Madison’s Hamilton Middle School students win history challenge

Wisconsin State Journal:

A team of Madison students from Hamilton Middle School has won the junior division National African American History Challenge in Atlanta.
Hamilton students Jada Dayne, Nanceny Fanny and Avion Silas competed against 17 other teams from around the country.
Awards include savings bonds and scholarships. The Madison team won the junior championship twice before in 1996 and 2008.

Congratulations!

Hamilton Middle School – Two Years of Foreign Language Taught Daily, 7th Grade Algebra I Accelerated and 8th Grade Geometry, Children Select Music Option (Not a Pull out Curriculum)

Hamilton Middle School offers five academic classes per day in 7th and 8th grades. Hamilton offers its students choices in math, foreign language and music. What do other MMSD and Dane County middle schools offer children? I’d be interested in seeing posts with this information. Hamilton MS Foreign Language: In 7th and 8th grade, children … Continue reading Hamilton Middle School – Two Years of Foreign Language Taught Daily, 7th Grade Algebra I Accelerated and 8th Grade Geometry, Children Select Music Option (Not a Pull out Curriculum)

Middlebury College Cancels Conservative Philosopher’s Lecture on Totalitarianism

Alex Griswold: Middlebury College has canceled a campus speech by conservative Polish Catholic philosopher Ryszard Legutko in response to planned protests by liberal activists. A professor of philosophy at Jagiellonian University and a member of the European Parliament, Legutko was scheduled to speak Wednesday at the Vermont college’s Alexander Hamilton Forum, delivering a lecture entitled … Continue reading Middlebury College Cancels Conservative Philosopher’s Lecture on Totalitarianism

Madison School District Middle School Math Specialist Program

Madison School District Administration (PDF): Project Description: MMSD has provided funding to support coursework in the content and teaching knowledge of middle school teachers of math. Toward that goal, a partnership was formed back in 2010 between the District, the UW-Madison School of Education, the UW- Madison Department of Mathematics, and the University of Wisconsin … Continue reading Madison School District Middle School Math Specialist Program

Madison Middle School Academic Performance and Variation…

Madison School District Administration (PDF): “Inconsistency in grading and academic expectations between the middle schools may contribute to difficulty in transitioning to high school. The differences between the feeder middle schools are significant.” – MMSD Coursework Review, 2014 A recent tax increase referendum funded the expansion of Madison’s least diverse middle school: Hamilton. We’ve long … Continue reading Madison Middle School Academic Performance and Variation…

“Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. Six of the 32 elementary schools and one of the 12 middle schools had Third Friday enrollment numbers above their calculated capacities.”

Somewhat ironically, Madison has unused capacity in a number of schools, yet a successful Spring, 2015 referendum will spend another $41M+ to expand certain schools, including some of the least diverse such as Hamilton Middle School. Madison School District (PDF): Key Findings 1. Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. Six of the 32 elementary … Continue reading “Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. Six of the 32 elementary schools and one of the 12 middle schools had Third Friday enrollment numbers above their calculated capacities.”

K – 12 tax and spending climate: ongoing property tax increases and the “lost middle class”

Jim Tankersley: One day in 1967, Bob Thompson sprayed foam on a hunk of metal in a cavernous factory south of Los Angeles. And then another day, not too long after, he sat at a long wood bar with a black-and-white television hanging over it, and he watched that hunk of metal land a man … Continue reading K – 12 tax and spending climate: ongoing property tax increases and the “lost middle class”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Moving in with parents becomes more common for the middle-aged

Walter Hamilton: Debbie Rohr lives with her husband and twin teenage sons in a well-tended three-bedroom home in Salinas. The ranch-style house has a spacious kitchen that looks out on a yard filled with rosebushes. It’s a modest but comfortable house, the type that Rohr, 52, pictured for herself at this stage of life. She … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Moving in with parents becomes more common for the middle-aged

State honors 78 middle schools, including 2 in Madison

Wisconsin State Journal

In the fourth year of a program recognizing student achievement, 78 middle schools in the state — including 2 in Madison — earned Exemplary Middle School honors, the DPI announced Wednesday.
Hamilton Middle School and Spring Harbor Middle School in Madison were recognized in the program, sponsored by the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators and the Department of Public Instruction. The Exemplary Middle School program reviewed academic achievement records for 334 eligible schools based on grade-level configuration. Schools earn recognition for high three-year growth in reading or math scores, reading or math scores in the top 10 percent in the past year or high growth in reading or math scores for schools with a high poverty population.

Notes and Links: President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan Visit Madison’s Wright Middle School (one of two Charter Schools in Madison).


Background

President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan will visit Madison’s Wright Middle School Wednesday, November 4, 2009, purportedly to give an education speech. The visit may also be related to the 2010 Wisconsin Governor’s race. The Democrat party currently (as of 11/1/2009) has no major announced candidate. Wednesday’s event may include a formal candidacy announcement by Milwaukee Mayor, and former gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. UPDATE: Alexander Russo writes that the visit is indeed about Barrett and possible legislation to give the Milwaukee Mayor control of the schools.

Possible Participants:

Wright Principal Nancy Evans will surely attend. Former Principal Ed Holmes may attend as well. Holmes, currently Principal at West High has presided over a number of controversial iniatives, including the “Small Learning Community” implementation and several curriculum reduction initiatives (more here).
I’m certain that a number of local politicians will not miss the opportunity to be seen with the President. Retiring Democrat Governor Jim Doyle, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk (Falk has run for Governor and Attorney General in the past) and Madison School Superintendent Dan Nerad are likely to be part of the event. Senator Russ Feingold’s seat is on the fall, 2010 ballot so I would not be surprised to see him at Wright Middle School as well.

Madison’s Charter Intransigence

Madison, still, has only two charter schools for its 24,295 students: Wright and Nuestro Mundo.
Wright resulted from the “Madison Middle School 2000” initiative. The District website has some background on Wright’s beginnings, but, as if on queue with respect to Charter schools, most of the links are broken (for comparison, here is a link to Houston’s Charter School Page). Local biotech behemoth Promega offered free land for Madison Middle School 2000 [PDF version of the District’s Promega Partnership webpage]. Unfortunately, this was turned down by the District, which built the current South Side Madison facility several years ago (some School Board members argued that the District needed to fulfill a community promise to build a school in the present location). Promega’s kind offer was taken up by Eagle School. [2001 Draft Wright Charter 60K PDF]

Wright & Neustro Mundo Background

Wright Middle School Searches:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

Madison Middle School 2000 Searches:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

Nuestro Mundo, Inc. is a non-profit organization that was established in response to the commitment of its founders to provide educational, cultural and social opportunities for Madison’s ever-expanding Latino community.” The dual immersion school lives because the community and several School Board members overcame District Administration opposition. Former Madison School Board member Ruth Robarts commented in 2005:

The Madison Board of Education rarely rejects the recommendations of Superintendent Rainwater. I recall only two times that we have explicitly rejected his views. One was the vote to authorize Nuestro Mundo Community School as a charter school. The other was when we gave the go-ahead for a new Wexford Ridge Community Center on the campus of Memorial High School.

Here’s how things happen when the superintendent opposes the Board’s proposed action.

Nuestro Mundo:

Bing / Clusty / Google / Google News / Yahoo

The local school District Administration (and Teacher’s Union) intransigence on charter schools is illustrated by the death of two recent community charter initiatives: The Studio School and a proposed Nuestro Mundo Middle School.

About the Madison Public Schools

Those interested in a quick look at the state of Madison’s public schools should review Superintendent Dan Nerad’s proposed District performance measures. This document presents a wide variety of metrics on the District’s current performance, from advanced course “participation” to the percentage of students earning a “C” in all courses and suspension rates, among others.

Education Hot Topics

Finally, I hope President Obama mentions a number of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s recent hot topics, including:

This wonderful opportunity for Wright’s students will, perhaps be most interesting for the ramifications it may have on the adults in attendance. Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman recent Rotary speech alluded to school district’s conflicting emphasis on “adult employment” vs education.

Wisconsin State Test Score Comparisons: Madison Middle Schools:

WKCE Madison Middle School Comparison: Wright / Cherokee / Hamilton / Jefferson / O’Keefe / Sennett / Sherman / Spring Harbor / Whitehorse

About Madison:

UPDATE: How Do Students at Wright Compare to Their Peers at Other MMSD Middle Schools?

Madison Middle School Report Card/Homework Assessment Proposed Changes

Michael Maguire, via email:

I’m interested in gathering more information on this topic, as outlined in a message I received from a neighbor and PTO member. I appreciate more background info, if you have it (or a suggestion of where else I can go/with whom I can speak) to find out more: [“On Wednesday, February 20, at 7 pm Dr. Pam Nash and Lisa Wactel from MMSD will present the new format for middle school report cards. The meeting is in the LMC at Hamilton Middle School [Map].
The district is changing the middle school report cards to the same as the elementary: proficient, at grade level, needs improvement (or whatever those categories are). They will eliminate the letter grades: A, B, C, etc.
Another factor in the report cards is that homework will not count toward the grade. Teachers can still assign homework, but that will not count toward your child’s assessment.”]

Michael Maguire
RugbyMaguires@aol.com
(608) 233-1235
I’ve heard that this model is also intended for the high schools. Related posts by Mary Kay Battaglia, “Can We Talk?

Strong, Consistent Middle School Academics

As I listened to the Pam Nash’s (Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools) presentation on the Middle School Redesign to the Performance and Achievement Committee last night, I was thinking of an academic/elective middle school framework applied across the district that would be notable in its rigor and attractiveness to parents and some next steps. Personally, … Continue reading Strong, Consistent Middle School Academics

Parents at Hamilton Heard that Students Cannot Perform Basic Math Calculations

Last night was parent night at the MMSD middle schools. My daughter is in 8th grade at Hamilton Middle School, so I spent the evening going to her different classes to learn about what the syllabus was for each of her five academic classes – algebra I accelerated, english, history, Spanish and science. She also … Continue reading Parents at Hamilton Heard that Students Cannot Perform Basic Math Calculations

Sherman Middle School Principal Mandates Change by Fiat – Renames Afterschool an 8th hour and Kicks Academic Performance Music Out to Afterschool

The current music education upheaval at Sherman Middle School is about what Madison values for our children’s education, such as academic music education during the school day and who makes those decisions. It is not about money, because teacher allocations will be needed to teach the 8th hour same as during the school day. Making … Continue reading Sherman Middle School Principal Mandates Change by Fiat – Renames Afterschool an 8th hour and Kicks Academic Performance Music Out to Afterschool

Madison area students advance to national finals of history competition

Bill Novak:

ine Madison area middle and high school students have made it to the national finals of a history competition.
The nine are among 60 Wisconsin students to earn their way to the National History Day finals June 9-13 at College Park, Md., according to a news release from the Wisconsin Historical Society.
The students include Ameya Sanyal, Sanjaya Kumar, Anna Stoneman, Kristin Kiley and Lucas Voichick from the EAGLE School in Fitchburg; Manlu Liu, Madeline Brighouse-Glueck and Sara Triggs from West High School; and Eliza Scholl from Hamilton Middle School.

Madison West High School Named State Science Olympiad Champions

The Madison School District:

The team from West High School won at the Wisconsin Science Olympiad State Tournament on Saturday April 13th at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The team competed against high school teams from across the state. West High performed at a high level, winning many individual medals (8 first place medals) and the overall team championship. West followed up last year’s win with back to back titles. They also won the honor to represent the state of Wisconsin at the national tournament where the top Math and Science high schools will compete for national honors. Hamilton Middle School will also attend the national tournament.

Congratulations.

An Update on Madison’s Use of the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) Assessment





Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore

Unlike other assessments, MAP measures both student performance and growth through administering the test in both fall and spring. No matter where a student starts, MAP allows us to measure how effective that student’s school environment was in moving that student forward academically.
This fall’s administration serves as a baseline for that fall to spring growth measure. It also serves as an indicator for teachers. As we continue professional development around MAP, we will work to equip schools to use this data at the classroom and individual student level. In other words, at its fullest use, a teacher could look at MAP data and make adjustments for the classroom or individual students based on where that year’s class is in the fall, according to these results.
Meeting growth targets on the fall administration indicates that a student met or exceeded typical growth from Fall 2011 to Fall 2012. Typical growth is based on a student’s grade and prior score; students whose scores are lower relative to their grade level are expected to grow more than students whose scores are higher relative to their grade level.
In Reading, more than 50% of students in every grade met their growth targets from Fall 2011 to Fall 2012. In Mathematics, between 41% and 63% of students at each grade level met their growth targets. The highest growth in Mathematics occurred from fourth to fifth grade (63%) and the lowest growth occurred from fifth to sixth grade (41%).
It is important to note that across student groups, the percent of students making expected growth is relatively consistent. Each student’s growth target is based on his or her performance on previous administrations of MAP. The fact that percent of students making expected growth is consistent across student subgroups indicates that if that trend continues, gaps would close over time. In some cases, a higher percentage of minority students reached their growth targets relative to white students. For example, at the middle school level, 49% of white students met growth targets, but 50% of African American students and 53% of Hispanic students met their growth targets. In addition, English Language Learners, special education students, and students receiving free and reduced lunch grew at similar rates to their peers.
MAP also provides status benchmarks that reflect the new, more rigorous NAEP standards. Meeting status benchmarks indicates that a student would be expected to score “Proficient” or “Advanced” on the next administration of the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE).
That means that even though overall scores haven’t changed dramatically from last year, the percent of students identified as proficient or advanced will look different with these benchmarks. That is not unique for MMSD – schools around the state and nation are seeing this as they also work toward the common core.
While these scores are different than what we have been used to, it is important to remember that higher standards are a good thing for our students, our districts and our community. It means holding ourselves to the standards of an increasingly challenging, fast-paced world and economy. States all around the country, including Wisconsin, are adopting these standards and aligning their work to them.
As we align our work to the common core standards, student achievement will be measured using new, national standards. These are very high standards that will truly prepare our students to be competitive in a fast-paced global economy.
At each grade level, between 32% and 37% of students met status benchmarks in Reading and between 36% and 44% met status benchmarks in Mathematics. Scores were highest for white students, followed by Asian students, students identified as two or more races, Hispanic students, and African-American students. These patterns are consistent across grades and subjects.
Attachment #1 shows the percentage of students meeting status benchmarks and growth targets by grade, subgroup, and grade and subgroup. School- and student-level reports are produced by NWEA and used for internal planning purposes.

Related: 2011-2012 Madison School District MAP Reports (PDF Documents):

I requested MAP results from suburban Madison Districts and have received Waunakee’s Student Assessment Results (4MB PDF) thus far.

New school report cards another tool for achievement gap

A. David Dahmer:

It’s not just the students who are getting report cards during the 2012-13 school year.
On Monday, Oct. 22, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) issued a School Report Card for every public school in Wisconsin. The new school year has brought new measures on how the MMSD and other districts throughout the state evaluate its progress and makes improvements. Madison superintendent Jane Belmore said the ratings reflect data the district is already using to improve schools.
“There were no really surprises for us because we’ve been working with this data for over a year now,” Belmore tells The Madison Times. “It’s a complex picture – and maybe a better picture than we’ve had before — but we still believe we are on track with the strategies that we’ve developed and have started to put in place with this first year of the achievement gap plan.”
The school report cards, she adds, confirm MMSD’s knowledge about how the schools are doing on increasing student achievement, closing gaps, and preparing students for college or career.
Seven Madison schools — Van Hise, Randall, Shorewood Hills, Marquette, Franklin and Lapham elementary schools and Hamilton Middle School — “significantly exceed expectations” according to the report cards. That’s a designation only 3 percent of schools in the state received.

1 in 8 Wisconsin public schools not meeting expectations, DPI says

Matthew DeFour:

Update: One in eight public schools in Wisconsin aren’t meeting expectations set out by the state’s new accountability system, the Department of Public Instruction announced Monday.
Three in four schools are either meeting expectations or exceeding expectations, while about 10 percent of the state’s 2,118 public schools did not receive a rating.
No Madison schools failed to meet expectations, though 10 Madison schools received ratings in the second-lowest “meets few expectations” category. The Madison school with the lowest rating was East High School with a score of 55.6 on a scale of 0 to 100.
Seven Madison schools “significantly exceed expectations,” a designation assigned to only 3 percent of schools in the state. They were Van Hise, Randall, Shorewood Hills, Marquette, Franklin and Lapham elementaries and Hamilton Middle School.
The Department of Public Instruction on Monday released report cards for more than 2,000 public schools in Wisconsin. They can be accessed here.

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

Matthew DeFour:

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

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

At Madison’s All-City Spelling Bee, the winning word is a surprise but not a trick

Dean Mosiman:

After a morning of handling knotty words, Kira Zimmerman seemed almost stunned when asked to spell “peril” to win the All-City Spelling Bee on Saturday.
The defending champion, Vishal Narayanaswamy, had just narrowly missed on “receptacle,” which Zimmerman then spelled correctly, leaving her the final, five-letter challenge.
She asked the Bee’s pronouncer, Barry Adams, to repeat the word, paused almost like she suspected a trick, and then said, “Ohh, peril … p-e-r-i-l” and won the hefty traveling trophy for her school and the honor of representing Madison in the Badger State Spelling Bee on March 26 at Edgewood College.
As the Hamilton Middle School eighth-grader posed for pictures, her first thought was of getting a doughnut her father, David Zimmerman, had promised during a break if she won. Then she talked about winning and moving to the state championship.

Parents question focus and speed of Madison’s gifted students program

Gayle Worland:

The parents of exceptionally bright students in Madison schools waited 18 years for a plan to raise the academic bar for their children. But now, they’re really getting impatient.
Approved by the Madison school board in August, the district’s new three-year plan for talented and gifted (“TAG”) students already is raising questions from parents about focus and speed. The district’s TAG staff, they note, consists of only 8.5 positions in a district of 24,622 students – and three of those positions are vacant.
“Change of a large system takes time,” said Chris Gomez Schmidt, the mother of three young children who serves on the district’s advisory committee for talented and gifted students. “But I think there’s a lot of families within the system who are frustrated when they see that their students’ needs are not being met. I think that families don’t feel like they have a lot of time to wait.”
The district’s talented and gifted plan, which replaces a 1991 document, will be spelled out for the public Tuesday night in a community forum from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Hamilton Middle School, 4801 Waukesha St. The forum is meant to make the reforms understandable and “transparent” to the public, said Lisa Wachtel, executive director for teaching and learning for the district.

Teach Your Teachers Well

Susan Engel, via a kind Barb Williams email:

ARNE DUNCAN, the secretary of education, recently called for sweeping changes to the way we select and train teachers. He’s right. If we really want good schools, we need to create a critical mass of great teachers. And if we want smart, passionate people to become these great educators, we have to attract them with excellent programs and train them properly in the substance and practice of teaching.
Our best universities have, paradoxically, typically looked down their noses at education, as if it were intellectually inferior. The result is that the strongest students are often in colleges that have no interest in education, while the most inspiring professors aren’t working with students who want to teach. This means that comparatively weaker students in less intellectually rigorous programs are the ones preparing to become teachers.
So the first step is to get the best colleges to throw themselves into the fray. If education was a good enough topic for Plato, John Dewey and William James, it should be good enough for 21st-century college professors.
These new teacher programs should be selective, requiring a 3.5 undergraduate grade point average and an intensive application process. But they should also be free of charge, and admission should include a stipend for the first three years of teaching in a public school.
Once we have a better pool of graduate students, we need to train them differently from how we have in the past. Too often, teaching students spend their time studying specific instructional programs and learning how to handle mechanics like making lesson plans. These skills, while useful, are not what will transform a promising student into a good teacher.

Barb Williams is a teacher at Madison’s Hamilton Middle School.

A lesson in school lunch

Susan Troller:

“Eat the taco salad. It’s good.”
The reassuring comment came from a crowd of seventh-grade boys at Velma Hamilton Middle School as I prepared to eat my first school lunch in more than 40 years.
They politely made room for me at the front of a line that circled the cafeteria/multipurpose room, nodding enthusiastically as I took the salad. As a former food writer and restaurant critic newly returned to covering topics about children and education, I wanted to experience firsthand school lunches at Madison’s elementary, middle and high schools. Madison, like communities across the nation, is re-evaluating school meals with an eye toward making them more nutritious and appealing.
The taco salad featured finely shredded lettuce, providing a reasonably crisp bed for a mound of mildly seasoned ground beef; a dab of sour cream, a small plastic container of salsa and a small package of salty, tortilla chips completed the spread. It was the most popular purchased lunch option that day, although a majority of Hamilton’s sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders appeared to have brought their own lunches. With a half-pint of milk, the meal cost $3.30 (adult full-price middle school lunch). I’d probably give it a grade of C+ or B-.

Community meeting to introduce the new Madison School District Talented and Gifted Plan

via a kind reader’s email:

Tuesday, November 17
6:00 – 7:30 p.m. (this is the correct time)
Hamilton Middle School LMC
4801 Waukesha Street
Madison, Wi
The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Talented and Gifted Division will host a community forum on November 17, 2009, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Superintendent Dan Nerad and Director of Teaching and Learning Lisa Wachtel will be in attendance.
The focus of the forum will be to provide the Madison community with an overview of the recently Board of Education approved Talented and Gifted Education Plan, followed by an opportunity for discussion.
Link to new MMSD TAG Plan: http://tagweb.madison.k12.wi.us/
More information from MUAE: http://madisonunited.org/TAGplan.html

11 Madison-area students win at National History Day

Wisconsin Historical Society:

We are proud to announce the national finalists and alternates for the 2008 Wisconsin History Day State Event held on May 3, 2008. The national finalists represented Wisconsin at the national contest June 15-19, 2008 at the University of Maryland – College Park.
The first and second alternate in each category are offered the opportunity to attend the national contest in the event that the finalist entry is unable to attend.
Each finalist designs their entry to reflect the annual theme. The entries below reflect the annual theme for 2008: Conflict and Compromise in History.
This year’s local winners: Amanda Snodgrass (Mount Horeb High School), Joanna Weng (Velma Hamilton Middle School), and Alexandra Cohn and David Aeschlimann (Madison West High School). The following students from Eagle School were also winners: Hannah O’Dea, Carolyn Raihala, Sophie Gerdes, Sonia Urquidi, Nate Smith, Jeffrey Zhao and Eli Fessler.

Via the Capital Times.

K-12 $pending Inequality (Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools)

Darrel Burnette II: Several Massachusetts superintendents are spending more money on schools that enroll mostly wealthy students than they are on schools that educate mostly poor students, even though the state designed its funding formula to do the exact opposite. And some schools are outperforming other schools even though they’re receiving significantly less money. That’s … Continue reading K-12 $pending Inequality (Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools)

Some Madison schools sign on to Black Lives Matter event that calls for dumping police

Chris Rickert: Some Madison schools will participate next year in a Black Lives Matter event that features a call to “fund counselors, not cops” — despite the School Board’s decision this week to keep police officers in the Madison School District’s four main high schools. Hamilton Middle School said in an email to community members … Continue reading Some Madison schools sign on to Black Lives Matter event that calls for dumping police

School District Reform Prompts Parent Protests in Beijing (Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools)

Ding Jie, Li Rongde, Su Xin and Zhou Simin: A group of 30 parents staged a protest at the education department of Beijing’s Dongcheng district earlier in May to voice their opposition to a sweeping change to the “school district” policy now being tested by the local government. Under the change, a school district, usually … Continue reading School District Reform Prompts Parent Protests in Beijing (Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools)

Commentary on Madison Taxpayer Funded Schools’ PTO Budgets and Activity

Chris Rickert: Allis Elementary currently has no active PTO and its fundraising when it did have one last year was “very, very little,” according to interim principal Sara Cutler. Allis’ percentage of economically disadvantaged students last year was 67.9, according to state Department of Public Instruction data, or higher than the district percentage of 46.1. … Continue reading Commentary on Madison Taxpayer Funded Schools’ PTO Budgets and Activity

Compare Omaha K-12 Governance & Spending With Madison: Expand Least Diverse Schools Or?

Mareesia Nicosia: They’ve waited every morning since, Gunter told The 74 in a recent interview, until the doors open and staff welcomes them warmly inside, trading handshakes and high-fives as music courses through the halls. Not long ago, though, there was little enthusiasm from students, their families — and staff, for that matter. The pre-K–5 … Continue reading Compare Omaha K-12 Governance & Spending With Madison: Expand Least Diverse Schools Or?

Madison School District “Capacity Report”

Madison School District Administration (PDF): 1. Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. One elementary school and no middle or high schools had a Third Friday enrollment above their calculated capacity as currently configured. 2. Eighteen of the 32 elementary schools, three of the 12 middle schools, and one of the five high schools had … Continue reading Madison School District “Capacity Report”

A rather remarkable chart from the Madison School District Admini$tration

Tap for a larger version (view the complete pdf slide presentation). I am astonished that the Madison School District’s administration published this chart. Why not publish the change in redistributed state (and federal) tax dollars over time as a percentage of total spending, along with academic outcomes? This chart displays Madison’s redistributed state tax dollar … Continue reading A rather remarkable chart from the Madison School District Admini$tration

Portland Schools’ Proposed Boundary Changes

Laua Frazier: Twenty out of 29 of the district’s K-8s have too few students in the middle grades, making it challenging to offer the same level of programming middle schools can, the district found. The district also has 11 schools that are over-crowded and nine that are under-enrolled. The district developed performance indicators to show … Continue reading Portland Schools’ Proposed Boundary Changes

Commentary on tension in the Madison Schools over “One Size Fits All” vs. “Increased Rigor”

Maggie Ginsberg interviews Brandi Grayson: Can you give an example of what you’ve described as “intent versus impact?” The Behavior Education Plan that the [Madison Metropolitan] school district came up with. The impact is effed up, in so many words, and that’s because the voices that are most affected weren’t considered. It’s like standing outside … Continue reading Commentary on tension in the Madison Schools over “One Size Fits All” vs. “Increased Rigor”

Considering Madison’s K-12 Enrollment Projections: 2009 and 2014; Dramatic Demographic Variation Persists

The Madison School District recently published a brief K-12 enrollment history (2010- PDF) along with a look at school capacities (PDF). Happily, a similar 2009 document is available here (PDF). This document includes 18 years of history, to 1990. Yet, the District and community have long tolerated wide variation in demographics across the schools. Tap … Continue reading Considering Madison’s K-12 Enrollment Projections: 2009 and 2014; Dramatic Demographic Variation Persists

Property Tax Increase Climate: Madison’s Proposed 2015 Spending Referendum

A variety of notes and links on the planned 2015 Madison School District Property Tax Increase referendum: Madison Schools’ PDF Slides on the proposed projects. Ironically, Madison has long supported a wide variation in low income distribution across its schools. This further expenditure sustains the substantial variation, from Hamilton’s 18% low income population to Black … Continue reading Property Tax Increase Climate: Madison’s Proposed 2015 Spending Referendum

Madison Schools’ Referendum & Possible Boundary Change Commentary

Molly Beck: Even though expanding eight schools is only part of the plan, “if there’s any one (school) that looks particularly challenging to explain,” Hughes said, “we know that will be what the opponents of the referendum will latch onto. … We are going to have to be able to work through that and decide … Continue reading Madison Schools’ Referendum & Possible Boundary Change Commentary

Community Forum to Introduce the New MMSD “Talented and Gifted” Education Plan

The MMSD is hosting a community forum to introduce the District’s new “Talented and Gifted” (TAG) Education Plan. Tuesday, November 17 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Hamilton Middle School LMC (4801 Waukesha Street) Superintendent Nerad, Teaching and Learning Director Lisa Wachtel, Interim TAG Coordinator Barbie Klawikowski, and MMSD TAG staff will be there. The focus of … Continue reading Community Forum to Introduce the New MMSD “Talented and Gifted” Education Plan

In Support of the November, 2008 Madison School District Referendum

Community and Schools Together:

We have a referendum!
Community and Schools Together (CAST) has been working to educate the public on the need to change the state finance system and support referendums that preserve and expand the good our schools do. We are eager to continue this work and help pass the referendum the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education approved on Monday, August 25, 2008.
“The support and interest from everyone has been great,” said Franklin and Wright parent and CAST member Thomas J. Mertz. “We’ve got a strong organization, lots of enthusiasm, and we’re ready to do everything we can to pass this referendum and move our schools beyond the painful annual cuts. Our community values education. It’s a good referendum and we are confident the community will support it.”
Community and Schools Together (CAST) strongly supports the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education’s decision to place a three-year recurring referendum on the November 4, 2008 ballot. This is the best way for the district to address the legislated structural deficit we will face over the next few years.

Much more on the November, 2008 Referendum here.

Cutting Elementary Strings Hurts Children From Families With Low and Moderate Incomes

Members of the Board of Education, I am writing to urge you all to vote in support of continuing the strings program in elementary schools. I am a parent of a 6th grader at Hamilton Middle School, and I am fortunate to have been able to afford private and group violin lessons outside the school … Continue reading Cutting Elementary Strings Hurts Children From Families With Low and Moderate Incomes

February Math Events

Hamilton Middle School [Map] is hosting a Math Night, Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 7:00p.m., evidently designed for parents of children attending that school this fall. Rafael Gomez is organizing a Forum on Middle School Math Curriculum Wednesday evening, February 22, 2006 at the Doyle Administration Building (McDaniels Auditorium) [Map] from 7:00 to 8:00p.m. Participants … Continue reading February Math Events

Community Invited to Suggest Budget Reductions

Residents of the Madison Metropolitan School District will be given the opportunity in 11 January sessions to make suggestions and set priorities for budget reductions necessary for the 2006-07 school year. The budget reduction exercise uses a $100 budget that reflects the proportionate share for 47 major program areas of the actual MMSD budget. MMSD … Continue reading Community Invited to Suggest Budget Reductions

Thoreau Boundary Change Grassroots Work

Erin Weiss and Gina Hodgson (Thoreau PTO) engage in some impressive grassroots work: November 28, 2005 Dear Thoreau Families, Staff, Teachers and Friends, Now is the time for you to get involved in the MMSD redistricting process! This Thursday, December 1 at 6:30pm, a Public Forum will be held at Cherokee Middle School. This forum … Continue reading Thoreau Boundary Change Grassroots Work

Governance: Priorities and OUtcomes in Madison

Logan Wroge: Zirbel-Donisch said the plan is to have the condoms paid for by outside-partner organizations. While most four-year University of Wisconsin System colleges offer free condoms, doing so in Wisconsin high schools remains relatively rare. The state Department of Public Instruction estimated in 2016 that 6.9% of high schools in the state provided free … Continue reading Governance: Priorities and OUtcomes in Madison

A rotten year Madison: teachers report from the classroom (2013 – “what will be different, this time?”)

Dylan Brogan: But the transfrmation has been a rocky one and disparities persist. Isthmus collected over 30 hours of interviews with dozens of Madison educators over the past two months. Teachers from three elementary schools, five middle schools and three high schools shared their experiences in the classroom. Most requested anonymity because of fears of … Continue reading A rotten year Madison: teachers report from the classroom (2013 – “what will be different, this time?”)

You find, for example, an obsessive attention to what today we would refer to as ‘literacy’ and ‘critical thinking skills’”

Jeff Sypeck: But when you look at the manuscripts, the classroom texts, and the teaching methods of the early Middle Ages, you find habits and practices that I think would warm the hearts of pretty much everybody in this room. You find, for example, an obsessive attention to what today we would refer to as … Continue reading You find, for example, an obsessive attention to what today we would refer to as ‘literacy’ and ‘critical thinking skills’”

How City Year Milwaukee’s Meralis Hood learned ‘the power of not being perfect’

Alan Borsuk: The roots of Hood’s story lie in the mountains of Puerto Rico, where, in the 1970s, Hood’s mother, Lydia Torres, saw an ad for bilingual teaching jobs in Milwaukee that paid considerably more than what her family was living on. The family moved to Milwaukee and Hood’s mother taught for MPS for three … Continue reading How City Year Milwaukee’s Meralis Hood learned ‘the power of not being perfect’

$pending more on Bricks and Mortar in the Madison School District?

Madison School District Administration (PDF): Build a new neighborhood elementary school in or near the South Allis attendance area, south of the Beltline, to serve all of the South Allis area and a portion of the Leopold area. Invite Verona, Oregon, and McFarland to join with MMSD to rationalize the south border to better serve … Continue reading $pending more on Bricks and Mortar in the Madison School District?

On School Segregation And Expanding Madison’s Least Diverse School

Kate Taylor: A look at the history of District 3, which stretches along the West Side of Manhattan from 59th to 122nd Street, shows how administrators’ decisions, combined with the choices of parents and the forces of gentrification, have shaped the current state of its schools, which, in one of the most politically liberal parts … Continue reading On School Segregation And Expanding Madison’s Least Diverse School

Madison School District internal Transfer Report Fall 2016

Madison School District Administration (PDF): At the elementary school level, the percentage of students living in each attendance area who transfer out of their attendance area ranges from a low of less than 1%, at Shorewood, to a high of 25.8%, at Mendota. Elementary schools with the most negative net transfers (net loss of students … Continue reading Madison School District internal Transfer Report Fall 2016

Poor white kids are less likely to go to prison than rich black kids

Max Ehrenfreund: “Race trumps class, at least when it comes to incarceration,” said Darrick Hamilton of the New School, one of the researchers who produced the study. He and his colleagues, Khaing Zaw and William Darity of Duke University, examined data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a national study that began in 1979 … Continue reading Poor white kids are less likely to go to prison than rich black kids

Why the Atlanta superintendent wants to close successful schools

Molly Bloom: Atlanta school Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s plan to turn around the struggling school system calls for closing schools that, by Atlanta standards, are succeeding and merge those students with now-failing schools. The closures will allow her to replace hundreds of teachers, bring in new leaders and save money by closing half-empty schools. District officials … Continue reading Why the Atlanta superintendent wants to close successful schools

Big jump in number of millennials living with parents reported

Walter Hamilton: More Americans than ever live in multigenerational households, and the number of millennials who live with their parents is rising sharply, according to a study released Thursday. A record 57 million Americans, or 18.1% of the population, lived in multigenerational arrangements in 2012, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s more than double … Continue reading Big jump in number of millennials living with parents reported

Madison Schools Float 3.87% Property Tax Increase for the 2014-2015 $402,464,374 budget

Madison School District 600K PDF: July 1 Equalization Aid estimate was $4.8 million less than budget. Before any cost cutting, the November 2014 tax levy estimate would change from a 1.99% increase to a 3.86% increase. However, the November 2014 tax base estimate has also changed from a 0.0% increase to a 3.5% increase. This … Continue reading Madison Schools Float 3.87% Property Tax Increase for the 2014-2015 $402,464,374 budget

Segregation Now: In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.

Nikole Hannah-Jones: Though James Dent could watch Central High School’s homecoming parade from the porch of his faded white bungalow, it had been years since he’d bothered. But last fall, Dent’s oldest granddaughter, D’Leisha, was vying for homecoming queen, and he knew she’d be poking up through the sunroof of her mother’s car, hand cupped … Continue reading Segregation Now: In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.

Current Madison Elementary School Boundaries…. & the School Board Election

Two Madison School Board candidates recently expressed opposition to boundary changes: Flores also said when students and parents walk to their schools, it fosters family connections and relationships between families and school faculty. “If (any) boundary changes obstruct from that, then I’m against that,” said Flores, who also said he supports asking voters for money … Continue reading Current Madison Elementary School Boundaries…. & the School Board Election

Madison Schools’ attendance area changes hard — but probably worth it

Chris Rickert:

One advantage to redrawing the lines is that it could delay the financial hit of having to build a new school. Some school officials are already talking referendum. Plus, with space available in the district, is there really any good reason any student should be forced to attend class in what was formerly a closet, as some at Sandburg Elementary do?
More troubling is the effect crowding could have on low-income students who, statistically at least, struggle academically and might benefit from better learning environments.
According to data collected by the Department of Public Instruction, 48.9 percent of Madison elementary students were considered “economically disadvantaged” last school year. For the five schools over capacity now, that percentage was 48.4.
But two of those schools are more affluent and are expected to see their enrollments drop below 100 percent capacity by 2018-19. Most of the seven schools expected to be over capacity in 2018-19 serve less affluent areas of Madison, and collectively, the seven had a student population that was 57.8 percent economically disadvantaged last year.



Madison has long supported a wide variation in school demographics. The chart above, created from 2013-2014 Madison School District middle school demographic data, illustrates the present reality, with the largest middle school – near west side Hamilton – also featuring the smallest percentage low income population.

Madison Schools Considers School Boundaries, Might Low Income Distribution be Addressed?

Molly Beck:

Board member T.J. Mertz said that sometime in the next six or seven months the board will begin a process of seriously looking at facilities issues, including whether to embark upon the contentious fix of changing any of the district’s school boundaries, among other solutions.
“In multiple areas we’re either at or will be very, very soon at or over capacity, and we continue to have schools that are fairly well under capacity,” Mertz said. “There’s going to have to be something done … and I’m of the get-started-with-this-sooner-rather-than-later school.”

Related: We have seen this movie before. 10 Reasons to Combine Lapham & Marquette.
The Myth of Public Schools



Madison has long supported a wide variation in school demographics. The chart above, created from 2013-2014 Madison School District middle school demographic data, illustrates the present reality, with the largest middle school – near west side Hamilton – also featuring the smallest percentage low income population.

The Myth of “Public” Schools

Matthew Yglesias:

This disturbing article about a rich neighborhood of Baton Rouge, La., that wants to secede so it won’t have to share school funding with poorer neighborhoods reminds me of one of my great frustrations with the K-12 education policy debate–the terminology of “public schools.”
The way the word is used a school is “public” if it is owned by a government entity and thus part of the public sector. But a public school is by no means a school that’s open to the public in the sense that anyone can go there. Here in the District of Columbia anyone who wants to wander into a public park is free to do so (that’s what makes it public) but to send your kid to a good “public” elementary school in Ward 3 you have to live there. And thanks to exclusionary zoning, in practice if you want to live in Ward 3 you have to be rich. It wouldn’t be legal to respond to the very high price of land in the area by building homes on small lots, or building tall buildings full of small affordable apartments.
Since D.C. doesn’t have Louisiana’s political culture, Ward 3 generally doesn’t have a problem with its tax dollars subsidizing the schools in Wards 5, 7, and 8, but if you proposed randomly assigning students to schools to produce integrated instructional environments, you’d have an epic battle on your hands.



Madison has long supported a wide variation in school demographics. The chart above, created from 2013-2014 Madison School District middle school demographic data, illustrates the present reality, with the largest middle school – near west side Hamilton – also featuring the smallest percentage low income population.

Wisconsin Teachers face new employment landscape

Erin Richards: Jeni Callan sits near the front of the school bus, listening and taking tidy notes on a legal pad. It’s new teacher orientation day in the Hamilton School District, and the yellow bus carrying nearly 30 new hires for the 2011-’12 school year is winding through Waukesha County as the district’s spokeswoman shouts … Continue reading Wisconsin Teachers face new employment landscape

Reading skills soar in intensive, expensive MPS program

Alan Borsuk:

Let us end the school year with congratulations to Yolimar Maldonado, Lizbeth Fernandez and Nikki Hill, all finishing their sophomore year at Milwaukee Hamilton High School.
To Kenyon Turner, a freshman who went to Bay View and then Community High School; Myha Truss, an eighth-grader at Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts; and Tyrece Toliver, a seventh-grader at the Milwaukee Education Center. And to dozens of other students in Milwaukee Public Schools, of whom this can be said:
They made strong progress this year in improving their reading, jumping ahead more than a grade, and, in some cases, several grades.
It wasn’t easy, either for them or for their teachers.
And it wasn’t cheap – MPS spent $3.2 million for 38 teachers to work in the reading improvement program this year, and that alone comes to more than $1,500 per student.
You could have a very substantial conversation about why they each were far behind grade level in reading going into the school year. None is a special education student. And almost all of them were still behind grade level at the end of the year, even with all the progress they made.
Nonetheless, applaud their success.
A program called Read 180 was the vehicle the students rode to better reading. It offers a strongly structured program, sessions on each student’s level doing computer-led exercises in spelling and vocabulary, and strong, sometimes one-on-one involvement with a teacher.

It would be interest to compare Read 180’s costs with another program: Reading Recovery.

Examining District Data on the Effects of PBIS

As noted in an earlier post, the school district presented data at Monday night’s meeting on the effects of implementing a strategy of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS). As the report notes, “Documenting behavior referrals is inconsistent across middle schools both in terms of what is recorded and where it is recorded.” While this … Continue reading Examining District Data on the Effects of PBIS

Leaders explain schools’ gains

Gadi Dechter:

Middle school students at the Crossroads School near Fells Point were evaluated by teachers every single day last school year, with the results driving the next day’s instruction.
At East Baltimore’s Fort Worthington Elementary, about a quarter of the school’s parents turned out for MSA Family Fun Night and sampled questions from the Maryland School Assessments.
Alexander Hamilton Elementary, situated in a West Baltimore neighborhood that the principal calls “gang-infested,” started a gifted education program last year to challenge students to learn beyond their grade levels.
The principals of the three schools credit those and myriad other initiatives with making their schools among of the most improved in Baltimore, during a year in which the school system overall posted historic gains on the standardized tests administered under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Accelerated Biology at West HS Stands Still

I have a friend who is fond of saying “never ascribe to maliciousness that which can be accounted for by incompetence.” These words have become a touchstone for me in my dealings with the Madison schools. I work harder than some people might ever believe to remember that every teacher, administrator and staff person I … Continue reading Accelerated Biology at West HS Stands Still

Standards, Accountability, and School Reform

This is very long, and the link may require a password so I’ve posted the entire article on the continued page. TJM http://www.tcrecord.org/PrintContent.asp?ContentID=11566 Standards, Accountability, and School Reform by Linda Darling-Hammond — 2004 The standards-based reform movement has led to increased emphasis on tests, coupled with rewards and sanctions, as the basis for “accountability” systems. … Continue reading Standards, Accountability, and School Reform

Great Opportunity Needs Your Support

We have a great opportunity! On Monday March 6th, the Madison School Board will be considering four proposals for funding that have an opportunity to have a positive impact on the student achievement in our school district. These programs are community based after school and summer programming that can supplement students’ academic achievement in the … Continue reading Great Opportunity Needs Your Support

Task Force Insight

Dear Board, While serving as a member on the Long Range Planning Committee for the West/Memorial Task Force I came to a few insights I would like to share. Our charge was to seek solutions for the over-crowded schools in Memorial and Leopold attendance area as well as address the low income disparity throughout the … Continue reading Task Force Insight

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: A Look at the Educational Histories of the 29 West HS National Merit Semi-Finalists

Earlier this semester, 60 MMSD students — including 29 from West HS — were named 2006 National Merit Semifinalists. In a 10/12/05 press release, MMSD Superintendent Art Rainwater said, “I am proud of the many staff members who taught and guided these students all the way from elementary school, and of this district’s overall guidance … Continue reading Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: A Look at the Educational Histories of the 29 West HS National Merit Semi-Finalists

West HS English 9 and 10: Show us the data!

Here is a synopsis of the English 10 situation at West HS. Currently — having failed to receive any reply from BOE Performance and Achievement Committee Chair Shwaw Vang to our request that he investigate this matter and provide an opportunity for public discussion — we are trying to get BOE President Carol Carstensen to … Continue reading West HS English 9 and 10: Show us the data!

Struggling to stay on topic, the debate continues…

Lucy, Your anger at your experience with MMSD is palpable. I’d like, however, to stick to the main point of my original post which is whether UW should be lowering admission standards for students who participate in the PEOPLE program. Whatever you think of the validity of those requirements, it doesn’t change the fact that … Continue reading Struggling to stay on topic, the debate continues…

Comparing Budgets – Not that Hard to Do – Raises Important Questions that Would Be Answered in a Board presentation and Public discussion

MMSD says that you cannot compare the numbers for the 04-05 budget with the proposed 05-06 balanced budget because they were not developed at the same time and do not include all the grant money. Confused? Of course – any reasonable person would expect that the information presented side by side could be compared. When … Continue reading Comparing Budgets – Not that Hard to Do – Raises Important Questions that Would Be Answered in a Board presentation and Public discussion

My Views of the Proposed Leopold Expansion

On March 28, the Madison School Board will cast the final vote on the proposed referendum for $14.5M to build a second school on the Leopold Elementary School site. The proposed “paired” school will open its doors to students in September of 2007 and will house up to 550 Kindergarten through second grade students and … Continue reading My Views of the Proposed Leopold Expansion

MMSD’s Kurt Keifer on the Administration’s Boundary Plans

Kurt Kiefer via email: I’m writing in response to your questions from last week re: boundary change options. Tim Potter, research analyst on my staff who is handling all of the GIS work on the project, provided the details. a) Leopold at 1040 students. I seem to recall the original plan was 800? (it’s now … Continue reading MMSD’s Kurt Keifer on the Administration’s Boundary Plans