THIS MATTER having come on for hearing, and the Court having considered the pleadings, administrative record, and argument in this matter, the Court hereby enters the following Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order:
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. On May 6, 2009, in a 4-3 vote, the Seattle School District Board of Directors chose the Discovering Series as the District’s high school basic math materials.
a. A recommendation from the District’s Selection Committee;
b. A January, 2009 report from the Washington State Office of Public Instruction ranking High School math textbooks, listing a series by the Holt Company as number one, and the Discovering Series as number two;
c. A March 11, 2009, report from the Washington State Board of Education finding that the Discovering Series was “mathematically unsound”;
d. An April 8, 2009 School Board Action Report authored by the Superintendent;
e. The May 6, 2009 recommendation of the OSPI recommending only the Holt Series, and not recommending the Discovering Series;
f. WASL scores showing an achievement gap between racial groups;
g. WASL scores from an experiment with a different inquiry-based math text at Cleveland and Garfield High Schools, showing that W ASL scores overall declined using the inquiry-based math texts, and dropped significantly for English Language Learners, including a 0% pass rate at one high school;
h. The National Math Achievement Panel (NMAP) Report;
1. Citizen comments and expert reports criticizing the effectiveness of inquiry-based math and the Discovering Series;
J. Parent reports of difficulty teaching their children using the Discovering Series and inquiry-based math;
k. Other evidence in the Administrative Record;
I. One Board member also considered the ability of her own child to learn math using the Discovering Series.
3. The court finds that the Discovering Series IS an inquiry-based math program.
4. The court finds, based upon a review of the entire administrative record, that there IS insufficient evidence for any reasonable Board member to approve the selection of the Discovering Series.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
I. The court has jurisdiction under RCW 28A.645.010 to evaluate the Board’s decision for whether it is arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law;
2. The Board’s selection of the Discovering Series was arbitrary;
3. The Board’s selection of the Discovering Series was capricious;
4. This court has the authority to remand the Board’s decision for further review;
5. Any Conclusion of Law which is more appropriately characterized as a
Finding of Fact is adopted as such, and any Finding of Fact more appropriately
characterized as a Conclusion of Law is adopted as such.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
The decision of the Board to adopt the Discovering Series is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Dated this 4th day of February, 2010.
Judge Julie Spector today announced her finding of “arbitrary and capricious” in the Seattle School Board’s May 6 vote to adopt the Discovering Math series of high school texts despite insufficient evidence of the series’ effectiveness.
Judge Spector’s decision states, “The court finds, based upon a review of the entire administrative record, that there is insufficient evidence for any reasonable Board member to approve the selection of the Discovering series.”
Plaintiffs DaZanne Porter, an African American and mother of a 9th-grade student in Seattle Public Schools, Martha McLaren, retired Seattle math teacher and grandparent of a Seattle Public Schools fifth grader, and Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington, had filed their appeal of the Board’s controversial decision on June 5th, 2009. The hearing was held on Tuesday, January 26th, 2010