2011 candidates for Spokane Public Schools school Board

Where’s the Math? School Board Director Candidate Questionnaire

Where’s the Math? evaluates candidates based on their core values, education, experience, and proposed initiatives to support student mathematics achievement. Where's the Math? does not endorse as an organization, but it does “Approve” candidates. Candidates must complete and return a questionnaire to be considered for Where’s the Math? Approval. In addition, I have asked much more detailed questions having to do with accountability, transparency, budget, financial management, and structure.

[Updated August 29: For ease of reading, I removed all answers from everyone but the two candidates going through to the general election. Both of those candidates also answered my longer questionnaire.]

As a result of her responses to these and other questions regarding mathematics, WTM "Approved" Sally Fullmer as board candidate for Spokane Public Schools. Deana Brower's answers to these and other questions were evaluated, but she was not approved.

On the basis of this, and my other contact with the candidates, I am endorsing and supporting Sally Fullmer as board candidate for Spokane Public Schools. Former candidates Paul le Coq and Bob Griffing also have endorsed Sally Fullmer. Please see her Web site at http://www.seewhatsallysays.com/ If you would like to talk with me about my endorsement, or why I think Sally is far and away the best candidate for the position, please contact me at wlroge@comcast.net. - Laurie Rogers, Education Advocate


Please describe your background and education, highlighting any experience you have regarding math standards, curriculum and assessments.

Sally Fullmer: Degrees in Elementary Ed, Music Ed K-12 and Piano Pedagogy from Seattle Pacific University. Taught fifth grade Math, used Saxon Math 1-9 with my older two kids, struggled with Math texts in SPS with youngest and had to supplement.

Deana Brower: With 12 years of teaching experience in secondary classrooms, I have a sound understanding of strong pedagogical procedures and instructional methods.  As a parent and volunteer in my children’s schools, I have attended workshops in our district and engaged in dialogue with our teachers, administrators, and instructional leaders to learn more about our district’s approach to Mathematic instruction. 

What do you believe are the most important factors in raising student academic achievement in mathematics and why?

Sally Fullmer: Curriculum that allows teacher-directed, example-based instruction. Well-organized textbooks that can actually be used by students and parents, frequent assessment with timely feedback. Practice and real-world application.

Deana Brower: Having a highly affective teacher is a key component in raising student achievement in all academic areas, including Mathematics.  Teachers need well developed standards to serve as the basis of their instruction, and resources which are tightly aligned to those standards.

What is your philosophy about the teaching of mathematics? Please describe your vision of a successful approach to math education, and provide your basis for this philosophy.

Sally Fullmer: I support traditional, non-reform Math. Provide clear models for solving a problem type using a variety of examples, allow students extensive practice in new skills, teach traditional algorithms. Stick with the proven, successful programs.

Deana Brower: Mathematics instruction should be based on foundations of procedural proficiency, conceptual understanding, and problem solving skills.  A successful Mathematics program would be one in which students are fluent in their mathematical factors and have the conceptual understanding necessary to transfer knowledge into problem solving skills.  The basis of this philosophy is from attending mathematic workshops, observing and volunteering in my children’s elementary classrooms, and chatting with educators and administrators in our district and beyond.

What are your current sources for information about successful mathematics programs, practices, and case studies? How will you obtain solid information in order to make wise and supportable decisions?

Sally Fullmer: My experience, teachers, Wheresthemath.com, Mathematically Sound Foundations. I will do my own research as well as look at the research provided by SPS administration.

Deana Brower: There is no shortage of educational information these days both online and in print.  The success of all academic areas, including Mathematics, would be monitored by district data and analysis provided by the superintendant and her staff.  Further determination of success of our academic disciplines would be monitored through dialogue in the educational community ensuring consistency and corroboration between community perception and evaluative data.

Which measures would you, as a board director, take to improve student academic outcomes in mathematics, how would you evaluate their efficacy, how soon would you expect to see significant results, and what should be the consequence for an unsuccessful program?

Sally Fullmer: Good curriculum must be in place. Direct the district to implement Holt as the committee recommended. This should not be delayed for two years waiting for unproven nationalized curricula. Teachers should assess, remediate and have students practice to mastery. Use of a calculator alone is not adequate math education. Significant results should be the norm in school! Administrators and instructional coaches should be required to spend time in the classroom and be replaced for poor results. Teachers should not be pulled out of the classroom for PD.

Deana Brower: In recent years, our district has placed less emphasis on procedural proficiency.  As a school board director, I would advocate for the emphasis on procedural proficiency as it is a vital component of a student’s mathematical foundation.  The efficacy of a greater emphasis on procedural proficiency would be measured by scores on student assessments.  As with all academic areas, assessment scores and trends should be reviewed regularly to ensure student success.  Unsuccessful programs should be modified as needed to meet educational needs of our students.

What role do you think parents should have in the choice, development or adoption of curricula?

Sally Fullmer: Parents should have a meaningful voice by having a voice and vote on committees. Their feedback should be respected and welcomed by administrators and board members.

Deana Brower: Parents and community members should have multiple opportunities to participate in the choice, development, and adoption of curricula such as members of curriculum adoption committees, or participants in open houses whereby curricular options are reviewed an commented upon.

Do you believe your district should adopt national “Common Core” standards (CCSS), testing and curriculum initiatives? Why or why not?

Sally Fullmer: No. WA State will lose local control to a 31 state consortium. Current WA state Math standards are superior to CCSS standards. We just spent 100 million dollars to rewrite them.

Deana Brower: I believe that our district should develop a set of standards reflecting the goals and priorities of our community and if those standards align with the “Common Core” standards, it would be in our best interest to adopt the “Common Core” standards, testing, and curriculum initiatives.

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