A Critique Of 4K $pending

Anya Kamenetz: Dale Farran, a researcher at Vanderbilt University, has been watching closely how that money is spent in Tennessee. She argues the programs there are flawed, and unlikely to move the needle for the poor kids who need them most. What’s worse, Farran says, is that across states, nobody’s really watching the store when […]

“No Benefits From 4k”

David Kiro: There’s still no evidence that the children benefited cognitively from preschool. They may be better socialized to school life — a skill, emphasized in preschool, that may well bring long-term benefits — but many of them haven’t mastered the three Rs. That’s terrible news, since being a proficient reader by third grade is […]

Job insecurity is the new normal. Here’s how it’s affecting your family life Read more at http://national.deseretnews.com/article/5344/Job-insecurity-is-the-new-normal-Heres-how-its-affecting-your-family-life.html#wsMu4kdew4I1LJDc.99

Lane Anderson: After World War II, there was a golden era when Americans, especially those that had an education, could expect to have a job and keep it until retirement and retire with an adequate pension. Those days, which Allison Pugh, professor of Sociology at University of Virginia, refers to as the “20-year career and […]

District analysis finds Madison 4K may help close achievement gap

Matthew DeFour: Results from a fall kindergarten test that gauges school readiness show Madison’s 4-year-old kindergarten program may help raise achievement levels of minority students, according to a new district analysis. The analysis found attending 4K in Madison reduced a student’s chance of being deemed unprepared for school by 5.5 percent and increased scores on […]

4K jump helps boost Madison schools enrollment

The Madison School District’s student population increased slightly this year to 26,925, including a 7 percent increase in 4-year-old kindergarten.
Superintendent Jane Belmore noted the 4K program in its second year now reaches 90 percent of 4-year-olds who live in the district.
“We are pleased that our enrollment remains stable and that our incredibly important 4K program continues to grow,” Belmore said in a statement. “Starting learning early is key to closing gaps, and this year, our 4K program will do that important work for more students.”
The district added 275 students, about a 1 percent increase, overall. The 4K program added 125 students for a total of 1,914 participants in the optional half-day program.
It is the 12th straight year that K-12 enrollment (excluding 4K) has ranged between 24,000 and 25,000 students.

Data shows Madison’s 4K program is reaching low-income families

Matthew DeFour:

When Madison’s 4-year-old kindergarten program began there were concerns about its accessibility to low-income families, but data from the first class suggest the program has been successful in serving low-income students.
Data collected last fall found 52 percent of students who participated in the 4K program this year are low-income students, either because they qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, or participate in the Head Start program. That’s slightly higher than the district average of 48 percent.
Some families, however, still weren’t able to access the program.

Proposal to nix Allied Drive Madison 4K site called short-sighted

Matthew DeFour:

Allied Drive advocates say a Madison School District proposal to abandon plans for a 4-year-old kindergarten site in the South Side neighborhood is short-sighted and potentially harmful to students.
Currently, 66 students are assigned to the Allied Learning Center next fall, including nine students from the Allied Drive neighborhood, one of the city’s poorest. But district officials have asked the school board to consider moving the students to other district sites, saying several parents had asked to send their children to other locations.
Ald. Brian Solomon, 10th District, said that recommendation is a “huge concern” touching on issues of civil rights, racial justice and the city’s efforts to improve a neighborhood once riddled by drugs and violence.
“This will have such an impact on the long-term success of these kids,” Solomon said. “Having every opportunity possible to allow the (Allied) parents to have more involvement will undoubtedly prepare these kids better for future years.”
Superintendent Dan Nerad brought the issue to the board’s attention last month after the parents of 16 students assigned to the Allied Learning Center requested different sites. In addition to the parents’ concerns, Nerad noted the $15,000 cost to add playground equipment and about $150,000 for additional staffing as other reasons not to use the site.

More than 1,700 sign up for Madison schools’ new 4K program

Matthew DeFour:

More than 1,700 students are signed up for Madison’s new 4-year-old kindergarten program next fall — many more than the district anticipated.
The district initially projected enrollment at 1,500 students, but so far has enrolled 1,730 students and counting. Parents can enroll their students in the free program at any time.
The higher number is a good thing and likely resulted from an extensive amount of community outreach, according to Deputy Superintendent Sue Abplanalp.

In response to criticism, Madison Schools will consider additional 4K sites

Matthew DeFour:

Responding to concerns that potential locations for Madison’s new 4-year-old kindergarten program are not located in poor neighborhoods where they may be most beneficial, school district officials said Monday they will evaluate additional sites.
The School Board on Monday approved 19 elementary schools with available space as potential 4K sites, but also asked the district to identify churches or community centers with space where Madison teachers could be assigned for the 2 1/2 hour daily program beginning this fall.
The district is expecting to hear back this week from 35 day care centers that were approved to participate in the program.
Not all of the 54 potential sites will end up being used, but the district won’t know the exact distribution until parents register their students beginning Feb. 7.

Much more on Madison’s 4K program, here.

Carlstedt: Time for Wisconsin to stop spending Dollarss on 4K and a Reference to Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad

Rich Carlstedt:

First, the Federal Government funds a program for youngsters that need help. It is called Headstart. The cry for help for such an age group should be addressed by this program, however the schools have found a cash cow in Wisconsin’s 4 K Budget and can make extra funds this way.
Second, rather than looking to Arkansas, (or Georgia, who admit that the 4K program is a failure), we can look right here in Wisconsin. Three years ago I challenged Dan Nerad, the Green Bay Superintendent at that time, when he said, “early education promotes advancement of learning .”

“We do not need to look at studies from other communities, when we have the information right here in Green Bay! 8 years ago, we went from ½ day kindergarten to full day, and yet subsequent grade test scores failed to reflect the additional education time… in fact, scores are decreasing which is proof that extending hours does nothing.”

The charge went unanswered.
Third, I have to say that you left a very large arrow out of your quiver, as your financial equation is not correct for 4 K.
While I feel that $9,900 is closer, let’s use your $9,000 number, it is fine for expressing costs. To get funding for a student, he is counted as one FTE ( full time education) to get the 9K. 4K students however get a kicker. For 13 ¼ hours per week they are counted as .6 FTE ( .5 if less than 13 ¼). So 4 year olds are given a morning class, followed in the PM with another 4 year old. Those two half day students count as (2 x.6) 1.2 FTE or in cash terms, they bring in $10,800 to the district.

Much more on Madison’s planned 4K program, here.
The article’s comments are worth reading.

Madison & Middleton-Cross Plains School District 4K Agreement

Matthew Bell:
Matthew W. Bell, Legal Counsel

Attached please find a proposed intergovernmental agreement with the Middleton/Cross Plains Area School District. The proposed agreement with Middleton/Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) allows the District to establish a 4k site in a nursery school (Orchard Ridge Nursery School) that lies within the MCPASD’s border. The rationale for the District’s desire to do so is the fact that Orchard Ridge is within 1/4 mile of MMSD’s boundary and it serves primarily (70-80%) Madison residents. The agreement would also allow the District to serve MCPASD 4k students who chose to enroll at Orchard Ridge in exchange for direct non-resident tuition reimbursement by MCPASD to Orchard Ridge. Conversely, MCPASD will be allowed to establish 4k sites at two centers (LaPetite and Middleton Preschool) that are within MMSD’s border. MCPASD’s rational for wanting to contract with those sites is identical to MMSD’s desire to contract with Orchard Ridge (i.e. proximity and demographics of children already at the center). MCPASD would also serve MMSD residents who chose to attend those sites in exchange for MMSD directly reimbursing LaPetite and Middleton Preschool. The agreement with MCPASD is attached for your review and action.

Much more on Madison’s planned 4K program here.

Wisconsin State Senator Seeks to Stop 4K Funding Growth, Including Madison’s Planned Program

Matthew DeFour:

A Republican lawmaker wants to kill Madison’s fledgling 4-year-old kindergarten program before it even begins.
Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, said Wednesday the state shouldn’t encourage new 4K programs — now in 85 percent of the state’s school districts and with three times as many students as a decade ago — because taxpayers can’t afford them.
“We have a very difficult budget here,” Grothman said in an interview. “Some of it is going to have to be solved by saying some of these massive expansions of government in the last 10 years cannot stand.”
Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad called Grothman’s proposal “very troubling.”
“I don’t know what the 4-year-olds in Madison did to offend the senator,” Nerad said. “There are plenty of studies that have indicated that it’s a good idea to invest as early as possible.”
Last month the Madison School Board approved a $12.2 million 4K program for next fall with registration beginning Feb. 7. Madison’s program is projected to draw $10 million in extra state aid in 2014 when the state’s funding formula accounts for the additional students. Overall this year, school districts are projected to collect $223 million in state aid and property taxes for 4K programs, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Much more on Madison’s planned 4K program, here.
It appears that redistributed state tax dollars for K-12 are destined to change due to a significant budget deficit, not to mention the significant growth in spending over the past two decades.

The recent 9% increase in Madison property taxes is due in part to changes in redistributed state tax funds.
I spoke with a person active in State politics recently about 4K funding. Evidently, some lawmakers view this program as a method to push more tax dollars to the Districts.

Poorest would have to travel furthest in Madison schools’ 4K plan

Matthew DeFour

“It would be completely crazy to roll out this 4K plan that is supposed to really, fundamentally be about preparing children, especially underprivileged, and not have the centers in the neighborhoods that most need the service,” School Board member Lucy Mathiak said.
Deputy superintendent Sue Abplanalp, who is coordinating implementation of the program, acknowledged some students will have to travel outside their school attendance areas to attend the nearest 4K program, “but it’s not a long drive, especially if they’re in contiguous areas.”
“We will make it work,” Abplanalp said. “We’re very creative.”
The school district is conducting its own analysis of how the distribution of day care providers and existing elementary school space will mesh under the new program. Some alternative programs may have to move to other schools to make room, but no final decisions have been made, Abplanalp said.
Detailed information has not been shared with the Madison School Board and is not expected to be ready before the board votes Monday on granting final funding approval for the program. The approval must happen then because the district plans to share information with the public in December before enrollment starts in February, Abplanalp said.

Much more on Madison’s proposed 4K program, here. The District has a number of irons in the fire, as it were, including high school curricular changes, challenging reading results and 4K, among many others. Can 4K lift off effectively (both in terms of academics and costs)?

Madison 4K Funding Options

Superintendent Daniel A. Nerad

It has been requested of Administration to put together possible scenarios for funding four year old kindergarten (4-k) through the use of Education Jobs Bill funding, Equity Reserves, Property Taxes, and any other sources of funding.
What you will find below are three distinct scenarios looking at how we may fund 4-k over the first 4 years. The focus is on the first 4 years, because the original projections put together by administration and subsequently by PMA through the forecasting model looked at the program beginning in the 2010-11 school year as year one, so we consequently only have projections going through the 2014-15 school year.
These projections will be updated as part of our work with the 5 year budget model ad hoc committee of the Board in the coming months.
All of the following scenarios we believe to be very conservative in terms of the number of students to be enrolled, and especially on projections for funding from the State of Wisconsin. These original projections from earlier this year, assumed MMSD would be losing 15% funding from the State of Wisconsin for the 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13 budget years. As we have seen recently, we have lost less than the maximum state law allows (2010-11 reduction of approximately 8.4%). The funding scenarios are as follows:

Much more on Madison’s planned 4K program here.

An Update on Madison’s Proposed 4K Program

Superintendent Dan Nerad:

Purpose: The purpose of this Data Retreat is to provide all BOE members with an update on the progress of 4K planning and the work of subcommittees with a recommendation to start 4K September, 2011.
Research Providing four year old kindergarten (4K) may be the district’s next best tool to continue the trend of improving academic achievement for all students and continuing to close the achievement gap.
The quality of care and education that children receive in the early years of their lives is one of the most critical factors in their development. Empirical and anecdotal evidence clearly shows that nurturing environments with appropriate challenging activities have large and lasting effects on our children’s school success, ability to get along with others, and emotional health. Such evidence also indicates that inadequate early childhoOd care and education increases the danger that at-risk children will grow up with problem behaviors that can lead to later crime and violence.
The primary reason for the Madison Metropolitan School District’s implementation of four year old kindergarten (4K) is to better prepare all students for educational success. Similarly, the community and society as a whole receive many positive benefits when students are well prepared for learning at a young age. The Economic Promise of Investing in High-Quality Preschool: Using Early Education to Improve Economic Growth and the Fiscal Sustainability of States and the Nation by The Committee for Economic Development states the following about the importance of early learning.

An Update on Madison’s Proposed 4K Program Financing: Federal Stimulus Tax Dollars Replace Local Funds, District Proposes Increased Spending on Maintenance & Technology

:

As part of the Education Job Funds recommendation, we are recommending using approximately $4.2 million for funding the shortfall created by beginning this new program in 2011-12. This plan for funding 4-k will continue to have the assumption that property taxes will have to be used to support approximately $3.7 million of the start up costs for this program in 2011-12 as well. The use of these Education Job Funds if approved, creates an opportunity to utilize funds originally targeted for 4-k start up in a different way.
During the process of re-financing the district’s Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) unfunded pension liability, the Board of Education approved a financing plan that prepared for the use of borrowed funds to support the 4-K start up (See next page). This structure effectively created budget capacity of approximately $4.2 million over the next three years. These funds were targeted originally to pay for a borrowed amount equal to $4.2 million to support the first year of 4-K, but the Federal Education Job Funds created an opportunity for MMSD to re-evaluate this decision.
Administration would propose the concept of utilizing these budget funds, originally meant to re-pay a 4-K borrow of approximately $4.2 million, to support Maintenance and Technology needs over the next two years. Under this idea, MMSD would move forward with borrowing funds as planned, but rather than using these funds to support 4-K, shift the purpose to meet technology and maintenance needs. Itwould be our intent to split these funds equally between these two areas, and work with the Board over the next 6 to 9 months to prioritize needs within these two areas.

In Favor of Madison’s Planned 4K Program

Chris Rickert

For a hopeful pessimist like me, it’s always nice when the real world belies your general sense of doom.
After all, the ranks of the poor are expanding, the national debt is skyrocketing, Wall Street bankers are again collecting exorbitant bonuses and no one really cares much about the shrinking polar ice caps. Throw in the mere existence of “Jersey Shore” and you’ve got a real social apocalypse on your hands.
There are a few rays of light amid the darkness, though, including plans by the Madison School District to institute a 4-year-old kindergarten program next year.
I’ve been surprised at the relative lack of controversy over this. You’d think that adding what is basically another grade to the public K-12 education system — at a cost to taxpayers of about $12 million in its first year — would bring out more school-choicers and teachers-union haters to decry the program as too expensive and another unwanted intrusion by government into the private sector.
But it hasn’t, and this is probably partly due to Wisconsin’s long history of supporting early education. The state was home to the first private kindergarten in the United States, opened in Watertown in 1856, and may well be the only state to include a commitment to 4-year-old education in its original constitution, according to The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.
Today, 335 of the state’s 415 eligible districts already offer some form of free, professionally delivered 4-year-old kindergarten, and well over half of the state’s 4-year-olds are covered. A 2009 study by The National Institute for Early Education Research ranks Wisconsin sixth among 38 states in terms of access to 4-year-old preschool. (Twelve states have no formal preschool program.)

Much more on 4K here.

Madison’s Proposed 4K Program Update: Is Now the Time?

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad PDF:

The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) recently made a request for proposals (RFP) for early childhood care and education (ECE) centers interested in partnering with MMSD to provide four year old kindergarten (4K) programming starting in Fall 2011. In order to be considered for this partnership with the district, ECE centers must be accredited by the City of Madison or the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to ensure high quality programming for MMSD students. The ECE centers can partner with MMSD to be either a 4K Model II program (in an ECE center with an MMSD teacher) or a Model III program (in an ECE center with the ECE center’s teacher). The budget for 4K will support only 2 Model II programs, which aligns with the proposals submitted. There are 2 ECE centers who applied for Model II participation and 2 that applied to be either Model II or Model III. The ECE center proposals that have been accepted in this first step of the review process for consideration for partnering with the district to provide 4K programming are explained further in the following section.
II. ECE Center Sites
The following ECE center sites met the RFP criteria:
Animal Crackers
Bernie’s Place
Big Oak Child Care
Creative Learning Preschool
Dane County Parent Council
Eagle’s Wing
Goodman Community Center
Kennedy Heights Neighborhood
KinderCare-Londonderry
KinderCare-Old Sauk
KinderCare-Raymond
LaPetite-North Gammon
MATC-Downtown
MATC-Truax
Meeting House Nursery
Middleton Preschool
Monona Grove Nursery
New Morning Nursery
Orchard Ridge Nursery
Preschool of the Arts
The Learning Gardens
University Avenue Discovery Center
University Houses Preschool
University Preschool-Linden
University Preschool-Mineral Point
Waisman EC Program
YMCA-East
YMCA-West
Of the 35 ECE center sites, 28 met the RFP criteria at this time for partnerships with MMSD for 4 K programming. Seven of the ECE center sites did not meet RFP criteria. However may qualify in the future for partnerships with MMSD. There are 26 qualified sites that would partner with MMSD to provide a Model 111 program, and two sites that will provide a Model 11 program.
At this time, the 4K committee is requesting Board of Education (BOE) approval of the 28 ECE center sites that met RFP criteria. The BOE approval will allow administration to analyze the geographical locations of the each of the ECE center sites in conjunction with the District’s currently available space. The BOE approval will also allow administration to enter into agreements with the ECE center sites at the appropriate time.
The following language is suggested in order to approve the 28 ECE center sites:
It is recommended to approve the 28 Early Childhood Care and Education centers identified above as they have met the criteria of RFP 3168 (Provision of a Four-Year- Old Kindergarten Program) and further allow the District to enter into Agreements with said Early Childhood Care and Education centers.

Much more on Madison’s proposed 4K program here.
I continue to wonder if this is the time to push forward with 4K, given the outstanding K-12 issues, such as reading and the languishing math, fine arts and equity task force reports? Spending money is easier than dealing with these issues…. I also wonder how this will affect the preschool community over the next decade?
Finally, State and Federal spending and debt problems should add a note of caution to funding commitments for such programs. Changes in redistributed state and federal tax dollars may increase annual property tax payments, set to grow over 9% this December.

A Madison School District Property Tax Increase Outlook (39% over the next 6 years) including 4 Year Old Kindergarten (4K)

Madison School District 102K PDF:

2009-2010 Adopted: 3.85%
2010-2011 “Projected”: 12.22%
2010-2011 “Cost to Continue”: 11.82%
2011-2012 “Projected”: 8.88%
2012-2013 “Projected”: 6.03%
2013-2014 “Projected”: 4.47%
2014-2015 “Projected”: 3.23%

The document projects that the Madison School District’s tax on a “typical” $250,000 home will increase from $2,545.00 in 2009-2010 to $3,545 in 2014-2015, a 39% increase over 6 years. Significant.
The District’s total property tax levy grew from $158,646,124 (1998-1999) to $234,240,964 (2009-2010); a 47.6% increase over that 11 year period.
The proposed 2010-2011 budget increases property taxes by 11.8% to $261,929,543
Background:

  • Madison School District 5 Year Budget Forecast
  • Madison School District Financial Overview:

    1) Impact of State’s finance on MMSD finances and budget projections
    We utilized two separate papers from the legislative fiscal bureau (attached) and a presentation given by Andrew Reschovsky to provide detail to the board of education. Unfortunately projections at this point in time are showing a shortfall for the 2011-13 biennial budget of approximately $2.3 million. Without knowing if there will be another stabilization type package to help ease this burden, chances are funding for education and many other State funded programs will be looked at for possible reduction.

4K Update: New Questions and Some Answers

At our January 11 monthly board meeting, we made two decisions about how we would proceed on implementing 4-year-old kindergarten. The media of that meeting are available on the School Information System blog, so I won’t repeat them here.
Implement 4K in Fall 2011
The board voted to defer implementation of 4K until fall 2011 due to concerns about whether the district or many of the community providers could be ready to go in less than 7 months (assuming time for registration and orientation in August.
I voted to defer until 2011 for several reasons. I support 4K. I would have liked to be able to implement in Fall 2010. However, I also had to listen when people who had pushed hard to start in 2010 — especially those from the early childhood education community — asked us to wait a year so that there is adequate time to do all of the steps that are necessary to “get it right.”
More on the decision to defer until 2011 and on new questions on 4K financing at lucymathiak.blogspot.com

4K Inches Forward in Madison, Seeks Funding

Listen to the Madison School Board Discussion via this 32MB mp3 audio file (and via a kind reader’s email).
Financing this initiative remains unsettled.
I recommend getting out of the curriculum creation business via the elimination of Teaching & Learning and using those proceeds to begin 4K – assuming the community and Board are convinced that it will be effective and can be managed successfully by the Administration.
I would also like to see the Administration’s much discussed “program/curricular review” implemented prior to adding 4K.
Finally, I think it is likely that redistributed state tax programs to K-12 will decrease, given the State’s spending growth and deficit problems. The financial crunch is an opportunity to rethink spending and determine where the dollars are best used for our children. I recommend a reduction in money spent for “adults to talk with other adults”.
Board member Beth Moss proposed that 4K begin in 2010. This motion was supported by Marj Passman and Ed Hughes (Ed’s spouse, Ann Brickson is on the Board of the Goodman Center, a possible 4K partner). Maya Cole, Lucy Mathiak and Arlene Silveira voted no on a 2010 start. The Board then voted 5-1 (with Ed Hughes voting no) for a 2011 launch pending further discussions on paying for it. Retiring Board member Johnny Winston, Jr. was absent.
I appreciate the thoughtful discussion on this topic, particularly the concern over how it will be financed. Our Federal Government, and perhaps, the State, would simply plow ahead and let our grandchildren continue to pay the growing bill.
Links:

  • Gayle Worland:

    “I’m going to say it’s the hardest decision I’ve made on the board,” said board member Marj Passman, who along with board members Beth Moss and Ed Hughes voted to implement four-year-old kindergarten in 2010. “To me this is extremely difficult. We have to have 4K. I want it. The question is when.”
    But board president Arlene Silveira argued the district’s finances were too unclear to implement four-year-old kindergarten — estimated to serve 1,573 students with a free, half-day educational program — this fall.
    “I’m very supportive of four-year-old kindergarten,” she said. “It’s the financing that gives me the most unrest.”
    Silveira voted against implementation in the fall, as did Lucy Mathiak and Maya Cole. Board member Johnny Winston, Jr. was absent.
    On a second vote the board voted 5-1 to approve 4K for 2011-12. Hughes voted against starting the program in 2011-12, saying it should begin as soon as possible.

  • Channel3000:

    The plan will begin in September 2011. Initially, the board considered a measure to start in 2010, but a vote on that plan was deadlocked 3-3. A second motion to postpone the beginning until the 2011-2012 school year passed by a 5-1 vote.
    The board didn’t outline any of the financing as yet. District spokesman Ken Syke said that they’re working on 2010 budget first before planning for the 2011 one.
    The board’s decision could have a large impact on the district and taxpayers as the new program would bring in federal funds.

  • WKOW-TV:

    This is the first real commitment from MMSD to establish comprehensive early childhood education.
    What they don’t have yet is a plan to pay for it.
    It would’ve cost about $12.2 million to start 4k this fall, according to Eric Kass, assistant superintendent for business services.
    About $4.5 million would come from existing educational service funds, $4.2 million from a loan, and about $3.5 million would be generated thru a property tax increase.
    Some board members said they were uncomfortable approving a funding plan for 4k, because there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the district’s budget as a whole.

  • NBC15:

    Members first deadlocked in a three-to-three tie on whether to start 4-K this fall, then voted five-to-one to implement it the following year.
    The cost this year would have been more than $12 million. The decision to delay implementation is due to serious budget problems facing the Madison District.
    Nearly 1600 4-year-old students are expected to participate in the half-day kindergarten program.

  • Don Severson:

    The Board of Education is urged to vote NO on the proposal to implement 4-year old Kindergarten in the foreseeable future. In behalf of the public, we cite the following support for taking this action of reject the proposal:
    The Board and Administration Has failed to conduct complete due diligence with respect to recognizing the community delivery of programs and services. There are existing bona fide entities, and potential future entities, with capacities to conduct these programs
    Is not recognizing that the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Wisconsin authorizes the provision of public education for grades K-12, not including pre-K or 4-year old kindergarten
    Has not demonstrated the district capacity, or the responsibility, to manage effectively the funding support that it has been getting for existing K-12 programs and services. The district does not meet existing K-12 needs and it cannot get different results by continuing to do business as usual, with the ‘same service’ budget year-after-year-after-year

ACE Urges MMSD Board NO Vote on 4k and RttT

TO: MMSD Board of Education
FROM: Active Citizens for Education
RE: 4-year old Kindergarten
Race to the Top
I am Don Severson representing Active Citizens for Education.
The Board of Education is urged to vote NO on the proposal to implement 4-year old Kindergarten in the foreseeable future. In behalf of the public, we cite the following support for taking this action of reject the proposal:

  • The Board and Administration Has failed to conduct complete due diligence with respect to recognizing the community delivery of programs and services. There are existing bona fide entities, and potential future entities, with capacities to conduct these programs

  • Is not recognizing that the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Wisconsin authorizes the provision of public education for grades K-12, not including pre-K or 4-year old kindergarten
  • Has not demonstrated the district capacity, or the responsibility, to manage effectively the funding support that it has been getting for existing K-12 programs and services. The district does not meet existing K-12 needs and it cannot get different results by continuing to do business as usual, with the ‘same service’ budget year-after-year-after-year
  • Will abrogate your fiduciary responsibility by violating the public trust and promises made to refrain from starting new programs in exchange for support of the “community partnership” urged for passing the recent referendum to raise the revenue caps

To reiterate, vote NO for District implementation of 4-K.
The Board of Education is urged to vote NO to signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the State of Wisconsin as part of an application for funding through the U.S. Department of Education ACT “Race to the Top” (RttT).
In behalf of the public we cite the following support for taking this action to reject the signing the RttT MOU: The Board and Administration

  • Does not have complete information as to the requirements, criteria, expectations and definitions of terms of the MOU or its material Exhibits; therefore, there has been serious inhibitors in time, effort and due diligence to examine, understand and discuss the significant implications and consequences of pursuing such funding
  • Does not have an understanding through the conduct of interactive discussions regarding the roles and relationships of the Board of Education, the Administration and the union regarding the requirements of the MOU as well as any subsequent implications for planning, implementation, evaluation and results for receiving the funding
  • Must understand that the Board of Education, and the Board alone by a majority vote, is the only authority which can bind the District in any action regarding the MOU and subsequent work plan. District participation cannot be authorized by the Board if such participation is contingent on actual or implied approval, now or in the future, of any other parties (i.e., District Administration and/or union)
  • Does not have an understanding of its personnel capacity or collective will to establish needs, priorities and accountabilities for undertaking such an enormous and complicated “sea change” in the ways in which the district conducts its business in the delivery of programs and services as appears to be expected for the use any RttT funding authorized for the District
  • Must also understand and be prepared for the penalties and reimbursements due to the state and federal governments for failure to comply with the provisions attached to any authorized funding, including expected results

To reiterate, vote NO for District approval for the MOU and application for funding through the RttT.

$4,431,115 Two Year Cost for 4K in Madison

Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad 650K PDF:

The Board ofEducation over the past two months has received information relative to the programdesignofa4-kprogramandsomebudgetscenariosrelativetothe4-kprogram. The budget scenarios showed the Community Model Option where the community providers provided to the district the amount necessary to support their programs and two concepts for allowing this fee to decrease.
Over the past month, administration and the community providers have met to discuss the amount to be brought forward as a fee per child for the community early childhood centers. The amount within your packet reflects that amount the early childhood community has asked ofthe district.
Information Contained in your packet: Budget Impact:
The budget impact sheet is reflective of all costs associated with the operation ofa community based model for four-year-old kindergarten. This model reflects the latest numbers proposed by the community for the per child reimbursement, along with an escalator of 3% each year. The model also reflects the latest information from the DPI, that shows we are currently not likely to be eligible to receive the 4-k startup grants with the State of Wisconsin budget. These numbers show a negative budget balance of $4,188,069 in year 1 and a negative budget balance of $243,046in year two, for a total two year negative balanceof $4,431,115. This becomes the target for further information within your packet relative to “Financing Options” for 4-k.

4k-8 study Monona Grove School District Report

Peter Sobol:

At last nights board meeting former Winnequah Principal Patty McGuinness presented the results of the 4k-8 study commissioned by the board last summer. The report detailed the costs of implementing 4k-8 grade configurations in each community. The proposed configuration would require significant changes to Winnequah school to accomodate programming for Monona 3-8th grade students and some changes to Glacial Drumlin to shift CG 4th graders into the building.
The report (I’ll link it here when it is up on the district website) was very thorough, and I found it a useful exercise to see all the costs and factors that go into making a school laid out in one place. It is worth a read on that basis. One issue identified from the study was that the scheduling wouldn’t work with the current encore staff and additional staffing would be required. These additional requirements hadn’t been worked out, but they would add to the costs included the study.

Complete Report: 5MB PDF.

4K reaches 80 percent of Wisconsin school districts

Wisconsin DPI, via a kind reader’s email:

Eighty percent of Wisconsin school districts offer 4-year-old kindergarten (4K), educational programming that has been growing throughout the state.
Sixteen school districts opened 4K programs this year. The 333 districts that provide 4K programs are serving 38,075 children, an enrollment increase of more than 4,000 from last year. Of the districts providing 4K, 101 do so through the community approach, which blends public and private resources to allow more options for the care and education of all 4-year-olds.
Licensed teachers provide instruction for all public school district 4K programs. In the community approach, some districts provide a licensed 4K teacher in a private child care setting, some contract with Head Start or the child care setting for the licensed teachers, and others bring child care into the licensed 4K public school program or mesh licensed 4K services with a Head Start program. Wisconsin is one of the nation’s leading models for combining educational and community care services for 4-year-olds.

An Update on the Madison School District’s Proposed 4K Program

Superintendent Dan Nerad [600K PDF]:

Attached to this memorandum is detailed costing information relative to the implementation of four-year-old kindergarten. We have attempted to be as inclusive as possible in identifying the various costs involved in implementing this program.
Each of the identified options includes cost estimates involving all three program models that have previously been discussed. The first option includes the specific cost requests provided to us by representatives from the community providers. The remaining options include the same costing information for Model I programs (programs in district schools) but vary for Model II and III programs (programs in community-based early learning centers). These options vary in the following ways:

  1. For District Option 1, we have used a 1:10 staffing ratio instead of a 1:8.5 staffing ratio that was submitted by representatives from the community providers.
  2. For District Option 2, we have used a three-year phase-in for the reimbursement to local providers.
  3. For District Option 3, we have used both a 1:10 ratio and a three-year phase-in for reimbursement to local providers.
  4. For District Option 4, we have used both a 1:10 ratio and a two-year phase-in for the reimbursement to local providers.

The District options with a 1:10 ratio were created because this was the staffing ratio that was recommended by the 4K planning committee and is the ratio needed for local accreditation. All Modell costing(in District schools) is based on a 1:15 ratio with the understanding that additional special education and bilingual support to the classroom is provided. The District options employing a two- or three-year phase-in of the

The Preschool Picture – 4K?

Chester Finn, Jr.:

The campaign for universal preschool education in the United States has gained great momentum. Precisely as strategists intended, many Americans have come to believe that pre-kindergarten is a good and necessary thing for government to provide, even that not providing it will cruelly deprive our youngest residents of their birthrights, blight their educational futures, and dim their life prospects. Yet a troubling contradiction bordering on dishonesty casts a shadow over today’s mighty push for universal pre-K education in America (see “Preschool Puzzle,” forum, Fall 2008).
The principal intellectual and moral argument that advocates make–and for which I have considerable sympathy–is similar to that of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) backers: giving needy kids a boost up the ladder of educational and later-life success by narrowing the achievement gaps that now trap too many of them on the lower rungs. Serious pursuit of that objective would entail intensive, educationally sophisticated programs, starting early in a child’s life, perhaps even before birth, and enlisting and assisting the child’s parents from day one.
Yet the programmatic and political strategy embraced by today’s pre-K advocates is altogether different. They seek to furnish relatively skimpy preschool services to all 4 million of our nation’s four-year-olds (and then, of course, all 4 million three-year-olds), preferably under the aegis of the public schools.

4K is on the radar of our local Madison schools.

Madison School District 4K Proposal

Superintendent Dan Nerad [1.5MB PDF]:

Providing four year old kindergarten (4K) may be the district’s next best tool to continue the trend of improving academic achievement for all students and continuing to close the achievement gap.
The quality of care and education that children receive in the early years of their lives is one of the most critical factors in their development. Empirical and anecdotal evidence clearly shows that nurturing environments with appropriate challenging activities have large and lasting effects on our children’s school success, ability to get along with others, and emotional health. Such evidence also indicates that inadequate early childhood care and education increases the danger that at-risk children will grow up with problem behaviors that can lead to later crime and violence.
Background/Charge On February 9, 2009, the Board of Education asked the Superintendent to reconvene staff, and community members to begin planning for a collaborative 4K program in the Madison Metropolitan School District. The committee was directed to develop recommendations and timelines to present to the BOE.
Process Membership is attached and was generated by the AFSCME Child Care Representatives with membership growing as the months proceeded. Kathy Hubbard began facilitation and Jim Moeser is currently facilitating the committee work. Throughout the months of meeting, membership and attendance has been constantly high with energy and enthusiasm the same. The matrix presented in this packet includes a brief overview of the five committees below.

Related:

Perhaps the District might implement these initiatives first – and evaluate their effectiveness prior to expanding the organization (and budget) for 4K.

Madison School District & Madison Teachers Union Reach Tentative Agreement: 3.93% Increase Year 1, 3.99% Year 2; Base Rate $33,242 Year 1, $33,575 Year 2: Requires 50% MTI 4K Members and will “Review the content and frequency of report cards”

via a kind reader’s email (200K PDF):

The Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison Teachers Inc. reached a tentative agreement Tuesday evening on the terms and conditions of a new two-year Collective Bargaining Agreement for MTI’s 2,600 member teacher bargaining unit. Negotiations began April 15.
The Contract, for July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011, needs ratification from both the Board of Education and MTI. The Union will hold its ratification meeting on Wednesday, October 14, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Alliant Energy Center, Dane County Forum. The Board of Education will tentatively take up the proposal in a special meeting on October 19 at 5:00 p.m.
Terms of the Contract include:
2009-2010 2010-11
Base Salary Raise – 1.00% Base Salary Raise – 1.00%
Total Increase Including Benefits – 3.93% Total Increase Including Benefits – 3.99%
Bachelor’s Degree Base Rate $33,242 Bachelor’s Degree Base Rate $33,575
A key part of this bargain involved working with the providers of long term disability insurance and health insurance. Meetings between MTI Executive Director John Matthews and District Superintendent Dan Nerad and representatives of WPS and GHC, the insurance carriers agreed to a rate increase for the second year of the Contract not to exceed that of the first year. In return, the District and MTI agreed to add to the plans a voluntary health risk assessment for teachers. The long term disability insurance provider reduced its rates by nearly 25%. The insurance cost reductions over the two years of the contract term amount to roughly $1.88 million, were then applied to increase wages, thus reducing new funds to accomplish this.
The new salary schedule increase at 1% per cell, inclusive of Social Security and WRS, amount to roughly $3.04 million. Roughly 62% of the salary increase, including Social Security and WRS, was made possible by the referenced insurance savings.
Key contract provisions include:

    Inclusion in the Contract of criteria to enable salary schedule progression by one working toward the newly created State teacher licensure, PI 34. Under the new Contract provision, one can earn professional advancement credits for work required by PI 34.

  • Additive pay regarding National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, i.e. an alternative for bargaining unit professionals who are not teachers (nurses, social workers, psychologists, et al) by achieving the newly created Master Educator’s License.
  • Continuance of the Teacher Emeritus Retirement Program (TERP).
  • The ability after retirement for one to use their Retirement Insurance Account for insurance plans other than those specified in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. This will enable one to purchase coverage specific to a geographic area, if they so choose, or they may continue coverage with GHC or WPS – the current health insurance providers.
    For elementary teachers, the frequency and duration of meetings has been clarified, as have several issues involving planning time. All elementary teachers and all elementary principals will receive a joint letter from Matthews and Nerad explaining these Contract provisions.

  • For high school teachers who volunteer for building supervision, there is now an option to enable one to receive compensation, rather than compensatory time for the service. And there is a definition of what “class period” is for determining compensation or compensatory time.
  • For elementary and middle school teachers, MTI and the District will appoint a joint committee for each to study and recommend the content and frequency of report cards.
    For elementary specials (e.g. art, music) teachers, the parties agreed to end the class and a half, which will mean that class sizes for specials will be similar to the class size for elementary classroom teachers.

  • For coaches, and all others compensated on the extra duty compensation schedule, the additive percentage paid, which was frozen due to the State imposed revenue controls, will be restored.
  • School year calendars were agreed to through 2012-2013.
  • Also, MTI and the District agreed to a definite five-year exemption to the Contract work assignment clause to enable the District to assist with funding of a community-based 4-year-old kindergarten programs, provided the number of said 4-K teachers is no greater than the number of District employed 4-K teachers, and provided such does not cause bargaining unit members to be affected by adverse actions such as lay off, surplus and reduction of hours/contract percentage, due to the District’s establishment of, and continuance of, community based [Model III] 4-K programs. (See note below.)

Wisconsin State budget deal bought with earmarks, Including $500,000 for Madison’s Proposed 4K Program

Steven Walters:

Facing a record deficit that forced them to raise taxes and fees by $2.1 billion to balance the budget, Assembly Democrats added millions for projects they can brag about back home – a $500,000 upgrade for an opera house; $50,000 for a shooting range; and $46,000 for a town’s recycling bins.
As they erased a $6.6 billion, two-year deficit, Assembly Democrats added $36.7 million in regional favors, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary.
Five of the projects – including the $500,000 for the Oshkosh Opera House, $500,000 for an Aldo Leopold Climate Change Classroom and Laboratory, and $125,000 for the Phillips Library in Eau Claire – have not been recommended by the state Building Commission, which is supposed to approve construction and maintenance spending.
The shooting range is in Eau Claire, and the recycling bins are for the Town of Wrightstown.
Some of the so-called earmarks don’t cost money, but get around limits on the number of liquor licenses in communities. The Assembly-passed budget would award a new liquor license in the Madison suburb of Monona, for example, and hand out three more liquor licenses in St. Francis.
Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, said Assembly Democrats behaved just like Assembly Republicans, who controlled that half of the Legislature for a 14-year period that ended in January.

Wisconsin Assembly Democrats Approve a $500,000 Earmark for the Madison School District’s 4K Program

Jason Stein:

The hope of four-year-old kindergarten in Madison schools stayed alive early Thursday as Assembly Democrats pushed through a $500,000 start-up grant for the district as part of the state budget bill.
But even with that money, the challenges to offering the program remain great as the district could face an $8 million cut in its state aid, or 13 percent, under one new estimate of the effect of state budget cuts on Madison schools.
And Republicans criticized the grant money to the district as an earmark that comes at a time when schools statewide are having their funding cut.
“Any funding that can help mitigate the (four-year-old kindergarten) costs in the first two years is very helpful,” said Madison Schools superintendent Dan Nerad. “We’re very pleased with the proposal that’s been advanced.”

Fascinating.

On 4K in Madison

Tamira Madsen:

Abplanalp, who has been working on the 4-K project for the seven years since joining the district as lead elementary principal, said there isn’t a timetable in place as to when the program would start.
But she wouldn’t count out the 2009-10 school year if three main issues can be ironed out.
“Could we get things in place by the fall? We think we could if we got the go-ahead,” Abplanalp said Thursday afternoon. “If not, it’s because we have issues to work out contractually with MTI (the teacher’s union). … We also have to work out community site issues, negotiating (contract) issues and financial issues.”

On Madison’s Lack of a 4K Program

Andy Hall:

In Madison, where schools Superintendent Art Rainwater in a 2004 memo described 4K as potentially “the next best tool” for raising students’ performance and narrowing the racial achievement gap, years of study and talks with leaders of early childhood education centers have failed to produce results.
“It’s one of the things that I regret the most, that I think would have made a big impact, that I was not able to do,” said Rainwater, who is retiring next month after leading the district for a decade.
“We’ve never been able to get around the money,” said Rainwater, whose tenure was marked by annual multimillion-dollar budget cuts to conform to the state’s limits on how much money districts can raise from local property taxpayers.
A complicating factor was the opposition of Madison Teachers Inc., the teachers union, to the idea that the 4K program would include preschool teachers not employed by the School District. However, Rainwater said he’s “always believed that those things could have been resolved” if money had been available.
Starting a 4K program for an estimated 1,700 students would cost Madison $5 million the first year and $2.5 million the second year before it would get full state funding in the third year under the state’s school-funding system.
In comparison, the entire state grant available to defray Wisconsin districts’ startup costs next year is $3 million — and that amount is being shared by 32 eligible districts.
One of those districts, Green Bay, is headed by Daniel Nerad, who has been hired to succeed Rainwater in Madison.
“I am excited about it,” said Madison School Board President Arlene Silveira, who is envious of the 4K sign-up information that appears on the Green Bay district’s Web site. “He’s gone out and he’s made it work in Green Bay. That will certainly help us here as we start taking the message forward again.
Madison’s inability to start 4K has gained the attention of national advocates of 4K programs, who hail Wisconsin’s approach as a model during the current national economic downturn. Milwaukee, the state’s largest district, long has offered 4K.
“It’s been disappointing that Madison has been very slow to step up to provide for its children,” said Libby Doggett, executive director of Pre-K Now, a national nonprofit group in Washington, D.C., that campaigns for kindergarten programs for children ages 3 and 4.
“The way 4K is being done in your state is the right way.”

Related:

  • Marc Eisen: Missed Opportunity for 4K and High School Redesign
  • MMSD Budget History: Madison’s spending has grown about 50% from 1998 ($245,131,022) to 2008 ($367,806,712) while enrollment has declined slightly from 25,132 to 24,268 ($13,997/student).

Madison: Missed Opportunity for 4K and High School Redesign

Marc Eisen:

The good news is that the feds refused to fund the school district’s proposal to revamp the high schools. The plan was wrongheaded in many respects, including its seeming intent to eliminate advanced classes that are overwhelmingly white and mix kids of distressingly varied achievement levels in the same classrooms.
This is a recipe for encouraging more middle-class flight to the suburbs. And, more to the point, addressing the achievement gap in high school is way too late. Turning around a hormone-surging teenager after eight years of educational frustration and failure is painfully hard.
We need to save these kids when they’re still kids. We need to pull them up to grade level well before they hit the wasteland of middle school. That’s why kindergarten for 4-year-olds is a community imperative.
As it happens, state school Supt. Elizabeth Burmaster issued a report last week announcing that 283 of Wisconsin’s 426 school districts now offer 4K. Enrollment has doubled since 2001, to almost 28,000 4-year-olds statewide.
Burmaster nailed it when she cited research showing that quality early-childhood programs prepare children “to successfully transition into school by bridging the effects of poverty, allowing children from economically disadvantaged families to gain an equal footing with their peers.”

Related:

The Twisty Top-Down Policy Path To The Classroom

Peter Greene: From Outcome Based Education (remember the 90s?) to Common Core to ESSA to a hundred policy initiatives on the state level, the story is usually the same: Policymakers create a policy for K-12 education, it rolls out into the real world, and before too long those same policymakers are declaring, “That’s not what […]

Animated gifs on frugality regulations published

Xinhua: The top anti-graft body of the Communist Party of China (CPC) released 16 animated gifs on the eight-point frugality code to mark the fifth anniversary of the code’s release on Sunday. The CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) published the gifs on its website, featuring the content and the significance of the code. […]

Ongoing Status Quo Madison School Board Governance

Karen Rivedal The Madison School Board’s narrow rejection of a proposed five-year contract for a public Montessori charter school on Monday isn’t deterring supporters and may not represent the end of the process around the proposal. Ali Muldrow, described in the proposed contract as one of the school’s seven founders, said Tuesday she isn’t giving […]

Madison School Board Continues Non Diverse Governance Practices with Proposed Montessori Academy School

Amber Walker: In a 5-2 decision on Monday, the Madison School Board voted to postpone the charter approval of Isthmus Montessori Academy. The board wanted more clarity around the school’s proposed attendance area, financial and academic accountability standards at their three-year mark, and language in the proposal that asks for waivers that apply to early […]

Stanford GSB’s new dean eyes online expansion

Jonathan Moules: When he was studying for his doctorate in economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jonathan Levin suffered a crisis of confidence about his academic career, sparked by his failure to make progress with a paper on the jobs market. “I was working every minute but at the end of every day I’d pretty […]

US business schools hit by weaker demand for two-year MBA

Jonathan Moules In the US, 53 per cent of schools running full-time two-year MBA courses reported a decline in application numbers in 2016, while 40 per cent reported growth. The drop suggests a shift in attitudes to business education due to increased job insecurity and the opportunity to study overseas or online, with prospective students […]

Madison’s Reading Data, an Update

Our community, via the quite traditional Madison School District, has long tolerated disastrous reading results. Has anything changed? The District’s 2015-2016 “annual report” includes a bit of data on reading and math: Tap for larger versions. Unfortunately, the annual report lacks a significant amount of data, from enrollment to staffing and total spending. Boston publishes […]

Commentary On Illinois K-12 Tax And Spending Policies

Becky Vevea: Is it fair? That was what a panel of Illinois lawmakers tried to answer about how Illinois pays for its public schools. The discussion was held at a City Club luncheon on Mondayand WBEZ’s Becky Vevea was there. Much more on per student spending, here. Madison is > $17k while Chicago is > […]

The Horrifying Reality of the Academic Job Market

Hamilton Nolan: I got my PhD in Classics, which maintains a bit of an old school appeal to pedigree (and white males). Our PhDs are being churned out at an alarming rate (not as bad as English, though), and there are few tenure track jobs. If you look at the Classics wiki, which goes back […]

Educating Refugees

The Economist: AFTER Aida Hadzialic’s parents fled war-torn Bosnia for Sweden in the early 1990s, they put their five-year-old daughter in a school full of native Swedes and made sure she studied hard to get ahead. It worked. Today Ms Hadzialic, 27, is Sweden’s minister for upper secondary education. Like her counterparts across Europe, she […]

2015-2016 Madison Traditional Public Schools’ Enrollment Data

Madison School District Administration (PDF): 1. Enrollment is down slightly (0.3%) since last year. Enrollment projection begin to climb again in 2017-18. 2. Six elementary schools are over capacity this year. Referendum-funded construction eliminates overcrowding among these schools in the five-year projection. 3. Most students continue to attend their home attendance area. This year 60% […]

Parent-Teacher Conferences: Contract Language

Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter, via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email (PDF): The terms and conditions of the 2015-16 MTI/MMSD Collective Bargaining Agreement relative to Parent-Teacher Conferences provides the following: “All teachers are required to attend up to two (2) evenings for parent teacher conferences per contract year as directed by the teacher’s building administrator. Teachers […]

What’s Really At Stake When A School Closes?

Jelani Cobb: Jamaica High School, in Queens, was once the largest high school in the United States. For most of its history, it occupied a majestic Georgian Revival building on Gothic Drive, designed in the nineteen-twenties by William H. Gompert, who had begun his career at McKim, Mead & White. With east and west wings, […]

The Man Behind Modern Math

John Steele Gordon: Mathematicians often deal in abstractions that are quite beyond the ken of non-mathematicians. For instance, in 1637, the Frenchman Pierre de Fermat conjectured that there is no whole-number solution for the equation An + Bn = Cn where N is greater than two. He famously wrote in the margin of a book […]

Madison Schools’ Vision 2030

Strategic Framework includes vision and strategies Vision 2030 is not a strategy; instead, it paints a vivid and aspirational picture of what MMSD can be Vision will work in concert with our Framework to guide our actions, both big and small Grounded in 2015-16 4K students – Class of 2029 MMSD Vision 2030: Prepared, Empowered […]

Parent – Teacher Conferences & The Madison Schools

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email: As a result of a joint MTI-MMSD committee on parent- teacher conferences, several changes were agreed upon. For the first time, teachers participating in evening parent-teacher conferences were provided a compensatory day off, which occurred last November 26. In exchange for the comp […]

Research results from Madison schools suggest compassion, kindness can be taught

Doug Erickson: To do the study, the researchers secured permission from the parents of 68 Madison students during the 2012-13 school year. All were in the district’s 4K program. Thirty children were randomly assigned to classrooms where they received twice-weekly kindness lessons for three months. Children in the control group did not receive the lessons. […]

Quoc Le’s Lectures on Deep Learning

Gaurav Truvedig: Dr. Quoc Le from the Google Brain project team (yes, the one that made headlines for creating a cat recognizer) presented a series of lectures at the Machine Learning Summer School (MLSS ’14) in Pittsburgh this week. This is my favorite lecture series from the event till now and I was glad to […]

Suburban teens are on a mission to boost Milwaukee schools

Edgar Mendez Chandlar Strauss and Danielle “Dani” Fleming, a couple of 16-year-olds from the suburbs, might seem an unlikely pair to be so deeply invested in the educational outcomes of Milwaukee students. But every Tuesday since the beginning of the school year, they’ve been hitting the halls of Milwaukee College Prep’s Lloyd Street Campus to […]

High School Journalists Successfully Test Shield Law In Cyberbullying Suicide Case

Natasha Vargas-Cooper:

A trio of Northern California students working for their high school newspaper successfully beat back a legal maneuver on Tuesday to ignore their status as reporters and have their confidential materials subpoenaed in a civil lawsuit related to the suicide of their classmate, 15-year-old Audrie Pott, that was filed by the dead teenager’s family.
The confrontation between a grieving family and school press amplifies a growing issue in the digital era, when the definition of who is or who is not a journalist has been blurred. The withdrawal of this demand, at least for the moment, lays the groundwork for the formal extension of shield laws to high school students.

45% (!) Increase in Madison Schools’ Fund 80 Property Taxes from the 2011-2012 to 2012-2013 School Year; No Mention of Total Spending



July, 2013 Madison Schools 2013-2014 Budget Presentation (PDF). Notes:

  • No mention of total spending…. How might the Board exercise its oversight obligation without the entire picture?
  • The substantial increase in redistributed state tax dollars (due to 4K) last year is not mentioned. Rather, a bit of rhetoric: “The 2013-14 budget development process has focused on actions which begin to align MMSD resources with the Strategic Framework Priorities and strategies to manage the tax levy in light of a significant loss of state aid.” In fact, according to page 6, the District expects to receive $46,392,012 in redistributed state tax dollars, which is a six (6%) increase over the funds received two years ago.
  • The District’s fund equity (financial cushion, or reserves) has more than doubled in the past eight years, from $22,368,031 in 2005 to $46,943,263 in 2012.
  • Outbound open enrollment continues to grow, up 14% to 1,041 leavers in 2013 (281 inbound from other Districts).
  • There is no mention of the local tax or economic base:











  • The growth in Fund 80 (MSCR) property taxes and spending has been controversial over the years. Fund 80, up until recently was NOT subject to state imposed property tax growth limitations.
  • Matthew DeFour briefly summarizes the partial budget information here. DeFour mentions (no source referenced or linked – in 2013?) that the total 2013-2014 budget will be $391,000,000. I don’t believe it:

    The January, 2012 budget document mentioned “District spending remains largely flat at $369,394,753” (2012-2013), yet the “baseline” for 2013-2014 mentions planned spending of $392,807,993 “a decrease of $70,235 or (0.02%) less than the 2012-13 Revised Budget” (around $15k/student). The District’s budget generally increases throughout the school year, growing 6.3% from January, 2012 to April, 2013. Follow the District’s budget changes for the past year, here.

Finally, the document includes this brief paragraph:

Work will begin on the 2014-15 early this fall. The process will be zero-based, and every line item and FTE will be carefully reviewed to ensure that resources are being used efficiently. The budget development process will also include a review of benefit programs and procurement practices, among other areas.

One hopes that programs will indeed be reviewed and efforts focused on the most urgent issues, particularly the District’s disastrous reading scores.
Ironically, the recent “expert review” found that Analysis: Madison School District has resources to close achievement gap. If this is the case (and I agree with their conclusion – making changes will be extraordinarily difficult), what are students, taxpayers and citizens getting for the annual tax & spending growth?
I took a quick look at property taxes in Middleton and Madison on a $230,000 home. A Middleton home paid $4,648.16 in 2012 while a Madison home paid 16% more, or $5,408.38.

State Test Scores Confirm Urban League’s Concerns and Call to Action

The Madison Urban League, via a kind Kaleem Caire email:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2013
Media contact: Kaleem Caire
kcaire@ulgm.org
608.729.1249
Click Here for Urban League’s 2013-14 Agenda
State Test Scores Confirm Urban League’s Concerns and Call to Action
Madison, WI – Today, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released students’ results on the annual statewide achievement test, Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE). The results confirm concerns raised by the Urban League of Greater Madison, that disadvantaged students and students of color are severely underperforming in many of Wisconsin’s public schools, particularly in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
All Wisconsin public school students completed the test in November 2012. This revised test raised the standards of performance for all students, thereby providing a more accurate picture of students who are on track to graduate from high school academically ready to succeed in college or a career. Test results show that all students, regardless of their race, socioeconomic status or disability, are struggling to achieve to high standards in Madison-area public schools.
This afternoon, the Urban League of Greater Madison joined Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, and leaders of other community organizations, at a press conference where Cheatham shared MMSD’s results. Cheatham presented data showing that an astounding 92% of African American and 85% of Latino students are reading below their grade level, and 90% of African American and 77% of Latino children are failing in mathematics. The data further showed that a large percentage of white students have fallen behind as well, with 42% are reading below grade level and 33% failing in math.
In reflecting on the scores, Darrell Bazzell, the Chair of Urban League’s Board of Directors said, “These numbers are a stark message that Madison’s public schools are at a tipping point and that our community must embrace change. The implications for our region are profound. For the sake of our community and our children, Madison can, and must, do better for all students and families.”
Bazzell further stated that, “Every citizen in our community must say that ‘we will no longer harbor these gaps; that we accept responsibility for addressing these challenges; and that we will commit to doing all that we can to ensure all of our children succeed. We must also acknowledge where we are not succeeding and commit to change in smart, innovative and effective ways that lead to real progress for our kids’.”
In response to these troubling statistics, Urban League President and CEO, Kaleem Caire, shared that, “When 90% of Black children cannot read at their grade level, we are significantly reducing the possibility of success for an entire generation. This issue negatively affects not only this generation of children, but also the vitality of our entire region. If not addressed quickly, it will affect the quality of the lives of all citizens who call Madison home.” To address these challenges, Caire said “The Urban League is working to build a pipeline of high quality cradle to career educational and employment services that positively impact the entire family, move all children towards high performance, and prepare youth and adults for career success.” He further highlighted, “We have already begun working with the Madison Schools, other area school districts, employers and community partners to ensure that we attack the persistence of underachievement and other contributing factors, such as poverty, at its core. ”
The Urban League’s 2013-14 Strategic Plan creates opportunities that will help the community overcome these challenges. Caire enthusiastically shared that, “We are a community of great people, great teachers and great families who are passionate about helping others transform their lives. But our passion now must become our reality.”
About the Urban League of Greater Madison
The Urban League of Greater Madison’s mission is to ensure that African Americans and other community members are educated, employed and empowered to live well, advance professionally and contribute to the common good in the 21st Century. We are committed to transforming Greater Madison into the Best [place] in the Midwest for everyone to live, learn, and work. We are working to make this vision a reality through a comprehensive strategic empowerment agenda that includes programs & services, advocacy, and partnerships & coalition building. www.ulgm.org
Urban League of Greater Madison | 2222 S. Park Street | Suite 200 | Madison | WI | 53713

Related: The rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school
Madison’s long term disastrous reading results.
The recently released WKCE results.

Marquette poll shows divide on education spending in Wisconsin

Alan Borsuk:

I’m in favor of spending more money on schools. Education is important. Important things need to be given the right support.
Am I in favor of spending more of my money on schools? A trickier question. I mean it when I say I support education spending. But I don’t like getting the bill. There are a lot of competing demands on my money, starting with my own needs.
How do I navigate this? How do I get it right when it comes to balancing what I favor supporting and what I actually am going to pay for? Come May and June, resolving this is going to be one of the most interesting, controversial and important plot developments in the final stretch of the state budget drama going on in Madison as we as a state decide this.
You can see tension between what people want in general and what they want when the discussion gets specific in results from the Marquette Law School Poll released a few days ago. (Disclosure: I am one of the people who work on the poll and I helped draft the education-related questions.)
When a sample of people statewide were asked if they support spending more money on public education, their answers were overwhelmingly yes. Sixteen percent said they wanted the amount given to support schools to increase more than the rate of inflation (about 2% over the last year). Another 41% said they thought the amount should go up in line with the rate of inflation. And 14% said they favored an increase of 1% a year (a figure used because it has been proposed by some Republican state senators).
That comes to 71% in favor. Gov. Scott Walker has proposed keeping the “revenue cap” on schools flat for the next two years, which would have the general effect of keeping spending for operations unchanged. Seventeen percent favored no increase in public school spending. And 8% wanted to reduce the amount given to public schools.
But not so fast in concluding there is big support for more money for schools. The poll also asked what was more important to people, to reduce property taxes or increase school spending. Walker’s budget proposal increases state aid to schools by about 1.5%, but, because the revenue cap would be flat, the money would go, in effect, to property tax relief.

An ABC proof too tough even for mathematicians

Kevin Hartnett:

On Aug. 30, a Japanese mathematician named Shinichi Mochizuki posted four papers to his faculty website at Kyoto University. Rumors had been spreading all summer that Mochizuki was onto something big, and in the abstract to the fourth paper Mochizuki explained that, indeed, his project was as grand as people had suspected. Over 512 pages of dense mathematical reasoning, he claimed to have discovered a proof of one of the most legendary unsolved problems in math.
The problem is called the ABC conjecture, a 27-year-old proposition considered so impossible that few mathematicians even dared to take it on. Most people who might have claimed a proof of ABC would have been dismissed as cranks. But Mochizuki was a widely respected mathematician who’d solved hard problems before. His work had to be taken seriously.

61 Page Madison Schools Achievement Gap Plan -Accountability Plans and Progress Indicators

Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore (2.5mb PDF)

Background on Goals: During the Student Achievement Committee meeting of October 1, several Board members discussed the issue of setting reasonable goals and the time needed to accomplish them. Most of the goals presented today are based on a five-year convergence model. Under this approach, achievement gaps are closed for every student subgroup in five years.
Forr example the baseline four-year graduation rate among white students is 85%. It is 61% among Hispanic students, and 54% among African American students.. With a five-year convergence model, the goal is for all student subgroups to reach a 90% on-time graduation rate. It is a statement that all student subgroups should improve and all gaps should close.
The reason for this approach is twofold. First, as adopted by the Board, the Achievement Gap Plan is a five-year plan. It is important that the student achievement goals reflect the timeline in the plan itself. The timeline for goals could be pushed out to ten years or more, but it would require formal directive from the Board to adopt ten years as the district’s new timeline for the Achievement Gap Plan.
Second, other models can be seen as conveying different expectations for students based on race/ethnicity or other characteristics like poverty, and that is not our intent. Taking ten years or longer to achieve stated goals may be viewed as a more reasonable time frame, but a five-year plan comes with a natural snapshot half way through that will illustrate persistent gaps and potentially convey varying expectations. Again, that is not our intent or our goal.
A note on Chapter 1, Literacy: The Accountability Plans for literacy are an example of two important concepts:
1. The district wide, instructional core in literacy must be strengthened in every school and every grade. Chapter 1, #1 speaks to a part of strengthening that core.
2. Once the core is strong fewer interventions are needed. However, some students will continue to need additional support. Chapter 1, #2 speaks to one example of an intervention that will help to prevent summer reading loss and close gaps.
The Board approval of $1.9 million for the purchase of elementary literacy materials provides a powerful framework for bringing cohesion to the elementary literacy program. The purchase will provide a well-coordinated core literacy program that is aligned with the common core standards and meets the needs of all learners.
The first steps will bring together an Elementary Literacy Leadership team to clarify the purpose and framework for our program. The overall framework for our entire elementary literacy program is Balanced Literacy. Building upon the current MMSD core practices in 4K-12 Literacy and Focus documents, the work being done to align our instruction and assessment with common core standards will increase rigor and take our current Elementary Balanced Literacy Program to what could be seen as an Elementary Balanced Literacy Program version 2.0. The Elementary Literacy Leadership team will bring clarity to the components of the program and what is expected and what is optional.
Chapter 1, #1 and #2 are important supports for our Balanced Literacy Program

Reading is certainly job number one for the Madison School District – and has been for quite some time….
Related: November, 2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.
According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.
In 1998, the Madison School Board adopted an important academic goal: “that all students complete the 3rd grade able to read at or beyond grade level”. We adopted this goal in response to recommendations from a citizen study group that believed that minority students who are not competent as readers by the end of the third grade fall behind in all academic areas after third grade.
“All students” meant all students. We promised to stop thinking in terms of average student achievement in reading. Instead, we would separately analyze the reading ability of students by subgroups. The subgroups included white, African American, Hispanic, Southeast Asian, and other Asian students.

Madison schools propose using $12M redistributed state tax windfall for tax relief, technology upgrades, achievement gap

Matthew DeFour:

That means the district’s property tax levy would increase 3.47 percent, down from the 4.95 percent increase the board approved in June. The tax rate would be $11.71 per $1,000 of assessed value, down from $11.88. For an average $232,024 home, the difference is about $40.
The board could use the remaining $8.1 million on property tax relief, but Belmore is recommending it be used in other ways, including:
$3.7 million held in reserves, in case the state overestimated additional aid.
$1.6 million to buy iPads for use in the classroom, $650,000 to upgrade wireless bandwidth in all schools and $75,000 for an iPad coach.
$1.2 million to account for a projected increase in the district’s contribution to the Wisconsin Retirement System.
About $800,000 geared toward closing achievement gaps including: three security assistants at Black Hawk, O’Keeffe and Hamilton middle schools; an assistant principal at Stephens Elementary, where the district’s Work and Learn alternative program caused parent concerns last year; two teacher leaders to assist with the district’s literacy program; a high school math interventionist; increasing the number of unassigned positions from 13.45 to 18.45 to align with past years; and a new student agricultural program.
$100,000 to fund the chief of staff position for one year.

104K PDF Memo to the Madison School Board regarding redistribution of state tax dollars.
Madison plans to spend $376,200,000 during the 2012-2013 school year or $15,132 for each of its 24,861 students.

New Jersey Passes Teacher Tenure Reform

Heather Haddon:

After signing a bill to overhaul teacher tenure rules Monday, Gov. Chris Christie said the changes represented one of his signature political achievements, ranking only behind a successful effort to limit government employees’ pension and benefit costs.
“It’s right behind pension and benefit reform just because the level of skepticism that we would get anything done,” Mr. Christie said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal following a news conference at a middle school here. “There had been such inertia on this topic. I always enjoy defying expectations.”
The new law doesn’t go as far as tenure bills passed in other states in the past year. But it marks a significant shift in the nation’s oldest teacher job-security law, requiring all teachers to undergo annual performance reviews and making it easier to fire poorly performing educators.

Laura Waters:

For Senator Teresa Ruiz, who tirelessly shepherded NJ’s tenure reform bill through the gauntlet of the Senate, the Assembly, union opposition, aggressive reformers, and countless interest groups.
How collegial was the signing yesterday at a Middlesex middle school? Chris Christie sounded practically conciliatory, telling NJ Spotlight that he signed the bill because “my decision was there was enough really good things in this bill that I was not going to allow it not to become law because it didn’t have everything I wanted” and seating arrangements placed B4K’s Derrell Bradford in between NJEA President Barbara Keshishian and AFT President Joseph Del Grosso.

Reflections and questions on Wisconsin school test results

Alan Borsuk:

So what was new in all the data released last week summarizing results of the standardized tests, known as the WKCEs, that were taken last fall by more than 400,000 students from Kenosha to Superior?
Not much.
Some things a little better, most things the same, the state of meeting our educational needs pretty much unchanged.
But for every answer like that, I have a dozen questions (and lots of sub-questions).
Here they are:
1. Do we have the patience to pursue solid, significant improvement in how our students are doing?
The highflying schools I know of all took years to reach the heights.
Are we willing to do the steady, thoughtful work of building quality and resist the rapidly revolving carousel of education fads?
2. Do we have the impatience to pursue solid, significant improvement in how our students are doing?
At the same time we’ve got to be steady, we’ve got to be propelled by the urgency of improving.
Especially outside of Milwaukee, an awful lot of people are complacent about how Wisconsin’s kids are doing, and that complacency is often not well justified.

Related:

Passionate rally for education program an encouraging sign

Alan Borsuk:

Shiloh Baptist Church was packed. More than 250 people were primed for action last Monday night inside the church at N. 48th St. and W. Capitol Drive. They knew what they wanted: A more effective and accountable Supplemental Education Services program.
Huh?
A passionate rally to improve SES?
For a decade, SES has been one of the sleepiest corners of federal education funding.
A big reason the program has been so ineffective is that so few people care about the way many millions of dollars have been spent on outside-the-school-day services (generally, tutoring programs) for students who are not doing well in school.
Since when did anybody but some vendors and their employees and a few policy wonks get revved up about SES?
Since Common Ground latched onto it.

Madison School District Open Enrollment Enterers & Leavers



Superintendent Dan Nerad:

Under Open Enrollment, students may transfer into an MMSD school from another district or transfer out to another district – “enterers” versus “leavers.” This report focuses primarily on Open Enrollment leavers. There is also some discussion of the net effect of Open Enrollment, which is the number of leavers minus the number of enterers. This report does not discuss students attending private/parochial schools or home schooled students.
For the 2011-12 school year, MMSD has 913 leavers and 213 enterers for a
net effect of 700 students choosing to attend a district other than MMSD.
Of the 913 leavers for 2011-12, 580 were “continuing leavers” meaning they open enrolled outside of the District in previous years. That leaves 333 first time leavers for the current school year.
The growing number of leavers in recent years is the result of a cumulative increase over several years – those who are continuing leavers are still included in our counts in the following years. Because of this, it will take time to reverse the net number of leavers and first time leavers are of particular interest.
First time leavers increased only slightly from 2010-11 to 2011-12. If we discount the one-time bump for the first class of 4K, the number of first time leavers went down for the first time since at least 2005-06.
It is also important to note that nearly half of the students that are leavers never attended MMSD and could be considered “stayers” for other districts.
In terms of why people leave the district, we rely on a 2009 survey of leavers.

Charts (10MB PDF).

Outsider’s wild teacher-evaluation idea

Jay Matthews:

Luke Chung, president and founder of a software development company in Tysons Corner, volunteered many times to help the Fairfax County school system with computer and business issues. He was a nice guy, so when the county needed to fill two slots reserved for outsiders (what educators often call non-educators) on the Teacher Performance Evaluation Task Force, he was appointed.
He might have seemed to some a genial innocent who would not get in the way of the teachers, principals and administrators who were the majority. But Chung was an experienced manager motivated to nudge the task force in new directions. He revealed in his company blog his astonished reaction to the key issue:
“As an outsider who has never been evaluated as a teacher, you can imagine my surprise to discover that although principals were judged by their school’s student performance, student performance is not part of a teacher’s performance evaluation in our county,” he wrote. “Are you kidding me?” Chung’s italics, not mine.
He got the basics. “Not all students are equal, and we don’t want to have a system where teachers are evaluated solely on student performance because the incentive would be to only want to teach good students,” he wrote. He saw some sense in value-added measurements, rating teachers on how much their students improved. But there were practical problems, he said, “such as kids moving in and out of classes within the year, impacts on kids outside teacher control, whether the test is a good measurement, multiple teacher collaborative environments, etc.”

Research about the (Achievement) Gap

Mary Battaglia kindly forwarded this email sent to the Madison School Board:

The high school graduation racial gap has been in the Madison news as though it only affects our fair city. It does not require much research, something the local media has failed to do, to see this is a national concern. According to an analysis called “Schott 50 State Report on Black Males in Public Education,” nationally only 47% of black males graduated from high school in 2007. (1) It has been reported that Madison’s graduation rate for black males is 50%. Obviously a pathetic rate compared to the 87% for whites, but what has not been a part of the local conversation is how Madison compares in relationship to the rest of the nation, and perhaps figure out where black males are graduating at a higher rate, and why. The Schott’s report, revealed two communities with large minority populations with much better graduation outcomes than the rest of the nation, Baltimore and Fort Bend, Texas. What MMSD should be looking into is what are these cities doing, and what curricula or community effort has made them successful? One interesting part of the gap for Madison and the state of Wisconsin is the high rate of whites graduating. While Wisconsin is the worst defender in the racial gap, the states total graduation rate is one the highest in the nation.
When you read various assessments of the “reason” for the gap nationally, the theories include the lack of financial investment, lack of good teachers, and the lack of community structure. While I find these proposals reasonable, I fail to understand how in this community they are relevant. MMSD spends well over $13,000 per student, lack the overwhelming urban problems of Milwaukee and Chicago, and have many fine teachers that somehow get non-minority students educated. These excuses ring hallow as to why MMSD has such a poor rate. What does ring true is we are not educating the population as it exist today. In the last 25 years the MMSD’s minority rate has increased from 20% to one closer to 48%. (2) In the last 25 years MMSD has changed from a district of less than 25% free and reduced lunch to one that is closer to 50%. (3)Madison is still teaching to the population of 25 years ago, the students have changed, but the curriculum has not.
Perhaps, MMSD could improve the graduation rate for all students, with a significant change of focus. For example, MMSD’s high school’s emphasize 4 year college candidates when many of the students would do better in a 2 year or technology school focus. There has been an increased coordination with MATC, but what would be beneficial is to offer a dual graduation for students, so as they graduate from MMSD, they also have a 2 year degree or a certificate from MATC. This is a system that has been successful in a high school in North Carolina. (4) A student that wants to head to college still has that opportunity and perhaps a chance to make some money to support the effort. Perhaps, another way to improve graduation outcomes would include an overhaul of the summer school program. Currently, MMSD summer school staff are paid poorly, the programs focus is mostly on students that have flunked their classes and need a recovery grade, and the programs poor reputation have lead many staff to discourage students from participating. (5) Why not invest in a comprehensive retooling of the summer program that provides a better salary for staff, and includes enrichment, regular classes, as well as recovery options. Let’s find a creative summer program with smaller class sizes and build a program that is the envy of the country and one that works. If summer school is going to be provided, then make it an awesome program, not just a warehouse for failing kids. Perhaps, as most research reveals, early education is a key component to better graduation outcomes, and the district finally is getting a 4K program up and running after a decade long battle with the union.
Madison Prep was an idea, but it is a unique group of students that would select to participate in such a rigorous program, which means an already motivated student or parents with very high expectations, both factors that frequently mean a student would do well anyway. MMSD needs to look at students that may not be that motivated or academically talented and assess what works to keep them engaged. The one thing MMSD has no control over is probably the most important issue for a students outcome. Research concludes the number one predictor of a students academic success is parental expectations. (6) Our schools cannot change parental expectations, however, they can change what a student expects. MMSD students need to expect a positive future, a purpose and a reason to stay in school. Not all kids will succeed but more than half of the black male students should. Let’s develop a district that gives all the students the opportunity to succeed.
blackboysreport.org
http://legistar.cityofmadison.com/attachments/3b609f41-9099-4e75-b894-06f56ab57ca5.pdf
DPI.wi.gov Public school data
http://www.durhamtech.edu/admissions/highschoolstudent.htm

This statement is based on personal experience of having many staff, from middle school up to high school, discourage my daughter who struggles in math from attending summer school. I have also spoke to many parents with the same experience.
http://www.childtrendsdatabank.org/?q=node/366
*** Of note the data of graduation rate is debated in academic circles as the data is not always standardized. Some data includes GED and 5 year rates others include only 4 year rates.
Thanks,
Mary Kay Battaglia

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Wisconsin Read to Lead Report Released

Wisconsin Read to Lead Final Report (PDF), via several readers.  Mary Newton kindly provided this summary:

Summary of the Wisconsin Read to Lead Task Force Recommendations, January, 2012
 

    Teacher Preparation and Professional Development
    All teachers and administrators should receive more instruction in reading pedagogy that focuses on evidence-based practices and the five components of reading as defined by the National Reading Panel (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension).

  1. There must be more accountability at the state level and a commitment by institutions of higher education to improving teacher preparation.
    Licensure requirements should be strengthened to include the Massachusetts Foundations of Reading exam by 2013.
    Teacher preparation programs should expand partnerships with local school districts and early childhood programs.
    Information on the performance of graduates of teacher preparation programs should be available to the public.
    A professional development conference should be convened for reading specialists and elementary school principals.
    DPI should make high quality, science-based, online professional development in reading available to all teachers.
    Professional development plans for all initial educators should include a component on instructional strategies for reading and writing.
    Professional development in reading instruction should be required for all teachers whose students continually show low levels of achievement and/or growth in reading.

  2. Screening, Assessment, and Intervention
    Wisconsin should use a universal statewide screening tool in pre-kindergarten through second grade to ensure that struggling readers are identified as early as possible.
    Proper accommodations should be given to English language learners and special education students.
    Formal assessments should not replace informal assessments, and schools should assess for formative and summative purposes.
    Educators should be given the knowledge to interpret assessments in a way that guides instruction.
    Student data should be shared among early childhood programs, K-12 schools, teachers, parents, reading specialists, and administrators.
    Wisconsin should explore the creation of a program similar to the Minnesota Reading Corps in 2013.
     

  3. Early Childhood
    DPI and the Department of Children and Families should work together to share data, allowing for evaluation of early childhood practices.
    All 4K programs should have an adequate literacy component.
    DPI will update the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards to ensure accuracy and alignment with the Common Core State Standards, and place more emphasis on fidelity of implementation of the WMELS.
    The YoungStar rating system for early childhood programs should include more specific early literacy criteria.
     
     

  4. Accountability
    The Educator Effectiveness Design Team should consider reading outcomes in its evaluation systems.
    The Wisconsin School Accountability Design Team should emphasize early reading proficiency as a key measure for schools and districts. Struggling schools and districts should be given ongoing quality professional development and required to implement scientific research-based screening, assessment, curriculum, and intervention.
    Educators and administrators should receive training on best practices in order to provide effective instruction for struggling readers.
    The state should enforce the federal definition for scientific research-based practices, encourage the use of What Works Clearinghouse, and facilitate communication about effective strategies.
    In addition to effective intervention throughout the school year, Wisconsin should consider mandatory evidence-based summer school programs for struggling readers, especially in the lower grades, and hold the programs accountable for results.
     

  5. Family Involvement
    Support should be given to programs such as Reach Out and Read that reach low-income families in settings that are well-attended by parents, provide books to low-income children, and encourage adults to read to children.
    The state should support programs that show families and caregivers how to foster oral language and reading skill development in children.
    Adult literacy agencies and K-12 schools should collaborate at the community level so that parents can improve their own literacy skills.

Related:  Erin Richards’ summary (and Google News aggregation) and many SIS links

Why I Am Voting Yes on Madison Prep

Lucy Mathiak:

The Urban League’s proposal to create a Madison Preparatory charter school is, at its heart, a proposal about public education in our community. Although the discussions often boil down to overly simplistic assertions about whether one position or the other is supportive of or hostile toward public education, it is not that simple. What we are facing is a larger and more fundamental question about our values when it comes to the purpose of public education and who it is supposed to serve.
I am voting “yes” because I believe that strong public education for all is the foundation for a strong society. While our schools do a very good job with many students who are white and/or living above the poverty line, the same cannot be said for students of color and/or students living in poverty. The record is most dismal for African American students.
The Madison Prep proposal is born of over 40 years of advocacy for schools that engage and hold high academic expectations for African American and other students of color. That advocacy has produced minor changes in rhetoric without changes in culture, practice, or outcome. Yes, some African American students are succeeding. But for the overwhelming majority, there are two Madison public school systems. The one where the students have a great experience and go on to top colleges, and the one that graduates only 48% of African American males.
The individual stories are heartbreaking, but the numbers underscore that individual cases add up to data that is not in keeping with our self-image as a cutting edge modern community. We ALL play a role in the problem, and we ALL must be part creating a sound, systemic, solution to our failure to educate ALL of our public school students. In the meantime, the African American community cannot wait, and the Madison Prep proposal came from that urgent, dire, need.
Our track record with students and families of color is not improving and, in some cases, is going backward rather than forward as we create more plans and PR campaigns designed to dismiss concerns about academic equality as misunderstandings. To be sure, there are excellent principals, teachers, and staff who do make a difference every day; some African American students excel each year. But overall, when presented with opportunities to change and to find the academic potential in each student, the district has failed to act and has been allowed to do so by the complicit silence of board members and the community at large.
A few turning points from the past year alone:

  • The Urban League – not MMSD administration or the board – pointed out the dismal graduation rates for African American students (48% for males)
  • Less than 5% of African American students are college ready.
  • AVID/TOPs does a terrific job with underrepresented students IF they can get in. AVID/TOPs serves 134 (2.6%) of MMSD’s 4,977 African American secondary students.
  • The number of African American students entering AVID/TOPs is lower this year after MMSD administration changed the criteria for participation away from the original focus on students of color, low income, and first generation college students.
  • Of almost 300 teachers hired in 2011-12, less than 10 are African American. There are fewer African American teachers in MMSD today than there were five years ago.
  • Over 50 African Americans applied for custodian positions since January 1, 2011. 1 was hired; close to 30 custodians were hired in that time.
  • 4K – which is presented as a means to address the achievement gap – is predominantly attended by students who are not African American or low-income.
  • In June, the board approved a Parent Engagement Coordinator to help the district improve its relations with African American families. That position remains unfilled. The district has engagement coordinators working with Hmong and Latino families.

The single most serious issue this year, however, came in May when MMSD administration was informed that we are a District Identified for Improvement (DIFI) due to test scores for African American students along with students from low income families and those with learning disabilities. This puts Madison on an elite list with Madison (Milwaukee?) and Racine. The superintendent mentioned DIFI status in passing to the board, and the WI State Journal reported on the possible sanctions without using the term DIFI.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with NCLB, DIFI status is a serious matter because of the ladder of increasing sanctions that come with poor performance. In an ideal world, the district would have articulated the improvement plan required by DPI over the summer for implementation on the first day of school. Such a plan would include clear action steps, goals, and timelines to improve African American achievement. Such a plan does not exist as of mid-December 2011, and in the most recent discussion it was asserted that the improvement plan is “just paper that doesn’t mean much.” I would argue that, to the African American community, such a plan would mean a great deal if it was sincerely formulated and implemented.
At the same time, we have been able to come up with task forces and reports – with goals and timelines – that are devoted to Talented and Gifted Programing, Direct Language Instruction, Fine Arts Programing, and Mathematics Education to name a few.
Under the circumstances, it is hard to see why the African American community would believe that the outcomes will improve if they are ‘just patient’ and ‘work within the existing public school structures to make things better.’ Perhaps more accurately, I cannot look people in the face and ask them to hope that we will do a better job if they just give up on the vision of a school structure that does what the MMSD has failed to do for the African American community since the advocacy began some 40 years ago.

Also posted at the Capital Times.

Madison Public Schools: A Dream Deferred, Opportunity Denied? Will the Madison Board of Education Hear the 40-year long cries of its Parents and Community, and Put Children and Learning before Labor and Adults?

Kaleem Caire, via email:

December 10, 2011
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
For the last 16 months, we have been on an arduous journey to develop a public school that would effectively address the educational needs of children who have under-performed or failed to succeed in Madison’s public schools for at least the last 40 years. If you have followed the news stories, it’s not hard to see how many mountains have been erected in our way during the process.
Some days, it has felt like we’re desperately looking at our children standing dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, some already fallen over while others dangling by their thumbs waiting to be rescued; but before we can get close enough to save them, we have to walk across one million razor blades and through thousands of rose bushes with our bare feet. As we make our way to them and get closer, the razor blades get sharper and the rose bushes grow more dense.
Fortunately, our Board members and team at the Urban League and Madison Preparatory Academy, and the scores of supporters who’ve been plowing through the fields with us for the last year believe that our children’s education, their emotional, social and personal development, and their futures are far more important than any pain we might endure.
Our proposal for Madison Prep has certainly touched a nerve in Madison. But why? When we launched our efforts on the steps of West High School on August 29, 2010, we thought Madison and its school officials would heartily embrace Madison Prep.We thought they would see the school as:
(1) a promising solution to the racial achievement gap that has persisted in our city for at least 40 years;
(2) a learning laboratory for teachers and administrators who admittedly need new strategies for addressing the growing rate of underachievement, poverty and parental disengagement in our schools, and
(3) a clear sign to communities of color and the broader Greater Madison community that it was prepared to do whatever it takes to help move children forward – children for whom failure has become too commonplace and tolerated in our capital city.
Initially, the majority of Board of Education members told us they liked the idea and at the time, had no problems with us establishing Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality – and therefore, non-union, public school. At the same time, all of them asked us for help and advice on how to eliminate the achievement gap, more effectively engage parents and stimulate parent involvement, and better serve children and families of color.
Then, over the next several months as the political climate and collective bargaining in the state changed and opponents to charter schools and Madison Prep ramped up their misinformation and personal attack campaign, the focus on Madison Prep got mired in these issues.
The concern of whether or not a single-gender school would be legal under state and federal law was raised. We answered that both with a legal briefing and by modifying our proposal to establish a common girls school now rather than two years from now.
The concern of budget was raised and how much the school would cost the school district. We answered that through a $2.5 million private gift to lower the per pupil request to the district and by modifying our budget proposal to ensure Madison Prep would be as close to cost-neutral as possible. The District Administration first said they would support the school if it didn’t cost the District more than $5 million above what it initially said it could spend; Madison Prep will only cost them $2.7 million.
Board of Education members also asked in March 2011 if we would consider establishing Madison Prep as an instrumentality of MMSD, where all of the staff would be employed by the district and be members of the teacher’s union. We decided to work towards doing this, so long as Madison Prep could retain autonomy of governance, management and budget. Significant progress was made until the last day of negotiations when MMSD’s administration informed us that they would present a counter-budget to ours in their analysis of our proposal that factored in personnel costs for an existing school versus establishing a modest budget more common to new charter schools.
We expressed our disagreement with the administration and requested that they stick with our budget for teacher salaries, which was set using MMSD’s teacher salary scale for a teacher with 7 years experience and a masters degree and bench-marked against several successful charter schools. Nevertheless, MMSD argued that they were going to use the average years of experience of teachers in the district, which is 14 years with a master’s degree. This drove up the costs significantly, taking teacher salaries from $47,000 to $80,000 per year and benefits from $13,500 to $25,000 per year per teacher. The administration’s budget plan therefore made starting Madison Prep as an instrumentality impossible.
To resolve the issue, the Urban League and Board of Madison Prep met in November to consider the options. In doing so, we consulted with every member of MMSD’s Board of Education. We also talked with parents, stakeholders and other community members as well. It was then decided that we would pursue Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality of the school district because we simply believe that our children cannot and should not have to wait.
Now, Board of Education members are saying that Madison Prep should be implemented in “a more familiar, Madison Way”, as a “private school”, and that we should not have autonomy even though state laws and MMSD’s own charter school policy expressly allow for non-instrumentality schools to exist. There are presently more than 20 such schools in Wisconsin.
What Next?
As the mountains keep growing, the goal posts keep moving, and the razor blades and rose bushes are replenished with each step we take, we are forced to ask the question: Why has this effort, which has been more inclusive, transparent and well-planned, been made so complicated? Why have the barriers been erected when our proposal is specifically focused on what Madison needs, a school designed to eliminate the achievement gap, increase parent engagement and prepare young people for college who might not otherwise get there? Why does liberal Madison, which prides itself on racial tolerance and opposition to bigotry, have such a difficult time empowering and including people of color, particularly African Americans?
As the member of a Black family that has been in Madison since 1908, I wonder aloud why there are fewer black-owned businesses in Madison today than there were 25 years ago? There are only two known black-owned businesses with 10 or more employees in Dane County. Two!
Why can I walk into 90 percent of businesses in Madison in 2011 and struggle to find Black professionals, managers and executives or look at the boards of local companies and not see anyone who looks like me?
How should we respond when Board of Education members tell us they can’t vote for Madison Prep while knowing that they have no other solutions in place to address the issues our children face? How can they say they have the answers and develop plans for our children without consulting and including us in the process? How can they have 51 black applicants for teaching positions and hire only one, and then claim that they can’t find any black people to apply for jobs? How can they say, “We need more conversations” about the education of our children when we’ve been talking for four decades?
I have to ask the question, as uncomfortable as it may be for some to hear, “Would we have to work this hard and endure so much resistance if just 48% of white children in Madison’s public schools were graduating, only 1% of white high school seniors were academically ready for college, and nearly 50% of white males between the ages of 25-29 were incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision?
Is this 2011 or 1960? Should the black community, which has been in Madison for more than 100 years, not expect more?
How will the Board of Education’s vote on December 19th help our children move forward? How will their decision impact systemic reform and seed strategies that show promise in improving on the following?
Half of Black and Latino children are not completing high school. Just 59% of Black and 61% of Latino students graduated on-time in 2008-09. One year later, in 2009-10, the graduation rate declined to 48% of Black and 56% of Latino students compared to 89% of white students. We are going backwards, not forwards. (Source: MMSD 2010, 2011)
Black and Latino children are not ready for college. According to makers of the ACT college entrance exam, just 20% of Madison’s 378 Black seniors and 37% of 191 Latino seniors in MMSD in 2009-10 completed the ACT. Only 7% of Black and 18% of Latino seniors completing test showed they had the knowledge and skills necessary to be “ready for college”. Among all MMSD seniors (those completing and not completing the test), just 1% of Black and 7% of Latino seniors were college ready
Too few Black and Latino graduates are planning to go to college. Of the 159 Latino and 288 Black students that actually graduated and received their diplomas in 2009-10, just 28% of Black and 21% of Latino students planned to attend a four-year college compared to 53% of White students. While another 25% of Black and 33% of graduates planned to attend a two-year college or vocation program (compared to 17% of White students), almost half of all of all Black and Latino graduates had no plans for continuing their education beyond high school compared to 27% of White students. (Source: DPI 2011)
Half of Black males in their formative adult years are a part of the criminal justice system. Dane County has the highest incarceration rate among young Black men in the United States: 47% between the ages of 25-29 are incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision. The incarceration phenomena starts early. In 2009-10, Black youth comprised 62% of all young people held in Wisconsin’s correctional system. Of the 437 total inmates held, 89% were between the ages of 15-17. In Dane County, in which Madison is situated, 49% of 549 young people held in detention by the County in 2010 were Black males, 26% were white males, 12% were black females, 6% were white females and 6% were Latino males and the average age of young people detained was 15. Additionally, Black youth comprised 54% of all 888 young people referred to the Juvenile Court System. White students comprised 31% of all referrals and Latino comprised 6%.
More importantly, will the Board of Education demonstrate the type of courage it took our elders and ancestors to challenge and change laws and contracts that enabled Jim Crow, prohibited civil rights, fair employment and Women’s right to vote, and made it hard for some groups to escape the permanence of America’s underclass? We know this is not an easy vote, and we appreciate their struggle, but there is a difference between what is right and what is politically convenient.
Will the Board have the courage to look in the faces of Black and Latino families in the audience, who have been waiting for solutions for so long, and tell them with their vote that they must wait that much longer?
We hope our Board of Education members recognize and utilize the tremendous power they have to give our children a hand-up. We hope they hear the collective force and harmony of our pleas, engage with our pain and optimism, and do whatever it takes to ensure that the proposal we have put before them, which comes with exceptional input and widespread support, is approved on December 19, 2011.
Madison Prep is a solution we can learn from and will benefit the hundreds of young men and women who will eventually attend.
If not Madison Prep, then what? If not now, then when?
JOIN US
SCHOOL BOARD VOTE ON MADISON PREP
Monday, December 19, 2011 at 5:00pm
Madison Metropolitan School District
Doyle Administration Building Auditorium
545 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53703
Contact: Laura DeRoche Perez, Lderoche@ulgm.org
Phone: 608-729-1230
CLICK HERE TO RSVP: TELL US YOU’LL BE THERE
Write the School Board and Tell Them to “Say ‘Yes’, to Madison Prep!”
Madison Prep 2012!
Onward!
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Phone: 608-729-1200
Fax: 608-729-1205
www.ulgm.org
OUR RESPONSE TO MMSD’S NEW CONCERNS
Autonomy: MMSD now says they are concerned that Madison Prep will not be accountable to the public for the education it provides students and the resources it receives. Yet, they don’t specify what they mean by “accountability.” We would like to know how accountability works in MMSD and how this is producing high achievement among the children it serves. Further, we would like to know why Madison Prep is being treated differently than the 30 early childhood centers that are participating in the district’s 4 year old kindergarten program. They all operate similar to non-instrumentality schools, have their own governing boards, operate via a renewable contract, can hire their own teachers “at their discretion” and make their own policy decisions, and have little to no oversight by the MMSD Board of Education. All 30 do not employ union teachers. Accountability in the case of 4K sites is governed by “the contract.” MMSD Board members should be aware that, as with their approval of Badger Rock Middle School, the contract is supposed to be developed “after” the concept is approved on December 19. In essence, this conversation is occurring to soon, if we keep with current district practices.
Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): MMSD and Madison Teachers, Incorporated have rejected our attorney’s reading of ACT 65, which could provide a path to approval of Madison Prep without violating the CBA. Also, MTI and MMSD could approve Madison Prep per state law and decide not to pursue litigation, if they so desired. There are still avenues to pursue here and we hope MMSD’s Board of Education will consider all of them before making their final decision.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.

Madison School District Identified for Improvement (DIFI); Documentation for the Wisconsin DPI

Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad 15MB PDF

1. Develop or Revise a District Improvement Plan
Address the fundamental teaching and learning needs of schools in the Local Education Agency (LEA), especially the academic problems o f low-achieving students.
MMSD has been identified by the State of Wisconsin as a District Identified for Improvement, or DIFI. We entered into this status based on District WKCE assessment scores. The data indicates that sub-groups of students-African American students, English Language Learner Students with Disabilities or Economically Disadvantaged -did not score high enough on the WKCE in one or more areas of reading, math or test participation to meet state criteria.
Under No Child Left Behind, 100% of students are expected to achieve proficient or advanced on the WKCE in four areas by 2014. Student performance goals have been raised every year on a regular schedule since 2001, making targets more and more difficult to reach each year. In addition to the curriculum changes being implemented, the following assessments are also new or being implemented during the 2011-12 school year (see Attachment 1):

  1. The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP): Grades 3-7. MAP is incorporated into the MMSD Balanced Assessment Plan as a computer adaptive benchmark assessment tool for grades 3-7. Administration of the assessment was implemented in spring, 2011.
  2. Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT): Grades 2 and 5. As proposed in the Talented and Gifted Plan approved by the Board of Education in August, 2009, the district requested approval of funds to purchase and score the Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT) which was administered in February, 2011, to all second and fifth graders.
  3. The EPAS System: Explore Grades 8-9, Plan Grade 10, ACT Grade 11. The EPAS system provides a longitudinal, systematic approach to educational and career planning, assessment, instructional support, and evaluation. The system focuses on the integrated, higher-order thinking skills students develop in grades K-12 that are important for success both during and after high school. The EPAS system is linked to the College and Career Readiness standards so that the information gained about student performance can be used to inform instruction around those standards.

Attached are six documents describing programs being implemented for the 2011-12 school year to address the needs of all students.
1. Strategic Plan Document: Year Three (Attachment 2)
2. Strategic Plan Summary of Three Main Focus Areas (Attachment 3)
3. Addressing the Needs of All Learners and Closing the Achievement Gap Through K-12 Alignment (Attachment 4)
4. Scope and Sequence (Attachment 5)
5. The Ideal Graduate from MMSD (Attachment 6)
6. 4K Update to BOE- Program and Sites- (Attachment 7)

Clusty Search: District Identified for Improvement (DIFI)
Matthew DeFour:

Madison School District administrators aren’t keeping track of the best classroom instruction. Not all principals create a culture of high expectations for all students. And teachers aren’t using the same research-based methods.
Such inconsistencies across the district and within schools — stemming from Madison’s tradition of school and teacher autonomy — are hurting student achievement, according to a district analysis required under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
“There are problems within the entire system,” Superintendent Dan Nerad said. “We do have good practice, but we need to be more consistent and have more fidelity to our practices.”
Inconsistencies in teaching and building culture can affect low-income students, who are more likely to move from school to school, and make teacher training less effective, Nerad said.
The analysis is contained in an improvement plan the district is scheduled to discuss with the School Board on Monday and to deliver next week to the state Department of Public Instruction.

Madison school enrollment highest since 1998

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School District’s student population grew this year to its highest level since 1998, not counting an additional 1,789 new students enrolled in 4-year-old kindergarten.
The 24,861 students represent the second-largest official student count in the past two decades, though the population has stayed relatively constant between 24,000 and 25,000 students during that time. The count is taken on the third Friday of the school year and is used to calculate state aid.
The district estimates there are 2,100 4-year-olds living in the district, which puts the district’s 4K enrollment at more than 85 percent.

Wisconsin Read to Lead Task Force 8.25.2011 Meeting Summary

Wisconsin Reading Coaltion, via a kind reader’s email:

Summary of the August 25, 2011 Read to Lead Task Force Meeting
Green Bay, WI
The fifth meeting of the Read to Lead task force was held on August 25, 2011, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Governor Walker was delayed, so State Superintendent Tony Evers opened the meeting. The main topic of discussion was accountability for reading outcomes, including the strategy of mandatory grade retention. Troy Couillard from DPI also presented an overview of reading reform in Milwaukee Public Schools.
Accountability
Superintendent Evers said that Wisconsin will seek a waiver from the No Child Left Behind proficiency requirements by instituting a new system of accountability. His Educator Effectiveness and Accountability Design teams are working on this, with the goal of a new accountability system being in place by late 2011.
Accountability at the educator level:
The concept of using student achievement or growth data in teacher and principal evaluations is not without controversy, but Wisconsin is including student data in its evaluation model, keeping in mind fairness and validity. The current thought is to base 50% of the educator evaluation on qualitative considerations, using the Danielson Framework http://www.danielsongroup.org (“promoting professional learning through self assessment, reflection on practice, and professional conversations”), and 50% on student data, including multiple measures of performance. 10% of the student data portion of the evaluation (5% of the total evaluation) would be based on whole-school performance. This 5% would be based on a proficiency standard as opposed to a value-added measurement. The 5% is thought to be small enough that it will not affect an individual teacher adversely, but large enough to send a message that all teachers need to work together to raise achievement in a school. The task force was asked if it could endorse whole-school performance as part of teacher evaluation. The task force members seemed to have some support for that notion, especially at the principal level, but had some reservations at the level of the individual teacher.
Kathy Champeau was concerned that some schools do not have the resources to serve some children. She also felt it might not be fair to teachers, as they have no control over other teachers in the school or the principal.
Steve Dykstra said it is important to make sure any value-added system is designed to be fair.
Rachel Lander felt it would be better to use value-added data for whole-school performance rather than a proficiency standard, but supported the importance of schoolwide standards.
Rep. Steve Kestell supported the 5% requirement, and questioned what the qualitative half of the evaluation would be based on. He felt perhaps there could be some schoolwide standards to be met in that part of the evaluation, also.
Tony Evers responded that the Danielson Framework was research-based observations, and that the evaluators would need to be highly trained and consistent in their evaluations.
Tony Pedriana had questions about the type of research on which the Danielson Framework is based.
Evers said he would provide further information to the task force.
Mara Brown said she cannot control what the teacher down the hall does, and that the 5% should apply only to principals.
Linda Pils agreed with the 5%, but felt principals need to be watching and guiding new teachers. She agreed with Dykstra’s comments on measuring growth.
Sen. Luther Olsen was concerned that the 5% portion of a teacher’s evaluation may be the part that tips the balance on job retention for an individual, yet that individual has no control over whole-school performance. He understood the principle of getting everyone involved and committed to a goal, but was concerned with possible consequences.
Mandatory Retention:
The task force was asked to consider whether Wisconsin should implement a mandatory retention policy. If so, what would it look like, and if not, what can be done to make sure students are reading at grade level?
After a guest presentation and discussion, the consensus of the task force was that Wisconsin should not have mandatory retention. Reasons cited were negative effects on later achievement, graduation, self esteem, and psychological well-being. Third grade was felt to be far too late to start intervention, and there needs to be more emphasis on developing teacher expertise and focusing on the responsibility of teachers, principals, and higher education as opposed to threatening the students with retention. Retention without changing the curriculum for the student the following year is pointless.
Dr. Elaine Allensworth, a director at the Consortium on Chicago School Research, joined the task force by telephone to summarize the outcomes of a mandatory retention project in Chicago. Students more than 1 year below the cut-off level on certain tested skills were retained unless they passed the test after a summer bridge program. Students identified as at-risk were given after-school tutoring during the year. Retention was thought to have three primary mechanisms that would affect student performance: motivation for students, families, and teachers to work harder, supplemental instruction after school and during the summer, and an additional year in the grade for failing students. All students in the school could be affected by the motivation and the supplemental instruction, but only the retained students by the extra year of instruction. The study found that the threat of retention worked as a positive motivator for teachers, parents, and some older students. However, there were also negatives in terms of higher-achieving students receiving less attention, more time on test preparation, and an instructional shift to focus on tested skills. The supplemental instruction, especially the summer bridge program, was the biggest positive of the retention project. There was high participation, increased personal attention, and higher-quality instruction. Retention itself had more negative effects than positive. Academic gains were either non-existent or rapidly-disappearing. Multiple year retentions resulted in a problematic mix of ages in classrooms, students unable to finish high school by age 18, and a negative overall attitude toward school.
Dykstra said it appeared that the impetus to do things differently because of the threat of retention had some benefit, but the actual retention had either no effect or a negative effect. He wondered if there was some way to provide the motivation without retention.
Allensworth agreed that the challenge was to provide a motivation without having a threat.
Pils asked if third graders could even understand the threat of retention.
Allensworth replied that they understood if teachers helped them. She also said that some schools with low-quality instruction had no way to improve student learning even with the threat of retention.
Rep. Jason Fields asked how you could avoid teaching to the test.
Allensworth replied that teaching the skills on the test was productive, but not the excessive time that was spent on test-taking strategies. She also said the tendency to teach more narrowly could cause problems later in high school where students needed to be able to participate in broader learning.
Marcia Henry inquired about students who returned to their old rate of learning when they returned to the regular classroom after successfully completing the summer bridge.
Allensworth replied that the summer program used higher quality curriculum and teachers, there was more time provided with students, and the students were more highly motivated.
Dykstra asked if it was possible to determine how much of the summer gain was due to student motivation, and how much due to teachers or parents.
Allensworth said those factors could not be pulled apart.
Champeau questioned whether the summer bridge program taught to the test.
Allensworth replied that it taught in a good way to the skills that the test assessed.
Brown asked if intervention was provided for the first time in third grade.
Allensworth replied that some schools began providing intervention and retaining in first or second grade.
Dykstra asked if the project created a situation where a majority of the school’s resources were concentrated in third grade, leaving other grades short.
Allensworth said they didn’t look at that, though some schools appeared to put their better teachers at certain grades.
Dykstra thought it was the wrong approach to tie services and supports to a specific grade rather than a specific student.
Are some types of consequences necessary to achieve the urgency and intensity necessary for performance improvement? Should there be mandatory summer school or other motivators? The task force did not seem to arrive at a consensus on this.
Lander said schools need the resources to do early intervention, plus information on what should be done in early intervention, and this is not currently the case in Wisconsin.
Pils questioned where teachers would find the time to provide intervention. She liked the idea of after-school and summer programs as well as reading the classics to kids. Providing a model of best instruction is important for teachers who don’t have that background.
Mary Read commented on Bill Gates’ experience with spending a lot of money for minimal results, and the conclusion that money needs to go into teacher training and proven programs such as the Kipp schools or into a national core curriculum.
Dykstra noted that everyone agrees that teacher training is essential, but there is disagreement as to curriculum and training content. His experience is that teachers are generally unable to pinpoint what is going wrong with a student’s reading. We must understand how poor and widespread current teacher training is, apologize to teachers, and then fix the problem, but not at teachers’ expense.
The facilitators asked what the policy should be. Is there an alternative to using retention? Should teacher re-training be mandatory for those who need the support?
Evers said that a school-by-school response does not work. The reforms in Milwaukee may have some relevance.
Olsen suggested that there are some reading programs that have been proven successful. If a school is not successful, perhaps they should be required to choose from a list of approved instructional methods and assessment tools, show their results, and monitor program fidelity. He feels we have a great resource in successful teachers in Wisconsin and other states, and the biggest issue is agreeing on programs that work for intervention and doing it right the first time.
Kestell said some major problems are teachers with high numbers of failing students, poor teacher preparation, the quality of early childhood education, and over-funding of 4K programs without a mandate on how that money is used. There has been some poor decision-making, and the kids are not responsible for that. We must somehow hold schools, school board, and individual educators accountable.
Champeau said teachers have no control over how money is spent. This accountability must be at the school and district level. More resources need to be available to some schools depending on the needs of their student population.
Lander: We must provide the necessary resources to identified schools.
Dykstra: We must develop an excellent system of value-added data so we can determine which schools are actually doing well. Right now we have no way of knowing. High-performing schools may actually be under-performing given their student demographics; projected student growth will not be the same in high and low performing schools.
Pedriana: We have long known how to teach even the most at-risk readers with evidence-based instruction. The truth is that much of our teacher training and classroom instruction is not evidence-based. We need the collective will to identify the evidence base on which we will base our choices, and then apply it consistently across the state. The task force has not yet taken on this critical question.
Pils: In her experience, she feels Wisconsin teachers are among the best in the country. There are some gaps we need to close.
Pedriana: Saying how good we are does not help the kids who are struggling.
Pils: We need to have our best teachers in the inner city, and teachers should not need to purchase their own supplies. We have to be careful with a limited list of approved programs. This may lead to ethics violations.
Pedriana: Referring to Pils’ mention of Wisconsin’s high graduation rates in a previous meeting, what does our poor performance on the NAEP reading test say about our graduation standards?
Michael Brickman (Governor’s aide): There is evidence of problems when you do retention, and evidence of problems when you do nothing. We can’t reduce the failing readers to zero using task force recommendations, so what should we do with students who leave 3rd grade not reading anywhere near grade level? Should we have mandatory summer school?
Henry: Response to Intervention (RTI) is a perfect model for intervening early in an appropriate way. A summer bridge program is excellent if it has the right focus. We must think more realistically about the budget we will require to do this intervention.
Olsen: If we do early intervention, we should have a very small number of kids who are still behind in 3rd grade. Are we teaching the right, most efficient way? We spend a lot of money on K-12 education in Wisconsin, but we may need to set priorities in reading. There is enough money to do it. Reading should be our mission at each grade level.
Facilitator: What will be the “stick” to make people provide the best instruction?
Dykstra: Accountability needs to start at the top in the state’s education system. When the same people continue to make the same mistakes, yet there are no consequences, we need to let some people go. That is what they did in Massachusetts and Florida: start with two or three people in whom you have great confidence, and build from there.
Facilitator: Is there consensus on mandatory summer school for failing students?
Michele Erickson: Summer school is OK if the right resources are available for curriculum and teachers.
Kestell: All grades 4K – 3 are gateway grades. They are all important.
Champeau: Summer school is a good idea, but we would need to solve transportation issues.
Dykstra: We should open up the concept of summer school beyond public schools to any agency that offers quality instruction using highly qualified instructors from outside the educational establishment.
Lander: Supports Dykstra’s idea. You can’t lay summer instruction on schools that can hardly educate during the school year.
Brown: Could support summer school in addition to, but not in place of, early intervention during the school year.
Erickson: Look at the school year first when allocating resources. Summer school is a hard sell to families.
Pedriana: Agrees with Olsen that we probably have sufficient funds for the school year, but we need to spend it more wisely. We cannot expect districts to make the commitment to extra instruction if there is no accountability at the top (including institutions of higher education). We need to resolve the issue of what knowledge and content standards will be taught before we address summer school or other issues.
Milwaukee Public Schools’ tiered RTI system was presented by DPI’s Troy Couillard as an example of an accountability system. MPS chose a new core reading program for 2010-11 after submitting its research base to DPI. Teachers were provided with some in-service training, and there are some site checks for fidelity of implementation. Tier 2 interventions will begin in 2011-12, and Tier 3 interventions in 2012-13. He felt that the pace of these changes, plus development of a data accountability system, student screening with MAP and other testing, progress monitoring, and professional development, has MPS moving much faster than most districts around the county on implementing RTI. DPI embedded RTI in the district’s Comprehensive Literacy Plan. DPI is pushing interventions that are listed on the National RTI site, but teachers are allowed to submit research for things they are using to see if those tools might be used.
Pils: Kids in MPS are already struggling. Reading First would suggest that they have 120 minuets of reading a day instead of the 90 minutes provided in the MPS plan.
Couillard: Tier 2 intervention for struggling students will add onto the 90 minutes of core instruction.
Olsen: Can this system work statewide without DPI monitoring all the districts?
Couillard: Districts are trained to monitor their own programs.
Pils: Veteran schools with proven strategies could be paired with struggling schools as mentors and models.
Pedriana: We have no way of knowing what proven strategies are unless we discuss what scientific evidence says works in reading. The task force must grapple with this question.
Brickman: Read to Lead task force needs to start with larger questions and then move to finer grain; this task force may not be able to do everything.
Pedriana: Is there anything more important for this task force to do than to decide what evidence-based reading instruction is?
Brickman: Task force members may submit suggestions for issues to discuss at the final meeting in September. Tony could submit some sample language on “evidence-based instruction” as a starting point for discussion.
Henry: The worst schools should be required to at least have specific guidelines, whether it is a legislative or DPI issue. Teacher retraining (not a 1-day workshop) is a necessity. Teachers are unprepared to teach.
Olsen: Wisconsin has always been a local control state, but one of the outcomes of the task force may be that we have a method for identifying schools that are not doing well, and then intervene with a plan. The state is ultimately responsible for K-12 education. Districts should take the state blueprint or come up with their own for approval by the state.
Erickson: Can we define what will work so districts can just do it?
Evers: MPS experience shows there is a process that works, and districts can do their own monitoring.
Dykstra: Sees value in making a list of things that districts are not allowed to do in reading instruction; also value in making a list of recommended programs based on alignment with the convergence of the science of reading research. That list would not be closed, but it should not include programs based on individual, publisher-funded studies that do not align with the convergence of the science. This could be of benefit to all districts. Even those doing relatively well could be doing better. Right now there is no list, and no learning targets. The MPS plan contains the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards, which contain errors. DPI needs to correct that information and distribute it right now. That would be a good example of accountability at the state level.
Couillard: The new statewide data collection system will help districts monitor their own data.
Champeau: School needs change depending on demographics. The goal should be to build decision-making capacity at the local level, not dictation from outside. We should be talking more about people than programs. Have MPS teachers been doing a better job? What will they do if their program goes away? We need to work on the underlying expertise and knowledge base.
Facilitator: There appears to be agreement that the state can intervene in failing districts.
Lander: We might have some consensus as to what teachers need to know, and then go into schools to see if they know it. If not, we need to teach them.
Pedriana: What is so bad about providing a program, with training, of course? It would help people.
Facilitator: There is consensus around training of teachers.
Dykstra: Some of the distinction between training and programs is artificial. You need both.
Other things the state could require: weighting of reading in evaluation systems, grading of schools etc.
Dykstra: If giving schools grades, they should get separate grades for how they do in teaching separate content areas. In addition, everything should be reported in the best value-added system we can create, because it’s the only way to know if you’re doing a good job.
Pils: Doesn’t like grading of schools. She has a whole folder on cheating in districts that have grading of schools and high stakes tests.
Evers: Do we just want to measure what schools are doing, or do we want to use it to leverage change?
Erickson: Wisconsin has gone from 3rd to 30th on the NAEP, so of course we should be seeking change.
Walker: The idea is not to pick on failing schools, but to help them. We must be able to deploy the resources to the things that work in accordance with science and research to teach reading right.
Dykstra: We should seek small kernels of detailed information about which teachers consistently produce better results in a given type of school for a given type of student. There is a problem with reliability when using MAP data at an individual student level.
Supt. Evers talked about the new state accountability system as being a better alternative to no Child Left Behind. Governor Walker said the state is not just doing this as an alternative to NCLB, but in response to comments from business that our graduates are not well-prepared. Parents want to know what all schools are doing.
Olsen: We need a system to monitor reading in Wisconsin before we get into big trouble. Our changing population is leading us to discover challenges that other states have dealt with for years.
Kestell: The accountability design team is an excellent opportunity to discuss priorities in education; a time to set aside personal agendas and look for solutions that work.
Next Meeting/Status of Report
Michael Brickman will try to send out a draft of a report the week of August 29 with his best interpretation of task force consensus items. The final meeting will be Sept. 27, perhaps in Madison, Eau Claire, or Wausau. Some task force issues will need to be passed on to other task forces in the future.

Related: A Capitol Conversation on Wisconsin’s Reading Challenges and Excellence in Education explains Florida’s reading reforms and compares Florida’s NAEP progress with Wisconsin’s at the July 29th Read to Lead task force meeting and www.wisconsin2.org.

July 29 Wisconsin Read to Lead task force meeting

Julie Gocey, via email:

The fourth meeting of the Governor’s Read to Lead task force took place in Milwaukee on Friday, July 29. The meeting was filmed by Wisconsin Eye, but we have not seen it offered yet through their website. We will send out a notice when that occurs. As always, we encourage you to watch and draw your own conclusions.
Following is a synopsis of the meeting, which centered on reading improvement success in Florida and previously-discussed task force topics (teacher preparation, licensing, professional development, screening/intervention, early childhood). In addition, Superintendent Evers gave an update on activity within DPI. The discussion of the impact of societal factors on reading achievement was held over to the next meeting, as was further revisiting of early childhood issues.

In addition to this summary, you can access Chan Stroman’s Eduphilia tweets at http://twitter.com/#!/eduphilia
Opening: Governor Walker welcomed everyone and stressed the importance of this conversation on reading. Using WKCE data, which has been criticized nationally and locally for years as being derived from low standards, the Governor stated that 80% of Wisconsin students are proficient or advanced in reading, and he is seeking to serve the other 20%. The NAEP data, which figured prominently in the presentation of the guest speakers, tell a very different story. Superintendent Evers thanked the task force members and indicated that this is all about “connecting the dots” and putting all of the “puzzle pieces” together. The work of this task force will impact the work going on in other education-focused committees.
The Florida Story: Guest speakers were Patricia Levesque, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the Foundation for Florida’s Future, and Mary Laura Bragg, the director of Florida’s statewide reading initiative, Just Read, Florida! from 2001 to 2006.
In a series of slides, Levesque compared Wisconsin, Florida, and national performance on the NAEP reading test over the past decade. Despite challenges in terms of English language learners, a huge percentage of students on free/reduced lunch, and a minority-majority demographic, Florida has moved from the scraping the bottom on the NAEP to the top group of states. Over the same time period, Wisconsin has plummeted in national ranking, and our students now score below the national average in all subgroups for which NAEP data is disaggregated. 10 points on the NAEP scale is roughly equivalent to one grade level in performance, and Florida has moved from two grade levels below Wisconsin to 1/2 grade level above. For a full discussion of Wisconsin’s NAEP performance, see our website, http://www.wisconsinreadingcoalition.org.
Levesque and Bragg also described the components of the reading initiative in Florida, which included grading all schools from A to F, an objective test-based promotion policy from third to fourth grade, required state-approved reading plans in each district, trained reading coaches in schools, research assistance from the Florida Center for Reading Research, required individual student intervention plans for struggling students, universal K-2 screening for reading problems, improved licensure testing for teachers and principals, the creation of a reading endorsement for teaching licenses, and on-line professional development available to all teachers. As noted above, achievement has gone up dramatically, the gap between demographic groups has narrowed, early intervention is much more common, and third grade retention percentages continue to fall. The middle school performance is now rising as those children who received early intervention in elementary school reach that level. Those students have not yet reached high school, and there is still work to be done there. To accomplish all this, Florida leveraged federal funds for Title 1 and 2 and IDEA, requiring that they be spent for state-approved reading purposes. The Governor also worked actively with business to create private/public partnerships supporting reading. Just Read, Florida! was able to engineer a statewide conference for principals that was funded from vendor fees. While Florida is a strong local control state, reading is controlled from the state level, eliminating the need for local curriculum directors to research and design reading plans without the resources or manpower to do so. Florida also cut off funding to university professors who refused to go along with science-based reading instruction and assessment.
Florida is now sharing its story with other states, and offering assistance in reading plan development, as well as their screening program (FAIR assessment system) and their online professional development, which cost millions to develop. Levesque invited Wisconsin to join Indiana and other states at a conference in Florida this fall.
Questions for, or challenges to, the presenters came from three task force members.

  • Rachel Lander asked about the reading coaches, and Bragg responded that they were extensively trained by the state office, beginning with Reading First money. They are in the classroom modeling for teachers and also work with principals on understanding data and becoming building reading leaders. The coaches now have an association that has acquired a presence in the state.
  • Linda Pils stated her belief that Wisconsin outperforms Florida at the middle school level, and that we have higher graduation rates than Florida. She cited opinions that third grade retention has some immediate effect, but the results are the same or better for non-retained students later, and that most retained students will not graduate from high school. She also pointed out Florida’s class size reduction requirement, and suggested that the NAEP gains came from that. Levesque explained that the retention studies to which Pils was referring were from other states, where retention decisions were made subjectively by teachers, and there was no requirement for science-based individual intervention plans. The gains for retained students in Florida are greater than for matched students who are not retained, and the gains persist over time. Further, retention did not adversely affect graduation rates. In fact, graduation rates have increased, and dropout rates have declined. The University of Arkansas is planning to do a study of Florida retention. The class size reduction policy did not take effect in Florida until last year, and a Harvard study concluded that it had no effect on student reading achievement. Task force member Steve Dykstra pointed out that you cannot compare the NAEP scores from two states without considering the difference in student demographics. Wisconsin’s middle school scores benefit from the fact that we have a relative abundance of white students who are not on free/reduced lunch. Our overall average student score in middle school may be higher than Florida, but when we compare similar cohorts from both states, Florida is far ahead.
  • Tony Pedriana asked what kinds of incentives have been put in place for higher education, principals, etc. to move to a science-based system of instruction. The guests noted that when schools are graded, reading performance receives double weight in the formula. They also withheld funding for university programs that were not science-based.

DPI Update: Superintendent Evers indicated that DPI is looking at action in fours areas: teacher licensure, the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards, the use of a screener to detect reading problems, and implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

  • The committee looking at licensing is trying to decide whether they should recommend an existing, off-the-shelf competency exam, or revise the exam they are currently requiring (Praxis 2). He did not indicate who is on the committee or what existing tests they were looking at. In the past, several members of the task force have recommended that Wisconsin use the Foundations of Reading test given in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
  • DPI is revising the WMELS to correct definitions and descriptions of phonological and phonemic awareness and phonics. The changes will align the WMELS with both the Report of the National Reading Panel and the Common Core State Standards. Per the suggestion of Eboni Howard, a guest speaker at the last meeting, they will get an outside opinion on the WMELS when they are finished. Evers did not indicate who is doing this work.
  • DPI is looking at the possibility of using PALS screening or some other tool recommended by the National RTI Center to screen students in grades K-2 or K-3. Evers previously mentioned that this committee had been meeting for 6-7 months, but he did not indicate who is on it.
  • Evers made reference to communication that was circulated this week (by Dr. Dan Gustafson and John Humphries) that expressed concern over the method in which DPI is implementing the Common Core. He stated that districts have been asking DPI for help in implementing the CC, and they want to provide districts with a number of resources. One of those is the model curriculum being developed by CESA 7. DPI is looking at it to see how it could help the state move forward, but no final decision has yet been made.

Task force member Pam Heyde, substituting for Marcia Henry, suggested that it would be better to look at what Florida is doing rather than start from ground zero looking at guidelines. Patricia Levesque confirmed that Florida was willing to assist other states, and invited Wisconsin to join a meeting of state reading commissioners in October.
Teacher Preparation: The discussion centered around what needs to change in teacher preparation programs, and how to fit this into a four-year degree.
Steve Dykstra said that Texas has looked at this issue extensively. Most schools need three courses to cover reading adequately, but it is also important to look at the texts that are used in the courses. He referenced a study by Joshi that showed most of the college texts to be inadequate.
Dawnene Hassett, UW-Madison literacy professor in charge of elementary teacher reading preparation, was invited to participate in this part of the discussion. She indicated we should talk in terms of content knowledge, not number of credits. In a couple of years, teachers will have to pass a Teacher Performance Assessment in order to graduate. This was described as a metacognitive exercise using student data. In 2012-13, UW-Madison will change its coursework, combining courses in some of the arts, and dropping some of the pedagogical, psychological offerings.
Tony Pedriana said he felt schools of education had fallen down on teaching content derived from empirical studies.
Hassett said schools teach all five “pillars” of reading, but they may not be doing it well enough. She said you cannot replicate classroom research, so you need research “plus.”
Pils was impressed with the assistance the FCRR gives to classroom teachers regarding interventions that work. She also said spending levels were important.
Dykstra asked Mary Laura Bragg if she had worked with professors who thought they were in alignment with the research, but really weren’t.
Bragg responded that “there’s research, and then there’s research.” They had to educate people on the difference between “research” from vendors and empirical research, which involves issues of fidelity and validation with different groups of students.
Levesque stated that Florida increased reading requirements for elementary candidates from 3 to 6 credits, and added a 3 credit requirement for secondary candidates. Colleges were required to fit this in by eliminating non-content area pedagogy courses.
Kathy Champeau repeated a concern from earlier meetings that teacher candidates need the opportunity to practice their new knowledge in a classroom setting, or they will forget it.
Hassett hoped the Teacher Performance Assessment would help this. The TPA would probably require certain things to be included in the teacher candidate’s portfolio.
Governor Walker said that the key to the effectiveness of Florida’s retention policy was the intervention provided to the students. He asked what they did to make sure intervention was successful.
Levesque replied that one key was reading coaches in the classroom. Also, district reading plans, individual intervention plans, student academies, etc. all need to be approved by the state.
There was consensus that there should be a difference in reading requirements for elementary vs. secondary teachers. There was no discussion of preparation for reading teachers, reading specialists, or special education teachers.
Licensing: The discussion centered around what teacher standards need to be tested.
Dykstra suggested that the Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading, written by Louisa Moats, et al, and published by the International Dyslexia Association in 2010, would be good teacher standards, and the basis for a teacher competency exam. There was no need for DPI to spend the next year discussing and inventing new teacher standards.
Champeau said that the International Reading Association also has standards.
Pedriana asked if those standards are based on research.
Dykstra suggested that the task force look at the two sets of standards side-by-side and compare them.
Professional Development: The facilitators looked for input on how professional development for practicing teachers should be targeted. Should the state target struggling teachers, schools, or districts for professional development?
Rep. Jason Fields felt all three needed to be targeted.
Heyde asked Levesque for more details on how Wisconsin could do professional development, when we often hear there is no money.
Levesque provided more detail on the state making reading a priority, building public/private partnerships, and being more creative with federal grant money (e.g., the 20% of each grant that is normally carved out by the state for administration). There should be a clear reading plan (Florida started with just two people running their initiative, and after a decade only has eight people), and all the spending should align with the plan to be effective. You cannot keep sending money down the hole. Additional manpower was provided by the provision that all state employees would get one paid hour per week to volunteer on approved reading projects in schools, and also by community service requirements for high school students.
Bragg suggested using the online Florida training modules, and perhaps combining them with modules from Louisiana.
Dykstra also suggested taking advantage of existing training, including LETRS, which was made widely available in Massachusetts. He also stressed the importance of professional development for principals, coaches, and specialists.
Bragg pointed out that many online training modules are free, or provided for a nominal charge that does not come close to what it would cost Wisconsin to develop its own professional development.
Lander said there were many Wisconsin teachers who don’t need the training, and it should not be punitive.
Champeau suggested that Florida spends way more money on education that Wisconsin, based on information provided by the NAEP.
Levesque clarified that Florida actually is below the national average in cost per student. The only reason they spend more than Wisconsin is that they have more students.
Rep. Steve Kestell stated that teachers around the entire state have a need for professional development, and it is dangerous to give it only to the districts that are performing the worst.
Sarah Archibald (sitting in for Sen. Luther Olsen) said it would be good to look at the value added in districts across the state when trying to identify the greatest needs for professional development. The new statewide information system should provide us with some of this value added information, but not at a classroom teacher level.
Evers commented that the state could require new teacher Professional Development Plans to include or be focused on reading.
Pils commented that districts can have low and high performing schools, so it is not enough to look at district data.
Champeau said that administrators also need this professional development. They cannot evaluate teachers if they do not have the knowledge themselves.
Dykstra mentioned a Florida guidebook for principals with a checklist to help them. He is concerned about teachers who develop PDP’s with no guidance, and spend a lot of time and money on poor training and learning. There is a need for a clearinghouse for professional development programs.
Screening/Intervention: One of the main questions here was whether the screening should be universal using the same tools across the state.
Champeau repeated a belief that there are districts who are doing well with the screening they are doing, and they should not be required to change or add something new.
Dykstra responded that we need comparable data from every school to use value added analysis, so a universal tool makes sense. He also said there was going to be a lot of opposition to this, given the statements against screening that were issued when Rep. Keith Ripp introduced legislation on this topic in the last biennium. He felt the task force has not seen any screener in enough detail to recommend a particular one at this time.
Heyde said we need a screener that screens for the right things.
Pils agreed with Dykstra and Heyde. She mentioned that DIBELS is free and doesn’t take much time.
Michele Erickson asked if a task force recommendation would turn into a mandate. She asked if Florida used a universal screener.
Levesque replied that Florida initially used DIBELS statewide, and then the FCRR developed the FAIR assessments for them. The legislature in Florida mandated the policy of universal kindergarten screening that also traces students back to their pre-K programs to see which ones are doing a better job. Wisconsin could purchase the FAIR assessments from Florida.
Archilbald suggested phasing in screening if we could not afford to do it all at once.
Evers supports local control, but said there are reasons to have a universal screener for data systems, to inform college programs, and to implement professional development.
Lander asked what screening information we could get from the WKCE.
Evers responded that the WKCE doesn’t start unitl third grade.
Dykstra said we need a rubric about screening, and who needs what type and how often.
Pedriana said student mobility is another reason for a universal screener.
There was consensus that early screening is important. Certainly by 4K or 5K, but even at age three if a system could be established. Possibilities mentioned were district-run screenings or pediatrician screenings.
Walker reminded the task force that it only makes sense to screen if you have the ability to intervene with something.
Mara Brown wasn’t sure that a universal screener would tell her anything more about her students than she already knows.
Levesque said she could provide a screening roadmap rubric for the task force.
No one on the task force had suggestions for specific interventions. The feeling was that it is more important to have a well-trained teacher. Both Florida and Oregon started evaluating and rating interventions, but stopped because they got bogged down. Wisconsin must also be careful about evaluations by What Works Clearinghouse, which has some problems.
Pedriana asked if the task force is prepared to endorse a model of instruction based on science, where failure is not an option.
The facilitator said this discussion would have to wait for later.
Early Childhood: The task force agreed that YoungStar should include more specific literacy targets.
Rep. Kestell felt that some district are opening 4K programs primarily for added revenue, and that there is wide variability in quality. There is a need to spend more time on this and decide what 4K should look like.
Evers said we should use the Common Core and work backward to determine what needs to be done in 4K.
Wrap-Up: Further discussion of early childhood will be put over to the next meeting, as will the societal issues and accountability. A meeting site has not yet been set, but Governor Walker indicted he liked moving around the state. The Governor’s aides will follow up as to locations and specific agenda. The next meeting will be Thursday, August 25. All meetings are open to the public.

Related: An Open Letter to the Wisconsin Read To Lead Task Force on Implementing Common Core Academic Standards; DPI: “Leading Us Backwards” and how does Wisconsin Compare? www.wisconsin2.org.
Much more on Wisconsin’s Read to Lead Task Force, here.

Despite insurgent threats, hundreds of boys at school in Salavat, Afghanistan

Colin Perkel:

Not a single kid or teacher showed up when the unadorned eight-room school in Salavat opened to much fanfare barely a month ago.
It was a heart-breaking moment for the Canadian military and civilian sponsors for whom education of children in the Panjwaii district of Kandahar province has long been a top, if frustrating, priority
“The insurgents told us, ‘Don’t go to the school. If you guys go, we will cut off your ears,'” says one boy, who looks about 12.
Still, here they are now, neatly paired — sometimes in threes — quietly seated in their wooden desks, attentively reciting a lesson or reading from the chalkboard.
Weeks after that inauspicious start, the raucous chatter of scores of kids sporting baby blue UNICEF backpacks echoes across the dusty soccer pitch at the start of the school day.

Ivy League Alumni Quit Admissions Interviews as Success Slips

Janet Lorin:

With admissions notifications from Ivy League colleges going out as early as today, it’s more than just applicants awaiting the results.
Alumni interviewers like University of Pennsylvania graduate Andrew Ross say they’re getting annoyed that fewer of the students they endorse win acceptance. Some are ignoring calls to do more and others are quitting the volunteer job altogether. Ross has interviewed more than 50 applicants in a decade and only seen two or three get in.
“Is it worth it to interview if I’m not going to have any influence on the students getting in?” said Ross, 33, who lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and runs a children’s entertainment business. “If it doesn’t mean much, then they should find a better way to use our time. It just kind of feels ridiculous.”

What cuts? Madison schools OK

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Alarmists in Madison suggest Gov. Scott Walker’s state budget proposal will decimate public education.
But Superintendent Dan Nerad’s proposed 2011-2012 budget for Madison School District tells a different story.
Under Nerad’s plan, unveiled late last week, the Madison district would:

That’s not to suggest Madison schools are flush with money. Gov. Walker, after all, is trying to balance a giant state budget deficit without raising taxes or pushing the problem further down the road. Walker has proposed cuts to most state programs, including aid to public schools.

2010-2011 Madison School District Citizen’s Budget

Superintendent Dan Nerad, 74K PDF:

Attached to this memorandum you will find the Fall Revised Budget version of the 2010-11 Citizen’s Budget. The Citizen’s Budget is intended to present financial information to the community in a format that is more easily understood. The first report includes 2009-10 Revised Budget, 2010-11 Revised Budget and groups expenditures into categories outlined as follows:

  • In-School Operations
  • Curriculum & Teacher Development & Support
  • Facilities, Other Than Debt Service
  • Transportation
  • Food Service
  • Business Services
  • Human Resources
  • General Administration
  • Debt Service
  • District-Wide
  • MSCR

The second report associates revenue sources with the specific expenditure area they are meant to support. In those areas where revenues are dedicated for a specific purpose (ie. Food Services) the actual amount is represented. In many areas of the budget, revenues had to be prorated to expenditures based on percentage that each specific expenditure bears of the total expenditure budget. It is also important to explain that property tax funds made up the difference between expenditures and all other sources of revenues. The revenues were broken out into categories as follows:

  • Local Non-Tax Revenue
  • Equalized & Categorical State Aid
  • Direct Federal Aid
  • Direct State Aid
  • Property Taxes

Both reports combined represent the 2010-11 Fall Revised Citizens Budget. This report can also be found on the District’s web site.

Iowa Governor Unveils New Preschool Plan

Nina Earnest:

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad unveiled on Tuesday his new preschool program designed to award scholarships to low-income families, setting aside $43.6 million in state appropriations.
“By providing all Iowa children the opportunity to attend preschool, we will reduce the need for special-education services and for children to repeat grades,” Branstad said in a press release.
The Iowa Preschool Scholarship eliminates universal preschool for 4-year-olds, but it aims to provide $3,000 scholarships to eligible 4-year-olds who attend at least 10 hours of preschool a week beginning in the 2011-12 school year.
Under the annual scholarship, families pay costs on a sliding scale depending on federal poverty guidelines up to 300 percent poverty. The plan means higher income families to pay full tuition.

Related: Madison’s planned 4K program.

Why 4-K is a good idea

Jami Collins & Vikki Kratz:

Mary was four years old when she entered the pre-kindergarten program in Marshall. Her parents were struggling with her behavior. She had a significant speech delay. She didn’t like snuggling with them. She didn’t want to read books. And she refused to let her parents touch her hair.
“What are we doing wrong?” her parents wondered.
Mary’s early childhood teachers worked with her parents and her pediatrician to help diagnose the problem: Mary had autism. Her teachers created a special education plan for her, which included “social stories” — books of pictures from Mary’s daily life that helped explain mysterious rituals like brushing her hair.
The teachers taught Mary how to read facial expressions and verbalize her feelings, instead of having tantrums. They took her on field trips to public places, so she could get used to the noise and bustle of other people.
As Mary’s parents began to understand autism, the teachers supported them by offering advice. The intense, early intervention helped Mary and her family learn to manage her autism. By sixth grade, Mary was doing so well she was able to exit special education services for good.

Much more on Madison’s planned 4k program, here.

Lawmaker Proposes Cutting 4-Year-Old Kindergarten

Channel3000:

The Madison Metropolitan School District is preparing to start up 4-year-old kindergarten this fall, but a state lawmaker said the program isn’t worth the cost and wants it cut from the state budget.
More than 300 school districts in Wisconsin already offer 4-year-old kindergarten, but Gov. Scott Walker is considering a proposal to do away with the program.
This comes as Madison prepares to enroll any child who turns 4 years old on or before Sept. 1, 2011, and to launch 4K in the fall.
The turnout Wednesday at the last scheduled meeting for Madison’s upcoming 4K program wasn’t just standing-room-only; some parents, such as Emily Lockwood, weren’t even able to step foot inside at the Lussier Community Center because the crowd was so large, WISC-TV reported.
“I’m excited. She loves to learn. She’s really into numbers and letters and writing,” said Lockwood, whose daughter Adele plans to attend the 4K program.

Much more on Madison’s planned 4K program, here.

Q & A: Charter School Proposal for Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men

570K PDF:

APPENDIX MMM-7-21 January 31, 2011
Urban League of Greater Madison
SUMMARY
On December 6, 2010, the Urban League of Greater Madison presented an initial proposal for the establishment of Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men (a non-instrumentality all-boys secondary charter school) to the Planning and Development Committee of the MMSD Board of Education. During the discussion that followed, Board members agreed to submit follow-up questions to the Urban Leagne, to which the Urban Leagne would respond before the next meeting of the Planning and Development Committee. Questions were submitted by Ed Hughes and Lucy Mathiak. Furthermore, Arlene Silveira submitted questions presented to her by several connnunity members. Below each numbered Board member question, you will find the ULGM response.
1. Ed Hughes: Do you have a response to the suggestion that your proposal may violate Wis. Stat. sec. 118.40(4)(c) other than that you also intend sometime in the future to develop and operate a school for girls? If so, what is the response?
ULGM: Please refer to our letter to MMSD Board of Education members that responded to the ACLU’s opposition to Madison Prep. The answer to your question is contained in that letter. We have attached the letter to this document for your review.
2. Ed Hughes: To the extent the information is available to you, please list the 37 or so non instrumentality charter schools currently operating in Wisconsin.
ULGM: The following list of non-instrumentality charter schools currently operating in Wisconsin was compiled from the 20 I 0-20 II Charter Schools Yearbook published by the Department of Public Instruction. You can find the complete Yearbook online at: http://dpi.wi.gov/sms/pdf/2010.llyearbook.pdf
1. Barron, North Star Academy
2. Cambridge, JEDI Virtual High School
3. City of Milwaukee, Central City Cyberschool
4. City of Milwaukee, Darrell Lynn Hines (DLH) Academy
5. City of Milwaukee, Downtown Montessori Academy
6. City of Milwaukee, King’s Academy
7. City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Academy of Science
8. Grantsburg, Insight School of Wisconsin
9. Hayward, Hayward Center for Individualized Learning
10. Hayward, Waadookodaading Charter School
11. McFarland, Wisconsin Virtual Academy
12. Milwaukee, Carmen High School of Science and Technology
13. Milwaukee, Highland Community School
14. Milwaukee, Hmong American Peace Academy (HAPA)
15. Milwaukee, International Peace Academy
16. Milwaukee, La Causa Charter School
17. Milwaukee, Milwaukee Community Cyber (MC2) High School
18. Milwaukee, Next Door Charter School
19. Milwaukee, Wings Academy
20. Milwaukee, Wisconsin Career Academy
21. Nekoosa, Niikuusra Community School
22. New Lisbon, Juneau County Charter School
23. New Richmond, NR4Kids Charter School
24. Sheboygan, Lake Country Academy
25. UW-Milwaukee, Bruce Guadalupe Community School
26. UW-Milwaukee, Business & Economics Academy of Milwaukee (BEAM)
27. UW-Milwaukee, Capitol West Academy
28. UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee College Preparatory School
29. UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee Renaissance Academy
30. UW-Milwaukee, School for Early Development & Achievement (SEDA)
31. UW-Milwaukee, Seeds of Health Elementary School
32. UW-Milwaukee, Tenor High School
33. UW-Milwaukee, Urban Day Charter School, Inc
34. UW-Milwaukee, Veritas High School
35. UW-Milwaukee, Woodlands School
36. UW -Milwaukee, YMCA Young Leaders Academy
37. UW-Parkside, 21st Century Preparatory School
38. Weyauwega-Fremont, Waupaca County Charter School
3. Ed Hughes: Do you have copies of any of the contracts Wisconsin non-instrumentality charter schools have entered into with their school districts? If so, please list the contracts and provide a copy of at least one of them.
ULGM: See attached contracts for Lake Country Academy in Sheboygan and the Wisconsin Virtual Academy in McFarland, which are both non-instrumentality charter schools.
4. Ed Hughes: To the extent the information is available to you, please list the amount ofper.student payment each non-instrumentality charter school in Wisconsin is contractually entitled to receive from its sponsoring school district.
ULGM: We have requested information from the DPI on the current per-student payments to each non-instrumentality charter school in Wisconsin, but we understand that DPI does not now have the information consolidated in one database. We expect that the per-student payment information will be available from DPI by January 17, and we will submit that information to the board and administration as soon as it becomes available from the DPI. The per-pupil payment to each district.authorized charter school in Wisconsin, including instrumentality and non-instrumentality charter schools, is determined through negotiations and mutual agreement between the school district, as the charter school authorizer, and the charter school developer/operator.
5. Ed Hughes: Please identify the minimum per-student payment from the school district that would be required for Madison Prep to be financially feasible from your perspective. If you don’t have a specific figure, provide your best estimate of the range in which that figure is likely to fall.
ULGM: The MMSD Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent-Business in agreement with us that more time is needed to present a projected minimum payment from the school district. DPI’s School Finance Data Warehouse indicates that MMSD reported $14,432 in revenue per student and spent $13,881 per student iu 2008-09. We are certain that we will not request more per student than what MMSD spends annually.
6. Lucy Mathiak: Do you know what Madison Prep will cost the district? And do you know where the money will come from?
ULGM: We have an idea ofwhat our school will cost but as stated in the answer to question number 5, we are working through several costs and line items with MMSD’s Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent-Business. In Wisconsin, public charter schools are funded primarily by school districts or the state legislature (non-school district authorized schools). Generally, private funding is limited to 5% of costs during the budgeting process. However we will raise significantly more in private funding during the pre-implementation and implementation years of the school than we will in out years.
7. Lucy Mathiak: How the financial commitment asked of the district compares to the financial commitment to its existing schools?
ULGM: Assuming you mean existing traditional public schools, we will require more information from MMSD’s administration to make this comparison. Given that Madison Prep will be a new school and a non-instrumentality, there will be costs that Madison Prep has that the school system does not, and vice versa. However, we are firmly committed to ensuring our school is operated within the annual per pupil cost MMSD now spends to educate students in middle and high schools.
8. Community Member, via Arlene Silveira: First of all, has the funding that is indicated as part of the proposal actually been acquired or promised? The proposal indicates $100,000/ year from the Madison Community Foundation, but I can’t find any information from MCF itself about funding Madison Prep. All I can see is that they donated to the Urban League’s capital and Workforce campaigns. Will you check into this? Also, the proposal indicates $250,000/ year for 3 years from Partners for Developing Futures. Last year, despite having received 25 applications for funding from “education entrepreneurs,” this organization did not fund any of them due to the quality of the applications. How is the Madison Prep planning team able to claim this as a source of funding? Have promises been made?
ULGM: The Madison Community Foundation and Partners for Developing Futures were listed as potential revenue sources; these dollars were not committed. Our business plan followed the same approach as most business plans for start-up initiatives: listing prospective revenue sources. However, we do intend to pursue funding through these and other sources. Our private fundraising goals and needs in our five-year budget plan are reasonable.
9. Lucy Mathiak: What additional resources are needed to make the Madison Prep model work?
ULGM: Our school is designed as a demonstration school to be replicable, in whole or in part, by MMSD and other school systems. Therefore, we will not request more than the district’s own annual costs per pupil at the middle and high school levels.
10. Lucy Mathiak: What resources are in hand and what resources will you need to raise?
ULGM: We presently have $50,000 to support the planning of the school, with the offer of additional support. However, we will secure additional private and public funding once the Board of Education formally approves the DPI planning grant application/detailed proposal for Madison Prep.
11. Lucy Mathiak: Ifthere is a proposed endowment, what is the amount of the endowment in hand, the estimated annual rate of return, and the estimated income available for use?
ULGM: New charter schools generally do not budget for endowment in their first few years of operation. We intend to build an endowment at some point and have line items for this in Madison Prep’s budget, but these issues will be decided by the Board ofDirectors ofthe school, for which we will not begin recruiting until the Board of Education approves our DPI plauning grant application/detailed proposal.
12. Ed Hughes: Which parts of your proposal do you require non-instrumentality status to implement?
ULGM: Non-instrumentality status will be vital to Madison Prep’s ability to offer an extended school day, extended school year, as well as the expectations we have of teachers to serve as mentors and coaches to students. The collective bargaining contract between the Board of Education and Madison Teachers, Inc. would not allow for this added instructional time. Yet this added instructional time will be necessary in order for students to meet Madison Prep’s ambitious achievement goals. In addition, our professional development program will also require more hours of training. We also intend to implement other special activities for students and faculty that would not be allowed under MMSD and MTI’s collective bargaining agreement.
13. Ed Hughes: What will be the school’s admission policy? Please describe any preferences that the admission policy will include. To what extent will students who live outside ofthe Madison school district be considered for admission?
ULGM: Madison Prep will comply with all federal and state regulations relating to charter school admissions. In its inaugural school year (20 12-20 13), Madison Prep will be open to any 61h and 7’h grade male student residing within the boundaries of MMSD.
All interested families will complete an Enrollment Form at the Urban League’s offices, online, during community meetings and outreach activities, through local partners, or during a visit to the school (after it opens). If Madison Prep receives less than 45 enrollment forms for either grade (6 and 7) in the tirst year, all students’ who applied will be admitted. If the school receives more than 45 enrollment forms for either grade level in the first year, or enrollment forms exceed the seats available in subsequent years, Madison Prep will hold a public random lottery at a location that provides enough space for applicant students and families. The lottery will be held in accordance with DPI guidelines for random lotteries. If Madison Prep does not fill all available seats, it will continue its grassroots recruitment efforts until it reaches its enrollment goal.
14. Community Member, via Arlene Silveira: We know that Madison Prep won’t accept girls. Will it except boys with Autism or Aspergers? If a boy has a learning disability, will he be allowed to attend? What ifthis learning disability makes it not possible for him to perform above grade level on a standardized test? Will he be allowed in? And can they kick him out if his test scores aren’t advanced/proficient?
ULGM: Please see our answer to question #13. To be clear, Madison Prep will accept students with special learning needs, including students who speak English as a second language. As always, IEP teams will determine on a case-by-case basis if Madison Prep is an appropriate placement for special education students. No Madison Prep student will ever be expelled for academic performance.
15. Ed Hughes: An attraction ofthe proposed school is that it could provide the kind ofiutense academic and other sorts of support that could change the trajectories of its students from failure to success. How will you ensure that your school serves primarily students who require the sort of approach the school will offer in order to be successful?
ULGM: Please see our answer to question #13 and question #16 below. We will go to great lengths to inform parents about Madison Prep as an option for their child, and to recruit students and families to our school. We will over-market our efforts in low-income communities and through media, sports clubs, community centers, churches, employers, and other vehicles that reach these students and their parents. We are also exploring the legality of our ability to set an income goal or threshold for student admissions. Nonetheless, we believe that any young man, regardless of their family background, would be well served by Madison Prep.
16. Ed Hughes: To the extent yon know them, describe what the school’s stndent recruitment and marketing strategies will be.
ULGM: Madison Prep’s marketing plan will support three priorities and goals:
1. Enrollment: Recruiting, retaining, and expanding student enrollment annually -share Madison Prep with as many parents and students as possible and establish a wait-list of at least 20 students at each grade level by June I each year (with the exception of year one).
2. Staffing: Recruiting and retaining a talented, effective, and committed faculty and staff -field qualified applicants for each position in a timeframe that enables us to hire by June 30 each year.
3. Public Image and Support: Building, maintaining, and solidifying a base of support among local leaders, financial contributors, key partners, the media, and the general public.
To ensure the public is well acquainted with the school, Madison Prep, with the support of the Urban League of Greater Madison, will make use of a variety of marketing strategies to accomplish its enrollment, staffing, fundraising, and publicity goals. Each strategy will be phased in, from pre.launch of the school through the first three years of operation. These marketing strategies are less expensive and more sustainable with the budget of a new charter school than television, radio, and popular print advertisements. They also deliver a great return on investment if executed effectively. Each strategy will enable Madison Prep, with its limited staff, to promote itself to the general public and hard-to-reach communities, build relationships, sustain communications and achieve its goals.
A. Image Management: Madison Prep’s logo and images of young men projecting the Madison Prep brand will be featured on the school’.s website, in informational and print materials, and on inexpensive paraphernalia (lapel pins, emblems, ink pens, etc). Students will be required to wear uniforms that include a red or black blazer featuring the Madison Prep emblem, a sweater, a red or black tie, white shirt, black or khaki pants, and black or brown dress shoes. They will also have a gym uniform and athletic team wear that features the Madison Prep emblem. Additionally, Madison Prep will ensure that its school grounds, educational facility, and learning spaces are clean, orderly and well-maintained at all times, and that these physical spaces reflect positive images of Madison Prep students, positive adult males, community leaders, families, and supporters. Madison Prep’s Core Values will be visible through the school as well, and its students, faculty, staff, and Board of Directors will reflect an image in school and in public that is consistent with the school’s Core Values and Leadership Dimensions.
B. Grassroots Engagement: Madison Prep’s founders, Board members, volunteers, and its key staff (once hired) will go door-to-door in target neighborhoods, and other areas within MMSD boundaries where prospective candidates can be found, to build relationships with young men, families, and local community resource persons and advocates to recruit young men to attend Madison Prep. Recruiters will be dressed in the Madison Prep uniform (either a polo shirt, sweater or suit jacket/tie, each showing the Madison emblem, and dress slacks or skirt) and will visit homes in two person teams.
Madison Prep will also partner with City Council members, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, and local libraries to host community meetings year-round to promote the school in target neighborhoods and military bases. It will also promote the school to citizens in high traffic residential areas of the city, including metro stops, restaurants, community centers, community health agencies, and at public events. Madison Prep will engage the religious community as well, promoting the school to church leaders and requesting to speak before their congregations or have the church publicize the school during their announcements on Sundays and ministry activities during the week. Area businesses, hospitals, government agencies, foster care agencies, and mentorship programs will be asked to make information available to their patrons, clients, and families. Madison Prep will also seek to form partnerships with the Police Department and Court System to ensure judges, attorneys, neighborhood police officers, and family advocates know about the school and can make referrals of young men they believe will benefit from joining Madison Prep’s school community.
C. Online Presence & Partnerships: Madison Prep will launch a website and update its current Facebook and Twitter pages prior ·to the school opening to expand its public presence. The Facebook page for Madison Prep presently has more than 100 members, has been operational for less than 2 months, and has not yet been widely marketed. The page is used to raise awareness, expand support, communicate progress, announce activities and events, and promote small-donor fundraising campaigns. The website will be used to recruit students, staff, and eventually serve as an entry-point to a member only section on the Internet for faculty, students, and parents. Madison Prep will also seek to establish strategic alliance partnerships with service associations (100 Black Men, Sororities and Fraternities, Civic Clubs or Organizations, etc.), enlisting their participation in the school’s annual events. In addition, Madison Prep will establish partnerships with other public and private schools in the Madison area to recruit students, particularly elementary schools.
D. Viral Marketing: Madison Prep will use email announcements and social networking sites to share its mission, activities, employment opportunities, and successes with its base of supporters and will inspire and encourage them to share the information with their friends, colleagues, parents and young men they know who might be interested in the school. Madison Prep will add to its base of supporters through its other marketing strategies, collecting names and contact information when and where appropriate.
E. Buzz Marketing: Madison Prep will use subtle forms of marketing to recruit students and faculty, increase its donor and support base, and develop a positive public image. The school will maintain an influential board of directors and advisors, will engage notable people and organizations in the school, and will publicize these assets to the general public. The school will also prepare key messages and strategically involve its students, staff, and parents in key events and activities to market its brand -high achieving, thoughtful, forward thinking, confident and empowered young men who are being groomed for leadership and success by equally talented, passionate and committed adults. The messages, images, and quality of interactions that the broader community has with members of the greater Madison community will create a positive buzz about the school, its impact, and the success of its students.
F. School Visits & Activity Participation: Each year, from the week after Thanksgiving through the end of the school year, Madison Prep will invite prospective students and parents, funders, and members of the community to visit the school. A visit program and weekly schedule will be established to ensure that the school day and learning is not interrupted by visitors. Madison Prep will also establish an open visit policy for parents, and will create opportunities for them to leverage their ongoing involvement with the school and their young men. Through nurturing positive relationships with parents, and establishing an enviromnent where they are wanted and respected, Madison Prep will create spokespersons in the community who help grow its student body and community support. Finally, Madison Prep will host an annual community event that engages its school community with the greater Madison community in a day of fun, competitive events for families, and will serve as a resource to parents whose children do not attend Madison Prep by inviting them to participate in its Destination Planning workshops.
G. Popular Media: Madison Prep will allocate resources to market itself on Urban and News Radio during the peak student recruitment season in two phases. Phase I will take place in November 2011 and Phase 2 advertising will take place between Jannary and May 2012. To defray costs, Madison Prep will enlist the support of local and national celebrities for feature interviews, spotlights, and PSAs with Madison Prep’s Leadership to promote the school.
17. Community Member, via Arlene Silveira: It looks like the Charter school is aiming for 50% of its population to be low-income. The middle school my children will go to, Sherman, is 71% low income. Blackhawk is at 62%. Wright is 83%. Sennett is 65%. Cherokee is at 63%. Toki is at 51%. Can we, in good conscious, start a new school-designed to help low income students -that has a lower percentage oflow-income students than six of our existing middle schools?
ULGM: The Urban League has set the 50% low-income target as a floor, not as a ceiling. In fact, we expect that more than 50% of Madison Prep students will qualifY for free or reduced lunch.
Furthermore, we have chosen to use the 50% figure to allow us to be conservative in our budgeting process. No matter what the level of low income students at Madison Prep -50% or higher-the student achievement goals and overall program quality will remain unchanged.
18. Ed Hughes: Have you considered limiting admission to students who have scored minimal or basic on their WKCE tests?
ULGM: No. Madison Prep will be open to any male student who wishes to attend, regardless of past academic performance.
19. Ed Hughes: Some have suggested that Madison Prep could skim offthe most academically.motivated African-American students from the District’s middle and high schools, leaving fewer role models and academic peers for the African-American boys who remain in our existing schools. What is your response to that concern?
ULGM: The notion that charter schools skim off the most motivated students is a common misconception. First, this argument is not logical. Parents/caregivers ofchildren who are academically motivated and doing well in traditional public schools have little incentive to change their students’ educational environment. Those kids will likely stay put. When a parent, teacher, social worker, or school counselor recognizes that a child isn’t doing well in the traditional school and seeks an alternative, the charter school that is sought as an alternative does not in this process gain some advantage. In fact, research suggests the opposite. A 2009 study by researchers at Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin, and Mathematic Policy Research examined charter schools from across the country to test the “skimming” theory. The researchers found no evidence of skimming. In fact, they found students who go to charter schools typically have LOWER test scores than their counterparts in traditional public schools. (Read the full paper at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/schoolchoice/conference/papers/Zimmer_COMPLETE.pdf)
20. Ed Hughes: Have you extended preliminary or informal offers of employment at Madison Prep to anyone? If so, identify to whom the preliminary or informal offers were made and for which positions.
ULGM:No.
21. Ed Hughes: What will he your strategy for recruiting teachers? What qualifications will you establish for teachers? Please describe the general range of salary and benefits you expect to offer to teachers.
ULGM: Teacher Recruitment -The overarching goal of teacher recruitment will be to hire a highly qualified, passionate, hard-working, diverse staff. The recruitment effort will include casting a wide net that allows Madison Prep to draw from the pool oflocal teachers as well as teachers statewide and nationwide who will embrace the opportunity to help build a school from the ground up. We will recruit though typical both typical means (postings on our website, WECAN, charter school association job pages) as well as through recruitment fairs outside of the state. Our hiring process will take place in early and mid spring rather than late spring and summer so that we may have a competitive edge in recruiting the teachers that are the best fit for Madison Prep. While the Head of School will be responsible for the hiring of teachers, he/she will engage a committee of teachers, community members, parents, and students in the process ofselecting teachers and other staff. In addition to a thorough interview, teacher candidates will be required to teach a sample lesson to a group of students, as well as other interview committee members. Teacher Qualifications-All teachers at Madison Prep will be licensed by the Department of Public Instruction.
General Salary Range and Benefits*-For the 2012-2013 school year, the salary for Master Teachers (of which there will be two) is currently projected to be $61,406 with a signing bonus of $2,000 and a maximum performance bonus of $2,750. The salary for general education teachers is currently projected to be $50,055 for the 2012-2013 school year, with a signing bonus of$2,000 and a maximum performance bonus of$1,750. Madison Prep intends to provide a full range of benefits to its teachers. *Salary and bonus figures are subject to change
22. Ed Hughes: MMSD already has a charter middle school with a very diverse student population -James C. Wright Middle School. If the school district chose to continue James C. Wright as an instrumentality charter school but modeled on your Madison Prep proposal, which components of your proposal do yon think could be implemented at the school and which components of your proposal could not?
ULGM: The Urban League is not in a position to determine how the fundamental elements ofthe Madison Prep proposal could or could not be implemented at James C. Wright Middle School. That determination would have to be made by the district administration and c01mnunity at Wright.
23. Community Member, via Arlene Silveira: Here is the annual report from one of the Urban League charter schools that the proposal cites as a model for Madison Prep:
http://www.doe.mass.edu/charter/reports/2009/annual/0471.doc This is a report from the school’s lO'” year in existence. Please note the test achievement goals and scores on page 4 and compare them with the extremely overconfident goals of the Madison Prep proposal. IfMadison Prep is serious about attaining the goal of 75% oftheir students scoring 22 or higher on the ACT or 1100 or higher on the SAT, how do they plan to achieve this and what will happen with those students who fail to meet this standard? What will happen to the teachers who don’t meet their quota ofstudent test scores above this level? Please investigate these questions in detail and within the framework of Madison Prep processes from admissions through expulsion.
ULGM: The reference to the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts in the Madison Prep initial proposal was meant to show the precedent for the establishment of charter schools by Urban League affiliates; the New Leadership Charter School is NOT a model for Madison Prep, nor was this ever stated in the initial proposal. That said, Madison Prep IS serious about our student achievement goals related to the ACT and SAT. We plan to meet these goals through-as the proposal states-an all-male student body, the International Baccalaureate Curriculum, college preparatory educational program, Harkness Teaching, an extended school day and year,mentoring and coll1111unity support, and a prep year. Students will be carefully assessed for years leading up to these tests to ensure their preparedness. When formative assessments indicate re-teaching is needed in order to meet the goal, students will receive further individualized instruction. Madison Prep teachers will not have student test score “quotas.”
24. Lucy Mathiak: What would a timeline for the counterpart girls’ school look like?
ULGM: We would like to initiate the process for the girls’ school in the fall of 2012, with an opening aimed at 2014-2015.

I continue to believe that the fate of this initiative will be a defining moment for the Madison School District. If approved and implemented, it will, over time, affect other traditional schools within the District. If it is rejected, a neighboring District will likely step in.
Finally, I found the Urban League’s response to Ed Hughes’ question #5 interesting:

DPI’s School Finance Data Warehouse indicates that MMSD reported $14,432 in revenue per student and spent $13,881 per student iu 2008-09. We are certain that we will not request more per student than what MMSD spends annually.

Madison School District announces kindergarten registration dates

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School District on Monday announced dates and times for next fall’s kindergarten registration.
Registration for Madison’s new 4-year-old kindergarten program is scheduled for Feb. 7 from 1 to 6 p.m. Registration for 5-year-old kindergarten is scheduled for March 7 from 1 to 6 p.m.
Parents or guardians of children who will turn 4 or 5 on or before Sept. 1 must register at their local elementary school with proof of their child’s age, residency and an immunization record. Children are welcome but not required to attend.

Redistributed state tax dollar funding for Wisconsin 4K programs may change due to budget problems, according to this recent article.

The New Mexico PreK Evaluation: Impacts From the Fourth Year (2008-2009) of New Mexico’s State-Funded PreK Program

Jason T. Hustedt, W. Steven Barnett, Kwanghee Jung, and Allison H. Friedman

The New Mexico PreK evaluation, from the 2008-2009 school year, finds positive impacts from the state-funded prekindergarten program for young children, consistent with previous findings. With statistically significant increases observed in vocabulary, math, and literacy scores for children participating in New Mexico PreK, the authors find New Mexico PreK is helping prepare young children for later school success. The New Mexico PreK initiative began in 2005 and has expanded rapidly. From the beginning, the National Institute for Early Education Research has been evaluating the program using the regression-discontinuity approach.

Related: Madison’s planned 4K program.