Comments On The Madison School District’s Third “Annual Report”

Doug Erickson: The annual report is a selective rather than exhaustive view of the district, with only some grades and some demographic groups highlighted in detail. The report cited proficiency rates in reading at grade 3 and reading and math in grades 5 and 8, as measured by the Measures of Academic Progress exam, which … Continue reading Comments On The Madison School District’s Third “Annual Report”

Madison Schools’ Annual Report

WORT-FM How is the school year going? What about the behavior improvement plan, community schools, teacher diversity, racial equity, test scores, white flight, and school voucher schools? Today Carousel Bayrd talks with Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Cheatham today to discuss the upcoming year and her vision for the future.

Madison Metropolitan School District Annual Equity Report 2010

Madison School District 4.8MB PDF:

The Board of Education adopted Equity Policy 9001 on June 2, 2008 (http://boeweb.madison.k12.wi.us/policies/9001). The policy incorporates recommendations from the Equity Task Force and charges MMSD administration with developing an annual report of the extent to which progress is being made towards eliminating gaps in access, opportunities and achievement for all students. The Equity Task Force recommendations also requested annual data on the distribution of resources (budget, staff, programs, and facilities) by school.
On September 29, 2009, the Board of Education adopted a new strategic plan which established strategic priorities and objectives for the Madison Metropolitan School District. The Equity Task Force report and resulting Equity Policy 9001 were considered in the development of the strategic plan. This Annual Equity Report aligns the equity policy with priorities established in the strategic plan and reports equity progress using the same benchmarks as those used in the strategic plan.

Madison School Board to vote on Police Presence, layoffs and budget

Scott Girard: If the vote goes as expected, the 2020-21 school year will be the first in more than two decades without a police officer stationed in each of the district’s comprehensive high schools. Employee Handbook changes Madison Teachers Inc. is organizing opposition to a set of proposed Employee Handbook changes that would change the … Continue reading Madison School Board to vote on Police Presence, layoffs and budget

“The (taxpayer supported Madison School) district paid for $11,607.45 in legal fees as part of the settlement, but did not admit any wrongdoing.

Scott Girard: An open records lawsuit filed anonymously against the Madison Metropolitan School District last fall was settled in May after the district released the records sought. A “John Doe” filed the lawsuit against the district last November represented by attorney Tom Kamenick, the president and founder of the Wisconsin Transparency Project. “My client and I are … Continue reading “The (taxpayer supported Madison School) district paid for $11,607.45 in legal fees as part of the settlement, but did not admit any wrongdoing.

K-12 “Equity Spending Test”; Difference in spending between public or charter school cannot exceed 25%…. (Madison exceeds that)

Chris Stewart: Public schools in New Mexico aren’t funding students equitably, so says the U.S. Department Education who accuse the state’s leaders of “diverting [$63 million] in federal Impact Aid grants” intended to help school districts that are disadvantaged by their low tax bases.  The feds found that New Mexico wasn’t passing the “equity test,” … Continue reading K-12 “Equity Spending Test”; Difference in spending between public or charter school cannot exceed 25%…. (Madison exceeds that)

Open Records Response: “Community Leader & Stakeholder” meeting with Madison Superintendent Candidates

On January 21, 2020, I sent this email to board@madison.k12.wi.us Hi: I hope that you are well. I write to make an open records request for a list of invitees and participants in last week’s “community leader and stakeholder” meetings with the (Superintendent) candidates. Thank you and best wishes, Jim Hearing nothing, I wrote on … Continue reading Open Records Response: “Community Leader & Stakeholder” meeting with Madison Superintendent Candidates

Madison K-12 incoming Superintendent Gutiérrez Commentary

Scott Girard: Tuesday afternoon, he spent 15 minutes taking questions from the press and another 15 minutes answering questions from seven students at Glendale Elementary School, where the press conference was held. “There is some division in the community, so we’ve got to bridge that gap,” Gutiérrez said. “There is some division between the Doyle … Continue reading Madison K-12 incoming Superintendent Gutiérrez Commentary

Employee health insurance, referenda discussions on Madison School Board agenda Monday

Scott Girard: The Madison School Board will discuss the potential November referenda and proposed employee health insurance changes Monday. The Operations Work Group meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. at the Doyle Administration Building, 545 W. Dayton St., is likely the last opportunity for board members to ask for broad changes ahead of anticipated votes … Continue reading Employee health insurance, referenda discussions on Madison School Board agenda Monday

Madison School Board candidate forums begin this weekend, continue throughout March

Scott Girard: Voters will have several opportunities this month to hear from candidates for Madison School Board beginning this weekend. The East Side Progressives will hold a forum Sunday, March 8, at Lake Edge Lutheran Church, 4032 Monona Drive. It’s the first of four forums currently planned for the month before the Tuesday, April 7, … Continue reading Madison School Board candidate forums begin this weekend, continue throughout March

Commentary on the Madison School District’s teacher climate

David Blaska: In a school district that is 18% black, 57% of students suspended from school the first semester of the current school year (2019-20) were African-American. White students, 43% of the student body, accounted for 11% of out-of-school suspensions. To school board member Ali Muldrow, the data showed more about school staff than about … Continue reading Commentary on the Madison School District’s teacher climate

Transparency in Madison’s $500M+ Taxpayer Supported K-12 School District: Open Records Suppression edition

Scott Girard: An anonymous Madison School District resident is suing the district over its refusal to provide records in response to 26 requests made over a three-and-a-half month period earlier this year. The John Doe is being represented by attorney Tom Kamenick, the president and founder of the Wisconsin Transparency Project. The lawsuit filed Nov. 14 … Continue reading Transparency in Madison’s $500M+ Taxpayer Supported K-12 School District: Open Records Suppression edition

Madison teachers gather at pep rally for racial equity

Steven Elbow: Some 5,000 educators from the district’s 50 schools gathered at the Alliant Energy Center Monday to start their workweek with the three-hour event, which featured Madison School District officials, a student poet and Bettina Love, a popular speaker on issues of race and education. The event highlighted the importance the district has placed … Continue reading Madison teachers gather at pep rally for racial equity

Commentary on Freedom, Inc and Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district

Chris Rickert: Leaders of Freedom Inc. declined to speak with the Wisconsin State Journal or allow a reporter to observe the group’s social services work, making it difficult to describe the group’s current activities beyond protesting at public meetings. Among the programs listed on its website are an anti-violence Black Girls Matter program and the … Continue reading Commentary on Freedom, Inc and Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district

Average US School spending is up to $12K per pupil (Madison spends at least 50% more)

US Census Bureau: U.S. School Spending Per Pupil Increased for Fifth Consecutive Year, U.S. Census Bureau Reports. The amount spent per pupil for public elementary and secondary education (prekindergarten through 12th grade) for all 50 states and the District of Columbia increased by 3.7% to $12,201 per pupil during the 2017 fiscal year, compared to … Continue reading Average US School spending is up to $12K per pupil (Madison spends at least 50% more)

Madison Superintendent Search Commentary; Groundhog Day, in some ways

Negassi Tesfamichael: “I think the most important quality we are looking for in an interim superintendent is stability,” School Board member Cris Carusi said. “I don’t think it really matters as much if it’s an internal or external candidate … we’re going to want someone who can provide stability.” Carusi noted that she hopes the … Continue reading Madison Superintendent Search Commentary; Groundhog Day, in some ways

A crack in Madison’s non diverse K-12 governance model: independent charter One City Schools

Logan Wroge: In a previous attempt at a charter school, Caire proposed the Madison Preparatory Academy, which would have served a similar population as One City Schools, but would have been for grades 6-12. The Madison School Board rejected the idea in December 2011. Caire sought to bring his “change-maker” approach to the Madison School … Continue reading A crack in Madison’s non diverse K-12 governance model: independent charter One City Schools

Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Superintendent Cheatham’s 2019 Rotary Talk

2013: What will be different, this time? Incoming Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Madison Rotary Talk. December, 2018: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic” 2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end … Continue reading Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Superintendent Cheatham’s 2019 Rotary Talk

Commentary on Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Discipline and Achievement Climate

Kaleem Caire: Our School District has an obligation to learn from these incidents and to ensure that our staff, students and parents have clear guidelines about how to address similar situations when they arise, and how they can also avoid such challenges as well. After reading the police reports, it is clear to me that … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Discipline and Achievement Climate

Wisconsin Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Report: Accountability under the “Every Student Succeeds Act”

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: The Every Student Succeeds Act – a major federal education law – requires DPI to identify the lowest performing public schools and schools with low performing student groups in each state. Each state outlined their plans for this new federal accountability system, in which the state detailed their accountability indicators, … Continue reading Wisconsin Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Report: Accountability under the “Every Student Succeeds Act”

K-12 Governance Diversity: the 2019 Madison School Board Election, Parental Choice and our long term, disastrous reading results

Chris Rickert: Endorsements in this month’s School Board primary from the influential Madison teachers union include one for a candidate who sends her two children to the kind of charter school strongly opposed by the union. Madison Teachers Inc. this week endorsed Ali Muldrow over David Blaska, Laila Borokhim and Albert Bryan for Seat 4; … Continue reading K-12 Governance Diversity: the 2019 Madison School Board Election, Parental Choice and our long term, disastrous reading results

2019 Madison School Board Candidate Events; Kaleem Caire on Accountability

I’ve added the following audio recordings to the 2019 Madison School Board Candidate page. WORT FM Candidate discussion 2.5.2019 Cris Carusi and Kaleem Caire [mp3 audio] Mr. Caire: “If we don’t reach our benchmarks in five years, they can shut us down”. There is no public school in Madison that has closed because only 7 … Continue reading 2019 Madison School Board Candidate Events; Kaleem Caire on Accountability

Advocating status quo, non diverse K-12 Madison Schools Governance

Negassi Tesfamichael: MTI cited Carusi’s opposition to voucher and independent charter schools in its endorsement. “Carusi is opposed to vouchers and independent charter schools and strongly believes that we need to continuously work to improve our public schools, rather than support alternatives,” MTI’s endorsement said. Caire’s One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early … Continue reading Advocating status quo, non diverse K-12 Madison Schools Governance

UW rejects application for independent Madison charter school

Chris Rickert: According to emails released to the State Journal under the state’s open records law, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham on Sept. 10 asked her chief of staff, Ricardo Jara, and other front-office officials whether Arbor was “worth trying to stop? Or change somehow? If so, how?” Cheatham expressed the district’s opposition to the school in … Continue reading UW rejects application for independent Madison charter school

2019 Madison School Board Election: Madison Teachers Union Candidate Questions

Negassi Tesfamichael: Nearly all current candidates for the Madison School Board have started to make their case to voters and potential endorsers as the primary election heats up. That included answering questions from Madison Teachers Inc., the city’s teachers’ union. Nine candidates are running for three seats on the seven-person School Board. MTI executive director … Continue reading 2019 Madison School Board Election: Madison Teachers Union Candidate Questions

deja vu: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

Laurie Frost and Heff Henriques: Children who are not proficient readers by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. Additionally, two-thirds of them will end up in prison or on welfare. Though these dismal trajectories are well known, Madison School District’s reading scores for minority students remain unconscionably low and … Continue reading deja vu: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

2019 Election: Why are all of the Madison School Board seats at-large? (Curious statute words limiting legislation to Madison)

Negassi Tesfamichael m: Why are all of the Madison School Board seats at-large? The answer lies in state law. Tucked into a section of state statutes about how school boards and districts are organized is a requirement that applies directly to MMSD. The requirement says that unified school districts — such as MMSD — “that … Continue reading 2019 Election: Why are all of the Madison School Board seats at-large? (Curious statute words limiting legislation to Madison)

Re-thinking integration, Parents and the Madison Experience

The Grade: There are two main reasons why Eliza Shapiro’s New York Times piece, Why Black Parents Are Turning to Afrocentric Schools, is this week’s best. The first is that it’s a really well-written piece of journalism. The second is that it addresses an important and previously under-covered topic: parents of color interested in alternatives … Continue reading Re-thinking integration, Parents and the Madison Experience

Madison Teachers Union and the 2019 school board election: Commentary, Spending and Academic Results

Chris Rickert: The questionnaire also includes several questions about teachers’ ability to have a say in their compensation and working conditions, and asks whether the candidates “support the reinstatement of collective bargaining rights for all public employees (currently prohibited by Act 10)?” Act 10 is the controversial 2011 law passed by Republicans that stripped most … Continue reading Madison Teachers Union and the 2019 school board election: Commentary, Spending and Academic Results

Skylar Croy withdrawing from 2019 Madison School Board race, name will still appear on ballot

Negassi Tesfamichael: Madison School Board candidate Skylar Croy said in an interview with the Cap Times Friday that he would suspend his campaign and withdraw from the Seat 3 race, citing personal reasons. Because Croy turned in his verified nomination signatures on Wednesday to the city clerk’s office, the third-year University of Wisconsin law student’s … Continue reading Skylar Croy withdrawing from 2019 Madison School Board race, name will still appear on ballot

“Perhaps the real pipeline is that the Madison School District is unable to teach too many students of color basic reading skills”

Merrilee Pickett: I attended a Madison City Council police oversight committee meeting and was surprised that I was one of only a handful of citizens in attendance. The others in attendance were the usual people who are quoted in the local media, and who evidently have great influence over members of the City Council. Was … Continue reading “Perhaps the real pipeline is that the Madison School District is unable to teach too many students of color basic reading skills”

2019 Madison School Board Candidates; Competitive Races!

Seat 3 Kaleem Caire, 7856 Wood Reed Drive, Madison Cristiana Carusi, 5709 Bittersweet Place Skylar Croy, 502 N. Frances St., Madison Seat 4 David Blaska, 5213 Loruth Terrace, Madison Laila Borokhim, 2214 Monroe St., Madison Albert Bryan, 4302 Hillcrest Drive, Madison Ali Muldrow, 1966 East Main St., Madison Seat 5 TJ Mertz, 1210 Gilson St., … Continue reading 2019 Madison School Board Candidates; Competitive Races!

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques: Dear Editor: We read “The new math: how data is changing the way teachers teach” with great interest. We learned that for freshmen at East High School, coming to school 90 percent of the time, having a 3.0 grade point average, and having no more than two failing grades is … Continue reading “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

Who’s running for Madison School Board (so far)? 2019

Negassi Tesfamichael: The Madison School Board’s general election is still nearly five months away, but candidates have been jumping into the race the past few weeks at a rapid pace. Three seats on the seven-person School Board will be on the ballot this spring, and each seat will be contested. Here’s what you need to … Continue reading Who’s running for Madison School Board (so far)? 2019

Madison School Board needs Blaska’s voice (2019 election)

Gary L. Kriewald: It appears we are headed toward a School Board election that promises something new: a candidate whose voice will do more than add sound and fury to the liberal echo chamber that is Madison politics. David Blaska has the background, experience and most importantly the courage to expose the abuses and neglect … Continue reading Madison School Board needs Blaska’s voice (2019 election)

Organization vs Mission: Madison’s legacy K-12 Governance model vs Parent and Student choice; 2018

Chris Rickert: Meanwhile, in a sign of how the Madison district is responding to subsequent charter applications, former Madison School Board member Ed Hughes said he went before the Goodman Community Center’s board on the district’s behalf on Sept. 24 to express the district’s opposition to another proposed non-district charter school, Arbor Community School, which … Continue reading Organization vs Mission: Madison’s legacy K-12 Governance model vs Parent and Student choice; 2018

TJ Mertz to run for re-election to Madison School Board (2019)

Negassi Tesfamichael: Mertz said he will look to highlight his record during the campaign, and also talk about building trust and accountability in the Madison Metropolitan School District. “In order for us to provide our students the education they deserve, we need to work to repair the breakdowns of trust we see manifested in the … Continue reading TJ Mertz to run for re-election to Madison School Board (2019)

Kaleem Caire adds to political diversity in Madison School Board races (2019)

Chris Rickert: Caire, 47, is a Madison native who in 2011 mounted a contentious and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get the School Board to approve what was initially conceived as an all-male public charter school serving those who have long struggled in Madison’s traditional public schools: poor children and children of color. In an interview, … Continue reading Kaleem Caire adds to political diversity in Madison School Board races (2019)

Kaleem Caire announces run for Madison School Board (2019)

Negassi Tesfamichael: “I’ve been working in the field ever since,” Caire said in an interview with the Cap Times. “The number one thing is that I’ve been really frustrated about how little attention is focused on young people in our city and country.” One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early Learning Center, is … Continue reading Kaleem Caire announces run for Madison School Board (2019)

Civics, K-12 Governance & Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: The Smart Technocats And Benevolent Dictators Always Fail

Points and figures Have you heard of Bill Easterly? He is an economics professor at NYU. He wrote a book, The Tyranny of Experts. I’d suggest that you read it. It seems as though everyone is quoting from Hillbilly Elegy these days and I think I’d rather see them pick up the ethos of this … Continue reading Civics, K-12 Governance & Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: The Smart Technocats And Benevolent Dictators Always Fail

Outspoken conservative blogger to run for seat on liberal Madison School Board (2019)

Chris Rickert: It starts with safety and discipline,” said Blaska, who on his blog has been sharply critical of the district’s deliberations over whether to continue stationing Madison police officers in the high schools. Despite raucous protests by the activist group Freedom Inc., a committee of the board recommended on Sept. 26 that the police … Continue reading Outspoken conservative blogger to run for seat on liberal Madison School Board (2019)

Cris Carusi announces run for Madison School Board 2019

Negassi Tesfamichael: Carusi, who has been a district parent for more than a decade and was an active parent-teacher organization member, will seek to unseat incumbent School Board member Dean Loumos, who currently holds Seat 3. Carusi ran in the 2017 primary for Seat 6, which opened up after current mayoral candidate Michael Flores decided … Continue reading Cris Carusi announces run for Madison School Board 2019

Ananda Mirilli is running for Madison School Board (2019)

Negassi Tesfamichael:
 A second candidate has announced that she will run for a seat on the Madison School Board this spring.
Ananda Mirilli, who first ran for School Board in 2013, filed paperwork with the city clerk’s office Wednesday announcing she will run for Seat 5, which is currently held by TJ Mertz.
Mirilli finished third in … Continue reading Ananda Mirilli is running for Madison School Board (2019)

On Madison: “It was a lot of talk”

Cathleen Draper: “It was a lot of talk,” Johnson said. “[There’s] a lot of good people doing a lot of good things, but systemically, when you look at the data, things are not getting better. Systemically, we’re still operating in silos.” Before leaving Madison, Johnson called for greater funding and committed community leadership. He cited … Continue reading On Madison: “It was a lot of talk”

Madison Schools’ 4th Grade Reading: 2005-2016

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, now around $20k per student. Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results. 2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before: On November 7, Superintendent Art … Continue reading Madison Schools’ 4th Grade Reading: 2005-2016

Commentary on Madison’s K-12 spending, curriculum, rhetoric and governance practices “Plenty of Resources (2013)”

Steven Elbow: To make their point, the couple traced reading and math proficiency rates for the class of 2017 through the years, finding that the black and Hispanic cohorts saw little if any improvements between grades three to 11 and trailed white students by as many as 50 percentage points. “Both of these things suggest … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s K-12 spending, curriculum, rhetoric and governance practices “Plenty of Resources (2013)”

The Harsh Truth About Progressive Cities; Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

David Dahmer: How can this be, in a “unversity town”? It’s true, some more affluent people reside in this city due to the existence of a large, world-class university. People with more money do create disparities. Does that explain the exodus of brown and black professionals when they complete their four years at the university … Continue reading The Harsh Truth About Progressive Cities; Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

Are Rising Madison School District Grad Rates Something to Celebrate?

Anna Welch: The Madison District has seen graduation rates improve. But, it remains unclear if those students are prepared for college and career. Students who are not adequately prepared before they graduate often pay the price in college. In 2016, Act 28 took effect requiring the UW Board of Regents to submit an annual report … Continue reading Are Rising Madison School District Grad Rates Something to Celebrate?

Déjà vu: Madison elementary school students explore the district’s new math curriculum

Amber Walker: MMSD highlighted the success of the new math curriculum in its annual report, released last July. The report said the first cohort of schools using Bridges saw an eight-point increase in math proficiency scores and nine-point gains in math growth in one school year on the spring Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) exam … Continue reading Déjà vu: Madison elementary school students explore the district’s new math curriculum

Madison Named Top City for Tech Talent Growth, Ranking #1 on CBRE’s Annual List of Tech Momentum Markets

Cal Owings Madison ranked #1 on CBRE’s list of tech talent momentum markets, a measurement of the change in tech job growth, as part of its fifth annual Scoring Tech Talent Report. Aided by the presence of large universities, the report also found Madison has the highest concentration of millennials compared to other tech cities, … Continue reading Madison Named Top City for Tech Talent Growth, Ranking #1 on CBRE’s Annual List of Tech Momentum Markets

Madison’s achievement gap: a stubbornly ‘stable trend’

Abigail Becker: The state of education in Madison is stuck. For the past eight to 10 years, data and test scores have consistently shown disparities between black and white students that are closely linked to socioeconomic divides. The achievement gap—a disparity in test scores between the performance of students in groups broken down by race, … Continue reading Madison’s achievement gap: a stubbornly ‘stable trend’

Madison School District Mid Year Review

Madison School District Administration: We’re halfway through the school year and have some exciting updates to share with you. In this mid-year review, we’ll start by revisiting our vision for all Madison students (you can hear Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham describe that here), catch up with the graduates featured in our 2015-16 Annual Report, hear about … Continue reading Madison School District Mid Year Review

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…

Chicago Schools Publish Full MAP Results. Madison?

Chicago Public Schools: This past school year, CPS students achieved record attainment levels on math and reading, and exceeded national averages of student growth. These results are all-time high scores for CPS, and prove that the hard work of our students, educators, and families is paying off. More than half of CPS students are meeting … Continue reading Chicago Schools Publish Full MAP Results. Madison?

Madison’s Reading Data, an Update

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

Title I: Rich School Districts Get Millions Meant for Poor Kids How Title I, the federal government’s largest K-12 program, increases the inequality it was created to stop. $7.2M for Madison

By Lauren Camera and Lindsey Cook: The federal government operates a $14.5 billion program aimed at addressing this exact type of education funding inequity. It’s called Title I and it’s the pillar of the federal K-12 law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Its purpose is to financially bolster school districts with large … Continue reading Title I: Rich School Districts Get Millions Meant for Poor Kids How Title I, the federal government’s largest K-12 program, increases the inequality it was created to stop. $7.2M for Madison

“In addition, we see that very few schools actually achieved growth improvements of 5% or more, with changes in growth generally clustering around 0%.” Slide updates on Madison’s $500M+ Government School System

PDF slides from a recent Madison School District Quarterly Board retreat. Readers may wish to understand “MAP” or “Measure of Academic Progress” [duck duck go SIS 2012 Madison and Waunakee results] Using MAP for Strategic Framework Milestones and SIP Metrics Feedback from various stakeholders has led us to examine the use of MAP (Measures of … Continue reading “In addition, we see that very few schools actually achieved growth improvements of 5% or more, with changes in growth generally clustering around 0%.” Slide updates on Madison’s $500M+ Government School System

Badger Exam results; Madison Substantially Lags State Results….

Tap for a larger version. Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: LETRS Training For the fourth year, the Milwaukee Summer Reading Project will offer free training in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) in Milwaukee. Ten Saturday classes run from March into June. There are approximately ten open spots, with registration … Continue reading Badger Exam results; Madison Substantially Lags State Results….

Reviewing and Renewing Madison’s Wright Middle School and Badger Rock Middle School “Charters”

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF): Issue: The charter contracts for Badger Rock Middle School (BRMS) and James C. Wright Middle School (Wright) expire on June 30, 2016. Per respective contracts, the Board is required to make a decision whether or not to renew Wright’s contract at least six months before the contract’s expiration and BRMS’ contract … Continue reading Reviewing and Renewing Madison’s Wright Middle School and Badger Rock Middle School “Charters”

Deja Vu on School Police Calls: School crime stats would be included in state report cards under GOP bill

Molly Beck: The number and type of crimes committed at high schools, at their events and on school buses would be printed on the state’s school report cards under a bill being circulated this week. Any public high school, public charter high school or private voucher high school would be required to track reports of … Continue reading Deja Vu on School Police Calls: School crime stats would be included in state report cards under GOP bill

The U.S. Is Letting Poor Kids Fall Further and Further Behind in Reading (and Madison)

Laura Moser: New data on child well-being released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation make for depressing reading on many levels, not least because the findings are so deeply unsurprising. The basic gist is that, despite the economic recovery, more kids are living in poverty (defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as an annual … Continue reading The U.S. Is Letting Poor Kids Fall Further and Further Behind in Reading (and Madison)

Madison Schools’ Advanced Learner Status & Arts Education Update

Madison School District (PDF): Annual Advanced Learning Department report in the fall Parent Meeting and Listening sessions are providing valuable Systematic communication plan is a priority for families and schools Development of a year-at-a-glance calendar for enrichment opportunities and identification based on testing schedule Greater focus on systems supporting underrepresented populations Coaching and professional development … Continue reading Madison Schools’ Advanced Learner Status & Arts Education Update

Advanced Curriculum Review in the Madison School District

As we begin the next portion of the presentation, I want to remind you of the three overarching goals in the Strategic Framework. Our Annual Report, which was distributed a few months ago, addressed and detailed progress around our first goal stating that every student is on track for graduation. Tonight’s presentation represents our first … Continue reading Advanced Curriculum Review in the Madison School District

Our annual education report delves into the district’s second year of a unified direction

Sean Kirby: While the District’s first annual report showed some academic improvement overall, it also identified “subgroups”—African American and Latino students and students with disabilities—as part of a more targeted effort to ramp up and enrich the education experience. To reach them, the district is working with community leaders and groups, such as Madison Partners … Continue reading Our annual education report delves into the district’s second year of a unified direction

UW-Madison ranks in top 10 for students studying abroad

Karen Herzog: For the eighth consecutive year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison ranked among the top 10 U.S. universities and colleges in the number of students who study abroad in the latest annual Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released Monday. UW-Madison posted a No. 9 ranking with 2,157 students earning credit outside the country … Continue reading UW-Madison ranks in top 10 for students studying abroad

Madison Schools’ 2014-2015 Budget a No No for Governor Candidate Burke

Chris Rickert: It’s no surprise Democratic nominee for governor and Madison School Board member Mary Burke isn’t saying how she plans to vote Monday on a proposed school district budget that includes a $100 tax increase for the average homeowner. For purely political reasons, dropping that particular dime would be a pretty dumb thing to … Continue reading Madison Schools’ 2014-2015 Budget a No No for Governor Candidate Burke

Madison Teachers, Inc. Recertification Campaign

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF): As previously reported, Governor Walker’s Act 10 requires public sector unions, except police & fire, to participate in an annual recertification election to enable Union members to retain representation by their Union. The election by all MTI-represented District employees will be conducted between … Continue reading Madison Teachers, Inc. Recertification Campaign

Madison’s Lengthy K-12 Challenges Become Election Grist; Spends 22% more per student than Milwaukee

Madison 2005 (reflecting 1998): When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As … Continue reading Madison’s Lengthy K-12 Challenges Become Election Grist; Spends 22% more per student than Milwaukee

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison/Dane County Property Taxes Highest in Wisconsin, 61st in USA

Nick Heynen: Using data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the report’s authors examined residential property taxes in every U.S. county from 2007 to 2011, looking at how much homeowners were paying on average and how that average compared to average home sale prices over the same time period. The data contained some interesting, … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Madison/Dane County Property Taxes Highest in Wisconsin, 61st in USA

Commentary on Madison’s Long Term Achievement Gap Challenges; Single Year Data Points…

Pat Schneider: “It seems reasonable to attribute a good share of the improvements to the specific and focused strategies we have pursued this year,” Hughes writes. The process of improvement will become self-reinforcing, he predicts. “This bodes well for better results on the horizon.” Not so fast, writes Madison attorney Jeff Spitzer-Resnick in his Systems … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s Long Term Achievement Gap Challenges; Single Year Data Points…

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Contract



630K PDF Contract between Superintendent Cheatham and the Madison School District.
The lack of Superintendent oversight was an issue during the Rainwater era. Superintendent Cheatham’s contract includes this:

14.01 At least once each year, the BOARD of Education will provide the ADMINISTRATOR with an evaluation
a. The annual evaluation shall occur in closed session.
b. Prior to the BOARD conducting the SUPERINTENDENT’S evaluation, the SUPERINTENDENT shall provide the BOARD a self-appraisal. The BOARD shall take this self-appraisal into account in conducting its evaluation
c. All forms used and report formats requested as part of the evaluation process shall be collaboratively developed and mutually agreed upon by the ADMINISTRATOR and the BOARD.
d. While individual opinions may be expressed in the evaluation process, the final written record of performance evaluations shall include only narrative statements or opinions endorsed by a majority of the BOARD. The written evaluation shall be considered confidential to the extent permitted by law

Related: A Look At Compensation Packages for Wisconsin School District Superintendents.
Yet, reading, an issue for years in the Madison School District, remains a disastrous problem.

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham proposes $31 million, five-year technology plan

Molly Beck:

All students in the Madison School District would have their own tablets or notebook computers by the 2018-19 school year under a five-year, $31 million plan proposed by Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham.
If approved, the plan would increase the district’s current
$1.5 million annual technology budget to $4.2 million in the 2014-15 school year to start upgrading the district’s network infrastructure, upgrade or equip classrooms and libraries with new technology or computers, and provide notebook computers to all district teachers and administrators. Elementary teachers also would get tablet computers under the plan.
Costs to upgrade are projected to increase each of the five years of the plan for a total of $31 million spent in that time. Afterward, the annual budget for technology would be about $7 million per year going forward.
…..
Madison School Board members, who formally received the plan at their meeting Monday, were mostly optimistic about the plan. Board member T.J. Mertz questioned whether the program needed to be as extensive as it’s proposed given what he said were other unmet needs in the district and given research that he called “universally disappointing” surrounding such initiatives.
Mertz said in an interview after Monday’s board meeting that he agrees with the majority of the investments in technology under the plan, “but then there’s a third or a quarter where I think it’s going overboard.”
As an example, Mertz said he questions whether every kindergarten student needs their own tablet computer.

Prior to spending any additional taxpayer funds on new initiatives, I suggest that the District consider (and address) the status of past expensive initiatives, including:
Infinite Campus: is it fully implemented? If not, why? Why continue to spend money on it?
Standards based report cards“.
Connected Math.
Small Learning Communities.
And of course, job number one, the District’s long term disastrous reading scores.
Madison already spends double the national average per student ($15k). Thinning out initiatives and refocusing current spending on reading would seem to be far more pressing than more hardware.

Comparing Madison, Boston & Long Beach Public Schools: Student/Teacher Ratio

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham recently cited the Boston and Long Beach Schools for “narrowing their achievement gap” during a July, 2013 “What Will be Different This Time” presentation to the Madison Rotary Club.
As time permits, I intend to post comparisons between the Districts, starting today.
Student / Teacher Ratio



Per Student Annual Spending



Boston Schools’ budget information was, by far the easiest to find. Total spending is mentioned prominently, rather than buried in a mountain of numbers.
Finally, after I noticed that Madison’s student / teacher ratio is significantly lower than Boston, Long Beach and the Badger state average, I took a look at the Wisconsin DPI website to see how staffing has changed over the past few years. Madison’s licensed staff grew from 2,273 in 2007-2008 to 2,492 in 2011-2012.
What are the student achievement benefits of Madison’s very low ratio?
Related: Madison Schools’ 2013-2014 budget includes a 4.5% property tax increase after 9% two years ago.
Plenty of resources” and “the Madison School District has the resources to close the achievement gap“.

K-12 Governance Post Act 10: Kenosha teachers union is decertified; Madison Appears to Continue the Status Quo

Erin Richards:

The union representing Kenosha teachers has been decertified and may not bargain base wages with the district.
Because unions are limited in what they can do even if they are certified, the new status of Kenosha’s teachers union — just like the decertification of many other teachers unions in the state that did not or could not pursue the steps necessary to maintain certification in the new era of Act 10 — may be a moral blow more than anything else.
Teachers in Milwaukee and Janesville met the state’s Aug. 30 deadline to apply for recertification, a state agency representative says. Peter Davis, general counsel for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, said the Milwaukee and Janesville districts will hold recertification votes in November.
To continue as the recognized bargaining unit in the district, 51% of the union’s eligible membership must vote in favor of recertification, according to the controversial Act 10 legislation passed in 2011.
With contracts that were in place through the end of June, teachers in the three large southeastern Wisconsin districts were protected the longest from the new legislation, which limits collective bargaining, requires unions to hold annual votes to be recognized as official entities, and mandates that teachers and other public employees pay more out-of-pocket for their health care and retirement costs.
…..
“It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification, so I don’t think the KEA is an outlier or unique in this,” Brey said.
She added that certification gives the union scant power over a limited number of issues they’d like a voice in.
Sheronda Glass, the director of business services in Kenosha, said it’s a new experience for the district to be under Act 10.

Terry Flores

Contrary to some published media reports, however, the union did not vote to decertify.
In fact, no such election was ever held, according to KEA Executive Director Joe Kiriaki, who responded to a report from the Conservative Badger blog, which published an article by Milwaukee radio talk show host Mark Belling, who said he had learned that just 37 percent of the teachers had voted to reauthorize the union.
In a prepared statement, Kiriaki criticized the district for “promoting untrue information” to Belling.
Union chose to focus on other issues
Kiriaki said the union opted not to “jump through the hoops,” such as the recertification requirement, created by Act 10, the state’s relatively new law on collective bargaining.
The law, among other things required the annual re-certification of unions if they want to serve as bargaining representatives for teachers and other public workers. It also prohibits most public employees from negotiating all but base wages, limiting them to the rate of inflation.
Kiriaki cited a ruling by a Dane County Circuit Court judge on the constitutionality of Act 10, saying he believed it would be upheld.

Interestingly, Madison School District & Madison Teachers to Commence Bargaining. Far more important, in my view is addressing Madison’s long standing, disastrous reading results.
In my view, the unions that wish to serve their membership effectively going forward would be much better off addressing new opportunities, including charters, virtual, and dual enrollment services. The Minneapolis Teachers Union can authorize charters, for example.
Much more on Act 10, here.
A conversation with retired WEAC executive Director Morris Andrews.
The Frederick Taylor inspired, agrarian K-12 model is changing, albeit at a glacial pace. Madison lags in many areas, from advanced opportunities to governance diversity, dual enrollment and online opportunities. Yet we spend double the national average per student, funded by ongoing property tax increases.
An elected official recently remarked to me that “it’s as if Madison schools have been stuck in a bubble for the past 40 years”.

Lots going for Madison schools as classes begin

Wisconsin State Journal:

Madison has plenty of challenges. That’s for sure. Yet the district has a lot going for it, too, as students return to classes Tuesday.
Cheatham has embraced higher standards and will publish annual progress reports. She’s a fan of using student data to measure for results and hold educators accountable.
Yet Cheatham also talks convincingly about supporting principals and teachers. She plans to focus intently on high-quality teaching practices, shared leadership and professional development. Teachers seem to appreciate her call for more consistent priorities and curriculum.
It’s almost a back-to-basics approach, using research and results to inform strategies.
Unlike her predecessor, Cheatham hasn’t proposed a long list of new spending initiatives. Money, of course, matters. Yet Madison already has lots of resources, and it does many things well. Cheatham wants to start with what’s working and build from there.
“The really exciting news is we have all the ingredients to be successful,” Cheatham said this summer.
That’s good to hear.

Deja Vu: A Focus on “Adult Employment” or the Impossibility of Governance Change in the Madison Schools

The Madison School Board discussed the renewal of Administrator contracts (500K PDF) during their June 10, 2013 meeting (video, about 50 minutes into the meeting). Listen via this 5mb mp3 audio.
The timing and length of administrator contracts along with substantive reviews is not a new subject:
February, 2006: Are Administrators Golden?

Lawrie Kobza pointed out last night that 2-year rolling administrative contracts may be important for some groups of administrators and that the School Board should consider that issue. Otherwise, if the annual pattern continues, extensions will occur in February before the School Board looks at the budget and makes their decisions about staffing. Even though the Superintendent has indicated what positions he proposes to eliminate for next year, when the School Board has additional information later in the budget year, they may want to make different decisions based upon various tradeoffs they believe are important for the entire district.
What might the School Board consider doing? Develop criteria to use to identify/rank your most “valuable” administrative positions (perhaps this already exists) and those positions where the district might be losing its competitive edge. Identify what the “at risk” issues are – wages, financial, gender/racial mix, location, student population mix. Or, start with prioritizing rolling two-year contracts for one of the more “important,” basic administrative groups – principals. Provide the School Board with options re administrative contracts. School board members please ask for options for this group of contracts.
Ms. Kobza commented that making an extension of contracts in February for this group of staff could make these positions appear to be golden, untouchable. Leaving as is might not be well received in Madison by a large number of people, including the thousands of MMSD staff who are not administrators on rolling two-year contracts nor a Superintendent with a rolling contract (without a horizon, I think). The board might be told MMSD won’t be able to attract talented administrators. I feel the School Board needs to publicly discuss the issues and risks to its entire talent pool.
Mr. Nadler reported that MMSD might be losing its edge in the area of administration. He gave one example where there more than a few applicants for an elementary school position (20 applicants); however, other districts, such as Sun Prairie, are attracting more applicants (more than 100). The communities surrounding Madison are becoming more attractive over time as places to live and to do business. If we don’t recognize and try to understand the issues, beyond simply wages and benefits, the situation will continue to worsen. I feel the process in place needs to change in order to be a) more responseive to the issues, b) more flexible for the School Board in their decisionmaking processes, especially around budget time.

Administrator Contracts – School Board Adds to Agenda

Questions that are not clear to me include: a) is a two-year rolling contract required for all administrators, b) what is the difference between non-renewal and extension of a contract – is the end of January date really an extension?, c)is there a Board policy – if not, does one need to be developed, d) are there options open to the School Board to hold on one-year contract extensions due to upcoming cuts to the budget, e) how can changes be made by moving/retraining staff if needed, and f) can grant money being used to pay for administrators be used in other ways (not including grant oversight/accounting? We’re in the same spot as the past two years – not talking about administrator contracts until one week or so before a deadline.
I feel this information needs to be clear and to be transparent to all employees, the board and the community. I believe a multi-year staffing strategy as part of a multi-year strategic plan is important to have, especially given the critical nature of the district’s resources. This idea is not proposed as a solution to the public school’s financial situation – not at all, that’s not the point.

Retired Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman on the “adult employment focus”.
Additional administrator contract links, here.
It is ironic, in my view, that there has not been much change in the District’s administration from the Rainwater era….

“Voucher Voodoo: Smart Kids Shine Here” (Madison); A few links to consider


Tap on the image to view a larger version. Source: The Global Report Card.


Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the Madison school district’s achievement gap problems and other challenges we face. I’ve also been responding to the outlandish notion that Madison is a failing school district whose students deserve private school vouchers as their only lifeline to academic success.
At times like this, I find it helpful to remember that Madison’s schools are educating many, many students who are succeeding. Some of them are succeeding spectacularly. With apologies to those I’m overlooking, here’s a brief run-down on some of our stars –
Madison Memorial’s recently-formed science bowl team won the Wisconsin state championship in January. The team of seniors Srikar Adibhatla, Sohil Shah, Thejas Wesley and William Xiang and sophomore Brian Luo will represent Wisconsin in the National Science Bowl Championship in Washington, D.C. in April.

Related:
Credit for non-Madison School District courses and the Talented and Gifted complaint.
Census.gov on Madison’s demographics, compared to College Station, TX. 52.9% of Madison residents have a bachelor’s degree, compared to the State’s 26%. 57.5% of College Station, Texas’s residents have a college degree.
Madison High School UW-Madison and University of Wisconsin System enrollment trends 1983-2011:
East LaFollette, Memorial, West, Edgewood.
Where have all the students, gone? A look at suburban Madison enrollment changes.
National Merit Semifinalists & Wisconsin’s cut scores.
Madison’s nearly $15k per student annual spending, community support and higher education infrastructure provide the raw materials for world class public schools. Benchmarking ourselves against world leaders would seem to be a great place to begin.

Update on the Building the Madison School District’s Future: Measuring Progress on Priorities report

Jane Belmore (PDF):

Superintendent Jane Belmore (4MB PDF):

The Building Our Future plan provides direction for improving student achievement and district accountability. The plan identifies specific strategies and corresponding measures to meet the four overarching priorities of the district. The measures provide data to monitor progress towards improvement.
The key reason to include district and program measures in this report is to make sure that the Building Our Future plan is contributing to closing achievement gaps. Each program and initiative in Building Our Future is based on extensive research and planning. However, it is important to connect these initiatives to tangible outcomes. Tracking these measures helps increase accountability, allocate resources effectively and efficiently, and continuously improve our efforts to educate all students.
District Priorities: MMSD Management Team identified overarching district priorities in the areas of Attendance, Behavior, Growth and Achievement. The rationale for these priorities is based on the following theory of action:
When our teachers apply strong, explicit teaching skills within an aligned multi-tiered system of instruction and support, and students attend school regularly with behavior that positively impacts their learning and the learning environment, then students will show academic achievement, and social and emotional growth and gaps in learning and achievement will close.
This report outlines 2011-12 progress indicators for each of these priorities and includes historical data when appropriate.
Strategies: Each initiative in Building Our Future is outlined in the report, including a narrative description, the alignment to district priorities, the primary contact(s), action steps, and objectives with annual progress measures. When available, data from 2011- 12 on key progress indicators is included, along with relevant history for comparison. The approved 2012-13 budget for each strategy will also be integrated into the report to help contextualize how MMSD will allocate resources for this initiative moving forward.
Goal setting: This update includes a discussion on the methods used to set goals associated with each strategy. These are described in Attachment 3 and use literacy goals for Chapter 1, Strategy #1 as an example.

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

Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore (2.5mb PDF)

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

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

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

Parents Seen Less Involved In Schools Report Shows Decline in Calls, Meetings

Lisa Fleisher:

New city statistics are showing a steep decline in parent involvement in New York public schools, giving potential ammunition to critics who say the Department of Education under Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been unresponsive to families.
City officials attributed part of the plummet to a new data-collection system. But critics, including some possible mayoral contenders, said the numbers in the annual Mayor’s Management Report were hard evidence of long-held frustrations by public-school parents.

I wonder if Madison PTO attendance patterns have changed? During the 2000’s, most meetings that I observed or participated in typically had no more than 12 to 15 parents. Often less than 10 appeared.
One meeting sticks out. More than 50 parents attended a Thoreau PTO meeting which attempted to bring Singapore Math to the school. That was a spectacular failure, unfortunately.

Madison Looks To Arlington, VA Schools for Achievement Gap Solutions; Arlington’s Tax Base & Demographics Quite Difference

Madison School District PDF Summary Document:

The 2005 to 2011 Strategic Plan was adopted by the School Board in June 2005. It outlines major objectives for the Arlington Public Schools for the six years covered by the plan. The Strategic Plan process was designed to result in clear direction for the school system that focuses on improved student learning for all students. For each goal of the plan, the School Board has defined specific objectives, indicators, and targets or benchmarks to measure progress over each of the 6 years. This summary provides selected findings from the results presented for 2009-10.

Links:

I hope the Madison School Board reviews additional Districts. Arlington’s demographics and tax base are substantially different than Madison.

Madison School District Strategic Plan Update

Madison School District 600K PDF:.
I recently attended the third annual update to the 2009 Madison School District Strategic Plan. You can follow the process via these notes and links.
I thought it might be useful to share a few observations on our local public schools during this process:

  • General public interest in the schools continues to be the exception, rather than the norm.
  • I sense that the District is more open to discussing substantive issues such as reading, math and overall achievement during the past few years. However, it does not appear to have translated into the required tough decision making regarding non-performing programs and curriculum.
  • MTI President Kerry Motoviloff recent statement that the District administration has “introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009”.
  • Full teacher Infinite Campus use remains a goal, despite spending millions of dollars, money which could have gone elsewhere given the limited implementation. Unfortunately, this is a huge missed opportunity. Complete course syllabus, assignment and gradebook information would be a powerful tool when evaluating achievement issues.
  • The implementation of “standards based report cards” further derailed the Infinite Campus spending/implementation. This is an example of spending money (and time – consider the opportunity cost) on programs that are actually in conflict.
  • The District continues to use the oft criticized and very low benchmark WKCE as their measure. This, despite starting to use the MAP exam this year. Nearby Monona Grove has been using MAP for some time.
  • Three Madison School Board members attended: Mary Burke, James Howard and Ed Hughes.
  • UW-Madison school of Education dean Julie Underwood attended and asked, to my astonishment, (paraphrased) how the District’s various diversity programs were benefiting kids (and achievement)?

The only effective way forward, in my view, is to simplify the District’s core mission to reading, english and math. This means eliminating programs and focusing on the essentials. That will be a difficult change for the organization, but I don’t see how adding programs to the current pile benefits anyone. It will cost more and do less.
Less than 24 hours after I attended the MMSD’s Strategic Plan update, I, through a variety of circumstances, visited one of Milwaukee’s highest performing private/voucher schools, a school with more than 90% low income students. The petri dish that is Milwaukee will produce a far more robust and effective set of schools over the next few decades than the present monolithic approach favored here. More about that visit, soon.

Wisconsin, Milwaukee & Madison High School Graduation Rates

The DPI released graduation rates last year using both the new and old calculation method for the state and individual school districts, and did the same again this year.
An example of the difference between the two calculations: The legacy rate for the most recent data shows Wisconsin’s students had a 90.5% graduation rate for 2011, instead of the 87% rate for that class under the new method the federal government considers more accurate.
Using the new, stricter method, the data shows Milwaukee Public Schools’ graduation rate increased for 2011 to 62.8%., up from 61.1% in 2010.
“We have much more work to do, but these numbers – along with ACT score growth and growth in 10th grade state test scores – show that we continue to move in the right direction,” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said in a statement Thursday.
MPS officials on Thursday pointed out that the 1.7 percentage-point increase between the two years for the district was greater than the state four-year graduation rate increase in that time. The state’s four-year rate increased 1.3 percentage points, from 85.7% in 2009-’10.

Matthew DeFour:

The annual report from the Department of Public Instruction released Thursday also showed Madison’s four-year graduation rate dipped slightly last year to 73.7 percent.
According to the data, 50.1 percent of Madison’s black students graduated in four years, up from 48.3 percent in 2010. The white student graduation rate declined about 3.1 percentage points, to 84.1 percent.
District officials and education experts said it was unclear what accounted for the changes, and it’s difficult to draw any conclusions about Madison’s achievement gap from one or two years of data.
“You need to be looking over a period of several years that what you’re looking at is real change rather than a little blip from one to the other,” said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.
The graduation rates of black and white students in Madison have been a major topic of discussion in the city over the past year.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Standing Firm on Grad Rates
by Chuck Edwards:

Even as the Obama administration is busy dismantling much of NCLB through waivers, it is standing firm on some Bush-era decisions.
One of them is to consider high school graduation to be exactly that — graduating with a regular diploma, even if it takes five or six years for kids with special barriers. For accountability decisions affecting high schools, the Bush administration would not allow states to give schools “graduation” credit for students who obtain a GED or certificate of completion — only a regular diploma would do.
In response to the Obama administration’s new “ESEA Flexibility” initiative, states have taken another run at that decision, which was enshrined in last-gasp Bush regulations issued in October 2008.

Madison high schools don’t make U.S. News rankings

Matthew DeFour:

U.S. News and World Report this week released its list of the top high schools in the country and in each state, but Madison’s four high schools didn’t make the cut.
That’s because under the three-step formula the magazine used to rate high schools, the combined test scores of black, Hispanic and low-income students at East, La Follette, Memorial and West were too low to qualify the schools for recognition.
It’s the fourth time the magazine, known for its annual rankings of college and graduate schools, has ranked high schools and the first time since December 2009. The magazine worked with the American Institutes for Research to develop the ranking system.
The magazine reviewed reading and math test scores for nearly 22,000 high schools in the country. Of that number, only 5,267 high schools, including the four in Madison, advanced to step two of the analysis. That means math and reading test scores exceeded expectations among other high schools in the state given the level of poverty in each school.
But Madison’s schools appear to have faltered in the second step of the analysis, which compares a weighted average of math and reading scores for each school’s “disadvantaged students” — i.e. black, Hispanic and low-income students — with the same group statewide.
In 2011-12, 53.5 percent of Wisconsin’s disadvantaged students scored proficient or advanced on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination, compared with about 47 percent at each of the four Madison high schools.

The WKCE has long been criticized for its lack of rigor. Background: Ouch! Madison schools are ‘weak’? and College Station’s School District
Related: www.wisconsin2.org

Preparing the Way for a Madison School District Maintenance Referendum

Gayle Worland::

The analysis comes on the heels of a 2012-13 budget for the district proposed by Nerad that would increase Madison School District property taxes by 4.1 percent. Nerad’s $379.3 million budget did not specify a funding source for his high-profile plan to raise the achievement levels of low-income and minority students, originally estimated to cost $105.6 million over the next five years.
The report outlines several options for doubling the district’s maintenance funds, such as using money already within the district’s budget, increasing the property tax levy, using current and future equity reserves, long-term borrowing, or asking voters to approve a referendum that would allow for annual increases for maintenance.
The district spends $4.5 million, or 2.77 percent of its budget, on facility maintenance, which the committee recommended increasing by $4.2 million.
That would amount to $566 per pupil, according to the report. By contrast, the Monona Grove school district spends $1,825 per pupil on facility costs; Sun Prairie schools spend $1,787; and Waunakee spends $1,443, the report said.

Related regarding the most recent Madison School District maintenance referendum: Madison School Board member may seek audit of how 2005 maintenance referendum dollars were spent.

Singapore vs. Madison/US Schools: Do We (Americans) Put Money into Our Children?



I read with interest Nathan Comps’ article on the forthcoming 2012-2013 Madison School District budget. Board Vice President Marj Passman lamented:

“If Singapore can put a classroom of students on its money, and we can’t even put our money into children, what kind of country are we?” asks Passman, Madison school board vice president. “It’s going to be a horrible budget this year.”

Yet, according to the World Bank, Singapore spends 63% less per student than we do in America on primary education and 47% less on secondary education. The US spent $10,441/student in 2007-2008 while Madison spent $13,997.27/student during that budget cycle. Madison’s 2011-2012 budget spends $14,858.40/student.
The Economist on per student spending:

Those findings raise what ought to be a fruitful question: what do the successful lot have in common? Yet the answer to that has proved surprisingly elusive. Not more money. Singapore spends less per student than most. Nor more study time. Finnish students begin school later, and study fewer hours, than in other rich countries.
In Finland all new teachers must have a master’s degree. South Korea recruits primary-school teachers from the top 5% of graduates, Singapore and Hong Kong from the top 30%.

Rather than simply throwing more money (Madison taxpayers have long supported above average K-12 spending) at the current processes, perhaps it is time to rethink curriculum and just maybe, give Singapore Math a try in the Madison schools.
Related:


Via the Global Report Card. The average Madison student performs better than 23% of Singapore students in Math and 35% in reading.

Is $14,858.40 Per Student, Per Year Effective? On Madison Superintendent & School Board Accountability…

Oh, the places we go.
I’m glad Matt DeFour and the Wisconsin State Journal obtained the most recent Superintendent Review via open records. We, as a community have come a long way in just a few short years. The lack of Board oversight was a big issue in mid-2000’s competitive school board races. Former Superintendent Art Rainwater had not been reviewed for some time. These links are well worth reading and considering in light of the recent Superintendent review articles, including Chris Rickert’s latest. Rickert mentions a number of local statistics. However, he fails to mention:

  1. Despite spending nearly $15,000 per student annually, our Reading Results, the District’s job number one, need reform. 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use. This is not a new topic.
  2. The District’s math program has been an issue for some time, as well (Math Forum).
  3. How does Madison compare to the World, or other US cities? We can and should do much better.
  4. What is happening with Madison’s multi-million dollar investment (waste?) in Infinite Campus? Other Districts have been far more successful implementing this important tool.
  5. Are the District’s tax expenditures well managed?

With respect to the current Superintendent Review, the job pays quite well (IRS income distribution data: table 7), so I believe the position should be fully accountable to parents and taxpayers. Matthew DeFour:

In 2014, Madison superintendent Dan Nerad qualifies for a $37,500 payment for six years of service, which like Gorrell’s would be paid into a retirement account. Nerad already receives an annual $10,000 payment into his retirement account, which is separate from his state pension and in addition to a $201,000 yearly salary.

More, here.
The current rhetoric is quite a change in just 8 years. (Why did things change? A number of citizens care, decided to run for school board – won – and made a difference…) I certainly hope that the Board and community do not revert to past practice where “we know best” – the status quo – prevailed, as the Obama Administration recently asserted in a vital constitutional matter:

Holder made clear that decisions about which citizens the government can kill are the exclusive province of the executive branch, because only the executive branch possess the “expertise and immediate access to information” to make these life-and-death judgments.
Holder argues that “robust oversight” is provided by Congress, but that “oversight” actually amounts to members of the relevant congressional committees being briefed. Press reports suggest this can simply amount to a curt fax to intelligence committees notifying them after the fact that an American has been added to a “kill list.” It also seems like it would be difficult for Congress to provide “robust oversight” of the targeted killing program when intelligence committee members like Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are still demanding to see the actual legal memo justifying the policy.

More, here on the political class and the legal system.
The choice is ours. Use our rights locally/nationally, or lose them.
A look back at previous Madison Superintendents.
High expectations surely begin at the top.

UW-Madison student seeks details about how fees are spent

Todd Finkelmeyer:

How much say should students have in how their mandatory fees are used?
It’s a topic UW-Madison sophomore Sarah Neibart is attempting to bring some attention to by contacting reporters and writing letters to the editor.
Here are some basics: A full-time student attending UW-Madison pays about $540 in mandatory segregated fees each semester (a figure that’s on top of tuition, which is $4,835 per semester for an in-state undergrad). Over the course of an entire academic year, this means students across campus contribute a combined $42 million in segregated fees.
When a unit on campus utilizes these dollars, it must submit an annual budget proposal outlining how they’re spent.

UW-Madison on the Value of AP Courses; AP Report to the Nation

UW News:

The College Board AP Report to the Nation shows that students who earn advanced placement credit in high school typically experience greater academic success in college, are better prepared for coursework, and are more likely to earn a college degree than their peers.
In 2011, 903,630 seniors took an AP exam before leaving high school with 540,619 scoring a three or higher. That doubles the 431,573 who took the exam in 2001 when only 277,507 scored a three or higher. In all, 62,068 students across Wisconsin took AP exams in 2011.
Joanne Berg, University of Wisconsin-Madison vice provost for enrollment management, says that “students who took AP credits were able to graduate sooner than other students, were able to start advanced courses sooner, and actually free up courses for other students who weren’t able to take AP credits.”
Along with the release of the report, representatives from the UW-Madison are also featured in several videos speaking to the value of the AP program. The videos can be viewed here.

View and download the 2011 AP Report to the Nation, here:

The 8th Annual AP Report to the Nation (.pdf/1.7MB) reports on each state’s efforts to improve high school achievement by involving greater segments of the student population — and traditionally underserved minority students in particular — in rigorous AP courses.

The state supplements can be viewed here.

Madison School Board’s DIFI (District Identified for Improvement) Plan Discussion Documents

Wisconsin DPI:

The federal Elementary/Secondary Education Act, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act requires that districts and schools make adequate yearly progress (AYP) toward state-established benchmarks in four areas: test participation, reading proficiency, math proficiency, and the other academic indicator: attendance or high school graduation.
This letter is to inform you that your district, or one or more of your schools, has either missed AYP; is identified for improvement; is no longer identified for improvement status; or missed AYP in the prior school year bnt remains in satisfactory status by meeting AYP for the current school year: 2010-11.
The enclosed Preliminary Annual Review of Performance report(s) are color coded according to the following:

Sanctions Document.
DIFI by subgroup.
District Identified for Improvement (DIFI)- Documentation for DPI (306 pages)

via a kind reader’s email.
The School Board discussed these documents earlier this evening.

Wisconsin’s annual school test (WKCE) still gets lots of attention, but it seems less useful each year

Alan Borsuk:

Wisconsin (and just about every other state) is involved in developing new state tests. That work is one of the requirements of getting a waiver and, if a bill ever emerges form Congress, it will almost certainly continue to require every state to do testing.
But the new tests aren’t scheduled to be in place for three years – in the fall of 2014. So this fall and for at least the next two, Wisconsin’s school children and schools will go through the elaborate process of taking a test that still gets lots of attention but seems to be less useful each year it lives on.

The oft-criticized WKCE often provides grist for “successes”. Sometimes, rarely, the truth about its low standards is quietly mentioned.
I remember a conversation with a well educated Madison parent earlier this year. “My child is doing well, the WKCE reports him scoring in the 95th percentile in math”……
www.wisconsin2.org is worth a visit.

Comparing Racine to Madison, others; Racine school district holding itself accountable to goals, but academic achievement still lags peer districts















The Public Policy Forum

Racine Unified School District (RUSD) implemented a district-wide vision for improvement in March 2009. Called the North Star vision, it is intended to specify “the path to successful completion of high school for all RUSD students with an ultimate goal of every graduate being ready for a career and/or college.” It includes performance targets at each grade level to be used in creating school improvement plans and in setting school-level learning targets.
The vision is the result of a collaborative effort by the school board, district administrators, the teachers and administrators unions, and the support staff union. A simple graphic illustrating the measures of focus at each grade level has been widely distributed to parents, teachers, and district stakeholders.

Public Policy Forum Report (PDF):

For dedicated readers, this 14th Annual Comparative Analysis of the Racine Unified School District will look quite different from the previous 13 reports. For the first time, we compare the district’s performance to its own goals, as well as to its peers and to its past performance. The peer comparison tables, which have been the hallmark of previous reports, appear in Appendix I. The body of the report is focused on the district goals established in 2009 as the North Star vision, which according to the district, “is a shared vision that clearly identifies the path to successful completion of high school for all RUSD students with an ultimate goal of every graduate being ready for a career and/or college.”
As in previous reports, we also present contextual information about the Racine community and student body. RUSD has experienced many changes over the past 14 years, including: slipping from the third largest district in the state to the fourth largest, becoming a majority minority district, and now having most of its students quality for free or reduced-price lunch. The community has also become less wealthy during this time and seen fewer adults obtain college degrees. It is clear that RUSD has many challenges to overcome and a loss of significant state aid for this school year is yet another challenge. Consequently, this year’s report also includes a more in-depth analysis of the district’s fiscal situation.