Comments, ideas and concerns about the math curricula at Andover Public Schools

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rebroadcast of 4/9 School Committee Meeting

The April 9th meeting had a math-heavy agenda, with presentations by Marcia O'Neil for the administration and Marj Andresen for the parents and a number of questions and comments by parents, School Committee members and Superintendent Claudia Bach.

The meeting will be rebroadcast tonight (Thursday April 12th) at 8:00 pm[or not -- special Tri-Board meeting on the budget instead], and Sunday morning April 15th at 7:00 am on Comcast Channel 10. Set your VCRs and DVRs!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

How Andover Compares to the 16 Towns

[Marj Andresen provided this slide from her presentation to the School Committee on April 9.]

(Click on the image to see a larger version with her explanatory notes for the data.)

Looking at the Wrong Data?

[Bob Willard sent the note below to the School Committee (with copies to Claudia Bach and the MS Principals) on 10 April 2007.]

I applaud your desire to use educational data to drive educational policy. However, when it comes to the two contentious issues of MS math (CMP and ability-based grouping), I believe that you are looking at the wrong data.

The data that should be your guide is the number of MS students that are bored with MS math; or, the number that have settled for the inevitable by cruising through CMP in a heterogeneous class; or, the number that receive supplemental extra-curricular instruction; or, the number that need remedial assistance in secondary schools that are more demanding than AHS. Instead, you are using data that "proves" the success of MS math in APS by counting the number of students who score mediocre or better in our mediocre MS math program.

I strongly believe that we should be using ability-based grouping in MS math. I do not believe and I do not argue that we should be using ability-based grouping in all MS subjects, but I am sure that if our brighter students are to succeed in high-tech careers, they will need to have been challenged in math, starting in MS.

I do not accept the notion that differentiated instruction (DI) within a heterogeneous classroom is a viable alternative to ability-based grouping for MS math. DI might work, if all teachers were incredibly outstanding and if class sizes were a dozen or less. But, with teachers who are merely great and class sizes of two dozen, the resources are inadequate for the
task of making DI replace ability-based grouping in MS math. (I have focused more on ability-based grouping than on CMP because I fully expect that any class for high-ability MS math students would heavily supplement CMP; enough to compensate for that program's shortcomings.)

Thanks for listening.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Officially "on the agenda" for Mon 4/9

Middle School Math is officially on the agenda for Monday night's School Committee meeting 7:30pm. Dr. O'Neil will be providing an update during the Communications section of the meeting and Marj Andresen is scheduled to speak during Citizen's Input. The process allows for other citizens to sign up for that section of the meeting upon arrival.

The meeting is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Looking for Success Stories

Much of the attention in this forum has been on people with concerns and complaints. But what about the people who are satisfied? We'd like to hear some feedback in support of CMP and some anecdotal evidence of where differentiated instruction has made a positive impact on the student's math experience.