Wisconsin DPI efforts to weaken the Foundations of Reading Test for elementary teachers

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: Wisconsin Reading Coalition has alerted you over the past 6 months to DPI’s intentions to change PI-34, the administrative rule that governs teacher licensing in Wisconsin. We consider those changes to allow overly-broad exemptions from the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test for new teachers. The revised PI-34 has … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI efforts to weaken the Foundations of Reading Test for elementary teachers

Underly: “I support Eliminating the Foundations of Reading (FORT)” Teacher Test

Transcript [Machine Generated PDF]: Deborah Kerr: [00:43:53] Um, whose turn is it to go first? Okay. That’s fine. Yeah, we’re pretty good at figuring this out. Um, [00:44:00] so that’s one thing we can do. Um, yes, I support the FORT. I fo I support the Praxis test. So you gotta think about something. Why … Continue reading Underly: “I support Eliminating the Foundations of Reading (FORT)” Teacher Test

“One in five (teacher) test takers does not ever pass. Mulligans?

NCTQ: Among the four core subjects, the greatest number of test takers pass the mathematics subtest, both on the first-attempt—the focus of this brief—and after multiple attempts (the “best-attempt” pass rate).2 This is surprising, perhaps, given the familiar anecdotes documenting elementary teachers’ math anxiety. Where do aspiring teachers struggle the most? It is the social studies subtest which test … Continue reading “One in five (teacher) test takers does not ever pass. Mulligans?

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Rhetoric, amidst long term, disastrous reading results

Rory Linnane: Though the position is technically nonpartisan, Underly’s campaign was heavily funded by the Democratic Party in a race that saw unprecedented spending. Her campaign spent seven times that of her opponent, former Brown Deer Schools Superintendent Deborah Kerr. The only action Underly announced Thursday was the creation of a literacy task force to … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Rhetoric, amidst long term, disastrous reading results

Commentary on Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: “Madison’s status quo tends to be very entrenched.”

Scott Girard: “The problem was we could not get the teachers to commit to the coaching.” Since their small success, not much has changed in the district’s overall results for teaching young students how to read. Ladson-Billings called the ongoing struggles “frustrating,” citing an inability to distinguish between what’s important and what’s a priority in … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: “Madison’s status quo tends to be very entrenched.”

A Task force on Madison’s Long term, Disastrous Reading Results

.@MMSDschools and @UWMadEducation announce a 14-member early literacy task force focused on analyzing approaches to teaching reading “toward the goals of improving reading outcomes and reducing achievement gaps.” More details at a 1 p.m. press availability. Members: pic.twitter.com/mPDoVmDrTF — Scott Girard (@sgirard9) December 14, 2020 Yet, deja vu all around Madison’s long term, disastrous reading … Continue reading A Task force on Madison’s Long term, Disastrous Reading Results

Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Examination Results

The Foundations of Reading, Wisconsin’s one elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirement is (was) an attempt to improve our K-12 students’ disastrous reading results. Readers may find the Foundations of Reading results of interest (2.4MB xlsx). (3 February 2020: link updated to remove partial ss identifiers, via a kind DPI message). The test is based … Continue reading Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Examination Results

There Is a Right Way to Teach Reading, and Mississippi Knows It

Emily Hanford: “Thank God for Mississippi.” That’s a phrase people would use when national education rankings came out because no matter how poorly your state performed, you could be sure things were worse in Mississippi. Not anymore. New results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a standardized test given every two years to measure … Continue reading There Is a Right Way to Teach Reading, and Mississippi Knows It

Teacher Mulligans, continued: The latest report on reading was really bad. Here are some possible solutions

Alan Borsuk: Mississippi got a lot of attention when the NAEP scores were released. It was the only state where fourth grade reading scores improved. Mississippi is implementing a strong requirement that teachers be well-trained in reading instruction. Massachusetts did that in the 1990s and it paid off in the following decade. Wisconsin passed a … Continue reading Teacher Mulligans, continued: The latest report on reading was really bad. Here are some possible solutions

Politifact joins the Wisconsin Reading mulligan party

Wisconsin’s new Governor, Democrat Tony Evers, recently acknowledged his support for thousands of elementary reading teacher content knowledge exam mulligans. Now comes Politifact: As proof, Thiesfeldt’s staff pointed to the most recent Wisconsin Student Assessment System results. The annual tests include the Forward Exam for grades three to eight and ACT-related tests for grades nine … Continue reading Politifact joins the Wisconsin Reading mulligan party

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

Wiseye @ 24 September WisPolitics Lunch: Jim Zellmer: Thank you for your service Governor Evers. Under your leadership, the Wisconsin d.p.i. granted Mulligan’s to thousands of elementary teachers who couldn’t pass a reading exam (that’s the “Foundations of Reading” elementary teacher reading content knowledge exam), yet our students lag Alabama, a state that spends less … Continue reading My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos questions how K-12 funding was spent given test score decline

Molly Beck: Less than half of Wisconsin students again this year are considered to be proficient in reading and math — a trend Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Thursday called “disturbing.” The percentage of students in public and private voucher schools scoring well in reading and math on state tests dropped slightly during the 2018-19 … Continue reading Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos questions how K-12 funding was spent given test score decline

Wisconsin Academic Result commentary: writer fails to mention thousands of DPI eLementary Reading teacher mulligans

Logan Wroge: For example, white students in fifth grade dropped 4.6 percentage points in English/language arts proficiency compared to a 1.6 percentage-point decrease for black students in fifth grade. In the eighth grade, the percentage of African American students scoring proficient or advanced in English/language arts rose 2 percentage points to 12.1%, while the percentage … Continue reading Wisconsin Academic Result commentary: writer fails to mention thousands of DPI eLementary Reading teacher mulligans

Mulligans for Elementary Reading Teachers; permanent exemption proposal

Wisconsin Reading Coalition: A bill is circulating in both houses of the Wisconsin legislature that would permanently exempt special education teachers from having to pass the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT). Prospective special educators would merely have to take one course in reading and reading comprehension, receive some unspecified coaching, and compile a portfolio. There … Continue reading Mulligans for Elementary Reading Teachers; permanent exemption proposal

Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction “DPI”, lead for many years by new Governor Tony Evers, has waived thousands of elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirements. This, despite our long term, disastrous reading results. Chan Stroman tracks the frequent Foundations of Reading (FoRT) mulligans: Yet the statutory FoRT requirement is now deemed satisfied by “attempts” … Continue reading Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers

Concerned about reading instruction, state cracks down on teacher prep programs, starting with Colorado’s largest

Ann Schimke: In a 15-page reauthorization report, state officials detail a number of specific problems with the university’s core literacy courses, including that they emphasize prospective teachers’ beliefs about reading rather than forcing them to draw science-based conclusions. “A lower bar for education prep [candidates] versus the students they’ll be teaching is concerning,” the report … Continue reading Concerned about reading instruction, state cracks down on teacher prep programs, starting with Colorado’s largest

Wisconsin DPI: “We set a high bar for achievement,” & abort Foundations of Reading Teacher Content Knowledge Requirement}

Molly Beck and Erin Richards: “We set a high bar for achievement,” DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy said. “To reach more than half (proficiency), we would need to raise the achievement of our lowest district and subgroup performers through policies like those recommended in our budget, targeted at the large, urban districts.” The new scores reveal … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI: “We set a high bar for achievement,” & abort Foundations of Reading Teacher Content Knowledge Requirement}

Strengthening Reading Instruction through Better Preparation of Elementary and Special Education Teachers (Wisconsin DPI, lead by Tony Evers, loophole in place)

Elizabeth Ross: This study examines all 50 states’ and the District of Columbia’s requirements regarding the science of reading for elementary and special education teacher candidates. Chan Stroman: “Report finds only 11 states have adequate safeguards in place for both elementary and special education teachers.” Make that “10 states”; with Wisconsin PI 34, the loophole … Continue reading Strengthening Reading Instruction through Better Preparation of Elementary and Special Education Teachers (Wisconsin DPI, lead by Tony Evers, loophole in place)

Ongoing Wisconsin DPI efforts to weaken our thin elementary teacher reading content knowledge requirements.

Wisconsin Reading Coalition: Despite the written and oral testimony of many concerned stakeholders around the state, the legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules made no changes to the PI-34 teacher licensing rule that was submitted by the Department of Public Instruction. As a result, graduates of any teacher preparation program (along with other … Continue reading Ongoing Wisconsin DPI efforts to weaken our thin elementary teacher reading content knowledge requirements.

On Wisconsin’s (and Madison’s) Long Term, Disastrous Reading Results

Alan Borsuk: But consider a couple other things that happened in Massachusetts: Despite opposition, state officials stuck to the requirement. Teacher training programs adjusted curriculum and the percentage of students passing the test rose. A test for teachers In short, in Wisconsin, regulators and leaders of higher education teacher-prep programs are not so enthused about … Continue reading On Wisconsin’s (and Madison’s) Long Term, Disastrous Reading Results

Why American Students Haven’t Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years

Natalie Wexler: Cognitive scientists have known for decades that simply mastering comprehension skills doesn’t ensure a young student will be able to apply them to whatever texts they’re confronted with on standardized tests and in their studies later in life. One of those cognitive scientists spoke on the Tuesday panel: Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor … Continue reading Why American Students Haven’t Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years

Your action requested on Wisconsin DPI’s emergency rule (Foundations of Reading/MTEL)

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: Citing anecdotal evidence of a shortage of fully licensed teachers for available positions, DPI has issued an emergency rule that would allow many in-state and out-of-state individuals to become licensed and act as teachers-of-record in the classroom without passing the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT). The work-around to … Continue reading Your action requested on Wisconsin DPI’s emergency rule (Foundations of Reading/MTEL)

Wisconsin Teacher Preparation Policy Grade: “D”

National Council on Teacher Quality

Elementary and Special Education Teacher Preparation in Reading Instruction
New legislation now requires as a condition of initial licensure that all elementary and special education teachers pass an examination identical to the Foundations of Reading test administered as part of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure. The passing score on the examination will be set at a level no lower than the level recommended by the developer of the test, based on the state’s standards.
2011 Wisconsin Act 166, Section 21, 118.19(14)(a)
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/related/acts/166.pdf
Teacher Preparation Program Accountability
Each teacher preparation program must submit a list of program completers who have been recommended for licensure. Also, a system will be developed to publicly report measures of performance for each prep program. Beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, each program must display a passage rate on the first attempt of recent graduates on licensure exams.
2011 Wisconsin Act 166, Section 14, 25.79, Section 17, 115.28(7g)
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/related/acts/166.pdf
Wisconsin Response to Policy Update
States were asked to review NCTQ’s identified updates and also to comment on policy changes related to teacher preparation that have occurred in the last year, pending changes or teacher preparation in the state more generally. States were also asked to review NCTQ’s analysis of teacher preparation authority (See Figure 20).
Wisconsin noted that middle childhood–early adolescence elementary teachers are required to earn a subject area minor. Wisconsin also included links and citations pertaining to content test requirements for adding to secondary certifications.
The state asserted that its alternate route programs require the same basic skills tests and passing scores for admission that are required for institutions of higher education (IHEs). The state added that alternate route programs are required to use the same content tests and passing scores as IHEs and that content tests are taken as an
admissions requirement.
Wisconsin referred to its handbook and approval guidelines for alternate route programs and noted that the state has added a new pathway, “License based on Equivalency.” The state noted that its new website, Pathways to Wisconsin Licensure, along with updated materials, will be posted in mid-August 2012 at http://dpi.wi.gov/tepdl/
licpath.html
.
In addition, Wisconsin was helpful in providing NCTQ with further information about state authority for teacher preparation and licensing

MTEL Arrives in Wisconsin: Teacher Licensing Content Requirement, from 1.1.2014

2011 WISCONSIN ACT 166, via a kind reader:

Section 21. 118.19 (14) of the statutes is created to read:
118.19 (14) (a) The department may not issue an initial teaching license that authorizes the holder to teach in grades kindergarten to 5 or in special education, an initial license as a reading teacher, or an initial license as a reading specialist, unless the applicant has passed an examination identical to the Foundations of Reading test administered in 2012 as part of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure [blekko]. The department shall set the passing cut score on the examination at a level no lower than the level recommended by the developer of the test, based on this state’s standards.
(c) Any teacher who passes the examination under par. (a) shall notify the department, which shall add a notation to the teacher’s license indicating that he or she passed the examination.
and….
115.28 (7g) Evaluation of teacher preparatory programs.
(a) The department shall, in consultation with the governor’s office, the chairpersons of the committees in the assembly and senate whose subject matter is elementary and secondary education and ranking members of those committees, the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, do all of the following:
1. Determine how the performance of individuals who have recently completed a teacher preparatory program described in s. 115.28 (7) (a) and located in this state or a teacher education program described in s. 115.28 (7) (e) 2. and located in this state will be used to evaluate the teacher preparatory and education programs. The determination under this subdivision shall, at minimum, define “recently completed” and identify measures to assess an individual’s performance, including the performance assessment made prior to making a recommendation for licensure.
2. Determine how the measures of performance of individuals who have recently completed a teacher preparatory or education program identified as required under subd. 1. will be made accessible to the public.
3. Develop a system to publicly report the measures of performance identified as required under subd. 1. for each teacher preparatory and education program identified in subd. 1.
(b) Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, the department shall use the system developed under par. (a) 3. to annually report for each program identified in par. (a) 1. the passage rate on first attempt of students and graduates of the program on examinations administered for licensure under s. 115.28 (7) and any other information required to be reported under par. (a) 1.
(c) Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, each teacher preparatory and education program shall prominently display and annually update the passage rate on first attempt of recent graduates of the program on examinations administered for licensure under s. 115.28 (7) and any other information required to be reported under par. (a) 1. on the program’s Web site and provide this information to persons receiving admissions materials to the program.
Section 18. 115.28 (12) (ag) of the statutes is created to read:
115.28 (12) (ag) Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, each school district using the system under par. (a) shall include in the system the following information for each teacher teaching in the school district who completed a teacher preparatory program described in sub. (7) (a) and located in this state or a teacher education program described in sub. (7) (e) 2. and located in this state on or after January 1, 2012:
1. The name of the teacher preparatory program or teacher education program the teacher attended and completed.
2. The term or semester and year in which the teacher completed the program described in subd. 1.

Related:

This is a sea change for Wisconsin students, the most substantive in decades. Of course, what is entered into the statutes can be changed or eliminated. The MTEL requirement begins with licenses after 1.1.2014.

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.

Wisconsin Governor Walker’s Read to Lead task force met on May 31st at the State Capitol. Following are observations from WRC.

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via email:

Governor Walker’s Read to Lead task force met on May 31st at the State Capitol. Following are observations from WRC.
Note: Peggy Stern, an Oscar-winning filmmaker currently working on a project about dyslexia, had a crew filming the meeting. If we are able to acquire footage, we will make it available. If you would like Wisconsin Eye to record future meetings, please contact them at comments@wiseye.org.
Format: Unlike the first task force meeting, this meeting was guided by two facilitators from AIR, the American Institutes for Research. This was a suggestion of Senator Luther Olsen, and the facilitators were procured by State Superintendent Tony Evers. Evers and Governor Walker expressed appreciation at not having to be concerned with running the meeting, but there were some problems with the round-robin format chosen by the facilitators. Rather than a give-and-take discussion, as happened at the first meeting, this was primarily a series of statements from people at the table. There was very little opportunity to seek clarification or challenge statements. Time was spent encouraging everyone to comment on every question, regardless of whether they had anything of substance to contribute, and the time allotted to individual task force members varied. Some were cut off before finishing, while others were allowed to go on at length. As a direct result of this format, the conversation was considerably less robust than at the first meeting.
Topics: The range of topics proved to be too ambitious for the time allowed. Teacher preparation and professional development took up the bulk of the time, followed by a rather cursory discussion of assessment tools. The discussion of reading interventions was held over for the next meeting.
Guests:
Dawnene Hassett, Asst. Prof. of Curriculum and Instruction and new elementary literacy chair, UW-Madison
Tania Mertzman Habeck, Assoc. Prof. of Curriculum and Instruction, UW-Milwaukee
Mary Jo Ziegler, Reading Consultant, Wis. Department of Public Instruction
Troy Couillard, Special Education Team, Wis. Department of Public Instruction
Next Meetings: The Governor’s office will work to set up a schedule of meetings for the next several months. Some of the meetings may be in other parts of the state.
Action: WRC suggests contacting the offices of the Governor, Luther Olsen, Steve Kestell, and Jason Fields and your own legislators to ask for several things:
Arrange for filming the next meeting through Wisconsin Eye
Bring in national experts such as Louisa Moats, Joe Torgesen, and Peggy McCardle to provide Wisconsin with the road map for effective reading instruction, teacher preparation, and professional development . . . top university, DPI, and professional organization leaders at the May 31st meeting asked for a road map and admitted they have not been able to develop one
Arrange the format of the next meeting to allow for more authentic and robust discussion of issues
Summary
Teacher Training and Professional Development
The professors felt that the five components of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) are generally taught in preparation programs, but that instruction varies widely from one institution to another. Reading course work requirements can vary from 12 credits to just one course. They also felt, as did the teachers on the panel, that there needs to be more practical hand-on experience in the undergraduate program. There was a feeling that teachers “forget” their instruction in reading foundations by the time they graduate and get into the classroom. They have better luck teaching masters level students who already have classroom experience. The linguistic knowledge means very little without a practicum, and we may need to resort to professional development to impart that information. Teachers need to be experts in teaching reading, but many currently don’t feel that way. It is important, especially with RTI coming, to be able to meet the needs of individual students.Both professors and teachers, as well as others on the panel, felt a “road map” of critical information for teacher preparation programs and literacy instruction in schools would be a good idea. This was a point of agreement. Hassett felt that pieces of a plan currently exist, but not a complete road map. The professors and some of the teachers felt that teacher prep programs are doing a better job at teaching decoding than comprehension strategies. They were open to more uniformity in syllabi and some top-down mandates.
Marcia Henry mentioned studies by Joshi, et al. that found that 53% of pre-service teachers and 60% of in-service teachers are unable to correctly answer questions about the structure of the English language. Tony Pedriana cited another Joshi study that showed college professors of reading were equally uninformed about the language, and the majority cannot distinguish between phonemic awareness and phonics. He also said it was very difficult to find out what colleges were teaching; one college recently refused his request to see a syllabus for a reading course. Steve Dykstra read from the former Wisconsin Model Academic Standards and the current Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards, which contained incorrect definitions and examples of phonemic awareness. He questioned whether teachers were being adequately prepared in decoding skills. Rep. Steve Kestell was concerned with the assessment that most teachers do not feel like experts in teaching reading, and he wondered if updated techniques for training teachers would make a difference.
Sarah Archibald (aide to Luther Olsen) proposed looking at a more rigorous foundations of reading test, as found in other states, as a requirement for teacher licensure. This would be one way to move toward more uniform instruction in teacher prep programs. Steve Dykstra pointed out that a test alone will not necessarily drive changes in teacher preparation, but publishing the passage results linked to individual colleges or professors would help. Evers indicated that DPI has been looking for several months into teacher testing and licensure.
Gov. Walker asked if the ed schools were looking at the latest trends in teacher preparation to become better. The professors indicated that the ed schools confer with local districts in an effort to improve.
Supt. Evers said it was probably not a good idea that teacher prep programs across Wisconsin vary so much.
Hassett indicated that some flexibility needs to be retained so that urban and rural areas can teach differently. There was some disagreement as to whether teachers of upper grades need to be trained in reading, or at least trained the same way.
Linda Pils pointed out that the amount and quality of professional development for Wisconsin teachers is very spotty. Most panel members felt that a coaching model with ongoing training for both teachers and principals was essential to professional development, but the coaches must be adequately trained. There was some discussion of Professional Development Plans, which are required for relicensure, and whether the areas of development should be totally up the individual teacher as they are now. Steve Dykstra felt that much existing professional development is very poor, and that money and time needs to be spent better. Some things should not count for professional development. Michele Erikson felt that it would be good to require that Professional development be linked to the needs of the students as demonstrated by performance data. Mary Read pointed out that coaching should extend to summer programs.
The main consensus here was that we need a road map for good reading instruction and good teacher training and coaching. What is missing is the substance of that road map, and the experts we will listen to in developing it.
Assessment
Mary Jo Ziegler presented a list of formal and informal assessment tools used around Wisconsin. Evers pointed out that assessment is a local district decision. Many former Reading First schools use DIBELS or some formal screener that assesses individual skills. Balanced literacy districts generally use something different. Madison, for example, has its own PLA (Primary Language Assessment), which includes running records, an observational survey, word identification, etc. MAP assessments are widely used, but Evers indicated that have not been shown to be reliable/valid below third grade. Dykstra questioned the reliability of MAP on the individual student level for all ages. PALS was discussed, as was the new wireless handheld DIBELS technology that some states are using statewide. Many members mentioned the importance of having multiple methods of assessment. Kathy Champeau delivered an impassioned plea for running records and Clay’s Observational Survey, which she said have been cornerstones of her teaching. Kestell was surprised that so many different tools are being used, and that the goal should be to make use of the data that is gathered. Dykstra, Henry, and Pedriana mentioned that assessment must guide instruction, and Archibald said that the purpose of an assessment must be considered. Couillard said that the Wis. RTI center is producing a questionnaire by which districts can evaluate assessment tools they hear about, and that they will do trainings on multiple and balanced assessments. Dykstra questioned the three-cue reading philosophy that often underlies miscue analysis and running records. no consensus was reached on what types of assessment should be used, or whether they should be more consistent across the state. Hassett questioned the timed component of DIBELS,and Dykstra explained its purpose. Some serious disagreements remain about the appropriateness of certain assessment tools, and their use by untrained teachers who do not know what warning signs to look for.
Intervention
Evers began the topic of intervention by saying that DPI was still collecting data on districts that score well, and then will look at what intervention techniques they use. Henry suggested deferring discussion of this important topic to the next meeting, as there were only 8 minutes left.

Nygren and Thiesfeldt Call for Audit of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Wisconsin Legislature: –State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette), Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Finance and State Representative Jeremy (R-Fond du Lac), Chair of the Assembly Education Committee released the following statement calling for an audit of the Department of Public Instruction: “Representing nearly one-fifth of the entire state budget, the Department of Public Instruction budget … Continue reading Nygren and Thiesfeldt Call for Audit of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Raising the Bar on Teacher Prep

NCTQ: Our nation’s schools employ 3 million teachers and rely on 27,000 programs in 2,000 separate institutions for training those teachers. Since 2006, NCTQ has reviewed programs, made recommendations, and highlighted the best we’ve seen of key elements for undergraduate and graduate programs for elementary, secondary and special education. Wisconsin DPI’s ongoing efforts to weaken … Continue reading Raising the Bar on Teacher Prep

Support modifications to the Wisconsin PI-34 educator licensing rule

Wisconsin Reading Coalition E-Alert: We have sent the following message and attachment to the members of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules, urging modifications to the proposed PI-34 educator licensing rule that will maintain the integrity of the statutory requirement that all new elementary, special education, and reading teachers, along with reading specialists, … Continue reading Support modifications to the Wisconsin PI-34 educator licensing rule

Requesting action one more time on Wisconsin PI-34 teacher licensing

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: Thanks to everyone who contacted the legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) with concerns about the new teacher licensing rules drafted by DPI. As you know, PI-34 provides broad exemptions from the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test (FORT) that go way beyond providing flexibility for … Continue reading Requesting action one more time on Wisconsin PI-34 teacher licensing

Commentary on Wisconsin DPI efforts to water down already thin elementary teacher content knowledge requirements.

Wisconsin Reading Coalition: Teachers and more than 180,000 non-proficient, struggling readers* in Wisconsin schools need our support While we appreciate DPI’s concerns with a possible shortage of teacher candidates in some subject and geographical areas, we feel it is important to maintain teacher quality standards while moving to expand pathways to teaching. Statute section 118.19(14) … Continue reading Commentary on Wisconsin DPI efforts to water down already thin elementary teacher content knowledge requirements.

97 (!) Emergency Elementary Teacher Licenses Granted to the Madison School District in 2016-2017

Wisconsin Reading Coalition (PDF), via a kind email: As we reported recently, districts in Wisconsin, with the cooperation of DPI, have been making extensive use of emergency licenses to hire individuals who are not fully-licensed teachers. Click here to see how many emergency licenses were issued in your district in 2016-17 for elementary teachers, special … Continue reading 97 (!) Emergency Elementary Teacher Licenses Granted to the Madison School District in 2016-2017

Wisconsin Elementary Teacher Content Knowledge Exam Results (First Time Takers)

Foundations of Reading Test (Wisconsin) Result Summary (First Time Takers): May 2013 – August 2014 (Test didn’t start until January 2014, and it was the lower cut score): 2150 pass out of 2766 first time takers = 78% passage rate .xls file September 2014 – August 2015 (higher cut score took effect 9/14): 2173/3278 = … Continue reading Wisconsin Elementary Teacher Content Knowledge Exam Results (First Time Takers)

DPI Plans To Reduce Wisconsin’s Teacher Content Knowledge Requirements

Wisconsin department of public instruction, via a kind reader: Through its work with stakeholder groups, the Department has identified administrative rule changes that help school districts address teacher shortages, beginning with CHR 16-086 which became effective on June 1, 2017. Additional changes to PI 34 are being advanced by the Department which build upon the … Continue reading DPI Plans To Reduce Wisconsin’s Teacher Content Knowledge Requirements

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

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

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

Molly Beck: A group of school officials, including state Superintendent Tony Evers, is asking lawmakers to address potential staffing shortages in Wisconsin schools by making the way teachers get licensed less complicated. The Leadership Group on School Staffing Challenges, created by Evers and Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators executive director Jon Bales, released last … Continue reading Relaxing Wisconsin’s Weak K-12 Teacher Licensing Requirements; MTEL?

Harvard vs. the Family: A scheduled academic conference confirms the suspicions of homeschooling parents.

Max Eden: This June, pandemic conditions permitting, Harvard University will host a conference—not open to the public—to discuss the purported dangers of homeschooling and strategies for legal reform. The co-organizer, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Bartholet, believes that homeschooling should be banned, as it is “a realm of near-absolute parental power. . . . inconsistent with a … Continue reading Harvard vs. the Family: A scheduled academic conference confirms the suspicions of homeschooling parents.

“I don’t think that actually stating they’re supporting these policies actually means that anything will change” (DPI Teacher Mulligans continue)

Logan Wroge: “I don’t think that actually stating they’re supporting these policies actually means that anything will change,” said Mark Seidenberg, a UW-Madison psychology professor. “I don’t take their statement as anything more than an attempt to defuse some of the controversy and some of the criticism that’s being directed their way.” While there’s broad … Continue reading “I don’t think that actually stating they’re supporting these policies actually means that anything will change” (DPI Teacher Mulligans continue)

Math scares your child’s elementary school teacher — and that should frighten you

Daniel Willingham: American students remain stumped by math. The 2019 scores for the National Assessment of Educational Progress test — known as NAEP — were published last month, showing that performance for fourth- and eighth-graders hasn’t budged since 2009. That’s a year after the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, convened by President George W. Bush, concluded that … Continue reading Math scares your child’s elementary school teacher — and that should frighten you

Should we feel optimistic or pessimistic about American K-12 education’s future?

Matthew Ladner: Americans thus seem to see their public education system as falling short in a variety of ways and aren’t especially optimistic about future improvement. Republicans exhibited the greatest amount of optimism, with 24 percent forecasting that the American public school system would be a “model of excellence around the world” in 20 years. … Continue reading Should we feel optimistic or pessimistic about American K-12 education’s future?

Gifted Education in Massachusetts: A Practice and Policy Review

Dana Ansel: Last year, the Massachusetts Legislature decided that the time had come to understand the state of education that gifted students receive in Massachusetts. They issued a mandate for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to review the policy and practices of education in public schools for gifted students as well as for … Continue reading Gifted Education in Massachusetts: A Practice and Policy Review

The Price of Teacher Mulligans: “I didn’t stop to ask myself then what would happen to all the kids who’d been left in the basement with the teacher who couldn’t teach” – Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama: Without telling me, she went over to the school and began a weeks-long process of behind-the-scenes lobbying, which led to me and a couple of other high-performing kids getting quietly pulled out of class, given a battery of tests, and about a week later reinstalled permanently into a bright and orderly third-grade class … Continue reading The Price of Teacher Mulligans: “I didn’t stop to ask myself then what would happen to all the kids who’d been left in the basement with the teacher who couldn’t teach” – Michelle Obama

“required them to keep the documents from the public, including their school boards”

Bethany Blankley: The documents DPI sent to school superintendents are the very documents WILL requested. DPI also sent school superintendents the final “joint federal notification packets” on ESSA, which also stipulated that the information not be made public before March 5. As a result, DPI could be applying a federal accountability system to schools and … Continue reading “required them to keep the documents from the public, including their school boards”

Resisting taxpayer oversight and the open records law at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Jessie Opoien: A WILL spokesman said on Tuesday that the organization had received the documents and its attorneys are currently reviewing them. “It is deeply disappointing it has taken DPI months to comply with our request,” said WILL deputy counsel Tom Kamenick in a statement. “The public has a right to know how DPI is … Continue reading Resisting taxpayer oversight and the open records law at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Wisconsin Governor Evers seeks to freeze voucher school enrollment and suspend charter school expansion

Molly Beck: He said in the Milwaukee program especially, enrollment freezes in private voucher schools would disproportionately affect children of color living in low-income households. “Most of our families don’t have the kind of income where they would have realistic choices,” he said at the time. Under Evers’ proposal, voucher schools also would be banned … Continue reading Wisconsin Governor Evers seeks to freeze voucher school enrollment and suspend charter school expansion

Here’s another view of what the research says about Tony Evers’ proposals

Will Flanders: Perhaps the most egregious omissions are in the discussion of school funding and its effect on student outcomes. While the author cites one study – not yet peer-reviewed — the preponderance of evidence for decades has suggested little to no impact of per-student funding on educational achievement. This study, and others like it … Continue reading Here’s another view of what the research says about Tony Evers’ proposals

Wisconsin DPI loses an open records court round

Patrick Marley: In November, DPI provided some records but declined to fulfill parts of the request because it said WILL’s request wasn’t specific enough and was too burdensome, according to the lawsuit. WILL filed a narrower request in December but has not received additional records. The lawsuit could be just one stage in a protracted … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI loses an open records court round

A Simple Formula to Increase Learning: Read, Write, Read More, Write More

Robert Holland: The never-ending quest for magic formulae that universally educate all children brings to mind this lyrical lament from a 1980 Johnny Lee country tune: “I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.” Rarely does anything loveable, or even merely useful, come from wandering the maze of government agencies, huge foundations, textbook … Continue reading A Simple Formula to Increase Learning: Read, Write, Read More, Write More

Wisconsin has a serious case of the blahs when it comes to education

Alan Borsuk: To set the context briefly: Comparing three years ago to last year, the percentage of students statewide who are rated as proficient or advanced in language arts, math and science has gone down. Just above 40% of Wisconsin kids are proficient or better in each subject, which means close to 60% are not. … Continue reading Wisconsin has a serious case of the blahs when it comes to education

To unlock student potential in East Asia Pacific, be demanding and supportive of teachers

Michael Crawford: Among the 29 countries and economies of the East Asia and Pacific region, one finds some of the world’s most successful education systems. Seven out of the top 10 highest average scorers on internationally comparable tests such as PISA and TIMSS are from the region, with Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Hong … Continue reading To unlock student potential in East Asia Pacific, be demanding and supportive of teachers

“Less discussed in Wisconsin is the tremendous impact that economic status has on student achievement”

Will Flanders: Less discussed in Wisconsin is the tremendous impact that economic status has on student achievement. A school with a population of 100% students who are economically disadvantaged would be expected to have proficiency rates more than 40% lower than a school with wealthier students. Indeed, this economics achievement gap is far larger in … Continue reading “Less discussed in Wisconsin is the tremendous impact that economic status has on student achievement”

Wisconsin DPI Assistant Superintendent – Only ‘Social Justice Equity Warriors’ Need Apply

Senator Steve Nass: Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) was outraged today by the most recent example of the radical politicization of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI). The DPI is currently seeking applicants for a career executive for the Assistant Director for Teacher Education/Professional Development/Licensing position. The position is supervised by Sheila Briggs an Assistant … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI Assistant Superintendent – Only ‘Social Justice Equity Warriors’ Need Apply

Some Top U.S. Educators Went to Finland. Their Big Takeaway: Empower Teachers

Madeline Will: After their time in Finland, the U.S. teachers traveled to Milan, Italy, for Education First’s Global Leadership Summit, which was focused on the future of food and had celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain as one of the speakers. The teachers’ travels were funded through scholarships by EF, an international educational tours company, and the … Continue reading Some Top U.S. Educators Went to Finland. Their Big Takeaway: Empower Teachers

(2009) What impact do high school mathematics curricula have on college-level mathematics placement?

James Wollack and Michael Fish: Major Findings CORE-Plus students performed significantly less well on math placement test and ACT-M than did traditional students Change in performance was observed immediately after switch Score trends throughout CORE-Plus years actually decreased slightly Inconsistent with a teacher learning-curve hypothesis CORE-AP students fared much better, but not as well as … Continue reading (2009) What impact do high school mathematics curricula have on college-level mathematics placement?

“The Plight of History in American Schools”

Diane Ravitch writing in Educational Excellence Network, 1989: Futuristic novels with a bleak vision of the prospects for the free individual characteristically portray a society in which the dictatorship has eliminated or strictly controls knowledge of the past. In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the regime successfully wages a “campaign against the Past” by banning … Continue reading “The Plight of History in American Schools”

Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous

Fareed Zakaria: If Americans are united in any conviction these days, it is that we urgently need to shift the country’s education toward the teaching of specific, technical skills. Every month, it seems, we hear about our children’s bad test scores in math and science — and about new initiatives from companies, universities or foundations … Continue reading Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous

Revisitng Kristof’s criticism of academic irrelevance

D.E. Wittkower, Evan Selinger and Lucinda Rush: Some time has passed since Nicholas Kristof published his controversial Op-Ed “Professors, We Need You!“, and the time is ripe for us to approach the issue afresh. After briefly revisiting the controversy, we’ll offer some thoughts about how to promote public engagement by changing academic cultures and incentives. … Continue reading Revisitng Kristof’s criticism of academic irrelevance

Where We Stand: Praise Doesn’t Pay the Bills – Concord Review to Fold

Al Shanker via Will Fitzhugh: Usually when I write this column, I’m trying to convince thousands of people about something. This time, I’m trying to reach one or two people. I don’t even know who they are, but they’ll have to be people receptive to spending some money on a good cause. Here’s the story. … Continue reading Where We Stand: Praise Doesn’t Pay the Bills – Concord Review to Fold

Wisconsin rated D+ in NCTQ State Teacher Policy Yearbook 2013



National Council on Teacher Quality (PDF):

1. The state should require teacher candidates to pass a test of academic proficiency that assesses reading, writing and mathematics skills as a criterion for admission to teacher preparation programs.
2. All preparation programs in a state should use a common admissions test to facilitate program comparison, and the test should allow comparison of applicants to the general college-going population. The selection of applicants should be limited to the top half of that population.
Wisconsin requires that approved undergraduate teacher preparation programs only accept teacher can- didates who have passed a basic skills test, the Praxis I. Although the state sets the minimum score for this test, it is normed just to the prospective teacher population. The state also allows teacher preparation programs to exempt candidates who demonstrate equivalent performance on a college entrance exam.
Wisconsin also requires a 2.5 GPA for admission to an undergraduate program.
To promote diversity, Wisconsin allows programs to admit up to 10 percent of the total number of students admitted who have not passed the basic skills test.
RECOMMENDATION
Require all teacher candidates to pass a test of academic proficiency that assesses reading, writing and mathematics skills as a criterion for admission to teacher preparation programs.
Even though the state’s policy that permits programs to admit up to 10 percent of students who have not passed the basic skills test is part of a laudable goal to promote diversity, allowing this exemption is risky because of the low bar set by the Praxis I (see next recommendation).
Require preparation programs to use a common test normed to the general college-bound population.
Wisconsin should require an assessment that demonstrates that candidates are academically com- petitive with all peers, regardless of their intended profession. Requiring a common test normed to the general college population would allow for the selection of applicants in the top half of their class, as well as facilitate program comparison.
Consider requiring candidates to pass subject-matter tests as a condition of admission into teacher programs.
In addition to ensuring that programs require a measure of academic performance for admission, Wisconsin might also want to consider requiring content testing prior to program admission as opposed to at the point of program completion. Program candidates are likely to have completed coursework that covers related test content in the prerequisite classes required for program admis- sion. Thus, it would be sensible to have candidates take content tests while this knowledge is fresh rather than wait two years to fulfill the requirement, and candidates lacking sufficient expertise would be able to remedy deficits prior to entering formal preparation.
For admission to teacher preparation programs, Rhode Island and Delaware require a test of academic proficiency normed to the general college- bound population rather than a test that is normed just to prospective teachers. Delaware also requires teacher candidates to have a 3.0 GPA or be in the top 50th percentile for general education coursework completed. Rhode Island also requires an average cohort GPA of 3.0, and beginning in 2016, the cohort mean score on nationally-normed tests such as the ACT, SAT or GRE must be in the top 50th percentile. In 2020, the requirement for the mean test score will increase from the top half to the top third.

via a kind Wisconsin Reading Coalition email:

After receiving a grade of D in 2009 and 2001, Wisconsin has risen to a D+ on the 2013 State Teacher Policy Yearbook released by the National Council on Teacher Quality.
In the area of producing effective teachers of reading, Wisconsin received a bump up for requiring a rigorous test on the science of reading. The Foundations of Reading exam will be required beginning January 31, 2014.
Ironically, Wisconsin also scored low for not requiring teacher preparation programs to prepare candidates in the science of reading instruction. We hope that will change through the revision of the content guidelines related to elementary licensure during a comprehensive review process that is underway at DPI this winter and spring.

Deja Vu? Education Experts to Review the Madison School District

The Madison School District:

Superintendent’s Teaching and Learning Transition Team to Begin Work This Week
A group of national and local education experts will support Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s entry plan work, the district announced today. The Superintendent’s Teaching and Learning Transition Team will begin work this week.
“Instruction and leadership are critical components of systemic improvement,” Superintendent Cheatham said. “This team of local and national practitioners will join district and school staff in assessing and analyzing strengths, areas of opportunities and priorities for improving teaching and learning in Madison schools.”
The eight member team brings together education experts from Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as educational practitioners from other urban school districts.
“We are fortunate to have access to national experts with a wide range of expertise from standards based instruction and leadership development, to bilingual and special education, to family and community involvement,” Cheatham said. “This team will help to deepen and strengthen my ongoing understanding of the strengths and challenges of our district. Their national perspective, coupled with the local perspective shared by principals, staff, parents and community members, will support us in narrowing our focus to only the most high leverage strategies for ensuring every student is college and career ready.”
The team, which was selected by the superintendent and will be funded through community and private foundations, will be chaired by Dr. Robert Peterkin, Professor Emeritus of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and includes: Maree Sneed, partner at Hogan and Lovells US LLC; John Diamond, sociologist of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; Sheila Brown, Co-Director at the Aspen Institute’s Education and Society Program; Allan Odden, Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; John Peterburs, Executive Director of Quarles & Brady; Wilma Valero, Coordinator for English Language Learner Programs in Elgin, Il; and Gloria Ladson-Billings, Professor of Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As Superintendent Cheatham continues the listening and learning phase of her entry plan, the Teaching and Learning Transition Team will also meet with central office leaders, conduct focus groups with teachers, principals, and parents as needed, and review a variety of relevant data.
At the end of their work, the team will present the superintendent with a report of what they have learned and recommendations for moving forward systemically with best practices. That report will be used, along with data collected by the superintendent in school visits and other entry plan activities, to refine the district’s goals and strategic priorities.

Related:

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 2001 (additional background here)
    Updated Strategic Plan Results in Priority Action Teams
    Five Strategic Priority Action Teams, centered around the most critical challenges facing the Madison Metropolitan School District, are among the outcomes of the recently-completed strategic plan.
    “The immediate and emerging challenges facing the district are addressed in our revitalized strategic plan,” said Superintendent Art Rainwater, “and the Action Teams are focused on five important priorities for us.”
    The five strategic priorities are:
    Instructional Excellence – improving student achievement; offering challenging, diverse and contemporary curriculum and instruction
    Student Support – assuring a safe, respectful and welcoming learning environment
    Staff Effectiveness – recruiting, developing and retaining a highly competent workforce that reflects the diversity of our students
    Home and Community Partnerships – strengthening community and family partnerships and communication
    Fiscal Responsibility – using resources efficiently and strategically
    The five Strategic Priority Action Teams, one for each of the five priorities, are taking on the responsibility for continuous improvement toward “their” priority.
    The Action Teams, which will have both staff members and non-staff members, will be responsible for existing initiatives. In addition they will identify and recommend benchmarks to use in assessing school district performance.
    “We have a huge number of initiatives,” said Rainwater. “This strategic plan gives us a systemic approach to change, so that every initiative, everything we do, leads us to these established goals. I believe it is critical to our district’s success that we follow this strategic plan and use it as a decision filter against which we measure our activities.”
    Two other outcomes from the updated strategic plan are:
    a set of beliefs about children, families, enhanced learning, and the quality of life and learning, all of which are integrated with an identified District vision and mission.
    improved cost efficiency and effectiveness of many central office functions, which are being addressed on an ongoing basis.
    Madison Schools’ initial strategic plan came about in 1991, and provided direction until this update.
    “As a result of this project,” said Rainwater, “all of us who are stakeholders — parents, students, teachers and staff, administrators and community members — will share a renewed sense of clarity, while seeing an ever-more efficient deployment of resources.”
    You can see the complete strategic plan on the district’s Web site: http://www.mmsd.org.

  • Teachers Dispute District Standards: Superintendent Cheryl Wilhoyte’s Biggest Goals have become caught up in the contract battle with Madison Teachers.:

    Amid the picket signs Madison teachers carried at a rally last month protesting slow-moving contract talks, some teachers also carried a bright purple flier.
    On one side was written the heading “standards and benchmarks.” On the other, “Dimensions of Learning.” Beneath each, and filling the entire page, was one uninterrupted string of text: “Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah. . . .”
    While hardly erudite — some would call it juvenile — the flier expressed the sentiment many teachers have toward two of Superintendent Cheryl Wilhoyte’s biggest initiatives: the effort to create districtwide academic standards, and the teacher-training program that goes along with it.
    Neither issue is a subject of bargaining. But the programs have become a sort of catch-all target for teachers who blame Wilhoyte for everything from the poor state of labor-management relations to the current contract impasse.
    Wilhoyte, who was hired in part to implement the district’s 1991 strategic plan, including establishing rigorous standards, says carrying out that plan is central to the compact she has with the …

  • The 2009 update to Madison’s “Strategic Planning Process“.
  • Madison’s 2012-2013 $392,000,000 budget (just under $15k per student)
  • Madison’s long term disastrous reading results
  • The Madison school district’s recent “achievement gap and accountability plan“.
  • The Capital Times (9.21.1992):

    Wilhoyte, on the other hand, has demonstrated that she is a tough, hands-on administrator in her role as assistant superintendent for instruction and school administration in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. And even those who have tangled with her praise her philosophy, which is to put kids first.
    She has been a leader in Maryland in shaking up the educational status quo, of moving it forward to meeat the needs of the children, even while juggling new programs with budget cuts. The big question remaining about her: She has never been a superintendent. How would she handle the top job?

  • Retiring Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 speech to the Madison Rotary club.
  • Madison Teachers, Inc. on the Madison Schools 2000 “Participatory Management”
  • Notes and links on recent Madison Superintendent hires”

Matthew DeFour summarizes and collects some feedback on the District’s press release here. It would be useful to dig into the archives and review the various strategic plans and initiatives over the years and compare the words and spending with results.
Deja vu.

Adults Only

I may be one of a tiny minority who think that schools are for student academic work.
Of course, sports, concerts, social programs, dances, and all sorts of other youth activities are important, but students don’t need schools to do them in.
My view is that without student academic work, all the buildings, bond issues, budgets, school boards, teacher unions, superintendent and teacher training programs, Broad/Gates/WalMart grants, local-state-federal education departments, NCLB, RTT, CC, CCSSO, Schools of Education, standards projects, legislation, regulations, and all the rest of the Adults Only paraphernalia surrounding education in this country these days are just a waste of money and time.
The Education Punditocracy, including blogs, magazines, newspapers, foundations, Finn/Hess/Petrilli, etc., and even my friend and inspiration, Diane Ravitch, among hundreds and hundreds of others, are completely preoccupied with and absorbed in their consideration of what Adults are doing in education. The actual academic work of students takes place at much too low a level to attract their notice. They seem to be making the assumption that if they can just fix all the Adults Only stuff, then somehow student academic work will take care of itself. But they don’t pay any attention in the meantime to whether students are actually doing any academic work or not. And they have not learned that the students, and the students alone, have the power to determine whether they will do any academic work, and also what its quality will be.
To reiterate: without student academic work, all the rest of the bustle, noise, commentary, and the hundreds of billions of dollars spent will amount to nothing, so it should be important to pay attention to student academic work, should it not?
I came to understand this because for the last 25 years in particular, and for about 10 years before that, I have been fully engaged in efforts that completely depend upon good student academic work, and I have been fascinated to discover how few Education people seem to be involved with that, and that just about every one of them, though laboring away quite seriously and conscientiously, seems to spend all their time on the Adults Only matters, and to have almost no interest, other than to give it lip service and quickly move on, in the serious academic work of students.
If that should somehow change, and if student academic work were to become the central focus of what we pay attention to in education, there is a chance we might see more of it, and that its quality might improve too. But if we continue to ignore it and focus on Adults Only, that most assuredly is not going to happen. As the Hindus say: “Whatever you give your Attention to grows in your life,” and we have been giving, IMHO, far too much attention (almost all of it) to the Adults Only aspects of education and far too little to student academic work.
To test what I am saying, if a kind Reader would go back over articles, books, blogs, and speeches on education in recent years, please do let me know if you find any that talk about student science projects, the complete nonfiction books they are reading, or the serious history research papers they are writing. I believe if you look closely, almost all that you find will show people caught up in what Adults Only are doing, should do, will do, must do, or might do, and there will be little to no attention to the actual academic work of students in our schools. But please prove me mistaken, with evidence, if you would be so kind.
—————————-
“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
Consortium for Varsity Academics® [2007]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007
www.tcr.org; fitzhugh@tcr.org
Varsity Academics™
blog: www.tcr.org/blog

Wisconsin Education Legislation Awaits Governor’s Signature

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent’s enewsletter:

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

Much more on the Read to Lead initiative, here.

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

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

An Interview with Will Fitzhugh: About Academic Excellence and Writing

Michael F. Shaughnessy:

1) Will, you recently gave a talk in Madison, Wisconsin. What exactly did you speak about?
WF: A group of professors, teachers, business people, lawyers and community people invited me to speak at the University of Wisconsin in Madison about the work of The Concord Review since 1987, and about the problems of college readiness and academic writing for high school students.
The Boston Public Schools just reported that 67% of the graduating class of 2000 who had gone on to higher education had failed to earn a certificate, an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree by 2008. Also, the Strong American Schools program just reported that more than a million of our high school graduates are in remedial education in college each year.
I recommend their report: Diploma to Nowhere, which came out last summer. While many foundations, such as Gates, and others, have focused on getting our students into college, too little attention has been paid to how few are ready for college work and how many drop out without any degree.
2) “We believe that the pursuit of academic excellence in secondary schools should be given the same attention as the pursuit of excellence in sports and other extracurricular activities.” This is a quote from The Concord Review. Now, I am asking you to hypothesize here–why do you think high schools across America seem to be preoccupied with sports and not academics?
WF: In Madison I also had a chance to speak about the huge imbalance in our attention to scholars and athletes at the high school level. I had recently seen a nationally televised high school football game in which, at breaks in the action, an athlete would come to the sidelines, and announce, to the national audience, which college he had decided to “sign” with. This is a far cry from what happens for high school scholars. High school coaches get a lot of attention for their best athletes, but if the coach also happens to be a history teacher, he or she will hear nothing from a college in the way of interest in his or her most outstanding history student.
When Kareem Abdul Jabbar was a very tall high school senior at Power Memorial Academy in New York, he not only heard from the head coaches at 60 college basketball programs, he also got a personal letter from Jackie Robinson of baseball fame and from Ralph Bunche at the United Nations, urging him to go to UCLA, which he did. That same year, in the U.S., the top ten high school history students heard from no one, and it has been that way every year since.
The lobby of every public high school is full of trophies for sports, and there is usually nothing about academic achievement. For some odd reason, attention to exemplary work in academics is seen as elitist, while heaps of attention to athletic achievement is not seen in the same way. Strange…The Boston Globe has 150 pages on year on high school athletes and no pages on high school academic achievement. Do we somehow believe that our society needs good athletes far more than it needs good students, and that is why we are so reluctant to celebrate fine academic work?

NAEP Writing Assessment 2011

An Interview with Will Fitzhugh: About Assessing Writing EdNews.org Houston, Texas, 24 January 2007
Michael F. Shaughnessy Senior Columnist EdNews.org:

1) I understand that you have just finished a stint on the ACT/NAGB Steering Committee for the 2011 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) Writing Assessment. What was that like? (And what does NAGB stand for?)
WF: NAGB is the National Assessment Governing Board, which runs the NAEP, “America’s Report Card,” as they say. I was glad that Diane Ravitch recommended me for the Steering Committee for the new national writing assessment scheduled for 2011. I was very impressed with the intelligence and competence of Mary Crovo, representing NAEP, and Rosanne Cook, who is running the project for American College Testing. Many people on the Committee were from the National Council of Teachers of English and the College Composition world, which have little interest in having students read history books or write history research papers. In fact that world favors, or has favored in the past, personal and creative writing and the five-paragraph essay, which do a terrible job of preparing high school students for the nonfiction books and the academic term papers most will be asked to cope with in college.
2) Given the paucity of writing that goes on in the high schools of America, is it really fair to ask high school students to engage in a robust writing assessment?
WF: It would not be fair to ask high school students to play in a football game if they hadn’t had an opportunity for lots of practice, and it is very hard to ask high school students to do the sort of academic expository writing they should be doing if they have never done it in all their years in school. But we need to start somewhere. Every high school student does not need to be able to play football, but they all need to be able to read nonfiction books and write serious term papers.
3) On the other hand, since so much of the college experience is writing, are high school teachers doing students a disservice by NOT requiring more writing?
WF: High school teachers would make terrible football coaches and their teams would lose most if not all of their games, if the teacher/coaches did not have time to practice their teams. We take football seriously, and we take band seriously, so ample time and money are made available to produce the best teams and the best bands the high school can manage. We allow really no time for a public high school teacher to work with students on heavy-duty term papers. We don’t make time for them, because we don’t think they are that important. Not as important as drama practice, yearbook, chorus, debate or a host of other activities. As a result our high school students are, once again, ill-prepared for college reading and writing. AP courses in history do not require, in most cases, that students read a complete nonfiction book, and most of the AP teachers say they don’t have time to ask the student to write a research paper, because they “have to get students ready for the AP Exam.”

French & British Education Climate Update

The Economist: Bac to School: LADEN with hefty backpacks, French children filed back to school this week amid fresh agonising about the education system. Given its reputation for rigour and secular egalitarianism, and its well-regarded baccalauréat exam, this is surprising. What do the French think is wrong? Quite a lot, to judge from a 30-page … Continue reading French & British Education Climate Update

Jefferson on Public Education: Defying Conventional Wisdom

Tom Shuford: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Thomas Jefferson The Fourth of July is fireworks, festivities and images of a gathering of remarkable men determined “to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and … Continue reading Jefferson on Public Education: Defying Conventional Wisdom