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.

Analysis finds average eighth graders may have skills indicative of fifth grade

John Fensterwald: The analysis, which looks at performance over time, shows that students fell behind each year incrementally even before the pandemic, starting in third grade when tests were first given. Progress completely stalled last year, when most students were in remote learning. Eighth graders overall scored at the same level that they did when … Continue reading Analysis finds average eighth graders may have skills indicative of fifth grade

Children in masked districts experienced, on average, 4-times the number of disrupted learning days as those in mask-optional districts

Emily Burns, with Josh Stevenson, and Phil Kerpen (Figure 1).The same districts also had 2.5 times higher case rates during the same period as we demonstrated in analysis published on March 9th, 2022. This result is as important as it was expected. The CDC promised that whatever potential (and willfully ignored) harms might come to children … Continue reading Children in masked districts experienced, on average, 4-times the number of disrupted learning days as those in mask-optional districts

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?.

Boston slams new state schools plan as moving sides ‘further apart’ as receivership looms

Sean Phillip Cotter: Boston Public Schools, which has narrowed its ostensibly nationwide superintendent search down to one current and one recent former BPS administrator, is beset on all sides by poor student outcomes, yawning socioeconomic achievement gaps, reports of increased violence in and around school buildings, declining enrollment and snarled student transportation strategies. The commissioner … Continue reading Boston slams new state schools plan as moving sides ‘further apart’ as receivership looms

Governance: Cashiered Navy Officers (consequences! No Mulligans?)

Jeff Schogol: The Navy believes it is worth publicly disclosing whenever admirals in particular have been disciplined for misconduct in order to maintain the public’s trust and confidence in the Department of the Navy’s integrity, Mommsen said. Generally, that standard also applies in cases when allegations of misconduct against commanding officers, executive officers, and senior … Continue reading Governance: Cashiered Navy Officers (consequences! No Mulligans?)

Ongoing spending increase discussions in the taxpayer supported Madison Schools (bricks & mortar vs people?), amidst declining enrollment

Scott Girard: Board president Ali Muldrow, who has a conflict of interest in discussing teacher salaries as her husband is a teacher, commented only on the hourly workers’ pay rate Monday, but indicated she strongly supports an increase. “I’m really deeply vested in our ability to substantially shift how we’re compensating hourly wage workers,” Muldrow … Continue reading Ongoing spending increase discussions in the taxpayer supported Madison Schools (bricks & mortar vs people?), amidst declining enrollment

An interview with Madison’s Cherokee Middle School Principle – and recent Secondary Principal of the Year award winner

Scott Girard: One of the biggest things was how we co-created our equity vision. That was a huge piece of it, having our families, our students and our staff really lean in, look at our data, both numerical (and) looking at our interviews with our families, especially families who have not been included in school … Continue reading An interview with Madison’s Cherokee Middle School Principle – and recent Secondary Principal of the Year award winner

“Expert” idiocy on teaching kids to read

Robert Pondiscio: Calkins’s work mostly disregards this fundamental insight, focusing students’ attention in the mirror instead of out the window. For low-income kids who are less likely to grow up in language-rich homes and don’t have the same opportunities for enrichment as affluent kids, the opportunity costs of Calkins’s “philosophy” are incalculable. Endless hours of class time … Continue reading “Expert” idiocy on teaching kids to read

“anti-meritocratic, oriented away from standardized tests, gifted and talented programs and test-in elite schools”

Ruy Teixeira: Finally, there is perhaps the key issue for many Asian voters: education. It is difficult to overestimate how important education is to Asian voters, who see it as the key tool for upward mobility—a tool that even the poorest Asian parents can take advantage of. But Democrats have become increasingly associated with an … Continue reading “anti-meritocratic, oriented away from standardized tests, gifted and talented programs and test-in elite schools”

Mulligans ignored: The U.S. News and World Report rankings don’t consider any of the scores or metrics from Wisconsin’s public schools since then.

Benjamin Yount: “As proficiency has plummeted under his tenure, Governor Evers is forced to point to outdated data to back up his claims that he has been an effective leader on education,” Will Flanders with the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty told The Center Square. Flanders added that Gov. Evers’ approach to public schools … Continue reading Mulligans ignored: The U.S. News and World Report rankings don’t consider any of the scores or metrics from Wisconsin’s public schools since then.

Commentary on Madison’s behavior education plan

Scott Girard: Simkin suggested one example is in the student use of cell phones in classrooms, something teachers have expressed concerns about this school year. The BEP already prohibits the use of unauthorized, non-educationally required devices that disrupt learning, but Simkin said that teachers “don’t have what they need to implement this and it’s greatly … Continue reading Commentary on Madison’s behavior education plan

Taxpayer supported Wisconsin DPI and free speech

MD Kittle: The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has long been a haven of leftist thought and policy. Increasingly, the agency has become politically weaponized in the pursuit of its woke diversity, equity and inclusion agenda. Most recently, DPI launched an investigation into a Milwaukee Public Schools counselor whose alleged crime is that she spoke passionately in … Continue reading Taxpayer supported Wisconsin DPI and free speech

New ‘discoveries’ of the harm caused by school closures are as disingenuous and politically motivated as the original policies themselves

Alex Gutentag: The collapse of educational pathways and structures has had a particularly brutal effect on the poorest students, who can least afford to have their schooling disrupted. High-poverty schools had the lowest levels of in-person instruction, causing low-income students to fall even further behind their more affluent peers. The entirely foreseeable ways in which bad COVID-19 … Continue reading New ‘discoveries’ of the harm caused by school closures are as disingenuous and politically motivated as the original policies themselves

“no significant relationship between mask mandates and case rates”

Ambarish Chandra and Tracy Beth Høeg Our study replicates a highly cited CDC study showing a negative association between school mask mandates and pediatric SARS-CoV-2 cases. We then extend the study using a larger sample of districts and a longer time interval, employing almost six times as much data as the original study. We examine … Continue reading “no significant relationship between mask mandates and case rates”

“Little evidence was found that more spending affects student performance”

Will Flanders: Here are the biggest findings: Students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program continue to outperform their public-school peers. Proficiency rates in private choice schools were 4.6% higher in English/Language Arts (ELA) and 4.5% higher in math on average than proficiency rates in traditional public schools in Milwaukee. Charter school students in Milwaukee continue … Continue reading “Little evidence was found that more spending affects student performance”

“Early analyses indicated that Covid-19 health factors had virtually nothing to do with reopening decisions, and partisan politics could explain nearly all the variation”

Rachel Cohen: There were early signs that this narrative didn’t explain the full story. If allegiance to former President Donald Trump (in schools that opened) or teacher unions (in those that stayed closed) were all that mattered, why did support for reopening schools also drop among Republican voters over the summer? And what about the conflicting recommendations coming from … Continue reading “Early analyses indicated that Covid-19 health factors had virtually nothing to do with reopening decisions, and partisan politics could explain nearly all the variation”

“Essentially, that meant kids were not being taught to read at all”

Ronald Kessler: Essentially, that meant kids were not being taught to read at all. Whole language proponents even said that when children guessed wrong, they should not be corrected. “It is unpleasant to be corrected,” Paul Jennings, an Australian whole language enthusiast, said. “It has to be fun, fun, fun.” But reading, like devising algebraic … Continue reading “Essentially, that meant kids were not being taught to read at all”

Parental Rights vs Taxpayer Supported Organs

Eugene Volokh: The claims arise out of “UPMC’s purported disclosure of their confidential medical information to [child protection authorities] for the purpose of targeting them with highly intrusive, humiliating and coercive child abuse investigations starting before taking their newborn babies home from UPMC’s hospitals shortly after childbirth.” Scott Girard: At issue is an April 2018 … Continue reading Parental Rights vs Taxpayer Supported Organs

K-12 tax & spending climate: Madison spending growth amidst declining enrollment

Elizabeth Beyer: Jones told the board that 67 staff members are leaving this year, but the district is only hiring 10 new staff. Prior to the meeting, Jones noted that school districts of all sizes across Wisconsin are offering base wage increases to their teachers that are near or at 4.7% to keep in line … Continue reading K-12 tax & spending climate: Madison spending growth amidst declining enrollment

“The fact that she was disconnected from that research is evidence of the problem.” Madison….

Dana Goldstein: How Professor Calkins ended up influencing tens of millions of children is, in one sense, the story of education in America. Unlike many developed countries, the United States lacks a national curriculum or teacher-training standards. Local policies change constantly, as governors, school boards, mayors and superintendents flow in and out of jobs. Amid … Continue reading “The fact that she was disconnected from that research is evidence of the problem.” Madison….

The report further critiques what it calls school districts’ lack of transparency regarding declining student performance — and it laments parents’ “eroding” confidence in the state’s public schools.

Hannah Natanson and Laura Vozzella “We are not serving all of Virginia’s children and we must,” Youngkin said at a news conference in Richmond, where he and his education team presented the report. “We want to be the best in education. We should be the best in education. And the data that is compiled and … Continue reading The report further critiques what it calls school districts’ lack of transparency regarding declining student performance — and it laments parents’ “eroding” confidence in the state’s public schools.

Advocating transparency in the origins of COVID 19

Neil Harrison and Jeffrey Sachs: This lack of an independent and transparent US-based scientific investigation has had four highly adverse consequences. First, public trust in the ability of US scientific institutions to govern the activities of US science in a responsible manner has been shaken. Second, the investigation of the origin of SARS-CoV-2 has become … Continue reading Advocating transparency in the origins of COVID 19

The excellence gap and underrepresentation at America’s most selective universities

Michael J. Petrilli The connection between the excellence gap and affirmative action should be obvious. College administrators would not have to twist themselves into knots to find ways to admit more Black, Hispanic, and low-income students into highly selective institutions were it not for the pervasiveness of the excellence gap. Consider: In 2015–16, the most … Continue reading The excellence gap and underrepresentation at America’s most selective universities

Race and the Taxpayer Funded Madison School District

David Blaska: If you doubt that the Woke Wobblies have taken over Madison’s public schools, we submit the following: School board president Ali Muldrow and immediate past member Ananda Mirilli are accusing Ismael Ozanne, a black man, of racism most foul. They want him to resign (!!!) because police arrested Freedom Inc. spokesperson Jessica Williams … Continue reading Race and the Taxpayer Funded Madison School District

$pending more for less: K-12 budgets grow amidst declining enrollment

By Shawn Hubler All together, America’s public schools have lost at least 1.2 million students since 2020, according to a recently published national survey. State enrollment figures show no sign of a rebound to the previous national levels any time soon. A broad decline was already underway in the nation’s public school system as rates of birth … Continue reading $pending more for less: K-12 budgets grow amidst declining enrollment

“Low state capacity”: spending more for less

Helen Dale America’s dysfunctional airports are instances of widespread low state capacity. And this is bigger than airports. Low state capacity can only be used to describe a country when it is true of multiple big-ticket items, not just one. State capacity is a term drawn from economic history and development economics. It refers to a government’s … Continue reading “Low state capacity”: spending more for less

Spending more on facilities amidst enrollment decline and long term, disastrous reading results

Scott Girard: Officials outlined a total of $28 million in additional costs to the School Board Monday night. Of that, $11 million is related to high inflation, $9 million is for additional mechanical and electrical work and $8 million for additional environmental projects. MMSD chief financial officer Ross MacPherson said those costs are likely to be … Continue reading Spending more on facilities amidst enrollment decline and long term, disastrous reading results

Restoring pandemic losses will require major changes in schools and classrooms, superintendents say

Paul Hill & Kate Destler: The solutions will require new modes of spending, performance measurement, and school oversight, as well as much greater flexibility in teacher hiring, training, and work. Superintendents and school-board leaders can’t make these changes all by themselves. They’ll need serious help and new thinking from governors, state legislators, the federal government, … Continue reading Restoring pandemic losses will require major changes in schools and classrooms, superintendents say

“We found that districts that spent more weeks in remote instruction lost more ground than districts that returned to in-person instruction sooner,”

Johannes Schmidt: A new study has found that although “high-poverty schools” suffered large losses in achievement by switching to remote learning during the coronavirus lockdowns, districts that remained largely in-person lost relatively little ground. The report, titled “The consequences of remote and hybrid instruction during the pandemic,” was published by a team of researchers from the Center … Continue reading “We found that districts that spent more weeks in remote instruction lost more ground than districts that returned to in-person instruction sooner,”

‘The Vindication of The Great Barrington Three’ Panel Transcript: LLS London Meeting Feb 2022

Link: But what else can you achieve with a lockdown? The supposition of the non-Zero COVID crowd was that you could suppress infection. You can’t: there’s only a few things you can do with any kind of intervention. You can either get rid of the pathogen – unrealistic – or you can try and suppress it. But if you suppress it for a particular period of time, it’s going to come … Continue reading ‘The Vindication of The Great Barrington Three’ Panel Transcript: LLS London Meeting Feb 2022

Howard Fuller on the Biden Administration’s efforts to reduce k-12 diversity

Dr Howard Fuller: Let me cite some of the specific concerns I have: First, the proposed rule to demand that charter schools partner with a local district is obviously aimed at ending their independence and forcing them under the control of the traditional public school system. Charters should be free to determine whether partnering with … Continue reading Howard Fuller on the Biden Administration’s efforts to reduce k-12 diversity

Public health has fragmented trust: The problem is not rogue online misinformation; it is errors from CDC, NIAID, and the White House

Vinay Prasad Building trust in institutions is vital to their success, but as we enter the third year of the pandemic, public health still seems hellbent on destroying itself. In recent weeks, we have seen flip flops on major policy proposal: a vaccine passport for domestic air-travel and authorizing the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages … Continue reading Public health has fragmented trust: The problem is not rogue online misinformation; it is errors from CDC, NIAID, and the White House

“FDR told us that Pearl Harbor was “a day of infamy,” not an episode in which the US Navy was caught with its pants down”

Antonio: Perspectives on reality of course vary according to the ideals and institutions involved.  It doesn’t matter to the French what the Anglo-Saxons think of Napoleon.  The events of the Napoleonic era have been conformed to the ideals and institutions of French republicanism in a way that frankly seems strange to me (as an honorary … Continue reading “FDR told us that Pearl Harbor was “a day of infamy,” not an episode in which the US Navy was caught with its pants down”

“The fact that everybody else is doing something different, I think that’s OK,” Wald said. “It doesn’t trouble me so much. I think we’re doing the right thing.”

Scott Girard: Districts have varied in their approach to pandemic health and safety measures, with some making decisions at the School Board level and others leaving it to administrators. With a few exceptions, the Madison School Board has mostly left it to administrators, including on the mask mandate. Christina Gomez Schmidt, the School Board member … Continue reading “The fact that everybody else is doing something different, I think that’s OK,” Wald said. “It doesn’t trouble me so much. I think we’re doing the right thing.”

Commentary on the 2022 Wisconsin Gubernatorial Candidates, K-12 Education and prospects

Libby Sobic: Gov. Tony Evers’s recent vetoes put him at a historic rate of total vetoes compared to previous governors. Of the more than 100 vetoes he executed a week ago Friday, about a quarter were related to education. In many veto messages, the governor cited his previous role as state schools superintendent. Yet his … Continue reading Commentary on the 2022 Wisconsin Gubernatorial Candidates, K-12 Education and prospects

Declining student count vs Growing $pending

Mike Antonucci: We have heard a lot about educator shortages recently, but over the past few weeks the media have sounded the alarm over a different shortage: students. The Associated Press, Washington Post, Chalkbeat, Politico and The 74 are national outlets that highlighted steep declines in K-12 public school student enrollment and the dangers of layoffs and deep budget cuts when federal … Continue reading Declining student count vs Growing $pending

“At least 2.4 million students in the United States have participated in Reading Recovery”. Madison?

Emily Hanford & Christopher Peak: The fact that students who participated in Reading Recovery did worse in later grades than similar students who did not get the program surprised May. [study] “Was Reading Recovery harmful? I wouldn’t go as far as to say that,” he said. “But what we do know is that the kids … Continue reading “At least 2.4 million students in the United States have participated in Reading Recovery”. Madison?

Mandates and closed schools: yet another experiment on our children

David Leonhardt Across much of the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast, school buildings stayed closed and classes remained online for months. These differences created a huge experiment, testing how well remote learning worked during the pandemic. Academic researchers have since been studying the subject, and they have come to a consistent conclusion: Remote learning was … Continue reading Mandates and closed schools: yet another experiment on our children

Notes on renaming Madison’s Jefferson Middle School amidst our long term, disastrous reading results

Scott Girard The Madison Metropolitan School District received 42 proposals for names for Thomas Jefferson Middle School on the city’s west side as officials consider a renaming. Four suggest keeping it as “Thomas Jefferson Middle School” and another would make it simply “Jefferson Middle School,” though the submission makes it clear the author wants it to still … Continue reading Notes on renaming Madison’s Jefferson Middle School amidst our long term, disastrous reading results

“First, many states began to emphasize school accountability starting in the 1990s”

David Leonhardt: Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas and other states more rigorously measured student learning and pushed struggling schools to adopt approaches that were working elsewhere. The accountability movement went national in the 2000s, through laws signed by George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The timing of the test-score increases is consistent with this story, as … Continue reading “First, many states began to emphasize school accountability starting in the 1990s”

The Countless Failures of Big Bureaucracy

Donald Devine: Ludwig von Mises’ Yale University Press classic Bureaucracy explains in a relatively few pages the difference between public and private-sector bureaucratic management. The private sector can measure what is going on in large hierarchies of bureaucracy below its CEO simply by asking whether each unit is making a profit. The public sector has no equivalent measuring … Continue reading The Countless Failures of Big Bureaucracy

The price of lockdown mandates: “The value to in-person learning was larger for districts with larger populations of Black students”

Rebecca Jack, Claire Halloran, James Okun and Emily Oster: We estimate the impact of district-level schooling mode (in-person versus hybrid or virtual learning) in the 2020-21 school year on students’ pass rates on standardized tests in Grades 3–8 across 11 states. Pass rates declined from 2019 to 2021: an average decline of 12.8 percentage points … Continue reading The price of lockdown mandates: “The value to in-person learning was larger for districts with larger populations of Black students”

Taxpayer Supported Madison School District plans to spend $543M+ during 2022-2023; about $21k/student

Elizabeth Beyer: The district is receiving $70.6 million over the course of three payments. The district’s first installment, ESSER I, was approximately $9.2 million and had been exhausted by the end of the 2020-21 school year. Currently, $39.8 million of the second two installments, ESSER II and III, are written into the 2022-23 preliminary budget. … Continue reading Taxpayer Supported Madison School District plans to spend $543M+ during 2022-2023; about $21k/student

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 system spends $5.6M on literacy curriculum

Scott Girard: In MMSD, 34.9% of students in grades 3-8 scored “proficient” or “advanced” on the statewide Forward Exam in 2018-19, the most recent year the exam was given with a high percentage of students participating. The results were worse for every non-white group of students other than Asians, who had the same percentage as … Continue reading Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 system spends $5.6M on literacy curriculum

Notes on the taxpayer supported Madison School District’s “asynchronous learning” scheme

Scott Girard: In a statement last week, Madison Teachers Inc. put the blame on DPI for the last-minute change from the district. “DPI should understand that to us who have to actually implement this additional work, this move signals the prioritization of compliance above compassion,” MTI president Michael Jones wrote. Jones wrote that the other … Continue reading Notes on the taxpayer supported Madison School District’s “asynchronous learning” scheme

Notes on politics and the achievement gap

Daniel Lennington and Will Flanders Last week, Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly put out a press releasebroadly outlining her plans to address Wisconsin’s racial achievement gap. While it is perhaps a positive to finally see the superintendent addressing the failings of Wisconsin’s public schools, this release offers a disturbing window into the way … Continue reading Notes on politics and the achievement gap

Madison’s literacy disaster, continued: reading recovery’s negative impact on children

Emily Hanford and Christopher Peak The new, federally funded study found that children who received Reading Recovery had scores on state reading tests in third and fourth grade that were below the test scores of similar children who did not receive Reading Recovery.  “It’s not what we expected, and it’s concerning,” said lead author Henry May, director … Continue reading Madison’s literacy disaster, continued: reading recovery’s negative impact on children

Notes on the taxpayer supported Madison school district “equity audit”

Scott Girard “There is a lot of evidence that the state of Wisconsin has the most extreme gaps in opportunity and outcomes based on race and that within Wisconsin, MMSD is often ranked among the worst or the worst in some of these indicators,” MMSD director of research Brianne Monahan said. Jackson said the process … Continue reading Notes on the taxpayer supported Madison school district “equity audit”

Mission vs organization, redux; Madison’s disastrous reading Results

Paul Fanlund: That said, his indictment of liberals in college towns echoes something Gloria Ladson-Billings, a renowned UW-Madison professor emerita, told me for a column last year about liberals and race. “Everyone is for the most part self-interested,” she said. “You can only go so far before people start seeing it as an erosion of something they … Continue reading Mission vs organization, redux; Madison’s disastrous reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 make up “asynchronous” time

Scott Girard: Lessons and coursework will be available through Seesaw and Google Classroom, with paper copies also available.  “Each school will send families follow-up communication with additional details about asynchronous learning time,” the email states. The district has chosen to use asynchronous learning as its solution. According to an email sent to families Wednesday, K-12 … Continue reading Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 make up “asynchronous” time

“I would say Madison schools were definitely a place where you could be yourself more, and you’re able to explore more,” he said.”

Elizabeth Beyer: “That was my first-ever protest,” he said. “It was remarkable to see people outside of Door 1, outside of the Castle (what students call the Collegiate-Gothic style façade that faces East Washington Avenue) all together coming as one. We actually made change from it.” The protests were organized in response to what students … Continue reading “I would say Madison schools were definitely a place where you could be yourself more, and you’re able to explore more,” he said.”

A summary of k-12 reform bills vetoed by Wisconsin Governor Evers

In the last 12 months, WI conservatives had massive ed reform bills vetoed by @GovEvers that would have completely transformed WI K-12 education into a national leader for putting kids and parents first. Here’s a list of some of the K12 bills @GovEvers vetoed: — CJ Szafir (@CJSzafir) April 18, 2022 Mandates, closed schools and Dane … Continue reading A summary of k-12 reform bills vetoed by Wisconsin Governor Evers

Lawsuit seeks to overturn renewed Philadelphia mask mandate

Associated Press: Several businesses and residents have filed suit in state court in Pennsylvania seeking to overturn Philadelphia’s renewed indoor mask mandate scheduled to be enforced beginning Monday in an effort to halt a surge in Covid-19 infections. The lawsuit, filed in Commonwealth Court on Saturday, said Philadelphia lacks the authority to impose such a mandate. Philadelphia … Continue reading Lawsuit seeks to overturn renewed Philadelphia mask mandate

“Some teachers say they’re doing great, others say they can do better.”

Collin Binkley: Early results of data gathering by some of the country’s biggest school districts confirm what many had feared: Groups of students that already faced learning gaps before the pandemic, including Black and Hispanic students and those from low-income families, appear to be behind in even greater numbers now. In Fairfax County, tests given … Continue reading “Some teachers say they’re doing great, others say they can do better.”

Ongoing Mask Mandate in our taxpayer supported K-12 schools (1 of 2 statewide)

Elizabeth Beyer and Emily Hamer: Most other Dane County school districts shifted their masking protocol to strongly recommend, as opposed to require, face coverings while in school buildings on March 1, when the Public Health Madison and Dane County emergency masking order expired. The decision by the city-county health department to lift the mask order … Continue reading Ongoing Mask Mandate in our taxpayer supported K-12 schools (1 of 2 statewide)

Wisconsin Governor Evers Friday Afternoon K-12 Vetoes: parents vs the taxpayer supported system

Molly Beck: Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on Friday vetoed legislation that would have dramatically overhauled education in Wisconsin by making all children eligible to receive a taxpayer-funded private school voucher, regardless of their household income.   Parents would have been able to sue school districts for violations of a new “parental bill of rights” under another bill Evers … Continue reading Wisconsin Governor Evers Friday Afternoon K-12 Vetoes: parents vs the taxpayer supported system

The price of Mandates, continued

Typical clinic day now includes a 2-year-old who only has 5 words, an 8-year-old with new-onset obesity, and a preschool-age child with no social skills from being home bound. A disastrous avalanche of child health probs of our own making—not “from the pandemic.” @AmerAcadPeds — elizabeth bennett (@ebennett74) April 13, 2022 Mandates, closed schools and Dane … Continue reading The price of Mandates, continued

A classic education via charters (timely)

Joanne Jacobs: At Ivywood Classical Academy in Plymouth, Michigan, fourth-graders are studying early and medieval African kingdoms, dynasties of China, Europe in the Middle Ages and the founding and spread of Islam. Hillsdale-affiliated schools teach the liberal arts, sciences and the “great works of literature, philosophy, politics, and art” and attempt to “lead students toward … Continue reading A classic education via charters (timely)

A Final Report Card on the States’ Response to COVID-19

Phil Kerpen, Stephen Moore and Casey Mulligan: Almost exactly two years ago COVID-19 spread to the United States and our federal, state and local governments implemented strategies to mitigate the damage from this deadly virus. We now know from the responses across countries that the U.S. federal government (and most governments around the world) made … Continue reading A Final Report Card on the States’ Response to COVID-19

‘So disillusioned”: Mandates, Parents, Students and K-12 Governance

Michael Bender: Democrat Jennifer Loughran spent the pandemic’s early days sewing face masks for neighbors. Last month, as a newly elected school-board member, she voted to lift the district’s mask mandate. That came four months after she voted for the state’s Republican candidate for governor. After a monthslong political identity crisis, Ms. Loughran decided her opposition … Continue reading ‘So disillusioned”: Mandates, Parents, Students and K-12 Governance

Elections and taxpayer supported education

Will Flanders: Obviously, these results have implications for Wisconsin’s upcoming fall elections. Both of the major candidates for governor on the Republican side, Rebecca Kleefisch and Kevin Nicholson, have expressed support for education reform — both on the public school side and in expansion of school choice. The current governor, Democrat Tony Evers, has rejected several pieces of … Continue reading Elections and taxpayer supported education

Experts warned COVID would hurt students’ mental health. Now, teachers are living that reality

Jocelyn Gecker: “I don’t want to read about another teenager where there were warning signs and we looked the other way,” said Sen. Anthony Portantino, author of a bill that would require all California middle and high schools to train at least 75% of employees in behavioral health. “Teachers and school staff are on the … Continue reading Experts warned COVID would hurt students’ mental health. Now, teachers are living that reality

Madison West high School Curriculum Practice Notes

“CRT is not taught in schools.” West High School in Madison is teaching the basics of CRT once a month to their entire student body. Called “Regent Pride,” the slides explore the basic tenets of CRT. Multiple concerned parents have contacted me. Thread below: pic.twitter.com/qrsRTe65oU — Dan Lennington (@DanLennington) April 8, 2022 Mandates, closed schools and … Continue reading Madison West high School Curriculum Practice Notes

“People’s irrational fears are taking over these policy decisions,” says one parent.

Robby Soave: On March 16, Washington, D.C., became one of the very last major metropolitan areas in the country to finally end mask mandates for students. According to Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, kids who attend D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) no longer have to wear masks. That’s not always what happens in practice, of course. Earlier this … Continue reading “People’s irrational fears are taking over these policy decisions,” says one parent.

Commentary on K-12 Parental Rights and legacy Governance; “we have the children”

Darlene Click: As the saying goes, you catch flack when you’re over target. Disney execs boast about secret queer agendas, teachers boast on social media how they will defy parents and, now, that bastion of inane Leftwing propaganda, Salon states parental rights are harming kids. Across the country, students are struggling to regain a sense of normalcy as they cope with the … Continue reading Commentary on K-12 Parental Rights and legacy Governance; “we have the children”

Literacy Scores by Country, in Reading, Math, and Science

Nathan Yau: Among 15-year-old students, here’s how 77 countries compare in reading, math, and science. Higher scores are better. Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health. The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic” 2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks … Continue reading Literacy Scores by Country, in Reading, Math, and Science