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: http://simpsonstreetfreepress.org/special-report/local-education/rising-grad-rates http://simpsonstreetfreepress.org/special-report/local-education/act-college-readiness-gap 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 http://winss.dpi.wi.gov/. 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 http://dpi.wi.gov/spr/grad_q&a.html.
Here is the link to the press release:
http://dpi.wi.gov/eis/pdf/dpinr2011_43.pdf
Here is the link to MMSD WINSS statistics:
http://data.dpi.state.wi.us/Data/HSCompletionPage.aspx?GraphFile=HIGHSCHOOLCOMPLETION&S4orALL=1&SRegion=1&SCounty=47&SAthleticConf=45&SCESA=05&FULLKEY=02326903““&SN=None+Chosen&DN=Madison+Metropolitan&OrgLevel=di&Qquad=performance.aspx&Group=RaceEthnicity
Here is the link to MPS WINSS statistics:
http://data.dpi.state.wi.us/data/HSCompletionPage.aspx?GraphFile=HIGHSCHOOLCOMPLETION&S4orALL=1&SRegion=1&SCounty=47&SAthleticConf=45&SCESA=05&FULLKEY=01361903““&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.

Related:

“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. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/04/education/detroit-public-schools-education.html https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/06/us/california-literacy-lawsuit.html 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.”
But?
“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 et.al., 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):

Strengths
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
Challenges
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.

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.

Recommendations
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
Instruction
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
students
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
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
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
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
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
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
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):

WHAT QUALIFIES YOU TO BE ON THE MADISON SCHOOL BOARD ? WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STAKE IN THE MADISON SCHOOLS?
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):

WHAT QUALIFIES YOU TO BE ON THE MADISON SCHOOL BOARD? WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STAKE IN THE MADISON SCHOOLS?
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
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
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
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
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.
Related:

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:

After Madison Prep vote, it’s time to shake things up

Joseph Vanden Plas:

There’s nothing like standing in the schoolhouse door.
For me, the Madison School Board’s 5-2 vote to shoot down Madison Preparatory Academy, a proposed charter school specifically designed for low-income minority students, brings to mind images of George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door to block the integration of the University of Alabama, or state officials blocking James Meredith’s enrollment at the University of Mississippi.
If you think that’s harsh, remember that those pieces of history were not only about Civil Rights and desegregation, they were about every person’s right to pursue a quality education.
In the Madison Metropolitan School District, a 48% graduation rate among African American students indicates that quality has not been achieved. Not even close.
Fortunately, this is one dream that’s not going to be allowed to die. Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, is the driving force behind Madison Prep, and he isn’t ready to wave the surrender flag.
Following the school board vote, Caire vowed to file a racial discrimination lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice, and he also urged supporters of Madison Prep to run for school board.
Love it, love it, love it.
At one point in the development of Madison Prep, Caire sounded optimistic that the school district was a real partner, but the majority of board members had other ideas. Caire and the Urban League did their best to address every objection critics put in their way, and now it’s clear that the intent all along was to scuttle the project with a gauntlet of hurdles.

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

Madison School District, Urban League Need To Come Together On Madison Prep

Derrell Connor:

The Madison Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education vote on the proposed charter school, Madison Preparatory Academy, is just around the corner.
We have heard from school board members, business leaders, teachers and other members of the community. It’s safe to say that this is one of the most important issues in this city’s history. While I am happy that Madison is finally having the long overdue conversation about how we educate our students who are falling through the cracks, I am not happy that the Urban League of Greater Madison and the school district couldn’t come together to agree on a solution. In fact, it bothers me greatly.
It is a huge mistake to have this yearlong discussion come down to a contentious school board vote on Dec. 19. Both sides needed to come together to figure out a way to make Madison Prep a reality before that meeting.
Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dan Nerad and various members of the school board say approving Madison Prep would violate the current contract with Madison Teachers, Inc. So, if 2012 isn’t feasible, committing to a date to open Madison Prep’s doors in 2013, and using the next three to six months to figure out the terms of that agreement should have been an option. But, unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. Instead we have a school district and a civil rights organization arguing over ways to address the achievement gap and graduation rates. Not a good look. And the future relationship between the MMSD and the African American community could hang in the balance.

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

APPROVE MADISON PREP NON-INSTRUMENTALITY

Don Severson, via a kind email:

The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will vote December 19, 2011, on the Madison Preparatory Academy proposal for non-instrumentality charter school authorization. Active Citizens for Education endorses and supports the approval of the proposal.
In addition to the rationale and data cited by the Urban League of Greater Madison, and significant others throughout the Madison community, supporting the curricular, instructional, parental and behavioral strategies and rigor of the school, ACE cites the following financial and accountability support for approval of the Academy as a non-instrumentality charter school.

  • Financial: Should the Board deny approval of the proposal as a non-instrumentality the District stands to lose significant means of financial support from state aids and property tax revenue. The District is allowed $10,538.54 per student enrolled in the District the 2011-12 school year. With the possibility of Madison Prep becoming a private school if denied charter school status, the 120 boys and girls would not be enrolled in MMSD; therefore the District would not be the beneficiary of the state and local revenue. The following chart shows the cumulative affect of this reduction using current dollars:
    2012-2013 6th grade 120 students @10,538.54 = $1,264,624.80
    2013-2014 2 grades 240 students @10,538.54 = $2.529,249.60
    2014-2015 3 grades 360 students @10,538.54 = $3,793,874.40
    2015-2016 4 grades 480 students @10,538.54 = $5,058,499.20
    2016-2017 5 grades 600 students @10,538.54 = $6.323.124.00
    2017-2018 6 grades 720 students @10,538.54 = $7,587,748.80
    2018-2019 7 grades 840 students @10,538.54 = $8,852,373.60
    This lost revenue does not include increases in revenue that would be generated from improved completion/graduation rates (currently in the 50% range) of Black and Hispanic students resulting from enrollees in a charter school arrangement.

  • Accountability: The MMSD Administration and Board have been demonstrating a misunderstanding of the terms ‘accountability’ and ‘control’. The State charter school law allows for the creation of charter schools to provide learning experiences for identified student groups with innovative and results-oriented strategies, exempt from the encumbrances of many existing state and local school rules, policies and practices. Charter schools are authorized and designed to operate without the ‘controls’ which are the very smothering conditions causing many of the problems in our public schools. The resulting different charter school environment has been proven to provide improved academic and personal development growth for learners from the traditional school environment. Decreasing impediments and controls inhibiting learning increases the requirements for ‘accountability’ to achieve improved learner outcomes on the part of the charter school. Should the charter school not meet its stated and measurable goals, objectives and results then it is not accountable and therefore should be dissolved. This is the ‘control’ for which the Board of Education has the authority to hold a charter school accountable.
    Let us describe an analogy. Private for-profit business and not-for-profit organizations are established to provide a product and/or service to customers, members and the public. The accountability of the business or organization for its continued existence depends on providing a quality product/services that customers/members want or need. If, for whatever reasons, the business or organization does not provide the quality and service expected and the customer/member does not obtain the results/satisfaction expected, the very existence of the business/organization is jeopardized and may ultimately go ‘out of business’. This scenario is also absolutely true with a charter school. It appears that the significant fears for the MMSD Administration and Board of Education to overcome for the approval of the proposed non-instrumentality Madison Prep charter school are: 1) the fear of loss of ‘control’ instead of accepting responsibility for ‘accountability’, and 2) the fear that ‘some other organization’ will be successful with solutions and results for a problem not addressed by themselves.

The MMSD Board of Education is urged to approve the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy non-instrumentality charter school proposal; thereby, relieving the bondage which grips students and sentences them to a future lifetime of under-performance and lack of opportunities. Thank you.
Contact: Don Severson, President, 608 577-0851, donleader@aol.com

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

Why I Am Voting Yes on Madison Prep

Lucy Mathiak:

The Urban League’s proposal to create a Madison Preparatory charter school is, at its heart, a proposal about public education in our community. Although the discussions often boil down to overly simplistic assertions about whether one position or the other is supportive of or hostile toward public education, it is not that simple. What we are facing is a larger and more fundamental question about our values when it comes to the purpose of public education and who it is supposed to serve.
I am voting “yes” because I believe that strong public education for all is the foundation for a strong society. While our schools do a very good job with many students who are white and/or living above the poverty line, the same cannot be said for students of color and/or students living in poverty. The record is most dismal for African American students.
The Madison Prep proposal is born of over 40 years of advocacy for schools that engage and hold high academic expectations for African American and other students of color. That advocacy has produced minor changes in rhetoric without changes in culture, practice, or outcome. Yes, some African American students are succeeding. But for the overwhelming majority, there are two Madison public school systems. The one where the students have a great experience and go on to top colleges, and the one that graduates only 48% of African American males.
The individual stories are heartbreaking, but the numbers underscore that individual cases add up to data that is not in keeping with our self-image as a cutting edge modern community. We ALL play a role in the problem, and we ALL must be part creating a sound, systemic, solution to our failure to educate ALL of our public school students. In the meantime, the African American community cannot wait, and the Madison Prep proposal came from that urgent, dire, need.
Our track record with students and families of color is not improving and, in some cases, is going backward rather than forward as we create more plans and PR campaigns designed to dismiss concerns about academic equality as misunderstandings. To be sure, there are excellent principals, teachers, and staff who do make a difference every day; some African American students excel each year. But overall, when presented with opportunities to change and to find the academic potential in each student, the district has failed to act and has been allowed to do so by the complicit silence of board members and the community at large.
A few turning points from the past year alone:

  • The Urban League – not MMSD administration or the board – pointed out the dismal graduation rates for African American students (48% for males)
  • Less than 5% of African American students are college ready.
  • AVID/TOPs does a terrific job with underrepresented students IF they can get in. AVID/TOPs serves 134 (2.6%) of MMSD’s 4,977 African American secondary students.
  • The number of African American students entering AVID/TOPs is lower this year after MMSD administration changed the criteria for participation away from the original focus on students of color, low income, and first generation college students.
  • Of almost 300 teachers hired in 2011-12, less than 10 are African American. There are fewer African American teachers in MMSD today than there were five years ago.
  • Over 50 African Americans applied for custodian positions since January 1, 2011. 1 was hired; close to 30 custodians were hired in that time.
  • 4K – which is presented as a means to address the achievement gap – is predominantly attended by students who are not African American or low-income.
  • In June, the board approved a Parent Engagement Coordinator to help the district improve its relations with African American families. That position remains unfilled. The district has engagement coordinators working with Hmong and Latino families.

The single most serious issue this year, however, came in May when MMSD administration was informed that we are a District Identified for Improvement (DIFI) due to test scores for African American students along with students from low income families and those with learning disabilities. This puts Madison on an elite list with Madison (Milwaukee?) and Racine. The superintendent mentioned DIFI status in passing to the board, and the WI State Journal reported on the possible sanctions without using the term DIFI.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with NCLB, DIFI status is a serious matter because of the ladder of increasing sanctions that come with poor performance. In an ideal world, the district would have articulated the improvement plan required by DPI over the summer for implementation on the first day of school. Such a plan would include clear action steps, goals, and timelines to improve African American achievement. Such a plan does not exist as of mid-December 2011, and in the most recent discussion it was asserted that the improvement plan is “just paper that doesn’t mean much.” I would argue that, to the African American community, such a plan would mean a great deal if it was sincerely formulated and implemented.
At the same time, we have been able to come up with task forces and reports – with goals and timelines – that are devoted to Talented and Gifted Programing, Direct Language Instruction, Fine Arts Programing, and Mathematics Education to name a few.
Under the circumstances, it is hard to see why the African American community would believe that the outcomes will improve if they are ‘just patient’ and ‘work within the existing public school structures to make things better.’ Perhaps more accurately, I cannot look people in the face and ask them to hope that we will do a better job if they just give up on the vision of a school structure that does what the MMSD has failed to do for the African American community since the advocacy began some 40 years ago.

Also posted at the Capital Times.

Madison Public Schools: A Dream Deferred, Opportunity Denied? Will the Madison Board of Education Hear the 40-year long cries of its Parents and Community, and Put Children and Learning before Labor and Adults?

Kaleem Caire, via email:

December 10, 2011
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
For the last 16 months, we have been on an arduous journey to develop a public school that would effectively address the educational needs of children who have under-performed or failed to succeed in Madison’s public schools for at least the last 40 years. If you have followed the news stories, it’s not hard to see how many mountains have been erected in our way during the process.
Some days, it has felt like we’re desperately looking at our children standing dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, some already fallen over while others dangling by their thumbs waiting to be rescued; but before we can get close enough to save them, we have to walk across one million razor blades and through thousands of rose bushes with our bare feet. As we make our way to them and get closer, the razor blades get sharper and the rose bushes grow more dense.
Fortunately, our Board members and team at the Urban League and Madison Preparatory Academy, and the scores of supporters who’ve been plowing through the fields with us for the last year believe that our children’s education, their emotional, social and personal development, and their futures are far more important than any pain we might endure.
Our proposal for Madison Prep has certainly touched a nerve in Madison. But why? When we launched our efforts on the steps of West High School on August 29, 2010, we thought Madison and its school officials would heartily embrace Madison Prep.We thought they would see the school as:
(1) a promising solution to the racial achievement gap that has persisted in our city for at least 40 years;
(2) a learning laboratory for teachers and administrators who admittedly need new strategies for addressing the growing rate of underachievement, poverty and parental disengagement in our schools, and
(3) a clear sign to communities of color and the broader Greater Madison community that it was prepared to do whatever it takes to help move children forward – children for whom failure has become too commonplace and tolerated in our capital city.
Initially, the majority of Board of Education members told us they liked the idea and at the time, had no problems with us establishing Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality – and therefore, non-union, public school. At the same time, all of them asked us for help and advice on how to eliminate the achievement gap, more effectively engage parents and stimulate parent involvement, and better serve children and families of color.
Then, over the next several months as the political climate and collective bargaining in the state changed and opponents to charter schools and Madison Prep ramped up their misinformation and personal attack campaign, the focus on Madison Prep got mired in these issues.
The concern of whether or not a single-gender school would be legal under state and federal law was raised. We answered that both with a legal briefing and by modifying our proposal to establish a common girls school now rather than two years from now.
The concern of budget was raised and how much the school would cost the school district. We answered that through a $2.5 million private gift to lower the per pupil request to the district and by modifying our budget proposal to ensure Madison Prep would be as close to cost-neutral as possible. The District Administration first said they would support the school if it didn’t cost the District more than $5 million above what it initially said it could spend; Madison Prep will only cost them $2.7 million.
Board of Education members also asked in March 2011 if we would consider establishing Madison Prep as an instrumentality of MMSD, where all of the staff would be employed by the district and be members of the teacher’s union. We decided to work towards doing this, so long as Madison Prep could retain autonomy of governance, management and budget. Significant progress was made until the last day of negotiations when MMSD’s administration informed us that they would present a counter-budget to ours in their analysis of our proposal that factored in personnel costs for an existing school versus establishing a modest budget more common to new charter schools.
We expressed our disagreement with the administration and requested that they stick with our budget for teacher salaries, which was set using MMSD’s teacher salary scale for a teacher with 7 years experience and a masters degree and bench-marked against several successful charter schools. Nevertheless, MMSD argued that they were going to use the average years of experience of teachers in the district, which is 14 years with a master’s degree. This drove up the costs significantly, taking teacher salaries from $47,000 to $80,000 per year and benefits from $13,500 to $25,000 per year per teacher. The administration’s budget plan therefore made starting Madison Prep as an instrumentality impossible.
To resolve the issue, the Urban League and Board of Madison Prep met in November to consider the options. In doing so, we consulted with every member of MMSD’s Board of Education. We also talked with parents, stakeholders and other community members as well. It was then decided that we would pursue Madison Prep as a non-instrumentality of the school district because we simply believe that our children cannot and should not have to wait.
Now, Board of Education members are saying that Madison Prep should be implemented in “a more familiar, Madison Way”, as a “private school”, and that we should not have autonomy even though state laws and MMSD’s own charter school policy expressly allow for non-instrumentality schools to exist. There are presently more than 20 such schools in Wisconsin.
What Next?
As the mountains keep growing, the goal posts keep moving, and the razor blades and rose bushes are replenished with each step we take, we are forced to ask the question: Why has this effort, which has been more inclusive, transparent and well-planned, been made so complicated? Why have the barriers been erected when our proposal is specifically focused on what Madison needs, a school designed to eliminate the achievement gap, increase parent engagement and prepare young people for college who might not otherwise get there? Why does liberal Madison, which prides itself on racial tolerance and opposition to bigotry, have such a difficult time empowering and including people of color, particularly African Americans?
As the member of a Black family that has been in Madison since 1908, I wonder aloud why there are fewer black-owned businesses in Madison today than there were 25 years ago? There are only two known black-owned businesses with 10 or more employees in Dane County. Two!
Why can I walk into 90 percent of businesses in Madison in 2011 and struggle to find Black professionals, managers and executives or look at the boards of local companies and not see anyone who looks like me?
How should we respond when Board of Education members tell us they can’t vote for Madison Prep while knowing that they have no other solutions in place to address the issues our children face? How can they say they have the answers and develop plans for our children without consulting and including us in the process? How can they have 51 black applicants for teaching positions and hire only one, and then claim that they can’t find any black people to apply for jobs? How can they say, “We need more conversations” about the education of our children when we’ve been talking for four decades?
I have to ask the question, as uncomfortable as it may be for some to hear, “Would we have to work this hard and endure so much resistance if just 48% of white children in Madison’s public schools were graduating, only 1% of white high school seniors were academically ready for college, and nearly 50% of white males between the ages of 25-29 were incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision?
Is this 2011 or 1960? Should the black community, which has been in Madison for more than 100 years, not expect more?
How will the Board of Education’s vote on December 19th help our children move forward? How will their decision impact systemic reform and seed strategies that show promise in improving on the following?
Half of Black and Latino children are not completing high school. Just 59% of Black and 61% of Latino students graduated on-time in 2008-09. One year later, in 2009-10, the graduation rate declined to 48% of Black and 56% of Latino students compared to 89% of white students. We are going backwards, not forwards. (Source: MMSD 2010, 2011)
Black and Latino children are not ready for college. According to makers of the ACT college entrance exam, just 20% of Madison’s 378 Black seniors and 37% of 191 Latino seniors in MMSD in 2009-10 completed the ACT. Only 7% of Black and 18% of Latino seniors completing test showed they had the knowledge and skills necessary to be “ready for college”. Among all MMSD seniors (those completing and not completing the test), just 1% of Black and 7% of Latino seniors were college ready
Too few Black and Latino graduates are planning to go to college. Of the 159 Latino and 288 Black students that actually graduated and received their diplomas in 2009-10, just 28% of Black and 21% of Latino students planned to attend a four-year college compared to 53% of White students. While another 25% of Black and 33% of graduates planned to attend a two-year college or vocation program (compared to 17% of White students), almost half of all of all Black and Latino graduates had no plans for continuing their education beyond high school compared to 27% of White students. (Source: DPI 2011)
Half of Black males in their formative adult years are a part of the criminal justice system. Dane County has the highest incarceration rate among young Black men in the United States: 47% between the ages of 25-29 are incarcerated, on probation or under some form of court supervision. The incarceration phenomena starts early. In 2009-10, Black youth comprised 62% of all young people held in Wisconsin’s correctional system. Of the 437 total inmates held, 89% were between the ages of 15-17. In Dane County, in which Madison is situated, 49% of 549 young people held in detention by the County in 2010 were Black males, 26% were white males, 12% were black females, 6% were white females and 6% were Latino males and the average age of young people detained was 15. Additionally, Black youth comprised 54% of all 888 young people referred to the Juvenile Court System. White students comprised 31% of all referrals and Latino comprised 6%.
More importantly, will the Board of Education demonstrate the type of courage it took our elders and ancestors to challenge and change laws and contracts that enabled Jim Crow, prohibited civil rights, fair employment and Women’s right to vote, and made it hard for some groups to escape the permanence of America’s underclass? We know this is not an easy vote, and we appreciate their struggle, but there is a difference between what is right and what is politically convenient.
Will the Board have the courage to look in the faces of Black and Latino families in the audience, who have been waiting for solutions for so long, and tell them with their vote that they must wait that much longer?
We hope our Board of Education members recognize and utilize the tremendous power they have to give our children a hand-up. We hope they hear the collective force and harmony of our pleas, engage with our pain and optimism, and do whatever it takes to ensure that the proposal we have put before them, which comes with exceptional input and widespread support, is approved on December 19, 2011.
Madison Prep is a solution we can learn from and will benefit the hundreds of young men and women who will eventually attend.
If not Madison Prep, then what? If not now, then when?
JOIN US
SCHOOL BOARD VOTE ON MADISON PREP
Monday, December 19, 2011 at 5:00pm
Madison Metropolitan School District
Doyle Administration Building Auditorium
545 West Dayton Street
Madison, WI 53703
Contact: Laura DeRoche Perez, Lderoche@ulgm.org
Phone: 608-729-1230
CLICK HERE TO RSVP: TELL US YOU’LL BE THERE
Write the School Board and Tell Them to “Say ‘Yes’, to Madison Prep!”
Madison Prep 2012!
Onward!
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Phone: 608-729-1200
Fax: 608-729-1205
www.ulgm.org
OUR RESPONSE TO MMSD’S NEW CONCERNS
Autonomy: MMSD now says they are concerned that Madison Prep will not be accountable to the public for the education it provides students and the resources it receives. Yet, they don’t specify what they mean by “accountability.” We would like to know how accountability works in MMSD and how this is producing high achievement among the children it serves. Further, we would like to know why Madison Prep is being treated differently than the 30 early childhood centers that are participating in the district’s 4 year old kindergarten program. They all operate similar to non-instrumentality schools, have their own governing boards, operate via a renewable contract, can hire their own teachers “at their discretion” and make their own policy decisions, and have little to no oversight by the MMSD Board of Education. All 30 do not employ union teachers. Accountability in the case of 4K sites is governed by “the contract.” MMSD Board members should be aware that, as with their approval of Badger Rock Middle School, the contract is supposed to be developed “after” the concept is approved on December 19. In essence, this conversation is occurring to soon, if we keep with current district practices.
Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA): MMSD and Madison Teachers, Incorporated have rejected our attorney’s reading of ACT 65, which could provide a path to approval of Madison Prep without violating the CBA. Also, MTI and MMSD could approve Madison Prep per state law and decide not to pursue litigation, if they so desired. There are still avenues to pursue here and we hope MMSD’s Board of Education will consider all of them before making their final decision.

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

School Board members float alternatives to Madison Prep charter school

Susan Troller:

Two Madison School Board members who say they are likely to vote no on Dec. 19 when the Madison Preparatory Academy proposal comes before the board for final approval or denial have some ideas they believe would better serve all of Madison’s students.
Marj Passman, School Board vice president, says she hopes the local Urban League and its president, Kaleem Caire, will pursue funding for Madison Prep as a private school if the proposal fails to gain approval from a majority of board members. Passman says it’s likely she will vote against Madison Prep as a public charter school, although she will look at an administrative analysis due by Dec. 4 prior to making her final decision.
“There’s been a lot of community support and I’m sure he (Caire) can come up with the money for the school as a private academy,” Passman told me in a recent phone interview.
“Then he could pursue the school in its purest form, he won’t have to compromise his ideas, and he can showcase how all these elements are going to work to help eliminate the achievement gap, increase graduation rates and raise GPAs for minority students,” she says.

Board member Maya Cole also tells me she is a “pretty firm no vote” against the Madison Prep proposal. What Cole would like to see as an alternative is a charter school embedded within an existing district middle school like Wright or Toki, using district staff.
Read more: http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/education/blog/chalkboard-school-board-members-float-alternatives-to-madison-prep-charter/article_9cdb35d8-1bdf-11e1-8845-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1fLBMOiNx

November 17, 2011 Madison, Wis. – Last night, by unanimous vote, the Board of Directors of Madison Preparatory Academy announced they would request that the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education approve their proposal to establish it

The Urban League of Madison, via a kind Kaleem Caire email:

November 17, 2011
Madison, Wis. – Last night, by unanimous vote, the Board of Directors of Madison Preparatory Academy announced they would request that the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education approve their proposal to establish its all-boys and all-girls schools as non-instrumentality public charter schools. This means that Madison Preparatory Academy would employ all staff at both schools instead of MMSD, and that Madison Prep’s staff would not be members of the district’s collective bargaining units.
If approved, the Board of Education would retain oversight of both schools and likely require Madison Prep to submit to annual progress reviews and a five year performance review, both of which would determine if the school should be allowed to continue operating beyond its first five-year contract.
“We have worked for six months to reach agreement with MMSD’s administration and Madison Teachers Incorporated on how Madison Prep could operate as a part of the school district and its collective bargaining units while retaining the core elements of its program design and remain cost effective,” said Board Chair David Cagigal.
Cagigal further stated, “From the beginning, we were willing to change several aspects of our school design in order to find common ground with MMSD and MTI to operate Madison Prep as a school whose staff would be employed by the district. We achieved agreement on most positions being represented by local unions, including teachers, counselors, custodial staff and food service workers. However, we were not willing to compromise key elements of Madison Prep that were uniquely designed to meet the educational needs of our most at-risk students and close the achievement gap.”
During negotiations, MMSD, MTI and the Boards of Madison Prep and the Urban League were informed that Act 10, the state’s new law pertaining to collective bargaining, would prohibit MMSD and MTI from providing the flexibility and autonomy Madison Prep would need to effectively implement its model. This included, among other things:
Changing or excluding Madison Prep’s strategies for hiring, evaluating and rewarding its principals, faculty and staff for a job well done;
Excluding Madison Prep’s plans to contract with multiple providers of psychological and social work services to ensure students and their families receive culturally competent counseling and support, which is not sufficiently available through MMSD; and
Eliminating the school’s ability to offer a longer school day and year, which Madison Prep recently learned would prove to be too costly as an MMSD charter school.
On November 1, 2011, after Madison Prep’s proposal was submitted to the Board of Education, MMSD shared that operating under staffing and salary provisions listed in the district’s existing collective bargaining agreement would cost $13.1 million more in salaries and benefits over five years, as compared to the budget created by the Urban League for Madison Prep’s budget.
Cagigal shared, “The week after we submitted our business plan to the Board of Education for consideration, MMSD’s administration informed us that they were going to use district averages for salaries, wages and benefits in existing MMSD schools rather than our budget for a new start-up school to determine how much personnel would cost at both Madison Prep schools.”
Both MMSD and the Urban League used the same district salary schedule to write their budgets. However, MMSD budgets using salaries of district teachers with 14 years teaching experience and a master’s degree while the Urban League budgeted using salaries of teachers with 7 years’ experience and a master’s degree.
Gloria Ladson Billings, Vice Chair of Madison Prep’s Board and the Kellner Professor of Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison stated that, “It has been clear to all parties involved that the Urban League is committed to offering comparable and competitive salaries to its teachers but that with limited resources as a new school, it would have to set salaries and wages at a level that would likely attract educators with less teaching experience than the average MMSD teacher. At the budget level we set, we believe we can accomplish our goal of hiring effective educators and provide them a fair wage for their level of experience.”
Madison Prep is also committed to offering bonuses to its entire staff, on top of their salaries, in recognition of their effort and success, as well as the success of their students. This also was not allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement.
Summarizing the decision of Madison Prep’s Board, Reverend Richard Jones, Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church and Madison Prep Board member shared, “Our Board has thought deep and hard about additional ways to compromise around the limitations that Act 10 places on our ability to partner with our teachers’ union. However, after consulting parents, community partners and the MMSD Board of Education, we ultimately decided that our children need what Madison Prep will offer, and they need it now. A dream deferred is a dream denied, and we must put the needs of our children first and get Madison Prep going right away. That said, we remain committed to finding creative ways to partner with MMSD and the teachers’ union, including having the superintendent of MMSD, or his designee, serve on the Board of Madison Prep so innovation and learning can be shared immediately.”
Cagigal further stated that, “It is important for the public to understand that our focus from the beginning has been improving the educational and life outcomes of our most vulnerable students. Forty-eight percent high school graduation and 47 percent incarceration rates are just not acceptable; not for one more day. It is unconscionable that only 1% of Black and 7% of Latino high school seniors are ready for college. We must break from the status quo and take bold steps to close the achievement gap, and be ready and willing to share our success and key learning with MMSD and other school districts so that we can positively impact the lives of all of our children.”
The Urban League has informed MMSD’s administration and Board of Education that it will share with them an updated version of its business plan this evening. The updated plan will request non-instrumentality status for Madison Prep and address key questions posed in MMSD’s administrative analysis of the plan that was shared publicly last week.
The Board of Education is expected to vote on the Madison Prep proposal in December 2011.
Copies of the updated plan will be available on the Urban League (www.ulgm.org) and Madison Prep (www.madison-prep) websites after 9pm CST this evening.
For more information, contact Laura DeRoche Perez at Lderoche@ulgm.org or 608.729.1230.

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

A Madison School Board vote to approve Madison Preparatory Academy has been delayed until at least December after the proposed charter school’s board decided to amend its proposal to use nonunion employees.
The Madison Prep board voted Wednesday night after an analysis by the school district found the pair of single-sex charter schools, geared toward low-income minority students, would cost $10.4 million more than previously estimated if it were to use union staff.
Superintendent Dan Nerad said the district would have to update its analysis based on the new proposal, which means a vote will not happen Nov. 28. A new time line for approval has not been established.
In announcing Wednesday’s decision, the Madison Prep board said the state’s new collective bargaining law made the school district and teachers union inflexible about how to pay for employing teachers for longer school days and a longer school year, among other issues.

Madison School District Administrative Analysis of the Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School; WKCE Rhetoric

Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad:

Critique of the District (MMSD)
Page # 23: MPA – No College Going Culture among Madison’s New Student Population
The data on student performance and course-taking patterns among students in MMSD paint a clear picture. There is not a prevalent college going culture among Black, Hispanic and some Asian student populations enrolled in MMSD. In fact, the opposite appears to be true. The majority of these students are failing to complete a rigorous curriculum that would adequately prepare them for college and 21st century jobs. Far too many are also failing to complete college requirements, such as the ACT, or failing to graduate from high school.
Page # 23: No College Going Culture among Madison’s New Student Population –
MMSD Response
MMSD has taken many steps towards ensuring college attendance eligibility and readiness for our students of color. Efforts include:
AVID/TOPS
East High School became the first MMSD school to implement AVID in the 2007-2008 school year. Teens of Promise or TOPS became synonymous with AVID as the Boys and Girls Club committed to an active partnership to support our program. AVID/TOPS students are defined as:
“AVID targets students in the academic middle – B, C, and even D students – who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard. These are students who are capable of completing rigorous curriculum but are falling short of their
potential. Typically, they will be the first in their families to attend college, and many are from low-income or minority families. AVID pulls these students out of their unchallenging courses and puts them on the college track: acceleration instead of remediation.”
Source: http://www.avid.org/abo_whatisavid.html
The MMSD has 491 students currently enrolled in AVID/TOPS. Of that total, 380 or 77% of students are minority students (27% African-American, 30% Latino, 10% Asian, 10% Multiracial). 67% of MMSD AVID/TOPS students qualify for free and reduced lunch. The 2010- 2011 school year marked an important step in the District’s implementation of AVID/TOPS. East High School celebrated its first cohort of AVID/TOPS graduates. East Highs AVID/TOPS class of 2011 had a 100% graduation rate and all of the students are enrolled in a 2-year or 4- year college. East High is also in the beginning stages of planning to become a national demonstration site based on the success of their program. This distinction, determined by the AVID regional site team, would allow high schools from around the country to visit East High School and learn how to plan and implement AVID programs in their schools.
MMSD has a partnership with the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE) and they are conducting a controlled study of the effects of AVID/TOPS students when compared to a comparison groups of students. Early analysis of the study reveals positive gains in nearly every category studied.
AVID pilot studies are underway at two MMSD middle schools and support staff has been allocated in all eleven middle schools to begin building capacity towards a 2012-2013 AVID Middle School experience. The program design is still underway and will take form this summer when school based site teams participate in the AVID Summer Institute training.

I found this commentary on the oft criticized WKCE exams fascinating (one day, wkce results are useful, another day – this document – WKCE’s low benchmark is a problem)” (page 7):

Page # 28: MPA – Student Performance Measures:
85% of Madison Prep’s Scholars will score at proficient or advanced levels in reading, math, and science on criterion referenced achievement tests after three years of enrollment.
90% of Scholars will graduate on time.
100% of students will complete the SAT and ACT assessments before graduation with 75% achieving a composite score of 22 or higher on the ACT and 1100 on the SAT (composite verbal and math).
100% of students will complete a Destination Plan before graduation.
100% of graduates will qualify for admissions to a four-year college after graduation.
100% of graduates will enroll in postsecondary education after graduation.
Page # 28: Student Performance Measures – MMSD Response:
WKCE scores of proficient are not adequate to predict success for college and career readiness. Cut scores equated with advanced are needed due to the low benchmark of Wisconsin’s current state assessment system. What specific steps or actions will be provided for students that are far below proficiency and/or require specialized support services to meet the rigorous requirements of IB?
Recommendation:
No Child Left Behind requires 100% proficiency by 2014. Madison Prep must be held to the same accountability standards as MMSD.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.
Madison School District links & notes on Madison Prep.
TJ Mertz comments, here.

Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School Business & Education Plans

Education Plan (PDF) via a kind Kaleem Caire email:

Madison Preparatory Academy’s educational program has been designed to be different. The eight features of the educational program will serve as a powerful mix of strategies that allow Madison Prep to fulfill its mission: to prepare students for success at a four-year college or university by instilling Excellence, Pride, Leadership and Service. By fulfilling this mission, Madison Prep will serve as a catalyst of change and opportunity for young men and women who live in a city where only 48% of African American students and 56% of Latino students graduate from high school. Madison Prep’s educational program will produce students who are ready for college; who think, read, and write critically; who are culturally aware and embrace differences among all people; who give back to their communities; and who know how to work hard.
One of the most unique features of Madison Prep is the single gender approach. While single gender education has a long, successful history, there are currently no schools – public or private – in Dane County that offer single gender education. While single gender education is not right for every student, the demand demonstrated thus far by families who are interested in enrolling their children in Madison Prep shows that a significant number of parents believe their children would benefit from a single gender secondary school experience.
Madison Prep will operate two schools – a boys’ school and a girls’ school – in order to meet this demand as well as ensure compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The schools will be virtually identical in all aspects, from culture to curriculum, because the founders of Madison Prep know that both boys and girls need and will benefit from the other educational features of Madison Prep.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum is one of those strategies that Madison Prep’s founders know will positively impact all the students the schools serve. IB is widely considered to be the highest quality curricular framework available. What makes IB particularly suitable for Madison Prep is that it can be designed around local learning standards (the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards and the Common Core State Standards) and it is inherently college preparatory. For students at Madison Prep who have special learning needs or speak English as a second language, IB is fully adaptable to their needs. Madison Prep will offer both the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP) to all its students.
Because IB is designed to be college preparatory, this curricular framework is an ideal foundation for the other aspects of Madison Prep’s college preparatory program. Madison Prep is aiming to serve a student population of which at least 65% qualify for free or reduced lunch. This means that many of the parents of Madison Prep students will not be college educated themselves and will need the school to provide considerable support as their students embark on their journey through Madison Prep and to college.
College exposure, Destination Planning, and graduation requirements that mirror admissions requirements are some of the ways in which Madison Prep will ensure students are headed to college. Furthermore, parents’ pursuit of an international education for their children is increasing rapidly around the world as they seek to foster in their children a global outlook that also expands their awareness, competence and comfort level with communicating, living, working and problem solving with and among cultures different than their own.
Harkness Teaching, the cornerstone instructional strategy for Madison Prep, will serve as an effective avenue through which students will develop the critical thinking and communication skills that IB emphasizes. Harkness Teaching, which puts teacher and students around a table rather than in theater-style classrooms, promotes student-centered learning and rigorous exchange of ideas. Disciplinary Apprenticeship, Madison Prep’s approach to literacy across the curriculum, will ensure that students have the literacy skills to glean ideas and information from a variety of texts, ideas and information that they can then bring to the Harkness Table for critical analysis.
Yet to ensure that students are on track for college readiness and learning the standards set out in the curriculum, teachers will have to take a disciplined approach to data-driven instruction. Frequent, high quality assessments – aligned to the standards when possible – will serve as the basis for instructional practices. Madison Prep teachers will consistently be analyzing new data to adjust their practice as needed.

Business Plan (PDF), via a kind Kaleem Caire email:

Based on current education and social conditions, the fate of young men and women of color is uncertain.
Black and Hispanic boys are grossly over-represented among youth failing to achieve academic success, are at grave risk of dropping out of school before they reach 10th grade, are disproportionately represented among adjudicated and incarcerated youth, and are far less likely than their peers in other subgroups to achieve their dreams and aspirations. Likewise, boys in general lag behind girls in most indicators of student achievement.
Research indicates that although boys of color have high aspirations for academic and career success, their underperformance in school and lack of educational attainment undermine their career pursuits and the success they desire. This misalignment of aspirations and achievement is fueled by and perpetuates a set of social conditions wherein men of color find themselves disproportionately represented among the unemployed and incarcerated. Without meaningful, targeted, and sustainable interventions and support systems, hundreds of thousands of young men of color will never realize their true potential and the cycle of high unemployment, fatherless homes, overcrowded jails, incarcerated talent, deferred dreams, and high rates of school failure will continue.
Likewise, girls of color are failing to graduate high school on-time, underperform on standardized achievement and college entrance exams and are under-enrolled in college preparatory classes in secondary school. The situation is particularly pronounced in the Madison Metropolitan School District where Black and Hispanic girls are far less likely than Asian and White girls to take a rigorous college preparatory curriculum in high school or successfully complete such courses with a grade of C or better when they do. In this regard, they mimic the course taking patterns of boys of color.
Additionally, data on ACT college entrance exam completion, graduation rates and standardized achievement tests scores provided to the Urban League of Greater Madison by the Madison Metropolitan School District show a significant gap in ACT completion, graduation rates and standardized achievement scores between students of color and their White peers.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men and Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Women will be established to serve as catalysts for change and opportunity among young men and women in the Greater Madison, Wisconsin area, particularly young men and women of color. It will also serve the interests of parents who desire a nurturing, college preparatory educational experience for their child.
Both schools will be administratively separate and operated by Madison Preparatory Academy, Inc. (Madison Prep), an independent 501(c)(3) established by the Urban League of Greater Madison and members of Madison Prep’s inaugural board of directors.
The Urban League of Greater Madison, the “founder” of Madison Prep, understands that poverty, isolation, structural discrimination, limited access to schools and classrooms that provide academic rigor, lack of access to positive male and female role models in different career fields, limited exposure to academically successful and achievement-oriented peer groups, and limited exposure to opportunity and culture experiences outside their neighborhoods contribute to reasons why so many young men and women fail to achieve their full potential. At the same time, the Urban League and its supporters understand that these issues can be addressed by directly countering each issue with a positive, exciting, engaging, enriching, challenging, affirming and structured learning community designed to specifically address these issues.
Madison Prep will consist of two independent public charter schools – authorized by the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education – designed to serve adolescent males and females in grades 6-12 in two separate schools. Both will be open to all students residing within the boundaries of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) who apply, regardless of their previous academic performance.

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

10.7.2011 Draft; Proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School Business Plan

2.6MB PDF, via a kind reader’s email:

Black and Latino boys are grossly over-represented among youth failing to achieve academic success, are at grave risk of dropping out of school before they reach 10th grade, are disproportionately represented among adjudicated and incarcerated youth, and are far less likely than their peers in other subgroups to achieve their dreams and aspirations. Likewise, boys in general lag behind girls in most indicators of student achievement.
Research indicates that although boys of color have high aspirations for academic and career success, their underperformance in school and lack of educational attainment undermine their career pursuits and the success they desire. This misalignment of aspirations and achievement is fueled by and perpetuates a set of social conditions wherein men of color find themselves disproportionately represented among the unemployed and incarcerated. Without meaningful, targeted, and sustainable interventions and support systems, hundreds of thousands of young men of color will never realize their true potential and the cycle of high unemployment, fatherless homes, overcrowded jails, incarcerated talent, deferred dreams, and high rates of school failure will continue.
Likewise, girls of color are failing to graduate high school on-time, underperform on standardized achievement and college entrance exams and are under-enrolled in college preparatory classes in secondary school. The situation is particularly pronounced in the Madison Metropolitan School District where Black and Latino girls are far less likely than Asian and White girls to take a rigorous college preparatory curriculum in high school or successfully complete such courses with a grade of C or better when they do. In this regard, they mimic the course taking patterns of boys of color.
Additionally, data on ACT college entrance exam completion, graduation rates and standardized achievement tests scores provided to the Urban League by the Madison Metropolitan School District show a significant gap in ACT completion, graduation rates and standardized achievement scores between students of color and their white peers.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men and Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Women will be established to serve as catalysts for change and opportunity among young men and women in the Greater Madison, Wisconsin area, particularly young men and women of color. It will also serve the interests of parents who desire a nurturing, college preparatory educational experience for their child.

Frustrations mount as racial achievement gap persists in Madison schools

Matthew DeFour: Tim Comer says when his son moved from a mostly black magnet school in Chicago to the Madison School District in 2006, “he went from sharp to dull.” Comer, 45, a black father and unemployed electronic engineer, said the difference was that Madison was “laid back” while the Chicago school pushed students to […]

Crunch Time for Madison Prep Charter School




Ruth Conniff:

Ed Hughes has a problem.
Like most of his fellow school board members and practically everyone else in Madison, he was bowled over by Urban League president Kaleem Caire’s vision for Madison Prep, a charter school that would aggressively tackle the school district’s entrenched minority achievement gap.
“The longer day, the instructional focus, and the ‘no excuses’ approach appealed to me,” Hughes says.
But as he looked into the details, Hughes became more and more concerned about the cost of the school and “whether there is a good match between the problem we are trying to address and the solution that’s being proposed.”
Expressing those doubts in his blog has turned the soft-spoken Hughes into a heretic.
Caire is a superstar who has galvanized the community to get behind his charter school. At school board hearings, only a handful of speakers express any reservations about the idea, while an overwhelming number speak passionately about the need to break the school-to-prison pipeline, and about Madison’s moral obligation to do something for the kids who are not being served.
Hughes listens respectfully. But, he says, “for Madison Prep to be the answer, we’d need to know that the students it was serving would otherwise fall through the cracks.”
…..
But Hughes’ big problem with the Urban League’s draft proposal, submitted to the district last February, is cost. The total cost to the school district of $27 million over five years is just too much, he says.

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

I don’t know if the Urban League’s plans for Madison Prep will come to fruition. If they do, I predict here and now that the school will have a higher graduation rate than the Madison school district as a whole for African-American students and probably for other groups of students as well. I also predict that all or nearly all of its graduates will apply to and be admitted to college. What is impossible to predict is what difference, if any, this will make in overall educational outcomes for Madison students.
Of course charter schools like Madison Prep will have higher graduation rates than their home school districts as a whole. Students enrolled in charter schools are privileged in one clear way over students not enrolled. Each student has a parent or other caregiver sufficiently involved in the child’s education to successfully navigate the process to get the student into the charter school. Not all students in our traditional neighborhood schools have that advantage. Other things equal, students with more involved parents/caregivers will be more likely to graduate from high school. So, one would expect that charter schools will have higher graduation rates.

DOJ group to discuss Madison’s academic disparities among racial minorities

Matthew DeFour:

An arm of the U.S. Department of Justice that mediates racial tension in communities is intervening in the debate over the achievement of racial minorities in the Madison School District.
The Justice Department’s Community Relations Service won’t discuss its role.
But in an email announcement this week, the Urban League of Greater Madison said DOJ this summer “raised concerns about academic achievement disparities among students of color in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) to the District’s administration.”
DOJ officials will participate in a meeting Wednesday called by the Urban League to discuss minority achievement, graduation rates and expulsion rates in the Madison district, according to Urban League President Kaleem Caire.

Related: the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school.

IMPORTANT SCHOOL BOARD MEETING: Madison Board of Education to Vote on Madison Prep Planning Grant!

Kaleem Caire, via email:

March 28, 2011
Dear Friends & Colleagues,
In 30 minutes, our team and the public supporting us will stand before the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education to learn if they will support our efforts to secure a charter planning grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men.
For those who still do not believe that Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men is a cause worthy of investment, let’s look at some reasons why it is. The following data was provided by the Madison Metropolitan School District to the Urban League of Greater Madison in September 2010.
Lowest Graduation Rates:

  • In 2009, just 52% of Black males and 52% of Latino males graduated on-time from the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) compared to 81% of Asian males and 88% of White males.

Lowest Reading Proficiency:

  • In 2010, just 45% of Black, 49% of Hispanic, and 59% of Asian males in 10th grade in the MMSD were proficient in reading compared to 87% of White males.

Largest ACT Performance Gap:

  • Just 7% of Black and 18% of Latino seniors in the MMSD who completed the ACT college entrance exam were “college ready” according to the test maker. Put another way, a staggering 93% of Black and 82% of Latino seniors were identified as “not ready” for college. Wisconsin persistently has the largest gap in ACT performance between Black and White students in the nation every year.

Children Grossly Underprepared for College:

  • Of the 76 Black seniors enrolled in MMSD in 2010 who completed the ACT college entrance exam required by Wisconsin public universities for admission consideration, just 5 students (7%) were truly ready for college. Of the 71 Latino students who completed the ACT, just 13 students (18%) were ready for college compared to 403 White seniors who were ready.
  • Looking at it another way, in 2010, there were 378 Black 12th graders enrolled in MMSD high schools. Just 20% of Black seniors and completed the ACT and only 5 were determined to be college ready as state above. So overall, assuming completion of the ACT is a sign of students’ intention and readiness to attend college, only 1.3% of Black 12th graders were ready for college compared to 36% of White 12th graders.

Not Enrolled or Succeeding in College Preparatory Courses:

  • High percentages of Black high school students are completing algebra in the 9th grade but only half are succeeding with a grade of C or better. In 2009-10, 82% of Black 9th graders attending MMSD’s four comprehensive high schools took algebra; 42% of those taking the class received a C or better compared to 55% of Latino and 74% of White students.
  • Just 7% of Black and 17% of Latino 10th graders attending MMSD’s four comprehensive high schools who completed geometry in 10th grade earned a grade of C or better compared to 35% of Asian and 56% of White students.
  • Just 13% of Black and 20% of Latino 12th graders in the class of 2010 completed at least two or more Advanced Literature courses with a grade of C or better compared to 40% of White and 43% of Asian students.
  • Just 18% of Black and 26% of Latino 12th graders in the class of 2010 completed at least two or more Advanced Writing courses with a grade of C or better compared to 45% of White and 59% of Asian students.
  • Just 20% of Black 12th graders in the class of 2010 completed 2 or more credits of a Single Foreign Language with a grade of C or better compared to 34% of Latino, 69% of White and 59% of Asian students.
  • Just 33% of Black students took Honors, Advanced and/or AP courses in 2009-10 compared to and 46% of Latino, 72% of White and 70% of Asian students.
  • Just 25% of Black students who took Honors, Advanced and/or AP courses earned a C or better grade in 2009-10 compared to 38% of Latino, 68% of White and 64% of Asian students.

Extraordinarily High Special Education Placements:

  • Black students are grossly over-represented in special education in the MMSD. In 2009-10, Black students made up just 24% of the school system student enrollment but were referred to special education at twice that rate.
  • Among young men attending MMSD’s 11 middle schools in 2009-10, 39% of Black males were assigned to special education compared to 18% of Hispanic, 12% of Asian and 17% of White males. MMSD has been cited by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for disparities in assigning African American males to special education. The full chart is attached.
  • Of all students being treated for Autism in MMSD, 14% are Black and 70% are White. Of all Black students labeled autistic, 77% are males.
  • Of all students labeled cognitively disabled, 46% are Black and 35% are White. Of all Black students labeled CD, 53% are males.
  • Of all students labeled emotionally disabled, 55% are Black and 35% are White. Of the Black students labeled ED, 70% are males.
  • Of all students labeled learning disabled, 49% are Black and 35% are White. Of the Black students labeled LD, 57% are males.

Black students are Disproportionately Subjected to School Discipline:

  • Black students make up a disproportionate percentage of students who are suspended from school. Only Black students are over represented among suspension cases.
  • In 2009-10, MMSD levied 2,754 suspensions against Black students: 920 to Black girls and 1,834 to Black boys. While Black students made up 24% of the total student enrollment (n=5,370), they accounted for 72% of suspensions district-wide.
  • Suspension rates among Black children in MMSD have barely changed in nearly 20 years. In 1992-93, MMSD levied 1,959 suspensions against a total of 3,325 Black students. This equaled 58.9% of the total black enrollment in the district compared to 1,877 suspensions against a total of 18,346 (or 10.2%) white students [Dual Education in the Madison Metropolitan School District, Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, February 1994, Vol. 7, No. 2].
  • Black males were missed a total of 2,709 days of school during the 2009-10 school year due to suspension.
  • Additionally, 20 Black students were expelled from the MMSD in 2009-10 compared to 8 White students in the same year.

    The Urban League of Greater Madison his offering MMSD a viable solution to better prepare young men of color for college and beyond. We look forward to making this solution a reality in the next 18 months.
    Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men 2012!
    Onward!
    Kaleem Caire
    President & CEO
    Urban League of Greater Madison
    Main: 608-729-1200
    Assistant: 608-729-1249
    Fax: 608-729-1205
    Website: www.ulgm.org

  • Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy Charter school.

    Comments on Dane County (WI) High School Graduation Rates

    Dave Zweifel

    The countywide graduation rate for African-American students also showed a dramatic improvement, going from 64 to 90 percent in the past five years, although individual district graduation rates still lag, including Madison’s.
    What’s happened to cause this? United Way began focusing on school dropout and graduation rates in recent years, after an intensive study on what factors cause kids to drop out and fail to graduate. The charitable agency has directed more funding to groups that attack school problems with the goal to get more kids to stay in and finish school.
    The superintendents at the meeting also cited other factors, including better tracking of students and creating opportunities for problem students to get another chance to earn their diplomas.
    It’s good to know that efforts to solve some of those nagging problems facing our schools are being addressed — and getting results, besides.

    Charter schools benefit struggling students: Madison Prep charter school will help underachieving Madison students

    Matt Beatty

    My high school alma mater, Waubonsie Valley High School, was diverse in every sense of the term, but the most striking difference I noticed was the vast disparity in achievement that existed within each classroom.
    While some students graduated and went to top universities like MIT, Brown and UW-Madison, others continued to struggle with writing complete sentences or finishing an algebra test in their senior year. A handful of students did not receive the learning experience they needed to prepare them for the future.
    This glaring achievement gap is present in the city of Madison–most notably in the African-American population–where only 52 percent of students graduated from high school in 2009.
    Fortunately, Kaleem Caire of the Urban League is stepping up and proposing a way to increase graduation rates and overall academic achievement among Madison students.
    Caire plans to build an all-male, mostly African-American charter school called Madison Prep for sixth through 12th graders. Madison Prep will take several departures from the normal school model that many students find sufficient, but will focus additional attention on students who need extra help–a necessary resource that is often lacking in Madison schools.

    UW Schools Fair Poorly in White/Black Graduation Rates

    Christian Scheider:

    According to a new study by the Education Trust, three University of Wisconsin schools rank in the top 25 public colleges and universities with the largest white-black graduation-rate gaps.
    The UW-Milwaukee is 6th highest in the nation, with a 28.2% gap between white and black degree earners. The UW-Whitewater ranks 9th, with a gap of 27.3%. And the UW-Madison, which has implemented several high-profile diversity plans over the past decade, ranks 19th with a 23.3% graduation difference between white and black students.
    The UW-Milwaukee also makes the list of top 25 schools with large gaps between white and Hispanic students as well. UW-Milwaukee is 6th on the list with a white-Hispanic graduation disparity of 20%.

    KINDERREADY GRADS CHEERED\ PROGRAM THAT GETS CHILDREN READY FOR KINDERGARTEN CELEBRATES ITS FIRST GRADUATES.

    Andy Hall, via a kind reader:

    Two dozen children donned homemade mortarboards Wednesday for a commencement ceremony marking their graduation from a program designed to help them be ready for kindergarten this fall.
    As many of their parents snapped photos, the children received certificates and were cheered by a crowd that included the graduates’ siblings and officials from government and nonprofit agencies.
    The ceremony and a picnic at Madison’s Vilas Park celebrated the end of the first year of the KinderReady program, which served 320 children ages 3 to 5, far exceeding its goal of 200.
    The surge was largely credited to a weekly call-in program, “Families Together,” on La Movida, 1480-AM, a Spanish-language station, that includes learning activities for children, said Andy Benedetto, who is directing KinderReady for the nonprofit Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin.
    Although data measuring KinderReady’s effects won’t be available until next year, interviews with parents and officials suggest the program is helping prepare children for kindergarten.

    Monthly Update From Madison BOE President Arlene Silveira

    Reading Programs: The Board received a presentation on Reading Recovery in the district. A number of questions were raised about our reading programs and how programs worked together to ensure we were meeting the needs of all of our students. Therefore, the Board requested a full evaluation of all reading programs at the elementary level […]

    Mayoral Control Coming Soon to Madison Schools?

    via a kind readers email – The Milwaukee Drum:

    TMD has obtained an internal memo sent from Sen. Taylor (1.5MB PDF) to other state representatives (dated 11/5/09 7:35 pm) seeking their co-sponsorship for the MPS Takeover legislation. This memo not only asks for co-sponsorship, but it provides specific details of the upcoming (draft) legislation. This is what the public has been waiting for… details!
    Beloved, one thing you will continue to read from me is the mantra follow the money. This entire reform gets down to one thing, money… more specifically, Race To The Top federal grants. State governors must apply for the grant and that is where this all begins with Doyle. Did you know that 50% of any grant received must be given to local educational agencies (LEAs), including public charter schools identified as LEAs under State law? I guess you won’t see many preachers in Milwaukee opposing this Takeover since their schools stand to benefit financially. Where did Doyle have that press conference in Milwaukee last week?
    Let me back this thing up for you quickly. Some of you still are wondering what gives? Jump down the worm hole with me again just for a second… President Obama and Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) aka the Stimulus Package (2/17/09). Inside this legislation is approximately $4.3 billion set aside for states that implement education reform targeted to increase student achievement, closing achievement gaps, improving graduation rates and preparation for success in college/careers. Follow the money family…

    A reader mentioned that the governance changes may apply to other Wisconsin Districts, perhaps rendering local boards as simple wallflowers….
    More to come, I’m sure.

    WKCE Scores Document Decline in the Percentage of Madison’s Advanced Students

    For many years now, parents and community members, including members of Madison United for Academic Excellence, have expressed concerns about the decline in rigor and the lack of adequate challenge in our district’s curriculum. The release this week of WKCE scores for the November 2008 testing led me to wonder about the performance of our district’s strongest students. While most analyses of WKCE scores focus on the percentages of students scoring at the Advanced and Proficient levels, these numbers do not tell us about changes in the percent of students at each particular level of performance. We can have large increases in the percent of students scoring at the Proficient and Advanced levels because we have improved the performance of students who were previously at the Basic level on the WKCE, but yet fail to have any effect on the performance of our district’s strongest students. This is the argument that we are improving the performance of our low ability students, but failing to increase the performance of our already successful students. An examination of the numbers of students who are performing at just the Advanced level on the WKCE provides us with some insight into the academic progress of our more successful students.
    I decided to examine WKCE math scores for students across the district. While it is not possible to track the performance of individual students, it is possible to follow the performance of a cohort as they advance through the system. Thus students who are now in 10th grade, took the 8th grade WKCE in 2006 and the 4th grade test in 2002. Because there have been significant changes in the demographics of the district’s students, I split the data by socio-economic status to remove the possibility of declines in WKCE performance simply being the result of increased numbers of low income students. Although the WKCE has been criticized for not being a rigorous enough assessment tool, the data on our students’ math performance are not encouraging. The figures below indicate that the percent of students scoring at the Advanced level on the WKCE decreases as students progress through the system, and this decline is seen in both our low income students and in our Not Economically Disadvantaged students. The figures suggest that while there is some growth in the percent of Advanced performing students in elementary school, there is a significant decline in performance once students begin taking math in our middle schools and this decline continues through high school. I confess that I take no pleasure in sharing this data; in fact, it makes me sick.

    Because it might be more useful to examine actual numbers, I have provided tables showing the data used in the figures above. Reading across a row shows the percent of students in a class cohort scoring at the Advanced level as they have taken the WKCE test as they progressed from grades 3 – 10.

    Percent of Economically Disadvantaged Students Scoring at the Advanced Level on the WKCE Math Test Between 2002 and 2008

    Graduation Year 3rd Grade 4th Grade 5th Grade 6th Grade 7th Grade 8th Grade 10th Grade
    2005
    8
    2006
    8.8
    2007
    11
    7.7
    2008
    5.6
    8.7
    2009
    8.5
    6.7
    2010
    9.2
    8.4
    2011
    12
    12.5
    11.1
    8
    2012
    9.7
    10.4
    9.5
    8.2
    2013
    15.3
    14.7
    15.1
    11.7
    10.8
    2014
    12
    13.6
    16.1
    13.2
    2015
    20.1
    15
    18
    11.7
    2016
    15.4
    17.1
    18.4
    2017
    12.9
    17
    2018
    13.8

    Madison Business Employees Help Tutor Students; Local Reading Scores

    Channel3000:

    Years after graduation, he’s hearing the ring of the school bell at Sherman Middle School on Madison’s north side.
    “I’ve had an effect on a number of the kids’ math scores,” said Schmidt, 44, whose background is in computer software design. “I know they’re doing better because they tell me they’re doing better.”
    He said that he isn’t happy to take the credit, which is something that almost has to be pulled out of him. But the five students who he tutors weekly in math as part of the “Schools of Hope” tutoring program sing his praises when he’s out of the room.
    “Monty’s awesome,” said seventh-grader Henrietta Allison.
    “They know that when he comes in on Monday, he’s going to be asking, ‘Did you do your homework? What are you missing?'” said teacher Chrissy Mitlyng. “They expect that, and I think that’s a really good relationship to have.”
    Teachers report that students who work with the tutors are more confident after their sessions, and are more likely to speak up in class and participate in group work. While classroom confidence might be the most notable impact, it trickles down to fill the racial achievement gap the program was designed to help close, WISC-TV reported.
    In 1995, 28.5 percent of black students in the Madison Metropolitan School District tested below the minimal standard on the third grade reading test, along with 9.7 percent of Latino students, 24.2 percent of Asian students and 4.1 percent of white students.

    Related: 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.
    ……
    What the superintendent is saying is that MMSD has closed the achievement gap associated with race now that roughly the same percentage of students in each subgroup score at the minimal level (limited achievement in reading, major misconceptions or gaps in knowledge and skills of reading). That’s far from the original goal of the board. We committed to helping all students complete the 3rd grade able to read at or beyond grade level as demonstrated by all students in all subgroups scoring at proficient or advanced reading levels on the WRCT.

    More here and here.

    A look at Madison Memorial’s Small Learning Communities

    Andy Hall:

    In 2000, Memorial became the first Madison school to land one of the U.S. Department of Education grants. It was awarded $438,000 to create its neighborhood social structure. West High School became the second, winning a $500,000 grant in 2002 and reorganizing its ninth and 10th grades around core courses.
    In August, district officials were thrilled to learn the district was awarded $5.5 million over five years for its four major high schools — Memorial, West, La Follette and East — to build stronger connections among students and faculty by creating so-called “small learning communities” that divide each high school population into smaller populations.
    Officials cite research showing that schools with 500 to 900 students tend to be the most effective, and recent findings suggest that students at schools with small learning communities are more likely to complete ninth grade, less likely to become involved in violence and more likely to attend college after graduation. However, the latest federal study failed to find a clear link between small learning communities and higher academic achievement.
    Each Madison high school will develop its own plan for how to spend the grant money. Their common goals: Make school feel like a smaller, friendlier place where all students feel included. Shrink the racial achievement gap, raise graduation rates, expand the courses available and improve planning for further education and careers.
    The high schools, with enrollments ranging from 1,600 to 2,000 students, are being redesigned as their overall scores on state 10th grade reading and math tests are worrisome, having declined slightly the past two years.

    Madison High School “Redesign”: $5.5M Small Learning Community Grant for Teacher Training and Literacy Coordinators

    Andy Hall:

    A $5.5 million federal grant will boost efforts to shrink the racial achievement gap, raise graduation rates and expand the courses available in the Madison School District’s four major high schools, officials announced Monday.
    The five-year U.S. Department of Education grant will help the district build stronger connections to students by creating so-called “small learning communities” that divide each high school population into smaller populations.
    Many of those structural changes already have been implemented at two high schools — Memorial and West — and similar redesigns are planned for East and La Follette high schools.
    Under that plan, East’s student body will be randomly assigned to four learning communities. La Follette will launch “freshman academies” — smaller class sizes for freshmen in core academic areas, plus advisers and mentors to help them feel connected to the school.

    Tamira Madsen:

    “The grant centers on things that already are important to the school district: the goals of increasing academic success for all students, strengthening student-student and student-adult relationships and improving post-secondary outlooks,” Nerad said.
    Expected plans at Madison East include randomly placing students in one of four learning neighborhoods, while faculty and administrators at La Follette will create “academies” with smaller classes to improve learning for freshmen in core courses. Additional advisors will also be assigned to aid students in academies at La Follette.

    Related:

    The interesting question in all of this is: does the money drive strategy or is it the other way around? In addition, what is the budget impact after 5 years? A friend mentioned several years ago, during the proposed East High School curriculum change controversy, that these initiatives fail to address the real issue: lack of elementary and middle school preparation.
    Finally, will this additional $1.1m in annual funds for 5 years reduce the projected budget “gap” that may drive a fall referendum?

    Madison Shabazz Grads Grads Celebrate Marching To Their Own Drummer

    Jason Smathers:

    Instead of flinging mortar boards into the air, students playfully batted around a beach ball. “Pomp and Circumstance” was replaced by an all-staff rendition of Crosby Stills Nash and Young’s “Teach Your Children.” One student even replaced the traditional cap and gown with a tie-dyed bandana, peace sign T-shirt and pearl white blazer.
    It was just another normal graduation for Shabazz City High School.
    The school honored its graduates Thursday night in an informal ceremony where teachers described their students’ strengths and most memorable experiences. All 36 graduates were given time to speak their mind and thank the teachers and parents who helped them along the way.
    “I learned so much more here than at any other school I’ve ever been to,” said departing senior John Baudhuin in a short speech echoed by many other students. “If I hadn’t gone here, there is no way this many doors would be open to me.”

    Give Straight Answers on Wisconsin Drop Out Rate

    Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

    Question: What is Wisconsin’s high school graduation rate?
    Answer: About 91 percent, ranking among the top five states in the nation.
    Or 86 percent, in the top 10.
    Or 77 percent, ranking 11th.
    It all depends on who is counting — the state government, the federal government or independent analysts.
    Shouldn’t there be one straight answer?
    Yes.
    That’s why Congress ought to approve the Bush administration’s plan to require all states to calculate graduation rates by the same formula — one endorsed by the National Governors Association in 2005.
    A standard graduation rate formula is central to evaluating and solving one of the nation’s biggest social problems — the high school dropout rate.

    Odyssey Project Celebrates its Latest Graduates

    Maria Bibbs:

    The University of Wisconsin-Madison Odyssey Project held its fifth annual graduation ceremony for its 2007-2008 graduates on May 7. Family, friends, and loved ones gathered at the UW Memorial Union to celebrate the students’ accomplishments and the exciting journey that lies ahead of them.
    “This is the beginning of a journey: for some, a journey to college, while others are returning to college,” said Odyssey Project Director Professor Emily Auerbach.
    The Odyssey Project offers members of the Madison community an opportunity to begin a college education through an intensive, two-semester course. The program’s goal is to provide wider access to college for nontraditional and low-income students by offering a challenging classroom experience, individual support in writing, and assistance in applying for admission to college and for financial aid.
    Auerbach said that the Langston Hughes poem “Still Here” embodies this remarkable class’s collective sentiment, after they had spent a year engaged in rigorous study while handling financial and family responsibilities that had previously made a college education seem little more than a dream deferred. “Sometimes you can make a way out of no way. If you open the door to education, you can change lives,” Auerbach said.

    Columbus, Stoughton Granted Startup Funds for 4-Year-Old Kindergarten; Background on Madison’s inaction

    Quinn Craugh:


    School districts in Stoughton, Columbus, Deerfield, Sauk Prairie and Janesville were among 32 statewide named Monday to receive Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction grants to start kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds.
    But it may not be enough for at least one area district.
    Getting 4-year-olds enrolled in kindergarten is a key step to raising student achievement levels and graduation rates, particularly among children from low-income families, national research has shown, DPI spokesman Patrick Gasper said.
    School districts’ efforts to launch 4K programs have been hampered because it takes three years to get full funding for the program under the state’s school-finance system, according to DPI.
    That’s what these grants are supposed to address with $3 million announced for 4K programs to start this fall.
    Columbus, one of the school districts that qualified for the grant, would get an estimated $62,814 to enroll 87 children this fall.

    Related: Marc Eisen on Missed Opportunity for 4K and High School Redesign.

    The good news is that the feds refused to fund the school district’s proposal to revamp the high schools. The plan was wrongheaded in many respects, including its seeming intent to eliminate advanced classes that are overwhelmingly white and mix kids of distressingly varied achievement levels in the same classrooms.
    This is a recipe for encouraging more middle-class flight to the suburbs. And, more to the point, addressing the achievement gap in high school is way too late. Turning around a hormone-surging teenager after eight years of educational frustration and failure is painfully hard.
    We need to save these kids when they’re still kids. We need to pull them up to grade level well before they hit the wasteland of middle school. That’s why kindergarten for 4-year-olds is a community imperative.
    As it happens, state school Supt. Elizabeth Burmaster issued a report last week announcing that 283 of Wisconsin’s 426 school districts now offer 4K. Enrollment has doubled since 2001, to almost 28,000 4-year-olds statewide.
    Burmaster nailed it when she cited research showing that quality early-childhood programs prepare children “to successfully transition into school by bridging the effects of poverty, allowing children from economically disadvantaged families to gain an equal footing with their peers.”

    Madison Teachers Inc.’s John Matthews on 4 Year Old Kindergarten:

    For many years, recognizing the value to both children and the community, Madison Teachers Inc. has endorsed 4-year-old kindergarten being universally accessible to all.
    This forward-thinking educational opportunity will provide all children with an opportunity to develop the skills they need to be better prepared to proceed with their education, with the benefit of 4- year-old kindergarten. They will be more successful, not only in school, but in life.
    Four-year-old kindergarten is just one more way in which Madison schools will be on the cutting edge, offering the best educational opportunities to children. In a city that values education as we do, there is no question that people understand the value it provides.
    Because of the increasing financial pressures placed upon the Madison School District, resulting from state- imposed revenue limits, many educational services and programs have been cut to the bone.
    During the 2001-02 budget cycle, the axe unfortunately fell on the district’s 4-year-old kindergarten program. The School Board was forced to eliminate the remaining $380,000 funding then available to those families opting to enroll their children in the program.

    Jason Shephard on John Matthews:

    This includes its opposition to collaborative 4-year-old kindergarten, virtual classes and charter schools, all of which might improve the chances of low achievers and help retain a crucial cadre of students from higher-income families. Virtual classes would allow the district to expand its offerings beyond its traditional curriculum, helping everyone from teen parents to those seeking high-level math and science courses. But the union has fought the district’s attempts to offer classes that are not led by MTI teachers.
    As for charter schools, MTI has long opposed them and lobbied behind the scenes last year to kill the Studio School, an arts and technology charter that the school board rejected by a 4-3 vote. (Many have also speculated that Winston’s last minute flip-flop was partly to appease the union.)
    “There have become these huge blind spots in a system where the superintendent doesn’t raise certain issues because it will upset the union,” Robarts says. “Everyone ends up being subject to the one big political player in the system, and that’s the teachers union.”
    MTI’s opposition was a major factor in Rainwater’s decision to kill a 4-year-old kindergarten proposal in 2003, a city official told Isthmus last year (See “How can we help poor students achieve more?” 3/22/07).
    Matthews’ major problem with a collaborative proposal is that district money would support daycare workers who are not MTI members. “The basic union concept gets shot,” he says. “And if you shoot it there, where else are you going to shoot it?”
    At times, Matthews can appear downright callous. He says he has no problem with the district opening up its own 4K program, which would cost more and require significant physical space that the district doesn’t have. It would also devastate the city’s accredited non-profit daycare providers by siphoning off older kids whose enrollment offsets costs associated with infants and toddlers.
    “Not my problem,” Matthews retorts.

    It will be interesting to see where incoming Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad takes this issue.
    Kindergarten.

    Report Compares Racine to 9 Other Wisconsin School Districts, Including Madison

    Pete Selkowe crunches the findings:

    After ten years of exhaustive diagnostics, poking and prodding, the patient — Racine Unified School District — still is quite sick.
    The Public Policy Forum’s just released 10th annual comparative analysis of RUSD (paid for by Education Racine, the not-for-profit foundation of RAMAC) — comparing the district to nine peer* districts with similar enrollments — is measured in many places, objectively reporting such things as student achievement, graduation rates, truancy and more.
    But the bottom line, stated with ultimate tact — “Our data do not fit with the customer satisfaction objective.” — gives clear warning of what’s to come.
    The report’s major findings, released at a Wingspread briefing tonight, conclude:
    Diversity: The minority population in RUSD, the state’s fourth largest district with 21,696 students, continues to grow. Racine’s classrooms now are 48.1% minority, up from 36.9% ten years ago, thanks to an influx of Asian and Hispanic students. African-American enrollment has increased “modestly” in recent years and white enrollment has “declined somewhat.”
    White students now make up 51.9% of RUSD’s enrollment; African-Americans 26.7% and Hispanics 19.6%. Statewide, 22.1% of students are minority.
    Operational Efficiency: State aid to RUSD has increased 40.2% in 10 years, yet we’re now 8th out of 10. (State aid to Kenosha has risen 70.8% in the same period.) Property tax revenue is up 21.4%; Kenosha’s has gone up 41.7%. RUSD falls to 9th in the growth of federal aid: up 87.5% in 10 years, while Kenosha has gone up 146.9% and Appleton 346.9%.
    The district ranked 8th out of 10 in property taxes collected per pupil. Racine was third in instructional spending per pupil, sixth in operational spending. RUSD spent $10,169 per pupil, just $119 below the state average, but well below Madison’s $12,163.

    Dani McClain:

    These findings are part of the Public Policy Forum’s 10th annual report on how Racine Unified stacks up among Wisconsin’s 10 largest districts – excluding Milwaukee – in student achievement, engagement and finances.
    “I think you have here the largest, most comprehensive study of any district in the state of Wisconsin, and possibly the country,” Jeff Browne, president of the Milwaukee think tank, said to a gathering of advocates, school officials and business leaders Wednesday.
    Racine Unified, the state’s fourth-largest district, faces serious challenges, the report shows.
    Its students ranked near the bottom at all grade levels when compared with peer districts on state reading and math tests in the 2006-’07 school year. This is in keeping with recent years’ rankings, though there is some improvement at the elementary level.

    Charts comparing the 10 Districts.
    Complete Report: 240K PDF
    Public Policy Forum Website

    Madison School District Small Learning Community Grant Application

    136 Page 2.6MB PDF:

    Madison Metropolitan School District: A Tale of Two Cities-Interrupted
    Smaller Learning Communities Program CFDA #84.215L [Clusty Search]
    NEED FOR THE PROJECT
    Wisconsin. Home of contented cows, cheese curds, and the highest incarceration rate for African American males in the country. The juxtaposition of one against the other, the bucolic against the inexplicable, causes those of us who live here and work with Wisconsin youth to want desperately to change this embarrassment. Madison, Wisconsin. Capital city. Ranked number one place in America to live by Money (1997) magazine. Home to Presidential scholars, twenty times the average number of National Merit finalists, perfect ACT and SAT scores. Home also to glaring rates of racial and socio-economic disproportionality in special education identification, suspension and expulsion rates, graduation rates, and enrollment in rigorous courses. This disparity holds true across all four of Madison’s large, comprehensive high schools and is increasing over time.
    Madison’s Chief of Police has grimly characterized the educational experience for many low income students of color as a “pipeline to prison” in Wisconsin. He alludes to Madison’s dramatically changing demographics as a “tale of two cities.” The purpose of the proposed project is to re-title that unfolding story and change it to a “tale of two cities-interrupted” (TC-I). We are optimistic in altering the plot based upon our success educating a large portion of our students and our ability to solve problems through thoughtful innovation and purposeful action. Our intent is to provide the best possible educational experience for all of our students.

    Much more on Small Learning Communities here [RSS SIS SLC Feed]. Bruce King’s evaluation of Madison West’s SLC Implementation. Thanks to Elizabeth Contrucci who forwarded this document (via Pam Nash). MMSD website.
    This document is a fascinating look into the “soul” of the current MMSD Administration ($339M+ annual budget) along with their perceptions of our community. It’s important to note that the current “high school redesign” committee (Note Celeste Roberts’ comments in this link) is rather insular from a community participation perspective, not to mention those who actually “pay the bills” via property taxes and redistributed sales, income and user fees at the state and federal level.

    Schools in seven Wisconsin metro areas rated highly

    Seven metropolitan areas of Wisconsin are in the top 25 metros for public schools in the country, according to a survey ranking U.S. school districts with 3,300 students or more. The survey was conducted by Expansion Management Magazine, a monthly business publication for executives of companies that are actively looking to expand or relocate facilities […]

    Yes, they graduated, but can they read?

    Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques: Our analyses revealed that over the course of nine years of instruction, the percentage of minority students in the class of 2017 who were proficient in reading or math was very low and changed very little. At no point did more than 20 percent of black students or 30 percent […]

    Grade Inflation Commentary

    Cory Koedel: I enjoyed reading Fordham’s recent study by Seth Gershenson on a topic that has always been high on my list of interests: grade inflation. Grade inflation has a number of important implications for education policy at the K–12 and postsecondary levels, but is notoriously difficult to measure. Some of the more compelling evidence […]