Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers considers run for governor

Molly Beck: Since he was first elected state superintendent in 2009, Evers has asked Walker and the Legislature four times to significantly increase funding for schools, by raising state-imposed revenue limits and changing the equalized aid formula to account for districts with high poverty, declining enrollment and rural issues. His proposal to revamp the state’s […]

Wisconsin Superintendent Tony Evers: Stop bad-mouthing teachers

Todd Richmond: Wisconsin can slow a growing shortage of teachers if people stop bad-mouthing educators and pay them more, the state’s schools superintendent said Thursday. Superintendent Tony Evers warned during his annual State of Education speech in the state Capitol rotunda that fewer young people are entering the teaching profession and districts are having a […]

Wisconsin School Superintendent Election: Tony Evers & Don Pridemore Word Cloud

Tony Evers WISTAX 2013 Election Interview Word Cloud:


Don Pridemore WISTAX 2013 Election Interview Word Cloud:


Links: A recent Wisconsin State Journal Evers endorsement.
wuwm.com

Three weeks from today, Wisconsin voters will decide who will oversee K-12 public education for the next four years. Incumbent state Superintendent Tony Evers faces a challenge from Republican state Rep. Don Pridemore.
Evers says he’s proud of his accomplishments over the past four years. He highlights the implementation of Common Core Standards. The national initiative sets benchmarks for students to meet in English, Language Arts and Math, to make sure they’re prepared for the workforce.
“We’re developing new assessment systems and accountability systems. We have a new reading screener we’ve implemented at kindergarten that’s been very good as far as providing information for classroom teachers to intervene early,” Evers says.
Evers says his biggest challenge has been competing with choice or voucher schools for state funding. Students in Milwaukee and Racine can attend private schools – taking with them, the tax money that would have gone to the public system. Evers opposes Gov. Walker’s plan to expand the voucher program to nine more school districts and increase funding for participating students.
“There’s a zero dollar increase for our public schools per pupil and then on the voucher side there’s a $1,400 per student increase for $73 million. To me that’s a concept that isn’t connected in any good way for our public schools,” Evers says.
Evers opponent, Republican Rep. Don Pridemore of Hartford supports the expansion of choice. He says there would not to be need for it, if public schools better prepared students. Pridemore says if he’s elected, he’ll work to expand the program statewide.

Wisconsin State superintendent race is incumbent Tony Evers’ to lose

Jack Craver:

Last week, Senate Democrats lashed out at a Republican bill they said was intended to weaken the already enfeebled Office of the Secretary of State, currently held by Democrat Doug La Follette.
“It’s directed to take the one Democrat elected to statewide office and cut him out of the legislative process,” state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, says of the legislation, which would remove the secretary of state’s ability to delay the publication of a bill for up to 10 days after passage, as La Follette did following the controversial passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining bill two years ago.
Technically, Risser is correct. The secretary of state, which Gov. Tommy Thompson long ago relegated to obscurity, is the only statewide office held by Democrats.
But while the superintendent of public instruction is technically a nonpartisan position, current Superintendent Tony Evers, like his predecessors for the past 30 years, is supported by Democratic-affiliated groups and has been an outspoken opponent of many of Walker’s policies.
And unlike La Follette, Evers has a meaningful platform to influence one of the most important issues facing the state.
It’s noteworthy, then, that Evers does not seem to be a significant target for conservatives, even though his lone challenger in the April 2 election for another four-year term is a GOP member of the Assembly: Don Pridemore.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers (running for re-election in 2013) Proposes New State Tax $ Redistribution Scheme

Jennifer Zahn and Erin Richards:

State Superintendent Tony Evers on Monday reintroduced a proposal from two years ago to increase state funding for public education and change the way the state finances its public schools as part of his 2013-’15 budget request.
The proposal calls for a 2.4% increase in state aid in the first year of the budget and a 5.5% increase in 2014-’15, which Evers said would put the state back on track to return to two-thirds’ state support for public school costs by 2017.
The Department of Public Instruction’s 2013-’15 budget proposal guarantees state funding of $3,000 per pupil and would result in every school district either getting more state money or the same money as before, but Republican legislators on Monday did not express confidence in the total package.
Luther Olsen, chair of the Senate Education Committee and a Republican from Ripon, said Evers’ “Fair Funding for our Future” plan just shifts money around between districts and doesn’t really award more money to schools.
Olsen did say he would like to increase districts’ revenue limit authority per student – or the combined amount they can raise in state general aid and local property taxes – by at least $200 per pupil starting in the first year of the next biennial budget.
Evers announced his 2013-’15 state public education budget request Monday at Irving Elementary School in West Allis.

WisPolitics:

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said the proposal will be reviewed in the context of the overall budget, but said education is one of Walker’s top budget priorities.
“The governor will work to build off of the work done with Superintendent Evers on school district accountability and Read to Lead as he creates the first version of the state budget, which will be introduced early next year,” Werwie said.
Evers also said he’ll run for re-election next year, adding that despite the funding cuts, he’s excited to continue pushing reform and accountability.
“In order for us to create a new middle class and to move our state forward in a positive way, our public schools need to be strong, and the reforms we’re implementing now are going a long way toward accomplishing that,” Evers said. “We’re in a great place as a state and we’ll keep plugging away.”
Various conservative education sources said no candidate has come forward to challenge Evers yet, but talks were ongoing with potential challengers. Nomination papers can be circulated Dec. 1 and are due back to the GAB Jan. 2.

Matthew DeFour has more.

Reforming Wisconsin education Gov. Scott Walker and state schools superintendent Tony Evers should be inclusive in their efforts.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Creating a new system of accountability for schools in Wisconsin could be a great help to parents and school districts and, thus, an important educational reform for the state. If the new system is fair and done right, it would provide plenty of clear information on which schools are achieving the right outcomes.
Ideally, it would measure schools not only on whether they have met certain standards but how much students and schools have improved over a certain time period. It also would measure all schools that receive public funding equally – public, charter and voucher – so that families would have the information they need to make good choices. That’s all important.
Gov. Scott Walker, state schools superintendent Tony Evers and others have signed on to create a new school accountability system and to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Education to allow the system to replace the decade-old, federally imposed one they say is broken. The feds should give that approval, and the state should move forward with this reform and others.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Evers calls voucher expansion ‘morally wrong’ in memo to legislators; Tony Evers Needs a Reality Check on School Choice

Karen Herzog:

State Superintendent Tony Evers [SIS link] in a memo Monday urged the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to restore funding for public schools and work collaboratively to improve the quality of all Milwaukee schools before considering any voucher expansion.
“To spend hundreds of millions to expand a 20-year-old program that has not improved overall student achievement, while defunding public education, is morally wrong,” Evers said in the memo.
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed eliminating the income limits on participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, eliminating the enrollment cap and has proposed opening up private schools throughout Milwaukee County to accept vouchers from Milwaukee students. Walker has spoken of expanding the voucher program to other urban areas in the state, such as Racine, Green Bay and Beloit.
The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was created to improve academic performance among low-income students who had limited access to high-performing schools. Low-income students use taxpayer money to attend private schools, including religious schools. Each voucher is worth $6,442. The program now is limited to 22,500 students; 20,189 are in the program this year.
However, after 20 years and spending over $1 billion, academic performance data and the enrollment history of the school choice program point to several “concerning trends,” Evers said in his analysis of voucher student enrollment, achievement, and projected cost for long-term expansion.
Low-income students in Milwaukee Public Schools have higher academic achievement, particularly in math, than their counterparts in choice schools. Evers cited this year’s Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts exams and the legislatively mandated University of Arkansas study, which showed significant numbers of choice students performing below average on reading and math.

Aaron Rodriguez:

At a press conference in Racine, DPI Superintendent Tony Evers gave his harshest criticism of school vouchers yet. Well beyond the typical quibbles over test scores and graduation rates, Evers claimed that school vouchers were de facto “morally wrong.” It’s not every day that a State Superintendent of education accuses an education-reform program of being immoral. In doing so, Tony Evers may have bitten off more than he could chew.
Calling a school voucher program morally wrong inculpates more than just the program, it inculpates parents, teachers, organizations, lawmakers, and a majority of Americans that endorse it. In fact, one could reasonably argue that Evers’ statement makes himself morally culpable since Milwaukee’s voucher program operates out of the Department of Public Instruction of which he is the head. What does it say about the character of a man that knowingly administers an immoral program out of his own department?
In short, Evers’ argument goes something like this: voucher programs drain public schools of their financial resources; drained resources hurt children academically; hurting children academically is morally wrong; ergo, voucher programs are morally wrong.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers’ Budget Testimony

Questions, via WisPolitics:

JFC co-chair Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in the last budget, cuts to K-12 education were offset by millions of stimulus dollars from the federal government.
“It was a luxury that was great at the time,” he said. “Now we don’t have that one-time money.”
While he admitted that the “tools” Gov. Walker provides may not offset funding cuts dollar-for-dollar, he said asking teachers to pay more for health insurance coverage and pension will help. Vos then asked Evers if he supports the mandate relief initiatives Walker proposed in his budget.
Evers said the mandates, which include repealing the requirement that schools schedule 180 days instruction but retains the required number of hours per school year, won’t generate much savings for school districts. He said the challenge schools face from reduced funding is much greater.
“It’s nibbling around the edges,” Evers said of the mandates. “I think we’re beyond that.”

via WisPolitics:

Excerpts from Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers prepared remarks to the Joint Finance Committee:
“We know that resources are scarce. School districts around the state have demonstrated that they are willing to do their part, both in recent weeks in response to this state budget crisis and throughout the past 18 years under the constraints of revenue caps. While this difficult budget demands shared sacrifice, we need a budget that is fair, equitable, and does not undercut the quality of our children’s education,” Evers said.
“As you know, the Governor’s budget proposal, which increases state spending by 1.7 percent over the next two years, would cut $840 million in state school aids over the biennium – the largest cut to education in state history. While these cuts present unprecedented challenges, an even larger concern is the proposed 5.5 percent reduction to school district revenue limits, which dictate exactly how much money schools have available to spend. Depending on the school district, schools would have to reduce their spending between $480 and $1,100 per pupil. Statewide, the proposed revenue limit cuts will result in a $1.7 billion cut over the biennium, as compared to current law. These dramatic and unprecedented revenue limit cuts will be a crushing challenge to our public schools, especially by the second year of the budget.”

A Letter from Polly Williams to Tony Evers on the Milwaukee Public Schools

Wisconsin Representative Annette Polly Williams:

February 5, 2010
State Superintendent Tony Evers
Department of Public Instruction
125 S. Webster Street
PO Box 7841
Madison, WI 53707-7841
Dear Superintendent Evers:
I am contacting you regarding your Notice of Decision dated February 4, 2010 issued to the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) which would potentially eliminate the $175 million in federal funds received for services to low-income children through the Title I program. In your press statement, you indicated that you had a legal responsibility to the children of Milwaukee and that you were using the only tool allowed under state law to ensure these federal funds are used effectively to improve MPS. Not only I am deeply perplexed by the timing of this notice, but I’m equally concemed over the use of your authority to withhold federal dollars to “speed up change” in MPS. I find your efforts to be disingenuous.

Clusty Search: Polly Williams, Tony Evers. Via the Milwaukee Drum.

Tony Evers Evokes Change as He Enters Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Office

WisPolitics:

“Education is all about continued improvement, and the status quo is not satisfactory,” Evers told the audience at a WisPolitics.com luncheon Tuesday at the Madison Club.



In addition to guiding local schools as they navigate state cuts and an influx of federal stimulus funding, Evers is promoting a single federal test and an overhaul of accountability and assessment standards for public education. Under the new system, which Evers said would be formed quickly over the next few months, the state will be able to consistently measure other educational categories aside from test scores.



The test score measurement mandates under the federal No Child Left Behind law drew criticism from Evers for their incomplete picture of education, but he said the federal standard has done educators “a tremendous favor” by showing disparities between performance of white and non-white students.



He also called for a national standard of testing and curriculum, which he said 46 states had backed. He said that Wisconsin isn’t able to truly compare its educational growth to other districts and states because 50 different tests are being administered annually. He also called the current system “economically irrational.”
“Public education, even though it’s a state responsibility, is a national endeavor, and we have to view it as such,” Evers said. “By doing this, we’re going to make our system more transparent.”



Perhaps nothing will test the new state accountability system as much as Milwaukee. Evers went to great lengths to discuss the “magic” that teachers work with many less fortunate students in the state’s largest school district, but recognized a graduation rate that, despite increasing to about 70 percent, lags well behind the state average.

2009 Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Debate Tony Evers and Rose Fernandez



Via Wisconsin Public Television. CTRL Click here to download the 382MB 60 minute event video, or this 26MB mp3 audio file.
Candidate websites: Tony Evers & Rose Fernandez
Amy Hetzner:

Rose Fernandez regularly refers to herself as an outsider in the race to become the state’s next schools chief.
The implication is that her April 7 opponent, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, is an insider who is unlikely to change what is happening with education in the state.
The outsider candidate who can change things and shake up the status quo has long been a popular thrust in political campaigns. President Barack Obama, although a U.S. senator at the time, used aspects of the tactic in his campaign last fall.
But some wonder whether it will have the same impact in what is likely to be a low-turnout election April 7.
“The advantage to the insider is being able to draw off of established, organizational support,” said Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The outsider’s goal is to try to become visible enough that people unhappy with the status quo can voice their outsider outrage.”
From her Web site address – www.changedpi.com – to frequently tying her opponent to the state’s largest teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, Fernandez appears to be trying to capitalize on one of her many differences with her opponent.
“There are perils with entrenchment,” said Fernandez, a former pediatric trauma nurse and past president of the Wisconsin Coalition for Virtual School Families. “With that there comes an inability to see the problems as they really are.”
But being an outsider also has some disadvantages, which Evers is trying to play up as well.
At a recent appearance before the Public Policy Forum, Evers puzzled about Fernandez’s stance against a provision in Gov. Jim Doyle’s bill that he said was supported by voucher school proponents while she expressed support for voucher schools.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Tony Evers Advocates Charter Schools

Tony Evers campaign, via email:

Tony Evers today pledged to continue his long commitment to Wisconsin’s charter schools, which provide innovative educational strategies. Dr. Evers has played a major educational leadership role in making Wisconsin 6th in the nation, out of all 50 states, in both the number of charter schools and the number of students enrolled in charter schools.
“We are a national leader in charter schools and I will continue my work for strong charter schools in Wisconsin,” Evers said. “As State Superintendent, I will continue to promote our charter schools and the innovative, successful learning strategies they pursue as we work to increase achievement for all students no matter where they live.”
Evers, as Deputy State Superintendent, has been directly responsible for overseeing two successful competitive federal charter school grants that brought over $90 million to Wisconsin. From these successful applications, Evers has recommended the approval of over 700 separate planning, implementation, implementation renewal, and dissemination grants to charter schools around the state since 2001.
During the past eight years, the number of charter schools in Wisconsin has risen from 92 to 221 – an increase of almost 150%. The number of students enrolled in charter schools has increased from 12,000 students in 2001 to nearly 36,000 today.
Evers has also represented the Department of Public Instruction on State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster’s Charter School Advisory Council. The council was created to provide charter school representatives, parents, and others with the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest and provide recommendations to the State Superintendent.

Burmaster Won’t Seek 3rd Term as Wisconsin Education Superintendent, Tony Evers Announces Run

Tamira Madsen:

There had been some speculation Burmaster was interested in running for governor if Gov. Jim Doyle didn’t seek re-election in 2010, but she said that type of campaign is not in her plans.
She would not elaborate on her future career endeavors except to say, “I’m an education leader and I want to continue to serve in that capacity.” She also said she will get back to working in community schools with students in a “hands-on” role.

Interviews with 2005 Candidates for the Wisconsin DPI Superintendent position can be seen here.
WisPolitics interview with Burmaster.

Wisconsin wins $95 million charter school grant

Wisconsin DPI, via a kind reader: Wisconsin won more than $95 million from a competitive, five-year federal grant for the Wisconsin Charter Schools Program, according to an announcement last week by the U.S. Department of Education. The grant, the largest in the country this year, will support the growth of high-quality charter schools, especially secondary […]

Wisconsin Superintendent’s Race Cost $1 Million

Wisconsin democracy campaign: Spending by the candidates and outside special interest groups in the state school superintendent’s race last spring totaled about $1 million, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review found. Fundraising and spending reports filed this week show the three candidates spent about $767,650. Candidate spending was led by incumbent School Superintendent Tony Evers, whose […]

Commentary On The Recent Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Election

John Nichols: The DeVos interventions are not about improving public education; they are about pushing a political agenda that is rooted in ideological obsessions rather than an understanding of how to improve schools. As the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights noted with regard to DeVos: “She has never been an educator or worked […]

Lowell Holtz says graduation rates soared for minority students when he ran the Beloit schools

Dave Umhoefer: In his bid to unseat Tony Evers as state school superintendent, self-described “kidservative” Lowell Holtz criticizes Wisconsin’s dubious distinction of graduating white high school students at much higher rates than minority students. On his campaign blog, Holtz says his attention to safety and discipline as Beloit school superintendent from 2006 to 2009 improved […]

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Event

Lisa Speckhard:: Common Core educational standards may not seem like a subject asking for fiery debate, but the candidates for the April 4 election for Wisconsin state superintendent proved their passion for the issue on TV Sunday. Incumbent Tony Evers, running for his third term, and Dr. Lowell Holtz, former district superintendent for Beloit and […]

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Race Update

Molly Beck: “I think our track record is pretty good,” Evers said, citing decreased suspensions and expulsions, increased number of students taking college-level courses while still in high school and modest increases in reading proficiency. “Is it where we want? Absolutely not,” he said. Reading a key issuefor Humphries The state’s reading proficiency levels have […]

Some alarming recommendations from the Wisconsin Leadership Group on School Staffing Challenges

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via email: On January 27th, the Leadership Group on School Staffing Challenges, convened by DPI Superintendent Tony Evers and Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA) Executive Director Jon Bales, issued its Full Summary of Preliminary Licensing Recommendations. Together with earlier recommendations from the State Superintendent’s Working Group on School Staffing Issues […]

Relaxing Wisconsin’s Weak K-12 Teacher Licensing Requirements; MTEL?

Molly Beck: A group of school officials, including state Superintendent Tony Evers, is asking lawmakers to address potential staffing shortages in Wisconsin schools by making the way teachers get licensed less complicated. The Leadership Group on School Staffing Challenges, created by Evers and Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators executive director Jon Bales, released last […]

Wisconsin Department Of Public Instruction Candidate Answers

Wisconsin School Administrators: As you know on December 22, 2016, the SAA asked the candidates for State Superintendent to respond in writing to several questions on current education issues impacting Wisconsin public schools and public school children. We have received responses from State Superintendent Tony Evers and John Humphries. Lowell Holtz did not provide responses […]

School finance overhaul no easy task

Annysa Johnson After years of complaints from constituents, Wisconsin lawmakers say they are serious about overhauling the state’s school funding formula. But it will be no easy task, with daunting legal and political risks. And without a large infusion of cash — from the state, local property taxpayers or both — it is unlikely to […]

Wisconsin posts largest white-black graduation gap

Erin Richards State Superintendent Tony Evers announced Monday that as part of the next budget, he’ll ask the Legislature to change state law to allow MPS to start the academic term earlier than Labor Day so that Superintendent Darienne Driver can pursue an aggressive slate of credit-recovery programs for high school students. “It’s time to […]

Commentary On UW System Tenure Changes

Colleen Flaherty: Repeatedly during the meeting, Millner and other regents cited the need, in an era of tight budgets, for “flexibility” to close programs — and eliminate faculty jobs in the process. The votes here marked the near-end of two years of debate over a tenure policy that saw the university system’s tenured faculty go […]

Wisconsin ACT scores hold steady at No. 2 for Class of 2015

Erin Richards: Wisconsin’s Class of 2015 posted an average ACT composite score of 22.2, tying the state for second nationally among states where the majority of students take the national college entrance exam, according to results released Wednesday. The results come from the 73% of Wisconsin students who graduated in 2015 and took the exam […]

Governance Diversity: Measure would allow tech colleges to run charter high schools

Erin Richards: Wisconsin’s 16 technical colleges could establish independent charter high schools staffed by college instructors, under a proposal being circulated by two Republican lawmakers that aims to better prepare students for the workforce. Rep. Tom Weatherston (R-Racine) says charter high schools focused on occupational education or technology could attract students who would not otherwise […]

Problem’s Swirl Around Wisconsin’s next student test….

Erin Richards: Costs to administer the new test have gone millions of dollars over budget. And administrators learned last week that a key technological feature of the new test — its ability to adapt to students’ individual ability levels by offering harder or easier questions as they take the exam — won’t be ready this […]

Wisconsin superintendent seeks an Increase in Redistributed State Tax Dollars to $12,800,000,000

Erin Richards & Kelly Meyerhoffer: State Superintendent Tony Evers wants to boost funding for Wisconsin’s K-12 schools by $613 million in the next biennial budget, combined with increases to the amount of money schools can raise in local taxes, and a new way of funding the Milwaukee voucher program. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s […]

Reading and Curricular Suggestions & Links as the school year begins

Wisconsin Reading Coalition via a kind email: With the beginning of a new school year, here is some timely information and inspiration. You can make a difference: At WRC, we are often focused on top-down systemic change that can improve reading outcomes for students across our state. However, bottom-up, individual efforts are equally important. A […]

Proposed Wisconsin Academic Standards Bills (Replacing the “Common Core”)

The Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email:

The following links provide a lot of additional details on the legislation that would replace the Common Core State Standards within 12 months with model academic standards created in Wisconsin. Please stay informed and contact your legislators with your thoughts.

2013 Senate Bill 619.
Assembly Substitute Amendment 1 to Assembly Bill 617 (ASA1/AB617)
.
Video message from Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Tony Evers.
Related:
Governor Scott Walker staff drafted bill aimed at Common Core State Standards.
A Critique of the Wisconsin DPI and Proposed School Choice Changes.

Wisconsin Public school open enrollment starts Feb. 3

Channel3000:

Wisconsin’s public school open enrollment application period will start in February for the 2014-15 school year, according to a release.
The program allows parents an opportunity to send their children to any public school district in the state, officials said. The enrollment period runs from Feb. 3 to April 30.
Children in the state are usually assigned to public school districts based on the location of their parents’ home, according to the release. The open enrollment application period is the only tuition-free opportunity for most parents to apply for their children to attend a public school in a school district other than the one they live in.
The program is an inter-district choice program that started in the 1998-99 school year, according to the release. Wisconsin is among 12 states with inter-district open enrollment.
“Wisconsin is among a number of states nationwide that offer public school open enrollment across school districts. The state’s long-running program supports parental involvement and shared responsibility for educating children,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said in the release.

Much more on open enrollment, here.

Governor Scott Walker asks Wisconsin DPI to begin hearings on revoking license of teacher who viewed porn at school

Molly Beck:

Gov. Scott Walker has asked State Superintendent Tony Evers to begin hearings on revoking the teaching license of a Middleton teacher reinstated to his job earlier this month after being fired in 2010 for looking at pornographic images at school.
“After hearing from concerned parents, I am asking you to act efficiently in your investigation into the actions of Mr. Harris and to initiate revocation proceedings,” Walker wrote in a letter dated Jan. 28. “The arbitration process afforded to Mr. Harris failed the school district and the students. It has taken both a financial and emotional toll on the district. Cases, such as this one, are a good example of why our reforms are necessary.”
Walker also wrote cases like the one in Middleton “prompted me to sign 2011 Act 84 giving the State Superintendent clear authority to take action.”
The law allows the Department of Public Instruction to revoke a license for immoral conduct, defined under state law to include looking at pornography at school.

Teacher teams, instructional materials bring Common Core to Madison students

Nora Hertel:

Fourth grade teacher Carissa Franz starts her lessons by outlining the Common Core standards she and her students will focus on. Franz is in her second year at Ray W. Huegel Elementary School, and uses the standards to drive her teaching this year.
She and teachers throughout Madison are integrating the new Common Core State Standards, adopted by State Superintendent Tony Evers in 2010, into their curriculums with the help of new Common Core-aligned materials and district-supported teacher teams
The changeover to Common Core is a deliberate process. Franz meets monthly with the superintendent as part of a teacher advisory board that shares the “voice of the teachers” with the district, she said.
Every week, she meets with a group of teachers representing each grade level in her school to discuss how to align the standards and the math materials used district-wide with the needs of Huegel’s classrooms.

Wisconsin’s Common Core education standards face public, GOP scrutiny

Jon Swedien:

Tom Larson is one of the legislators responsible for reviewing the set of academic standards for public schools in Wisconsin, yet the rural Colfax assemblyman admitted last week that he was still trying to catch up with the arguments swirling around the “Common Core.”
In 2010, state schools Superintendent Tony Evers voluntarily agreed to adopt the Common Core State Standards, which cover math and English and promote literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects for students from kindergarten through high school. According to the Common Core website, the standards also define a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the 21st century.
On paper, that all sounds good, but, in the real world, the Common Core standards have sparked a firestorm of controversy in the Badger State and elsewhere.
Speaking Monday before a group of local education officials in Eau Claire, Larson said he had been selected as one of nine representatives to sit on the Assembly Select Committee on Common Core Standards.

Related: the oft criticized WKCE.

This Year’s SAT Scores Are Out, and They’re Grim

Pat Schneider:

isconsin State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Evers used the platform of his annual State of Education speech Thursday to respond to skeptics of Common Core standards, whose ranks Republican Gov. Scott Walker joined just a few days earlier.
“We cannot go back to a time when our standards were a mile wide and an inch deep, leaving too many kids ill prepared for the demands of college and a career. We cannot pull the rug out from under thousands of kids, parents and educators who have spent the past three years working to reach these new, higher expectations that we have set for them. To do so would have deep and far reaching consequences for our kids, and for our state,” Evers said in remarks at the State Capitol that also touched on accountability for voucher schools. “We must put our kids above our politics. And we owe it to them to stay the course.”
Evers signed on to national Common Core curriculum standards for reading and math in 2010, making Wisconsin one of the first states to adopt them. School districts across the state, including Madison Metropolitan School District, are in the process of implementing them. Madison schools Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham has called Common Core standards “pretty wonderful,” and says they are about critical thinking and applying skills to practical tasks.
Walker had been pretty low-key about Common Core until a few days ago, when he issued a statement calling for separate, more rigorous state standards. Republican leaders of both houses of the state Legislature quickly announced special committees to weigh the Common Core standards, and public hearings on not-yet-adopted science and social studies standards will be held, according to one report.

Related: Wisconsin’s oft-criticized WKCE assessment and wisconsin2.org

Baraboo teacher named state’s middle school teacher of the year

Bill Novak:

An area English language arts teacher has been named Wisconsin’s middle school teacher of the year.
Jane McMahon was honored on Monday in a surprise ceremony at Jack Young Middle School in Baraboo.
McMahon will receive $3,000 from the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation.
“For our students to succeed, we need great educators in our schools,” said Tony Evers, state superintendent of schools, in a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Bill would place new standards and ratings on public and voucher schools

Jason Stein:

All schools funded by state taxpayers — including private voucher schools — would be held to new standards and Milwaukee’s public schools would still face state intervention, under long-expected legislation offered Wednesday by two key GOP lawmakers.
Work has been under way for two years on the measure, which would establish the first-ever rating for private voucher schools based on their student performance data. It comes a month and a half after lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker expanded Wisconsin’s voucher program for private schools statewide.
The measure would not change the status of Milwaukee Public Schools, which under the state’s current accountability system is the only district in Wisconsin so far to face corrective action.
The new standards were proposed Wednesday by the chairmen of the Senate and Assembly education committees, Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake).
“We want parents to have the best information possible while at the same time making sure all of their choices are quality options,” Kestell said in a statement.
The bill would cover all schools receiving tax dollars, from traditional public schools to public charter schools and voucher schools. Work on it began two years ago with a task force chaired by Walker and state schools Superintendent Tony Evers, an ally to Democrats, along with Olsen and Kestell.
But passage of the complex measure through the Republican-held Legislature is by no means guaranteed. Both Olsen and Kestell have sometimes taken more aggressive postures on overseeing vouchers than some other Republican colleagues, particularly those in the Assembly.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Plans Press Conference on Negative Affect of Voucher Expansion on Public Schools



DPI Superintendent, Tony Evers, and legislators who want to maintain Wisconsin’s proud system of public education, are holding a press conference on Monday, June 17 at 10 AM in the Assembly Parlor to address the recent decision by the Joint Committee on Finance to expand voucher funding at the expense of public schools. The Senate and Assembly will be voting to pass this extreme budget within weeks. Please join these folks to inform and educate the public about the negative impact that private school voucher expansion will have on Wisconsin’s public schools. Wear Red for Public Ed. We need a wall of support behind the speakers. Time is running short to stop this train wreck but we cannot allow our opposition to go unnoticed!
TIME / LOCATION: 10 am in the Assembly Parlor with Superintendent Tony Evers.

Governance change is apparently quite difficult within the present school district model.

And Yet, Another Bomb

Madison Teachers Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeannie Bettner email:

In Governor Walker’s first legislative session, using the ruse that the State was millions in debt, he proposed eliminating collective bargaining for public employees as the means to fill in the alleged budget deficit. As he described it, he dropped the bomb.
Last week, another legislative session and another bomb. Walker’s budget will hit education and educators once again. It is a giant step to privatize education. This is done by forcing pubic schools to pay tuition for children to attend religious and private schools by giving the parents of such children a voucher which forces the public school district to send money to the religious or private school. Walker and his right- wing legislators made vouchers available in every school district in the State. To this, UW Education Dean Julie Underwood said, “School Boards beware”, that this is, “the model legislation disseminated by the pro-free market American Legislative Exchange Council’s network of corporate members and conservative legislators to privatize education and erode local control.” In criticizing the legislation, State Superintendent Tony Evers chided, “A voucher in every backpack.”
Public school districts lose twice. Once by having to use money intended to educate children in their schools, and also losing State aid because they cannot count the child attending the religious or private school on which State aid is based. It is projected that this will cost MMSD $27 million over the next five years. Vouchers provide parents $4,000 per year for an elementary school student and $10,000 for a high school student. State Senator Jennifer Schilling calls it, “Vouchers on steroids!” Research shows that most voucher schools in Wisconsin underperform compared to their public school counterparts.

Much more on vouchers, here.

Commentary on Wisconsin K-12 Tax & Spending Increases, Voucher Changes

Jason Stein

Lawmakers also want to expand school voucher programs beyond the borders of Milwaukee and eastern Racine County. The programs allow parents who meet income thresholds to send their children to religious schools and other private schools at taxpayer expense.
Under the motion approved 12-4 along party lines by Republicans on the budget panel:

  • Public schools would receive $150 more per student in general aid this fall and another $150 increase the following year. The plan would cost $289 million over two years, with $231.5 million funded with state taxes and the rest with an additional $52 million in higher local property taxes and an increase in expected revenues from the state lottery.
    School districts would have the authority to spend this new money. Walker wanted to give schools $129 million in state aid but require all of it to go toward property tax relief, rather than be used for new expenses.
    Under the budget committee’s proposal, total property taxes would increase by less than 1% per year, with school levies going up somewhat more than that.

  • A new voucher program would become available to all students outside Milwaukee and Racine. It would be limited to 500 students the first year and 1,000 students every year thereafter. Walker wanted no limits on the number of students in the program after the second year.
    If there are more students seeking slots in the program than allowed, the proposal would allocate the available slots by lottery. The slots would go to the 25 schools with the most applications, with each school getting at least 10 seats.

  • The new program would be available to students in any school district. Walker wanted to make it available in districts with 4,000 or more students that were identified as struggling on school report cards issued by the state.
  • No more than 1% of the students of any given school district could participate in the new program.
  • Over 12 years, the negative financial impacts for the Milwaukee Public Schools from the voucher program here would be phased out.
  • The new program would be available to students of families making 185% of the federal poverty level or less — well below the income thresholds for Milwaukee and Racine. Those programs are available to families making up to 300% of the federal poverty level, with a higher threshold for married couples.
  • Voucher schools in all parts of the state would receive $7,210 per K-8 student and $7,856 per high school student — up from $6,442 currently. Walker wanted to provide $7,050 for students in kindergarten through eighth grade and the same larger increase to high school students.



Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers (PDF):

Today, Republican leaders are finalizing a deal to likely expand Wisconsin’s private school voucher program statewide. While this dramatic proposal has significant implications for citizens and taxpayers across Wisconsin, it has been developed behind closed doors with no public input, no public hearings, and no public fiscal analysis. If this proposal becomes law, taxpayers across Wisconsin will be financing a new entitlement for private school children whose tuition is currently paid for by their parents. To address the lack of information about the potential fiscal effects of this program, the attached table estimates potential long-term costs of statewide subsidization of private school tuition on a district-by-district basis. Cost to subsidize current private school students only: up to $560 million annually
While some lawmakers claim the purpose of the program is to provide educational choices to those who cannot afford it, the current school choice programs in Milwaukee and Racine provide vouchers to families who are already choosing to send their children to private schools. As many as 50% of the children participating in the Racine choice program were already in private schools when they began receiving a state-funded subsidy in
2011-12. If the voucher program is expanded statewide, it can be assumed that current private school families would also be eligible for this new entitlement.

Related:

2012-13 MMSD WKCE Results


Tap or click to view a larger version.

Higher bar for WKCE results paints different picture of student achievement
Matt DeFour
Wisconsin student test scores released Tuesday look very different than they did a year ago, though not because of any major shift in student performance.
Similar to recent years, the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam results show gains in math and reading over the past five years, a persistent and growing performance gap between black and white students, and Milwaukee and Racine public school students outperforming their peers in the private school voucher program.
But the biggest difference is the scores reflect a higher bar for what students in each grade level should know and be able to do.
Only 36.2 percent of students who took the reading test last October met the new proficiency bar. Fewer than half, 48.1 percent, of students were proficient in math. When 2011-12 results were released last spring, those figures were both closer to 80 percent.
The change doesn’t reflect a precipitous drop in student test scores. The average scores in reading and math are about the same as last year for each grade level.
Instead, the change reflects a more rigorous standard for proficiency similar to what is used for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. NAEP is administered to a sample of students in each state every other year and is referred to as “the nation’s report card.”
The state agreed to raise the proficiency benchmark in math and reading last year in order to qualify for a waiver from requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind law. The benchmark did not rise for the language arts, science and social studies tests.
“Adjusting to higher expectations will take time and effort,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said. “But these are necessary changes that will ultimately help our schools better prepare all students to be college and career ready and link with work being done throughout the state to implement new standards.”
Evers also called on the Legislature to include private voucher schools in the state’s new accountability system.
He highlighted that test scores for all Milwaukee and Racine students need to improve. Among Milwaukee voucher students, 10.8 percent in reading and 11.9 percent in math scored proficient or better. Among Milwaukee public school students, it was 14.2 percent in reading and 19.7 percent in math.
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed expanding the state’s voucher program, including to such districts as Madison.
Changes in Dane County
The state previously announced how the changing bar would affect scores statewide and parents have seen their own students’ results in recent weeks, but the new figures for the first time show the impact on entire schools and districts.
In Dane County school districts, the percentage of students scoring proficient or better on the test dropped on average by 42 percentage points in reading and 25 percentage points in math.
Madison schools had one of the smallest drops compared to its neighboring districts.
Madison superintendent Jennifer Cheatham noted schools with a higher number of students scoring in the “advanced” category experienced less of a drop. Madison’s smaller drop could reflect a higher proportion of students scoring in the top tier.
At the same time, Madison didn’t narrow the gap between minority and white student test results. Only 9 percent of black sixth-graders and only 2 percent of sixth-grade English language learners scored proficient in reading.
“It reinforces the importance of our work in the years ahead,” Cheatham said. “We’re going to work on accelerating student outcomes.”
Middleton-Cross Plains School Board president Ellen Lindgren said she hasn’t heard many complaints from parents whose students suddenly dropped a tier on the test. Like Madison and other districts across the state, Middleton-Cross Plains sent home letters bracing parents for the change.
But Lindgren fears the changing standards come at the worst time for public schools, which have faced tougher scrutiny and reduced state support.
“I’m glad that the standards have been raised by the state, because they were low, but this interim year, hopefully people won’t panic too much,” Lindgren said. “The public has been sold on the idea that we’re failing in our education system, and I just don’t believe that’s true.”
Next fall will be the last year students in grades 3-8 and 10 take the paper-and-pencil WKCE math and reading tests. Wisconsin is part of a coalition of states planning to administer a new computer-based test in the 2014-15 school year.
The proposed state budget also provides for students in grades 9-11 to take the EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT college and career readiness tests in future years.

Superintendent Cheatham is to be commended for her informed, intelligent and honest reaction to the MMSD’s results when compared to those of neighboring districts.
View a WKCE summary here (PDF).

NJ DOE Releases New School Performance Reports; Wisconsin? Stays Quo…

Laura Waters:

At long last the New Jersey Department of Education has released its “NJ School Performance Reports,” which replace the old School Report Cards. Details on school performance is greatly expanded now includes, according to the Christie Administration’s press release, “brand new data on college and career readiness and provide comparison to “peer schools” in order to provide a more complete picture of school performance for educators and the general public.”
Here’s coverage from the Star-Ledger, The Record, the Courier-Post, Asbury Park Press, Press of Atlantic City, NJ Spotlight, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The state also released the annual Taxpayers’ Guide to Education. Annual per pupil spending in NJ (if you use the state’s algorithm; others say it inflates costs) is $18,045, up 4.2% since last year.
Of course, there’s enormous range within that average. Fairview Boro (Bergen), for example, spends $13,317 per pupil. Asbury Park City spends $30,502. The plush magnet schools in Bergen County spend $35,900.

The Wisconsin DPI…..
April, 2013: Chief among them has been this notion from state superintendent Tony Evers that the state’s new accountability system, known as state report cards, shouldn’t be used to determine which districts get vouchers.
.
March, 2013: Evers on report cards: this last year was a pilot year. It’s just not ready for prime time.
June, 2008: “Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”.

A Critique of the Wisconsin DPI and Proposed School Choice Changes

Chris Rickert:

Chief among them has been this notion from state superintendent Tony Evers that the state’s new accountability system, known as state report cards, shouldn’t be used to determine which districts get vouchers.
Under Walker’s plan, districts with at least 4,000 students and two or more schools getting a D or an F under a new rating system would be eligible for vouchers. Evers — no fan of vouchers anyway — says the report cards were not intended for such use and need more refinement over several years.
But what was the purpose of spending more than a year working with a diverse group of education and business groups and state elected officials to create the report cards — which replaced the widely panned No Child Left Behind system — if not to use them to make consequential decisions about education?
On Thursday, Department of Public Instruction director of Education Information Services John Johnson called the report cards a “work in progress” that aren’t an appropriate tool for making a “major policy decision.”
Among their current limitations are that they are based on tests that are expected to change two years from now, they can’t show growth in high school student achievement, some schools weren’t rated, and there’s too little data to reliably identify trends in school performance.
Adam Gamoran, director of the UW-Madison-based Wisconsin Center for Education Research and a skeptic on voucher programs, agrees that the tool isn’t perfect and may well change, but “that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use them now” to rate schools.
It’s also not as if DPI itself didn’t expect to use the report cards. Its budget request — which Walker didn’t include in his budget — included about $10.3 million over the next two years to replicate best practices from schools deemed high-performing by the report cards, as well as to help schools deemed low-performing by the report cards get better.

John Nichols appears to support the present DPI approach. Status Quo K-12 vs a Little “Reform” Rhetoric at a Wisconsin Budget Hearing.
Related: The Wisconsin DPI in 2008:
“Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”.
http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2013/03/wisconsin_educa_14.php
A citizen, parent, voter and taxpayer might ask what the DPI has been
with state and federal taxpayer dollars since 2008?
Meanwhile, Alabama (!), Minnesota, Florida and Massachusetts are
continuing to aim high and compare their students to the world.
http://nces.ed.gov/Timss/benchmark.asp
And, Vietnam is teaching computer science concepts in primary school.
http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2013/03/primary_school_.php

Rapprochement in the Wisconsin Superintendent Election?

Amy Barrilleaux:

For state superintendent Tony Evers, reelection was the easy part. He handily beat his opponent, staunch conservative Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Town of Erin), with over 60% of the vote Tuesday.
“Voters spoke loudly and clearly, affirming their commitment to Wisconsin’s strong public schools and calling for a much-needed reinvestment to support the over 870,000 public school kids in our state,” says Evers in a statement.
But despite the big win, Evers faces an even bigger battle in the Legislature, where lawmakers are considering Gov. Scott Walker’s latest budget. It’s unclear whether the Republican majority is united behind Walker’s plan to increase funding for the state’s voucher schools by $73 million — something Evers campaigned against, insisting there is no evidence that voucher programs are working.
“The academic data just does not justify expansion,” he told the Joint Finance Committee (PDF) during a hearing in March.
It also remains to be seen whether lawmakers will give more money to traditional public schools, which were hit with a historic $800 million cut in Walker’s previous budget. Despite pleas from Evers, almost none of that money has been restored by Walker this time around.

State Rep. Don Pridemore says he doesn’t understand why fellow Republican Gov. Scott Walker didn’t endorse him in his race for state superintendent.
Pridemore lost to incumbent Tony Evers in Tuesday’s election.
Evers signed the petition to recall Walker, but the governor still refused to endorse anyone in the race.
Pridemore says after his loss that he is disappointed Walker didn’t help him with his campaign. Pridemore says people should question why Walker “didn’t support someone who would be a much friendlier person in this job.”

Pridemore’s statements, the muted campaign against incumbent Evers and a reasonably quiet state supreme court race make this observer wonder what sort of a deal might have been cut….

Rapprochement

Why vote in state schools superintendent race?

SchoolMattersMKE:

Why vote in this race?
There are almost a million reasons.
If you are writing a column and you want people to take a nap while pretending to read it, try writing about the exciting race for Superintendent of Schools in Wisconsin.
But once you shake your head to rid it of exciting thoughts you may have a little space to consider an office that has wide-ranging impact on how we all live – those with children and not.
This is kind of a classic race. The incumbent is Dr. Tony Evers, a veteran educator with a decades-long file of experience. He’s being challenged by Don Pridemore, a right-wing lawmaker from Hartford who has no meaningful education experience and has made a name for himself by saying single parenthood is the leading cause of child abuse and that abused women should just remember the good times and the reasons they got married in the first place.
See what I mean?
This is not the first time that we’ve had a candidate with experience and credentials being challenged by a weirdo. That’s our system.

Wisconsin schools superintendent candidates clash on major issues

Erin Richards:

In the race to head the state Department of Public Instruction – overseeing 870,000 public school students in Wisconsin – the incumbent superintendent and longtime public schools employee is facing a challenge from a Republican lawmaker who supports leaner government and private school vouchers.
The election Tuesday will pit Tony Evers, the incumbent superintendent of public instruction, against Republican Rep. Don Pridemore from Erin in Washington County.
Officially, the state superintendent is a nonpartisan office. But Evers, 61, has historically won support from Democrats and teachers unions. He was opposed to Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation that rolled back collective bargaining, and he signed the petition to recall Walker.
Pridemore, 66, wants to see more local control and believes teachers unions have monopolized education. He favored Walker’s Act 10 legislation and has called for an audit of the Department of Public Instruction.
So where do the candidates stand on many of the state’s other hot-button education issues?

Low-Hanging Fruit: Three Things To Do Before We Say We’re Doing All We Can…

Andy Rotherham:

Hang around the education debates long enough and you’ll hear many times that schools are basically doing all they can to meet the needs of students, especially high-poverty students, so we should ease up on the pressure to do more. I don’t think that’s the case and you see a lot of variance in how well schools do with similar students.
In that spirit, here are three examples of ideas, some more more substantial than others – happening in some places but far from commonplace – that we could do to reach more students and families. It’s hardly an exhaustive list but it makes the point.
24-hour school: Many of our cities, and not just Las Vegas and New York, are 24-hour towns these days. Yet other than night school we still don’t engage students or parents that are on a 24-hour schedule. It would be absurd to make every school a 24-hour option but providing that option in places where many older students are, especially those who have left school, are working alternative schedules would help reach kids who are disconnected today. They are doing this in Vegas. And in this case what happens in Vegas, shouldn’t stay there.
Back-to-school day: I recently heard a school superintendent, a generally progressive guy concerned about equity, congratulating all the parents taking part in a “Back-to-School Night” style event in his community for being the kind of involved parents the school system needs to be successful. Problem was, the event was at 8pm and a not-small proportion of parents in that community were beginning their work days around that time, not wrapping them up. Back to School nights are an evergreen feature of our schools, and necessary for many parents who work a traditional 9-5 schedule. But for many parents, and not just those working nights, a chance to visit during the day would make school engagement more accessible. If we were really serious about meeting more parents where they are, “Back to School Days” (in addition to ‘back to school nights’) would be a lot more common than they are. And even easier thing to jettison would be policies that limit parent-teacher conferences to just a few minutes in some places.
Responding to parents:

Related: Wisconsin Schools Superintendent Tony Evers: Wisconsin education chief: Governor’s new report cards not ‘ready for prime time’.

Wisconsin education chief: Governor’s new report cards not ‘ready for prime time’

Matthew DeFour:

The state’s top education official warned the Legislature’s budget committee Thursday that Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to tie funding and voucher expansion to new state report cards could undermine bipartisan reform efforts already underway.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said the new report cards “aren’t ready for prime time” and will look “a lot different eight years from now.”
Evers agreed with Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, a member of the Joint Finance Committee and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, that the report cards should be used “as a flashlight and not a hammer.”

“If we use them as a hammer it’s going to make all the other transformative efforts we’re doing more difficult
,” Evers said, referring to new curriculum, testing and teacher evaluation systems that were developed by a bipartisan coalition of teachers, administrators, school boards and political leaders in recent years.
“Teachers will back off,” he said.

2008: “Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”. Parents, students and taxpayers might wonder what precisely the DPI has been doing since 2008? The WKCE has been long criticized for its lack of rigor.
Related: Matthew DeFour’s tweets from Mr. Evers recent budget appearance.

Wisconsin schools superintendent: Lawmakers should reject Scott Walker’s voucher expansion

Jason Stein:

Addressing the most contentious issue in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill, state Schools Superintendent Tony Evers on Thursday called on members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to reject a proposed expansion of voucher schools and to give more money to public schools.
Citing figures from the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office, Evers said the $129 million in new state aid Walker included in his two-year budget bill drops to $39.2 million after accounting for how part of that money would go to private and charter schools under the proposal. Walker seeks to increase funding for existing and future voucher schools, expand them to nine new school districts and allow special-needs students from around the state to attend private schools at taxpayer expense.
At the same time, Walker wants to use the state public school aid to hold down local property taxes rather than increase spending on education.
Evers, who is running for re-election on April 2 against Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Erin), said Walker’s budget pitted public schools against private schools by increasing state funding for voucher school initiatives by 32% while keeping overall revenue to schools flat.
“This has to stop. The state cannot continue to play favorites. We can and must meet our constitutional obligation to invest in all of our kids,” Evers said.
In its third straight day of budget hearings, the Joint Finance Committee took testimony Thursday on Walker’s 2013-’15 budget proposals for Wisconsin’s K-12 schools, technical colleges and universities. The hearing made clear that the governor’s education proposals will face resistance from some senators in the Republican-controlled Senate and have strong support from Republicans in charge of the Assembly, leaving its future in doubt.

Status Quo K-12 vs a Little “Reform” Rhetoric at a Wisconsin Budget Hearing

Matthew DeFour’s tweets tell the unsurprising story (Wisconsin Schools Superintendent Tony Evers is testifying before the State’s “Joint Finance Committee”):



Related:


Wisconsin State Tax Based K-12 Spending Growth Far Exceeds University Funding.
Madison’s per student spending is $14,547 for the 2012-2013 school year (the number ignores differences in pre-k per student costs – lower, vs “full time” students).
Watch the committee hearing.

Wisconsin education leaders announce school safety summit

Matthew DeFour:

The Department of Public Instruction and several state education organizations plan to hold a school safety summit this summer.
In announcing the event, State Superintendent Tony Evers didn’t mention last December’s massacre at a Connecticut elementary school that killed 20 children and six adults. But he referred to the national debate about school safety that has emerged since.
“Providing safe and respectful schools is an essential piece of our work to ensure every child can graduate ready for college and career,” Evers said. “As a state, and as a country, we have made this a serious focus, and building on that proactive tradition is as important as ever.”
Billed as the first “Wisconsin School Safety Summit,” the event will focus on four topics: policies and procedures, physical environment, climate and culture, and mental health services.

Evers deserves a second term

The Wisconsin State Journal:

Four years ago the State Journal editorial board worried that Tony Evers would “be a spokesman for the status quo” if elected state superintendent of schools.
Boy, were we wrong.
Evers has distinguished himself during these hyper-partisan times as a leader who cares more about results for Wisconsin schools and students than he does politics or publicity.
The State Journal strongly endorses his re-election April 2.
Like most of the educational establishment, Evers opposed Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s big cut in state aid to public schools coupled with strict limits on collective bargaining for teachers.

And So, It Continues 2: “Pro Union” or “Union Owned”


Madison School Board.

Chris Rickert:

There’s also the obvious point: If seniority and degree attainment make for better teachers, why are seniority protections and automatic raises for degree attainment necessary in a collective bargaining agreement or an employee handbook?
One would think good teachers should have secure employment, dibs on choice positions and regular raises by virtue of being, well, good teachers.
I’m not drawing attention to the ridiculousness of seniority and degree-attainment perks because I think Walker’s decision to effectively end public-sector collective bargaining was a good one.
But support for these common contract provisions is one way to measure school board candidates.
There’s a difference, after all, between being pro-union and union-owned.

Focus needed on long-term educational goals by Dave Baskerville:

There is now much excitement around Madison and the state with the selection of a new Madison School District superintendent, the upcoming election of new School Board members, the expected re-election of State Superintendent Tony Evers, the rollout of new Common Core state standards, and now a vigorous debate, thanks to our governor, over the expansion of school vouchers.
The only problem is that for those of us who pay attention to classroom results and want to see our students really move out of second-class global standings, there is no mention of long-term “stretch goals” that could really start getting all of our kids — black and white, poor and middle class — reading like the Canadians, counting like the Singaporeans or Finns, and doing science like the Japanese — in other words, to close the gaps that count long-term.
Let’s focus on two stretch goals: Wisconsin’s per capita income will be 10 percent above Minnesota’s by 2030, and our eighth grade math, science and reading scores will be in the top 10 globally by 2030.
This would take not only vision, but some serious experimentation and radical changes for all of us. Can we do it? Of course, but not with just “feel good” improvement and endless debate over means to that end, and without clear global benchmarks, score cards, and political will.

www.wisconsin2.org
The New Madison Superintendent Needs to “Make Things Happen”, a Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Barely half of the district’s black students are graduating from high school in four years. That’s a startling statistic. Yet it hasn’t produced a dramatic change in strategy.
Ms. Cheatham, it’s your job to make things happen.
Your top priority must be to boost the performance of struggling students, which requires innovation, not just money. At the same time, Madison needs to keep its many higher-achieving students engaged and thriving. The district has lost too many families to the suburbs, despite a talented staff, diverse offerings and significant resources.
Being Madison’s superintendent of schools will require more than smarts. You’ll need backbone to challenge the status quo. You’ll need political savvy to build support for action.
Your experience leading reform efforts in urban school districts is welcome. And as chief of instruction for Chicago Public Schools, you showed a willingness to put the interests of students ahead of the grown-ups, including a powerful teachers union.
We appreciate your support for giving parents more options, including public charter schools and magnets. You seem to understand well the value of strong teacher and student assessments, using data to track progress, as well as staff development.
The traditional classroom model of a teacher lecturing in front of students is changing, and technology can help provide more individualized attention and instruction. The long summer break — and slide in learning — needs to go.

Madison School Board Election Intrigue (Public!)

he top vote-getter in Tuesday’s Madison School Board primary said Friday she ran for the seat knowing she might not be able to serve out her term because her husband was applying for graduate school in other states.
Sarah Manski, who dropped out of the race Thursday, said she mentioned those concerns to School Board member Marj Passman, who Manski said encouraged her to run. Passman told her it wouldn’t be a problem if she had to resign her seat because the board would “appoint somebody good,” Manski said.
Passman vigorously denied encouraging Manski to run or ever knowing about her husband’s graduate school applications. After learning about Manski’s statement from the State Journal, Passman sent an email to other School Board members saying “I had no such conversation with her.”
“It’s sad to believe that this kind of a person came close to being elected to one of the most important offices in our city,” Passman wrote in the email, which she also forwarded to the State Journal.
Manski said in response “it’s possible (Passman) didn’t remember or it’s possible it’s politically inconvenient for her to remember.”

And so it continues, part 1.

2013 Wisconsin DPI Superintendent and Madison School Board Candidates

Patrick Marley & Erin Richards:

“I’ve been frustrated with the fact that our educational system continues to go downhill even with all the money the Legislature puts into it,” he said.
Pridemore said he will release more details about his educational agenda in forthcoming policy statements and has several education bills in the drafting phase. Asked if he believed schools should have armed teachers, he said that was a matter that should be left entirely to local school boards to decide.
Evers, who has been school superintendent since 2009, is seeking a second term. He has previously served as a teacher, principal, local school superintendent and deputy state schools superintendent.
Wisconsin’s education landscape has undergone some major changes during his tenure, including significant reductions in school spending and limits on collective bargaining for public workers that weakened teachers unions, which have supported Evers in the past.
Evers wants to redesign the funding formula that determines aid for each of Wisconsin’s 424 school districts and to provide more aid to schools. Also, he wants to reinvigorate technical education and to require all high schools to administer a new suite of tests that would offer a better way to track students’ academic progress and preparation for the ACT college admissions exam.

Don Pridemore links: SIS, Clusty, Blekko, Google and link farming. Incumbent Tony Evers: SIS, Clusty, Blekko, Google and link farming.
Matthew DeFour:

School Board president James Howard, the lone incumbent seeking re-election, faces a challenge from Greg Packnett, a legislative aide active with the local Democratic Party. The seats are officially nonpartisan.
Two candidates, low-income housing provider Dean Loumos and recently retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong, are vying for Moss’ seat.
The race for Cole’s seat will include a primary on Feb. 19, the first one for a Madison School Board seat in six years. The candidates are Sarah Manski, a Green Party political activist who runs a website that encourages buying local; Ananda Mirilli, social justice coordinator for the YWCA who has a student at Nuestro Mundo Community School; and T.J. Mertz, an Edgewood College history instructor and local education blogger whose children attend West High and Randall Elementary schools.

Pridemore launches run for Wisconsin state superintendent

Scott Bauer:

Republican state Rep. Don Pridemore launched his campaign to become Wisconsin’s top education leader on Monday, saying he would bring a conservative approach to the job while refusing to talk specifically about what policies he would push.
Pridemore is taking on incumbent Tony Evers, who has held the nonpartisan job of secretary of the Department of Public Instruction since 2009. The election is April 2, and there will be a Feb. 19 primary if three or more people run.
Evers said he looked forward to contrasting his record with Pridemore’s.
“All I know is I’ve been out front on education for 36 years,” said Evers, a former teacher, principal, district superintendent and deputy state superintendent. “I’m believing that he has not.”

Attorney Representing Madison Teachers, Inc and WEAC Profiled in the Capital Times

Steven Elbow:

To complete the hat trick, late last month Pines, representing Madison Teachers Inc. and the Wisconsin Education Association Council, stuck it to Republicans again when Dane County Judge Amy Smith struck down part of a law that consolidated rule-making authority in the governor’s office. That law gave Gov. Scott Walker control over rules that govern agencies like the Attorney General’s Office, the Government Accountability Board, the Employment Relations Commission, the Public Service Commission and the Department of Public Instruction, all of which were previously independent. Pines argued, and Smith agreed, that State Superintendent Tony Evers had constitutional powers beyond the governor’s reach.
“They extended (the law) to the Department of Public Instruction despite the fact that they were told in the brief legislative hearings they held on that bill that it was likely unconstitutional,” says Pines. “But they didn’t care. They just did it.”
While Pines’ recent wins are likely to be appealed, one thing is clear: He’s on a roll. How did he get to be such a pain in the collective GOP butt?

Wisconsin Education Rule-Making Battle: Should We Care? Yes; DPI Election Politics

Why should parents, citizens, taxpayers and students pay attention to this type of “rulemaking” case?
WKCE (Wisconsin’s oft-criticized soft academic standards – soon to be replaced) and MTEL-90 (Wisconsin adopts Massachusetts’ teacher content knowledge requirements).
I found Ed Treleven’s article interesting, particularly the special interests funding the rule making legal challenge. I am a big fan of our three part government system: judicial, legislative and executive. That said, the Wisconsin DPI has not exactly distinguished itself over the past decade. The WKCE “tyranny of low expectations” is exhibit one for this writer.
Ed Treleven

Even before the change in the law, rules ultimately have to be approved by the Legislature.
Democrats had labeled the law a power grab by Walker when it was proposed after Walker was elected and before he took office. He signed it into law in May 2011.
The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by Madison Teachers Inc., the Wisconsin Education Association Council and others. Defendants were Walker, DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch and schools superintendent Tony Evers. Smith’s decision, however, notes that Evers also asked the court to block the law. Evers issued a statement Tuesday saying he was pleased with Smith’s ruling.
Lester Pines, who represented the teachers groups in court, said the law as applied to DPI ran counter to a unanimous state Supreme Court decision in 1996 that said the Legislature cannot give equal or superior authority to any “other officer.”

Finally, it appears that current DPI Superintendent Tony Evers is ready to roll for the spring, 2013 election. I have noticed a number of DPI related inquiries on this site. Perhaps this will be a competitive race!
UPDATE: Gilman Halsted:

The Madison teachers union was one was one of seven plaintiffs that challenged this provision of ACT 21. Union President John Matthews says he’s pleased with the ruling.
“It’s simply because of the way the Constitution defines the role of the state superintendent,” he said. “The governor has equal authority not superior authority to the state superintendent and we think because of the enterprise if you will of public education that should not be a political issue. And Judge Smith saw it our way.”
But a spokesman for the governor’s office says he’s confident that Judge Smith’s ruling will be overturned on appeal and that the governor will retain his rule making veto power. Opponents of this new executive power see it as a power grab. And although this ruling appears to limit the governor’s power over rules that affect education it leaves his authority intact for administrative rules from any other state agency. State Superintendent Tony Evers released a statement hailing the ruling and pointing out that he had proposed language that would have carved out his exemption from the governor’s rule vetoes before the law was passed.

Teachers brought disrespect on themselves

Tom Consigny

Last week state schools superintendent Tony Evers presented his status of education in Wisconsin report and encouraged residents to show more respect and value for teachers. He missed the point — he should have challenged teachers to cease their whining, their defiant and disorderly assemblies and illegal strikes, which we have endured in recent years.
The teachers and Madison union leader John Matthews should recognize the considerable damage they have done to their reputation and credibility. They have forgotten who continues to provide their generous salaries for a nine-month job.

Money gets top billing in education drama

Alan Borsuk:

In the last state budget, almost all the new spending went to medical programs. Olsen said that Tony Evers, the state superintendent of public instruction, has ideas that are worth discussing but won’t have much of a chance if medical costs keep rising. (Not to mention the central issue of whether to increase state school aid.)
Dan Rossmiller, director of government relations for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, responded, “Can you imagine us saying to the Medicaid program, you’re only going to be able to spend 50 dollars more per patient next year than you did last year? That’s pretty much unimaginable, yet that’s what we do with education.” Rossmiller said education funding reform is needed.
That morning’s Journal Sentinel had a story that began: “Taxpayers need to chip in about $650 million more toward state health care programs for the poor and elderly during the next two-year budget cycle, Gov. Scott Walker’s administration said.”
I really want people to have access to necessary medical care, which so many people can’t afford on their own. But I read that story and thought of the impact on schools (as well as other areas of state spending).

School accountability here to stay

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Teaching is a difficult job that deserves fair pay, good benefits and high respect.
Let’s start with and emphasize that important point.
But let’s also stick up for the students, parents and taxpayers who deserve accountability for results.
That’s what President Barack Obama, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers and now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have done.
Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/editorial/school-accountability-here-to-stay/article_153c0ac0-fd9e-11e1-a1ea-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz26P7BTY8e

All Wisconsin high school juniors would take ACT in 2014-15 under Evers proposal

Erin Richards:

“There’s a general recognition that our current testing regime is not getting the job done and that we always knew we were going to have to do something different,” he said. “When people understand the importance of measuring growth over time instead of raw test scores and getting testing information back to teachers in a more timely manner, I think they will look more favorably on spending money on new tests.”
Still, Kestell said $7 million was a lot, and probably would not have been considered at all two years ago when the state made significant cuts to education spending.
For the next budget cycle, he said: “It could very well happen, but it’s way too early to predict anything positive.”
The DPI’s Johnson pointed to Milwaukee Public Schools as a model district that has begun ACT testing for all juniors, setting aside time for them to take the four-hour exam in school. Though testing all juniors has lowered the district’s average ACT composite score, the move has received praise for opening opportunities to more students who may not have known they were ready for college, and for providing a broader measure of student performance.

Matthew DeFour:

Wisconsin would pay for all public high school juniors to take the ACT college admissions test starting in two years as part of a $7 million budget initiative State Superintendent Tony Evers announced Wednesday.
The proposal also includes administering three other tests offered by ACT to measure college and career readiness in high school. The tests would replace the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination, which is currently administered to 10th-graders to comply with federal testing requirements.
“We need to give our students and their families better resources to plan for study and work after high school,” Evers said. “It makes sense to use the ACT to fulfill state and federal testing requirements at the high school level with an exam package that provides so much more than the WKCE: college and career readiness assessments and a college admissions test score.”
Under the proposal, all public school ninth-graders would take the ACT EXPLORE assessment in spring of the 2014-15 school year. All 10th-graders would take the ACT PLAN test, and all 11th-graders would take the ACT and the WorkKeys tests.
The state would pay for students to take each test once. Those who want to take an ACT a second time to improve their score would have to pay for it themselves.
Also, by training all schools to administer the ACT, the proposal would help students in rural districts who lack access to certified ACT testing sites, Evers said.

Much more on the oft-criticized WKCE, here.

132 Wisconsin Schools of Recognition

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction:

State Superintendent Tony Evers announced 132 Wisconsin School of Recognition awards for the 2012-13 academic year, an honor that recognizes success in educating students from low-income families.
“Congratulations on a strong start to the 2012-13 school year,” Evers said. “These schools are being recognized for their work to break the link between poverty and low academic achievement through rigorous programming and attention to student needs. Their efforts align with our Agenda 2017 goals: to improve graduation rates, reduce dropout rates, and close college and career readiness gaps.”

Matthew DeFour has more.

Big changes in the works for Madison’s 2012-13 school year

Matthew DeFour:

Wisconsin students, parents, teachers and property owners will feel the impact of major changes rolling out in Wisconsin’s public schools this school year.
This fall for the first time:

  • The state will assign numerical ratings to schools based on various test score measures.
  • Most students will start to see a new, more specific curriculum — in math and language arts, and with literacy incorporated in all subjects — in anticipation of a new state test in two years.
  • And dozens of schools, including three in Madison, will take part in the state’s new teacher evaluation system, which takes into account student test scores.

“This is huge,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said. “I’ve been doing this for 37 years and I haven’t seen this level of reform efforts.”
The unifying reason for the changes is the end of the No Child Left Behind era and the national move toward a more rigorous set of standards for what students are expected to know at each grade level, said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison. In order to obtain a waiver from NCLB, Wisconsin had to adopt the accountability system, higher curriculum standards and a teacher evaluation system.
“This has nothing to do with the turmoil we experienced in Wisconsin last year,” Gamoran said. “This is happening in every state in the country.”

Related:

Commentary on Teacher Pay for Performance

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

As Wisconsin school districts enter their second year in a post-Act 10 world, some are beginning to experiment with performance-based pay. It’s a good idea.
But it’s also an idea that will work only if it’s based on sound measures to determine who gets that extra pay.
A few districts, including Hartland-Lakeside in Waukesha County, are trying performance-based pay on a voluntary basis this year; it would be mandatory for all teachers by 2015 in that district, reports the Journal Sentinel’s Erin Richards.
We think districts are wise to wait for full implementation until a new statewide educator evaluation system is in place. The Educator Effectiveness System is being piloted in a few districts this year and is expected to be implemented during the 2014-2015 school year.
“We have to get the evaluation part right in the beginning, or this won’t work,” state Superintendent Tony Evers said during a meeting with the Editorial Board last week. He’s right.
It’s important to acknowledge a few facts of life:

Caryl Davis:

In an effort to improve teacher quality, legislators and education reformers now are turning to performance-based pay.
Their aim appears to be noble: improving student outcomes.
But I can tell you from experience, it won’t work. And, in fact, it may be harmful if the whole range of factors that affects achievement isn’t considered.
Performance-based pay is a formula derived from behaviorist business models. Like the laboratory mouse and wheel, performance-based pay distributes rewards for correctly modeled behavior.
But this isn’t a realistic model for education; educators aren’t like employees in the business world where incentives are based on profit growth.
Why create an environment that breeds competition among colleagues, that creates situations in which one teacher is rewarded because her class gets high marks while another has less success because of the variables of her students in that particular year?
Also, since student success on standardized tests may be a large part of a teacher’s evaluation, a flaw with performance-based pay is that decision-makers haven’t decided yet on what our children should be learning. Do they want students to learn how to pass tests or to gain tools that will sustain them through life and careers?
Merit pay also will produce educators who teach to the test, which hurts students and teachers alike. As noted in the 2000 article by John R. Deckop and Carol C. Cirka, “The Risk and Reward of a Double-edged Sword: Effects of a Merit Pay Program on Intrinsic Motivation,” teachers are largely driven by two factors: helping students achieve and collaborating with colleagues. Effective teachers are motivated by their collective efforts to ensure the day-to-day growth of students.

Wisconsin DPI chief focusing on school funding, assessments, evaluations

Janet Ortegon:

In the state’s ongoing effort to create better ways to evaluate teachers and assess how much students are learning, the biggest question might be how to pay for them.
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers was in Sheboygan on Monday to talk about the DPI’s plan to help better prepare Wisconsin students for the future.
Part of the plan is school finance reform, which Evers said he is not giving up on despite major cuts to state aid that came about as a result of Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10. In fact, he said, a big part of the battle will be getting state leaders to realize that investment in public education is in the state’s long-term economic best interest.

All kids need a great education: Common Core as a Panacea

Bill Berezowitz and Tim Sheehy:

As the CEO of Manpower Group, Jeff Joerres knows a lot about what’s required to fill the job needs of employers all over the globe, and as he has noted “we are in the human age, where economies compete and survive based mainly on talent.”
Wisconsin’s release of a new measure of student academic performance in grade and high school was a warning sign worth our attention (“Student scores slip with new standard,” July 17). Credit goes to the state Department of Public Instruction, led by Superintendent Tony Evers, for its on-point and timely release of this new data showing how Wisconsin’s students perform when we use a higher common standard to compare with students in other states.
The results were tough to swallow, 36% proficient in reading and 48% proficient in math on standards that are more representative of what is needed to compete nationally and globally. It looks as if we have been training our students on the low hurdles, when in reality we are running in an international high-hurdle race where jobs are the finish line.
We recently attended a conference sponsored by GE on this very topic. The national audience of business and education leaders came together to better understand the implications of all states adopting a common core set of standards to measure educational performance in K-12. Wisconsin has significant ground to make up.

Through the looking glass.
wisconsin2.org

Wisconsin’s New Dual (high school/College) Enrollment Program

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

If Wisconsin wants an educated workforce that can compete in a global economy, it has to stop thinking in terms of education pieces: K-12, colleges and universities, technical schools. It has to start thinking in terms of one system that students can navigate with ease to get the education they want and need, both in basic knowledge and upgrades when they want them; a system aimed at best serving their needs, offering them enrichment and skills.
An important step in that direction was taken Tuesday with the signing of a dual enrollment agreement by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers and University of Wisconsin Colleges and Extension Chancellor Ray Cross at UW-Marathon County in Wausau. The agreement allows high school students – mostly juniors or seniors – to earn credit that can be transferred easily to state four-year universities or two-year colleges after graduation, along with many private colleges.
Evers said in an interview Tuesday that the initiative “creates some synergy between systems that have not been directly connected in the past,” according to an article by Journal Sentinel reporters Erin Richards and Karen Herzog. “Even though we’re all differently governed, we need to make our systems look more like one instead of two or three or four.”
This helps students in several ways, including reducing the cost of a college degree. That’s more important than ever in light of the increasing cost of a college education. Just last week, UW officials announced a 5.5% hike in tuition.

The devil is in the details, as always.
Much more on credit for non-Madison School District courses, here.
Wisconsin DPI:

UW Colleges and DPI announce expanded dual enrollment program
Program will allow students to take UW Colleges courses at their high schools
High school students in Wisconsin will be able to earn college credits while still in high school under a new dual enrollment program announced by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the University of Wisconsin Colleges.
Tony Evers, state superintendent of public instruction, and Ray Cross, chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension, signed an agreement and announced the new statewide model for dually enrolling high school students in high school and UW Colleges courses. They spoke at a June 12 ceremony at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County, one of the UW Colleges campuses in Wausau. UW Colleges is the UW System’s network of 13 freshman – sophomore campuses and UW Colleges Online.
Evers and Cross said the new partnership would allow students across Wisconsin to access UW Colleges courses in their high schools via classroom teachers and online. The new dual enrollment program would accelerate students’ ability to earn UW credits, reduce the cost of obtaining a college degree, and increase the readiness of high school graduates for either college or the workplace. The program should be in place no later than the 2013-14 school year.
“We’re trying to better serve high school students by bringing our University of Wisconsin courses right into their high schools in a cost-effective way,” said Cross. “We’re committed to making these UW credits as affordable as possible for high school students, their families, and the school districts.”
“More students need the opportunity to take advanced courses and earn high school and college credit simultaneously,” Evers said. “This statewide dual enrollment agreement is a great way for students to get an introduction to college coursework and earn credits before even enrolling in a school of higher education. This will increase the number of students who graduate from high school ready for college and careers.”
Additional information is contained in the complete news release. A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding is available online.

Common Core Standards – Wisconsin Guidance

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers via “DPI ConnectED”:

1. Common Core Standards – Wisconsin Guidance
New DPI publications help Wisconsin educators understand and implement the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics, as well as the new concept of Literacy in All Content Areas.
Wisconsin adopted the standards in 2010, but that was the easy task. Implementing them through engaging instruction coupled with rigorous learning activities and assessment is the hard work.
The first step requires that teachers know and understand the standards. The new publications provide guidance on the standards’ relationship to Wisconsin’s vision of Every Child a Graduate, supporting all students through Response to Intervention systems, and the responsibility that all teachers have for developing reading, writing, thinking, speaking, and listening skills.
A distinguishing feature of the Common Core State Standards is their emphasis on disciplinary literacy. To be career and college ready, students must know how to read and write complex informational and technical text. So, instruction in every classroom, no matter the discipline, must focus on both the content and the reading and writing skills students need to demonstrate learning.
Wisconsin educators are committed to grasping content and providing high-quality instruction. Combining helpful resources with effective practices used by quality educators leads to success for Wisconsin students.

Much more on the “Common Core” academic standards, here.

Wisconsin Education Legislation Awaits Governor’s Signature

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent’s enewsletter:

The education bill with provisions related to Educator Effectiveness and Early Literacy is now waiting the governor’s signature.
State Superintendent Tony Evers applauded aspects of the bill this week, while acknowledging “difficult” moments during the Legislature’s just-ended session.
One provision of the education bill “incorporates the on-going work of my Educator Effectiveness Design Team,” Evers said.
That group is working to pilot “an educator evaluation system that is centered on student learning, and is fair, valid, and reliable. This legislation will allow our performance-based evaluation system to move forward, supporting teachers and principals in their job of educating students and helping our educators improve throughout their careers.”
Evers said other provisions “are based on a path forward that was agreed to by the members of the Governor’s Read to Lead Task Force.” He said those provisions “will help Wisconsin better prepare educators to teach reading. It will also help us to better identify kindergarteners who are struggling with the components of early literacy, and help us improve reading results for all children.”
“I look forward to the Governor signing this important bill into law,” Evers concluded.

Much more on the Read to Lead initiative, here.

This photo recently appeared on the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ website.
The 2012 Wisconsin Read To Lead Task Force report can be viewed, here. The report mentions a number of recommendations regarding teacher preparation, including:

The current Wisconsin teacher licensure exam has few questions on reading instruction, and many of those questions are lacking in rigor. Reading should be emphasized specifically; however, the state should also take this opportunity to strengthen licensure requirements overall. Specifically, the Task Force recommends the well-­‐regarded Massachusetts Test for Education Licensure (MTEL) “Foundations of Reading” to be the required state exam by 2013 to raise the bar. The exam should be incorporated within the current Wisconsin exam to reduce costs in the short term. In the long term, the state should explore adopting MTEL exams across all subject areas.
As part of the process of adopting a new exam, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will inform institutions of higher education on what will be covered on the MTEL, thereby igniting a much-­‐needed conversation to ensure the theoretical and technical knowledge needed to teach students to read is effectively and sufficiently taught to prospective reading teachers.

NCLB Waiver Undermines Charter School Accountability

Mike Ford:

A tweet today by State Superintendent Tony Evers on the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) desire for authority to intervene in charter schools caught my eye. Evers, who was responding to a New York Times editorial, wrote:

“if weak charters stay open, students are deprived & public $ wasted. Our ESEA waiver will help us take action.”

Indeed, the state’s federal No Child Left Behind waiver will give DPI the ability to intervene in and eventually close charter schools it deems low performing. The waiver, if granted, will undermine the very idea of charter schools.
The charter school concept is simple:

Wisconsin Schools’ Evers criticizes education reform bill

Matthew DeFour:

An education reform bill circulating this week would require kindergarten screening exams and teacher evaluations based partly on test scores, but doesn’t update the state’s system for holding schools accountable for student performance.
The omission concerned State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who for the past year has worked with Gov. Scott Walker on three bipartisan task forces addressing literacy, teacher effectiveness and school accountability. The bill includes recommendations from the first two groups, but not the third.
Specifically, the bill doesn’t propose changes that would bring charter schools and private voucher schools under the new accountability system, or update language in state law related to No Child Left Behind.
Evers said the bill misses an opportunity to deliver action on promises made by Walker, legislators and education leaders, including advocates for charter and private voucher schools.

The DPI has much to answer for after the millions spent (and years wasted) on the oft-criticized WKCE.

Wisconsin Schools “Among the Best”, Financial Literacy

Tony Evers & Peter Bildsten:

Wisconsin is fortunate to have many fine K-12 schools educating our young people. The quality of this state’s educational system is among the best in the United States, and the same can be said for Wisconsin teachers.
Those accolades notwithstanding, there is one area in which Wisconsin schools should consider focusing some of their educational muscle: personal financial literacy.
More than ever before, our children — by the time they graduate from high school — need to be able to cope in the increasingly fast-paced world of financial services.
Today, many young people rarely handle cash, opting instead for the use of debit cards, credit cards and smartphones to make purchases. Those who have jobs probably never see a paycheck because most employers use direct deposit for their payrolls. And, most teens probably have never read the fine print of the contract for their mobile telecommunications devices.

Wisconsin 25th in 2011 NAEP Reading, Comparing Rhetoric Regarding Texas (10th) & Wisconsin NAEP Scores: Texas Hispanic and African-American students rank second on eighth-grade NAEP math test.
Fascinating. Tony Evers is Superintendent of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Much more at www.wisconsin2.org.

Raising Wisconsin’s Student Achievement Bar?

Alan Borsuk:

What if you suddenly found out that half of the eighth-graders in Wisconsin, all kids you thought were highly rated readers, really didn’t merit being called proficient? That instead of four out of five being pretty decent in math, it was really two out of five?
You better start thinking how you’d react because it’s likely that is what’s coming right at us. That’s how dramatic a proposal last week by the state Department of Public Instruction is.
As parents, teachers, school leaders, politicians, community leaders and taxpayers, will we be motivated to do better? Will we see the need for change? Will we rise to the occasion? Or will we settle for being discouraged and basically locked into what we’ve come to expect?
Here’s what’s going on: With Congress failing to pass a revision, originally due in 2007, of the education law known as No Child Left Behind, the U.S. Department of Education has begun issuing waivers from the enforcement program of the increasingly dysfunctional law. Wisconsin wants a waiver – it’s one of the things people such as Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic-oriented Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers agree on. So a task force developed a proposal. People have until Feb. 3 to react to the proposal and the application is to be submitted Feb. 21.
The plan will change a lot of important dynamics of what students and schools in Wisconsin are expected to accomplish. It calls for publicly rating all schools on a 1 to 100 point scale, with student outcomes as a key factor. Schools that score low will face orders to improve and, possibly, closing. And that goes for every school with students whose education is paid for with public dollars – in other words, private schools in the voucher programs for Milwaukee and Racine kids are included.
Overall, the waiver plan means we are at the point where Wisconsin gets serious about raising expectations for student achievement. Wisconsin is regarded as having one of the lowest bars in the U.S. for rating a student as proficient. No more, the proposal says.
….
Eighth-grade reading: Using the WKCE measuring stick, 86% of students were rated as “advanced” or “proficient.” Using the NAEP measuring stick, it was 35% – a 51-point difference. At least as vivid: Using the WKCE measure, 47% of eighth-graders were “advanced,” the top bracket. Using the NAEP measure, it was 3%. Three percent! In other words, only a handful of kids statewide would be labeled advanced under the new system, not the nearly half we’re used to.
Fourth-grade reading: On the WKCE scale, 82% were proficient or advanced. On the NAEP scale, it was 33%.
Eighth-grade math: WKCE, 78% proficient. NAEP: 41%.
Fourth-grade math: WKCE: 79% proficient. NAEP: 47%.

A substantial improvement in academic standards is warranted and possibly wonderful, assuming it happens and avoids being watered down. The rightly criticized WKCE was an expensive missed opportunity.
Related: www.wisconsin2.org

First details of proposed Wisconsin school accountability system revealed

Matthew DeFour:

The state could more aggressively intervene in the lowest-performing publicly funded schools under a proposed accountability system unveiled Monday.
The system would rate schools on a scale of 0 to 100 based on student performance and growth on state tests, closing achievement gaps and preparing students for college and careers. Ratings also would be tied to dropout rates and third-grade literacy levels.
The http://dpi.state.wi.us/esea/pdf/eseawaiver_coverletter.pdf“>http://dpi.state.wi.us/esea/index.html“>Department of Public Instruction released a draft application to the U.S. Education Department for a waiver from the 10-year-old federal No Child Left Behind Act, which State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said “has shackled schools by being overly prescriptive and prohibiting creative reforms.”
“Wisconsin’s request for flexibility from NCLB is driven by the belief that increasing rigor across the standards, assessment and accountability system will result in improved instruction and improved student outcomes,” Evers said

DPI’s Initial Draft Full Waiver Proposal (2.5MB PDF):

Raising Expectations, Increasing Rigor
As noted in Principle 1, DPI has significantly raised expectations for schools and the proportion of students who graduate ready for college and career, as indicated by the adoption of rigorous academic standards, higher cut scores based on NAEP as the state transitions to SBAC, increasingly rigorous and adaptive assessment systems, and increased graduation requirements. The new accountability report card and the new system of support, rewards, and recognition will reflect these new expectations. While the state has previously emphasized graduation rates (and boasted one of the highest in the nation), DPI also recognizes the state has significant achievement and graduation gaps. The accountability index prioritizes achievement and attainment using measures which emphasize not only graduation, but also the proportion of students graduating college and career ready. Additionally, the system examines achievement gaps within and across schools as a means to address the state’s existing gaps. Using a multifaceted index will help pinpoint areas of need within a school, as well as areas of strength, and help schools track their progress at meeting the needs of all student subgroups. Within the system of support, identified schools will participate in diagnostic reviews and needs assessments (Priority and Focus Schools, respectively) to identify their instructional policies, practices, and programming that have impacted student outcomes and to differentiate, and individualize reforms and interventions. While planning and implementing reforms, schools and districts will have access to increasingly expansive and timely data systems to monitor progress. Additionally, the state will require Priority and Focus Schools to implement RtI (with the support of the Wisconsin RtI Center and its resources) to ensure that all students are receiving customized, differentiated services within a least restrictive environment, including additional supports and interventions for SwDs and ELLs as needed, or extension activities and additional challenge for students exceeding benchmarks.

Wisconsin DPI seeks comments on draft NCLB waiver request; “Education for today’s world requires increased rigor and higher expectations”

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, via a kind reader’s email:

MADISON — Wisconsin’s request for waivers from several provisions of federal education law creates the expectation that every child will graduate ready for college and careers by setting higher standards for students, educators, and schools.
“Education for today’s world requires increased rigor and higher expectations,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has shackled schools by being overly prescriptive and prohibiting creative reforms that would help more students gain the skills needed for further education and the workforce. Wisconsin’s request for flexibility from NCLB is driven by the belief that increasing rigor across the standards, assessment, and accountability system will result in improved instruction and improved student outcomes.”
To receive waivers, state education agencies must demonstrate how they will use flexibility from NCLB requirements to address four principles: transitioning to college- and career-ready standards and assessments; developing systems of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support; evaluating and supporting teacher and principal effectiveness; and reducing duplication. The Department of Public Instruction has posted its draft waiver request online and is asking for public comment through a survey. After the two-week comment period, the agency will revise the waiver request and submit it to the U.S. Department of Education by Feb. 21.