When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Marc Eisen:

Lake Wobegon has nothing on the UW-Madison School of Education. All of the children in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town are “above average.” Well, in the School of Education they’re all A students.
The 1,400 or so kids in the teacher-training department soared to a dizzying 3.91 grade point average on a four-point scale in the spring 2009 semester.
This was par for the course, so to speak. The eight departments in Education (see below) had an aggregate 3.69 grade point average, next to Pharmacy the highest among the UW’s schools. Scrolling through the Registrar’s online grade records is a discombobulating experience, if you hold to an old-school belief that average kids get C’s and only the really high performers score A’s.
Much like a modern-day middle school honors assembly, everybody’s a winner at the UW School of Education. In its Department of Curriculum and Instruction (that’s the teacher-training program), 96% of the undergraduates who received letter grades collected A’s and a handful of A/B’s. No fluke, another survey taken 12 years ago found almost exactly the same percentage.
A host of questions are prompted by the appearance of such brilliance. Can all these apprentice teachers really be that smart? Is there no difference in their abilities? Why do the grades of education majors far outstrip the grades of students in the physical sciences and mathematics? (Take a look at the chart below.)

The UW-Madison School of Education has no small amount of influence on the Madison School District.

Madison’s education academics get involved in the argument over education reform; What is the Track Record of ties between the Ed School and the MMSD?

Pat Schneider:

“I’m an academic,” says Slekar, a Pittsburgh-area native whose mother and grandmother were elementary school teachers and who was a classroom teacher himself before earning a Ph.D. in curriculum from University of Maryland.
“I understand scholarship, I understand evidence, I understand the role of higher education in society,” he says. “When initiatives come through, if we have solid evidence that something is not a good idea, it’s really my job to come out and say that.”
Michael Apple, an internationally recognized education theorist and professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison agrees. In the face of conservative state legislators’ push to privatize public education, “it is part of my civic responsibility to say what is happening,” says Apple.
“In a society that sees corporations as having all the rights of people, by and large education is a private good, not a public good,” he says. “I need to defend the very idea of public schools.”
Both Apple and Julie Underwood, dean of the School of Education at UW-Madison, share Slekar’s concern over the systematic privatization of education and recognize a role for scholars in the public debate about it.

A wide-ranging, animated, sometimes loud conversation with Slekar includes familiar controversies hotly debated around the country and in the Wisconsin Capitol, like high-stakes testing, vouchers and Common Core standards. The evidence, Slekar says flatly, shows that none of it will work to improve student learning.
The reform initiatives are instead part of a corporate takeover of public education masquerading as reform that will harm low-income and minority students before spreading to the suburbs, says Slekar, in what he calls the civil rights issue of our time.
A 30-year attack has worked to erode the legitimacy of the public education system. And teachers are taking much of the blame for the stark findings of the data now pulled from classrooms, he says.
“We’re absolutely horrible at educating poor minority kids,” says Slekar. “We absolutely know that.”
But neither the so-called reformers, nor many more casual observers, want to talk about the real reason for the disparities in achievement, Slekar says, which is poverty.
“That’s not an excuse, it’s a diagnosis,” he says, quoting John Kuhn, a firebrand Texas superintendent and activist who, at a 2011 rally, suggested that instead of performance-based salaries for teachers, the nation institute merit pay for members of Congress.

Local Education school academics have long had interactions with the Madison School District. Former Superintendent Art Rainwater works in the UW-Madison School of Education.

Further, this 122 page pdf (3.9mb) includes contracts (not sure if it is complete) between the UW-Madison School of Education and the Madison School District between 2004 and 2008. Has this relationship improved achievement?
Related: Deja Vu? Education Experts to Review the Madison School District and When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Thin data analysis of Wisconsin Teachers in Training

Molly Beck:

The 2.8 percent decrease between 2010 and 2012 at University of Wisconsin System campuses comes after a 6.8 percent increase between 2008 and 2010, according to System data reported to the federal Education Department provided to the State Journal by the UW System in response to a request for enrollment data for the System’s teacher-training programs. 
The numbers do not include students seeking teaching licenses with majors not classified by the UW System as education majors.
It’s unclear why the number of students enrolled in teacher-education programs has dropped, but Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell, associate dean of the UW-Madison School of Education, said some graduates there are now reporting feeling ill prepared for what they call the political atmosphere surrounding teaching.
“Until our most recent surveys, we’ve never had a complaint that ‘you didn’t prepare us for the political atmosphere'” of teaching, said Hanley-Maxwell about surveys the school sends to graduates who have been teaching for about three years.
She said about 60 percent of the school’s graduates respond to the after-graduation surveys that question how well the school prepared them for the teaching profession.

Related: When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?.

Tougher on teachers: One in four aspiring (Michigan) teachers pass new teacher test

Ron French:

Becoming a teacher in Michigan just became a lot more difficult.
Only one in four aspiring teachers passed a beefed-up version of Michigan’s teacher certification test – an exam that teachers must pass to be hired to lead a classroom – when the new test was administered for the first time last month.
The initial pass rate for the old version of the test was 82 percent; In October, with more difficult questions and higher scores needed to pass, the pass rate was 26 percent.
That means that three out of four students who completed what is typically a four- or five-year college program will have to retake the test or find another career.
The toughened certification tests are an effort to assure that only the most highly-qualified teachers are leading Michigan classrooms.
“Just like we’d want the best and most effective doctor,” said State Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a news release about the new, low pass rates. “The same applies to teaching Michigan’s students.”
Bridge Magazine raised concerns about the ease of teacher certification tests in October. At the time, aspiring Michigan teachers had a similar pass rate on certification tests as cosmetologists.
That story was part of a series examining the crucial role of teacher preparation in increasing learning in Michigan classrooms, where test scores show students are falling behind students in other states.

Related NCTQ study on teacher preparation and When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?.
UW-Madison School of Education Dean Julie Underwood continues her “status quo” advocacy via this latest op-ed.
Madison Literary Club Talk: Examinations for Teachers Past and Present

California teacher preparation reform

Jackie Mader:

For years, California has attempted to reform its teacher preparation programs to better prepare new teachers for the classroom. Alternative routes have popped up to offer aspiring teachers, in many cases, a less expensive and faster route to teaching. The state’s extensive performance exams for teacher candidates have served as a model for the rest of the nation.
Now, a teacher preparation program in California is pledging career-long support to its graduates. On Thursday, the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education launched a free helpline for its 25,000 alumni that will connect struggling graduates with a “rapid response team” of nine full-time faculty members. That team will diagnose problems, build individual plans for alumni, and offer solutions that range from site visits, to coaching, to professional development resources.

Related NCTQ study on teacher preparation and When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?.

UW-Madison professor says ALEC assault on public schools threatens American tradition of ‘educated citizen’

Pat Schneider:

The attack by the American Legislative Council (ALEC) threatens public education on five critical fronts, University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Julie Mead explains in an article published Wednesday by theInstitute for Wisconsin’s Future.
Interviewed by The Real News Network as protesters were arrested trying to crash ALEC’s 40th annual convention in Chicago last week, Mead said that education model bills flowing out of the conservative organization introduce market forces into and privatize education, increase student testing and decrease the influence of local school districts and school boards.
“One of the things that I like to talk about is what’s public about public education, because I really do believe that that is precisely what is at stake: what is public about public education,” Mead, a professor in the department of educational leadership and policy analysis, said in the article.
Trends fueled ALEC jeopardize five essential dimensions of public education, she said: Public purpose, public funding, public access, public accountability to communities and public curriculum.

Taking care of the basic such as reading and teacher preparation, will address some of the present public education system’s governance issues.
Related When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Stronger teacher preparation needed to improve schools

Gloria Romero:

We Californians like to think our state is the national leader in policy change and innovation, that new ideas are born here and other states follow our lead.
In one area, I am sad to say, that is not the case.
California is short-selling too many of its public school students because of education programs that inadequately prepare the next generation of teachers. A new review from the National Council on Teacher Quality that evaluates educational institutions, state by state, produced some sobering results for anyone who cares about what’s going on inside California schools of education.
Among the more disturbing findings from the institutions that provided data:

  • Half of 72 programs for elementary school preparation failed the evaluation, a higher failure rate than programs in any other state.
  • California’s secondary certification structure combined with inadequate coursework requirements, particularly in the sciences and social sciences, showed that only 17 percent of programs adequately prepared secondary teaching candidates in core subjects. That compared with 34 percent nationally.
  • Coursework in a majority (63 percent) of California elementary programs did not mention a single strategy for teaching reading to English language learners.
  • Of the 139 elementary and secondary programs that were evaluated on a four-star rating system, 33 programs earned no stars and only three earned as many as three. Not a single program earned four stars.

Related: Richard Askey: Examinations for Teachers Past and Present:

I have written about the problem in mathematics and hope that some others will use the resouces which exist to write about similar problems in other areas.
In his American Educational Research Association Presidential Address, which was published in Educational Researcher in 1986, Lee Shulman introduced the phrase “pedagogical content knowledge”. This is a mixture of content and knowing how to teach this content and is the one thing from his speech which has been picked up by the education community. However, there are a number of other points which he made which are important. Here is an early paragraph from this speech:

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Fascinating: UW education dean warns school boards that ALEC seeks to wipe them out

Pat Schneider:

ALEC is still at it, Julie Underwood, dean of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, cautions in “School Boards Beware,” (PDF) a commentary in the May issue of Wisconsin School News.
The model legislation disseminated by the pro-free market American Legislative Exchange Council’s national network of corporate members and conservative legislators seeks to privatize education and erode the local control, Underwood says.
“The ALEC goal to eliminate school districts and school boards is a bit shocking — but the idea is to make every school, public and private, independent through vouchers for all students. By providing all funding to parents rather than school districts, there is no need for local coordination, control or oversight,” she writes in the magazine of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
Underwood, who says that Wisconsin public schools already face unprecedented change, last year co-authored a piece about ALEC’s grander plans, a “legislative contagion (that) seemed to sweep across the Midwest during the early months of 2011.”
In her recent piece, Underwood argues that a push to privatize education for the “free market” threatens the purpose of public education: to educate every child to “become an active citizen, capable of participating in our democratic process.”

Related:

  • The state this year will start rating each school on a scale of 0 to 100 based on student test scores and other measurables. The idea, in part, is to give parents a way to evaluate how a school is performing while motivating those within it to improve.
  • Several schools across the state — including Madison’s Shorewood Elementary, Black Hawk Middle and Memorial High schools — are part of Wisconsin’s new teacher and principal evaluation system, which for the first time will grade a teacher’s success, in part, on student test scores. This system is to be implemented across Wisconsin in 2014-15.li>And instead of Wisconsin setting its own student benchmarks, the state is moving toward using Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted in 45 other states. State schools are starting new curricula this year in language arts and math so students will be prepared by the 2014-15 school year to take a new state exam tied to this common core and replacing the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination.

Although Underwood says she generally backs most of these changes, she’s no fan of the decision announced last month that makes it easier for a person to become a public school teacher — even as those who are studying to become teachers must now meet stiffer credentialing requirements. Instead of having to complete education training at a place like UW-Madison en route to being licensed, those with experience in private schools or with other teaching backgrounds now can take steps to become eligible for a public teaching license.

“I think that’s really unfortunate,” says Underwood, who first worked at UW-Madison from 1986-95 before coming back to town as education dean in 2005.

Related:

So why haven’t we ensured that all children get a rigorous, supportive education? Fear Factor: Teaching Without Training

Lisa Hansel, via a kind reader’s email:

So why haven’t we ensured that all children get a rigorous, supportive education?
This is a question I ask myself and others all the time. I think it’s more productive than merely asking “How can we?” Those who ask how without also asking why haven’t tend to waste significant amounts of time and resources “discovering” things that some already knew.
Okay, so I’ve partly answer the why question right there. Much better answers can be found in Diane Ravitch’s Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms, E. D. Hirsch’s The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them, and Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.
But still, those answers are not complete.
Right now, Kate Walsh and her team with the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) are adding to our collective wisdom–and potentially to our collective ability to act.
NCTQ is just a couple months away from releasing its review of teacher preparation programs. The results may not be shocking, but they are terrifying. Walsh provides a preview in the current issue of Education Next. In that preview, she reminds us of a study from several years ago that offers an insiders’ look at teacher preparation:

The most revealing insight into what teacher educators believe to be wrong or right about the field is a lengthy 2006 volume published by the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Studying Teacher Education. It contains contributions from 15 prominent deans and education professors and was intended to provide “balanced, thorough, and unapologetically honest descriptions of the state of research on particular topics in teacher education.” It lives up to that billing. First, the volume demonstrates the paucity of credible research that would support the current practices of traditional teacher education, across all of its many functions, including foundations courses, arts and sciences courses, field experiences, and pedagogical approaches, as well as how current practice prepares candidates to teach diverse populations and special education students. More intriguing, however, is the contributors’ examination of the dramatic evolution of the mission of teacher education over the last 50 years, in ways that have certainly been poorly understood by anyone outside the profession.
Studying Teacher Education explains the disconnect between what teacher educators believe is the right way to prepare a new teacher and the unhappy K-12 schools on the receiving end of that effort. It happens that the job of teacher educators is not to train the next generation of teachers but to prepare them.

Huh? Really? How exactly does one prepare without training? Walsh goes on to explain that. But the only way to prepare yourself to comprehend the teacher educators’ reasoning is to pretend like “prepare them” actually means “brainwash them into believing that in order to be a good teacher, you have to make everything up yourself.” Back to Walsh:

Harking back perhaps to teacher education’s 19th-century ecclesiastical origins, its mission has shifted away from the medical model of training doctors to professional formation. The function of teacher education is to launch the candidate on a lifelong path of learning, distinct from knowing, as actual knowledge is perceived as too fluid to be achievable. In the course of a teacher’s preparation, prejudices and errant assumptions must be confronted and expunged, with particular emphasis on those related to race, class, language, and culture. This improbable feat, not unlike the transformation of Pinocchio from puppet to real boy, is accomplished as candidates reveal their feelings and attitudes through abundant in-class dialogue and by keeping a journal. From these activities is born each teacher’s unique philosophy of teaching and learning.
There is also a strong social-justice component to teacher education, with teachers cast as “activists committed to diminishing the inequities of American society.” That vision of a teacher is seen by a considerable fraction of teacher educators (although not all) as more important than preparing a teacher to be an effective instructor.

Kate Walsh:

Nowhere is the chasm between the two visions of teacher education–training versus formation–clearer than in the demise of the traditional methods course. The public, and policymakers who require such courses in regulations governing teacher education, may assume that when a teacher takes a methods course, it is to learn the best methods for teaching certain subject matter. That view, we are told in the AERA volume, is for the most part an anachronism. The current view, state professors Renee T. Clift and Patricia Brady, is that “A methods course is seldom defined as a class that transmits information about methods of instruction and ends with a final exam. [They] are seen as complex sites in which instructors work simultaneously with prospective teachers on beliefs, teaching practices and creation of identities–their students’ and their own.”
The statement reveals just how far afield teacher education has traveled from its training purposes. It is hard not to suspect that the ambiguity in such language as the “creation of identities” is purposeful, because if a class fails to meet such objectives, no one would be the wiser.
The shift away from training to formation has had one immediate and indisputable outcome: the onus of a teacher’s training has shifted from the teacher educators to the teacher candidates. What remains of the teacher educator’s purpose is only to build the “capacity” of the candidate to be able to make seasoned professional judgments. Figuring out what actually to do falls entirely on the candidate.
Here is the guidance provided to student teachers at a large public university in New York:
In addition to establishing the norm for your level, you must, after determining your year-end goals, break down all that you will teach into manageable lessons. While so much of this is something you learn on the job, a great measure of it must be inside you, or you must be able to find it in a resource. This means that if you do not know the content of a grade level, or if you do not know how to prepare a lesson plan, or if you do not know how to do whatever is expected of you, it is your responsibility to find out how to do these things. Your university preparation is not intended to address every conceivable aspect of teaching.
Do not be surprised if your Cooperating Teacher is helpful but suggests you find out the “how to” on your own. Your Cooperating Teacher knows the value of owning your way into your teaching style.

Related: When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?.
Wisconsin has recently taken a first baby step toward teacher content knowledge requirements (something Massachusetts and Minnesota have done for years) via the adoption of MTEL-90. Much more on teacher content knowledge requirements, here.
Content knowledge requirements for teachers past & present.

The U.S.’s Low Standards for Teacher Training

Heather Brady:

The U.S. public education system is trying any number of techniques–from charter schools to presidential initiatives to oil-company-run teacher academies–to catch up to countries like Finland and South Korea in math and science education. But policymakers seem to be overlooking one simple solution: requiring math and science teachers to progress further up the educational ladder before they teach those subjects to kids.
The map above shows the minimum level of education each country requires teachers to obtain before working at the upper-secondary level. The map, based on data collected by Jody Heymann and the World Policy Analysis Center and subsequently published in Children’s Chances: How Countries Can Move from Surviving to Thriving, illustrates that the United States lags behind most other countries in its requirements.
Many U.S. school systems defer to teachers with higher degrees when they hire faculty, and teachers are required to have some kind of state certification along with a bachelor’s degree. However, the precise certification requirements vary, depending on how a teacher enters the profession and what state they teach in. The traditional route to becoming a teacher in the United States usually involves a bachelor’s or master’s degree in education along with a standardized test and other state-specific requirements. But most states have some form of an alternative route, usually involving a bachelor’s degree and completion of an alternate certification program while a person simultaneously teaches full-time. There is no federal mandate for teacher education requirements, according to the World Policy Analysis Center. The federal Improving Teacher Quality State Grants program rewards states with funds when they meet the “highly qualified teacher” requirement set forth in the No Child Left Behind Act.

Related: When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?
and,
Examinations for Teachers Past and Present by Dr. Richard Askey.

McCullough on Teaching Training: Don’t Major in Education!

Laura Waters:

David McCullough, author of Truman and John Adams and two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, was interviewed by Morley Safer on Sixty Minutes recently. During a discussion regarding Americans’ “historical illiteracy,” McCullough opined on teacher training:

Well we need to revamp, seriously revamp, the teaching of the teachers. I don’t feel that any professional teacher should major in education. They should major in a subject, know something. The best teachers are those who have a gift and the energy and enthusiasm to convey their love for science or history or Shakespeare or whatever it is. “Show them what you love” is the old adage. And we’ve all had them, where they can change your life. They can electrify the morning when you come into the classroom.

Related: When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That? and the National Council for Teacher Quality has been looking into school of education curriculum.

NCTQ Wins Minnesota Court Battle over Open Records Access to Ed School Curriculum

National Council on Teacher Quality, via a kind email:

Yesterday, a court in Minnesota delivered a summary judgment ordering the Minnesota State Colleges and University system to deliver the documents for which we asked in our open records (“sunshine”) request for our Teacher Prep Review.
At the heart of our Teacher Prep Review is a simple idea: the more information that aspiring teachers, district and school leaders, teacher educators and the public at large have about the programs producing classroom-ready teachers, the better all teacher training programs will be.
In our effort to produce the first comprehensive review of U.S. teacher prep, we’ve faced a number of challenges — perhaps the most serious of which has been the argument made by some universities that federal copyright law makes it illegal for public institutions publicly approved to prepare public school teachers to make public documents that describe the training they provide.
We want to make sure that everyone understands what this ruling does and does not mean. The Minnesota State colleges and universities system agreed with us that the syllabi we seek are indeed public record documents. Their case came down to the claim that because the course syllabi are also the intellectual property of professors, they should not have to deliver copies of their syllabi to us.
Minnesota’s open records law, the court ruled, is clear: public institutions must make documents accessible to individuals seeking them — which includes delivering copies to them. Delivering copies of these documents to us in no way, shape or form deprives the professors who created them of their intellectual property rights. NCTQ is conducting a research study, which means that our use of these syllabi falls under the fair use provision of the copyright law. This is the exactly the same provision that enables all researchers, including teacher educators, to make copies of key documents they need to analyze to make advances in our collective knowledge.

Related:

How to Fix the Schools

Joe Nocera:

“We have to find a way to work with teachers and unions while at the same time working to greatly raise the quality of teachers,” he told me recently. He has some clear ideas about how to go about that. His starting point is not the public schools themselves but the universities that educate teachers. Teacher education in America is vastly inferior to many other countries; we neither emphasize pedagogy — i.e., how to teach — nor demand mastery of the subject matter. Both are a given in the top-performing countries. (Indeed, it is striking how many nonprofit education programs in the U.S. are aimed at helping working teachers do a better job — because they’ve never learned the right techniques.)
What is also a given in other countries is that teaching has a status equal to other white-collar professionals. That was once true in America, but Tucker believes that a quarter-century of income inequality saw teachers lose out at the expense of lawyers and other well-paid professionals. That is a large part of the reason that teachers’ unions have become so obstreperous: It is not just that they feel underpaid, but they feel undervalued. Tucker believes that teachers should be paid more — though not exorbitantly. But making teacher education more rigorous — and imbuing the profession with more status — is just as important. “Other countries have raised their standards for getting into teachers’ colleges,” he told me. “We need to do the same.”

Related: When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That? and Wisconsin begins to adopt teacher content standards.

Outlook not set in stone for Wisconsin school of education enrollment

Arthur Thomas:

For all the changes implemented in 2011, one thing hurt enrollment at schools of education more than others, said John Gaffney, recruitment and retention coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s School of Education.
“The message of teachers being the problem hurt us the most,” Gaffney said.
The Act 10 legislation affected teachers’ pocketbooks – with union bargaining largely eliminated, higher deductions for benefits were imposed – and the political firestorm that resulted put teachers at the center of attention.
Maggie Beeber, undergraduate advising coordinator at the UW-Stevens Point education school, recounted a story where she was meeting with incoming freshmen. She asked the students if anyone had tried to discourage them from becoming teachers. Nearly every hand went up. Then she asked if more than five people had discouraged them. Most of the hands stayed up.
“It’s easy to follow the public discourse about teaching right now and conclude that everything is doomed,” said Desiree Pointer Mace, associate dean for graduate education at Alverno College.

Related:

An Interview with UW-Madison School of Education Dean Julie Underwood

Todd Finkelmeyer:

It’s an unprecedented amount of change, honestly,” says Julie Underwood, the dean of UW-Madison’s highly ranked School of Education.
Consider:

  • The state this year will start rating each school on a scale of 0 to 100 based on student test scores and other measurables. The idea, in part, is to give parents a way to evaluate how a school is performing while motivating those within it to improve.
  • Several schools across the state — including Madison’s Shorewood Elementary, Black Hawk Middle and Memorial High schools — are part of Wisconsin’s new teacher and principal evaluation system, which for the first time will grade a teacher’s success, in part, on student test scores. This system is to be implemented across Wisconsin in 2014-15.li>And instead of Wisconsin setting its own student benchmarks, the state is moving toward using Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted in 45 other states. State schools are starting new curricula this year in language arts and math so students will be prepared by the 2014-15 school year to take a new state exam tied to this common core and replacing the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination.

Although Underwood says she generally backs most of these changes, she’s no fan of the decision announced last month that makes it easier for a person to become a public school teacher — even as those who are studying to become teachers must now meet stiffer credentialing requirements. Instead of having to complete education training at a place like UW-Madison en route to being licensed, those with experience in private schools or with other teaching backgrounds now can take steps to become eligible for a public teaching license.
“I think that’s really unfortunate,” says Underwood, who first worked at UW-Madison from 1986-95 before coming back to town as education dean in 2005.

Related:

Loss of master’s degree pay bump has impact on teachers, grad schools

Erin Richards, via a kind reader’s email:

The dropping of the master’s bump in many districts is also raising new questions about what kind of outside training is relevant to help teachers improve outcomes with their students, and what those teachers – who are already taking home less pay by contributing more to their benefits – will consider to be worth the investment.
Wauwatosa East High School government teacher Ann Herrera Ward is one educator puzzled by the turning tide on advanced degrees.
Ward earned her bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before working in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven years, then got on the road to a teaching license through Marquette University, where she got a master’s in instructional leadership.
Entering her 20th year as a teacher, she’s finishing her dissertation for her doctorate degree: a study of how kids learn about elections and politics by discussing the matters in school and at home.

Related:

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



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

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

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

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

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


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

MTEL Arrives in Wisconsin: Teacher Licensing Content Requirement, from 1.1.2014

2011 WISCONSIN ACT 166, via a kind reader:

Section 21. 118.19 (14) of the statutes is created to read:
118.19 (14) (a) The department may not issue an initial teaching license that authorizes the holder to teach in grades kindergarten to 5 or in special education, an initial license as a reading teacher, or an initial license as a reading specialist, unless the applicant has passed an examination identical to the Foundations of Reading test administered in 2012 as part of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure [blekko]. The department shall set the passing cut score on the examination at a level no lower than the level recommended by the developer of the test, based on this state’s standards.
(c) Any teacher who passes the examination under par. (a) shall notify the department, which shall add a notation to the teacher’s license indicating that he or she passed the examination.
and….
115.28 (7g) Evaluation of teacher preparatory programs.
(a) The department shall, in consultation with the governor’s office, the chairpersons of the committees in the assembly and senate whose subject matter is elementary and secondary education and ranking members of those committees, the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, do all of the following:
1. Determine how the performance of individuals who have recently completed a teacher preparatory program described in s. 115.28 (7) (a) and located in this state or a teacher education program described in s. 115.28 (7) (e) 2. and located in this state will be used to evaluate the teacher preparatory and education programs. The determination under this subdivision shall, at minimum, define “recently completed” and identify measures to assess an individual’s performance, including the performance assessment made prior to making a recommendation for licensure.
2. Determine how the measures of performance of individuals who have recently completed a teacher preparatory or education program identified as required under subd. 1. will be made accessible to the public.
3. Develop a system to publicly report the measures of performance identified as required under subd. 1. for each teacher preparatory and education program identified in subd. 1.
(b) Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, the department shall use the system developed under par. (a) 3. to annually report for each program identified in par. (a) 1. the passage rate on first attempt of students and graduates of the program on examinations administered for licensure under s. 115.28 (7) and any other information required to be reported under par. (a) 1.
(c) Beginning in the 2013-14 school year, each teacher preparatory and education program shall prominently display and annually update the passage rate on first attempt of recent graduates of the program on examinations administered for licensure under s. 115.28 (7) and any other information required to be reported under par. (a) 1. on the program’s Web site and provide this information to persons receiving admissions materials to the program.
Section 18. 115.28 (12) (ag) of the statutes is created to read:
115.28 (12) (ag) Beginning in the 2012-13 school year, each school district using the system under par. (a) shall include in the system the following information for each teacher teaching in the school district who completed a teacher preparatory program described in sub. (7) (a) and located in this state or a teacher education program described in sub. (7) (e) 2. and located in this state on or after January 1, 2012:
1. The name of the teacher preparatory program or teacher education program the teacher attended and completed.
2. The term or semester and year in which the teacher completed the program described in subd. 1.

Related:

This is a sea change for Wisconsin students, the most substantive in decades. Of course, what is entered into the statutes can be changed or eliminated. The MTEL requirement begins with licenses after 1.1.2014.

More Election Tea Leaves: UW-Madison Ed School Dean on K-12 Tax & Spending: Defunding and privatization threaten public schools

UW-Madison Ed School Dean Julie Underwood:

Public education currently stands under twin towers of threat — de-funding and privatization. This is consistent with a conservative agenda to eliminate many public programs — including public education.
In Wisconsin, school districts have been under strict limits on their revenues and spending since 1993. These limits have not kept pace with the natural increases in the costs of everyday things like supplies, energy and fuel. So every year, local school board members and administrators have had to cut their budgets to comply with spending limits. Throughout these years, school boards and administrators have done an admirable job of managing these annual cuts, but taken together, reductions in programs and staff have had a significant and very negative impact on our schools and the education they can provide to children.
Unfortunately this year, these same districts have received the largest single budget cut in Wisconsin history. For example, high poverty aid was cut by 10 percent during a time when poverty in children has increased in Wisconsin. As a result, schools are cutting programs and staff. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction data, the cuts in 2012 are greater than the two previous years combined. These cuts will be compounded when next year’s cuts come due.

Related:

UW profs shed light on ALEC’s threat to public education

Todd Finkelmeyer:

University of Wisconsin-Madison professors Julie Underwood and Julie Mead are expressing concern over the growing corporate influence on public education in an article published Monday.
In particular, they are highly critical of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which connects conservative state legislators with like-minded think tanks, corporations and foundations to develop “model legislation” that can be enacted at the state level.
Underwood is the dean of UW-Madison’s School of Education, while Mead chairs the ed school’s department of educational leadership and policy analysis. The two make their opinions known in an article they co-authored for the March issue of Phi Delta Kappan magazine, which serves members of the PDK professional organization for educators.
Underwood says much of the information in the article is an outgrowth of research she conducted while helping get the ALECexposed.org website up and running last summer.

Related:

NCTQ Sues UW Ed Schools over Access to Course Syllabi

Kate Walsh, via a kind reader’s email:

As reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Associated Press, NCTQ filed a lawsuit yesterday — a first for us — against the University of Wisconsin system.
UW campuses issued identically worded denials of our requests for course syllabi, which is one of the many sources of information we use to rate programs for the National Review of teacher preparation programs. They argue that “syllabi are not public records because they are subject to copyright” and therefore do not have to be produced in response to an open records request.
We believe that the University’s reading of the law is flawed. We are engaged in research on the quality of teacher preparation programs, and so our request falls squarely within the fair use provision of copyright law. What’s more, these documents were created at public institutions for the training of public school teachers, and so should be subject to scrutiny by the public.
You can read our complaint here.

Related Georgia, Wisconsin Education Schools Back Out of NCTQ Review

Public higher education institutions in Wisconsin and Georgia–and possibly as many as five other states–will not participate voluntarily in a review of education schools now being conducted by the National Council for Teacher Quality and U.S. News and World Report, according to recent correspondence between state consortia and the two groups.
In response, NCTQ and U.S. News are moving forward with plans to obtain the information from these institutions through open-records requests.
In letters to the two organizations, the president of the University of Wisconsin system and the chancellor of Georgia’s board of regents said their public institutions would opt out of the review, citing a lack of transparency and questionable methodology, among other concerns.
Formally announced in January, the review will rate education schools on up to 18 standards, basing the decisions primarily on examinations of course syllabuses and student-teaching manuals.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Lake Wobegon has nothing on the UW-Madison School of Education. All of the children in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town are “above average.” Well, in the School of Education they’re all A students.
The 1,400 or so kids in the teacher-training department soared to a dizzying 3.91 grade point average on a four-point scale in the spring 2009 semester.
This was par for the course, so to speak. The eight departments in Education (see below) had an aggregate 3.69 grade point average, next to Pharmacy the highest among the UW’s schools. Scrolling through the Registrar’s online grade records is a discombobulating experience, if you hold to an old-school belief that average kids get C’s and only the really high performers score A’s.
Much like a modern-day middle school honors assembly, everybody’s a winner at the UW School of Education. In its Department of Curriculum and Instruction (that’s the teacher-training program), 96% of the undergraduates who received letter grades collected A’s and a handful of A/B’s. No fluke, another survey taken 12 years ago found almost exactly the same percentage.

Grade Inflation for Education Majors and Low Standards for Teachers When Everyone Makes the Grade

Cory Koedel

Students who take education classes at universities receive significantly higher grades than students who take classes in every other academic discipline. The higher grades cannot be explained by observable differences in student quality between education majors and other students, nor can they be explained by the fact that education classes are typically smaller than classes in other academic departments. The remaining reasonable explanation is that the higher grades in education classes are the result of low grading standards. These low grading standards likely will negatively affect the accumulation of skills for prospective teachers during university training. More generally, they contribute to a larger culture of low standards for educators.
Key points in this Outlook:
Grades awarded in university education departments are consistently higher than grades in other disciplines.
Similarly, teachers in K-12 schools receive overwhelmingly positive evaluations.
Grade inflation in education departments should be addressed through administrative directives or external accountability in K-12 schools.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?

Statement by State Education Chiefs Supporting the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Review of Colleges of Education

Foundation for Excellence in Education, via a Kate Walsh email:

Today, the following members of Chiefs for Change, Janet Barresi, Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Information; Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction; Steve Bowen, Maine Commissioner of Education; Chris Cerf, New Jersey Commissioner of Education; Deborah A. Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education; Kevin Huffman, Tennessee Commissioner of Education; Eric Smith, Florida Commissioner of Education; and Hanna Skandera, New Mexico Public Education Department Secretary-Designate, released a statement supporting the National Council on Teacher Quality’s colleges of education review.
“Great teachers make great students. Preparing teachers with the knowledge and skills to be effective educators is paramount to improving student achievement. Ultimately, colleges of education should be reviewed the same way we propose evaluating teachers – based on student learning.”
“Until that data becomes available in every state, Chiefs for Change supports the efforts of the National Council on Teacher Quality to gather research-based data and information about the nation’s colleges of education. This research can provide a valuable tool for improving the quality of education for educators.”

Related: Georgia, Wisconsin Education Schools Back Out of NCTQ Review

Public higher education institutions in Wisconsin and Georgia–and possibly as many as five other states–will not participate voluntarily in a review of education schools now being conducted by the National Council for Teacher Quality and U.S. News and World Report, according to recent correspondence between state consortia and the two groups.
In response, NCTQ and U.S. News are moving forward with plans to obtain the information from these institutions through open-records requests.
In letters to the two organizations, the president of the University of Wisconsin system and the chancellor of Georgia’s board of regents said their public institutions would opt out of the review, citing a lack of transparency and questionable methodology, among other concerns.
Formally announced in January, the review will rate education schools on up to 18 standards, basing the decisions primarily on examinations of course syllabuses and student-teaching manuals.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?:
Teacher colleges balk at being rated Wisconsin schools say quality survey from national nonprofit and magazine won’t be fair.

“Transparency Central” National Review of Education Schools

The National Council on Teacher Qualty:

Higher education institutions, whether they are private or public, have an obligation to be transparent about the design and operations of their teacher preparation programs. After all, these institutions have all been publicly approved to prepare public school teachers.
Here at Transparency Central, you can keep track of whether colleges and universities are living up to their obligation to be open. Just click on a state to learn more about the transparency of individual institutions there.
NCTQ is asking institutions to provide documents that describe the fundamental aspects of their teacher preparation programs: the subject matter teachers are supposed to know, the real-world classroom practice they are supposed to get, the outcomes that they achieve once they enter the classroom. Taken together, the evidence we gathering will answer a key question: Are individual programs setting high expectations for what new teachers should know and be able to do for their students?
A number of institutions have let us know that they do not intend to cooperate with our review, some even before we formally asked them for documents. As a result, we have begun to make open records requests using state “sunshine” (or “freedom of information act”) laws.
We’ll be regularly updating our progress, so come back soon to learn more about our efforts to bring transparency to teacher prep.

Related:

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:

Georgia, Wisconsin Education Schools Back Out of NCTQ Review

Stephen Sawchuk, via a kind reader’s email:

Public higher education institutions in Wisconsin and Georgia–and possibly as many as five other states–will not participate voluntarily in a review of education schools now being conducted by the National Council for Teacher Quality and U.S. News and World Report, according to recent correspondence between state consortia and the two groups.
In response, NCTQ and U.S. News are moving forward with plans to obtain the information from these institutions through open-records requests.
In letters to the two organizations, the president of the University of Wisconsin system and the chancellor of Georgia’s board of regents said their public institutions would opt out of the review, citing a lack of transparency and questionable methodology, among other concerns.
Formally announced in January, the review will rate education schools on up to 18 standards, basing the decisions primarily on examinations of course syllabuses and student-teaching manuals.
The situation is murkier in New York, Maryland, Colorado, and California, where public university officials have sent letters to NCTQ and U.S. News requesting changes to the review process, but haven’t yet declined to take part willingly.
In Kentucky, the presidents, provosts, and ed. school deans of public universities wrote in a letter to the research and advocacy group and the newsmagazine that they won’t “endorse” the review. It’s not yet clear what that means for their participation.

Related: When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?:

Lake Wobegon has nothing on the UW-Madison School of Education. All of the children in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town are “above average.” Well, in the School of Education they’re all A students.
The 1,400 or so kids in the teacher-training department soared to a dizzying 3.91 grade point average on a four-point scale in the spring 2009 semester.
This was par for the course, so to speak. The eight departments in Education (see below) had an aggregate 3.69 grade point average, next to Pharmacy the highest among the UW’s schools. Scrolling through the Registrar’s online grade records is a discombobulating experience, if you hold to an old-school belief that average kids get C’s and only the really high performers score A’s.
Much like a modern-day middle school honors assembly, everybody’s a winner at the UW School of Education. In its Department of Curriculum and Instruction (that’s the teacher-training program), 96% of the undergraduates who received letter grades collected A’s and a handful of A/B’s. No fluke, another survey taken 12 years ago found almost exactly the same percentage.

Grade Inflation: Who Really Failed?

Scott Jaschik:

Dominique G. Homberger won’t apologize for setting high expectations for her students.
The biology professor at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge gives brief quizzes at the beginning of every class, to assure attendance and to make sure students are doing the reading. On her tests, she doesn’t use a curve, as she believes that students must achieve mastery of the subject matter, not just achieve more mastery than the worst students in the course. For multiple choice questions, she gives 10 possible answers, not the expected 4, as she doesn’t want students to get very far with guessing.
Students in introductory biology don’t need to worry about meeting her standards anymore. LSU removed her from teaching, mid-semester, and raised the grades of students in the class. In so doing, the university’s administration has set off a debate about grade inflation, due process and a professor’s right to set standards in her own course.
To Homberger and her supporters, the university’s action has violated principles of academic freedom and weakened the faculty.

Related: Marc Eisen: When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?.

“As a Teacher, I Was Complicit in Grade Inflation. Our Low Expectations Hurt Students We Were Supposed to Help”

Emily Langhorne: n November, NPR uncovered a graduation scandal at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., where half the graduates missed more than 90 days of school. Administrators pressured teachers to pass failing students, including those whom teachers had barely seen. Policy wonks have had a field day with the report, adding graduation scandals to … Continue reading “As a Teacher, I Was Complicit in Grade Inflation. Our Low Expectations Hurt Students We Were Supposed to Help”

A’s on the rise in U.S. report cards, but SAT scores founder

Greg Toppo: Recent findings show that the proportion of high school seniors graduating with an A average — that includes an A-minus or A-plus — has grown sharply over the past generation, even as average SAT scores have fallen. In 1998, it was 38.9%. By last year, it had grown to 47%. That’s right: Nearly … Continue reading A’s on the rise in U.S. report cards, but SAT scores founder

Great teaching has long been seen as an innate skill. But reformers are showing that the best teachers are made, not born

The Economist: a new way of training teachers. Rather than spending their time musing on the meaning of education, he and his peers have been drilled in the craft of the classroom. Their dozens of honed techniques cover everything from discipline to making sure all children are thinking hard. Not a second is wasted. North … Continue reading Great teaching has long been seen as an innate skill. But reformers are showing that the best teachers are made, not born

What Matters In School Is Teachers; Fortunately, Teaching Can Be Taught

The economist: FORGET smart uniforms and small classes. The secret to stellar grades and thriving students is teachers. One American study found that in a single year’s teaching the top 10% of teachers impart three times as much learning to their pupils as the worst 10% do. Another suggests that, if black pupils were taught … Continue reading What Matters In School Is Teachers; Fortunately, Teaching Can Be Taught

Teacher prep programs need to be accountable, too

Robert Pianta: As if on cue, teacher preparation organizations, college and university education schools, and teachers unions are protesting proposed federal regulations for assessing the quality and impact of teacher preparation programs. Over the past month, my e-mail inbox has been filled with a stream of increasingly dire pleas to join the chorus. Delayed for … Continue reading Teacher prep programs need to be accountable, too

High Teacher Scores Bring New Scrutiny

Leslie Brody: The vast majority of teachers and principals across New York got high grades for their work last year, state data showed Tuesday, prompting top education officials to call for tougher evaluations. The release marked the first time New York City teachers received ratings under a new state-imposed system that aims to be more … Continue reading High Teacher Scores Bring New Scrutiny

Ten Words to Better Teacher Preparation Programs

Michael Dannenberg (PDF): Teacher Preparation explains more of the variance in K-12 achievement than all other teacher characteristics. Unfortunately, teacher education programs do not have especially high entry standards. Worse, traditional teacher education programs appear to have relatively low performance standards. Related: When A stands for average.

Majority of New York city’s trainee teachers flunked literacy tests

Carl Campanile: How do you spell illiterate? A majority of students training at scores of New York colleges to become teachers flunked a literacy test they have to pass to be licensed, new figures show. The state Board of Regents for the first time is requiring would-be teachers to pass the Academic Literacy Skills exam. … Continue reading Majority of New York city’s trainee teachers flunked literacy tests

A proposal to rate teacher preparation programs

Erin Richards: But Jeanne Williams, past president of the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and chair of the educational studies department at Ripon College, said the state is already preparing to release educator preparation program report cards, in accordance with a state law passed in recent years to strengthen teacher training. Those will … Continue reading A proposal to rate teacher preparation programs

Why Is American Teaching So Bad?

Jonathan Zimmerman: Aware of such research, Green circles back to the education schools, where a zealous coterie of scholars has been trying to identify and inculcate the “habits of mind” that define the disciplines. They tend to follow the work of Stanford University’s Lee Shulman, who coined the term “pedagogical content knowledge” to describe the … Continue reading Why Is American Teaching So Bad?

Teacher group: Math is ‘the domain of old, white men’

Danette Clark: According to a Teach for America website, culturally responsive teaching in math is important because “math has traditionally been seen as the domain of old, White men.” As reported earlier this week, Teach for America groups across the country are committing themselves to “culturally responsive teaching,” a radical pedagogy used by communist Bill … Continue reading Teacher group: Math is ‘the domain of old, white men’

Princeton committee recommends end of grade deflation era

Angela Wang: Following decades of rampant grade inflation, the average GPA and fraction of A-grades given dropped dramatically from 2003-05 — the years right before the current grading policy was implemented — according to a report released by the University on Tuesday morning. The report, which was prepared at the request of University President Christopher … Continue reading Princeton committee recommends end of grade deflation era

To Fight Grade Inflation in the Humanities, Add Context

Andrew Perrin: “You don’t understand,” the student said. “This is sociology. I took this class to increase my GPA. It wasn’t supposed to be hard!” It was my first semester on the faculty, and the student had come to my office to complain about the grade she’d earned on the first paper for my sociology … Continue reading To Fight Grade Inflation in the Humanities, Add Context

UW-Madison’s Julie Underwood says controversial teacher education rankings “don’t mean much”

Pat Schneider: “So whether the ratings are lackluster, or horrible, or great doesn’t mean much to me,” she said. UW-Madison School of Education programs in secondary education were deemed to be in the bottom half nationwide and were not ranked. Underwood is not the only educator skewering the NTCQ ratings released this week that discredit … Continue reading UW-Madison’s Julie Underwood says controversial teacher education rankings “don’t mean much”

Kill the bill that would let politicians muck around with Common Core standards, says education dean

Pat Schneider Tim Slekar, the dean of education at Edgewood College and outspoken critic of corporate-driven education “reform,” couldn’t read another word about Wisconsin GOP legislators’ plan to rewrite the state’s educational standards without saying something about it. “Someone has to say it: Any bill that would allow politicians the ability to directly and/or indirectly … Continue reading Kill the bill that would let politicians muck around with Common Core standards, says education dean

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Greece Bailouts end + Grim Demographics

Giorgos Christides: The school on the small Greek village of Kerasochori looks like the set of a disaster movie. Everything is still there: the black board, the math books, tables and chairs, the sports equipment, the map of Greece on the wall. Even the class registers are still in the corner. A layer of dust … Continue reading K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Greece Bailouts end + Grim Demographics

A look at “Chicago’s Nation-Leading Educational Gains”

Joyce Foundation: For the last 30 years, the city of Chicago—from grassroots activists to local foundations to City Hall—has undertaken nothing less than the gut rehab of its public education system. Billions of dollars and untold hours of sweat equity from teachers, parents, principals and community leaders have been invested in the improvement of the … Continue reading A look at “Chicago’s Nation-Leading Educational Gains”

Why we should bulldoze the business school

Martin Parker: Visit the average university campus and it is likely that the newest and most ostentatious building will be occupied by the business school. The business school has the best building because it makes the biggest profits (or, euphemistically, “contribution” or “surplus”) – as you might expect, from a form of knowledge that teaches … Continue reading Why we should bulldoze the business school

Interview with Founder and CEO of DiDi, Cheng Wei. Part I: Understanding DiDi and Data

Harbinger China: Starting your own business is about creating value for your customers. Technological advances will create massive value for users in every industry. Most of the past 2000 years were the agricultural era, and the development of technology and society was so low that it was impossible for the average person with life expectancy … Continue reading Interview with Founder and CEO of DiDi, Cheng Wei. Part I: Understanding DiDi and Data

California Bar Examiners Stripped Of Authority To Determine Passing Score On State Bar Exam

Staci Zaretsky: As thoroughly reported here at Above the Law, bar exam passage rates have plummeted across the nation for the past several years. In California in particular, test-takers’ performance has been outstandingly poor, prompting a chorus of critics to demand that the state’s cut score be lowered so that more law school graduates will … Continue reading California Bar Examiners Stripped Of Authority To Determine Passing Score On State Bar Exam

Crisis in the classroom: New Indiana teachers repeatedly failing state exams

Bob Segall, via a kind reader: In the past three years, thousands of new, would-be Indiana teachers have failed the state’s CORE content area assessment exams. The tests, which are each designed to evaluate teacher knowledge in a very specific subject area, are a prerequisite for new teachers to obtain their Indiana state teaching license. … Continue reading Crisis in the classroom: New Indiana teachers repeatedly failing state exams

Wisconsin Teacher Licensing Standards

Erin Richards: The proposal comes amid continuing discussion over the rigor and selectivity of university teacher education programs. Jon Bales, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, said there are issues in Wisconsin around the recruitment of would-be teachers and the quality of their preparation. But he said the provision championed by … Continue reading Wisconsin Teacher Licensing Standards

K-16 Governance: An Oxymoron? Wallace Hall Was Right About UT All Along

Jim Schutze: When Hall was early on the board, the university revealed to regents there were problems with a large private endowment used to provide off-the-books six-figure “forgivable loans” to certain faculty members, out of sight of the university’s formal compensation system. Hall wanted to know how big the forgivable loans were and who decided … Continue reading K-16 Governance: An Oxymoron? Wallace Hall Was Right About UT All Along

It’s time parents accept not all kids should go to college

Dustin McKissen: “Not every kid is meant for college.” That statement, or some close variation of it, is something I hear and read more and more. It’s usually followed by a comment on the debt associated with a degree, the need for kids to learn a trade, and the role schools should play in identifying … Continue reading It’s time parents accept not all kids should go to college

Percentage of Bachelor’s degrees conferred to women, by major (1970-2012)

Randall Olson: One oft-cited problem with Computer Science is its glaring gender disparity: In a given Computer Science class, men will outnumber women as much as 8 to 2 (20% women). This stands in stark contrast to most other college majors, which have women outnumbering men 3 to 2 on average (60% women). This observation … Continue reading Percentage of Bachelor’s degrees conferred to women, by major (1970-2012)

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

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

Congratulations, class of 2014: You’re totally screwed. College costs more and more, even as it gets objectively worse. Only people worse off than indebted grads: adjuncts

Thomas Frank: Welcome to the wide world, Class of 2014. You have by now noticed the tremendous consignment of debt that the authorities at your college have spent the last four years loading on your shoulders. It may interest you to know that the average student-loan borrower among you is now $33,000 in debt, the … Continue reading Congratulations, class of 2014: You’re totally screwed. College costs more and more, even as it gets objectively worse. Only people worse off than indebted grads: adjuncts

Youth Misery Index Hits all time High

Jennifer Kabbany: A Youth Misery Index that measures young Americans’ woes has skyrocketed under President Barack Obama and hit an all-time high. The index, released Wednesday, was calculated by adding youth unemployment and average college loan debt figures with each person’s share of the national debt. While it has steadily grown over the decades, under … Continue reading Youth Misery Index Hits all time High

The Vital Link of Education and Prosperity

Paul Peterson & Eric Hanushek:

Americans are aware of public education’s many failures–the elevated high-school dropout rates, the need for remedial work among entering college students. One metric in particular stands out: Only 32% of U.S. high-school students are proficient in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. When the NAEP results are put on the scale of the Program on International Student Assessment (PISA), the world’s best source of information on student achievement, the comparable proficiency rates in math are 45% in Germany, 49% in Canada, and 63% in Singapore, the highest performing independent nation.
The subpar performance of U.S. students has wide ramifications–and not just for individuals. On an individual level, of course, the connection between education and income is obvious. Those with a college degree can expect to earn over 60% more in the course of their lifetime than those with a high-school diploma, according to U.S. Census data. But there is a nexus between educational achievement and national prosperity as well.
According to our calculations, raising student test scores in this country up to the level in Canada would dramatically increase economic growth. We estimate that the additional growth dividend has a present value of $77 trillion over the next 80 years. This is equivalent to adding an average 20% to the paycheck of every worker for every year of work over this time period.

It’s the Students, Stupid

The billionaires’ club, with their long retinue of pundits, researchers, and other hangers-on, are giving their attention, some of the time, to education. But they are not paying attention to the academic work of students, or to their responsibility for their own education.
Mr. Gates spent nearly two hundred million dollars recently on a program for teacher assessment, but does he realize that in almost every class there are students as well, and that they have a lot to say about what the teacher can accomplish?
One pundit came to speak in Boston. When told that lots of good teachers were being driven out of the profession by the absence of discipline among students, he said, “They need better classroom management skills.” I don’t think he had ever “managed” a classroom, but I told him this story:
When Theodore Roosevelt was President, he had a guest one day in the oval office, and his daughter Alice came roaring through the room disturbing everything. The guest said, “Can’t you control Alice?” And Roosevelt said, “I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice, but not both.”
Lots and lots of teachers have students in their classes who have not been taught by KIPP, to “Work Hard, Be Nice.” Their inability to control themselves and behave with courtesy and respect for their teacher and their fellow students frequently degrades and can even disintegrate the academic integrity of the class, which damages not only their own chance to learn, but prevents all their classmates from learning as well.
In 2004, Paul A. Zoch, a teacher from Texas, wrote in Doomed to Fail (p. 150) that: “Let there be no doubt about it: the United States looks to its teachers and their efforts, but not to its students and their efforts, for success in education.” Nine years later that remains the problem with the Edupundits and their funders.
Of course, one problem for the edureformers is that you can fire teachers but you can’t fire students. If students fail, largely through their own poor attendance, inattention and destructive behavior in class, we can’t blame them. Only the teachers can be held to account. This is beyond stupid, verging on willful blindness.
The University of Indiana, in its most recent Survey of High School Student Engagement, interviewed 143,052 U.S. high school students and found that 42.5% of them spend an hour or less each week on homework and 82.7% spend five hours or less each week on their homework. The average Korean student spends fifteen hours a week on homework, and that does not include evening hagwon sessions of two or three hours. Can anyone see a difference here? And, by the way, American students spend 53 hours a week playing video games and using other sorts of electronic entertainment.
Will Fitzhugh, The Concord Review
While they play, and consume expensive products of the technology companies, students in other countries are studying hard, behaving in class, and taking their educational opportunities seriously so they can eat our lunch, which they are starting to do.
But let’s blame the teachers in the United States and ignore what their students are doing, in class and after class. That will work, won’t it?
Of course what teachers and all the other employees of our school systems do is important. But ignoring students and their work, and blaming teachers for poor student academic performance, would be like blaming a trainer if his boxer gets knocked out in the ring, while not noticing that the boxer stands in front of his opponent with his hands at his sides all the time.
We need high academic achievement, but we will not get it by blaming teachers and driving them out of the profession, while not noticing that students have an important, and even crucial, responsibility for their own learning.
Ignoring the role of our students in their own education, which at the “highest” levels of funded programs we do, is not only dumb, it will virtually consign all the other efforts to failure. Think about it.
The billionaires’ club, with their long retinue of pundits, researchers, and other hangers-on, are giving their attention, some of the time, to education. But they are not paying attention to the academic work of students, or to their responsibility for their own education.
Mr. Gates spent nearly two hundred million dollars recently on a program for teacher assessment, but does he realize that in almost every class there are students as well, and that they have a lot to say about what the teacher can accomplish?
One pundit came to speak in Boston. When told that lots of good teachers were being driven out of the profession by the absence of discipline among students, he said, “They need better classroom management skills.” I don’t think he had ever “managed” a classroom, but I told him this story:
When Theodore Roosevelt was President, he had a guest one day in the oval office, and his daughter Alice came roaring through the room disturbing everything. The guest said, “Can’t you control Alice?” And Roosevelt said, “I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice, but not both.”
Lots and lots of teachers have students in their classes who have not been taught by KIPP, to “Work Hard, Be Nice.” Their inability to control themselves and behave with courtesy and respect for their teacher and their fellow students frequently degrades and can even disintegrate the academic integrity of the class, which damages not only their own chance to learn, but prevents all their classmates from learning as well.
In 2004, Paul A. Zoch, a teacher from Texas, wrote in Doomed to Fail (p. 150) that: “Let there be no doubt about it: the United States looks to its teachers and their efforts, but not to its students and their efforts, for success in education.” Nine years later that remains the problem with the Edupundits and their funders.
Of course, one problem for the edureformers is that you can fire teachers but you can’t fire students. If students fail, largely through their own poor attendance, inattention and destructive behavior in class, we can’t blame them. Only the teachers can be held to account. This is beyond stupid, verging on willful blindness.
The University of Indiana, in its most recent Survey of High School Student Engagement, interviewed 143,052 U.S. high school students and found that 42.5% of them spend an hour or less each week on homework and 82.7% spend five hours or less each week on their homework. The average Korean student spends fifteen hours a week on homework, and that does not include evening hagwon sessions of two or three hours. Can anyone see a difference here? And, by the way, American students spend 53 hours a week playing video games and using other sorts of electronic entertainment.
While they play, and consume expensive products of the technology companies, students in other countries are studying hard, behaving in class, and taking their educational opportunities seriously so they can eat our lunch, which they are starting to do.
But let’s blame the teachers in the United States and ignore what their students are doing, in class and after class. That will work, won’t it?
Of course what teachers and all the other employees of our school systems do is important. But ignoring students and their work, and blaming teachers for poor student academic performance, would be like blaming a trainer if his boxer gets knocked out in the ring, while not noticing that the boxer stands in front of his opponent with his hands at his sides all the time.
We need high academic achievement, but we will not get it by blaming teachers and driving them out of the profession, while not noticing that students have an important, and even crucial, responsibility for their own learning.
Ignoring the role of our students in their own education, which at the “highest” levels of funded programs we do, is not only dumb, it will virtually consign all the other efforts to failure. Think about it.
Will Fitzhugh
The Concord Review

Chicago Teachers Union on Strike – Administration offered 16% Salary Increase over 4 Years, Charter Schools Unaffected

Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Joel Hood and Kristen Mack:

“This is about as much as we can do,” Vitale said. “There is only so much money in the system.”
The district said it offered teachers a 16 percent pay raise over four years and a host of benefit proposals.
“This is not a small commitment we’re handing out at a time when our fiscal situation is really challenged,” Vitale said.
Lewis said the two sides are close on teacher compensation but the union has serious concerns about the cost of health benefits, the makeup of the teacher evaluation system and job security.

More from
Justin Katz and Daily Kos.


Analysis: Striking Chicago teachers take on national education reform.

Chicago teachers walk picket lines for first time in 25 years.
Update: Madison Teachers’, Inc. [PDF] on the CTU Strike:

MTI Stands with Chicago Teachers
In August, over 90% of the members of the Chicago Teachers’ Union voted for authorization to strike. Our CTU brothers and sisters have long been fighting against the charter school initiatives supported by Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a Democratic city council. On August 22, several MTI members attended a “Solidarity with CTU” night at SCFL. MTI members made up almost half the room. CTU member Becca Kelly spoke passionately about the injustice, inequity and blatant racism present in Chicago Public School policies and closures. In an interview, Chicago Teachers’ Union President Karen Lewis stated, “Our students deserve smaller class sizes, a robust, well-rounded curriculum, and in-school services that address their social, emotional, intellectual and health needs. They deserve culturally-sensitive non-biased and equitable education, especially students with IEPs, emergent bilingual students and early childhood children. And all of our students deserve professional teachers who are treated as such, fully resourced school buildings and a school system that partners with parents.” This is what the CTU is fighting for.
This past year CTU fought side by side with parents to halt 17 schools closings or “turn arounds” in the city. The parents did secure a meeting with the city council, but all 17 schools were closed. Next year, Kelly shared, there are over 70 Chicago Public Schools identified for “turn around or closing.”
On August 22, the MTI Board voted unanimously to support the resolutions put forth by the CTU. The MTI Board also recommended further fundraising efforts. MTI President Kerry Motoviloff spoke in support of the CTU that evening. She called for MTI members to stand with our CTU brothers and sisters as they stood with us when we called them. Speaking of the anti-worker movement, she said, “This is not a Madison issue. This is not a Chicago issue. This is not a Wisconsin issue. This is not even limited to a union issue. This is a worker issue.” She continued, “Scott Walker, Rahm Emanuel, they cannot define us. They can make things difficult. They can give us hoops to jump thorough. They can try to throw us off our focus to play defense. But the more we control our message, our voice, the more potent our acts become. This is all one fight. We are all one movement. We will win this.” The Chicago Teachers Union has published a booklet and a page of 10 talking points, both can be downloaded in PDF on the CTU website. Members are encouraged to visit it for more details. MTI will keep members abreast of future solidarity actions.

CTU Parent Flyer (PDF) and CTU in the news (PDF).
Stephanie Banchero:

The Chicago battle has pitted Karen Lewis, one of the country’s most vocal labor leaders, against Mr. Emanuel, one of its most prominent mayors and the former White House chief of staff for President Barack Obama. The Democratic mayor has made efforts to overhaul the city’s public education a centerpiece of his administration.
The two sides have been negotiating for months over issues including wages, health-care benefits and job security. The city has offered teachers a 3% pay raise the first year and 2% annual raises for the next three years. The average teacher salary in Chicago is about $70,000.
On Sunday night, city officials and union leaders said the wage issues aren’t the sticking point. Rather, the two sides are at loggerheads over a new teacher-evaluation system and how much of it should be weighted on student test scores, and over job security for teachers laid off from low-performing schools.

Madison MAP Testing Shows They are Falling Short Too

Melissa Hammann, via a kind reader’s email:

So, the great and powerful Madison School District has started MAP testing and the results are, well, as they should have expected when viewed as a whole. White kids are above national averages and children of color are below them. MAP testing stands for Measures of Academic Progress. They are taken at the computer by each student and the questions are tailored to the individual student. They keep answering questions until they hit the wall of achievement level and the test is ended. Scores are known immediately and areas of strength and areas that need improvement are highlighted FOR EACH KID. It is supposed to be a tool for teachers to use in order to more adequately provide instruction in their classroom. This is called differentiated instruction, or DI in the education vernacular. MAP results are not really effective for national achievement comparison.
OK, I’m going out on a limb here and going to say to the critics of ECSD that we have been doing MAP testing in our district for 5 years now. My newly minted graduate was in the guinea pig group in 7th grade, so I am keyed in on this topic. We can thank Paula Landers for being ahead of the curve on implementing this tool. What seems to escape the writer of the article as well as our district is this. It’s very nice to know how one’s district stacks up as a whole against the state (WKCE) and nation (MAP, NAEP), but what exactly does this data provide in the way of improving individual student achievement? Exactly squat. In this world of inclusive learning, school districts must have tools to provide DI for all levels of learners. If you insist on teaching to some arbitrary mean that various test data indicates as the level of your class, you’ll lose the top 30 and bottom 30 percent of the curve. That’s 60 percent of the students being lost. Used properly, MAP results could be a very effective tool for the teaching arsenal to solve this problem.
Sadly, it is my experience that my kids’ teachers use it to verify what they already know about my kids, that they are above average, and use their MAP data to rationalize being satisfied with mediocre performance the rest of the year “because they are still above their peer average.” I have no data to indicate it is otherwise with other children. In fact, I have spoken to other parents with similar issues. In addition, over 35 percent of the students in the quadrant report that began the school year above their peer group in reading in our district in 10-11 did not reach the achievement goal the MAP test sets for them. It seems that the district thinks it’s OK that a child does not achieve to their potential. I am not of the same opinion.
……
Not only did my kid fail to reach his personal achievement goal set for him by the MAP test (gain less than they projected he should), but he ended 5th grade at a lower achievement level in reading than where he started. This loss of achievement happened while he got straight As all year long in language arts. I began a slow burn that has not stopped. I went to the principal, I went to the teacher and I went to the administrator in charge. “He started out so high that it was hard for him to achieve.” This is an unacceptable response. My child deserves to show some damn achievement after a year of instruction. I don’t care if he started out higher than the mediocre goals you set for the masses. This is thievery, plain and simple. That year, as I recall, the entire grade level failed to meet the 50% level, which basically says they have achieved grade level performance. Interpretation of MAP results is a bit confusing, so go with me here. Anything less than 50% for a grade level indicates they have not achieved a years worth of learning. There has been a shake up in the 5th grade teaching team, but I think it goes beyond individual teachers. If there is an endemic attitude that high achieving students are OK to ignore and an insistence on mistakenly using MAP data to compare to national averages (like the article in the Madison paper did) instead of using it for the amazing tool it could be, there will be no dang improvement in overall achievement.

Related: Madison Schools’ Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) Assessment Results Released. Unfortunately, the Madison School District has not published the school by school MAP results, though the information made its way to Matthew DeFour’s Sunday article.

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

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

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

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

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

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
www.nichols4schoolboard.org
email: nnichols4mmsd@gmail.com
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
www.arleneforschoolboard.com
email: arlene_Silveira@yahoo.com
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
www.maryburkeforschoolboard.net
email: maryburkewi@gmail.com
Michael Flores
www.floresforschoolboard.org
email: floresm1977@gmail.com
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Photos & Audio
Listen to the event via this 77MB mp3 audio file.

Is Your Religion Your Financial Destiny?

David Leonhardt, via a Rick Kiley email:

The economic differences among the country’s various religions are strikingly large, much larger than the differences among states and even larger than those among racial groups.
The most affluent of the major religions — including secularism — is Reform Judaism. Sixty-seven percent of Reform Jewish households made more than $75,000 a year at the time the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life collected the data, compared with only 31 percent of the population as a whole. Hindus were second, at 65 percent, and Conservative Jews were third, at 57 percent.
On the other end are Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baptists. In each case, 20 percent or fewer of followers made at least $75,000. Remarkably, the share of Baptist households making $40,000 or less is roughly the same as the share of Reform Jews making $100,000 or more. Overall, Protestants, who together are the country’s largest religious group, are poorer than average and poorer than Catholics. That stands in contrast to the long history, made famous by Max Weber, of Protestant nations generally being richer than Catholic nations.

Proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School Budget

Urban Leage of Greater Madison:

The Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM) is submitting this budget narrative to the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education as a companion to its line‐item budget for Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men (Madison Prep). The budget was prepared in partnership with MMSD’s Business Services office. The narrative provides context for the line items presented in the budget.
Madison Prep’s budget was prepared by a team that included Kaleem Caire, President & CEO of ULGM; Tami Holmquist, Business Manager at Edgewood High School; Laura DeRoche‐Perez, ULGM Charter School Development Consultant; and Jim Horn, ULGM Director of Finance. Representative of ULGM and MMSD met weekly during the development of the Madison Prep budget. These meetings included including Erik Kass, Assistant Superintendent for Business Services and Donna Williams, Director of Budget & Planning. The budget was also informed by ULGM’s charter school design teams and was structured in the same manner as start‐up, non‐instrumentality public charter school budgets submitted to the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board in Washington, DC. DCPCSB is widely regarded as one of the most effective authorizers of charter schools in the nation.
In addition, Madison Prep’s Facilities Design Team is led by Dennis Haefer, Vice President of Commercial Banking with Johnson Bank and Darren Noak, President of Commercial Building with Tri‐North Builders. Mr. Noak is also the Treasurer of ULGM’s Board of Directors. This team is responsible for identifying Madison Prep’s school site and planning for related construction, renovation and financing needs.
……
Budget Highlights
A. Cost of Education
In 2008‐09, the Madison Metropolitan School District received $14,432 in revenue per student from a combination of local, federal and state government and local property taxes. The largest portion of revenue came from property taxes, $9,049 (62.7%), followed by $3,364 in state aid (23.3%), $1,260 in federal aid (8.7%) and $759 in other local revenue (5.3%). That same year, MMSD spent $13,881 per student on educational, transportation, facility and food service costs for 25,011 students for a total of $347,177,691 in spending.
In 2010‐11, MMSD’s Board of Education is operating with an amended budget of $360,131,948, a decrease of $10,155,522 (‐2.74%) from 2009‐10. MMSD projects spending $323,536,051 in its general education fund, $10,069,701 on food service and $8,598,118 on debt service for a total of $342,203,870. Considering the total of only these three spending categories, and dividing the total by the official 2010‐11 enrollment count of 24,471 students, MMSD projects to spend $13,984 per student.3 This is the amount per pupil that ULGM used as a baseline for considering what Madison Prep’s baseline per pupil revenue should be in its budget for SY2011‐12. ULGM then determined the possibility of additional cutbacks in MMSD revenue for SY2011‐12 and reduced its base per pupil revenue projection to $13,600 per student. It then added a 1% increase to it’s per pupil base spending amount for each academic year through SY2016‐17.
ULGM recognizes that per pupil funding is an average of total costs to educate 24,471 children enrolled in MMSD schools, and that distinctions are not made between the costs of running elementary, middle and high schools. ULGM also understands that the operating costs between all three levels of schooling are different. Middle schools costs more to operate than elementary schools and high schools costs more than middle schools.
Reviewing expense projections for middle and high schools in MMSD’s SY2010‐11 Amended Preliminary Budget, ULGM decided to weight per pupil spending in middle school at 1.03% and 1.16% in high school. Thus, in SY2012‐13 when Madison Prep opens, ULGM projects a need to spend $14,148 per student, not including additional costs for serving English language learners and students with special needs, or the costs of Madison Prep’s third semester (summer).
B. Cost Comparisons between Madison Prep and MMSD
Staffing Costs
In 2010‐11, MMSD projected it would spend $67,133,692 on salaries (and benefits) on 825.63 staff in its secondary (middle and high) schools for an average salary of $81,312. This includes teachers, principals and in‐school support staff. In its first year of operation (SY2012‐13), ULGM projects Madison Prep it will spend $1,559,454 in salaries and benefits on 23 staff for an average of $67,802 in salary, including salaries for teachers, the Head of School (principal) and support staff. In its fifth year of operation, Madison Prep is projected to spend $3,560,746 in salaries and benefits on 52 staff for an average of $68,476 per staff person. In both years, Madison Prep will spend significantly less on salaries and benefits per staff member than MMSD.
Additionally, MMSD spends an average of $78,277 on salaries and benefits for staff in its middle schools and $79,827 on its staff in its high schools.

Additional documents: budget details and Madison Prep’s Wisconsin DPI application.
Matthew DeFour:

The high cost results from the likelihood that Madison Prep will serve more low-income, non-English speaking and special education students, said Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, which is developing the charter school. The school also plans to have a longer school year, school day and require students to participate in volunteer and extracurricular activities.
“What we’re asking for is based on the fact that we’re going to serve a high-needs population of kids,” Caire said. “We don’t know yet if what we’re projecting is out of line.”
Caire said the proposal will likely change as potential state and federal revenues are assessed.
A Republican charter school bill circulated in the Legislature this week could also alter the landscape. The bill would allow charter schools to receive approval from a state board, rather than a local school board, and those that don’t use district employees, like Madison Prep, would be able to access the state retirement and health care systems.

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

Stanford Corners the ‘Smart’ Market After Its Best Football Season in Years, School Chases Top Recruits With Elite Grades; Building Robots

Darren Everson & Jared Diamond:

As college football’s 2011 recruiting classes took shape last week, much of the talk was dominated by the usual question: Which team pulled in the richest talent haul? Some say it was Alabama, others Florida State.
What was not acknowledged, or even noted, was the impressive and unusual incoming class assembled by Stanford.
The school, which is coming off its best football season in 70 years, didn’t land the most physically talented class of high school football players. The consensus says their crop ranks somewhere around No. 20 in the nation among all the major college programs. What stands out about Stanford’s class is something entirely different: what superior students they are.
Wayne Lyons, a four-star defensive back from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who has a 4.96 weighted grade-point average and likes to build robots in his spare time, is widely considered the best student among the nation’s elite recruits. When he visited Stanford, he said he was whisked to a seminar on building jet engines and to a facility where robots are built.

Georgia and California take opposite poles in the debate over illegal immigrants and higher education

The Economist

IT BEGAN with a traffic violation. Last March Jessica Colotl, a 21-year-old political-science major at Kennesaw State University, was arrested for “impeding the flow of traffic”. Cobb County authorities, who participate in a federal immigration-law enforcement programme, found that Ms Colotl was in the country illegally. She had entered with her parents when she was 10. She graduated from high school with an A average, and wanted to become a lawyer. Instead she will probably be deported in the spring, after she graduates.
And if Tom Rice gets his way, there will be no more Jessica Colotls. In October Georgia’s Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s public universities, banned illegal immigrants from the state’s five most popular universities, and said that they cannot be admitted to the other 30 ahead of qualified legal residents, having found 501 undocumented students among the 310,000 enrolled in Georgia’s public universities. For Mr Rice, a Republican state representative, this was not enough; he pre-filed a bill with the state’s Assembly that would ban all illegals from public universities. If it passes when the legislature convenes in January (and it stands a good chance), Georgia will join South Carolina as the only states with such a ban.

“They have the power, but I don’t think anyone has looked at this. So [once again], I’m the angry black man.”

ibmadison.com interviews Kaleem Caire about the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, via a kind reader:

In Caire’s mind, kids can’t wait. Consider the data he cites from the ACT District Profile Report for the Madison Metropolitan School District’s 2010 graduating class:

Of students taking the ACT, average test scores differed significantly between African Americans and white students:

English Math Reading Science Composite
African Americans 16.3 18.0 17.1 18.4 17.6
Caucasian/White 25.1 25.6 25.8 24.8 25.4

The percent of students meeting ACT College Readiness Benchmark Scores, broken out by ethnicity, for the 2010 graduating class seems more alarming:

Total Tested English (18) Math (22) Reading (21) Science (24)
All Students 1,122 81% 68% 71% 51%
African Americans 76 38% 24% 25% 9%
Caucasian/White 733 90% 77% 79% 60%
Hispanic 71 59% 39% 45% 18%
Asian/Pacific Isl. 119 67% 65% 61% 45%

Numbers like these fuel Caire’s fire, and his vision for The Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men. “I’m amazed that [the primarily white leadership in the city] hasn’t looked at this data and said, ‘wow!’ They have the power, but I don’t think anyone has looked at this. So [once again], I’m the angry black man.”

Caire understands the challenges that lie ahead. By November, he needs to formally propose the idea to the School Board, after which he will seek a planning grant from the Department of Public Instruction. He anticipates other hurdles along the way. Among them, a misconstrued conception. “Madison believes it’s creative, but the reality is, it’s not innovative.” Will the community accept this idea, or sit back and wait, he wonders.
Second: The resources to do it. “We can survive largely on what the school system can give us [once we’re up and running], but there’s seed money you need to get to that point.”
Third: The teacher’s union response. “No one knows what that will be,” Caire said. “The school board and district are so influenced by the teacher’s union, which represents teachers. We represent kids. To me, it’s not, ‘teachers at all costs,’ it’s ‘kids first.’ We’ll see where our philosophies line up.” He added that the Urban League and those behind the Charter School idea are not at all opposed to the teacher’s union, but the Prep School’s design includes, for example, a school day longer than the teacher’s contract allows. “This isn’t about compensation,” he said of the contract, “it’s about commitment. We don’t want red tape caught up in this, and we want to guarantee long-term success.”

Related: “They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT! and outbound open enrollment.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: US Sales Taxes Hit Record High

William P. Barrett:

Shopping blues: Top tax 12%. Chicago’s 10.25% highest big-city rate. More Internet tax fights loom.
While President Obama’s push to raise federal income taxes for the wealthy gets lots of attention, the continuing upward creep in the sales tax rates imposed by state and local governments has gotten less notice.
But Vertex Inc., which calculates sales tax for Internet sellers, reports that the average general sales tax rate nationwide reached 8.629% at the end of 2009, the highest since the Berwyn, Pa., company started tracking data in 1982. That was up a nickel on a taxable $100 purchase from a year earlier and up nearly 40 cents for the decade. The highest sales tax rate in the country now stands at 12%.
During 2009 seven states and the District of Columbia raised sales tax rates, with one jurisdiction–North Carolina–actually doing it twice. Only four states hiked rates in 2008 and only one in 2007. Given state budget problems, the 2009 state sales tax increases aren’t surprising. States have also been raising income tax rates on the wealthy and on corporations and boosting excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco. With states now facing record budget shortfalls, more tax increases seem likely.

There has been discussion regarding the shift of school additional school spending to the sales tax.
Related: Federal Withholding Tax Revenues.

State lags in closing achievement gap

Gayle Worland:


Wisconsin lags behind the rest of the nation in closing the achievement gap between black and white students, according to a U.S. Department of Education report released Tuesday.
Based on data from 2007, the National Assessment of Education Progress study shows some academic improvement among black and white students nationwide, with the gap in test scores between the two groups narrowing in a number of states. Wisconsin stands out as the only state with a racial achievement gap wider than the national average in all four categories measured: math for grades four and eight, and reading for grades four and eight.
Scores among black Wisconsin students were lower than their national peers in all four categories. White students in Wisconsin scored slightly above the national average in math, but below the national average for reading in grade four. The largest gap between white and black Wisconsin students was in math at grade eight, with a 45-point difference between their test scores on a 0-500 point scale.
…….
Closing the achievement gap is important to the Madison School District, said district spokesman Ken Syke.
“It’s not a zero-sum situation,” Syke said. “As we work to raise the achievement level of students of color, we still work as educators to continue to raise the achievement level of students who are not of color. It’s not like if you’re pouring resources into one you’re not pouring resources into the other.”

Schools Invest in Athlete’s Degrees

Christ Talbott:

From the moment he stepped on campus, 320-pound tackle Michael Oher seemed destined to be a star on Mississippi’s football team and a failure in its classrooms.
Oher was the son of a crack-addicted single mom, and as a teen could barely read. His educational record – 11 schools in nine years as he moved from home to home in Memphis – read like an indictment of a failed education system.
But four years later, at a school that graduates fewer than 60 percent of all students within six years, Oher has cleared every hurdle and nearly earned his degree – all that stands between him and graduation are a final semester and workouts for the NFL draft.
“I haven’t struggled a bit in college,” the All-American offensive lineman says. “It’s been a breeze.”
It’s a tribute to Oher’s determination and character, to be sure.
His story also says something about the state of big-time college athletics.
Like a lot of other athletes at Ole Miss and elsewhere, Oher got not only tutoring help but a full range of academic support services throughout his career. At Ole Miss, 14 full-time staffers line up tutors for student-athletes, help them choose classes, monitor study halls and check attendance. More than 60 percent of the Rebels’ 390 athletes receive at least some tutoring, and together they averaged about 1,000 sessions a week this fall.
Such services are not unusual.

Oher was featured in the recent book “Blindside“.

Absent From Class

There are many important variables to consider in evaluating the causes for academic failure or success in the high school classroom. The training of the teacher, the quality of the curriculum, school safety, the availability of books, and so on, are factors studied extensively, and all of them play a part.
But I would argue that the most important variable in student academic achievement is student academic work, including classroom work.
Why do so many of our high school students do so little academic work? Because they can get away with it.
A close study of the academic demands on students in the vast majority of our high school classrooms would disclose, I feel certain, that one of the principal reasons for students’ boredom is that they really have nothing to do but sit still and wait for the bell.
In most classrooms, the chances of a student being called on are slight, and of being called on twice are almost non-existent. If a student is called on and has not done the required reading or other class preparation, most probably the teacher will just call on someone else. There are no real consequences for being unprepared. As a result, many, if not most, students are not contributing in class and that can only deepen their boredom.
By contrast, on the football or soccer field, every player is called on in every practice and in nearly every game. Even for players on the bench, there is a constant possibility that they will be asked to perform at any time. If they don’t know what to do then, the embarrassment and disapproval will be swift and obvious. The same also could be said for high school theater productions, performances of the band or chorus, participation in model United Nations, and most of the students’ other activities.
In extracurricular activities, the student faces a kind of peer pressure to do well that is usually lacking in the classroom. Peers in the classroom may even think it is cool for another student to “get away with” having done no preparation.

Art Rainwater’s Memo on School Violence

Madison School District Superintendent Art Rainwater: By now, I’m sure you know that last Friday a 15 year old boy entered Weston School in Cazenovia (Sauk County) and allegedly shot and killed the principal. This incident has stirred in all of us the uneasy realization that this can happen anywhere, at anytime. We mourn the … Continue reading Art Rainwater’s Memo on School Violence

Cole: New schools should be green

Maya Cole posted an interesting idea on her Web site: Energy efficiency stands out as one island of excellence in the MMSD. The Wisconsin Focus on Energy program features the Madison school district in one of its case studies on energy-efficient schools. I’d like to take the MMSD’s excellent energy-efficiency commitment one step further by … Continue reading Cole: New schools should be green

State of Education: Who Makes the Grade?

Kavan Peterson: Schools spend fewer dollars per student in Utah than in any other state, but more fourth-graders there improved reading and math scores over the past decade than in more than half of the states. Maine, for example, spends nearly twice as much on a comparable student population — $9,300 a student vs. $4,800 … Continue reading State of Education: Who Makes the Grade?

Thursday Morning Links: School Performance

Milwaukee’s new School Performance Ratings: Andrekopoulos said those studies are showing that students in high value-added programs are decidedly more engaged in actual classroom activity than those in low value-added schools. In a recent presentation to the School Board, he said MPS now understands why low-performing schools are that way. “We didn’t know that two … Continue reading Thursday Morning Links: School Performance

Carol Carstensen’s Message to PTO Presidents

Madison Board of Education President Carol Carstensen: Subject: Nov. 21 Update Parent Group Presidents: BUDGET FACTOID: The school district has been under revenue caps since 1993 when all school district budgets were frozen and then permitted to increase only by an amount per pupil each year (this year it is $250). That amount approximates a … Continue reading Carol Carstensen’s Message to PTO Presidents

Secrets of Success: America’s system of higher education is the best in the world. That is because there is no system

The Economist via Tom Barnett: Wooldridge says three reasons account for this: 1) the Fed plays a limited role, unlike in a France or Germany; 2) schools compete for everything, including students and teachers; and 3) our universities are anything but ivory towers, instead being quite focused on practical stuff (Great line: “Bertrand Russell once … Continue reading Secrets of Success: America’s system of higher education is the best in the world. That is because there is no system

UW’s Long-term College Prep Program Puts Prospects In The Pipeline

The Wisconsin State Journal discusses the college prep program UW sponsors for middle (Madison students only) and high school minority students. Glaringly absent from the reporting is what are the criteria for getting accepted into this program. It sounds like a program open only to minority students, or is it for low-income students of color? … Continue reading UW’s Long-term College Prep Program Puts Prospects In The Pipeline

School Board Candidates Respond to Questions About TAG Programming

The following was passed along by Kristin Meyer who attended the Northside candidates forum. Kristin asked the candidates about their position on supporting TAG services/support during ongoing budgetary shortfalls, and summarizes below the responses from each candidate. She reports that there was also a statement related to how the TAG program has already taken cuts … Continue reading School Board Candidates Respond to Questions About TAG Programming