have him do a simple scale drawing in her presence. She should do that with the entire class, because none of the kids I know was able to handle this assignment on his own. By rights, Ms. K ought to be finding out whether any of her students can do a simple scale drawing independently, without parent guidance. Instead, it’s up to us to make sure Christopher has mastered this skill. I will do so this summer when I reteach pre-algebra using Saxon Algebra 1/2. If I’m going to do Ms. K's job, I want a refund. Ms. K, after two years of work, is going to be awarded lifetime employment, lifetime benefits, and a generous retirement, all funded by taxpayers like me. Scott, I need to earn a living. I have two children with severe handicaps who will require lifetime care; I must fund my own retirement. I need to be able to rely on our very well paid teachers to teach my son. Instead I’m pulling worksheets, buying and studying textbooks, reteaching math lessons, preparing Christopher for the state test (Ms. K told the kids not to study because they ‘don’t know what’s going to be on the test’),* and helping Christopher’s friends in the class to boot. This isn’t right. Catherine Johnson * Topics covered on the New York State tests are listed here: http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/ciai/mst/mathstandards/g6.html. These topics are also listed in the Glencoe Test Prep book Ms. Kahl sent home sporadically in the run-up to the test.
I am KICKING myself for not homeschooling. Actually, it's not even at that level. I'm kicking myself for not having a clue. I'm kicking myself for not having the slightest idea what was wrong with our public schools. I'm kicking myself for not even suspecting that, when it comes to public schools, money ≠ quality.
Christopher won't be doing any more 4-hour projects for Ms. K. That's over. My only concern now is: is he learning pre-algebra to mastery? Everything else is noise.
extended response problem from IL state test
extended response problem 1
extended response problem 2
extended response problem 6
extended response problems 7, 8, 9
direct instruction & the rigor conundrum
Dan's daughter reacts to extended response problem
defensive teaching of Singapore bar models
open-ended problems in math ed
problems that teach - "Action Math"
email to the principal
keywords: performance indicators New York state tests New York state standards
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The homeschoolers that I know average about 3 hours a day, five days a week on academics. This includes the "homework" equivalent for homeschooling. It might take a bit more time with Chrisopher (or maybe not). Also, you don't have to teach everything yourself. Farming the math out to Kumon, for example, is a perfectly valid homeschooling approach. It sounds like you may be spending more 3 hours a day right now (lord knows that Chrisopher is). Is there a reason that you don't/won't homeschool next year? -Mark Roulo -- KtmGuest - 27 Mar 2006
Hi Mark! The homeschoolers that I know average about 3 hours a day, five days a week on academics. This includes the "homework" equivalent for homeschooling. I hear this said often.....and it's so frustrating. I'm going to have to do some real soul-searching on the homeschooling issue. The 'reason,' at this point, is Christopher's age. He's 11, and he's HUGELY social.....it would be a Big Deal pulling him out of his school. No one else homeschools here etc. Nevertheless, I'm going to give him the ITBS this spring, and see what we see. At this exact moment, sitting here writing a Comment, I'm thinking we should consider pulling Christopher out of school for, say, one semester, as a trial. The other issue is persuading Ed to go along. He's now pro-homeschooling, BUT he's pro-homeschooling in theory, not fact. He's going to feel - and he may be right - that if I'm homeschooling I'm NOT earning an income. That's a real question. It's not the time factor, it's the 'focus factor.' I'm homeschooling, will I be able to shift gears to write? I'm not spending 3 hours a day on afterschooling.....I don't think. If you added up all the time I spend researching, studying, preparing, and waging battles with the school.....are we at 3 hours? Could be. -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Mar 2006
We need to think seriously about what we could do in one semester with no b*s. No Extended Response problems. No JASON Projects. No 4-hour scale drawings. The opportunity costs in our middle school are enormous. I can teach him everything but science....but the science courses at the middle school aren't good. So that may not matter. -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Mar 2006
Catholic schools? I agree that the science is middle school is mostly rubbish. You might try Integrated Science, Books 1 & 2, by J. M. LeBel?. Recommended by John Hubisz, and I took a look at Book 1. Much better than the crap that my son'sbeing taught at school. -- VerghisKoshi - 27 Mar 2006
THANKS FOR THE RECOMMENDATION! I love Catholic schools! (My best friend, both of whose kids have been accepted at good schools - the daughter at Yale - went to Catholic school.) I THINK we have a Catholic school here in town. Scratch that: I know we do; I just don't know whether it goes through middle school. That school is on the same plot of land as our middle school. You know what? This could conceivably be an answer, seeing as how I should be selling another book pretty soon here.... Verghis, thank you! -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Mar 2006
ok, Ed is dead set against homeschooling....and wants to look into private schools, including Catholic schools I don't know about private schools. He's going to be so far behind private school kids I don't see how a school could take him. Obviously it's time to fill out my ITBS form. -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Mar 2006
You must have some options with private schools I would think. Also, if you did homeschool, is he able to join clubs and sports things at the school? Also, if you did homeschool, he is working more independently at this age. You also have vast resources out there. Did you say there is no homeschooling group around there? One semester to get him through the year doesn't sound so undoable. Of course, it's not me we're talking about. -- SusanS - 27 Mar 2006
Also, if you did homeschool, is he able to join clubs and sports things at the school? Also, if you did homeschool, he is working more independently at this age. It's going to take MASS effort to swing Ed around to homeschooling, though I'm going to have a go. I've heard of a couple of people somewhere here in the county who are homeschooling.....so I'll try to get in touch with them. I doubt the school will help in any way. But I'll find out. -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Mar 2006
I just left a cheerful, friendly, warm, and above all CORDIAL message with the guidance counselor asking him what New York state law has to say about homeschooled children participating in public school activities and sports. -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Mar 2006
I don't know about private schools. I don't know about the USA, but in NZ I have plenty of anecdotal data about private schools doing no better job than a good public school (and by a good public school I mean one with a good principal or one that draws on a high socio-economic area). My brothers went to a private school, and one of them got a bad maths teacher and my parents wound up hiring a tutor and he still struggled. My other brother had massive problems with one of his English teachers (the woman, at a boys single sex school, decided to study the "The Handmaiden's Tale" by Margaret Atwood! Perhaps a bit heavy on the feminism there, and a bit less action than might suit a bunch of 15 year olds?) My mother's business partner's daughter was going to a low socio-economic primary school. When she was about 6 the school called mum's partner up and said "Your daughter has a reading problem." She went "Oh my god!" and sent said daughter off to a private school. Two years later, the private school called up and said "Your daughter has a reading problem." -- TracyW - 27 Mar 2006
My other brother had massive problems with one of his English teachers (the woman, at a boys single sex school, decided to study the "The Handmaiden's Tale" by Margaret Atwood! Perhaps a bit heavy on the feminism there, and a bit less action than might suit a bunch of 15 year olds?) -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Mar 2006
She went "Oh my god!" and sent said daughter off to a private school. Two years later, the private school called up and said "Your daughter has a reading problem."
-- CatherineJohnson - 27 Mar 2006
Well this is one of the reasons — apart from a desire not to experience utter financial collapse of course — I haven't been particularly keen on dipping my toe into the private school pool. otoh, now that I've been talking to my old friend D. the education her kids are getting is superb she faxed me a big sheaf of math papers if i were the crying type, i would have sobbed right then and there -- CatherineJohnson - 27 Mar 2006
Illustration of an overwhelming feeling of utter frustration and helplessness.-- CatherineJohnson - 27 Mar 2006
FWIW, private schools are all over the map. Some are good, some aren't, some superb, some appalling. They aren't a panacea. The difference is that they tend to listen to you because you control the money. Catholic schools can do as good a job in most cases for less money. I say this as someone who went to a private school ("public" in the vernacular) and grew up looking down my nose a bit at Catholic schools - very stupid. -- VerghisKoshi - 27 Mar 2006
Private school apparently doesn't always mean alternative to the public school here either. To compete they've been adopting curriculums that, again, match the state testing standards. the woman, at a boys single sex school, decided to study the "The Handmaiden's Tale" by Margaret Atwood! Uh, isn't there also some graphic sections in there, if I remember? -- SusanS - 27 Mar 2006
Catherine, About Ms. K... I think it's time to email the prinicipal the problem where all the dimesions were wrong and the students really couldn't answer the questions. (You'll probably have to explain the math to him.) About homeschooling: start at the library and find out all the local homeschooling groups. In Michigan, the groups actually meet at some of the libraries. They provide social interaction and different parents take on the responsibility of teaching different classes. -- AnneDwyer - 27 Mar 2006
I don't think they got to any graphic bits before the boys launched a protest, and she accused them of sexual harrassment. My mum, who used to teach at a very low socio-economic co-ed state high school, about hit the roof at that point. Since Mum was also on the Board of Trustees for the school, the teacher got eased out. -- TracyW - 27 Mar 2006
FWIW--here's what my kids had to say . . . 7th grader: A loss of 20 points, resulting in a 78, for failure to show one calculation? He got the problem right, and got a C? Wow, is the teacher out to get this kid? 11th grader: A loss of 20 points seems punitive in nature. Over the years, we've been trained and encouraged to show our work. The teachers want us to show the steps in the process because most of them will give partial credit for a wrong answer under certain circumstances. For example, suppose a math or physics test question involves a complex, multi-step calculation. If a student makes a minor calculation error early in the process which leads to a wrong answer, it is still possible to get some credit if the teacher can see that the student otherwise understood the steps in the process. (Note that to make such questions "all or nothing" can also truly be punitive.) This also helps the teacher assess where the "wheels came off the bus" so to speak, in solving the problem. (My note: it helps with formative assessment.) It sounds like the difference between what my teachers do and what this teacher does is this: showing one's work can lead to a positive result, but the failure to show one's work in full detail is not punished if the student gets the right answer. Another thought--the effect of a 20 point deduction under those circumstances would cause an obsessive child with high anxiety to just flip out because his worst case scenario just came true. -- KarenA - 27 Mar 2006
On the homeschooling: I live in Utah (Salt Lake area) and I found tons of homeschooling groups through Yahoo groups. (I'm not LDS so I didn't find them at church.) This may or may not work where you are. Also, homeschoolers tend to know their librarians, so they might be a good resource for you to find local HSers too, maybe even support groups. I've heard people talking about bringing the other parent on board by having them meet and hang out with homeschooling kids. You'll certainly meet their parents, too, but as far as I can tell, it's the kids that win over the skeptics. (well behaved, comfortable talking to adults, knowledgeable, etc) I think giving it a try for just one semester is a good idea. That way it doesn't seem like as big a commitment as "for the next n years," and truly, if it isn't working for you, there is always the option of putting him back into some school. The real key is to find the homeschoolers around you. They're probably there, and they're probably normal, friendly, eager to answer questions, etc. It would probably be about like moving across the country - the kids Christopher interacts with on a daily basis would change, and that would be stressful for him. But there will be other kids to step into their place, and Chris would still be able to see his PS friends, just not during lunch. -- StephanieO - 28 Mar 2006
Anne About Ms. K... I think it's time to email the prinicipal the problem where all the dimesions were wrong and the students really couldn't answer the questions. (You'll probably have to explain the math to him.) Yes, I will do so. This business about our lack of 'cordial' behavior is an Open Invitation to MORE MORE MORE He has no idea how forebearing we've been. I've had that drawing all this time, and I didn't send it because I didn't want to beat her up with it. -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
oh Yahoo groups is a good idea! THANK YOU! -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
7th grader: A loss of 20 points, resulting in a 78, for failure to show one calculation? He got the problem right, and got a C? Wow, is the teacher out to get this kid? 11th grader: A loss of 20 points seems punitive in nature. Over the years, we've been trained and encouraged to show our work. The teachers want us to show the steps in the process because most of them will give partial credit for a wrong answer under certain circumstances. THANK YOU! You know, I would have been seriously irked if she'd taken off 10 points, dropping him from his only A of the year to a B. But I would have grumbled here at ktm, complained to friends, ranted & raved around the house, and then moved on. But a drop from an A to a C, for not showing MENTAL MATH, is just infuriating. This teacher really, truly has no common sense-y. She's in her tenure year, she knows we're ..... NOT CORDIAL ..... parents learn to pick and choose their battles. Even if I felt I 'had to' take off 20 points for not showing simple calculations, I'd think better of it in her situation. And, btw, I wouldn't feel I 'had to' take off 20 points for not showing simple calculations. -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
I should add that I think showing your work is important. I should probably also add that the only reason he didn't was that Ed made some sort of judgment call that he'd shown the 'important' work. If I'd been handling the project, I would have had him write down every last number ..... that's assuming I read the directions thoroughly! -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
This is one thing I'm not sure the school quite gets. Parents are giving their kids SO much help - if we didn't our kids would be failing - that we're the ones being graded. That's what Ed's friend meant when he said, "I'm getting a B in middle school." Ed said today, "I feel like I'm getting a B in middle school." I feel the same way. I spent HOURS going over Christopher's LOUSY EXCUSE FOR A SCIENCE TEXT, then another two hours helping him study FOR AN OPEN BOOK EXAM......AND HE GOT A FREAKING B ON THE TEST. I'm killing myself for Bs in a lousy curriculum. The whole school simply lacks common sense. Today Ed said, again, that parents are doing their kids' projects for them (duh) and the principal said, furiously, 'You don't know that!' Is there a single person on the planet BESIDES our principal who doubts parents are doing these assignments (as they should be). This is the second time we've had Christopher do a too-big, no-instruction-offered assignment on his own and ended up getting blasted with a lousy grade. I want to underline this: Ms. K. sent home the scale model assignment without having given the kids any instruction or practice in how to make a scale drawing. Ed had to teach the concept, then oversee Christopher as he spent four hours doing it. -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
RANTING ON.....I'm also now getting to the point where I'm helping other people's kids with homework they can't begin to do; I'm getting to the point where I'm going to be helping the parents (only because they haven't been reteaching themselves arithmetic for the past two years). When the principal tells Ed 'You don't know other parents are doing the projects'.....how long is it going to be before he figures out the reason we know other parents are 'doing the projects' is that I'M DOING OTHER KIDS' PROJECTS MYSELF. I'm not 'doing' them. But I AM doing the teaching and the helping. That phase of my life has commenced. -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
I've heard people talking about bringing the other parent on board by having them meet and hang out with homeschooling kids. You'll certainly meet their parents, too, but as far as I can tell, it's the kids that win over the skeptics. (well behaved, comfortable talking to adults, knowledgeable, etc) That's what I need. I need to meet some homeschooling folks, and have Ed start realizing this is a reality; people do it. -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
He's now in favor of homeschooling theoretically. But it's a long ways from theory to practice. As for me, I'm there. This is just too much. Mark Roulo is right; I'm already putting in 3 hours a day, and if you add in the mishegoss (sp?) it's a whole lot more. I'd rather spend my time teaching math, reading, writing, history (& science?) than writing emails to the principal. -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
Uh, isn't there also some graphic sections in there, if I remember? remind me to tell you my 'p' story.....happened freshman year in our high school -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
money ≠ quality -- OldGrouch - 28 Mar 2006
Hi Old Grouch! (and btw, I may need to filch your screen name......OLD GROUCH INDEED!) What a great article. I don't know if you were around back when I found the chart in Education Next showing a slight negative correlation between spending and quality.....I'm going to find that.... -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
When other factors are taken into account, higher spending and smaller class sizes seem to correspond to inferior mathematics and science results, though the overall effect is relatively small.
-- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
This is pretty interesting.
I'm curious to know how much of 'non-instructional' staff is related service providers (speech therapits, O.T.s, etc.) and how much is administration. -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
You have entire IT departments, dedicated to keeping the electronic infrastructure going, that never used to exist. They handle: entering every student into the database, creating barcodes for every student, investigating why teacher X in school Y can't access the network, installing and updating software including library cataloging and class grade maintenance s/w, training teachers and administrators on hardware and software, ... I know someone who used to work in a local school district's IT department, and her department had about 10-12 people, but that didn't count the "textbook" department and other departments in the admin building. Don't forget, you also have entire police departments now, just for the school districts. -- GoogleMaster - 28 Mar 2006
investigating why teacher X in school Y can't access the network oh lord..... -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
hadn't even thought of that..... -- CatherineJohnson - 28 Mar 2006
"I spent HOURS going over Christopher's LOUSY EXCUSE FOR A SCIENCE TEXT..." What text is that? I hope it is not this NSF-funded "inquiry" stuff like FOSS (the equivalent of fuzzy math) that is sweeping the country. It deprives students of foundational knowledge. NSF-EHR is doing the same wrecking job to science that it did to math. There are quality science books in existence but NSF-EHR is handing out huge grants to develop this junk to drive out quality. Science education will become a joke. Science books I like are the Concepts and Challenges in physical science, earth science and life science published by Globe Fearon. They focus wonderfully on concepts in bite-sized form and are all substance. -- CharlesH - 28 Mar 2006
One local suburban school district with about 30,000 students lists the following employees on its admin page:
2 Athletics 3 Business & Financial Division 1 Child Nutrition 3 Communications & Community Relations Division 14 Curriculum & Instruction Division 1 Energy/Accounting 4 Human Resources Division 1 Instructional Technology/Academic Support Services 1 Internal Auditor 1 Maintenance 3 Management Information Service/Technology 1 Operations 1 Performing & Visual Arts 1 Payroll 2 Police Department 1 Planning/Construction 1 Purchasing 1 Safety 3 Superintendent 1 Supply Services 1 Support Services Division 10 Special Services 1 Student Accounting 1 Tax Office 1 Transportation CenterHowever, these are only the top level employees in each department. For example, the same district's police department page mentions "43 licensed police officers under the direction of ... Police Chief". -- GoogleMaster - 28 Mar 2006
She's in her tenure year, she knows we're ..... NOT CORDIAL ... I've decided I oppose tenure for anything less than University-level Professors, who are doing things like research. I don't think teachers who are teaching a standard curriculum should have tenure. It's not an issue of academic freedom if they teaching a curriculum set by someone else. They should be employees. About the Catholic school vs. homeschooling, if the school has a middle or high school, I'm sure they would be happy to talk to you about what would be required academically. You could possibly homeschool until Christopher met those requirements. So you weren't looking at years of commitment on your part. Alternatively he could start Community College classes at 16...... -- BenCalvin - 29 Mar 2006
BenCalvin?: As far as I know, the argument for K-12 tenure is that the ed establishment is so rife with and vulnerable to nepotism and cronyism, that tenure is the only way to protect teachers from rampant favoritism. --That is to say, I've seen that argument made by multiple teachers just in the last couple of weeks, I know it's an argument, I'm just not sure whether it's the only argument advanced to support tenure. -- LesleyStevens - 29 Mar 2006
I guess you can make a Civil Service argument, but I think we are beyond that as the entire public education sector has been so thoroughly unionized for several decades. I would argue that the lack of accountability from top to bottom is the critical issue in public education today. I am a fully admitted radical. I want to see an entirely different model. Vouchers would do it. Or at least eliminating school districts in California (where I live). In California school funding goes from the state to the district to the school. This year the state pays @ $10,000 per pupil to the district. Yet school administrators say they get around $5000 at the school level for each pupil. That's a lot of overhead for payroll service, facilities, etc. Some of that probably goes to pension, but why should teachers have defined benefit pensions, when I don't? My problem with the current model is that neither the two parties negotiating with each other, administrators and unions, represent the best interests of students and parents. As a consumer of public education, I want the costs to be as low as possible so that each dollar spent has the biggest positive effect on the kid's education. It's nice, for example, that Coscto pays fairly well and has good benefits for their employees, but I don't shop there because of that. I shop there because I like the mix of goods for sale + price + shopping experience. While there are some differences in education, I think as a parent you should remember you are a consumer. But the relationship is blurred because you have intermediaries between how you pay (taxes) and how you consume (sending your child to school) Which is one of the reasons my child is in parochial school. As a paying customer you do have a bit more leverage. End of Rant -- BenCalvin - 29 Mar 2006
oh wow, Charles! Thank you! I have to pull yours & Verghis's recommendations & get them into a post. Christopher is using the HOLT series. I wouldn't say it's fuzzy, and the ONE good thing about it - are you sitting down - is the page splatter! When I first looked at it I felt my eyes doing the cartoon thing Carolyn mentioned one time (you know, where the cartoon character's eyes roll around in a spiral??) But then I realized that each one of the illustrations IS AN ILLUSTRATION. There's no gratuitous artwork at all. While I haven't given it a lot of thought, I found all of it 'instructive' — I learned something from each picture I looked at. The problem with the text, and you guys would know more about this than I do, is that it's just a huge list of complex topics defined in the simplest conceivable way.....it's almost meaningless, and very confusing. -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
I've never taken a physics course, so I'm not in a position to judge, but I found the text bewildering. -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
Charles David Klein emailed that science ed is even more worse than math - he confirms what you say completely. -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
Ben I've decided I oppose tenure for anything less than University-level Professors, who are doing things like research. I don't think teachers who are teaching a standard curriculum should have tenure. It's not an issue of academic freedom if they teaching a curriculum set by someone else. We both oppose tenure for anyone below college. Ed always has, I think; I also think this is a pretty standard position for professors. Ed pointed out just this week that it's very hard to fire public employees in any case; it's hard to fire employees in private industry often. There's plenty of built-in job security once a person has been in a job for awhile. -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
The one good thing about tenure is that it forces people to make an up-or-out decision they'd be declined to delay otherwise. Ed's seen that at the university all his life. I could imagine that 5-year or 10-year contracts might be a good idea.....you'd have the same pressure to make a real decision about the employee, not just let a bad situation get worse. -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
Google Master I LOVE IT! Our district obfuscates the amount spent on administration by averaging everyone's salary and benefits together. Last year one 'line' was $70,000. This is an average of everyone from the Superintendent to the custodians. Ed asked, in a school board meeting, how much we're spending on administration, and the head of the school board said, 'A lot.' He said it like he was proud. Scarsdale spends a lot, and we spend a lot, too. -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
Ben I guess you can make a Civil Service argument, but I think we are beyond that as the entire public education sector has been so thoroughly unionized for several decades. Right! I forgot — That was his other point. Ed says you don't need tenure AND a union. -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
Ben I would argue that the lack of accountability from top to bottom is the critical issue in public education today. I am a fully admitted radical. I want to see an entirely different model. Vouchers would do it. That's where I am. It's even worse, though; our principal is using the state test to justify lowering Christopher's grade to a C. He says Christopher has to show his work, and has to be punished for not showing it (he doesn't think a C is a punishment, but whatever), because the state test requires it. He opposes NCLB, and takes every opportunity to tell parents he opposes state testing. Then he uses the existence of state testing to say he's not responsible for one of his teachers lowering Christopher's grade from a 98 to a 78. She 'had' to do it. He 'had' to do it. Don't blame me. -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
Textbooks have a lot more page splattery illustrations nowadays than they did back in the olden days (1970s). I guess the textbook editors think that children won't use them if they don't have pretty pictures. I find them hard to read and hard to follow. Kind of like WIRED magazine when it first came out, or the first efforts people made with their new whizbang mass-market desktop publishing software in the 1980s, or the same with their new whizbang mass-market web editing software (FrontPage?) in the 1990s. I look at the illustrations in my old texts, and they are very simple graphs or geometric figures. No silly big-headed cartoon children with question marks over their heads. And they sure didn't include pictures of e.g. juice cans to illustrate the word problems. -- GoogleMaster - 29 Mar 2006
Catherine Did you ever get a response from the principal to the above email? -- GoogleMaster - 29 Mar 2006
Yes! Mr. and Mrs. Berenson,
I know that you do not agree with the amount of points deducted from the recent math test that Chris took. Ms. Kahl requires (as do all of the teachers at IMS) that students show all work including all calculations. This is consistent with NY State, which requires that students show all work on their state assessments. I realize you feel the number of points was punitive. This was because much of the grade was based on the work that students were asked to show. Chris did not show the required work and thus the deduction in points. I will certainly discuss your views about mental math with Karen Palmer, our department chair. Scott Fried
Irvington Middle School
-- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
I think he gave us some mirror time! -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
You'll notice he hasn't answered my question. Does Ms. Kahl know whether Christopher can construct a scale drawing on his own? -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
The answer is no. -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
I've never commented before, but I have a suggestion for the homeschooling option: the k-12 curriculum at http://www.k12.com/. I homeschooled my daughter last year using it. She had an abysmal experience prior to that, and was behind in reading and math. After a year of that curriculum (albeit, taught poorly by me) she was on grade level - she is in 5th grade now. It is based on the core knowledge curriculum, but it goes beyond that. Being at home didn't suit her, so she is now enrolled at a local core knowledge charter school, is doing great (happy as a clam and feels good about herself academically - she used to call herself stupid), was advanced mid-year from 5th grade language arts to 6th grade l.a., and her teacher mentioned the possibility of also advancing her mid-year to 6th grade math (not sure I want to do that - she will have missed 5-6 months of 6th grade math content at this point). Anyway, this is a long winded way of saying that k-12 might be worth looking in to. If you want to know more about my experience, you can email me. Or, ask Carolyn - she knows my daughter. LindaP? -- LindaP - 29 Mar 2006
Hi Linda! I thought it might be you (after all, how many LindaPs can there be?)! Is this the first time you've posted here? It's great to hear that she is doing so well in her new school! Good for you! -- CarolynJohnston - 29 Mar 2006
Hi, Linda! What a fantastic story! Thank you so much! (I'll get this pulled up front as well.) -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
oh, you know what??? I was aware of these folks (it was someone I respect who pointed me to them....) and I'd forgotten them (plus I didn't have time really to explore the first go-round) -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
Catherine, do you follow the k12.ed.math newsgroup? It's moderated, and gets a lot of "how do I do this homework problem?" answers, but the moderators and denizens provide quite good answers and have lots of references. -- GoogleMaster - 29 Mar 2006
NO! I NEVER HEARD OF IT! FANTASTIC! THANKS! -- CatherineJohnson - 29 Mar 2006
Hi Carolyn! Catherine, it's nice to meet you (virtually). What does it mean to get pulled up front? -- LindaP - 29 Mar 2006
Ooh, Linda got pulled up front, Linda got pulled up front! It's kinda like going to the principal's office, only not as bad. ;-) -- GoogleMaster - 29 Mar 2006
Ms. Kahl requires (as do all of the teachers at IMS) that students show all work including all calculations. Perhaps the way through is to focus then on lack of clarity about what all work means. From your other posts, it doesn't seem that Ms Kahl has defined what all work means for the state test, and presumably she did not on the assignment instructions. In my experience, showing all work does not mean writing out every single basic arithmetic step. If it does for Ms Kahl, she should say so. Perhaps you could point out the other times she has not given clear advice on what "show your work" means. -- TracyW - 30 Mar 2006
GoogleMaster's lost it. -- CarolynJohnston - 30 Mar 2006
Catherine, it's nice to meet you (virtually). What does it mean to get pulled up front? ok, Google Master has officially lost it. -- CatherineJohnson - 01 Apr 2006
unfortunately, we don't have a principal's office here at Kitchen Table Math. "Pulled up front" means I get people's posts put on the homepage, which means (I assume) that more people seem the Comment, AND that when you pull up a subject thread that Comment automatically appears in the line-up. Unfortunately, TWiki doesn't have a way to 'count comments,' so when you pull up a Comments thread it looks like no one's ever written a comment. Basically, pulling a comment up front is a way to make sure it doesn't get lost. (Which reminds me, I have a Comment of Susan's about 'State Test Panic' I want to get pulled up front.) -- CatherineJohnson - 01 Apr 2006
Tracy Yes, I agree. There is a total lack of clarity everywhere — in other courses as well. This has been true of every parent I've met; no one knows 'what the teacher wants' (all of the teachers). The school justifies this, to the extent it justifies anything, as a conscious strategy of teaching responsibility and character. It's up to the kids to know what the teacher wants; helicopter parents should butt out. But, otoh, they know this doesn't fly with parents, and they also aren't committed to this attitude...... So even the school's institutional values and de facto policy is confused and contradictory. -- CatherineJohnson - 01 Apr 2006