School Information System
Newsletter Sign Up |

Subscribe to this site via RSS: | Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

January 10, 2013

Madison's Mayor on Transfer Students & The Achievement Gap; District Plans to Release Data "Within 3 Weeks"

Paul Fanlund, via a kind reader's email

There is an achievement gap. A significant part of the achievement gap is not because of the failure on the part of the Madison public schools, but it is because of the number of students who have transferred here from other districts, districts like Chicago," he says.

"Those kids come here unprepared. They come from poorly performing schools. There is a reluctance to discuss this factor. The reluctance to discuss it has at least two consequences. The first is that we come to erroneous conclusions about the quality of education in Madison. The second problem is that we don't develop strategies for these kids so that we can close that achievement gap."

Soglin says a child who's far behind in reading "who transferred in from a poorly performing district as opposed to a child who's been in Madison her entire life, could require very different interventions. There are people who don't want to talk about this problem and that's one of the reasons we fail in addressing the achievement gap.

"Now, talking about this alone is not going to solve it, but addressing it and analyzing it properly may in the short term cast some negatives, but it is going to lead to a better job in terms of correcting the problem."

I (and others) inquired about the data behind the Mayor's assertion several months ago. I received an email today - after another inquiry - from the District's Steve Hartley stating that the data will be available in "under 3 weeks".

Related, also from Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: "We are not interested in the development of new charter schools".

Background links:

November, 2005 When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed...and not before

"They're all rich, white kids and they'll do just fine" -- NOT!

60% to 42%: Madison School District's Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags "National Average": Administration seeks to continue its use

61 Page Madison Schools Achievement Gap Plan -Accountability Plans and Progress Indicators

Posted by Jim Zellmer at January 10, 2013 2:59 AM
Subscribe to this site via RSS/Atom: Newsletter signup | Send us your ideas

There are a lot of poor people coming to the Madison Schools from Chicago and Milwaukee. As a staff person at a homeless family’s shelter I see them every day. The parents had a poor or no education and do not even seem to understand that they need to help their kids learn. They do not teach the kids to be respectful or provide proper discipline to show their kids how to behave in school. Those kids end up being a distraction in the class room hurting not only themselves but the other kid’s ability to learn. Those parents also do not spend any time helping their kids with homework and many times do not have the knowledge to be able to help. But these kids are only a small part of the problem. I also have two kids that have only been in or through the Madison schools and I am tired of hearing MMSD blame everything on outside forces. Madison has a lot of Bad Teachers. They may not want to be and definitely do not seem to know it but they do not teach the material these kids need to know. My current 8th grader failed his science class in the first quarter of this year. At the PTC I spoke with his Homeroom Teacher who is not his science teacher but did find out some of what my son needed to do to improve his grade in science. The HR teacher was his Language Arts Teacher and when he remarked about my son not completing an essay correctly I asked him when he learned to write essays. He told me that it would have been taught in 7th grade. I told him my son does not know he was taught to write essays and we had the same problem when our older son was in High School. We hired a tutor to help the older son so that he would be able to do well on the SAT. We worked on science homework with our 8th grader as much as we could but not knowing what work he had to do made it difficult. Over winter break the Science Teacher posted the grades for work done to that point in the second quarter and we found that the grade had not improved. When I finally Emailed the teacher he apologized for not contacting us and said he needed to work on that. Any teacher that has a student failing a class that does not contact the parents to at least attempt to help the student is a bad teacher. MMSD spent a lot of money installing a parent portal so that parents could keep tabs on how their child is doing and catch problems sooner. None of the teachers at the three schools my kids attend enter information in a timely manner that allows parents to help. When an assignment is passed out, or before, the teacher should post the assign date, due date and some information on what is to be done. This information is always posted after it is graded and sometimes only at the end of the quarter. The portal is an option for teachers, which makes it a waste of money. If teachers are not going to use it they need to communicate some other way with parents. Yes the parents need to also make attempts to help with the communication as we have done but if you do not know there is a problem you would not know you needed to contact the teacher. Kids with parents that do not have the time because they are working 2 or 3 jobs or are ignorant of their need to contact the teacher will be lost in our schools and not get the education they need. MMSD needs to quit patting its self on the back and get the principles to work culling out the teachers that can't teach. MMSD needs to put their money into hiring teachers that can teach and give them a way to discipline kids that distract them from doing their job. The positive discipline model they currently use is an oxymoron as discipline needs to convince some one that they should not repeat the reason they were disciplined. This will help all kids do better. Many kids will do fine and go onto college as my older son has already done. It won’t be because our schools are so great but rather that those kids had educated involved parents that would not let the poor school structure and bad teachers keep their children from learning what they needed to know. MMSD has students that excel and get special awards which are because the kid had the drive to succeed some times because of a good teacher but most often because of the parents. I have spent several years of my life in front of the MMSD School Board trying to get them to understand the problems with this district mostly to give the kids the time they need to relax and eat lunch and have the breaks in the day that they need to be able to learn (make it less prison like). They only insisted there was no time in the school day for that at the same time they found time to give the teachers more time away from the kids with shortened school days. If you would like to know more information on how our schools and outside nonprofit organizations waste money in a poorly managed attempt to help improve the achievement gap I can supply even more bad news for you. Our kids no matter where their life started deserve better.
Ralph Holmes

Posted by: Ralph Holmes at January 14, 2013 10:40 AM

Question: If you say the reason for this gap is because of students form out side of Madison coused this gap, then tell me why this gap has been here for over 30 years. I think not. Also the idea of charter schools is moor posative to the solution. Why do you think that the MSD took on almost all of the ides of the preposed charter school and decided to implament them in to there system. You open your mouth to say your openion with out facts.

Posted by: Edward Murray at January 14, 2013 10:59 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?