How Online Innovators Are Disrupting Education

Jason Orgill and Douglas Hervey:

Four years ago Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen predicted that online education would take off slowly and then hit everyone by surprise: the S-curve effect. And indeed, while it initially grew slowly, online education has exploded over the past several years. According to the 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, approximately 5.6 million students took at least one web-based class during the fall 2009 semester, which marked a 21% growth from the previous year. That’s up from 45,000 in 2000 and experts predict that online education could reach 14 million in 2014.
Consider a recent Economist article featuring Bill Gates’s educational poster child: Khan Academy, founded by Salman Khan in 2006. Khan’s business model is simple, yet impactful. As The Economist noted, it flips education on its head. Rather than filling the day with lectures and requiring students to complete exercises after school, Khan focuses on classroom exercises throughout the day and allows students to download more lectures after school. When students arrive at their Silicon Valley suburb classroom with their white MacBooks, they begin their day doing various online learning exercises. The teacher, aware of what her students are working on based on her own monitor screen, then approaches students and provides one-on-one feedback and mentoring, tailoring her message to students’ particular learning paces and needs.

Overhaul nation’s education policy

Abdul Jalil Hamid:

THERE are many ways to interpret the Education Ministry’s latest solution to its controversial policy with regard to the teaching of Mathematics and Science in schools.
Many parents would applaud the ministry’s decision to allow children currently learning the two core subjects in English to continue doing so until they reach Form Five.
The “soft-landing” approach may be the best way out of this contentious issue and gradually pave the way for Bahasa Malaysia to be fully reinstated by 2016 at the primary school level and 2021 at the secondary school level.
This could be enough to avert the anger of parents and pressure groups who are opposed to the removal of the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) policy. In essence, the policy stays for now.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who went to great lengths to explain to editors on Friday why the six-year-old policy was unsustainable, insisted that the soft-landing approach was necessary.
“It is a fair decision. We are very considerate,” he said.

A Secret Education Department Rule

Libby A. Nelson:

Among the many new program integrity rules the U.S. Education Department issued a little over a year ago was one that went relatively unnoticed at the time: a rule that defines the “last date of attendance” for students who withdraw from online programs more stringently than in the past, and differently than for students in a traditional classroom.
At the time, the rule was lost in the hubbub over state authorization rules, the definition of a “credit hour,” and other, more controversial, regulations, some of which colleges challenged in Congress or in court. But before the program integrity rules took effect in July 2011 — and even before they were published publicly, in October 2010 — the Education Department was already using the new definition of “last date of attendance,” which varied considerably from the previous version, to begin investigations and, in some cases, collect financial aid refunds for students who dropped out.
When the Education Department began using the “last day of attendance” rule to evaluate colleges in audits, it had never been publicly announced. In effect, a group of higher education associations has argued, the department was expecting institutions to play a game without knowing the rules.

Assessing the Compensation of Public School Teachers

Jason Richwine, Ph.D. & Andrew G. Biggs, Ph.D.:

The teaching profession is crucial to America’s soci- ety and economy, but public-school teachers should receive compensation that is neither higher nor lower than market rates. Do teachers currently receive the proper level of compensation? Standard analytical approaches to this question compare teacher salaries to the salaries of similarly educated and experienced private-sector workers, and then add the value of employer contributions toward fringe benefits. These simple comparisons would indicate that public-school teachers are undercompensated. However, comparing teachers to non-teachers presents special challenges not accounted for in the existing literature.
First, formal educational attainment, such as a degree acquired or years of education completed, is not a good proxy for the earnings potential of school teach- ers. Public-school teachers earn less in wages on aver- age than non-teachers with the same level of education, but teacher skills generally lag behind those of other workers with similar “paper” qualifications. We show that:

Our Universities: Why Are They Failing?

Anthony Grafton:

American universities crowd the tops of many world rankings, and though these ratings are basically entertainment for university administrators and alumni, they do reflect certain facts. A number of American universities offer their faculty salaries and working conditions, laboratories and libraries that few institutions elsewhere can match. They spend more not only on their staff, but also on their graduate and undergraduate students, than their peers overseas. Though their fees seem enormous by European or Asian standards, they have worked hard in recent years to keep them from deterring poor students by offering more generous aid for undergraduates and by paying full fees for all doctoral students. At every level of the system, dedicated professors are setting students on fire with enthusiasm for everything from the structure of crystals to the structure of poems.
Yet American universities also attract ferocious criticism, much of it from professors and from journalists who know them well, and that’s entirely reasonable too. Every coin has its other side, every virtue its corresponding vice–and practically every university its festering sores. At the most prestigious medical schools, professors publish the work of paid flacks for pharmaceutical companies under their own names. At many state universities and more than a few private ones, head football and basketball coaches earn millions and their assistants hundreds of thousands for running semiprofessional teams. Few of these teams earn much money for the universities that sponsor them, and some brutally exploit their players.

Tracking Caribou, Shooting Hoops, Winning Trophies

William Yardley & Erik Olsen:

Spring means murre eggs and bowhead whales. Summer is seals and salmon and berries. Fall and winter are a time to track caribou.
And then there is that other season here at the edge of the earth, the one that never seems to end.
It is called basketball season, and it, too, has become crucial to existence.
“When I leave school I don’t have to think about it, I know I’m coming here,” said Caroline Long, 18, a senior at Tikigaq School. “I know for a fact that this is where I’m going to be.”
The “this” Ms. Long was referring to is this tiny village’s magical redoubt from the dark and forbidding Arctic and one of the secrets of its outsize stature in Alaska sports lore: open gym.

Does Inequality Make Us Unhappy?

Jonah Lehrer:

Inequality is inevitable; life is a bell curve. Such are the brute facts of biology, which can only evolve because some living things are better at reproducing than others. But not all inequality is created equal. In recent years, it’s become clear that many kinds of wealth disparity are perfectly acceptable — capitalism could not exist otherwise — while alternate forms make us unhappy and angry.
The bad news is that American society seems to be developing the wrong kind of inequality. There is, for instance, this recent study published in Psychological Science, which found that, since the 1970s, the kind of inequality experienced by most Americans has undermined perceptions of fairness and trust, which in turn reduced self-reports of life satisfaction:

Live Stream of violinist Wendy Sharp tomorrow from Yale, plus a SAVE-THE-DATE for Feb 13

Lisa Bielawa, via a kind email:

Hi dear friends- So great to see so many of you at the performances of Koyaanisqatsi with the Glass Ensemble & the NY Philharmonic this past week. It was pretty great to share the stage with So Much Brass! and a great experience for us to share that incredible piece with the hometown audience.
I’m writing you because there’s a great way tomorrow Nov 6 at 4pm EST for you to hear some of my music – Live! – from anywhere in the world.
Violinist Wendy Sharp will be playing the solo Meditations from my cycle “The Lay of the Love and Death” in concert at Yale University at 4pm EST tomorrow (November 6), and I will be playing the role of reciter, reading the heartbreaking epic poem by Rilke, written in one night when he was just 22 years old. In its original form as a song cycle for baritone, with solo violin meditations, “The Lay of the Love and Death” was commissioned by the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation in 2006 and received its world premiere on the Premiere Commission Gala concert in Alice Tully Hall that same year. As always, it is a great pleasure to be sharing the program with some superb, albeit not-too-social, colleagues: some guys named Brahms, Beethoven, and Korngold. Wendy is a beautiful player with a rich and very personal tone. I am really looking forward to it!
YOU CAN SEE/HEAR IT ALL ON LIVE STREAMING VIDEO HERE, at 4pm EST, broadcast straight from Sprague Hall at my own alma mater, Yale University:
And speaking of Premiere Commission…
SAVE THE DATE: On February 13, 2012, Premiere Commission and its Artistic Director/Founder/Impresario Bruce Levingston (acclaimed pianist and commissioner of much important music of our time!) will be presenting a 10th Anniversary Gala celebraton concert at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC, with performances of my music by Bruce himself, the peerless string quartet Brooklyn Rider, and myself. Bruce has honored me by curating the evening around music I have written for him, for Brooklyn Rider with myself singing, and – a world premiere for piano quintet for Bruce with Brooklyn Rider entitled Rondolette (it’s still in progress, but it does have a title…). And there will be some more historically-remote colleague composers on the program too!
In an extra show of support that is characteristic of Bruce, who is a great musical citizen, he is making it possible for some of the proceeds of this important and festive gala celebration to go towards the Tempelhof Broadcast project in Berlin. Thank you Bruce! Hope many of you can come out and help us celebrate 10 years of Premiere Commission on February 13! I’ll be in touch again as the date approaches, with more details.
With warm wishes as we plunge into this cold season,

The U.S. Should Adopt Income-Based Loans Now

Kevin Carey:

A new generation of student debtors has seized the public stage. While the demands of the Occupy Wall Street movement are many, college lending reform is near the top of every list. Decades of greed, inattention, and failed policy have created a growing class of young men and women with few prospects of landing jobs good enough to bear the weight of their crushing college loans.
Some activists have called for wholesale student-loan forgiveness–a kind of 21st-century jubilee. That’s unlikely. But there’s something the federal government can do right now to help students caught by our terribly unjust higher-education financing system: End all federal student-loan defaults forever by moving to income-contingent loans.
The concept is simple. Right now, students pay back their loans on a fixed schedule, typically amortized over 10 years. Since people usually make less money early in their careers, their fixed monthly loan bill is hardest to manage in the first years after graduating (or not) from college. People unlucky enough to graduate during horrible recessions are even more likely to have bad jobs or no jobs and struggle paying back their loans. Not coincidentally, the U.S. Department of Education recently announced a sharp rise in loan defaults.

Do education colleges prepare teachers well?

Leslie Postal and Denise-Marie Balona:

Teachers have been under a hot spotlight in recent years, blamed for public education’s shortcomings. Now the colleges that train them are feeling the heat.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is calling for reforms in the nation’s education schools, arguing too many are “mediocre” and send out graduates who aren’t ready to teach.
In a speech last month, Duncan noted 62 percent of new teachers reported feeling unprepared. He called that figure from a 2006 study “staggering.”
The Florida Department of Education (Reports) has crunched student-test-score data and tied results back to teachers’ education schools, looking to tease out which institutions are best. That effort could ramp up into a more-detailed rating system for all Florida’s education schools.
The most intense, and controversial, scrutiny likely will come when teacher colleges find themselves graded A to F next year, with the results posted in U.S. News & World Report.

Why I Might Stop Assigning Essays

Jason Fertig:

In the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey characterizes job tasks as either important or urgent. We desire to focus our time on important activities; the urgent ones are the persistent fires we must extinguish in order to focus on those important projects. The dissonance between putting off important work because of the need to tackle urgent tasks often causes people to become dissatisfied in their job performance. Hence, I’ve been thinking about Covey’s book a lot lately as I question whether essay grading is an important or urgent part of my job.
In addition to Covey, my latest copy of Rutgers magazine features an article on giving great lectures. The article presented several members of the university faculty describing how they engage a classroom while lecturing. Reading through the lengthy article leaves me to ponder – am I doing too much in my classes? Why don’t I just lecture?
My creative writing time has been sparse these past few months because my current courses involve grading 50-75 essays per week, along with fulfilling my university service requirements (another story for another day). I have spent around 20 hours per week grading essays, and my cost-benefit radar is telling me to question whether such assessments are worth it. Some readers may wonder why I am not more efficient, but I do aim for efficiency- I even stagger submission dates.

Independent charter school bill fails to muster votes

Susan Troller:

A controversial bill that would have established a state-run authorizing board to help expand the number of independent charter schools in Wisconsin was not able to gather the 17 votes necessary for passage in the state Senate by the end of the day Thursday.
Now, with the current floor session complete and legislators heading home until January, the bill, at least in its current form, is dead.
Whether the bill — first introduced early last spring — comes back with enough adjustments to make it palatable during the spring session remains to be seen.
Sources close to Republican legislators at the Capitol say that several GOP senators raised questions about a number of elements of the bill, suggesting it could be difficult to rework it sufficiently to pass muster in a chamber where Republicans have a razor-thin 17-16 majority and Democrats have indicated their opposition.

Analysis of New Jersey’s Census-Based Special Education Funding System

Augenblick, Palaich and Associates:

As part of the School Funding Reform Act of 2008, New Jersey changed how special education was funded. Prior to 2008, special education students in New Jersey were funded based on their level of need. Each student was placed into one of four need tiers, with higher per pupil funding associated with the higher need tiers. A study done in 2003 by Center for Special Education Finance (CSEF) showed that New Jersey had higher per pupil spending for special education than the national average. 1 The study suggested switching to a census-based special education funding model might help New Jersey control its spending. In 2008, the state made the switch to a census-based model.
Under a census-based funding model all districts are funded for the same percentage of special education students. For the 2008-09 through 2010-11 school years the funding percentage was 14.69%. (This percentage does not include students receiving only speech services, who are funded separately.) Each district’s special education funding, excluding extraordinary aid2, is calculated by multiplying the district’s resident student population by 14.69% to determine the number of special education students to fund. This funded count is then multiplied by the special education per pupil funding amount to determine the total special education funding allotted to the district. The new system then wealth equalizes two thirds of this amount, splitting it up into a state and local share, and then funds the remaining third entirely from the state. Wealth equalization is a process commonly used in school funding formulas that determines what percentage of funding the state pays based inversely on the relative wealth of each individual district (the wealthier the district, the lower percentage the state pays). It is important to note that districts also receive extraordinary aid for special education students who are extremely expensive to serve. This aid is beyond the basic special education funding.

New Jersey Left Behind:

First, a little back story. New Jersey currently has about 185,000 kids who are eligible for special education services, out of a total enrollment of about 1.3 million. Before SFRA, costs for special ed kids was calculated based on the individual level of need. But after the passage of SFRA, we went to a census-based model which calculates state aid for kids with disabilities based on a percentage above cost-per-pupil of 14.69%. The idea behind the census-based model was that we could control our special ed costs, which are among the highest across the nation.
The formula is also weighted for high high cost-disabilities (like autism, emotional disturbances, deaf/blind, severe cognitive impairment); moderate-cost disabilities (like moderate cognitive impairment, auditory); and low-cost disabilities (like specific learning disabilities or communication-impaired).

Common-Core Math Standards Don’t Add Up

Grant Wiggins, via a kind reader’s email:

There is little question in my mind that national standards will be a blessing. The crazy quilt of district and state standards will become more rational, student mobility will stop causing needless learning hardships, and the full talents of a nation of innovators will be released to develop a vast array of products and services at a scale that permits even small vendors to compete to widen the field to all educators’ benefit.
That said, we are faced with a terrible situation in mathematics. In my view, unlike the English/language arts standards, the mathematics components of the Common Core State Standards Initiative are a bitter disappointment. In terms of their limited vision of math education, the pedestrian framework chosen to organize the standards, and the incoherent nature of the standards for mathematical practice in particular, I don’t see how these take us forward in any way. They unwittingly reinforce the very errors in math curriculum, instruction, and assessment that produced the current crisis.

Intelligence Is Still Not Fixed at Birth

Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman:

In 1932, the entire population of Scottish 11-year olds (87, 498 children) took an IQ test. Over 60 years later, psychologists Ian Deary and Lawrence Whalley tracked down about 500 of them and gave them the same test to take again. Here are the results:
Some things to note here. Firstly, the correlation is pretty high– .66, to be exact. Those who were at the top of the pack at age 11 also tended to be at the top of the pack at age 80, and those who were at the bottom also tended to stay at the bottom. Secondly, the correlation is not perfect. A few outliers can be found. One person had an IQ of over 100 at age 11, but scored just over 60 at age 80. There are many possible reasons for this outlier, including dementia. Other folks showed IQ increases as they aged. In fact, on average, people’s individual (or absolute) scores on the test taken again at age 80 was much higher (over 1 standard deviation) than their scores had been at age 11, even though the rank ordering among people stayed roughly the same.

Madison Prep, More Questions than Answers

TJ Mertz:

With only 24 days remaining till the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will vote on the Madison Preparatory Academy charter and only 9 days until the MMSD administration is required to issue an analysis of their proposal (and that is assuming the analysis is issued on a Sunday, otherwise we are talking only one week), there are still many, many unanswered questions concerning the school. Too many unanswered questions.
Where to start?
All officially submitted information (and more) can be found on the district web site (scroll down for the latest iterations, and thanks to the district public info team for doing this).
The issues around instrumentality/non instrumentality and the status of staff in relation to existing union contracts have rightfully been given much attention. It is my understanding that there has been some progress, but things seem to be somewhat stalled on those matters.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school, here.
Do current schools face the same scrutiny as the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter?

The National Study of Charter Management Organization (CMO) Effectiveness

Joshua Furgeson, Brian Gill,Joshua Haimson, Alexandra Killewald, Moira McCullough, Ira Nichols-Barrer, Bing-ru Teh, Natalya Verbitsky-Savitz, Melissa Bowen, Allison Demeritt, Paul Hill, Robin Lake

Charter schools–public schools of choice that are operated autonomously, outside the direct control of local school districts–have become more prevalent over the past two decades. There is no consensus about whether, on average, charter schools are doing better or worse than conventional public schools at promoting the achievement of their students. Nonetheless, one research finding is clear: Effects vary widely among different charter schools. Many educators, policymakers, and funders are interested in ways to identify and replicate successful charter schools and help other public schools adopt effective charter school practices.
Charter-school management organizations (CMOs), which establish and operate multiple charter schools, represent one prominent attempt to bring high performance to scale. Many CMOs were created in order to replicate educational approaches that appeared to be effective, particularly among disadvantaged students. Attracting substantial philanthropic support, CMO schools have grown rapidly from encompassing about 6 percent of all charter schools in 2000 to about 17 percent of a much larger number of charter schools by 2009 (Miron 2010). Some of these organizations have received laudatory attention through anecdotal reports of dramatic achievement results.

Andrew Rotherham comments on the study.

The 2011 NAEP Guide Where Not to be Reincarnated as a Poor Child

Matthew Ladner:

The chart on the right presents scores for Free and Reduced Lunch Eligible students on the 2011 NAEP 4th grade reading test. Memo to self: remember not to come back as a poor kid in Alaska or DC in the next life. Ten points roughly equals a grade level worth of progress. Low-income kids in Alaska and DC are reading almost as poorly as 1st graders in Massachusetts, which is to say, not much all.
Florida hit a wall in terms of improvement (more on that later), DC saw nice math gains but not much progress in reading, Arizona finally started to move the needle a bit, and it is not entirely isolated to Hispanic children.
The 2009-2011 scores are pretty “meh” so far, and this biggest story I am finding is something big and positive going on with Maryland’s reading scores: 8 point gain for FRL kids between 2009 and 2011, and a nothing to sneeze at five point gain among middle and high income students.

Task force moves toward rationing access to community colleges

Carla Rivera:

Jasmine Delgado is one of the lucky ones. With advice from an older sister, the Santa Monica College student developed a plan that has helped her enroll in the classes she needs to transfer next year to a four-year university.
But many California community college students lack the motivation, guidance and resources to reach that goal. So, for the past year, a statewide task force has been studying ways to help them get there.
The panel held its first town hall meeting this week at the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce, attracting a packed audience of educators, community members and students who were given an overview and the chance to comment on draft recommendations that will be presented to the California Community Colleges’ Board of Governors.

When Will the Education Bubble Explode?

Peter Reilly:

Is the education bubble about to explode? Some bloggers, like Mish, tend to think so, while others, like Catherine Rampellof Economix, still see value in education. Even entrepreneurs, like Peter Thiel, recently joined in the discussion, as some entrepreneurs are offering alternatives outside of education and trying to change the current zeitgeist of “college degrees are absolutely necessary.” One thing many of these individuals agree on: the cost of education is growing and it’s placing an enormous burden on students.
In order to assess the value of education and its future, three areas come into immediate focus: the current attitudes about education among the Millennial generation (most of whom are being educated), the warning signs of an education bubble, and the changing attitudes toward education.

NAEP reaction in the blogosphere

Mandy Zatynski:

Education think tanks and reformers have been abuzz today with the release of NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores — also known as “The Nation’s Report Card.” The biennial release charts student achievement in math and English in fourth and eighth grades. (For an explainer on all things NAEP, go here.) The 2011 stats showed slight improvement in math across both levels, but reading scores among fourth-graders remained stagnant.

NAEP provides us the data, but officials do not surmise causes or reasons for growth – or lack thereof. That’s why we have eduwonks. Here’s what they had to say (in no particular order):

New Rhode Island teaching evaluation system links annual ratings to certification

Associated Press:

Rhode Island teachers who receive poor evaluations for five consecutive years will lose their certification under new rules adopted by state Education officials.
Teachers will receive one of four ratings during annual evaluations: highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective. Any teacher deemed “ineffective” for five years in a row will automatically lose their certification.

Key Minnesota GOP lawmaker wants to limit school districts’ levy votes

Tom Weber:

State Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, says schools should only hold levy votes in even-numbered years, when turnout is already higher for other elections.
He plans to push for such a requirement in law when lawmakers reconvene in January. Garofalo, who chairs the House Education Finance Committee, says the levy bill will be the first his committee will discuss.
“Everybody knows that next Tuesday we’re going to see unbelievably low voter turnout,” Garofalo said. “The irony is at the same time we’re seeing so much press about a $300-million state subsidy for a Vikings stadium, there’s going to be $900 million in tax revenue on the ballot next Tuesday — and there’s been very little coverage of it.”
Voters in 126 school districts will see tax questions on the ballot next Tuesday. Garofalo cited data from the state Education Department that finds more than 70 percent of referenda pass during odd-numbered years, a number that falls to 52 percent during even-numbered years.

“Chinglish” on Broadway Lost in translation

The Economist:

IN “CHINGLISH”, a new Broadway play by David Henry Hwang, an American businessman goes to China to rustle up business for his family’s ailing sign-making company. The title of the play refers to those famously kooky translations found in China, where a mundane phrase in English such as, “Please keep off the grass” is translated into, “I like your smile, but unlike you put your shoes on my face.”
Set in Guiyang, a “small” city of 4.3m in south-west China, Mr Hwang’s shrewdly funny play, directed by Leigh Silverman, is performed in English and Mandarin with English supertitles, and features plenty of faux pas and intrigue. But what is surprising is just how well Mr Hwang, a Chinese-American playwright, manages to capture the nuances of rapidly changing China and a shifting global order. He also conveys the skewed expectations that Westerners and Chinese have of each other–and themselves.
Now 54, Mr Hwang pioneered plays with Asian and Asian-American themes in the 1980s. Since then he has worked on a variety of projects, including co-writing the libretto for Elton John’s Broadway musical “Aida”. He is best known for his 1988 play “M. Butterfly”, about a French diplomat who has a 20-year affair with a Chinese singer who turns out to be a man, which won a Tony award and was a Pulitzer prize finalist. At the time Mr Hwang’s plays were, as he recalls, “exotic ethnic theatre”. But now that China plays a bigger role on the world stage, the country is becoming more visible on a theatrical one.

Madison School District Identified for Improvement (DIFI); Documentation for the Wisconsin DPI

Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad 15MB PDF

1. Develop or Revise a District Improvement Plan
Address the fundamental teaching and learning needs of schools in the Local Education Agency (LEA), especially the academic problems o f low-achieving students.
MMSD has been identified by the State of Wisconsin as a District Identified for Improvement, or DIFI. We entered into this status based on District WKCE assessment scores. The data indicates that sub-groups of students-African American students, English Language Learner Students with Disabilities or Economically Disadvantaged -did not score high enough on the WKCE in one or more areas of reading, math or test participation to meet state criteria.
Under No Child Left Behind, 100% of students are expected to achieve proficient or advanced on the WKCE in four areas by 2014. Student performance goals have been raised every year on a regular schedule since 2001, making targets more and more difficult to reach each year. In addition to the curriculum changes being implemented, the following assessments are also new or being implemented during the 2011-12 school year (see Attachment 1):

  1. The Measures of Academic Progress (MAP): Grades 3-7. MAP is incorporated into the MMSD Balanced Assessment Plan as a computer adaptive benchmark assessment tool for grades 3-7. Administration of the assessment was implemented in spring, 2011.
  2. Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT): Grades 2 and 5. As proposed in the Talented and Gifted Plan approved by the Board of Education in August, 2009, the district requested approval of funds to purchase and score the Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT) which was administered in February, 2011, to all second and fifth graders.
  3. The EPAS System: Explore Grades 8-9, Plan Grade 10, ACT Grade 11. The EPAS system provides a longitudinal, systematic approach to educational and career planning, assessment, instructional support, and evaluation. The system focuses on the integrated, higher-order thinking skills students develop in grades K-12 that are important for success both during and after high school. The EPAS system is linked to the College and Career Readiness standards so that the information gained about student performance can be used to inform instruction around those standards.

Attached are six documents describing programs being implemented for the 2011-12 school year to address the needs of all students.
1. Strategic Plan Document: Year Three (Attachment 2)
2. Strategic Plan Summary of Three Main Focus Areas (Attachment 3)
3. Addressing the Needs of All Learners and Closing the Achievement Gap Through K-12 Alignment (Attachment 4)
4. Scope and Sequence (Attachment 5)
5. The Ideal Graduate from MMSD (Attachment 6)
6. 4K Update to BOE- Program and Sites- (Attachment 7)

Clusty Search: District Identified for Improvement (DIFI)
Matthew DeFour:

Madison School District administrators aren’t keeping track of the best classroom instruction. Not all principals create a culture of high expectations for all students. And teachers aren’t using the same research-based methods.
Such inconsistencies across the district and within schools — stemming from Madison’s tradition of school and teacher autonomy — are hurting student achievement, according to a district analysis required under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
“There are problems within the entire system,” Superintendent Dan Nerad said. “We do have good practice, but we need to be more consistent and have more fidelity to our practices.”
Inconsistencies in teaching and building culture can affect low-income students, who are more likely to move from school to school, and make teacher training less effective, Nerad said.
The analysis is contained in an improvement plan the district is scheduled to discuss with the School Board on Monday and to deliver next week to the state Department of Public Instruction.

Open Enrollment Changing the Face of Wisconsin Public Schools

Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, via a kind Senn Brown email:

In 2010-11, a record number of students took advantage of Wisconsin’s open enrollment program to attend school elsewhere than in their own district. The 34,498 participants was 8.1% higher than in 2010 and nearly five times higher than in 2001. Open enrollment numbers varied widely, with 13 districts experiencing net outflows of more than 10% of their student populations and 34 with net inflows of similar magnitude. These findings are detailed in SchoolFacts11, the annual reference book from the Wisconsin Tax- payers Alliance (WISTAX) that provides, for every school district in the state, a wide range of information on enrollment, finance, staffing, and test scores.
In 2010-11, 4.0% of Wisconsin’s public school students attended a district other than their own. Dover (26.2%) and South Shore (23.0%) both had net outflows (students leaving less those coming) of more than 20%. Eleven other districts (Florence, Mercer, Neosho, Palmyra-Eagle, Richfield, Stockbridge, Twin Lakes, Washington-Caldwell, Wheatland, Winter, and Wonewoc-Union Center) had net outflows of over 10%.

Related: Madison School District 2009 outbound open enrollment survey. Much more, here.
Student counts drive a District’s tax and spending authority.

Coloradans Vote Heavily Against a Tax Increase That Would Benefit Schools and Colleges

The Denver Post:

Colorado voters have rejected an attempt to raise state income and sales taxes to fund education, The Denver Post has declared.
With 61 percent of precincts reporting, Proposition 103 was going down in flames across the state, with 35 percent in favor to 65 percent against.
That was also true in Denver. With 86,978 ballots counted through 8:30 p.m., the measure was failing 45.3 percent to 54.7 percent.
Even in liberal Boulder County — home to the measure’s chief supporter — the measure was struggling. Most recent results showed it was winning there, but just by 1,804 votes.

Tim Hoover and Kurtis Lee:

Colorado voters Tuesday resoundingly defeated an attempt to raise state income and sales taxes to fund education.
With 83 percent of precincts reporting, Proposition 103 was going down in flames across the state, with 36 percent in favor to 63.9 percent against.
That was also true in Denver, where the measure was failing 45.7 percent in favor to 54.3 percent against, in nearly complete returns.
Boulder, Pitkin and San Miguel counties appeared to be the only places the measure was passing — by fewer than 400 votes in Pitkin County and by only 54 votes in San Miguel County.

Accountability necessary for charter schools

Eau Claire Leader-Telegram:

Charter schools have been a welcome addition to Wisconsin’s educational environment. For supporters of education reform, charter schools are a win-win: They are free to adopt curricula that differ from often-rigid public school methods, yet they remain accountable to taxpayers because they answer to local school boards. Examples include Chippewa Valley Montessori and McKinley charter schools in the Eau Claire district and Wildlands School, a collaboration between the Augusta school district and Beaver Creek Reserve.
Institutions like these offer options within public education for students who might not reach their full potentials, or even learn effectively, in traditional settings. Nonetheless, the state Legislature should be cautious as it considers opening the door to so-called independent charter schools. Unlike traditional charter schools, which maintain contracts with local school districts, independent charter schools are answerable instead to outsiders – in the case of pending legislation, a yet-to-be-created statewide board. Currently, such independent charter schools are allowed only in Milwaukee and Racine; under the bill, they could operate in any district with more than 2,000 students – including Eau Claire.
Last week, the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee passed the bill. Next it will go to the full Legislature.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis on Rahm, Brizard, Arne Duncan, and the Longer School Day

Carol Felsenthal:

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has had some ugly squabbles with Rahm Emanuel–the longer school day battles, for starters, including his recent charge that the union is “cheating children out of an education”–and, in my opinion, she has often emerged the loser.
Last week, she filed the CTU’s latest lawsuit against the city, charging that the school board is using its “TeacherFit” questionnaire to hire teachers who are willing to buck the union.
The camera doesn’t favor her, and in her battle to stop the new mayor from pushing through a longer school day, she seems on the side of outmoded, lumbering labor. Who, after all, wants to deny Chicago public school kids more time for math, reading, lunch, and recess?
But in person, Lewis, 58–South Sider (grew up in Hyde Park, now lives in the Oakland neighborhood), CPS lifer (Kenwood, ’71), daughter of two teachers, former high-school chemistry teacher (Sullivan, Lane Tech, King College Prep), wife of a now-retired CPS P.E. teacher–has a sharp sense of humor, and intelligence and articulateness to spare. After an hour spent with her at a conference table at the CTU’s headquarters in the Merchandise Mart, if someone asked me to choose a few words to describe her, I’d say “substantial, self-confident, direct.”

Wisconsin Education Dept. Responds To DOJ Voucher Probe

Joy Resmovits:

The Department of Justice has begun an investigation into Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction, probing whether Milwaukee’s state-administered voucher system is discriminating against students with disabilities. In response, the state is arguing that federal obligations don’t apply to Wisconsin’s voucher schools, according to a letter obtained by The Huffington Post Thursday.
Milwaukee’s voucher system, which allows low-income students to attend private schools using tax dollars, came under fire in June for allegedly discriminating based on disability. The complaint ultimately led to the Department of Justice investigation.
Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction responded to the DOJ Sept. 27 in a letter that has not yet been made public.

Give high school kids more than one option

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

About 5,500 students at Milwaukee Public Schools are on a path that research shows leads to better understanding of science, engineering and math, more engagement in school and improves their academic performance. Project Lead the Way does all that.
Which is why William Symonds thinks more kids should have such “apprenticeship” opportunities.
And we think he’s right.
Symonds, head of the Pathways to Prosperity Project at Harvard University, says kids need to be more firmly connected to the workplace – at a younger age. His message: Four-year college degrees aren’t for everyone, and by overemphasizing that goal, parents, schools and businesses have left a huge swath of kids behind. There is certainly evidence of that in Milwaukee.
And while it’s a fact that southeastern Wisconsin needs more college graduates, the goal of more baccalaureate degrees is not incompatible with the idea of offering high school students multiple pathways to careers.

College College Bobollege

Joseph Knippenberg:

But today, I want to talk about higher education, where the long and steep upward climb of tuition offers at least prima facie evidence of yet another bubble. We’ve been willing to pay more and more for our “higher” education because it was supposed to be the guarantee of a good job upon graduation (hence a good investment of time and money) and because the government’s willingness to subsidize it (thorough grants and guaranteed loans) would help insulate us from the real costs.
The Occupiers aren’t the only ones wondering about the former. There are lots of reasons to ask about the value of a college education, not just in terms of the connection between credentials and the marketplace, but even in terms of the more intangible relationship between higher education and a life well-led. That latter relationship is, for me, the central concern, but in terms of the economics of higher education, it’s a luxury good.
Properly understood, of course, it’s a relatively cheap luxury good. You need students, professors, and great (or at least good) books. Unfortunately, however, we’ve lost our focus on that time-honored nexus (the first discussion of it that I can think of is in Xenophon’s Memorabilia). Instead, we have professors who have science envy and need to do ground-breaking research (which means studying things that have in the past, for better or worse, been neglected and inventing new ways of looking at things, as if novelty were always a good thing). And we have students who wish to be entertained and coddled in country club-like surroundings. Finally, although I’m leaping ahead of myself a bit here, the fact that so much of this already bloated enterprise is financed by the federal government means that there are significant costs connected with regulatory compliance.

New Grades On Charter Schools

Andrew Rotherham:

The two most common criticisms about charter schools are that A) many of them aren’t that good and B) the good ones can’t be replicated to serve enough kids to really make a difference. TIME got an exclusive first look at the most comprehensive evaluation of charter school networks ever, and although the study, which will be released on Nov. 4, underscores the challenge of creating quality schools, it also makes clear that it is indeed possible to build a lot of schools that are game-changers for a lot of students.
The study, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research and the University of Washington’s Center on Reinventing Public Education, examined networks of affiliated charter schools, which in the education world are referred to as charter school management organizations (CMOs). There are more than 130 of these non-profit networks serving about 250,000 students nationwide. I was on an advisory board for the early conception and design of this study, the goal of which was to better understand how CMOs operate and how effective they are. The study is filled with valuable data about how CMOs manage their teachers, how much funding they get and how they use it and what kinds of students they serve. But I’m focusing here on student achievement, which is, of course, the most contentious issue in the national debate about charter schools.

A Thought Experiment for Union Leaders

Rick Hess:

I’ve had the privilege of meeting with union leaders from around the country to explain what Teach Plus is. Many love it; plenty are skeptics.
In every case, I begin with three opening points. First, I describe our mission as very similar to the union’s: to retain excellent teachers in the classroom and strengthen the teaching profession. Second, I talk about our belief that leadership opportunities are a key lever to helping promising young teachers extend their commitment to the classroom. Third, I state my personal belief in the value in the role of unions and describe the role Teach Plus has been able to play in helping a subset of Gen Y teachers to see that value for the first time. We’re usually off to a good start.
Then I say we focus our work on high-performing teachers* in years 3-10. It is at that point that many union leaders begin scratching their heads about whether our presence in a city will be a headache or a help. By design, our approach is not about the unity and equality of all teachers. In that way, it is at odds with an industrial union model.

For some, college not best option

Zach Thomae:

I know talking about schools bores most people in Wisconsin, but something interesting has been overlooked for the past few weeks. State Rep. Mark Radcliffe, D-River Falls, has introduced a bill in the Wisconsin state Legislature giving high school students the option of skipping traditional academic classes in favor of vocational ones.
The problem Radcliffe sees is simple–conventional high school classes try to prepare students for college, even though many students won’t be attending one. These students may be misplaced in college preparatory classes, so it would benefit them to be allowed to take classes more relevant and useful to them. In other words, some kids just shouldn’t take math.

School Has a Charter, Students and a Strong Opponent: Its District

Winnie Hu, via a kind Carla McDonald email:

Charter schools, publicly financed but independently operated, have encountered fierce resistance in many suburban communities, criticized by parents and traditional educators who view them as a drain on resources.
But since the Amani Public Charter School won state approval to open this year, officials at the Mount Vernon City School District have taken that opposition to a new level.
The district, in Westchester County, sued the State Education Department and the Amani school this year, calling the approval an “arbitrary and capricious” decision, and sought to block Amani from moving forward. It has refused to turn over state, federal and local aid money to Amani, so the state has begun paying the charter directly. During the summer, district workers were sent to knock on the doors of Amani students to check that they lived in the district, a tactic that angered some parents. And in recent weeks, the district has delayed providing special education services to Amani students.

Everything you wanted to know about urban education and its solutions!

Dr. Armand A. Fusco, via a kind email:

“No one has been able to stop the steady plunge of young black Americans into a socioeconomic abyss.” Bob Herbert / Syndicated columnist
Everything you wanted to know about urban education and its solutions!
For over 50 years this shame of the nation and education has remained as a plague upon its most vulnerable children. All reform efforts involving billions of dollars have not alleviated this scourge in our public schools. The rhetoric has been profound, but it has been immune to any antidote or action and it is getting worse; but it doesn’t have to be!
The following quotes summarize the 285 pages and over 400 references from my book.

Edited Insightful Quotes
The explanations and references are found in the contents of the book.

  • School pushouts is a time bomb exploding economically and socially every twenty-six seconds
  • Remember what the basic problem is–they are in all respects illiterate and that is why they are failing.
  • Every three years the number of dropouts and pushouts adds up to a city bigger than Chicago.
  • Politics trump the needs of all children to achieve their potential.
  • One reason that the high school dropout crisis is known as the “silent epidemic” is that the problem is frequently minimized.
  • Simply stated black male students can achieve high outcomes; the tragedy is most states and districts choose not to do so.
  • In the majority of schools, the conditions necessary for Black males to systematically succeed in education do not exist.
  • While one in four American children is Latino–the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States–they are chronically underserved by the nation’s public schools and have the lowest education attainment levels in the country.
  • Miseducation is the most powerful example of cruel and unusual punishment; it’s exacted on children innocent of any crime.
  • Traditional proposals for improving education–more money, smaller classes, etc.–aren’t getting the job done.
  • The public school system is designed for Black and other minority children to fail.
  • The U.S. Department of Education has never even acknowledged that the problem exists.
  • Though extensive records are kept…unions and school boards do not want productivity analysis done.
  • Educational bureaucracies like the NEA are at the center of America’s dysfunctional minority public schools.
  • Does bonus pay alone improve student outcomes? We found that it does not.
  • Performance pay is equivalent to “thirty pieces of silver.”
  • Data necessary to distinguish cost-effective schools are all available, but our system has been built to make their use difficult.
  • Districts give credit for students who fail standardized tests on the expectation that students someday will pass.
  • We saw some schools that were low performing and had a very high parent satisfaction rate.
  • We’re spending ever-greater sums of money, yet our high school graduates’ test results have been absolutely flat.
  • America’s primary and secondary schools have many problems, but an excess of excellence is not one of them.
  • Not only is our use of incarceration highly concentrated among men with little schooling, but corrections systems are doing less to correct the problem by reducing educational opportunities for the growing number of prisoners.
  • Although states will require school districts to implement the common core state standards, the majority of these states are not requiring districts to make complementary changes in curriculum and teacher programs.
  • We can show that merit pay is counterproductive, that closing down struggling schools (or firing principals) makes no sense.
  • The gap between our articulated ideals and our practice is an international embarrassment.
  • It’s interesting to note that despite the growing support by minority parents for charters, the NAACP, the National Urban League, and other civil rights groups collectively condemn charter schools.
  • Public schools do respond constructively to competition by raising their achievement and productivity.
  • Gates Foundation has also stopped funding the small school concept because no results could be shown.
  • The policies we are following today are unlikely to improve our schools.
  • Our country still does a better job of tracking a package than it does a student.
  • Indeed, we give these children less of all the things that both research and experience tell us make a difference.
  • Reformers have little knowledge of what is working and how to scale what works.
  • The fact is that illiteracy has persisted in all states for generations, particularly among the most vulnerable children, and getting worse is a testament that national policy and creative leadership rings hollow.
  • We can’t change a child’s home life, but what we can do is affect what they do here at school.
  • Only a third of young Americans will leave high school with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
  • Black churches can no longer play gospel in the sanctuaries while kids drop out into poverty and prison. They must embrace school reform and take the role that Catholic churches have done for so long and for so many.
  • There is only one way to equalize education for all–technology.
  • Whatever made you successful in the past won’t in the future.
  • The real potential of technology for improving learning remains largely untapped in schools today.
  • Can’t read, can’t learn, can’t get a job, can’t survive, so can’t stay within the law.
  • Of the 19.4 million government workers, half work in education, which rivals health care for the most wasteful sector in America.
  • The only people not being betrayed are those who feed off our failing education system…that group gets larger every year.
  • Mediocrity, not excellence, is the national norm as demonstrated by the deplorable evidence.
  • Parents are left to face the bleak reality that their child will be forever stuck in a failing school and a failing system.
  • The key is that unless there is accountability, we will never get the right system.
  • The very public institutions intended for student learning have become focused instead on adult employment.
  • We conclude that the strategies driving the best performing systems are rarely found in the United States.
  • No reform has yet lived up to its definition!
  • Minority males don’t get the beef, they get the leftovers.
  • The cotton plantations have become the school plantations (children held in bondage of failing schools) and the dropouts move on to the prison plantations.

9.27.2011 Wisconsin Read to Lead Task Force Notes

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind Chan Stroman-Roll email:

Guest Speaker Mark Seidenberg (Donald O. Hebb and Hilldale Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, UW-Madison): Professor Seidenberg gave an excellent presentation on the science of reading and why it is important to incorporate the findings of that science in teaching. Right now there is a huge disconnect between the vast, converged body of science worldwide and instructional practice. Prospective teachers are not learning about reading science in IHE’s, and relying on intuition about how to teach reading is biased and can mislead. Teaching older students to read is expensive and difficult. Up-front prevention of reading failure is important, and research shows us it is possible, even for dyslexic students. This will save money, and make the road easier for students to learn and teachers to teach. Seidenberg endorses using the Massachusetts model exam for teachers of reading (MTEL 90), which was developed with input from reading scientists. He also supports universal assessment to identify students who are at risk, and he mentioned the Minnesota Reading Corps as a model of reading tutoring that would be good to bring to Wisconsin.
Lander: Can Seidenberg provide a few examples of things on which the Task Force could reach consensus?
Seidenberg: There is a window for teaching basic reading skills that then will allow the child to move on to comprehension. The balanced literacy concept is in conflict with best practices. Classrooms in Wisconsin are too laissez-faire, and the spiraling approach to learning does not align with science.
Michael Brickman: Brickman, the Governor’s aide, cut off the discussion with Professor Seidenberg, and said he would be in touch with him later.

Much more on the Read to Lead Task Force, here.

Now is the Time for States to Help High Schools Get the Postsecondary Data They Want

College Summit:

Particularly in rough economic times, states must make hard choices about resources. But there is one targeted investment that mayors, business leaders, educators, and parents are crying out for, and that states have already initiated. It is reports for high schools on their students’ postsecondary performance, answering the critical questions: Do students enroll in a postsecondary institution? Do they pass their non-remedial courses? In which academic areas are they thriving, or struggling? These data will enable high schools everywhere in a state to find out how their graduates are doing anywhere in the state. Without this information, high schools are handicapped in their ability to prepare students for college and career.
Indeed, too many students, especially low-income students, are not prepared. In the last decade, Americans have enrolled in college in record numbers. But once there, they are stumbling at alarming rates and at enormous cost to themselves, their families, and their city and state tax bases. By one estimate, the lost personal income for one year of one class of these students is $3.8 billion; the federal government loses $566 million and the states lose $164 million in taxes from this cohort of college students who should have graduated and the numbers multiply each year. 1
Superintendents and principals are desperate to know what went wrong. Business leaders anx- iously hope for employees who are ready for 21st century work. Governors, too, know that above all they need an educated workforce to compete in the national and global marketplace.
States are making progress toward producing the high school postsecondary performance data these stakeholders need. But in the meantime, the stakeholders are restless.

Reforming Teacher Prep

Jocelyn Huber:

Students across the country have settled into another school year and many prospective teachers are in their first year of student teaching experience. Student teaching gives prospective teachers the opportunity to put theory into practice and ideally to learn the art of teaching from a skilled educator. Despite the importance of the student teaching experience, in some cases too little attention is paid to the quality of these programs. Some states are bravely tackling the arduous task of developing and refining teacher evaluation systems, but have yet to look carefully at the institutions and pre-service experiences that have the ability to deliver either exceptional or failing teachers. Rather than struggling to find the fairest way to identify, remediate, or ultimately remove bad teachers, wouldn’t it be far more beneficial for the profession and for students’ learning to ensure that only the very best teachers are earning certification and entering the classroom? (See DFER’s white paper, Ticket to Teach, to read some of our recommendations on reforming the profession here.)
In an attempt to more carefully examine the quality of pre-service training and education for teachers, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has begun a review of teacher preparation. In July, they released “Student Teaching in the United States.” The report and the larger review are controversial and have generated some backlash. But, if one can look past the defensiveness and posturing on all sides, the report suggests some helpful guidelines for teacher preparation programs and states to begin setting clearer and more rigorous training criteria for the benefit of students.

Just the research we all want to see: Multiple measures doesn’t mean muddied mess

The National Council on Teacher Quality

Value-added measures are often criticized for providing a narrow view of a teacher’s performance. Conversely, broader measures like observations are seen as too subjective. A new study shows–happily–that both types of evaluations are consistent and complementary: they predict future students’ achievement. Teachers who score well on one also score well on the other. Best of all, combining them produces a stronger and more accurate measure of a teacher’s effectiveness than using either alone.
Jonah E. Rockoff and Cecilia Speroni of Columbia University looked at the ability of three measures to predict teacher effectiveness: a rigorous job application process, observations and ratings by trained mentors, and value-added calculations based on students’ math and English scores.

Madison Prep’s ambitious plan to close achievement gap sparks vigorous debate

Susan Troller:

Nicole is a teacher’s dream student. Bright, curious and hard-working, she has high expectations for herself and isn’t satisfied with anything less than A grades. In fact, her mother says, she sometimes has to be told not to take school too seriously.
But when Nicole was tested in seventh grade to see if she’d qualify for an eighth-grade algebra course that would put her on track for advanced math courses in high school, her score wasn’t top-notch. She assured the teacher she wanted to tackle the course anyway. He turned her down.
In fact, her score could not predict whether she’d succeed. Neither could the color of her skin.
As an African-American girl, Nicole didn’t look much like the high-flying students her teacher was accustomed to teaching in his accelerated math classes at a Madison middle school. But instead of backing off, Nicole and her family challenged the recommendation. Somewhat grudgingly, her teacher allowed her in the class.
Fast forward a year: Nicole and one other student, the two top performers in the eighth-grade algebra class, were recommended for advanced math classes in high school.

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

Some CPS schools giving parents progress reports — on themselves

Joel Hood:

It was report card pickup day at Walsh Elementary School on Wednesday, and Principal Krish Mohip was feeling a little exposed.
In addition to their children’s report cards, Walsh parents were among the first in Chicago Public Schools to receive a progress report on the school itself, showing precisely how well, and in many cases how poorly, that school is keeping students on track for college.
At Walsh, a modern brick building in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood, parents learned that math and reading proficiency was good in the early grades but fell off when the curriculum became more difficult in eighth grade.

Wisconsin 25th in 2011 NAEP Reading

Wisconsin Reading Coalition E-Alert, via a kind Chan Stroman Roll email:

The 4th and 8th grade NAEP reading and math scores were released today. You can view the results at The presentation webinar is at
Following is commentary on Wisconsin’s NAEP reading scores that was sent to the Governor’s Read to Lead task force by task force member Steve Dykstra.
2011 NAEP data for reading was released earlier than usual, this year. Under the previous timeline we wouldn’t get the reading data until Spring.
While we returned to our 2007 rank of 25 from our 2009 rank of 30, that is misleading. All of our gains come from modest improvement among Black students who no longer rank last, but are still very near the bottom. The shift in rank is among Wisconsin and a group of states who all perform at an essentially identical level, and have for years. We’re talking tenths of points as the difference.
It is always misleading to consider NAEP scores on a whole-state basis. Different states may have very different demographic make-ups and those difference can either exaggerate or mask the actual differences between the two states. For instance, the difference between Florida and Wisconsin (all scores refer to 4th grade reading) at the whole-state level is only 3 points. In reality, the difference is much greater. Demographic variation masks the real difference because Florida has far more minority students and far more poverty than Wisconsin. When we look at the subgroups, comparing apples to apples, we see that the real differences are vast.
When we break the groups down by gender and race, Florida outperforms Wisconsin by a statistically significant margin in every group. The smallest difference is 8 and some are as large as 20. If we break the groups down by race and school lunch status Florida outperforms Wisconsin by a statistically significant margin in every group, except black students who don’t get a free lunch. For that group Florida does better, but not by enough to declare statistical certainty. The smallest margin is 9, and many are at or above 15.
10 points are generally accepted as a grade level for this range of the NAEP. Every Florida subgroup except one exceeds it’s Wisconsin counterpart by a nearly a full grade level, and most by a lot more.
When we compare Wisconsin to Massachusetts the story is the same, only worse. The same groups are significantly different from each other, but the margins are slightly larger. The whole-state difference between Wisconsin and Massachusetts (15+ pts) only appears larger than for Florida because Massachusetts enjoys many of the same demographic advantages as Wisconsin. In fact, Wisconsin students are about the same 1.5 grade levels behind both Florida and Massachusetts for 4th grade reading.
If you want to dig deeper and kick over more rocks, it only gets worse. Every Wisconsin subgroup is below their national average and most are statistically significantly below. The gaps are found in overall scores, as well as for performance categories. We do about the same in terms of advanced students as we do with low performing students. Except for black students who don’t get a free lunch (where the three states are in a virtual dead heat), Wisconsin ranks last compared to Florida and Massachusetts for every subgroup in terms of percentage of students at the advanced level. In many cases the other states exceed our rate by 50-100% or more. Their children have a 50 -100% better chance to read at the advanced level.
We need a sense of urgency to do more than meet, and talk, and discuss. We need to actually change the things that will make a difference, we need to do it fast, and we need to get it right. A lot of what needs to be done can be accomplished in a matter of days. Some of it takes a few hours. The parts that will take longer would benefit from getting the other stuff done and out of the way so we can devote our attention to those long term issues.
Our children are suffering and so far, all we’re doing is talking about it. Shame on us.

Comparing Rhetoric Regarding Texas (10th) & Wisconsin NAEP Scores: Texas Hispanic and African-American students rank second on eighth-grade NAEP math test

Texas Hispanic and African-American students rank
second on eighth-grade NAEP math test

Texas Education Agency:

Texas Hispanic and African-American students earned the second highest score among their peer groups on the 2011 eighth-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) mathematics test. The state’s white eighth grade students ranked fourth, missing out on the second place position themselves by less than one point.
Only Hispanic students in Montana earned a higher scale score on the math test than did eighth-grade Hispanic Texans. Only African-American students in Hawaii earned a higher average score than did their counterparts in Texas.
White students in the District of Columbia earned an average scale score of 319, the highest score for that ethnic group. Texas students ranked fourth, with less than a fraction of a point separating this group from students in Massachusetts and New Jersey. Massachusetts students had the second highest scale score at 304.2876, while Texas received an average score of 303.5460.
Overall, the state ranked 10th among the states with an average scale score of 290, substantially above the national average score of 283.

NAEP math on upward trend, state reading results stable

Wisconsin DPI:

Wisconsin’s biennial mathematics and reading results held steady on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card. The state’s overall trend in mathematics is improving.
For fourth-grade mathematics, the state’s 2011 scale score was 245, up one point but statistically the same as in 2009, compared to the national scale score of 240, a one-point increase from 2009. Wisconsin results for fourth-grade math are significantly higher than in 2003 when the average scale score was 237. At eighth grade, the Wisconsin scale score for mathematics was 289,
the same as in 2009 and up five points from 2003, which is statistically significant. For the nation, the 2011 mathematics scale score was 283, up one-point from 2009. State average scale scores in mathematics at both grade levels were statistically higher than the national score.

Average scores for fourth grade

All White Black Hispanic Asian Amer-Pac.Island Native Amer
US 240 249 224 229 256 227
Texas 241 253 232 235 263 ***
Wisconsin 245 251 217 228 242 231
Average scores for eighth grade
US 283 293 262 269 302 266
Texas 290 304 277 283 316 ***
Wisconsin 289 295 256 270 290 ***

via a kind Richard Askey email.
Erin Richards has more on Wisconsin’s results.
Steve Dykstra’s comments on Wisconsin’s NAEP reading scores.
Related: Madison and College Station, TX.

The End of College Admissions as We Know it

Kevin Carey:

But there’s another culprit at work: the college admissions process itself. If you want to buy shares of stock, bid on antiques, search for a job, or look for Mr. Right in 2011, you will likely go to a marketplace driven by the electronic exchange of information. There will be quick, flexible transactions, broad access to buyers and sellers, and powerful algorithms that efficiently match supply and demand. If you are a student looking for a college or a college looking for a student, by contrast, you’re stuck with an archaic, over-complicated, under-managed system that still relies on things like bus trips to airport convention centers and the physical transmission of pieces of paper. That’s why under-matching is so pervasive. The higher education market only works for students who have the resources to overcome its terrible inefficiency. Everyone else is out of luck.
As a result, the odds appear to be against Jameel, who attends a 1,600-student public high school where the large majority of children qualify for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program and the staff of three guidance counselors was cut to two last year. Determination can take you only so far if there’s no one to help you find your way.
But Jameel’s local school system has made one recent move that might work significantly in his favor. A few days after returning from the college fair, Jameel logged on to a new Web site that is the result of a contract between the Miami-Dade County school system and a Boston-based company called ConnectEDU. The site offered Jameel loads of information about different colleges and universities, along with strategies for filling out college applications and getting scholarships and financial aid. It was also a vessel for information about Jameel himself–his grades, courses, and activities, along with short animated quizzes designed to identify his strengths and goals. There were checklists and schedules and friendly reminders, all tailored to the personal aspirations the site had gleaned from Jameel, all focused on identifying the colleges that might meet them.

Teacher layoffs: Did the sky fall or not?

The National Council on Teacher Quality :

Since the recession began, the specter of massive teacher layoffs has been hanging over the nation’s schools. The feds have repeatedly come to the rescue–even when some parts of the country didn’t seem to be particularly struggling–providing funds first in the form of stimulus dollars, followed by last year’s EduJobs.
So far this year there appears to be little likelihood of a comparable rescue package. The president’s job bill offers the only hope, but we all know how far that one isn’t going. The White House has been making the case nonetheless, supplying sobering evidence of a decline in education jobs and that as many as 280,000 “educator jobs” are at risk this school year.
Not discounting this evidence, we’ve been struck by the lack of reports on layoffs in newspapers this fall. Last spring, they were all reporting about school districts handing out pink slips by the thousands, but there’s been little follow up on teachers converting from pink-slip status to no-job-at-all status.

Student loans – forgive and forget

Debra Saunders:

One of the great things about America, President Obama told students at the University of Colorado, is that no matter how humble your roots, you still have a shot at a great education. He also told students that his goal is to “make college more affordable.” Alas, the president’s prescription for making higher education affordable seems likely to yield the same results as his plan for curbing health care costs – that is, it is likely to drive prices higher than inflation.
The nation’s next fiscal nightmare may well be a higher-education bubble.
Americans now owe more on student loans than on credit cards. As USA Today reported, America’s student loan debt is expected to exceed $1 trillion this year. Rising costs have left many graduates in a deep hole. Many of last year’s graduates walked away with a diploma and, on average, $24,000 in student loans. The default rate on student loans rose to 8.8 percent in 2009.

Elmhurst District 205 School Report Card Data Now Available Online

Karen Chadra:

Elmhurst Unit District 205 has posted links to Illinois School Report Card data for the district’s schools on its web site.
The Illinois State Board of Education issues School Report Cards each fall for all public schools and school districts in the state. The reports include data on school finances, demographics, instruction and student assessments, which are based on student testing done during the 2010-2011 school year.
York High School and Churchville Middle School failed to meet adequate yearly progress as defined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which stipulates 100 percent of students must meet AYP by 2014. If any subgroup of a school fails to meet AYP, then the whole school does not meet AYP.

Chart: One Year of Prison Costs More Than One Year at Princeton

Brian Resnick:

One year at Princeton University: $37,000. One year at a New Jersey state prison: $44,000.
Prison and college “are the two most divergent paths one can take in life,” Joseph Staten, an info-graphic researcher with Public Administration, says. Whereas one is a positive experience that increases lifetime earning potential, the other is a near dead end, which is why Staten found it striking that the lion’s share of government funding goes toward incarceration.
The comparison between higher education spending and correction spending highlighted in the following chart is not perfect. Universities have means to fund themselves; prisons rely on the government. So it makes some sense that a disproportional amount of money flows to the correction centers. Also, take note, comparing African Americans in college and African Americans in dorms is not completely fair. For one, college implies an 18-22 age range, and incarcerated adults can be of any age. Also, it doesn’t take into account African Americans who commute to school.

A Shocking Chart on Vaccination

Megan McArdle:

Yet I am surprised–surprised and disappointed. This is a very dangerous level of immunization–the level where herd immunity gets lost, disease reservoirs are established, and children emerge from their school to infect infants, immunocrompromised adults, and people whose vaccinations didn’t take or have waned, with potentially fatal diseases.

Charter school deserves Milwaukee’s approval

Tim Sheehy:

On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Common Council will consider the Charter School Review Committee’s recommendation that the City of Milwaukee contract with Rocketship Education to open a network of independent charter schools.
Rocketship Education selected Milwaukee as its first expansion city outside of California because it saw great need but also because it sees the opportunity to be part of a systemic change in a community that desperately needs it. Rocketship has never promised miracles. It does promise a chance – a chance for children and a chance for Milwaukee.
Milwaukee has serious challenges and an urgent need to grow, develop and attract more schools that are effective in educating low-income children. Closing the gap in educational achievement for all 127,000 of the city’s K-12 schoolchildren is a community-wide responsibility.
There are no miracles, and we cannot wait for Superman. What we can do is expand our best-performing schools and work to improve our high-potential schools that operate as Milwaukee Public Schools or under the charter and choice programs. This requires the development of quality teachers and school leaders.

Lesson In Stupidity

Peter Bachmann:

*Note start required*I am a parent of one of the kids at the Lantau International School in Pui O and I have the strong urge to comment on the ridiculous ruling by the High Court judge (The Standard, November 1).
First does it take only one person to complain – in September 2008 – for the government to send an officer from the Environmental Protection Department to measure noise levels?
That’s an absolute joke and this person must have had a “nightmare” over the past three years spending time in their bedroom waiting for the kids to make a noise during their few minutes break in the morning and at lunch time.

The $10,000 College Degree Rick Perry’s $10,000 degree plan is just one option to obtain an inexpensive education.

Jenna Ashley Robinson:

Editor’s Note: Scroll down to the bottom to view’s infographic about rising costs and the $10,000 degree.
The latest news on Wall Street is that the occupiers want forgiveness of student debt. And while President Obama didn’t meet their demands in his recent speech, he is still focusing on the same side of the equation: more money for higher education.
But down the road, the best way to deal with the high cost of college education is to reduce it! And Texas governor Rick Perry has thrown out the gauntlet by demanding that his regents come up with a plan for a $10,000 degree–not $10,000 per year but $10,000 for a full degree.
Is such a price possible? At the Pope Center, we’ve looked at affordability–and the innovation that will be required to get prices to that level–from many angles. My view is that extreme reductions are possible, but they may be far in the future. Meanwhile, however, you can save a lot of money if you take care.

Student loans in America Nope, just debt The next big credit bubble?

The Economist:

IN LATE 1965, President Lyndon Johnson stood in the modest gymnasium of what had once been the tiny teaching college he attended in Texas and announced a programme to promote education. It was an initiative that exemplified the “Great Society” agenda of his administration: social advancement financed by a little hard cash, lots of leverage and potentially vast implicit government commitments. Those commitments are now coming due.
“Economists tell us that improvement of education has been responsible for one-fourth to one-half of the growth in our nation’s economy over the past half-century,” Johnson said. “We must be sure that there will be no gap between the number of jobs available and the ability of our people to perform those jobs.”
To fill this gap Johnson pledged an amount that now seems trivial, $1.9m, sent from the federal government to states which could then leverage it ten-to-one to back student loans of up to $1,000 for 25,000 people. “This act”, he promised, “will help young people enter business, trade, and technical schools–institutions which play a vital role in providing the skills our citizens must have to compete and contribute in our society.”

Parents Outsource the Basics

Sophia Hollander & Melanie Grayce West:

Some New York City children take after-school classes in dance, pottery or softball. Once a week, Gillian and Hunter Randall add an unusual activity to the list: lessons on how to shake hands.
It’s a class taught by SocialSklz:-), a company founded in 2009 to address deteriorating social skills in the age of iPhones, Twitter and Facebook friends.
“It’s hard to have a real conversation anymore. And you know what? I’m guilty of it too,” said the Randalls’ mother, Lisa LaBarbera, noting that her 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son both have iPod touches and handheld videogame devices. “You get carpal tunnel, but you’re not building those communication

A Scottish child stumbling to school in the dark. An English child strolling to class in daylight: How Berlin Time could spell the end of the United Kingdom

Tim Luckhurst:

A compelling new argument has emerged to clinch the case against Berlin Time – otherwise known as Double Summer Time.
This unwelcome import from the Eurozone could be the straw that breaks Britain, and the rapture with which the Scottish National Party has greeted Government plans to consult on implementation proves it.
Already euphoric about the first opinion poll in years to put support for independence ahead of opposition to it, the SNP has seized on the proposed time shift like manna from heaven. Nationalist spokesmen blame ‘Tory time bandits’ for plans they claim will endanger the lives of Scottish children, cripple business and plunge Scotland into perpetual darkness.

Campus Connection: Student-athletes nationally graduating at record levels

Todd Finkelmeyer:

More than four out of every five student-athletes who play sports at the NCAA’s highest level now graduate within six years, according to an annual report released this past week by the college sports oversight body.
A formula used by the association indicates a record 82 percent of NCAA Division I student-athletes who entered school in 2004 earned a degree within six years. That figure is three percentage points higher than last year and eight points above the graduation success rates (GSR) first collected by the NCAA with the entering freshman class of 1995.
Of the student-athletes who entered UW-Madison in 2004, the NCAA reports 81 percent graduated within six years. Not all the news at UW-Madison is so rosy, however, but more on that later. (To check out how your favorite school did or to view a sport-by-sport breakdown for each institution, check out this NCAA database.)
“There is a stereotype about college athletes that they’re here to play sports and not to be academically successful, but as you can see from the report the overwhelming majority of student-athletes are getting through school,” says Adam Gamoran, a professor of sociology and educational policy studies who chairs the UW Athletic Board’s academics and compliance committee. “We select great students and only enroll those who we are confident can be academically successful here.”

Physics vs. Phys Ed: Regardless of Need, Schools Pay the Same

Tom Gantert:

There are 19 gym teachers in the Farmington School District who make more than $85,000 a year each. The average gym teacher’s salary in Farmington is $75,035. By comparison, the science teachers in that district make $68,483 per year on average.
That’s not unusual in Michigan schools, according to Freedom of Information Act requests received from around the state.
In the Woodhaven-Brownstown district, 18.5 (FTE) science teachers average some $58,400 per year in salary, while 12 gym teachers averaged nearly $76,700. In Harrison, science teachers earned $49,000 on average while gym teachers averaged $62,000.
This is not unusual, because school districts don’t differentiate what a teacher does when considering compensation, regardless of the district’s educational needs. Teachers are paid on a single salary schedule based on seniority and education level.