New Jefferson Middle School (Madison) principal Sue Abplanalp ‘not afraid of change’

Pamela Cotant: When Sue Abplanalp took over as principal at Schenk Elementary School three years ago, she figured it wasn’t her last stop. “I said I’m probably good for one more school after Schenk,” said Abplanalp, recalling her conversation with then-Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. Abplanalp will become principal at Jefferson Middle School on July 1. She … Continue reading New Jefferson Middle School (Madison) principal Sue Abplanalp ‘not afraid of change’

Principal Commentary from Madison’s Jefferson Middle School

Logan Wroge: After a rocky first semester for Madison’s Jefferson Middle School, its interim principal assured parents Thursday she’ll work to address their concerns about safety. “Here’s what I’m going to promise you, I am always going to be available to you,” said Mary Kelley. “I’m always going to be visible. I’m in the classrooms, … Continue reading Principal Commentary from Madison’s Jefferson Middle School

Madison’s Jefferson Middle School principal taking ‘extended leave of absence’

Shanzeh Ahmad: Madison police said a Jefferson student suffered a concussion Wednesday after being punched by a classmate who had been bullying him for some time. The injured boy was taken to a hospital, and the student who punched him was removed from the classroom and later taken to the Juvenile Reception Center on tentative … Continue reading Madison’s Jefferson Middle School principal taking ‘extended leave of absence’

No safe space for reformers at Madison’s Jefferson middle school? “One can create the greatest safe space on earth here in Madison but when they go out in the world you are killing these children, they won’t be able to function out in the world which lacks such safe spaces.”

David Blaska: “Teachers are very very afraid.” — former teacher* Parents are mobilizing for a showdown at Madison’s Jefferson middle school, which they describe as ruled by virtue-signaling administrators and out-of-control students. The flash point was on December 3 when a 13-year-old boy shot a girl with a BB gun outside from a bus window. The student … Continue reading No safe space for reformers at Madison’s Jefferson middle school? “One can create the greatest safe space on earth here in Madison but when they go out in the world you are killing these children, they won’t be able to function out in the world which lacks such safe spaces.”

Jefferson Middle School student arrested after allegedly attacking officers, Madison police say

Negassi Tesfamichael: A 12-year-old girl was arrested after an altercation with two Madison police officers at Jefferson Middle School on Wednesday morning, according to Madison Police Department public information officer Joel Despain. The student attempted to fight with the officers, striking one in the mouth and leaving another to be treated for whiplash and shoulder … Continue reading Jefferson Middle School student arrested after allegedly attacking officers, Madison police say

Parents, staff to take part in Jefferson Middle School concert

Pamela Cotant:

Jefferson Middle School parents and staff members who put away their band instruments years ago — or maybe never played one — will get a chance to perform in a school band concert.
A portion of Jefferson’s band concert at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the gymnasium will feature five songs performed by about 30 parents and community members connected to the school. They’ll be joined by about 10 staff members.
This is the second time in five years that Jefferson band director Allison Jaeger has invited adults to join the middle schoolers — an idea her husband, Ben Jaeger, had tried earlier at Spring Harbor Middle School, where he is the band director. Jaeger had fun taking part in that concert.
“Really the most important thing is that the parents are showing they are learning right alongside their students,” Jaeger said.

Jefferson Middle School Spanish Teacher Suspended

Sandy Cullen:A Madison middle school teacher has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of an independent investigation of a sexual harassment complaint filed by 28 parents, district officials said Tuesday. Jefferson Middle School Principal John Burmaster said that when school resumes Thursday there will be a new Spanish language teacher in place of Hector … Continue reading Jefferson Middle School Spanish Teacher Suspended

Jefferson Middle School Teacher Accused of Sexual Harassment

Sandy Cullen: Twenty-eight parents have filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Madison School District against a Jefferson Middle School teacher they claim created a hostile learning environment for their children last year. Roger Greenwald, a member of the Committee of Concerned Parents of Jefferson Middle School, said the Title IX complaint was filed Friday … Continue reading Jefferson Middle School Teacher Accused of Sexual Harassment

Notes and links on the Madison School District’s academic and safety climate

David Blaska: Board of education president Gloria Reyes demands “the conversation around school discipline needs to be centered on race,” according to the WI State Journal. Those who counter that school discipline needs to be centered on behavior will be asked to leave the conversation. Maybe the answer is pick out some white kids and toss them … Continue reading Notes and links on the Madison School District’s academic and safety climate

Mission vs organization: leadership of the taxpayer supported ($500m+ annually) Madison School District

David Blaska: Only 8.9% of Madison’s African American high school students are proficient in English, according to 2019 ACT scores. One of every five African American students never graduate. In math, 65% of black students test below basic proficiency, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Not to worry, the district now prohibits teachers … Continue reading Mission vs organization: leadership of the taxpayer supported ($500m+ annually) Madison School District

“I’ve never worked [for a school district] more obsessed with mediocrity….”

Dylan Brogan: On top of news headlines over safety problems at Jefferson, the district is also investigating a whistleblower who is believed to be a teacher at the school. Using an anonymous email account, the educator leaked to Isthmus and Channel3000 the behavior record of the student who shot two classmates with a BB gun. … Continue reading “I’ve never worked [for a school district] more obsessed with mediocrity….”

Why are Madison middle school principals leaving?

David Blaska: Wanted: More Milton McPikes, fewer guilt mongers  Obsessed with identity politics, Madison school board member Ali Muldrow posts on social media an article headlined:  “The discomfort of white adults should never take priority over the success of our black and brown students.” “I didn’t come here to teach those kinds of kids.” As harmful … Continue reading Why are Madison middle school principals leaving?

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: middle school governance edition

Chris Rickert: In at least two cases, principals left under a cloud. In 2017, district officials decided not to pursue legal action against former Black Hawk Middle School Principal Kenya Walker, who abandoned her position and oversaw more than $10,000 in spending on the school’s credit card that could not be accounted for. In 2018, … Continue reading Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: middle school governance edition

“But more importantly, their parents do not rely on school programming to prepare their children for TJ admissions or any other milestone on their way to top STEM careers.”

Hilde Kahn, via Will Fitzhugh: One of few bright spots in the just-released National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) results was an increase in the number of students reaching “advanced” level in both math and reading at the 4th- and 8th-grades. But the results masked large racial and economic disparities. While 30 percent of Asian … Continue reading “But more importantly, their parents do not rely on school programming to prepare their children for TJ admissions or any other milestone on their way to top STEM careers.”

White People Keep Finding New Ways to Segregate Schools

Edwin Rios: For the past few years, residents in the city of Gardendale, Alabama, have been pushing to take over a county high school, a middle school, and two elementary schools from the greater Jefferson County school system, one of several districts still bound by a federal desegregation order. Residents argue that they want local … Continue reading White People Keep Finding New Ways to Segregate Schools

“A Typical Well-Funded But Underperforming School District”

Because of its location near the nation’s capital, its charming historic Old Town, and its median family income of $109,228 (the highest of any city in Virginia), outsiders might think that Alexandria boasts a first-rate public-school system. It doesn’t. The quality of the public schools within the city varies greatly, and system as a whole … Continue reading “A Typical Well-Funded But Underperforming School District”

Texas, Arizona high schools dominate new U.S. News rankings

T Rees Shapiro: High schools in the Southwest dominate the 2016 U.S. News and World Report rankings of the country’s best high schools, taking six of the top 10 spots in the rankings released Tuesday. Texas and Arizona high schools earned the top four rankings, and the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology … Continue reading Texas, Arizona high schools dominate new U.S. News rankings

“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”

Washington, D.C. schools aim for selectivity by requiring teaching candidates to give tryou

The Washington Post:

Her 30-minute turn at Jefferson Middle — an actual class at the Southwest D.C. school — will be reviewed by school officials, who will use the 360-degree camera to gauge not only her performance but how students responded.
If they like what they see, they will upload the video with the rest of her application to an online portal principals can access to view job candidates. The District, which employs about 4,000 teachers, expects to hire 600 to 800 for the coming academic year. That number reflects the usual turnover along with vacancies expected to emerge in the summer with the dismissal of instructors who receive poor evaluations.
Sowers received 48-hours’ notice for what she was expected to cover in the taped lesson. But she entered the room knowing nothing about her students or their relative abilities. That meant showtime came with some surprises.

Is America’s best high school soft on math?

Jay Matthews:

By all accounts, he is one of the best math teachers in the country. The Mathematics Association of America has given him two national awards. He was appointed by the Bush administration to the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. For 25 years he has prepared middle-schoolers for the tough admissions standards at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the most selective high school in America.
Yet this year, when Vern Williams looked at the Jefferson application, he felt not the usual urge to get his kids in, but a dull depression. On the first page of Jefferson’s letter to teachers writing recommendations, in boldface type, was the school board’s new focus: It wanted to prepare “future leaders in mathematics, science, and technology to address future complex societal and ethical issues.” It sought diversity, “broadly defined to include a wide variety of factors, such as race, ethnicity, gender, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), geography, poverty, prior school and cultural experiences, and other unique skills and experiences.” The same language was on the last page of the application.
“This is just one example of why I have lost all faith in the TJ admissions process,” Williams said. “In fact, I’m pretty embarrassed that the process seems no more effective than flipping coins.”

Indiana high schools struggle to improve

Lesley Stedman Weidenbener

More Hoosier schools are making progress toward state and federal student achievement standards, but high schools locally and across the state have failed to keep up with the gains made by elementary and middle schools, according to data released Tuesday by the Indiana Department of Education.
The problem with high schools boils down to “a combination of generally low performance and no significant improvement,” Jeff Zaring, the department’s chief of results and reform, told the State Board of Education.
As a result, the board voted to put three-quarters of Indiana’s high schools into “academic watch” and “academic probation” categories based in part on standardized test scores and how they’ve changed over the past three years. Locally, that includes Henryville, Silver Creek, Borden, Clarksville, Charlestown, Jeffersonville, New Albany, North Harrison, Corydon Central and South Central high schools.

Crimes Rattle Madison Schools

Susan Troller, via a kind reader’s email:

It’s been a rough week in Madison schools, with the first degree sexual assault of a student in a stairwell at East High School and an alleged mugging at Jefferson Middle School.
The sexual assault occurred on Thursday afternoon, according to police reports. The 15-year-old victim knew the alleged assailant, also 15, and he was arrested and charged at school.
On Wednesday, two 13-year-old students at Jefferson allegedly mugged another student at his locker, grabbing him from behind and using force to try to steal his wallet. The police report noted that all three students fell to the floor. According to a letter sent to Jefferson parents on Friday, “the student yelled loudly, resisted the attempt and went immediately to report the incident. The students involved in the attempted theft were immediately identified and detained in the office.”
The mugging was not reported to police until Thursday morning and Jefferson parents did not learn about the incident until two days after the incident. When police arrived at school on Thursday, they arrested two students in the attempted theft.
Parents at East were notified Thursday of the sexual assault.
Luis Yudice, Madison public schools safety chief, said it was unusual for police not to be notified as soon as the alleged strong arm robbery was reported to school officials.

Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum Audio & Video and police calls near Madison high schools 1996-2006.

Madison Area schools face a big task in hiring and keeping minority teachers

Gayle Worland:

Madison has never had many black teachers, and now it faces another challenge in providing diverse role models for its students: a wave of black baby boomers nearing retirement.
Nearly 27 percent of the public school district’s African-American teachers, social workers, counselors and other front-line classroom professionals are at or over the district’s minimum retirement age of 55.
Henry Hawkins, an art teacher at Jefferson Middle School, has no plans to retire soon, but the 66-year-old who began teaching in the late 1960s sees the problem: As he’s watched his students become more and more diverse, the diversity among his colleagues has lagged.
“Part of the cycle is for students to be able to identify. It’s important in a sense to see oneself,” Hawkins said.

Push to strengthen environmental education is gaining traction and a Look at Madison’s 300 Acre School Forest

Mary Ellen Gabriel, via a kind reader’s email:

Two dozen seventh-graders from Jefferson Middle School toil up a stony ridge on snowshoes, in the heart of the Madison School Forest. At the top they peel off into small groups and stand gazing upward at a twiggy village of giant nests, silhouetted against a pure-blue sky.
“How many do you see in your tree?” calls Nancy Sheehan, a school forest naturalist. The kids in her group count seven great blue heron nests in the bare branches of one towering white oak. They also record data about the tree, including its GPS location, which they’ll turn over to the Department of Natural Resources as part of ongoing monitoring of this heron rookery near the Sugar River in southwest Verona.
“This is your chance to do some real science,” Sheehan tells them. “Herons are extremely sensitive creatures. If this landscape continues to suit them, they’ll come back again in spring. That’s why your work today is important.”
Seventh-grader Amos Kalder’s cheeks are red with cold (and exercise) as he gazes upward at the rookery: “Dude, it’d be so cool to see these nests with all the herons in them. There’d be like 50 birds sitting in the sky.”

The school forest is a real blessing, one in which I had an opportunity to participate in some years ago. I hope every classroom visits.

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


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 School District: School Enrollment & Capacity Planning

Superintendent Dan Nerad [1.75MB PDF]:

Attached to this memo are several items related to enrollments, both actual and projections, as well as school capacities. We also include data on the enrollment data for students on the basis of their residence. Additional enrollment data will be provided in summary for the Board of Education at the December meeting.
The first attachment is a one-page overview summary of the past five years of enrollment history, the current year enrollment, and five years of projected enrollment by grade level. Overall, enrollment is generally flat for the district as a whole. However, the projections begin to show a slight increase starting in 2012-13 into 2014-15 at which time we will have increased enrollment to its highest level over the past ten years. By level, elementary and middle schools will continue to see increases in enrollment during the next five years whereas high schools will decline in enrollment.
The second attachment shows the detailed K-12 enrollment history and projections for each school. Historical data go back to the 1989-90 school year. Projections are through 2014-15. Projection years are boldfaced. The precision of projections at a school level and for specific grade levels within a school are less accurate when compared to the district as a whole. Furthermore, projections are much less reliable for later years in the projection timeline. Also, the worksheet reflects various program and boundary changes that were implemented and this accounts for some large shifts within schools and programs from one year to the next.
The third attachment contains two sheets – one for elementary and one for middle and high combined – and details the maximum capacities for each school, the current enrollment and capacity percentage, and the projected 2014-15 enrollment and capacity percentage. The sheets are organized by attendance area. Summaries are provided for levels. From the data, it appears elementary schools that have long term capacity constraints include Gompers,.Lake View, Sandburg, Allis/Nuestro Mundo, Kennedy, Orchard Ridge, and Van Hise. However, the schools that share a building with a middle school have access to other space. Among middle schools, Jefferson Middle School is the only school that may experience capacity concerns. None of the high schools are expected to have capacity issues for the foreseeable future.

Middle School Report Cards Continues

Several parents from Jefferson Middle School have been meeting with Dr. Nerad and administrators to discuss the evolution of the standards based report cards in Middle School.
After much research on my part, it is clear standard based report cards are the “new” thing and a result of NCLB. It is easily adaptable at the elementary school, but very FEW school districts have implemented these changes in the middle school and in the high school it is almost nonexistent due to the difficulty adapting them for college entrance. It seems the goal of standard based report cards from the NCLB legistation is to make sure teachers teach the standards. It is kind of backwards that way but many teachers feel it makes sure they cover all the required standards.
Our local concerns and response from district include:

  1. Infinite Campus, which was up and running last year is no longer functioning for middle school students.
    Their response: Yes there are problems and we have provided training but the staff have not taking us up on the paid training made available.
    My response: If you are going to implement a change, since when is it optional to learn a new system the district is implementing. My daughter has no grades, assignments, or anything on IC accept the final grade. When asked if this will be mandatory in the future I was told we have no idea and we can’t promise that it will be. It is clear after two meetings and several discussion with Lisa Wachtel that IC will not accommodate standards based grading. Basically elementary students will never be up. She projected 5 years and the middle school while up it is not easy to use the grade book for a program designed for 100% grading. I am only left to believe 2/3 of MMSD students will not benefit from a potentially good way for parents to stay informed about their students progress, grades, test, assignments, etc…..

  2. While some areas are better (Language Arts, Spanish, PE) evaluation includes written, oral,as well as comprehension for the languages, and for PE it includes evaluation for knowledge, skill, and effort.
    In Math my child made a 4 on Content 1, 2 on Content 2, 1 on Content 3, and a 3 on Content 4. She received a cummulitative grade of D. When I add 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 and divide by 4 it equals 2.5 which is not a D. After much research I found out each area is weighted different which is not explained on the report card. I also asked and it required much investigation to find out what each content area (1,2,3,4) was evaluating. She clearly understands one of them and has poor understanding in the one weighed higher but I had no idea what they were as they were only labelled by a number.
    Administration response: Math is a problem we are working on.

I accept with many reservations that we are doing standards based reporting for middle school students. I am angry that the district picked Infinite Campus at about the same time they were discussing going to Standards Based Report cards and did not realize 2/3 of the students will not benefit from IC. I am also upset that a pilot of the middle school report card was not conducted with staff, parents and student input. At Jefferson the staff feel under trained, overwhelmed and as though this was pushed down their throats. It says to me the staff were not consulted. When the staff person that was in charge of training the rest of the staff at Jefferson is not even using the I.C. it says a lot about the implementation of the middle school reporting. As far as standards based report cards moving to high school for MMSD, this would be very difficult. Not just due to college entrance but because MMSD high schools do not have standards to base the report cards upon.

Madison School Board Approves West Side Boundary Change


ome disappointed Madison parents said they will try to find the words to tell their children that they’ll be moving to another school next year.
In a unanimous decision, the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education voted to approve Plan F, which will move dozens of students from Chavez Elementary School to Falk Elementary next year. The affected area is referred to by the district officials as the “Channel 3 area,” which is the neighborhood that basically surrounds WISC-TV studios on the West Side of the city.
The district’s Long Range Planning Committee recommended Plan F, which will move 65 children in those neighborhoods to another elementary school for the fourth time in the last 15 years.

Andy Hall:

After hearing from about 30 speakers, a few of whom were moved to tears, the Madison School Board on Monday night approved controversial plans to redraw elementary and middle school attendance boundaries on the West Side.
Two hours of public testimony and 90 minutes of discussion by board members resulted in six unanimous decisions to approve changes in the Memorial High School attendance area to accommodate population changes and an elementary school that will open in the fall on the Far West Side.
Several speakers said the changes, which also affected Jefferson and Toki middle schools, will cause them to consider enrolling their children in private school.

Susan Troller also covered Monday’s meeting.

Madison School Board Committee Recommends Far West Side Boundary Changes

Susan Troller:

A Madison School Board committee recommended Monday night that students at Madison’s newest elementary school now under construction should attend Toki Middle School, not Jefferson Middle School as originally planned.
Members of the board’s long range planning committee also recommended final boundary Plan F for elementary school students in the Memorial High School attendance area that would send children in the neighborhood around Channel 3 to Falk Elementary School instead of Chavez Elementary or the new school, located west of Highway M.
The full School Board plans to vote on the recommendations March 3 at its regular meeting at the Doyle Administration Building at 7 p.m. There will be an opportunity for public commentary before the vote.
Among some west side parents, the most controversial part of planning the changes to accommodate the new school has been deciding which children and neighborhoods will attend Falk Elementary School, which has the west side’s highest percentage of low income students.
Numbers of low income students in the Memorial area range from 22 percent at Crestwood to 66 percent at Falk. Under the proposed plan, Falk’s low income percentage would drop to 57 percent.

West Side Parents Angry About Proposed School Boundaries Charge

Some in a big Madison neighborhood are outraged over the latest plan to change West Side school boundaries to make way for a new school opening near Hawk’s Landing next fall.
Residents in the Valley Ridge neighborhood are pledging to start a petition drive and to do whatever it takes to stop the proposal.
The new, yet-to-be-named school on the far West Side has prompted officials to try to rearrange boundary lines on the West Side. But, the boundary lines are different than initially proposed and some in Valley Ridge said they are in shock.
“I feel very deceived,” said parent and homeowner Beth Todd, vice president of the Glenn Stephens PTO.
Todd, her husband and other parents said they were always told their children would not be affected by the new boundary changes in meetings with school officials before the referendum for the new school passed.
Currently, Valley Ridge children go to Stephens school as well as Jefferson Middle School. But under a new proposal, that would all drastically change, and, some contend, for no good reason.

Madison School Board Votes for More Security Funds

Listen to the discussion [47MB MP3 Audio].

Andy Hall & Brittany Schoep:

“This is one of the most important things we’ve brought before you,” Rainwater told the board. “It is critically needed to ensure our schools continue to be safe.”
“We’re walking a really fine line right now,” School Board President Arlene Silveira said. “I think these positions will really help keep us on the positive side of that line.”
The high school positions are designed to help students with behavior, academic, social, transitional and other problems who can hurt themselves and the learning environment, Memorial High School Principal Bruce Dahmen said.

Susan Troller has more:

In an interview before Monday night’s meeting, Pam Nash, assistant superintendent for high schools and middle schools said, “The number of incidents I deal with in the high schools and middle schools is going up every year. We want to get a proactive handle on it. It’s as simple as that.”
“This is not only important but critical to the future of our schools,” Superintendent Art Rainwater said as he recommended an initial proposal to spend $720,500 for security measures. The money is available through the recently signed state budget, a windfall Madison schools did not know they would get when the Board inked the final budget in October.
The board approved hiring four case managers at East, West, Memorial and La Follette and five positive behavior coaches will be brought on board at O’Keeffe, Sherman, Jefferson, Black Hawk and Whitehorse middle schools.


Jefferson geography whiz puts state on map

Leah Nylen: Need to know the capital of Estonia or the highest mountain in Tajikistan? Just ask Bjorn Ager-Hart, a 14-year-old home-schooled student from Jefferson who represented Wisconsin on Tuesday at the National Geographic Bee. Sponsored by National Geographic, the bee brings together 55 middle school students from all the states and U.S. territories to … Continue reading Jefferson geography whiz puts state on map

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

Rainwater pushes a new school: He’s told to prepare a contingency plan

Lee Sensenbrenner writing in The Capital Times on February 22, 2005: “You’re manipulating my vote,” said Mary Kay Battaglia, who has children at Crestwood Elementary and Jefferson Middle School. “You’re giving me a choice to move my child and 1,100 others or to vote for a referendum I don’t think is necessary.”… …Board member Bill … Continue reading Rainwater pushes a new school: He’s told to prepare a contingency plan

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.

‘Apparatchik’ seals the deal for All-City Spelling Bee winner

Steven Verburg:

“Star Wars,” Legos and an interest in word origins combined to prepare Vishal Narayanaswamy to become the 2010 Madison All-City Spelling Bee champion Saturday.
The 12-year-old from Jefferson Middle School rose to the top of a field of about 50 third- through eighth-graders during the competition on the Edgewood College campus.
Vishal clinched the win, and a trip to the Badger State Spelling Bee, by spelling “apparatchik,” a word of Russian origin meaning communist secret agent.
He wasn’t sure about the word’s meaning, but while studying for the competition he memorized the first four letters by remembering they were the same as the Tamil Indian word for “father.”
“And it sounded Slavic so I knew it had a ‘k’ at the end,” Vishal said. “I usually don’t hear the meanings. I just remember word patterns.”

ACE Update on the November 2008 Madison Referendum, Information Session Tonight

REMINDER: The MMSD district is holding its second of four “Information Sessions” regarding the referendum tonight (Thursday, October 16), 6:30 pm, Jefferson Middle School. You are urged to attend.
The Madison Metropolitan School District seeks approval of the district taxpayers to permanently exceed the revenue cap for operations money by $13 million a year. In the meantime, to establish that new tax base over the next three years, a total of $27 million in more revenue will have been raised for programs and services. The district has also projected there will continue to be a ‘gap’ or shortfall of revenue to meet expenses of approximately $4 million per year after the next three years, thereby expecting to seek approval for additional spending authority.
Whereas, the Board of Education has staked the future of the district on increased spending to maintain current programs and services for a “high quality education;”
Whereas, student performance on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exams has languished at the 7, 8, and 9 deciles (in comparison with the rest of the state’s schools where 1 is the highest level and 10 is the lowest) in 4th, 8th and 10th grade reading, math, science, social studies and language arts exams for the past five years. The total percentage of MMSD students performing at either “proficient” or “advanced” levels (the two highest standards) has consistently ranged in mid 60%s to mid 70%s;
Whereas, the district Drop Out Rate of 2.7% (2006-07) was the highest since 1998-99. With the exception of two years with slight declines, the rate has risen steadily since 1999.
Whereas, the Attendance Rate for all students has remained basically steady since 1998-99 in a range from 95.2% (2005-06) to a high of 96.5% (2001-02);
Whereas, the district Truancy Rate of students habitually truant has risen again in the past three years to 6.0% in 2006-07. The truancy rate has ranged from 6.3% (1999-2000) to 4.4% in 2002-03;
Whereas, the district total PreK-12 enrollment has declined from 25,087 (2000-01) to its second lowest total of 24,540 (2008-09) since that time;
Whereas, the district annual budget has increased from approximately $183 million in 1994-1995 (the first year of revenue caps) to approximately $368 million (2008-09);
Whereas, the board explains the ‘budget gap’ between revenue and expenses as created by the difference between the state mandated Qualified Economic Offer of 3.8% minimum for salary and health benefits for professional teaching staff and the 2.2% average annual increases per student in the property tax levy. The district, however, has agreed with the teachers’ union for an average 4.24% in annual increases since 2001;
Whereas, the district annual cost per pupil is the second highest in the state at $13,280 for the school year 2007-08;

“The Woody Hayes of 8th Grade Science”

Elizabeth Holmes: Richard Bender is holed up in his classroom nearly every day with 21 young assistants. They are building self-propelled vehicles and bottle rockets, and boning up on genetics and aquatic ecology. He swears outsiders to secrecy, as if this were “Cold War technology development,” he says. He and his students are preparing — … Continue reading “The Woody Hayes of 8th Grade Science”

Drumroll Starts for a Yes Vote

Susan Troller: With Election Day just a month off, the discussion over Madison’s $23.5 million dollar school referendum has been remarkably quiet. But that changes today and referendum supporters say they are optimistic that this time voters will give a thumbs-up to district building projects. A grassroots citizen group will start today to assemble and … Continue reading Drumroll Starts for a Yes Vote

Young Madison Activists Reflect On Resistance

Three years ago, a group of fifth-graders at Madison’s Crestwood Elementary School took on “The Man,” as they like to put it. The students, dubbed the “Recess Rebels,” tried to restore an outdoor recess that administrators had removed in a restructuring of the school day. They didn’t win, but they claimed a few victories along … Continue reading Young Madison Activists Reflect On Resistance

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

Free speech rhetoric, “we know best” and our long term, disastrous reading results

Brooke Binkowski: And this is what social media needs to do, now, today: Deplatform the proudly ignorant disinformers pushing snake oil and false hopes. Do so swiftly and mercilessly. They will whine about freedom of speech. They will cry about censorship. Let them. How can I be so cavalier about freedom of speech? I hear … Continue reading Free speech rhetoric, “we know best” and our long term, disastrous reading results

Nominations Finalized for MTI Officers & Bargaining Committe

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF): At the March 18 meeting of the MTI Faculty Representative Council, nominations were finalized for MTI Officers, as well as for the MTI Bargaining Committee relative to vacancies caused by terms ending in May, 2014. Nominated for President-Elect was current President Peg Coyne … Continue reading Nominations Finalized for MTI Officers & Bargaining Committe

WEAC & Wisconsin AFT discuss a Merge, MTI News

Madison Teachers, Inc. via a kind Jeannie Bettner email:

Act 10 & WEAC Reorganization
Governor Walker’s Act 10 was intended to kill public sector unions and it has caused a significant negative impact on them. Other than the urban unions, WEAC’s membership is about one-half of that prior to the enactment of Act 10. This has caused WEAC and the Wisconsin American Federation of Teachers to discuss merger. And, that is the subject of a Special WEAC Representative Assembly to be held December 1.
If you are interested in serving as an MTI Delegate contact Vicky Bernards at MTI Headquarters (608-257-0491 or by October 24.
At its October 16 meeting, the MTI Faculty Representative Council re-elected Greg Vallee (Thoreau) to one of the at-large positions on the MTI Board of Directors. For the other position, the vote was tied between Pete Smith (Lowell) and Lauren Mikol (Lincoln). They will meet at MTI Headquarters today to participate in a drawing to determine the winner. The Board consists of the MTI President, President-Elect, Vice-President, Past-President, Secretary, Treasurer and four at-large positions. Officers are elected by the general membership each April, and two at-large positions by the MTI Faculty Representative Council each October.
In other elections, the Council re-elected Nancy Roth (West) and elected Susie Hobart (Lake View) to the MTI Cabinet on Personnel. The Cabinet, which oversees MTI’s employment relationship with its staff, consists of four at-large positions elected by the Council, the MTI President and Treasurer, and the Presidents (or his/her designee) from MTI’s educational assistant, school security assistant, substitute teacher, and clerical/technical bargaining units.
For the MTI Finance Committee, the Council re-elected Bruce Bobb (Shabazz/Cluster) and Andrew Waity (Crestwood) and elected Karen Lee-Wahl (Huegel). The Finance Committee oversees the development of the Union’s budget for presentation to and action by the MTI Joint Fiscal Group. The Committee consists of the MTI President and Treasurer, three at-large positions elected annually by the Council, and the Presidents (or his/her designee) from MTI’s educational assistant, school security assistant, substitute teacher, and clerical/technical bargaining units.
The Council also re-elected to MTI’s Political Action Committee (MTI-VOTERS) Andy Mayhall (Thoreau), Karen Vieth (Sennett), Kathryn Burns (Shorewood), and Liz Wingert (Elvehjem). The Committee consists of the MTI President, Treasurer, the Presidents (or his/her designee) from MTI’s educational assistant, school security assistant, substitute teacher, and clerical/technical bargaining units, and nine members elected by the MTI Faculty Representative Council, one of whom is a member of MTI’s retired teacher organization.
Due to a retirement, a vacancy existed as MTI Delegate to the South Central Federation of Labor. The Council elected David Fawcett (Allis) to fill the remainder of the term.
In addition, due to retirements and a person taking a position out of the bargaining unit, four vacancies existed on the MTI Bargaining Committee. The Council elected Laurie Solchenberger (Lincoln) for Elementary School Representative; Gabe Chavez (Jefferson) for Middle School Representative; Peggy Ellerkamp (La Follette) for High School Representative; and Matt Gray (Jefferson) for At-Large Representative.

Young, Gifted and Neglected

Chester E. Finn, Jr. BARACK OBAMA and Mitt Romney both attended elite private high schools. Both are undeniably smart and well educated and owe much of their success to the strong foundation laid by excellent schools. Every motivated, high-potential young American deserves a similar opportunity. But the majority of very smart kids lack the wherewithal … Continue reading Young, Gifted and Neglected

Madison Area National Merit Scholars

Wisconsin State Journal:

Thirty-two area students are among 112 Wisconsin students and nearly 4,800 students nationwide who received National Merit Scholarships from U.S. colleges and universities this year.
The scholarships range in value from $500 to $2,000. The recipients were selected from 16,000 semifinalists out of 1.5 million students who took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in 2009.
In Dane County the recipients were from Edgewood High: Catherine A. DeGuire of Verona and Eric J. Wendorf of Madison; from Madison East: Jesse M. Banks, Jillian M. Plane and Scott O. Wilton, all of Madison; from Madison Memorial: Nancy X. Gu of Madison; from Madison West: Abigail Cahill, Nicholas P. Cupery, Sujeong Jin, Peter G. Lund and John C. Raihala, all of Madison, and Al Christopher V. Valmadrid of Fitchburg; from Madison Shabazz: Isabel A. Jacobson of Madison; from Marshall High: Zechariah D. Meunier of Marshall; from Middleton High: Anna-Lisa R. Doebley, Rachel J. Schuh and Cody J. Wrasman, all of Middleton, and Danielle M. DeSantes of Verona; from Stoughton High: Matthew J. Doll and Alexandra P. Greenier, both of Stoughton; from Verona High: Jasmine E. Amerson and James C. Dowell, both of Verona, and Kathryn M. Von Der Heide of Fitchburg; from Waunakee High: Stephen J. Bormann of Waunakee; and from home schools: Greer B. DuBois, Margaret L. Schenk and Isaac Walker, all of Madison.
Outside Dane County the recipients were Madeleine M. Blain of Evansville, Julie Mulvaney-Kemp of Viroqua, Clara E. McGlynn of Reedsburg, Ryanne D. Olsen of Jefferson and Yvette E. Schutt of Janesville.

Many notes and links on National Merit Scholares, here.

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

On Madison Boundary Changes

Dear Board,
As the opening of a new school is coming close, I was surprised to some extent that the plans were changed with such a short amount of time left before the new year.
So………..I dug up my West Side Long Term Planning Binder and reviewed all the data presented to us, as a member of that committee, and remembered the HOURS we spent debating and reviewing the pros and cons of each plan. I believe this is a very hard process and I am sad it is being altered at this late date.
I think one thing many of us felt on the Long Range Planning Committee was even with the new school and addition to Leopold we did not devise a Long Term Plan. My #1 suggestion to the board would be to revisit the plan of “making the map look better” and balancing the income levels but TO MAKE IT A LONG TERM plan and say in 6 years this is what we are going to do. (and stick to it) I think when you spring it on families that in a few months Johnny has to switch schools, we parents are too invested and comfortable with the school and protest the change. But if a 6 Year Plan was in place with some options to start at the new school, grandfather for a couple of years the protest would be great but families would have lots of time to accept the change and deal with it. It would also be a LONG TERM PLAN.

Scientists Help Teachers With Their Math and Science

Sean Cavanagh:

Imagine a classroom filled with thousands of feet of cable and a pair of microscopes four stories high. Students work alongside top-tier scientists, who use the surrounding instruments to probe nuclear matter in the hope of one day producing breakthroughs in science and technology.
The classroom in this case is known as Hall A, located within the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility. And the students are science teachers, who come to the federal laboratory in Newport News, Va., as part of an unusual professional-development opportunity.
The Academies Creating Teacher Scientists program pairs top federal scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy with middle and high school teachers from around the country who want to improve their classroom skills.
Teachers spend four to eight weeks for three consecutive summers under the tutelage of scientists at federal labs of their choice, crafting activities and lessons they can use in their classrooms.

Leadership Greater Madison Day: Child Equity and Attainment

Brennan Nardi: We also had the opportunity to interact with Jefferson students. We ate lunch with the eighth graders and poked our heads into afternoon classes. Four area educators then weighed in on what matters most in helping kids achieve. Jefferson principal John Burmaster told us that during middle school, “the best thing you can … Continue reading Leadership Greater Madison Day: Child Equity and Attainment

MMSD’s Enrollment & Capacity Picture: A Perspective

The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) is facing a significant challenge – growth. As a result of that growth – which is not evenly distributed across the district’s region – some schools are facing, or will soon be facing, overcrowding. Other schools still continue to see languishing enrollment which calls into question the appropriate future … Continue reading MMSD’s Enrollment & Capacity Picture: A Perspective

Social Mobility & The Educated Class

The Economist [6.9.2005]: The obvious way to deal with this is to use the education system to guarantee a level playing field. Improve educational opportunities for the poorest Americans, make sure that nobody is turned away from university on grounds of financial need, and you will progressively weaken the link between background and educational success. … Continue reading Social Mobility & The Educated Class

Panel Discussion on Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted and Talented Students

Come listen to a panel of experts discuss the social and emotional needs of gifted and talented students. Diagnostic, assessment, treatment/intervention, educational, parenting and theoretical issues will be addressed. Resources will be shared. This program is intended for parents of children within the full range of high ability (i.e., not only the profoundly gifted). This … Continue reading Panel Discussion on Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of Gifted and Talented Students