kitchen table math, the sequel: SAFMEDS instructions

Monday, December 5, 2011

SAFMEDS instructions

SAFMEDS = Say All Fast a Minute Each Day

SAFMEDS on the web

The best set of directions I've seen so far: SAFMEDS cards: Instructions - begins with the words: "I’m going to show you a method that will make it easier to learn the NEW terms (i.e., facts or rules) contained in the CLM Course of Study."

Is Fluency Free-Operant Response-Response Chaining? by Ogden R. Lindsley - inventor of SAFMEDS; explains the rationale

Ogden R Lindsley and the History of Precision Teaching

update: Youtube video explaining SAFMEDS -- and, about 6 minutes in, celeration charts


RMD said...

I put a substantial amount of time and effort into SAFMEDS, and I know the PT folks say its the best way. But I haven't found anything that can beat a good SRS system (Spaced Repetition System).

An SRS is substantially more efficient because it only tests you on a portion of the material you need to know. And it's more powerful because from one flashcard you can test all modalities (verbal to written, written to written, both directions).

Glen said...


WashPo stands up and speaks out against those darned standardized tests

SteveH said...

Glen, my antivirus software gives me this message when I follow that link.

"Malicious Web Site Blocked"

palisadesk said...

I got an error message on the link but it turned out that the URL was mis-typed.

Try this:

WaPo article

That should work.

Glen said...

Thanks, Palisadesk. Yes, that's the article. Sorry, I accidentally inserted a double "http://" at the beginning of the URL.

The Post's Education Page is hosting a guest expert "curriculum designer" who complains that even a smart school board member with "lots of degrees" can't pass the state test, so it's time for heroic teachers and administrators to fight back against these "corporately driven" standardized tests.

School board member: “I can’t escape the conclusion that decisions about the [state test] in particular and standardized tests in general are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.”

Wash Post expert: There you have it. A concise summary of what’s wrong with present corporately driven education change: Decisions are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.

Those decisions are shaped not by knowledge or understanding of educating, but by ideology, politics, hubris, greed, ignorance, the conventional wisdom, and various combinations thereof. And then they’re sold to the public by the rich and powerful.

rocky said...

Ok, let's hear it.

I am a school board member. I have a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate, and I am not smarter than a 10th grader.

TerriW said...

Good thing that guy (or gal, didn't catch) didn't try taking the SAT or I think his head might have exploded.

Jen said...

Actually, I bet that he'd recognize the SAT material and format much more.

State tests can be ridiculously specific about things that no one else ever learns. In my state, 5th graders are expected to know that 1 is neither prime nor composite. I mean, yes, good to know -- but is it really a state level vital fact for 10 year olds?

On the 11th grade version, you have to know what a stem and leaf plot is as well.

Again, neither of those things are bad things to know, of course, but are they really *the* specifics you want on a test of grade level ability?

Glen said...

I can't help wondering if math, above the arithmetic level, will eventually go the way of Latin in our K-12 schools. Or maybe just join French as another of those elective subjects for a few geeks and heritage learners ("My dad is a math guy") but certainly not required of "normal people from normal families" who, as everybody knows, have no use for either in the real world.

How long before highly-credentialed educators like this school board guy, who knew the correct answer to ZERO of the 60 math questions, and whose many "successful" and "influential" friends can't do math either and don't care, decide that it really isn't worth teaching more than simple arithmetic to most kids?

SteveH said...

"Winerip writes: “As of last night, 658 principals around the state (New York) had signed a letter — 488 of them from Long Island, where the insurrection began — protesting the use of students’ test scores to evaluate teachers’ and principals’ performance.” "

The author is really not concerned about students. The concern is for teachers. Apparently, there is no basis for deciding whether teachers or schools are doing a good job or not. The tests are invalid and the teachers are humiliated, but I see little concern here for the students. You would think that they would be all for letting the money follow students to schools that are meaningful to each individual. No. It's about them, not the students. They know things are screwed up, but don't you dare allow kids (money) to escape their grasp.

BTW, in our state, the tests are all written by and the scoring calibrated by teachers. Some of the questions are fuzzy, but they are still simple. Has anyone bothered uploading some of the questions this guy had trouble with? I remember going to an open house that talked about our state test years ago and NOBODY looked at the sample test questions. They all looked at relative changes in scores from year to year. When I asked to see the questions, they thought I was strange. The questions were simple and the cutoff for proficiency was extraordinarily low.

I would call their bluff. Publish the test. Define the percent correct raw score required for proficiency. At what level does the school tell a student that he/she is not ‘college material’? Everyone is college material these days. The base level classes at our high school is "college prep".

Does he expect that kids will be better prepared for college without any standardized test feedback? That really isn't the case. Schools test kids. There has always been testing. So what is his real problem?

Karen W said...

I didn't see in the article which FCAT he took, but I did look at released exams at

They do not look like particularly difficult or tricky reading selections or questions to me.

English exercises said...

being the consummate teacher, did not give me a quick and facile answer but rather a [detailed and elegant discussion of SAFMEDS and instruction

Glen said...

Ah! Answers to the mystery. The "very successful" man with the big house in a nice neighborhood and "fully paid for condo in the Caribbean" who could not answer EVEN A SINGLE QUESTION on the 10th grade math test. How could it be?

What the Washington Post chose to describe as a very successful professional who has now chosen to serve his community as a school board member in his retirement and manages to get along so well with school administrators is not some former corporate CEO but a retired school administrator. They told us he had a "bachelors of science" degree, choosing that description over "bachelors in education"...for some reason. His "two masters degrees"? Also in education.

So a lifelong educrat is presented to readers as just a typical, very successful, highly-credentialed, wealthy retired professional from the community who discovers a major contradiction between the skills that have made him such a success in the professional world and the crazy things going on in the world of education.

Since he couldn't answer even a single math question on the test, despite outstanding professional credentials, the test was obviously meaningless, right?

Or, could it be, that they intentionally neglected to mention that all of those credentials were in education so we wouldn't suspect the other possibility: that it is ed school credentials that are meaningless?

After looking at a selection of the questions, not one of which he could answer, and given his comment about how his professional friends (many of whom must be ed school grads, too) couldn't answer questions like these either, I think I have my answer.

After being flummoxed by questions about areas of rectangles, rates, percentages and other pre-algebra basics, he concludes,

"It makes no sense to me that a test with the potential for shaping a student’s entire future has so little apparent relevance to adult, real-world functioning. Who decided the kind of questions and their level of difficulty?"

The Post answers that obviously questions such as these would not have been created by trained educational professionals.

Apparently not.

SteveH said...

This reflects what I have found in both the public and private schools my son has been in. I've seen a fundamental difference in educational expectations. Certain things can't be discussed because they point directly to this educational expectation gap. We're not on the same page. We're not in the same book. It makes the discussion of critical thinking and understanding in math so much more intolerable. They haven't a clue what they are talking about. In fact, there is disdain shown for parents with STEM backgrounds. It's an arrogance of turf.

My son's Kindergarten teacher dismissed his ability to read, claiming that many kids can read encyclopedias, but they don't understand anything. His first grade teacher claimed that he had a lot of "superficial knowledge". They also told us parents in an open house about the glories of MathLand, which was so bad that you can't find any trace of it on the web (except for the remaining bad comments). Kids in first grade could barely write, but his teacher was concerned about having kids find their "voice".

Kids get to fifth grade without knowing the times table and still, they trust the spiral. Teachers complain about what walks in their door, but they don't try to change what happens in the earlier grades. They accept little responsibility for learning at any level and point to the kids who are successful without wanting to know the details. It's more than turning off the TV and taking the kids to museums.

At least in high school, reality forces schools out of educational dreamland. For many students, it's too late, but it's then so easy to blame them. Worse, kids blame themselves.

Hianish said...

Another fine takedown can be found here:

ChemProf said...

If you hear anyone talk about a "bachelor of science degree" without naming a major or credits toward a "doctorate" (which makes sense for an EdD, but not the PhD), you know that person is in education.

Anonymous said...

But spending so much time in the land of education would explain the weak reading skills. The stuff you have to "read" in pursuit of advanced degrees in education induces a kind of impairment in those few who arrive unimpaired. The words don't actually mean anything and if you attempt to read them as if they did, you can injure yourself. So you learn to turn off the part of your brain that used to do active reading and you let the meaningless slop just sort of wash around you. People who aren't willing to do that generally don't pursue degrees in education.