Supporters of a five-year, $7.5 million school referendum — who appeared to have made no headway in their campaign since the same referendum question failed six months ago — were devastated by Tuesday night’s defeat.
When the same referendum was on the ballot April 4, voters rejected it by 64 votes, or 1 percent. Last week, with only 11 fewer voters weighing in, the measure failed by about 2 percent, or 135 votes.
“Obviously, we need to be doing something different than what we are because we’re not connecting with people we need to connect with,” School Board President Kevin Vodak said.
The Madison School District has a three part (one question) referendum on this November’s ballot (11/7).
Kathryn Newmark & Veronique De Rugy:
According to the plan’s “educational network model,” the school system would include a mix of charter, contract, and system-run schools, organized in small “networks” of similar schools. The Algiers Charter School Association, for example, could be one network within the larger school system.
All schools will have considerable autonomy—including control over staffing, the authority to set their own budgets, and the freedom to offer extended school days or longer school years—but will be held accountable for results, and funds will follow students as they choose the schools that best meet their needs. A network manager will provide support and accountability for each network of schools. A “lean” district office will focus on policymaking instead of top-down operational decisions, including a small “strategy group” that will set learning standards and ensure the equitable allocation of resources, but will not mandate teaching methods or control school spending. The other major component of the district organization will be a new central support-services office that will provide optional assistance to help schools obtain services such as food preparation and transportation. One superintendent will direct the network managers, strategy group, and services office and report to the school board, whose role will be oversight, not execution.
The plan explicitly rejects an all-charter-school system, but preserves many of the advantages of such a system, such as flexibility and decentralization. The plan also provides enough structure and support to help school leaders be successful without impinging on their autonomy. In fact, it seems that, within this framework, even the system-run schools will be indistinguishable from charter schools.
Joanne has more.
The Advanced Placement government assignment over the summer was to read and analyze political commentator Chris Matthews’ book “Hardball.” So four friends at American High School in Fremont did what they say everyone else was doing: divvied up the 13 questions about the book and exchanged answers via e-mail. They each altered the text slightly, then handed in their individual papers.
The students call it collaboration. The teachers call it cheating.
As technology makes it easier than ever to cheat, educators are combating the intractable problem on at least three fronts: setting clear standards, using technology to fight back, and talking with students and parents about ethics and pressure.
Many students use e-mail to share work and program iPods and cell phones to cheat in class in new ways. On the flip side, schools can hire services that use computers to scan essays for plagiarism; one leading service claims its business is doubling every year.
Throughout the South Bay and across the Peninsula, schools are banning electronic devices and stiffening penalties. Turning around attitudes is more challenging.
Maria Glod posts a related article: “Students Rebel Against Database Designed to Thwart Plagiarists”.
Andy Hall (who’s been busy this week):
Madison School Board member Ruth Robarts confirmed Friday that she won’t seek re-election, ending her sometimes-stormy tenure that over the past decade earned her praise for being a watchdog but also the label of “public enemy No. 1.”
“It is primarily for personal reasons. A decade is a long time to meet every single Monday night,” Robarts said.
Also, she said, governments benefit from the energy of newcomers.
Ruth announced her intention to not seek re-election in Jason Shephard’s spring 2006 article: “The Fate of the Schools“. Ruth has done a tremendous service for the community via her strong, independent voice on the Board. She will be missed. Ruth was instrumental in getting this site rolling.
Johnny Winston, Jr. confirmed that “he’ll be in their swinging” next April. Check out these video interviews of Ruth, Johnny and others in the April, 2004 election.
They began by seeking balance, and wound up finding perfection.
An unprecedented six Madison School District students attained a perfect score on recent ACT college entrance exams, district officials said Friday.
Just 11 Wisconsin students received a score of 36, the top possible mark, out of 45,500 tested in April and June.
During that period, 178 of 837,000 students nationwide received a perfect composite score in the assessment of English, mathematics, reading and science skills.
“I want to start by saying, ‘Wow!’ ” Pam Nash, the assistant superintendent overseeing Madison’s middle and high schools, told the students, their parents and educators Friday at a celebration at West High School.
More on the ACT scores here and here.
The Badger Herald has more:
Though Nash argued the quality of Madison’s public high schools contributed to the scores, she added natural talent, intelligence and hard work from the six students was also crucial to their success.
“Reading is important, and Madison emphasizes that,” Nash said. “But the kids themselves … chose the academic route.”
But Poppe, a Madison West senior surprised with the outcome of the test, attributes his perfect score to a healthy breakfast and a little practice.
“I did one of the practice tests and made sure to get a good breakfast,” he said. “I think a lot of the classes I took earlier in high school helped, but I think some people are more comfortable in a testing environment.”
Mike Johnson & Kay Nolan:
By the time Virchow Krause & Co.’s accounting error was discovered, the mistake had been repeated and the deficit had ballooned to $2.7 million in fall 2004, prompting a downgrading of the district’s bond rating and budget freezes, district officials said.
The firm discovered the error during a 2004 audit and reported it to the district. After about 1 1/2 years of negotiations, Virchow Krause agreed to pay the district $275,000 and to forgive $15,476 owed to the firm by the district. The School Board approved the settlement agreement late Tuesday.
Anonymous donors have pledged up to $5 million to a private school group to purchase and preserve Dudgeon School on Monroe Street.
The plan initially gives $1 million to Wingra School to purchase and begin renovations on the building it has rented for 34 years. The building is owned by the city of Madison, and its sale price is $750,000.
Up to $4 million more would be available as part of a matching contribution program spanning 10 years, and is designed to help preserve and upgrade the building for its continued use as an education center in the neighborhood.
The gift comes with a set of conditions that must be fulfilled to help preserve the building’s historic presence and personality. Those conditions include keeping the former public school as a neighborhood polling place and ensuring that the grounds in front of and behind the building remain open to the public as a neighborhood athletic field and playground.
More from Dean Mosiman, Channel3000 and NBC15.
A reader involved in these issues sent this link [strong language warning] [Mike Antonucci’s website]:
WEAC felt MTI had overstepped its authority and, in an effort to punish MTI, unilaterally terminated the 1978 affiliation agreement. MTI claimed WEAC could not take such action, and sought arbitration. WEAC resisted, and MTI sued WEAC to compel arbitration. After losing in county court, MTI won its point in state and federal appeals courts.
From July 18-20, 2006 – more than five years after the SCEA incident – attorneys for MTI and WEAC crossed swords in front of arbitrator Peter Feuille of the University of Illinois. EIA has obtained a copy of the transcript, and the proceedings not only provided a detailed and enlightening look at the history and internal politics of WEAC, but supplied yet more evidence that the bonds of unionism are sometimes composed of dollar bills, and little else.
MTI’s website | WEAC. Alan Borsuk has more.
Lori Aratani & Ernesto Londono:
In a 77-page report [5.2MB PDF]commissioned by the Montgomery County Council, the Office of Legislative Oversight examined the school system’s method for tracking fights, bomb threats and other serious incidents. It found that although the district has tracked the incidents since 1973, the figures are not released publicly and the information is not detailed enough to allow school officials to identify trends or even the number of times a student has been in trouble.
The report also said that by November, the school system, police department and state’s attorney’s office should develop guidelines for what types of incidents school officials must report to authorities.
Police officers and prosecutors are seeking the guidelines because they believe principals sometimes deal with criminal activity internally. But negotiations over the guidelines have been contentious, and reaching an agreement has been difficult, said council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville), chairman of the council’s public safety committee.
Molly Snyder Edler:
Artists Working in Education (AWE) presents “A Celebration of Children’s Art,” a collection of work created this summer by kids who participated in AWE’s Truck Studio Program.
“A Celebration of Children’s Art” hangs in the Milwaukee City Hall Rotunda, Sept. 19 through Oct. 6. There is an opening reception on Tuesday, Sept. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St.
The exhibit features paintings, collages, plaster casts and fiber arts pieces made by four to 14-year-olds who were instructed by professional artists, art teachers and college-level art students through the Truck Studio Program.
“All of the work is created by children in Milwaukee’s most challenged neighborhoods,” says Sally Salkowski Witte, AWE executive director. “To me, it’s entirely appropriate that their artwork is positioned, at least for a short time, where those who have a great deal of power to make a difference will pass by every day.”
Artists Working in Education website.
Elliot H (a 4th grade teacher in Phoenix):
Since I finally have a moment to pause and reflect, I thought I would use one of my infrequent posts to put down some of the things I’ve discovered thus far. In no particular order…
1. The achievement gap is very, very real. Most of my fourth graders don’t know the meaning of simple words like “show” and “pair.” Most can’t do their 2s times-tables. Most read at least a grade level behind. Most have writing skills that could charitably be called atrocious. It’s a miracle that so many of them can find Arizona on a map, because they certainly can’t find anything else (but, to be fair, 7th graders were placing “Europe” in Oregon and “Greenland” in Montana).
Then there’s the one non-special ed. nine-year-old who I last week taught to read the word “the.”
It’s not that they can’t do it. My kids are a bright, energetic, inquistive bunch. Nor is it that they have no prior knowledge — it’s just floating around in shards, unconnected to anything meaningful. I have to ask this question, though: If thirty students have gone through 4 years of many different schools and understand so little, isn’t that a sign that something has gone horribly wrong?
Deciding which schools should get how many staff members and other resources is a hot topic, and Madison School Board members are tussling over it now.
A majority of board members asked on Monday night to continue the discussion at next week’s meeting, despite board President Johnny Winston Jr.’s reluctance to put the issue on the Sept. 25 agenda.
Winston said the equity issue, which has to do with the fair allocation of resources to students and schools, was too broad to be hurried into discussion. He also said it has the potential to be very divisive. When equity formulas are put in place, some schools gain and some schools lose resources, based on the unique needs of their students.
“It’s a very complex issue,” Winston said.
He is concerned that the board could make hasty changes in how the district’s existing policy is applied, creating “ramifications we don’t fully understand,” he said in an interview today. The district and its financial situation were very different more than a decade ago when the current equity policy was put in place, he said.
Discussion audio and video are available here.
A new report by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance found that Wisconsin’s schools spend about 11 percent more per student than the national average.
The report finds the state spends about $9,000 per student, which puts Wisconsin 12th highest nationwide based on 2004 census data. The national average was is about $1,000 less.
Paul Soglin adds a few comments here.
most education schools are engaged in a “pursuit of irrelevance,” with curriculums in disarray and faculty disconnected from classrooms and colleagues. These schools have “not kept pace with changing demographics, technology, global competition, and pressures to raise student achievement,” the study says.
A majority of teacher education alumni (61 percent) reported that schools of education did not prepare graduates well to cope with the realities of today’s classrooms, according to a national survey conducted for the study. School principals also gave teacher education programs low grades, with fewer than one-third of those surveyed reporting that schools of education prepare teachers very well or moderately well to address the needs of students with disabilities (30 percent), a diverse cultural background (28 percent) or limited English proficiency (16 percent).
Full Report. Joanne has more.
Steven Wilson & George Wood:
Steven F. Wilson
Senior fellow, Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government; founder and former CEO of Advantage Schools
Principal, Federal Hocking High School, Stewart, Ohio; director, the Forum for Education and Democracy
I’ve updated the election page with information and links regarding the November 7, 2006 selection.
Links include the Madison School District’s information page, boundary changes and the open government complaint documents (and District Attorney Brian Blanchard’s recent response) related to the School Board’s closed meetings over the Linden Park land purchase. A motion to make the deal public (before the final Board vote) failed on a 3-3 vote – Shwaw Vang was absent (Shwaw’s seat is up for election in April, 2007). Supporting open government were Carol Carstensen, Lawrie Kobza and Ruth Robarts (Ruth’s seat is up for election in April, 2007. She is not seeking re-election).
Supporting a closed approach (and prevailing) were Bill Keys (did not seek re-election, replaced by Arlene Silveira who defeated Maya Cole by 70 out of 33,000+ votes in one of the closest local elections in years – having said that, Arlene, in the words of a friend “has been a good addition to the board”), Juan Jose Lopez (defeated by Lucy Mathiak) and Johnny Winston, Jr. (Johnny’s seat is up in April, 2007. I assume he’s running, but if Mayor Dave seeks the County Executive seat, perhaps Johnny will give that position a run and face former School Board member Ray Allen?). Art Rainwater is correct when he said that education is inherently political.
It’s the lurking fear of every private-school parent: The kid next door is getting just as good an education at the public school — free of charge.
Ben and Courtney Nields of Norwalk, Conn., agonized over the issue last year when they moved their daughter Annie from the New Canaan Country School, set on a 72-acre campus, to a public school for first grade. The move was primarily economic — they have twins entering kindergarten this year and faced tuition bills of $22,500 per child.
“It was like taking your child out of the Garden of Eden,” says Mrs. Nields. But Annie thrived at the school. Her confidence grew and the teacher, say the Nieldses, was phenomenal.
Across the country, some schools and education professionals report a growing movement from private to public. Among the possible reasons: Private-school tuition has grown sharply, while some colleges are boosting the number of students they take from public schools. New studies have suggested that public-school students often tested as well or better than their private school peers. And increasingly, public schools are enriching their programs by holding the same kinds of fund-raisers often associated with private schools, such as auctions and capital campaigns.
“But lately there’s strong anecdotal evidence of frequent movement from private schools to public schools. There are more choices for parents now.”
Some public schools are actively recruiting private-school students. At Torrey Pines Elementary in La Jolla, Calif., Principal Jim Solo began holding monthly tours and meetings for private-school families four years ago. Many students had left for private or charter schools. While he says it was not a main motivator, having students return to the school increased state funding, as the district is paid on a per-pupil basis.
Locally, I’ve seen movement both ways. A number of parents have left over curriculum and climate issues while others have jumped back in because the public schools offer services or curriculum not available in the private school world. Homeschooling is another growing factor.
Jay Greene and Marcus Winters:
Should the grade-level a student is in be based entirely on how old he is or at least partially on how skilled he is? This is the fundamental question underlying the debate over social promotion — the practice of moving students to the next grade regardless of whether they have acquired the minimal skills covered in the previous grade. Advocates of social promotion suggest that it is best to group students by age rather than by skill. Students who are held back a grade are separated from their age-peers and, the argument goes, this social disruption harms them academically. Opponents of social promotion favor requiring students to demonstrate minimal skills on a standardized test before they receive automatic promotion to the next grade.
Until now the bulk of the research favored social promotion. Most studies found that students who were retained tended to fare less well academically than demographically similar students who were promoted. The problem with this previous research is that it was never entirely clear whether retained students did worse because they were retained or because whatever caused them to be retained led to worse outcomes. This is especially a problem because these previous studies examined retention based on educator discretion. If teachers decide that one student should be retained while another demographically similar student should be promoted, they probably know something about those students that suggests that the promoted student has better prospects than the retained student. When researchers match students on recorded demographic factors they cannot observe or control statistically for what a teacher saw that led that teacher to promote one student while retaining the other.
The complete report is available here.
The backers of the Studio School were given permission by the Madison school board last year to pursue the planning grant.
Donahue said the proposed Studio School will focus on providing a school-wide, arts rich curriculum for elementary school students. It would be chartered with the Madison school district in a way similar to the district’s very successful dual immersion Spanish language school, Nuestro Mundo Inc., or its other charter school, Wright Middle School. Both schools focus on issues of multi-culturalism and integrating social action into the curriculum.
More on the Studio School.
Despite North Carolina students’ steady improvement in reading and math, their performance on state end-of-grade tests has been far better than on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In fact, North Carolina stands out because of the wide gap between results on the state and national tests.
In 2005, about 84 percent of North Carolina eighth-graders earned proficient or better scores on state math tests; 32 percent were proficient or advanced on the national math test. Only West Virginia showed a sharper difference.
“When you see the huge disparity that you do between proficiency levels [on state and national tests], at least part of it is about rigor,” said Ross Weiner, policy director for the Education Trust, a Washington group that advocates for poor and minority students. “North Carolina has a bigger difference than most other states. That raises questions about expectations and whether North Carolina’s standards are high enough to demonstrate that students are learning what they need to know.”
More on “how states inflate their progress under No Child Left Behind“.
In a major shift from its influential recommendations 17 years ago, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics yesterday issued a report urging that math teaching in kindergarten through eighth grade focus on a few basic skills.
If the report, “Curriculum Focal Points,” has anywhere near the impact of the council’s 1989 report, it could signal a profound change in the teaching of math in American schools. It could also help end the math curriculum struggles that for the last two decades have set progressive educators and their liberal supporters against conservatives and many mathematicians.
At a time when most states call for dozens of math topics to be addressed in each grade, the new report sets forth just three basic skills for each level. In fourth grade, for example, the report recommends that the curriculum should center on the “quick recall” of multiplication and division, the area of two-dimensional shapes and an understanding of decimals. It stopped short of a call for memorization of basic math facts.
The 1989 report is widely seen as an important factor nudging the nation away from rote learning and toward a constructivist approach playing down memorization in favor of having children find their own approaches to problems, and write about their reasoning.
“It was incredibly influential,” said Chester E. Finn Jr., a Department of Education official in the Reagan administration. “More than half the states explicitly acknowledged it in devising their own standards. This report is a major turnaround.”
Lewin’s article references a 2005 document: “10 myths of NCTM (Fuzzy) Math“.
NCTM source materials and related links here.
Phil Hartley, legal counsel for the school boards association, said one area that school board members and superintendents often get into trouble is in supporting a referendum or candidate.
Hartley said either can support such situations on their own time, but must be careful not to use tax money, including being on the clock while campaigning, while working for the cause.
He said using tax money to encourage people to vote is OK, but doing so to encourage people to vote a certain way can get systems into trouble, which usually amounts to fines of $1,000-$10,000, depending on the number of violations of the Ethics and Government Act, which is also the law that requires candidates to disclose contributions they have received.
Continue reading Elections, Referendums, School Boards and Administrators
Madison Schools Superintendent Art Rainwater:
Twenty-two year old Louisa Brayton stepped before her class of 12 students to begin the first day of school. It was not only her first day but also the first day for all of her students and more importantly the first day of school in Madison Wisconsin. It’s March, 1838 and school will be in session for only two months.
How times have changed! School now operates all year.
After school ended last June, over 4,000 children continued in school for the following six weeks. Some attended because they needed extended time to learn and to reach a level where they will be successful next year; others took courses to extend their knowledge in their area of interest. Many of the students who attended our morning summer program continued at school in the afternoon in recreation programs conducted by our own Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) department.
Critics of “Fuzzy” Methods Cheer Educators’ Findings; Drills Without Calculators. Taking Cues from Singapore.
The nation’s math teachers, on the front lines of a 17-year curriculum war, are getting some new marching orders: Make sure students learn the basics.
In a report to be released today, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, which represents 100,000 educators from prekindergarten through college, will give ammunition to traditionalists who believe schools should focus heavily and early on teaching such fundamentals as multiplication tables and long division.
The council’s advice is striking because in 1989 it touched off the so-called math wars by promoting open-ended problem solving over drilling. Back then, it recommended that students as young as those in kindergarten use calculators in class.
Those recommendations horrified many educators, especially college math professors alarmed by a rising tide of freshmen needing remediation. The council’s 1989 report influenced textbooks and led to what are commonly called “reform math” programs, which are used in school systems across the country.
Francis Fennell, the council’s president, says the latest guidelines move closer to the curriculum of Asian countries such as Singapore, whose students tend to perform better on international tests. There, children focus intensely on a relative handful of topics, such as multiplication, division and algebra, then practice by solving increasingly difficult word and other problems. That contrasts sharply with the U.S. approach, which the report noted has long been described as “a mile wide and an inch deep.”
If school systems adopt the math council’s new approach, their classes might resemble those at Garfield Elementary School in Revere, Mass., just north of Boston. Three-quarters of Garfield’s students receive free and reduced lunches, and many are the children of recent immigrants from such countries as Brazil, Cambodia and El Salvador.
Three years ago, Garfield started using Singapore Math, a curriculum modeled on that country’s official program and now used in about 300 school systems in the U.S. Many school systems and parents regard Singapore Math as an antidote for “reform math” programs that arose from the math council’s earlier recommendations.
The Singapore Math curriculum differs sharply from reform math programs, which often ask students to “discover” on their own the way to perform multiplication and division and other operations, and have come to be known as “constructivist” math.
Strong parent and teacher views on the MMSD’s math strategy may well spill over to non-support for referendums and incumbent board members, particularly in light of increasing UW Math Department activism on this vital matter.
In the past, a lack of data enabled stagnation. Armchair observations of real-estate agents were often the most sophisticated opinions regarding the quality of local schools. Today, online services like www.greatschools.net provide a mountain of comparative testing and parental review data in a few short clicks.
New technologies and practices, such as self-paced computer-based instruction and data-based merit pay for instructors, hold enormous promise which has only begun to be explored. That said, disadvantaged children in KIPP Academy schools, among others, have achieved phenomenal academic results not with new technologies, but rather with old-fashioned “time on task” hard work and extended school days.
In short, we now have the primordial soup of a market for schools.
No doubt. I’ve mentioned before that Milwaukee, over the next few decades (despite stops and starts) will have a far richer K-12 climate than Madison. Madison has the resources and community to step things up – I hope we do so (does it have the leadership?).
Craig Jerald [PDF]:
in March, The New York Times published a major education story under the headline “Schools Cut Back Subjects To Push reading and Math.” The article claimed that “thousands of schools across the nation are responding to the reading and math requirements laid out in No Child left Behind […] by reducing class time spent on other subjects and, for some low-proficiency students, eliminating it.”1 The headline appeared “above the fold” in the Sunday edition of the Times, the most valuable and influential real estate in american print journalism.
Predictably, the rest of the media quickly picked up the story in a series of ripples extending outward to other newspapers and magazines to radio and finally to television, cycling back to newspapers in the form of outraged editorials. By the time the story hit the late-night talk shows and drive-time airwaves, commentators had begun to express near hysterical dismay that social studies, science, and the arts were all but disappearing from american schools.
Not so fast. as often happens when complex educational issues encounter the popular media, the extent of the problem was blown out of proportion. The original study on which the Times based its story had actually found that about one third of districts reported that their elementary schools had reduced social studies and science “somewhat” or “to a great extent,” and about one fifth said the same of art and music.
More about the Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. Via Rotherham.
Philadelphia on Thursday opened a public high school where students work on wireless laptops, teachers eschew traditional subjects for real-world topics and parents can track their child’s work on the Internet.
Called “The School of the Future” and created with help from software giant Microsoft, it is believed to be the first in the world to combine innovative teaching methods with the latest technology, all housed in an environmentally friendly building.
The school, which cost the school district $63 million to build, is free and has no entrance exams. The 170 students in the inaugural ninth-grade class were selected by lottery from 1,500 applicants.
Joanne says it’s New Tech with the same old curriculum.
Via a Johnny Winston, Jr. email:
Welcome back to school! I hope you had a wonderful summer. On August 28th the Madison school board approved plans Plan CP2a and Plan CP3a relative to boundary changes that will be necessary if the November 7th referendum to construct an elementary school on the Linden Park site passes or fails. The plan will need to be adjusted depending on enrollment. The board also passed a resolution to place $291,983.75 of the Leopold addition/remodeling monies in the contingency fund of the 2006-07 budget if the referendum passes less the expenses incurred relative to the initial financing of the project
On August 21st, Partnerships, Performance and Achievement and Human Resources convened. The Partnerships Committee (Lucy Mathiak, Chair) discussed strengthening partnerships with parents and caregivers and is working to develop a standard process for administering grants to community partners. Performance and Achievement (Shwaw Vang, Chair) had a presentation on the English-as-a-Second Language Program. Human Resources (Ruth Robarts, Chair) discussed committee goals and activities for 2006-07
On August 14th the board approved a policy that allows animals to be used in the classroom by teachers in their educational curriculum but also protects students that have allergies or other safety concerns. Questions about the November referendum were discussed and an additional JV soccer program at West High school was approved. This team is funded entirely by parents and student fees. The Finance and Operations Committee (Lawrie Kobza, Chair) met to discuss concepts and categories of a document called the Peoples Budget that would be easier to read and understand. Lastly, three citizens were appointed to the newly created Communications Committee (Arlene Silveira, Chair): Deb Gurke, Tim Saterfield and Wayne Strong
Continue reading Madison School District Progress Report
The United States, long the world leader in higher education, has fallen behind other nations in its college enrollment and completion rates, as the affordability of American colleges and universities has declined, according to a new report.
The study, from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, found that although the United States still leads the world in the proportion of 35- to 64-year-olds with college degrees, it ranks seventh among developed nations for 25- to 34-year-olds. On rates of college completion, the United States is in the lower half of developed nations.
“Completion is the Achilles’ heel of American higher education,’’ said Patrick M. Callan, president of the center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in San Jose, Calif., and Washington.
Wisconsin’s “Report Card” [200K PDF]: Preparation: B+, Participation A-, Affordability: F, Completion: A, Benefits: B- and Learning: I. 2004 Report Card.
I am in a class in which the teacher is, shall we say, an adherent of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and its standards. In fact, the NCTM standards and our understanding of same make up a portion of the syllabus. Our first assignment is a comparison of those standards with the math standards for the state in which we reside for a particular “content standard”, grade level, and “process standard. The content standard describes what students are supposed to learn. The process standard describes how they are supposed to learn it. I got assigned Geometry/11th grade/representation. “What is ‘representation’?” I hear you asking. Expressing things in different ways, I think. You can use a graph to express a function, or a table of values, or a formula, for example. Which one is best to analyze the problem at hand, I think is what they’re getting at but they go on and on in the standards, bringing in all sorts of ways to show things which might be good things to mention as an aside, but to devote so much class time to it supplants the basics that they are supposed to be learning. (And which educationists think is mundane, and mind numbing.)
Joanne has more. John Dewey background.
FEW children, in the developed world, spend their summer holidays bringing in the harvest. Yet the timing of the summer break dates from the days when child labour was too valuable to lose in the vital final weeks of the growing season. The roots of modern education, in Britain and elsewhere, lie in the half-hidden world of ancient schools.
Nicholas Orme’s previous book, a definitive history of English medieval childhood, disproved the notion that previous generations treated children as miniature adults. This one explodes some pervasive myths about their education. First, there was quite a lot of teaching available: it was not just confined to the rich and priestly. There were hundreds of schools in England, some in monasteries and cathedrals, others founded with individual charitable endowments, often with a large bunch of private pupils paying modest fees.
Medieval Schools: From Roman Britain to Renaissance England by Nicholas Orme.
Continue reading Education in Medieval Britain
Many states, including Maryland and Virginia, are reporting student proficiency rates so much higher than what the most respected national measure has found that several influential education experts are calling for a move toward a national testing system.
A recent study by Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, found that states regularly inflate student achievement. In 12 states studied, the percentage of fourth-graders proficient in reading climbed by nearly two percentage points a year, on average.
Kevin Carey [Ed Sector, Hot Air: How States Inflate Their Educational Progress Under NCLB] and the Fordham Foundation have criticized Wisconsin’s state standards.
Andrew Rotherham has more:
Sherman Dorn weighs-in on Jay Mathews much chattered about Sunday front page Washington Post splash on national standards. Sherman raises the issue of cut scores on tests. This recent ES Explainer looks at that issue, which doesn’t get the attention it should.
What I think is unfortunate is that Mathews’ article has set off something of a false debate, namely about whether all these people who support using NAEP as a national test are right or wrong. Thing is, the Fordham report (pdf) looked at a multiple routes to national standards including my favored route of common standards developed by the states themselves. I actually think using the NAEP for this is a lousy idea and that the states are not going to enforce anyone else’s standards anyway, hell they mostly won’t enforce their own now under No Child. Worth reading the entire report not just the clips.
At first, Michael Walton, starting at community college here, was sure that there was some mistake. Having done so well in high school in West Virginia that he graduated a year and a half early, how could he need remedial math?
Eighteen and temperamental, Mickey, as everyone calls him, hounded the dean, insisting that she take another look at his placement exam. The dean stood firm. Mr. Walton’s anger grew. He took the exam a second time. Same result.
“I flipped out big time,’’ Mr. Walton said.
Because he had no trouble balancing his checkbook, he took himself for a math wiz. But he could barely remember the Pythagorean theorem and had trouble applying sine, cosine and tangent to figure out angles on the geometry questions.
Mr. Walton is not unusual. As the new school year begins, the nation’s 1,200 community colleges are being deluged with hundreds of thousands of students unprepared for college-level work.
According to scores on the 2006 ACT college entrance exam, 21 percent of students applying to four-year institutions are ready for college-level work in all four areas tested, reading, writing, math and biology.
For many students, the outlook does not improve after college. The Pew Charitable Trusts recently found that three-quarters of community college graduates were not literate enough to handle everyday tasks like comparing viewpoints in newspaper editorials or calculating the cost of food items per ounce.
“It’s the math that’s killing us,’’ Dr. McKusik said.
The sheer numbers of enrollees like Mr. Walton who have to take make-up math is overwhelming, with 8,000 last year among the nearly 30,000 degree-seeking students systemwide. Not all those students come directly from high school. Many have taken off a few years and may have forgotten what they learned, Dr. McKusik said.
Notes and links on math curriculum.
Standard & Poors “School Matters”:
Standard & Poor’s School Evaluation Services today announced it has identified 20 Wisconsin schools that have significantly narrowed the achievement gap between higher- and lower-performing student groups during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years. This is the first year Standard & Poor’s conducted an achievement gap analysis in Wisconsin.
The 20 schools are located in 19 school districts throughout the state. One school district–Madison Metropolitan School District–has two schools that have significantly narrowed at least one achievement gap between student groups. And one of those two schools, was able to narrow the gap among multiple student groups.
Of the 20 Wisconsin schools that have narrowed the achievement gap, one school is recognized for reducing its black-white gap, two schools for narrowing the gap between Hispanic and white students, and 17 schools are recognized for narrowing the gap between economically-disadvantaged students and all students.
Brown Deer Middle School in the Brown Deer School District was the only school recognized for narrowing the achievement gap between its black and white students.
Two schools: Preble High School in the Green Bay Area School District and Cherokee High School in the Madison Metropolitan School District are recognized for narrowing the gap between Hispanic and white students.
- Summary Findings 108K PDF
- Wisconsin Schools home page on S & P’s School Matters site.
- Susan Troller:
Black Hawk Middle School and Cherokee Middle School were hailed along with 18 other Wisconsin schools for significantly narrowing achievement gaps between groups of students in different demographic groups.
Madison was the only district to have two schools cited for progress in this area, which has drawn increased scrutiny and concern among educators and parents nationwide over the past decade. In addition, Cherokee was the only school that was able to narrow the gap among multiple student groups.
“This is a great boost for our staff as we go back to school next week,” Cherokee Principal Karen Seno said. “It’s an absolute recognition of their professionalism, commitment and the effectiveness of their practices.”
“Merit pay is obviously something that has been very controversial around the country,” Ehrlich acknowledged to the board, calling his plan “a step in that direction.”
Ehrlich and his aides provided few details yesterday about the scope of the proposed program, saying much remains to be worked out. Ehrlich said he would leave it to local jurisdictions to decide whether to participate.
Phil M and TeacherL recently had a fascinating dialogue regarding merit pay.
Voters evaluating the Madison School District’s November referendum (construct a new far west side elementary school, expand Leopold Elementary and refinance District debt) have much to consider. Phil Brinkman added to the mix Sunday noting that “total property taxes paid have grown at a faster pace than income”.
A few days later, the US Census Bureau notes that Wisconsin’s median household income declined by $2,226 to $45,956 in 2004/2005. [Dane County data can be viewed here: 2005 | 2004 ] Bill Glauber, Katherine Skiba and Mike Johnson:
Some said it was a statistical blip in the way the census came up with the new figures of income averaged over two years.
“These numbers are always noisy, and you can get big changes from year to year,” said Laura Dresser of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy.
David Newby, head of the state’s AFL-CIO, didn’t make much of the new numbers, either.
“My hunch is (wages) have been pretty stagnant,” he said. “We have not seen major swings.”
Others, though, seized on the data as significant. This is, after all, a big election year, with big stakes, including control of Congress and control of the governor’s mansion in Madison.
U.S. Rep. Mark Green of Green Bay, the Republican candidate for governor, said in a statement that the data showed that “Wisconsin’s families saw just about the biggest drop in their income in the entire country.”
However, Matt Canter, a spokesman for Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, said the census information “is totally inconsistent with other current indicators,” adding that the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows an increase in average wages.
The complete census report can be found here 3.1MB PDF:
This report presents data on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States based on information collected in the 2006 and earlier Annual Social and Economic Supplements (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Real median household income increased between 2004 and 2005.2 Both the number of people in poverty and the poverty rate were not statistically different between 2004 and 2005. The number of people with health insurance coverage increased, while the percentage of people with health insurance coverage decreased between 2004 and 2005. Both the number and the percentage of people without health insurance coverage increased between 2004 and 2005. These results were not uniform across demographic groups. For example, the poverty rate for non-Hispanic Whites decreased, while the overall rate was statistically unchanged.
This report has three main sections – income, poverty, and health insurance coverage. Each one presents estimates by characteristics such as race, Hispanic origin, nativity, and region. Other topics include earnings of year round, full-time workers; poverty among families; and health insurance coverage of children. This report also contains data by metropolitan area status, which were not included last year due to the transition from a 1990-based sample design to a 2000-based sample design.
I’m certain there will be plenty of discussion on the state household income decline.