Ouch! Madison schools are ‘weak’? and College Station’s School District

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial

Another national magazine says Madison is one of the nation’s best cities in which to raise a family.
That’s something to celebrate.
But Kiplinger’s, a monthly business and personal finance periodical, also raps ours city schools as “weak” in its latest edition.
That’s troubling.
“Madison city schools are weak relative to the suburban schools,” the magazine wrote in its analysis of the pros and cons of living here with children.
The magazine apparently used average test scores to reach its conclusion. By that single measure, yes, Dane County’s suburban schools tend to do better.
But the city schools have more challenges – higher concentrations of students in poverty, more students who speak little or no English when they enroll, more students with special needs.
None of those factors should be excuses. Yet they are reality.
And Madison, in some ways, is ahead of the ‘burbs. It consistently graduates some of the highest-achieving students in the state. It offers far more kinds of classes and clubs. Its diverse student population can help prepare children for an increasingly diverse world.

Madison School Board member Ed Hughes compares WKCE scores, comments on the Kiplinger and Wisconsin State Journal article and wonders if anyone would move from Madison to College Station, TX [map], which Kiplinger’s ranked above our local $15,241 2009/2010 per student public schools.
I compared Madison, WI to College Station, TX using a handy Census Bureau report.

93.8% of College Station residents over 25 are high school graduates, a bit higher than Madison’s 92.4%.
58.1% of College Station residents over 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to Madison’s 48.2%

Madison does have a higher median household and per capita income along with a population about three times that of College Station.
Turning to the public school districts, readers might be interested in having a look at both websites: the College Station Independent School District and the Madison Metropolitan School District. 75% of College Station students took the ACT (average score: 22.6) while 67% of Madison students took the exam and achieved a composite score of 24.2.
College Station publishes a useful set of individual school report cards, which include state and national test results along with attendance and dropout data.
College Station’s 2009-2010 budget was $93,718.470, supporting 9,712 students = $9,649.76 per student. . They also publish an annual check register, allowing interested citizens to review expenditures.
Madison’s 2009-2010 budget was $370,287,471 for 24,295 students = $15,241 per student, 57.9% higher than College Station.
College Station’s A and M Consolidated High School offers 22 AP classes while Madison East offers 12, Memorial 25 (8 of which are provided by Florida Virtual…), LaFollette 13 and West 8.
College Station’s “student profile” notes that the District is 59.3% white, 31.4% are economically disadvantaged while 10.3% are in talented and gifted.
Texas’s 2010 National Merit Semifinalist cut score was 216 while Wisconsin’s was 207. College Station’s high school had 16 National Merit Semi-Finalists (the number might be 40 were College Station the same size as Madison and perhaps still higher with Wisconsin’s lower cut score) during the most recent year while Madison’s high schools had 57.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: “Encountering the Provincials”

Rachel Lu: It’s an interesting conundrum. It seems obvious that many of these regions need help. Even our most desperate and impoverished citizens, though, seem to prefer the dignity of a free exchange to the discomfort of being patronized by people with an agenda. Who is able and willing to provide the goods they want … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: “Encountering the Provincials”

Loose rules let Texas districts boost ratings by claiming military enlistments

Javob Carpenter: In Hearne ISD, a rural school district home to about 800 pupils northwest of College Station, students have scored poorly on the state’s standardized tests for years, and 2019 was no exception. In the past, Hearne’s abysmal test scores resulted in “improvement required” or failing grades from the state, prompting a gradual increase … Continue reading Loose rules let Texas districts boost ratings by claiming military enlistments

How the straight-talking, coyote-shooting, tobacco-chewing John Sharp has led a bonanza at Texas A&M.

Michael Hardy: “This campus is growing faster than any other campus in Texas,” Sharp said as he drove me around College Station in his pickup, pointing out construction site after construction site. “Without being too arrogant, we have become the school of choice. This is where kids want to go.” Despite its long rivalry with … Continue reading How the straight-talking, coyote-shooting, tobacco-chewing John Sharp has led a bonanza at Texas A&M.

The 5-year-old needed a hand. She got one at Clear Lake’s library.

Kyrie O’Connor: Buying a 3-D printer was out of the question, of course. “Our next option was to find somebody who had one,” she said. This is where the Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library, and its staff members Jim Johnson and Patrick Ferrell, came in. Ferrell manages the Maker Space at the library, part … Continue reading The 5-year-old needed a hand. She got one at Clear Lake’s library.

At Texas A & M, Diversity Increases Without Affirmative Action

Matthew Watkins & Neena Satija: But a surprising shift has occurred at A&M over the last decade. Despite its reluctance to formally consider the race of its applicants, the university has worked hard to convince black and Hispanic students to apply and enroll. Since 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the legality of affirmative … Continue reading At Texas A & M, Diversity Increases Without Affirmative Action

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: the Midwest Declines while the South Rises

Aaron Renn: This is an absolute blowout, with a massive amount of red on the map showing areas to which Chicago is actually losing young adults. Honestly, this only makes sense given the well known headline negative domestic migration numbers for Chicago. I do find it interesting that there’s a strong draw from Michigan. Clearly … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: the Midwest Declines while the South Rises

“Voucher Voodoo: Smart Kids Shine Here” (Madison); A few links to consider

Tap on the image to view a larger version. Source: The Global Report Card.

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the Madison school district’s achievement gap problems and other challenges we face. I’ve also been responding to the outlandish notion that Madison is a failing school district whose students deserve private school vouchers as their only lifeline to academic success.
At times like this, I find it helpful to remember that Madison’s schools are educating many, many students who are succeeding. Some of them are succeeding spectacularly. With apologies to those I’m overlooking, here’s a brief run-down on some of our stars –
Madison Memorial’s recently-formed science bowl team won the Wisconsin state championship in January. The team of seniors Srikar Adibhatla, Sohil Shah, Thejas Wesley and William Xiang and sophomore Brian Luo will represent Wisconsin in the National Science Bowl Championship in Washington, D.C. in April.

Credit for non-Madison School District courses and the Talented and Gifted complaint.
Census.gov on Madison’s demographics, compared to College Station, TX. 52.9% of Madison residents have a bachelor’s degree, compared to the State’s 26%. 57.5% of College Station, Texas’s residents have a college degree.
Madison High School UW-Madison and University of Wisconsin System enrollment trends 1983-2011:
East LaFollette, Memorial, West, Edgewood.
Where have all the students, gone? A look at suburban Madison enrollment changes.
National Merit Semifinalists & Wisconsin’s cut scores.
Madison’s nearly $15k per student annual spending, community support and higher education infrastructure provide the raw materials for world class public schools. Benchmarking ourselves against world leaders would seem to be a great place to begin.

Madison high schools don’t make U.S. News rankings

Matthew DeFour:

U.S. News and World Report this week released its list of the top high schools in the country and in each state, but Madison’s four high schools didn’t make the cut.
That’s because under the three-step formula the magazine used to rate high schools, the combined test scores of black, Hispanic and low-income students at East, La Follette, Memorial and West were too low to qualify the schools for recognition.
It’s the fourth time the magazine, known for its annual rankings of college and graduate schools, has ranked high schools and the first time since December 2009. The magazine worked with the American Institutes for Research to develop the ranking system.
The magazine reviewed reading and math test scores for nearly 22,000 high schools in the country. Of that number, only 5,267 high schools, including the four in Madison, advanced to step two of the analysis. That means math and reading test scores exceeded expectations among other high schools in the state given the level of poverty in each school.
But Madison’s schools appear to have faltered in the second step of the analysis, which compares a weighted average of math and reading scores for each school’s “disadvantaged students” — i.e. black, Hispanic and low-income students — with the same group statewide.
In 2011-12, 53.5 percent of Wisconsin’s disadvantaged students scored proficient or advanced on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination, compared with about 47 percent at each of the four Madison high schools.

The WKCE has long been criticized for its lack of rigor. Background: Ouch! Madison schools are ‘weak’? and College Station’s School District
Related: www.wisconsin2.org

Updating the 2009 Scholastic Bowl Longhorns 17 – Badgers 1; Thrive’s “Advance Now Competitive Assessment Report”

Peter Theron via a kind Don Severson email:

Earlier this year Wisconsin teachers and their supporters compared Wisconsin and Texas academically and claimed that Wisconsin had better achievement because it ranked higher on ACT/SAT scores. The fact that this claim ignored the ethnic composition of the states, prompted David Burge to use the National Assessment of Educational Progress(NAEP) to compare educational achievement within the same ethnic groups. His conclusion, based on the 2009 NAEP in Reading, Mathematics, and Science (3 subject areas times 2 grades, 4th and 8th, times 3 ethnicities, white, black, and hispanic equals 18 comparisons), was Longhorns 17 – Badgers 1.
The 2011 NAEP results are now available for Reading and
Mathematics. The updated conclusion (2 subject areas times 2 grades, 4th and 8th, times 3 ethnicities, white, black, and hispanic equals 12 comparisons) is Longhorns 12 – Badgers 0. Not only did Texas students outperform Wisconsin students in every one of the twelve ethnicity-controlled comparisons, but Texas students exceeded the national average in all 12 comparisons. Wisconsin students were above the average 3 times, below the average 8 times, and tied the average once.
Again, as in 2009, the achievement gaps were smaller in Texas than in Wisconsin.
2011 Data from http://nationsreportcard.gov/
2011 4th Grade Math
White students: Texas 253, Wisconsin 251 (national average 249)
Black students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 217 (national 224)
Hispanic students: Texas 235, Wisconsin 228 (national 229)
2011 8th Grade Math
White students: Texas 304, Wisconsin 295 (national 293)
Black students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 256 (national 262)
Hispanic students: Texas 283, Wisconsin 270 (national 269)
2011 4th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 227 (national 230)
Black students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 196 (national 205)
Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 205)
2011 8th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 274, Wisconsin 272 (national 272)
Black students: Texas 252, Wisconsin 240 (national 248)
Hispanic students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 248 (national 251)
2009 data compiled by David Burge from NAEP
2009 4th Grade Math
White students: Texas 254, Wisconsin 250 (national average 248)
Black students: Texas 231, Wisconsin 217 (national 222)
Hispanic students: Texas 233, Wisconsin 228 (national 227)
2009 8th Grade Math
White students: Texas 301, Wisconsin 294 (national 294)
Black students: Texas 272, Wisconsin 254 (national 260)
Hispanic students: Texas 277, Wisconsin 268 (national 260)
2009 4th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 232, Wisconsin 227 (national 229)
Black students: Texas 213, Wisconsin 192 (national 204)
Hispanic students: Texas 210, Wisconsin 202 (national 204)
2009 8th Grade Reading
White students: Texas 273, Wisconsin 271 (national 271)
Black students: Texas 249, Wisconsin 238 (national 245)
Hispanic students: Texas 251, Wisconsin 250 (national 248)
2009 4th Grade Science
White students: Texas 168, Wisconsin 164 (national 162)
Black students: Texas 139, Wisconsin 121 (national 127)
Hispanic students: Wisconsin 138, Texas 136 (national 130)
2009 8th Grade Science
White students: Texas 167, Wisconsin 165 (national 161)
Black students: Texas 133, Wisconsin 120 (national 125)
Hispanic students: Texas 141, Wisconsin 134 (national 131)

Related: Comparing Madison, Wisconsin & College Station, Texas.
Thrive released its “Advance Now Competitive Assessment Report,” which compares the Madison Region to competitors Austin, TX, Des Moines, IA, and Lincoln, NE, across the major areas of People, Prosperity and Place, 3MB PDF via a kind Kaleem Caire email.
Finally, www.wisconsin2.org is worth a visit.

Comparing Rhetoric Regarding Texas (10th) & Wisconsin NAEP Scores: Texas Hispanic and African-American students rank second on eighth-grade NAEP math test

Texas Hispanic and African-American students rank
second on eighth-grade NAEP math test

Texas Education Agency:

Texas Hispanic and African-American students earned the second highest score among their peer groups on the 2011 eighth-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics test. The state’s white eighth grade students ranked fourth, missing out on the second place position themselves by less than one point.
Only Hispanic students in Montana earned a higher scale score on the math test than did eighth-grade Hispanic Texans. Only African-American students in Hawaii earned a higher average score than did their counterparts in Texas.
White students in the District of Columbia earned an average scale score of 319, the highest score for that ethnic group. Texas students ranked fourth, with less than a fraction of a point separating this group from students in Massachusetts and New Jersey. Massachusetts students had the second highest scale score at 304.2876, while Texas received an average score of 303.5460.
Overall, the state ranked 10th among the states with an average scale score of 290, substantially above the national average score of 283.

NAEP math on upward trend, state reading results stable

Wisconsin DPI:

Wisconsin’s biennial mathematics and reading results held steady on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card. The state’s overall trend in mathematics is improving.
For fourth-grade mathematics, the state’s 2011 scale score was 245, up one point but statistically the same as in 2009, compared to the national scale score of 240, a one-point increase from 2009. Wisconsin results for fourth-grade math are significantly higher than in 2003 when the average scale score was 237. At eighth grade, the Wisconsin scale score for mathematics was 289,
the same as in 2009 and up five points from 2003, which is statistically significant. For the nation, the 2011 mathematics scale score was 283, up one-point from 2009. State average scale scores in mathematics at both grade levels were statistically higher than the national score.

Average scores for fourth grade

All White Black Hispanic Asian Amer-Pac.Island Native Amer
US 240 249 224 229 256 227
Texas 241 253 232 235 263 ***
Wisconsin 245 251 217 228 242 231
Average scores for eighth grade
US 283 293 262 269 302 266
Texas 290 304 277 283 316 ***
Wisconsin 289 295 256 270 290 ***

via a kind Richard Askey email.
Erin Richards has more on Wisconsin’s results.
Steve Dykstra’s comments on Wisconsin’s NAEP reading scores.
Related: Madison and College Station, TX.

Updated: Does Kiplinger’s claim of “weak” Madison schools compared to “suburban” schools hold up?

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

Much more on Kiplingers, College Station Schools and a Wisconsin State Journal Editorial, here. Background on the oft criticized WKCE.

Average Milwaukee Public Schools Teacher Salary Plus Benefits Tops $100,000; Ramifications

MacIver Institute:

For the first time in history, the average annual compensation for a teacher in the Milwaukee Public School system will exceed $100,000.
That staggering figure was revealed last night at a meeting of the MPS School Board.
The average salary for an MPS teacher is $56,500. When fringe benefits are factored in, the annual compensation will be $100,005 in 2011.
MacIver’s Bill Osmulski has more in this video report.

Related Links:

Finally, the economic and political issue in a nutshell: Wisconsin’s taxbase is not keeping up with other states:

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Young People Are Heeding Austin’s Call, Data Shows

Sabrina Tavernise:

Austin, Tex., drew the largest numbers of young Americans from 2007 through 2009, according to an analysis by a senior demographer at the Brookings Institution, replacing Riverside, Calif., which was the most popular destination for young people in the middle of the decade.
Migration slowed greatly during the recession, and rates have continued to remain low. But in an analysis of migration still occurring among some of the country’s most mobile citizens — people ages 25 to 34 — the cities at the top of the list were those that had remained economically vibrant, like Dallas, and those that were considered hip destinations, like Austin and Seattle, the demographer, William H. Frey, found.
In the middle of the decade, before the recession, the top five destinations were Riverside, Phoenix, Atlanta, Houston and Charlotte, N.C., according to the analysis, which was based on Census Bureau data. Austin ranked ninth in that period, and Las Vegas was No. 10.

Compare Wisconsin & Texas NAEP scores here (White students in Texas outscore Wisconsin students in Math) and have a smaller difference between black students.
A Capital Times perspective on Texas, here. A look at College Station vs. Madison, here

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Transparency

Sunlight Foundation:

We’ve taken data from other federal reporting systems and compared it with the data found in USASpending.gov across three categories: Consistency, Completeness and Timeliness. How close are the reported dollar amounts to the yearly estimates? How many of the required fields are filled out in each record? And how long did it take the agency to report the money once it was allocated to a project?

The inability to keep track and report on public expenditures does not inspire confidence. Related: Madison district got $23M from taxpayers for aging schools; where did it go?. More here. I’ve not seen any additional information on the potential audit of Madison’s most recent maintenance referendum.
The College Station School District publishes all annual expenditures via their check registers.

Texas District Makes Gains With Special Education

Christina Samuels: When leaders of the North East Independent district realized some students weren’t succeeding, they rolled up their sleeves and went to work. The results were dramatic. The North East Independent School District, serving part of the city of San Antonio, cherishes its image as a diverse system of high-achieving students bound for college. … Continue reading Texas District Makes Gains With Special Education

A better math idea? Check the numbers

Robert Miller: He created Reasoning Mind because he had a dismal opinion of American education, from kindergarten through high school. This Web-based math program “does not merely incorporate technology into teaching. It is based in technology and capitalizes on the power of technology to deliver information and content,” Dr. Alexander R. “Alex” Khachatryan said. The … Continue reading A better math idea? Check the numbers