Madison School Board Discusses an Independent Math Curriculum Review

The Madison School Board’s 2006/2007 Goals for Superintendent Art Rainwater included the “Initiatiation and completion of a comprehensive, independent and neutral review and assessment of the District’s K-12 math curriculum”. Watch the discussion [Video] and read a memo [240K PDF] from the Superintendent regarding his plans for this goal. Much more here and here.
Barbara Lehman kindly emailed the Board’s conclusion Monday evening:

It was moved by Lawrie Kobza and seconded by Ruth Robarts to approve the revised plan for implementation of the Superintendent’s 2006-07 goal to initiate and complete a comprehensive, independent, and neutral review and assessment of the District’s K-12 math curriculum as presented at this meeting, including extension for completion of the evaluation to the 2007-08 school year. The Board of Education shall receive a report in 2006-07 with analysis of math achievement data for MMSD K-12 students, including analysis of all math sub-test scores disaggregated by student characteristics and schools in addition to reports in subsequent years. Student representative advisory vote * aye. Motion carried 6-1 with Lucy Mathiak voting no.

One thought on “Madison School Board Discusses an Independent Math Curriculum Review”

  1. I’m at a bit of a loss understanding the result of this meeting. The Superintendent’s interpretation, though not wrong, feels like “scope creep” as I understood the intent of the original charge of BoE to the Superintendent, or what I hoped would be a focused analysis of MMSD data, following by data driven decision-making on the part of the Administration and Board.
    It feels like the Superintendent and the Board is getting MMSD mixed up into the religious math wars. This, to me, is a waste of time.
    As I’ve mentioned before, I have no confidence in educational research. I’m an empirisist — how are our students doing and why; Ultimately, I don’t care what the research says. To quote Richard Feynman: “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”
    And, from what I can tell from the discussion, neither any member of the Board, nor the Superintendent considered the ramifications if the NSF grant (for $200,000) is denied. The Board needs to go forward, ignoring this potential grant, not waiting for its manna.
    Thus, this Math task force, unless I misunderstand, has had their focus changed from directing the design, analysis and collection of MMSD data and bringing their collective knowledge to bear to interpret the results and offer guidance to the Board and public to that of creating a team to conduct original research.
    The Administration continues to insist that they are data driven, but as Ruth Robarts mentioned during this meeting, though she has asked for data from the Administration for years, little has been forthcoming.
    The Performance and Achievement meetings or the Math forum that SIS sponsored last year have had only very rudimentary data presented and what was presented lacked any obvious validity. This tells me that the staff do not know how to perform useful data analysis, the tools are not readily available, or the data really isn’t there.
    But, the Superintendent has assured me on more than one occasion, that MMSD can and does perform item analyses of WKCE tests, for example, and can identify issues with particular kids and classrooms. I’ve never seen such evidence presented. The Board needs to see this information which if appropriately presented will give a view of MMSD successes and failures and challenges that the typical % proficient and advanced — displayed at WINSS and presented ad nausem on recycled powerpoint slides — is incapable of doing.
    The Math Task Force’s role should be to ensure valid analyses from the data described above, among others, to recommend collection of other information, and to recommend routine analyses to ensure that MMSD can and does make data driven school improvements.
    Lucy Mathiak’s NO vote should have carried the day. A motion for Reconsideration is in order.

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