Keeping Score: Numbers don’t bite


(Excerpt from Keeping Score, the precursor story to Capturing Captain America)

“You really must be superman instead of Captain America,” Kaja said with her wiry smile.

“What? Are you resorting to sarcasm again when you have no better plan?”

Ronan snapped back but Kaja ignored the question.

“What’s your implementation strategy? How many lesson plans are we looking at?”

”We start tomorrow. The first thing is a meeting with the entire Math Department. You are going to call the meeting. I’ll have the lesson plans and manuals ready for everyone.”

“How many lesson plans Ronan?”

“Over the first 8 weeks you and your staff will execute a total of 30 in classroom lesson plans. These are curriculum to be taught during regular hours. The tutoring sessions and how that is going to be managed with external interns is a separate meeting the following day. I’ve invited the regional head here in San Francisco to join us.”

“I need more details. How did you structure the assignments and what is the logic?”

“The logic is simple. We are going to teach them to pass the test. Think of it as an extended intensive SAT prep class. Just like how Driver’s Ed classrooms teach kids to pass the written test issued by the California DMV.”

“So, they will get both of us off probation long enough to collect a paycheck a while longer but forget about them developing any applied math abilities. Not to mention, your intern tutors get a professional reference and a performance bonus based on head count. The more students pass the State test the more bonus money they collect.”

“They won’t collect it until the State results are in and by then it will be 90 days since they last had contact with any Padua student.”

“Are you planning to adapt what the National Council of Teachers of Math also recommended in 2006? That less topics delved into in depth so that students understand the principles be incorporated in lesson plans? The Asian countries are on to this one. I learned this style in Japan.”

“The Japanese favor math and science, academia in general, so the double reinforcement gives them an edge in international results. They also teach children calculus in the fourth grade. It’s not a fair comparison.”

“That’s why the United States ranked 25 out of 40 in a 2007 international assessment on math literary and problem solving? The student population studied were 15 year olds.  The report also cited a number of troubling international comparisons, including a 2007 assessment finding that 15-year-olds in the United States ranked 25th among their peers in 30 developed nations in math literacy and problem solving. A half of American eighth graders struggle on standardized tests in fractions which lead to difficulty with algebra.”

“We just need to get them to pass the test. What you do afterwards is not my business.”

“Of course not Ronan it’s about pay per performance for you based on a passing head count list. I’ll go along with this as far as I can but I want to see the first series of lessons plans before the meeting. You must have the electronic documents with you. I want to see them, right now.


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