Dr. Bisk on Singapore math in MA

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Oak Norton

May 22, 2009, 8:02:47 AM5/22/09
to Parents for Quality Math Education
Dr. Richard Bisk from Massachusetts came to Utah this week to help
train a couple school districts in the use of Singapore math. He gave
a lecture at the capitol yesterday at the invitation of a couple of
our legislators and it will be online in a couple weeks for anyone to
watch. Some of you may have seen that MA just released scores from a
test they gave to teachers where only 27% of el ed teachers passed the
math test. It was difficult to get the results released because they
weren't sure what they were going to do with the results and how they
would handle the situation. He's not 100% sure but he stressed the
need for content training for teachers and perhaps "math boot camps"
will be done this summer to get the teachers up to speed on their math

One of the interesting things he shared is that MA reformed its math
framework about 10 years ago because they were doing so poorly in
math. He shared the results of North Middlesex S.D. against the rest
of the state and now I wish I'd written down some more stats but I
figured they would be online so I didn't. What I do remember is that
N.M. was a little better off than the state average at that time but
they adopted Singapore math and got trained in it. The stats he
shared had 4 columns for mastery, good, passing, failing. What I
remember was the failure rate among students over a period of several
years went from about 40% in the state and this district, to 14% for
the state and only 2% for this district. Clearly Singapore math got
more students to basic proficiency than the rest of the state
experienced. On the mastery side, N.M. went to over 50% and the state
was about (I think) 15% or so behind when they had started off just a
few percent apart. I'm probably grasping at these numbers a bit but
I'll post a link to the video when it's live.

Basically he's saying the new framework and standards lifted everyone,
but S.M. really outperformed everyone else based on the numbers. What
I really liked to see was the failure rate dropping to only 2%. That's
just the opposite of what Investigations produced in our district. We
had mastery rates go up too (because parents were supplementing at
home) and our failure rates actually went up so we now have high
schoolers that can't do basic math and need supplemented.

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