by Sharona Coutts and Jennifer LaFleur:
Florida is a state of stark contrasts. Travel a few miles from the opulent mansions of Miami Beach and you reach desperately poor neighborhoods. There’s the grinding poverty of sugar cane country and the growing middle class of Jacksonville. All told, half the public-school students in Florida qualify for subsidized lunches. Many are the first in their families to speak English or contemplate attending college.
In many states, those economic differences are reflected in the classroom, with students in wealthy schools taking many more advanced courses.
The Opportunity Gap
But not in Florida. A ProPublica analysis of previously unreleased federal data shows that Florida leads the nation in the percentage of high-school students enrolled in high-level classes–Advanced Placement and advanced math. That holds true across rich and poor districts.
Studies repeatedly have shown that students who take advanced classes have greater chances of attending and succeeding in college.
Our analysis identifies several states that, like Florida, have leveled the field and now offer rich and poor students roughly equal access to high-level courses.
In Kansas, Maryland and Oklahoma, by contrast, such opportunities are far less available in districts with poorer families.
That disparity is part of what experts call the “opportunity gap.”
Wisconsin’s results are here, while Madison’s are here.
WISTAX via sp-eye:
Phil Frei and his Traveling Pie-in-the-Sky Budget Show like to compare Sun Prairie administrative costs to the state average. And we look great! That trick’s not working so well anymore. As they say in the deep south, “that dog don’t hunt”. Heck even the new associate editor for the STAR, covering the recent budget hearing, asked if we didn’t have a more realistic comparison.
Well… here’s where we rank: 45th. Not even in the top 10%. At least when we look at Administrative costs per student.
Madison spends $1003/student (7.8% of operating expenditures).
Students across the U.S. are enjoying or getting ready for summer vacation, but teachers may be looking forward to the break even more. American teachers are the most productive among major developed countries, according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development data from 2008 — the most recent available.
Among 27 member nations tracked by the OECD, U.S. primary-school educators spent 1,097 hours a year teaching despite only spending 36 weeks a year in the classroom — among the lowest among the countries tracked. That was more than 100 hours more than New Zealand, in second place at 985 hours, despite students in that country going to school for 39 weeks. The OECD average is 786 hours.
And that’s just the time teachers spend on instruction. Including hours teachers spend on work at home and outside the classroom, American primary-school educators spend 1,913 working in a year. According to data from the comparable year in a Labor Department survey, an average full-time employee works 1,932 hours a year spread out over 48 weeks (excluding two weeks vacation and federal holidays).
Curriculum is certainly worth a hard look.
After only about a month as top boss of Detroit Public Schools, Roy Roberts, a 72-year-old former General Motors executive and private equity firm founder, is well aware that some people already want him gone.
The district’s new financial manager said he’s OK with that reality, adding that differing opinions have value. His only request: Stay out of the way as he tries to turn around one of the nation’s worst public school systems.
I don’t care what people think about me, really … because I know what parents are going to think,” Roberts told The Associated Press during an interview in his Detroit Midtown office. “They’re going to love it because I’m trying to do the right thing for their children, and you won’t find a parent that doesn’t want that. I’m simply going to look at a system and say ‘What is the best system we can put in place to educate these kids?’ I don’t care about the politics.”
What concerns him, he said, is a massive budget deficit and students who either don’t receive a legitimate education or flee the district in search of one. Those mountainous challenges form the ridge that for decades has left the 74,000-student district on the shadowy side of progress.
Related: Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s speech to the Madison Rotary Club.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
Based on current educational and social conditions, the fate of boys of color is uncertain. African American and Latino boys are grossly over-represented among young men failing to achieve academic success and are at greater risk of dropping out of school. Boys in general lag behind girls on most indicators of student achievement.
- In 2009, just 52% of African American boys and 52% of Latino boys graduated on-time from Madison Metropolitan School District compared to 81% of Asian boys and 88% of White boys.
- In the class of 2010, just 7% of African American seniors and 18% of Latino seniors were deemed “college-ready” by ACT, makers of the standardized college entrance exam required for all Wisconsin universities.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men (Madison Prep) is a public charter school being developed by the Urban League of Greater Madison. Madison Prep will serve as a catalyst for change and opportunity, particularly young men of color. Its mission is to prepare scholars for success at a four year college by instilling excellence, pride, leadership and service. A proposed non-instrumentality charter school located in Madison, Wisconsin and to be authorized by the Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison Prep will serve 420 students in grades 6 through 12 when it reaches full enrollment in 2017-2018.
Watch a video of the speech, here.
Jamaal Abdul-Alim, via a kind reader’s email
While a panel discussion held by The College Board on Capitol Hill this week was meant to highlight a new report on the lagging rates of educational attainment among non-White men, some of the panelists questioned the need for more research on the subject.
“How much data do we need?” asked panelist Dr. Roy Jones, executive director for the Eugene T. Moore School of Education’s Call Me MISTER Program at Clemson University. (MISTER is an acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role-models).
His remarks came after a discussion of the new report titled “The Educational Experience of Young Men of Color: A Review of Research, Pathways and Progress,” co-authored by John Michael Lee Jr., a co-panelist and policy director at the College Board’s Advocacy and Policy Center.
Kristen Mack and Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah:
New Chicago schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard expressed support Thursday for the idea of teachers and staff visiting students at home, even in some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods.
At an event Thursday held by United Neighborhood Organization, a community organization that runs charter schools, Brizard said he liked some of the charter network’s ideas, including home visits.
UNO teachers make two home visits per student during the course of a school year. Brizard said if teachers and administrators at Chicago Public Schools each took on 10 home visits, the public school system with 430,000 students could follow the charter network’s lead in some of the city’s most challenging communities.
‘”Our students go there every day,” Brizard said. “Why can’t we?”
To compile the 2011 list of the top high schools in America, NEWSWEEK reached out to administrators, principals, guidance counselors, and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate coordinators at more than 10,000 public high schools across the country. In order to be considered for our list, each school had to complete a survey requesting specific data from the 2009-2010 academic year. In total, more than 1,100 schools were assessed to produce the final list of the top 500 high schools.
We ranked all respondents based on the following self-reported statistics, listed with their corresponding weight in our final calculation:
Four-year, on-time graduation rate (25%): Based on the standards set forth by the National Governors Association, this is calculated by dividing the number of graduates in 2010 by the number of 9th graders 2006 plus transfers in minus transfers out. Unlike other formulas, this does not count students who took longer than four years to complete high school.
Percent of 2010 graduates who enrolled immediately in college (25%): This metric excludes students who did not enroll due to lack of acceptance or gap year.
AP/IB/AICE tests per graduate (25%): This metric is designed to measure the degree to which each school is challenging its students with college-level examinations. It consists of the total number of AP, IB, and AICE tests given in 2010, divided by the number of graduating seniors in order to normalize by school size. AP exams taken by students who also took an IB exam in the same subject area were subtracted from the total.
Average SAT and/or ACT score (10%)
Average AP/IB/AICE exam score (10%)
AP/IB/AICE courses offered per graduate (5%): This metric assesses the depth of college-level curriculum offered. The number of courses was divided by the number of graduates in order to normalize by school size.
Just 12 Wisconsin high schools made the list, not one from Dane County. It would be interesting to compare per student spending (Madison spends about $14,476 per student) , particularly in light of a significant number of “southern” high schools in the top 50. Much more on United States per student spending, here. Wisconsin State Tax Based K-12 Spending Growth Far Exceeds University Funding.
>Most of the inside-the-beltway chatter this week was around Secretary Arne Duncan’s announcement on Monday, via Politico, that if A.: Congress did not act soon to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, he would B.: proceed to “develop a plan that trades regulatory flexibility for reform.” I can’t confirm this, but the rumor is that the plan arrived at OMB last night, and will be finalized in August. At any rate, it doesn’t seem like they’re playing games on this one. All signs suggest that they plan to follow through.
We ran down our concerns when we got a whiff of this back in December (here
). Long story short, we don’t like the process and see serious pitfalls ahead on the substance. We recommend you also take a look at takes this week by reform veterans like Margaret Spellings
(the first two Vinnie Barbarino paragraphs alone tell you most of what you need to know), Andy Rotherham
, and Jeanne Allen
I know that the current Secretary sincerely thinks states and school districts need relief. And I would agree that in some instances, some flexibility that allows states to revise their current plans makes sense. But the lack of action on the Hill is not why a waiver process is so urgent per se. In fact, both the turbulence around reauthorization and, now, the waiver process, stem from an underlying third variable: the temporary lapse in strong leadership on the part of those who know, can do, and have done, better.