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Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment

Empowering Parents – Not Bureaucrats

Author

Jenni White - Education Director

Jenni is married to David White, an electrical engineer. They have 2 girls and 2 boys (Bryna/1983, Betty/2001, Coleman/2002 and Sam/2004) the youngest three of whom she has schooled at home since 2010. She earned a Master's Degree in Biology from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she honed her research skills on such interesting subjects as Mexican free-tailed bats and north American river otter before becoming a high school science teacher. After a stint as an Epidemiology for the Oklahoma State Health Department, Jenni went back to teaching as a 7th grade science teacher on the same team with her mother, an English teacher, before retiring to stay home with her children. As a stay-at-home mom involved in her children's educations, Jenni became increasingly aware of how poor even their Blue Ribbon public elementary was becoming. Her concerns gave rise to Restore Oklahoma Public Education and spawned several highly detailed research papers on the Common Core State Standards Initiative and the State Longitudinal Database System. Today, she writes, blogs, researches and lobbies with other members of the ROPE board who helped stop the implementation of Common Core in Oklahoma in spring of 2014. Her original writing and research has been published in American Thinker, School Reform News and cited in various national publications. Jenni has been a radio guest on the Laura Ingraham Show, The Sam Sorbo Show (Talk Radio Network), Sandy Rios in the Morning (American Family Radio), The Glenn Beck Show with host Dana Loesch, and was a panelist with Matt Kibbe, David Barton and Oklahoma Senator Josh Brecheen for Glenn Beck's We Will Not Conform Live event. She has also been a guest on numerous local radio programs across Oklahoma and nationally from Colorado to Alabama. Privileged to be invited to speak in any venue, Jenni has spoken before the Council for National Policy, Eagle Forum Policy Council, State Policy Network, the Republican National Committee, Reclaiming America for Christ, Clouds Over America, Teaching Parents Association (Kansas) and to groups all across Oklahoma as well as in Iowa, South Dakota and Utah. Several national publications including the New York Times, The Guardian U.K., Breitbart News, The Federalist, The Blaze, National Review and the Daily Caller have interviewed her for stories related to her research on Common Core. Both humbled and delighted, Jenni has accepted the "Statesman Of The Year" award from the Bott Radio Network, the "Americanist" award from the John Birch Society, an "Eagle" Award from Phyllis Schlafly and the Frederick Douglass Award given to all ROPE Board members by Oklahoma grassroots activists at the Second Annual Defenders of Liberty awards ceremony. Jenni is a Constitutional Conservative, who attends Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond.

Repealing Common Core Means Nothing If Oklahoma’s New Academic Standards Are Not Better than Common Core

 

Save our standards without text

Restore Oklahoma Public Education (now Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment) concluded a near five year odyssey dedicated to the task of repealing the Common Core State Standards in our state, when the ink from Governor Fallin’s pen dried on HB3399 in June 2014.

As directed by the bill, the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) was to immediately begin the process of creating new educational standards for English/Language Arts and Mathematics to replace the Common Core Standards adopted by the Oklahoma State Board of Education as directed by SB2033 in 2010. The final drafts of the new standards were to be completed by the OSDE in August of 2016 with copies presented to the Oklahoma legislature prior to the February start of that year’s legislative session.

Unfortunately, though the standards development process was begun immediately, it quickly became waylaid by Oklahoma’s 2014 elections, which saw the selection of a new State Superintendent of Instruction after a contentious race.

Formally installed as Superintendent in January 2015, Joy Hofmeister’s Department of Education scrapped the work done by the previous administration and re-booted work on the new Oklahoma Education Standards process in February 2015 when the Oklahoma Standards Steering Committee (formed in September 2014) heard testimony from standards writing experts Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. Lawrence Gray.

Dr. Stotsky is credited with developing the country’s strongest English/Language Arts standards while serving as the Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Education (1999-2003). Dr. Lawrence Gray, professor of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota, is credited with developing the country’s strongest Mathematics standards (2003).

In providing excerpts of the OAS reviews as follows, I will only outline the issues listed as concerns by the reviewers as those that have been praised do not need addressing. Additionally, though there were documents including public feedback by education ‘stakeholders’ linked to every draft, these were commonly one line comments that generally did not provide enough solid critique to be considered helpful to either the public at large or the Oklahoma Legislature, who must sign off on the new OAS.

FIRST DRAFT OAS – JUNE

Following the presentations of the standards experts, the Oklahoma process was begun in earnest with the first draft of the Oklahoma Academic Standards (OAS) released in June of 2015. Immediately, ROPE put out the call for anyone interested in reviewing the standards to do so.

We asked for specific comments on the standards to be made in the blog comments and many did so, with the largest concern being the “VAGUENESS” of the standards. From Lorraine:

Oklahoma’s ‘standards’ are not clear, thus not clearly made accessible for a variety of students.

Reviews for the first set of standards reviews were placed on the OSDE website. Though several sets of reviews were provided, none were really instructive excepting that of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

ROPE sought reviews of several teachers which were placed on the OSDE website. More substantial reviews from five different educators can be found here. One, concerning the Math OAS from Dr. James Milgram, Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University, was copied onto the ROPE blog. A commenter to the post simply says this,

As disturbing as this article is, I find it almost comforting. Comforting to know that someone else out there AGREES WITH ME! The standards are poorly written.

Dr. Sandra Stotsky reviewed the English/Language Arts standards and says,

The organization of that draft isn’t useful for what needs to be done to provide non-Common Core standards. Right now, what you have is very close to being compatible with Common Core and a Common Core-based test. OK kids deserve better.

J.R. Wilson, one of the founders of Truth in American Education and Where’s The Math says of the math standards,

The standards are not written in a clear and concise manner….The standards document would be well served by simply listing clear and concise pedagogy free standards….To be world class, it needs lots of improvement.

Dr. Barbara McClanahan, Associate Professor of Educational Instruction and Leadership, Southeastern State University says,

One other concern that my colleague had was that there should be a glossary; she fears that not all teachers would understand all the terms being used. Another concern I have is that some of the terms have ambiguous meanings. For example, what does grade-specific or grade-appropriate actually mean

Oklahoma State Regents for higher Education says,

I believe that sample problems and classroom activities will be a significant benefit (Math)
The outcome “understand” is vague and should not be used (ELA)

General Complaints Draft 1

ELA:

  • Vague; uses imprecise terminology
  • Needs a glossary of terms

Math:

  • Too much overlap of standards across grades
  • Vague; uses imprecise terminology
  • Needs specific examples of problems
  • Needs a glossary of terms

 

SECOND DRAFT OF OAS JULY

The OSDE website has reviews listed for Dr. Gray, Center for Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI), Shannon Riley-Ayers (Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes), American Institutes for Research (AIR), Partnership for 21st Century (P21), South Central Comprehensives Center Math, ELA (SC3) and Southern Regional Education Board Math, ELA (SREB)

CSAI says,

  • …the Oklahoma ELA standards descriptors tend to be vague and may not be sufficiently granular to adequately describe the skills and abilities students should possess at each grade.
  • Although the progression from one grade to another is largely logical and reasonable, the descriptors within each standard often lack depth, precision, and consistency.
  • These standards should describe a measurable objective in clear and concise terms, and the state might consider including examples to specify what students are expected to do.

P21 says,

…we would urge Oklahoma to fully develop the Sample Problems or Classroom Activities portion of the standards documents, as guides to not direct teachers “how” to teach, but to provide best practices that demonstrate ways to incorporate the 4Cs more deeply into the standards, curriculum and instruction.

SC3 Math says,

We believe teachers will find great value in seeing sample problems or classroom activities immediately associated with the standards to be mastered by students in that grade level.

SC3 ELA says,

Consider including a glossary of key terms to ensure practitioners have a common understanding of key terms.

SREB ELA says,

In the current draft there is not enough clarity in either the reading or writing standards in each of the five standards to justify the inclusion in each standard.

SREB Math says,

Be careful not to suggest in the explanation that “reasonable and appropriate” are new federal terms. A crisp and clear general statement of the standard followed by a listing of specific content and skills intended may cause less confusion to teachers, parents, and the public.

General Complaints Draft 2

ELA:

  • Vague; uses imprecise terminology
  • Not measurable or precise
  • Needs a glossary of terms
  • Needs examples of literary texts at each grade level

Math:

  • Too much overlap of standards across grades
  • Vague; uses imprecise terminology
  • Needs specific examples of problems
  • Needs a glossary of terms

 

THIRD DRAFT OF OAS AUGUST

The list of reviewers for the third OAS draft include Dr. Christopher Yakes (Math), Dr. Sandra Stotsky (ELA), American Institutes For Research (AIR), Oklahoma Educated Workforce Initiative (OEWI – provided by the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce) and the Oklahoma Technical Advisory Committee (OK TAC).

ROPE reprinted much of Stotsky’s comments on our blog, along with comments from Dr. Gray as provided by Oklahoma Watch’s Nate Robison.

Yakes comments were few. Those made were done editorially inside the OAS document. The majority of his comments appeared to deal with specificity in writing and clarity of instruction.

AIR’s review was conducted specifically based upon the OAS and their alignment with employability skills – something that should be far down the totem pole of importance in our opinion and therefore won’t be included in this review.

OEWI listed 50 detailed ELA recommendations and 40 for Mathematics. OEWI says, in part (ELA),

  • Add a detailed glossary of all content specific vocabulary used in the standards to ensure consistent definitions are used instructionally.
  • Add a comprehensive reading list for specific grades or grade bands which aligns to the qualitative and quantitative measures of text to illustrate “grade-level” reading. Provide guidance on text selections.
  • Provide resources/links of recommended sites where current research-based fluency rates and reading levels can be found and used to guide instruction.
  • Provide student exemplar writing samples for each genre at each grade level with the task from which the samples were generated. Provided an annotated copy to identify specific elements of the state’s rubric that is used to score essays. Ideally, provide samples from the continuum of the rubric.

OEWI says, in part (Math);

  • Create examples for each standard. While it needs to be made clear that such examples do not reflect all of the possible problem types that may be encountered on a state assessment, many of the standards lack clarity in terms of student expectations. Example problems allow teachers to better understand the student expectations.
  • Add a detailed glossary of all content specific vocabulary used in the standards to ensure consistent definitions are used instructionally. 
  • Provide resources/links of recommended sites where high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials and additional sample problems may be found, particularly because textbook materials will not yet be available that are aligned to these standards.

OK TAC’s comments were solicited based upon “the perspective of whether the standards would be assessable in future state tests and if the strands and benchmarks can be measured by the state summative assessment.” Robert Terry. Ph.D. Professor, University of Oklahoma writing for OK TAC says,

(ELA) After examining the draft standards, I have concluded that while some of these standards may be assessed at the State level, some clearly cannot, and many will require a change in emphasis from selected-response items to constructed-response items. This will have multiple impacts upon the State system, including increasing costs of item and test development, reduced turn-around time due to the need to have rater-grading, and sufficient investment in computing facilities to handle the technology-enhance items that will be needed.

(Math) Many of these standards are Common Core consistent and item developments for these types of standards have already been released (PARCC, 2013)….This raises several concerns about timing, cost of item development, and cost of technology …asking the why questions (which are good questions to ask) requires CR-type questions which invokes delays in scoring and reporting back to the teachers for instructional purposes. Since the State has requested a quick turn-around on these assessments, it is quite possible that little if any feedback will be returned at the pace Oklahoma teachers have come to expect…some of these standards cannot be easily assessed in a large-scale assessment, if at all.

Stotsky says,

I think the OK drafting committee should be challenged to come up with an example of a literary text that could be used (and how) for every single standard so that teachers understand what reading level is required or desirable at every grade level (and what the standard means). Make it clear these texts are not required; only examples of reading levels. We did that in MA and it helped us to keep out gibberish.

Can’t the ELA committee put in Oklahoma-related reading standards at the high school level- -grades 11 and 12? One standard for texts by major authors born in or who wrote about Oklahoma, and one standard for biographies/autobiographies about famous Oklahomans through history. Aren’t there any recognized authors/texts/people Oklahoma students should know about?

Gray says,

The mixture of Oklahoma and Minnesota standards also created an odd flow in how students progress with mathematical concepts through middle and high school.

General Complaints Draft 3

ELA:

  • Vague; uses imprecise terminology
  • Not measurable or precise; not easily testable
  • Needs a glossary of terms
  • Needs examples of literary texts at each grade level
  • Needs reading/writing lists of Oklahoma authors

Math:

  • Too much overlap of standards across grades; lack of focus on alignment
  • Needs specific examples of problems
  • Needs a glossary of terms
  • Needs resources for teachers to utilize
  • Use of technology makes testing expensive

 

FOURTH DRAFT OF OAS DECEMBER

Reviewers for the OAS fourth draft on the OSDE website included only the OEWI (ELA only), Ms. Shellie Klein (ELA), Dr. Christopher Yakes (Math)

The OEWI says,

  • Create literacy standards for the content areas for grades 6-12. These disciplinary literacy standards should encompass all disciplines across a student’s course of study.
  • Add a comprehensive reading list for specific grades or grade bands which aligns to the qualitative and quantitative measures of text to illustrate “grade-level” reading. Provide guidance on text selections. 
  • Provide resources/links of recommended sites where current research-based fluency rates can be found and used to guide instruction.
  • Provide student exemplar writing samples for each genre at each grade level with the task from which the samples were generated. Provide an annotated copy to identify specific elements of the state’s rubric that is used to score essays. Ideally, provide samples from the continuum of the rubric. 

Shellie Klein (we’re not told her affiliation or credentials on the link) says,

  • My main concern is that for some standards, there is not sufficient specificity at each grade level to ensure a steady progression or consistency across schools and classrooms
  • Some standards need additional clarification, while the language in others can be simplified.
  • Glossary: suggest adding definitions for academic vocabulary and for informative/explanatory writing

Dr. Yakes’s critiques are specific to several specific standards, indicating the ways in which they needed to be changed to make more sense to teachers and students. He also adds a review of the Mathematics Glossary in which many of the terms need to be revised and numerous terms need to be added.

Dr.’s Stotsky and Gray submitted their reviews of the final ELA and Mathematics Oklahoma Academic Standards as presented to the Oklahoma State Legislature. They have been uploaded to our Scribd account and can be accessed through the links via their names.

Dr. Stotsky says,

  • The default strands in the proposed standards that could contain these progressions of content-rich standards do not have the content necessary for developing the knowledge base for critical reading, thinking, and writing (e.g., Vocabulary, Critical Reading and Writing and Multimodal Literacies).
  • The proposed standards are purported to be written by Oklahomans for Oklahomans. Yet, one looks in vain for standards that expect future taxpayers in Oklahoma to become familiar with some of the significant texts, people, movements, or events in the state’s political, literary, and intellectual history.
  • Nowhere does one find the only clear content that was in Common Core’s High School ELA Standards. Its standards required study of this country’s founding and seminal documents.
  • The proposed standards fail on the most important issue of all. Some significant content has to be taught to them if they are to see themselves and those they know sharing a state and a country together. Common Core’s ELA standards were not quite as empty as these proposed standards are. This document is completely empty. An empty document does not develop young minds, or help teachers to develop a sound and rigorous curriculum.

Dr. Gray says,

  • We have identified well over one hundred items that need to be fixed. Many of them can be made acceptable by a small amount of rewriting or by being eliminated altogether. But there are quite a few important issues in the document that cannot be repaired with simple rewrites, because they involve many connected items. These connections run both horizontally (within a grade level) and vertically (from one grade level to the next). It is impossible to suitably fix the document with supplementary material or errata sheets.
  • In order to help us achieve focus in Minnesota we carefully followed most of the guidelines in the CTM Curriculum Focal Points…Unfortunately, it does not appear that the Oklahoma draft adhered very closely to such principles.
  • We noticed several instances in the Oklahoma document where expectations were essentially repeated at multiple grade levels, presumably in an attempt to maintain alignment across grade levels, but focus was lost in the process.

General Complaints Final Draft (draft 4)

ELA:

  • Vague; uses imprecise terminology
  • Not measurable or precise; not easily testable
  • Needs more work on glossary of terms
  • Needs examples of literary texts at each grade level
  • Needs reading/writing lists of Oklahoma authors
  • Needs reading material from the founding documents
  • Needs student exemplar writing samples

Math:

  • Too much overlap of standards across grades; lack of focus on alignment
  • Needs specific examples of problems
  • Need much more work on glossary of terms
  • Needs resources for teachers to utilize

 

Following the upload of the final draft of the OAS to the OSDE website, letters of support for the final draft from schools and organizations all across the state were provided by the OSDE in supplementary standards documents created for both Mathematics and English Language Arts. These letters were general in nature, not specifying their comments to either set of standards. The creation of the OAS by Oklahomans, the 8 overarching principles used to create them, and the clarity of the OAS were primarily the basis for their glowing reviews. No criticisms were provided.

In their letter of support, the Cooperative Council of State Administrators (CCOSA) – one of the education establishments that fought the repeal of Common Core – began the narrative that the standards must be immediately approved (pg 69):

CCOSA supports the approval of the Oklahoma Academic Standards as proposed by the State Superintendent and many other Oklahomans involved in this process. It is imperative that the standards are quickly acted upon so that the school leaders and teachers can begin the important work of training and implementing these new standards by August of 2016.

It is obvious, after reviewing ALL the submitted documents regarding the new OAS, that these standards MUST BE RETURNED TO THE OSDE for edits and revisions. The specific areas needing to be addressed are OBVIOUS, as these same issues are addressed at least cursorily in ALL the general critiques submitted by standards reviewers (those listed in bold behind each draft heading).

Oklahoma has a unique opportunity – one not availed of by any state in the nation that has repealed Common Core to date – that of creating standards of true excellence for Oklahoma students that are not simply a Common Core rebrand.

It makes literally no sense to have undergone all the political wrangling – and subsequent lawsuit – of 2014 in which Common Core was repealed from law in Oklahoma, to create standards in their place that are sub-standard.

All we are asking is for the Oklahoma State Legislature to DISPROVE the OAS as submitted to the legislature by the OSDE in February, with specific instructions to fix those concerns commonly identified by standards reviewers as solicited by the OSDE themselves.

To do anything else makes absolutely no political or educational sense.

Oklahoma State Board of Education Approves Final Draft of New (Non-Common Core) Educational Standards

press release.jpg

Unfortunately, ROPE has a good deal of skepticism regarding the new Oklahoma Educational standards approved by the Board of Education today. Let me be clear here, the new standards were approved by the board just today, so none of us (at ROPE) would have had the opportunity to review them at this point.

It is important to note, however, that while the OSDE press release contained comments in support for the standards from many quarters, none of these were attributed to the experts that were invited by the Standards Steering Committee last February to consult on the standards writing process.

Though we would never be so dull as to suggest the organizations and individuals mentioned in the press release weren’t educational experts, were they standards writing experts? Where were comments from Dr. Larry Gray, Dr. Jane Scheilack, or Dr. Sandra Stotsky in the press release? These were standards writing experts called in to advise the Standard Steering Committee on the standards writing process.

In fact, after the third revision of the standards were released in October of 2015, Oklahoma Watch and ROPE posted a standards review by both Dr’s. Gray and Stotsky, and neither was terribly impressed. Mrs. Hofmeister has informed us that her office has sought comments from Dr. Stotsky and incorporated these in their standards revisions, but how do we know that? Pardon our skepticism here, but where are any public comments regarding the standards? Dr. Stotsky in her original presentation to the Standards Steering Committee suggested that all comments made regarding the standards be made publicly, ostensibly so changes to the documents could be seen by all Oklahomans. Clearly, Gray and Stotsky had specific concerns regarding the standards at that time. Had Oklahoma Watch and ROPE had not publicized their comments, who would have known their concerns? Legislators? The public?

Early on, ROPE complained to the State Department of Education concerning the lack of published public comment and were told that the standards documents were a work in progress and that allowing the public to see the ongoing process of developing the standards could hurt the reputation of the standards writers. Laypersons are not normally able to read and decipher the standards documents themselves. This is why standards experts were called on – to provide ‘expert’ advice – information the public could rely on.

We believe the only way the public can truly be certain that these standards satisfied the full measure of HB3399, passed by the legislature at the overwhelming request of the public, is to have the standards reviewed by the legislature via a public forum where comments from the standards writing experts and others can be heard. We do appreciate all the work of the standards writing committees and will be pleased to see the standards vetted in a public forum.

 

Jenni White

Education Director

Running List of Curricula, Courses, Online Resources and Books to Help Your Family’s Educational Journey

parents and kid

I’m beginning this list January 18 of 2016. I hope to add to it every time I find a resource that I believe would be helpful to Christian parents, so bookmark the page and keep looking back! If you have any great ideas, post them in the comments section and I’ll add!

CURRICULA

Learn Our History: Positive, Patriotic, And Unbiased History; Learn Our History is US history for kids at its very best!  Each exciting animated history film features a group of time-traveling history students who go back in time to see US history in the making.

COURSES

Homeschool Programming: Computer Programming Courses for Kids and Teens; Your students can learn to create their own websites, games, and smart-phone apps with our self-study curriculum.

ONLINE EDUCATION RESOURCES

Classical Conversations: Online resources, books and helpful information to anyone looking to homeschool or enhance their child’s public education.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Religious Freedom Day – A Guide For Commemorating Religious Freedom At School;  This guidebook is intended to help all Americans join the President in celebrating Religious Freedom Day as well as to clarify students’ religious liberties.

BOOKS

How Should We Then Live: In this brilliant book Francis A. Schaeffer analyzed the reasons for modern society’s state of affairs and presented the only viable alternative: living by the Christian ethic, acceptance of God’s revelation, and total affirmation of the Bible’s morals, values, and meaning.

The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education:  In this book, Leigh Bortins gives parents the tools and methodology to implement a rigorous, thorough, and broad curriculum based on the classical model.

America’s Schools, The Battleground for Freedom: America’s Schools will inform, alarm, and provoke you to action for education that promotes scholarship and freedom.

Ten Myths About Mathematics Education And Why You Shouldn’t Believe Them

With the advent of Common Core came the further full-court press of progressive mathematics. For years now, as Common Core math has been pushed upon the American public public, parents and kids alike have banged their heads on their desks and dinner tables across the country, trying desperately to make sense of convoluted and drawn-out mathematics problems parents never had to conquer when they were in school.

A recent article from the Hechingerreport,

Back off parents: It’s not your job to teach Common Core math when helping with homework

made me so mad my head almost exploded. Seriously, that’s just the craziest nonsense ever. The whole idea of the article was essentially, “parents don’t help your own children with their math, because you can’t understand it anyway. Just make sure the work gets done, no matter what”.

How is this not the school and a subject – math – getting right in the middle between kid and parent, essentially making the kid think the parent is stupid, pulling them – and the family – apart?

For years, I’ve tried to help parents understand the differences between progressive and traditional math because there really is no way to fight progressive math if you don’t know what is wrong with it and what is better. It wasn’t until I saw this article that I realized I didn’t have to invent the wheel.

Ten Myths About Math is written by a number of really excellent math educators who have taken the time to write out each math myth and explain fully why it simply isn’t true. Please visit the article to print out the article, but I’m going to paste the myths and explanations in below so you can read them immediately.

Myth #1

Only what students discover for themselves is truly learned.

REALITY

Students learn in a variety of ways. Basing most learning on student discovery is time-consuming, does not insure that students end up learning the right concepts, and can delay or prevent progression to the next level. Successful programs use discovery for only a few very carefully selected topics, never all topics.

REFERENCES

Dixon, R., Carnine, D., Lee, D. Wallin, J., & Chard, D. (1998). Review of High Quality Experimental Mathematical Research: Executive Summary. Eugene, OR: National Center to Improve the Tools of Educators, University of Oregon.

Klahr, D. & Nigam, M. (2004). The Equivalence of Learning Paths in Early Science Instruction: Effects of Direct Instruction and Discovery Learning.Psychological Science, 15, 10, 661-667.

Becker, W. C. and Engelmann, S.; Sponsor Findings From Project Follow Through. University of Oregon.

John R. Anderson, Lynne M. Reder, Herbert A. Simon. Applications and Misapplications of Cognitive Psychology to Mathematics Education.

R. James Milgram, “What is Mathematical Proficiency?,” March, 2004. Invited address, First Workshop on Mathematics Education. Mathematics and Science Research Institute, Berkeley, CA.

Myth #2

Children develop a deeper understanding of mathematics and a greater sense of ownership when they are expected to invent and use their own methods for performing the basic arithmetical operations, rather than study, understand and practice the standard algorithms.

REALITY

Children who do not master the standard algorithms begin to have problems as early as algebra I.

The snubbing or outright omission of the long division algorithm by NCTM- based curricula can be singularly responsible for the mathematical demise of its students. Long division is a pre-skill that all students must master to automaticity for algebra (polynomial long division), pre-calculus (finding roots and asymptotes), and calculus (e.g., integration of rational functions and Laplace transforms.) Its demand for estimation and computation skills during the procedure develops number sense and facility with the decimal system of notation as no other single arithmetic operation affords.

REFERENCES

General reference: The algebra, pre-calculus and calculus teachers and professors who must remediate or flunk these children.

From 1998 issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society:

“We would like to emphasize that the standard algorithms of arithmetic are more than just ‘ways to get the answer’ — that is, they have theoretical as well as practical significance. For one thing, all the algorithms of arithmetic are preparatory for algebra, since there are (again, not by accident, but by virtue of the construction of the decimal system) strong analogies between arithmetic of ordinary numbers and arithmetic of polynomials.” (The above was quoted in an open letter to Secretary of Education Richard Riley in 1999, which was signed by 200 prominent U.S. mathematicians.)

The Role of Long Division in the K-12 Curriculum; David Klein (California State University, Northridge), R. James Milgram (Stanford University)

Myth #3

There are two separate and distinct ways to teach mathematics. The NCTM backed approach deepens conceptual understanding through a problem solving approach. The other teaches only arithmetic skills through drill and kill. Children don’t need to spend long hours practicing and reviewing basic arithmetical operations. It’s the concept that’s important.

REALITY

“The starting point for the development of children’s creativity and skills should be established concepts and algorithms… Success in mathematics needs to be grounded in well-learned algorithms as well as understanding of the concepts.”

What is taught in math is the most critical component of teaching math. How math is taught is important as well, but is dictated by the “what”. Much of understanding comes from mastery of basic skills – an approach backed by most professors of mathematics. It succeeds through systematically empowering children with the pre-skills they need to succeed in all areas of mathematics. The myth of conceptual understanding versus skills is essentially a false choice – a bogus dichotomy. The NCTM standards suggested “less emphasis” on topics needed for higher math, such as many basic skills of arithmetic and algebra.

“That students will only remember what they have extensively practiced – and that they will only remember for the long term that which they have practiced in a sustained way over many years – are realities that can’t be bypassed.”

REFERENCES

Kenneth Ross, Chair, Mathematical Association of America President’s Task Force on the NCTM Standards. (June 1997). Response to NCTM’s Commission on the Future of the Standards.

Basic Skills vs Conceptual Understanding; a Bogus Dichotomy; Hung-Hsi Wu, Department of Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley (American Educator, Fall, 1999).

Willingham, D. (Spring 2004). Practice Makes Perfect-But Only If You Practice Beyond the Point of Perfection. American Educator.

Algorithms, Algebra, and Access, by Stanley Ocken (Sep 2001).

In Defense of “Mindless Rote”, by Ethan Akin (Mar 30, 2001).

On the Algorithms of Arithmetic, by Ralph Raimi (2002).

Myth #4

The math programs based on NCTM standards are better for children with learning disabilities than other approaches.

REALITY

“Educators must resist the temptation to adopt the latest math movement, reform, or fad when data-based support is lacking…”

Large-scale data from California and foreign countries show that children with learning disabilities do much better in more structured learning environments.

REFERENCES

Miller, S.P. and Mercer, C.D., “Educational Aspects of Mathematics Disabilities.” January/February 1997, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 47-56.

Darch, C., Carnine, D., & Gersten, R. (1984). “Explicit Instruction in Mathematics Problem Solving.” The Journal of Educational Research, 77, 6, 351-359.

Myth #5

Urban teachers like using math programs based on NCTM standards.

REALITY

“Mere mention of [TERC] was enough to bring a collective groan from more than 100 Boston Teacher Union representatives…”

REFERENCES

Editorial, “Mathematical Unknowns,” The Boston Globe, November 8, 2004, A10.

Myth #6

“Calculator use has been shown to enhance cognitive gains in areas that include number sense, conceptual development, and visualization. Such gains can empower and motivate all teachers and students to engage in richer problem-solving activities.” (NCTM Position Statement)

REALITY

Children in almost all of the highest scoring countries in the Third International Mathematics and Science Survey (TIMMS) do not use calculators as part of mathematics instruction before grade 6.

A study of calculator usage among calculus students at Johns Hopkins University found a strong correlation between calculator usage in earlier grades and poorer performance in calculus.

REFERENCES

Calculating the cost of calculators, Lance Izumi, Capitol Ideas, Pacific Research Institute, Vol. 5, No. 51, December 21, 2000.

W. Stephen Wilson, K-12 Calculator Usage and College Grades Educational Studies in Mathematics.

Myth #7

The reason other countries do better on international math tests like TIMSS and PISA is that those countries select test takers only from a group of the top performers.

REALITY

On NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” program on education in the U.S. (Feb. 15, 2005), Grover Whitehurst, Director of the Institute of Education Sciences at the Department of Education, stated that test takers are selected randomly in all countries and not selected from the top performers.

REFERENCES

Grover Whitehurst, Director, Institute of Education Sciences; on NPR Talk of the Nation, February 15, 2005;

Myth #8

Math concepts are best understood and mastered when presented “in context”; in that way, the underlying math concept will follow automatically.

REALITY

Applications are important and story problems make good motivators, but understanding should come from building the math for universal application. When story problems take center stage, the math it leads to is often not practiced or applied widely enough for students to learn how to apply the concept to other problems.

“[S]olutions of problems … need to be rounded off with a mathematical discus-sion of the underlying mathematics. If new tools are fashioned to solve a problem, then these tools have to be put in the proper mathematical perspec-tive. … Otherwise the curriculum lacks mathematical cohesion.”

REFERENCES

The Mathematician and Mathematics Education Reform; Hung-Hsi Wu, University of California, Berkeley; in Notices of the American Mathematical Society, 43(1996), 1531-1537).

Myth #9

NCTM math reform reflects the programs and practices in higher performing nations.

REALITY

A recent study commissioned by the U.S.Department of Education, comparing Singapore’s math program and texts with U.S. math texts, found that Singapore’s approach is distinctly different from NCTM math “reforms.”

Also, a paper that reviews videotaped math classes in Japan shows that there is teacher-guided instruction (including a wide variety of hints and helps from teachers while students are working on or presenting solutions).

REFERENCES

What the United States Can Learn From Singapore’s World-Class Mathematics System (and what Singapore can learn from the United States); American Institutes for Research; for U.S. Department of Education; January 28, 2005; Washington, D.C.

Siegel, Alan R. Telling Lessons from the TIMSS Videotape: remarkable teaching practices as recorded from eighth-grade mathematics classes in Japan, Germany and the US. Chapter 5 in “Testing Student Learning, Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness,” Williamson M. Evers and Herbert J. Walberg, Eds., Hoover Institution Press, May, 2004, pp. 161-194.

Myth #10

Research shows NCTM programs are effective.

REALITY

There is no conclusive evidence of the efficacy of any math instructional program.

Increases in test scores may reflect increased tutoring, enrollment in learning centers, or teachers who supplement with texts and other materials of their own choosing. Also, much of the “research” touted by some of the NSF programs has been conducted by the same companies selling the programs. State exams are increasingly being revised to address state math standards that reflect NCTM guidelines rather than the content recommended by mathematicians.

REFERENCES

On Evaluating Curricular Effectiveness; Judging the Quality of K-12 Mathematics Evaluations; National Research Council, the National Academies Press; September, 2004.

The state tests in Maryland have a number of 3 point problems in which students are awarded 1 point for performing the math correctly and 2 points for explaining it. It is thus possible to do the math right but get half the credit that another student gets with the wrong answer.

What Families Do With School Choice

I’ve written for School Reform News at Heartland Foundation for several years now. In 2013 I wrote this article for SRN. This blog seems like a really great place to post this, as I think it will encourage all kinds of parents who might be interested in making an educational difference for their child/children.

——————–

Madison, Wisconsin mother Mary Keaveny has enrolled her five children in three different kinds of schools.

The children, ages two to 16, all began learning at home, even the two with dyslexia. Clint, schooled at home until eighth grade, just finished his freshman year at a nearby Catholic school that offers a classical education.

“Clint is a really smart kid, way beyond my ability to school at this point,” Mary said. “He needs to debate and argue, and it’s hard to do that at home.”

Mary knew Clint was in the right place when “we got the greatest letter from one of his teachers, who said he wrote the most beautiful essay for his final.”

Mary is one of thousands across the country who are shepherding their children through a rapidly expanding field of K-12 education options that allow parents to fit education to each child’s changing needs.

Sports and Dyslexia
Thirteen-year-old Ryan Keaveny loves sports. Though always active in various leagues, befriending kids his age was a challenge because Ryan was homeschooled until 2012.

“Playmates would get scarce in the fall as they all went back to their public school sports teams,” Mary said. When the Keavenys moved in 2012, they found a small Catholic school right around the corner.

“Ryan has only 11 [total students] in his class,” Mary reports, “which is great because he now has friends and a teacher who can give him really individualized instruction to help with his dyslexia.”

Dyslexia and Online Learning
Mary has homeschooled Kevin, 10, and Megan, 8, who struggles with severe dyslexia and could barely read.

The family’s recent move, combined with new expenses, Megan’s dyslexia, and the ever-present needs of a two-year-old found Mary needing some accountability for Kevin and Megan.

She found the Hayward Center for Individualized Learning (HACIL) Virtual Charter School, a nonprofit online school chartered through the Wisconsin Department of Education. Because Wisconsin practices public-school open -enrollment, Mary receives a transfer credit of $800 per child to attend HACIL. This can help pay for internet service, books, and even enrichment classes.

Though Hayward is five hours from her home, Mary only has to make the trip when she wants to check out books from HACIL’s library and to present the kids for state testing—a requirement of program enrollment.

“I can homeschool again this year because of the support provided by HACIL,” Mary said, happily.

Pervading Beliefs
Lindsey Hodson of Middletown, Virginia, uses a mix of Montessori, Catholic, and home schools to satisfy the educational needs of her four small children.

“We don’t want our kids riding school a bus—we don’t like the lack of supervision. As Catholics, it’s hard to attend a school that doesn’t follow the liturgical calendar, and we like the fact that Catholic school classrooms all contain a crucifix and kids can pray and say the Pledge of Allegiance,” Lindsey said. “Catholic schools also maintain an ongoing sibling discount, which encourages procreation. They are very open to life.”

Catholic education has not fitted every one of her kids, Lindsey says. Because dyslexia has challenged her husband, Lindsey wants to closely supervise her children’s reading instruction. As with her first child, who starts second grade in fall 2013, she plans to teach her children to read before their first grade.

The Hodsons’ five-year-old son spent a year in Montessori school and will attend one day a week this fall because he learns differently than their other three.

“I need to work on getting this kid to be more of a self-starter like the others,” Lindsey explains.

Crying at School
Lauren Marshall had never considered an alternative to public school until her son, Dillon, came home from school crying one day. Dillon has ADHD and reading difficulties.

“I never thought of myself as an advocate for my kids,” the Tulsa, Oklahoma mother said. “I’d drop them off at school, go to work, and think they were fine.”

Laura took the next day off work to follow Dillon through third grade at his public elementary school. She was horrified to witness him climb under his desk and finally leave his classroom altogether.

Lauren quickly quit her job to educate Dillon and his younger brother, David, using curricula a teacher friend suggested. During the next several months, Dillon was also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and dyslexia.

Online School to Voucher School
After two years at home, Dillon had improved significantly. Then, Lauren found K12 Online Schools. She loved the format but couldn’t afford the tuition. When K12 became available through the newly formed Oklahoma Virtual Learning Academy (OCVA) charter school several years later, she immediately enrolled both boys. For six weeks, her school district refused to allow her kids to transfer, but it ultimately relented.

After three years in OCVA, Lauren found Oklahoma’s Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program for children with disabilities. That allowed Dillon to start ninth grade at Tulsa’s coveted Town and Country School specifically for children with Asperger’s.

The preparation David received through homeschooling helped him gain seventh-grade entry into Tulsa’s George Washington Carver Middle School, a magnet school where students earn attendance through high academic achievement. Otherwise, David would attend Nathan Hale Junior High, which received an “F” on the state’s annual academic report card.

Lauren is convinced: “If more parents understood the need to be involved, real changes in education could be made.”

Resources for Parents to Use to Begin Educating Their Children At Home

Though the vast majority of parents want the very best education possible for their children, few parents consider schooling their children at home for various reasons.

Some don’t believe they have the education necessary to educate their own children and that the experts in education are to be found in schools. Others work outside the home and believe they are unable to devote enough time to properly educating their children on their own. Often, those that are interested in homeschooling their children simply don’t know how to access resources necessary to begin.

Believe it or not, not only are there working parents and single parents who homeschool their children, but parents are much more ‘expert’ at raising and schooling their children than someone in a school that sees them only a portion of a day. Here are some ideas and resources to get any parent considering schooling their kids at home, on the way to a successful homeschool experience.

GENERAL OKLAHOMA HOMESCHOOL RULE 

Any parent may homeschool their child in Oklahoma simply by withdrawing them from school. It is best that you send your school a letter informing them you intend to remove your child/children in order they not be counted truant, and because it provides a record for your files in the event your homeschool would be challenged. Oklahoma does not require lesson plans, tests, or any other form of accountability from homeschooling parents, leaving parents free to educate their children in any way that works for them.

School Choice Options

EDUCATIONAL CHOICE OPTIONS IN OKLAHOMA (graphic copied from OCHEC.com)

Please note in the graphic above, that online schools such as K12.com, administered by the State Department of Education, though utilized by students at home, are NOT considered homeschooling. While these programs work for many, many families because they allow a child to work at their own pace, these programs are an extension of public schooling.

There are online private schools such as A BEKA Academy – , Freedom Project Education  (other private K12 online schools can be found here) that provide students the ability to log on and take virtual classes as desired by the parent.

OKLAHOMA ORGANIZATIONS DEDICATED TO ASSISTING HOMESCHOOLING PARENTS

Oklahoma Christian Home Educators’ Consociation (OCHEC) –  – has links to resources, support groups and answers to many questions frequently asked by parents interested in beginning the homeschool journey. They also have a Facebook page as well.

Oklahoma Homeschool provides curricula ideas and other information – . They are also on Facebook.

Our State Department of Education has homeschool resources at this link.

Home Schooling in Oklahoma covers a vast number of topics on everything from homeschooling as a single parent to methods for homeschooling and teaching aids.

The Homeschooling Mom is another great site for boundless information.

NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS DEDICATED TO ASSISTING HOMESCHOOLING PARENTS

There are many national organizations dedicated to homeschooling, but probably the best known organization with the widest reach is Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). HSLDA provides curriculum resources and legal advice in the event your homeschool or parenting would be challenged.

ORGANIZATIONS/COMPANIES THAT PROVIDE FULL HOMESCHOOL CURRICULA PACKAGES

Several organizations/companies provide full homeschool curricula packages. These allow parents to follow a predetermined course of study for any or all subjects instead of creating themselves. These are excellent choices for parents timid about homeschooling or who have limited time to devote to the process.

o Sonlight Christian Homeschool Curriculum
o A Beka Book
o Classical Conversations

Believe it or not, homeschooling in Oklahoma is accessible to nearly every family that wants it badly enough to make it work. Though this is by no means an exhaustive list, if you are interested in homeschooling your child, please visit any of the resources provided here and start researching your path TODAY!

The Top Five Reasons Christians Should Educate Their Children At Home

  1. Oklahoma endorses federal education policy at the most local levels, as do most other states. With the federal government now sanctioning gay marriage, public schools will not only continue to push sex education, but sex education directly undermining natural law and traditional marriage.
  2. Studies have shown that Christian children are more likely to lose their worldview in a public school than evangelize other children to Christianity. Peer pressure is an enormous issue for children – especially those of middle school age and above – and if peers aren’t Christian influences, they tend to be influences against the Christian world view.
  3. God teaches that parents have control and authority over the education of their children via Proverbs 22:6, “Train a child up in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 says, “…And tho shalt teach diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
    • Public schools are not willing to teach the Biblical tenets necessary to provide a firm foundation for your child in their relationship with the Lord – the most important part of their upbringing.
  4. Public school literature has become polluted with sexually deviant and explicit reading material. It becomes very hard to fight teachers that assign books from reading lists that include today’s genre of unfiltered, secular humanist world view to an entire class for a grade.
  5. Though you may spend time at home with your children discussing the foundation of their Christian views, children in public schools are often indoctrinated into racism and hatred of America through re-imagined history, or science courses that elevate the Earth and animals above man – God’s first creation.

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