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Reasons to Reject the Nebraska Mathematics Standards

Sep 11, 2015 by

vintage-car-died-in-the-yard-of-a-run-down-shack-in-hackberry

Henry W. Burke testified before the State Board of Education at the meeting on Friday, September 4, 2015.  Henry Burke’s presentation began at Time Mark 14:00 and ended at 23:00.  Also, Mary Jane Truemper’s presentation started at 36:20 and ended at 40:52.  This is the link (URL) to the State Board Meeting Archives: 

http://www.education.ne.gov/movies/stateboard/sept_2015_board_meeting.mp4

 

Henry W. Burke

hwburke@cox.net 

===================================

 

Reasons to Reject the Nebraska Mathematics Standards

By Henry W. Burke

9.2.15

 

On 4.3.15, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) released the Draft Nebraska Mathematics Standards.  The current revision is “Draft #3 — K-12 Mathematics Standards, Horizontal Format, August 14, 2015.”

http://www.education.ne.gov/math/Math_Standards/Draft_3_NE_Mathematics_Standards_Horizontal_August_14.pdf

 

The Agenda for the State Board of Education (SBOE) Meeting on September 4, 2015 includes an action item “7.2 – Adopt the K-12 Mathematics Standards.”  Clearly the State Board intends to adopt the Proposed Mathematics Standards at the September Board Meeting.

 

  1. Burke’s SBOE Presentations on Math Standards

I did not start my efforts to improve the Nebraska Mathematics Standards yesterday; I have been heavily involved in this endeavor for the last two years.  The following Table lists my State Board of Education (SBOE) presentations on Math Standards:

 

Table 1 – Henry Burke’s State Board Presentations on Math Standards

SBOE

Meeting

Report

Date

Report Title
Jan. 2014 12.29.13 An Engineer Looks at the Common Core Math Standards
Jan. 2014 1.1.14 *Common Core Math in Nebraska Schools
Mar. 2014 3.3.14 Saxon Math Is a Great Solution!
   —    —    —
Mar. 2015 3.4.15 Nebraska Math Standards and Other Topics
Apr. 2015 4.1.15 *Critique of NDE’s NCLB Waiver Application
May 2015 5.6.15 Critique of Draft Nebraska Mathematics Standards
Jun. 2015 6.3.15 Analysis of Draft Mathematics Standards
Aug. 2015 7.16.15 *Nebraska Standards and the 2014 ACT Tests
Aug. 2015 7.16.15 *Analysis of the 2014 ACT Test Results
Aug. 2015    — Speech – Proposed 2015 Nebraska Mathematics Standards

 

* This report also included information on the Nebraska Math Standards.

 

In the NDE’s “Math Standards Adoption Rationale” document, the NDE discussed the various means of obtaining input on the Proposed Math Standards.  I find it interesting (and revealing) that “State Board Meetings” are not listed.  Does this mean that our presentations and reports at the SBOE Meetings were not considered?  If that is the case, I am wasting my time!  I happen to think that public input in the standards process is quite important!  

file:///C:/Users/Henry%20W.%20Burke/Downloads/7_2_MathStandardsAdoptionRationaleSeptember2015_0.pdf

 

Why should the State Board of Education reject the Proposed Nebraska Mathematics Standards?

 

  1. The Math Standards Are Based on a Flawed Foundation
  2. Wrong Foundation

The first mistake that the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) made was to base the new Proposed 2015 Draft Mathematics Standards on the weak 2009 Nebraska Mathematics Standards. 

When the NDE arbitrarily decided that the base document for the new 2015 Math Standards would be that of the 2009 Standards, everything from that point on has been fruitless.  The best approach would have been to begin the new 2015 Standards on a strong Type #1 foundation, modeling the Nebraska Standards after other good Type #1 standards documents.   

By utilizing the wrong foundation (Type #2), the NDE is not following one of the first rules of a good standards document; standards must be strong Type #1 standards. 

 

  1. Poor Evaluation for 2009 Standards

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute evaluated all of the state standards in 2010.  In this survey, Fordham gave the 2009 Nebraska Mathematics Standards a grade of “C” and called the Nebraska Standards “mediocre.”  On Clarity and Specificity, Fordham scored Nebraska 2 out of 3; on Content and Rigor, Fordham scored Nebraska 3 out of 7.

http://edex.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/publication/pdfs/SOSSandCC2010_FullReportFINAL_8.pdf

Because Fordham has taken at least $7 million in Gates Foundation funding, Fordham has developed a distinctly pro-Common Core bias.  Accordingly, Fordham is no longer considered to be an objective, un-biased organization; and we should not use any of their evaluations after 2009 or 2010.

 

  1. Similar to Common Core Standards

The Nebraska Department of Education contracted with McREL (Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning) to conduct an alignment study between the 2009 Nebraska Standards and the Common Core Standards (CCS).  In May 2012, the NDE issued a contract for $47,900 to McREL to perform the comparison for Nebraska’s English and Math Standards; the reports were issued in September 2013.  These are the links (URLs) to the McREL Executive Summary and full report for Mathematics: 

http://www.education.ne.gov/documents/HomePage/Math_Executive_Summary_McREL_Alignment_Study.pdf

http://www.education.ne.gov/documents/HomePage/Math_NE_to_CC_Final2013.pdf

 

Strong agreement was observed between the 2009 Nebraska Math Standards and the Common Core Standards (CCS) in K-8 grades; agreement dropped off somewhat in High School.  Nearly all of the Advanced Topics in CCS Math were not addressed by the Nebraska Math Standards.  The chief differences between the two sets of standards were mainly in the (1) organization and placement of concepts and (2) specificity. 

Clearly, Nebraska’s weak, Type #2 Math Standards are very similar to the very poor Type #2 Common Core Standards.  It is like comparing one dilapidated car to another car that barely runs; one might be better, but they are both clunkers!  

 

  1. NDE Wastes Money on Reviews of Standards

The NDE has a long track record of wasting taxpayer money on contracts with biased organizations.  The $48,000 spent with McREL in 2013 is not the first such expenditure.  In 2008, the NDE awarded a $50,000 contract to McREL and a $50,000 contract to Achieve, Inc. to evaluate the Nebraska Standards.  (Achieve was a primary author of the Common Core Standards.) 

Because those organizations promote poor Type #2 education, they gave a predictably mild evaluation of the Nebraska Standards.  Both groups offered few substantive comments for change, while they included enough empty language to justify their $50,000 fees.

 

  1. The Math Standards Are Not Type #1 Standards

Attributes of Good State Standards

Very few state standards are truly exemplary.  As I have previously demonstrated, the Nebraska Mathematics Standards definitely fail to make the grade. 

 In order to have excellent state standards, they need to be:

  1. Explicit
  2. Knowledge-based
  3. Academic
  4. Clearly-worded
  5. Grade-level specific
  6. Measurable

 

 The following examples from the 2015 Draft Nebraska Mathematics Standards illustrate where the six tenets are not met:

[Most of these examples appeared in Draft #1 and were continued in Draft #3 of the Nebraska Mathematics Standards.]

http://www.education.ne.gov/math/Math_Standards/Draft_3_NE_Mathematics_Standards_Horizontal_August_14.pdf

 

  1. Not Explicit

The following standard is for Grade 3 Numeric Relationships:

            Represent and understand a fraction as a number on a number line.

An example would clarify and illustrate the concept.

This standard for Grade 4 Numeric Relationship could also benefit from an example:

            Explain how to change a mixed number to a fraction and how to change a fraction to a mixed number.

 

  1. Not Knowledge-Based

This standard is listed for Grade 7 Algebra Applications:

            Solve real-world problems with inequalities.

A few clarifying words would eliminate possible confusion with social issues.

 

The following standard is for Kindergarten Geometry:

            Describe measurable attributes of real-life objects (e.g., length or weight).

The above standard is not a good knowledge-based standard (too subjective). 

Good knowledge-based standards use verbs such as “define, label, name, list, choose, identify, match, recognize, and write” rather than the subjective verb “describe.” 

 

The following standard is knowledge-based:

          Give an example of a measurable attribute of a given object, including length and weight. 

 

Also from Kindergarten Geometry, this standard is listed:

            Compare length and weight of two objects (e.g., longer/shorter, heavier/lighter).

A kindergarten student might find it difficult to determine which object is heavier, especially if different units are used.  On the other hand, the student should be able to say which object is longer.

 

A good knowledge-based Kindergarten Geometry standard is the following:

            Compare two objects with a common measurable attribute to see which object has more of/less of the attribute and describe the difference.

[The above standard was taken from the Texas TEKS for Mathematics.]

 

  1. Not Academic

The following standard is shown under Grade 7 Data:

            Determine and critique biases in different data representations.

Curriculum developed from this standard could be vague and misleading based upon opinions and generic, vague responses.  Good standards must be academic where the answers are clearly right or wrong.

 

A much better academic standard for data is the following:

            Use the graphical representation of numeric data to describe the center, spread, and shape of the data distribution.

[The above standard appears in the Texas Math TEKS for Grade 6 Data.]

 

Under Grade 12 Advanced Topics, this item is listed:

Analysis & Applications: Students will analyze data to address the situation.

Only one standard is shown under this item.  A standards document cannot be “academic” when specific standards are not given.

 

  1. Not Clearly-Worded

The following Grade 1 Numeric Relationship standards are given:

          Demonstrate that each digit of a two-digit number represents amounts of tens and ones, knowing 10 can be considered as one unit made of ten ones which is called a “ten” and any two-digit number can be composed of some tens and some ones (e.g., 19 is one ten and nine ones, 83 is 8 tens and 3 ones) and can be recorded as an equation (e.g., 19 = 10 + 9).

Is the above standard clearly-worded?  Would a first grade student understand the equation in this standard?

 

  1. Not Grade-Level Specific

I have been harping on this theme for many years — Standards must be grade-level specific!  In my testimony before the State Board of Education in 1997, I pointed out that State Standards must be grade-level specific.  At that time, Nebraska had standards for only Grades 4, 8 and 12

At least now there are standards for each grade level K-8; however, the writers of the 2015 Draft Mathematics Standards for high school decided to group Grades 9-11 together and wrote a separate set of standards for Grade 12 (Advanced Topics).  In high school, the standards need to be explicit for each course (e.g., Algebra I, Algebra II, Calculus, etc.)

Teachers must know exactly what should be covered for every single grade/course with no exceptions.  When Grades 9-11 are lumped together, the teachers and students are unsure what falls into each grade level/course.

Without specific standards for each grade/course, teachers will have to guess what should be covered in a particular grade/course; and there will be no real accountability at each grade level or course for teachers nor for their students.

I am guessing that the NDE took its lead from the highly questionable and non-piloted Common Core Standards.  For English, Common Core provides standards for Grades K-8, 9-10, and 11-12 (Grades 9-10 and 11-12 are paired together).  For Math, Common Core includes standards for Grades K-8, and High School.  In Math, the NDE mimics the Common Core approach and groups Grades 9-11 together.  Since the Common Core authors grouped several grades together, the NDE evidently decided to follow the same wrong pathway.

When the grade-level specific concept is ignored, unnecessary repetition naturally occurs.

The following standard (Comprehensive Statement) is repeated for Grades K-5:

          Numeric Relationships: Students will demonstrate, represent, and show relationships among whole numbers within the base-ten number system.

A similar repetition occurs with this Comprehensive Standard for K-2:

            Operations: Students will demonstrate the meaning of addition and subtraction with whole numbers and compute accurately.

This standard (Comprehensive Standard) was repeated for every grade (K-12):

            Geometry Characteristics: Students will identify and describe geometric characteristics and create two- and three dimensional shapes.

The following standard (Comprehensive Standard) was repeated for Grades 6-12:

            Coordinate Geometry: Students will determine location, orientation, and relationships on the coordinate plane.

 

  1. Not Measurable

In order for standards to be excellent Type #1 standards, they must be measurable.

Is this standard for Grade 12 Advanced Topics measurable?

           Numeric Relationships: Determine the magnitude of complex numbers.

 

Other Attributes of Good Math Standards

The Nebraska Draft Math Standards also fail to meet these other attributes of good math standards:

 

  1. Not Age-Appropriate

Standards must also be age-appropriate!

 

This standard (Comprehensive Standard) is listed for K-2:

            Algebraic Processes: Students will apply the operational properties when adding and subtracting.

After the standard, this qualifier statement is shown:

          No additional indicator(s) at this level. Mastery is expected at previous grade levels. 

What is the previous grade level for Kindergarten? 

 

Kindergarten Numeric Relationships includes the following standard:

            Compose and decompose numbers from 11 to 19 into ten ones and some more ones by a drawing, model, or equation (e.g., 14 = 10 + 4) to record each composition and decomposition.   

The above standard is not appropriate for a kindergarten student!

 

Kindergarten Geometry includes the following standard:

            Compare and analyze two- and three dimensional shapes, with different sizes and orientations to describe their similarities, differences, parts (e.g., number “corners”/vertices), and other attributes (e.g., sides of equal length).

           Would a kindergarten student understand two-dimensional and three-dimensional shapes?  Would vertices mean anything to such a young child? 

 

This Kindergarten – Data standard is given:

           Data – Representations: No additional indicator(s) at this level. Mastery is expected at previous grade levels.

The Nebraska Mathematics Standards cover Grades K-12 (not P-12).  What is the previous grade level for Kindergarten?

 

This standard is shown for Grades K-8:

            Data – Probability: No additional indicator(s) at this level. Mastery is expected at previous grade levels.

What does a Kindergarten student know about probability?  Standards must be age-appropriate!

 

  1. No Saxon Math

In my January 2014 presentation to the State Board (12.29.13 report), I suggested the use of Saxon Math.  At the March 2014 Board Meeting, I strongly recommended that Nebraska incorporate Saxon Math into the Math Standards.  Saxon Math would be a great solution for Nebraska schools!  The Draft Nebraska Math Standards would be greatly improved through the inclusion of Saxon Math.

Saxon Math is Traditional Math; and Traditional Math is based on 2,000 years of teaching math. Our parents and grandparents learned Traditional Math in school and they learned math algorithms. Algorithms are certain procedures that, if used correctly, work every time; and people get the correct result! You simply take Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, and that leads to the correct answer. With Traditional Math, answers and accuracy count. Results matter!

In Saxon Math, calculators are not used in K-5 grades. In the early years, students need to learn the times tables and long division; they work the problems out by hand. Repetition promotes learning and understanding.

 

  1. The Math Standards Are Not College and Career Ready

The NDE includes the “Math Standards Adoption Rationale” on the Agendas for the September Work Session and State Board Meeting.

file:///C:/Users/Henry%20W.%20Burke/Downloads/7_2_MathStandardsAdoptionRationaleSeptember2015_0.pdf

This document states the following:

          Proposed Agenda Item:

          Adopt the K-12 Mathematics Standards and designate the revised standards as “Nebraska’s College and Career Ready Standards for Mathematics.”

Engineering colleges (and other STEM fields) require incoming freshmen to have had four years of high school math, preferably through Calculus.  Because the Nebraska Standards for high school lump Grades 9-11 together, it is unclear what is required for each grade level. 

Obviously, the NDE is not requiring students to take four years of high school math.  Calculus and pre-calculus are not included; and trigonometry gets scant coverage.  Under Advanced Topics in Grade 12, some Trigonometry is covered.  Clearly, Nebraska’s proposed Math Standards do not prepare students for STEM education in college and careers in STEM fields.

The NDE is pursuing approval of the 2015 Nebraska Math Standards by the Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) in the state.  If the IHE certifies that the new Nebraska Mathematics Standards are “College and Career-Ready Standards,” it will be obvious that the IHE certification is meaningless!  Intelligent people will then see that the “College and Career-Ready Standards” label is totally without merit.

Because Nebraska is foolishly chasing the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waiver, the “College and Career-Ready Standards” designation for Math is important to the NDE.

 

On the NDE website, the Mathematics Standards provide “A few highlights:”

All students are expected to master the K-11 standards, and the NeSA Math assessment is given at the end of 11th grade.  Many colleges and universities require four years of high school mathematics for admission, and some of the content reflected in the Advanced Topics (Grade 12) standards may be recommended for particular majors in postsecondary education.  Therefore, students entering postsecondary education are encouraged to take additional math courses that will help them become college and career ready through the Advanced Topic standards. 

http://www.education.ne.gov/math/index.html 

 

The NDE is tacitly admitting that its Standards do not prepare students for college (especially STEM careers) when it states: “students entering postsecondary education are encouraged to take additional math courses that will help them become college and career ready through the Advanced Topic standards.”   The Advanced Topic standards provide some cover for the people who prepared the weak Nebraska Math Standards.

I will repeat it here:

Nebraska’s proposed Math Standards do not prepare students for STEM courses in college and careers in STEM fields!

 

In my 7.16.15 report to the NDE and SBOE (“Nebraska Standards and the 2014 ACT Tests”), I included the following Table:

 

Table 2 –Nebraska Math College Readiness per ACT

(2014 ACT: All Students – Male and Female)

No. Mathematics Course Pattern Number

of

Students

Percent ACT

Math Score

Course

Value

Added*

  1 Alg. 1, Alg. 2, Geom., Trig., & Calc.   1,269    7 % 24.1    8.0
  2 Alg. 1, Alg. 2, Geom., Trig., &

other Adv. Math

  1,765 10 % 21.6    5.5
  3 Alg. 1, Alg. 2, Geom., & Trig.   1,246    7 % 19.9    3.8
  4 Alg. 1, Alg. 2, Geom., & Other Adv. Math   3,204 18 % 19.7    3.6
  5 Other comb. of 4 or more  years of math   6,087 34 % 23.7    7.6
  6 Alg. 1, Alg. 2, & Geom.   2,217 12 % 17.2    1.1
  7 Other comb. of 3 or 3.5 years of math      729    4 % 20.5    4.4
  8 Less than 3 years of math      723    4 % 16.1    —
  9 Zero years / no math courses reported      528    3 % 17.3    —
      Total Students 17,768      

 

Only 1,269 Nebraska students (7 %) have taken the full series of Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus.  Also only 1,246 Nebraska students (7 %) have taken the series Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Trigonometry (excludes Calculus).

 

  1. The Math Standards Will Not Close the Achievement Gap

On 7.16.15, I sent these two reports to the Nebraska State Board of Education and Nebraska Department of Education: “Nebraska Standards and the 2014 ACT Tests” and “Analysis of the 2014 ACT Test Results.”  I will draw upon these reports here.

On the 2014 ACT Tests, Nebraska was ranked No. 29 with an Average Math Score of 21.1.  A perfect score was 36 and the National Average Score was 20.9.

Minority students (Blacks and Hispanics) do more poorly on the national tests than Whites.  This is not a discriminatory view; it is simply a statement of fact.  For the National Composite Score (combination of all tests), White students had a score of 22.3 and Black students had a score of 17.0.

Because Nebraska has relatively few minority students, Nebraska should be much higher than No. 29.  Nebraska has 4 % Black students vs. 13 % for National; and Nebraska has 11 % Hispanic students vs. 15 % for National.  When the minority students are combined (Blacks plus Hispanics), Nebraska has 15 % minority students vs. 28 % National. 

 

Table 3–ACT Achievement Gaps – Nebraska and National

(Average 2014 ACT Scores)

Student

Group

All Students

Score

White Students

Score

Black Students

Score

W-B

Achievement

Gap

Hispanic Students

Score

W-H

Achievement

Gap

Composite            
Nebraska     21.7     22.5     17.3      5.2     18.6       3.9
National     21.0     22.3     17.0      5.3     18.8       3.5
             
Math            
Nebraska     21.1     21.8     16.9      4.9     18.3       3.5
National     20.9     22.0     17.2      4.8     19.2       2.8

 

 

The achievement gap (difference in test scores) between Whites and minorities is rather troubling.  In Nebraska, the White-Black achievement gap in Average Composite Score is 5.2 (22.5 – 17.3 = 5.2); and the White-Hispanic achievement gap is 3.9 (22.5 – 18.6 = 3.9). 

For Math in Nebraska, the White-Black (W-B) achievement gap is 4.9 (21.8 – 16.9 = 4.9); and the White-Hispanic (W-H) achievement gap is 3.5 (21.8 – 18.3 = 3.5). 

As a percentage of the White scores, these gaps are huge!  For Average Math Score in Nebraska, the White-Black achievement gap of 4.9 is 22 % of 21.8; the White-Hispanic gap of 3.5 is 16 % of 21.8.  Do achievement gaps in Math of 22 % and 16 % concern you?  They should!

Obviously, the State Board of Education, Nebraska Department of Education, and Nebraska educators should be very concerned about these huge achievement gaps between Whites and Minorities.  Better Nebraska State Standards are clearly needed!

In my 3.4.15 report to the State Board (“Nebraska Math Standards and NCLB Waiver”), I referenced an excellent report by notable mathematician Ze’ ev Wurman.

Competent math teachers know that students excel in math when the students are prepared to take Algebra 1 in the 8th grade.  Because the Common Core Standards (CCS) delay Algebra 1 until high school, the CCS students will not reach the higher math courses.  An excellent report by Ze’ev Wurman determined:

preparation of all K-7 students to take an Algebra 1 class in grade 8 benefits the minority and disadvantaged students the most. The explanation seems pretty obvious. When grade 8 Algebra is considered an accelerated course, students that get the required acceleration—tutoring, home support—come mostly from advantaged households. Only when everyone is prepared in grades K to 7 to reach algebra in grade 8 do the disadvantaged students get their chance to shine.

…early Algebra-taking translates directly into increased successful taking of advanced mathematics in high school—not only Geometry and Algebra 2 but even Advanced Placement Calculus AB and BC courses.

But the true travesty of the Common Core is its failure to deliver on its promise of a genuine Algebra course in grade 8, and the devastating impact that failure is bound to have on the achievement of minorities and disadvantaged students.

http://americanprinciplesproject.org/app-education/new-white-paper-why-students-need-strong-standards-and-not-common-core/

 

If we truly want to close the achievement gaps, we must make sure that all students (and especially minority students) are prepared to take Algebra 1 by the 8th grade.  This means that all of the necessary instruction must be in place for Grades K-7.

The Nebraska Mathematics Standards are quite similar to the Common Core Math Standards.  Accordingly, similar results are expected.  Because the writers of the Nebraska Math Standards blurred the lines between courses and grade levels, it is unclear what is expected for each grade level or course.  Supposedly, Algebra concepts are covered in K-12, but an in-depth Algebra 1 course is not specified for Grade 8; similarly, Algebra 2 is not dictated for Grade 9.

The Nebraska Math Standards do not make it clear that Geometry is to be taught in Grade 10, Trigonometry in Grade 11, and Calculus in Grade 12.  Without this series, Nebraska students will not be prepared for college and STEM careers.

 

  1. A Civil Engineer’s Application of Math

The 2015 Nebraska Mathematics Standards often include the phrase “Solve the real-world problems…”  I find this somewhat amusing.  Are there “unreal-world” problems?  (I realize their intentions are good and I will not dwell on this trivial point.)

I will recount a few ways that I have applied mathematics in my engineering career.  Most people correctly understand that math is an essential discipline in engineering; without math, engineering could not exist! 

I received a B.S.C.E. from the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 1968.  When I was studying Civil Engineering at UNM, I took the full gamut of required mathematics courses.  This included such courses as Calculus, Engineering Math, Differential Equations, etc.

After I served my country, I went back to college to pick up an advanced degree in engineering.  I earned an M.S.C.E. from Oklahoma State University (OSU) in 1972.  While at OSU, I had a Graduate Teaching Assistantship in the Civil Engineering Department.  As a Surveying Instructor, I made extensive use of Algebra and Trigonometry.  When you are a teacher, you have to thoroughly understand the math in order to convey it to the students.

Upon finishing my Master’s Degree, I began my long and successful career with Kiewit.  Math is needed for all aspects of construction, from design to estimating to building the work.  Of course, common sense and the ability to think logically are important in any career. 

As the Project Engineer on several jobs, I typically performed the surveying layout work.  On a project in West Virginia, we built an underground mine for a coal mining company.  This consisted of a slope and two ventilation shafts.  How do you build a tunnel on a 17° (degree) downward slope that ends in the correct place 200-ft. below the surface?  The answer is careful surveying with applied trigonometry.

When Kiewit needed someone to develop a Surveying Course, upper management transferred me to the Home Office in Omaha, Nebraska.  I created a Surveying and Engineering Course, wrote a 500-page Surveying Manual, and enrolled the first group of engineers.  Obviously, math (and especially trigonometry) was a key element in the Surveying Course.  Other engineering courses (like Planning and Scheduling, and Falsework Shoring) soon followed.  These Technical Training Courses are still being offered today under the Kiewit University umbrella.

After I retired from Kiewit, I embarked on a long string of construction jobs where I was a volunteer Project Manager.  Math is applied in numerous ways for the engineering, estimating, budgeting, and building aspects of the work.  On one recent major addition for our church, I laid out all of the key foundations and anchor bolts.  Once again, I applied algebra and trigonometry to do the surveying layout work.

Many skills are required and utilized for a career in engineering, and math is one of the key disciplines.  Engineers often utilize the full spectrum of math courses in their work.  My purpose here was to show how one particular course (Trigonometry) has practical applications in engineering and construction.

  

For young students in high school, I would offer this familiar advice:

Stay in school, learn your math, take college preparatory courses, study hard, make good grades, and graduate!  If you are adequately prepared for college (especially STEM), a college education will open many doors for a very rewarding career.

 

CONCLUSION

The State Board of Education Members should reject (vote against approving) the Proposed 2015 Nebraska Mathematics Standards for the following reasons:

  1. The Math Standards are based on a flawed foundation.

The foundation for the new Standards was the 2009 Nebraska Mathematics Standards; these Standards received poor reviews and are similar to the Common Core Standards.

  1. The Math Standards are not Type #1 Standards.

The Math Standards do not satisfy the six tenets of excellent standards.  Also they do not include Saxon Math.

  1. The Math Standards are not College and Career Ready Standards.

Under the Math Standards, Nebraska students will not be prepared for college and careers in STEM fields.

  1. The Math Standards will not close the achievement gaps.

The Math Standards will do little to close the minority achievement gaps in Math (22 % for Black students and 16 % for Hispanic students).

 

=======================================

Bio for Henry W. Burke

Henry Burke is a Civil Engineer with a B.S.C.E. and M.S.C.E.  He has been a Registered Professional Engineer (P.E.) for 37 years and has worked as a Civil Engineer in construction for over 45 years. 

Mr. Burke had a successful 27-year career with a large construction company. 

Henry Burke serves as a full-time volunteer to oversee various construction projects. He has written numerous articles on education, engineering, construction, politics, taxes, and the economy.

Henry W. Burke

E-mail:  hwburke@cox.net

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