Back in 1995, when the Wisconsin State Journal and WISC-TV began a civic journalism project to study the racial achievement gaps in our schools, the statistical measures of student achievement and reading in third grade put the issue in sharp focus.
United Way and our community partners’ efforts, through a variety of strategies including the Schools of Hope tutoring program, relied on those strong, focused statistics to measure the success of our 1-on-1 and 1-on-2 tutoring.
By 2004, Superintendent Art Rainwater was able to announce the elimination of the racial achievement gap in third grade reading scores, because our community had focused on stable statistical measure for over 10 years.
A standard graduation rate formula would create the same public focus for our nation’s efforts to increase high school graduation rates.
- Ruth Robarts Letter to Isthmus on 3rd Grade Reading Scores
- Jason Shephards: The Fate of the Schools discusses those 2004 3rd grade reading scores.
- Ruth Robarts: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:
On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.
According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.
- A teacher’s letter to Isthmus on 3rd grade reading scores.
- Channel3000 on the Schools of Hope project and 3rd grade reading scores.
- Value Added Assessment in the Madison School District. Ed Hughes: Madison schools need to get real on equity, New value-added approach is needed for improving schools
- Leslie Ann Howard’s biography.
- Ed Hughes wrote a fascinating piece in 2005 on the local budget, collective bargaining and school climate. The piece includes this gem:
This points up one of the frustrating aspects of trying to follow school issues in Madison: the recurring feeling that a quoted speaker — and it can be someone from the administration, or MTI, or the occasional school board member — believes that the audience for an assertion is composed entirely of idiots.
- Madison & Math Data, 8th Grade.