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## February 27, 2006

### Madison and Wisconsin Math Data, 8th Grade

At a meeting on February 22 (audio / video), representatives of the Madison Metropolitan School District presented some data [820K pdf | html (click the slide to advance to the next screen)] which they claimed showed that their middle school math series, Connected Mathematics Project, was responsible for some dramatic gains in student learning. There was data on the percent of students passing algebra by the end of ninth grade and data from the state eighth grade math test for eight years. Let us look at the test data in a bit more detail.

All that was presented was data from MMSD and there was a very sharp rise in the percent of students scoring at the advanced and proficient level in the last three years. To see if something was responsible for this other than an actual rise in scores consider not only the the Madison data but the corresponding data for the State of Wisconsin.

The numbers will be the percent of students who scored advanced or proficient by the criteria used that year. The numbers for Madison are slightly different than those presented since the total number of students who took the test was used to find the percent in the MMSD presented data, and what is given here is the percent of all students who reached these two levels. Since this is a comparative study, either way could have been used. I think it is unlikely that those not tested would have had the same overall results that those tested had, which is why I did not figure out the State results using this modification. When we get to scores by racial groups, the data presented by MMSD did not use the correction they did with all students ( All 8th grade students in both cases)

 MMSD Wisconsin Oct 97 40 30 Feb 99 45 42 Feb 00 47 42 Feb 01 44 39 Feb 02 48 44 Nov 02 72 73 Nov 03 60 65 Nov 04 71 72

This is not a picture of a program which is remarkably successful. We went from a district which was above the State average to one with scores at best at the State average. The State Test was changed from a nationally normed test to one written just for Wisconsin, and the different levels were set without a national norm. That is what caused the dramatic rise from February 2002 to November 2002. It was not that all of the Middle Schools were now using Connected Mathematics Project, which was the reason given at the meeting for these increases.

It is worth looking at a breakdown by racial groups to see if there is something going on there. The formats will be the same as above.

 Hispanics MMSD Wisconsin Oct 97 19 11 Feb 99 25 17 Feb 00 29 18 Feb 01 21 15 Feb 02 25 17 Nov 02 48 46 Nov 03 37 38 Nov 04 50 49

 Black (Not of Hispanic Origin) MMSD Wisconsin Oct 97 8 5 Feb 99 10 7 Feb 00 11 7 Feb 01 8 6 Feb 02 13 7 Nov 02 44 30 Nov 03 29 24 Nov 04 39 29

 Asian MMSD Wisconsin Oct 97 25 22 Feb 99 36 31 Feb 00 35 33 Feb 01 36 29 Feb 02 41 31 Nov 02 65 68 Nov 03 55 53 Nov 04 73 77

 White MMSD Wisconsin Oct 97 54 35 Feb 99 59 48 Feb 00 60 47 Feb 01 58 48 Feb 02 62 51 Nov 02 86 81 Nov 03 78 73 Nov 04 88 81

I see nothing in the demography by race which supports the claim that Connected Mathematics Project has been responsible for remarkable gains. I do see a lack of knowledge in how to read, understand and present data which should concern everyone in Madison who cares about public education. The School Board is owed an explanation for this misleading presentation. I wonder about the presentations to the School Board. Have they been as misleading as those given at this public meeting?

Richard Askey Posted by Richard Askey at February 27, 2006 4:03 PM
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