Chancellor Joel Klein's "Children First" New Standard Curriculum for NYC Public Schools

Commentary on Chancellor Klein's Blueprint and New Agenda for Reform
(with focus on mathematics curriculum and instruction)
By Bas Braams for New York City HOLD
Dec 2002 and ongoing



New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the launch of Children First: A New Agenda for Public Education in New York City in October, 2002, and initial results of Phase I of the Children First process were announced in successive speeches by Mayor Bloomberg on Jan 15 and by Chancellor Klein on Jan 21, 2003. The core of Mayor Bloomberg's announcement concerned the creation of 10 new Instructional Divisions to consolidate the present 40 district offices. The core of Chancellor Klein's announcement concerned new mandated programs for reading and mathematics.

This Web page is intended to provide relevant links, reviews, and comments with regard to the curriculum and instructional components of Chancellor Klein's Children First New Agenda or Blueprint, with special attention for mathematics instruction. At the present time it is very much a page in progress, and I expect to update the page frequently as Chancellor Joel Klein and Deputy Chancellor Diana Lam announce more of their plans and as outside parties find the information and the time to review the Children First announcements. The views presented here were developed in discussions in New York City HOLD and with members of the NYC HOLD Steering Committee, but this Web page is my responsibility.

Related Web Pages

"Children First" in General

Bloomberg and Klein Rush In, by Sol Stern (City Journal, Spring 2003). According to Stern: "Unless Bloomberg and his handpicked schools chancellor, Joel Klein, admit to some monumental blunders, discredited progressive methods for the teaching of the three Rs such as 'whole language,' 'writing process,' and 'fuzzy math' will soon be enforced in every single classroom in 1,000 New York City schools. This is a disaster in the making"... [more]

Some questions about the Children First Process and outcome, by BJB (March 2, 2003). An email to Ms. Eva Moskowitz, Chair of the NYC Council Education Committee, with suggestions for questions to ask of Chancellor Klein at an upcoming hearing. Also contains a summary critique of Everyday Mathematics... [more]

Composition of the Children First Working Groups, by BJB and NYC HOLD (Feb, 2003). The information had to be obtained through Freedom of Information Law requests. The FOIL process also revealed that the Children First working groups operated without formal charge and that the literacy, numeracy, and special populations working groups did not produce formal reports... [more]... [more]

Letter from New York City: Bloomberg's reforms, by Diane Ravitch (EdG, Jan 23, 2003). Ravitch describes the secretive and authoritarian style in which Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein are running the NYC schools system. She also criticizes new system-wide curricular mandates in reading and mathematics... [more]

Predictions for Chancellor Joel Klein's Children First Initiative, by BJB, Nov 26, 2002. My main prediction is that in January, 2003, as he announces the results of the first phase of Children First, Chancellor Klein will lock himself into a curriculum reform driven by the ideologies of balanced whole language instruction, NCTM-style constructivist mathematics, and continued bilingual education for English language learners. The lock will last for the remainder of his tenure... [more]

Mathematics Issues

Reviews of Everyday Mathematics, assembled by Bas Braams and Elizabeth Carson for NYC HOLD... [more]

Spiraling through UCSMP Everyday Mathematics, by BJB (March 2003). The spiral nature and the concept of distributed practice illustrated by the fourth grade coverage of whole number multiplication and division... [more]

How Not to Teach Math, New York's chancellor Klein's plan doesn't compute, by Matthew Clavel (City Journal, Mar 7, 2003). The author describes his experience as a Teach for America volunteer in a Bronx classroom, forced to use the Everyday Mathematics curriculum against his and his fellow teachers' best judgement. Clavel takes issue with the program's over-emphasis on cooperative learning; its placement of "critical thinking" skills before basic knowledge; the haphazard, spiraling, movement between topics; the sudden jumps to advanced topics for which students have not been prepared; misguided homework assignments; and an over-reliance on calculators... [more]

Joel Klein's Math Problems, by BJB (op-ed, the New York Sun, Feb 6, 2003). About the choice of Everyday Mathematics as the standard curriculum for NYC elementary schools. "Mr. Klein would do well to reverse himself and listen to the advice about successful curricula that mathematicians and others have provided to him and his staff"... [more]

The Many Ways of Arithmetic in UCSMP Everyday Mathematics, by BJB (Feb 2003). An overview of the program's multiple algorithms for paper and pencil whole number arithmetic... [more]

To Chancellor Joel Klein about K-12 Mathematics Curricula in New York City, a letter from Chairs and Administrators of NYC mathematics departments Dec 17, 2002). The Chairs ask to participate actively in New York City mathematics curriculum reform efforts and offer their views on necessary structural change in those efforts... [more]

New York City Mathematics Department Chairs Warn Chancellor Klein Against Continued Use of Fuzzy Math Programs, Press Release by NYC HOLD (Jan 4, 2003)... [more]

Open Letter to Chancellor Joel I. Klein and Deputy Chancellor Diana Lam, by parent members of New York City HOLD (Dec 2002). Asks for an alternative to NCTM Standards-based "constructivist" mathematics programs in New York City... [more]

Talking Points for a Meeting with Chair Evan Rudall of the Children First Numeracy Working Group, by members of the Steering Committee of NYC HOLD (Dec 11, 2002). The talking points addressed standards and frameworks, assessments, and curricula... [more]

Commentary on the NYC Mathematics Scope and Sequence, by Frederick Greenleaf with Ralph A. Raimi (Dec 2002). Written in connection with the meeting with Chair Evan Rudall of the Numeracy Working Group on Dec 11... [more]

Survey responses for Children First Numeracy Working Group, by individuals in association with NYC HOLD (Nov 2002). The survey was developed and distributed by the Children First Numeracy Working Group. It was addressed first to District Mathematics coordinators, but some members and advisors of NYC HOLD were also asked for their partial responses... [more]

Two Letters to NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, by BJB, Dec 17 and 18, 2002. The first letter recalls my predictions about the Children First initiative and expresses interest in a conversation about mathematics education. The second letter emphasizes the contributions that subject matter experts can make to Children First... [more]

Two Letters to Mr. Evan Rudall, Chair of Children First Numeracy Working Group, by BJB, Dec 11 and 12, 2002. I discuss some specific curricula on the assumption that they may be of interest to the working group. I also emphasize that (contrary to the Children First process) the curricular decisions for New York City should be made in close cooperation with subject matter experts... [more]

Language Issues

From Diane's Desk, by Diane Ravitch (Education Gadfly, 030227). The guest editorial concerns two letters, one from reading researchers and one from ed school professors, about the Month by Month Phonics program... [more]

Chancellor's New Reading Program Is Unproven, by Diane Ravitch (op-ed, NY Newsday, Feb 10, 2003). "In the absence of powerful evidence [...] the city should endorse a menu of recognized, validated, evidence-based reading programs, not just one whose effectiveness is unknown"... [more]

Selection of a Systematic Phonics Program for NYC Students, by Linnea Ehri, Bruce McCandliss, Dolores Perin, Hollis Scarborough, Sally Shaywitz, Joanna Williams, and Joanna Uhry (Feb 4, 2003). A letter to Chancellor Klein and Deputy Chancellor Lam, a.o., about the selection of Month by Month Phonics for reading instruction in New York City. "As you will see by our analysis, the program [MbM Phonics] is woefully inadequate for many reasons. It lacks the ingredients of a systematic phonics program. It places an unrealistic burden on teachers for making decisions about designing lesson materials, and it does not provide teachers with any useful guidance for helping students who fall behind. It does not give teachers a research-based framework for understanding the activities they are told to use and why they are useful. Because it lacks a research base, it is not likely to qualify for federal funding. Most importantly, it puts beginning readers at risk of failure in learning to read"... [more]

Bush Adviser Casts Doubt on the Benefits of Phonics Program, by Abby Goodnough (NYT, Jan 24, 2003). The article quotes G. Reid Lyon: "'We can find no published research indicating that this program has been tested with well-defined groups of kids and shown to be effective,' Dr. Lyon said. 'And clearly one would want to know those kinds of details before incorporating any program into use.'" It also quotes Louisa Moats: "But Louisa Moats, who advises states on applications for federal reading instruction funds, predicted that Month by Month would not pass muster. 'It's just not in line with what we know works,' she said"... [more]

Children First Overview

New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein announced the launch of Children First: A New Agenda for Public Education in New York City on October 3, 2002. According to the NYC DOE Press Release:

The goal of Children First is to improve achievement across all schools and to address persistently low performing schools by moving innovation and effective school change throughout the system. The Chancellor's team will examine best practices in instruction, management and budget analysis, supporting the core purpose of instruction. Concrete action items will address the challenge of spreading the effective practices of successful schools.

The initiative has opened a Web site. Here we read (under "What is Children First", Dec 2002):

The goal of Children First is to create a system of outstanding schools where effective teaching and learning is a reality for every teacher and child. The Mayor and Chancellor believe that achieving this goal will require a common determination and effort by the Department and all New Yorkers. Children First includes a far-reaching engagement process to ensure widespread participation in the reinvention of the school system. Children First will involve listening to parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, students, community-based organizations, corporations, foundations, institutions of higher education, faith-based organizations, and public officials. Children First will include many opportunities for your voice to be heard, beginning Nov. 12th with the first of Chancellor Klein's outreach meetings with parents and community.

The Children First process took place largely out of sight, in working groups of which the composition was kept secret. As a result of several FOIL/FOIA requests to the NYC DOE we learned at first the composition of the working groups. Subsequently, after several repeat requests, we learned that the working groups operated without formal Charge and that at least the literacy, numeracy, and special populations working groups did not produce reports.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the first major announcement of the outcome of Children First, phase 1, in an education speech at the New York Urban League. At the same time a Letter to Parents from Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein was released. Mayor Bloomberg's speech and the letter to parents focussed on governance issues and also hinted at a new instructional policy: a single curriculum for all schools except about 200 high performing schools. The following is excerpted from the letter to parents from Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein.

In the new plan, the current 40 school district offices will be streamlined and consolidated into 10 Instructional Divisions. These Divisions will be led by 10 Regional Superintendents - the best instructional leaders in our city, who, working under the supervision of Deputy Chancellor Diana Lam, will form a core instructional management team for New York City's schools. The Regional Superintendents will be based primarily in the Department of Education's headquarters and will also have offices in 10 Learning Support Centers. Schools will work collaboratively in groups of 10 to 12 under the leadership of a local instructional supervisor who will report directly to a Regional Superintendent. The local instructional supervisors will coach and support principals to fulfill the educational mission of your children's schools. This new structure will provide a clear line of instructional accountability and support.

[...] The reorganization goes hand-in-hand with changes in school curriculum. Beginning in September 2003, we will introduce a single, coherent system-wide approach for instruction in reading, writing and math based on proven strategies from here and across the country. For example, we will adopt a new City-wide comprehensive approach to reading, which, in K-3 classrooms, will include phonics. By September, we will ensure that there are classroom libraries for grades 4-9 in every school, and we will provide teachers with high quality professional development in the new reading and math programs. We will have more to share with you on the specifics of the new curriculum approach in the weeks to come.

Our 200 most successful schools will not be required to implement these new strategies. These schools will have discretion in key areas such as choosing their curricula and designing professional development programs.

In his speech Mayor Bloomberg promised that details of the standard curriculum for reading and mathematics would be announced soon by Chancellor Klein. Issues related to English Language Learners (bilingual education) and special education needed more study and announcements for those matters are expected in about March, 2003.

The details of the common curriculum began to be announced on January 21 in a speech by Chancellor Klein and an associated NYC DOE press release: Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein Announces New, Coherent System-Wide Instructional Approach for Reading, Writing, and Mathematics.

[...] The comprehensive approach to reading and writing will be implemented in all schools in September 2003. This approach emphasizes reading to children, reading with children and reading by children. In grades K-3, students will spend approximately two hours on reading and writing per day, and existing classroom libraries will be supplemented with Month by Month Phonics.

In addition, building on the existence of classroom libraries in K-3, we will add classroom libraries in grades 4-9. This will allow students to be guided by their teachers in selecting their own books rather than being limited to the content in commercial textbooks. Students in grades 4-8 and those struggling to meet reading and writing standards in grades 9-12 will have an hour-and-a-half per day of dedicated instruction in these areas.

Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Diana Lam said, "Children learn to read and write most effectively by practicing their skills with real books everyday. Instead of using reading textbooks for instruction, teachers will use classroom libraries, consisting of children's literature and non-fiction books that appeal to a variety of different interests, to better engage students in reading and writing."

The comprehensive new approach to mathematics instruction will ensure that every child both acquires basic skills and develops conceptual, problem-solving capabilities. Grades K-5 will use Everyday Mathematics, with each school having the option to implement the program in September 2003 or September 2004. Grades 6-8 will use Impact Mathematics, with a gradual rollout starting with the 6th grade in September 2003. Grades K-2 will spend one hour each day on math, and grades 3-8 will increase to 75 minutes each day. Beginning next fall, high school students will use New York Math A: An Integrated Approach, which places a strong emphasis on the skills needed for success in higher-level math. Dr. Uri Treisman, professor of Mathematics at the University of Texas and Director of the Charles A. Dana Center, will chair a new Math Advisory Panel to provide ongoing evaluations of the math approach.

[...] The new instructional approach will apply to all but approximately 200 schools, which will be identified soon.

In late Jan, 2003, the most comprehensive public source of information on the new standard curriculum appears to be a letter from Chancellor Klein to NYC Principals. The letter itself is brief, but it contains pointers to prepared statements by Chancellor Klein and Deputy Chancellor Lam regarding the new comprehensive instructional aproach, a pointer to the related press release, a summary sheet on the new curricula, and a more detailed description: New York City Curriculum Choices.

The document New York City Curriculum Choices has some noteworthy additional information to that supplied in the press release.

K-3 Phonics: Month by Month Phonics

[...] [T]he New York City Department of Education has chosen to implement Month by Month Phonics in kindergarten through third grade classrooms as one component of its reading and writing instruction. [...] Month by Month Phonics is part of a larger reading program that includes multiple components. New York City is adopting just the phonics piece of this program as a supplement to other planned instruction in reading and writing using classroom libraries. [...]

K-5 Math: Everyday Mathematics supplemented by Math Steps

[...] Everyday Mathematics promotes understanding of real-world applications through its partner and small-group activities, traditional word problems, and long-term investigations. Skills mastery is developed through practice and the use of the supplemental Math Steps program. [...]

6-8 Math: Impact Mathematics supplemented by Hot Words Hot Topics

Impact Mathematics is a complete mathematics program that includes a full year of algebra by the end of grade 8. The program is created by the authors of Everyday Mathematics and builds upon the elementary math program Everyday Mathematics. [...] Skills mastery is developed through practice and the use of the supplemental Hot Words Hot Topics program. [...]

Math A: New York Math A: An Integrated Approach

New York Math A: An Integrated Approach is a rich and demanding high school mathematics program that is fully aligned with the New York State Core Curriculum for Mathematics A and provides test taking strategies and practice preparation for the Math A Regents examination. This program, published by Prentice Hall, emphasizes both the skills and critical thinking required for success on the Math A exam and in college-level mathematics. [...]

I repeat, because there may be something there that does not like sunlight: "New York City is adopting [Month by Month Phonics] as a supplement to other planned instruction in reading and writing using classroom libraries." That other planned instruction seems not to have been publicly identified yet.

A press release on Jan 27 announced the key personnel in the new governance structure: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel I. Klein Name Ten Regional Superintendents to Head New Instructional Divisions. There is also a map of the new division structure.

Questions, Comments, Issues

The recent announcements leave many questions, some of which may be answered in the next few days or at most weeks.

A local teacher wrote that New York Math A: An Integrated Approach, by Prentice Hall, is identical except for the cover to the Prentice Hall text Algebra, Tools for a Changing World. Publisher's information on both these texts, and many other ones that appear in many cases to be very closely related, appears on this Prentice Hall Mathematics New York Correlations Web page.

The announcements provide some kind words for the chosen programs - Everyday Mathematics, Impact Math, and New York Math A - but do not indicate which other programs were seriously considered, let alone provide a comparative evaluation of the top candidates. The process, to the extent that there was a review process, appears much inferior to the careful reviews used for the California textbook adoptions as described in the 2001 Mathematics Adoption Report. A cynical view would be that considerations of personal politics dictated that if the mandated grade school curriculum was not going to be the one (TERC Investigations) that Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Diana Lam imposed in her previous position in Providence, RI, then it had to be the one (Everyday Mathematics) that she imposed in San Antonio, TX. No critical evaluation would have been required in that case, and that is consistent with our external observations.

The issue of preparedness is serious and was raised by a group of New York City HOLD representatives in their Talking Points for a meeting with Chair Evan Rudall of the Children First Numeracy Working Group.

We note that years of curricular neglect have created a situation where in many schools and classrooms children start the year at an achievement level that may be three years behind desired standards. So, although the curricula in the California adoptions document are listed by corresponding grade level, we recommend that initially schools will have much flexibility in matching the intended and the actual grade level on a per classroom basis. We recognize that this is going to be a sensitive process, since no-one likes to face up to the need to teach in the first year in the higher grades perhaps several years below proper grade level. We hope that the DOE will face up to this need.

One will want to see how the DOE is proposing to face this problem. I estimate it is a very severe problem already in grade 3 or 4, and it only gets worse in the higher grades.

It is a noteworthy that Chancellor Klein and Deputy Chancellor Lam found it necessary to go all the way to Texas to find a Chair for that Math advisory panel who they would trust with their educational ideology. New York City mathematicians have reached out to Chancellor Klein, but apparently to little avail. One should note especially the letter from Chairs and administrators of NYC mathematics departments to Chancellor Klein (Dec 17, 2002). The Chairs asked to participate actively in New York City mathematics curriculum reform efforts and offered their views on necessary structural change in those efforts. New York City HOLD made many efforts to contribute to the Children First process and to offer a mathematicians' perspective on curriculum reform in New York City. I mention especially:

Elizabeth Carson (email of Jan 21, 2003) provides a few pointers to Prof. Treisman's association with NCTM-inspired constructivist mathematics education. Uri Treisman is director of the Charles A. Dana Center and serves as executive director of the Texas Statewide Systemic Initiative (SSI) funded by the National Science Foundation. The Texas SSI and the Dana Center helped implement several fuzzy math programs, among them Everyday Math, Investigations in Number Data and Space (TERC), Connected Mathematics Project (CMP), and Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP) (source: Texas SSI's 1998 Performance Effectiveness Report). Prof. Treisman is also president of the board of the Consortium for Mathematics and its Applications (COMAP). COMAP developed the District 2 high school mathematics program, Mathematics Modeling Our World (aka ARISE).

In other words, Professor Uri Treisman has a solid track record of support for the failed constructivist ideology in mathematics teaching, down to its worst representatives that include TERC Investigations, IMP, and MMOW/ARISE. He appears unable or unwilling to distinguish even between what is bad and what is atrocious. He brings nothing positive to the New York City math advisory panel and is an entirely inappropriate choice for Chair of the panel.

The Month by Month Phonics program merits a careful and critical look in its own right, never mind how it is paired with a core reading program (Four Blocks or some other program). The announcements so far make it appear as if the unidentified core reading program is "do as you like Whole Language", but there is this previously quoted hint identifying Month by Month Phonics as "a supplement to other planned instruction in reading and writing" that suggests that a core program has in fact been identified, but not yet announced.

The Month by Month Phonics supplement certainly appears to be Whole Language snake-oil phonics. A New York Times articles (Jan 24, 2003) quotes G. Reid Lyon and Louisa Moats:

"We can find no published research indicating that this program has been tested with well-defined groups of kids and shown to be effective," Dr. Lyon said. "And clearly one would want to know those kinds of details before incorporating any program into use."

[...] But Louisa Moats, who advises states on applications for federal reading instruction funds, predicted that Month by Month would not pass muster. "It's just not in line with what we know works," she said.

Mary Damer, project coordinator for an early literacy program in Illinois, writing about a package of materials sent to Illinois teachers, has this to say (Illinois Packages Whole Language As "Balanced"):

[...] I was offended even more by the second colorful book for teachers because although "phonics" was the main word in the title, the text immediately revealed that this was whole language packaged as phonics. This book had absolutely nothing to do with explicit, systematic phonics, urging teachers to begin reading instruction with sight words. By October, students are being taught (not just encouraged) to guess at words based on context. "Month-by-month Phonics for First Grade: Systematic, Multilevel Instruction" by Patricia M. Cunningham and Dorothy P. Hall".

In a subsequent article, Whole Language in NYC and Illinois, Ms. Damer describes her negative experience with Month by Month Phonics and Four Blocks Literacy in Illinois.

What's happening right now in New York City is so tragic that I want to cry. It's as simple as that!! Millions more dollars will be spent in the next four or five years and student performance will continue to decrease. Well intentioned politicians are being led astray as the "Surrender and Win" motto of this summer's Whole Language Umbrella Organization is played out with resounding success.

Month-By-Month phonics has been developed by Patricia Cunningham who by now should have made enough of a fortune to retire to her own island as she continues to churn out book after book promoting "phony phonics." From what I understand, Month-By-Month is a variant of the 4 Block (=Whole Language) approach which Illinois has promoted under the last federal reading grant (the REA) and which has done nothing to increase student reading performance.

Ms. Damer insists that "Cunningham Phonics" equals Whole Language, with a name change designed to confuse parents and educators.

For further reviews and comments relevant to the curriculum and instructional components of Children First, please see below the line.

The following Sections of this page were written in December, 2002, before the results of Children First became available. These sections are at present somewhat out-of-date, and they will need to be revised and incorporated here above. This will take time, and I won't attempt it until the various working group reports and the proper detailed Blueprint or New Agenda have been released. For now I offer these sections to the reader as a collection of miscellaneous contributions and reviews that are relevant to the issues of Children First, although Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein took in many cases a different path than was recommended here below.

Children First Process

The Children First process has, as indicated, a public component, which amounts to a set of generic questionnaires on the Children First Web site and a sequence of public meetings. The meetings appear to be organized according to a format where first the Chancellor speaks in generalities, and then the audience divides up in round table sessions to discuss their issues and concerns. I am reminded of the description of the Delphi Process by Lynn Stuter. This public component of the Children First process is certainly not meant to elicit focused input into the thinking of the Chancellor's team. Frankly, I don't particularly mind that, but I do hope that when the Children First New Agenda or Blueprint is announced, then it will not be claimed that this Agenda or Blueprint was developed through and has been endorsed by a public process.

In connection with the Children First initiative some working groups were set up, including ones on Numeracy, Literacy, Facilities, English Language Learners, Special Populations, and Parent Involvement. The composition of these working groups is kept confidential (literally), and also the charge to the working groups and the timeline under which they are operating (or have operated) is not public knowledge. I have filed FOIL requests (requests under the Freedom of Information Law) for this information and for some of the working group reports, but do not yet have this information.

On a positive note, associates of New York City Hold were invited in early November to provide comments to Mr. Evan Rudall, Chair of the Numeracy working group. Several of us provided responses to a questionnaire that was originally designed for NYC DOE mathematics curriculum specialists. Later it became clear that these responses had not been shared with the Numeracy working group, so it is not entirely clear what was the point of this exercise with respect to the efforts of that group. It was a useful exercise nonetheless, and it provided valuable recommendations that are available, if not to the working group, then at least to the Chancellor and his senior team as they synthesize the working group reports and prepare the Blueprint.

On a similarly positive note, a group of us was able to meet with Mr. Rudall on December 11 to discuss our concerns. We prepared a set of Talking Points for that meeting, and they too serve as a good record of our position and advice. The meeting was with only the Chair, and took place at a time when the working group was due to finish its report very soon. We did not see a draft report, so we were not able to provide the most focused input. Just as with the questionnaire there is some uncertainty in my mind as to how this meeting may have influenced the working group report, but our Talking Points are there for the Chancellor and his team.

What to Look for in the New Agenda (Mathematics)

Curriculum Standards and Frameworks

At present New York City operates under three or four different Standards and Frameworks documents. There are the New York State Learning Standards, and associated with these there is a Resource Guide with Core Curriculum. These NYS documents may be found under the heading "Publications" at the NYSED Mathematics page. On top of that, New York City has developed its own Standards Based Scope and Sequence for Learning, and has commissioned from the NCEE "New Standards" project a NYC Edition of the New Standards Performance Standards (the latter more recently known as the America's Choice Performance Standards).

The New York City HOLD Web page offers links to reviews of these standards documents. See especially the Fordham reviews of State standards (1998) and its updated State of State Standards (2000); Bill Quirk's review of the New Standards Performance Standards; and Fred Greenleaf's Commentary on the NYC Mathematics Scope and Sequence.

In our Talking Points for a Meeting with Chair Evan Rudall of the Numeracy Working Group the group from NYC HOLD offered its own assessment of the various Standards documents. We judged that of the four mentioned documents the New York City Scope and Sequence best approximates a useful set of standards, but that also this document is insufficiently specific in many places and fails to indicate the weighting of topics needed to provide students with a proper grounding in mathematics. It is too vague to guide assessments and lacks the prioritizing needed as a basis for classroom planning. We were very negative about the NCEE/ACPS Performance Standards and about the State's resource guide and core curriculum.

There are fine Standards and Curriculum Framework documents to be found elsewhere, especially those of California and Massachusetts. For California, see the California Content Standards and the detailed Curriculum Frameworks. See also 1999 Conference on Standards-Based K-12 Education. For Massachusetts see the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.

What is needed in the Children First New Agenda: A recognition of the lack of clarity, lack of content focus, and inadequate achievement level of the present City and State standards; and a quick roadmap to a new Standards or Framework document for mathematics instruction. The City should want to see New York State change its own Standards and Resource Guide at the same time, but should not wait for that process. In short order the NYC DOE could adopt the CA or MA Framework document with not more than minor adjustments.

What to watch out for: Alternatively the DOE could aim to re-write its Scope and Sequence. This would seem to be a somewhat feeble and non-committal outcome of Children First, Phase 1, but it need not be rejected out of hand. If this is part of the New Agenda then one would want to see that it reflects at least a proper recognition of the shortcomings of the present set of documents, if not yet an unambiguous acceptance of the superiority of the CA and MA frameworks. One would also want to see that the revision would be carried out by a group in which subject matter experts play the major role.

If this path is selected then a starting point would be the Commentary on the NYC Mathematics Scope and Sequence by Fred Greenleaf and Ralph Raimi. Note however, that these authors themselves indicate their misgivings about the project, and point repeatedly to the California standards as a better starting point.

What to fear: A bad outcome of Children First with regard to mathematic standards would be an affirmation of the role of the NCEE/ACPS Performance Standards. Such an affirmation would probably come in the form of a plan to have them "brought up to date to reflect new insights in the process of learning" or some such fluff. However it is presented, any plan to "revise" the Performance Standards should be viewed with great suspicion, because such a plan will almost surely reflect an intent to continue on the fuzzy path of constructivist discovery learning in mathematics. This is true even if the Children First New Agenda says that one wants to revise the Performance Standards to install greater rigor, greater emphasis on basic knowledge and skills, and greater emphasis on subject matter content. If one sincerely wants that that then one rejects the Performance Standards outright and one starts from the CA or MA standards and frameworks.


Much relevant literature about mathematics curricula is found on the Mathematically Correct and NYC HOLD pages, and is also collected further down on this page under Curriculum Reviews. The subject was also addressed carefully in our previously mentioned Talking Points, in our Survey Responses, and in my Letters to Evan Rudall of Dec 11 and 12.

What is needed in the Children First New Agenda: The present list of California approved curricula and the associated adoption reports should serve as the basis for approving curricula for use in the coming school year. (Please note that California approved a "Concepts and Skills" Algebra text against the unanimous advice of their content review panel, so this series should be viewed with severe caution.) There is only one additional curriculum that manifestly belongs on the approved list for K-8, and that is the Singapore Primary Mathematics series (K-6 Singapore). For high school a bit more work is needed, but a natural list of approved curricula would very likely contain the high school successors to approved middle school texts. The Dolciani "structure and method" series, the Jurgensen Geometry text, and the Singapore New Elementary Mathematics series (Singapore grades 7-10) are all suitable.

The Children First New Agenda will have to face up to the issue that years of curricular neglect have created a situation where many children will have to start a rigorous curriculum at a level that is two or three years behind their formal grade level. In our Talking Points we made appropriate recommendations for dealing with this.

Because there is likely to be some process for schools to obtain waivers from the core adopted curricula, it is important that the Children First Blueprint also identify some curricula that are currently popular but that are incompatible with the goals of public education. In our Talking Points we named specifically TERC Investigations, Connected Mathematics Project (CMP), Integrated Mathematics Program (IMP) and Mathematics Modeling Our World (MMOW, from COMAP), as unacceptable for use in New York schools.

What to watch out for: It would be strange if the Children First Blueprint would select a single curriculum (in any grade) as the New York City Standard. It would be exciting if this were done and the choice were the Singapore curriculum, but even then it would be strange. There is not, to my mind, a single curriculum that is clearly superior to all others; the Children First process is anyway ill designed to identify such a curriculum; and there is not, in education, much of an issue of economy of scale that would justify a concentration on just one curriculum in any grade.

If the Children First Blueprint does focus on a very small set of curricula then I think the NYC DOE could not do better than to select Singapore Primary Mathematics and Saxon Math for use in grades K-5, leaving the choice between these two at the school and classroom level. For grades 6-8 one would still have Singapore Primary Mathematics and Saxon Math, but one would need to introduce additional options that continue into high school, and I indicated some natural choices earlier.

What to fear: A bad outcome of Children First would be the selection of some NCTM inspired curriculum as the core, accompanied by plans for supplementation with more rigorous skills and content oriented materials. Unfortunately I read the teeleaves to tell me that this is a very likely outcome. I estimate that the Everyday Mathematics program will be selected for grades K-6, and my current estimate is the College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM, and it is anything but College Prep) for high school, and either or both of EM and CPM for middle school. An outcome of this nature could be accompanied by an announcement of a Singapore pilot project, but that will then look like a sop to the critics and an attempt to buy some quiet in order to continue on the NCTM-inspired path in mathematics instruction. Children First should recognize that mathematical process and skills belong at the core of the mathematics curriculum and are not to be regarded as supplementation to an otherwise inferior program.

No matter what curricula are selected as the standard, there are likely to be procedures for exceptions in individual schools. Here one will have to read the fine print. If "high performing" schools are going to be allowed to continue to employ their chosen curriculum then that is a transparent license to District 2, especially, to continue to use curricula (TERC, CMP, MMOW) that (as was expressed clearly in our Talking Points) should have no place in New York City public schools. It should be understood that District 2 schools are high performing in spite of their curriculum, not because of it. Many District 2 parents arrange tutoring, send their children to Kumon or Sylvan, and do whatever is needed to make up for the failures of their public schools.

The worst outcome would be a mandated set of curricula that reflects the choices made by Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Diana Lam in her previous position in Providence, Rhode Island: TERC Investigations for grade school and Connected Mathematics Project (CMP) for middle school. This could then be followed by Integrated Mathematics Program (IMP) in high school, and block scheduling to top off the insanity - the kind of strategy that helped send the Philadelphia schools system into academic receivership. I raised the specter of a TERC - CMP - IMP sequence in my Predictions of Nov 26, but my current estimate is that Chancellor Klein will at least not select these very worst curricula as his standard.


Yearly assessments are important for the purpose of maintaining standards and guiding instructional policy. However, as the NYC HOLD group stressed in the earlier mentioned Talking Points, the present City and State grades 3-8 assessments are at too low a level. The subject matter content that is tested in the grade 8 State assessment looks appropriate for a fifth grade test by world class standards. Many of the test questions are extremely verbose, and assess basic reading skills as much as mathematical skills. This is not appropriate, especially not in view of the enormous disparity in language background among the City's pupils.

Another severe problem with the present City and State assessments is their lack of transparency. Tests of this nature and with this role in educational policy should be made public each year (just as the Regents exams are made public) so that their quality and relevance can be assessed.

It is often argued that the tests cannot be made public because doing so would compromise the integrity of the testing process. I am convinced that things work in the opposite direction. If simply not making the test public is viewed as a significant protection of the test content, and if the test is then left unchanged or changed only little from year to year, then the integrity of the test is actually much more under threat than if it is understood that the test is always published, and the detailed content must change every time.

What is needed in the Children First New Agenda: The Blueprint should recognize the inadequacy of the present City and State tests for assessing grade appropriate knowledge and skills. The City controls at this time the tests in grade 3, 5, 6, and 7, and the State sets the tests for grades 4 and 8, but Statewide testing is likely to expand under the influence of the No Child Left Behind legislation. In any case, working alone or with the State, New York City should arrange for a more appropriate set of yearly tests. In doing so the NYC DOE must find a way to balance some conflicting aims: integrity of the testing process, public openness of the tests each year, an alignment with new curricular standards and policies of which the effect will only gradually be felt throughout the grade levels, and a desire to maintain year-to-year comparability of results.

I think that it is also important to move the baseline back one or two years, starting the yearly testing in grade 1 or 2 instead of in grade 3. Moving it back to grade 2 should not be difficult, but moving it back to grade 1 when one cannot yet expect the great majority of pupils to have basic reading skills, does pose a special challenge. It is worthwhile to try to meet that challenge.

An important ingredient to look for in the Children First Blueprint is an intent that test data will be collected so as to allow value-added analysis, which looks at the evolution of individual student performance over time. Our group recommended that in our Talking Points in view of its use for assessing the performance of schools, curricula, and teaching practices.

What to fear: A change in the mathematics test that does not offer a clear increase in the grade level of the test and in the focus on knowledge and skills, and that does not promise public transparency.

Future Process

In our Talking Points we recommended that curriculum approval in New York City should follow the model of the California textbook adoption procedures. These procedures rely on advice from two expert panels: a Content Review Panel (CRP) and an Instructional Materials Advisory Panel (IMAP). For the case of Mathematics one can see the process described in the 2001 Mathematics Adoption Report. The Content Review Panels are composed of mathematicians from institutions of higher learning, and the Instructional Materials Advisory Panels are broader groups, including teachers, school administrators, local board members, and parents or guardians. The CRP's perform the first reviews, focussing on textbook content and agreement with the California standards. Then the CRP's meet jointly with the IMAP's, and the IMAP's develop their evaluation report. The CRP and IMAP reports both go to a State Curriculum Commission, which appears to have the effective final say. (Formally that final say belongs to the Board of Education.) The CRP and IMAP review reports are public documents.

What is needed in the Children First New Agenda: The specification of a process of regular textbook review for the purpose of classroom adoption, with guarantees that university faculty in the relevant discipline are heard clearly in the process. California has done this very well, I think, by its use of two panels for each subject area, with one of the two panels composed entirely of subject matter experts.

What to watch out for: A textbook review process carried out strictly within the Department of Education, or with professors of education in the role of subject matter experts. A textbook review process without public transparency. An avoidance of tough choices this year while a textbook review process is being developed.

What to fear: No transparent review of curricular materials, and instead, the Deputy Chancellor for Teaching and Learning Ms. Diana Lam divines what is best.

Curriculum Reviews

It is somewhat difficult at this time (Dec 2002) to anticipate which curriculum reviews will turn out to be most relevant for the Children First blueprint. In what follows, the links point to reviews or to collections of reviews.


Mathematically Correct maintains a page of Curriculum Reviews, and many of the reviews cited below link to an MC page or to the same location cited by MC. An overview of a 1998 set of MC reviews may be found in this TPPF/ECOT page.

In October of 1999, the United States Department of Education endorsed ten K-12 mathematics programs by describing them as "exemplary" or "promising." This gave rise to an Open Letter to Richard Riley criticising the educational philosophy and the lack of mathematical content of these programs.

Diana Lam, deputy chancellor for teaching and learning in the NYC DOE, imposed the UCSMP Everyday Mathematics (Chicago Math, Everyday Math) K-6 curriculum upon the San Antonio, TX, schools, and introduced the TERC Investigations K-5 and the Connected Mathematics Program (CMP) grades 6-8 curricula during her tenure in Providence, RI. Because of their prominence among reform curricula in New York City, certainly the Integrated Mathematics Program (IMP) and the Mathematics Modeling Our World (MMOW, aka ARISE) high school curricula are of interest. I include among the relevant reform mathematics curricula also College Preparatory Mathematics (CPM), which has a middle school and a high school component.

All curricula mentioned in the previous paragraph belong to the reform tradition of the NCTM Principles and Standards (1989, 2000) by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. In part due to their local prominence, TERC, CMP, IMP, and MMOW/ARISE have come in for the most severe criticism in New York City. However, the lack of similarly fierce local criticism of Everyday Mathematics and of College Preparatory Mathematics should by no means be understood as an endorsement of these programs by subject matter experts.

The California Department of Education has a careful content-based adoption process for K-8 curricula. Reports may be found through the CDE site for Mathematics Frameworks and Curricular Materials. David Klein at CSU Northridge also has links to Content Review Panel reports on middle school mathematics programs. The official final adoption report of 2001 provides positive reviews of K-8 materials that include for grade school Saxon Math K-6, Sadlier Progress in Mathematics CA Edition K-6, Harcourt Math CA Edition 2002 K-6, Houghton Mifflin Mathematics CA Edition K-5, and Scott Foresman CA Mathematics K-6; for middle school the adopted programs include McDougal Littell Structure and Method (the venerable Dolciani series), and Prentice Hall Pre-Algebra and Algebra 1.

In addition to the named programs adopted in California the Singapore Primary Mathematics K-6 curriculum is uniformly recommended by subject matter experts, and also the Singapore New Elementary Mathematics grades 7-10 series is of high quality.

Recommended Books and Articles

The following is a selection with annotations taken from my Links, Articles, Essays, and Opinions on K-12 Education and from the New York City HOLD Web site.


E. D. Hirsch Jr., The Schools We Need - And Why We Don't Have Them (Doubleday, New York, 1996). Covers a very wide range: educational philosophies, especially the American progressive movement; the importance of core knowledge; educational research and cognitive science; and standards and testing. Argues for the common school for the common good. [excerpt].

Sandra Stotsky (Ed.), What's at Stake in the K-12 Standards Wars: A Primer for Educational Policy Makers (Peter Lang, New York, 2000). Contributors include friends and colleagues Hung-Hsi Wu, Ralph A. Raimi, Paul Clopton, Wayne Bishop, David Klein, Stan Metzenberg, Alan Cromer, Paul R. Gross, Michael McKeown, and Chris Patterson.

Jeanne S. Chall, The Academic Achievement Challenge: What Really Works in the Classroom? (Guilford Press, New York, 2000). Describes educational reforms over the past century and reviews research comparing teacher centered and student centered approaches.

Articles, General

They Have Overcome: High-Poverty, High-Performing Schools in California, by Lance Izumi with K. Gwynne Coburn and Matt Cox (PRI, Sep 2002). In the footsteps of the Heritage Foundation's "No Excuses" reports the Pacific Research Institute looks at eight high performing high poverty public elementary schools in California (four of them in Inglewood) and asks why they succeed. Components include scripted, phonics based reading instruction; strong academic content standards; teacher centered instruction; frequent assessment; and discipline... [more] (PDF format)

Education in Singapore, by Chester E. Finn Jr. (Feb 2002). Why does this small country keep coming in at the top on international tests of student achievement, at least in science and mathematics? Article in two parts... [more]... [more]

Progressivism's Hidden Failure, By Louisa C. Spencer (2001). "For the past four years, I have been a volunteer tutor in grades 1-4 of a K-5 public elementary school in New York City's Community School District 2"... [more]

No Excuses: Lessons from 21 High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools, by Samual Casey Carter (The Heritage Foundation, 2000). The report's condensed list of "best practices" deals with parental accountability; the hiring of teachers; regular standardized testing; focus on reading and mathematics; and good spending practices... [more] (PDF format)

No Excuses: Seven Principals of Low-Income Schools Who Set the Standard for High Achievement, by Samual Casey Carter (The Heritage Foundation, 1999). The Heritage's 1999 award of the Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship went to principals Irwin Kurz (NY), Gregory Hodge (NY), Michael Feinberg (TX), David Levin (NY), Nancy Ichinaga (CA), Helen DeBerry (IL), Ernestine Sanders (MI)... [more] (PDF format)

A Classroom Crusade, by Darragh Johnson (WP, 021110). About the successful efforts of superintendent Eric Smith to raise achievement of "at risk" children. His strategy includes a rigorous common curriculum [email via Mike McKeown describes this to be Open Court for reading and Saxon for mathematics], frequent assessments, and quick extra help for students falling behind. In two parts and a discussion... [more]... [more]... [more]

Mathematics Instruction

The Math Wars, by David Ross (2001). Discusses the NCTM-led reform and its opposition. "By advocating mastery of the traditional algorithms, the reformers' opponents have in fact established themselves as the defenders of conceptual thinking in the Math Wars"... [more]

A Tale of Two Math Reforms: The Politics of the New Math and the NCTM Standards (Draft, Apr 2000), by Tom Loveless. The paper analyzes the politics of mathematics education reform, comparing the development of the New Math in the 1960's with the NCTM Standards movement in the years after about 1985... [more]

High Achievement in Mathematics: Lessons from Three Los Angeles Elementary Schools, by David Klein (Brookings, Aug 2000). The paper describes characteristics and academic policies of three low income schools (Bennett-Kew, Kelso, and Robert Hill Lane) whose students are unusually successful in mathematics. Klein identifies as fundamental ingredients: California's clear set of high quality grade by grade standards; textbooks and curricula aligned to the standards; sufficiently high teacher knowledge of mathematics to teach to the standards... [more] (PDF format)

Reform Mathematics Education: How to "Succeed" Without Really Trying, by Paul Clopton (2000). "Since the 1980's, there have been substantial efforts nation wide to weaken mathematics education in America, and these efforts have largely been successful... It is this effort, curiously known as reform, that is the root cause of what has come to be known as the math wars"... [more]

Math Problems: Why the U.S. Department of Education's recommended math programs don't add up, by David Klein (ASBJ, Apr 2000). In October 1999, the U.S. Department of Education released a report designating 10 math programs as "exemplary" or "promising." David Klein and other mathematicians took issue with these designations in an open letter that was published in the Washington Post. This article elaborates their objections... [more]

Basic Skills Versus Conceptual Understanding: A Bogus Dichotomy in Mathematics Education, by H.-H. Wu (AE, Fall 1999). Using the arithmetic of fractions as his prime example Prof. Wu argues that good teaching of basic skills is essential for achieving conceptual understanding... [more] (PDF format)

Letter to Ms Colaizzi and the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Education, by Wayne Bishop (Mar 12, 2002). About mathematics programs in Pittsburgh, with special attention for Everyday Math and IMP, and about the folly of conforming to the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)... [more]

How the NCEE Redefines K-12 Math, by Bill Quirk (2002). An analysis of the NCEE New Standards, also known as America's Choice Performance Standards (ACPS). Includes the NYC modifications. "[N]o mathematician would judge the NCEE math performance standards to be an acceptable guide to the math knowledge that should be acquired in K-12"... [more].

A Daring Choice for a Mathematics Textbook, by Jay Mathews (WP, Dec 18, 2001). "Even five years after his death, mathematics textbook publisher John Saxon still drives educators crazy." Mathews describes how these books are highly successful and at the same time widely resisted by educators... [more]

If it isn't broken..., by Debra Saunders (SF Chronicle, May 3, 2001). The Saxon mathematics program has shown spectacular success in LAUSD elementary schools. But, writes Saunders, in Edu-Land nothing sinks curriculum as quickly as success, and the Board of LAUSD voted to withdraw support for Saxon... [more]

Math the Saxon Way Is Catching On, by David J. Hoff (EdWeek, May 1, 2002)... [more]

Does Two Plus Two Still Equal Four? What Should Our Children Know about Math? A forum at the American Enterprise Institute on March 4, 2002, addressed these questions. Moderated by Lynne V. Cheney, with participation of Mike McKeown, Gail Burrill, David Klein, Tom Loveless, and Lee V. Stiff... [more]. The forum has been reviewed... [more]... [more]

The Math Meltdown, by Staff of the Christian Science Monitor (May 16/23/30, 2000). A three-part series, each part having 5-7 articles; we link only to the first article of each. Part 1: In a high-tech era, Americans aren't keeping pace in math... [more]. Part 2: Controversial math programs: questions about the approval process... [more]. Part 3: What some schools are doing to boost performance... [more]. Reader responses... [more]

English Language Instruction

Measuring Success: Using Assessments and Accountability to Raise Student Achievement, by G. Reid Lyon (March 8, 2001). Testimony before a House subcommittee on education reform. Dr. Lyon stresses that children at-risk for reading failure need to be identified early and provided with systematic, explicit, and intensive instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension strategies; they are not served by approaches that emphasize incidental learning of basic reading skills... [more]

Whole Language Lives On, by Louisa Cook Moats (2000). "What's going on in many places in the name of `balance' or `consensus' is that the worst practices of whole language are persisting, continuing to inflict boundless harm on young children who need to learn to read. How and why that is happening-and how and why such practices are misguided and harmful-are what this report is about"... [more]

Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read (April 2000). On the basis of a massive review of available research the panel determined that effective reading instruction includes teaching children to break apart and manipulate the sounds in words (phonemic awareness), teaching them that these sounds are represented by letters of the alphabet which can then be blended together to form words (phonics), having them practice what they've learned by reading aloud with guidance and feedback (guided oral reading), and applying reading comprehension strategies to guide and improve reading comprehension. The panel's report is a call for explicit reading instruction as opposed to a view of reading as learned by natural assimilation... [more]

The Diogenes Factor, by Herbert J. Walberg and Rebecca C. Greenberg (EdW, 980408). Looks at evaluations of the Success For All reading program as a prime example of conflict of interest and dishonest reporting in federally funded education research... [more]. See also

Blackboard Bungle: Why California Kids Can't Read, by Jill Stewart (LA Weekly, Mar 1996). Describes the rise of Whole Language in California's classrooms and its disastrous effect on learning. "How California got itself into such a quagmire, and how the state is now struggling to pull out of it, is a cautionary study in the pitfalls of untested mass innovation." In two parts... [more]

The "Crayola Curriculum", by Mike Schmoker (EdW, 011024). In his classroom visits the author has observed a pattern in early reading instruction. "Students were not reading, they weren't writing about what they had read, they weren't learning the alphabet or its corresponding sounds; they weren't learning words or sentences or how to read short texts. They were coloring. Coloring on a scale unimaginable to us before these classroom tours"... [more]

Success for Some, by Jay Mathews (WP, Jul 21, 2002). On the (Slavin) Success for All program and criticism of same... [more]

Bilingual Education and ELL Instruction

Bilingual Education in New York City: Poor Accountability, Worse Progress, by Don Soifer (LI, Oct 2002). On the basis of analysis of grant documents from 58 NYC bilingual education programs Soifer concludes that: accountability is very poor; what indicators there are demonstrate very poor progress towards English fluency; and the programs often emphasize workshops and planning at the expense of students' academic progress... [more]. See also Federal Bilingual Education Programs in Massachusetts: `But Do They Help the Children?', by the same author (LI, Sep 2001)... [more]

Learning English, by Joseph M. Guzman (Educ. Next, Fall 2002). Report on a study of outcomes of bilingual and immersion ESL instruction. It is found that there are substantial benefits to being raised in a bilingual household, but at school a rapid transition to English should be made. Bilingual education delays the transition to English and is an invitation to low academic performance and limited economic opportunities... [more]

Dismantling Bilingual Education, Implementing English Immersion: the California Initiative, by Christine Rossell (Rev. Aug 2002). A report on the implementation and the effects of Proposition 227 (1998), which was intended to replace bilingual education with an immersion approach... [more] (PDF format)

Teaching Language Minorities: Theory and Reality, by Christine H. Rossell (in Diane Ravitch and Joseph P. Viteritti, Eds., Lessons from New York City Schools, JHUP 2000). Describes the wide range of instructional programs for LEP students, and related law, regulations, and history. Rossell takes particular aim at the reclassification procedures, which are such as to guarantee that a substantial fraction of students will inappropriately remain in LEP classrooms... [more]

The Benefits of English Immersion, by Rosalie Pedalino Porter (Ed Leadership, Dec 1999). Porter applauds California's Proposition 227 "English for the Children". She stresses the need for accountability for student progress as the measure of program effectiveness... [more]

Standards and Assessment

Testimony on the Draft 2004 Mathematics Framework (for NAEP), by John Hoven on behalf of the Center for Education Reform (Sep 24, 2001). Hoven finds that the "hard" 8th grade NAEP problems are at a level similar to Singapore's grade 5... [more] (PDF format). Tom Loveless and Alan Siegel also testified... [more]... [more]

Public Education Reform in Texas: Comprehensive Progress Report. Based on a Lone Star Foundation conference in Austin, TX, Dec 7-8, 2000. Published contributions include Texas standards and standardized assessments, by Donna Garner [here]; Texas Mathematics Education In Transition, by Paul Clopton [here]; Curriculum Equity in the Classroom, by Manuel P. Berriozabal and Chris Patterson [here]; and other papers on curriculum, standards, assessment, teacher performance, and policy... [more]

1999 Conference on Standards Based K-12 Education, held at CSU Northridge, May 21-22, 1999 (Proceedings). The conference brought together many of the people that had a direct role in creating California's recent content standards for language arts, mathematics, and science, and national leaders in education reform, to explain these standards and to consider practical issues to make them succeed... [more]

Supplementary Links

Shelley Harwayne and mathematics, by Bas Braams (July, 2002). Dr. Shelley Harwayne is Superintendent of New York City Community School District 2. Earlier she was the founding principal of the Manhattan New School. Ms. Harwayne is a nationally recognized personality in the area of language and literacy teaching, and also wrote some words about mathematics education. Ms. Harwayne's writings on curriculum help to explain the continuing mandate in her District of some of the worst available mathematics curricula... [more]

Facing the Classroom Challenge: Teacher Quality and Teacher Training in California's Schools of Education, by Lance T. Izumi with K. Gwynne Coburn (PRI, April 2001). Definitely of interest also outside CA, this report contains a good overview of teaching methods and philosophies. Singapore, Kumon, and Bennett-Kew are presented as models for reform... [more]

Insubstantial Pageants, by Martin A. Kozloff (Apr 2001). Examination of several hundred ed school Web sites shows that one of their main activities is Impression Management: an elaborate staging of pretended scholarship, pretended democratic values, and pretended expertise. Kozloff compares it unfavorably to the illusory world of Prospero... [more]. By the same author... [more]

The Roots of the Education Wars, by E. D. Hirsch, Jr. (Educ. Matters, Spring 2001). About the chasm between progressive, romantic educational ideas and the classical approach to teaching reading and mathematics... [more]. An abridgement was published as Romancing the Child... [more]. By the same author... [more]

Nurturing the Life of Mind, by Kathleen Vail (ASBJ, Jan 2001). "The idea that children must be entertained and feel good while they learn has been embraced by many well-meaning educators. In many classrooms, as a result, students are watching movies, working on multimedia presentations, surfing the Internet, putting on plays, and dissecting popular song lyrics. The idea is to motivate students, but the emphasis on enjoyment as a facile substitute for engagement creates a culture in which students are not likely to challenge themselves or stretch their abilities"... [more]

Address to California State Board of Education, by E. D. Hirsch, Jr. (Apr 10, 1997). CA law requires education policy to be research-based. But, writes Hirsch: "I don't know of a single failed educational policy, ranging from the naturalistic teaching of reading, to the open classroom, to the teaching of abstract set theory in third-grade math that has not been research-based"... [more]

What was that Project Follow Through? A focus issue of Effective School Practices (Winter 1995-96) with articles by Grossen, Bereiter, Becker and Engelmann, and others... [more]


I apologize for the present somewhat haphazard organization of this Web page. I hope to reorganize the page and focus it better as time permits and as more complete information about the instructional and curriculum components of Children First becomes available.

(Return to Top of this page or to Links, Articles, Essays, and Opinions on K-12 Education or to the New York City HOLD Web site or to BJB Essays and Opinions.)

The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by New York University.