May 2007 Education Subcommittee Meeting - Loose Transcription
Please note this is not an exact transcript and you should not quote it as if it's what was exactly said. My notes got more involved as they went on, but I still just summarized at times. If you want to listen to the full audio here's the link: Listen to segment 5 on this page.
Nicole Paulson (State Math Curriculum Director):
Focus groups were held throughout the state
Elementary core is 2 months ahead—In April there were public hearings on the elementary standards
External review occurred as well
June-presentation to state board for final approval
June-request permission for public hearings
Standards will be for implementation of 07-08 school year
Content reviewed against other states and nations
Clarity and coherence is significantly increased in the math standards
Thanks the committee, Patti Harrington for bringing in the state school board, Russell Thompson for chairing the committee, external reviewers were excellent, Nicole Paulson for getting the standards done.
David thinks they’re very good standards and has the support of the state office of education and teachers in the state and the NCTM focal points.
Margaret Dayton: How does the Investigations math controversy play out in all of this especially in light of how one of our local district superintendents has called parents extremists for being opposed to Investigations math?
Nicole Paulson: In regards to Investigations, it is instructional material. Our core document describes what students should know and be able to do. They are entirely different. Teachers may use instructional materials to meet those standards. Any primary instructional materials purchased after 7/1 has to undergo a third party core alignment. Districts still have local control to determine what programs to use in their classrooms.
Rep. Newbold: What were some of the changes made to the core?
Nicole: A few examples, moved some requirements from 6th grade to 5th such as surface area and volume –based on NCTM’s focal points. Another NCTM point had specific requirements for having quick recall of basic facts by 4th grade. 2nd grade is quick recall of addition and subtraction facts. Transformations on a grid moved from 5th to 6th to accommodate additional depth for 5th grade concepts.
Rep. Newbold: I’ve heard the former core is wide and not deep. Did we reduce the number of concepts so we have greater depth?
Nicole: Yes. We have reduced concepts so we can have more depth.
Draft is online from elementary and secondary web pages. (here's a link)
Senator Madsen: We had a projection on the wall when we took this up before and it showed some of the math concepts in the former standards were actually false or incomplete. Am I recalling that correctly?
David Wright: Yes that’s correct. There were problems with the state core and problems in the standardized tests. The thing we had going for us was there were two mathematicians on the elementary committee, Hugo Rossi and myself. The group worked well and listened to each other. In the past there have not been mathematicians but only math educators and now the document is much better than in the past.
Senator Madsen: It would be nice to think we’ve cured those most glaring instances where before the concept was just wrong. You said you looked at other states that were high performing. That’s great if we’re on par with the better states, but how does this compare in the global context because we’re sending our kids out to compete with the best of India, China and European countries and they are really performing well, so where are we in the global context?
David Wright: The standards are good enough and this is a good foundation but there’s more to education than just standards. Now we need qualified teachers and the standards are the basis of professional development and we need training on math content. Pedagogy is good but we need training on math content. The other thing that needs to happen is good end of level tests. If we do all this work and have bad end of level tests, what’s it going to do for us? I’d like to recommend that end of level tests be given and turned over to the students every year. Right now they’re kept secret, but to be useful the student needs to be able to take the test home and show the parents so they can see where they did well or had short-fallings.
Senator Madsen: What is the model we’re seeking after to incorporate pedagogy and content? Do we want teachers to learn pedagogy in college and content later or vice-versa?
David Wright: To discuss abstract childhood learning for math should involve some substantial mathematics. They (pedagogy and content) go hand in hand, but there are extreme philosophies that push hands on learning and manipulatives beyond what they should be. There needs to be a fair amount of direct instruction and a fair amount of homework. You could even call it drill but that’s a bad word in the educational community. They need sufficient time on the subject just like music or sports players do. Good teaching comes from good understanding.
Unknown (stated he's in ASD): Is Investigations math supplemental material and not core material?
Nicole: All textbook companies material are instructional to teach the core standards.
Unknown: Has Investigations been mapped to the core?
Nicole: Each new edition of textbooks are aligned to the core curriculum.
Unknown: So you wouldn’t know if it’s been mapped, you set up the process but don’t monitor teachers.
Nicole: Well the '03 edition they submitted said 80% of it matched the previous core document. There’s also other components the committees look at like the durability of the document. The '05 edition they found it did NOT meet the standards and recommended it for supplement only. The '08 edition will now go through an alignment process.
Unknown: So is the threshold 80% alignment to be able to use as an approved text?
Unknown: So at 80% that means 20% is missing from the curriculum?
Nicole: That’s where teachers come in and realize what’s missing and to teach the gaps so they supplement.
Unknown: So in the '03 edition they would have to supplement with 20% other materials.
Nicole: Correct, but most texts are not at 100%.
Unknown: I’m just curious where Saxon comes in with the core.
Nicole: If I’m remembering correctly, that wasn’t recommended primary as well because the content that was addressed met 80% or more, but with that the two you mention have very different methodologies of teaching.
Unknown: (interrupt) Yes they do!
Nicole: That’s described on the site so when districts look at the materials they can make judgments.
Unknown: Could we have Mr. Wright comment on those questions?
David: What I’d like to see is a way of having good instructional materials to go with a good state core. That will be difficult to regulate. Most elementary texts have most of the topics but it’s whether they do it in a deep or shallow way. We’d like to have texts that are teacher proof, but what we need are teachers that are textbook proof. The investigations book has come out with a new edition. They are out of line with what’s going on nationally and NCTM is pushing standard algorithms and now they are reluctantly putting them in there…maybe not with a lot of enthusiasm, but it’s in there so they’ll get a check mark for being “in there”. I’m not a real fan of Saxon but I like it a lot better than Investigations. The important thing is to get teachers to think mathematically. The best thing is to have good end of level exams. There are other things we need to do well and a lot of the problems will go away if we just focus on them.
Senator Dayton: Last session we funded a bill on professional development based on content, what happened to it?
Nicole Paulson: Bill passed out of senate but didn’t get to the house, it did not pass and it was also entirely based on content knowledge of 4-6 teachers.
Senator Dayton: I felt it was appropriate to go based on your recommendations.
David Wright: Our committee doesn’t have a charge to do that. It would be appropriate to keep some of our committee involved after the standards are revised to address development issues. It’s important to have mathematicians as part of the equation (no pun intended I’m sure). We are not the complete answer, but we have something to offer and I think there are other mathematicians who would be willing to support this.
Senator Stephenson: I remember a report from a year ago, this discussion was not as comfortable as this one today. We appreciate your work to bring these standards forward. Based on your comments I understand we need mathematicians who can teach regardless of what the textbook does and teach effectively. We had an earlier meeting today about getting teachers paid as much as 80% more with current resources and with differential pay we may have math and science teachers making $80-100,000 in this state and maybe then we can really start competing with the private sector and maybe then people will go to school with the desire to be a math teacher instead of working for Evans and Sutherland. So we’re trying to do what we can there and maybe next year at this time we’ll have something in place that will attract qualified teachers.
We talked a year ago about comparing our standards to Singapore and California. Dr. Wright how would you compare these new standards to Singapore and CA.
David Wright: Our standards are good, but they don’t have the clarity of California’s standards. However some of our standards are better particularly when we discussed with Dr. Wu one of the external reviewers who worked on the CA standards the importance of the number line and other items. If these were given to the Fordham Foundation they might get a B rating, I’d like to get an A rating but we have to start somewhere. If we adopt CA standards there would be a lot of rebellion among teachers having something forced on them where they weren’t part of the process. As I said earlier, end of level tests and professional development are also important to the process and I think that we have the potential in this state to do very well indeed. We have great teachers in Utah who will get the job done.
Discussion on tests…
Senator Stephenson: I’m a little chagrined that there’s politics in the math community that prevents us from getting to world class standards. What I’ve heard you say is we’ve got pretty good standards in a pretty great state.
Closing thanks. End of meeting.
Investigations Math Menu
** Most important pages to read (all have value but if you will only read
a few pages make it these)
* Very important