STOP Taking Excessive Risks with our Children

Abstract (Revision 107.A, June 8, 2012)


FCPS implements Investigations:
This white paper discusses the Frederick County
Public School (FCPS) System (in Maryland), and their decision to adopt an
elementary 'fuzzy math' program called Investigations. And while
Investigations does have a lot of very good concepts to offer, sadly as implemented
it also comes with some very large problems  which are the subject of discussion
in the
TERC Investigations review [§4.0].
At the January 20, 2010 Board of Education meeting, FCPS said
they were buying a second elementary math textbook, claiming that
FCPS now all of a sudden has tons of 'advanced' math kids, even though
math test scores have been flat
since implementing Investigations.
The war is over, but the battles continue.
Check out our new FCPS Watchdog Group
Investigations math at FCPS is DEAD 
The newly elected FCPS Board of Education fulfilled a campaign
promise and
threw Investigations math out
of the school system!
The local newspaper
thanks parents
for working to get Investigations replaced.
Proven Correct:
And math test scores have taken a dramatic increase after the removal of Investigations. The local
newspaper gives credit to
the removal of Investigations Math.

FCPS Integrity: This paper has been greatly expanded to discuss
FCPS integrity [§3.0]
that I experienced firsthand while researching this paper
 especially concerning FCPS administration responses
to emails and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Read about the incredible
Dr. Bonnie Borsa attack [§3.9.b]
on Board Member Donna Crook and look at all of the evidence in the
case (obtained via FOIA) for yourself.
Getting Started:
The entire paper is this entire web page, and the
index
is immediately below. Start by reading the
Executive Summary [§1.0],
and go from there.
The paper is approximately 78
pages printed, but it is a very quick read due to the number of graphics
and appendices.
This white paper is still undergoing revisions (new sections) and
corrections on a regular basis. Please provide comments and
feedback at the end of this page [§A.7].
1.0 Introduction: Executive Summary


Investigations is a K5 mathematics curricula  namely, a curriculum
for teaching elementary school math. If you are unable to visit your school
to review actual Investigations materials, start out by visiting the
Investigations Online Library
and review the documents, especially the 'Curriculum by Math Content' section.
Investigations consists of teaching guides,
manipulatives, overheads, worksheets, etc for teaching mathematics K5.
This all sounds very good, and it mostly is. However, Investigations
abandons 'standard algorithms'. Over the entire K5 years:
 standard addition is 'taught' once (grade 4)
 standard subtraction 'taught' once (grade 5)
 standard multiplication 'taught' once (grade 5)
 standard long division not taught at all
Only three sessions out of 959 (in all six years of K5) teach standard algorithms
[§4.4].
Because of this failure to teach 'standard algorithms', Investigations fails horribly to meet the:
 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) focal points
for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division [§2.0]
 National Mathematics Advisory Panel 2008 Final Report finding #11 regarding fluency with standard algorithms
[§2.1].
So, the bottom line on Investigations: Horribly slow pacing.
In February 2009, the United States (US) Department of Education published
the results of a peerreviewed
study. The conclusion of this study casts significant doubt
on Investigations vs other superior curricula (where achievement
was significantly higher).
[§2.2]
The publisher of Investigations, Pearson Scott Foresman, has impeached
their veracity by publishing an 'Evidence for Success' document
(cover seen right) citing school successes  because many (40 out of 70)
of the schools cited in the Pearson publication are no longer using
(or in the process of dropping) Investigations, according to
an independent survey.
[§2.3]
On April 23, 2008, the FCPS (Frederick County Public Schools)
BoE (Board of Education) selected Pearson's Math Investigations as
the new K5 mathematics primary resource. This was done
on the recommendation of the Textbook Selection Committee (curriculum department).
Investigations was first implemented county wide during 20082009 for
grades K, 2, and 4 and is now fully implemented in K5 as of the 20092010 school year.
[
Math Facts §5.0

BoE Minutes
]
Former Board of Education member Leslie Mansfield said the Investigations resources
"were sold to the board as a supplement in the classroom  one of many
resources available to teachers  but the materials have become
the only resources in the classroom"
[as per FNP 02/06/2009].
FCPS publishes a 'Get the Facts' document
[§5.0]
claiming Investigations
success during trials in Lincoln Elementary School and St. Mary's County.
Lincoln Investigations actually failed in 20032006 and math was a mixed success
immediately after an 'alternative governance plan' was set in motion
[§5.1].
St. Mary's claimed math test score increases are nothing special, and closely match
those of Frederick County (and the entire State of Maryland) over the
same time frame
[§5.2].
In fact, the Curriculum Director of one cited
success calls Investigations a "disaster"
[§2.3].
Any Pearson claims
can no longer be trusted as accurate. Instead all claims
must be rigorously and independently factchecked and verified.
The Investigations multiplication strategy may be great for initial
learning (this needs research), but it is nonstandard and fundamentally flawed because
the strategy is easily demonstrated to be too inefficient for everyday use
[§4.2]
The division strategy used is based upon noneducated guessing and
is also inefficient.
[§4.3]
These multiplication and division strategies
are not 'test' friendly because they take a lot
more time when compared to the 'standard' multiplication/division
strategies. [§2.4]
FCPS claims in their "Get the Facts!"
document [§5.0]
that 4th graders are taught the 'standard U.S.' addition
and multiplication algorithms. Bonnie Borsa (VP of the Board of Education) in a newspaper
editorial
says "Ultimately, students choose the approach that is most efficient
for them  and in many cases, that will be the use of the standard
algorithm." But according to the county's own 4th grade curriculum maps
[§1.3]
(Curriculum Unit Guides; what is taught in every day of class),
the standard algorithm for subtraction is only mentioned once
in one class period  and mentioning once is not teaching.
The standard algorithm for multiplication is not mentioned at all
in the 4th grade curriculum map.
What FCPS states in public is not what their own 'curriculum maps'
say they are teaching in the classroom.
PIA5: Standard Multiplication was NOT taught:
Under the Maryland Public Information Act (Freedom of Information Act),
FCPS can provide no Investigations sessions, no supplemental
resources, nor any other documents that shows that teachers in 4th
grade taught 'standard multiplication' during the 20082009 school year.
[view PIA letter & FCPS reply]

There are serious factual errors in Investigations and online
documentation, which raises questions about the diligence of the
book's authors and reviewers.
[§4.8]
The core failure of Investigations is that it fails to graduate
children from 'strategies designed to teach math' to 'strategies
designed to be efficient for everyday (and testtaking) use'.
The strategies Investigations teaches also have intermediate
steps missing
[§4.7],
which should alarm any math teacher.
The integrity of FCPS school officials is called into serious question.
There are far too many issues (and an ongoing pattern of behavior)
to simply ignore.
[§3.0],
Read the letter
that the President of the Frederick County Board of Education,
(Jean Smith), refused to allow read into the public record
at a Board of Education meeting.
The letter was apparently handed out to all board members, but
not a single board member responded to my letter
 which should tell you something about the FCPS Board of Education.

If you are a parent, don't stand on the side lines. Look into
Investigations and voice your opinion.
If you are 'for' or 'against'  it does not matter  just let
your school system know what you think about this issue. Write
a letter to your child's principal. Go to your school's
web site, look up the name and email address of the principal,
and write an email.
Also, if you are a Frederick County Maryland resident and are against Investigations,
sign this online petition.
Any school system currently using or considering using Investigations
needs to reevaluate their decision to use Investigations.
1.1 Introduction: Excessive Risk


The Risk:
FCPS BoE
is taking excessive and unnecessary risks with the future math education
of our elementary school children by implementing Pearson Math
Investigations  a math program which has been determined
by the United States Department of Education to be a subpar math teaching
curricula.
[§2.2]
Investigations grossly fails the NCTM focal points
[§2.0] as to 'when' these standard
algorithms should be taught (in addition not teaching, but just
mentioning).
Investigations also grossly fails the
National Mathematics Advisory Panel 2008 final report
[§2.1]
Pearson Math Investigations: Investigations in Number, Data, and Space:
The Pearson Math Investigations program was created by an
education research and development organization.
As per a
published FCPS document
"Investigations is available in each elementary school media center as well
for parents to review".
Investigations is not a textbook for students. Instead, it is a "K5
mathematics curriculum designed to engage students in making
sense of mathematical ideas" [source: Grade 1; Unit 1; Page 6].
The "curriculum units are the teaching guides" [source: Grade 1; Unit 1; Page 6].
There are additional
resources, including CDs, student activity books, student math
handbook, etc. It is based on work supported by the National
Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. ESI0095450.
So, why would any school system continue to implement a math program
known to the United States Department of Education to be 'subpar'?
Supporters of Investigations might say "Investigations is only a piece of a
bigger curriculum. The kids are fine." I argue that 'subpar' is
still 'subpar'. And if Investigations truly is only 'a piece of a
bigger curriculum', then why the fuss to keep it  as any math text
could fill in nicely and still just be 'a piece of a bigger curriculum'.
Why not instead use texts where "achievement
was significantly higher"?
It is painfully obvious to any parent that teaching methods which can
be shown (dare I say 'proven') to work should be used. Various teaching
methods will always have those 'for' and 'against' the method, which is
why studies are conducted, with full peer review, to help boards make
decisions.
Why would a school board continue to support a known subpar math
teaching method, especially after being notified of the US Department
of Education study? Is this a lot of politics behind the scenes?
Bonnie Borsa, VP of the Board of Education, has stated in regards to
negative Investigations results from other states
"I'm only interested in what's going on in Maryland"
[listen].
What a strange 'head in the sand' (and risky) attitude. Well, Bonnie
needs to review
[§5.1],
[§5.2], and
[§A.4]
and understand that results in Maryland are not what they appear to be.
To understand why FCPS wanted a new elementary math textbook, review
what Nelson Palmer said in the
Elementary Math Textbook Selection Overview:
"for lowperforming subpopulations"
 Nelson Palmer, Elementary Math Curriculum Specialist, FCPS

"Parallel to these events has been the continual change to the
demographics of Frederick County Public Schools as well as the continued
desire for improvement. This improvement has focused not only on improved math
instruction and learning for all children but specifically improvement in
instruction and instructional resources that can lead to closing of significant
achievement gaps FCPS for lowperforming subpopulations."
 Nelson Palmer, Curriculum Specialist, FCPS
and what FCPS states in Version 1 of 'Get the Facts' [§5.0]:
"we wanted a text that would satisfy ... National Mathematics Panel’s 2008
recommendations for ... computational fluency"
To understand the FCPS point of view on Investigations, review:
1.3 FCPS Terminology and Reference


This section is a reference of terminology and important public FCPS
documents relating to this paper from the now defunct 20082009
elementary math section of www.fcpsteach.org.
Standard Algorithm: "Historically validated mathematically efficient
procedures" (as per NCTM), which the far majority of the population uses to
learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers. Very likely,
the algorithms your parents learned in school. Investigations calls these
'Standard U.S. Algorithms'.
[§4.0]
Regrouping: A modern name for 'carrying' and 'borrowing'.
Number Combinations: The singledigit addition and multiplication pairs
and their counterparts for subtraction and division.
Math Facts / Basic Math Facts:
Facts about math that students are expected to memorize
and have instant recall of (as opposed to spending time to calculate the answer).
For example, we expect that 6×3=18 is just 'known', whereas 66×34 is
not and must be calculated. FCPS expects all 'number combinations' to be memorized.
Primary Resource: The single resource that is taught the far majority
of the time. Like Investigations, which was taught in 157 of 170 4th grade
class periods in 20082009.
Supplemental Resources/Materials: Any nonprimary resource. Sometimes
even FCPS internally created materials and lessons, usually to fill a
deficiency in a primary resource. For example for the 20082009 year
FCPS created
Supplemental Lessons and 10Min. Math  Grade 4.
Voluntary State Curriculum (VSC): That which the State of Maryland
says students should know and be able to do at each grade level
[Math VSC].
The FCPS Essential Curriculum is closely tied to the Maryland
Voluntary State Curriculum. These are minimum standards.
Essential Curriculum (EC): That which FCPS says students should know and
be able to do at each grade level. A very short couple page
document (for math) per grade level.
For example the EC as of January 2009:
Grade 1
 Grade 2
 Grade 3
 Grade 4
 Grade 5
 Grade 6
 Grade K
 Grade PreK
 Overview.
FCPS defines 'Essential Curriculum as
"skills and competencies that all FCPS students are expected
to achieve by high school graduation"
[source: FCPS Glossary]
Curriculum: All of the primary resources (like Investigations),
supplemental resources, etc used by a teacher to teach the Essential
Curriculum. WARNING: Sometimes FCPS uses "Curriculum"
when it obviously meant "Essential Curriculum", and viseversa! To keep
it straight, think 'the Curriculum is used to teach the Essential Curriculum'.
Curriculum Maps / Curriculum Unit Guides: FCPS prepared
materials that instructs a teacher how to teach
the Essential Curriculum using the Curriculum resources. Namely, a guide for
what to teach every day of the year. For example,
Grade 4 Curriculum Unit Guides for 20082009:
Unit 1
 Unit 2
 Unit 3
 Unit 4
 Unit 5
 Unit 6
 Unit 7
 Unit 8
 Unit 9
Get the Facts: What FCPS calls their publications explaining the FCPS
decision to switch to the Investigations math text.
[§5.0]
Grouping: It is the position by FCPS that math classes should be heterogeneous
[Grouping in Math].
Namely, math classes should be filled with students of varied skill levels
that work together. As opposed to homogeneous, where only students at the
same skill level work together.
2.0 Smoking Gun: Fails NCTM Focal Points


FCPS in their 'Get the Facts' document states they
"wanted a text that would satisfy the National Council
of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Curriculum Focal Points"
[§5.0].
However, Investigations fails to meet these (and likely other)
NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)
2006 focal point recommendations to
"develop fluency with efficient procedures", including the:
 standard algorithm for adding whole numbers,
a grade 2 focal point.
Investigations mentions 'standard addition'
in Grade 4 in only one class session
 standard algorithm for subtracting whole numbers
a grade 2 focal point.
Investigations mentions 'standard subtraction'
in Grade 5 in only one class session
 standard algorithm for multiplying whole numbers
a grade 4 focal point.
Investigations mentions 'standard multiplication'
in Grade 5 in only one class session
 standard algorithm for dividing whole numbers
a grade 5 focal point.
Investigations does not teach 'standard division'
And what is meant by 'standard algorithm' is well understood by everyone
in the world, except for FCPS. FCPS has improperly redefined 'standard
algorithms' to mean what they are teaching (all the algorithms in
Investigations). There is no question what NCTM means by 'standard
algorithm'. Just go to NCTM and search and you will find examples (one seen right).
The examples match what Investigations calls the "U.S. standard algorithm for
multiplication", and is NOT what is taught every day at FCPS.
As per NCTM, "The standard algorithms are historically
validated mathematically efficient procedures"
[source]
"We would hope that use of a partial sums algorithm
for addition and partial product algorithm or proportional box algorithm
for multiplication help to provide students with a precursor to using
the more efficient standard procedure or algorithm"
 Skip Fennell, NCTM President  as per 6/15/2009 email with NCTM

Grade 5, Unit 3, page 76

Investigations mentions standard addition, subtraction, and
multiplication algorithms, but mentioning once (and many grade
levels too late) does not teach (develop fluency) with the
algorithms.
[§4.4].
This is made even clearer
when Investigations states that "students are not expected to switch"
(Grade 5, Unit 3, page 76) to standard U.S. algorithms (right).
It is very ironic that Investigations was created in response to
the 1989 NCTM publication "Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for
School Mathematics". Ironic because Investigations clearly misunderstood
what the NCTM was advocating. The NCTM has stated that the 2006
focal points (advocating fluency with standard algorithms) are not a
"change of direction or policy"
[source].
For Investigations to now ignore the NCTM focal points, which advocate fluency
with standard algorithms, clearly demonstrates how 'out of touch'
Investigations is with mathematicians today.
2.1 Smoking Gun: Investigations Fails NMP 2008


NMP 2008 Final Report

On March 13, 2008, the National Mathematics Advisory Panel
published their final report.
The report contains 45 'Findings and Recommendations'.
FCPS in their 'Get the Facts' document (Version 1) states they
"we wanted a text that would satisfy ... National Mathematics Panel’s 2008
recommendations for ... computational fluency" [§5.0].
In the Elementary Math Textbook Selection Overview document,
Nelson Palmer cites "The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel"
as one of the reasons a new elementary textbook is needed.
One key NMP 2008 finding (of eight) in the "Learning Processes" category
dealing specifically with 'computational fluency':
"11) Computational proficiency with whole number operations is dependent
on sufficient and appropriate practice to develop automatic recall of
addition and related subtraction facts, and of multiplication and related
division facts. It also requires fluency with the standard algorithms for
addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Additionally it requires
a solid understanding of core concepts, such as the commutative,
distributive, and associative properties. Although the learning of concepts
and algorithms reinforce one another, each is also dependent on different
types of experiences, including practice."
 NMP 2008 page xix

So, FCPS wanted a text that would satisfy NMP 2008 recommendations for
computational fluency  and then selects Investigations, which does
not teach, as NMP 2008 states in the quotation above, the required
standard algorithms? Incredible!
Investigations mentions standard addition, subtraction, and
multiplication algorithms, but mentioning each algorithm once and only once (and many grade
levels too late) does not teach (develop fluency) with the
algorithms  and standard division is totally missing
[§4.4].
Also, Investigations actually instructs students to not
use standard algorithms [§4.5].
Also, this quotation from the NMP 2008 report is interesting:
"Few curricula in the United States provide sufficient practice to ensure
fast and efficient solving of basic fact combinations and execution of the
standard algorithms."
 NMP 2008 page 26

The report recognizes that curricula like Investigations have inappropriately
shifted away from 'standard algorithms'.
In response to this, FCPS goes ahead and selects Investigations.
2.2 Smoking Gun: US Department of Education


United States Department of Education Study:
The United States Department of Education recently published a
peer reviewed study entitled
Achievement
Effects of Four Early Elementary School Math Curricula: Findings from First Graders in 39 Schools.
One conclusion of this study was (this is not my opinion, but rather
the results of a peerreviewed study):
"Firstgrade math achievement was significantly higher in schools randomly
assigned to Math Expressions or Saxon Math than in those schools assigned to
Investigations in Number, Data, and Space or to Scott ForesmanAddison Wesley Mathematics."
I recommend that you first read the
executive summary (11 pages)
of this study, possibly followed by the
full report (148 pages).
2.3 Smoking Gun: Bogus Success Claims


Problems with Pearson's Claims of Success:
The publisher of Investigations publishes a document entitled
Investigations in Numbers, Data & Space  Evidence for Success.
Read this document and Investigations seems like the greatest thing
since sliced bread  test scores go up whenever Investigations is used.
However, there is an
Independent Survey of Math Investigations Success Stories
and the results are rather shocking. Many (40 of 70) of the 'successes' cited by the Publisher are no
longer using Investigations at all, or are in the process of dropping Investigations due
to problems with the program.
So the successes cited by the Publisher can now be seen
for what they really are  marketing material  and not actual
research subject to any review and verification.
This Independent Survey document is a must read for any school system
considering adopting Investigations. It will open your eyes  Especially
the comments by some of the schools that dropped Investigations.
In fact, one of the claimed successes was "a disaster":
On May 13, 2009, I personally verified
that the quotation that you see above from the "Coventry Local School
District, OH  Curriculum Director" is indeed a quotation from
that school's Curriculum Director. In my email communications with
the Coventry Curriculum Director, she confirmed this, and added:
"The discovery/exploration approach it uses did not work
for our students and families. It was a disaster and put our
students years behind in the demonstration of basic math skills
and competencies. Each teacher, during that time, will fully admit
that they had to develop their own program for teaching math and if
the students were successful on our state assessments it was because
of what each teacher did individually, not what the program offered."
The bottom line is that the veracity of Pearson, who publishes
Investigations has been impeached. Pearson in 2007 produced
a 'success' document, and included a school system where Investigations
was "a disaster" and dropped Investigations
around 20022003. This failure by Pearson in basic research and
fact checking calls into question anything Pearson says in
support of Investigations. Anything now said by Pearson about
Investigations needs to be fact checked and verified.
Pearson has inappropriately taken credit for gains in test scores,
which instead were the result of what "each teacher did". This
actually will be a huge problem for any school system (like FCPS) that
will use Investigations with supplemental instruction. Any test scores
will measure not only Investigations but also the supplemental instruction.
[§6.2]
2.4 Smoking Gun: Inefficient Strategies


Investigations is fundamentally flawed in that the increased time that it takes
for a child to implement Investigations strategies is not 'classroom'
and 'test' friendly, when compared against other superior 'standard' strategies.
[§4.2]
When exercises take more time, that means fewer exercises
are conducted in a fixed time frame. Meaning that progress
towards a deeper understanding is slowed (or takes more classroom
time).
Also, when a strategy 'takes more time', any child taking a timed test
will be at a significant disadvantage, as compared to children using
more efficient strategies.
This is not an issue about being 'fast' or 'slow'  but rather it is
an issue of efficiency  or quite simply  time management. You
teach a child how to multiply and how multiplication works, and make sure
they understand it deeply. Then, move on, and give the child a tool (an
efficient strategy), they can use the rest of their lives.
For children who understand math quickly, Investigations monotonous
strategies will turn children off to math.
My sisterinlaw is a college math professor in my home town. She is very
concerned with math education trends she is witnessing first hand. She
is concerned that ever since the home town high school adopted a
'fuzzy math' curriculum, that not a single student going to
her college from that high school has selected 'math' as a major.
Also, Investigations is fundamentally flawed in that its strategies
are skipping intermediate steps, which for a math teacher, are simply
not acceptable.
[§4.7]
3.0 FCPS Integrity Problems


Check out the new FCPS Watchdog Group
This section is about the integrity of FCPS, a public organization
with the responsibility of 40,000 of our children. We the public
have a right to expect that FCPS officials will interact with
parents in an honest manner  and that they will not only tell us
the truth, but the whole truth (after all, a half truth is a whole lie).
Probably one of the most shocking recent events is the
very public attack by Dr. Bonnie Borsa on Donna Crook [§3.9.b],
where Dr. Borsa openly made false statements in her attack of Donna Crook.
LIED: to express what is false; convey a false impression
 Webster's College Dictionary

The integrity of FCPS is simple to judge. Look at what FCPS
says in public, and compare that to what can be uncovered
by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, or by other
factchecking.
3.1.a FCPS LIED in a 'Public Information Act' reply


Secure documents in June 2009

On June 5, 2009, a Maryland Public Information Act request was filed
with FCPS to obtain access to
all the elementary math 'secure' documents
at
www.fcpsteach.org.
FCPS drastically changed their web site after my PIA.
Most documents were removed from their web site.
A small subset (7 of 46) of these 'secure' documents can be seen
right under the heading 'Mathematics Position Statements'.
PIA3/DENIAL ONE: In a
Maryland Public Information Act reply
dated June 22, 2009 FCPS denied access to ALL
'secure' documents citing §10618(C) and stated:
"To disclose the information would be contrary to the public interest
as the information includes testing and assessment related academic materials.
Specifically, to disclose secured testing materials would significantly compromise
the integrity of our instructional program."
§10618(C) is "Examination Records", which under PIA law is defined
as "test questions, scoring keys, and other examination information."
Of particular note in the PIA request is that I asked that if I were denied
access to some of the documents, to "please provide me with the portions
that can be disclosed". But more importantly, under §10614(b)(3)(iii)
of the PIA law, FCPS has an obligation to "permit inspection of any
part of the record that is subject to inspection and is reasonably severable."
The huge legal problem with the FCPS FOIA reply is that
FCPS inappropriately denied access to these documents FIVE TIMES;
(1) in the PIA reply,
(2) by refusing to return my phone call,
(3) in a letter from Cannon replying to my email,
(4) in a email from Burgee replying to my email,
(5) in my letter from Burgee, replying to my formal complaint letter.
But by simple
inspection, the "Mathematics Position Statements" (and likely other
documents) clearly do not fit the denial criteria and should have
been disclosed.
Namely, all of the secure "Mathematics Position Statements" documents (seen below right)
do not fit the denial criteria because they were
previously published by FCPS (seen below left):
And as
FCPS Regulation 40077,
makes very clear, any content posted on a FCPS website only gets there
after being "approved" for publication by a Principal or Department Head!
'Learning Communities' document

Take the
"Learning Communities"
secure document highlighted in a red box above right, which is a single page document
(seen right), and authored by "npalmer".
This "Learning Communities" document is clearly not an "Examination Record"
as FCPS claims as per §10618(C). It has no 'testing' nor any 'assessment' related
information. So, it fails the FCPS denial criteria.
Just look at all the rest of the "Mathematics Position Statements" documents
that FCPS also claims are "Examination Records":
'Learning Communities' public from May 2005 until May 2009

But worse yet legally for FCPS is that this 'Learning Communities' document
was publicly available for nearly four years on the fcpsteach.org
web site (right) from around May 2005 until May 2009
[source: www.archive.org
and files downloaded on Jan 15, 2009].
So, if you take the FCPS rejection statement at face value and as accurate,
you have no choice but to conclude that FCPS itself, by having these now 'secure'
positions statements public for the last couple of years, 'significantly
compromised the integrity of their own instructional program'.
DENIAL TWO:
Probably most telling is that I left a message on June 24, 2009 at 3:39 pm for
Jamie Cannon (FCPS attorney) to call me back to discuss why FCPS failed to disclose
documents. But on Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 4:14 pm, Monique Wilson (paralegal)
called me back instead. We spoke for about 12 minutes. I told Monique that
some documents were inappropriately withheld and why. I said that I
needed to speak with Jamie about this issue.
Monique said Jamie would call me back early the next week.
[Jamie never called me back].
DENIAL THREE:
I also sent an email
[view email]
to Jamie on June 26, 2009. I have confirmation Jamie read the
email just hours later, but Jamie never emailed back.
But,
in a letter
dated July 2, 2009, Jamie denies
any problems. More importantly, Jamie Cannon states in her letter that
she confirmed with custodians Steve Lockhard (Associate Superintendent), Bonnie Hain (Director
of Curriculum), and Nelson Palmer (Curriculum Specialist for Mathematics) that FCPS
did nothing inappropriate. Linda Burgee (Superintendent) is listed as a CC on
the letter.
So, FCPS inappropriately not releasing public documents in a legal PIA goes
all the way up the entire chain of command to the very top person at FCPS,
Linda Burgee, Superintendent.
In the July 2 letter
Jamie Cannon once again denies access to all secure documents, but this
time improperly using a catchall "confidential" claim (not allowed under PIA law)
and mentions 'interagency' materials, which is §10618(b) of the PIA
code, which states "A custodian may deny inspection of any part of an
interagency or intra–agency letter or memorandum that would not be available
by law to a private party in litigation with the unit."
Now that is all you need to know about FCPS integrity. FCPS claims that the
"Mathematics Position Statements" are not available  even through the 'discovery'
process during litigation  for documents they themselves knowingly previously
published.
Also note that the original denial only cited 'Examination Records', which
is §10618(c). However, it is the opinion of the local Circuit Court, in
City of Frederick v. Randall Family, LLC, 154 Md. App. 543, 841 A.2d 10 (2004),
that a custodian later citing denial reasons not stated in the original
PIA denial means that (in the words of the Maryland Attorney General)
the original PIA denial was a legally deficient denial
[See Maryland Public Information Act Manual (11th Ed.) (October 2008), Chapter IV].
And a third source is William Varga, Maryland Attorney General, on Oct 13, 2009 5:43pm.
Also, Jamie's denial excuse of 'interagency materials' is a literal reading
of the words in PIA law, but fails to grasp the true meaning of those words,
which case law clearly says it only applies to predecisional materials,
not postdecisional materials. And a publication of a document like a
'position statement' on a FCPS website (which requires department head
approval) is defacto 'postdecisional'.
[as per section D.1 of PIA Chapter III].
Simply inexcusable mistakes for the FCPS lawyer, Jamie Cannon, to make.


DENIAL FOUR:
And what makes the FCPS PIA reply and followup letter even
sillier is that FCPS refuses to listen. In November 2009 I notified
the Superintendent of FCPS, Dr. Linda Burgee, that some of the secure
documents were previously published by FCPS and that I had some of
the documents in hand
[view email].
And did FCPS listen? Of course not. Dr. Linda Burgee wrote an email back
stating that FCPS was "appropriately providing responses"
[view email].
FCPS Grade 4 Assessment Packet

I have seen most (if not all) of the
'secure documents'
already. Just review the document
seen to the right to verify the veracity of my claim.
Frankly, the FCPS denial is all about FCPS wanting to shut
me down and say 'NO', rather than the actual contents of
the requested documents.
So, the core issue is that FCPS administration is
knowingly denying access to public documents. Why?
I have no doubt that FCPS administrators see me as a thorn in
their side, especially given what I have uncovered (they are
already deleting my emails without reading
them); [§3.3].
But after you read this entire section on FCPS
integrity, you will see the pattern of how FCPS administration (mis)behaves.
However, no matter who I am, FCPS has the legal obligation to
properly respond to FOIA requests. And FCPS has made it clear
that they are now willing to block my PIA requests and force me
to file a civil suit to gain access to documents which FCPS itself
previously published.
The only thing FCPS has done in their repeated denials is make themselves
look incredibly silly, and likely criminally violated (§10627)
the Maryland Public Information Act law.
DENIAL FIVE:
On January 29, 2010,
a formal complaint letter
was filed with FCPS on these issues.
A reply from the Superintendent, Dr. Linda Burgee,
confirms that Jamie Cannon violated FCPS Regulation 20042! And then
goes on to claim their denial was 'proper'!
And contrary to previous emails with the Linda Burgee, who indicated that
Steve Lockard would be helpful on this issue, Steve Lockard
totally failed to respond to my letter! Once again, so much for
FCPS integrity.

Civil Case 10C10000494:
On February 12, 2010 a Petition for Judicial Review was mailed to the Frederick
County Maryland Circuit Court  so that the courts can determine once and
for all if FCPS violated State Law by withholding these documents.
March 13, 2013: After FCPS stalled (the court had to ORDER FCPS to
produce the administrative record for the case to move forward), missed
court deadlines, violated court rules (failed to properly notify me of
certain court events, as required by court rules), claimed to the courts that
the documents were "Examination
Records", the court finally ruled that FCPS' claims were "discredited" and
"overbroad", and ORDERED FCPS to turn over the requested documents!
News:
WFMD
·
Gazette

3.1.b FCPS claims 'Basic Math Facts' harm the public


Secure documents in June 2009

PIA3: In a
Maryland Public Information Act reply
dated June 22, 2009 FCPS denied access to many documents, including
'Basic Math Facts' Cards!
But take a look at the 'Basic Math Facts' documents (seen right)
that were requested in my PIA.
Remember that basic math facts are those facts that must be
memorized by all children, like 2+2=4.
It is simply beyond any 'common sense' that FCPS honestly
thinks that disclosing a math fact, like 2+2=4, to the public
"would be contrary to the public interest".
Remember, the administration officials responsible for telling me that
disclosing 2+2=4 to the public would harm the public interests are the
same administration officials responsible for making decisions about
what your child will (or will not) learn.
And the PIA denial is clearly seen to be incredibly arbitrary and capricious
after you realize that FCPS itself publishes a
Basic Math Facts Testing Package,
which clearly has tests and answer keys in the package!
Please note that FCPS in its denial letter denied access to not only copy
the documents, but also denied the ability to even inspect the documents!
So, FCPS thinks that your kids can see and use Basic Math
Fact Cards, but that you, as the parent, may not see the cards.
3.1.c Jamie Cannon violated FCPS regulation 20042


PIA3: In a
Maryland Public Information Act reply
dated June 22, 2009 FCPS denied access to ALL 'secure' documents  discussed
in great detail in the prior section [§3.1.a])  which
states the following:
"Please be advised that pursuant to 10623 of the State Government Article,
you have the right to file a complaint in Circuit Court seeking a review
of this decision".
However,
FCPS regulation 20042 "Public Information Act Requests"
states
"If the custodian denies the written request, he shall within ten (10) working
days give the applicant a written statement that gives the reasons for the denial,
the legal authority for the denial, and notice of the applicant's appeal rights
under section P. of this regulation"
and section P of the regulation states
"If a written request is denied by the custodian the
applicant may, within thirty (30) days after receipt of the notice of the
denial, request a hearing with the superintendent."
Jamie Cannon was required to disclose in the PIA denial
letter the right to request a hearing with the superintendent 
but did not!
Jamie Cannon never disclosed the right to a hearing with the superintendent
for the very PIA denial she herself authored  talk about a major conflict
of interest!

The result: Jamie Cannon's failure to follow FCPS regulations
very negatively affected my legal rights to have Jamie's PIA denial
properly reviewed!
And Jamie Cannon refused to return my phone calls on this PIA. So, just
one more very clear example of how FCPS administration is violating their
own rules and regulations, and apparently without consequence, and refuses
to listen to public concerns.
On January 29, 2010,
a formal complaint letter
was filed with FCPS on these issues.
A reply from the Superintendent, Dr. Linda Burgee,
confirms that Jamie Cannon violated FCPS Regulation 20042!

3.2 Std Multiplication was not taught in 4th grade


The FCPS Get the Facts document
[§5.0]
states that students will be able to multiply using the standard U.S. algorithm.
PIA5: In a
Maryland Public Information Act reply,
FCPS admits that it can provide no Investigations sessions, no supplemental
resources, nor any other documents that shows that teachers in 4th
grade taught 'standard multiplication' during the 20082009 school year.

The same can be said for subtraction and division  simply by
reviewing the 20082009 'Curriculum Unit Guides' (what is taught
in math every day of the school year) and 'Supplemental Materials'
posted on www.fcpsteach.org
[§1.3]
What FCPS has said in public about standard algorithms
being taught does not match up with what FCPS admits in legal FOIA
replies, and in private [§3.3].
And incredibly telling is that FCPS changed "study" to "work with"
[§5.7]. So, your children no
longer "study" standard algorithms, but apparently just "work with"
them  understandable once you realize that under Investigations,
'standard algorithms', are only mentioned, not taught
[§4.4]
and are told not to use standard algorithms
[§4.5].
3.3 Emails were ignored / deleted


In the very specific context of standard multiplication being taught
in 4th grade in the 20082009 school year, Nelson Palmer in a June 6, 2009
email stated "The grade 4 unit guide indicates initial instruction
in unit 1 and mastery by unit 8."
[view email]
But in fact, the
unit guides do not even mention standard multiplication (they DO mention
standard addition). So what is Nelson Palmer even referring to?
But only days later, on June 10, 2009, Nelson Palmer admitted via
email "The guides this year do not specifically direct
teachers as to exact sessions in which the algorithm is taught",
[view email]
and that
guides for 20092010 were being revised. Very strange wording considering
there are no Investigations sessions in 4th grade guides dealing with standard multiplication
(but they are in 5th grade).
But a direct contradiction with what he said only days earlier.
First Mr. Palmer claims that the algorithm is 'indicated',
but then later changes his mind and says teachers were 'not directed' to
sessions.
Note the timing of Mr. Palmer's
replies vs the June 10, 2009 FOIA reply in 3.2.
I sent in a follow up email to Bonnie Ward and Mr. Palmer on June 11
[view email].
Later I received confirmation
that my email to Mr. Palmer was deleted without being read
[view deleted notification].
I received confirmation that Bonnie Ward read the follow up email
[view read confirmation],
but she has not replied either.
The unwillingness of top officials at FCPS to even discuss this issue
is more telling than any actual response  especially since
only days earlier in a
June 7 Frederick News Post article
Bonnie Ward was quoted as stating
"she and her colleagues will continue to respond to parents' concerns".
Well, I am the parent of a child at FCPS and only days later
(1) Bonnie Ward read my emails on this issue and never responded and
(2) her colleague Nelson Palmer 'deleted without reading'
[view deleted notification]
my follow up email.

3.4 No curriculum changes?


Curriculum Unit Guides

Is Investigations just one component of the curriculum
[§5.6], or basically
the entire curriculum?
The 'Curriculum Unit Guides' (example cover seen right) on
www.fcpsteach.org
[§1.3]
tell a very different story.
These unit guides
[§1.3]
spell out what is to be taught every day
of the entire school year. In 20082009, FCPS strongly
followed Investigations.
Out of a possible 160 4th grade Investigations sessions spread over 9 units,
the FCPS unit guides point to ALL but three sessions, and they point to
an additional 13 supplemental lessons (created by FCPS; none of which mention
standard algorithms).
So, in 4th grade for 20082009, roughly 157 of 170 sessions were
Investigations sessions. And Investigations is a curricula very
different than the old curriculum.
Investigations has just a single session on a 'standard
algorithm' (addition) in 4th grade [§4.4].
So, where is standard subtraction, multiplication, and division?
In emails and FOIA's, FCPS admits there will be (significant)
changes next year.
But what about the 20082009 school year?
What about their public statements to the contrary?
The 'essential curriculum' is a four page document
that has (probably) not changed. However, what is taught every single
day of the year (the curriculum) has dramatically changed
to Investigations (which does not 'teach' standard algorithms).
3.5 St. Mary's County quotations


Dr. Martirano

In the FCPS 'Get the Facts' document
[§5.0],
FCPS quoted Dr. Martirano, the
Superintendent of St. Mary's County Public Schools (SMCPS), as stating
some very proInvestigations statements. However, the quotations were
quickly (and quietly) removed.
PIA4: In a
Maryland Public Information Act reply
dated June 10, 2009, FCPS can provide no documentation on
where quotations attributes to Dr. Martirano came from. There were
quotation marks around sentences attributed to Dr. Martirano. So, where
did FCPS get these quotations, if FCPS has no documentation on these quotations?
On June 12, 2009, I asked Bonnie Ward (the author of the FCPS 'Get the
Facts' document) about the source of the SMCPS quotations and how/why
they were added and then removed [view email].
I received confirmation Bonnie Ward read my email only
minutes after I sent it. But Bonnie Ward never replied to my email
questions
[view email].
On June 12, 2009 Dr. Martirano released a statement
via his lawyer
stating he never provided a quotation to FCPS for publication.
No wonder FCPS does not want to talk about this issue. If Dr. Martirano never
provided a quotation to FCPS for publication, where did FCPS get the quotation
it published and attributed to Dr. Martirano?
3.6 NMP 2008 timeline lies


Once: In a document (seen via the Maryland Public Information Act process and obtained
electronically via a second source) entitled
"Elementary Math Textbook Selection Overview"
the author, Nelson Palmer (Elementary Math Curriculum Specialist)
states one of the reasons for a new math textbook selection process is
"The Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel" in 2008.
Twice: The following claim appears in the FCPS 'Get the Facts' document (Version 1) [§5.0]
"we wanted a text that would satisfy ... National Mathematics Panel’s 2008
recommendations for ... computational fluency".
However there is just one huge timing problem.
The NMP 2008 final report came out on
March 13 of 2008, which is AFTER the FCPS Textbook Selection Committee
had already selected Investigations on February 22, 2008.
This means that it was impossible for the NMP final report
to play any part in the FCPS textbook selection process, as FCPS claims.
But worse yet, even if the timeline were correct, had FCPS actually carefully
read the NMP 2008 final report, FCPS would have noticed that Investigations
fails to meet the report's guidelines [§2.1]
on computational fluency!
3.7 Essential Curriculum standard algorithms?


The FCPS "Get the Facts" documents (V2 and later)
claim that the "essential curriculum includes ...
standard algorithms".
[§5.0]
What is meant by 'standard algorithms' is very well defined, not only
by the NCTM, but also by the new Investigations curricula, which
uses the term 'standard US algorithm' for 'standard algorithm'.
Simply review the
"FCPS 4th Grade Essential Curriculum"
[§1.3]
(only 4 pages) and verify this FCPS claim for yourself
(search the document for 'standard').
Take multiplication. The only goal in the Essential Curriculum dealing
with multipledigit multiplication is
MA.400.60.28,
which states
"Multiply a 2 or 3digit number (including money) by a onedigit number"
and that is all!
So, under the pre 20082009 math program, 'standard algorithms' were taught by default.
Under Investigations, other strategies are instead taught, and 'standard algorithms'
take a very back seat and are mentioned only once, or never.
[§4.4]
So, the essential curriculum in fact makes no reference to
'standard algorithms', as FCPS claims.
3.8 TERC Investigations standard algorithms?


After you read the 'Get the Facts' document
[§5.0],
you are left feeling that 'Investigations teaches standard
algorithms to students'. However, look very closely.
FCPS is being nothing short of very misleading.
FCPS uses the word 'USES'  notice that FCPS
does not use the word 'teaches.'
Well, in 959 Investigations sessions K5 (six years), there are only
three sessions on standard algorithms
[§4.4].
Standard addition mentioned once in six years. Standard subtraction
mentioned once in six years. Standard multiplication mentioned once
in six years. Standard division not mentioned at all.
So, is this what you understood when FCPS says that Investigations
"uses" standard algorithms?
In fact, Investigations actually instructs students to
not use standard algorithms by telling students to only use "clear and
concise" strategies and then instructing children that 'standard
algorithms' are not clear.
[§4.5]
To then state that "Investigations uses standard algorithms" is
then incredibly misleading on the part of FCPS.
3.9.a Borsa 'facts' not verifiable


Dr. Bonnie Borsa

Dr. Bonnie Borsa is the VP of the FCPS Board of Education. She appears to be
the spokesperson in regards to Investigations, and some of what she had said
in public about Investigations is simply not verifiable, even by FOIA requests.
Policy 100.8  Code of Conduct
"a standard to guide the members in interactions with each other and with the community"
states the Board Members are to
"Clearly distinguish opinions from facts. Ensure all statements of
fact are accurate and verifiable".
Dr. Borsa claimed
on a radio show about Investigations
"We know it does work. We've had it in Lincoln Elementary School
for four years and they have doubled their achievement in math."
But the MSA test data, and results of a
Maryland Public Information Act reply show that Dr. Borsa can not back up her
claims that 'Lincoln Elementary School' doubled math achievement.
[§5.1]
I even have the internal memo where I believe that
'doubling' claim was first (incorrectly) made and likely
found its way onto Dr. Borsa's desk
[view email].
PIA12: Dr. Borsa claimed
[§5.2]
in a Frederick News Post article,
"Math teachers were finding that some upper level
math students knew math only by rote and did not have
a broader understanding of why they performed certain
mathematical operations."
But the results of a
Maryland Public Information Act
reply indicates Dr. Borsa has no
documentation to back up her claim. FCPS can not point to a single
FCPS teacher that said this.
So, where did Dr. Borsa's claims come from? Did she properly
follow the code of conduct? Since her statements of fact can not
be verified, even via PIA requests, Dr. Borsa likely did violate
policy 100.8.
So what happens when a Board member violates a policy?
Nothing according to Jamie Cannon "there are no penalties included in the Policy nor
are there consequences listed in other Board policies"
[§3.15].
Isn't is nice to know that FCPS Board Members can say anything they
want, violating Board Policies, all without any consequences.
3.9.b Bonnie Borsa ambushes Donna Crook


VIDEO: Dr. Borsa attacks Donna Crook

On October 26, 2009, Dr. Bonnie Borsa attacked Donna Crook at
the end of a Board Meeting
[FNP article].
To watch this incredible attack unfold, watch these YouTube Videos:
Part 1,
Part 2,
Part 3.
Another source of this video is
FCPS itself
in 10.26.09 BOE 701801.
And according to
Lennie Thompson,
Frederick County Commissioner, at the
Commissioners' meeting on October 27, 2009, Lennie states that he is 100%
behind Donna Crook in one of Dr. Borsa's allegations (so, is Dr. Bonnie Borsa wrong).
watch video
A complaint letter was filed with
the President of the FCPS Board of Education (Jean Smith), on October 28, 2009, in response to Dr. Bonnie Borsa's ambush of Donna Crook.
[FNP article].
A second complaint letter was filed with
the President of the FCPS Board of Education (Jean Smith), on November 10, 2009  after results from a Public
Information Act request (evidence right) were obtained. The complaint letter deals with the
numerous factual errors Dr. Borsa made in regards to the evidence that Dr.
Borsa claimed she had, but did not.
A complaint letter
(referencing both letters above)
was also filed with Nancy S. Grasmick of the Maryland State Department of Education
on November 11, 2009.
[FNP article].
On January 15, 2010 a letter was sent to the Maryland "State Board" of Education
detailing concerns in this matter. On February 12, 2010 a followup letter was
sent to the Maryland "State Board" of Education detailing additional concerns
in this matter. It is more than interesting that in the
State Board ruling
on this issue, they cite "First Amendment" issues in declining to take
action.

And now, Dr. Bonnie Borsa, Vice President of the FCPS Board of Education
is herself in serious trouble for violating well published Board rule and regulations
in the
Board of Education member handbook:
 Code of Conduct: Be Responsible: Demonstrate fairness. Ensure that
all sides have a fair opportunity to present their respective positions:
Of course Dr. Borsa gave Donna an opportunity to speak, but without
giving Donna any time to research and prepare. Dr. Borsa obviously
prepared well in advance by having transcripts, receipts, etc. Dr.
Borsa refused that same time to prepare to Donna Crook, so it was
not a fair opportunity.
 Code of Conduct: Be Responsible: Clearly distinguish opinions from facts.
Ensure all statements of fact are accurate and verifiable:
Dr. Bonnie Borsa claims that receipts prove that no alcohol was
paid for on a FCPS card (that if it was paid for that it would
have showed). But that is simply not the case after examining the
receipts obtained via a PIA request. Dr. Borsa has a lot to answer
for  for claiming having the prior superintendent receipts, which in
fact she clearly did not have the receipts in hand!
 Board of Education Norms: Avoid surprises by articulating concerns in advance:
Dr. Bonnie Borsa did not tell Donna in advance that she was going to 'call out'
Donna in a PUBLIC meeting. The attack was a huge surprise to Donna, which
we can all see unfold on the video, and nothing Dr. Bonnie Borsa says about
their prior history ('we talked about issues in private') can change the fact
that what unfolded on Oct 26 was a total surprise to Donna.
 Board members and staff are expected to maintain the confidentiality of
closed session discussions at all times.
Dr. Borsa says she tried to address issues in private "behind closed doors".
In a radio show, she admits this was in closed sessions. If anything from those
closed sessions made it into the public meeting, Dr. Borsa violated the
confidentiality of those closed sessions.
 Board Members’ Requests for Information: When any Board Member requests
information from staff, all Board Members must be copied on the request, and
response. How did Borsa obtain receipts? How did Borsa obtain the policy from
the 80's? How did Borsa obtain transcripts? Since Donna was surprised by Dr.
Borsa's attack, did Donna receive copies of these? If not, Dr. Borsa once
again violated Board rules and regulations.
And now let's look at some of the 'facts' Dr. Borsa presented:
 Alcohol Policy: On the radio show Dr. Bonnie Borsa refers to,
the context of the discussion was
Board Policy 112
on alcohol which was adopted on 7/13/2005. Not a decades old policy
as Dr. Borsa wants us to think. So was there was another decades old
policy on alcohol? Very likely, but that does not take away from the
fact that Donna was present in 2005 for the adoption of Policy 112
[source].
Listen to radio show
hour 1
and
hour 2
 Receipts: Dr. Bonnie Borsa holds up a
pile of 'receipts'
and states that there was no alcohol paid for. However, that is not a true statement.
Given the many 'amount/tip/total' receipts (one seen right), alcohol could easily
have been paid for and would not show. Also, the receipts for the former superintendent are
clearly missing, which Dr. Borsa admits on November 13, 2009 in a FNP article.
[§3.17]
 Private Restrooms: Dr. Borsa states:
"of course there will be a number of public restrooms within the building.
And there is one small unisex toilet on the 5th floor that's going to be used by
school board members, by legal services, by Dr. Burgee and her staff."
[Listen to quotation]
Notice that Dr. Borsa did not say that the public can use that 5th level
restroom. Dr. Borsa then attacks Donna
for comments made on a radio show, stating:
"I have another transcript on August 31st on a radio talk show again.
You were discussing the restroom facilities at the central office and you
stated, and this is a quote: I'm sure there are several personal poopers
I'm sure there are private poopers too. And that is a quote from you
Mrs. Crook."
[Listen to quotation]
OK, so language aside, what did Donna REALLY say on the radio show:
"Well, I'm sure there's several personal poopers. I'm sure there's a couple
private poopers too."
[Listen to quotation]
[Listen to Entire Radio Show]
So Dr. Borsa misquoted Donna Crook! Now if you
are going to claim you are reading from a transcript, you had better make
100% sure the transcript is accurate!
And then after misquoting Donna, Dr. Borsa then hammers Donna
over the word 'private' and 'personal' (for a restroom that may not
even be open to the public)
View blueprint for new building.
On February 3, 2010, I personally attended the Facilities and Finance Meeting,
where it was discussed that a "swipe card" is needed to access everything in
the new office building. The only area accessible to the public is the lobby.
Access to bathrooms and the rest of the building will require a swipe card.
 All Board Members present? Borsa says "All Board Members are here"
Listen to quotation.
And yet, Angie Fish is clearly not at the meeting (just look at the videos above).
So Borsa makes a blatant error in a factual statement. Funny, do you see a
'pattern' developing in Dr. Borsa's own statements?
Was then 'President of the Board', Jean Smith, also involved in the attack on Donna Crook?
It is very interesting to note that it is not just Bonnie Borsa who attacked
Donna Crook. Just listen to
this quotation
and you will hear what appears to be Jean Smith stating
"it would have showed" (in regards to an alcohol purchase in
the receipts), and then Bonnie Borsa latching onto the quotation and
repeating it. It is clear that others on the board owe Donna Crook
a very public apology as well.
3.9.c Borsa proposes illegal act


A
January 21, 2010 newspaper article
reported the following
about the January 20 Board of Education Planning session:
"Board members expressed concern about the amount of money spent annually on
consumable workbooks for the Investigations Math program. Board
member Bonnie Borsa brought up the possibility of having parents pay for the
workbooks."
You can watch the discussion of this at the
FCPS BOE meeting videos
web site [1.20.10 BOE Part1 28:3635:00].
However, there is just one huge problem. According the Maryland Attorney
General:
"anything directly related to a school's curriculum must be available to all without charge"
And it is rather obvious that a nonoptional elementary math workbook is a part
of the curriculum.
And Maryland Law, Education Code
"§7106 Textbooks, materials of instruction, and supplies"
states that these are
"materials to be furnished free of charge"!
To support her argument, Bonnie Borsa cites other classes with required fees.
However, Bonnie Borsa is wrong!
FCPS Regulation 50033
clearly states:
"Schools may request, but not require, that students provide specific
school supplies and may charge fees for workbooks, newspapers, physical education uniforms,
industrial arts, home economics, and other materials that will become the student’s personal
property when the course or project is completed".
3.9.d Borsa false statements in FNP LTE


In a January 20, 2010 Board Meeting about budget reductions, in the context
of a discussion about the $257,000 yearly cost for the consumable TERC
Investigations student workbook (seen right).
Bonnie Borsa later said:
"Have the parents buy the workbook ..."
On January 31, 2009, a
Frederick News Post
Letter to the Editor
appeared on this very issue, with a lot more details.
Amazingly, Bonnie Borsa blew a gasket and in a follow up
Letter to the Editor
complained bitterly that she never said that.
Isn't it amazing how quickly Bonnie Borsa forgets that the Board Meetings
are video taped and published by FCPS. Just visit the
FCPS BOE meeting videos
web site and watch '1.20.10 BOE Part1 28:3635:00' and watch Dr. Borsa
say this and be amazed.
If Bonnie Borsa is so willing to make false statements in a Letter to the Editor
in an attempt to change public opinion, what else has she done that we have not
yet found out about?
3.10 FCPS is Destroying files  or LIED in a FOIA


I went to the FCPS Church Street building on June 17, 2009 to review
documents available to me via a FOIA filing. Monique Wilson gave
me a file a couple of inches high full of paper documents to review.
I saw a document I had seen before
("Elementary Math Textbook Selection Overview")
and asked Monique for the 'electronic'
original of that document.
Monique left the room (apparently asking others), and came back and
stated (on June 17, 2009) that there was no electronic original of that
document. Note, not that I could not have it, but that it no longer existed.
But that was incredibly strange, because I already had that document
as a PDF original via another source. Download
("Elementary Math Textbook Selection Overview")
yourself, save to your hard drive and then open that PDF. Review the 'File / Properties'
and verify that the original author is "Nelson.Palmer", and that the original Microsoft
Word Document filename is "Selection Process.doc".
No matter how you look at it, FCPS is in trouble.
Either (1) FCPS has the electronic original and they
lied to me during the FOIA query (about not having it),
or (2) FCPS really no longer has the electronic original, proving (since I
have a copy of the original via another source), that FCPS is destroying
electronic originals.
And probably most telling is Jamie Cannon's (lack of any) response days later.
On Wed, June 24 at 1:46pm I emailed Jamie Cannon in regards to my PIA request
and asked "Please email the original "Elementary Math Textbook Selection Overview"
document to me.". Jamie Cannon read my email on minutes later at 2:08pm.
However, Jamie Cannon never responded to my email. Later, a "Monique Wilson"
asked for clarification (which she received from me). I never heard back from Monique
either.
FCPS's unwillingness to even respond to a very simple email
question in regards to a document (part of an issued PIA) is not acceptable
and is legally deficient.
3.11 TERC session missing in PIA reply


Investigations 4th grade Unit 5 Session 2.4

On June 12, 2009 a FOIA request was made requesting primary resources
and any other documents in regards to 'standard U.S. addition' in 4th
grade 20082009.
PIA8: The
Maryland Public Information act reply
did not disclose the requested primary resource
Investigations sessions.
Namely, 4th grade session 2.4 in unit 5 entitled
"Studying the U.S. Algorithm for Addition" (seen right) had to be legally
disclosed by FCPS in the FOIA reply, but inappropriately was not disclosed.
In an email dated June 26, 2009 I notified Jamie Cannon of this problem with
the FCPS PIA reply.
In a letter
Ms. Cannon simply dismisses any problems.
This rather blatant omission  not once, but twice  by
FCPS is yet one more demonstration that FCPS does not treat FOIA requests
seriously. This demonstrates that FCPS is willing to knowingly withhold
public information that was specifically asked for and that FCPS is
legally obligated to provide.
3.12 Ann Reever denies coprincipal


On May 26, 2009, I emailed Ann Reever, Principal of Lincoln Elementary
School and asked her some questions about Investigations, staff, and
the coprincipal. In her reply she stated:
"No one from the staff was replaced! Nor did we have a coprincipal"
[view email]
VIDEO: Aug 27, 2007

Well, watch
this video
(right) by the Frederick News Post where coprincipals Ann Reever and Yvonne
Wright discuss how they split language arts and math
responsibilities. And where Ann Reever actually uses
the word "coprincipal"!
Also, there are a couple of relevant newspaper articles.
Two (school) heads are better than one
explains when the coprincipal was hired
and
Teamwork
discusses the first day of school.
A follow up email to Ann Reever on June 19, 2009 about Investigations
was deleted without being read on June 22, 2009
[view deleted notification].
3.13 Marita Loose says 'go FOIA'


On June 12, 2009, Marita Loose (executive director, communication services)
was asked via email how the 'Get the Facts' document (which she
claims she 'produced') ended up with an Author of 'Steve Ward' (who is
not a FCPS employee) and a Company of 'Ward Systems Group'.
Marita Loose refused to answer and stated
"For further clarification, I recommend you submit
a FOIA request through the office of Jamie Cannon, FCPS attorney"
[view email].
Well, so much for FCPS cooperation.
3.15 FCPS Code of Conduct Policy


Policy 100.8  Code of Conduct
"a standard to guide the members in interactions with each other and with the community"
states the Board Members are to
"Clearly distinguish opinions from facts. Ensure all statements of
fact are accurate and verifiable".
Jamie Cannon was asked "Are there any consequence to violating this 'code of conduct'?"
Ms. Cannon's reply was:
"there are no penalties included in the Policy nor are there
consequences listed in other Board policies."
[view email]
So, I guess the Board policies are there to make the public feel good,
not to actually keep board members in check. A FCPS Board Member could
lie to you, tell you they are lying to you, and the Board Member would
suffer no consequences whatsoever.
Visit
Policy 109  Ethics
and review "109.3 Prohibited Conduct and Interests".
Amazingly, this ethics policy prohibits only very specifically named
unethical activity in which the net effect appears to involve financial
gains by the Board Member or very close family members
All other unnamed unethical behavior is not prohibited!
So financial gains to other relatives or friends is allowed, as well as
most other unethical behavior!
And when there was an ethics complaint brought against the BoE for
violating FCPS "Pilot" vs "Field Test" policies
[source],
Bonnie Borsa
stated "the Ethics Panel declared that such an investigation
was not in its purview"
[source].
So, it was not that the ethics panel found that nothing unethical had
taken place, but rather, that there was no policy that covered
the reported unethical behavior.
An ethics complaint not in the Ethics Panel purview? Now that
pretty much says it all about FCPS policy 109, doesn't it.
So once again, an ethics policy that allows for unethical behavior is
simply a policy for public 'bark', but it has very little 'bite'
as the policy allows unethical behavior.
3.17 Halftruths spin a story


FCPS is very good at knowingly spinning a story using very carefully worded
partialtruths, but not the whole truth.
The most blatant fully documented example of this is Dr. Borsa's attack on Donna Crook.
[§3.9.b], and the FCPS 'spin machine'
that went into effect after that attack. Here is what FCPS said:
 Oct 26: "Well, I have all the receipts from that trip right here, and
there is absolutely none that shows that a procurement card
was used to pay for alcohol"
 Dr. Bonnie Borsa, Vice President Board of Education in the Oct 26, 2009 meeting
 Nov 2: "There are no records that indicate Jack Dale used his
FCPS procurement card to pay for alcohol for Board members at the
April, 2003 NSBA conference"
 Dr. Linda Burgee (Superintendent), as per a Nov 2 email from Linda Burgee to a County Commissioner
[source: Nov 12 email with the County Commissioner]
 Nov 4: "The county attorney said the procurement card shows no
purchase of alcohol"

FNP article
of Nov 4, 2009  but I have good reason to suspect that 'county attorney' is incorrect
and should instead be 'superintendent'
And these statements from FCPS are indeed true statements (except for having
'all' receipts), but they are not the whole truth!
The whole truth is that receipts are missing, and even if alcohol
were purchased on a procurement card, that the procurement card
would still show 'no purchase of alcohol'!
In fact, on Friday November 13, 2009, the whole truth was fully disclosed in a
FNP article
which stated "Borsa said Thursday that neither she
nor the school system could find any of Dale's receipts from the
2003 trip".
Now, given that Dr. Borsa and FCPS knew they did not any of Dale's
receipts, reread the quotations above, and decide for yourself the
integrity of (1) Board of Education leadership, (2) top FCPS administration
officials, and (3) the FCPS school attorney
I don't know about you, but I consider knowingly telling a partial
truth  with the obvious intent for the listener to conclude something 'not true' 
is the same as lying.
3.18 Curriculum Dept BoE antics


On November 11, 2009, the FCPS Curriculum Department provided an
elementary math update to the entire Board of Education
[11.11.09 BOE 501].
Primary Resource: Board Member Angie Fish expressed concern over
Investigations stating
"When it was first implemented it was said that it would
be a supplemental resource. It clearly is not. I don't care how we want
to word it. It just is not"
[11.11.09 BOE 501 22:06].
Board Member Katie Groth then followed up and stated
"Say what you want to  Investigations has become
the major curriculum resource"
[11.11.09 BOE 501 24:45].
Bonnie Hain (the K12 Curriculum Manager) spoke up and refuted that stating
"The primary resource is our essential curriculum and I want
to make sure that everyone is clear that that is our primary resource"
[11.11.09 BOE 501 25:24].
That is an obvious false statement because the FCPS 'Get the Facts' document
[§5.0]
comes right out and states that Investigations is the primary resource!
Furthermore, this is an obvious false statement given that the 'essential
curriculum' is
simply a 4page document for 4th grade. But the best part is
that in the same meeting, Bonnie Hain totally contradicts herself by stating
"the 3rd graders who participated last year in the 2nd
grade and had Investigations materials as their primary resource"
[11.11.09 BOE 501 33:22].
Misusing MultipleChoice Pretest Data: The curriculum department showed a slide (seen right)
showing 'Average Percent Correct Response" from a 50question multiple choice test and stated
"So what this data is telling you is that the 3rd graders
who participated last year in the 2nd grade and had Investigations materials as
their primary resource  they already know in the area of number and operations 
58% of them already know those materials for 3rd grade  they don't need to have
the third grade piece of instruction  they are ready to go on and move on to
deeper level or more advanced level work."
[11.11.09 BOE 501 33:19].
What the curriculum department fails to understand is that
(1) randomly selected answers yields a 25% correct response and
(2) that there is overlap in math knowledge between grade levels.
Also, notice how 4th grade was left out  it apparently hurt their point of view.
Resorting to reporting 'subtest' data: The curriculum department shows a slide
(seen right) 'proving' that Investigations causes test scores to increase.
However, if you simply look at the overall 4th grade MSA math scores,
you will notice that test scores actually decreased from 2008 to 2009
[chart]
while in other grades, test scores increased.
When the curriculum staff resorts to not reporting the overall
decline in MSA results and instead resorts to reporting some small subset
of the data that shows mixed results, you know the curriculum department
is trying to spin the message.
Well, so much for the accuracy of the entire curriculum department.
3.19 Open Meetings Act Violations


The FCPS Board of Education was found by the Maryland State
Open Meetings Compliance Board
to have violated
Open Meetings Act
rules
[source: FNP article].
Aug 3, 2009: The Frederick News Post notified the Open Meetings Compliance Board about problems
with the FCPS BoE. And the Open Meetings Compliance Board agreed with the
Frederick News Post. This ruling, dated August 3, 2009, can be found in the
Maryland Register
and in this Open Meetings Act Board
opinion.
May 24, 2009:
And this is only the most recent violation. There is a long history
of problems with the FCPS Board of Education
violating Open Meetings Act rules. Simply
Google this
and you will find many articles on this issue, including
another opinion on May 24, 2006
by the Compliance Board against the FCPS BoE.
March 15, 2007:
In
another opinion
on March 15, 2007, the Board of Education failed to turn over minutes for a
meeting in order for the Open Meetings Act Board to make a final determination.
Clearly, the FCPS Board of Education has huge (and well documented) problems
with being 'open' with the public.
View index of all Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board opinions
3.20 FCPS says 'no std subtraction/division' in TERC


Incredibly, FCPS claims in this PIA reply that Investigations
does not teach standard U.S. division, nor does it teach standard U.S.
subtraction  and that FCPS needed to create supplemental lessons to
teach those standard U.S. algorithms.
3.21 Enrollment is up up up  or is it!


FCPS produces an enrollment line graph (seen right) in an
official FCPS publication
(meaning it had to be approved by a department head).
The top of the line for each successive year keeps going up, so it sure
looks like enrollment is going up and up and up, right?
However, look very closely at the raw numbers.
Notice that 2009 enrollment is less than 2006 enrollment
and stagnant since around 2004 or so.
The graph is NOT a proper 3D projection. Instead, the graph is
actually tilted up. See the base of the graph (zero)  it is
slanted UP at an angle. Meaning that 'what is zero' on the graph
is a little higher each and every year. This makes it virtually
impossible to accurately visually compare years  unless you look at
and compare the raw numbers.
So anyone who casually looks at the graph will clearly see increasing
enrollment.
This graph is outright deceptive in the best of circumstances.
3.22 FCPS to Homeless? Go away!


I personally attended the first 30 minutes of the Facilities and Finance
meeting held on February 3, 2010. A topic of discussion during that time
frame was the 'swipe card' access system that is going to be in place at
the new FCPS Taj Mahal (aka: Central Office Building).
One conclusion: A general member of the public may access only the
lobby of the new office building. No office access and no restroom access
 without explicit permission.
In order to use even restrooms on the first floor, a visitor will need to
(a) obtain permission and then (b) obtain a 'swipe card' from the main
lobby receptionist.
So, a swipe card will be needed to even just use
the first floor restrooms! Schaden, Board of Education member, then
stated that
you don't want homeless people coming in and using the bathrooms.
Well  So much for compassion at FCPS!
I guess there is 'public' and then there is 'FCPS public'.
3.23 FCPS violates PIA law regarding copies


PIA1: In the
very first PIA
that I issued to FCPS, FCPS allowed me to come
into the central office building and inspect public records. However,
one of the records had a 'sticky' on it that said 'do not copy', and I
was told that I would not be allowed to leave with a copy of that
public record.
However, there is just one huge problem  that was a violation of State PIA Law.
PIA law in §10620 clearly states that if you are allowed
to inspect a public record, that you must also be allowed to copy
the record as well, if you want a copy.
The only exceptions to this rule are (a) §10620(a)(2) copies of a
court judgment to nonlitigants and (b) §10618(c)(2), which involves
a promotional examination that you personally took where you personally
(and not others) are allowed to review the exam and results, but not copy.
PIA19: In a
Maryland Public Information Act reply
FCPS does it again. FCPS refuses to turn over copies of public records (that they allow inspection).
Only this time, FCPS overtly violated State Law. Read the actual PIA request that I made.
3.24 FCPS Integrity Conclusion


FCPS in public gives every indication that they are
willing to answer any and all questions, and have said as much in newspaper
articles. However, when really easy questions are asked on topics FCPS
considers sensitive, FCPS is evasive, uncooperative, unwilling to answer,
deletes emails without reading them,
and has outright lied in emails and FOIA replies.
And more importantly, why does the head of the FCPS legal office, Jamie
Cannon, refuse to return my phone calls, especially after Monique Wilson
(paralegal) states that Ms. Cannon will call me back.
FCPS is very good at knowingly telling halftruths. Some people
call that lying. I like the proverb that says a half truth is a whole lie.
FCPS denies any and all problems.
Apparently FCPS thinks everything documented here is 'business as usual'.
4.0 Investigations: What is the big deal?


Grade 5, Unit 3, page 76

The core issue for most people is this:
"In the Investigations curriculum, standard algorithms are not taught because
they interfere with a child’s growing sense and fluency with the number system"
 from the author of Investigations in the book 'Beyond Arithmetic'.
Investigations drops the 'standard'
method/technique (strategy) for multiplication and division, and instead
adopts other methods that seem crazy (overly lengthy) to anyone who was
taught the 'standard' methods.
Now, these new Investigations methods would be
OK if children were quickly graduated to the standard and efficient algorithms,
but they are not! Investigations expects children to continue to use
mundane 'learning algorithms' the rest of their life. Investigations comes right
out and says "students are not expected to switch"
to standard algorithms as adults.
[source: Investigations, Grade 5, Unit 3, page 76].
Here is an example of how to multiply 142 by
48 using both methods. The Investigations answer was taken directly from a Grade 4
Investigations example,
and the 'standard' method is 'well known' around the world, so
something I do not need to explain.
Investigations Method  'Standard' Method 


It is readily obvious to anyone who has learned (and understands) the 'standard' method,
that the Investigations method is a rather laborious process (count the number of digits
written above). Of course it works and produces the same result as the 'standard'
method, but at the expense of being very inefficient (tedious).
For some reason (their intentions were good), the authors of Investigations
felt that by greatly 'dumbing down' math, that it would be easier for
students to understand. It may (this needs research) be easier for some
students that initially find math hard.
But for those that can easily grasp 'standard' strategies and how they work,
it is a time waster.
The authors of Investigations have failed to consider the ultimate consequences:
That they are producing a lot more work for a student, which takes more time.
Time that adds up after many multiplication learning exercises, as well as
creating a disadvantage during timed tests.
Quite simply, the Investigations method of writing out 62 digits to obtain
an answer is going to take a lot more time than the time to write out 16 digits
to obtain the answer.
Time that instead could have been used to teach the
'standard' method in great detail so that any student can
fully understand it and teach it to others.
In fact, a child very fluent in the standard multiplication method does
not need to write down the 'carry' numbers, but rather keeps them 'in
their head' as they are immediately used in the next step. That means
that a child only needs to write down 11 digits to multiply 148
by 42, instead of the 62 digits needed by Investigations.
Please note that this 'keeping carry numbers in your head'
is only appropriate after multiplication has been properly
learned (not appropriate while still learning).
YouTube Video:
Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth
 MJ McDermott speaks out about problems with math today.
But wait, you say, the Investigations strategy promotes a
deep understanding of math. Yes, I hope it does and I totally
agree with that intent. That is not the issue. The issue is that
in Investigations, children are not graduated to learning
more efficient strategies after they understand what is going
on (they have the deep understanding).
People defending Investigations can not have it 'both ways'. Either
a child has a deep understanding, in which case they can
understand a more efficient strategy, or a child does not have
a deep understanding, in which case the Investigations claim
of 'we teach deep understanding' has failed. So, which is it?
4.1 Investigations: Calculator Usage


Another core issue and concern for many parents is that the authors
of Investigations place too much emphasis on the use of calculators
as a tool that should be used.
In fact, in the book "Beyond Arithmetic", on page 76 it states
"Multiplying 1346 × 231 is problem that is best solved with a calculator"
(source).
Best how? Best for the student because Investigations multiplication strategies
don't work efficiently (more on this in
[§4.2])?
Do you think that a math book should actually have a chapter on using
a calculator? Why? Instead, if a child actually understands math
(after all, this is the subject being taught) and can read English, then by
definition, that child is able to read the calculator manual and learn
how to use a calculator. It really is that simple. Can they read?
Do they know math? There is no need for a chapter on how to use a
calculator. That should be a homework exercise. Please keep in mind
the context of this discussion: K5 addition, subtraction, multiplication
and division.
The fact that Investigations includes a chapter on using a calculator
(reference)
is very telling in that Investigations is not fully teaching how to
first understand and then do math, but just how to
use math.
This needs more research as according to
this document
the use of calculators in Investigations appears much more
limited. This may be a first / second edition issue. If so,
Investigations now knows they were wrong in the first edition.
Also, FCPS in their "Get the Facts!" document [§5.0]
clearly states that (it thinks) using calculators is just fine, in
part because "tests such as the Maryland School Assessment, High
School Assessment, the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT, and Advanced Placement exams
allow calculator use for some or all portions of the tests".
This is all rather convoluted logic to me. Namely, 'we (FCPS, a county
in Maryland) allow calculators in class because we (the State of
Maryland) allow calculators on the MSA test'.
Take a look at MSA [§A.4]
and the test question for a third grader, where a calculator is
(inappropriately) allowed, and decide for yourself.
This actually explains a lot. Say I purchase a candy bar and, for example,
it costs $0.76 total. I hand the clerk a one dollar bill and one
penny. Many clerks have a puzzled look on their face. Some even try to
hand the penny back to me. If kids today can't understand what is happening
instantly, then I have to seriously question calculator use in the classroom.
There is no substitute for using your head (your ultimate tool  your mind)
and 'thinking'.
If math tools are OK, why not Geography tools?:
If a Board of Education embraces Investigations (or tools  like FCPS) they
are embracing use of a tool to assist in math, like calculators. That sets
a precedent. So tools should also be able to be used in subjects other
than mathematics, like Geography? If I have a phone with Internet access
(Google), it is just as much of a tool
as a calculator is a tool. I should be able to use it to look up geography
information during Geography classes whenever I want or need to, even
during tests. But you exclaim, 'That is cheating'  and you would be right.
So why is cheating at Mathematics using a calculator OK, but cheating at
Geography (using Google) not OK?
The entire point of learning Mathematics is not to learn how to use a tool
(calculator) that obtains the math answer for you, but rather for the
individual to learn Mathematics so that they can obtain the answer themselves
without a tool.
I am not against calculators by any means. Calculators are a very nice tool, but
not a tool to replace learning math (like 3 digit by 2 digit multiplication).
A calculator should only be used after
a student is already very proficient at multiplication and division. A calculator
helps you to perform a mathematical operation much faster  it does not help
at all to learn how to perform that mathematical operation in the first place.
4.2 Investigations: Flawed multiplication strategy


1346 × 231 =
200 × 1000 = 200,000
200 × 300 = 60,000
200 × 40 = 8,000
200 × 6 = 1,200
30 × 1000 = 30,000
30 × 300 = 9,000
30 × 40 = 1,200
30 × 6 = 180
1 × 1000 = 1,000
1 × 300 = 300
1 × 40 = 40
1 × 6 = 6
200,000 + 60,000 + 8,000 + 1,200 + 30,000 + 9,000 + 1,200 + 180 + 1,000 + 300 + 40 + 6 = 310,926

Why would a book for Investigations teachers recommend using a calculator
to multiply 1346 × 231? The answer is painfully simple. Actually
try to multiply these two numbers using the strategy Investigations
teaches to children (right) and you will never want to use that
strategy again. Look to the example to the right.
Anyone who embraces Investigations needs to get a pencil and
paper and multiply these two numbers together using the strategy
seen above. You need to understand what children are going
through. I am 100% serious about this  do you practice
what you preach?
The goal is to teach our children Mathematics, and that includes how to
multiply two numbers, like 1346 × 231. If the Math program
being used instead recommends using a calculator, the school system has
failed to properly teach multiplication to our children.
Compare this to the much simpler (and efficient) standard multiplication
method seen to the right. It is not hard at all to multiply
1346 × 231. It is fast and easy. It only becomes hard and
difficult when the Investigations multiplication strategy is used.
Compare having to write 151 digits using the Investigations strategy (above)
vs 19 digits for the 'standard' strategy (right).
Talk about a selffulfilling prophecy. They say 'use calculators
when math problems become hard'. But then the strategy Investigations
teaches to multiply is in fact very hard to use beyond the most simple
basic problems. Therefore, use calculators to solve the problem,
overcoming a failed/hard multiplication strategy.
Quite simply, the Investigations method of multiplying is flawed because it
does not work well at all with 'larger' numbers. It
creates a tremendous amount of tedious writing of digits (mostly zeros),
which in turn forces a recommendation to use a calculator.
If you disagree with me, I offer you a challenge. Multiply a nine digit
number by a nine digit number using the Investigations method. It is
a total failure, when compared to the 'standard' multiplication strategy.
Your child is taking a test, and we all know that most of them are
timed. Do you want your child to multiply
1346 × 231 by using the Investigations strategy, or by using
the 'standard' strategy. Tick Tock Tick Tock. The clock is ticking.
An 'edge condition' test of Investigations multiplication:
As a computer scientist, I am trained to evaluate algorithms (strategies),
paying careful attention to how an algorithm performs at what computer people
call 'edge conditions'.
For example, to evaluate a computer 'sorting' algorithm, I might test how well
(or not) a sorting algorithm works. But I am concerned about performance at
the edge conditions. Like, what if I sort a list and that list is already sorted?
How does the sorting algorithm perform? Being able to identify
and analyze edge conditions is important in computer science.
So let's evaluate Investigations multiplication strategy on an
'edge condition'. Let the strategy/algorithm run on two specially
selected numbers, and then evaluate how the algorithm performs.
So, multiply one number
that is small (single digit), and another number that is large (many digits).
Let's multiply 123456789 by 2:
123456789 × 2 =
100000000 × 2 = 200,000,000
20000000 × 2 = 40,000,000
3000000 × 2 = 6,000,000
400000 × 2 = 800,000
50000 × 2 = 100,000
6000 × 2 = 12,000
700 × 2 = 1,400
80 × 2 = 160
9 × 2 = 18
200,000,000 + 40,000,000 + 6,000,000 + 800,000 + 100,000 + 12,000 +
1,400 + 160 + 18 = 246,913,578

You get the correct answer, but only after a lot of work.
Compare having to write 164 digits for the Investigations strategy (above)
vs 10 digits for the 'standard' strategy (below):
Hopefully this 'edge condition case' of the Investigations strategy clearly
demonstrates how horribly inefficient the Investigations multiplication
strategy really is. This makes it a flawed strategy for daytoday use.
4.3 Investigations: Division strategy is worse


How do you divide 1275 by 21? The method (right) is an Investigations strategy
and claims to be "clear and concise" method of dividing, and is taken directly from
Grade 5 Unit 1 second edition 4th printing page 134 (and also this
published document):
Would someone who embraces Investigations please explain to me how
guessing "20" as the first answer is at all "clear" (as is claimed)
and how it is an effective or efficient strategy, or even "concise" (as is
claimed)? How was "20" selected? It is a horrible strategy that
is way off the mark (the final answer is 60, but yet the first 'guess'
is 20?). That is not mathematics, but rather 'guessing'. And
worse yet, not even an educated close guess.
Is that what you want your child to learn? Take any guess? 'Divide by
guessing' is a strategy that does eventually obtain the right answer.
But it simply is not efficient and certainly is not teaching core math.
Is this the 'deep understanding' that Investigations teaches?
At the very worst, I would have expected Investigations to use "50"
(a 'landmark' number) as the first 'guess', not "20". The craziness
of Investigations is
now being exposed for what it truly is. ('Beyond Arithmetic' and not
mathematics; and yes, for those that get it, pun intended).
At the very least, have the child make an educated guess to
start with. Round the numbers to 'well known' values. Look at
the problem and think "how many quarters (or 25) go into twelve
dollars (1200)". Do you really want your child to guess "20"?
Worse yet, after a child makes the horrible guess "20" and
can see that "420" was way too small  there is still "855"
left  the child can not 'see' that "420" goes into "855"
very nicely twice (2*20, or 40 times)?
Now, let's try the 'standard', and very efficient, strategy of division as follows:
Mentally, it starts like this.
 Does 21 go into "1" (does 21 go into 1000 1000's of times)? No.
 Does 21 go into "12" (does 21 go into 1200 100's of times)? No.
 Does 21 go into 127 (does 21 go into 1270 10's of times)? Yes. But how many times?
21 goes into 127  6 times (see note below for why 6).
Write 6 above 127
(the 6 is in the tens position and really means ten times six).
6 times 21 is 126. Write
126 below 127 and subtract. You get "1". Drop the "5" and now you have "15".
Does 21 go into 15. No. Write a zero above the "5" in "15" above the top line.
The Answer is 60 remainder 15.
Why 6 times: How many times does 21 go into 127? Well, rather than
taking a wild guess like Investigations, discard the 'ones' digit of both
numbers (divide by 10 and discard fraction). 21 becomes 2 and 127 becomes
12. 2 goes into 12 six times. That is a first educated guess. 6 × 21
is 126, so that indeed is our first (educated, and very good) guess.
This method is simple, and easily understood, but it involves understanding
'place value' (eg: '6' may actually mean '60') to see how it works.
However, for anyone who understands multidigit numbers (eg: 123), that
person already fully understands 'place value' (For '123', 1 is really 100;
2 is really 20).
4.4 Investigations: 'Standard' Algorithms


Investigations actually does mention (but not teach) the 'standard' algorithms:
 standard addition in grade 4, unit 5, 2.4, page 85  two grade levels too late
 standard subtraction in grade 5, unit 3, 2.4, page 75  three grade levels too late
 standard multiplication in grade 5, unit 7, 2.3, page 58  one grade level too late
 standard division  total failure  not taught
Investigations Grade 4 documentation

SOURCE: The source of this information was from me paging
through every page of the Investigations K5 teacher guides.
You can independently verify this information by looking at
Investigations own
Scope and Sequence
document and searching for "U.S. algorithm" (what Investigations calls 'standard' algorithms).
The second source of this is page 46 of the grade 4 implementation
guide (seen right). Note that standard division is not mentioned
and the intentional delay in teaching the other standard algorithms.
During the entire Investigations K5 curricula, how much time
is spent teaching standard algorithms?
Investigations sessions spent on standard U.S. algorithms 
Grade  Sessions  Addition  Subtraction  Multiplication  Division 
K  153         
1  159         
2  165         
3  164         
4  160  1       
5  158    1  1   
total  959  1  1  1  0 
[
Source:
K

1

2

3

4

5

Scope and Sequence
]
So, in 959 Investigations sessions (over six years),
there are only THREE sessions on standard algorithms.
One session on standard addition, one session on standard
subtraction, one session on standard multiplication, and no
sessions on standard division.
Investigations grossly fails the NCTM focal points
[§2.0] as to 'when' these standard
algorithms should be taught (in addition not teaching, but just
mentioning).
Investigations also grossly fails the
National Mathematics Advisory Panel 2008 final report
[§2.1]
In addition Investigations only mentions
what they call the most "elegant and efficient" (page 127 of
Grade 5, Unit 7) 'standard' algorithms and then don't talk about
them again. Talking about once is not teaching.
In fact, Investigations goes out of their way to
encourage continued usage of nonstandard algorithms:
When talking about the standard U.S. Algorithm for subtraction,
Investigations states "However, students are
not expected to switch to using this algorithm. Continuing to use
the methods they have developed will serve them well for their
computation needs now and as adults" 
Investigations, Grade 5, Unit 3, page 76.

Investigations does not teach standard algorithms.
Simply mentioning a standard algorithm once in a single
hour session is not teaching.
If an Investigations child actually had a deep understanding of math
(as claimed), a child would be able to use the 'standard' algorithms  which
are more efficient than the strategies Investigations teaches.
And please note that mentioning a strategy is a lot different
than teaching a strategy. Investigations does not teach
'standard' strategies  it only mentions them.
4.5 Investigations: Clear and Concise Euphemism


Grade 5, unit 7, session 2.3, page 60

Investigations tells
children to NOT use standard algorithms!
This is done via the Investigations "clear and concise" euphemism.
Students are drilled over and over that Investigations algorithms
are "clear and concise".
But, in the one (and only!) Investigations session on standard multiplication
seen right in grade 5, unit 7, session 2.3, page 60, teachers are
actually instructed to discuss with students that standard multiplication
is "an example of notation that is concise
but not necessarily clear".
It took me months of reading through Investigations materials to realize
this  because frankly how can any parent argue with a math text
that asked students to use 'clear and concise' notation when
working on a math problem (see example below)  it seems
obvious and a good thing to require.
However, once you realize that Investigations tells students that "standard algorithms"
are not clear  everything all of a sudden falls into place!
Investigations is telling students to not use standard algorithms!
Once you realize that 'clear and concise' is a Investigations euphemism meaning
'Investigations algorithm', all of a sudden you look at Investigations in a totally
new light.
Grade 5, unit 7, session 2.4, page 64

In the very next session in grade 5, unit 7, session 2.4; page 64,
students ability to multiply is tested (seen right).
Students are instructed to multiply "253×46" using
"clear and concise notation".
So, if you are a 'good student' and listened to the teacher
tell you the prior day, would you select the 'clear and
concise' Investigations algorithm, or the 'not clear' standard
U.S. algorithm?
And this "clear and concise" pattern continues throughout the year
in take home exercises where students are instructed to use
"clear and concise notation" (homework; Grade 5;
Unit 9; Session 3.2; page 42).
It is 'beyond interesting' to note that in Beyond Arithmetic book
(authored by Susan Jo Russell, the main person behind Investigations) page 74 states
"In the Investigations curriculum, standard algorithms are
not taught because they interfere with a child’s growing sense
and fluency with the number system"
[source].
4.6 Investigations: Fails its own benchmarks


In Investigations very own
document,
they claim a 'Benchmark' (what a child must know) of:
 Multiply 2digit numbers efficiently
 Solve division problems efficiently
The Investigations multiplication (and division) strategies are not efficient.
There is no question or argument about this fact, which was demonstrated
above
when multiplying 148 by 42 [§4.0],
when multiplying 1346 by 231 and 123456789 by 2 [§4.2],
and when dividing 21 into 1275 [§4.3].
The reason so few people notice how inefficient Investigations strategies
are is that in grades K5 you are only dealing with small single or double
digit numbers, where the same inefficiency is present, but rarely noticed.
But, if you disagree with that statement, multiply a nine digit number by a nine
digit number using the Investigations method. Then do it the 'standard' way.
The 'standard' method works, and is very efficient.
Investigations has failed by their own published benchmarks.
Why not instead use the strategy that Investigations itself calls
"elegant and efficient" (page 127 of Grade 5, Unit 7)  the 'standard'
multiplication strategy.
4.7 Investigations: 'Skip Steps' Strategy


In mathematics, teachers want (and need) students to show 'all of
their steps' in the process of obtaining an answer to a
new math problem.
This is needed during the learning stages of a new strategy
(like multiplication), because it allows the teacher to pinpoint
exactly where errors (if any) in a strategy are taking place, and take
corrective action immediately.
However, the problem with 'showing all the steps' of an inefficient
strategy is the sheer number of steps and digitwriting that
needs to take place [§4.2],
which is why in mathematics, after learning something, more
efficient strategies are introduced and used, like the 'standard'
multiplication strategy (with carry numbers shown).
And yes, the 'standard' multiplication strategy does show
intermediate steps. If a mistake is made, a teacher knows exactly
where the error was made (what step).
The worst part about Investigations is that they
claim to be 'transparent', but then they promote
strategies that hide steps, and hence are no longer transparent.
Talk about one step forward but two steps backwards.
Transparent defined: "the properties of the operations and the place
value of the numbers are not hidden by shortcut notation"
[reference]
Take a look at the example seen to the right, which is an Investigations
multiplication exercise,
and solution. Notice
"48 × 40 = 1920". Of course that is the correct
answer, but this involves multiple intermediate multiplications
and an addition, which are not shown. The same
can be said for "48 × 2 = 96".
What if instead of "48 × 40 = 1920" I had written
"48 × 40 = 1810". Because the intermediate steps
are not shown, you (the teacher) now no longer know
where I made the mistake (multiplication? addition? where?).
All you know is that I got the 'wrong answer'.
Sometimes (rarely) a child gets the 'right answer' by
accident, by making multiple mistakes in the intermediate
steps. That is why a teacher is so interested in how
an answer is obtained.
What if the original twodigit multiplication problem
was just "what is 48 × 40"? Would simply writing on
the next line "48 × 40 = 1920", be OK? Of course not.
The teacher is not interested in the answer (but
wants it to be correct). Instead the teacher is interested in
seeing the steps taken to obtain the correct answer. So, simply
writing "= 1920" is not acceptable  not as a standalone
problem, and not as part of another multiplication problem.
In Investigations, using twodigit multiplication
(48×40 and 48×2) in the solution for a
fourth grade twodigit multiplication problem (48×42)
is ... well ... crazy.
I do not doubt
that these can be calculated without pencil and paper.
But I do question the integrity of a text for fourth grade
that (while teaching multiplication) recommends a strategy
where a single step hides multiple multiplications/additions.
We expect our children to eventually just 'know' the answer to any
singledigit by singledigit multiplication. In 'FCPS' speak, this
is called instant 'recall of math facts'. We do not expect children to
'just know' the answer to any doubledigit by singledigit multiplication,
which means they need to 'calculate' the answer. So, these 'calculation'
steps are simply (and inappropriately) not shown by Investigations
in the strategy.
The 'skip steps' strategy may be fine for adults (who know multiplication
and can probably perform the steps in their head), but it is inappropriate
for teaching twodigit multiplication to fourth graders. Even the efficient
'standard' multiplication strategy used by most adults shows intermediate
steps (as digits, and carry values).
Surprisingly, this 'skip steps' method appears all over Investigations.
Consider the example you see to the right of adding six numbers together
to come up with 6216. Did the child add entire numbers left to right
mentally? Or add digit by digit right to left (and not display carry
numbers)? The steps are missing.
The authors of Investigations have dug an incredibly
big hole for themselves. Investigations is promoting strategies
that hide steps. Since these strategies appears throughout
all of Investigations, this casts doubt on the entire
Investigations series.
4.8 Investigations: Errors in teaching guides


I decided to test Investigations. Since my daughter is in
first grade (I attended some of her first grade math classes)
I purchased "Investigations, Grade 1, Unit 1,
Second Edition, (c) 2008, 5th printing" online.
Just search Google on the ISBN number (0328237264) to purchase
this book yourself. Or better yet, as per
Math Facts [§5.0],
"Investigations is available in each
elementary school media center ... for parents to review".
After reviewing it for only a couple of
hours, I immediately found several errors.
If Investigations is not available in your elementary school
library (like it was not in mine), this is likely a communication
problem between the county and the school. Don't blame the school
(the county is likely to blame). Kindly point out school policy
and you will be allowed to review the books.
A Factual Error:
The factual error can be found on page 244 grade 1 unit 1, which shows
page 19 of the Student Math Handbook, where it states "Some months
have 30 days. Some months have 31 days. February has 28 days. Every
4 years, February has 29 days. This is called a leap year."
The 'Every 4 years' statement
is simply wrong. Most '4 years' are indeed leap years, but not 'Every'.
Visit Wiki to learn about leap years.
Also, a child could easily conclude that 'February has 29 days' is called a
leap year. The 'This' in the sentence is poorly worded and refers to what?
To clearly see what I mean, change the sentence to "This is called a leap day".
Now you changed what 'This' referred to  because you (as an adult) personally know what
a leap year and leap day are. Knowing the meaning of the term referenced
told you what 'This' refers to. But if you don't know the meaning (like
the child reading the sentence) how are they supposed to know what
'This' refers to?
A Major error: The major error is a logic error. The problem when
writing a book on any topic to an audience that knows nothing about the topic is
that you need to be incredibly careful to not use terms or symbols (that
you obviously know very well) that your audience knows nothing
about. After all, the entire point of the book is to teach the entire
subject matter  not assume your reader knows something about the topic.
In Session 3.2 "Fiveinarow" (day 13) on page 109 in Resource Master
M27, the term 'add' and the mathematical symbol for addition, namely "+",
is used in materials seen by students.
However, the term "add" and the "+" symbol are totally unknown to
students at this point in time. It is not defined nor explained to
students until Session 3.3 "Addition Story Problems", page 117 (day 14).
So what is the big deal you say? This error may not seem like much of
a problem, but what if I were responsible for teaching you
something new and I gave you a worksheet with "3 ⊕ 4" on it, but I
did not tell what ⊕ meant? You certainly would think it was a big
deal then, wouldn't you? So why is the situation with a child any
different? Hopefully this clearly shows the problem, and the lack of
peer review in the Investigations material.
Also, if Investigations is 'real', I should not be able to find any errors
in their books, especially after a couple hours of casual review. I do
expect errors in the first edition, first printing of any book  but I do not
expect obvious errors in a second edition, fifth printing.
Another Error:
In the Grade 5 "Implementing Investigations in Grade 5" book, page 18
(and in this
online document)
they demonstrate various strategies for adding 0.8 + 0.75 + 0.625.
The first way you get 2.175. Correct.
The second way you get 2.175. Correct.
The third way you get 2.175. Correct.
The fourth way you get 2.125. WRONG
Is this what you want Investigations to teach your child?
After all of these many years of Investigations being
out there, any error in the books quite simply reflects very poorly on
the authors and organization producing (and using) the material. In the
math world, there is no middle ground. Something is either right, or it
is wrong. Because of this, most 'obvious' errors in any 'real'
math book are found quickly and corrected during the review process.
But somehow errors in Investigations were not found or not
corrected. Why? This raises a lot of questions. Especially
about the review process.
What time is it? In Grade 1, Unit 1, Section 1.1, page 27,
what time is it (look right)?
Look at the hour hand on the clock. Not halfway between 9 and 10,
but pointing directly at the 9.
I don't want my child looking at a clock where the hands are
not in the correct position. That only confuses children.
4.9 Investigations: Selfimportance claims


On page 16 (Grade 1; Unit 1) Investigations states "In this unit, your students will have
opportunities to engage with ideas that lay a foundation for algebra. To
the surprise of many, 6yearolds can and do think algebraically. Part
of the work of Grade 1 is helping students learn to verbalize those
thoughts."
Algebraically: Designating an expression, equation, or function in which
only numbers, letters, and arithmetic operations are contained or used.
reference
Actually, anyone who spends any time at all with kids in first grade (like
I have) quickly realize that this is no 'surprise' at all, but rather is
the norm. So why do the authors claim that this is a 'surprise', when it
is not? This really makes me wonder about the character of the authors,
that they need to make a claim that they have 'special knowledge' about
6yearolds.
An example of an 'algebra' problem my sixyear old can solve. I say to her
'I have a coin in my hand. If I double it and add five cents, I now have a
25 cents. What coin do I have in my hand?' My daughter does not know that
this is solving for 'x' in the algebra problem '2x + 5 = 25', but she can
already figure out the answer.
Want to make a splash on the first day of 'algebra' class? Use a dollar coin
and ask a similar 'what coin is in my hand' verbal 'algebra' question. Don't
make a big deal about the question, but when the first student answers the question
correctly, give the coin to the student and let them know they just solved an
algebra problem correctly. You will likely have the full undivided attention
of the entire class for the next minute. Make the most of it.
But then, after making such claims, the authors of Investigations in later grades
don't teach standard multiplication (which anyone who understands algebra
can understand very quickly), but rather the authors feel the need to present
a very 'dumbed down' method of multiplication. The result is a contradiction.
Quite simply, there is a contradiction in what the authors of
Investigations claim vs what they teach. If kids can and do think
algebraically and are 'smart' as the authors claim, why are they
teaching children 'dumbed down' math strategies? This is understandable
in grades K1, but not grade 5.
4.10 Investigations: Deep Understandings?


Those who support Investigations claim it teaches a deep understanding
of math. But does it? It may attempt to provide a deep understanding
of inefficient strategies, but not 'core math'.
If Investigations really taught a deep understanding of math, that
would mean a child really truly understands the math. And any child who really
understands math is allowed to use any multiplication strategy (they have
a deep understanding and can explain and understand all strategies). And
a smart child would select that most "elegant and efficient" (what
Investigations calls 'standard' multiplication on page 127 of Grade 5,
Unit 7) multiplication strategy available, right? So why do Investigations
kids continue to use horribly inefficient multiplication strategies?
The answer is simple. They are only using what they have been taught.
How about 1346 × 231, which Investigations says is best solved
using calculator?
[§4.1]
Is that promoting a deep understanding of math?
People defending Investigations can not have it 'both ways'. Either
a child has a deep understanding, in which case they can
understand a more efficient strategy, or a child does not have
a deep understanding, in which case the Investigations claim
of 'we teach deep understanding' has failed. So, which is it?
How do you add fractions? Ask any math professor, someone who
by definition has a deep understanding of math, and you will
hear an answer containing 'common denominator'.
And yet, Investigations does not discuss 'common denominators' and
encourages drawing shapes, shading in areas, drawing on clock faces, etc.
Learn more about this from
this document.
Common denominators is a core math concept that can not simply be ignored.
4.11 Investigations: The Bottom Line


Investigations is dumbed down inefficient math
[§4.6]
that promotes strategies in which steps are skipped
[§4.7]
and only mentions (does not teach) standard algorithms.
It uses multiplication and division strategies that children who
have trouble with math can (this needs research) understand and use.
This is good for children in trouble. But it is not good for children
who are very good at math. Investigations strategies are not what
any child who understands math would use in everyday life.
Investigations fails to graduate students to a more efficient math
strategies (standard algorithms), once the students understand the
math concept being taught.
The core failure of Investigations is that it fails to graduate children
from 'strategies designed to teach math' to 'strategies designed to be
efficient for everyday (and testtaking) use'.
The true implications of using Investigations will not be known for
possible a decade from now. I recently spoke with a friend
who had a similar 'fuzzy math' in high school in the early 1980's. They said
they entered college a "math illiterate" because of fuzzy math  and
had to take remedial math just to catch up to the level where everyone else
was at.
5.0 FCPS 'Get the Facts' versions & troubles


The Frederick County Public School system has published a "Get the Facts!"
document in an attempt to convey their side of the argument in support
of Investigations.
Marita Loose (director of communication services for FCPS)
wrote in a June 11, 2009 unsolicited email to me "That document was developed initially by
Dr. Bonnie Ward in collaboration with Nelson Palmer, FCPS elementary math
curriculum specialist, and Dr. Bonnie Hain, director of curriculum."

Version 1: The
first version
is dated September 8, 2008. The author is listed
as "david.klees", but as he is just the 'multimedia
coordinator for FCPS', David only created the PDF from the
original Microsoft Word document. The true author
appears to be Dr. Bonnie Ward. This version attempts
to rewrite history. It states:
"Why is FCPS purchasing new math textbooks?
The math textbook series previously in use was 8 years
old and did not fully align with the current essential
curriculum and voluntary state curriculum.
Also, we wanted
a text that would satisfy the National Council of Teachers
of Mathematics (NCTM) Curriculum Focal Points and National
Mathematics Panel’s 2008 recommendations for improving math
instruction in U.S. classrooms, including providing students an
early start and emphasizing conceptual understanding,
computational fluency and problemsolving skills."
First, FCPS did a horrible job of selecting Investigations because
it horribly fails to meet the NCTM Focal Points in regards to fluency with
standard addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
algorithms [§2.0], and it fails
to meet the National Mathematics Panel's 2008 recommendations
[§2.1].
Second, the textbook selection committee selected Investigations on
Feb 22, 2008, before the National Mathematics Panel 2008 report was
finalized and published on March 13, 2008
[report],
which means the final report had no part in the selection.
Version 2: The
second version
is dated May 18, 2009. The PDF author is listed as
"Steve Ward of Ward Systems Group" (Dr. Bonnie Ward),
and this version is a substantial update.
Version 3: The
third version
is dated May 27, 2009.
The PDF author is listed as
"Steve Ward of Ward Systems Group" (Dr. Bonnie Ward).
Compare to version 2 above and you will notice that
a lot of information about St. Mary's
County has been removed, including positive (proInvestigations)
quotations from Dr. Michael Martirano, Superintendent in St.
Mary's County.
PIA4: Under the Maryland Public Information Act (Freedom of Information Act),
FCPS has no evidence explaining the appearance and then removal
of Dr. Martirano's quotations.
[view Public Information Act]
St. Mary's Dr. Martirano released a statement
about the incident,
saying he never provided a quotation to FCPS for publication.

Version 4: The
fourth version
released (to the public) June 6, 2009, but still dated May 27, 2009.
This PDF appears identical to Version 3, except for internal
author information. The PDF author is "FCPS" and "david.klees",
but as he is just the 'multimedia coordinator for FCPS', David
only created the PDF from the original Microsoft Word document.
Since otherwise identical to the prior version, the author is
still Dr. Bonnie Ward.
Bonnie Borsa has also gone on morning radio to talk about Investigations and 'the facts'
[listen].
The only problem with the county putting out a document with a 'Get the Facts!'
title is that they had better be incredibly sure they themselves have the
facts correct. Continue reading. They do not...
5.1 Get the Facts: Lincoln Elementary


Bonnie Borsa (VP, Board of Education) said on a recent
morning radio show
(May 19, 2009) about Investigations:
"We know it does work. We've had it in Lincoln Elementary School
for four years and they have doubled their achievement in math"
listen.
Doubled? Really? Let's look at the MSA math test scores at Lincoln
for the last four years (2005,2006,2007,2008,no data for 2009):
[ Source:
Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 5
]
There was no doubling of math proficiency (or total math
proficiency) at Lincoln over the last four years (the average proficiency
is above 50%  you can not double that  total proficiency must be under 100%).
Just think about the 'doubling' comment for a minute. Proficiency has
doubled? A proficiency around 90% is very good, which means for that
statement to be true, proficiency would have to originally have been
under 45%. That means over half the children were failing. Does that
sound typical of your school? A turnaround, regardless of math curriculum,
was expected by the State Board of Education.
And even if there were a doubling of proficiency, would you
really tout that given the horrible total proficiency
(below Annual Measurable Objectives) of 5th grade (small graph
right; full graph below), which is the culmination of many
years of education at Lincoln?
PIA1: The results of a Maryland Public Information Act are in.
Dr. Bonnie Borsa can not back up her claim and can only
point to AYP numbers, which shows an increase of 67%, not 100%.
[Maryland Public Information Act]

Also, examine Dr. Borsa's 'doubled in four years' statement and look at
Lincoln's AYP numbers over the last four years of available data (see right). So,
we are looking at a 67% improvement, not a doubling.
Also, FCPS in their "Get the Facts!" document
[§5.0] states:
"One of the schools included in the field test was Lincoln Elementary
School, which had used the text since 2003 as part of a collaborative
agreement for school improvement between FCPS and the Maryland State
Department of Education"
"After carefully reviewing all field test information from the
six schools and achievement results from schools already using
the text..."
FCPS based their decision to adopt Investigations based
in part on achievement results from Lincoln Elementary (and two
other schools: Yellow Springs and Woodsboro).
Lincoln Elementary (web site
 profile)
is a 100% Title I school with 19% "Limited English Proficiency",
and 15.2% special education.
Lincoln Elementary was in deep trouble. At one point, it was the only school
in Frederick County (then named 'South Frederick Elementary'
[source])
to be on
the statewide Schools in Need of Improvement list
[source].
So, let's dig into Lincoln Elementary achievement results. An excellent
resource for this information (on all Maryland schools) is
www.mdreportcard.org.
What follows are
MSA
Proficiency Levels graphs for Mathematics for
several grade levels from Lincoln Elementary:
 Advanced (good) = Students at this level show they can regularly solve complex problems in
mathematics and demonstrate superior ability to reason mathematically
 Proficient (ok) = Students at this level show they have an understanding of fundamental
grade level skills and concepts and can generally solve entrylevel problems
in mathematics
 Basic (poor) = Students at this level show they have only partially mastered the skills
and concepts that Maryland expects students to know and be able to do
at this grade level
[source of data]
[source of data]
Now, pay very close attention to 5th grade, which is the culmination of
many years of education at Lincoln using Investigations:
[source of data]
WARNING: Part of the 'problem' in looking at Lincoln elementary is that
the 'sample size' is so incredibly small. The graphs above
represent a maximum of 54 to 65 children (3rd grade),
49 to 69 children (4th grade), and 48 to 67 children (5th grade).
This means that in 2008, the percentage change of 23.2%
(from 40.3% in 2003 to 63.5% in 2008) only represents 12 children.

FCPS says Investigations was started at Lincoln Elementary
in 2003. So, K in 2003 is 1st in 2004, 2nd in 2005, and 3rd in 2006.
So, in 2006 (after four years of Investigations) 50.8% of
3rd graders (vs 2003's 53.8%) and 56.9% of 5th graders (vs 2003's 59.7%) are
still in deep trouble (only at the 'basic' level).
This is effectively 'no change'.
I may be 'off' by one year, depending upon how FCPS classifies a year, but
2006 was still very bad, when compared to similarly bad 2003, the year Investigations
was started.
Clearly, Investigations did not help from 2003 to 2006. Even in 2007
and 2008, result are mixed. Take a look at a class of 2016 children (4th grade
in 2007 to 5th grade in 2008) in the charts above as they move through
the grades.
Proficiency is down.
But in 2007 to 2008, since there is some improvement, something else is going on.
Let's look at what happened to the Faculty at Lincoln during
the same time frame:
[source of data]
In 2004, 12 out of 41 (29%) of the classes were taught by teachers
that did not meet 'Highly Qualified Teachers'
as defined
in the 'No Child Left Behind' act. In 2006, there were 2 out
of 30 teachers. In 2005, 2007, and 2008, there were zero.
Also, the makeup of the Lincoln Faculty changed significantly:
[source of data]
APC=Advanced Professional Certificate; SPC=Standard Professional Certificate
RTC=Resident Teacher Certificate, COND=Conditional Certificate.
[Maryland Certification Table]
The percentage of Faculty holding an 'Advanced
Professional Certificate' went from 36% in 2004 to 70% in 2007.
Looking behind the numbers, the total number of teachers went down,
which implies that lower quality staff left, leaving higher qualified
teachers to teach to remaining children.
So, why the big changes in Faculty? Well, in January 2007,
Frederick County voted for changes  and the Maryland State
Department of Education voted in February to take over the school.
According to the
minutes
of the Maryland State Board of Education,
TuesdayWednesday, February 2728, 2007 meeting:
 "the Board approved the proposed alternative governance plan
for Lincoln Elementary School in Frederick County"
 "Ms. Knott reported that all or most of the staff will be replaced
at Lincoln Elementary School and that a CoPrincipal will be designated
with equal decisionmaking capacity and authority"
 "...provision of a CoPrincipal who has a high success
rate with special education students"
So, after 2003 to 2006 with no statistical significant increase in math
test scores, the state in 2007 sets in motion an 'alternative governance
plan', and test scores have a mixed increase.
Full implementation of the plan was averted when 2007 test score
results came in. Although, for a while, the plan was started,
as the Frederick News Post reported (CoPrincipal).
The Principal of Lincoln Elementary School, "Ann Reever" wrote in
an email on May 26, 2009 in regards to the ongoing turnaround
at Lincoln that "It is more
about the people who stand in front of the classroom whether
using a basal approach, Singapore math, or any other
resource."
[view email]

We all know that it is the teachers that make a real difference in
the education of our children. But don't just take my word for this,
instead listen to the state of Maryland. They say
"The link between student achievement and teacher quality is well
documented in educational literature"
[reference].
It is time for FCPS to back up all of their claims of
positive Investigations test results during 'field tests'
with real data that has been peer reviewed. And in enough
detail so that any claims can be independently verified
and factchecked.
Another complicating factor for any statistically valid results
from Lincoln is 'Student Mobility', the percentage of students entering
and exiting the school each year. At Lincoln, this number is very high
(around 20%) as compared to other schools as low as 3%:
[source of data]
Also, another complicating factor is that countywide
test scores have historically gone up every year, meaning
that we would expect Lincoln scores to also go up accordingly:
source of data
5.2 Get the Facts: St. Mary’s County


"there are clearly other reasons"
 St. Mary's County Superintendent

St. Mary's Dr. Martirano (superintendent) explains that there are
many reasons
(other than Investigations) for improvement in test scores 
unlike FCPS, which attributes the increases in St. Mary's County to Investigations.

I have just been notified that
St. Mary's County as of the 20082009 school year is no
longer using Investigations as a primary resource in the 5th
grade and parts of 4th grade. So far, school officials are NOT
responding to my emails, and refusing to return phone calls.
Now CONFIRMED
[source].

FCPS in their "Get the Facts!" document
[§5.0]
touts "St. Mary's County", as they have seen
"continuous and sustained improvement on MSA scores
in elementary since we began using Investigations".
But the published table (seen right) has some problems:
 Grade 4 '2003' data in this table looks to actually be '2004' data
 The 'proficient' data shown in this table is actually the sum of the
raw 'proficient' and 'advanced' numbers
 The "88%" is incorrect. It is (401+617)/1164, or 87%.
[source]
 The "33%" is incorrect. It is 399/1238, or 32%
[source]
 FCPS claims there are 20,000 students in St. Mary's County,
but St. Mary's own 20072008 fact sheet says 16,922 total, with only
7,920 in Elementary. The table presented (grade 3/4/5) only covers
3,545 students
[source].
For 20082009, the total enrollment was DOWN to 16,581
[Source is 6/29/2009 email with SMCPS]
 As per SMCPS "The first year of full implementation in ALL K5
classrooms in SMCPS was 20042005", (or 2005 in these charts), so the prior
(nonInvestigations) year is 2004, not 2003
[Source is 6/18/2009 email with SMCPS].
This table with inaccurate information certainly raises an eyebrow about
county officials. What else did they get wrong now, or in the past?
This St. Mary's data can be seen much better visually:
[source of data]
On first glance, this looks good, but FCPS is inappropriately looking at
an 'effect' (increased test scores) and selecting the 'cause' (it must be
Investigations) that fits their purpose.
What FCPS fails to disclose it that
"continuous and sustained improvement on MSA scores in elementary"
is actually 'the historical norm for the State' and is to be expected.

Test scores increased similarly for Frederick County (using
'standard' math), and the State of Maryland, as can be
seen in the tables below:
[source of data]
So results between the two counties are very similar. But, if I use the same
convoluted logic FCPS is using (to attribute the increase to Investigations
in St. Mary's County), FCPS would have to attribute the increase in test
scores in Frederick County to the 'standard' math used there.
It is easy to use statistics improperly. It is very hard to use statistics
correctly when cause and effect relationships have a lot of possible causes.
I can even show that Frederick County performed better than St. Mary's
County over the same time frame  which by FCPS logic would prove 'standard'
math is better then Investigations math.
Just look at Frederick County Grade 4  where the results beat St. Mary's
County in total Proficient, and percentage increase of 'Advanced' children.
And, just look at the entire State of Maryland overall:
[source of data]
Increases in math scores in the entire State now looks to be very
typical  so test score increases being attributed to Investigations
actually happened everywhere in the state in all schools  even those
not using Investigations. So Investigations is not the 'cause'
of the test score increases at St. Mary's. Something else is the cause.
But, there is a core underlying flaw in looking at the data in this way. It
is comparing one entire class of kids from one year, to an entirely
different set of kids the next year, to a different set of
kids the next year, and on and on.
So, you have a son in 5th grade and a daughter in 4th grade. Would you
compare how well your son does this year in 5th grade to how well
your daughter does next year in 5th grade next year? That is
what FCPS is doing. Or instead would you look for improvement in your
son from year to year, and your daughter from year to year?
Instead, let's look at the 'class of 2012' as they
moved through the grades at St. Mary's:
[source of data]
All of a sudden, Investigations is not looking too good anymore.
The total number of 'Proficient' children in the class of 2012 has
barely moved at all from Grade 3 (69.3%) to Grade 8 (70.8%).
Is this the fantastic improvement that Investigations is supposed
to deliver? And if you look at this class starting in 2004 instead
of 2003, proficiency is down.
The results from Frederick County (using mostly 'standard' math) are
similar, but slightly more of a positive and consistent change in the
total number of 'Proficient' children, as well as a greater
percentage of 'Advanced' at the end of 2008:
[source of data]
Now focus in on the 'same class' during the transition from 5th grade
to 6th grade and you will see some very interesting results at
St. Mary's:
St. Mary's 'same class' Proficiency 
Class of...  Total Proficient% 
 5th grade  6th grade  Comment 
2010  57.1%  53.1%  decrease in proficiency 
2011  67.0%  63.8%  decrease in proficiency 
2012  74.7%  73.0%  decrease in proficiency 
[
5th grade data

6th grade data
]
If Investigations is as good as claimed, why are the number of
proficient students decreasing in the 'same class' in the
switch from 5th grade to 6th grade at St. Mary's?
There is yet another problem. Because according to a St. Mary's County
fact sheet, SAT scores for mathematics, reading,
and writing are all going down:
[source of data]
So, what is wrong the Maryland's MSA scores  math scores go up and up 
but for college bound kids, SAT scores are going down. Sure seems like
a contradiction. Clearly, MSA scores are no longer correlated to
'real world' math achievement.
5.3 Get the Facts: Other Counties


Also, FCPS in their "Get the Facts!" document
[§5.0] states:
"Investigations is the primary text resource for Frederick
County, St. Mary’s County, and Baltimore County. Other
counties that use Investigations or Everyday Math are Baltimore City,
Caroline, Carroll, Charles, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery,
Queen Anne’s and Talbot.

So, let's do some fact checking and ask some of the other counties
about Investigations:
St. Mary's County:
Still waiting to hear back from the county, but published documents
make it clear that Investigations is no longer the primary resource
in parts of 4th grade and all of 5th grade
[§5.2]
Caroline County Public Schools:
"I can tell you that the elementary program does
not use TERC."
Coordinator for Mathematics and STEM Initiatives
(June 4, 2009 email)
Carroll County Public Schools:
"I'm not sure where you got this information or idea, but, no,
our curriculum is not based on TERC Investigations. The materials
are available in a few schools as resources that teachers can use
in alignment with our curriculum and approved texts"
Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Staff Development
(June 4, 2009 email)
Howard County Public Schools:
"It is in no way used K5"
Coordinator of Elementary Mathematics (June 4, 2009 email)
Montgomery County Public Schools:
"Kindergarten: All schools use Scott Foresman and Investigations (K
students do not have student books or workbooks).
Math 15: Schools may choose between Harcourt Math (2002) or Everyday
Mathematics (2001) to support the curriculum."
Acting Supervisor, Prek12 Mathematics (May 20, 2009 email)
Waiting on responses from the other counties...
5.4 Get the Facts: Mastering Math


On June 7, 2009, there was a Frederick News Post article entitled
"Educators say Investigations teaches children to embrace, master math",
about a fourth grade math class,
with the following picture (seen below right) alongside
the article.
Picture from the Frederick News Post  June 7, 2009

These children are still
using cubes at the end of fourth grade!
According to the county's own 'Get the Facts' document
[§5.0]
by the end of fourth grade a child must be able to:
 Add and subtract 4digit numbers using the standard U.S. algorithm
 Multiply a 3digit by a 1digit number using the standard U.S. algorithm
If these children were truly being taught math, they would no longer
need to use blocks and should have already become fluent
(have a 'mastery' of, according to Nelson Palmer)
using standard U.S. algorithms for addition, subtraction, and
multiplication.
Where is the accountability? Is playing with cubes at
the end of fourth grade a sign of success in math at FCPS, or a sign
of failure? You decide.
5.5 Get the Facts: Lincoln Elementary Teachers


So exactly why are Lincoln Elementary Teachers so proInvestigations?
Well, let's simply look at the public record and find out.
Go to
FCPS BOE meeting videos
and click on "BOE 03 25 09". Then click on "032509 BOE 306" and
forward to time index 20:34, and listen to Katie Saris, 3rd grade
teacher at Lincoln Elementary discuss math:
"My first impressions as I prepared to teach 3rd grade was
that  maybe I picked the wrong profession because
my students could calculate and manipulate
expressions quicker than I could at 22 years old and I was shocked"
Listen
Well, I am shocked too  because Lincoln Grade 3 achieved nearly
the worst overall 2009 MSA Grade 3 mathematics performances in
all of Frederick County (in the bottom 3 of 35) , as can be seen
in the chart to the right.
This overall score also puts Lincoln Elementary Grade 3 Math
achievement in the bottom 20% of all Grade 3 students in
entire state of Maryland.
And it is these (nearly worst overall)
students that can calculate and manipulate expressions
quicker than their teacher? WOW!
Maybe FCPS should test their teachers to make sure that they
can perform math at the grade level they are teaching  before
allowing a teacher to teach.
And this performance (near the bottom of the list in the county) is
after Lincoln has been using Investigations since 2003!
Even Ann Reever, Principal at Lincoln even says:
"We do use Investigations ... so please don't make this about
that. It is more about the people who stand in front of the
classroom whether using a basal approach, Singapore math, or
any other resource."
[view email]
5.6 FCPS: BoE says 'Curriculum has not changed'


After the FCPS Board of Education selected Investigations as a new
primary resource, there apparently was a heated debate.
In the June 5, 2008 "CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION COMMITTEE" minutes, it states:
"At the end of the discussion, Bonnie Borsa stated her concern about misinformation
being disseminated about the FCPS math curriculum and the TERC Investigations series.
She indicated her intent to write a commentary for the
Frederick News Post addressing these topics."

Two weeks later, on June 19, 2008, the following
article
appeared in the Frederick News Post (also verifying that the 'Curriculum and
Instruction Committee' members agreed with her decision to publish this letter):
Dr. Bonnie Borsa

Clarifying FCPS math curriculum
Recent communications to The Frederick NewsPost have raised several issues
regarding the mathematics curriculum of Frederick County Public Schools.
Let me clarify several points:
The FCPS mathematics essential curriculum has not changed.
The goals and objectives of student learning and mastery of material remain the same.
Students are taught the essential curriculum through many resources, including textbooks.
In April, the board of education approved a new textbook for grades K5: "Investigations
in Number, Data, and Space," second edition, published by Pearson Scott Foresman.
Students will still learn by direct instruction from the teacher,
and the text will be used to support the concepts the teacher has introduced.
The extensive research base for this text series supports its use as a resource for
math instruction. No single textbook can account for all the
instructional needs of students. This text is only one component of the
mathematics essential curriculum.
Also, one component of the essential curriculum is the expectation of student
recall of math facts.
A committee of teachers, parents and administrators spent over a year reviewing
available textbooks, and two were field tested in six elementary schools in
20072008. Survey and focus group information, field observations, and recommendations
from teachers and principals were used to select the text. The text provides a
focused, coherent progression of mathematics learning for students.
Like every major subject area taught at FCPS, the essential curriculum for mathematics
is evaluated and updated every summer in a threeweek curriculum workshop.
Workshops align the FCPS curriculum with the Voluntary State Curriculum, which is the
curriculum tested on the Maryland School Assessments. We have every confidence that
our mathematics curriculum is structured to create success for our students.
BONNIE BORSA
vice president
Board of Education
of Frederick County

It is troubling that Dr. Borsa (chairwoman, Curriculum and Instruction Committee)
can not even keep her story straight in a single letter to the editor. Dr. Borsa
states that the text (Investigations) "is only one component of the mathematics
essential curriculum", that the board approved the NEW textbook in April 
and then that the "essential curriculum has not changed". Oops. So, new
Investigations text means 'no changes'. Very interesting.

Actually, FCPS tested Investigations at only three schools (not six):
Lincoln (Grades 3/5), Yellow Springs (Grades K/4), and Woodsboro (Grades 1/2)
[Source: FCPS itself in a PIA result document Results by School].
And Lincoln had already been using Investigations K5 for many years, so in fact, FCPS
only tested Investigations at two new schools (and asked for feedback from Lincoln,
which already had implemented Investigations).
This letter was written from Bonnie Borsa, in her role as the Vice President of the
Frederick County Board of Education (not as a private individual),
to everyone in Frederick County (namely, you).
So, rather bluntly, you can 'take to the bank' that (1) what your child
must learn ('the curriculum') has not changed and (2) the Investigations
textbook must not be the only component taught as "No single
textbook can account for all the instructional needs of students".
The FCPS Curriculum is posted online for anyone to review at
www.fcpsteach.org
[§1.3].
If you have concerns about what is being taught (or more
importantly, not taught), please refer to and use this
valuable resource.
5.7 FCPS: Says 'standard algorithms are taught'


On September 19, 2008, the
following news was published
the Frederick News Post.

I am writing in regard to the
Sept. 15 editorial
about Frederick County Public Schools’ use of the Investigations math
text. To clarify, the new text  which teachers are using in
conjunction with a variety of other instructional materials 
was selected after careful evaluation. It supports our program
of study, the state’s voluntary curriculum and national
experts’ recommendations for improving math instruction in
U.S. classrooms.
FCPS’ elementary math curriculum has not changed.
Our students in kindergarten through
fifth grade continue to study:
 whole numbers and computation with whole numbers
 fractions, decimals, and computation with fractions and decimals
 recall of math facts using the Basic Math Facts program and text
 standard algorithms (+, x, , /) used for computation of whole numbers
 geometry and measurement skills
We encourage parents and the public who have questions about the textbook
and our curriculum to visit
www.fcps.org/mathfacts.
The textbook is available for review in elementary school media centers.
Of course,
principals and the kindergarten, second and fourthgrade teachers who
are using the textbook this year can also respond to inquiries.
Dr. BONNIE WARD
associate superintendent
Curriculum, Instruction and Evaluation
Frederick County Public Schools

If anyone (like a teacher) ever states to you that your child may
not use 'standard' multiplication and division algorithms, politely
tell them that you have a letter from Bonnie Ward stating to you
that 'standard' methods are to be taught within FCPS.
A second source of this information from the county is their
"Get the Facts!" document
[§5.0].
It is very interesting to note that FCPS no longer claims
that students "study" standard algorithms. In the latest
Get the Facts document [§5.0]
FCPS has changed the wording from "study" to "work with".
PIA5: Standard Multiplication was NOT taught:
Under the Maryland Public Information Act (Freedom of Information Act),
FCPS can provide no Investigations sessions, no supplemental
resources, nor any other documents that shows that teachers in 4th
grade taught 'standard multiplication' during the 20082009 school year.
[view PIA letter & FCPS reply]

Isn't it beyond strange that core math  'standard' algorithms for addition,
subtraction, multiplication, and division  is (incorrectly) claimed to be
a part of the FCPS curriculum, but then a math text (Investigations) is selected
that does not teach 'core math', but rather something totally different?
[§4.4]
5.8 FCPS: Only half the story?


Bonnie Borsa
wrote
"Only half the story" in a May 28, 2009 Frederick News Post editorial:
Dr. Borsa: "The May 21 NewsPost article on the TERC (Investigations) math
program only gave the beginning of the story. Elementary students
are taught to have fast recall of math facts, and are taught the
standard, basic algorithms for solving math problems. However,
when math topics are introduced, students are given several
different ways to solve problems so that they have a better
understanding of how numbers work. Ultimately, students choose
the approach that is most efficient for them  and in many
cases, that will be the use of the standard algorithm."

Sadly, what Dr. Borsa says does match up to what some schools
are doing. There are letters
from parents [§6.0] where teachers have not allowed students to
use standard algorithms.
Notice Dr. Borsa said 'ultimately'. So, exactly when
is 'ultimately' to her? Sometime during K5, or after
fifth grade?
FCPS uses Investigations, which
does not teach the standard algorithms [§4.4].
That means teachers much teach 'standard' strategies themselves. It
appears that is not happening to the satisfaction of many parents.
Also, according to the
NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)
fluency with standard algorithm is a 'focal point' (what children
must know), which Investigations ignores
[§2.0].
Dr. Borsa: "Why learn more than one way to solve a problem?
Math teachers were finding that some upper level
math students knew math only by rote and did not have a broader
understanding of why they performed certain mathematical operations.
(A very simple example: If you subtract 19 from 32, why
can the "2" in the ones column become a 12?)"

Sure I want to learn more than one way  but that is not what
Investigations teaches. It only teaches its way. What
about Lattice Multiplication, and others?
[§6.3]
Where is standard multiplication taught? It is
only mentioned, not taught
[§4.4].
They are not part of Investigations.
PIA12: Claims with no documentation:
Under the Maryland Public Information Act (Freedom of Information Act),
FCPS has no evidence that shows math students knew math
only by rote.
[view Public Information Act]

So, because a teacher failed to properly teach a student, the student
must now pay for this bad teacher? Where is the accountability?
Knowing standard algorithms is a
NCTM
focal point
[§2.0], which means it
is the responsibility of the teacher to teach the student. Nothing
has changed by adding Investigations (which does not teach 'standard' algorithms).
The teacher must still teach the 'standard' algorithm to the student.
Dr. Borsa: "The TERC Investigations program will give that broader
understanding and several ways to think about math
problems. But the FCPS essential math curriculum expects
that students ultimately use the problem solving
technique that is the easiest and most efficient for
them."

Really? So why were some children not allowed to use standard
algorithms in class?
[§6.0]
According to
NCTM, a student
must know the 'standard' algorithms, which Investigations itself calls
"elegant and efficient". And as we have already seen,
the Investigations strategies are horribly inefficient
[§4.2].
Dr. Borsa: "If you walk into a store and find a $38 item on sale
for 70 percent off, how much will you pay? I estimate.
I round up the number to $40 and figure I will pay
30 percent. I compute that 30 percent of $40 is $12.
How do you figure out this problem?"

Thank you Dr. Borsa for that excellent example of how you failed to
use your math skills.
I understand the role of estimation, an important talent.
But that is not what Dr. Borsa asked.
She asked How much will you pay? and How do
you figure out this problem?. Since 70% off means
that you will pay 30% (100%70%), 30% of $38 is very simply:
 $9 + $2.4 = $11.40 (30% × $30 plus 30% × $8)
Or she could have 'corrected' her estimation:
 $12  0.60 = $11.40 (30% × $40 minus 30% × $2)
Maybe this is the clearest example of why Dr. Borsa should not
be making math decisions that affect our children, because in
this example, it is EASY to find the exact answer  there is
no need to estimate. I would expect any FCPS graduate to
very quickly calculate this answer mentally. If they can not, FCPS has
failed to properly teach math to the graduate.
Now, how about sales tax (6% in Maryland) on $11.40? Once again,
very easy. 6% of $11 (66¢) plus 6% of $0.40 (2.4¢), or a total of
68.4¢. All done in your head without estimating and without
a calculator.
6.0 Note: For concerned Parents


UPDATE2: FCPS is implementing 'advanced' math classes with a new
nonTERC textbook. Ask for your child to be placed into this new math class!
According to a
FNP article:
Lockard said there are no intentions of having cutanddried criteria for admission to the
accelerated class. He said he doesn't want to shut the door on any child who could succeed in the class.
"If a parent really wants their child in the class and tells me they will do whatever it takes to help
their child succeed, I'm going to say, 'Come on in,' and we'll give that child a try," he said.

UPDATE1: I have heard back from parents of children
who have been denied the use of 'standard' algorithms in class. For
those parents who have followed up, simply pointing out FCPS policy
(that standard algorithms are allowed) is enough to allow a child to
use 'standard' algorithms in class.
But why that is needed even in the first place is a puzzle if it
is indeed FCPS policy to allow 'standard' strategies in class.
This points to a huge communication problem within FCPS.
I even have an email from one concerned parent stating
"the teacher has embarrassed my daughter in 4th grade
regarding solving math problems using the traditional
algorithm". Given county policy on this matter, that should
never have happened. You never embarrass a child, and certainly
never for something you (as teacher) are required and responsible to
teach them in the first place.
To me, there is clearly a lack of communication between policy
makers at the county level and teachers at the school level.
Another parent wrote to me "My son has lost a
year's worth of progress due to the lack of content and
inefficient methodologies used by Investigations. I have spoken
with the principal, other staff at the school, and Nelson Palmer
about my concerns. My son is now attending an after school Math
Club with ~10 other mathematically talented 2nd graders once a
week. While I appreciate the effort from the school staff,
this type of bandaid approach fails to address the woefully
inadequate content and pace of the Investigations Math program
these mathematically talented students endure in class on a daily
basis."
Read the rest of this section only if your child is still not allowed
to use standard strategies in math class.

A mutual respect between you and your child's teacher
will only form after you get to know each other. The only way that will
happen is to spend time with the teacher, which means volunteering.
It is easy for a teacher that does not know and respect you to say 'No'.
It is much harder for a teacher to say 'no' to someone they respect.
So, be active in your child's classroom. Volunteer your time and build
a working, friendly and respectful relationship with your child's teacher.
If you, as a parent of a child, are not happy
with any aspect of your child's math education (like Investigations),
first talk with your
child's teacher face to face  and not over the phone nor via email.
Take a notepad with you
and take notes from the conversation. Let the teacher know this issue is
important to you.
If that does not work, ask for a friend's advice. Does your friend think
your request is reasonable?
If so, teach your child at home the strategy that you
want them to use at school (make sure the child really and truly understands the
strategy). Tell your child to use the strategy in school in class. If the
teacher allows the strategy, great, job accomplished.
However, in the rare situation that the teacher does not allow the
strategy, it is time to write a letter to your child's teacher and
school's principal.
Explain in your letter that you and your child are simply following the
FCPS curriculum
[§1.3]
"MA 300  Essential Discipline Goals"
which states a goal of "Choose appropriate technological tools to solve problems" 
and that your child has simply selected an appropriate strategy (with your help)
to solve a problem.
I suspect that most parents reading this page will want to teach
'standard' multiplication and division, so state that in a
September 19, 2008 letter
in the Frederick News Post, that Dr. Bonnie Ward, in her role as
"Associate Superintendent; Curriculum, Instruction and Evaluation",
that:
Dr. Ward: "Our students in kindergarten through fifth grade continue to
study ... standard algorithms (+, x, , /) used for computation
of whole numbers""

Further explain in your letter that since these 'standard' algorithms are
the strategy that most of the world already uses to perform multiplication
and division, that the 'standard' algorithms are in fact 'de facto'
standards and hence 'appropriate' for the task (as per
MA 300 [§1.3],
your child is allowed to select an 'appropriate' tool).
Point out, that as far as you are concerned, for FCPS to declare
that the 'standard' multiplication and division algorithms (that your
child is trying to use in school) as 'inappropriate', FCPS would in effect have
to admit that they think 'the world' is inappropriately using
'standard' multiplication and division  and frankly, because any
method used by the majority of the world's population
is a defacto standard, and hence acceptable, you feel
doing so would impeach the veracity of any individual making
such claims.
Also point out that as per the letter that Bonnie Borsa wrote to you (via the local
paper) [§5.6]
, that the FCPS Curriculum 'has not changed', and because standard
multiplication and division was in use at FCPS in 20072008 (K, 2, 4),
and appropriate then, that the strategies are also appropriate this
year since the curriculum did not change (as per the Bonnie Borsa letter).
Point out that Bonnie Borsa stated [§5.6]
that "No single textbook
can account for all the instructional needs of students", so the
benchmark as to what is allowed to be used in class is in fact the
curriculum, and not what any single textbook might say or teach. And you
are now officially notifying the school that 'your strategy' is an
instructional need of your child and that failure to provide that need
will require elevating this issue to the next level.
Finally, point out that Investigations itself
[§4.4] mentions the standard
algorithms, and says that they may be used, provided that a child
understands (and can describe) how they work.
The teacher or principal will likely want to talk with you in person.
You may if you want, but I would recommend that you don't. Instead
kindly remind them that you already talked with them in person on a
certain date about this very subject and that you now respectfully request
that they answer all of the questions raised in your letter, in writing.
Resources will come and go, but it is the Curriculum that really matters.
Use that to your advantage when going up against Investigations. Teachers
are responsible for teaching 'the curriculum' through the use of direct
instruction, textbooks, and other supporting materials. Since Investigations
does not cover all of the FCPS Essential Curriculum, a teacher
must use supplemental texts/materials to teach your child at FCPS.
6.1 Note: For FCPS Teachers of Math


Investigations fails to meet the
NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics)
focal points for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
[§2.0]
As a teacher of mathematics, this should concern you. Sure, FCPS
says that supplemental materials will teach that (in the future; not 20082009),
but why is a text being selected that does not meet NCTM standards?
If you are a teacher in the FCPS school system and have reservations
about the Investigations resource, you can take the letter that
Bonnie Borsa wrote to YOU [§5.6],
in her role as Vice President of the Board of Education, that you
(the teacher) can teach the curriculum (which has not changed) to
students.
And Dr. Bonnie Ward, in her role as "Associate
Superintendent Curriculum, Instruction and Evaluation", stated
"Our students in kindergarten through fifth grade continue to
study ... standard algorithms"
[§5.7]
The Investigations text is only one component (out of possibly many
components) that you can use to teach your students, via "direct
instruction" (as per Bonnie Borsa).
Remember, Bonnie Borsa said [§5.6]
(as VP of FCPS BoE) "the text will be
used to support the concepts the teacher has introduced". You
are introducing the concepts and the book supports you.
A teacher is not there to support Investigations; instead, Investigations
is there only as a resource (as per Bonnie Borsa) to support the teacher.

The bottom line: Teach to the curriculum how you best see fit, using all
the resources available to you. You have a letter from the VP of the
BoE, and Associate Superintendent of the Curriculum to back you up.
And if anyone tells you anything to the contrary, politely ask that
person to point out the written policy that says you can not teach
to the essential curriculum.
Be aware and understanding that in the past, some teachers have
(improperly) not allowed children to use 'standard' strategies in
class. [§6.0]
Finally, a quotation from someone wishing to remain anonymous:
"A serious mistake too many teachers make is that
they end up teaching the models rather than teaching
the mathematics connected to the models."

6.2 Note: Results will not be measureable


What impact, if any, will Investigations have on the FCPS school
system? Well, simple you say. Just look at 2009 test score results (actually
seen in the chart below), and we will know. Right? No. We already expect
'increasing' test score results 'year to year', as can be seen:
source of data
So, actually, no  simply looking at test scores will not help.
We will never know the full impact.
Sadly, the results of Investigations
in the FCPS school system can not be measured with any degree of
statistical accuracy that will pass any peer review process.
The core problem is supplemental materials.
Bonnie Borsa, VP of BoE, has already stated that Investigations alone
does not meet the FCPS curriculum, and that Investigations "is
only one component of the mathematics essential curriculum".
So by definition, any test results measures all components being
taught  and does not measure (what everyone really wants to know)
the test results from the single Investigations component.
If FCPS wanted to obtain valid test results they would need to teach only
Investigations (and nothing else) to a group of children. But that
would violate the Maryland State Essential Math Curriculum (Bonnie Borsa
said no one text book can do that).
Furthermore, any statistically valid (and peer reviewed) test results within
the FCPS system would need to include a survey of child's parents to
determine what supplemental materials (if any) were used at home.
I know first and second hand that parents fed up with Investigations
are supplementing their child's math education at home. That child's test
results would need to be excluded from any statistical sample attempting
to measure only Investigations.
Sadly, because the school itself is supplementing the Investigations text
book, every child would, by definition, have to be excluded from any
Investigations test results  as the test results would be tainted
by the child receiving supplemental instruction.
The bottom line is that we will never know the true impact of
Investigations within the FCPS school system. If test scores
go down, it is inappropriate to solely blame Investigations
(due to supplemental materials)  but it will certainly be a huge red flag.
Likewise, if test scores go up, it is inappropriate to solely
credit Investigations (due to supplemental materials and the fact
that test scores historically go up every year).
There are simply too many factors since Investigations is not
the only source of math taught within FCPS.
So, if and when test scores go up a little, that is to be expected,
as that was already the trend before the switch to Investigations.
But since you can see (above) that 2009 test scores actually went down
a little in 2009  start asking questions as to why that is.
6.3 Note: Teach Multiple Strategies


Should only the a single 'standard' multiplication and
division algorithm/strategy be taught? Actually, no,
I am not advocating that at all.
Lattice Multiplication:
Consider the clever 'lattice' multiplication
(how it works)
strategy that you see to the right
(compare to [§4.0]).
It works, and works well for some (not all) people. It maintains
place value nicely, etc. If you really understand
standard multiplication, you can see why (and how) the
lattice method works. It is clever.
The lattice multiplication method initially looks very strange.
But look at it and take the time to understand how it works.
It displays every digit of every multiplication and every
digit of every addition. It is very hard to argue against
this method because it 'shows all steps' in more detail
than most other strategies (even the 'standard' multiplication
strategy).
I am all for (at the appropriate time) discussing all of
the known strategies (for some strategies, it would mean just
showing and demonstrating a strategy to the class once).
Because anyone who truly
understands how multiplication and division works  can easily
understand other methods, like the lattice method seen upper right.
An ability to understand other strategies is in fact a
benchmark demonstrating a deep level of understanding (and viceversa).
A failure to quickly grasp a different multiplication
strategy means that there is not a deep understanding of
multiplication.
I am making a distinction between knowing about and understanding
vs actually using (on a day by day basis) the other strategies.
Teach multiple strategies, but use only the most efficient one
(like 'standard' multiplication and division).
For example, one strategy for division is repeated subtraction
of the divisor. This strategy is great for demonstration and
understanding purposes, but horrible for everyday use. I think
the same thing can be said about Investigations strategies.
Great for demonstration, but horrible for everyday use.
Knowing many ways to perform multiplication and division greatly
deepens an understanding of the subject.
Double Division: Visit
DoubleDivision.org
for an interesting way to teach long division to those children
that struggle with standard long division. It does not make it
right for all children, but some children will find it much easier
than standard long division.
So, you really have to ask yourself: If FCPS and Investigations
are truly interested in teaching a deep understanding of math,
why don't they teach other strategies other than the ones
they want children to learn? Like standard multiplication,
lattice multiplication, double division, etc.
6.4 Note: What should FCPS do?


Investigations has a lot to offer. But it also has a lot of bad
ideas, some of which were discussed in this paper.
I would like to see Investigations replaced. But if that is not
possible, FCPS needs to make major changes.
Given that (within FCPS) the essential curriculum is what
needs to be taught, and not any single text,
that gives incredible latitude to the schools (and teachers)
as to what is actually taught in the classroom.
The Solution: Take the FCPS essential curriculum (which is mandatory),
and take some of the best ideas from Investigations (teach
to a deeper understanding of math; use it only as a 'resource',
but not asis)  and quickly graduate children from
'strategies designed for learning' to standard strategies
designed for efficient daytoday use. This means Investigations
would take a 'back seat'.
I remember from 'college calculus' working with strategies
(which were inefficient) for 'the derivative' which were clearly
taught to us for 'learning and understanding'. But within
days, much more efficient 'derivative' strategies were introduced
and used in order to work with derivatives on a daybyday basis.
The concept of introducing a 'learning strategy' and moving on
to an 'efficient strategy' is a core concept in mathematics, but
yet something the authors of Investigations fail to utilize.
So, go ahead and teach the Investigations way of multiplying
only for a short period of time. It is just one strategy of
many that a child should learn. Once a child knows and understands
how multiplication works, you don't force them to keep using a basic
strategy for the rest of their life. Move on and teach the
"elegant and efficient" (what Investigations calls 'standard'
multiplication on page 127 of Grade 5, Unit 7) standard strategies.
I strongly suspect that the people at Investigations can
see the 'handwriting on the wall' that they need to teach a more
efficient (standard) strategy. In
this multiplication example
(seen below) they show the following strategy to multiply (which, by the way, is missing
intermediate steps
[§4.7]):
All you need to do is keep all of these numbers, but simply rearrange
them and you have the 'standard' multiplication strategy (which
shows the intermediate 'carry' values):
Any child that understands the Investigations strategy, and has a
deep understanding of math (which they claim), can
certainly also understand and use the 'standard' strategy.
6.5 Learning: Sixyearolds are very smart


Kids are a lot smarter than anyone gives them credit for. I know
this from first hand experience with my daughter, and all of her first grade
classmates.
The real trick in helping students to truly learn is not simply stating
that '6yearolds can and do think algebraically' (like Investigations
does), but rather it is to come up with creative ways to express
advanced concepts to children in terms that they can not only understand,
but also explain to others.
After all, the true test to see if a subject is truly understood is
an ability to explain (teach) it to others. It also helps to
verbalize to others that which was taught to you. Maybe there is an
opportunity here. Maybe once a year (or more), all kids from one grade level
are paired with kids from a grade level below  where they must teach
something to the lower grade. Even if that 'something' is not actually
taught, the experience of trying to convey something you know to
someone else is well worth it.
Consider the following equation. How would you go about explaining
it to a child (pre first grader), in terms that they can easily
comprehend and explain back to you? Think like a child and what
they play with. Do not think like an adult who already knows the
subject matter:
I go about explaining this equation visually, using blocks:
and in words like this: Addition (+) means to keep counting by one.
Multiplication (×) means to
count by some other number (usually greater than one), forming
a rectangle of blocks. Grownups
have a funny rule that we always multiply before adding. Square root
(√) means rearrange blocks to 'form a square' and count how many blocks
are on one edge of the square.
My prefirst grade daughter can look at the above equation (without blocks, but
using her head, and sometimes fingers), and tell me that the answer is "three".
And asking her to explain how she got that answer, she would answer correctly.
This is after many equations where she first used blocks to fully figure
out the answer.
Do I now force my daughter to continue to use blocks to solve problems
like this, after she understood what I taught? Of course not. So why
should I accept Investigations forcing children to perform math
using a strategy that was designed for understanding the math,
not for using the math daytoday.
Give my sixyearold daughter 27 blocks and ask her to find the cube
root of that number and she will form a 3 by 3 by 3 cube, and tell you the
answer is "three". Because she has done this many times, just verbally
ask her what the cube root of 8 is and she will think about it and
say "2".
When asked why, she will say, 'because two times two times two is eight'.
Want to see a 6yearold smile widely? Give the child 1000 small 3/4" cubes (like those seen right)
and ask to build a single large cube. It does not take as long as
you might think. The resulting cube teaches the cube root of larger numbers
very nicely. After doing this exercise once, my daughter immediately asked
to do it again. She loved it. Play that is not only fun, but educational.
There is a lesson to be learned here. When learning is fun, children
ask to do more. But when I look at Investigations, I don't see fun.
Rather I see tedious, nonstandard multiplication that is time
consuming (notice all of the zeros they need to write). That is not fun.
As I have explained to my daughter, grownups like to use funny symbols
and terms, but all they are doing is playing with blocks, adding or removing
blocks, transforming the blocks into new shapes, just like she is. She
understands that.
Now a test for all of the grownups reading this. Go get your child's
building blocks and prove to yourself that 'n squared' is just the 'sum of
the first n odd numbers'. Actually, if you look at the grid to the right,
you can probably 'see' the pattern immediately and understand why this works.
[show hint to solution]
Ones, Tens, Hundreds, etc: There are some very smart people
out there who say we are teaching ones, tens, hundreds, etc to our
children in a horribly incorrect manner. We use cubes, For 'ones'
we show one cube. For tens, we show ten cubes connected to each
other (in a line). For hundreds, we show a 10×10 square.
For thousands, we show a 10×10×10 cube. What next?
A fourth dimensional hypercube
[wiki info].
They exist, but are hard for most people to visualize, let
alone a child. The problem with this technique is that we are
using 'dimensions' to represent 'magnitude' to children.
This observation was from Dr. R. James Milgram, Professor of
Math at Stanford University at the 'Leading Minds' K12 Math
Education Forum' in Baltimore on April 24, 2008.
Instead, consider how Russia teaches this concept to children (seen right).
One is a single stick. Ten is bundle of ten sticks. One hundred is a bundle
of ten bundles of ten. One thousand is a bundle of ten bundles of
hundred, and so one. After seeing this example, it really does make
a lot more sense to use a single dimension to represent magnitude
(powers of ten) to children.
Or, consider just using a sheet of paper to represent 'magnitude'.
'1' sheet, next to '10' sheets, next to '100' sheets, next to '1000'
sheets (2 reams of copy paper), next to '10000' (20 reams of copy
paper about 3.3 feet high). The next step to '100,000' sheets is
200 reams about 33 feet high. The 'exponential' growth of place
value in the base ten numbering system (powers of ten) now all
of sudden becomes very real to students.
Using the U.S. method, how do you convey to a child what a million is?
Your method of using 'dimensions' fails and you switch to something else.
But using the Russian method, it is very clear how to convey that concept.
A.0 How to get a grievance heard


So what do you do if you think the school system is doing something
inappropriate according to the rules and regulations of the local
school system, or even illegal according to State Laws  and you
want your grievance heard at the State level?
Do you write a letter to the local Board of Education? No. You could,
but your concerns will likely not be properly heard, or acted on.
Often times, you will just be outright ignored.
Do your write a letter to the Maryland State Department of
Education? Absolutely not. If you get any reply back at all,
they will tell you 'we have no jurisdiction'. But how
can that be? They are 'over' all schools in the state, aren't they?
"A school system makes its own rules and then decides
if it is following its own rules."

How Maryland Schools Work:
The rarely understood secret of the Maryland education system is that
each school district jurisdiction (county) is autonomous  having
the power of selfgovernment without outside control. The only way to
get grievances heard at the State Level is via the appeals process.
Even if a school system is violating State Law and doing
something illegal, the State will not get involved until an appeal
reaches it. In other words, a school system makes its own rules
and then decides if it is following its own rules. The only way to challenge
the rules or decisions of a school system to the State level is via the
appeal process.
So work within the rules the school system itself created  the appeal process!
The steps to take:
When you have any grievance of a misapplied regulation
or something that is illegal according to State Law, you MUST
talk the people in this order  and keep excellent records
of any communication with school officials, hopefully getting everything
in writing.
 Teacher
 Principal
 Department Supervisor
 Associate Superintendent / Executive Director
 Superintendent  FCPS Cabinet Level Organization Chart
 Board of Education  FCPS Policy 105 "Appeal and Hearing Procedures"
 Maryland State Board  COMAR 13A.01.05 "Appeals to the State Board of Education"
The bottom line: Start at the lowest level and ask
for a ruling on your grievance. Often times teachers will
just defer to the principal. If you don't get the answer
you want, move up the chain of command (and outright ask who
the next person to go to is). Keep doing that until you get
a ruling from the Superintendent. And after that, you are
entitled under Maryland State Law, Education Article
§4205(c)(3) to continue to appeal that decision
up to the Local School Board, and then the State School Board:
§4205(c)(3):
"A decision of a county superintendent may be appealed
to the county board if taken in writing within 30 days after the
decision of the county superintendent. The decision may be further
appealed to the State Board if taken in writing within 30 days after
the decision of the county board."
Superintendent's Duty: And keep in mind that under §4205 "Powers and
duties of county superintendent", a Superintendent is required under §4205(c)
"Interpretation of law; controversies and disputes" to settle disputes and rule
on an issue  a Superintendent is not allowed to ignored concerns.
And that is the power of §4205  a Superintendent must
rule and make a decision.
EXAMPLE: Review of State Law Read this
excellent letter
from the lead Attorney at the Maryland State Department of Education.
This letter reads as a 'howtoguide' on how to get a grievance about
school system fees (part of State Law) in front of the State Board for review!
EXAMPLE: Review of Local Policy/Regulations: It will be incredibly
hard to prove that the local school board made a mistake involving a local
policy, as COMAR makes very clear:
COMAR 13A.01.05.05: "Decisions of a local board involving a local policy or a
controversy and dispute regarding the rules and regulations of the local board shall
be considered prima facie correct, and the State Board may not substitute its judgment
for that of the local board unless the decision is arbitrary, unreasonable, or illegal".
And in the eyes of the State Board, 'unreasonable' is
"A reasoning mind could not have reasonably reached the
conclusion the local board or local superintendent reached".
So, it will be very, very hard to reverse a decision of
the local school system, but if you feel you have a case, the State
Board must hear your appeal.
WARNING: Pay close attention to time deadlines and procedures
when filing appeals. Sadly, some appeals that reach the State Level
are simply thrown out on a technicality (an appeal filed afer a time
deadline).
A.1 Maryland Public Information Act


The Maryland Public Information Act (PIA) is just like the
Federal Freedom of Information Act.
It allows for anyone to file requests for public records.
It is critical to understand that there are two rights afforded to you regarding
public documents under PIA law. The first is a right of inspection of a public record.
The second is the right to copy a public record.
Your PIA request should first ask to inspect a record, and then if possible,
to copy the record. After all, you don't want to have to pay copy
costs for a 1000page document, if all you are interested in is one page!
If you are allowed to inspect a record, under PIA law §10620,
you must be allowed to make a copy of the record, if you want a
copy made, with two minor exceptions that virtually never apply
[§3.23].
Learning about PIA:
There is a lot of information about Maryland's Public Information Act from
the Maryland Attorney General,
which includes background information, sample letters, etc.
PIA law:
Or, for those that want to jump right into the Maryland State Governmaent Article
§10611 to §10630, review the
Maryland Public Information Act.
PIA Requests I filed / Sample PIA letters:
The rest of this appendix is simply a log of all of my Public Information Act requests
and responses  and one bogus reply from FCPS for a request I never made:
 PIA1: 2009/06/02: Borsa  Lincoln doubled & St. Mary's County / Textbook Review

The only evidence FCPS presents for Lincoln doubling and Investigations success in
St. Mary's County is AYP numbers from mdreportcard.org. But the AYP numbers
show that Lincoln did not double
[5.1],
and St. Mary's own superintendent, Dr. Martirano,
credits lots of other factors for MSA results
in this statement. Textbook review documents
obtained were
Pilot Questions,
Pilot Results,
Survey Comments,
Results by Position,
Results by School,
Results by Years,
and
Textook Review.
The
Elementary Math Textbook Selection Overview
document was present in the file reviewed, but was obtained by another source.
FCPS also claims that their testing of Investigations was a 'field test' and not a 'pilot'.
But these FCPS internal documents prove that internally, FCPS considered it a pilot.
Later, FCPS gets rid of their 'pilot' policy/regulation.

 PIA2: 2009/06/04: Borsa  students knew math only by rote

The only evidence FCPS presents is their 'Get the Facts' document
[§5.0],
but that document does not even mention 'rote', proving FCPS
has no evidence to support their claims. Also, the reply to this PIA
is totally contradicted by the June 20, 2009 PIA12 reply.

 PIA3: 2009/06/05: Access to elementary 'secure' documents

FCPS made a huge legal mistake.
See FCPS Integrity [§3.1] for
full details. FCPS inappropriately denied access to some public documents.

 PIA4: 2009/06/06: Appearance/Removal of SMCPS Dr. Martirano quotations

FCPS has no documentation that explains how quotations attributed to Dr. Martirano
first appeared, and then were removed, from the 'Get the Facts' document.
[§3.5]

 PIA5: 2009/06/06: Standard U.S. multiplication in 4th grade 20082009

FCPS admits they did not direct 4th grade teachers in 20082009 to
teach standard multiplication, totally contradicting prior claims made by FCPS in numerous
newspaper articles.
[§3.2]

 A BOGUS FCPS PIA REPLY THAT DOES NOT MATCH ANY PIA REQUEST I MADE

In a PIA reply dated June 23, 2009, FCPS replies to a PIA request that
I never made! Notice the three PIA request below for subtraction, division,
and addition. It appears FCPS attempted to ISSUE a PIA reply for a PIA
multiplication request that I never made. And the reply is clearly bogus
because it talks about 'multiplication' and then 'subtraction'  talk about
a huge recordkeeping snafu. Notice that the reply is not even signed by Jamie
Cannon, but by her paralegal, Monique Wilson, who signs Jamie's name followed
by her initials, MSW.

 PIA6: 2009/06/12: Standard U.S. subtraction in 4th grade 20082009

FCPS is unable to support that standard subtraction was taught in 4th
grade 20082009 and points to (A) unit guide changes being made for the next year, 20092010,
and to (B) a 'Get the Facts' document that did not exist until the
end of the school year (May 18, 2009) which teachers were never directed to read.
Compare to PIA15.

 PIA7: 2009/06/12: Standard U.S. division in 4th grade 20082009

FCPS is unable to support that standard division was taught in 4th
grade 20082009 and points to (A) unit guide changes being made for the next year, 20092010,
and to (B) a 'Get the Facts' document that did not exist until the
end of the school year (May 18, 2009) which teachers were never directed to read.
Compare to PIA15.

 PIA8: 2009/06/12: Standard U.S. addition in 4th grade 20082009

FCPS is unable to support that standard addition was taught in 4th
grade 20082009
[§3.11]
and points to (A) unit guide changes being made for the next year, 20092010,
and to (B) a 'Get the Facts' document that did not exist until the
end of the school year (May 18, 2009) which teachers were never directed to read.
FCPS fails to even point out the single 4th grade Investigations session (2.4 in
unit 5) on standard U.S. addition, totally eroding FCPS credibility.
Compare to PIA15.

 PIA9: 2009/06/17: Parents were informed of Investigations usage

FCPS claimed that parents were notified that TERC Investigations
was being tested in the school system. Once again, this FCPS PIA
reply just provides excuses and does not provide the letter from
'school to parents' that should have been sent out  in order to justify
their claim that parents were notified.
Parent's from one of the schools said FCPS officials lied to them.

 PIA10: 2009/06/20: Cause of MSA test score increases at Lincoln

FCPS wants to charge $600 for this information.

 PIA11: 2009/06/20: Borsa  is Lincoln 'doubled math achievement' a fact

Dr. Bonnie Borsa can not back up her claim about Investigations
"We've had it in Lincoln Elementary School for four years and
they have doubled their achievement in math."
FCPS points to www.mdreportcard.org, which only shows that AYP for
math increased at Lincoln by 67% of the last four years (not 100%)
[5.1].

 PIA12: 2009/06/20: Borsa  did FCPS teachers make 'rote' claim

Dr. Bonnie Borsa has no documentation to support her claim that
"Math teachers were finding that some upper level math students knew
math only by rote and did not have a broader understanding of why they
performed certain mathematical operations." FCPS can not point to
a single FCPS teacher that said that
[§3.9.a].
Note how this PIA reply totally contradicts the June 4, 2009 PIA2 reply.

 PIA13: 2009/06/26: How did FCPS teach subtraction with regrouping 20072008

This request was meant to figure out how FCPS taught children
preTERC about how 'standard subtraction' works  and the FCPS
reply is just full of excuses.

 PIA14: 2009/06/26: All version of 'Get the Facts' as DOC/PDF
 PIA15: 2009/06/26: Investigations sessions with scope of teaching U.S. algorithms

Carefully read this FCPS reply  where FCPS states in a legal
PIA reply that there are NO TERC INVESTIGATIONS sessions that teach standard
subtraction or standard division!
[§3.20]

 PIA16: 2009/10/31: Dr. Bonnie Borsa ATTACK on Crook (Policy/Transcripts/Receipts)
 PIA17: 2010/02/08: Mathematics Positions Statements
 PIA18: 2010/02/08: Elementary Math Secure Documents Two

After sending a complaint letter to Linda Burgee produced no results, I reissued the
Elementary Math Secure documents PIA, and this time FCPS allowed most documents
to be 'inspected' (totally contradicting PIA3) but not copied, a violation of PIA law §10620.

 PIA19: 2010/02/24: Supplemental Lessons K5

This PIA is about the Supplemental Lessons FCPS created, and how much new material
(if any) FCPS has regarding 'standard algorithms'. This request will also test FCPS
and PIA law in regards to §10620 "Copies".
[§3.23]

A.2 Frederick News Post Coverage


A.4 What is wrong with the MSA score?


According to an article entitled
"MSA changes may have raised scores"
in the Baltimore Sun:
"State education officials acknowledged yesterday for the first time that
they had changed the Maryland School Assessment this year in a way that
experts say contributed to an unusually large rise in student test scores.
"Maryland saw significant gains on the MSA this year, particularly among
black and lowincome students and those learning English."
...increases in Maryland are "really unusual."

Why do test scores in math on the
Maryland School Assessment (MSA)
keep going up and up, while test scores
in math on the SAT (for Maryland High School students) are level or going down?
This 'inverse relationship' means that something simply
does not add up:
[
Grade 6

Grade 7

Grade 8

SAT data
]
I fully admit that this is comparing two different groups of children
(Grades 6,7,8 to high school graduates). That is not the point. The
true point of this graph is to point out trends in Maryland test
scores vs trends in high school graduate SAT scores. Something does
not add up. Is the MSA too easy? Is math achievement in high school
(grades 912) dropping? Is the SAT getting harder? Or some other reason?
With so many children being classified by the state of Maryland under the
Maryland School Assessment (MSA)
as 'Advanced' in math, why are Maryland high school graduates below the
'national average' in math on the college SAT test? Are 'advanced' children
reverting to 'average' in high school?
[source]
According to
education.yahoo.com,
receiving the 'state average 500' on SAT/Math would put you in the
lower 5% of freshman at University of Maryland, College Park.
Is 'advanced' on the MSA is not as 'advanced' as we would like? Or
are children in high school (grades 912) tanking in math?
I have reviewed some of the
MSA sample questions
online. When my first grade daughter can answer a
seventh grade math question
correctly, I do believe that clearly demonstrates flaws in the MSA
testing process. Here is the 7th grade MSA question that is 1st grade homework:
[source of data]
Maryland
claims
that the 'Objectives Assessed' by grade 7 question 11 is '6.C.1.a Add,
subtract, multiply, and divide integers'.
According to
FCPS Math Facts,
"Add and subtract 2digit numbers using a variety of increasingly efficient strategies"
is second grade material, not 7th grade. Furthermore, any
adult would immediately recognize that subtraction without regrouping
(borrowing) is not a true test of a child's ability to subtract.
On May 28, 2009, I saw 'multidigit subtraction without regrouping'
as an homework exercise (seen right) for my first grade daughter 
the homework even had the same 'football' example. This is clearly first
grade material, not seventh grade material.
This MSA test question is a prime example of the 'dumbing down' of
the math system: Giving 1st grade homework as a 7th grade MSA test
question. It is no wonder that many children do very well on the MSA.
Worse yet, in this third grade question,
a calculator is allowed
(notice the calculator symbol is shown):
[source of data]
Mathematics has been 'dumbed down' so much that a calculator is allowed
in third grade for this simple question.
FCPS argues that a calculator is a tool and children need to know
how to use it to operate in the 21st century. OK. Then design
test questions that test calculator knowledge and usage ability,
and only allow calculator usage on these special questions.
Since the question above is not about testing 'calculator knowledge',
but rather "1.C.1.a Represent whole numbers on a number line",
a calculator should not be allowed.
The state defines a manipulative as "Tools, models, blocks,
tiles, and other objects which are used to explore mathematical
ideas and solve mathematical problems"
[source].
And since a calculator is a tool, you can now see the convoluted logic
as to why a calculator is allowed.
The State needs to understand that the most important tool a child has
is their mind, not a calculator.
UPDATE (June 2, 2009): Apparently Maryland and other states are realizing the problems with
the testing system. A recent Baltimore Sun
article
entitled "Md., 45 other states to develop national education standards" states:
"Maryland and 45 other states announced Monday that they
will develop common national standards for what should be
taught in classrooms from kindergarten through high school
in reading and math."
"Eventually, the state will replace its Maryland School Assessments
with a national test that is developed by the states collectively"
 Learning Math:
 Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS):
 Frederick County:
 Research / Studies / Papers:
 Take Action  Activism:
 Technical Education Research Centers:
 Other:
 Videos:
 Radio Shows:
 Other Reform Math sites:
A.6 Are you any good at math?


So you think you are pretty good at math?
Then test yourself. Take the sample
Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure
tests in math and find out:
A.7 Questions / Comments / Feedback


Who is Jerry Jongerius:
I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northwestern College
where I received both a Mathematics degree and a Computer Science degree.
I enjoy writing articles (many published) and even wrote a technical computer book
on programming, which was published by Prentice Hall. I hold a patent on
panorama technology, and own several software companies. I am
an active computer programmer, where my math skills are used on an almost
daily basis. I am active in my child's education at home, and at school,
where I sit in on my daughter's math classes, volunteer often, and am a
PTA member. I have assisted in teaching children, and even taught a
portion of a continuing education class for High School math teachers.
Contact Jerry:
Use the web form (seen right) to contact Jerry
 
