As many of you know, I have been in touch with the District and West HS administration — as well as with our BOE — with a request for “before-and-after” data on the English elective choices of West’s juniors and seniors. The reason for my request is that one of the primary reasons why English … Continue reading West HS English 10: More from Pam Nash
I received the following reply to my request for English 10 data from Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Pam Nash: Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2007 14:27:48 -0500 From: email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Laurie- Mr. Holmes and his staff will do this. Pam Pamela J. Nash Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Madison Metropolitan … Continue reading West HS English 10: Request for Data — Reply from Pam Nash
Here is an email I sent to the BOE, asking them to request important outcome data for West HS’s English 10 initiative. Embedded in the email is my own request for such data. As both a content and a process issue, I should think this would be of interest to all SIS readers. By all … Continue reading West HS English 10: Request for Data
According to the November, 2005, report by SLC Evaluator Bruce King, the overriding motivation for the implementation of West’s English 10 core curriculum (indeed, the overriding motivation for the implementation of the entire 9th and 10th grade core curriculum) was to reduce the achievement gap. As described in the report, some groups of West students … Continue reading West HS English 10: Time to Show Us the Data
First, I want to say BRAVO, RUTH, for putting it all together and bringing it on home to us. Thanks, too, to the BOE members who overrode BOE President Johnny Winston Jr’s decision to table this important discussion. Finally, deepest thanks to all of the East parents, students and teachers who are speaking out … … Continue reading More Than English 10: Let’s REALLY Talk About Our High Schools
Last week, families of rising juniors at West High School received a copy of the Junior School Counseling Newsletter. On page 2, there is a section entitled “English Course Selections for 2006/07.” The paragraph reads as follows: Students are required to earn four credits of English for graduation, and this must include one semester of … Continue reading Still On the Slippery Slope of West HS’s English 10?
At January and February school board meetings, Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater reported on the administration’s plan to go ahead with one English course for all tenth graders at West High School starting in 2006-07. The goal of the plan is to increase academic opportunity for students of color. The mechanism is to teach all students … Continue reading Good goals, flawed reasoning: Administration Goes Full Speed Ahead on English 10 at West High
Here are two stories from the December 23, 2005, issue of the West HS student newspaper, The Regent Review. I reprint them here just as they appear in print (that is, with all misspellings, grammatical errors, etc.). (Note: the faculty advisor for The Regent Review is West HS English teacher Mark Nepper. Mr. Nepper has … Continue reading West HS students speek/speak out on English 10
West High School has decided to move ahead with their curriculum reduction plan. The school has posted a document explaining the changes on their website. The one concession that the school has made to parents is their decision not to require students to give up time at lunch in order to earn an honors designation. … Continue reading West Moves Ahead With English 10 Restructuring
Here is the email I wrote earlier today to Ed Holmes, Art Rainwater, Pam Nash, Mary Gulbrandsen, and the seven members of the BOE, followed by the reply I just received from Ed Holmes: I wrote: Hello, everyone. I wonder if one of you would please send us a status report on the plans for … Continue reading And the (West HS English 10) beat goes on …”
Forget the philosophies about heterogeneous versus homogenous classrooms. Forget English 9. Forget Shakespeare. English 10 just ain’t gonna’ work for struggling and advanced student, who we’re told can meet with teachers twice a week during the lunch hour. A few quick calculations show the glaring impossibility of success for these students. * Twenty-percent of West’s … Continue reading The impossibility of English 10
Hi, Ed. Thanks for writing. I look forward to seeing the material you’re putting up on the website. A couple of other questions — I’m curious to know what Shwaw Vang has asked you for? In particular, did his request include outcome data for English 9? As you know, many of us think a thorough … Continue reading 12/9/05 Reply to West Principal Ed Holmes re: English 10
Hi Laurie, The discussion about 10th grade English and 10th grade core continues. There will be a statement and responses to questions that have been raised by parents, community, and staff online in the form of a link from the West High website early next week. I will also submit information to MMSD School Board … Continue reading Reply from West HS Principal Ed Holmes to request for update on English 10
Steve Rosenblum, writing to Carol Carstensen: Date: Fri, 2 Dec 2005 15:07:45 -0600 To: Carol Carstensen ,”Laurie A. Frost” From: Steven Rosenblum Subject: Re: West English Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Carol, Thank you for the response. I am somewhat confused however regarding your statement concerning the Board’s role. Maybe … Continue reading Steve Rosenblum on West’s Planned English 10: Same Curriculum for All
Laurie: Thank you for your email. I have been following the discussion on the proposed changes to English 10 at West. I know that there have been various conversations between West High staff and parents and downtown administrators. I believe that a number of the concerns raised by parents are being given serious consideration. I … Continue reading Carol Carstensen on West’s Planned English 10 Single Curriculum for All
Dylan Brogan: The “time is now” to eliminate standalone honors classes in Madison high schools, according to Superintendent Carlton Jenkins. At a Dec. 5 school board meeting, Jenkins said a “racist attitude” underlies support for keeping separate classes that offer more rigorous coursework to students. “We are no longer going to uphold what is considered … Continue reading Madison school proposal to end standalone honors classes set for a vote
Olivia Herken: His stand-alone classes didn’t give him that much deeper of an understanding of a subject than earning honors did, Hernandez said. In his general Western civilization class, for example, he had to read an additional book to earn his honors credits, which allowed him to gain more knowledge than he normally would have. … Continue reading Here’s what you should know about honors classes in the Madison School District
Scott Girard: West math teacher Sigrid Murphy said that even more recently, in the 2020-21 school year, “30% of the students in geometry at West identified as white while 72% of the students in geometry honors identified as white.” The school’s overall enrollment that year was about 52% white students. “Within the (West) math department, … Continue reading Deja Vu: Advocating the Elimination of Honors Classes in the Taxpayer Supported Madison School District
Olivia Herken: “Historically, the concept of advanced learning and honors has served to segregate students based on race, socioeconomic status and special education status,” School Board member Savion Castro said. And when these students do access the advanced classes, they often report feeling “isolated, feeling tokenized and experiencing a white-washed curriculum.” “I think we all … Continue reading Eliminating Advanced Courses in Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 Schools, Redux. ““The problem is most of the parents are not that much involved, and they don’t even know what’s going on,” he said.”
Mary Kay Linge The sabotage is ongoing,” another parent said — recalling that Vasconcelos previously made waves for suggesting that AP tests “reflect systemic racism” and tried to scale back LaGuardia’s AP offerings. Draft schedules circulating among the faculty show the instructional day being shaved down by nearly two hours for the Fall 2022 semester. While 10 periods would … Continue reading LaGuardia High School in NYC in uproar over ‘equitable’ academics
Ricardo Cano, Nanette Asimov Teachers at San Francisco’s Lowell High School gave freshman students significantly more D and F grades this past fall, the first semester after the school board eliminated the merit-based admissions it had relied on for decades. The lower grades, while expected by many, are likely to become part of a fervid … Continue reading New data shows shift at Lowell High School: More students given failing grades after admissions change
Eliza Shapiro: Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday he planned to overhaul New York City’s gifted and talented education system, a sea change for the nation’s largest public school system that may amount to the mayor’s most significant act in the waning months of his tenure. The mayor’s action attempts to address what the city has known … Continue reading De Blasio to Phase Out N.Y.C. Gifted and Talented Program
Kyle Smith: Excellence. It’s a thing. And to sort out who is excellent requires competition in various tests with measurable outcomes. Competition sadly exposes failure. But it also steers everyone to the most fitting role for them. I competed and failed at being a baseball player, soccer player and tennis player before I finally found … Continue reading Notes on the Tierney of low expectations; New York edition
Robby Soave: The Vancouver School Board in British Columbia, Canada, is eliminating honors courses as part of a push to foster inclusivity and equity in the classroom. The board had previously eliminated the high school honors English program, and math and science will now get the ax as well. “By phasing out these courses, all … Continue reading Vancouver School Board Is Eliminating Honors Programs To Achieve ‘Equity’
Alex Nester: The Fairfax County School Board made headlines in October when they eliminated the STEM-focused high school’s merit-based entrance exam. The board set a cap on the number of students that could attend Thomas Jefferson from each of the district’s middle schools, in an attempt to boost black and Hispanic enrollment. Coalition for TJ … Continue reading Push and Pull: eliminating advanced courses
Elizabeth Beyer: With earned honors, all students are enrolled in classes with the same level of rigor and have the option to earn an honors credit using predetermined criteria at the end of each semester, based on their demonstration of knowledge and skills in the course. Students won’t have to decide in advance whether they … Continue reading COmmentary On Madison’s ongoing “one Size Fits All” Curricular Experiments
Austin Walsh: Following hours of intensive deliberation, San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District officials narrowly agreed to overhaul the school system’s sixth grade math curriculum, despite vigorous parent protest. Board President Kenneth Chin joined trustees Noelia Corzo and Shara Watkins in supporting a proposal to offer a single sixth grade math class next year, doing … Continue reading San Mateo Foster City school board eliminates an early acceleration program for qualified students.
Beth A. Brennan: While legal education unquestionably hones students’ critical thinking skills, it also privileges students who are faster readers and have prior background knowledge or larger working memories. According to the prevailing mythology of law school pedagogy, students learn by struggling to find their way out of chaos. Only then is their learning deep … Continue reading Explicit Instruction in Legal Education: Boon or Spoon?
Scott Girard: Madison Metropolitan School District high schools plan to move away from “standalone honors” courses for freshmen and sophomores in the next few years, with an Earned Honors system expected to replace them. The goal, MMSD leaders told the School Board Monday, is to bring rigor to all classrooms for all students and give … Continue reading Deja Vu: Taxpayer supported Madison high schools moving toward eliminating standalone honors courses for ninth, 10th grades
Meg Woodhouse: A selective program for high-performing fourth, fifth and sixth graders in Boston has suspended enrollment due to the pandemic and concerns about equity in the program, GBH News has learned. Superintendent Brenda Cassellius recommended the one-year hiatus for the program, known as Advanced Work Classes, saying the district would not proceed with the … Continue reading Citing Racial Inequities, Boston Public Schools Suspend New Advanced Learning Classes
Jill Tucker: One of the top-performing public high schools in the country will no longer admit students based on academic performance, ending more than a century of merit-based admissions. More than seven hours into a marathon meeting Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Education voted 5-2 to use the same lottery-based system to assign students … Continue reading S.F. school board strips Lowell High of its merit-based admissions system
Jonathan Turley: Alison Collins, the Vice President of the San Francisco Board of Education, has declared meritocracy to be racist even in the selection of students at advanced or gifted programs. As we have previously discussed, this has been a building campaign in academia as educators and others denounce selection based on academic performance through testing. At issue … Continue reading “We Cannot Mince Words”: San Francisco Education Official Denounces Meritocracy As Racist
Jill Tucker: San Francisco’s elite academic public high school would no longer admit students based on top grades and test scores, and instead use a random lottery system for admission, if the school board approves a measure fast-tracked for a vote. The controversial proposal will head to the school board during a special meeting Tuesday, … Continue reading S.F.’s elite Lowell High School would permanently switch to lottery admission under fast-track proposal
Libby Emmons: Ending selective admissions for top performing public middle schools in New York will disadvantage the city’s brightest and highest achieving students as well as those who are not academically gifted. New York had 1.1 million public school students, though that number has now shrunk to 900,000 or so, and they are not all academically gifted. Most … Continue reading De Blasio to destroy New York’s top public schools to run an experiment in diversity
Scott Aaronson: I’d like you to feel about the impending destruction of Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the same way you might’ve felt when the Taliban threatened to blow up the Bamyan Buddhas, and then days later actually did blow them up. Or the way you felt when human negligence caused wildfires that incinerated half … Continue reading On the destruction of America’s best high school
Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, via a kind email: Madison West High School students were separated by race for group discussions The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) issued a letter to administrators at Madison West High School urging the school to reconsider a series of school-sponsored racially segregated Zoom discussions. … Continue reading WILL Urges Madison West High School to Reconsider Racially Segregated Group Discussions
Blacks for Political and Social Action of Dane County, Inc.: In the midst of these challenges, the Madison Metropolitan School District heard its superintendent-designee, Matthew Gutiérrez, was rescinding his acceptance of the position to remain as superintendent of the Seguin, Texas school district. This lack of a permanent superintendent can have an incredibly negative impact … Continue reading What is the place for African Americans in the ‘new’ Madison?
Chris von Csefalvay: In early March, British leaders planned to take a laissez-faire approach to the spread of the coronavirus. Officials would pursue “herd immunity,” allowing as many people in non-vulnerable categories to catch the virus in the hope that eventually it would stop spreading. But on March 16, a report from the Imperial College … Continue reading The Unexamined Model Is Not Worth Trusting (We know best…)
Martin Wolf: History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. This remark is often incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain. But it is a good one. History is the most powerful guide to the present, because it speaks to what is permanent in our humanity, especially the forces that drive us towards conflict. Since the … Continue reading Civics: Unsettling precedents for today’s world Events evoke not the 1930s but the period before the First World War
Scott Girard: With no Madison Metropolitan School District policy on grading at the four comprehensive high schools, administrators and teachers have room to implement their own practices. Bottom-up decisions can help get buy-in from the teachers and staff carrying out any changes, but also mean that changes happen on different timelines, like the recent change … Continue reading Grading inconsistencies ‘not new’ with West ‘grading floor,’ Madison School District officials say
Logan Wroge: In an effort to keep students who fail early in their high school careers from falling completely out of school, ninth grade teachers at Madison’s West High School are planning to assign classroom grades of no less than 40%, eliminate extra credit and allow up to 90% credit for late work in required … Continue reading Madison West High School to test ‘grading floor’ as part of district examination of freshman grading
Raven Santana: In an almost unanimous vote, the New Jersey State Board of Education advanced a proposal that would reduce the number of standardized tests and graduation requirements for high school students. Under the measure, math and English exams would be eliminated for 10th graders starting for the class of 2023, and instead of 11th … Continue reading New Jersey Plans to Reduce Standardized Testing
Rod Dreher: In that same book I quoted in an earlier post, From Under The Rubble (which you can read online for free by following the link), there’s an essay on socialism by Igor Shafarevich. In it, he quotes Marx saying that communism aims to “eliminate talent by force.” Equality must be achieved above all … Continue reading Eliminating Talent By Force
Jason Riley: To say that many liberal elites have all but given up on educating low-income minorities might seem like an overstatement. But when you consider the state of public education in our inner cities, and the priorities of those in charge, it’s hard to draw any other conclusion. After Labor Day, New York City’s … Continue reading De Blasio Gives Up on Educating Poor Kids
Eliza Shapiro: For years, New York City has essentially maintained two parallel public school systems. A group of selective schools and programs geared to students labeled gifted and talented is filled mostly with white and Asian children. The rest of the system is open to all students and is predominantly black and Hispanic. Now, a … Continue reading Desegregation Plan: Eliminate All Gifted Programs in New York
Logan Wroge: The school is hitting the pause button as it looks to address concerns that the program has not shown an improvement in student outcomes. Pathways is billed as an interconnected, experiential approach where learning is centered around a career field; students form tight-knit communities with classmates and teachers within the pathway; and material … Continue reading Madison West High School pauses Personalized Pathways as model expands at 3 Madison high schools
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction “DPI”, lead for many years by new Governor Tony Evers, has waived thousands of elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirements. This, despite our long term, disastrous reading results. Chan Stroman tracks the frequent Foundations of Reading (FoRT) mulligans: Yet the statutory FoRT requirement is now deemed satisfied by “attempts” … Continue reading Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers
Dana Goldstein: It was a searing summer day before the start of the school year, but Julianni and Giselle Wyche, 10-year-old twins, were in a classroom, engineering mini rockets, writing in journals and learning words like “fluctuate” and “cognizant.” The sisters were among 1,000 children chosen for an enrichment course intended in part to prepare … Continue reading Rethinking What Gifted Education Means, and Whom It Should Serve
Kelly Meyerhofer: The Madison School District’s new long-term plan looks vaguely similar to its predecessor, a strategic framework produced in 2013. Two of three overarching goals share similar language. The third goal, however, stands out from its 2013 counterpart by explicitly vowing to do better for African-American students. Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said she attended nearly … Continue reading Madison School District vows to do better for African-American students
Annie Waldeman: Under federal law, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Office for Civil Rights is responsible for ensuring equal access to education and investigating allegations of discrimination in the country’s schools and colleges. Families and students can file complaints with the office, which then investigates and determines whether a college or school … Continue reading “The legislation would require the U.S. Department of Education to reveal which schools have been accused of violating students’ civil rights, as well as any corrective actions or other resolutions of its probes”
Hilde Kahn, via Will Fitzhugh: One of few bright spots in the just-released National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) results was an increase in the number of students reaching “advanced” level in both math and reading at the 4th- and 8th-grades. But the results masked large racial and economic disparities. While 30 percent of Asian … Continue reading “But more importantly, their parents do not rely on school programming to prepare their children for TJ admissions or any other milestone on their way to top STEM careers.”
Wisconsin Center for Education Research (Twitter): Research shows that ability grouping helps underrepresented students become included in gifted programs. @MSANachieve #MSANinstitute shrink the excellence gap. Closing Poverty-Based Excellence Gaps: Conceptual, Measurement, and Educational Issues,” Jonathan A. Plucker and Scott J. Peters, Gifted Child Quarterly Vol 62: “Ability Grouping Although often unpopular because of its association … Continue reading Round and Round and Round and Round we go
Christopher Yaluma, Adam Tyner, Ph.D., Amber M. Northern, Ph.D. and Chester E. Finn, Jr. : Schools have long failed to cultivate the innate talents of many of their young people, particularly high-ability girls and boys from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. This failure harms the economy, widens income gaps, arrests upward mobility, and exacerbates civic decay … Continue reading Is There a Gifted Gap? Gifted Education in High-Poverty Schools
Samuel, Hardiman: Tulsa Public Schools plans to begin pilot programs for what a reimagined high school experience would look like, starting with two schools in the 2019-20 school year. Implementing and scaling the test programs is the goal of what will be the district’s early steps in the process of improving how students prepare for … Continue reading A new way to do high school? Tulsa Public Schools program to explore options
Will Flanders (PDF):: When considering the shortcomings of Wisconsin’s K-12 education system, policymakers tend to focus on its failure to meet the needs of poor and minority students. This focus is important—Wisconsin is held back by struggling rural and urban public schools and has the largest African American to white achievement gap in the country. … Continue reading How Wisconsin Struggles to Educate Gifted & Talented Students – And How ESAs Can Help
Badger Institute: When a van used for transporting special education students in the Pulaski School District near Green Bay had piled on the miles and was due to be replaced, district officials thought the common-sense thing to do would be to reuse the van for lower-priority purposes, such as hauling athletic equipment and making deliveries … Continue reading “The Grant Made Me Do It”: Federal rules distort local education policy
Cliff Maas: The writer of the story, Lynda Mapes, could not have been more explicit: The cause of death was climate change: steadily warming and drier summers, that stressed the tree in its position atop a droughty knoll. So, lets check the data and determine the truth. My first stop was the nice website of … Continue reading Use And Abuse Of Data
Amber Walker: “It always feels like we are starting over instead of building. Where do you feel we are at in terms of preparing our kids now who are in K-5?” he said. “It seems as though the pool (for advanced learners) will shrink if we haven’t prepared them early on.” Cheatham pointed to the … Continue reading “It always feels like we are starting over instead of building”
Jay Matthews: In a compelling piece for the Washington City Paper, D.C. high school teacher Rob Barnett has confessed his anguish at passing students who haven’t mastered the content of his math courses and described his radical solution. It’s called mastery learning. Barnett recorded all of his lessons, put them online and let each student … Continue reading Seventh grader, far ahead of her class, punished for taking too many courses
Kay Hymowitz: Last week, my high school alma mater in the prosperous Montgomery County suburbs of Philadelphia went viral. A video of a student brawl injuring four security officers and eight teachers appeared on YouTube, bolstering long-whispered rumors of the district’s decline. Four students were taken into custody; one of them, 18 and charged as … Continue reading Unsayable Truths About a Failing High School
Phil Luciano: Last month, the state announced that Peoria Public Schools and Williamsfield Community Unit School District are among 10 school districts picked for a new project designed to transform how students prepare for college and careers after high school. The title is a mouthful — Illinois’ Competency-Based High School Graduation Requirements Pilot Program — … Continue reading How to improve high school? Ask college freshmen
Tawnell Hobbs: Chicago Public School students who want to graduate will have to show proof that they have a plan after high school—such as providing an offer letter for a job or acceptance into college or military service, under a plan expected to be approved next month. The initiative, pitched by former U.S. Education Secretary … Continue reading Is High School Meaningful?
John Minehan Professor Vlahos concludes that elites (which he defines more broadly than “the One Percent”) are acting to their own advantage, as elites have done in other times moving towards the point when things fell apart (for example, at the end of Classical times in 6th through the 8th Centuries or after the Black … Continue reading Ortega y Gasset and You Tube
Tom Loveless: The survey asked students the following: Compared to students in your home country, do you think U.S. students spend more, less, or about the same amount of time on schoolwork? … In 2001, 34.0% said much less, a figure that grew to 44.0% in 2016. In the 2001 survey, foreign exchange students reported … Continue reading Foreign Students Say U.S. High School Classes Are Absurdly Easy
Amber Walker: The Madison Metropolitan School District will not add a second thematic learning community, or Personalized Pathway, at its high schools in the 2018-2019 school year as initially planned due to feedback from teachers, parents and community partners. Alex Fralin, chief of secondary schools at MMSD, told the Madison School Board Monday night that … Continue reading Madison School District delays second Personalized Pathways implementation
Amber Walker: Though the Madison Metropolitan School District revised its advanced learner program in recent years, some schools are still struggling to provide tailored classroom instruction for qualified students. The district defines advanced learners as students who demonstrate, or have the potential to demonstrate, high performance in one or more areas. MMSD contracted with the … Continue reading Madison School District’s advanced learner program is still a work in progress
Last October, Madison Superintendent Jen Cheatham signed a resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding OCR’s compliance review of access to advanced coursework by Hispanic and African-American students in the District. The resolution agreement was presented at the December 5, 2016 Instruction Workgroup meeting (agenda item 6.1): http://www.boarddocs.com/wi/mmsd/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AFL2QH731563 The … Continue reading Deja Vu: Madison School District Agreement with the US ED Office of Civil Rights
Amber Walker: Isabel Rameker, a sophomore at West, addressed the elephant in the room with her question about representation. “From what I’ve heard, a big goal of this is to close the achievement gap, specifically for African-Americans and students with disabilities. Looking around, it doesn’t look like this is a super diverse group of parents,” … Continue reading Madison West High parents express concerns about new Personalized Pathways curriculum at meeting
Zach Cmiel After reading Nathan Bashaw and Hank Green’s articles on the school system, I was inspired to write my own version. (Nathan’s and Hank’s) I’m a junior in high school and I love entrepreneurship and business. I’ve made 14+ apps on the iOS App Store and have explored design and marketing through an e-commerce … Continue reading A High Schooler’s View On The Education System
Tim Grant With college costs shooting through the roof and many parents unprepared for the burden of paying for it, high school students across the country are being forced to make choices about where they will attend college and how to cut costs once they get there. One of the most significant findings in a … Continue reading To cut costs, high school students headed to college plan to live at home
American Inst. of Mathematics: The list below groups open textbooks by course title. All the books have been judged to meet the evaluation criteria set by the AIM editorial board. Related: Connected Math, math forum audio/video and English 10.
Joanne Jacobs: I’m not sure this is quite the mea culpa the Times thinks it is. Gates certainly isn’t abandoning the Common Core. The foundation will focus on providing high-quality Core-aligned learning materials and helping teachers choose from what’s available. “If the knock on the hidebound education system is that it doesn’t change fast enough … Continue reading The Gates Foundation And Governance Change
Madison School District Administration (PDF): 1. In 2014-15, 3,660 students were identified as advanced learners in grades K-8, accounting for about 19% of all K-8 students. 2. The demographic diversity of the students identified as advanced learners increased from 2013-14 to 2014-15 by race/ethnicity, income, and English Language Learner (ELL) status. 3. Advanced learners exhibit … Continue reading Madison Schools “Advanced Learner” Update
Jay Bullock: MPS and the legislature can’t fix this, as the problem is much larger than this city or this state. And it goes against the grain of what I and much of the rest of the district believes, that there’s a benefit of going through the application and admission process and going through the … Continue reading Remedial college classes: A view from the high school side
Jay Matthews: Vicki Schulkin, a Northern Virginia parent, knew her son Matt was bright but did not think this was a problem until some of his teachers began to bristle at the erratic working habits that sometimes accompany intellectual gifts. “In fourth grade, his English teacher told me early in the semester that he didn’t … Continue reading Spending More & Delivering Less: Why are American schools slowing down so many bright children?
Maggie Ginsberg interviews Brandi Grayson: Can you give an example of what you’ve described as “intent versus impact?” The Behavior Education Plan that the [Madison Metropolitan] school district came up with. The impact is effed up, in so many words, and that’s because the voices that are most affected weren’t considered. It’s like standing outside … Continue reading Commentary on tension in the Madison Schools over “One Size Fits All” vs. “Increased Rigor”
UK Secretary of Education: It is a persistent undercurrent in English educational debate, but it is peculiarly English: should academic selection at the age of 11 be restored? Boris Johnson, perhaps in response to perceived UKIP pressure, has declared himself in favour of more grammar schools, and Teresa May, more cautiously, has welcomed plans for … Continue reading The public debate over academic selection at 11 has once again ignited. Professor Chris Husbands wonders why, when all the evidence argues against this approach to education.
Bob Herbert: Bill Gates had an idea. He was passionate about it, absolutely sure he had a winner. His idea? America’s high schools were too big. When a multibillionaire gets an idea, just about everybody leans in to listen. And when that idea has to do with matters of important public policy and the billionaire … Continue reading The Plot Against Public Education How millionaires and billionaires are ruining our schools.
Richards Adams: Splitting pupils as young as six into classes based on ability – known as streaming – makes the brightest children brighter but does little to help the rest to catch up, according to new research into schools in England. The analysis of the progress made by 2,500 six and seven-year-olds in state primary … Continue reading Splitting classes by ability undermines efforts to help disadvantaged children, finds research into English primaries
Danette Clark: According to a Teach for America website, culturally responsive teaching in math is important because “math has traditionally been seen as the domain of old, White men.” As reported earlier this week, Teach for America groups across the country are committing themselves to “culturally responsive teaching,” a radical pedagogy used by communist Bill … Continue reading Teacher group: Math is ‘the domain of old, white men’
Matt Rocheleau: The online-learning collaborative edX, a partnership between Harvard University and MIT, is expanding its reach beyond higher education and will begin offering courses geared toward high school students. Edx plans to unveil its first free classes for younger students Wednesday, when most of the new courses will open for enrollment. The 26 high … Continue reading Online education company edX offering free high school courses
Pat Schneider: Middle schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District have become caring environments for students, but aren’t rigorous enough to prepare them for high school academic work, says Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. “We know there are quite a few things that highly effective schools do that we have not been doing in both our middle … Continue reading “More Rigor is Needed” – Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham; Possible?
Average GPA in Core Subjects in 8th and 9th Grades and Percentage of Students Receiving a D or F in a Core Course in 9th Grade, by Feeder School, 2010 – 2013: Madison School District 1.3MB PDF Presentation: In focus groups, several teachers noted what they perceived to be a lack of adequate preparation their … Continue reading Madison’s High School “Coursework Review”
Pat Schneider: That was one issue that brought together family activists who formed Madison Partners for Inclusive Education [duckduckgo search] in 2003, Pugh said. “A parent in an elementary school on the west side could be seeing high-quality inclusive expert teaching with a team that ‘got it,’ and someone on the east side could be … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s special Education and “inclusive” practices; District enrollment remains flat while the suburbs continue to grow
Madison West High School Principal Ed Holmes (PDF), via a kind reader’s email.
A number of controversial curricular initiatives occurred during Holmes’ reign, including the implementation of “one size fits all” English 10, a parent TAG complaint, small learning communities and various “high school redesign” plans.
Reminders of Best Practice
Data from MMSD
Review input from Focus Groups
Examine Implications for Policy
Examine Implications for Practice
Middle schools and high schools often offer an array of classes and programs in order to serve students with a variety of educational needs. They include talented and gifted, special education, honors and advanced placements, career and technical education and basic courses. ProPublica is investigating whether these courses have also become a means of segregating students by race.
Help us investigate this issue by filling out the form below. We promise any personally identifying information will remain confidential. If you’d rather, you can also reach out to reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones directly at Nikole.Hannah-Jones@propublica.org
Related: English 10.
One of the lesser-broadcast features of the most recent jobs report is that unemployment for African-Americans actually ticked higher, to 13 percent, even as the rest of the country held even at 7.3 percent.
Unemployment for Hispanics was 9.3 percent and for Asians 5.1 percent. Also worrisome, the number of African-American adults who held jobs actually declined last month, and fewer than 61 percent of blacks are working–the lowest participation rate since 1982.
While New York’s Mayor Bloomberg sees racism in the campaign of Bill deBlasio and Jay Z finds racism in the Trayvon Martin decision, I perceive racism in these jobs figures. Blacks are increasingly left behind, at least in part because their leaders do not demand better schools. The greatest source of “disparate impact” in this country, to borrow a phrase currently popular with the Justice Department, is that most black kids can’t read or write. Upward mobility for the African-American community, tenuous at best, is squashed the minute they enter kindergarten.
Too harsh? Not by half. Consider the results from the recent Common Core testing in New York, one of the first to measure how students meet the new nation-wide standards. Statewide, 31 percent of public school students in grades 3 through 8 were considered proficient in English; only 16 percent of blacks met that test, compared to 50 percent of Asians and 40 percent of whites – results which the state’s education department says reveals “the persistence of the achievement gap.”
For years, it was lost in the wreckage from the crash of the politically incorrect “tracking” of students. But now, the worthy concept of “ability grouping” is making a comeback. A June 9 New York Times article on its resurgence is good news, but in the current public school system the much-needed ability grouping by subject is especially costly, with a very a limited upside. If parents had more freedom to choose within a system that could easily diversify its instructional offerings in response to families’ interests and needs, the power and attractiveness of the concept would be much greater.
Unlike tracking, which assumes an across-the-board, one-dimensional level of student ability – i.e., students are uniformly brilliant, average, or slow – ability grouping by subject recognizes children have strengths and weaknesses. Strengths probably correlate with interest/talent, so in a system of genuine school choices, parents recognizing those interest/talents would tend to enroll their children in schools specializing in those particular areas. They’d be in classrooms with children who are similarly passionate and able to progress at similar, fast rates. And, likewise, for necessary subject matter in which they are not as adept, again, they’d be in a room and school building full of kids more similar to them. Stigma gone; no self-esteem threat.
Related: English 10.
It was once common for elementary-school teachers to arrange their classrooms by ability, placing the highest-achieving students in one cluster, the lowest in another. But ability grouping and its close cousin, tracking, in which children take different classes based on their proficiency levels, fell out of favor in the late 1980s and the 1990s as critics charged that they perpetuated inequality by trapping poor and minority students in low-level groups.
Now ability grouping has re-emerged in classrooms all over the country — a trend that has surprised education experts who believed the outcry had all but ended its use.
A new analysis from the National Assessment of Educational Progressa a Census-like agency for school statistics, shows that of the fourth-grade teachers surveyed, 71 percent said they had grouped students by reading ability in 2009, up from 28 percent in 1998. In math, 61 percent of fourth-grade teachers reported ability grouping in 2011, up from 40 percent in 1996.
“These practices were essentially stigmatized,” said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who first noted the returning trend in a March report, and who has studied the grouping debate. “It’s kind of gone underground, it’s become less controversial.”
The rumor that a national school reform effort moving through Madison would wipe out treasured class electives at West High School has been buzzing in that community for years.
Parents and students got a chance to bring their concerns about the implementation of Common Core standards to the top Thursday evening, during a conversation with new Madison School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, held in the school library after her day-long visit to West High.
It was the second in a series of four public meetings being held at the city’s public high schools this spring to allow Cheatham, who started work in the district on April 1, to hear community concerns.
Cheatham told the crowd of 150 or more that she had heard a lot that day from students and staff about the “amazing potpourri” of elective courses at West.
“They think they are a major asset of the school. I think so too,” she said.
West High School’s elective courses are so popular among students that speculation the Common Core standards would be their death knell fueled a sit-in of some 500 students in fall 2010, the year the state adopted the standards. Today, many of Madison’s public schools are still figuring out a way to incorporate the standards, about which confusion reigns among students, parents and teachers.
Lynn Glueck, a school improvement coordinator at Memorial High School, said this week that Common Core focuses on developing key skills needed for college and career readiness. The standards related to English language arts, for example, are about “close reading, critical thinking and argumentative writing where students pull evidence out of the text,” Glueck said.
In the instances where Common Core has been used at Memorial, which some say is leading the district in implementing the standards, “students are really engaging in it,” she said.
Is it my imagination, or have you noticed that some public high school courses that are now called “honors” are equivalent to the regular “college prep” curriculum of earlier eras? And have you also noticed that what is now called “college prep” is aimed largely at students who are deemed low achievers or of low cognitive ability?
In fact, this trend is nobody’s imagination. Over the past generation, public schools have done away with “tracking” — a practice that began in the early 1900′s. By the 20′s and 30′s, curricula in high schools had evolved into four different types: college-preparatory, vocational (e.g., plumbing, metal work, electrical, auto), trade-oriented (e.g., accounting, secretarial), and general. Students were tracked into the various curricula based largely on IQ but sometimes other factors such as race and skin color. Children of immigrants, and children who came from farms rather than cities, were often assumed to be inferior in cognitive ability and treated accordingly.
During the 60’s and 70’s, radical education critics such as Jonathan Kozol brought accusations against a system they found racist and sadistic. They argued that public schools were hostile to children and lacked innovation in pedagogy. Their goal — which became the goal of the larger education establishment — was to restore equity to students, erasing the lines that divided them by social class and race. The desire to eliminate inequity translated to the goal of preparing every student for college. The goal was laudable, but as college prep merged with the general education track, it became student-centered and needs-based, with lower standards and less homework assigned.
Some of the previous standards returned during the early 80’s, when the “Back to Basics” movement reacted against the fads of the late 60’s and the 70’s by reinstituting traditional curricula. But the underlying ideas of Kozol and others did not go away, and the progressive watchword in education has continued to be “equality.”
Related: English 10.
CATHOLIC SCHOOL was not the ordeal for me that it apparently was for many other children of my generation. I attended Catholic grade schools, served as an altar boy, and, astonishingly, was never struck by a nun or molested by a priest. All in all I was treated kindly, which often was more than I deserved. My education has withstood the test of time, including both the lessons my teachers instilled and the ones they never intended.
In the mid-20th century, when I was in grade school, a child’s self-esteem was not a matter for concern. Shame was considered a spur to better behavior and accomplishment. If you flunked a test, you were singled out, and the offending sheet of paper, bloodied with red marks, was waved before the entire class as a warning, much the way our catechisms depicted a boy with black splotches on his soul.
Fear was also considered useful. In the fourth grade, right around the time of the Cuban missile crisis, one of the nuns at St. Petronille’s, in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, told us that the Vatican had received a secret warning that the world would soon be consumed by a fatal nuclear exchange. The fact that the warning had purportedly been delivered by Our Lady of Fátima lent the prediction divine authority. (Any last sliver of doubt was removed by our viewing of the 1952 movie The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, wherein the Virgin Mary herself appeared on a luminous cloud.) We were surely cooked. I remember pondering the futility of existence, to say nothing of the futility of safety drills that involved huddling under desks. When the fateful sirens sounded, I resolved, I would be out of there. Down the front steps, across Hillside Avenue, over fences, and through backyards, I would take the shortest possible route home, where I planned to crawl under my father’s workbench in the basement. It was the sturdiest thing I had ever seen. I didn’t believe it would save me, but after weighing the alternatives carefully, I decided it was my preferred spot to face oblivion.
Related: English 10
Starting in second grade, I took a school bus from my middle-class neighborhood to downtown Louisville, Ky., where my grade school was surrounded by public housing projects, as part of an effort to desegregate schools. The year I started there, I was identified as “gifted” and put in a separate, accelerated class, where my classmates were mostly other white boys and girls from the suburbs.
In 1975, the school system in Louisville had launched the district-wide “Advance Program,” which offered an enriched curriculum, just as the desegregation plan went into effect. All Louisville schools were required to have a mix of black and white students so that the number of black students never fell below or rose above a certain cutoff. (It varied over the years, but the range was around 20 to 40 percent.) In the Advance Program, however, the rules didn’t apply because classroom assignments within schools were exempt. The percentage of black students in the gifted program was 11 percent.
I had the choice to leave the school in fourth grade, as did my suburban peers, but most of us stayed at our inner city school because our parents liked the program so much. From second grade until my senior year in high school, my classes never had more than two black students at a time.
This information is provided in response to a request for more information made at the January 28th Regular Board of Education meeting regarding the implication of CogAT for the 2012-13 school year. Communication with DPI TAG consultant has occurred on numerous occasions. A Review Committee, with additional members, met twice since January 28 and a survey of options was developed and distributed to the Assessment Review Committee and elementary and middle school principals. Results from this survey, in addition to previous Review Committee information, were used to develop the recommendation.
The BOE requested a report on CogAT which is attached to this memo.
A few charts from the report:
Much more on the 2010 parent complaint on Madison’s “Talented & Gifted” program, here. The move to more one size fits all classes, such as English 10 a few years ago, reduced curricular options for all students. East High School “Redesign” halted.
But because the district has made significant progress and expects to make further improvements to its program, it won’t face any penalties at this time, DPI spokesman Patrick Gasper said.
Parents who filed a complaint with the DPI about Madison’s TAG program in September 2010, and wrote the DPI another letter last fall about shortcomings in the district’s middle school offerings, were pleased with the results of the latest audit.
“The preliminary report achieves a good balance of recognizing effort without losing sight of continued weaknesses,” parent Laurie Frost said in an email. “I am happy the district was found to be in only partial compliance, but also very glad the DPI did not levy any financial penalty.”
The DPI determined the district’s program was deficient in 2011, but agreed to an Aug. 22, 2012, compliance deadline. The School Board adopted a TAG plan and hired a program administrator in 2011.
Much more on the 2010 parent complaint on Madison’s “Talented & Gifted” program, here. The move to more one size fits all classes, such as English 10, reduced curricular options for all students.
IT is just a metal door with three windows, the kind meant to keep the clamor of an elementary school hallway from piercing a classroom’s quiet. Other than paint the color of bubble gum, it is unremarkable.
But the pink door on Room 311 at Public School 163 on the Upper West Side represents a barrier belied by its friendly hue. On one side are 21 fourth graders labeled gifted and talented by New York City’s school system. They are coursing through public school careers stamped accelerated.
And they are mostly white.
On the other side, sometimes sitting for reading lessons on the floor of the hallway, are those in the school’s vast majority: They are enrolled in general or special education programs.
WHEN ERIC WITHERSPOON became superintendent of Evanston Township High School (www site) near Chicago in 2006, he walked into a math class where all the students were black. “A young man leaned over to me and said, ‘This is the dummy class.'”
The kids at Evanston who took honors classes were primarily white; those in the less demanding classes were minority–a pattern repeated, still, almost 60 years after integration, across the nation. All of the Evanston kids had been tracked into their classes based on how they’d performed on a test they took in eighth grade.
Last September, for the first time, most incoming freshmen, ranging from those reading at grade level to those reading far above it, were sitting together in rigorous humanities classes. When I visited, students of all abilities and backgrounds met in small groups to discuss one of the required readings, which include A Raisin in the Sun and The Odyssey. This September, most freshmen will sit side-by-side in biology classes.
Mindy Wallis, the mother of a sophomore at Evanston Township High, agrees. She opposed the decision to detrack, and spearheaded a petition that advocated waiting for the results of a three-year evaluation before making changes that so substantively affected the freshman class. Angela Allyn, whose 14-year-old son just took a freshman humanities class, says her son was hungry to read more than two-thirds of The Odyssey, which was all the class required. He was encouraged by his teachers to read the entire book, but Allyn says the teachers didn’t help him navigate difficult portions during class, so she had to work with him into the late hours of the night. Her son was teased by classmates, she says, for “showing off and using big words,” something she believes wouldn’t have occurred if he’d been grouped with a similar cohort. Detracking, she contends, focuses “on bringing the bottom up–and there’s an assumption that our bright children will take care of themselves.” She acknowledges that because she’s seen as having “white privilege,” despite the fact that she put herself through school and even occasionally had to use soup kitchens to get by, she’s perceived as racist by merely making such a comment.
Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, also believes that race is part of the debate: “People who support tracking are more interested in productivity and less concerned about inequality, and people who are critics tend to focus on inequality and don’t spend too much time thinking about productivity.” Gamoran argues that schools that want to keep ability-grouping need to do a better job with the students in the lowest tracks, but he also believes that the most capable students may not always be sufficiently challenged in mixed-ability classes. “There’s no single solution,” he says. “The point is to try to address the limitations of whatever approach is selected.”
Wisconsin has a “long way to go in all our racial/ethnic groups,” said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison.
My hope is that, given Wisconsin’s overwhelmingly white population, proficiency problems among white students will spur more people to push for policies inside and outside of school that help children — all children — learn.
“I hate to look at it that way, but I think you’re absolutely right,” said Kaleem Caire, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison. “The low performance of white students in our state may just lead to the type and level of change that’s necessary in public education for black and other students of color to succeed as well.”
Indeed, Gamoran said Massachusetts’ implementation of an evaluation system similar to the one Wisconsin is adopting now has been correlated with gains in reading and math proficiency and a narrowing of the racial achievement gap in math. But he emphasized that student achievement is more than just the schools’ responsibility.
Madison has known for a while that its schools are not meeting the needs of too many students of color.
The issue of low expectations and reduced academic standards is not a new one. A few worthwhile, related links:
- April 2004 West High School Math Teacher Letter
Moreover, parents of future West High students should take notice: As you read this, our department is under pressure from the administration and the math coordinator’s office to phase out our “accelerated” course offerings beginning next year. Rather than addressing the problems of equity and closing the gap by identifying minority math talent earlier, and fostering minority participation in the accelerated programs, our administration wants to take the cheaper way out by forcing all kids into a one-size-fits-all curriculum.
It seems the administration and our school board have re-defined “success” as merely producing “fewer failures.” Astonishingly, excellence in student achievement is visited by some school district administrators with apathy at best, and with contempt at worst. But, while raising low achievers is a laudable goal, it is woefully short-sighted and, ironically, racist in the most insidious way. Somehow, limiting opportunities for excellence has become the definition of providing equity! Could there be a greater insult to the minority community?
- 2009: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use
- 2006: Math Forum audio, video and links
- 2005: 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
- “They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!
- 2006: Connected Math
- 2005: English 10
- 2009: Action Needed, Please Sign on…. Math Teacher Hiring in the Madison School District
- Madison will spend $374,700,000 to educate 24,861 students during the 2012-2013 school year. $15,071/student.
- Where Have All the Students Gone (November, 2005)?
- Where Have all the Students Gone? An Update (January, 2008)
- Madison School District Outbound Open Enrollment.
- Open Enrollment Leavers Survey
Paul Vallas will be speaking at Madison LaFollette high school on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 1:00p.m. More information, here.
Much more on Paul Vallas, here.
Per Student Spending:
I don’t believe spending is the issue. Madison spends $14,858.40/student (2011-2012 budget)
Middleton’s 2011-2012 budget: $87,676,611 for 6,421 students = $13,654.67/student, about 8% less than Madison.
Waunakee spends $12,953.81/student about 13% less than Madison.
A few useful links over the past decade:
- Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires since 1992 (2007).
- English 10
- Small Learning Communities
- Connected Math
- Reading Recovery
- 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
- Madison School Board member may seek audit of how 2005 maintenance referendum dollars were spent
- Madison Preparatory Academy