Madison Wisconsin High School Graduation Rates, College Readiness, and Student Learning

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques 2MB PDF full presentation to the Simpson Street Free Press: Individual slides (tap for larger versions): More here. Related: The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”. 2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!” 2013: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results. Madison spends far more than most […]

Civics: Americans don’t trust their government, its institutions, or each other. This is not a good place to be: Madison – Graduation Rate vs Achievement

<a href=””>Mat Welch</a>:<blockquote> So let’s not talk about Kat, let’s talk about you. You who pivoted before I did to the whataboutism in the paragraph above. You who were already irritated at reading yet again about a non-Democrat being inconvenienced in public. You who are saying to yourself, “Fox News is toxic. It’s poisoning my […]

Seeing the Forest: Unpacking the Relationship Between Madison School District (WI) Graduation Rates and Student Achievement

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques [PDF]: Dear Simpson Street Free Press: Thank you for leading the way in looking more closely at recent reports of an increase in MMSD minority student graduation rates and related issues: Inspired by your excellent work, we decided to dig deeper. We call the result of our efforts […]

“The four-year graduation rate for African-American students in Madison is only 53 percent while in Milwaukee it is 59 percent.”

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson::

Nearly 25 years ago, business leaders in Milwaukee came to me deeply concerned that they couldn’t find enough qualified workers among the students leaving the Milwaukee Public Schools. At the same time, African-American parents came to me worried about their children’s future in a school system that wasn’t meeting their needs.
So, together, the city’s parents and the business community pleaded with state leaders to give these families a better option. Working with a Democratic Assembly and Senate, we created both the nation’s first private school choice program and a series of additional educational options including independent charter schools.
And it worked. Today, the children of Milwaukee have a wider array of educational options than students anywhere else in America. Children in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college than their peers in the Milwaukee public school system. That accomplishment is all the more impressive because graduation rates in the Milwaukee Public Schools are also up. Choice and competition has improved the graduation rates for all of Milwaukee’s students.
Now school choice must be expanded to other communities in Wisconsin where students are struggling to graduate from high school.
A high school degree is the first step to success in this economy. Yet, the chances that an African-American student will earn a high school diploma are now better in Milwaukee than in the Madison. The four-year graduation rate for African-American students in Madison is only 53 percent while in Milwaukee it is 59 percent. In Green Bay, the odds for an African-American student are even more daunting – only half of that city’s African-American students will graduate from high school.

Madison Schools Graduation Rate Update for Class of 2012

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF):

his report presents high school graduation rates for the Madison Metropolitan School District. For additional information on graduation rates, see the Appendix.
For this report, we focus on a cohort of students expected to graduate at the end of the 2011-12 school year. For additional context and to track changes over time, we provide a three-year history for some measures. This report uses publicly available data from Wisconsin’s Information Network for Successful Schools (WINSS). Additional data is available
through Key findings include the following:
1. Overall graduation rates improved almost one percent from 2011 to 2012, from 73.7% to 74.6%.
2. African American and Hispanic students have improved their graduation rates by five percent and almost seven percent over the last three years.
3. Graduation rates for students with Limited English Proficiency have improved about four percent over the last three years.
4. MMSD high schools have similar graduation rates, ranging between 74.7% and 82.8%.

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 School District High School Graduation Rate Discussion

Superintendent Dan Nerad:

This memo is follow up to a discussion of MMSD high school completion rates and on track status from February. Highlights of this follow up are:

  • Preparedness matters. Results from the Kindergarten Screener are predictive of a student’s likelihood of completing high school. Of students starting their school years unprepared, over 25% will drop out and nearly half will take longer than four years to complete high school.
  • Attendance matters. Over half of the students with a high school attendance rate less than 80% will drop out.
  • Credits matter. Students not earning the required number of credits in Grade 9 are less likely to complete high school. Students earning one credit or less face a dropout rate of 63%.
  • Tenure matters. The length of time a student is with MMSD or in one of its high schools has an impact on the likelihood he or she will earn a diploma or equivalency. Getting a student to attend longer than his or her first year is critical.
  • Behavior matters. Students with one or more suspensions per year complete high school only one third of the time.

Revised on track calculations still indicate a decline among Hispanic, black and ELL students. However, the decline is not as pronounced as it was once the numbers for 2009-10 presented in February were revisited.
The Board had also asked about the characteristics of certain students. Students enrolled less than four years with MMSD are more likely to be black, Hispanic, low income, and ELL. They are less likely to have earned 5.5 credits in Grade 9 and are less likely to have high attendance. Interestingly, they are less likely to be identified as special ed and are less likely to have been suspended. These may reflect the shorter duration of their enrollment with MMSD.
Black students known to be continuing beyond four years in high school are more likely to be low income, special ed, enroll in SAPAR, and have at least on out-of-school suspension. They are also less likely to have earned 5.5 credits in Grade 9.

Presentation on Madison’s High School Graduation and Completion Rates

Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad (1.5MB PDF):

DPI has two official models for calculating high school completion rates. Regardless of which model is used, MMSD has lagging graduation rates for among its student subgroups.
As required by NCLB, a new four-year cohort graduation rate calculated by DPI provides an “on time” graduation rate. This calculation will eventually replace the so-called “legacy rate” which DPI has used for the past several years. That means that we could characterize our graduation rates in the following two ways:

Reality Check: Milwaukee Exceed’s Madison’s Black Not Hispanic 4 Year High School Graduation Rate: 59.5% to 48.3%

Andrew Shilcher, via email:

In response to the press release that the DPI put out today, I did some digging to see where Madison and Milwaukee stacked up. You can check out how each district breaks down for yourself by following the links at the bottom, but here are some of the highlights (if you want to call them that)
According to WINSS
The 4 year graduation rate for Black Not Hispanic students in MMSD for the 2009-2010 school year was 48.3%.
The 4 year graduation rate for Black Not Hispanic students in MPS for the 2009-2010 school year was 59.5%.
The 4 year graduation rates for Hispanic students in MMSD and MPS for the 2009-2010 school year are comparable at 56.7% in MMSD and 59% in MPS.
The statewide average 4 year graduation rate for Black Not Hispanic students for the 2009-2010 school year was 60.5%.
The statewide average 4 year graduation rate for Hispanic students for the 2009-2010 school year was 69%.
I won’t go into the difference between the 4 year rates and Legacy rates, but you can check those out at the links below too. 4 year rates place students in a cohort beginning in their first year of high school and see where things stand within that cohort 4 years later. Legacy rates are a yearly snapshot of the number of graduates for a year compared to the number of students expected to graduate high school for that given year. For a further explanation of this refer to
Here is the link to the press release:
Here is the link to MMSD WINSS statistics:““&SN=None+Chosen&DN=Madison+Metropolitan&OrgLevel=di&Qquad=performance.aspx&Group=RaceEthnicity
Here is the link to MPS WINSS statistics:““&SN=None+Chosen&DN=Milwaukee&OrgLevel=di&Qquad=performance.aspx&Group=RaceEthnicity

Advocating a Standard Graduation Rate & Madison’s “2004 Elimination of the Racial Achievement Gap in 3rd Grade Reading Scores”

Leslie Ann Howard:

Back in 1995, when the Wisconsin State Journal and WISC-TV began a civic journalism project to study the racial achievement gaps in our schools, the statistical measures of student achievement and reading in third grade put the issue in sharp focus.
United Way and our community partners’ efforts, through a variety of strategies including the Schools of Hope tutoring program, relied on those strong, focused statistics to measure the success of our 1-on-1 and 1-on-2 tutoring.
By 2004, Superintendent Art Rainwater was able to announce the elimination of the racial achievement gap in third grade reading scores, because our community had focused on stable statistical measure for over 10 years.
A standard graduation rate formula would create the same public focus for our nation’s efforts to increase high school graduation rates.


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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Commentary on Redistributed Taxpayer Funds and the Madison School District (no mention of total spending or effectiveness)

Former Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes: It turns out that this isn’t true. Explaining why gets a bit complicated, but here goes. Mr. Hughes voted against the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School. Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts. Madison Wisconsin High […]

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., […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Madison’s teachers union wins re-certification election

Negassi Tesfamichael: Propelled by an 80 percent turnout rate, Madison Teachers Inc. won its annual re-certification election Monday, according to results released by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission. Most public sector unions in the state are required under Act 10 to participate in annual certification elections in order to retain their standing as labor representatives […]

Missing the Lead: “We’re trying to build a pipeline:’ Largest-ever gift to Literacy Network will help send students to Madison College”

Lisa Speckhard Pasque: “Many of our students came to us and said, ‘We really want to go to Madison College, but we need this skill first, and mostly it’s English language skills,” Burkhart said. “It’s feeling more confident, it’s feeling better about your ability to succeed at the college.” On Thursday, the Literacy Network announced […]

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 […]

“I think that the schools have been isolated and let on their own all too much,” K-12 monolithic governance: Madison edition

Abigail Becker: The mayors also discussed Madison’s relationship with the school district. Sensenbrenner said the city, Dane County and community groups need to marshall their energy and resources to work more closely with the school district. If Sensenbrenner were designing a local government from scratch, he said he would include the school district under the […]

Madison’s ACT College Readiness Gap

Anna Welch: According to district data, the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) saw significant jumps in four-year graduation rates in spring 2017. Madison’s overall graduation rate rose five points, and the rate for African American students jumped an eyebrow-raising 15 points in one year. Those rates, however, were not accompanied by corresponding increases in student […]

Madison School District’s Class of 2017 Reading Results (Grades 3-11)

Here is the reading performance of the MMSD Class of 2017 over time. (Note: this is the MMSD class with “improving graduation rates“, especially for African American students. Is access to literacy a right? Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results. The Tyranny of the Structureless.

The Truth About America’s Graduation Rate

Anya Kamenetz:To find out, NPR Ed enlisted the help of 14 reporters at member stations around the country. We identified three major ways that states and districts try to improve their graduation rates. 1 Stepping in early to keep kids on track. 2 Lowering the bar by offering alternate and easier routes when students falter. […]

An update on Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Amber Walker For math, the numbers were 46 percent for proficiency and 65 percent for growth. Over the past four years, students’ reading proficiency increased 10 percentage points in reading and 8 percentage points in math. The largest achievement gap in elementary school reading exists between African-American and white students, with 18 percent of black […]

Greatness! Future Leaders of Madison take Center Stage

One City Learning, via a kind Kaleem Caire email: Tonight, One City Early Learning Centers, a high quality preschool located in the heart of South Madison, is hosting its first graduation ceremony and community barbecue, in honor of its first cohort of children to transition from its preschool to local kindergartens in the city. Nine […]

UW-Madison, Edgewood College on board for Madison School District’s ‘Pathways’ project

Karen Rivedahl: All of Madison’s major higher education institutions are now signed on to take part in the Madison School District’s “Personalized Pathways” initiative set to begin this fall. UW-Madison and Edgewood College officials announced their participation Monday, joining Madison Area Technical College as anchor partners in the program, which is aimed at helping high […]

Lowell Holtz says graduation rates soared for minority students when he ran the Beloit schools

Dave Umhoefer: In his bid to unseat Tony Evers as state school superintendent, self-described “kidservative” Lowell Holtz criticizes Wisconsin’s dubious distinction of graduating white high school students at much higher rates than minority students. On his campaign blog, Holtz says his attention to safety and discipline as Beloit school superintendent from 2006 to 2009 improved […]

University of Wisconsin System Charter School Opportunities, including Madison; Draft Recovery School Legislation

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, via Gary Bennett: The University interprets its responsibility to authorize charter schools as a part of a larger attempt to improve education for children and in this instance, the education of children in the City. Charter schools must have programs that provide quality education to urban students and address the critical issues […]

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 […]

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 […]

Athletics and Student Outcomes: The Madison School District

The Effect of Interscholastic High School Athletics Participation on Student Outcomes for the Classes of 2012-2014 (PDF): Key Findings Across MMSD, approximately 50% of all students in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 graduating cohorts participated in interscholastic athletics at some point during their high school careers. Of those participants, 11% participated for one year and […]

“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 […]

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 […]

Deja Vu on Madison Math: Algebra: The most-failed class for Madison freshmen

Molly Beck: “When you look at the data, there’s something not working, clearly,” she said. “And if you know being on track in ninth grade is key to a student’s success then it’s our obligation to change that.” She said the district will be strengthening the quality and consistency of algebra instruction across schools so […]

Education programs take on Madison’s achievement gap

Rachel Schulze:

Rose Yang, a senior at UW-Madison, is starting to consider plans for graduate school. After she earns her bachelor’s in social welfare, she wants to complete a master’s and become a social worker.
“I want to help students very similar to myself, who didn’t have opportunities–or didn’t feel like they had the chance to go to college,” Yang said, reflecting on her experience growing up in a low-income household in Madison. “I want to be that person who helps advocate for students like me at one point to get to college.”
While the Madison Metropolitan School District’s 2011-12 graduation rate was 74.6 percent overall, the figure hides disparites. For white students the graduation rate was 86.7 percent, but it was lower for all other races: 80.8 percent among Asians, 63.2 among Hispanics, and 53.1 among blacks. The rate for economically disadvantaged students was 55.4 percent.
Disparity in Madison received fresh attention in October when the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families released the “Race to Equity” report. The document outlined disparity between blacks and whites in Dane County, focusing on differing outcomes in education, employment and arrest rates as well as other areas.
“I think that was a real litmus test that people in our communities were surprised by those numbers,” said Madeline Hafner, executive of the Minority Student Achievement Network, a Madison-based national coalition of school districts aiming to reduce their levels educational disparity.

A somewhat connected (one end of the class spectrum) view of the State of Madison’s $395M Public School District

Mary Erpenbach (and This story was made possible by supp​ort from Madison Gas & Electric, Summit Credit Union, CUNA Mutual Foundation and Aldo Leopold Nature Center.):

Today, Caire’s tone has moderated. Somewhat.
“Teachers are not to blame for the problems kids bring into the classroom,” he says. “But teachers have to teach the kids in front of them. And Madison teachers are not prepared to do that. Now we have two choices: Make excuses why these kids can’t make it and just know that they won’t. Or move beyond and see a brighter future for kids.”
Many parents back him up. And many parents of students of color say that their experience with Madison’s public schools–both as students here, themselves, and now as parents–is simply much different and much worse than what they see white students and parents experiencing.
“I just always felt like I was on as a parent, like every time I walked through the door of that school I would have to go to bat for my son,” says Sabrina Madison, mother of a West High graduate who is now a freshman at UW-Milwaukee. “Do you know how many times I was asked if I wanted to apply for this [assistance] program or that program? I would always say, ‘No, we’re good.’ And at the same time, there is not the same ACT prep or things like that for my child. I was never asked ‘Is your son prepared for college?’ I never had that conversation with his guidance counselor.”
Hedi Rudd, whose two daughters graduated from East and son from West, says it has been her experience that the schools are informally segregated by assistance programs and that students of color are more likely to be treated with disrespect by school personnel. “Walk into the cafeteria and you’ll see the kids [of color] getting free food and the white students eating in the hall. I walked into the school office one day,” she recalls. “I look young and the secretary thought I was a student. She yelled, ‘What are you doing here?’ I just looked at her and said, ‘Do you talk to your students like that?'”
Dawn Crim, the mother of a daughter in elementary school and a son in middle school, says lowered expectations for students of color regardless of family income is an ongoing problem. “When we moved to Madison in 1996, we heard that MMSD was a great school district … and for the most part it has been good for our kids and family: strong teachers, good administrators, a supportive learning environment, and we’ve been able to be very involved.”
“Regarding lower expectations for kids of color, not just disadvantaged kids, we, too, have experienced the lower expectations for our kids; overall there is a feeling and a sense of lower expectations,” Crim says. “And that should not come into play. All of our kids should be respected, pushed, have high expectations and should get the best education this district says it gives.”
In the meantime, the school district has been running programs in partnership with the Urban League of Greater Madison, UW-Madison, United Way of Dane County, the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, and other organizations–all designed to lift scholastic achievement, close the gap, and get more kids graduated and on to college.
The Advancement Via Individual Determination program known as AVID (or AVID/TOPS, when coordinated with the Teens Of Promise program) is run by the district and the Boys and Girls Club here, and is a standout in a slew of public/private efforts to change the fate of students of color in Madison.
At the end of the last school year, a total of four hundred forty-two students did not graduate on time from high school in Madison. One hundred nine were white, eighty-six were Hispanic, thirty-three were Asian and one hundred ninety-one were African American. If the graduation rate for African American students had been comparable to the eighty-eight percent graduation rate of white students, one hundred forty more African American students would have graduated from Madison high schools.
But they did not. While it’s true that the district actively searches out students who did not graduate on time, and works with them so that as many as possible do ultimately graduate, the black-and-white dividing line of fifty-five/eighty-eight remains for now the achievement gap’s stark, frightening, final face. What can be said is that many more Madisonians are paying attention to it, and many people in a position to make a difference are doing their level best to do something about it.
“One of the reasons we haven’t been as successful as we could be is because we’ve lacked focus and jumped from initiative to initiative,” she (Cheatham) says of the Madison schools.

Related: notes and links on Mary Erpanbach, Jennifer Cheatham and Madison’s long term disastrous reading scores.
Background articles:
Notes and links on the rejected Madison Preparatory IB Charter School.
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 (2005).
Notes and Links on the Madison K-12 Climate and Superintendent Hires Since 1992.
My Life and Times With the Madison Public Schools
Latest Madison Schools’ 2013-2014 $391,834,829 Budget.

Hey, guilty liberals, how about OK for Madison Prep?

David Blaska:

Nobody does guilt like a Madison liberal! The president of the Madison School Board tells me that I really didn’t make that. All along, I have been swimming in the water of white privilege.
I wish Ed Hughes had told me about white privilege when, growing up on the farm, I was mucking out the old barn with a shovel. I knew I was swimming in something but I didn’t think it was white privilege.
Ed is an honorable public servant, mindful of the dismayingly poor unemployment, incarceration, and graduation rates among people of color here in the Emerald City.
“We white folks pretty much get to set the rules in Madison,” Hughes apologizes. He meant “liberal white folks.” They’ve been running Madison for 40 years, since Paul Soglin first became mayor. It’s 50 years since LBJ’s Great Society. Something besides the Obamacare website ain’t workin’.
Allow this Madison minority — I’m a conservative — to propose a fix: If a crusading young black educator named Kaleem Caire returns to the Madison School Board with a plan for a school focused on tackling minority underachievement, give it a chance! Ed, you voted with the majority to kill Madison Prep.

Much more on the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School, here.

2013 Madison Summer School Report

Scott Zimmerman:

The district provided a comprehensive extended learning summer school program, K-Ready through 12th grade, at ten sites and served 5,097 students. At each of the K-8 sites, there was direction by a principal, professional Leopold, Chavez, Black Hawk and Toki, and oral language development was offered at Blackhawk and Toki. The 4th grade promotion classes were held at each elementary school, and 8th grade promotion classes were held at the two middle school sites.
Students in grades K-2 who received a 1 or 2 on their report card in literacy, and students in grades 3-5 who received a 1 or 2 in math or literacy, were invited to attend SLA. The 6-7 grade students who received a GPA of 2.0 or lower, or a 1 or 2 on WKCE, were invited to attend SLA. As in 2012, students with report cards indicating behavioral concerns were invited to attend summer school. Additionally, the summer school criterion for grades 5K-7th included consideration for students receiving a 3 or 4 asterisk grade on their report card (an asterisk grade indicates the student receives modified curriculum). In total, the academic program served 2,910 students, ranging from those entering five-year-old kindergarten through 8th grade.
High school courses were offered for credit recovery, first-time credit, and electives including English/language arts, math, science, social studies, health, physical education, keyboarding, computer literacy, art, study skills, algebra prep, ACT/SAT prep, and work experience. The high school program served a total of 1,536 students, with 74 students having completed their graduation requirements at the end of the summer.
All academic summer school teachers received approximately 20 hours of professional development prior to the start of the six-week program. Kindergarten-Ready teachers as well as primary literacy and math teachers also had access to job embedded professional development. In 2013, there were 476 certified staff employed in SLA.

Jennifer Cheatham:

Key Enhancements for Summer School 2014
A) Provide teachers with a pay increase without increasing overall cost of summer school.
Teacher salary increase of 3% ($53,887).
B) Smaller Learning Environments: Create smaller learning environments, with fewer students per summer school site compared to previous years, to achieve the following: increase student access to high quality learning, increase the number of students who can walk to school, and reduce number of people in the building when temperatures are high. ($50,482)
C) Innovations: Pilot at Wright Middle School and Lindbergh Elementary School where students receive instruction in a familiar environment, from a familiar teacher. These school sites were selected based on identification as intense focus schools along with having high poverty rates when compared to the rest of the district. Pilot character building curriculum at Sandburg Elementary School. ($37,529)
D) Student Engagement: Increase student engagement with high quality curriculum and instruction along with incentives such as Friday pep rallies and afternoon MSCR fieldtrips. ($25,000)
E) High School Professional Development: First-time-offered, to increase quality of instruction and student engagement in learning. ($12,083)
F) Student Selection: Utilize an enhanced student selection process that better aligns with school’s multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) so that student services intervention teams (SSIT) have time to problem solve, and recommend students for SLA. Recommendations are based on student grades and standardized assessment scores, such as a MAP score below the 25th percentile at grades 3-5, or a score of minimal on the WKCE in language arts, math, science, and social studies at grades 3-5. (no cost)
Estimated total cost: $185,709.00
Summer School Program Reductions
The following changes would allow enhancements to summer school and implementation of innovative pilots:
A) Professional development (PD): reduce PD days for teachers grades K-8 by one day. This change will save money and provide teachers with an extra day off of work before the start of summer school (save $49,344.60).
B) Materials reduction: the purchase of Mondo materials in 2013 allows for the reduction of general literacy curricular materials in 2014 (save $5,000).
C) Madison Virtual Campus (MVC): MVC is not a reimbursable summer school program as students are not in classroom seats. This program could be offered separate from summer school in the future (save $18,000).
D) Librarians: reduce 3 positions, assigning librarians to support two sites. Students will continue to have access to the expertise of the librarian and can utilize library resources including electronic equipment (save $12,903.84).
E) Reading Interventionists: reduce 8 positions, as summer school is a student intervention, it allows students additional learning time in literacy and math. With new Mondo materials and student data profiles, students can be grouped for the most effective instruction when appropriate (save $48,492).
F) PBS Coach: reduce 8 positions, combining the coach and interventionist positions to create one position (coach/interventionist) that supports teachers in setting up classes and school wide systems, along with providing individual student interventions. With smaller learning sites, there would be less need for two separate positions (save $24,408).
G) Literacy and Math Coach Positions: reduce from 16 to 5 positions, combining the role and purpose of the literacy and math coach. Each position supports two schools for both math and literacy. Teachers can meet weekly with literacy/math coach to plan and collaborate around curriculum and student needs (save $27,601.60).
Estimated Total Savings: $185,750.04
Strategic Framework:
The role of the Summer Learning Academy (SLA) is critical to preparing students for college career and community readiness. Research tells us that over 50% of the achievement gap between lower and higher income students is directly related to unequal learning opportunities over the summer (Alexander et al., 2007). Research based practices and interventions are utilized in SLA to increase opportunities for learning and to raise student achievement across the District (Odden & Archibald, 2008). The SLA is a valuable time for students to receive additional support in learning core concepts in literacy and math to move them toward MMSD benchmarks (Augustine, 2013). SLA aligns with the following Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Strategic Framework goals:
A) Every student is on-track to graduate as measured by student growth and achievement at key milestones. Milestones of reading by grade 3, proficiency in reading and math in grade 5, high school readiness in grade 8, college readiness in grade 11, and high school graduation and completion rate.
B) Every student has access to challenging and well-rounded education as measured by programmatic access and participation data. Access to fine arts and world languages, extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, and advanced coursework.

Madison’s Achievement Gap Grows While the School Board and City Continue to Ignore Charter Success

Nick Novak:

On Thursday, Chris Rickert – writer for the Wisconsin State Journal – thankfully reminded us about Madison’s dirty little secret. The district has a huge problem when it comes to the achievement gap – how students from different races are learning – and little in terms of a plan to fix it.
Indeed, Madison has one of the largest achievement gaps in Wisconsin. While 86.7 percent of white students in the district graduated in 2012, only 53.1 percent of their African American classmates could say the same. That’s a graduation difference of nearly 34 percent. Even Milwaukee, the state’s most embattled district, beats Madison on this very important issue. African American students in Milwaukee Public Schools were six percent more likely to graduate than their counterparts in MMSD.
For a city that goes out of its way to preach utopian equality and the great successes of union-run public schools, Madison’s lack of an answer for the achievement gap should come as a shock.
Here’s how the district stacked up, in terms of graduation rates, with the state’s other large districts:

Related: Madison’s disastrous reading results.

Madison Superintendent’s “Entry Process Report”

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham (PDF):

Overall Themes
Quality of teachers, principals, and central office staff: By and large, we have quality teachers, principals, support staff and central office staff who are committed to working hard on behalf of the children of Madison. With clarity of focus, support, and accountability, these dedicated educators will be able to serve our students incredibly well.
Commitment to action: Across the community and within schools, there is not only support for public education, but there is also an honest recognition of our challenges and an urgency to address them. While alarming gaps in student achievement exist, our community has communicated a willingness to change and a commitment to action.
Positive behavior: District-wide efforts to implement an approach to positive student behavior are clearly paying off. Student behavior is very good across the vast majority of schools and classrooms. Most students are safe and supported, which sets the stage for raising the bar for all students academically.
Promising practices: The district has some promising programs in place to challenge students academically, like our AVID/TOPS program at the middle and high school levels, the one-to-one iPad programs in several of our elementary schools, and our Dual Language Immersion programs. The district also does an incredibly successful job of inclusion and support of students with special needs. Generally, I’ve observed some of the most joyful and challenging learning environments I’ve ever seen.
Well-rounded education: Finally, the district offers a high level of access to the arts, sports, world language and other enriching activities that provide students with a well- rounded learning experience. This is a strength on which we can build.
“AVID is totally paying off. Kids, staff, everyone is excited about what it has brought to the school.” – Staff member
“Positive Behavior Support has made a dramatic improvement in teaching and the behavior expected. We’ve seen big changes in kids knowing what is expected and in us having consistent, schoolwide expectations”
– Staff member
Focus: Principals, teachers and students have been experiencing an ever-changing and expanding set of priorities that make it difficult for them to focus on the day-to-day work of knowing every child well and planning instruction accordingly. If we are going to be successful, we need to be focused on a clear set of priorities aimed at measurable goals, and we need to sustain this focus over time.
“One of the strengths of MMSD is that we will try anything. The problem is that we opt out just as easily as we opt in. We don’t wait to see what things can really do.”
– Staff member
Coherence: In order for students to be successful, they need
to experience an education that leads them from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade, systematically and seamlessly preparing them for graduation and postsecondary education. We’ve struggled to provide our teachers with the right tools, resources and support to ensure that coherence for every child.
Personalized Learning: We need to work harder than ever to keep students engaged through a relevant and personalized education at the middle and high school levels. We’ve struggled to ensure that all students have an educational experience that gives them a glimpse of the bright futures. Personalized learning also requires increased access to and integrated use of technology.
Priority Areas
To capture as many voices as accurately as possible, my entry plan included a uniquely comprehensive analysis process. Notes from more than 100 meetings, along with other handouts, emails, and resources, were analyzed and coded for themes by Research & Program Evaluation staff. This data has been used to provide weekly updates to district leadership, content for this report and information to fuel the internal planning process that follows these visits.
The listening and learning phase has led us to five major areas to focus our work going forward. Over the next month, we’ll dive deeper into each of these areas to define the work, the action we need to take and how we’ll measure our progress. The following pages outline our priorities, what we learned to guide us to these priorities and where we’ll focus our planning in the coming month.

Matthew DeFour collects a few comments, here.
Much more on Madison’s new Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, here.

Madison’s Forward Institute Inaccurately Discredits School Choice Study

Christian D’Andrea:

A recent analysis by a Madison think tank is trying to poke holes in the six-year work of the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP). The true discovery here, however, is that this report from the Forward Institute seems to be more interested in discrediting the SCDP’s results than providing meaningful statistical analysis on the data or the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program itself. Even in that aspect, it falls short thanks to a limited view of the project’s six years of analysis in Wisconsin’s largest district.
According to the Forward Institute, the SCDP fails to provide compelling data that voucher schools are the underlying influence behind greater graduation and college attendance rates for students that leave MPS through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
While the Forward Institute raises interesting points about the overall effect of familial influences on a child’s education and their overall success, the group fails to examine the full scope of research that the SCDP has produced in the realm of high school attainment in Milwaukee’s public and voucher schools.

Related: Though not perfect, I think $13,063 (MPS) and $7,126 (MPCP) are reasonably comparative per-pupil public support numbers for MPS and the MPCP..
Madison will spend about $15k per student during the 2012-2013 school year, yet continues to produce disastrous reading results.

Reading Recovery in Madison….. 28% to 58%; Lags National Effectiveness Average….

Tap or click for a larger version of the above chart.

Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore:

In investigating the options for data to report for these programs for 2011-12 and for prior years, Research & Program Evaluation staff have not been able to find a consistent way that students were identified as participants in these literacy interventions in prior years.
As such, there are serious data concerns that make the exact measures too difficult to secure at this time. Staff are working now with Curriculum & Assessment leads to find solutions. However, it is possible that this plan will need to be modified based on uncertain data availability prior to 2011-12.

Much more on Madison’s disastrous reading results, here. Reading continues to be job one for our $392,000,000 public schools.

Tap or click to view a larger version of the above image.
Measuring Madison’s Progress – Final Report (2.5MB PDF).
Given the results, perhaps the continued $pending and related property tax increases for Reading Recovery are driven by adult employment, rather than kids learning to read.
UPDATE: April 1, 2013 Madison School Board discussion of the District’s reading results. I found the curriculum creation conversation toward the end of the meeting fascinating, particularly in light of these long term terrible results. I am not optimistic that student reading skills will improve given the present structure and practices. 30 MB MP3.

Why can’t 21-year-olds in Madison get high school diplomas?

Jack Craver:

There’s no doubt about it. Madison is home to an embarrassing gap in achievement between white students and minority students, as well as between the well-to-do and the poor. In most discussions of the issue, the figure that is often used to convey the crisis is the dismal 50 percent graduation rate for African-American students.
That figure, however, represents only the percentage of students who graduate in four years of high school. It leaves out a critical mass of kids who take longer to obtain their diplomas, some through alternative programs.
“If we concentrate only on that number then all of the hard work that you’re doing is being ignored,” T.J. Mertz, a candidate for Madison School Board, told a group of students last week at Operation Fresh Start, a program in Madison that helps high school dropouts obtain their GED or high school equivalency diploma (which is slightly more comprehensive). Participants in the program, which is partnered with AmeriCorps, split their time between working on a job site (either building housing or engaging in conservation projects) and the classroom.
The organization had invited all five School Board candidates to discuss their plans for the district with the students, as well as to take questions from the young adults, who range in age from 16-24. The only candidate who did not attend was Greg Packnett, who is challenging School Board President James Howard.

Wisconsin State Journal Madison School Board Endorsements

Wisconsin State Journal:

The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board interviewed — in person — 20 candidates for the City Council and four for Madison School Board. Every candidate deserves praise for giving voters a choice.
Yet the candidates pictured below are best prepared to tackle local challenges, including a dismal graduation rate for minority students and the need for a stronger economy and more jobs.
Seat 3
Wayne Strong will bring urgency to narrowing the achievement gap for minority students in Madison schools, while insisting on high standards for all. A father of two Madison graduates and an active community volunteer, Strong served on the strategic committee that prioritized the gap for action. Strong promises more accountability for results, starting with the new superintendent. He also wants to improve the school climate for minority families to encourage more involvement. A retired police officer, he’s well versed on effective strategies for reducing conflicts in schools that often lead to suspensions — “the genesis of the problem.” Strong’s opponent, Dean Loumos, is impressive, too. But Strong seems more willing to try new strategies for success.
Seat 4
James Howard likes to focus on school data to inform board decisions, rather than relying on assumptions or bowing to political pressure. The longtime economist and father of Madison students doesn’t go along to get along. Yet his peers elected him board president, and he played a big role in hiring incoming Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. Howard expects action toward better results for struggling students. He wants to hire more minority educators and let key staff work flexible hours to better engage parents. Unlike his opponent, Greg Packnett, Howard cites concern for the burden property taxes place on older homeowners. A legislative aide at the Capitol, Packnett shows promise. But Howard’s experience makes him the clear choice.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board election, here.

2013 School Board Elections – Connor: Madison liberals hurting communities of color

Derrell Connor:

When Sarah Manski pulled out of the school board race because her husband was accepted to graduate school in California, many asked, myself included, why would she wait until after the primary to do so?
Now we know: It was all part of a plan to silence Ananda Mirilli, restorative justice manager at the YWCA in Madison, and also a person of color. Mirilli was unfairly and falsely targeted by Sarah Manski and her husband Ben as someone who was part of a movement to privatize public schools.
When I heard about this, I immediately assumed several members of Madison’s white elite progressive community was behind this. I believe that there is a movement in this community to silence anyone that doesn’t walk in lockstep with the status quo. They will trample over voices of color in order to preserve it.
I was accused by some of rushing to judgment. Yet I have not heard any of these people call for an investigation into who else knew about Manski’s plan and when.
In my last column, I wrote that Madison’s communities of color needed to become involved and engaged. They need to get off the sidelines and get in the game.
What I failed to add to that was it’s also hard to become a part of the game when it’s rigged against you.
If these had been two Republicans placing first and second in this primary with a Democrat finishing third under the same circumstances, progressives would be storming the Capitol right now. There would be hard-hitting editorials in progressive newspapers accusing conservatives of rigging elections, not the fluff pieces that we’ve been reading.
Madison’s communities of color are constantly told by white progressives that people like Governor Scott Walker, radio talk show host Vicki McKenna and blogger Dave Blaska are the enemy. While some may agree, they haven’t been the ones silencing, patronizing and marginalizing folks of color in Madison. That distinction belongs to the liberal establishment in this community.
You have consistently done the most harm to us, and it stinks. We’re tired of it.
As a former Urban League board member and chair, I am also disgusted by the way this organization has been treated by some of Madison’s political establishment. The Urban League has been at the forefront of many issues concerning the disenfranchised and people of color in this community, in particular, education. Yet over the past couple of years they have been treated like garbage.
Ever since CEO Kaleem Caire shined a bright light on an achievement gap and low graduation rates for students of color that has plagued the Madison Metropolitan School District for decades — even offering an idea to help to address it — Caire has been painted as a right-wing operative with the intent to privatize and destroy public schools. Almost anyone else who supported Madison Prep has been labeled the enemy because communities of color are asking for a better future for their children.
The smear campaign began with Nichele Nichols failed run for school board last year, and now Mirilli this year.
While I’m angry about what happened to Mirilli, I’m also happy she decided not to run as a write-in candidate. She had no chance of winning and running would have made white progressives in this city feel better about themselves.
They’d say, “At least she had a chance.”
Make no mistake about it: She had no chance. Everyone knows it.
I understand that it’s not fair to paint all white liberal progressives in Madison with a broad brush. Many are just as outraged by what’s been happening to folks of color in this community as we are.
If you sit by and watch while it happens and fail to stand up for what’s right, you become just as complicit as the ones who are doing it.
To the communities of color in Madison, I say this: Don’t forget what happened here. If there was ever a time to organize and become engaged, it is now.

Much more on the 2013 Madison School Board Election, here. And, GRUMPS resurfaces.

Kaleem Caire Discusses Educate to Elevate: December 6 & 7, 2012 Madison

Outreach @ WIBA 18mb mp3 audio file

Derrell talks with Kaleem Caire current president of The Madison Urban League about an upcoming event to raise awareness in the graduation rate in the African American population.

Educate to Elevate is an education series that brings together local and national leaders to talk about their efforts, share lessons-learned and join us in rallying the Greater Madison community to support the education of our children and our schools.

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.

Extra Credit: Madison ‘focus’ schools get more detailed explanation

Matthew DeFour:

A few weeks ago, 10 Madison schools learned they have been labeled “focus” schools under a new accountability system expected to replace No Child Left Behind.
More recently the School District has received more detailed explanations from the Department of Public Instruction for why each school received the label.
The schools are among the 10 percent of the state’s Title I schools demonstrating the largest achievement gaps or lowest performance in reading, math or graduation rates among low-income and minority groups. Title I schools receive federal funding targeted at low-income student populations.
The “focus” status replaces the old “schools identified for improvement” or SIFI status (pronounced like the cable channel that plays Battlestar Galactica reruns).

Madison School District Science Program Review

Lisa Wachtel & Tim Peterson [153 page PDF]:

Data Analysis and Synthesis
The analysis of the data highlighted 5 key elements: time for science, an unacceptable failure rate, teacher preparation, science in high schools, and the process for implementing the Next Generation Science Standards.

  • Time for science: in trying to balance the need to close the achievement gap with regards to Literacy and Mathematics, the committee believes that science provides a context for the use of these two content areas.
  • Unacceptable failure rate: too many students are failing at key transition points in their academic careers.
  • Teacher professional development: where professional development has occurred, student achievement has improved. There is a lack of professional development for teachers at elementary and high school.
  • Science in secondary schools: consistent 9th grade courses, improved communication with guidance, and opportunities for middle school and high school teachers to plan need to be implemented in order to respond to the new standards, focus on student achievement, and connect students to science career pathways.
  • Process for implementing the Next Generation Science Standards: the new standards will require significant work in order provide the educational program envisioned by the standards.

The recommendations were categorized similar to the Literacy Program Evaluation from 2010-11. There are seven broad recommendations, each with several specific action steps to support the recommendation. The recommendations are below, as well as 1-2 significant action steps.
1. Consistent, culturally relevant and aligned K-12 curriculum
a. Scope and Sequence development along with core practices
b. 9th grade course development
2. Align program with the 8 Scientific and Engineering Practices of the Next Generation Science Standards; increase the use of data within the district program
a. Increase science credit graduation requirement to 3 credits
b. Ensure minutes of instruction in science are met
3. Implement science interventions and assessments that support the Response to Intervention and
process within the district
a. Implement science specific programming options available to all students
b. Implement interventions and progress monitoring to support science instruction for all
4. Review and purchase science program materials to achieve consistency and equity district-wide
a. Identify material that supports implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards
b. Phased implementation with strong professional development
5. Implement science assessments which provide data to drive program improvement
a. Implement a comprehensive science assessment system to include common summative assessments
b. Implement a process to ensure that data helps inform classroom instruction and overall program improvement
6. Work collaboratively to provide a culturally diverse science teaching staff across the district a. With HR, work to increase hiring highly effective, culturally aware science teachers b. Work to develop building level science expertise through teacher leadership
7. Establish a comprehensive and flexible science professional development plan
a. Develop and provide strong on-line professional development for every grade level
b. Improve classroom safety through a district-wide safety professional development program

Madison Memorial High School UW System Freshman Enrollment 1983-2011

From time to time, friends have pondered the path of Madison area students after graduation. I’ve begun to compile Freshman enrollment data from the UW-Madison and UW-System. These charts illustrate Madison Memorial High School graduates first year UW enrollment from 1983 to 2011. This is of course, just part of the picture. I hope to address other paths over the next few months.
Madison Memorial’s senior class enrollment in the year prior to UW System enrollment was 543(2005-2006) 496(2006-2007) 503(2007-2008) 452(2008-2009) 444(2009-2010) 435(2010-2011)

Madison LaFollette High School UW System Freshman Enrollment 1983-2011

From time to time, friends have pondered the path of Madison area students after graduation. I’ve begun to compile Freshman enrollment data from the UW-Madison and UW-System. These charts illustrate Madison LaFollette High School graduates first year UW enrollment from 1983 to 2011. This is of course, just part of the picture. I hope to address other paths over the next few months.
Madison LaFollette’s senior class enrollment in the year prior to UW System enrollment was 425(2005-2006) 366(2006-2007) 421(2007-2008) 404(2008-2009) 374(2009-2010) 389(2010-2011)

Madison Edgewood High School UW System Freshman Enrollment 1983-2011

From time to time, friends have pondered the path of Madison area students after graduation. I’ve begun to compile Freshman enrollment data from the UW-Madison and UW-System. These charts illustrate Madison Edgewood High School graduates first year UW enrollment from 1983 to 2011. This is of course, just part of the picture. I hope to address other paths over the next few months.
Madison Edgewood’s total enrollment, according to its website is currently 650 students.

New Orleans Urban League College Track Graduation Event Tonight

via a kind email.
Perhaps, one day, Madison will take bold steps to address its reading (more) and math challenges. The recent rejection of the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school proposal illustrates how far our community must travel.
About College Track:

College Track is the catalyst for change for under-resourced high school students who are motivated to earn a college degree. Since its inception, College Track has grown each year, strengthening its services and expanding its program to support more and more students.

Madison East High School UW System Freshman Enrollment 1983-2011

From time to time, friends have pondered the path of Madison area students after graduation. I’ve begun to compile Freshman enrollment data from the UW-Madison and UW-System. These charts illustrate Madison East High School first year enrollments in UW schools from 1983 to 2011. This is of course, just part of the picture. I hope to address other paths over the next few months.
I have been unable to obtain senior class high school enrollments. The Wisconsin DPI website only mentions the total high school population.

Madison West High School UW System Freshman Enrollment 1983-2011

From time to time, friends have pondered the path of Madison area students after graduation. I’ve begun to compile Freshman enrollment data from the UW-Madison and UW-System. These charts illustrate Madison West High School graduates first year UW enrollment from 1983 to 2011. This is of course, just part of the picture. I hope to address other paths over the next few months.
I have been unable to obtain senior class high school enrollments. The Wisconsin DPI website only mentions the total high school population.

Last Minute Letters in Support of Madison School Board Candidates

Dean Anderson in support of Nichelle Nichols:

We need nothing short of wholesale change in the Madison public schools. In a city full of well-educated, so-called progressives, the graduation rate for blacks and Latinos should be considered an embarrassment.
If education is to be both a civil right and a social justice issue, we need to treat it as such.
The only real power voters have lies with School Board elections.
Please send a clear message to the school district power brokers by voting for Nichelle Nichols. She will stand up for all students and bring hope back to the school district.

Bob and Nan Brien in support of Arlene Silveira:

Trusted leadership is needed now, more than ever, on the Madison School Board. Arlene Silveira has provided, and will continue to provide, that leadership.
Under her direction, this community passed a $13 million referendum, with two-thirds of voters approving, to allow the district to weather significant cuts in state aid without devastating programs.
Silveira spearheaded efforts to begin early education for all Madison youngsters, and made sure federal dollars offset the cost for local property taxpayers.
She knows that a significant effort must be directed at improving graduation rates for all Madison students, that our highest achieving students must be challenged, and this all must be accomplished while respecting taxpayers.
Silveira is a leader we can trust to move the district forward. And she will do so in collaboration with the city, county and community organizations like the United Way (Schools of Hope) and Dane County Boys and Girls Club (AVID/TOPS).

David Leeper in support of Mary Burke:

I started school at Randall School in 1958. My family moved to Madison in large part because of its excellent schools. My three children have benefited from Madison’s public schools, and my wife is currently teaching there.
We are facing a serious crisis in our public schools. Mary Burke recognizes this crisis. She has the courage to name this crisis, and has put in countless volunteer hours for the last decade seeking to address it.
Madison needs the hard work and strategic planning experience that Burke will bring to the Madison School Board. Goodwill and genuine concern are important, but they are not enough. Madison’s schools need dynamic leadership to go beyond this crisis to a better day. Mary Burke can provide that leadership.

Karen Vieth in support of Michael Flores:

Recently, my Saturdays have been spent meeting with people with the common vision of electing Michael Flores to the Madison School Board. We are amateurs, but that doesn’t stop the level of inspiration.
Flores’ campaign has been a feet-on-the-ground, coffee-at-the-kitchen-table, grassroots campaign.
This is one way I fight for our public schools. I do it because I believe Flores can unite our community and empower our students.
I was shocked when I learned that Mary Burke had spent $28,000 on her campaign. That parallels how much I made my first year teaching.
This makes one difference very clear — Burke has put forth financial resources to get her word out to the community. Meanwhile, Flores’ campaign has come from the heart of our community.
Michael Flores is the change we need on our Madison School Board.

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
Michael Flores
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

Madison School Board responsible, too

Wisconsin State Journal:

Superintendent Dan Nerad’s departure is probably for the best.
The Madison School Board was split on Nerad’s performance, rating him as barely proficient in an evaluation completed last month.
Among other challenges, Madison is struggling to improve its atrocious graduation rates for black and Latino students.
Yet board members can’t dodge their own responsibility for better results. More than half of the School Board — Arlene Silveira, Beth Moss, Maya Cole and Lucy Mathiak — hired Nerad for the district’s top job just four years ago. And, ultimately, the superintendent’s role is to carry out the board’s vision, which hasn’t always been clear.
Nerad has been a measured and thoughtful leader. What he lacked in charm he sometimes made up for in knowledge and diplomacy.

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
Michael Flores
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

Madison School board candidates face off in key 2012 election

A. David Dahmer:

“We’re at a critical junction right now. We’re not trending positive,” says MMSD school board seat 2 candidate Mary Burke. “We have to turn the ship around. But I see opportunity. There aren’t any challenges that scare me or that we can’t do something about, but we need a sense of urgency.
“I really believe that if we’re going to make substantial progress, it has to be a collective effort and the school board will have to play a very important part,” she adds. “We need to make it a top priority.”
The achievement gap is a community issue, not just a schools issue, Burke tells The Madison Times in an interview outside of Jade Mountain Cafe on Madison’s near east side. The MMSD’s dismal four-year graduation rate of just 48 percent for Black students and 57 percent for Latinos has been well documented.
“It’s the most critical and pressing issue facing the district. I think we’ve progressed a huge amount just in the last six months in terms of awareness,” Burke says. “I’ve been working on educational and achievement gap and educational issues on a full-time basis for the past five years.”

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
Michael Flores
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

Madison Teachers’, Inc President Coyne and MTI Activist Kathryn Burns take Political Experience to Japan

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

The Osaka Social Forum (OSF) is “a coalition of citizens’ groups, trade unions and other issue-oriented groups” in the Osaka and Kansai region, which includes Kyoto and Kobe, in Japan. A four day Pre Forum planning session was held February 24-27 and, at the request of OSF, MTI President Peg Coyne (Black Hawk) and MTI activist Kathryn Burns (Shorewood) were guest speakers and participants in the forum, sharing the stories of the “Wisconsin Uprising”. The Japanese organizers wanted to benefit from MTI’s leadership in fighting Governor Walker’s anti-public worker legislation. As Mr. Yoshihide Kitahata, a forum organizer, OSF host and translator, explained, “It is very difficult to bring the many groups together in Japan, and we want to hear about the struggles against harsh attacks on public education and trade union rights in Wisconsin.”
A series of meetings held in Osaka and Kyoto featured a video produced by Labor Beat and Osamu Kimura, a former Japanese high school teacher and current documentarian; and speeches with question and answer sessions by Coyne and Burns. Many observed that current mayor and former governor of the Osaka Prefecture, Toru Hashimoto, seems to be “taking pages out of Wisconsin Governor Walker’s play book.” Mayor Hashimoto and his backers are proposing 40% pay cuts for city bus drivers, threatening to throw the office of the city workers’ union out of city hall and has introduced an ordinance requiring teachers to stand and sing the national anthem at all school functions. The Mayor’s proposed ordinance “proposes to choose principals by open recruitment and incorporates a clause to dismiss teachers who refuse to stand while singing the Kimigayo national anthem at school functions.”
Coyne and Burns heard stories of teachers fired over the national anthem issue. Ms. Msako Iwashita, a retired high school social studies teacher, said that 200 of her students followed her lead and refused to stand as the flag was raised and the anthem played at a high school graduation. Ms. Iwashita, whose business card displays the words, “Hope, Peace and Article 9” explains that many citizens and older teachers, in particular, are distressed that the government did not replace the rising sun flag and Kimigayo after World War II. It is felt that these two symbols of Japan’s aggression against neighboring Asian countries and the United States are an embarrassment and too militaristic for a modern country that espouses peace. (Article 9 is a Constitutional Agreement that declares Japan’s commitment to peace and refusal to engage in weapons build up.)

Madison school board candidates Nichelle Nichols and Arlene Silveira discuss why they are running, poverty in the schools

Isthmus Take Home Test (Nichelle Nichols & Arlene Silveira):

Nichelle Nichols
Our school board must be a governing body that is effective in setting the direction and priorities of our district. We need to elect board members who are honest about our current realities and who share a fundamental belief that we must make bold changes in order to better educate all students. Our students, families and taxpayers deserve it.
I bring a future-oriented mindset to the table and a commitment to solutions. Our heart-breaking graduation rate for Black and Latino students eloquently testifies that we do not fully understand the dynamics of poor student performance or the educational changes required to remedy it. I am personally and professionally committed to making systemic changes to close the racial achievement gap. It is time for defenders of the status quo to step aside.
I am qualified as a parent, as an engaged community member, and as a professional who has worked the last 15 years in community-based organizations throughout Madison. I bring a critical perspective from the service delivery level focused on equity for those who are most disadvantaged. As a woman of color, a parent of African American sons, and through my work at the Urban League, I am immersed in the realities of our minority students, yet in touch with the experiences of all students and parents. I am informed beyond the constraints of the boardroom.
I have a personal stake in the Madison schools that spans two generations. I am a Madison native who attended Longfellow Elementary, Cherokee Middle, and graduated from West High. I have a B.S. from UW-Madison and a master’s degree in Business Management from Cardinal Stritch University. I am the mother of four African American sons. My eldest graduated from West High School in 2011, which leaves me with three yet to graduate. Based on the 48% graduation rate, the odds are that two of my sons won’t graduate. This is unacceptable.
My experience transcends the experience gained from currently sitting on the board, because where we must go will not rely strictly on what we’ve always known. I welcome the challenge.
Arlene Silveira
Our schools face multiple challenges, and board members must have the backbone to focus on what is most effective in helping all children learn and achieve. We must prioritize initiatives that provide the biggest bang for our buck. When there are hard choices to be made, we owe it to the children we serve to engage in respectful debate in order to find solutions.
That is my record on the school board. My commitment to public education, to Madison’s 27,000 students, to our outstanding teachers and staff, and to staying in the fight for good public schools are the reasons I am running for re-election.
My belief in public education has roots in my personal story. I am the grandchild of immigrants, the daughter of two working class parents, and the mother of a child of color who graduated from the Madison schools. I have a degree in secondary education, biology and chemistry from Springfield College (Massachusetts), and a masters in molecular biology from the University of Connecticut.
I have seen first-hand the advantages public education brings and the equalizing effect public schools have in our society. I have seen first-hand the struggles a child can face in the schools. I am a businesswoman who works at a global scientific company. I know the need for an educated workforce, and I know that good schools strengthen a city because they attract businesses and families.
I am also a taxpayer. The state funding system for public education is not sustainable. We must find a way to better fund our schools, not on the backs of taxpayers. I will continue to advocate for fair funding.
The skills I use on a daily basis as Director of Global Custom Sales at Promega Corporation are also skills I use as a board member — budgeting, communication, evaluation, facilitation, negotiation and project management.
In short, I approach the board’s complex work from many perspectives: parent, businessperson, taxpayer, and advocate for public education. I will continue to fight against assaults on public education and advocate for what is most effective for all the students we serve.

Isthmus Take Home Test (Mary Burke & Michael Flores):

Mary Burke
When I began tutoring two brothers on Madison’s south side, I saw how tough it is for children with serious challenges at home to learn and thrive in school. School was a refuge for these boys, and education was the best way for them to build a better future. I have worked with teachers striving every day to meet the needs of each student, to challenge the gifted child and the one just learning English. In the past 13 years, I have mentored five youth, have seen great things in our schools, and opportunities to do better.
I care about our children. My broad experience in education, non-profits, government, finance, and business will make me an effective school board member. After receiving an MBA from Harvard, I was an executive at Trek Bicycle, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Commerce under Governor Doyle, board president of the Boys & Girls Club, and co-founder of the AVID/TOPS program. AVID/TOPS is the district’s premier program to address the achievement gap, and has 450 students across all four Madison high schools. For those in the program, grade point averages are 30% higher, school attendance higher, discipline issues down, and 100% of seniors have gone onto college. I’ve served on the boards of United Way, Madison Community Foundation, Evjue Foundation, and Foundation for Madison Public Schools. One current school board member said, “Mary Burke stands out. Mary may be the best-qualified candidate to run for Madison School Board in quite a while.”
Success in school for our children is important to me and to our entire community. Our public schools shape our future neighbors and workforce. Success in school is a leading factor in whether a student is on the path to UW-Madison, Madison College, or the county jail. Nothing is more important and critical to our city’s future than our public schools.
I have been a catalyst for positive change in Madison. On the school board, my focus will be bringing our community together to ensure students learn and thrive — taking smart action for them, for our neighborhoods, for all of Madison.
Michael Flores
I have real world experience. I am part of a minority group and have walked the path that a number of our students are encountering. I have worked since I was 14, and supported myself from the age of 17 on. I have worked as a bank loan officer and small businessman, and know what it means to face budget constraints. My training as a paramedic has made me skilled in high emergency prioritizing and urgency in decision-making — skills that will translate to the work on the school board. As a parent and member of this community, I have a vested interest in education.

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
Michael Flores
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.

Achievement Gap Still a Problem in Madison

Taylor Nye:

Madison, Wisconsin is a city divided. Downtown areas of predominately higher socioeconomic status are associated, in this case, with Caucasian residents. Other areas, such as South Park Street, are physically removed from downtown and are home to residents of lower socioeconomic status. These residents, to some degree, are of other ethnic groups, including African Americans and Hispanics.
In Madison, this seems an anomaly. We are a small city, the state’s capitol, and the seat of many social service agencies that serve Wisconsin. However, the disparity in socioeconomic status is still present and manifests itself in a very important way: the high school achievement gap. Unfortunately, this gap has yet to be addressed in a meaningful way, and it’s not looking good for the near future. As reported by the Capital Times, the four-year high school graduation rate of African Americans in Madison is 48% that of their white counterparts. African Americans also score much lower on standardized tests.
Many felt that the Madison School District was not doing enough to combat this glaring inequality. Therefore, Kaleem Caire, the head of the Greater Urban League of Greater Madison, drew up plans for a charter school for ethnic minorities. Fundamental tenets of the proposed school, Madison Preparatory Academy, included longer hours, uniforms, same sex classrooms, and teachers and advisors from ethnic backgrounds that would act as both instructors and mentors to students.

(Madison) District in distress: School Board races buffeted by achievement gap tensions

Jack Craver:

Since 2007, there have been nine elections for seats on the Madison School Board. Only two have been contested. Thus, in seven instances, a candidate was elected or re-elected without having to persuade the community on the merits of his or her platform, without ever facing an opponent in a debate.
This year, two seats on the School Board are hotly contested, a political dynamic that engages the community and that most members of the board welcome.
“What an active campaign does is get the candidate out and engaged with the community, specifically on larger issues affecting the school district,” says Lucy Mathiak, a School Board member who is vacating one of the seats that is on the April 3 ballot.
Competition may be healthy, but it can also be ugly. While the rhetoric in this year’s School Board races seems harmless compared to the toxic dialogue we’ve grown accustomed to in national and state politics, there is a palpable tension that underpins the contests.
Teachers and their union worry that Gov. Scott Walker’s attacks on collective bargaining rights and support for school vouchers could gain more traction if candidates who favor “flexibilities” and “tools” get elected to the board. Meanwhile, many in the black community feel their children are being neglected because policy-makers are not willing to challenge the unions or the status quo. District officials must contend with a rising poverty level among enrolled students and concerns about “white flight.”
In addition to massive cuts to education funding from the state, the current anxiety about the future of Madison’s schools was fueled by last year’s debate over the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, a charter school plan devised by Kaleem Caire, the head of the Urban League of Greater Madison, to help minority students who are falling behind their white peers in academic achievement. Minority students in the Madison district have only a 48 percent four-year graduation rate and score much lower on standardized tests than do white students.
Objections to Madison Prep varied. Some thought creating a school focused on certain racial groups would be a step backward toward segregation. Others disliked the plan for its same-sex classrooms.
However, what ultimately killed the plan was the Urban League’s decision to have the school operate as a “non-instrumentality” of the Madison Metropolitan School District, meaning it would not have to hire union-represented district teachers and staff. In particular, Caire wanted to be able to hire non-white social workers and psychologists, few of whom are on the district’s current staff.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
Michael Flores
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

Narrowing Madison’s Achievement gap will take more than money

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Madison school chief Dan Nerad’s plan to close the district’s achievement gap is certainly bold about spending money.
It seeks an estimated $105 million over five years for a slew of ideas — many of them already in place or attempted, just not to the degree Nerad envisions.
The school superintendent argues a comprehensive approach is needed to boost the academic performance of struggling minority and low-income students. No one approach will magically lift the district’s terrible graduation rates of just 48 percent for black students and 57 percent for Latinos.

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

Listen to most of the speech via this 25mb .mp3 file.

Well worth reading: Money And School Performance:
Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment

For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, “You can’t solve educational problems by throwing money at them.” The education establishment and its supporters have replied, “No one’s ever tried.” In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.
Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil–more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers’ salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.
The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.

And, In Kansas City, tackling education’s status quo “We’re not an Employment Agency, We’re a School District”

Down Goes Madison Prep

s expected, the Madison Metropolitan School Board voted 5 -2 last night against authorizing the Madison Prep charter school. Only two board members overseeing a school district with an African-American graduation rate below 50% saw fit to support a new approach
Those voting against the school did offer reasons. Board member Beth Moss told the Wisconsin State Journal she voted no because of concerns about the school’s ability to serve students needing more than one year of remedial education. Board member Ed Hughes said he could not support the school until after the Madison teachers union contract expires in 2013.
But no worries, Superintendent Dan Nerad told the Wisconsin State Journal he has a plan: