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07 Nov 2006 - 01:18

National Math Advisory Panel URLs



meetings




email updates

about the panel

homepage




where you can find links

I'm posting links to the Math Panel homepage, transcripts, & ktm posts here:



You can find both pages on the menu to the left.

If all else fails you can search posts using the keyword nationalmathematicsadvisorypanel with no spaces between words. (Works pretty well with spaces, too.)

I'm thinking this is about as findable and redundant as I can make the links now...unfortunately, you will have to remember some constellation of the words "national mathematics advisory panel" to find these links (that could be iffy for me these days....)

But I think I've just raised the odds of re-finding the transcript links considerably.


panel members w/links
Polite agreement or something we can use?
National Math Panel announcement
National Math Panel update
short story by Vern Williams

nationalmathematicsadvisorypanel


-- CatherineJohnson - 07 Nov 2006

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I think they oughta make NMP bubble gum cards. Collect and trade your favorite panelists. I got doubles of Vern Williams, I'll trade you for a Schmid! Wait, you got the NMP team card? Wow!

-- BarryGarelick - 07 Nov 2006


And then on the back of the cards (or the front) put key quotes from the meetings, so we can know who we want to dump quickly.

-- SusanS - 07 Nov 2006


I'll take Stanley Ocken as Pinch Hitter.

-- SteveH - 07 Nov 2006


After reading the PDF of the third meeting (where they started to discuss the contents of a curriculum), I realized that I didn't see much talk about mastery. I did a search of all meeting notes and found only a few references.

This is a major issue. Lower schools do not do mastery. This will have to be defined exactly if they have any hope of success. Well-prepared teachers and a good curriculum don't matter if they let the kids slide from grade to grade. Lower schools will have to change their fundamental ideas of education.

As Catherine mentioned elsewhere, they are anti-mastery. I mentioned elsewhere that they might continue to allow spiraling in the lower grades, but then try to ramp up quickly in 7th and 8th grades to get to a real course in algebra. This will only benefit the more able students or those who get help outside of the schools.

Lower schools have to change their ways. They have to set specific grade-level goals for content and mastery of basic skills. This is really not just about math. It's about fundamental ideas of education.

-- SteveH - 07 Nov 2006


I realized that I didn't see much talk about mastery

I noticed that, too. But the word explore is used instead. They're in a constant state of exploring, it would seem. They avoid other less murky words. There seems to be an ever-growing disconnect between the grade school's expectations and the middle and high schools.

I was wondering why the exchange happened with Wu concerning Singapore early on, but no one said a word about the teacher at the end who praised TERC to the heavens. Then, I realized that Faulkner (I think) asked after the Wu exchange that no "debate" take place and that they are to just listen to the guests.

I can understand why he might do that, but the exchange was helpful to those of us out here reading it, if for nothing else, to set the factual record straight. A couple of questions challenging some of the teacher's assumptions, or anybody's, helps to clarify the issues underlying the testimonies.

-- SusanS - 07 Nov 2006


After reading the PDF of the third meeting (where they started to discuss the contents of a curriculum), I realized that I didn't see much talk about mastery. I did a search of all meeting notes and found only a few references.

This is a major issue. Lower schools do not do mastery. This will have to be defined exactly if they have any hope of success. Well-prepared teachers and a good curriculum don't matter if they let the kids slide from grade to grade. Lower schools will have to change their fundamental ideas of education.

mastery

mastery

mastery

We're going to be hammering our district on mastery

It's the utter lack of commitment to teaching to mastery that allows a district to hand-off reteaching duties to parents and very expensive "tutors."

-- CatherineJohnson - 07 Nov 2006


This will have to be defined exactly if they have any hope of success. Well-prepared teachers and a good curriculum don't matter if they let the kids slide from grade to grade.

Sounds like Geary is going to nail this down for the final report.

-- CatherineJohnson - 07 Nov 2006


I also noticed that Faulkner quelled debate, but not before Schmid took down Garfunkel on his nonsense about the "creativity" of the US compared to Asian cultures.

Per the comments above about mastery, Vern Williams is my neighbor. I'll tell him about the need to get after the concept of mastery. Among the fuzzies, mastery equates to "rote" and "memorization" and of course it is neither. They would rather that kids be presented with the problems as a means to discover what needs to be mastered. And then they don't allow them to master it.

The fuzzies are full of contradictions. The textbook for my class in ed school pays lip service to the fact that you need to provide drill for kids to master the algorithmic stuff. Factoring trinomials is algorithmic stuff, for example. But it's a means to build on that knowledge to get to more advanced concept. They don't talk about it in terms of mastering factoring so that students can make the leap in understanding how factoring trinomials can be used to solve quadratic equations, and how non-factorable trinomials can be made so by completing the square, which then leads to derivation of the quadratic formula. Do they think all that is mechanical?

The textbook presents a problem that asks whether 3x^2 + 5x -6 = 0 has irrational roots and then asks whether this requires algorithmic skill or mathematical reasoning to solve. (Which is it? Quick quick. Mechanical rote, or reasoning?)

The commentary on the problem is that this problem doesn't require mathematical reasoning to solve, it's just an application of an algorithmic process (figure out what the discriminant equals and evaluate it). Yeah, but at some point you had to understand what the disriminant is; don't they see how application of an automatic process can be reasoning? Sure, if there are 50 problems just like it in a row, that's overkill. But to say this requires no mathematical reasoning seems wrong to me. But what the hell do I know? I only majored in the subject.

-- BarryGarelick - 07 Nov 2006


There is absolutely no impetus for teaching to mastery. At least, not in Connecticut. I think the NY Regents exam is probably more rigorous than our CAPT test for 10th graders. The CAPT has gotten dumbed down to the point of uselessness.

My sincere hope is that the National Math Panel will, at a minimum, define what an actual course of Alegebra I looks like. We use IMP in the high school, like many others. As long as we continue to get high scores on the lousy State test and claim that every kid has passed algebra, no one will be worried about mastery.

If the Math Panel can define Algebra I, a trickle down could occur. When kids start failing a real algebra class, and it isn't possible to dumb it down, then people will start looking hard at k-8 prep. Not before.

-- LynnGuelzow - 07 Nov 2006


I'm definitely going to get the "slur" exchange posted.

-- CatherineJohnson - 07 Nov 2006


High scores on the test is a HUGE problem.

At the moment, I'm thinking the "Irvington Parents Forum" may "work" - work meaning it may provide a true gathering place in which parents can exchange real information instead of sitting in rows of chairs facing forward listening to the authorities and waving our hands in the air hoping to get called on so we can speak.

In a district-wide listserve (and we'll see how this develops, but at the moment I'm hopeful) I can tell everyone that I just took the Regents Math A myself, and that I discovered you can pass with as few as 13 correct answers.

That makes a different impression than it would in the middle of a listen-to-the-principal-type meeting. The assumed equality of a forum is completely different.

Also, in a virtual forum a post about the Regents exam stays put.

People can find it; they can read it later if they happen to be talking about the tests with a neighbor, etc.

I'm coming to believe that districts impose extreme verticality on parents for more than just the obvious reason (divide and conquer).

"Extreme verticality" (they talk down to you, you talk up to them, no one talks peer to peer) also frames any real and damaging information you may have to share as inferior in status.

"Extreme verticality" weights everything school employees have to say more heavily simply by virtue of the structure of the situation.

-- CatherineJohnson - 07 Nov 2006


We will also provide a little bit of information, kind of basic information on what we understand about human memory, development of children's memory, development of procedural competencies, conceptual competencies. We know that they are interrelated in important ways and we also know that different types of experiences may affect procedural competency development versus conceptual competency development, and so we will provide a background in that.

David Geary, 3rd meeting

-- CatherineJohnson - 07 Nov 2006


Lynn - I agree; it would be very helpful to have an algebra 1 course formally defined.

-- CatherineJohnson - 07 Nov 2006


"If the Math Panel can define Algebra I, a trickle down could occur. When kids start failing a real algebra class, and it isn't possible to dumb it down, then people will start looking hard at k-8 prep. Not before."

My opinion, also stated on another thread, is that they need to set up an algebra test that is externally controlled and graded. This would be like the AP exam for calculus where lower schools could not fudge the numbers.

-- SteveH - 08 Nov 2006


My opinion, also stated on another thread, is that they need to set up an algebra test that is externally controlled and graded. This would be like the AP exam for calculus where lower schools could not fudge the numbers.

I think this is CRITICALLY important (and in fact I want to see the govt do this in all realms).

I'll make this into a separate post - can we all take it upon ourselves to send letters to the advisory committee urging this action?

-- CatherineJohnson - 08 Nov 2006


i turned to the textbooks section from the first day
(of the third meeting: 9/13/06) more or less of course.
vern williams had prepared a few questions
to be answered by publisher representatives
(williams was also the moderator for this part
of the meeting). the first question addressed
"the role of authors" in the publishers' programs.
("to what extent are they fully engaged in writing
the majority of the lessons ...?").

so. the witnesses came up one after another
and just flat-out lied. "they guide the philosophy
of the program, the pedagogy, ..." (cindy orrell
of houghton). some were a little more artful
about it, but all of them clearly believed
that it was important to claim much more importance
for the so-called authors of their products
than it's possible to believe they actually have.

i've probably posted a link to the muddle machine
in ktm before now. well, here it is again.
honest testimony from a guy who was there:

I got a hint of things to come when I overheard my boss lamenting, "The books are done and we still don't have an author! I must sign someone today!"

Every time a friend with kids in school tells me textbooks are too generic, I think back to that moment. "Who writes these things?" people ask me. I have to tell them, without a hint of irony, "No one." It's symptomatic of the whole muddled mess that is the $4.3 billion textbook business.

but anybody who has to work with the damn things
can plainly see: editors routinely replace
math with nonsense and won't be over-ridden
by whoever might actually understand what's going on.

oh, heck. gotta go. anyhow, the point was:
schmid chid 'em ("this is the most complete
nonsense that i've ever seen") and wu lit 'em up:
"your publications are just riddled with errors ...
there is not much point in going on." much else besides
(pp. 110 ff.; don't miss it).

-- VlorbikDotCom - 09 Nov 2006


I got a hint of things to come when I overheard my boss lamenting, "The books are done and we still don't have an author! I must sign someone today!"

gorrrrr

-- CatherineJohnson - 10 Nov 2006


The Saxon books are auteur math books

Just like the New Wave.

-- CatherineJohnson - 10 Nov 2006


yes: saxon & wang actually wrote the darn things.
but this might be changing now that saxon
has been acquired: see this here for more on this rumor.

-- VlorbikDotCom - 16 Nov 2006


more from the same author.

-- VlorbikDotCom - 16 Nov 2006


you know - we need to write these folks ourselves

I think I've already emailed them before about the fact that I'm using their books etc.....and I'm pretty sure they didn't respond (which strikes me as not a good sign...)

I haven't read the second of the Linda Schrock Taylor pages.

(I think there are some new emails on it.)

We're going to need to "STEAL THIS BOOK" if changes are in the offing.

steal them, scan them, distribute them

-- CatherineJohnson - 19 Nov 2006


by the way, I have one of the few solution manuals to Moise & Downs geometry in captivity as far as I know

I think we need some kind of Gutenberg project to get all these things preserved

-- CatherineJohnson - 19 Nov 2006


uh-oh:

Sunday, September 12, 2004,

Linda,

Thank you for responding to my email. I am definitely not writing on Behalf of Harcourt, or even Saxon for that matter. I will think carefully about your comments on the necessity of 5th graders learning stem and leaf plots, thank you for letting me know of your experiences. And yes, I hope that Harcourt doesn't destroy the Saxon method, but I am not very optimistic right now either…If Harcourt is wanting to market to the big districts, then I think the changes will be substantial. Thanks again for your response.

"Janus"

whoa

I hadn't seen this email

-- CatherineJohnson - 19 Nov 2006


my question is: what will become of the homeschool edition?

if they make "substantial" changes to the books they market to big districts, will those substantial changes automatically transfer to the homeschool edition?

????

-- CatherineJohnson - 19 Nov 2006


this is not good

-- CatherineJohnson - 19 Nov 2006


this is making me want to purchase the entire sequence, just to preserve it for posterity

-- CatherineJohnson - 19 Nov 2006


I'm going to need to drum up some publicity for the fact that Christian is going to be able to "remediate himself" using these books.

another thing on the to-do list.....

-- CatherineJohnson - 19 Nov 2006


Saxon books are the answer to the question: what happens next, after you graduate from high school with 3rd grade math?

-- CatherineJohnson - 19 Nov 2006


the only answer

-- CatherineJohnson - 19 Nov 2006


Catherine, you should check out the Intervention Report for Saxon Elementary Math at the What Works Clearinghouse. The Report is of the "new" Saxon books published by Harcourt Achieve. They spiral, none of the research "Meets Evidence Standards." One meets standards with reservations (but doesn't show a positive effect), the remaining six studies do not meet standards.

This is very sad.

-- LynnGuelzow - 19 Nov 2006


oh no!

They've changed????

I'm going to have to buy up all the old editions just to have them.

-- CatherineJohnson - 19 Nov 2006


I don't know - this seems like the report I've read a number of times before.

Where did you see the word "spiral"?

This sounds like the books I know:

Saxon Elementary School Math, published by Harcourt Achieve, is a core curriculum for students in kindergarten through grade 5. A distinguishing feature of Saxon Elementary School Math is its use of a distributed approach, as opposed to a chapter-based approach, for instruction and assessment. The program is built on the premise that students learn best when instruction is incremental and explicit, previously learned concepts are continually reviewed, and assessment is frequent and cumulative. At each grade level, math concepts are introduced, reviewed, and practiced over time in order to move students from understanding to mastery to fluency. For grades K–3, the Saxon Elementary School Math curriculum emphasizes hands-on activities and teacher-directed math conversations that engage students in learning. The curriculum for grades 4–5 also uses math conversations to introduce new concepts, but shifts the focus to student-directed learning.

This passage in particular:

A distinguishing feature of Saxon Elementary School Math is its use of a distributed approach, as opposed to a chapter-based approach, for instruction and assessment. The program is built on the premise that students learn best when instruction is incremental and explicit, previously learned concepts are continually reviewed, and assessment is frequent and cumulative.

Am I reading the right section?

-- CatherineJohnson - 19 Nov 2006


At the Nov 6 NMP meeting in Palo Alto, Ms. Sherry Fraser gave testimony during the public comment period. Ms. Fraser is Director, Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP).

Her testimony apparently impressed the Math Panel Watcher who runs a blog devoted to the goings on of the NMP. You can read Ms. Fraser's testimony at http://mathpanelwatch.blogspot.com/. The testimony includes an email address for Ms. Fraser. For those who are so motivated, please write to her and let her know what you think of what she had to say.

Just so you know, Mathematically Correct, which she refers to as a "secret" organization with unknown membership and funding, was founded by four parents concerned with what was happening to math education in California: Larry Gipson, Paul Clopton, Martha Schwartz, and Mike McKeown?, in 1995, who were respectively a professional engineer, a statistician, a geophysicist, and a faculty member at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego. (Dr. McKeown? is now a professor in the Division of Biology and Medicine at Brown University). They were joined by Wayne Bishop, and Frank Allan, a former president of the NCTM (now deceased). All were critics of the 1989 NCTM Standards.

As for secret membership, there is no formal membership procedures for Mathematically Correct. You either contribute information or you don't. And as for funding, they receive none.

On the other hand, IMP received plenty of funding from NSF, through grants to SF State University which developed IMP. From 1990 through 2002, NSF has granted $11.6 million to SFSU for development of the program plus revisions to it. In addition, there are "implementation centers" that provide help to the schools in implmenting various NSF-funded program. Those that help implement IMP among others include COMPASS (of which Sherry Fraser is a member and which is received $6 million in 2000 and 2002 from NSF) and the K-12 Mathematics Curriculum Center, which also helps implement IMP among others, and received $4 million from NSF in 1992. If you are so inclined, it might not hurt to remind Ms. Fraser of this, just to let her know that you know about it, and you know that she does too.

Also, Ms. Fraser opens with the following:

"How many of you remember your high school algebra? Close your eyes and imagine your algebra class. Do you see students sitting in rows, listening to a teacher at the front of the room, writing on the chalkboard and demonstrating how to solve problems? Do you remember how boring and mindless it was? Research has shown this type of instruction to be largely ineffective. Too many mathematics classes have not prepared students to use mathematics, to be real problem-solvers, both in the math classroom and beyond as critical analyzers of their world."

For those of you who have been taught in such traditional manner, and who believe it has not harmed but helped you learn mathematics, please let her know. She mentions that "research shows" her statement is true, though does not mention what research it is. So perhaps we can help give her some more numbers to augment the very valuable research upon which many like her so steadfastly rely and with which many like her deceive the taxpayers.

-- BarryGarelick - 20 Nov 2006


Addendum: IMP is home of the famous "Haybaler Problem" which elicited the following reaction from a PhD? physcist: "If I had had that problem in 9th grade, I would have grown up hating math."

-- BarryGarelick - 20 Nov 2006


Hey Catherine,

Hope I didn't jump too hastily to the "spiral" conclusion on the new Saxon books. I sincerely hope they don't modify the original Saxon method.

-- LynnGuelzow - 20 Nov 2006


I'm with Barry. I sat through rows of students listening to a teach demonstrate with chalk lots of algebra. I didn't find it mindless and boring. In fact, it was the first time I felt that math could be fascinating and addictive. Algebra hooked me.

-- LynnGuelzow - 20 Nov 2006


Lynn

Well, I think it's correct to say that the Saxon books spiral.

They repeat content from one year to the next, the difference being that you master it the first year.

Then you re-master it the second.

I'm not going to look up the link right now (it's in the Willingham article on practice, I think).

When you study the same material for 3 years, you remember it for 50.

Spiraling-with-mastery is good.

The Singapore books use spiraling-with-mastery.

(I'm pretty sure they call it something else, but I can't remember what.)

-- CatherineJohnson - 20 Nov 2006


My only points of reference are Everyday Math and the Singapore Math that we do on our own at home. I guess you could call Singapore spiraling in the sense that they do revisit topics, year to year, and even within year. The periodic reviews will go back and refresh previous topics.

I find this approach completely different from EM, which simply touches on topics and then, almost weekly, throws in a single problem from a prior unit in the math boxes. Most topics are not expected to be mastered. For example, my daughter's 5th grade class will begin operations with decimals and fractions after Thanksgiving. However, there is no "secure goal" for the unit, i.e., mastery is not expected and is not taught.

On the SingaporeMath side, fractions and decimals are taught to mastery. The spiral in the 5th grade gets progressively harder and more cumulative. I don't see this in the EM curriculum.

-- LynnGuelzow - 20 Nov 2006


I guess you could call Singapore spiraling in the sense that they do revisit topics, year to year, and even within year.

I think this is also called "stranding," iirc.

EM teaches nothing to mastery.

(judging on everything everyone has told me - and I think this may even be in their literature)

-- CatherineJohnson - 21 Nov 2006


distributed practice via ever-increasing complication and confusion

One thing I've begun to figure out is.....the ways that teachers & textbooks manage to sneak in distributed practice against all odds.

The math teacher who reteaches Phase 4 for some of the kids was telling me about this, and I've noticed it in our books.

What these books do is incorporate the concepts from the previous chapter in problems in the new chapter.

So if you learned integers in chapter one, you will then use negative exponents in the exponent chapter - regardless of whether it's a good idea to be learning negative exponents when you're also trying to learn the concept of variables-with-exponents (it's not a good idea).

Same thing with the ludicrously complex word problem Ms. K taught the kids - the one involving probability, ratio, two variables, etc.

The only reason that word problem was present in a chapter on probability was to give the kids distributed practice in ratio now that they were done with the ratio chapter and had moved to the probability chapter.

The math teacher does the same thing. He was telling me how he incorporates the skills from previous chapters into problems he demonstrates and assigns in later chapters.

what I'm seeing over and over again is teachers & textbooks with concrete blocks attached to their feet basically figuring out how to dance anyway

They're handicapped by the spiral structure of the curriculum, so they sneak in distributed practice by means of making the problems ever more complicated (so earlier skills are still being practiced)

Judging by Christopher last year, this approach does tend to solidify the skills taught earliest in the year - at this point he's pretty solid on integers & the properties.

But it can royally mess up learning of the later material in the course.

-- CatherineJohnson - 21 Nov 2006