“What? Me Worry? is the attitude of education researchers, writes Douglas Reeves, CEO of the Center for Performance Assessment, on Education Gadfly. Reeves cites a study by Peggy Hsieh and Joel R. Levin, which ran in the Journal of Educational Psychology on “ed researchers’ continued retreat from accepted research methodology. In this case, randomized experiments.”
Randomized experiments, aka field trials, whereby an experimental group that receives an intervention (say, Whole Language) is compared with a control group that receives no intervention, have been standard operating procedure since rats were first run through mazes. But who needs control groups in the age of feelings-based research?
. . . Hsieh and Levin report that “The percentage of total articles in these four journals [Cognition & Instruction, Contemporary Educational Psychology, Journal of Educational Psychology, Journal of Experimental Education, American Educational Research Journal] based on randomized experiments decreased over the 21-year period in both the educational psychology journals (from 40 percent in 1983 to 34 percent in 1995 to 26 percent in 2004) and the American Educational Research Journal (from 33 percent to 17 percent to 4 percent).”
Education policy makers are eager for the latest magic bullet and reluctant to think through fundamental changes, Reeves argues.
Former President Clinton and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced an $8 million initiative Monday to fight childhood obesity by promoting healthier food and more exercise in schools.
Meanwhile, Idaho politicians are concerned with exploding soda consumption in their schools.
Two interesting notes, among many, I’m sure from Monday evening’s Madison School Board meeting:
- Johnny Winston, Jr. introduced a motion for the Administration to look at acquiring land in Fitchburg for a new school. This motion passed 5-1, with Bill Keys voting no (and Juan Jose Lopez absent).
- Ruth Robarts advocated curriculum changes as a means to attract more families to certain schools. She mentioned the use of Singapore Math (Note that some Madison residents are paying a chunk of money to send their children to Madison Country Day School, which uses Singapore Math).
Speaking of Math, Rafael Gomez is organizing a middle school math forum on February 22, 2006, from 7 to 8:00p.m.
Local news commentary:
The Madison Metropolitan School Board met for hours Monday discussing overcrowding options for the looming referendum
After nearly five hours of discussion, the Madison School Board decided to put off asking tax payers for a new school in April and says voters may have to head to the polls this fall instead.
- Susan Troller:
That potential option was added to the mix regarding how the Madison School District could deal with growth and overcrowding on the west side following a special School Board meeting Monday night.
Board Vice President Johnny Winston, Jr. led a motion to ask district administrators to explore land sites and options for a possible new school in the rapidly developing areas south of the Beltline in Fitchburg, including land currently in the Verona and Oregon school districts.
Board member Lawrie Kobza supported Winston’s motion and said she may be willing to support a new elementary school in the south Fitchburg area as part of a long-range plan for the district. Kobza does not support an addition at Leopold, saying the school already has more than 650 students, which the district has deemed its maximum acceptable capacity.
- Sandy Cullen:
The Madison School Board voted Monday to direct district administrators to investigate purchasing land for a future school in south Fitchburg as a long-term solution to crowding at Leopold Elementary School, while board members continue to explore a more immediate solution to the problem.
WisPolitics hosted a recent Forum for GOP candidates for governor. Incumbent governor Jim Doyle has agreed to appear at a future forum, which I will link to when that occurs. Both GOP candidates addressed school funding, to some degree. Scott Walker said that he supported 2/3 state funding, but that it was not a “blank check”. Mark Green said that given the state’s structural deficit, he could not commit to maintain the 2/3’s state funding.
What Is The Black Star Project? The Black Star Project is a Chicago-based nonprofit that works around the country to help preschoolers to collegians succeed. The group focuses on low-income black, Hispanic and American Indian students in low-achieving schools.
Problems of school districts that teach Black children and the solutions
Via School Board Seat 1 Candidate Maya Cole [podcast]
These questions were developed in Wisconsin but are universal. Here are nineteen questions that an elected official (School Board, City Council/Town or Village Board, County Board, State Legislature) should be able to address after two budgets, or two years in office, whichever comes first.
Note: Some of the questions are premised upon faulty or erroneous assumptions, or the political view of the questioner. Other questions have no ‘correct’ answer but the answer should reflect the respondents’ views on levels of taxation and redistribution of resources through taxation.
Soglin has also begun an essay on Kids, Schools and Cities.
Related to Johnny Winston, Jr.’s post below, Karen Hube notes a significant outbound migration from many high tax states [Wisconsin is ranked 5th in tax burden as a % of per capita income (11.4%)] including Minnesota to South Dakota:
NOT SURPRISINGLY, MANY STATES are feeling the drain of fleeing taxpayers. At a time of serious competition between states for jobs and tax revenues, “states with high taxes are losing their wealthiest and most successful taxpayers, as well as businesses, and they’re not creating as many jobs,” says Dan Clifton of Americans for Tax Reform.
Serious fiscal troubles started for most states after the stock market tanked in 2000. “They had been matching their spending habits with the flood of revenues that came in during the boom years of the 1990s,” Clifton says. “When that spigot got turned off, many states were incapable of moderating their spending to match the new reality.”
In 2000 states were still flush enough to cut taxes by a net $5.8 billion for fiscal year 2001. But shortly after, in a scramble to boost revenues, states started raising taxes.
Johnny’s point is important: Schools must diversify their revenue sources while using existing resources as efficiently as possible. This includes trying to use all sources, including, as Ed Blume pointed out, federal funds, such as the $2M in Reading First money. WISTAX notes that Wisconsin’s rose 10% last year. Finally, Neil Heinen notes that Wisconsin’s state budget has a “structural deficit“.
Bobbi raises a useful point regarding the construction of new schools: the existing $320M+ operating budget is spread over more facilities, which as several teachers have mentioned to me, has implications for current facilities.
Davis Guggenheim’s new film (CC licensed):
As our politicians and the press argue the merits of countless school reforms, it is our teachers who enter the classroom every day and fight the real fight: educating our children, one child at a time. The First Year shows the human side of this story: the determination and commitment of five novice teachers as they struggle to survive their first year in America’s toughest schools.
George teaches recent immigrants learning English as a second language. After the school board plans to cut funding for her high school class, she rallies her students to fight city hall and wins.
Geneviève “wanted to teach the kids no one else wanted to teach.” She spends hours of extra time reaching out to a middle-school student only to lose him in the end.
Madison Metropolitan School District:
The Madison Metropolitan School District is seeking qualified applicants for the position of Executive Director of Teaching & Learning. The Madison Metropolitan School District is the second largest school system in Wisconsin and has a student population of 24,710 students in 31 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, 5 high schools, and several alternative programs, a total staff of over 5,900 and an operatingbudget of $319 million. The District has a 42% minority student population. The Madison Metropolitan School District has schools at elementary, middle and high school levels rated as National Schools of Excellence.
Evidence of appropriate Wisconsin certification required prior to employment. The salary range for 2005/06 is $80,050-$102,233 for 225 days employment. Salary range for 2006/07 will be determined later in the school year. All positions require experience working cross-culturally and/or commitment to work toward improving one’s own cultural competence, i.e. valuing difference/diversity, recognizing personal limitations in one’s skills and expertise, and having the desire to learn in these areas. Deadline for receipt of a completed application form, including responses to the required Experience Inventory, letters of reference, and grade transcripts, is Tuesday, February 28, 2006.
MMSD employment site.
Frustrated by continued uncertainty over where their children will attend school, residents of Swan Creek are asking to be transferred to the Oregon School District.
The decision would reverse a 2003 decision that transferred Swan Creek to the Madison Metropolitan School District.
Residents obtained signatures from 188 households on a petition asking the respective school boards to consider the request. Three real estate developers also endorsed the move.
If the school boards refuse the request, residents can ask that an appeals board consider the transfer.
“We know it’s an uphill battle,” said resident Renee Hammond, referring to the previous unsuccessful attempt to reverse the decision of the two school boards.
Several residents said they had been misled about schools when they purchased their homes. Some had been told that they could choose which school district they wanted to attend or that the Madison district planned to construct a school in Swan Creek or elsewhere in Fitchburg.
More upsetting to residents, however, is the uncertainty over whether their children can continue to attend Leopold Elementary School. The Madison school board is weighing plans to alleviate overcrowding at Leopold that could send children from Swan Creek to several different schools.
Organizers of the petition drive said they could easily have obtained more signatures.
Romney Ludgate said there’s no assurance that making space for additional students at Leopold would be more than a short-term solution to overcrowding and that residents might have to continually address the issue.
“Until a school is built in Fitchburg, residents of the southern part of the district in Fitchburg will continue to face extreme instability” in where Swan Creek students would attend school, Hammond said.
Continue reading Gutknecht on “Swan Creek residents ask to join Oregon schools”
Kurt Gutknecht, writing in the Fitchburg Star about the recent Board and public discussion of the East / West Task Forces:
There was a sense of déjà vu when the Madison Metropolitan School Board met Jan. 30 when the schism that fractured it last year – and which appeared to be a key factor in the defeat of a referendum last spring – surfaced again. Four members of the board appear solidly in support of another referendum and two members appear steadfast in their opposition, although the board hasn’t officially acted on the matter.
The possibility of a divided board has already alarmed supporters of a new addition to Leopold Elementary School, who think it will provide additional ammunition to critics.
The discussion was often heated as Ruth Robarts and Lawrie Kobza charged that the board was rushing to a referendum without an adequate long-range plan.
Their stance irritated Juan Jose Lopez, who accused them of “playing politics” with the future of schoolchildren simply because they didn’t like the outcome. “I for one will not sit here and allow you to do that,” he said.
A key disagreement involved the weight accorded the recommendations of the task forces charged with formulating long-range options.
Continue reading School board divided again over plans to reduce overcrowding
Of the MTI-represented employees in the district, more than 50% take their health insurance with Group Health (the lowest cost of any of the HMO’s).
February 6th MEETINGS :
5 p.m. Finance & Operations Committee (Johnny Winston Jr., chair):
Report on the $100 Budget exercise in January 173 people participated in the exercise; their responses indicated that their highest priorities were: Academic Achievement and Specialized Services (special education, English as a Second Language).
Doug Pearson, in charge of buildings and grounds for the district, gave a presentation explaining that a combination of factors (drought in the Midwest, Hurricane Katrina and increased oil prices) have resulted in a huge increase in construction costs. As an example, when the district built Chavez (2000-01), construction costs were estimated at $85/sq.ft. today the estimate to build a new school is estimated to cost $162/sq.ft. These increases also affect all of the district’s maintenance projects.
6 p.m. Performance & Achievement Committee (Shwaw Vang, chair)
The Committee heard presentations about the elimination of tracking in the West High Biology course (begun in 1997) and in East High Algebra/Trig (started in 2004). In both cases the changes were the result of discussions by the teachers at the school and supported by staff from downtown. Likewise, both reported that they felt that they were serving all students more effectively and that their classes were more representative of the entire student enrollment. The Committee will continue looking at this topic.
Continue reading Carol Carstensen’s Weekly Update
Interesting article on the leadership dynamics of the New York City Department of Education by David Herszenhorn:
“Parents and parent organizations feel less enfranchised now than they did four years ago, and that is a dangerous trend,” Mr. Sanders said. He added, “Ultimately you cannot have a successful education system if parents and communities of parents don’t feel invested.”
Stephen Morello, Mr. Klein’s communications director, issued a statement saying parent involvement “has been an important priority from the beginning of our reform efforts.”
Madison Metropolitan School District:
Kindergarten Enrollment for the 2006-2007 school year is Monday, March 6, 2006 from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. at all MMSD elementary schools. To be eligible, children must be 5 years old on or before September 1, 2006.
When enrolling a child for kindergarten, parents will be required to show proof of age (birth certificate, baptismal record, medical assistance card,) proof of residency (utility bill) and an immunization record.
Find your school here.
Paul Soglin & Mary Kay Battaglia:
When I posted Teachers Strike in Madison: Thirty Years Later January 27, 2006, Mary commented:
While failing public schools are linked to the high number of low income students attending them, you may be interested in some MMSD data. If you go to the MMSD web site and look under their data you will find that in 1991 Madison’s elementary schools had a total %low income of 24.6%. In 2005 that number almost doubled to 42.4%. Our schools are in a crisis of becoming just another urban school in trouble. That’s almost double in 14 years.
Why is it that Madison city government is so UNinvolved with the schools? It seems to me for growth and economic stability the two should have a better working relationship. The district is clueless to the growth and the city does not seemed concerned with informing the district or working to help crisis areas of the city to help both the school and neighborhood. Allied is an example where they could work together. Mary Kay Battaglia
And this week Channel 3 WISC is running a series, Experts: New Street Gangs Rising In Dane County.
Mary Kay previously wrote about this here. Lucy Mathiak followed up on that post here.
Superintendent Art Rainwater:
One of the most significant occurrences in public education during my Superintendency has been the “No Child Left Behind Act” (NCLB) which was passed with the intention of changing and improving public education. The act is significant because it is the first time the federal government has inserted itself into determining the quality of K-12 education at the local level. NCLB captures both the best and worst of current educational thought.
The recognition of the importance in understanding our children’s learning needs through good academic assessment has been a major positive change. Educators have the best chance for success when we are using academic performance data about each individual child to inform instruction.
The Madison School Board and the Oregon School Board both are scheduled to address the petition at their Feb. 27 meetings.
The land on which the subdivision is located was previously part of the Oregon School District. It was transferred effective July 1, 2003, to the Madison district in exchange for commercial property, said Clarence Sherrod, attorney for the Madison School District.
School boards in both districts also agreed not to allow the land to be transferred back, said Madison School Board President Carol Carstensen.
“I do not want them to leave,” Carstensen said, adding, “I certainly understand their concern over the uncertainty.”
Carstensen said some Swan Creek residents who want to remain in the Madison School District “are not happy at the timing” of the petition, which they thought would used as a “last-ditch” option.
The petition, statutes and more details can be found here.
According to the second annual report from the College Board, which administers the Advanced Placement program, about 60 percent of American high schools now offer Advanced Placement courses, and the average high school offers a choice of eight such courses.
“The number of students participating in A.P. has more than doubled in 10 years, and today almost 15,000 U.S. schools offer A.P. courses,” said Gaston Caperton, the president of the board, a New York-based nonprofit organization.
The percentage of American high school students passing A.P. exams increased in all 50 states last year, the report said. In the class of 2005, 14.1 percent of students received an A.P. exam grade of 3 or higher on one or more A.P. exams, up from 13.2 percent of the class of 2004, and 10.2 percent of the class of 2000.
A.P. exams in 35 subjects are given in May, at a cost of $82 each. They are graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 representing A-level college work, and 3 representing about a C+.
Barb Schrank earlier noted that East offers 8 AP courses, LaFollette 13, Memorial 16 and West 8. The District’s efforts in these areas appear to be going in different directions, with a growing effort to provide a one size fits all curriculum (West and Sherman examples) while recently receiving a grant to increase the number of AP classes. The District’s approach to Athletics has apparently not changed, though Kurt Vonnegut via his short story Harrison Bergeron, notes that 2081 might be the year for that.
Concerns about the growth of street gangs in the Madison area are prompting authorities to create a new task force that will target Dane County’s top gang leaders and drug dealers, WISC-TV reported.
Federal, state, and local police will play a key role in the new gang unit.
There’s a great deal being planned on many fronts right now to combat the growing gang problem, and the new gang task force is one component, WISC-TV reported.
Rafael Gomez recently hosted a Forum on Gangs & School Violence: Audio / Video.
So the bottom line is that we shouldn’t expect much from the federal government. The dilemma for the Board and the community is to find out what our priorities will be for the coming years in Madison.
Although we have been looking at our school budget as a $100 budget cutting exercise, I would like to look at a program already cut by the district.
One elementary school program in particular, the Ready Set Go conferences, have come to my attention repeatedly from both teachers and parents. It was both a commitment by the district to voice the educational expectations of the district and an opportunity for a family to share with the teacher their goals for the child.
Barry Ritholtz posts a number of useful charts on the proposed 2007 federal budget. Neil Heinen notes that the state situation, with its “structural deficit” does not look much better. This, despite a 10% jump in taxes paid by Wisconsin residents in 2005, according to the Wisconsin Taxpayer’s Alliance.
The old schools and libraries need to be replaced. Developers are hungry for space for even more condominiums. So D.C. officials want to make a deal: The developers would build new libraries, schools and maybe even police stations, and get the privilege of putting condominiums or shops on top of or alongside them.
Proponents say developers could pay now for amenities the city wouldn’t fund for years, if ever, and developers would get scarce city space for housing — mostly high-end, but some affordable.
With the costs of fixing schools and libraries estimated at close to $2 billion, said D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp, “I don’t believe we can tax our way out.”
I think we’ll see much more of this.
National Institute of Aerospace:
The National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), in partnership with NASA Langley Research Center and the North Carolina and Virginia Space Grant Consortia, is pleased to announce our 4th Annual Educator Training Workshop. The workshop is an opportunity for middle and high school teachers and administrators to delve into the world of aerospace to provide exciting learning opportunities for their students. This activity will be an intense two weeks focused on current and past NASA research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Berkeley Professor of Leadership Philip E. Tetlock has written a rather interesting book:
He evaluates predictions from experts in different fields, comparing them to predictions by well-informed laity or those based on simple extrapolation from current trends. He goes on to analyze which styles of thinking are more successful in forecasting. Classifying thinking styles using Isaiah Berlin’s prototypes of the fox and the hedgehog, Tetlock contends that the fox–the thinker who knows many little things, draws from an eclectic array of traditions, and is better able to improvise in response to changing events–is more successful in predicting the future than the hedgehog, who knows one big thing, toils devotedly within one tradition, and imposes formulaic solutions on ill-defined problems. He notes a perversely inverse relationship between the best scientific indicators of good judgement and the qualities that the media most prizes in pundits–the single-minded determination required to prevail in ideological combat.
Clearly written and impeccably researched, the book fills a huge void in the literature on evaluating expert opinion. It will appeal across many academic disciplines as well as to corporations seeking to develop standards for judging expert decision-making.
Robert Heller has more. New Yorker Review Google.
The first question would be if the district should build one high school, which could be expanded, for 1,400 students on the city’s east side, said board President Mary Ellen Havel- Lang.
The other two possible questions would be if the district should build a bigger gym than what’s proposed in the new high school and if the auditorium should be built so that it could be turned into a performing arts center, she said.
Sun Priarie School District site.
Reed Schneider emails on recent posts regarding a School Board’s role in curriculum policy:
I agree that the school board should be responsible for the district’s curriculum. In fact, it is the most important thing they are charged with. 10 or more years ago, before widespread internet availability, the non-edu-estab person on a board would have the excuse that it would be impossible for them to know which curricula works. All decisions would be deferred to the so-called experts. That excuse doesn’t work any more. Any board member can now go to www.nrrf.org and discover opinion and independent research showing programs like Reading Recovery and balanced Literacy have serious flaws. They can go to www.mathematicallycorrect.com and discover that math programs recommended by the NCTM like Everyday Math fail our children.
Even if the board becomes involved, it will take board members willing to do this. Just because they become involved with curriculum will not automatically mean they will critically evaluate administrators recommendations. Far too often they simply rubber stamp what the curriculum specialist puts in front of them.
The parents and tax payers are the only ones with the power to change this. A good question at a board candidate’s forum would be: “What is your opinion of reading or math programs based on constructivist theory?” If they don’t understand the question, can’t answer, hem and haw, or embrace it, don’t vote for them. It’s really that simple.
I’ve updated the candidate election page with information from the January, 2006 campaign finance filings and a link to the first podcast.
Anne Wallace Allen:
Stephanie Rose walked into the lunchroom of the Idaho Falls High School with a homemade chart and tallied what she found: Canisters of potato chips. Heaps of candy. Cellophane-wrapped cakes. High-caffeine sports drinks.
Twelve percent of the foods offered by the district a la carte program were granola or cereal bars, fruits, vegetables, or low-fat chips or pretzels. The other 88 percent included nachos, corn dogs, chips and cookies.
“For 25 cents you can buy 310 calories,” said Rose, a nurse and diabetes educator who attended Idaho Falls High in the 1980s, when she had to take a helping of beans on her plate whether she wanted them or not.
These days, the school promotes “Corn dogs: two for a dollar,” she says. “Good Lord, what are you trying to do here?”
UW Health Nutritionist Marcy Braun participated in a recent Forum on Nutrition and Schools audio / video
Fitchburg’s Swan Creek subdivision petitioned recently to leave the Madison School District. [Map] A reader emails that Swan Creek currently has 21 students in the MMSD. Links:
5 pages from the petition [1.1mb pdf] Wisconsin Statutes: [106K PDF]
UPDATE: A reader wondered recently what the mileage differences might be between Swan Creek and schools in the MMSD or Oregon*.
- High Schools: Madison West 7 miles [map] or Oregon High School 7 miles [map]
- Middle Schools: Cherokee 7.2 miles [map], Oregon’s Rome Corner’s Intermediate 7.7 miles [map] or Oregon Middle School 8.3 miles [map]
- Elementary Schools: Leopold 3.5 miles [map], Lincoln 4 miles [map], Midvale 8.2 miles [map]. Oregon: Prairie View Elementary 6.7 miles [map] Netherwood Elementary 6.7 miles [map] Brooklyn Elementary School 13 miles [map]
* Obviously, the pickup route and traffic conditions determine the actual travel time, given similar distances.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development):
The relationship with student performance in mathematics is striking. Students who have used computers for several years mostly perform better than average. By contrast, those who don’t have access to computers or who have been using computers for only a short time tend to lag behind their class year.
According to the OECD study, students who had been using computers for less than one year (10% of the total sample) scored well below the OECD average. By contrast, students who had been using computers for more than five years (37% of the total sample) scored well above the OECD average.
Via the Economist. My view on this, fwiw, is that we need to get the curriculum right first, then apply technology where it makes sense.
Seat 1 Madison School Board Candidate Maya Cole:
This election is about change. I want to see a Board that embraces change as a way to focus our limited resources on quality education for all kids.
I, for one, would like to see our Board work out of the box and get to a point where they are governing instead of bounding from issue to issue. We have an annual budget cycle. We need to look at a budget cycle of three to five years. The budget comes up every year and every year we talk about cuts to strings, cuts to janitorial services, cuts to art and physical education.
Let’s revisit a commentary by Peter Hutchinson, president of the Public Strategies Group Inc. of St. Paul, Minnesota in Education Week in 1997.
I’m actively supporting Maya Cole’s Candidacy.
Jeffrey Selingo, via reader Wade Waege:
THE subjects were typical for a seventh-grade classroom: a summary of a mealworm’s metamorphosis, strategies on improving memory and making studying easier and a story about a classroom candy thief.
But the discussions last fall at Longfellow Middle School in La Crosse, Wis., were not taking place only for their classroom to hear. They were recorded as part of a series of podcasts the students produced and syndicated over Apple’s iTunes music store.
“Their audience has moved to the entire world,” said Jeanne Halderson, one of two seventh-grade teachers at Longfellow who supervise the podcasts. “The students find that exciting. It’s a lot more motivating to write something that the whole world can hear, rather than just something for a teacher to put a grade on.”
Podcasting – posting an audio recording online that can be heard through a computer or downloaded to a mobile device like an iPod – is following blogs and online classes as yet another interactive technology catching on as a teaching tool. Currently, iTunes lists more than 400 podcasts from kindergarten through 12th-grade classes, while Yahoo has nearly 900 education-related podcasts. Some are produced by teachers wanting to reach other educators with teaching tips, while many are created by students, like the La Crosse seventh graders with their podcast, at lacrosseschools.com/longfellow/sc/ck/index.htm.
Wade mentioned that Apple is holding a free seminar on February 14 in Brookfield, 2006 on Education and Podcasting.
WisPolitics.com is hosting a lunch for Republican Gubernatorial candidates Mark Green and Scott Walker who are facing off to run against incumbent Democrat Jim Doyle this fall.
Cost is $15 for Madison Club members and $19 for non-members. Call Loretta to RSVP at the Madison Club, 608-255-4861.
This is perhaps one of the best local opportunities to question the candidates regarding their views of K-12 public financing, the achievement gap, the QEO and our state’s economy which supports our education system. Governor Doyle created a school finance task force several years ago, but did not implement any changes to the current regime.
Since the program’s inception in 1961, UW-Madison has produced thousands of volunteers. And today, for the 20th consecutive year, UW-Madison takes the top spot, with 104 volunteers currently serving in the field.
UW-Madison also ranks as the institution with the second highest number of volunteers with advanced degrees, with 18 alumni. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor earned the number spot in this category, with 22 volunteers.
The UW’s new website has an RSS feed.
Alan Borsuk on Phil McDade’s report for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute: [250K pdf]
“The growing performance gap is largely influenced by socioeconomic factors beyond the influence of schools,” McDade said. “Property wealth, poverty and race were found to affect student performance.”
The per-student spending difference was much smaller than the difference in test scores and actually was smaller in 2003-’04 than it was seven years earlier, leading McDade to conclude that increased spending would not be a key to closing the gap.
Even though the roots of the gap are in matters such as poverty, McDade suggested that policy makers consider steps to increase academic performance of high school students, including stronger graduation requirements, tougher admissions standards to University of Wisconsin campuses and increased emphasis on sending more high school graduates to college.
According to the report, Madison High Schools (along with Verona, Middleton-Cross Plains, Wisconsin Heights, Monticello, Monona Grove and Waunakee) were in the top 10% based on 1996-1997 WKCE results in. However, they (Madison) were no longer present in the top 10% based on 2003/2004 results (Deerfield, Dodgeville, Middleton-Cross Plains, McFarland, Waunakee and Verona were in the top 10% based on the 2003/2004 data).
Reader Troy Dassler emailed this photo, taken a few hours ago, at Leopold’s Math Night event.
National Center for Education Statistics:
Status and Trends in the Education of Blacks draws on the many statistics published by NCES in a variety of reports and synthesizes these data in one compact volume. In addition to indicators drawn from existing government reports, some indicators were developed specifically for this report. The objective of this report is to make statistical information about the educational status of Blacks easily accessible to a variety of audiences.
NYC Department of Education:
Supported by a $15 million four-year grant from the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation, the Partnership will address New York City’s need for highly qualified, well-trained teachers who will immediately be able to excel in the City’s public schools.
Through an unprecedented collaboration among K-12 educators and higher education faculty in education and the arts and sciences, the Partnership plans innovations in how pre-service teachers–students who are receiving formal education but have not yet become full-time teachers–are taught and by whom; how they first learn the craft of teaching, and how they continue to develop teaching skill throughout their careers. The Partnership will demonstrate how teacher education can be responsive to the City’s most pressing needs, how learning what to teach and learning how to teach can better come together, and how beginning teachers can be ready from the start to work effectively in urban classrooms.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush:
This year, Florida will introduce the largest reform package since the sweeping changes we made in 1999.
These reforms include differentiated pay and performance-based pay for teachers to attract and retain talented educators in critical subject areas, encourage them to teach in economically challenged schools and reward them for improving student performance.
Our proposed reforms will bring rigor and relevance to middle schools by requiring students in grades six through eight to earn 12 credits in math, science, language, arts and social studies for promotion to high school, and requiring those who cannot read at grade level to get reading instruction.
We’re also looking to revamp high schools to better prepare students for the future and for postsecondary education by creating career academies, where students can major or minor in math and science, or fine arts, or on career and vocational skills, depending on their goals and interests. The goal is for students to graduate knowing what they want to do with their lives, so they leave school armed with college credits toward their goal or, if they choose a vocational route, with certified skills for a specific industry.
Expanding on its efforts to increase the reading skills of elementary school students, the Schools of Hope project led by the United Way of Dane County also is focusing on helping middle school students develop the math skills needed to be successful in high school, college, employment and daily life.
Since the Madison School Board adopted the goal that all students would complete algebra by the end of ninth grade and geometry by the end of 10th grade, the option of taking less rigorous classes, such as general or consumer math, has disappeared.
All high school students are now required to take algebra and geometry – or two credits of integrated mathematics, combining algebra, statistics and probability, geometry and trigonometry – in order to graduate.
“These are really gate-keeping courses and skills,” said Mary Ramberg, the district’s director of teaching and learning. She added that without them, students “will have a lot of options closed.”
Rafael Gomez is organizing a Forum on Math Curriculum Wednesday evening, February 22, 2006 at McDaniels Auditorium. Look for more information soon.
A reader emailed this interesting MMSD budget item. The land and buildings around East Towne Mall are not in the MMSD, according to the district’s map.
Fitchburg contributed $10,030,120 or 5% [Fitchburg City Budget PDF] to the MMSD’s $200,363,255 total Tax Levy (total MMSD 2005/2006 budget is $321+M [includes funds redistributed via other means such as income, gas and other taxes/fees from state and federal organizations]); see the 2005-2006 Budget Amendments and Tax Levy Adoption [PDF].
On a September day 4 1/2 years ago, nearly 1,100 ninth-graders — a little giddy, a little scared — arrived at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys. They were fifth-generation Americans and new arrivals, straight arrows and gangbangers, scholars and class clowns.
On a radiant evening last June, 521 billowing figures in royal blue robes and yellow-tasseled mortarboards walked proudly across Birmingham’s football field, practically floating on a carpet of whoops and shouts and blaring air horns, to accept their diplomas.
It doesn’t take a valedictorian to do the math: Somewhere along the way, Birmingham High lost more than half of the students who should have graduated.
It is a crucial question, not just for Birmingham but for all American schools.
High school dropouts lead much harder lives, earn far less money and demand vastly more public assistance than their peers who graduate.
Lucy Mathiak posted MMSD dropout data, including those who showed high achievement during their elementary years.
Parent Group Presidents:
The district’s contract settlement with MTI for this year and next are 3.98% and 3.97% package increases. This is below the state average (about 4.5%), below the average for large districts and below the average for Dane County districts.
Jan 23rd Meetings:
5 p.m. Special Board Meeting:
The Board discussed the status of contracts for administrators but took no action. The administration has already proposed reducing 4 administrative positions next year.
6 p.m. Long Range Planning Committee Meeting (Bill Keys, chair):
The Committee received the reports and final recommendations from the East Area and the Memorial/West Areas Task Forces. The recommendations are as follows: East Area recommendations:
Do not close schools
2. Move Affiliated Alternatives to Marquette/O’Keeffe
3. Move MSCR to Emerson
4. Change the middle school feeder pattern to move either Emerson or Hawthorne students to O’Keeffe.
5. Move the undeveloped land near the intersection of Milwaukee St. and Fair Oaks to the East Area.
6. Possible boundary changes affecting the 4 schools on the north side (Gompers, Lakeview, Lindbergh and Mendota).
1. Build an addition onto Leopold and build a new school on the far west side.
Continue reading Carol Carstensen’s Weekly Update
Madison Alder and MMSD employee Larry Palm attended a $100 budget session. Palm posts his thoughts here. Anita Martin, writing in the Madison Times also reviews the $100 budget.
The key architect behind that transformation was the tough young executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., John Matthews, who had come to Madison eight years earlier from Montana.
Thirty years later, Matthews is still tough and, more than ever, still casts a powerful shadow across the public education landscape of Madison as a tireless and relentless advocate for teachers. With Matthews at the helm, MTI has remained a dominant force in education and labor.
Former Madison Mayor (currently with Epic Systems – Verona) Paul Soglin weighs in as well.