Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers considers run for governor

Molly Beck: Since he was first elected state superintendent in 2009, Evers has asked Walker and the Legislature four times to significantly increase funding for schools, by raising state-imposed revenue limits and changing the equalized aid formula to account for districts with high poverty, declining enrollment and rural issues. His proposal to revamp the state’s […]

Wisconsin Superintendent Tony Evers: Stop bad-mouthing teachers

Todd Richmond: Wisconsin can slow a growing shortage of teachers if people stop bad-mouthing educators and pay them more, the state’s schools superintendent said Thursday. Superintendent Tony Evers warned during his annual State of Education speech in the state Capitol rotunda that fewer young people are entering the teaching profession and districts are having a […]

Wisconsin School Superintendent Election: Tony Evers & Don Pridemore Word Cloud

Tony Evers WISTAX 2013 Election Interview Word Cloud:


Don Pridemore WISTAX 2013 Election Interview Word Cloud:


Links: A recent Wisconsin State Journal Evers endorsement.
wuwm.com

Three weeks from today, Wisconsin voters will decide who will oversee K-12 public education for the next four years. Incumbent state Superintendent Tony Evers faces a challenge from Republican state Rep. Don Pridemore.
Evers says he’s proud of his accomplishments over the past four years. He highlights the implementation of Common Core Standards. The national initiative sets benchmarks for students to meet in English, Language Arts and Math, to make sure they’re prepared for the workforce.
“We’re developing new assessment systems and accountability systems. We have a new reading screener we’ve implemented at kindergarten that’s been very good as far as providing information for classroom teachers to intervene early,” Evers says.
Evers says his biggest challenge has been competing with choice or voucher schools for state funding. Students in Milwaukee and Racine can attend private schools – taking with them, the tax money that would have gone to the public system. Evers opposes Gov. Walker’s plan to expand the voucher program to nine more school districts and increase funding for participating students.
“There’s a zero dollar increase for our public schools per pupil and then on the voucher side there’s a $1,400 per student increase for $73 million. To me that’s a concept that isn’t connected in any good way for our public schools,” Evers says.
Evers opponent, Republican Rep. Don Pridemore of Hartford supports the expansion of choice. He says there would not to be need for it, if public schools better prepared students. Pridemore says if he’s elected, he’ll work to expand the program statewide.

Wisconsin State superintendent race is incumbent Tony Evers’ to lose

Jack Craver:

Last week, Senate Democrats lashed out at a Republican bill they said was intended to weaken the already enfeebled Office of the Secretary of State, currently held by Democrat Doug La Follette.
“It’s directed to take the one Democrat elected to statewide office and cut him out of the legislative process,” state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, says of the legislation, which would remove the secretary of state’s ability to delay the publication of a bill for up to 10 days after passage, as La Follette did following the controversial passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining bill two years ago.
Technically, Risser is correct. The secretary of state, which Gov. Tommy Thompson long ago relegated to obscurity, is the only statewide office held by Democrats.
But while the superintendent of public instruction is technically a nonpartisan position, current Superintendent Tony Evers, like his predecessors for the past 30 years, is supported by Democratic-affiliated groups and has been an outspoken opponent of many of Walker’s policies.
And unlike La Follette, Evers has a meaningful platform to influence one of the most important issues facing the state.
It’s noteworthy, then, that Evers does not seem to be a significant target for conservatives, even though his lone challenger in the April 2 election for another four-year term is a GOP member of the Assembly: Don Pridemore.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers (running for re-election in 2013) Proposes New State Tax $ Redistribution Scheme

Jennifer Zahn and Erin Richards:

State Superintendent Tony Evers on Monday reintroduced a proposal from two years ago to increase state funding for public education and change the way the state finances its public schools as part of his 2013-’15 budget request.
The proposal calls for a 2.4% increase in state aid in the first year of the budget and a 5.5% increase in 2014-’15, which Evers said would put the state back on track to return to two-thirds’ state support for public school costs by 2017.
The Department of Public Instruction’s 2013-’15 budget proposal guarantees state funding of $3,000 per pupil and would result in every school district either getting more state money or the same money as before, but Republican legislators on Monday did not express confidence in the total package.
Luther Olsen, chair of the Senate Education Committee and a Republican from Ripon, said Evers’ “Fair Funding for our Future” plan just shifts money around between districts and doesn’t really award more money to schools.
Olsen did say he would like to increase districts’ revenue limit authority per student – or the combined amount they can raise in state general aid and local property taxes – by at least $200 per pupil starting in the first year of the next biennial budget.
Evers announced his 2013-’15 state public education budget request Monday at Irving Elementary School in West Allis.

WisPolitics:

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said the proposal will be reviewed in the context of the overall budget, but said education is one of Walker’s top budget priorities.
“The governor will work to build off of the work done with Superintendent Evers on school district accountability and Read to Lead as he creates the first version of the state budget, which will be introduced early next year,” Werwie said.
Evers also said he’ll run for re-election next year, adding that despite the funding cuts, he’s excited to continue pushing reform and accountability.
“In order for us to create a new middle class and to move our state forward in a positive way, our public schools need to be strong, and the reforms we’re implementing now are going a long way toward accomplishing that,” Evers said. “We’re in a great place as a state and we’ll keep plugging away.”
Various conservative education sources said no candidate has come forward to challenge Evers yet, but talks were ongoing with potential challengers. Nomination papers can be circulated Dec. 1 and are due back to the GAB Jan. 2.

Matthew DeFour has more.

Reforming Wisconsin education Gov. Scott Walker and state schools superintendent Tony Evers should be inclusive in their efforts.

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Creating a new system of accountability for schools in Wisconsin could be a great help to parents and school districts and, thus, an important educational reform for the state. If the new system is fair and done right, it would provide plenty of clear information on which schools are achieving the right outcomes.
Ideally, it would measure schools not only on whether they have met certain standards but how much students and schools have improved over a certain time period. It also would measure all schools that receive public funding equally – public, charter and voucher – so that families would have the information they need to make good choices. That’s all important.
Gov. Scott Walker, state schools superintendent Tony Evers and others have signed on to create a new school accountability system and to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Education to allow the system to replace the decade-old, federally imposed one they say is broken. The feds should give that approval, and the state should move forward with this reform and others.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Evers calls voucher expansion ‘morally wrong’ in memo to legislators; Tony Evers Needs a Reality Check on School Choice

Karen Herzog:

State Superintendent Tony Evers [SIS link] in a memo Monday urged the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to restore funding for public schools and work collaboratively to improve the quality of all Milwaukee schools before considering any voucher expansion.
“To spend hundreds of millions to expand a 20-year-old program that has not improved overall student achievement, while defunding public education, is morally wrong,” Evers said in the memo.
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed eliminating the income limits on participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, eliminating the enrollment cap and has proposed opening up private schools throughout Milwaukee County to accept vouchers from Milwaukee students. Walker has spoken of expanding the voucher program to other urban areas in the state, such as Racine, Green Bay and Beloit.
The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program was created to improve academic performance among low-income students who had limited access to high-performing schools. Low-income students use taxpayer money to attend private schools, including religious schools. Each voucher is worth $6,442. The program now is limited to 22,500 students; 20,189 are in the program this year.
However, after 20 years and spending over $1 billion, academic performance data and the enrollment history of the school choice program point to several “concerning trends,” Evers said in his analysis of voucher student enrollment, achievement, and projected cost for long-term expansion.
Low-income students in Milwaukee Public Schools have higher academic achievement, particularly in math, than their counterparts in choice schools. Evers cited this year’s Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts exams and the legislatively mandated University of Arkansas study, which showed significant numbers of choice students performing below average on reading and math.

Aaron Rodriguez:

At a press conference in Racine, DPI Superintendent Tony Evers gave his harshest criticism of school vouchers yet. Well beyond the typical quibbles over test scores and graduation rates, Evers claimed that school vouchers were de facto “morally wrong.” It’s not every day that a State Superintendent of education accuses an education-reform program of being immoral. In doing so, Tony Evers may have bitten off more than he could chew.
Calling a school voucher program morally wrong inculpates more than just the program, it inculpates parents, teachers, organizations, lawmakers, and a majority of Americans that endorse it. In fact, one could reasonably argue that Evers’ statement makes himself morally culpable since Milwaukee’s voucher program operates out of the Department of Public Instruction of which he is the head. What does it say about the character of a man that knowingly administers an immoral program out of his own department?
In short, Evers’ argument goes something like this: voucher programs drain public schools of their financial resources; drained resources hurt children academically; hurting children academically is morally wrong; ergo, voucher programs are morally wrong.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers’ Budget Testimony

Questions, via WisPolitics:

JFC co-chair Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in the last budget, cuts to K-12 education were offset by millions of stimulus dollars from the federal government.
“It was a luxury that was great at the time,” he said. “Now we don’t have that one-time money.”
While he admitted that the “tools” Gov. Walker provides may not offset funding cuts dollar-for-dollar, he said asking teachers to pay more for health insurance coverage and pension will help. Vos then asked Evers if he supports the mandate relief initiatives Walker proposed in his budget.
Evers said the mandates, which include repealing the requirement that schools schedule 180 days instruction but retains the required number of hours per school year, won’t generate much savings for school districts. He said the challenge schools face from reduced funding is much greater.
“It’s nibbling around the edges,” Evers said of the mandates. “I think we’re beyond that.”

via WisPolitics:

Excerpts from Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers prepared remarks to the Joint Finance Committee:
“We know that resources are scarce. School districts around the state have demonstrated that they are willing to do their part, both in recent weeks in response to this state budget crisis and throughout the past 18 years under the constraints of revenue caps. While this difficult budget demands shared sacrifice, we need a budget that is fair, equitable, and does not undercut the quality of our children’s education,” Evers said.
“As you know, the Governor’s budget proposal, which increases state spending by 1.7 percent over the next two years, would cut $840 million in state school aids over the biennium – the largest cut to education in state history. While these cuts present unprecedented challenges, an even larger concern is the proposed 5.5 percent reduction to school district revenue limits, which dictate exactly how much money schools have available to spend. Depending on the school district, schools would have to reduce their spending between $480 and $1,100 per pupil. Statewide, the proposed revenue limit cuts will result in a $1.7 billion cut over the biennium, as compared to current law. These dramatic and unprecedented revenue limit cuts will be a crushing challenge to our public schools, especially by the second year of the budget.”

A Letter from Polly Williams to Tony Evers on the Milwaukee Public Schools

Wisconsin Representative Annette Polly Williams:

February 5, 2010
State Superintendent Tony Evers
Department of Public Instruction
125 S. Webster Street
PO Box 7841
Madison, WI 53707-7841
Dear Superintendent Evers:
I am contacting you regarding your Notice of Decision dated February 4, 2010 issued to the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) which would potentially eliminate the $175 million in federal funds received for services to low-income children through the Title I program. In your press statement, you indicated that you had a legal responsibility to the children of Milwaukee and that you were using the only tool allowed under state law to ensure these federal funds are used effectively to improve MPS. Not only I am deeply perplexed by the timing of this notice, but I’m equally concemed over the use of your authority to withhold federal dollars to “speed up change” in MPS. I find your efforts to be disingenuous.

Clusty Search: Polly Williams, Tony Evers. Via the Milwaukee Drum.

Tony Evers Evokes Change as He Enters Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Office

WisPolitics:

“Education is all about continued improvement, and the status quo is not satisfactory,” Evers told the audience at a WisPolitics.com luncheon Tuesday at the Madison Club.



In addition to guiding local schools as they navigate state cuts and an influx of federal stimulus funding, Evers is promoting a single federal test and an overhaul of accountability and assessment standards for public education. Under the new system, which Evers said would be formed quickly over the next few months, the state will be able to consistently measure other educational categories aside from test scores.



The test score measurement mandates under the federal No Child Left Behind law drew criticism from Evers for their incomplete picture of education, but he said the federal standard has done educators “a tremendous favor” by showing disparities between performance of white and non-white students.



He also called for a national standard of testing and curriculum, which he said 46 states had backed. He said that Wisconsin isn’t able to truly compare its educational growth to other districts and states because 50 different tests are being administered annually. He also called the current system “economically irrational.”
“Public education, even though it’s a state responsibility, is a national endeavor, and we have to view it as such,” Evers said. “By doing this, we’re going to make our system more transparent.”



Perhaps nothing will test the new state accountability system as much as Milwaukee. Evers went to great lengths to discuss the “magic” that teachers work with many less fortunate students in the state’s largest school district, but recognized a graduation rate that, despite increasing to about 70 percent, lags well behind the state average.

2009 Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Debate Tony Evers and Rose Fernandez



Via Wisconsin Public Television. CTRL Click here to download the 382MB 60 minute event video, or this 26MB mp3 audio file.
Candidate websites: Tony Evers & Rose Fernandez
Amy Hetzner:

Rose Fernandez regularly refers to herself as an outsider in the race to become the state’s next schools chief.
The implication is that her April 7 opponent, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, is an insider who is unlikely to change what is happening with education in the state.
The outsider candidate who can change things and shake up the status quo has long been a popular thrust in political campaigns. President Barack Obama, although a U.S. senator at the time, used aspects of the tactic in his campaign last fall.
But some wonder whether it will have the same impact in what is likely to be a low-turnout election April 7.
“The advantage to the insider is being able to draw off of established, organizational support,” said Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The outsider’s goal is to try to become visible enough that people unhappy with the status quo can voice their outsider outrage.”
From her Web site address – www.changedpi.com – to frequently tying her opponent to the state’s largest teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, Fernandez appears to be trying to capitalize on one of her many differences with her opponent.
“There are perils with entrenchment,” said Fernandez, a former pediatric trauma nurse and past president of the Wisconsin Coalition for Virtual School Families. “With that there comes an inability to see the problems as they really are.”
But being an outsider also has some disadvantages, which Evers is trying to play up as well.
At a recent appearance before the Public Policy Forum, Evers puzzled about Fernandez’s stance against a provision in Gov. Jim Doyle’s bill that he said was supported by voucher school proponents while she expressed support for voucher schools.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Tony Evers Advocates Charter Schools

Tony Evers campaign, via email:

Tony Evers today pledged to continue his long commitment to Wisconsin’s charter schools, which provide innovative educational strategies. Dr. Evers has played a major educational leadership role in making Wisconsin 6th in the nation, out of all 50 states, in both the number of charter schools and the number of students enrolled in charter schools.
“We are a national leader in charter schools and I will continue my work for strong charter schools in Wisconsin,” Evers said. “As State Superintendent, I will continue to promote our charter schools and the innovative, successful learning strategies they pursue as we work to increase achievement for all students no matter where they live.”
Evers, as Deputy State Superintendent, has been directly responsible for overseeing two successful competitive federal charter school grants that brought over $90 million to Wisconsin. From these successful applications, Evers has recommended the approval of over 700 separate planning, implementation, implementation renewal, and dissemination grants to charter schools around the state since 2001.
During the past eight years, the number of charter schools in Wisconsin has risen from 92 to 221 – an increase of almost 150%. The number of students enrolled in charter schools has increased from 12,000 students in 2001 to nearly 36,000 today.
Evers has also represented the Department of Public Instruction on State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster’s Charter School Advisory Council. The council was created to provide charter school representatives, parents, and others with the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual interest and provide recommendations to the State Superintendent.

Burmaster Won’t Seek 3rd Term as Wisconsin Education Superintendent, Tony Evers Announces Run

Tamira Madsen:

There had been some speculation Burmaster was interested in running for governor if Gov. Jim Doyle didn’t seek re-election in 2010, but she said that type of campaign is not in her plans.
She would not elaborate on her future career endeavors except to say, “I’m an education leader and I want to continue to serve in that capacity.” She also said she will get back to working in community schools with students in a “hands-on” role.

Interviews with 2005 Candidates for the Wisconsin DPI Superintendent position can be seen here.
WisPolitics interview with Burmaster.

Evers deserves a second term

The Wisconsin State Journal:

Four years ago the State Journal editorial board worried that Tony Evers would “be a spokesman for the status quo” if elected state superintendent of schools.
Boy, were we wrong.
Evers has distinguished himself during these hyper-partisan times as a leader who cares more about results for Wisconsin schools and students than he does politics or publicity.
The State Journal strongly endorses his re-election April 2.
Like most of the educational establishment, Evers opposed Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s big cut in state aid to public schools coupled with strict limits on collective bargaining for teachers.

All Wisconsin high school juniors would take ACT in 2014-15 under Evers proposal

Erin Richards:

“There’s a general recognition that our current testing regime is not getting the job done and that we always knew we were going to have to do something different,” he said. “When people understand the importance of measuring growth over time instead of raw test scores and getting testing information back to teachers in a more timely manner, I think they will look more favorably on spending money on new tests.”
Still, Kestell said $7 million was a lot, and probably would not have been considered at all two years ago when the state made significant cuts to education spending.
For the next budget cycle, he said: “It could very well happen, but it’s way too early to predict anything positive.”
The DPI’s Johnson pointed to Milwaukee Public Schools as a model district that has begun ACT testing for all juniors, setting aside time for them to take the four-hour exam in school. Though testing all juniors has lowered the district’s average ACT composite score, the move has received praise for opening opportunities to more students who may not have known they were ready for college, and for providing a broader measure of student performance.

Matthew DeFour:

Wisconsin would pay for all public high school juniors to take the ACT college admissions test starting in two years as part of a $7 million budget initiative State Superintendent Tony Evers announced Wednesday.
The proposal also includes administering three other tests offered by ACT to measure college and career readiness in high school. The tests would replace the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination, which is currently administered to 10th-graders to comply with federal testing requirements.
“We need to give our students and their families better resources to plan for study and work after high school,” Evers said. “It makes sense to use the ACT to fulfill state and federal testing requirements at the high school level with an exam package that provides so much more than the WKCE: college and career readiness assessments and a college admissions test score.”
Under the proposal, all public school ninth-graders would take the ACT EXPLORE assessment in spring of the 2014-15 school year. All 10th-graders would take the ACT PLAN test, and all 11th-graders would take the ACT and the WorkKeys tests.
The state would pay for students to take each test once. Those who want to take an ACT a second time to improve their score would have to pay for it themselves.
Also, by training all schools to administer the ACT, the proposal would help students in rural districts who lack access to certified ACT testing sites, Evers said.

Much more on the oft-criticized WKCE, here.

Wisconsin Schools’ Evers criticizes education reform bill

Matthew DeFour:

An education reform bill circulating this week would require kindergarten screening exams and teacher evaluations based partly on test scores, but doesn’t update the state’s system for holding schools accountable for student performance.
The omission concerned State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who for the past year has worked with Gov. Scott Walker on three bipartisan task forces addressing literacy, teacher effectiveness and school accountability. The bill includes recommendations from the first two groups, but not the third.
Specifically, the bill doesn’t propose changes that would bring charter schools and private voucher schools under the new accountability system, or update language in state law related to No Child Left Behind.
Evers said the bill misses an opportunity to deliver action on promises made by Walker, legislators and education leaders, including advocates for charter and private voucher schools.

The DPI has much to answer for after the millions spent (and years wasted) on the oft-criticized WKCE.

Wisconsin School chief Evers says state will seek No Child Left Behind waivers

Scott Bauer:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said Friday that Wisconsin will seek waivers to avoid having to meet basic elements of the federal No Child Left Behind education law at the “first possible moment.”
Evers spoke during a conference call with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan shortly after President Barack Obama announced that he was allowing states to seek the waivers.
“This is absolutely outstanding news,” said Evers, who has long advocated for states to be given the ability to get out of meeting some parts of the law.
Obama is allowing states to scrap the hugely unpopular requirement that all children must show they are proficient in reading and math by 2014 if states can meet conditions designed to better prepare and test students.

Kevin Helliker:

Education chiefs from more than 20 states gathered at the White House on Friday morning to hear President Barack Obama formally propose relaxing certain tenets of the No Child Left Behind act for states that agree to meet a new set of standards he called more flexible.
In characterizing the nearly 10-year-old act as too rigid, the president appeared to strike a chord with school administrators across the country. How much enthusiasm his solution will generate remains to be seen. It calls for evaluating teachers in a way that wouldn’t be legal in California, for example, a state that very much supports amending the No Child Left Behind Act.
“It’s problematic,” Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education, said of a condition that would require states to set specific policy on teacher evaluation, something that in California currently can be done only at the local level. To comply, he said, “we would need legislation passed.”

Much more on No Child Left Behind, here
I spoke with a local mother recently who mentioned that her child was doing great, based on the WKCE math report.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Evers emerges as fierce advocate of schools in face of massive cuts, privatization efforts

Susan Troller:

About a dozen members of a bipartisan, mostly volunteer organization called Common Ground file into Superintendent Tony Evers’ utilitarian conference room in downtown Milwaukee. The group is exploring how to help Milwaukee’s beleaguered schools, and it has scheduled a meeting with the head of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction as part of its research.
Tall, thin and gray haired, Evers has a boyish smile and a welcoming manner. He’s now in a white shirt and tie, sans the suit coat he wore to an earlier meeting with suburban school officials in Pewaukee.
Common Ground, a nonpartisan coalition that includes churches, nonprofits and labor unions, has come to Evers’ office today looking for advice on how best to direct its considerable resources toward helping Milwaukee students, whose performance in both traditional public schools and in taxpayer-funded voucher schools ranks at the bottom of major American cities.
After initial pleasantries and introductions are exchanged, Keisha Krumm, lead organizer for Common Ground, asks Evers a question. “At this stage we’re still researching what issue we will be focusing on. But we do want to know what you can do. What’s your power and influence?”

How does Wisconsin compare to other states and the world? Learn more at www.wisconsin2.org.

Evers says he’d accept lifting Wisconsin Voucher & Virtual School enrollment cap

Becky Vevea

Governor-elect Scott Walker’s campaign promise to lift the enrollment cap on Wisconsin’s voucher and virtual schools could come to fruition soon, despite opposition from unions.
In an interview this week on the public affairs program “WisconsinEye,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said that he is open to lifting the enrollment limits, something Republicans have pushed for in the face of resistance from unions and public school advocates who see the voucher program as draining resources from Milwaukee schools by diverting public funding to private voucher schools.
“I’m steeped in reality. I’m not sure if what I think makes a lot of difference,” Evers said, alluding to the impending Republican control of the governor’s office and both houses of the Legislature. “People have made clear what their positions are.”
Removing the caps on virtual schools or the choice program would not “fundamentally change the way those programs operate, nor will it dramatically increase the enrollments,” Evers said.

Evers defends Wisconsin school finance plan as “fairness issue”

WisPolitics

State schools Superintendent Tony Evers (left) says his proposed funding plan is a matter of fairness and transparency.
“Every child in the state of Wisconsin should be supported by some level of general aid,” Evers said on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” a statewide TV newsmagazine produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com. “That’s not the case now. It’s a pure fairness issue.”
His plan calls for a $420 million funding boost over two years that would allow the state to pitch in at least $3,000 for every student in each district.
Evers said the increase would represent the smallest bump in terms of dollars or percent that the department has asked for in the past decade. He disputed accounts that the plan was “dead on arrival” in next year’s Republican-run Legislature and said he’s gotten good response to at least talking about the concept.
He said the major concerns so far have been the price tag, but there has been support for the overall policy.
Evers said his goal with the plan is to reduce the complexity in the school funding formula, increase transparency in the way schools are funded and “nudge the system” away from using property values as the basis for funding schools.

Education Reform Urgent, Evers’ Ability to Advance Changes Uncertain

Christian D’Andrea

Change in education is coming, says State Superintendent Tony Evers – but we can’t tell you exactly what that change will be until after November’s elections.
Evers, speaking at his second annual State of Education address last week, discussed the work he’s done in the past year as well as his intentions for the 2010-2011 school year. The address laid out the state’s goals in areas like funding, graduation requirements, teacher certification, and standardized testing.
The speech expressed the superintendent’s pride in Wisconsin’s public schools, but also discussed his plans to improve education in the next year. These plans included:

Bout with cancer gave Evers the drive to become Wisconsin schools chief

Alan Borsuk:

When the surgery was over, the worst of the aftermath survived, and the tumor gone, Tony Evers met with his oncologist, Linn Khuu.
“You know, you’ve been given a second chance,” she told him. “Go do something great.”
Evers felt a bit insulted at first. He thought he had worked hard and done good things for years. For one thing, he had been deputy state superintendent of public instruction for almost seven years at that point.
Then he decided she was right.
Now, Evers said, he would tell people who went through what he went through, “If you do get a second chance, make the most of it.”
At 11 a.m. Monday, Evers, 57, will show what he is doing to make the most of it. He will be sworn in as Wisconsin’s 26th superintendent of public instruction – and almost surely the first without an esophagus.
Within months of being told he had a form of cancer that generally has low survival rates, Evers decided to undertake a race for statewide office.
“Once you get over a hurdle, it does make you a bit more fearless,” he said in an interview last week.

Evers Wins Wisconsin Education Post

Amy Hetzner:

Staving off a spirited run by a political newcomer, Tony Evers went from understudy to Wisconsin’s next schools chief Tuesday with the backing of the state’s largest teachers union and other professional educators throughout the state.



In doing so, he beat back a challenge from Rose Fernandez, a parent advocate and former pediatric trauma nurse who tried to capitalize on discontent with the educational status quo.



Evers won with the significant help of the Wisconsin Education Association Council and its affiliates throughout the state, which contributed nearly $700,000 toward his campaign.



Evers credited his victory to people’s trust in his ability to help improve state schools.



“People recognize that in order to make the changes necessary, we need a candidate with a broad base of support behind him, and we need a candidate with experience behind him,” he said.



Evers, 57, was considered the front-runner in the race ever since he declared his candidacy in October.

Fernandez & Evers Advance in the Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Race

AP:

Evers won the endorsement of the 98,000-member state teachers union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, which paid for TV ads on his behalf. Evers was the only one of the five to pay for his own ads.
“I believe that my message of experience has played well so far,”
Evers said. “I won the primary and I anticipate that we’ll just work hard to get the message out. I believe that people do believe experience matters.”
Fernandez, who has often been at odds with the state education department over virtual schools, reveled in the fact that she didn’t get the WEAC endorsement, touting it as another sign of her being outside the state education bureaucracy.
Fernandez was the only one of the five candidates without any professional education experience. A former nurse, she recently stepped down as president of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families.
“Some people have dismissed me as just a mom on a mission, but that’s a label I’ll be wearing as a badge of honor,” Fernandez said. She pledged to overcome WEAC’s financial backing of Evers with a broad base of support that taps into teachers, parents and students across the state.
“We’re hearing that there’s a great hunger out there for our message that higher standards without higher taxes is what they want,” she said.
Her campaign called for reforming the state education department, enacting changes to allow for teacher merit pay and protecting alternative education options such as virtual schools, home schooling and Milwaukee’s school choice voucher program.
Evers, the deputy under retiring Superintendent Libby Burmaster for the past eight years, emphasized his 34 years of education experience during the campaign. Opponents criticized him as a status-quo insider candidate, while Evers countered he was the best-grounded to initiate reforms, particularly in the Milwaukee schools.

Proposed Wisconsin Academic Standards Bills (Replacing the “Common Core”)

The Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email:

The following links provide a lot of additional details on the legislation that would replace the Common Core State Standards within 12 months with model academic standards created in Wisconsin. Please stay informed and contact your legislators with your thoughts.

2013 Senate Bill 619.
Assembly Substitute Amendment 1 to Assembly Bill 617 (ASA1/AB617)
.
Video message from Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Tony Evers.
Related:
Governor Scott Walker staff drafted bill aimed at Common Core State Standards.
A Critique of the Wisconsin DPI and Proposed School Choice Changes.

Wisconsin Public school open enrollment starts Feb. 3

Channel3000:

Wisconsin’s public school open enrollment application period will start in February for the 2014-15 school year, according to a release.
The program allows parents an opportunity to send their children to any public school district in the state, officials said. The enrollment period runs from Feb. 3 to April 30.
Children in the state are usually assigned to public school districts based on the location of their parents’ home, according to the release. The open enrollment application period is the only tuition-free opportunity for most parents to apply for their children to attend a public school in a school district other than the one they live in.
The program is an inter-district choice program that started in the 1998-99 school year, according to the release. Wisconsin is among 12 states with inter-district open enrollment.
“Wisconsin is among a number of states nationwide that offer public school open enrollment across school districts. The state’s long-running program supports parental involvement and shared responsibility for educating children,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said in the release.

Much more on open enrollment, here.

Governor Scott Walker asks Wisconsin DPI to begin hearings on revoking license of teacher who viewed porn at school

Molly Beck:

Gov. Scott Walker has asked State Superintendent Tony Evers to begin hearings on revoking the teaching license of a Middleton teacher reinstated to his job earlier this month after being fired in 2010 for looking at pornographic images at school.
“After hearing from concerned parents, I am asking you to act efficiently in your investigation into the actions of Mr. Harris and to initiate revocation proceedings,” Walker wrote in a letter dated Jan. 28. “The arbitration process afforded to Mr. Harris failed the school district and the students. It has taken both a financial and emotional toll on the district. Cases, such as this one, are a good example of why our reforms are necessary.”
Walker also wrote cases like the one in Middleton “prompted me to sign 2011 Act 84 giving the State Superintendent clear authority to take action.”
The law allows the Department of Public Instruction to revoke a license for immoral conduct, defined under state law to include looking at pornography at school.

Teacher teams, instructional materials bring Common Core to Madison students

Nora Hertel:

Fourth grade teacher Carissa Franz starts her lessons by outlining the Common Core standards she and her students will focus on. Franz is in her second year at Ray W. Huegel Elementary School, and uses the standards to drive her teaching this year.
She and teachers throughout Madison are integrating the new Common Core State Standards, adopted by State Superintendent Tony Evers in 2010, into their curriculums with the help of new Common Core-aligned materials and district-supported teacher teams
The changeover to Common Core is a deliberate process. Franz meets monthly with the superintendent as part of a teacher advisory board that shares the “voice of the teachers” with the district, she said.
Every week, she meets with a group of teachers representing each grade level in her school to discuss how to align the standards and the math materials used district-wide with the needs of Huegel’s classrooms.

Wisconsin’s Common Core education standards face public, GOP scrutiny

Jon Swedien:

Tom Larson is one of the legislators responsible for reviewing the set of academic standards for public schools in Wisconsin, yet the rural Colfax assemblyman admitted last week that he was still trying to catch up with the arguments swirling around the “Common Core.”
In 2010, state schools Superintendent Tony Evers voluntarily agreed to adopt the Common Core State Standards, which cover math and English and promote literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects for students from kindergarten through high school. According to the Common Core website, the standards also define a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the 21st century.
On paper, that all sounds good, but, in the real world, the Common Core standards have sparked a firestorm of controversy in the Badger State and elsewhere.
Speaking Monday before a group of local education officials in Eau Claire, Larson said he had been selected as one of nine representatives to sit on the Assembly Select Committee on Common Core Standards.

Related: the oft criticized WKCE.

This Year’s SAT Scores Are Out, and They’re Grim

Pat Schneider:

isconsin State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Evers used the platform of his annual State of Education speech Thursday to respond to skeptics of Common Core standards, whose ranks Republican Gov. Scott Walker joined just a few days earlier.
“We cannot go back to a time when our standards were a mile wide and an inch deep, leaving too many kids ill prepared for the demands of college and a career. We cannot pull the rug out from under thousands of kids, parents and educators who have spent the past three years working to reach these new, higher expectations that we have set for them. To do so would have deep and far reaching consequences for our kids, and for our state,” Evers said in remarks at the State Capitol that also touched on accountability for voucher schools. “We must put our kids above our politics. And we owe it to them to stay the course.”
Evers signed on to national Common Core curriculum standards for reading and math in 2010, making Wisconsin one of the first states to adopt them. School districts across the state, including Madison Metropolitan School District, are in the process of implementing them. Madison schools Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham has called Common Core standards “pretty wonderful,” and says they are about critical thinking and applying skills to practical tasks.
Walker had been pretty low-key about Common Core until a few days ago, when he issued a statement calling for separate, more rigorous state standards. Republican leaders of both houses of the state Legislature quickly announced special committees to weigh the Common Core standards, and public hearings on not-yet-adopted science and social studies standards will be held, according to one report.

Related: Wisconsin’s oft-criticized WKCE assessment and wisconsin2.org

Baraboo teacher named state’s middle school teacher of the year

Bill Novak:

An area English language arts teacher has been named Wisconsin’s middle school teacher of the year.
Jane McMahon was honored on Monday in a surprise ceremony at Jack Young Middle School in Baraboo.
McMahon will receive $3,000 from the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation.
“For our students to succeed, we need great educators in our schools,” said Tony Evers, state superintendent of schools, in a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Bill would place new standards and ratings on public and voucher schools

Jason Stein:

All schools funded by state taxpayers — including private voucher schools — would be held to new standards and Milwaukee’s public schools would still face state intervention, under long-expected legislation offered Wednesday by two key GOP lawmakers.
Work has been under way for two years on the measure, which would establish the first-ever rating for private voucher schools based on their student performance data. It comes a month and a half after lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker expanded Wisconsin’s voucher program for private schools statewide.
The measure would not change the status of Milwaukee Public Schools, which under the state’s current accountability system is the only district in Wisconsin so far to face corrective action.
The new standards were proposed Wednesday by the chairmen of the Senate and Assembly education committees, Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake).
“We want parents to have the best information possible while at the same time making sure all of their choices are quality options,” Kestell said in a statement.
The bill would cover all schools receiving tax dollars, from traditional public schools to public charter schools and voucher schools. Work on it began two years ago with a task force chaired by Walker and state schools Superintendent Tony Evers, an ally to Democrats, along with Olsen and Kestell.
But passage of the complex measure through the Republican-held Legislature is by no means guaranteed. Both Olsen and Kestell have sometimes taken more aggressive postures on overseeing vouchers than some other Republican colleagues, particularly those in the Assembly.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Plans Press Conference on Negative Affect of Voucher Expansion on Public Schools



DPI Superintendent, Tony Evers, and legislators who want to maintain Wisconsin’s proud system of public education, are holding a press conference on Monday, June 17 at 10 AM in the Assembly Parlor to address the recent decision by the Joint Committee on Finance to expand voucher funding at the expense of public schools. The Senate and Assembly will be voting to pass this extreme budget within weeks. Please join these folks to inform and educate the public about the negative impact that private school voucher expansion will have on Wisconsin’s public schools. Wear Red for Public Ed. We need a wall of support behind the speakers. Time is running short to stop this train wreck but we cannot allow our opposition to go unnoticed!
TIME / LOCATION: 10 am in the Assembly Parlor with Superintendent Tony Evers.

Governance change is apparently quite difficult within the present school district model.

And Yet, Another Bomb

Madison Teachers Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeannie Bettner email:

In Governor Walker’s first legislative session, using the ruse that the State was millions in debt, he proposed eliminating collective bargaining for public employees as the means to fill in the alleged budget deficit. As he described it, he dropped the bomb.
Last week, another legislative session and another bomb. Walker’s budget will hit education and educators once again. It is a giant step to privatize education. This is done by forcing pubic schools to pay tuition for children to attend religious and private schools by giving the parents of such children a voucher which forces the public school district to send money to the religious or private school. Walker and his right- wing legislators made vouchers available in every school district in the State. To this, UW Education Dean Julie Underwood said, “School Boards beware”, that this is, “the model legislation disseminated by the pro-free market American Legislative Exchange Council’s network of corporate members and conservative legislators to privatize education and erode local control.” In criticizing the legislation, State Superintendent Tony Evers chided, “A voucher in every backpack.”
Public school districts lose twice. Once by having to use money intended to educate children in their schools, and also losing State aid because they cannot count the child attending the religious or private school on which State aid is based. It is projected that this will cost MMSD $27 million over the next five years. Vouchers provide parents $4,000 per year for an elementary school student and $10,000 for a high school student. State Senator Jennifer Schilling calls it, “Vouchers on steroids!” Research shows that most voucher schools in Wisconsin underperform compared to their public school counterparts.

Much more on vouchers, here.

Commentary on Wisconsin K-12 Tax & Spending Increases, Voucher Changes

Jason Stein

Lawmakers also want to expand school voucher programs beyond the borders of Milwaukee and eastern Racine County. The programs allow parents who meet income thresholds to send their children to religious schools and other private schools at taxpayer expense.
Under the motion approved 12-4 along party lines by Republicans on the budget panel:

  • Public schools would receive $150 more per student in general aid this fall and another $150 increase the following year. The plan would cost $289 million over two years, with $231.5 million funded with state taxes and the rest with an additional $52 million in higher local property taxes and an increase in expected revenues from the state lottery.
    School districts would have the authority to spend this new money. Walker wanted to give schools $129 million in state aid but require all of it to go toward property tax relief, rather than be used for new expenses.
    Under the budget committee’s proposal, total property taxes would increase by less than 1% per year, with school levies going up somewhat more than that.

  • A new voucher program would become available to all students outside Milwaukee and Racine. It would be limited to 500 students the first year and 1,000 students every year thereafter. Walker wanted no limits on the number of students in the program after the second year.
    If there are more students seeking slots in the program than allowed, the proposal would allocate the available slots by lottery. The slots would go to the 25 schools with the most applications, with each school getting at least 10 seats.

  • The new program would be available to students in any school district. Walker wanted to make it available in districts with 4,000 or more students that were identified as struggling on school report cards issued by the state.
  • No more than 1% of the students of any given school district could participate in the new program.
  • Over 12 years, the negative financial impacts for the Milwaukee Public Schools from the voucher program here would be phased out.
  • The new program would be available to students of families making 185% of the federal poverty level or less — well below the income thresholds for Milwaukee and Racine. Those programs are available to families making up to 300% of the federal poverty level, with a higher threshold for married couples.
  • Voucher schools in all parts of the state would receive $7,210 per K-8 student and $7,856 per high school student — up from $6,442 currently. Walker wanted to provide $7,050 for students in kindergarten through eighth grade and the same larger increase to high school students.



Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers (PDF):

Today, Republican leaders are finalizing a deal to likely expand Wisconsin’s private school voucher program statewide. While this dramatic proposal has significant implications for citizens and taxpayers across Wisconsin, it has been developed behind closed doors with no public input, no public hearings, and no public fiscal analysis. If this proposal becomes law, taxpayers across Wisconsin will be financing a new entitlement for private school children whose tuition is currently paid for by their parents. To address the lack of information about the potential fiscal effects of this program, the attached table estimates potential long-term costs of statewide subsidization of private school tuition on a district-by-district basis. Cost to subsidize current private school students only: up to $560 million annually
While some lawmakers claim the purpose of the program is to provide educational choices to those who cannot afford it, the current school choice programs in Milwaukee and Racine provide vouchers to families who are already choosing to send their children to private schools. As many as 50% of the children participating in the Racine choice program were already in private schools when they began receiving a state-funded subsidy in
2011-12. If the voucher program is expanded statewide, it can be assumed that current private school families would also be eligible for this new entitlement.

Related:

2012-13 MMSD WKCE Results


Tap or click to view a larger version.

Higher bar for WKCE results paints different picture of student achievement
Matt DeFour
Wisconsin student test scores released Tuesday look very different than they did a year ago, though not because of any major shift in student performance.
Similar to recent years, the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam results show gains in math and reading over the past five years, a persistent and growing performance gap between black and white students, and Milwaukee and Racine public school students outperforming their peers in the private school voucher program.
But the biggest difference is the scores reflect a higher bar for what students in each grade level should know and be able to do.
Only 36.2 percent of students who took the reading test last October met the new proficiency bar. Fewer than half, 48.1 percent, of students were proficient in math. When 2011-12 results were released last spring, those figures were both closer to 80 percent.
The change doesn’t reflect a precipitous drop in student test scores. The average scores in reading and math are about the same as last year for each grade level.
Instead, the change reflects a more rigorous standard for proficiency similar to what is used for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. NAEP is administered to a sample of students in each state every other year and is referred to as “the nation’s report card.”
The state agreed to raise the proficiency benchmark in math and reading last year in order to qualify for a waiver from requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind law. The benchmark did not rise for the language arts, science and social studies tests.
“Adjusting to higher expectations will take time and effort,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said. “But these are necessary changes that will ultimately help our schools better prepare all students to be college and career ready and link with work being done throughout the state to implement new standards.”
Evers also called on the Legislature to include private voucher schools in the state’s new accountability system.
He highlighted that test scores for all Milwaukee and Racine students need to improve. Among Milwaukee voucher students, 10.8 percent in reading and 11.9 percent in math scored proficient or better. Among Milwaukee public school students, it was 14.2 percent in reading and 19.7 percent in math.
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed expanding the state’s voucher program, including to such districts as Madison.
Changes in Dane County
The state previously announced how the changing bar would affect scores statewide and parents have seen their own students’ results in recent weeks, but the new figures for the first time show the impact on entire schools and districts.
In Dane County school districts, the percentage of students scoring proficient or better on the test dropped on average by 42 percentage points in reading and 25 percentage points in math.
Madison schools had one of the smallest drops compared to its neighboring districts.
Madison superintendent Jennifer Cheatham noted schools with a higher number of students scoring in the “advanced” category experienced less of a drop. Madison’s smaller drop could reflect a higher proportion of students scoring in the top tier.
At the same time, Madison didn’t narrow the gap between minority and white student test results. Only 9 percent of black sixth-graders and only 2 percent of sixth-grade English language learners scored proficient in reading.
“It reinforces the importance of our work in the years ahead,” Cheatham said. “We’re going to work on accelerating student outcomes.”
Middleton-Cross Plains School Board president Ellen Lindgren said she hasn’t heard many complaints from parents whose students suddenly dropped a tier on the test. Like Madison and other districts across the state, Middleton-Cross Plains sent home letters bracing parents for the change.
But Lindgren fears the changing standards come at the worst time for public schools, which have faced tougher scrutiny and reduced state support.
“I’m glad that the standards have been raised by the state, because they were low, but this interim year, hopefully people won’t panic too much,” Lindgren said. “The public has been sold on the idea that we’re failing in our education system, and I just don’t believe that’s true.”
Next fall will be the last year students in grades 3-8 and 10 take the paper-and-pencil WKCE math and reading tests. Wisconsin is part of a coalition of states planning to administer a new computer-based test in the 2014-15 school year.
The proposed state budget also provides for students in grades 9-11 to take the EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT college and career readiness tests in future years.

Superintendent Cheatham is to be commended for her informed, intelligent and honest reaction to the MMSD’s results when compared to those of neighboring districts.
View a WKCE summary here (PDF).

NJ DOE Releases New School Performance Reports; Wisconsin? Stays Quo…

Laura Waters:

At long last the New Jersey Department of Education has released its “NJ School Performance Reports,” which replace the old School Report Cards. Details on school performance is greatly expanded now includes, according to the Christie Administration’s press release, “brand new data on college and career readiness and provide comparison to “peer schools” in order to provide a more complete picture of school performance for educators and the general public.”
Here’s coverage from the Star-Ledger, The Record, the Courier-Post, Asbury Park Press, Press of Atlantic City, NJ Spotlight, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The state also released the annual Taxpayers’ Guide to Education. Annual per pupil spending in NJ (if you use the state’s algorithm; others say it inflates costs) is $18,045, up 4.2% since last year.
Of course, there’s enormous range within that average. Fairview Boro (Bergen), for example, spends $13,317 per pupil. Asbury Park City spends $30,502. The plush magnet schools in Bergen County spend $35,900.

The Wisconsin DPI…..
April, 2013: Chief among them has been this notion from state superintendent Tony Evers that the state’s new accountability system, known as state report cards, shouldn’t be used to determine which districts get vouchers.
.
March, 2013: Evers on report cards: this last year was a pilot year. It’s just not ready for prime time.
June, 2008: “Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”.

A Critique of the Wisconsin DPI and Proposed School Choice Changes

Chris Rickert:

Chief among them has been this notion from state superintendent Tony Evers that the state’s new accountability system, known as state report cards, shouldn’t be used to determine which districts get vouchers.
Under Walker’s plan, districts with at least 4,000 students and two or more schools getting a D or an F under a new rating system would be eligible for vouchers. Evers — no fan of vouchers anyway — says the report cards were not intended for such use and need more refinement over several years.
But what was the purpose of spending more than a year working with a diverse group of education and business groups and state elected officials to create the report cards — which replaced the widely panned No Child Left Behind system — if not to use them to make consequential decisions about education?
On Thursday, Department of Public Instruction director of Education Information Services John Johnson called the report cards a “work in progress” that aren’t an appropriate tool for making a “major policy decision.”
Among their current limitations are that they are based on tests that are expected to change two years from now, they can’t show growth in high school student achievement, some schools weren’t rated, and there’s too little data to reliably identify trends in school performance.
Adam Gamoran, director of the UW-Madison-based Wisconsin Center for Education Research and a skeptic on voucher programs, agrees that the tool isn’t perfect and may well change, but “that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use them now” to rate schools.
It’s also not as if DPI itself didn’t expect to use the report cards. Its budget request — which Walker didn’t include in his budget — included about $10.3 million over the next two years to replicate best practices from schools deemed high-performing by the report cards, as well as to help schools deemed low-performing by the report cards get better.

John Nichols appears to support the present DPI approach. Status Quo K-12 vs a Little “Reform” Rhetoric at a Wisconsin Budget Hearing.
Related: The Wisconsin DPI in 2008:
“Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”.
http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2013/03/wisconsin_educa_14.php
A citizen, parent, voter and taxpayer might ask what the DPI has been
with state and federal taxpayer dollars since 2008?
Meanwhile, Alabama (!), Minnesota, Florida and Massachusetts are
continuing to aim high and compare their students to the world.
http://nces.ed.gov/Timss/benchmark.asp
And, Vietnam is teaching computer science concepts in primary school.
http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2013/03/primary_school_.php

Rapprochement in the Wisconsin Superintendent Election?

Amy Barrilleaux:

For state superintendent Tony Evers, reelection was the easy part. He handily beat his opponent, staunch conservative Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Town of Erin), with over 60% of the vote Tuesday.
“Voters spoke loudly and clearly, affirming their commitment to Wisconsin’s strong public schools and calling for a much-needed reinvestment to support the over 870,000 public school kids in our state,” says Evers in a statement.
But despite the big win, Evers faces an even bigger battle in the Legislature, where lawmakers are considering Gov. Scott Walker’s latest budget. It’s unclear whether the Republican majority is united behind Walker’s plan to increase funding for the state’s voucher schools by $73 million — something Evers campaigned against, insisting there is no evidence that voucher programs are working.
“The academic data just does not justify expansion,” he told the Joint Finance Committee (PDF) during a hearing in March.
It also remains to be seen whether lawmakers will give more money to traditional public schools, which were hit with a historic $800 million cut in Walker’s previous budget. Despite pleas from Evers, almost none of that money has been restored by Walker this time around.

State Rep. Don Pridemore says he doesn’t understand why fellow Republican Gov. Scott Walker didn’t endorse him in his race for state superintendent.
Pridemore lost to incumbent Tony Evers in Tuesday’s election.
Evers signed the petition to recall Walker, but the governor still refused to endorse anyone in the race.
Pridemore says after his loss that he is disappointed Walker didn’t help him with his campaign. Pridemore says people should question why Walker “didn’t support someone who would be a much friendlier person in this job.”

Pridemore’s statements, the muted campaign against incumbent Evers and a reasonably quiet state supreme court race make this observer wonder what sort of a deal might have been cut….

Rapprochement

Why vote in state schools superintendent race?

SchoolMattersMKE:

Why vote in this race?
There are almost a million reasons.
If you are writing a column and you want people to take a nap while pretending to read it, try writing about the exciting race for Superintendent of Schools in Wisconsin.
But once you shake your head to rid it of exciting thoughts you may have a little space to consider an office that has wide-ranging impact on how we all live – those with children and not.
This is kind of a classic race. The incumbent is Dr. Tony Evers, a veteran educator with a decades-long file of experience. He’s being challenged by Don Pridemore, a right-wing lawmaker from Hartford who has no meaningful education experience and has made a name for himself by saying single parenthood is the leading cause of child abuse and that abused women should just remember the good times and the reasons they got married in the first place.
See what I mean?
This is not the first time that we’ve had a candidate with experience and credentials being challenged by a weirdo. That’s our system.

Wisconsin schools superintendent candidates clash on major issues

Erin Richards:

In the race to head the state Department of Public Instruction – overseeing 870,000 public school students in Wisconsin – the incumbent superintendent and longtime public schools employee is facing a challenge from a Republican lawmaker who supports leaner government and private school vouchers.
The election Tuesday will pit Tony Evers, the incumbent superintendent of public instruction, against Republican Rep. Don Pridemore from Erin in Washington County.
Officially, the state superintendent is a nonpartisan office. But Evers, 61, has historically won support from Democrats and teachers unions. He was opposed to Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation that rolled back collective bargaining, and he signed the petition to recall Walker.
Pridemore, 66, wants to see more local control and believes teachers unions have monopolized education. He favored Walker’s Act 10 legislation and has called for an audit of the Department of Public Instruction.
So where do the candidates stand on many of the state’s other hot-button education issues?

Low-Hanging Fruit: Three Things To Do Before We Say We’re Doing All We Can…

Andy Rotherham:

Hang around the education debates long enough and you’ll hear many times that schools are basically doing all they can to meet the needs of students, especially high-poverty students, so we should ease up on the pressure to do more. I don’t think that’s the case and you see a lot of variance in how well schools do with similar students.
In that spirit, here are three examples of ideas, some more more substantial than others – happening in some places but far from commonplace – that we could do to reach more students and families. It’s hardly an exhaustive list but it makes the point.
24-hour school: Many of our cities, and not just Las Vegas and New York, are 24-hour towns these days. Yet other than night school we still don’t engage students or parents that are on a 24-hour schedule. It would be absurd to make every school a 24-hour option but providing that option in places where many older students are, especially those who have left school, are working alternative schedules would help reach kids who are disconnected today. They are doing this in Vegas. And in this case what happens in Vegas, shouldn’t stay there.
Back-to-school day: I recently heard a school superintendent, a generally progressive guy concerned about equity, congratulating all the parents taking part in a “Back-to-School Night” style event in his community for being the kind of involved parents the school system needs to be successful. Problem was, the event was at 8pm and a not-small proportion of parents in that community were beginning their work days around that time, not wrapping them up. Back to School nights are an evergreen feature of our schools, and necessary for many parents who work a traditional 9-5 schedule. But for many parents, and not just those working nights, a chance to visit during the day would make school engagement more accessible. If we were really serious about meeting more parents where they are, “Back to School Days” (in addition to ‘back to school nights’) would be a lot more common than they are. And even easier thing to jettison would be policies that limit parent-teacher conferences to just a few minutes in some places.
Responding to parents:

Related: Wisconsin Schools Superintendent Tony Evers: Wisconsin education chief: Governor’s new report cards not ‘ready for prime time’.

Wisconsin education chief: Governor’s new report cards not ‘ready for prime time’

Matthew DeFour:

The state’s top education official warned the Legislature’s budget committee Thursday that Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to tie funding and voucher expansion to new state report cards could undermine bipartisan reform efforts already underway.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said the new report cards “aren’t ready for prime time” and will look “a lot different eight years from now.”
Evers agreed with Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, a member of the Joint Finance Committee and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, that the report cards should be used “as a flashlight and not a hammer.”

“If we use them as a hammer it’s going to make all the other transformative efforts we’re doing more difficult
,” Evers said, referring to new curriculum, testing and teacher evaluation systems that were developed by a bipartisan coalition of teachers, administrators, school boards and political leaders in recent years.
“Teachers will back off,” he said.

2008: “Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”. Parents, students and taxpayers might wonder what precisely the DPI has been doing since 2008? The WKCE has been long criticized for its lack of rigor.
Related: Matthew DeFour’s tweets from Mr. Evers recent budget appearance.

Wisconsin schools superintendent: Lawmakers should reject Scott Walker’s voucher expansion

Jason Stein:

Addressing the most contentious issue in Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill, state Schools Superintendent Tony Evers on Thursday called on members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to reject a proposed expansion of voucher schools and to give more money to public schools.
Citing figures from the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office, Evers said the $129 million in new state aid Walker included in his two-year budget bill drops to $39.2 million after accounting for how part of that money would go to private and charter schools under the proposal. Walker seeks to increase funding for existing and future voucher schools, expand them to nine new school districts and allow special-needs students from around the state to attend private schools at taxpayer expense.
At the same time, Walker wants to use the state public school aid to hold down local property taxes rather than increase spending on education.
Evers, who is running for re-election on April 2 against Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Erin), said Walker’s budget pitted public schools against private schools by increasing state funding for voucher school initiatives by 32% while keeping overall revenue to schools flat.
“This has to stop. The state cannot continue to play favorites. We can and must meet our constitutional obligation to invest in all of our kids,” Evers said.
In its third straight day of budget hearings, the Joint Finance Committee took testimony Thursday on Walker’s 2013-’15 budget proposals for Wisconsin’s K-12 schools, technical colleges and universities. The hearing made clear that the governor’s education proposals will face resistance from some senators in the Republican-controlled Senate and have strong support from Republicans in charge of the Assembly, leaving its future in doubt.

Status Quo K-12 vs a Little “Reform” Rhetoric at a Wisconsin Budget Hearing

Matthew DeFour’s tweets tell the unsurprising story (Wisconsin Schools Superintendent Tony Evers is testifying before the State’s “Joint Finance Committee”):



Related:


Wisconsin State Tax Based K-12 Spending Growth Far Exceeds University Funding.
Madison’s per student spending is $14,547 for the 2012-2013 school year (the number ignores differences in pre-k per student costs – lower, vs “full time” students).
Watch the committee hearing.

Wisconsin education leaders announce school safety summit

Matthew DeFour:

The Department of Public Instruction and several state education organizations plan to hold a school safety summit this summer.
In announcing the event, State Superintendent Tony Evers didn’t mention last December’s massacre at a Connecticut elementary school that killed 20 children and six adults. But he referred to the national debate about school safety that has emerged since.
“Providing safe and respectful schools is an essential piece of our work to ensure every child can graduate ready for college and career,” Evers said. “As a state, and as a country, we have made this a serious focus, and building on that proactive tradition is as important as ever.”
Billed as the first “Wisconsin School Safety Summit,” the event will focus on four topics: policies and procedures, physical environment, climate and culture, and mental health services.

And So, It Continues 2: “Pro Union” or “Union Owned”


Madison School Board.

Chris Rickert:

There’s also the obvious point: If seniority and degree attainment make for better teachers, why are seniority protections and automatic raises for degree attainment necessary in a collective bargaining agreement or an employee handbook?
One would think good teachers should have secure employment, dibs on choice positions and regular raises by virtue of being, well, good teachers.
I’m not drawing attention to the ridiculousness of seniority and degree-attainment perks because I think Walker’s decision to effectively end public-sector collective bargaining was a good one.
But support for these common contract provisions is one way to measure school board candidates.
There’s a difference, after all, between being pro-union and union-owned.

Focus needed on long-term educational goals by Dave Baskerville:

There is now much excitement around Madison and the state with the selection of a new Madison School District superintendent, the upcoming election of new School Board members, the expected re-election of State Superintendent Tony Evers, the rollout of new Common Core state standards, and now a vigorous debate, thanks to our governor, over the expansion of school vouchers.
The only problem is that for those of us who pay attention to classroom results and want to see our students really move out of second-class global standings, there is no mention of long-term “stretch goals” that could really start getting all of our kids — black and white, poor and middle class — reading like the Canadians, counting like the Singaporeans or Finns, and doing science like the Japanese — in other words, to close the gaps that count long-term.
Let’s focus on two stretch goals: Wisconsin’s per capita income will be 10 percent above Minnesota’s by 2030, and our eighth grade math, science and reading scores will be in the top 10 globally by 2030.
This would take not only vision, but some serious experimentation and radical changes for all of us. Can we do it? Of course, but not with just “feel good” improvement and endless debate over means to that end, and without clear global benchmarks, score cards, and political will.

www.wisconsin2.org
The New Madison Superintendent Needs to “Make Things Happen”, a Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Barely half of the district’s black students are graduating from high school in four years. That’s a startling statistic. Yet it hasn’t produced a dramatic change in strategy.
Ms. Cheatham, it’s your job to make things happen.
Your top priority must be to boost the performance of struggling students, which requires innovation, not just money. At the same time, Madison needs to keep its many higher-achieving students engaged and thriving. The district has lost too many families to the suburbs, despite a talented staff, diverse offerings and significant resources.
Being Madison’s superintendent of schools will require more than smarts. You’ll need backbone to challenge the status quo. You’ll need political savvy to build support for action.
Your experience leading reform efforts in urban school districts is welcome. And as chief of instruction for Chicago Public Schools, you showed a willingness to put the interests of students ahead of the grown-ups, including a powerful teachers union.
We appreciate your support for giving parents more options, including public charter schools and magnets. You seem to understand well the value of strong teacher and student assessments, using data to track progress, as well as staff development.
The traditional classroom model of a teacher lecturing in front of students is changing, and technology can help provide more individualized attention and instruction. The long summer break — and slide in learning — needs to go.

Madison School Board Election Intrigue (Public!)

he top vote-getter in Tuesday’s Madison School Board primary said Friday she ran for the seat knowing she might not be able to serve out her term because her husband was applying for graduate school in other states.
Sarah Manski, who dropped out of the race Thursday, said she mentioned those concerns to School Board member Marj Passman, who Manski said encouraged her to run. Passman told her it wouldn’t be a problem if she had to resign her seat because the board would “appoint somebody good,” Manski said.
Passman vigorously denied encouraging Manski to run or ever knowing about her husband’s graduate school applications. After learning about Manski’s statement from the State Journal, Passman sent an email to other School Board members saying “I had no such conversation with her.”
“It’s sad to believe that this kind of a person came close to being elected to one of the most important offices in our city,” Passman wrote in the email, which she also forwarded to the State Journal.
Manski said in response “it’s possible (Passman) didn’t remember or it’s possible it’s politically inconvenient for her to remember.”

And so it continues, part 1.

2013 Wisconsin DPI Superintendent and Madison School Board Candidates

Patrick Marley & Erin Richards:

“I’ve been frustrated with the fact that our educational system continues to go downhill even with all the money the Legislature puts into it,” he said.
Pridemore said he will release more details about his educational agenda in forthcoming policy statements and has several education bills in the drafting phase. Asked if he believed schools should have armed teachers, he said that was a matter that should be left entirely to local school boards to decide.
Evers, who has been school superintendent since 2009, is seeking a second term. He has previously served as a teacher, principal, local school superintendent and deputy state schools superintendent.
Wisconsin’s education landscape has undergone some major changes during his tenure, including significant reductions in school spending and limits on collective bargaining for public workers that weakened teachers unions, which have supported Evers in the past.
Evers wants to redesign the funding formula that determines aid for each of Wisconsin’s 424 school districts and to provide more aid to schools. Also, he wants to reinvigorate technical education and to require all high schools to administer a new suite of tests that would offer a better way to track students’ academic progress and preparation for the ACT college admissions exam.

Don Pridemore links: SIS, Clusty, Blekko, Google and link farming. Incumbent Tony Evers: SIS, Clusty, Blekko, Google and link farming.
Matthew DeFour:

School Board president James Howard, the lone incumbent seeking re-election, faces a challenge from Greg Packnett, a legislative aide active with the local Democratic Party. The seats are officially nonpartisan.
Two candidates, low-income housing provider Dean Loumos and recently retired Madison police lieutenant Wayne Strong, are vying for Moss’ seat.
The race for Cole’s seat will include a primary on Feb. 19, the first one for a Madison School Board seat in six years. The candidates are Sarah Manski, a Green Party political activist who runs a website that encourages buying local; Ananda Mirilli, social justice coordinator for the YWCA who has a student at Nuestro Mundo Community School; and T.J. Mertz, an Edgewood College history instructor and local education blogger whose children attend West High and Randall Elementary schools.

Pridemore launches run for Wisconsin state superintendent

Scott Bauer:

Republican state Rep. Don Pridemore launched his campaign to become Wisconsin’s top education leader on Monday, saying he would bring a conservative approach to the job while refusing to talk specifically about what policies he would push.
Pridemore is taking on incumbent Tony Evers, who has held the nonpartisan job of secretary of the Department of Public Instruction since 2009. The election is April 2, and there will be a Feb. 19 primary if three or more people run.
Evers said he looked forward to contrasting his record with Pridemore’s.
“All I know is I’ve been out front on education for 36 years,” said Evers, a former teacher, principal, district superintendent and deputy state superintendent. “I’m believing that he has not.”

Attorney Representing Madison Teachers, Inc and WEAC Profiled in the Capital Times

Steven Elbow:

To complete the hat trick, late last month Pines, representing Madison Teachers Inc. and the Wisconsin Education Association Council, stuck it to Republicans again when Dane County Judge Amy Smith struck down part of a law that consolidated rule-making authority in the governor’s office. That law gave Gov. Scott Walker control over rules that govern agencies like the Attorney General’s Office, the Government Accountability Board, the Employment Relations Commission, the Public Service Commission and the Department of Public Instruction, all of which were previously independent. Pines argued, and Smith agreed, that State Superintendent Tony Evers had constitutional powers beyond the governor’s reach.
“They extended (the law) to the Department of Public Instruction despite the fact that they were told in the brief legislative hearings they held on that bill that it was likely unconstitutional,” says Pines. “But they didn’t care. They just did it.”
While Pines’ recent wins are likely to be appealed, one thing is clear: He’s on a roll. How did he get to be such a pain in the collective GOP butt?

Wisconsin Education Rule-Making Battle: Should We Care? Yes; DPI Election Politics

Why should parents, citizens, taxpayers and students pay attention to this type of “rulemaking” case?
WKCE (Wisconsin’s oft-criticized soft academic standards – soon to be replaced) and MTEL-90 (Wisconsin adopts Massachusetts’ teacher content knowledge requirements).
I found Ed Treleven’s article interesting, particularly the special interests funding the rule making legal challenge. I am a big fan of our three part government system: judicial, legislative and executive. That said, the Wisconsin DPI has not exactly distinguished itself over the past decade. The WKCE “tyranny of low expectations” is exhibit one for this writer.
Ed Treleven

Even before the change in the law, rules ultimately have to be approved by the Legislature.
Democrats had labeled the law a power grab by Walker when it was proposed after Walker was elected and before he took office. He signed it into law in May 2011.
The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by Madison Teachers Inc., the Wisconsin Education Association Council and others. Defendants were Walker, DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch and schools superintendent Tony Evers. Smith’s decision, however, notes that Evers also asked the court to block the law. Evers issued a statement Tuesday saying he was pleased with Smith’s ruling.
Lester Pines, who represented the teachers groups in court, said the law as applied to DPI ran counter to a unanimous state Supreme Court decision in 1996 that said the Legislature cannot give equal or superior authority to any “other officer.”

Finally, it appears that current DPI Superintendent Tony Evers is ready to roll for the spring, 2013 election. I have noticed a number of DPI related inquiries on this site. Perhaps this will be a competitive race!
UPDATE: Gilman Halsted:

The Madison teachers union was one was one of seven plaintiffs that challenged this provision of ACT 21. Union President John Matthews says he’s pleased with the ruling.
“It’s simply because of the way the Constitution defines the role of the state superintendent,” he said. “The governor has equal authority not superior authority to the state superintendent and we think because of the enterprise if you will of public education that should not be a political issue. And Judge Smith saw it our way.”
But a spokesman for the governor’s office says he’s confident that Judge Smith’s ruling will be overturned on appeal and that the governor will retain his rule making veto power. Opponents of this new executive power see it as a power grab. And although this ruling appears to limit the governor’s power over rules that affect education it leaves his authority intact for administrative rules from any other state agency. State Superintendent Tony Evers released a statement hailing the ruling and pointing out that he had proposed language that would have carved out his exemption from the governor’s rule vetoes before the law was passed.

Teachers brought disrespect on themselves

Tom Consigny

Last week state schools superintendent Tony Evers presented his status of education in Wisconsin report and encouraged residents to show more respect and value for teachers. He missed the point — he should have challenged teachers to cease their whining, their defiant and disorderly assemblies and illegal strikes, which we have endured in recent years.
The teachers and Madison union leader John Matthews should recognize the considerable damage they have done to their reputation and credibility. They have forgotten who continues to provide their generous salaries for a nine-month job.

Money gets top billing in education drama

Alan Borsuk:

In the last state budget, almost all the new spending went to medical programs. Olsen said that Tony Evers, the state superintendent of public instruction, has ideas that are worth discussing but won’t have much of a chance if medical costs keep rising. (Not to mention the central issue of whether to increase state school aid.)
Dan Rossmiller, director of government relations for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, responded, “Can you imagine us saying to the Medicaid program, you’re only going to be able to spend 50 dollars more per patient next year than you did last year? That’s pretty much unimaginable, yet that’s what we do with education.” Rossmiller said education funding reform is needed.
That morning’s Journal Sentinel had a story that began: “Taxpayers need to chip in about $650 million more toward state health care programs for the poor and elderly during the next two-year budget cycle, Gov. Scott Walker’s administration said.”
I really want people to have access to necessary medical care, which so many people can’t afford on their own. But I read that story and thought of the impact on schools (as well as other areas of state spending).

School accountability here to stay

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Teaching is a difficult job that deserves fair pay, good benefits and high respect.
Let’s start with and emphasize that important point.
But let’s also stick up for the students, parents and taxpayers who deserve accountability for results.
That’s what President Barack Obama, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers and now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have done.
Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/editorial/school-accountability-here-to-stay/article_153c0ac0-fd9e-11e1-a1ea-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz26P7BTY8e

132 Wisconsin Schools of Recognition

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction:

State Superintendent Tony Evers announced 132 Wisconsin School of Recognition awards for the 2012-13 academic year, an honor that recognizes success in educating students from low-income families.
“Congratulations on a strong start to the 2012-13 school year,” Evers said. “These schools are being recognized for their work to break the link between poverty and low academic achievement through rigorous programming and attention to student needs. Their efforts align with our Agenda 2017 goals: to improve graduation rates, reduce dropout rates, and close college and career readiness gaps.”

Matthew DeFour has more.

Big changes in the works for Madison’s 2012-13 school year

Matthew DeFour:

Wisconsin students, parents, teachers and property owners will feel the impact of major changes rolling out in Wisconsin’s public schools this school year.
This fall for the first time:

  • The state will assign numerical ratings to schools based on various test score measures.
  • Most students will start to see a new, more specific curriculum — in math and language arts, and with literacy incorporated in all subjects — in anticipation of a new state test in two years.
  • And dozens of schools, including three in Madison, will take part in the state’s new teacher evaluation system, which takes into account student test scores.

“This is huge,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said. “I’ve been doing this for 37 years and I haven’t seen this level of reform efforts.”
The unifying reason for the changes is the end of the No Child Left Behind era and the national move toward a more rigorous set of standards for what students are expected to know at each grade level, said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison. In order to obtain a waiver from NCLB, Wisconsin had to adopt the accountability system, higher curriculum standards and a teacher evaluation system.
“This has nothing to do with the turmoil we experienced in Wisconsin last year,” Gamoran said. “This is happening in every state in the country.”

Related:

Commentary on Teacher Pay for Performance

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

As Wisconsin school districts enter their second year in a post-Act 10 world, some are beginning to experiment with performance-based pay. It’s a good idea.
But it’s also an idea that will work only if it’s based on sound measures to determine who gets that extra pay.
A few districts, including Hartland-Lakeside in Waukesha County, are trying performance-based pay on a voluntary basis this year; it would be mandatory for all teachers by 2015 in that district, reports the Journal Sentinel’s Erin Richards.
We think districts are wise to wait for full implementation until a new statewide educator evaluation system is in place. The Educator Effectiveness System is being piloted in a few districts this year and is expected to be implemented during the 2014-2015 school year.
“We have to get the evaluation part right in the beginning, or this won’t work,” state Superintendent Tony Evers said during a meeting with the Editorial Board last week. He’s right.
It’s important to acknowledge a few facts of life:

Caryl Davis:

In an effort to improve teacher quality, legislators and education reformers now are turning to performance-based pay.
Their aim appears to be noble: improving student outcomes.
But I can tell you from experience, it won’t work. And, in fact, it may be harmful if the whole range of factors that affects achievement isn’t considered.
Performance-based pay is a formula derived from behaviorist business models. Like the laboratory mouse and wheel, performance-based pay distributes rewards for correctly modeled behavior.
But this isn’t a realistic model for education; educators aren’t like employees in the business world where incentives are based on profit growth.
Why create an environment that breeds competition among colleagues, that creates situations in which one teacher is rewarded because her class gets high marks while another has less success because of the variables of her students in that particular year?
Also, since student success on standardized tests may be a large part of a teacher’s evaluation, a flaw with performance-based pay is that decision-makers haven’t decided yet on what our children should be learning. Do they want students to learn how to pass tests or to gain tools that will sustain them through life and careers?
Merit pay also will produce educators who teach to the test, which hurts students and teachers alike. As noted in the 2000 article by John R. Deckop and Carol C. Cirka, “The Risk and Reward of a Double-edged Sword: Effects of a Merit Pay Program on Intrinsic Motivation,” teachers are largely driven by two factors: helping students achieve and collaborating with colleagues. Effective teachers are motivated by their collective efforts to ensure the day-to-day growth of students.

Wisconsin DPI chief focusing on school funding, assessments, evaluations

Janet Ortegon:

In the state’s ongoing effort to create better ways to evaluate teachers and assess how much students are learning, the biggest question might be how to pay for them.
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers was in Sheboygan on Monday to talk about the DPI’s plan to help better prepare Wisconsin students for the future.
Part of the plan is school finance reform, which Evers said he is not giving up on despite major cuts to state aid that came about as a result of Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10. In fact, he said, a big part of the battle will be getting state leaders to realize that investment in public education is in the state’s long-term economic best interest.

All kids need a great education: Common Core as a Panacea

Bill Berezowitz and Tim Sheehy:

As the CEO of Manpower Group, Jeff Joerres knows a lot about what’s required to fill the job needs of employers all over the globe, and as he has noted “we are in the human age, where economies compete and survive based mainly on talent.”
Wisconsin’s release of a new measure of student academic performance in grade and high school was a warning sign worth our attention (“Student scores slip with new standard,” July 17). Credit goes to the state Department of Public Instruction, led by Superintendent Tony Evers, for its on-point and timely release of this new data showing how Wisconsin’s students perform when we use a higher common standard to compare with students in other states.
The results were tough to swallow, 36% proficient in reading and 48% proficient in math on standards that are more representative of what is needed to compete nationally and globally. It looks as if we have been training our students on the low hurdles, when in reality we are running in an international high-hurdle race where jobs are the finish line.
We recently attended a conference sponsored by GE on this very topic. The national audience of business and education leaders came together to better understand the implications of all states adopting a common core set of standards to measure educational performance in K-12. Wisconsin has significant ground to make up.

Through the looking glass.
wisconsin2.org

Wisconsin’s New Dual (high school/College) Enrollment Program

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

If Wisconsin wants an educated workforce that can compete in a global economy, it has to stop thinking in terms of education pieces: K-12, colleges and universities, technical schools. It has to start thinking in terms of one system that students can navigate with ease to get the education they want and need, both in basic knowledge and upgrades when they want them; a system aimed at best serving their needs, offering them enrichment and skills.
An important step in that direction was taken Tuesday with the signing of a dual enrollment agreement by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers and University of Wisconsin Colleges and Extension Chancellor Ray Cross at UW-Marathon County in Wausau. The agreement allows high school students – mostly juniors or seniors – to earn credit that can be transferred easily to state four-year universities or two-year colleges after graduation, along with many private colleges.
Evers said in an interview Tuesday that the initiative “creates some synergy between systems that have not been directly connected in the past,” according to an article by Journal Sentinel reporters Erin Richards and Karen Herzog. “Even though we’re all differently governed, we need to make our systems look more like one instead of two or three or four.”
This helps students in several ways, including reducing the cost of a college degree. That’s more important than ever in light of the increasing cost of a college education. Just last week, UW officials announced a 5.5% hike in tuition.

The devil is in the details, as always.
Much more on credit for non-Madison School District courses, here.
Wisconsin DPI:

UW Colleges and DPI announce expanded dual enrollment program
Program will allow students to take UW Colleges courses at their high schools
High school students in Wisconsin will be able to earn college credits while still in high school under a new dual enrollment program announced by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the University of Wisconsin Colleges.
Tony Evers, state superintendent of public instruction, and Ray Cross, chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension, signed an agreement and announced the new statewide model for dually enrolling high school students in high school and UW Colleges courses. They spoke at a June 12 ceremony at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County, one of the UW Colleges campuses in Wausau. UW Colleges is the UW System’s network of 13 freshman – sophomore campuses and UW Colleges Online.
Evers and Cross said the new partnership would allow students across Wisconsin to access UW Colleges courses in their high schools via classroom teachers and online. The new dual enrollment program would accelerate students’ ability to earn UW credits, reduce the cost of obtaining a college degree, and increase the readiness of high school graduates for either college or the workplace. The program should be in place no later than the 2013-14 school year.
“We’re trying to better serve high school students by bringing our University of Wisconsin courses right into their high schools in a cost-effective way,” said Cross. “We’re committed to making these UW credits as affordable as possible for high school students, their families, and the school districts.”
“More students need the opportunity to take advanced courses and earn high school and college credit simultaneously,” Evers said. “This statewide dual enrollment agreement is a great way for students to get an introduction to college coursework and earn credits before even enrolling in a school of higher education. This will increase the number of students who graduate from high school ready for college and careers.”
Additional information is contained in the complete news release. A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding is available online.

Common Core Standards – Wisconsin Guidance

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers via “DPI ConnectED”:

1. Common Core Standards – Wisconsin Guidance
New DPI publications help Wisconsin educators understand and implement the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics, as well as the new concept of Literacy in All Content Areas.
Wisconsin adopted the standards in 2010, but that was the easy task. Implementing them through engaging instruction coupled with rigorous learning activities and assessment is the hard work.
The first step requires that teachers know and understand the standards. The new publications provide guidance on the standards’ relationship to Wisconsin’s vision of Every Child a Graduate, supporting all students through Response to Intervention systems, and the responsibility that all teachers have for developing reading, writing, thinking, speaking, and listening skills.
A distinguishing feature of the Common Core State Standards is their emphasis on disciplinary literacy. To be career and college ready, students must know how to read and write complex informational and technical text. So, instruction in every classroom, no matter the discipline, must focus on both the content and the reading and writing skills students need to demonstrate learning.
Wisconsin educators are committed to grasping content and providing high-quality instruction. Combining helpful resources with effective practices used by quality educators leads to success for Wisconsin students.

Much more on the “Common Core” academic standards, here.

Wisconsin Education Legislation Awaits Governor’s Signature

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent’s enewsletter:

The education bill with provisions related to Educator Effectiveness and Early Literacy is now waiting the governor’s signature.
State Superintendent Tony Evers applauded aspects of the bill this week, while acknowledging “difficult” moments during the Legislature’s just-ended session.
One provision of the education bill “incorporates the on-going work of my Educator Effectiveness Design Team,” Evers said.
That group is working to pilot “an educator evaluation system that is centered on student learning, and is fair, valid, and reliable. This legislation will allow our performance-based evaluation system to move forward, supporting teachers and principals in their job of educating students and helping our educators improve throughout their careers.”
Evers said other provisions “are based on a path forward that was agreed to by the members of the Governor’s Read to Lead Task Force.” He said those provisions “will help Wisconsin better prepare educators to teach reading. It will also help us to better identify kindergarteners who are struggling with the components of early literacy, and help us improve reading results for all children.”
“I look forward to the Governor signing this important bill into law,” Evers concluded.

Much more on the Read to Lead initiative, here.

This photo recently appeared on the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions’ website.
The 2012 Wisconsin Read To Lead Task Force report can be viewed, here. The report mentions a number of recommendations regarding teacher preparation, including:

The current Wisconsin teacher licensure exam has few questions on reading instruction, and many of those questions are lacking in rigor. Reading should be emphasized specifically; however, the state should also take this opportunity to strengthen licensure requirements overall. Specifically, the Task Force recommends the well-­‐regarded Massachusetts Test for Education Licensure (MTEL) “Foundations of Reading” to be the required state exam by 2013 to raise the bar. The exam should be incorporated within the current Wisconsin exam to reduce costs in the short term. In the long term, the state should explore adopting MTEL exams across all subject areas.
As part of the process of adopting a new exam, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will inform institutions of higher education on what will be covered on the MTEL, thereby igniting a much-­‐needed conversation to ensure the theoretical and technical knowledge needed to teach students to read is effectively and sufficiently taught to prospective reading teachers.

NCLB Waiver Undermines Charter School Accountability

Mike Ford:

A tweet today by State Superintendent Tony Evers on the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) desire for authority to intervene in charter schools caught my eye. Evers, who was responding to a New York Times editorial, wrote:

“if weak charters stay open, students are deprived & public $ wasted. Our ESEA waiver will help us take action.”

Indeed, the state’s federal No Child Left Behind waiver will give DPI the ability to intervene in and eventually close charter schools it deems low performing. The waiver, if granted, will undermine the very idea of charter schools.
The charter school concept is simple:

Wisconsin Schools “Among the Best”, Financial Literacy

Tony Evers & Peter Bildsten:

Wisconsin is fortunate to have many fine K-12 schools educating our young people. The quality of this state’s educational system is among the best in the United States, and the same can be said for Wisconsin teachers.
Those accolades notwithstanding, there is one area in which Wisconsin schools should consider focusing some of their educational muscle: personal financial literacy.
More than ever before, our children — by the time they graduate from high school — need to be able to cope in the increasingly fast-paced world of financial services.
Today, many young people rarely handle cash, opting instead for the use of debit cards, credit cards and smartphones to make purchases. Those who have jobs probably never see a paycheck because most employers use direct deposit for their payrolls. And, most teens probably have never read the fine print of the contract for their mobile telecommunications devices.

Wisconsin 25th in 2011 NAEP Reading, Comparing Rhetoric Regarding Texas (10th) & Wisconsin NAEP Scores: Texas Hispanic and African-American students rank second on eighth-grade NAEP math test.
Fascinating. Tony Evers is Superintendent of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Much more at www.wisconsin2.org.

Raising Wisconsin’s Student Achievement Bar?

Alan Borsuk:

What if you suddenly found out that half of the eighth-graders in Wisconsin, all kids you thought were highly rated readers, really didn’t merit being called proficient? That instead of four out of five being pretty decent in math, it was really two out of five?
You better start thinking how you’d react because it’s likely that is what’s coming right at us. That’s how dramatic a proposal last week by the state Department of Public Instruction is.
As parents, teachers, school leaders, politicians, community leaders and taxpayers, will we be motivated to do better? Will we see the need for change? Will we rise to the occasion? Or will we settle for being discouraged and basically locked into what we’ve come to expect?
Here’s what’s going on: With Congress failing to pass a revision, originally due in 2007, of the education law known as No Child Left Behind, the U.S. Department of Education has begun issuing waivers from the enforcement program of the increasingly dysfunctional law. Wisconsin wants a waiver – it’s one of the things people such as Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic-oriented Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers agree on. So a task force developed a proposal. People have until Feb. 3 to react to the proposal and the application is to be submitted Feb. 21.
The plan will change a lot of important dynamics of what students and schools in Wisconsin are expected to accomplish. It calls for publicly rating all schools on a 1 to 100 point scale, with student outcomes as a key factor. Schools that score low will face orders to improve and, possibly, closing. And that goes for every school with students whose education is paid for with public dollars – in other words, private schools in the voucher programs for Milwaukee and Racine kids are included.
Overall, the waiver plan means we are at the point where Wisconsin gets serious about raising expectations for student achievement. Wisconsin is regarded as having one of the lowest bars in the U.S. for rating a student as proficient. No more, the proposal says.
….
Eighth-grade reading: Using the WKCE measuring stick, 86% of students were rated as “advanced” or “proficient.” Using the NAEP measuring stick, it was 35% – a 51-point difference. At least as vivid: Using the WKCE measure, 47% of eighth-graders were “advanced,” the top bracket. Using the NAEP measure, it was 3%. Three percent! In other words, only a handful of kids statewide would be labeled advanced under the new system, not the nearly half we’re used to.
Fourth-grade reading: On the WKCE scale, 82% were proficient or advanced. On the NAEP scale, it was 33%.
Eighth-grade math: WKCE, 78% proficient. NAEP: 41%.
Fourth-grade math: WKCE: 79% proficient. NAEP: 47%.

A substantial improvement in academic standards is warranted and possibly wonderful, assuming it happens and avoids being watered down. The rightly criticized WKCE was an expensive missed opportunity.
Related: www.wisconsin2.org

First details of proposed Wisconsin school accountability system revealed

Matthew DeFour:

The state could more aggressively intervene in the lowest-performing publicly funded schools under a proposed accountability system unveiled Monday.
The system would rate schools on a scale of 0 to 100 based on student performance and growth on state tests, closing achievement gaps and preparing students for college and careers. Ratings also would be tied to dropout rates and third-grade literacy levels.
The http://dpi.state.wi.us/esea/pdf/eseawaiver_coverletter.pdf“>http://dpi.state.wi.us/esea/index.html“>Department of Public Instruction released a draft application to the U.S. Education Department for a waiver from the 10-year-old federal No Child Left Behind Act, which State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said “has shackled schools by being overly prescriptive and prohibiting creative reforms.”
“Wisconsin’s request for flexibility from NCLB is driven by the belief that increasing rigor across the standards, assessment and accountability system will result in improved instruction and improved student outcomes,” Evers said

DPI’s Initial Draft Full Waiver Proposal (2.5MB PDF):

Raising Expectations, Increasing Rigor
As noted in Principle 1, DPI has significantly raised expectations for schools and the proportion of students who graduate ready for college and career, as indicated by the adoption of rigorous academic standards, higher cut scores based on NAEP as the state transitions to SBAC, increasingly rigorous and adaptive assessment systems, and increased graduation requirements. The new accountability report card and the new system of support, rewards, and recognition will reflect these new expectations. While the state has previously emphasized graduation rates (and boasted one of the highest in the nation), DPI also recognizes the state has significant achievement and graduation gaps. The accountability index prioritizes achievement and attainment using measures which emphasize not only graduation, but also the proportion of students graduating college and career ready. Additionally, the system examines achievement gaps within and across schools as a means to address the state’s existing gaps. Using a multifaceted index will help pinpoint areas of need within a school, as well as areas of strength, and help schools track their progress at meeting the needs of all student subgroups. Within the system of support, identified schools will participate in diagnostic reviews and needs assessments (Priority and Focus Schools, respectively) to identify their instructional policies, practices, and programming that have impacted student outcomes and to differentiate, and individualize reforms and interventions. While planning and implementing reforms, schools and districts will have access to increasingly expansive and timely data systems to monitor progress. Additionally, the state will require Priority and Focus Schools to implement RtI (with the support of the Wisconsin RtI Center and its resources) to ensure that all students are receiving customized, differentiated services within a least restrictive environment, including additional supports and interventions for SwDs and ELLs as needed, or extension activities and additional challenge for students exceeding benchmarks.

Wisconsin DPI seeks comments on draft NCLB waiver request; “Education for today’s world requires increased rigor and higher expectations”

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, via a kind reader’s email:

MADISON — Wisconsin’s request for waivers from several provisions of federal education law creates the expectation that every child will graduate ready for college and careers by setting higher standards for students, educators, and schools.
“Education for today’s world requires increased rigor and higher expectations,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has shackled schools by being overly prescriptive and prohibiting creative reforms that would help more students gain the skills needed for further education and the workforce. Wisconsin’s request for flexibility from NCLB is driven by the belief that increasing rigor across the standards, assessment, and accountability system will result in improved instruction and improved student outcomes.”
To receive waivers, state education agencies must demonstrate how they will use flexibility from NCLB requirements to address four principles: transitioning to college- and career-ready standards and assessments; developing systems of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support; evaluating and supporting teacher and principal effectiveness; and reducing duplication. The Department of Public Instruction has posted its draft waiver request online and is asking for public comment through a survey. After the two-week comment period, the agency will revise the waiver request and submit it to the U.S. Department of Education by Feb. 21.

Wisconsin Governor Walker says education bill based on task forces is nearing

Erin Richards:

Before a crowd of hundreds of school district officials and school board members in Milwaukee, Gov. Scott Walker announced Thursday that recommendations from a variety of state education task forces will soon be solidified in formal legislation.
The work of three main groups spearheaded by Walker over the past year – a reading task force, a team that’s looked at how to design a statewide teacher and principal evaluation system, and a group figuring out how to rate school quality – will make up a reform package of education legislation, Walker said.
Meanwhile, some critics questioned the governor’s tone of collaboration and cooperation Thursday, saying that after cutting education spending and limiting collective bargaining, he’s trying to play nice now only because he’s likely facing a recall election.
Even state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who has worked closely with Walker on the task forces and praised the work of those involved, made it clear he was concerned about being left out of the legislation-drafting process.

Matthew DeFour:

The proposed legislative reforms have been developed over the past year by three statewide task forces working separately on improving literacy, developing a teacher evaluation model and creating a school accountability system to replace No Child Left Behind.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who helped lead all three groups, said he wasn’t involved in drafting the education legislation, but would support any actions that are the direct product of the task forces “and deliver on the intent of these collaborative groups.”
“Many students’ schools are already planning for more budget cuts next year on top of cuts made this year,” Evers said in a statement. “Education reforms must be fully funded and not simply be more unfunded mandates that result in further cuts to educational programming for our students.”
Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, D-Middleton, ranking Democrat on the Assembly Education Committee, said in a statement she has concerns the work of the task forces was “being hijacked for political gain.”
“It is unnerving to hear that (Evers) was not consulted during the drafting of this legislation,” Pope-Roberts said. “Cutting our state’s foremost education experts out of the process at this time is very shortsighted and reckless.”

Much more on the Read to Lead Task Force, here.

More Commentary on Proposed Wisconsin Teacher Licensing Content Requirements.

Alan Borsuk

In 1998, Massachusetts debuted a set of tests it created for people who wanted teaching licenses. People nationwide were shocked when 59% of those in the first batch of applicants failed a communications and literacy test that officials said required about a 10th-grade level of ability.
Given some specifics of how the tests were launched, people who wanted to be teachers in Massachusetts probably got more of a bum rap for their qualifications than they deserved. But the results certainly got the attention of people running college programs to train teachers. They changed what they did, and the passing rate rose to about 90% in recent years.
One more thing: Student outcomes in Massachusetts improved significantly. Coming from the middle of the pack, Massachusetts has led the nation in fourth- and eighth-grade scores in reading and math on National Assessment of Education Program (NAEP) tests for almost a decade.
Could this be Wisconsin in a few years, especially when it comes to reading?
Gov. Scott Walker and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers released last week the report of a task force aimed at improving reading in Wisconsin. Reading results have been stagnant for years statewide, with Wisconsin slipping from near the top to the middle of the pack nationally. Among low-income and minority students, the state’s results are among the worst in the country.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and other state leaders concerned with education should work toward a common school evaluation system.

Milwaukee Journal – Sentinel:

Wisconsin needs a new system of school accountability, but implementing effective measures will be difficult because there are so many different ideas about what it takes to make a good school.
The best schools have high standards in the basics – reading, math, science and writing. But they also excel at art, music and gym. They are places with strong leadership, inspired teachers and an organic system of training and mentoring.
To create more such schools and hold all schools accountable in a fair manner, though, requires all those with an interest in that issue to be at the table. Unfortunately, that’s not the case now.
When Gov. Scott Walker and State Superintendent Tony Evers formed a team to improve school accountability, the Wisconsin Education Association Council chose to sit this one out.
We get it: The state’s largest teachers union has plenty of reason to be upset with Walker for stripping it and other public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights – and for cutting funding to schools. But we still think the union’s refusal to take a place at the table was a mistake. The union needs to be involved in such efforts. Now, it’s on the outside looking in.

Wisconsin’s current assessment system is the oft-criticized WKCE, which has some of our nation’s lowest standards.
A Closer Look at Wisconsin’s Test Scores Reveals Troubling Trend by Christian D’Andrea.
WEAC’s Mary Bell advocates a “holistic” approach to school accountability.

Scott Walker Tilts School Accountability Standards to Favor Charter and Private Schools

Rebecca Kemble:

Scott Walker is now waging his war on public education by coming up with accountability standards that favor charter and private schools. His School and District Accountability Design Team consists of thirty business and education professionals from across the state.
The Design Team is led by “Quad-Chairs” Governor Scott Walker, Senator Luther Olsen, chair of the Senate Education Committee, Representative Steve Kestell, chair of the Assembly Education Committee, and Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Schools in Wisconsin. The proceedings are being facilitated by a team of high-paid consultants working with the American Institute for Research (AIR), a company that racked up $299 million in revenue for the 2009 fiscal year.

Popcorn, pro-charter school movie served at private Wisconsin Capitol screening

Susan Troller:

The movie event, including the popcorn, was sponsored by Vos, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee — and owns a popcorn company.
Co-sponsors were Education Committee Chairs Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, and Rep. Steve Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake. Olsen is one of the lead sponsors of the charter authorizing bill, introduced in the Legislature last spring and currently before the Joint Finance Committee.
Panelists for the discussion included Gov. Scott Walker’s policy director, Kimber Liedl; the president of Milwaukee-based St. Anthony School, Zeus Rodriguez; the Urban League of Greater Madison’s charter school development consultant, Laura DeRoche-Perez; and a former president of Madison Teachers Inc., Mike Lipp, who is currently the athletic director at West High School.
There were also a number of panelists who were invited but did not attend, including state Superintendent Tony Evers, Madison Superintendent Daniel Nerad, state Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts and a representative from WEAC, the state’s largest teachers union.

Test scores could be factor in teacher discipline under bill

Jason Stein:

School officials could use standardized tests to help decide whether to discipline or fire a teacher, under a bill passed by the state Senate Thursday.
The bill passed 17-16 on a party-line vote, with Republicans supporting it and Democrats in opposition.
Current law allows school administrators to use standardized tests as one of multiple criteria to evaluate teachers’ performance but prohibits school districts from using the test results to fire or suspend a teacher. The bill would allow such actions as long as the test results weren’t the sole reason for removing, suspending or disciplining a teacher.
Democrats urged senators to hold off on the bill and wait for an effort by GOP Gov. Scott Walker and state schools Superintendent Tony Evers to finish its work developing a system to better evaluate student learning.
“This is a very unfair position that we’re putting teachers in,” Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) said.

Wisconsin Read to Lead Task Force 8.25.2011 Meeting Summary

Wisconsin Reading Coaltion, via a kind reader’s email:

Summary of the August 25, 2011 Read to Lead Task Force Meeting
Green Bay, WI
The fifth meeting of the Read to Lead task force was held on August 25, 2011, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Governor Walker was delayed, so State Superintendent Tony Evers opened the meeting. The main topic of discussion was accountability for reading outcomes, including the strategy of mandatory grade retention. Troy Couillard from DPI also presented an overview of reading reform in Milwaukee Public Schools.
Accountability
Superintendent Evers said that Wisconsin will seek a waiver from the No Child Left Behind proficiency requirements by instituting a new system of accountability. His Educator Effectiveness and Accountability Design teams are working on this, with the goal of a new accountability system being in place by late 2011.
Accountability at the educator level:
The concept of using student achievement or growth data in teacher and principal evaluations is not without controversy, but Wisconsin is including student data in its evaluation model, keeping in mind fairness and validity. The current thought is to base 50% of the educator evaluation on qualitative considerations, using the Danielson Framework http://www.danielsongroup.org (“promoting professional learning through self assessment, reflection on practice, and professional conversations”), and 50% on student data, including multiple measures of performance. 10% of the student data portion of the evaluation (5% of the total evaluation) would be based on whole-school performance. This 5% would be based on a proficiency standard as opposed to a value-added measurement. The 5% is thought to be small enough that it will not affect an individual teacher adversely, but large enough to send a message that all teachers need to work together to raise achievement in a school. The task force was asked if it could endorse whole-school performance as part of teacher evaluation. The task force members seemed to have some support for that notion, especially at the principal level, but had some reservations at the level of the individual teacher.
Kathy Champeau was concerned that some schools do not have the resources to serve some children. She also felt it might not be fair to teachers, as they have no control over other teachers in the school or the principal.
Steve Dykstra said it is important to make sure any value-added system is designed to be fair.
Rachel Lander felt it would be better to use value-added data for whole-school performance rather than a proficiency standard, but supported the importance of schoolwide standards.
Rep. Steve Kestell supported the 5% requirement, and questioned what the qualitative half of the evaluation would be based on. He felt perhaps there could be some schoolwide standards to be met in that part of the evaluation, also.
Tony Evers responded that the Danielson Framework was research-based observations, and that the evaluators would need to be highly trained and consistent in their evaluations.
Tony Pedriana had questions about the type of research on which the Danielson Framework is based.
Evers said he would provide further information to the task force.
Mara Brown said she cannot control what the teacher down the hall does, and that the 5% should apply only to principals.
Linda Pils agreed with the 5%, but felt principals need to be watching and guiding new teachers. She agreed with Dykstra’s comments on measuring growth.
Sen. Luther Olsen was concerned that the 5% portion of a teacher’s evaluation may be the part that tips the balance on job retention for an individual, yet that individual has no control over whole-school performance. He understood the principle of getting everyone involved and committed to a goal, but was concerned with possible consequences.
Mandatory Retention:
The task force was asked to consider whether Wisconsin should implement a mandatory retention policy. If so, what would it look like, and if not, what can be done to make sure students are reading at grade level?
After a guest presentation and discussion, the consensus of the task force was that Wisconsin should not have mandatory retention. Reasons cited were negative effects on later achievement, graduation, self esteem, and psychological well-being. Third grade was felt to be far too late to start intervention, and there needs to be more emphasis on developing teacher expertise and focusing on the responsibility of teachers, principals, and higher education as opposed to threatening the students with retention. Retention without changing the curriculum for the student the following year is pointless.
Dr. Elaine Allensworth, a director at the Consortium on Chicago School Research, joined the task force by telephone to summarize the outcomes of a mandatory retention project in Chicago. Students more than 1 year below the cut-off level on certain tested skills were retained unless they passed the test after a summer bridge program. Students identified as at-risk were given after-school tutoring during the year. Retention was thought to have three primary mechanisms that would affect student performance: motivation for students, families, and teachers to work harder, supplemental instruction after school and during the summer, and an additional year in the grade for failing students. All students in the school could be affected by the motivation and the supplemental instruction, but only the retained students by the extra year of instruction. The study found that the threat of retention worked as a positive motivator for teachers, parents, and some older students. However, there were also negatives in terms of higher-achieving students receiving less attention, more time on test preparation, and an instructional shift to focus on tested skills. The supplemental instruction, especially the summer bridge program, was the biggest positive of the retention project. There was high participation, increased personal attention, and higher-quality instruction. Retention itself had more negative effects than positive. Academic gains were either non-existent or rapidly-disappearing. Multiple year retentions resulted in a problematic mix of ages in classrooms, students unable to finish high school by age 18, and a negative overall attitude toward school.
Dykstra said it appeared that the impetus to do things differently because of the threat of retention had some benefit, but the actual retention had either no effect or a negative effect. He wondered if there was some way to provide the motivation without retention.
Allensworth agreed that the challenge was to provide a motivation without having a threat.
Pils asked if third graders could even understand the threat of retention.
Allensworth replied that they understood if teachers helped them. She also said that some schools with low-quality instruction had no way to improve student learning even with the threat of retention.
Rep. Jason Fields asked how you could avoid teaching to the test.
Allensworth replied that teaching the skills on the test was productive, but not the excessive time that was spent on test-taking strategies. She also said the tendency to teach more narrowly could cause problems later in high school where students needed to be able to participate in broader learning.
Marcia Henry inquired about students who returned to their old rate of learning when they returned to the regular classroom after successfully completing the summer bridge.
Allensworth replied that the summer program used higher quality curriculum and teachers, there was more time provided with students, and the students were more highly motivated.
Dykstra asked if it was possible to determine how much of the summer gain was due to student motivation, and how much due to teachers or parents.
Allensworth said those factors could not be pulled apart.
Champeau questioned whether the summer bridge program taught to the test.
Allensworth replied that it taught in a good way to the skills that the test assessed.
Brown asked if intervention was provided for the first time in third grade.
Allensworth replied that some schools began providing intervention and retaining in first or second grade.
Dykstra asked if the project created a situation where a majority of the school’s resources were concentrated in third grade, leaving other grades short.
Allensworth said they didn’t look at that, though some schools appeared to put their better teachers at certain grades.
Dykstra thought it was the wrong approach to tie services and supports to a specific grade rather than a specific student.
Are some types of consequences necessary to achieve the urgency and intensity necessary for performance improvement? Should there be mandatory summer school or other motivators? The task force did not seem to arrive at a consensus on this.
Lander said schools need the resources to do early intervention, plus information on what should be done in early intervention, and this is not currently the case in Wisconsin.
Pils questioned where teachers would find the time to provide intervention. She liked the idea of after-school and summer programs as well as reading the classics to kids. Providing a model of best instruction is important for teachers who don’t have that background.
Mary Read commented on Bill Gates’ experience with spending a lot of money for minimal results, and the conclusion that money needs to go into teacher training and proven programs such as the Kipp schools or into a national core curriculum.
Dykstra noted that everyone agrees that teacher training is essential, but there is disagreement as to curriculum and training content. His experience is that teachers are generally unable to pinpoint what is going wrong with a student’s reading. We must understand how poor and widespread current teacher training is, apologize to teachers, and then fix the problem, but not at teachers’ expense.
The facilitators asked what the policy should be. Is there an alternative to using retention? Should teacher re-training be mandatory for those who need the support?
Evers said that a school-by-school response does not work. The reforms in Milwaukee may have some relevance.
Olsen suggested that there are some reading programs that have been proven successful. If a school is not successful, perhaps they should be required to choose from a list of approved instructional methods and assessment tools, show their results, and monitor program fidelity. He feels we have a great resource in successful teachers in Wisconsin and other states, and the biggest issue is agreeing on programs that work for intervention and doing it right the first time.
Kestell said some major problems are teachers with high numbers of failing students, poor teacher preparation, the quality of early childhood education, and over-funding of 4K programs without a mandate on how that money is used. There has been some poor decision-making, and the kids are not responsible for that. We must somehow hold schools, school board, and individual educators accountable.
Champeau said teachers have no control over how money is spent. This accountability must be at the school and district level. More resources need to be available to some schools depending on the needs of their student population.
Lander: We must provide the necessary resources to identified schools.
Dykstra: We must develop an excellent system of value-added data so we can determine which schools are actually doing well. Right now we have no way of knowing. High-performing schools may actually be under-performing given their student demographics; projected student growth will not be the same in high and low performing schools.
Pedriana: We have long known how to teach even the most at-risk readers with evidence-based instruction. The truth is that much of our teacher training and classroom instruction is not evidence-based. We need the collective will to identify the evidence base on which we will base our choices, and then apply it consistently across the state. The task force has not yet taken on this critical question.
Pils: In her experience, she feels Wisconsin teachers are among the best in the country. There are some gaps we need to close.
Pedriana: Saying how good we are does not help the kids who are struggling.
Pils: We need to have our best teachers in the inner city, and teachers should not need to purchase their own supplies. We have to be careful with a limited list of approved programs. This may lead to ethics violations.
Pedriana: Referring to Pils’ mention of Wisconsin’s high graduation rates in a previous meeting, what does our poor performance on the NAEP reading test say about our graduation standards?
Michael Brickman (Governor’s aide): There is evidence of problems when you do retention, and evidence of problems when you do nothing. We can’t reduce the failing readers to zero using task force recommendations, so what should we do with students who leave 3rd grade not reading anywhere near grade level? Should we have mandatory summer school?
Henry: Response to Intervention (RTI) is a perfect model for intervening early in an appropriate way. A summer bridge program is excellent if it has the right focus. We must think more realistically about the budget we will require to do this intervention.
Olsen: If we do early intervention, we should have a very small number of kids who are still behind in 3rd grade. Are we teaching the right, most efficient way? We spend a lot of money on K-12 education in Wisconsin, but we may need to set priorities in reading. There is enough money to do it. Reading should be our mission at each grade level.
Facilitator: What will be the “stick” to make people provide the best instruction?
Dykstra: Accountability needs to start at the top in the state’s education system. When the same people continue to make the same mistakes, yet there are no consequences, we need to let some people go. That is what they did in Massachusetts and Florida: start with two or three people in whom you have great confidence, and build from there.
Facilitator: Is there consensus on mandatory summer school for failing students?
Michele Erickson: Summer school is OK if the right resources are available for curriculum and teachers.
Kestell: All grades 4K – 3 are gateway grades. They are all important.
Champeau: Summer school is a good idea, but we would need to solve transportation issues.
Dykstra: We should open up the concept of summer school beyond public schools to any agency that offers quality instruction using highly qualified instructors from outside the educational establishment.
Lander: Supports Dykstra’s idea. You can’t lay summer instruction on schools that can hardly educate during the school year.
Brown: Could support summer school in addition to, but not in place of, early intervention during the school year.
Erickson: Look at the school year first when allocating resources. Summer school is a hard sell to families.
Pedriana: Agrees with Olsen that we probably have sufficient funds for the school year, but we need to spend it more wisely. We cannot expect districts to make the commitment to extra instruction if there is no accountability at the top (including institutions of higher education). We need to resolve the issue of what knowledge and content standards will be taught before we address summer school or other issues.
Milwaukee Public Schools’ tiered RTI system was presented by DPI’s Troy Couillard as an example of an accountability system. MPS chose a new core reading program for 2010-11 after submitting its research base to DPI. Teachers were provided with some in-service training, and there are some site checks for fidelity of implementation. Tier 2 interventions will begin in 2011-12, and Tier 3 interventions in 2012-13. He felt that the pace of these changes, plus development of a data accountability system, student screening with MAP and other testing, progress monitoring, and professional development, has MPS moving much faster than most districts around the county on implementing RTI. DPI embedded RTI in the district’s Comprehensive Literacy Plan. DPI is pushing interventions that are listed on the National RTI site, but teachers are allowed to submit research for things they are using to see if those tools might be used.
Pils: Kids in MPS are already struggling. Reading First would suggest that they have 120 minuets of reading a day instead of the 90 minutes provided in the MPS plan.
Couillard: Tier 2 intervention for struggling students will add onto the 90 minutes of core instruction.
Olsen: Can this system work statewide without DPI monitoring all the districts?
Couillard: Districts are trained to monitor their own programs.
Pils: Veteran schools with proven strategies could be paired with struggling schools as mentors and models.
Pedriana: We have no way of knowing what proven strategies are unless we discuss what scientific evidence says works in reading. The task force must grapple with this question.
Brickman: Read to Lead task force needs to start with larger questions and then move to finer grain; this task force may not be able to do everything.
Pedriana: Is there anything more important for this task force to do than to decide what evidence-based reading instruction is?
Brickman: Task force members may submit suggestions for issues to discuss at the final meeting in September. Tony could submit some sample language on “evidence-based instruction” as a starting point for discussion.
Henry: The worst schools should be required to at least have specific guidelines, whether it is a legislative or DPI issue. Teacher retraining (not a 1-day workshop) is a necessity. Teachers are unprepared to teach.
Olsen: Wisconsin has always been a local control state, but one of the outcomes of the task force may be that we have a method for identifying schools that are not doing well, and then intervene with a plan. The state is ultimately responsible for K-12 education. Districts should take the state blueprint or come up with their own for approval by the state.
Erickson: Can we define what will work so districts can just do it?
Evers: MPS experience shows there is a process that works, and districts can do their own monitoring.
Dykstra: Sees value in making a list of things that districts are not allowed to do in reading instruction; also value in making a list of recommended programs based on alignment with the convergence of the science of reading research. That list would not be closed, but it should not include programs based on individual, publisher-funded studies that do not align with the convergence of the science. This could be of benefit to all districts. Even those doing relatively well could be doing better. Right now there is no list, and no learning targets. The MPS plan contains the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards, which contain errors. DPI needs to correct that information and distribute it right now. That would be a good example of accountability at the state level.
Couillard: The new statewide data collection system will help districts monitor their own data.
Champeau: School needs change depending on demographics. The goal should be to build decision-making capacity at the local level, not dictation from outside. We should be talking more about people than programs. Have MPS teachers been doing a better job? What will they do if their program goes away? We need to work on the underlying expertise and knowledge base.
Facilitator: There appears to be agreement that the state can intervene in failing districts.
Lander: We might have some consensus as to what teachers need to know, and then go into schools to see if they know it. If not, we need to teach them.
Pedriana: What is so bad about providing a program, with training, of course? It would help people.
Facilitator: There is consensus around training of teachers.
Dykstra: Some of the distinction between training and programs is artificial. You need both.
Other things the state could require: weighting of reading in evaluation systems, grading of schools etc.
Dykstra: If giving schools grades, they should get separate grades for how they do in teaching separate content areas. In addition, everything should be reported in the best value-added system we can create, because it’s the only way to know if you’re doing a good job.
Pils: Doesn’t like grading of schools. She has a whole folder on cheating in districts that have grading of schools and high stakes tests.
Evers: Do we just want to measure what schools are doing, or do we want to use it to leverage change?
Erickson: Wisconsin has gone from 3rd to 30th on the NAEP, so of course we should be seeking change.
Walker: The idea is not to pick on failing schools, but to help them. We must be able to deploy the resources to the things that work in accordance with science and research to teach reading right.
Dykstra: We should seek small kernels of detailed information about which teachers consistently produce better results in a given type of school for a given type of student. There is a problem with reliability when using MAP data at an individual student level.
Supt. Evers talked about the new state accountability system as being a better alternative to no Child Left Behind. Governor Walker said the state is not just doing this as an alternative to NCLB, but in response to comments from business that our graduates are not well-prepared. Parents want to know what all schools are doing.
Olsen: We need a system to monitor reading in Wisconsin before we get into big trouble. Our changing population is leading us to discover challenges that other states have dealt with for years.
Kestell: The accountability design team is an excellent opportunity to discuss priorities in education; a time to set aside personal agendas and look for solutions that work.
Next Meeting/Status of Report
Michael Brickman will try to send out a draft of a report the week of August 29 with his best interpretation of task force consensus items. The final meeting will be Sept. 27, perhaps in Madison, Eau Claire, or Wausau. Some task force issues will need to be passed on to other task forces in the future.

Related: A Capitol Conversation on Wisconsin’s Reading Challenges and Excellence in Education explains Florida’s reading reforms and compares Florida’s NAEP progress with Wisconsin’s at the July 29th Read to Lead task force meeting and www.wisconsin2.org.

Wisconsin DPI announces $6 million for charter school planning and dissemination grants; Proposed IB Madison Preparatory Academy Charter School Not Funded

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, via a kind reader’s email:

Groups planning new charter schools and established charter schools that want to replicate their success are sharing $6 million in federal charter school grants.
Planning grants total $4.5 million and will go for planning activities in 23 charter schools that have already been approved by their local school board or authorizing authority. Five of those grants are going to districts that do not currently have charter schools. Five grants, totaling $625,000, will support the expansion of successful charter school models. Another seven grants, totaling $875,000, will help charter schools that are in the second year dissemination activities.
“Planning grant proposals in this round of funding are for a mix of innovative charter schools,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “This is just what the charter school law promotes: local solutions to serve students and their families.”

Matthew DeFour has more.

ACT Scores Decline Somewhat in Madison, Wisconsin Slightly Up, 32% of Badger Students “Ready” for College Level Courses in 4 Areas

Matthew DeFour:

The average ACT score among the Madison School District’s 2011 graduates dipped to its lowest level in 15 years, while the gap between white and minority student scores shrank for the first time in five years.
Though Madison’s average score dipped from 24.2 to 23.9, district students still outperformed the state average of 22.2 and national average of 21.1. A perfect score on the college entrance exam is 36.
Madison’s average scores in recent years have ranged from 23.5 in 1995 to 24.6 in 2007. The average score was also 23.9 in 2003.

Amy Hetzner:

With the highest percent of students taking the ACT in state history, Wisconsin’s Class of 2011 posted an average score slightly above that from the previous year’s graduates and maintained the state’s third-place ranking among states in which the test is widespread.
Seventy-one percent of the 2011 graduates from Wisconsin private and public schools took the college admissions test, averaging a 22.2 composite score on the 36-point test, according to information to be publicly released Wednesday. The nationwide average was 21.1 on the ACT Assessment, which includes tests in English, reading, mathematics and science.
State schools superintendent Tony Evers credited the results to more high school students pursuing more demanding coursework.
“The message of using high school as preparation for college and careers is taking hold with our students,” Evers said in a news release. “Nearly three-quarters of our kids said they took the rigorous classes recommended for college entry, up from just over half five years ago.”
Even so, ACT reported that only 32% of Wisconsin’s recently graduated seniors had test results that showed they were ready for college-level courses in all four areas. Results for individual subjects ranged from 39% readiness in science to 75% in English.

A few somewhat related links:

Ruth Robarts:

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 (2005), 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.

“Penelope Trunk”: (Adrienne Roston, Adrienne Greenheart(

10. Homeschool. Your kids will be screwed if you don't.
The world will not look kindly on people who put their kids into public school. We all know that learning is best when it's customized to the child and we all know that public schools are not able to do that effectively. And the truly game-changing private schools cost $40,000 a year.

Notes and links on the recent, successful Madison Talented & Gifted parent complaint.

7.28.2011 Wisconsin School Accountability Conference, with Video

Matthew DeFour:

An effort to develop a statewide school accountability system marks a turning point in Wisconsin, education experts said last week as a public effort to design the system got under way.
When the modern school accountability movement began in the 1990s, several states such as Massachusetts, Kentucky and Florida developed their own systems for measuring how well schools helped students learn. Wisconsin created a statewide test in 1993, but deferred to local districts on what it meant for schools.
“Some states have embraced (school accountability) more than others,” said UW-Madison education professor Doug Harris. “Wisconsin hasn’t.”
Gov. Scott Walker and State Superintendent Tony Evers, who otherwise have clashed on education issues, have agreed to change that. A task force they formed began collecting information at a symposium last week organized by Walker, Evers and the La Follette School of Public Affairs and will soon meet to begin designing the system.

Susan Troller:

When it comes to developing a system for accountability for Wisconsin’s schools, including ways to measure whether students are meeting the ultimate goal of being ready for a career or college, Betebenner says, “My advice to you is to go slow … and be deliberate.”
John Johnson, director of education information for DPI, was encouraged by the standing-room-only crowd and the attendance by a number of policymakers, including key legislators, at Thursday’s meeting.
“Maybe by wading into school reform rather than diving into the deep end of the pool with Race to the Top, we’ll actually be able to swim, instead of drowning,” he says.

Watch the “Building a New School Accountability System for Wisconsin” conference, here.
Wisconsin’s academic standards have long been criticized for their lack of rigor.

Wisconsin Teachers Union won’t participate in statewide task force on school accountability reform

Matthew DeFour:

The state’s largest teachers union will not participate in discussions led by Gov. Scott Walker and State Superintendent Tony Evers to develop a new statewide school accountability system.
Instead, starting in September, the Wisconsin Education Association Council will collect input from teachers and communities around the state about their priorities related to school accountability, WEAC president Mary Bell said in a conference call Friday.
Bell said her organization supports Evers, but doesn’t trust Walker or Republican legislators on the task force.
“How can we trust the governor to be a credible partner on education issues when they just passed laws to make massive cuts to school funding and silence our voices in schools?” Bell said.
Bryan Kennedy, president of AFT-Wisconsin, said he also declined an invitation to participate.

States Test NCLB: Officials Frustrated With No Child Left Behind Try to Substitute Their Own Plans

Stephanie Banchero

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been at odds with state schools chief Tony Evers over budget cuts, vouchers and teachers’ collective-bargaining rights. But they have found common ground in their aggravation with No Child Left Behind.
Messrs. Walker and Evers formed a joint committee this month that will write a new state policy to replace the federal law requiring schools to ensure all students are passing state math and reading exams by 2014. No Child Left Behind is “broken,” they have said.
“We are not trying to get around accountability,” Mr. Walker, a Republican, said in a phone interview. “But instead of using the blanket approach that defines a lot of schools as failures, we will use a more strategic approach so we can replicate success and address failure.”
Wisconsin and other states say No Child Left Behind unfairly penalizes schools that don’t meet rigid requirements. Tired of waiting for Congress to overhaul the law, some states have taken matters into their own hands.

Wisconsin Governor Walker, education leaders seek new school evaluation system System would replace federally imposed system viewed as a failure

Alan Borsuk:

A system for providing clear, plentiful and sophisticated information for judging the quality of almost every school in Wisconsin, replacing a system that leaves a lot desired on all of those fronts – that is the goal of an eye-catching collaboration that includes Gov. Scott Walker, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, and leaders of eight statewide education organizations.
Walker and Evers said Friday that they will seek approval from the U.S. Department of Education to allow the new school accountability system to replace the decade-old, federally imposed one they labeled as broken.
They want at least a first version of the new system to be ready by spring, and to apply it to outcomes for schools in the 2011-’12 school year.
The new accountability program would include every school that accepts publicly funded students, which means that private schools taking part in the state-funded voucher program would, for the first time, be subject to the same rules as public schools for making a wealth of data available to the public. Charter schools and virtual schools would also participate.

WEAC sues over law giving Wisconsin Governor Walker power over DPI rules

Jason Stein:

Members of state teachers unions sued Thursday to block part of a law giving Gov. Scott Walker veto powers over rules written by other state agencies and elected officials.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal skirmishes between the GOP governor and public employee unions.
In the case, parents of students and members of the Wisconsin Education Association Council and Madison Teachers Inc. challenge the law for giving Walker the power to veto administrative rules written by any state agency. That law wrongly gives Walker that power over the state Department of Public Instruction headed by state schools superintendent Tony Evers, the action charges.
“The state constitution clearly requires that the elected state superintendent establish educational policies,” WEAC President Mary Bell, a plaintiff in the suit, said in a statement. “The governor’s extreme power grab must not spill over into education policy in our schools.”
The measure, which Walker signed in May, allows the governor to reject proposed administrative rules used to implement state laws.

Wisconsin Governor Walker’s Read to Lead task force met on May 31st at the State Capitol. Following are observations from WRC.

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via email:

Governor Walker’s Read to Lead task force met on May 31st at the State Capitol. Following are observations from WRC.
Note: Peggy Stern, an Oscar-winning filmmaker currently working on a project about dyslexia, had a crew filming the meeting. If we are able to acquire footage, we will make it available. If you would like Wisconsin Eye to record future meetings, please contact them at comments@wiseye.org.
Format: Unlike the first task force meeting, this meeting was guided by two facilitators from AIR, the American Institutes for Research. This was a suggestion of Senator Luther Olsen, and the facilitators were procured by State Superintendent Tony Evers. Evers and Governor Walker expressed appreciation at not having to be concerned with running the meeting, but there were some problems with the round-robin format chosen by the facilitators. Rather than a give-and-take discussion, as happened at the first meeting, this was primarily a series of statements from people at the table. There was very little opportunity to seek clarification or challenge statements. Time was spent encouraging everyone to comment on every question, regardless of whether they had anything of substance to contribute, and the time allotted to individual task force members varied. Some were cut off before finishing, while others were allowed to go on at length. As a direct result of this format, the conversation was considerably less robust than at the first meeting.
Topics: The range of topics proved to be too ambitious for the time allowed. Teacher preparation and professional development took up the bulk of the time, followed by a rather cursory discussion of assessment tools. The discussion of reading interventions was held over for the next meeting.
Guests:
Dawnene Hassett, Asst. Prof. of Curriculum and Instruction and new elementary literacy chair, UW-Madison
Tania Mertzman Habeck, Assoc. Prof. of Curriculum and Instruction, UW-Milwaukee
Mary Jo Ziegler, Reading Consultant, Wis. Department of Public Instruction
Troy Couillard, Special Education Team, Wis. Department of Public Instruction
Next Meetings: The Governor’s office will work to set up a schedule of meetings for the next several months. Some of the meetings may be in other parts of the state.
Action: WRC suggests contacting the offices of the Governor, Luther Olsen, Steve Kestell, and Jason Fields and your own legislators to ask for several things:
Arrange for filming the next meeting through Wisconsin Eye
Bring in national experts such as Louisa Moats, Joe Torgesen, and Peggy McCardle to provide Wisconsin with the road map for effective reading instruction, teacher preparation, and professional development . . . top university, DPI, and professional organization leaders at the May 31st meeting asked for a road map and admitted they have not been able to develop one
Arrange the format of the next meeting to allow for more authentic and robust discussion of issues
Summary
Teacher Training and Professional Development
The professors felt that the five components of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) are generally taught in preparation programs, but that instruction varies widely from one institution to another. Reading course work requirements can vary from 12 credits to just one course. They also felt, as did the teachers on the panel, that there needs to be more practical hand-on experience in the undergraduate program. There was a feeling that teachers “forget” their instruction in reading foundations by the time they graduate and get into the classroom. They have better luck teaching masters level students who already have classroom experience. The linguistic knowledge means very little without a practicum, and we may need to resort to professional development to impart that information. Teachers need to be experts in teaching reading, but many currently don’t feel that way. It is important, especially with RTI coming, to be able to meet the needs of individual students.Both professors and teachers, as well as others on the panel, felt a “road map” of critical information for teacher preparation programs and literacy instruction in schools would be a good idea. This was a point of agreement. Hassett felt that pieces of a plan currently exist, but not a complete road map. The professors and some of the teachers felt that teacher prep programs are doing a better job at teaching decoding than comprehension strategies. They were open to more uniformity in syllabi and some top-down mandates.
Marcia Henry mentioned studies by Joshi, et al. that found that 53% of pre-service teachers and 60% of in-service teachers are unable to correctly answer questions about the structure of the English language. Tony Pedriana cited another Joshi study that showed college professors of reading were equally uninformed about the language, and the majority cannot distinguish between phonemic awareness and phonics. He also said it was very difficult to find out what colleges were teaching; one college recently refused his request to see a syllabus for a reading course. Steve Dykstra read from the former Wisconsin Model Academic Standards and the current Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards, which contained incorrect definitions and examples of phonemic awareness. He questioned whether teachers were being adequately prepared in decoding skills. Rep. Steve Kestell was concerned with the assessment that most teachers do not feel like experts in teaching reading, and he wondered if updated techniques for training teachers would make a difference.
Sarah Archibald (aide to Luther Olsen) proposed looking at a more rigorous foundations of reading test, as found in other states, as a requirement for teacher licensure. This would be one way to move toward more uniform instruction in teacher prep programs. Steve Dykstra pointed out that a test alone will not necessarily drive changes in teacher preparation, but publishing the passage results linked to individual colleges or professors would help. Evers indicated that DPI has been looking for several months into teacher testing and licensure.
Gov. Walker asked if the ed schools were looking at the latest trends in teacher preparation to become better. The professors indicated that the ed schools confer with local districts in an effort to improve.
Supt. Evers said it was probably not a good idea that teacher prep programs across Wisconsin vary so much.
Hassett indicated that some flexibility needs to be retained so that urban and rural areas can teach differently. There was some disagreement as to whether teachers of upper grades need to be trained in reading, or at least trained the same way.
Linda Pils pointed out that the amount and quality of professional development for Wisconsin teachers is very spotty. Most panel members felt that a coaching model with ongoing training for both teachers and principals was essential to professional development, but the coaches must be adequately trained. There was some discussion of Professional Development Plans, which are required for relicensure, and whether the areas of development should be totally up the individual teacher as they are now. Steve Dykstra felt that much existing professional development is very poor, and that money and time needs to be spent better. Some things should not count for professional development. Michele Erikson felt that it would be good to require that Professional development be linked to the needs of the students as demonstrated by performance data. Mary Read pointed out that coaching should extend to summer programs.
The main consensus here was that we need a road map for good reading instruction and good teacher training and coaching. What is missing is the substance of that road map, and the experts we will listen to in developing it.
Assessment
Mary Jo Ziegler presented a list of formal and informal assessment tools used around Wisconsin. Evers pointed out that assessment is a local district decision. Many former Reading First schools use DIBELS or some formal screener that assesses individual skills. Balanced literacy districts generally use something different. Madison, for example, has its own PLA (Primary Language Assessment), which includes running records, an observational survey, word identification, etc. MAP assessments are widely used, but Evers indicated that have not been shown to be reliable/valid below third grade. Dykstra questioned the reliability of MAP on the individual student level for all ages. PALS was discussed, as was the new wireless handheld DIBELS technology that some states are using statewide. Many members mentioned the importance of having multiple methods of assessment. Kathy Champeau delivered an impassioned plea for running records and Clay’s Observational Survey, which she said have been cornerstones of her teaching. Kestell was surprised that so many different tools are being used, and that the goal should be to make use of the data that is gathered. Dykstra, Henry, and Pedriana mentioned that assessment must guide instruction, and Archibald said that the purpose of an assessment must be considered. Couillard said that the Wis. RTI center is producing a questionnaire by which districts can evaluate assessment tools they hear about, and that they will do trainings on multiple and balanced assessments. Dykstra questioned the three-cue reading philosophy that often underlies miscue analysis and running records. no consensus was reached on what types of assessment should be used, or whether they should be more consistent across the state. Hassett questioned the timed component of DIBELS,and Dykstra explained its purpose. Some serious disagreements remain about the appropriateness of certain assessment tools, and their use by untrained teachers who do not know what warning signs to look for.
Intervention
Evers began the topic of intervention by saying that DPI was still collecting data on districts that score well, and then will look at what intervention techniques they use. Henry suggested deferring discussion of this important topic to the next meeting, as there were only 8 minutes left.

5 reasons to believe progress is being made to address Wisconsin reading crisis

Alan Borsuk:

What if, despite everything else going on, we were able to put together a strong, multi-faceted campaign that made progress in fighting the reading crisis in our midst?
The optimist in me says it might happen, and I point to five things that are going on to support that. (Don’t worry, the pessimist in me will show up before we’re done.)
One: I attended the second meeting of Gov. Scott Walker’s Read to Lead Task Force recently. Unlike most anything else going on in the Capitol, this was a civil, constructive discussion involving people of diverse opinions. The focus of the afternoon-long session was how to improve the way teachers are trained to teach reading.
Walker and Tony Evers, the state superintendent of public instruction, disagree strongly on some major school issues, but they sat next to each other, facing university professors, teachers, reading advocates of varying philosophies, and others. There even seemed to be some emerging agreement that the state Department of Public Instruction and university leaders could and should take steps to ensure that teachers are better trained before they get into classrooms and, once there, get more effective help in continuing to develop their skills.
The broad goal of Walker’s task force is to get almost all kids reading on grade level before they leave third grade – a wonderful goal. But reaching it raises a lot of issues, including how to deal with sharply contending schools of thought on how to best teach reading.
Nonetheless, at least for an afternoon, important people were engaged in a serious discussion on a huge issue, and that seemed encouraging.

Related: Wisconsin Reading Coalition.
Madison School District Literacy Program; 2011-12 Proposed Budget Hearing Remarks.
Advocating a Standard Graduation Rate & Madison’s “2004 Elimination of the Racial Achievement Gap in 3rd Grade Reading Scores”. Well worth revisiting.

State school official blasts voucher program expansion to Green Bay

Karen Herzog:

State Superintendent Tony Evers on Monday blasted the Legislature’s budget committee for its late-night vote Friday to expand to Green Bay a program that allows students to attend private and religious schools at taxpayer expense.
The voucher expansion should be removed from the state budget and “a true local public debate needs to occur,” Evers said in a statement. He also referred to the budget committee’s vote to include Racine in the voucher program Thursday night.
“Raising taxes on the citizens of Green Bay and Racine in the dead of night, without public hearings or the support of their locally elected school officials echoes the type of non-representative, undemocratic actions taken by the English parliament against the American colonists through their stamp and tea taxes,” Evers said.
He raised several questions about the action Friday night by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to include in the state budget an expansion of the school voucher program for Green Bay.
Green Bay property taxpayers are now on track to pay millions for private and religious schools, Evers said. “At the same time, their public school system is being cut $40 million, which will certainly raise class sizes and reduce educational opportunities for public school students.”

Wisconsin Governor’s Read to Lead Task Force 5/31/2011 Meeting

via a kind reader’s email:

Notice of Commission Meeting
Governor’s Read to Lead Task Force
Governor Scott Walker, Chair
Superintendent Tony Evers, Vice-Chair
Members: Mara Brown, Kathy Champeau, Steve Dykstra, Michele Erikson, Representative Jason Fields, Marcia Henry, Representative Steve Kestell, Rachel Lander, Senator Luther Olsen, Tony Pedriana, Linda Pils, and Mary Read.
Guests: Professors from UW colleges of education
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 1:00pm
Office of the Governor, Governor’s Conference Room
 115 East State Capitol 
Madison, WI 53702
Welcome and opening remarks by Governor Walker and Superintendent Evers.
Introductions from task force members and guest members representing UW colleges of education.
A discussion of teacher training and professional development including current practices and ways to improve.
Short break.
A discussion of reading interventions including current practices and ways to improve.
A discussion of future topics and future meeting dates.
Adjournment.
Governor Scott Walker
Chair
Individuals needing assistance, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, should contact the Governor’s office at (608) 266-1212, 24 hours before this meeting to make necessary arrangements.

Wisconsin Voucher program needs accountability

Tony Evers and Howard Fuller:

The children of Milwaukee deserve a quality education regardless of whether they attend Milwaukee Public Schools, a charter school or a private school through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
A key element to support quality is transparency. Clear, easy to understand and readily available information, including test score results, helps parents and the public evaluate their schools. Traditional public and charter schools throughout the state have been using publicly reported test score results and other data to drive school improvement for years. This transparency was extended to the voucher program through laws enacted in the 2009-’11 budget.
This fall, for the first time, students attending private schools through the state’s voucher program had their academic progress assessed with the same statewide tests as their public school peers. Results reported this spring showed that some public, charter and private schools in Milwaukee are doing very well, but too many are not providing the education our children need and deserve.
We believe that students in the voucher program, receiving taxpayer support to attend private Milwaukee schools, must continue to take the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination. Standardized tests, including the WKCE, do not paint an entire picture of a student, and many private schools participating in the voucher program take other quality tests. We need to put all the schools in MPS, charter and choice programs on a common report card.

Important voice missing in blue ribbon reading discussion

Susan Troller

While working on another story this morning, I kept checking Wisconsin Eye’s live coverage of the first meeting of Gov. Scott Walker’s blue ribbon task force on reading.
Sitting next to the Governor at the head of the table was State Superintendent Tony Evers, flanked by Sen. Luther Olsen, chair of the Education Committee and Rep. Steve Kestell. Also on hand were representatives from organizations like the Wisconsin State Reading Association (Kathy Champeau), teachers and various other reading experts, including a former Milwaukee area principal, Anthony Pedriana, who has written an influential book on reading and student achievement called “Leaving Johnny Behind.” Also on hand was Steven Dykstra of the Wisconsin Reading Coalition.
Dykstra, in particular, had a lot to say, but the discussion of how well Wisconsin kids are learning to read — a subject that gets heated among education experts as well as parents and teachers — struck me as quite engaging and generally cordial.
There seemed to be consensus surrounding the notion that it’s vitally important for students to become successful readers in the early grades, and that goal should be an urgent priority in Wisconsin.
But how the state is currently measuring up to its own past performance, and to other states, is subject to some debate. Furthermore, there isn’t a single answer or widespread agreement on precisely how to make kids into better readers.

Related:

If Wisconsin is so careless with some schools’ reputations . . .

Patrick McIlheran

The state, if you recall, released a snapshot of student performance in Milwaukee’s school choice program last week. Tony Evers, head of the Department of Public Instruction, used the numbers to make a political statement against school choice, which he opposes.

But the figures had issues, and now still more are emerging. One of the surprises in the figures were how poorly one particular choice school, Tamarack Waldorf, did.

It’s surprising because Tamarack is by reputation a good school, unusually deliberate in its curriculum and rigorous in the peculiar way of schools in the Waldorf movement – where, for instance, children do not just have a chapter on photosynthesis but, instead, spend a couple of weeks learning the chemistry behind it and studying the geometry of branches and doing a project on forest ecology and reading literature about trees and taking a field trip to the park, the better to appreciate art involving trees and to make some of their own. Rather than taking tests, the children produce books to demonstrate their learning.

The kind of people who send their kids to such a school are generally engaged and intellectual parents – and, generally, not favorably disposed to standardized testing.

So an unusual number of Tamarack parents opted their children out of the state’s tests, as is the right of any parent in the state. You can see the figures here: In math and reading, about 55% of choice students at Tamarack didn’t take the state tests.

The state’s figures say that 42% of Tamarack students did well – scored “proficient” or “advanced” in reading, and 24% did in math. Those aren’t good scores. But they aren’t real, either.

As Tamarack administrator Jean Kacanek wrote to parents, “The data published is not complete because the Department of Public Instruction averaged scores of ‘0’ for each MPCP student in grades 4-8 at Tamarack who did not take the test. As one might expect for a Waldorf school, with a philosophy averse to standardized testing, many parents chose to opt out of the test.”

Much more on the oft-criticized WKCE, here.

GOP seeks to expand school voucher program

Matthew DeFour:

A Republican Assembly leader plans to add to the state budget bill an expansion of Milwaukee’s voucher program to other school districts, potentially giving more families in cities such as Madison access to private and religious schools.
Voucher advocates say the time is ripe to expand the program to other cities, especially with Republicans in control of state government and a recent study suggesting students in the 20-year-old Milwaukee program are testing as well or better than their public school counterparts, with a lower cost per pupil.
They also argue that vouchers would level the playing field for private schools, which have seen enrollment decline as public charter schools have gained popularity.
But voucher opponents say expansion would further cripple public schools, which already face an $834 million cut in state funding over the next two years.
And state test scores to be released Tuesday, which for the first time include 10,600 Milwaukee voucher students, could suggest they are testing no better than poor students in the Milwaukee Public Schools.
“Given the proposed unprecedented cuts to public education as well as results from our statewide assessments, I question plans in the 2011-13 state budget for expanding the choice program in Milwaukee or anywhere else in Wisconsin,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said.

A few awards to mark the good and bad this year in education

Alan Borsuk:

The last Sunday of the year and time for our first, perhaps annual, awards for noteworthy things that hapened in education around here in 2010.
Unsung Hero of the Year Award: Robert Kattman, director of the Office of Charter Schools at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The soft spoken former North Shore superintendent has been both supportive and demanding in building a roster of a dozen charter schools authorized by the UW Board of Regents. The list includes some of the best schools in Milwaukee, such as Milwaukee College Prep, Bruce Guadalupe, Seeds of Health Elementary, Woodlands School, Veritas High School. If the charter movement was like this nationwide, there would be far less controversy about these independent, publicly funded schools. Kattman is retiring at the end of the school year. Thanks for all your efforts.
The High Standards Start Here Award: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers. Evers quickly signed up Wisconsin to be part of the “core standards” effort to bring coherence to the mish mash of what different states want students to learn. If the follow-through is good, it will raise Wisconsin’s expectations and, one hopes, student performance in years to come.
Most Important Data of the Year Award: The urban school district results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). This was the first time MPS took part and its students could be compared directly to those in 17 other central city school systems. The results were generally pretty distressing. Do we want our local education motto to be: “Thank God for Detroit – at least someone is worse than us”? The data should remain chastening and motivating to everyone involved in local education.

Walker, GOP pledge to reform Wisconsin’s approach to school funding

Matthew DeFour

Wisconsin’s next governor has promised big changes for schools and taxpayers – from tying teacher pay raises to performance and giving each school a letter grade to expanding alternatives to public schools and helping school districts cut costs.
But the first challenge facing Republican Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled Legislature next year is closing a $3 billion deficit in the state’s general fund, 44 percent of which covers K-12 education.
“I don’t think anybody is going to, in the short run, be able to solve the budget problems without cutting state funding for K-12,” said Andrew Reschovsky, a UW-Madison economics professor. “The current situation is unsustainable in the long run. There really is a crisis in how we fund schools.”
State Superintendent Tony Evers this week is expected to kick-start the school spending debate by announcing the details of his plan to reform the state’s complex education funding formula. In June, he said his proposal would move away from distributing aid based on property values and take into account factors such as student poverty – a move that could help districts such as Madison with high property wealth but also a lot of poor students.
The state cut $284 million, or 2.6 percent, from school aid in the current budget, resulting in an 8 percent reduction for Madison. The state also reduced the amount districts could increase revenues from $275 per pupil to $200 per pupil, which helped keep a lid on property taxes but forced districts to make budget cuts.