John White's Bogus Textbook Evaluations

I posted this blog on 10/15/2014 about the perceived conflicts of interest in Louisiana Superintendent John White's selection of only TWO sets of instructional materials as being what he calls his TIER 1 approval for Common Core alignment. 

Those instructional materials (curricula) were Eureka Math and Core Knowledge (for ELA).

As the Common Core Initiative promises to be an economic boom for all who hope to benefit financially from the public education sector, instructional materials are, of course, no exception.  According to this August, 2014 report from EdWeek's Liana Heitin:

 
 A new group billing itself as a “Consumer Reports for school materials” will soon begin posting free online reviews of major textbooks and curricula that purport to be aligned to the Common Core State Standards—an effort, some say, that has the potential to shake up the market.
 

The report goes on to describe the "review" process:


The nonprofit organization, called EdReports.org, has gathered a team of 19 educators, about half of whom are classroom teachers, to conduct extensive reviews of yearlong instructional series. The team will start with 21 series for K-8 mathematics and eventually move on to secondary math and K-12 English/language arts curricula. For the first round of reviews, likely to be published early next year, the group selected some of the most commonly used materials: print products that had at least 10 percent of the market share and print and digital materials that had been recommended by at least two states’ review processes[this is where John White enters the game with his recommendation of Eureka Math and Core Knowledge both of which had ZERO market share prior to CCSS - do you get my drift?]
 
The 19-member review team for EdReports.org includes educators who have worked for or with Student Achievement Partners, a group co-founded by several lead writers of the common core; the teacher-training organization Math for America; the Illustrative Mathematics Project, led by common-core writer William McCallum; and EQuIP.
 
Each instructional series will be evaluated by at least three reviewers, and the results will be presented to the other 16 team members.
 
Funding for the project comes from [none other than -] the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—which also was a major financial backer for the development of the common core—the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.
 
 
What's wrong with this picture?   If the previous excerpts aren't enough evidence to convince you that the reviews are BOGUS, read the entire article - it gets worse!
 
But back to John White:
 
 Lynne Munson, the president and executive director of Common Core, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that publishes the Eureka Math curricula, said she is “extremely excited” to have her materials to be among the first reviewed by EdReports.org. “We’ve been awaiting opportunities like this and are going to do what we can to provide whatever they need” for the reviews, she said. “We’re confident in the quality of our work.” Eureka Math was the only math curriculum to be awarded the highest possible rating by the Louisiana education department.

So let's compare the Louisiana education department's meticulous review process to the one proposed by Edreports.org. 

As fate would have it, when I attended a committee meeting at the Department of Education in Baton Rouge, I sat next to a Curriculum Director from another school district.  Unlike the Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum in my district, this administrator was well informed about all he shenanigans going on at LDE.  She shared this with me and it was the catalyst for my research to write this blog:
 
In answer to the textbook evaluation process – at the Louisiana Association of Parish  Textbook Administrators (LAPTA) in December of 2013, Jackie Bobbett, Marcie Coupel, and Brenda Nevels (all three have handled textbook state adoptions for a number of years) told those present (supervisors and bookmen) at the meeting in answer to the question “Who evaluates the materials in order to determine whether they make Tier 1,2, or 3?”:
For each set of materials, a team of TWO Teacher Leaders selected from a Cadre’ of Teacher leaders decides whether the materials are Tier 1-Are completely aligned to CCSS, Tier 2-Are partially aligned to CCSS or Tier 3-Are not aligned to CCSS.
 
We questioned them about credentials of the two Teachers Leaders as to experience with the subject area or grade level.  We were told they just had to be Teacher Leaders from the Cadre’.
 
The process by which the 2,000 “Teacher Leaders” were selected In the spring and summer of 2013 was lax to say the least.  No vita or resume’ was required, just a registration to the conference (that is, if the school system didn’t take control of the process).  The same process was in place to double the numbers (4,000) in June of 2014.

First of all, what evaluation rubric did John White use in his evaluation of instructional materials which resulted in a TIER 1, 2 or 3 evaluation?

The reviewers, who were chosen from a group of White's Teacher Leader Advisors,  used rubrics that were conveniently provided by the Revised Publishers’ Criteria developed by Student Achievement Partners. If that name doesn't sound familiar, it's the organization co-founded by David Coleman and Sue Pimentel which developed the Common Core State Standards.

Wouldn't you, as a reasonable person, surmise that having the developers of CCSS develop the criteria for evaluation instructional materials to be used to teach CCSS is somewhat of a conflict of interest? 

More Evidence that John White is promoting Eureka Curriculum and it is costing taxpayers money. 



But with everyone claiming to be “CCSS-aligned,” how do we separate the strong from the weak — those that are truly CCSS-based and those that aren’t? Fortunately, because the stakes are so high, a number of well-regarded organizations have begun thoughtful work in this area.
Reliable tools that evaluate CCSS alignment now exist. I recommend consulting the Toolkit for Evaluating Alignment of Instructional and Assessment Materials to the Common Core State Standards, developed by Achieve, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Student Achievement Partners (the authors of the CCSS). Deeply rooted in the standards and the publishers’ criteria (seminally important resources for anyone serious about this work), the toolkit contains different instruments currently being used to evaluate materials and to showcase exemplary curriculum.
The Louisiana Department of Education is using one of these tools to review and rate curricula. Our organization’s Eureka Math curricula is fortunate to have received a Tier I rating by the state agency. And both Achieve and Student Achievement Partners have posted Eureka Math modules as exemplars on their websites, using one of the other tools making up the EQuIP Rubric tool-kit (formerly known as the Tri-State Rubric) as their guide.

But hey, let's not jump to conclusions here.  Let's look first at the rubric.  As you can see, it's so simple that one does not even need a K-12 educator, much less an educator certified in the subject area or grade level,  to use it (improperly).   The rubric stipulates the criteria and then the evaluator simply has to check MEETS or DOES NOT MEET

To be fair, the IMET (Instructional Materials Evaluation Tool) instructions do stipulate the following:
 
Who Uses the IMET?
Evaluating instructional materials requires both subject-matter and pedagogical expertise. Evaluators should be well versed in the Standards (www.corestandards.org/Math) for all grades in which materials are being evaluated. This includes understanding the Major Work of the grade (www.achievethecore/focus), the Supporting and Additional work, how the content fits into the progressions in the Standards (www.achievethecore.org/progressions), and the expectations of the Standards with respect to conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and application. Evaluators also should be familiar with the substantial instructional Shifts (http:// www.corestandards.org/other-resources/key-shifts-in-mathematics/) of Focus, Coherence and Rigor that are listed above.

So in the interest of transparency, I filed a public information request with the Louisiana Department of Education (because LDE is NOT transparent) asking for the names of the Teacher Leader Advisor Evaluators and any training materials used along with the fees paid to these teachers.  The response I received from LDE did not include the credentials of the Teacher Leader Advisors, so I determined to ascertain for myself using the TeachLouisiana.net website where one can verify the credentials of all Louisiana certified teachers. 

In the interest of fairness, I used the names as provided by LDE, so it is possible that the two names for which I found no certification records were not accurately provided to me.  I also do not lay blame on any of these evaluators who I will give the benefit of the doubt that they did not understand that they were being used to promote John White's BOGUS evaluation process!  If any of these evaluators have any corrections or would like to make a statement, I will be glad to publish it here.  My purpose here is to show you that these teachers were not qualified to perform these textbook evaluations for ELA and Math.    


I am next going to write about the Louisiana Textbook Adoption process, both the legal one and the one that John White used last year.  A publisher's representative called me recently and has provided me with some insight on that.  I'm also going to write about the Tier 1 ELA instructional materials that John White chose - Core Knowledge - and White's connection with its developer, Amplify, and New York's Joel Kline. 

Please excuse the empty space below.  I cannot figure out how to eliminate it.
 


 















 
 




 
TEACHER LEADER ADVISORS 
INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS REVIEW WORKGROUP
ParishFname  Lname Contract Amount 
LincolnAquanetta Archangel $2,275 MIDDLE SCHOOL: MATHEMATICS 4-8 - 6/10/2009


 
AscensionBryan              Bertucci$1,120
INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC (K-12) - 6/13/2006
SOCIAL STUDIES 6-12 - 6/13/2006
VOCAL MUSIC (K-12) - 6/13/2006


 
EBRBrittanyBush$1,000 ELEMENTARY GRADES 1-5COMPLETED ALTERNATIVE TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAM, NEW TEACHER PROJECT, 2008
 
OrleansWendyDeMers$1,720No Certification Found

 
LafayetteAmyDeslattes$1,720ENGLISH 6-12 - 2/19/1998

 
OrleansKatieDunn$1,720

No Certification Found


 
CalcasieuConnieHarper$1,900

ENGLISH 6-12 - 2/8/1994

 
VernonJeromeHenson $                        


*Not under contract
PROVISIONAL PRINCIPAL - 3/23/2006
SEVERE/PROFOUND (1-12) - 3/5/2001
ELEMENTARY GRADES 1-8 - 2/16/1996
LOWER ELEMENTARY GRADES 1-4 - 2/16/1996
OuachitaJessicaHunter                               $2,275

SOCIAL STUDIES 6-12 - 3/3/2008
MATHEMATICS 6-12 - 2/21/2008

 
JeffersonChristinaJohnson $1,720
ACADEMICALLY GIFTED - 6/22/2012
ENGLISH 6-12 - 9/11/2008

 
LafayetteLaciManiscalco $1,720 ELEMENTARY GRADES 1-8 - 6/27/2005


 
CaddoKristinaMorris$2,275ELEMENTARY GRADES 1-5 - 3/22/2012

 
Jefferson DavisRoryMyers$1,900


(ALT2) Completed 240 hours of leadership experiences for certification., 7/29/2014
(557) READING SPECIALIST (1-12), Grade(s):1-12, 6/21/2012
(111) ELEMENTARY GRADES 1-8, Grade(s):1-8, 3/23/1995
(107) LOWER ELEMENTARY GRADES 1-4, Grade(s):1-4, 12/29/1994
(165) UPPER ELEMENTARY: MATHEMATICS, Grade(s):5-8, 12/29/1994


 
West FelicianaSharonNecaise$1,120*Contract ended early
ENGLISH 6-12 - 8/28/1997
VALID FOR LIFE FOR CONTINUOUS SERVICE - 5/22/2000

 
St. CharlesStacyNeighbors$1,720
                   
EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP-LEVEL 1 - 9/16/2009
ENGLISH 6-12 - 1/23/2004
EXTENDED FOR 5 YEARS - 8/27/2014



 
LivingstonKarenParrino$1,120NBCT
TEACHER LEADER - 9/27/2012
KINDERGARTEN - 8/1/2001
ELEMENTARY GRADES 1-8 - 1/24/1990
VALID FOR LIFE FOR CONTINUOUS SERVICE - 9/27/2012


 
CalcasieuKaciePugh$1,900
READING SPECIALIST (1-12) - 6/18/2012
ELEMENTARY GRADES 1-5 - 6/4/2009
LafourcheCherylSoley $1,720




ELEMENTARY GRADES 1-8 - 2/19/1992
KINDERGARTEN - 2/19/1992





 
OuachitaIreneTivet $2,275 NBCT 2007
EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY FACILITATOR - 5/11/2010
TEACHER LEADER - 5/11/2010
ELEMENTARY GRADES 1-8 - 3/20/2000
VALID FOR LIFE FOR CONTINUOUS SERVICE - 5/11/2010


 
CalcasieuMalloryWall-Padgett $1,720
(392) SOCIAL STUDIES 6-12, Grade(s):6-12, 5/11/2011
(394) SPEECH 6-12, Grade(s):6-12, 5/11/2011
(374) ENGLISH 6-12, Grade(s):6-12, 5/11/2011


 
TangipahoaTamaraWhittington  $1,720           
ELEMENTARY GRADES 1-8 - 10/29/2001
VALID FOR LIFE FOR CONTINUOUS SERVICE - 4/8/2005





 
CaddoNancyYoder$2,275               No Certification Found  

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