kitchen table math, the sequel: the plot thickens

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

the plot thickens

Following the Palo Alto, I find this comment from "5th grade teachers":

At the 1st Committee meeting: 5th grade teachers preferred SRA and Harcourt over the others (neither book was selected for piloting)

2nd Committee meeting: 5th grade teachers still preferred SRA and had nothing positive to say about Everyday Math ("lacking depth" "hard to figure out" "illogical connection to resources" "disconnect between teaching concepts and student practice")

4th Committee meeting (after piloting): 5th grade teachers continued to dislike Everyday Math by a wide margin grading EDM inferior in all categories (long list of reasons including "not much practice," "extremely hard to navigate," "has a lot of stuff that is not addressed in our standards," "teacher-unfriendly," "hard transition to 6th grade," and "spiraling was too broad and too much for kids.")

And here is a later comment by "reality":

[T]he teachers didn't vote overwhelmingly for EDM in a vacuum. They voted overwhelmingly for EDM instead of EnVisions, which is the TERC offering, isn't it? So given those two choices, and not being allowed to vote for the programs they asked for that were cut out for some reason, they voted for EDM. Not really much of a choice, if you think about it.

Could we please just step back and get some answers about why the fifth grade teachers' input was so resoundingly ignored when the committee narrowed down the choices to a vote? This is not disrespect for teachers. This is asking to be given a rational explanation (and one may exist for all we know) for why those two were the curricula in the final cut.

ignoring parents in Palo Alto
welcome to the Grand Canyon
a teacher-mom on Everyday Math
the plot thickens
Steven H on Everyday Math in Palo Alto

where parents get their information
"reality" in Palo Alto

Parents frustrated over math texts
Teacher committee recommends new math text
Ed Week on the ed wars

interview with my cousin re: her experience with EM


concerned said...

Sounds like the 5th grade teachers know what they need but for some reason district officials are not listening to them either!


I wonder if there's a grant waiting to be awarded once they've selected EM.

(Something to make the snake oil a little "oiler" maybe)

Catherine Johnson said...

What do you think is going on out there?

The post on committees was removed due to the commenter using multiple names (I've never seen that practice before).

But a couple of other commenters there seem to give it credence...

I emailed the reporter asking him/her to find out---

There seems to be a back story.

concerned said...

I've been on a few textbook selection committees over the years. In the last 10-12 years, there's been a real push to force the selection of certain texts.

Why? I honestly don't know, but I believe that it is a very concerted effort.

Typically teachers are invited to evaluate the texts, but most likely the documents used to collect and organize the information are so skewed, that a text lacking conten will surely win out.

During the last text adoption, I decided which text was best first, then I filled in the scoring guide so it had the highest possibe marks in all categories and all the other texts ranked extremely low.

I just refused to rate them according to the "criteria" listed because it was so bizarre!

Content and coherence were only part of a very small category that was weighted lightly overall. There was no way the evaluation sheet could bring a text with quality content to the forefront.

It was totally ridiculous!

I'm sure that these teachers are going through a similar experience.

This is how curriculum leaders, who typically don't know the subject, drive the selection process - they place the focus on all the other "stuff"

The parents and the school board members should just ask individual teachers DIRECTLY which text/program they believe is best for the students.

Catherine Johnson said...

This is terrifically helpful.

Ed and I both have felt, for some time now, that schools should not have curriculum directors.

Actually, Ed has ALWAYS thought that. As a professor & disciplinary specialist he thinks it's appalling that a curriculum director with no expertise in a particular subject matter would be deciding curriculum.

r. r. vlorbik said...

textbooks are a racket run by gangsters.
once you're selling to a captive audience,
the opportunities for corruption are
huge and obvious and naturally will not go
overlooked by the ruthless machines
ruling the world.

these guys are just supposed to make it
easier for you to live with yourselves
when you pay up at collections time.
by getting you to look the other way, i guess.

if this system *wanted* cheap tools that worked,
good heavens, don't you think they'd know
where to *find* 'em?