Committee sticks with same math curriculum recommendation

February 16, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

The Issaquah School District’s Instructional Materials Committee voted Feb. 11 to recommend school board members purchase the Discovering Mathematics textbooks to replace its aging textbooks.It is the same recommendation that was given a year ago.

Amid uncertain curricula recommendations at the state level, and push-back from district parents, Superintendent Steve Rasmussen pulled further decision making off the table until better discussions could be had with state officials and families.

In the past year, the district has done just that, said Assistant Superintendent Ron Thiele.

“I will tell any person that I believe we have been incredibly thoughtful in our process and our decision,” Thiele said.

District officials held meetings, gathered surveys and talked to parents and students about the curriculum adoption process and the teachers’ reasoning for choosing it — mainly because it has the best blend of inquiry-based and mastery-based learning to reach all students, Thiele said.

But it is a year later and there is still controversy surrounding the decision, this time in the wake of a King County Superior Court ruling against Seattle Public Schools for adopting the same curriculum. In that decision the judge said there is “insufficient evidence for any reasonable Board member to approve the selection of the Discovering Series.”

District officials have taken the suit very seriously, Thiele said.

“As an associate superintendent, I was shocked by it because I know Seattle had a very rigorous process,” he said.

The district’s council has also looked over the Seattle case and is reviewing its pertinence to Issaquah’s adoption.

The decision has spurred people like Mark Van Horne, a professional engineer and founder of Save Math In Issaquah, to take on the school district’s process.

“We’re very disappointed that IMC has chosen to move forward with the recommendation,” Van Horne said. “We believe that the data that led them to select the Discovering series over the Holt series is misguided.”

Save Math In Issaquah is hosting an informational meeting about the textbooks at 3:15 p.m. March 6 at the Issaquah Library.

“I would recommend people do take the opportunity to look at the instructional materials while on display, but also encourage people to do research on their own about them,” Van Horne said.

He and others would have liked the district to include math professionals in the curriculum review and selection process, not just teachers.

“If our job were to produce engineers then having [engineers] on the committee would make perfect sense,” Thiele said. “But that’s not what we’re doing. We’re teaching the public. Within the public there will be a percentage of students that go on to be engineers but there are a large percentage of them that will go on to be successful in fields unrelated to math.”

School board members aren’t expected to make a decision on whether to adopt the textbooks prior to the end of March. If approved by school board members, the Algebra I and II and Geometry textbooks would be in classrooms by the start of the school year, after extensive teacher training seminars in summer.

Community members can view the materials during normal business hours at the district administration building though March 10.

Next steps

-Feb. 12- March 10: Key Curriculum Press Discovering Mathematics materials on display at the district administration building, 565 N.W. Holly St.

-Feb. 24: Employees on-hand to answer community questions about the materials, 1-3 p.m. at district offices.

-March 6: Save the Math In Issaquah organizational meeting, 3:15-4:45 p.m. at the Issaquah Library, 10 E. Sunset Way.

-March 10: Employees on-hand to answer community questions about the materials, 10 a.m. to noon at district offices.

-Late March: School board members to adopt or reject.

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6 Responses to “Committee sticks with same math curriculum recommendation”

  1. John Fester on February 16th, 2010 9:46 pm

    It is absolutely incredible that Issaquah is still considering Discovering Math. Not only was it found unsound by state mathematicians, but Randy Dorn, Superintendent of Public Instruction, is specifically and clearly not recommending it…only Holt is recommended. San Diego recently dropped Discovering after it proved to be a disaster for them. This text series will cripple the ability of our students to partake in careers regarding any mathematical skills.

  2. Thomas B. on February 17th, 2010 10:57 am

    Well… this will a boon to all the private, religious schools in the area.

    The school district is not doing an favors to the kids that have to attend public schools. It will just make it tougher for them to find jobs. Math is related to everything you touch in the Northwest; tech, bio-tech, green-tech, business, aerospace, even the legal field requires some accounting skill so as not to violate professional responsibility rules. There are very few jobs that don’t require math. Theile’s statement is embarrassingly ignorant.

  3. Steve on February 17th, 2010 11:04 am

    Who is greasing the palms of this committee to make a recommendation that flies in the face of studies disproving the effectiveness of this material?

    Is it the publisher, which stands to gain profit?
    Is it the district, which will have more passing grades due to soft curriculum?
    Is it the teachers’ union, whose members will have an easy role in math class?

    I have reviewed this material and it is horrible. I want the teachers to TEACH my kids the facts, and for my kids to study and to learn the way I did. I retained my math knowledge and have used it very successfully. I don’t want my kids gathering daily in small groups with texting dopes, quickly skimming their way through the exercises to incomplete or false conclusions.

    Have you viewed the adoption committee’s presentation?

    What a blatant insult to the reader’s intelligence! Look at how slides 18 through 21 (student and teacher review feedback) are written to completely railroad the recommendation toward one series with ABSOLUTELY ZERO contrasting comments. Even a minority comment (25 of 54 students) is stated to support the recommendation, while no mention of the 27 potentially conflicting comments is provided.

    The scam going on here is shoddy and obvious.

  4. Marvin on February 18th, 2010 1:19 am

    To all the engineers and scientists opposing curriculum changes: you have the skills and knowledge to teach your kids math at far better level than anything the educational idiots can do. So just do it – teach your children what you know as parents did in old times – and forget about the public schools. Their purpose is to transfer your money to teacher unions and provide employment for imbeciles (aka teachers) that don’t have enough IQ to succeed anywhere else. Providing good math education is not on their agenda and nor should we expect it to be.

  5. Laura on February 18th, 2010 7:50 am

    Unbelievable! Is this the logic, Ron?…..

    Historians should not give input on history curriculum, most kids will not be historians.
    Writers and Editors should not give input on english curriculum, most kids will not be writers or editors.
    Spanish speakers should not give input on spanish curriculum, most kids will not speak Spanish.
    Is that how it goes? Make sure the people with knowledge about the subject being taught give absolutely no input about the soundness of the curriculum, because you’re “teaching the public”? Soundness doesn’t matter????

    Bethel school district adopted the Discovering curriculum about five years ago. Take a look at the resulting 10th grade WASL scores, a steady decline:

  6. Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr. on February 19th, 2010 3:48 pm

    “If our job were to produce engineers then having [engineers] on the committee would make perfect sense,”

    No Doubt :: Issaquah SD is really interested in Career and College readiness….

    just not engineering or medicine or mathematics intensive fields. All the students will be adequately prepared to embark on careers in central administration, where the normal work product is apparently producing nonsense.

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