Justin Reich pours a little water on Carnegie Learning’s claims that their Cognitive Tutor program “doubles” a year’s worth of Algebra learning:
But where I’m flummoxed is how we are supposed to provide practicing educators with the tools to evaluate these kinds of findings. I know you can’t sell a curriculum product or a newsletter with headlines like “HUGE STUDY PARTIALLY VALIDATES ALGEBRA PROGRAM, PARTIALLY DOESN’T.” I don’t expect Carnegie Learning to build a web site that says “Major study shows no significant impact of Cognitive Tutor in middle schools!” But it also isn’t clear to me who in the system is incentivized to provide disinterested, broadly-accessible, readable summaries of important studies that help educators make careful decisions with scarce resources based on careful interpretation of existing evidence.
Raymond Johnson writes a fascinating six-part series outlining the politicking and deliberation that led to NCTM’s 1989 standards:
Despite the risk of bearing the responsibility for the Standards total estimated cost of $258,000 former Executive Director James Gates claimed “the proposal [to fund the Standards] was not submitted to either NSF or the U.S. Department of Education, so that no claims could be made that the federal government had funded the development of curriculum and evaluation standards.” In addition, the self-funding of the Standards and the decision to not write textbooks, as had been the case during the new math era, afforded the working groups relative independence from textbook publishers.