Experimenting With Math Education in Manhattan District 2

NYC HOLD News Alert
October 18, 2003

NYC HOLD Honest Open Logical Debate on math reform: A coalition of concerned parents, teachers, mathematicians and scientists working to improve mathematics education in NYC schools

Elizabeth Carson, Co-Founder, NYC HOLD

NYC- Manhattan Community School District 2 students and their families were unknowingly part of a pilot for an experimental high school program, Mathematics, Modeling Our World (MMOW) (aka ARISE). District 2 students were also part of the first and only extant evaluation of ARISE.

The program was adopted by District 2, with Community School Board 2 approval, in 1999, prior to completion of the four year program, and prior to the existence of any studies documenting its integrity and potential for success in District 2.

Stuyvesant high school Math Assistant Principal Danny Jaye publicly denounced ARISE (as well as the District's use of TERC and CMP) in a searing NY Post expose published almost two years ago: Schools' "New Math" = Trouble For City Kids (April, 2001) The report is available on the NYC HOLD Web site.

District 2 administrators ignored the warnings of the Stuyvesant instructor and many others and continued the experiment.

ARISE was introduced into District 2, one grade per year, beginning with the 9th grade in 1999-2000. The program is now, as of this year, fully implemented in District 2 high schools.

In the fall of 1999, the same year all District 2 9th grade classes were required to use ARISE, the first and only so-called extensive evaluation of ARISE was initiated by Learning Innovations at WestEd. The study was completed in May 2001.

Two District 2 high schools, Museum and Upper Lab, were part of the evaluation.

The "Data collection" activities of the evaluation of District 2 included individual and group interviews with Lucy West,District 2 math coordinator, five teachers with varying levels of teaching experience, observations of three classroom sessions, and informal interviews with small groups of students in two of the classes. Follow up phone interviews were conducted with two teachers at a third and unnamed District 2 high school and one District 2 MMOW staff developer.

The data collection in the evaluation is qualitative, with a very limited use of PSAT scores.

Teacher survey questions asked for their opinions on the teacher training, implementation, impact on classroom practice and impact on students. Classroom observations were coupled with student interviews. The responses are almost all positive. One teacher question refers to preparation for an objective exam. A question was posed to the District 2 teachers asking how well ARISE prepared students for the Regents examination. The report does not indicate which Regents Math exam the question pertained to, ie Math A (mandatory exit exam, which only partially covers algebra) or Math B (optional exam, rigorous and intended for the college bound student) However one can reasonably assume the question pertained to preparation for the Regents Math A. The teacher respondents reported ARISE does not adequately prepare students for the Regents exam; they expressed "that they have to provide supplementary work for their students."

PSAT scores for one group of 25 students at the Museum School over two years were reported. The 25 students were reported to have had ARISE instruction in 9th grade through 11th grade. Their PSAT scores improved on the second sitting for the same test (taken in 10th and 11th grade) The percentage of students in the top two quartiles increased from 4% to 24%. LAB PSAT scores for one cohort of 10th grade students is reported. 53% of students scored in the top two quartiles. The report notes that the LAB average is slightly lower than the national norm.

The District 2 test data is minimal and the results, unimpresive.

Look for NYC HOLD expert commentary on the evaluation to be posted soon on our Web site.


Prepared By Ann Abeille, Director of Research and Evaluation and Nancy Hurley, Research Associate Learning Innovations at WestEd May, 2001

BACKGROUND / PURPOSE In the fall of 1999, Learning Innovations at WestEd was asked to undertake an extensive evaluation of COMAP's Mathematics: Modeling Our World (MMOW), an integrated mathematics high school textbook series that provides opportunities for students to engage in in-depth mathematics problem-solving using extensive real-world scenarios. The MMOW series was piloted in early years in a number of settings and COMAP provides or collaborates with others to provide intensive professional training experiences for teachers using the series.


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