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Educators Ignore Project Follow-Through
As I have engaged in the "extreme-sport" business of changing a school district's opinion on the methodology of teaching math, I have come across many roadblocks, the major one is of course, the education establishment that feels one such as I cannot be considered seriously because I am an outsider. I suppose under that same logic we shouldn't let politicians regulate the accounting profession since they're just not qualified (FYI--I'm a CPA).
Another major reason as I discussed in the June 21, 2006 update, once a person makes up their mind about something, there is a high probability that the hold they have to break on that belief must be broken emotionally as well as logically, and the emotional decision is far harder because the subject is no longer objective. It is a psychological challenge for an individual to continue to be open minded once that person has arrived at what he or she thinks is a correct answer. Perhaps this is why educators all around the country continue to ignore real facts about education because so many have bought into philosophies and fads that sound good on the surface but in actuality produce poor results. This is what has led us to experience the Enron of education when we deal with an unresponsive, irresponsible set of educators that ignore the search for truth and are willing to gamble on fads for our children's future.
Project Follow-Through was the largest study ever produced. It cost over $600 million, covered 180 schools, and 79,000 children. For a more comprehensive look at the study, Jeff Lindsey has a nice write up on it here:
*What the Data Really Show: Direct Instruction Really Works! The dirty little secret from the biggest education study ever
The following graph visually shows the results of the study. Direct Instruction works and constructivism doesn't. To see the more detailed report this graph comes from, go to this pdf (http://www.edexcellence.net/doc/carnine.pdf). I've included a few snippets from the article below the graph.
From the pdf (http://www.edexcellence.net/doc/carnine.pdf)
"Until education becomes the kind of profession that reveres evidence, we should not be surprised to find its experts dispensing unproven methods, endlessly flitting from one fad to another. The greatest victims of these fads are the very students who are most at risk.
The first section of this essay provides examples from reading and math curricula. The middle section describes how experts have, for ideological reasons, shunned some solutions that do display robust evidence of efficacy. The following sections briefly examine how public impatience has forced other professions to “grow up” and accept accountability and scientific evidence. The paper concludes with a plea to hasten education’s metamorphosis into a mature profession."
Not only did the study find that direct instruction was the best method for transmitting information to students, IQ's also rose under the method in significant ways. Amazingly (or not, once you're familiar with how educrats work) the programs that failed students (all the constructivist based programs) were then hailed as successful by the Department of Education and instead of promoting direct instruction programs to make them even better, extra dollars were spent to improve the failing programs. The author then states:
"This is a classic case of an immature profession, one that lacks a solid scientific base and has less respect for evidence than for opinion and ideology."
Education has not yet developed into a mature profession. What might cause it to? Based on the experience of other fields, it seems likely that intense and sustained outside pressure will be needed. Dogma does not destroy itself, nor does an immature profession drive out dogma.
The metamorphosis is often triggered by a catalyst, such as pressure from groups that are adversely affected by the poor quality of service provided by a profession.
If educators were objective about education, they would look at real evidence and follow it. Since January 2006, Alpine School District hasn't even been able to produce a single study they relied on to put Investigations, Connected, and IMP math into our district. Some within the district discard the above study because the graph above is from 1981, as if that era must be loaded with data that isn't accurate anymore. This would be a mistake. The data showed that constructivism doesn't work. Direct instruction does. This has never been refuted by any modern peer reviewed study to compare it to. The purpose of Project Follow-Through was to identify what worked. It reached a complete conclusion. You can't simply negate it because you were taught methodology in the latest education fads. It's real science.
To see how hundreds of top mathematicians and Nobel Laureates have condemned constructivist programs, click here.
To obtain a potentially revelatory experience on NCTM standards, please visit this page where you'll learn who said "Whoever wrote the NCTM math standards must be a physical education teacher".
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