kitchen table math, the sequel: 2/25/07 - 3/4/07

Saturday, March 3, 2007

trouble in Norway, part 1

In spite of being sick as a dog, I have managed to perform a prize piece of action research today.

I did the same thing I always do:

  • I Googled stuff on the internet
  • I read the stuff I found
  • I used Apple's Grab thingie to pull charts out of a pdf file


action research!


In 1997 Norway reformed its curriculum.

The changes were sweeping:

  • an extra year of schooling (compulsory education would now begin at age 6 instead of age 7)
  • "Theme-based cross-subject projects should dominate the learning process (at least 60% of lecture time) " [our term for "theme-based cross-subject projects" would be "interdisciplinary," which lies at the heart of the middle school model]
  • "Play should be given a central role in school, both as «free play» and as a dominant learning method for children aged 6-10"
  • all constructivism all the time: "The traditional lecture auditory model of a classroom structure is definitively unsuitable in relation to the reform."


Combined with the generally weak Norwegian results from 1995 [before L97 reforms were put in place], a further decrease in 37 points is alarming. The TIMSS study in 1995 was carried out on two following grades, and the average advance during one grade was approximately 40 points. In other words, today’s pupils are placed nearly an entire school year behind the level in 1995.


Clearly, many countries score better in 2003 than they did in 1995 (figure 1.4). [including the U.S.!] ... Concerning Norway the decline seems almost catastrophic, especially in connection with the already weak Norwegian results in 1995.... In 2003 4th graders with the same age were tested, who have attended school one year more than the pupils tested in 1995. Thus the significant decrease is dramatic and unfortunate. To give an impression of how much a decline of 25 points actually represents, we point to the fact that in the 4th grade in the 1995 TIMSS report, one year’s schooling equalled on average about 60 points in improvement on the same scale. Put simply, our pupils in 2003 have attended school one more year, but still lie approximately half a year behind in their academic development compared to the situation 8 years earlier.

Norwegian reports from TIMSS and PISA 2003 (pdf file)

An extra year in school and the kids are half a year behind their counterparts in 1995.

This is why I get growly whenever someone suggests lengthening the school day and/or school year.

If they do that I'll have even less time to teach the real stuff at home.

Play as a dominant learning method ....

hoo boy
Hello, I’m Redkudu.

Catherine has invited me to become a part of Kitchen Table Math, the sequel, so here I am. I am a high school English teacher in the state of Texas, which is a little like the Camelot described in the song, only hotter longer. I worked in the business world for some time before turning to teaching. I’d like to begin my blogging here by suggesting Catherine change the name of the blog to Kitchen Table ENGLISH and Math (because E comes before M in the alphabet, and English is a longer word than Math, and therefore should be bigger).

Since I don’t see that as likely to happen, here’s an excerpt of my weekly review of, well, stuff on the internet. The Saturday Circular was an idea I developed to force myself to blog regularly at Redkudu, but it hasn’t yet developed a personality or, actually, a set format, color scheme, or reliable font. Nonetheless, I hope you find something interesting to read. Thanks to Catherine for inviting me aboard! Now I’m going to cross my fingers and hope I clicked all the right buttons...

Saturday Circular, March 3, 2007.

Girls Being Sexualized - well, duh!
"That said, some of the report's findings are ... odd. One claim, for instance, is that girls who worry about body image perform poorly in math. The research that led to this conclusion involved putting college students in dressing rooms to try on and evaluate either a swimsuit or a sweater. While they waited alone for 10 minutes wearing their assigned garment, they were given a math quiz.

Apparently, female near-nakedness and cognitive thought are incompatible. But you knew that."

A commentor recently agreed with me that The Great Gatsby, if not carefully read, can seem strangely surreal to students (The valley of ashes, the eyes of Dr. Eckleburg). We blame it on the cover art which, come to find out, has an interesting history. There's a reason we all remember the same picture for the novel.

A Day In The Life - Graycie at Today's Homework details a day in her life. Very busy, and suspiciously unlike recent movies about wonder teachers.

I'm sure everyone's already read this, but just in case: It's just a job. Just reading the comments and their links will keep you occupied for a while. I've said before: teaching is a profession, and teachers should be viewed, and view themselves, as professionals in their field, not as professional caregivers. I'm not there to give care - I do that because it's part of my nature. I'm there to teach students how to read and write.

The idea of professionalism in the teaching field dovetails nicely into a recent post at From the Trenches about Discussing Teaching with Non-Professionals, and the perception of teachers by those outside the schoolhouse. Once again, good reading in the comments.

Immigrant Students Learn A Lesson In Disappointment
"Then there is the matter of the college courses. The flagship school of the Internationals Network in New York, on the campus of LaGuardia Community College in Queens, not only allows students to take college classes but ultimately to earn an associate’s degree. The families that chose the Brooklyn school had been led by the education department to expect something comparable.

Instead, Jeferson Lopez discovered he would not be able to take classes to prepare for a career in architecture. Youstina Rafla, who aspires to be an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has been unable to start amassing college credits. Pablo Oliva could not even get permission to use the Kingsborough library on weekends."

Good News? Or, something...
"High school students would need to take 12 end-of-course tests over several years — and earn a passing average — to graduate, instead of passing each of four tests in the 11th grade, under an overhaul of the state's controversial testing program proposed Thursday by key lawmakers."

Spring Break is right around the corner. Here's hoping you get some sun.

PMET Report

You'd think these points would be obvious:

  1. Whole number arithmetic and the place value system are the foundation for school mathematics with most other mathematical strands evolving from this foundation. This foundation should be the subject of most instruction in early grades.
  2. In every grade, the mathematics curriculum needs to be carefully focused on a small number of topics. Most mathematics instruction should be devoted to developing deepening mastery of core topics through computation, problem-solving and logical reasoning.
  3. Instruction should be mathematically rigorous in a grade-appropriate fashion. All terms should be defined with language that is mathematically accurate. Key theorems and formulas should be proved, whenever possible.
  4. Disciplined, mathematical reasoning is one of the most important goals of a school education. Although it is difficult to assess on statewide tests, it must permeate all mathematical instruction.
  5. Most students should be taught the mathematical knowledge and reasoning skills needed to succeed in college. Students planning for a Bachelor’s degree in a quantitative discipline should take a more demanding mathematics track in high school which prepares them to start calculus when they enter college.

But I guess they're not. From What is Important in School Mathematics.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a big bowl of onion soup with gruyere with my name on it.

an hour a day

in the sports supplement to today's TIMES (subscription required):

K. Anders Ericsson, who has devoted much of his life to studying phenomena like Dementieva and Spartak. Ericsson, a native of Sweden and a professor of psychology at Florida State University, is co-editor of “The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance,” published in 2006. If talented people can be thought of as a singular species, then Ericsson is its John J. Audubon, and the handbook is his painstakingly annotated field guide.

The handbook runs to 901 pages, so, in the interest of time, allow me to sum up. Every talent, according to Ericsson, is the result of a single process: deliberate practice, which he defines as “individuals engaging in a practice activity (typically designed by teachers) with full concentration on improving some aspect of their performance.” In a moment of towering simplification, “The Handbook” distills its lesson to a formula known as the Power Law of Learning: T = a P-b . (Don’t ask.) A slightly more useful translation: Deliberate practice means working on technique, seeking constant critical feedback and focusing ruthlessly on improving weaknesses.

“It feels like you’re constantly stretching yourself into an uncomfortable area beyond what you can quite do,” Ericsson told me. It’s hard to sustain deliberate practice for long periods of time, which may help explain why players like Jimmy Connors succeeded with seemingly paltry amounts of practice while their competitors were hitting thousands of balls each day. As the tennis commentator Mary Carillo told me, “He barely practiced an hour a day, but it was the most intense hour of your life.”

Ericsson also discusses the Ten-Year Rule, an intriguing finding dating to 1899, which shows that even the most talented individual requires a decade of committed practice before reaching world-class level. (Even a prodigy like the chess player Bobby Fischer put in nine hard years before achieving his grandmaster status at age 16.) While this rule is often used to backdate the ideal start of training (in tennis, girls peak physically at around 17, so they ought to start by 7; boys peak later, so 9 is O.K.), the Ten-Year Rule has more universal implications. Namely, it implies that all skills are built using the same fundamental mechanism, and that the mechanism makes physiological demands from which no one is exempt.

I think this jibes with instructivist's philosophy of teaching:

My own favored teaching/learning model is one I dubbed the Optimal Electrode Gap model, or OEG model (somehow I feel I must turn this into an acronym. Acronyms lend legitimacy even to screwball ideas. Not that I consider the OEG model to be a screwball idea).

The analogy is taken from physics. When relatively high voltage is applied to electrodes, three things can occur depending on the electrode gap:

a) no sparks fly if the electrodes are too far apart

b) a short-circuit is created if the electrodes touch each other

and c) sparks begin flying if the gap is just right.

This technical bit lends itself beautifully as an analogy and even metaphor for education where it has major implications for teaching and learning. The flying sparks are a metaphor for true learning and understanding. The electrode gap stands for the kind of pupil/teacher interaction. Finding the right gap is at the heart of a teacher's teaching ability and skill.

If a teacher talks above the head of the pupil without connecting with the pupil's prior knowledge, then the gap is set too wide and no sparks fly. If the teacher tells the student (who may not be paying attention as is most often the case) everything without allowing for creative tension and some student struggle, then we have a short-circuit (the electrodes touch each other) and the voltage is for nought.

On the other hand, finding the right gap prevents pupil frustration on the one hand and wasted energy on the other, and can lead to student excitement and enthusiasm, and a real sense of accomplishment.

This is my teaching philosophy in a nutshell. I am not sure how all of this ties in with prevailing theories, but I suspect it incorporates elements from a variety of philosophies.

Years ago, when Jimmy was 5 or 6 years old, he had a teacher who taught only material that was miles over his head.

He was learning nothing.

Not one thing.

We had a meeting with the teacher who said that, yes, she was teaching material that was over his head.

"I like to challenge students," she said.

For newbies: Jimmy was then and is today severely autistic.

There was no challenging going on in that classroom.

There was 6 hours of nothing going on.

Friday, March 2, 2007

"Constructivism attacks the immune system that saves us from silliness."

Becoming a parent bolsters the immune system.

I have moved from more self-indulgent beliefs about the free development of children in general, to a certain knowledge of my personal responsibility for the future well-being of one child in particular: my child.

This past week I took a short tour of constructivism led by D.C. Phillips. Who is quite sympathetic to constructivism. But it was a great tour. It had everything, epistemologically speaking: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Then I took a short tour of the not-so-subtle difference between finding out and making sense led by Michael R. Matthews. I found out that I prefer the discovery of truth to its invention (or construction).

I am now a true believer in discovery learning; it's just that I want it to happen very fast. Which means directly telling my child what I want him to know, what I want him to do to know, and when he should do it to know it. Life is short, in other words, and truth is external to my child.

I can now tell the difference between a radical constructivist,

Ernst Von Glasersfeld

"every man for himself"

a social constructivist,

Paul Ernest

"every culture for itself"

and a realist.

Michael Devitt

"we are all in the same boat"

I think I am a realist.

The post title is a quote from Devitt, who writes elsewhere,

Here is a summary of my argument for Realism. I start by observing that Realism about the ordinary observable physical world is a compelling doctrine. It is almost universally held outside intellectual circles. From an early age we come to believe that such objects as stones, cats, and trees exist. Furthermore, we believe that these objects exist even when we are not perceiving them, and that they do not depend for their existence on our opinions nor on anything mental. This Realism about ordinary objects is confirmed day by day in our experience. It is central to our whole way of viewing the world, the very core of common sense. Given this strong case for Realism, we should give it up only in the face of powerful arguments against it and for an alternative. There are no such arguments. That concludes the case for Realism.

Stones, cats, and trees. And my child. I am satisfied.

You won't believe this. No really.

An unsuspecting reader of the Columbia Tribune sent in this question to the paper's education expert:

Q: I have a 5-year-old daughter, and I keep hearing about the way math is taught now. I am afraid I will not understand it.

Why is this stirring so much controversy?

The answer is so over the top I'm still not completely sure it's not a parody. (Beware extreme educrat opinions expressed as fact. You've been warned):

A: Change in education is hard. But if business resisted change like education does, we would do accounting like Henry Ford: This bag of money is what came in. This other bag of money is what goes out.

So why is change so hard in education? Change is uncomfortable. Change causes us to feel unsettled. But often change is worth it.

The math we call "investigations" helps young children and older students have a better understanding of math. Isn’t that what should happen?

The mystery is being taken out of math. Is that bad? I think not.

Young children are manipulating objects to help them understand that 2+2=4. They do not memorize, but they actually understand the problem.

Then, as children get older, they learn several different methods of doing long division. These are not the same as the one most of us used, but you can more easily understand how to arrive at the answer.

Math is more than just getting the right answer, just as reading is more than saying the correct words. Understanding has to be a component of both math and reading.

When reading instruction became more meaning-centered in kindergarten and first grade, parents and others feared phonics was being neglected. Phonics was still being taught, but comprehension was no longer ignored in the primary grades.

Change in any subject area is not easy for parents. When parents learn one way and their children learn another, confusion is likely.

Parents must be given the opportunity to learn the new concept through parent meetings, observing in their children’s classroom or through written information. But parents need to have an open mind and give the new method a try. They need to refrain from thinking that the way they learned is the only way.

Research is done in education just as it is in medicine. Would parents want their children to have only the medical care they had available when they were children? Certainly not.

So why do parents fear and dislike change in education?

When your daughter enters kindergarten, ask questions about math. Go observe your daughter’s classroom. Tell her teacher you are interested in how math is taught. Then do that every year. This might make a great difference in the understanding of the changes in math.

Parents should have a handbook available to them at each grade level so they can help their children with math homework. To keep costs down, parents who want the book could pay the amount that the printing costs the school for each book.

Parents need to be positive about how their children are learning math. Parents should not dig in their heels and say, "This method is no good because it is not the way I learned math."

An open mind, reading about math and listening to the explanation about the way it is taught can do wonders for parents.

Sweet Fancy Moses.

Moving to Anchorage!

I just found out that I have orders to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. Anchorage has lots of school choice, though in my research I have found that choice doesn't always mean better. I have a longish post coming up on my options... stay tuned.

But... snowboarding, skiing, mountains, I can't wait. We will be moving sometime in August.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

code words

Hard recovery for failed US schools

The Christian Science monitor has an article up on schools that have to go under administration for failing AYP. One of the examples they use is Sobrante Park Elementary School in Oakland Unified School District. The conclusion is that one reform doesn't work. Successfully transformation of schools has to include several reforms including changing the staff, revamping the curriculum, and other revisions.

They cited Sobrante Park as one school that was able to completely transform itself. Of course in the article, they never do tell us exactly how they managed to make the transformation, but they did give one hint.
The teachers adopted a more scripted and uniform curriculum, making it easier for them to collaborate and for the principal to evaluate them.

Sounds suspiciously like they adopted direct instruction.

The results: The school kicked ass in almost every grade, scoring above average compared to the state scores, despite being predominantly poor and minority.

You think all these media organizations would start to notice the trend.

a variety of research methods, part 2

from Barry --

"Educational Psychology" by Jeanne Ellis Ormrod, 5th ed.....says this about research in the very first chapter:

"Conduct your own research. The research literature on learning, motivation, development, and instructional pracice grows by leaps and bounds every year. Nevertheless, teachers sometimes encoutner problems in the classroom that existing research findings don't address. In such circumstances we have an alternative: We can conduct our own resarch. When we conduct systematic studies of issues and problems in our own schools, with the goal of seeking more effective interventions in the lives of our students, we are conduction action research.

"Action research is becoming an increasingly popular endeavor among teachers, educational administators, and other educational professionals. It takes a variety of forms; for example, it might invovle assesing the effectiveness of a new teaching technique, gathering information about students' opinions on a schoolwide issue, or conducting an in-depth case study of a particular student. ... Many colleges and universities now offer courses in action research. You can also find inexpensive paperback books on teh topic (e.g., Mills, 2003; Stringer, 2004)"

Barry forgot to mention that Omrod's subtitle is "Developing Learners."

when parents choose

from Ken --

One of the most interesting aspects of FT that is rarely discussed in the technical reports is the way schools selected the models they would implement. The model a school adopted was not selected by teachers, administrators, or central office educrats. Parents selected the model. Large assemblies were held where the sponsors of the various models pitched their model to groups of parents comprising a Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) for the school. Administrators were usually present at these meetings and tried to influence parents' decisions. Using this selection process, the Direct Instruction model was the most popular model among schools; DI was implemented in more sites during FT than any other model.

The Story Behind Project Follow Through

Bonnie Grossen, Editor

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

how many parents want constructivist schools?

I just noticed this line from Linda Seebach's column:

Parents' groups chose among the models, and DI turned out to be far more popular with parents than it was among professional educators.

The persistence of the "reform" meme amongst progressive educators always captures people's attention. After all, ed schools have been more or less in charge of our public schools -- of their rhetoric at any rate -- for a good 50 to 100 years now, and yet education professors, administrators, and ed school graduates everywhere continue to see themselves as a beleagered minority, still fighting after all these years to bring culture to the masses.

Long after the sun has set on the British empire, the civilizing mission of our schools of education remains undimmed.

Why is this?

Different people have different explanations. I'm fond of Hirsch's take, that being that constructivism is in conflict with reality. Reality never wins, but otoh reality can't lose, either:

The history of American education since the 1930s has been the stubborn persistence of illusion in the face of reality. Illusion has not been defeated. But since reality cannot be defeated either, and since it determines what actually happens in the world, the result has been educational decline.

Reading Linda's observation, it occurs to me that the explanation may also be much simpler: parents can't stand this stuff.

Because I live in a blue town and state, and because all parents, including me, have absorbed developmentalist notions of allowing children to develop at their own pace, etc., the idea that parents can't stand this stuff hasn't been my first explanation for why progressive educators continue to see themselves as humble reformers instead of the ruling class they actually are.

I always assume, without giving it much thought, that I'm the minority.

But that's stupid.

I'm never the minority!

If I can't stand this stuff, probably the majority of folks out there can't stand this stuff, either.

It may be just that simple.

how many parents would choose TRAILBLAZERS?

Recently, asking myself how many parents would choose Math Trailblazers if given a chocie, I've been thinking the number may be somewhere in the neighborhood of 30%.

(And let me say again that Trailblazers has its fans, at least one of whom, my friend Kris, knows more about math than I do. I wouldn't take TRAILBLAZERS away by fiat any more than I would impose it by fiat in the first place.)

So back to population guesses.

I'm thinking 30% is the ballpark figure because of a news story I read about a district in CA that, after a long battle, offered parents a choice between, iirc, Everyday Math and a direct instruction curriculum, Saxon perhaps. (If and when I remember the link, I'll post.)

Seventy percent of parents chose Saxon.

Another data point: here in Irvington, when the 4-5 school offered a "projects class" in which all of the subject matter was to be taught via integrated projects, approximately 25% to 30% of parents signed up their kids.

Some of these parents signed up their kids so that they could be guaranteed of being in the same class with a particular friend, so it's hard to say how many of these parents were choosing the project method as opposed to a particular classmate.

As well, although I was too new to the school to know it at the time, the project class had terrific teachers so I imagine there may have been parents who chose it for the teachers as much as the projects.

In any case, I'm thinking perhaps 30% of Irvington parents -- perhaps 30% of parents everywhere -- know what a progressive education is and want a progressive education for their children.

they are an embattled minority!

All of which makes me think that progressive educators are correct: they are the embattled miniority they think they are.

Yes they have the schools and the laws and the money and the unions and the school boards and every single feature story on education that ever appeared on the cover of NEWSWEEK on their side.

But nobody likes them!


a variety of research methods

An Integrated Study of Children's Construction of Improper Fractions and the Teacher's Role in Promoting That Learning

Ron Tzur

July 1999, Volume 30, Issue 4, Pages 390 - 416

In this constructivist teaching experiment with 2 fourth graders I studied the coemergence of teaching and children's construction of a specific conception that supports the generation of improper fractions. The children's posing and solving tasks in a computer microworld promoted a modification in their fraction schemes. They advanced from thinking about a unit fraction as a part of a whole to thinking about it as standing in a multiplicative relationship with a reference whole (the iterative fraction scheme). In this article I report an intertwined analysis of the children's construction of this multiplicative relationship and an examination of the teacher's adaptation of learning situations (tasks) and teacher-learner interactions to fit within the constraints of the children's mathematical activity.


Additional Keywords:
Cognitive development, Constructivism, Elementary, K–8, Fractions, Learning, Teaching fractions

Now that I know the NCTM formally supports increased funding for "a variety of research methods," I'm wondering what the rules are for this kind of research.

Scientists conducting controlled studies face massive constraints on their activities, not least of which is the requirement that they pass IRB (Institutional Review Board) review.

Do "narrative researchers" have to submit research proposals to IRB review?

IRB: Ethics & Human Research

found: NCTM unicorn

RE: NCTM & constructivism

Constructivist Mathematics and Unicorns

by Lee V. Stiff

Constructivist math is a term coined by critics of Standards-based mathematics who promote confusion about the relationships among content, pedagogy, and how students learn mathematics....

Like unicorns, "constructivist math" does not exist.
Apparently someone didn't get the memo.

2001 NCTM editorial on constructivism

I don't know why I Googled on "Constructivism; math". I should know better at my age. But it did take me here to an editorial written by Lee Stiff, president of NCTM from 2001-2002. In it, he talks about a familiar theme: Constructivism doesn't exist. Gee, where have I heard that before? Well, last time I heard it, Jay Mathews of the Washington Post was talking about it.

Lee Stiff says all the right buzzwords:

"Constructivist math is a term coined by critics of Standards-based mathematics who promote confusion about the relationships among content, pedagogy, and how students learn mathematics. It is how they label classes where they see students engaged and talking with one another, where teachers allow students to question and think about the mathematics and mathematical relationships. Critics see these behaviors and infer that the basics and other important mathematics are not being taught."

[Reform-minded teachers] "promote making connections to other ideas within mathematics and other disciplines. They ask students to furnish proof or explanations for their work. They use different representations of mathematical ideas to foster students' greater understanding. These teachers ask students to explain the mathematics. Their students are expected to solve problems, apply mathematics to real-world situations, and expand on what they already know. "

So, the Hay Baler problem in IMP expands on what students already know? Is that true?

So, asking a student the solution to 5 divided by 1/2 in the midst of a problem set of whole number division problems prior to students receiving instructions on fractional division (as Everyday Math does) expands on what students already know?

He prattles on about how working in groups allows "students help one another create richer meanings for new mathematical content." And "that students should be encouraged to create their own strategies for solving problem situations."

First of all, I don't know what a "problem situation" is. And I probably don't want to know. But I do know that when I see essays talking about how math should be taught so that students "make connections" between "concepts" and "real world" situations, I head for the Dolciani, Saxon and Singapore texts and even my old Arithmetic We Need texts from my grade school days. Somehow these "traditional" texts make connections.

I really don't think this 2001 essay is outdated, even with the Focal Points in place.

educators aren't doctors

From Doug Carnine:

Education could benefit from examining the history of some other professions. Medicine, pharmacology, accounting, actuarial sciences, and seafaring have all evolved into mature professions. According to Theodore M. Porter, a history professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, an immature profession is characterized by expertise based on the subjective judgments of the individual professional, trust based on personal contact rather than quantification, and autonomy allowed by expertise and trust, which staves off standardized procedures based on research findings that use control groups. 23

A mature profession, by contrast, is characterized by a shift from judgments of individual experts to judgments constrained by quantified data that can be inspected by a broad audience, less emphasis on personal trust and more on objectivity, and a greater role for standardized measures and procedures informed by scientific investigations that use control groups.

For the most part, education has yet to attain a mature state. Education experts routinely make decisions in subjective fashion, eschewing quantitative measures and ignoring research findings. The influence of these experts affects all the players
in the education world.

Below is a description that could very well describe the field of education:
It is hard to conceive of a less scientific enterprise among human endeavors. Virtually anything that could be thought up for treatment was tried out at one time or another, and, once tried, lasted decades or even centuries before being given up. It was, in retrospect, the most frivolous and irresponsible kind of human experimentation, based on nothing but trial and error, and usually resulting in precisely that sequence.24

Yet this quote does not describe American education today. Rather, it was written about premodern medicine by the late Dr. Lewis Thomas (1979), former president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Medicine has matured. Education has not. The excerpt continues:

Bleeding, purging, cupping, the administration of infusions of every known plant, solutions of every known metal, most of these based on the weirdest imaginings about the cause of disease, concocted out of nothing but thin air—this was the heritage of medicine up until a little over a century ago. It is astounding that the profession survived so long, and got away with so much with so little outcry. Almost everyone seems to have been taken in.25

Education has not yet developed into a mature profession. What might cause it to? Based on the experience of other fields, it seems likely that intense and sustained outside pressure will be needed. Dogma does not destroy itself, nor does an immature profession drive out dogma.

The metamorphosis is often triggered by a catalyst, such as pressure from groups that are adversely affected by the poor quality of service provided by a profession. The public’s revulsion at the Titanic’s sinking, for example, served as catalyst for the metamorphosis of seafaring. In the early 1900s, sea captains could sail pretty much where they pleased, and safety was not a priority. The 1913 International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea, convened after the sinking of the Titanic, quickly made rules that are still models for good practice in seafaring.

The metamorphosis of medicine took more than a century. As the historian Theodore Porter explains:

In its pre-metamorphosis stage, medicine was practiced by members of an elite who refused . . . to place the superior claims of character and breeding on an equal footing with those of scientific merit. . . . These gentlemen practitioners opposed specialization, and even resisted the use of instruments. The stethoscope was acceptable, because is was audible only to them, but devices that could be read out in numbers or, still worse, left a written trace, were a threat to the intimate knowledge of the attending physician.26

External pressure on medicine came from life insurance companies that demanded quantitative measures of the health of applicants and from workers who did not trust “company doctors.” The Food and Drug Administration, founded in 1938 as part of the New Deal, initially accepted both opinions from clinical specialists and findings from experimental research when determining whether drugs did more good than harm. However, the Thalidomide disaster led to the Kefauver Bill of 1962, which required drugs thereafter to be proven to be effective and safe before they could be prescribed, with little attention paid to the opinions of clinical specialists. (Medical interventions and intervention devices, such as coronary stents, are subject to similar reviews of safety and efficacy.)

The catalyst that transformed accounting in the United States was the Great Depression. To restore investor confidence, the government promulgated reporting rules to guard against fraud, creating the Securities and Exchange Commission. In general, it appears that a profession is not apt to mature without external pressure and the attendant conflict. Metamorphosis begins when the profession determines that this is its likeliest path to survival, respect, and prosperity. Porter writes that the American Institute of Accountants established its own standards to fend off an imminent bureaucratic intervention.27 External pressures had become so great that outsiders threatened to take over and control the profession via legislation and regulation. There are signs today that this is beginning to happen in education.

The best way for a profession to ensure its continued autonomy is to adopt methods that ensure the safety and efficacy of its practices. The profession can thereby deter extensive meddling by outsiders. The public trusts quantified data because procedures for coming up with numbers reduce subjective decision-making. Standardized procedures also are more open to public inspection and legal review.

Why Education Experts Resist Effective Practices (And What It Would Take to Make Education More Like Medicine)
Douglas Carnine

Ted Porter was a colleague of Ed's; his book is revered. I may have to order it. (He is also the editor of the Cambridge History of Social Sciences.)

spaced repetition

an immature profession is characterized by:
  • expertise based on the subjective judgments of the individual professional
  • trust based on personal contact rather than quantification
  • autonomy allowed by expertise and trust, which staves off standardized procedures based on research findings that use control groups

so how does the NCTM feel about research?

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics—
  • Believes that, to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics, the complexity of schools and school systems requires the use of a variety of research methods.
  • Supports significantly increased funding for research about student mathematics learning, curriculum materials, and effective classroom practices.
a variety of research methods....


In this paper, we consider The Teaching Principle outlined in The Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000) and the importance of teacher learning and continuous development in mathematics learning and pedagogy. We pose the question, “How might a professional development experience that invites teachers to become ‘autonomous learners’ (NCTM, 2000, p. 5) be organized?” In responding to that question, we begin, as narrative researchers, by sharing a story of collaboration in planning a summer institute about mathematics for K – 3rd grade teachers. We then unpack this story of the planning and implementation of the institute thinking about the tenets of constructivism, as outlined by Brooks and Grennon Brooks (1999), and about how these tenets contribute to the development of autonomous teacher learners.

Narrative researchers!

That's the ticket.

More money for narrative research.

Write your congressman today.

Ask him to support increased funding for research about student mathematics learning, curriculum materials, and effective classroom practices requiring the use of a variety of research methods.

update: No idea whether this book is useful:

Up Close and Personal: The Teaching and Learning of Narrative Research (sample chapter)

Narrative research, Vygotsky, etc.

A respectful critique


23 Theodore M. Porter, Trust in Numbers: The Pursuit of Objectivity in Science and Public Life (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996).

24 Lewis Thomas, “Medical Lessons from History,” in The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology
Watcher (New York: Viking Press, 1979), 159.

25 Ibid, 159-160.

26 Porter, 202.

27 Ibid, 93.

help desk

How many bomb threats is too many?

I many bomb threats do middle schools usually have?

We've just had our 4th or 5th of the school year.

Is that a lot?

Apparently some of the teachers think it is.

I have no idea.

Shimon Peres

Ed says Shimon Peres was incredible.

He "doesn't have charisma" -- charisma in the standard sense in which one expects to see charisma in public figures -- "he just comes across as incredibly kind."

He came to the event on time; he mixed with the crowd.

Peres is in his mid-80s and in fantastic shape. No stoop, and "he's spry."

Wish I could have been there.

News 14 Carolina | 24 Hour Local News | Triangle | Schools reduce minority achievement gap

News 14 Carolina 24 Hour Local News Triangle Schools reduce minority achievement gap

Between the 2003-2004 school year and the 2004-2005 school year, Tommy's Road Elementary School lowered its achievement gap from 14.8 percent to 9.6 percent.
First of all they don't say which achievement gap they are talking about, but usually its reading. Sure enough the numbers matched the reading achievement gap for students for all grades who scored at least level III on the state reading test. I also found out some other information.

Between the 2004-2005 school year and 2005-2006 area, Tommy's Road Elementary School raised it's achievement gap from 9.6% to 16.6%

Check for yourself at the NC Dept of Education disaggregated data webstite. Select Wayne County school system, then select composite reading scores.

If you check out their school report card, then the numbers are even worse. The gap between blacks and whites passing BOTH math and science proficiency tests is 26.5%. I guess it is a lot better than the District achievement gap of 32.2% and the states achievement gap of 33.5%

Don't reporters ever investigate anymore?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Linda Seebach on Zig


When the results were analyzed, Direct Instruction had won the horse race going away. It was first in basic skills, but it was also the only model that had positive results on all three higher-order cognitive skills, and it was also first in affective measures, how children feel about themselves.

research shows....

Follow Through was a response to the fact that early evaluations of Head Start suggested its effects disappeared within a year or two. The original idea was to extend how long Head Start children could receive services - hence the name - but, in the event, there wasn't enough money to do that so the project was changed into a research study.

"Follow Through would identify proponents of different approaches and would set the stage for something like a horse race, in which there would be a winner or winners, some also-rans, and some losers. The study would involve over 200,000 students, 22 sponsors of different approaches, and 178 communities, which spanned the full range of demographic setting variables (rural, urban) and ethnic composition (white, not-white; poor, not-poor; English, non-English).

Parents' groups chose among the models, and DI turned out to be far more popular with parents than it was among professional educators. Zig's team was responsible for 39 schools in 19 communities. The models started in 1968 with a cohort of kindergartners, if the schools had a kindergarten, and added a grade each year up to grade 3. After full implementation, 40,000 children were tested.

When the results were analyzed, Direct Instruction had won the horse race going away. It was first in basic skills, but it was also the only model that had positive results on all three higher-order cognitive skills, and it was also first in affective measures, how children feel about themselves. It was first with high performers and with low performers, with different ethnic groups and with non-English speakers. After DI training, teachers were able to get even very low-performing children reading by the end of kindergarten.

Education elite strangle a superior program

Monday, February 26, 2007

"I don't have the courage"

A couple of months ago Ed and I were in the 4-5 school where we saw an announcement of a presentation on multiple intelligence or individual learning styles or some such.

Multiple intelligences almost certainly do not exist, but our 4-5 school appears to be hiring P.D. types to tell everyone they do.

So here's a thread about Dan Willingham's on teacher who's just read Dan Willingham's Do Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learners Need Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Instruction?

    Here is a link to a very interesting article from The
    American Educator regarding modalities and what cognitive
    science really tells us.

    It "addresses why the idea of tailoring instruction to a
    student's best modality is so enduring‚ despite substantial
    evidence that it is wrong."

    Fantastic article. I agree and support it fully. Thanks
    for sharing research-based findings that TRULY are based in
    scientific research.

    thanks for it!
    What a great article - I don't have the courage to give it out in my
    school but the sense that it makes is beautiful....

Is this the world teachers work in?

Would it actually take courage to hand out an article appearing in American Educator?

it's always worse than you think

I hadn't read the next post in the thread when I asked those questions.

Here it is:

I think you're missing an important point! NO ONE is saying
that kids don't need to move during the day. That's common
sense and should be done. The problem comes in when people make
grandeose claims and state fraudulent (or non-existant) research
extrapolating benefits of movement to creating expensive
programs requiring specific movements, hiring trainers to teach
them, and implying that these can fix learning disorders.

That is the problem. Movement is great! Marketing the "sale"
of movement to get rich off of those who don't understand
research and only believe hype and testimonials is unconcionable.

font size

Barry thinks we should make the font size smaller (I agree - it's awfully big).

What do you think?

Shimon Peres

Ed is meeting Shimon Peres tonight!

That's going to be cool.

memorize this formula

"Eric Jensen—a leading expert in the translation of brain research into education, argues in Enriching the Brain that we greatly underestimate students’ achievement capacity. Drawing from a wide range of neuroscience research as well as related studies, Jensen reveals that the human brain is far more dynamic and malleable than we earlier believed. He offers us a powerful new understanding of how the brain can be “enriched,” across the board to maximize learning, memory, behavior and overall function. The bottom line is we have far more to do with how our children’s brains turn out than we previously thought. Enriching the Brain shows that lasting brain enrichment doesn’t occur randomly through routine or ordinary learning. It requires a specific, and persistent experiences that amount to a “formula” for maximizing brain potential. Parents, teachers and policy-makers would do well to memorize this formula. In fact, the lifelong potential of all school age kids depends on whether or not we use it. Offering an inspiring and innovative set of practices for promoting enrichment in the home, the school, and the classroom, this book is a clarion call. All of us, from teachers to parents to policymakers must take their role as ‘brain shapers’ much more seriously and this book gives the tools with which to do it."

I have no idea whether this book is yet another bypass-the-basics, here comes China! type deal.

Conceivably, it isn't. I say conceivably because Enriching the Brain comes from the NCEE, and The Gadfly appears to think the world of the NCEE.

Seeing as how The Gadfly believes in teaching the liberal arts, I'm assuming the NCEE isn't an active opponent of the content-rich curriculum so beloved by parents and liberal arts professors alike.

Still. The language isn't promising. Also, as far as I can tell we're nowhere near the point at which it would be either possible or desireable to have experts in the "translation" of brain research into education. Pretty sure I'm dead right on that one.

[update: Yes. I'm right. And....Eric Jenson is a professional development guy. Given that 99% of all professional development outfits appear to be peddling cr**, I'm going to hope Eric Jenson won't be professionally developing any teachers around here.]

What makes me chuckle is the injunction to parents, teachers, and policy-makers to memorize the formula for promoting brain enrichment through the wholesale rejection of routine or ordinary learning.

Wouldn't memorizing the formula be routine and ordinary?

Somehow no one ever seems to pick up on the fact that the minute school administrators, department chairs, and experts in the translation of brain research into education want people actually to know something they start talking direct instruction and memorize the formula.

Memorizing formulas is actually a lousy way to acquire knowledge, but these folks are so fixated on enriching the brain they have no idea how to get content into long-term memory by any means other than brute-force.

(Have I mentioned I've renamed "rote memorization" brute memorization? Well, I have.)

That's one of Hirsch's points in The Knowledge Deficit.

Constructivism inevitably leads to drill and kill the minute the state tests roll around. Because constructivists don't know any other way.

ask the cognitive scientist

We don't need experts translating brain research into education.

We need cognitive scientists translating empirical research on learning and memory into education.

need help and information

I recently found out that I might be moving to Anchorage Alaska next august. The Anchorage school district has a pretty good school choice program, and one of the choices they have is Eagle Academy Charter School.

The school supposedly uses Direct Instruction, specifically the Spalding curriculum in english language arts, and Saxon math. They also have grade leveling (pc term for ability grouping), in which students are grouped for their core subjects.

I know we have lots of experience with Saxon math here, but does anyone know anything about Spalding?

I have until March 14th to submit my applications for my kids. I want as much information as possible.

I already know that they kick ass in their test scores, though the school has only been open since 2005. I think a large part of the score difference might be due to the students who enroll there. Alaska's profile of performance does show that they have pretty good scale score growth from year to year though.

The good news is that if I get the assignment, and my kids get in, I will have loads of things to blog about.

DI Math (chapter six)

Chapter Six of Zig's book is now available for download.

As usual, the whole thing is pretty interesting but one of Zig's anecdotes in particular should be of interest to KTM readers. The anecdote concerns the Gunnison school in Utah. It's interesting because the school, while serving an at-risk population, had a low turnover AND a K-6 DI implementation. For math.

The Gunnison school managed to teach all six levels of Connecting Math Concepts and you know how scarce reliable math education data is. I'll let Zig explain the outcome (pp. 44 and 45).

One of the reasons Gunnison had potential to become a spectacular school was that it had a very low student-turnover rate, compared to the other schools we had worked with. We figured that possibly more than 75 percent of the students who began in K or 1 would go through the sixth grade. After the first couple of years, the fifth and sixth grades inherited children who were far above grade level, and these teachers were models of technical proficiency. Students completing the elementary-school sequence were very impressive.

I believed then and believe now that the achievement test results for Gunnison were doctored by the State so the reported scores were substantially lower than what they really were. I say this because the Gunnison sixth graders “scored” around the 58th percentile, slightly above the average of the comparison groups, but Gunnison students performed far above the reported level.

I understand that I’m making an ugly suggestion, particularly since I have no hard evidence. But there is data that may support my suspicion. For example, when the first cohort of children to go from first grade through sixth grade reached the eighth grade, it had the highest scores on the SAT [Ed: SAT-9?] ever recorded in the school. 17 of the 86 children in this class—20 percent—scored at or above the 90th percentile overall. It would be spectacular for five students from the school to achieve such outstanding results. Seventeen is amazing.

This cohort graduated from high school a couple of months before this writing. The group had the highest GPA and the highest number of college scholarships in school history.

Earlier we had engaged in some battles over the way the junior high was to interface with the elementary school. Here’s part of the letter I wrote in 1999 to Rodney Anderson, principal of the elementary school and a really good guy.

I have to meet with … the superintendent. I want the superintendent to know that he has to adjust the Junior High so that it accommodates our students. We didn't go through all the work of accelerating the students so the school district can decelerate them in Junior High. We are giving them gifted kids and precious few low performers. The ground rules are that the district is to respond accordingly.

A specific controversy had to do with math. The elementary school petitioned the junior high to put our graduates directly into algebra, which was traditionally an eighth-grade subject. Our sixth graders had completed the sixth level of our math program, had awesome fifth-grade and sixth-grade math teachers (Loraine Sorenson and Crystal Childs) and performed extremely well.

Both the superintendent and the junior high math teacher argued that seventh graders could not go into algebra. We told them to make up a test of what they needed to know and see if the students could pass it. They made up the test and the students passed it, with no difficulty.

The response from the middle school was an accusation that Crystal cheated, by giving the students the answers. After a couple of go-rounds, the junior high math teacher made up another test with different items. He sent a teacher to monitor the students as they took the test, and Crystal had to leave the classroom during the testing so she would not be able to cheat.

The students passed the test. They not only went into algebra along with the eighth graders; at the end of the term, our seventh graders placed first, second, fourth and fifth in the class.

The only thing that surprises me is that the kids finished up the math course in sixth grade -- they should have finished up in fifth. The other important point is that there is no need for any kind of pre-algebra work. Middle school/junior high math is a waste of student time.

More importantly, high performers can be finished with the CMC scope by the end of third or fourth grade and be ready to go right into algebra. There they can explore and do all the deep-thinking the school wants them to do.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

buzzword education

Wikipedia has an interesting entry on buzzwords. Buzzwords may sound impressive but have an unclear meaning. Wikipedia says: "Buzzwords are typically intended to impress one's audience with the pretense of knowledge. For this reason, they are often universal. They typically make sentences difficult to dispute, on account of their cloudy meaning."

Buzzwords should not be confused with jargon. For the most part, jargon has a well-defined technical meaning, at least to the initiated. On the other hand, buzzwords not only obscure meaning, but "can also function to control thought by being intentionally vague." As Wikipedia puts it: "In management, stating organizational goals by using words with unclear meanings prevents anybody from questioning the directions and intentions of these decisions..."

What is true for management is true for education to a high degree. Education presents a veritable cornucopia of buzzwords with vague meanings. They form the feeble corpus of the educationist Thoughtworld that would be a corpse in a more rational world. (Thoughtworld is a term coined by E. D. Hirsch to describe the nebulous educationist thought complex).

Ed schools are a rich generator of educationist fog, blasting prodigious quantities of fog into the air the way Mount Pinatubo might spew massive amounts of ash into the air until the sun is reduced to a faint glow.

And yet, astonishingly and improbably, we are asked to believe that the massive amounts of fog mixed with toxic fumes emitted by ed schools magically stop at the schoolhouse door.

It's been claimed by some, including Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews (see The Ed School Disease, Part Two) commenting on educational historian David F. Labaree's new book, "The Trouble With Ed Schools," that ed schools may be pitiful institutions and the butt of jokes, but there is no need to worry. They are not doing any harm: "Why worry about ed schools if they don't do any harm, or any good?" Mathews avers:

What I said in that column was that I had been in a lot of classrooms and had rarely seen much of this guide on the side stuff. I wasn't saying I was happy about it. We have never given the Deweyites a fair test of their theories, and I know of a few schools that have used child-centered learning to good effect. Labaree's insight is powerful and useful all the same: why worry about ed schools if they don't do any harm, or any good?
The blindness revealed in this statement is astonishing. Could armies of new teachers and educational leaders who go through the rigorous ed school indoctrination process really emerge unscathed? Not very likely.

When attempting to write about the harm done by ed school ideology, it is hard to know where to begin. One could start with relatively minor topics like the preachments about the unimportance of correct spelling and the alleged benefits of invented spelling. One could start with the promotion of disastrous creeds like constructivism that are reflected in curricula and teaching methods, and form the core of ed school ideology.

A perusal of mission and vision statements of schools show how deeply entrenched ed school ideology is in the thinking of educationists who run the schools. Take, for example, Chicago's so-called Renaissance schools. Classrooms need to be heterogeneous, disciplines must be integrated, collaborative groups must engage in peer teaching, math and science must be learned by inquiry and discovery without coherent textbooks and so on. Among my many favorites is the Al Raby school:

Educational Philosphy
The Al Raby School will embody a constructivist approach to learning. Learning will be an active process; our teachers will use lecture style instruction and worksheets sparingly. All teachers will stress collaborative groups as well as individual initiative, striving to make the classroom a model democratic community where students have choices and responsibilities. Based on a large body of research, we believe that for true comprehension and retention to occur the learning must be relevant, active and reflective.
Many of these new Chicago schools receive money from the Gates Foundation.

It is also wrong for Mathews to focus solely on what teachers may or may not do. Teachers are not free agents. They must work under the contraints imposed from above. In many schools, this means having to work with fuzzy math textbooks like TERC, Trailblazers, Connected Math, CorePlus, all execrable fuzzy math programs. The CMP teacher manual tells teachers not to provide explicit instruction. Math teachers I've talked to either follow this dictum or are agonizing over it. Often it can mean working with no textbooks at all. Periodically, an ed school-indoctrinated leadership comes in and orders the removal of textbooks and workbooks from classrooms. These are then given away or end up in the trash.

One of the pernicious effects of ed school ideology is how it produces an indoctrinated cadre for top leadership positions which then has the power to impose constructivist texts and practices on schools, like Chicago's CMSI. This cadre could be anything from superintendents to board members to curriculum and instruction experts to principals and supervisory bodies.

The message from this cadre is that explicit instruction should be minimized or avoided altogether; that worksheets (one of the hands-on activities that make sense) should be avoided like the plague [one reason for the highly restricted photocopying allotment given to teachers here in Chicago]; that textbooks are evil incarnate and prevent teachers from being "creative".

On top of everything, overworked and frazzled teachers are expected to reinvent the wheel every day. Since many elementary teachers are not well-educated to begin with (e.g. a pathetic knowledge of history, geography and science), the one source of knowledge (textbooks) that could be a corrective is foreclosed. So you have instances of textbook-free schools. Schools without basals (hated by educationists), history and science textbooks, except for science "inquiry" manuals.

Part of this hatred for textbooks is the belief -- a component of ed school ideology -- that "information" (this is how educationists view knowledge) is exploding like supernovae, and what is true today is hopelessly obsolete tomorrow. Another reason is plain educationist disdain for facts. It interferes with "critical thinking" and "creativity" and stunts the mind.

One can see the hand of ed school ideology everywhere in school. At least I see it everywhere. I see it when DEAR (Drop Everything and Read insipid, vacuous and vapid fiction) is the first thing on the agenda in the morning when students are most receptive for more substantial stuff. This reading then takes place silently for an hour without teacher feedback. I see it in block scheduling to provide ample opportunity for time-wasting activities. I see it in contrived interdisciplinary instruction and in coloring and more coloring. I see the hand of ed school ideology indirectly when new elementary teacher candidates are released from the citadel of anti-intellectualism with scant knowledge of math, science, history, geography, grammar and languages, and subsequently validated by laughable state "content" tests. The list goes on and on...

ask the instructivist

Constructivism is to education what creationism is to science.

education quotes

Today I am going to do something different. Here are some quotes from around the education blogosphere.

"Today, educators are better at making excuses and inventing phony disabilities than they are at making educated students." D-EdReckoning

"If we, as teachers, explore the notion of letting go the past and our fear of lost autonomy - in a profession which just might be clinging too tightly to the ideal of individuality for employees over the general welfare/benefit of its consumers - what might we accomplish?" RedKudu

"Public education: Turning our kids into babbling idiots, one by one." Right Wing Professor

"After having done the work to earn a Masters a few years ago, and never hearing about Direct Instruction once during that process, while having some other stuff thrown at me that was pure crap, this makes me a little angry." Dennis Fermoyle

"It’s hard to build on your knowledge if you don’t know much." Joanne Jacobs

"Constructivism is to education what creationism is to science." Instructivist

lessons from the reading wars

So you think the reading wars are over? Do you think phonics won? Do you think that educators were cowed by the reading research that showed that their favored methods didn't work? Do you think that educators balanced their crappy whole language programs with real phonics?

Think again.

The Feds implemented Reading First to force educators to adopt Reading Programs based on scientific research. The Feds offered educators lots of grant money provided they adopt reading programs that were consistent with the research on reading. To effect Reading First, the feds:

sponsored three major reading academies, the Secretary’s Reading Leadership Academies (RLAs). The RLAs were held in Washington, D.C., in January and February 2002, and hosted policymakers and key education leaders from every state and territory in the nation. The academies were designed to help state leaders gear up for the implementation of Reading First, the Department’s program to improve the quality of reading instruction in kindergarten through third grade.
The RLA's included a session entitled “Theory to Practice: A Panel of Practitioners.” in which:
The speakers discussed how implementing a scientifically based reading program had brought about great improvements in the reading skills of their kindergarten through third grade students.

The a majority of the panel consisted of principals who had implemented either the Direct Instruction (DI) reading program or the Open Court reading program, two of only three programs that have been research validated.

After the RLA sessions the "policymakers and key education leaders from every state and territory in the nation" had an opportunity to comment on the RLA sessions by filling out evaluation forms.

Normally, such evaluation forms are maintained in confidence and I suspect that the attendees never expected that their comments would come to light. But then a little thing happened on the way to the teachers' lounge ....

The Department of Education's internal auditing department, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) audited the Reading First program. (I'll have a post on the merits of this latest OIG audit in an upcoming post (quick take: it is laughable).) As part of that audit, they reviewed the evaluation forms submitted by the policymakers and key education leaders from every state and territory in the nation. And now as part of the OIG's Final Audit Report February 2007 you can see some of their comments in all their glory. See pages 25-39.

A few points immediately jump out. Many of these policymakers and key educators:

1. have not accepted the reading research and are not willing to abandon their beloved whole language programs.

2. were a hostile audience.

3. intensely hate DI and open court, i.e., the reading programs that have been validated by reading research.

4. were conspiring behind the scenes to give the impression that DoE was trying to force them to adopt specific curricula.

5. Know all the cliches very well.

These are THE state level policy makers and education leaders, not a bunch of powerless teachers or academic ideologues. These are the people who make the education policy in your state. From, these comments, it is clear that they won't be abandoning their beloved whole language anytime soon. At least not willingly.

And the research for reading is much further advanced than it is for math. Consider this a preview of the math wars five years hence.