TIMSS fraction item

Dr. Richard Askey, via a kind email (PDF):

TIMSS is an international set of tests on mathematics and science which is given every four years in grades 4 and 8 to a sample of students, and occasionally for a sample of students taking advanced mathematics and physics in their last year in high school. All of these will be given in 2015.
The following useful link gives access to the released TIMSS-2011 items and the scores different countries made on these items.
One interesting fact is that among the 42 countries which tested 8th grade students, Finland had the highest percent of students who picked answer A and the third lowest percent correct, Chile had 11.7and Sweden had 14.4 percent. The Finnish result is likely a surprise to the people who have praised the Finnish school system for their results on another international test, PISA. However, one group which would not be surprised are university and technical college mathematics faculty in Finland. See an article signed by over 200 of them which is on the web at:

With superintendent candidate set to visit, Madison School Board on hot seat

Matthew DeFour:

As a top Chicago Public Schools administrator visits Madison on Thursday to make her case to be the next Madison superintendent, questions linger about the School Board’s selection process.
The day after the other finalist for the job suddenly withdrew amid questions about his past, two Madison School Board members stood by the board’s decision to move forward with the visit by Jennifer Cheatham. The other five did not return calls seeking comment.
Board members Ed Hughes and Mary Burke also said they weren’t ready to pass judgment on the search consultant, Ray and Associates of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after Walter Milton Jr., superintendent in Springfield, Ill., withdrew, and it was not clear how much board members knew about his background.
“We understand why people have questions about our process because it hasn’t gone as smoothly as we’d like,” Hughes said. “That said, I think we are excited about the possibility of Jennifer Cheatham. She sounds like she could be a terrific candidate.”

Much more on Madison’s latest Superintendent search, here.
Jennifer Cheatham links: Bing, Blekko, Clusty, Google, Twitter.

What will it really take to Eliminate the Achievement Gap and Provide World-Class Schools for All Children in 2013 and beyond?

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email:

February 6, 2013
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
As the Board of Education deliberates on who the next Superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District will be, and as school districts in our state and across the nation wrestle with what to do to eliminate the racial achievement gap in education, while at the same time establishing world class schools that help prepare all children to learn, succeed and thrive in the 21st century, it’s important that we not lose sight of what the research continues to tell us really makes the difference in a child’s education.
More than 40 years of research on effective schools and transformational education have informed us that the key drivers for eliminating the racial achievement gap in schools and ensuring all students graduate from high school prepared for college and life continue to be:

  • An Effective Teacher in Every Classroom – We must ensure every classroom is led by an effective teacher who is committed to and passionate about teaching young people, inspires all children to want to learn, has an appropriate depth of knowledge of the content they are teaching, is comfortable teaching and empowering diverse students, and coaches all of their students to high performance and expectations. Through its Race to the Top Initiative, the Obama Administration also defined an effective teacher as someone who can improve a students’ achievement by 1.0 grade levels in one school year while a highly effective teacher is someone who can improve student achievement by 1.5 grade levels annually. Schools with large numbers of students who are academically behind, therefore, should have the most effective teachers teaching them to ensure they catch up.
  • High Quality, Effective Schools with Effective Leaders and Practices – Schools that are considered high quality have a combination of effective leaders, effective teachers, a rigorous curriculum, utilize data-driven instruction, frequently assess student growth and learning, offer a supportive and inspiring school culture, maintain effective governing boards and enjoy support from the broader community in which they reside. They operate with a clear vision, mission, core values and measurable goals and objectives that are monitored frequently and embraced by all in the school community. They also have principals and educators who maintain positive relationships with parents and each other and effectively catalyze and deploy resources (people, money, partnerships) to support student learning and teacher success. Schools that serve high poverty students also are most effective when they provide additional instructional support that’s aligned with what students are learning in the classroom each day, and engage their students and families in extended learning opportunities that facilitate a stronger connection to school, enable children to explore careers and other interests, and provide greater context for what students are learning in the classroom.
  • Adequately Employed and Engaged Parents – The impact of parents’ socio-economic status on a child’s educational outcomes, and their emotional and social development, has been well documented by education researchers and educational psychologists since the 1960s. However, the very best way to address the issue of poverty among students in schools is to ensure that the parents of children attending a school are employed and earning wages that allow them to provide for the basic needs of their children. The most effective plans to address the persistent underachievement of low-income students, therefore, must include strategies that lead to quality job training, high school completion and higher education, and employment among parents. Parents who are employed and can provide food and shelter for their children are much more likely to be engaged in their children’s education than those who are not. Besides being employed, parents who emphasize and model the importance of learning, provide a safe, nurturing, structured and orderly living environment at home, demonstrate healthy behaviors and habits in their interactions with their children and others, expose their children to extended learning opportunities, and hold their children accountable to high standards of character and conduct generally rear children who do well in school. Presently, 74% of Black women and 72% of white women residing in Dane County are in the labor force; however, black women are much more likely to be unemployed and looking for work, unmarried and raising children by themselves, or working in low wage jobs even if they have a higher education.
  • Positive Peer Relationships and Affiliations – A child’s peer group can have an extraordinarily positive, or negative, affect on their persistence and success in school. Students who spend time with other students who believe that learning and attending school is important, and who inspire and support each other, generally spend more time focused on learning in class, more time studying outside of class, and tend to place a higher value on school and learning overall. To the contrary, children who spend a lot of time with peer groups that devalue learning, or engage in bullying, are generally at a greater risk of under-performing themselves. Creating opportunities and space for positive peer relationships to form and persist within and outside of school can lead to significantly positive outcomes for student achievement.
  • Community Support and Engagement – Children who are reared in safe and resourceful communities that celebrate their achievements, encourage them to excel, inform them that they are valued, hold them accountable to a high standard of character and integrity, provide them with a multitude of positive learning experiences, and work together to help them succeed rarely fail to graduate high school and are more likely to pursue higher education, regardless of their parents educational background. “It Takes A Whole Village to Raise a Child” is as true of a statement now as it was when the African proverb was written in ancient times. Unfortunately, as children encounter greater economic and social hardships, such as homelessness, joblessness, long-term poverty, poor health, poor parenting and safety concerns, the village must be stronger, more uplifting and more determined than ever to ensure these children have the opportunity to learn and remain hopeful. It is often hopelessness that brings us down, and others along with us.

If we place all of our eggs in just one of the five baskets rather than develop strategies that bring together all five areas that affect student outcomes, our efforts to improve student performance and provide quality schools where all children succeed will likely come up short. This is why the Urban League of Greater Madison is working with its partners to extend the learning time “in school” for middle schoolers who are most at-risk of failing when they reach high school, and why we’ll be engaging their parents in the process. It’s also why we’ve worked with the United Way and other partners to strengthen the Schools of Hope tutoring initiative for the 1,600 students it serves, and why we are working with local school districts to help them recruit effective, diverse educators and ensure the parents of the children they serve are employed and have access to education and job training services. Still, there is so much more to be done.
As a community, I strongly believe we can achieve the educational goals we set for our chlidren if we focus on the right work, invest in innovation, take a “no excuses” approach to setting policy and getting the work done, and hire a high potential, world-class Superintendent who can take us there.
God bless our children, families, schools and capital region.
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Phone: 608-729-1200
Assistant: 608-729-1249
Fax: 608-729-1205

Related: Kaleem Caire interview, notes and links along with the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school (rejected by a majority of the Madison School Board).

Academic reference inflation has set in, and everyone is simply wonderful

Jonathan Wolff:

It is academic reference season. Every day I receive requests from former and current students, or people whose work I have read or examined, or met in a lift, to write in support of their application for further study or for academic jobs. I’m usually happy to do my bit. But as these references accumulate in files around the world, I do wonder how many of them will ever be read.
Data protection has taken the fun out of reference writing, and hence the fun out of reference reading. Gone are the days when it was possible to write on a plain note card “Grab him if you can,” as apparently Gilbert Ryle, professor of philosophy at Oxford, did for one of his students in the 1960s. Or in the strangulated prose of Isaiah Berlin, in his recommendation for the brilliant legal philosopher HLA Hart, “What he is tortured by is the thought that he will never be better than [AC] Ewing and will never hold other views than Ewing. He realises himself that this is not a very exciting state of mind to be in … Nevertheless … he cannot be worse than Ewing, who, after all, is … in his own way, not contemptible.”
These days one has to keep in mind that the person you are writing for may eventually see the reference. Accordingly, reference inflation has set in, and everyone is simply wonderful. One reference writer has said of several of his PhD students, “He reminds me of the young Wittgenstein.” (That’s right! He can never get his shirt to stay tucked in either!) Perhaps the oddest comment I’ve seen is “Pound for pound she is the best philosopher in the department.” What can that mean? She’s not very good, but on the other hand she is really small?

UW’s Man Of The Future

Marc Eisen:

As someone who was clueless when the newspaper world was being upended by the Internet world, I’ve taken a late-life reportorial interest in the epochal changes ripping through American institutions.
David Krakauer, who runs the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at UW-Madison, gets it. The guy understands how far reaching those changes are. I first heard him speak last February at a luncheon sponsored by the Wisconsin Innovation Network.

Can We Trust Teachers To Successfully Manage Whole Schools? (Kim Farris-Berg) Part 1

Kim Farris-Berg

Everyone knows that many K-12 public schools are not producing desired results. The big question is: how will we improve them? The dominant assertion today is that if we can just get better at telling teachers what to do, and how to do it, then improvement will follow. In this climate, “getting tough” with teachers appears to be the only solution. Fortunately for those of us not fond of one-bet strategies, other assertions are entering the discussion. One of these assertions is that trusting teachers, and not controlling them, is the key to school success.
Some policymakers and education leaders in states and school districts are granting groups of teachers who request it collective autonomy to make the decisions influencing whole school success. These groups of teachers have the opportunity to choose–even invent–the learning methods and job structures they think will best improve learning for the students in their schools.

Searching for education’s next great innovations

Charles E. Schlimpert:

Just about everywhere you look, the funding model for public education is broken. School districts are dealing with escalating costs in the face of devastating budget cuts. This cannot stand; too much is at stake.
The current lack of funding affects all families, but it is especially hard on the 160,000 Oregon children living in poverty. For them, school can be a refuge, and education is their ticket to a better life. Financial trends are taking them — and all of our school districts — in the wrong direction.

Crushing debt, fewer job prospects result in law school applicant decline

Steven Elbow:

The New York Times this week ran a story on the steep decline in law school applicants, which appears to be on track to hit a 30-year-low as prospective students weigh skyrocketing tuition (ranging from $20,000 to $45,000 a year) against diminishing job prospects.
The Times reported a 20 percent decrease in applicants from last year and a 38 percent falloff from 2010, leading law schools across the country to scale back admissions.
The UW Law School is following that trend. After a 27 percent decline in applicants since 2009 — from 2,951 to 2,153 — Law School Dean Margaret Raymond says the school made a conscious decision to cut back on admissions by 10 percent. The school enrolled 215 students last fall, compared with 278 in 2009.
The state’s other law school, at Marquette University, last fall actually admitted a few more students than in 2009, 224 this school year compared to 219 three years ago. But in that same period applicants dropped from 2,121 to 1,723, a 19 percent decline. Marquette Law School Dean Joseph Kearney didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Madison School superintendent candidate Walter Milton Jr. withdraws

Matthew DeFour, via a kind reader’s email:

The superintendent of the Springfield, Ill., school district has withdrawn from the search for the same job in Madison.
Walter Milton Jr. pulled his name from consideration for the Madison School District’s superintendent job Tuesday evening, according to a statement the Madison School Board provided to the State Journal.
The decision comes amid questions about parts of Milton’s background and how much the board knew about them before naming him Sunday as one of two finalists for the job.
At previous jobs he hired without conducting a background check a former business partner who had been convicted of child molestation, according to news reports. Milton also faced questions about submitting inaccurate resumes when applying for jobs.
Also, a 2007 New York state comptroller’s audit found Milton had been overpaid while superintendent at a school district there from 2003 to 2005 and used a district credit card for personal expenses that he had not paid back.

Much more on the latest Madison School District Superintendent Search, here.

Madison Superintendent Candidate Roundup: It Seems Unlikely that One Person will Drive Significant Change

Amy Barrilleaux:

After paying an Iowa-based headhunting firm $30,975 to develop a candidate profile and launch a three-month nationwide recruitment effort, and after screening 65 applications, the Madison school board has narrowed its superintendent search down to two finalists. Dr. Jenifer Cheatham is chief of instruction for Chicago Public Schools, and Dr. Walter Milton, Jr., is superintendent of Springfield Public Schools in Illinois.
Parents and community members will get a chance to meet both finalists at a forum at Monona Terrace starting at 5:45 p.m. Thursday night. But despite the exhaustive and expensive search, the finalists aren’t without flaws.
Cheatham was appointed to her current post as chief of instruction in June of 2011 by Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, who has since resigned. According to her Chicago district bio, Cheatham’s focus is improving urban school districts by “developing instructional alignment and coherence at every level of a school system aimed at achieving breakthrough results in student learning.” Cheatham received a master’s and doctorate in education from Harvard and began her career as an 8th grade English teacher. But she found herself in a harsh spotlight as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and district officials pushed for a contentious 7.5 hour school day last year, which became one of many big issues that led to the Chicago teachers strike in September.
“It was handled horribly in terms of how it was rolled out,” says Chicago attorney Matt Farmer, who also blogs about Chicago school issues for The Huffington Post.
Farmer says pressure was mounting last spring for the district to explain how the longer day would work and how it would be paid for. Cheatham was sent to a community meeting he attended on the city’s south side to explain the district’s position.

Some of candidate Walter Milton Jr.’s history a surprise to School Board president

Madison School Board president James Howard said Monday he wasn’t aware of some of the controversial aspects of Walter Milton Jr.’s history until after the board named him a finalist to be Madison’s next superintendent.
Prior to becoming superintendent in Springfield, Ill., Milton was criticized for hiring without a background check a colleague who had been convicted of child molestation in Georgia. The colleague, Julius B. Anthony, was forced to resign from a $110,000 job in Flint, Mich., after a background check uncovered the case, according to the Springfield State Journal-Register.
Milton and Anthony were former business partners and worked together in Fallsburg, N.Y., where Milton was superintendent before moving to Flint, according to news reports.

Steven Verburg: Jennifer Cheatham fought for big changes in Chicago schools:

Jennifer Cheatham will be the third person in the last two years from our administration who I’ve been a reference for who has taken over a fairly significant school district,” Vitale said. “Chicago is a pretty good breeding place for leaders.”

Matthew DeFour:

A Springfield School District spokesman said Milton is declining interviews until a community forum in Madison on Thursday.
Prior to Fallsburg, Milton was a teacher and principal in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y. He received a bachelor’s degree in African history and African-American studies from Albany State University, a master’s degree in education from the State University of New York College at Brockport and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Buffalo.
Milton’s contract in Springfield expires at the end of the 2013-14 school year. His current salary is $220,000 plus about $71,000 in benefits.

School Board members want a superintendent with vision, passion and a thick hide

Madison School Board member Marj Passman says she was looking for superintendent candidates who have had experience working in contentious communities. “That’s important, considering what we’ve gone through here,” she told me Monday.
And what Madison schools are going through now.
The Madison Metropolitan School District had scarcely released the names of the two finalist candidates — Jennifer Cheatham, a top administrator in the Chicago Public School System and Walter Milton Jr., superintendent of the schools in Springfield, Ill. — before the online background checks began and comments questioning the competency of the candidates were posted. So the new Madison superintendent has to be someone who can stand up to public scrutiny, Passman reasoned.
And the issues that provoked the combative debate of the last couple of years — a race-based achievement gap and charter school proposal meant to address it that proved so divisive that former Superintendent Dan Nerad left the district — remain unresolved.
So, Passman figured, any new superintendent would need experience working with diverse student populations. Both Cheatham and Milton fit that bill, Passman says.

What are the odds that the traditional governance approach will substantively address Madison’s number one, long term challenge? Reading….
Much more on the latest Madison Superintendent search, here along with a history of Madison Superintendent experiences, here.

New CREDO Charter School Study, Interesting Management Comments

Laura Waters:

There’s a new CREDO report (Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes) on how to identify high-performing charter schools and encourage their expansion. You can download either the Executive Summary or the full report here, ), but here’s a few highlights:

  • Charter schools don’t tend to improve much over time. If a school is struggling in its first year or two, it’s unlikely to duplicate the success of high-performing charter schools. “Based on the evidence, there appears to be no structural ‘new school’ phenomenon of wobbly performance for several years.”

  • This holds true for all schools, but especially for middle and high schools; i.e., if they’re not getting it right from the get-go, then odds of turnarounds are not high. “Substantial improvement over time is largely absent from middle schools, multi-level schools and high schools. Only elementary schools show an upward pattern of growth if they start out in the lower two quintiles.”
  • Charter Management Organizations (CMO’s), or groups of three or more charters run under one management, have a higher degree of success with minority and poor kids. “They produce stronger academic gains for students of color and student in poverty than those students would have realized either in traditional public schools (TPS) or in many categories what would have learned in independent charter schools.”

One big take-away: a charter school’s first year is indicative of its long-term performance, and kids do better with historically-successful CMO’s. There’s little justification for not closing down a poorly-performing charter after the first couple of years.

Unintended Consequences of Tuition Reciprocity

Sara Goldrick-Rab:

Providing more students with a variety of college choices is a good thing. But I’m beginning to wonder about the unintended consequences of policies that try to accomplish it.
Take the case of Wisconsin, which shares a tuition reciprocity agreement with Minnesota. Many students, especially those living on the borders of the two states, and those who don’t get a place in their flagship university, choose to attend college in the other state. That’s very nice, of course, and very neighborly. And, according to the press, it helps the state attract “the best students.” But every policy has its downsides, and in this case there may be several:
(1) It seems to nudge data reporting toward the uninformative. Since both Minnesota and Wisconsin are treated as residents for tuition purposes, the vast majority of official reporting from the state and the campuses combines the two groups. This makes it hard for the public to examine the characteristics of Wisconsin residents. For example, say in order to assess equality of educational opportunities you wanted to compare the % of Native Americans among Wisconsin residents statewide to the % of Native Americans among Wisconsin residents enrolled at UW-Madison. It’s not in any publicly available report, since reports like these aggregate MN and WI students together. (Sure, this could be changed without altering the reciprocity agreement, but right now there seems no incentive to do it.)

Abolish Social Studies: Born a century ago, the pseudo-discipline has outlived its uselessness.

Michael Knox Beran

Emerging as a force in American education a century ago, social studies was intended to remake the high school. But its greatest effect has been in the elementary grades, where it has replaced an older way of learning that initiated children into their culture with one that seeks instead to integrate them into the social group. The result was a revolution in the way America educates its young. The old learning used the resources of culture to develop the child’s individual potential; social studies, by contrast, seeks to adjust him to the mediocrity of the social pack.
Why promote the socialization of children at the expense of their individual development? A product of the Progressive era, social studies ripened in the faith that regimes guided by collectivist social policies could dispense with the competitive striving of individuals and create, as educator George S. Counts wrote, “the most majestic civilization ever fashioned by any people.” Social studies was to mold the properly socialized citizens of this grand future. The dream of a world regenerated through social planning faded long ago, but social studies persists, depriving children of a cultural rite of passage that awakened what Coleridge called “the principle and method of self-development” in the young.

Madison School Board members want a superintendent with vision, passion and a thick hide

Pat Schneider:

The Madison Metropolitan School District had scarcely released the names of the two finalist candidates — Jennifer Cheatham, a top administrator in the Chicago Public School System and Walter Milton Jr., superintendent of the schools in Springfield, Ill. — before the online background checks began and comments questioning the competency of the candidates were posted. So the new Madison superintendent has to be someone who can stand up to public scrutiny, Passman reasoned.
And the issues that provoked the combative debate of the last couple of years — a race-based achievement gap and charter school proposal meant to address it that proved so divisive that former Superintendent Dan Nerad left the district — remain unresolved.
So, Passman figured, any new superintendent would need experience working with diverse student populations. Both Cheatham and Milton fit that bill, Passman says.
Madison School Board members had 90-minute interviews with a pool of semifinalists before selecting Cheatham and Milton, and will interview them again on Thursday. The candidates also will appear at a public forum that starts at 5:45 p.m. Thursday at Monona Terrace Convention Center.

Much more on Madison Superintendents past, present and future, here.

How to Bridge the Generational Hope Divide

Shane J. Lopez:

Almost all fifth- through 12th-graders — 95% — say it is likely they will have a better life than their parents. However, in a separate Gallup poll, half of U.S. adults aged 18 and older say they doubt today’s youth will have a better life than their parents.
This hope divide might limit the support that adults are willing to give children to help them reach their full potential. Undoubtedly, some adults will be tempted to explain to children that there are economic and political circumstances in the world that children can’t understand — ones that make their future look less rosy. Adults might even point out that many children are fantasizing about a future that is out of their reach. These cautions are grounded in some wisdom, but they also might be associated with the pessimism adults have about our own future, our personal vulnerabilities, or our profound inability to predict the future.
To bridge the hope divide we have to do three things.

The key to increasing upward mobility is expanding vocabulary.

E D Hirsch:

A number of notable recent books, including Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality and Timothy Noah’s The Great Divergence, lay out in disheartening detail the growing inequality of income and opportunity in the United States, along with the decline of the middle class. The aristocracy of family so deplored by Jefferson seems upon us; the counter-aristocracy of merit that long defined America as the land of opportunity has receded.
These writers emphasize global, technological, and sociopolitical trends in their analyses. But we should factor in another cause of receding economic equality: the decline of educational opportunity. There’s a well-established correlation between a college degree and economic benefit. And for guidance on what helps students finish college and earn more income, we should consider the SAT, whose power to predict graduation rates is well documented. The way to score well on the SAT–at least on the verbal SAT–is to have a large vocabulary. As the eminent psychologist John Carroll once observed, the verbal SAT is essentially a vocabulary test.

Wisconsin State superintendent race is incumbent Tony Evers’ to lose

Jack Craver:

Last week, Senate Democrats lashed out at a Republican bill they said was intended to weaken the already enfeebled Office of the Secretary of State, currently held by Democrat Doug La Follette.
“It’s directed to take the one Democrat elected to statewide office and cut him out of the legislative process,” state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, says of the legislation, which would remove the secretary of state’s ability to delay the publication of a bill for up to 10 days after passage, as La Follette did following the controversial passage of Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining bill two years ago.
Technically, Risser is correct. The secretary of state, which Gov. Tommy Thompson long ago relegated to obscurity, is the only statewide office held by Democrats.
But while the superintendent of public instruction is technically a nonpartisan position, current Superintendent Tony Evers, like his predecessors for the past 30 years, is supported by Democratic-affiliated groups and has been an outspoken opponent of many of Walker’s policies.
And unlike La Follette, Evers has a meaningful platform to influence one of the most important issues facing the state.
It’s noteworthy, then, that Evers does not seem to be a significant target for conservatives, even though his lone challenger in the April 2 election for another four-year term is a GOP member of the Assembly: Don Pridemore.

Language Learning Is Broken

Kumar Thangudu:

Language learning software is broken in terms of reaching its ‘holy grail.’ I believe the holy grail of language learning is the ability to learn a language outside the country that speaks it, to a level of fluency that puts the user within 30 to 45 days of advanced reading, speaking, and vocal comprehension fluency once they are in the country.
This is a problem worth solving. I read somewhere recently(if you find a link please message me) that the demand to learn English is so great in China that if they hired every US college student to teach English, they would not fulfill the demand.
There are some fundamental reasons why many of these software platforms fail at the attempt to reach the holy grail.

Fixing Education in America

Charlie Joslin:

Education will never be the same. The sooner we realize that and stop trying to resist the inevitable, the sooner we can find solutions to the obstacles we face. The main problem we face is the fact that people assume there is one problem: bad teachers, lack of funding, stupid students. Do people not realize there can be more than one problem?
The Problems
Funding: One of the main problems facing education in general in the US is a lack of quality funding. Part of this problem stems from the fact that our society has decided that education is not as important as fighting wars against an ideology in countries that are not our own. Plenty of schools have a decent amount of funding, but they don’t use it to the best of their abilities because they don’t see any other problem. They see a lack of funding, blame that for the fact that their students are not learning, and continue to ask for more. Granted some schools don’t get enough funding, and why they’re not getting more is beyond me.
Teachers: We have plenty of good teachers, not enough great teachers, and too many bad teachers. Teachers unions believe that teaching is a right and that a teacher is a teacher is a teacher. This is just crap. Teaching is a privilege that has to be earned and a lot of teachers haven’t earned it yet. Now teachers have a point on the fact that a meritocracy doesn’t work. Using standardized test scores doesn’t work because there are so many factors that play into a child’s learning ability that the teacher has no control over. But that’s not an excuse for having bad teachers.

Infinite Campus To Cover Wisconsin? DPI Intends to Proceed

The Wheeler Report, via a Matthew DeFour Tweet:

Today, the Department of Administration (DOA) issued a Notice of Intent to Award letter for the Statewide Student Information System (SSIS) project. DOA issued the letter to Infinite Campus, Inc., which was the highest scoring proposer in the SSIS competitive Request for Proposal process. The state will now move into contract negotiations with Infinite Campus for the company to establish and maintain DPI’s student information system for more than 440 school districts and non-district public charter schools in Wisconsin.
Cari Anne Renlund of the DeWitt, Ross & Stevens Law Firm conducted an extensive observation of the procurement, evaluation and selection process of the SSIS. Her report concluded:
1) The SSIS procurement, evaluation and selection process was open, fair, impartial and objective, and consistent with the RFP criteria;
2) The State and the Evaluation Team carefully followed the statutory and regulatory requirements applicable to the procurement process;
3) All proposing vendors were afforded an equal opportunity to compete for the contract award; and
4) The procurement, evaluation and selection process satisfied the goals and objectives of Wisconsin’s public contracting requirements.
Further, Renlund stated the Request for Proposal (RFP) “was drafted to identify the best possible vendor for the job at the best possible price.”

many notes and links on Madison’s challenges with Infinite Campus.
A few additional notes:
1. Wisconsin firm may challenge loss of statewide school data pact

A Stevens Point company providing school software to about half of Wisconsin’s districts has lost a bid to become the supplier of a new statewide student-information system, and now it’s moving to challenge the state’s decision to go with a different vendor.
The Wisconsin Department of Administration announced Friday that it intends to negotiate a contract with Minnesota’s Infinite Campus Inc. to create a centralized K-12 student data system. In response, Stevens Point-based Skyward Inc. called the evaluation process “flawed,” while some elected officials over the weekend urged the state to reconsider its decision.
The evaluation and selection process was already under heightened scrutiny after being paused and restarted in June, after it was discovered that Skyward had been offered tax breaks contingent on it winning the statewide contract.
Based in Blaine, Minn., Infinite Campus provides student data systems to about 10% of Wisconsin’s districts, including Milwaukee-area districts such as Greenfield, Whitnall, Elmbrook and New Berlin.
Financial details of the emerging contract have not been made public, but $15 million was initially appropriated to launch the project. The overall cost to implement and maintain the system will likely be millions more than that.
The blanket K-12 student-information system for Wisconsin is important because it would allow the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to better track student and teacher information in and between districts and schools.
Currently, each district and independent public charter school chooses its own system to track and manage student data. The robustness of these systems can vary from place to place, and none are obligated to “talk” to each other.
For the DPI, the goal is to raise the level of student performance by collecting and then synthesizing common data from all schools on everything from enrollment and student absences to discipline records and test-score results.
A common system also could assign teachers a unique identifier, allowing for richer data about their records of performance.

2. Many school districts have successfully implemented complete student systems where parents can follow a course syllabus, all assignments, attendance, notes and grades. Madison has spent millions of dollars for a system that is at best partially implemented. What a waste.
3. Kurt Kiefer was instrumental in Madison’s acquisition of Infinite Campus. Kurt is now with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. I like Kurt and was privileged to serve on a parent committee that evaluated student information systems. That said, I felt strongly then that no money should be spent on such systems if their use is not mandatory throughout the organization.
I wonder what sort of implementation strategies are part of this acquisition?

Subsidies Create Glut Of College Grads

Investors Business Daily:

Higher Education: A new study finds almost half of Americans with college degrees are working at jobs that don’t require one. It’s the latest example of how federal subsidies are creating a massive higher-education bubble.
The study, by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, found that an incredible 48% of college graduates — about 13 million of them — hold jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. About 5 million have jobs that don’t even require a high school diploma.
There are, for example, roughly a million sales clerks, 300,000 waiters and 100,000 janitors with college degrees.

Education, experience don’t make good teachers, TN research shows

Lisa Fingeroot:

Research conducted by the Tennessee Department of Education shows teacher effectiveness is not related to either experience or advanced degrees, according to a presentation made to the State Board of Education this morning.
The board was shown graphs using teacher evaluations as an effectiveness measurement and told the graphs show that the two attributes that usually add to teacher salaries — years of experience and advanced degrees — have no relationship to effectiveness. The research was created by a new internal research team in the department and was based on teacher evaluations for the 2011-12 school year.
The final results of those evaluations have not been released to the public.

Extremism in Defense of Mediocrity is Quite a Vice

Matthew Ladner:

Substitute the word “conservative” for “liberal” and the paragraph reads like Diane Ravitch. Ms. Malkin proceeds to repeat various anti-Common Core assertions as facts-but are they facts? Having read that last bit about “standards that do anything but set the achievement bar high” I decided to put it to a straightforward empirical test.
Kentucky was the earliest adopter of Common Core in 2012, and folks from the Department of Education sent some before and after statistics regarding 4th grade reading and math proficiency. I decided to compare them to NAEP, first 2011 KY state test and 2011 NAEP for 4th Grade Reading and Math. NAEP has four achievement levels: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced. Kentucky also has four achievement levels: Novice, Apprentice, Proficient and Distinguished. The first figure compares “Proficient or Better” on both NAEP and the state test in 2011:

The School Cliff: A Clue from Shanker?

Albert Shanker, New York Times, 1990:

“As we’ve known for a long time, factory workers who never saw the completed product and worked on only a small part of it soon became bored and demoralized, But when they were allowed to see the whole process–or better yet become involved in it–productivity and morale improved. Students are no different. When we chop up the work they do into little bits–history facts and vocabulary and grammar rules to be learned–it’s no wonder that they are bored and disengaged. The achievement of The Concord Review’s authors offers a different model of learning. Maybe it’s time for us to take it seriously.”

Graphic via the Gallup Blog.

You can’t learn life’s most important lessons in an online classroom

Jane E.G. Lipson:

Would you rather attend a local live concert with music performed by a fine, amateur orchestra, or listen to a masterful rendition of the same music recorded by a world-renowned musician? That was the question a colleague posed to me recently as we were debating the merits of online education.
Conversations on the academic front have been running along several lines lately, one of them about the number of prestigious universities and colleges, including Stanford and MIT, involved in promising models for online education that could have worldwide impact. An expansion of this initiative by dozens of public universities in the US is now underway which would result in for-credit massive open online courses, or MOOCs, being offered to takers anywhere in the world. In a recent piece in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman waxes rhapsodic about the potential for such initiatives to have a global effect.
Meanwhile, here in the US parents and educators alike worry that the conventional model for higher education is vastly overpriced. Critics argue that the liberal arts model may be an expensive anachronism, and others observe that the lives of entrepreneurial heroes such as Steve Jobs suggest that accomplished and creative high school students may be better off avoiding formal post-secondary school studies altogether.

A Nation at Risk? Reflections on the Past and Future of U.S. Public Education; Madison 3.21 to 3.22.2013

Sara Goldrick-Rab:

10th Annual Educational Policy Studies Conference
Madison, Wisconsin
March 21-22, 2013
All events in Room 159 of the Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, UW-Madison
Thursday, March 21, 2013
8:30-10:00AM: Public Discourse on American Education
Michael Apple, Curriculum & Instruction & EPS, UW-Madison
Nancy Kendall, EPS, UW-Madison
Gloria Ladson-Billings, Curriculum & Instruction & EPS, UW-Madison
Chair: Bill Reese, EPS & History, UW-Madison
10:15-11:45 AM: Race/Ethnicity and the Evolution of U.S. Public Education
Jack Dougherty, Trinity College
Adrienne Dixon, University of Illinois-Chicago
Michael Fultz, EPS, UW-Madison
Chair: TBA

Madison Names Two Superintendent Finalists, Public Forum on 2.7.2013

The Madison School District:

The Madison Metropolitan School District has chosen the two finalists for the superintendent position, it was announced Sunday in a press release.
The two finalists are Dr. Jennifer Cheatham, chief of instruction at Chicago Public Schools, and Dr. Walter Milton, Jr., superintendent of Springfield (Ill.) Public Schools.
The public is invited to a public forum Thursday, Feb. 7 at 5:45 p.m. at the Monona Terrace to meet and ask questions of the two candidates. If you cannot attend the forum, you can email your comments or questions to board@madison.k12.wi.us.

Much more on Madison Superintendents.
A recent look at Madison Superintendent hires.
UPDATE: Samara Kalk Derby:

According to Cheatham’s biography on the Chicago Public Schools website, her focus is on “systemic improvement in urban school districts” and her expertise “lies in developing instructional alignment and coherence at every level of a school system aimed at achieving breakthrough results in student learning.”
She has worked as a Chief Area Officer for Chicago Public Schools and the executive director of Curriculum and Instruction for San Diego City Schools, the biography said. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from DePaul University, a master’s in education from the University of Michigan, and a master’s and doctorate in education from Harvard University.
According to a personal website promoting his book, “Me in the Making: One Man’s Journey to Becoming a School Superintendent,” Milton is a native of Rochester, N.Y., who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Albany and a master’s from SUNY College at Brockport. He took post-graduate courses at the University of Rochester to receive his administrative certifications, including his superintendent’s license. He holds a doctorate of education in leadership and policy from the University of Buffalo. He has also been a teacher and principal.

Google News on On Chicago & Dr. Jennifer Cheatham
. More, here:Long on Class Time, Short on Answers .
Google News on Springfield Superintendent Walter Milton.

In a Memphis Cheating Ring, the Teachers Are the Accused

Motoko Rich:

MEMPHIS — In the end, it was a pink baseball cap that revealed an audacious test-cheating scheme in three Southern states that spanned at least 15 years.
Test proctors at Arkansas State University spotted a woman wearing the cap while taking a national teacher certification exam under one name on a morning in June 2009 and then under another name that afternoon. A supervisor soon discovered that at least two other impersonators had registered for tests that day.
Ensuing investigations ultimately led to Clarence D. Mumford Sr., 59, who pleaded guilty on Friday to charges that accused him of being the cheating ring’s mastermind during a 23-year career in Memphis as a teacher, assistant principal and guidance counselor.
Federal prosecutors had indicted him on 63 counts, including mail and wire fraud and identify theft. They said he doctored driver’s licenses, pressured teachers to lie to the authorities and collected at least $125,000 from teachers and prospective teachers in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee who feared that they could not pass the certification exams on their own.

Dreaming of ways to bring school options together

Alan Borsuk:

I’ve had a hallucination hanging around in my head the last few weeks. I’m hoping it will be therapeutic if I vent it here. Keep in mind that this is just a hallucination.
But what if . . .
. . . what if Mayor Tom Barrett called all the key education players together. In my hallucination, it’s Barrett because, dammit, he’s the mayor. One huge problem we have is that there is no one person who is responsible for the whole enterprise of education in Milwaukee. Instead, we’ve had a generation of schisms and division over MPS, voucher schools and charter schools when unity could help bring quality. So who could be the convener for a summit meeting, the agent to push unity? Scott Walker? No one thinks “convener” when they think of him. Barrett has never had much of an education role or platform, so at least he’s kind of neutral. And, dammit, he’s the mayor. Oh, I said that already.
. . . what if Barrett told everyone: Make yourself comfortable. He has an unlimited budget to order in pizza. (One person I mentioned this to asked for a low-carb option. Granted.) He’ll even bring in pillows and blankets, if needed. But no one is leaving the room until everyone agrees on an outline for a new way to run the school scene in Milwaukee.
. . . what if everyone agreed (maybe with help from the bold, visionary, and even intimidating work of the mayor) on a few basic points: (1) Schools need to be fairly and adequately funded. All schools. (2) The fighting between the streams of schools has to stop because, dammit, it’s been so counterproductive and this is reality – the voucher and charter schools are here to stay, whatever you think of them philosophically. (3) Most important, quality is what it’s all going to focus on as we go forward. We’re going to create systems in which schools that get good results flourish and increase and schools that don’t get good results have to improve their ways or leave the scene.

Co-education: Old all-male ways die hard

The Economist:

AN ODDITY has hidden for nearly a century in a dusty bowl just east of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California. Deep Springs is a two-year college and, also, a cattle-and-alfalfa ranch. Its 26 students share duties irrigating fields and riding the herd, but also fixing boilers and scrubbing pots, alongside reading Nietzsche and swotting at their maths problems. They pay no tuition fees, and most finish their bachelor’s degrees at Harvard, Yale and the like.
And they are all male. The college has admitted no women as regular students since it was founded in 1917, in accordance with a trust established by Lucien Nunn, the tycoon who founded it as a place “for promising young men”. The atmosphere is intellectual, rugged and ascetic, and the college is a democratic body, where student-led committees decide admissions, hire the faculty and mind most matters of policy.

My Valuable, Cheap College Degree

Arthur Brooks:

MUCH is being written about the preposterously high cost of college. The median inflation-adjusted household income fell by 7 percent between 2006 and 2011, while the average real tuition at public four-year colleges increased over that period by over 18 percent. Meanwhile, the average tuition for just one year at a four-year private university in 2011 was almost $33,000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. College tuition has increased at twice the rate of health care costs over the past 25 years.
Ballooning student loan debt, an impending college bubble, and a return on the bachelor’s degree that is flat or falling: all these things scream out for entrepreneurial solutions.

Has Liz Truss tried looking after six toddlers? I have I scored myself six kids to test-drive the minister’s theory that adults should be allowed to look after more children

Zoe Williams:

The Conservative MP Liz Truss, like so many in public policy, has noticed that childcare is unaffordable – families in the UK spend nearly a third of their income on it; more than anyone else in the world.
Truss is unique, I think, in identifying the problem as over-regulation – specifically, she thinks the current adult-to-child ratios are too stringent. In her plan, one adult would be able to care for six two-year-olds (at the moment it’s four). This would force up wages (apparently), and professionalise the role of childcare – which process, incidentally, would be shored up by new requirements, including C grades in maths and English GCSEs.
Opinion gathered along party lines – rightwing thinktanks and blogs hailed this as Truss’s “moment”; lefties said she was barking. Ah, the smell of Napisan in the morning, I love it. But did anybody test-drive her theory for her, even in its planning stage? I do not think they did.

Participation slump may force end of dual-language program at Madison’s Chavez Elementary

Matthew DeFour:

The Madison School District may discontinue its dual-language immersion program at Chavez Elementary because of a lack of Spanish-speaking families interested in the program.
Superintendent Jane Belmore said Thursday the district is reviewing several options and no decisions have been made. Other district schools that offer dual-language classes, which provide instruction to native and non-native English speakers in a mix of Spanish and English, are not affected, she said.
“It’s a problem that we haven’t had in other attendance areas because we’ve always had enough Spanish speakers,” Belmore said. “To really have a thriving program, you need half and half.”
School Board president James Howard said the board already plans to review the program in coming months because of a shortage of Spanish-speaking teachers.
“We just need to step back and have a conversation about where the program is and where it’s headed,” Howard said. “Do we need to slow down a bit?”
The district’s program started at the Nuestro Mundo charter school in 2004. It has since expanded to Chavez, Glendale, Leopold, Midvale and Sandburg elementaries and Sennett Middle School, with plans to expand it to Lincoln Elementary and Cherokee, Sherman and Toki middle schools.

In jeopardy: Open government in Washington State

Laurie Rogers, via a kind email:

Dear Colleagues and Friends:
The citizens of Washington State need your help in defending the principle of open government.
Last week, I wrote an article for my blog “Betrayed” about how the board of Spokane Public Schools is again attempting to modify the Public Records Act in ways that would undermine the Act for citizens across the entire State of Washington. That article is found here: http://betrayed-whyeducationisfailing.blogspot.com/p/by-laurie-h.html
One of the bills introduced this year regarding the Public Records Act is HB 1128, a bill that would essentially gut the Public Records Act for citizens and whistleblowers. HB 1128 would make it nearly impossible to obtain records that agencies do not want to release. It was theoretically written to protect and defend public agencies against abusive records requesters; it was not written to protect or defend citizens against abusive agencies.
On Jan. 25, HB 1128 was discussed in a legislative hearing. All of the pro-HB 1128 arguments were made by public officials, including Spokane County Commissioner Todd Mielke. Nearly all complained about vindictive behavior by former public employees. Meanwhile, all arguments made in opposition to HB 1128 were made by non-government people who spoke up for the principle of open government and the right of citizens to hold their government agencies accountable.
Legislators wisely elected to revisit the language of HB 1128, so we have a brief opportunity to influence this process. I’ve written an analysis of HB 1128, which I’ve pasted below and attached in a PDF file. You will see that the impact of HB 1128 would be devastating for open-government in Washington State and for all citizens. I also have serious worries about future bills regarding the Public Records Act.
All comments and suggestions are welcome. You also are welcome to quote or forward this email and the analysis as you wish.
If the language in any new legislation regarding the Public Records Act and other open-government laws doesn’t protect the rights of citizens and whistleblowers, I guarantee that language will be used against us. Please help us to maintain open government in Washington State. Please ask your legislators, your friends and your colleagues to stand up against HB 1128, against the language in HB 1128, and against any other bills that would negatively affect the principle of open government in this state.
There are other ways to accomplish what the authors of HB 1128 intended. Tim Ford, the open-government ombudsman in the Attorney General’s Office, would be a great point of contact on how to do it.
Thank you for your help. Please see the analysis below or attached.
Laurie Rogers
Spokane, WA

Continue reading In jeopardy: Open government in Washington State

Prince George’s Schools considers copyright policy (!) that takes ownership of students’ work

Ovetta Wiggins:

A proposal by the Prince George’s County Board of Education to copyright work created by staff and students for school could mean that a picture drawn by a first-grader, a lesson plan developed by a teacher or an app created by a teen would belong to the school system, not the individual.
The measure has some worried that by the system claiming ownership to the work of others, creativity could be stifled and there would be little incentive to come up with innovative ways to educate students. Some have questioned the legality of the proposal as it relates to students.
“There is something inherently wrong with that,” David Cahn, an education activist who regularly attends county school board meetings, said before the board’s vote to consider the policy. “There are better ways to do this than to take away a person’s rights.”
If the policy is approved, the county would become the only jurisdiction in the Washington region where the school board assumes ownership of work done by the school system’s staff and students.
David Rein, a lawyer and adjunct law professor who teaches intellectual property at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, said he had never heard of a local school board enacting a policy allowing it to hold the copyright for a student’s work.

Related: Aaron Swartz:

On January 6, 2011, Swartz was arrested by federal authorities in connection with systematic downloading of academic journal articles from JSTOR.[8][9] Swartz opposed JSTOR’s practice of compensating publishers, rather than authors, out of the fees it charges for access to articles. Swartz contended that JSTOR’s fees were limiting public access to academic work that was being supported by public funding.[10][11]

What Uncle Sam can (and cannot) do to improve K-12 schooling: Lessons for the next four years

Frederick Hess & Andrew Kelly:

he Obama administration’s first term was marked by a blast furnace of efforts to reform K-12 schooling. Fueled by billions in borrowed stimulus dollars, and building on the expansive precedents set forth by the George W. Bush administration with No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Obama’s Department of Education launched several novel, high-profile efforts. These included the $4.35 billion Race to the Top competition, the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund, and the $3.5 billion School Improvement Grant program. The administration also made headlines with its waiver process, which permitted states to opt out of NCLB if they embraced administration priorities, and its controversial efforts to promote the Common Core State Standards in reading and math.
Despite the current partisan political climate, President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have received kudos from across the political spectrum. Even conservative voices like New York Times columnist David Brooks and the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal have heaped praise on Race to the Top, the administration’s signature initiative, with Brooks calling the program a “quiet revolution.”[1] More recently, journalist Thomas Friedman, after taking stock of Arne Duncan’s ability to diplomatically navigate the school reform and teacher union communities, gushed that Duncan should become the next secretary of state.[2]
As the administration embarks on a second term, Duncan has made clear that he hopes to be equally aggressive in the next four years. It is an open question whether that will even be possible. Absent the one-time splurge of stimulus dollars, and with the heavy lift of encouraging responsible implementation of first-term initiatives, Duncan may not have the funds or political resources to mount anything like the first-term effort. Political controversy around the Common Core and NCLB waivers will make a repeat performance even less likely.

Madison Superintendent’s Mental Health Task Force: Preliminary Recommendations

Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore (300K PDF):

Mental Health touches all of us. We pay tremendous immediate and long-term costs when students’ mental health needs are not met. It was with this awareness that the Board of Education directed former Superintendent Nerad in Spring 2011 to form a Task Force charged with developing a set of recommendations for a comprehensive, integrated and culturally-informed school-linked system of mental health practices and supports for MMSD students. A group of 35-40 representatives from a wide variety of community stakeholders including MMSD, HMOs, non-profit mental health agencies, law enforcement, city and county government, advocacy agencies and parents was invited to engage in this important work.
The work of the Task Force was initially facilitated by Superintendent Nerad and Scott Strong, Executive Director of Community Partnerships. Steve Hartley served in the co-facilitator role with Scott Strong upon Dr. Nerad’s departure. Staff in the Department of Student Services served as ‘staff’ to the committee and provided the structures and processes to keep the group moving forward toward its goals. The Task Force met on a monthly basis from January 2012 through January 2013, working both in a large group as well as in subgroups in the focused areas of Organization and Policy, Education and Outreach, Direct Services and Access and Individualized Care. The preliminary recommendations and consensus regarding priorities were completed in January 2013 and are contained in the attached document entitled: “School Community Plan to Support Children’s Mental Health”.

Update on the Building the Madison School District’s Future: Measuring Progress on Priorities report

Jane Belmore (PDF):

Superintendent Jane Belmore (4MB PDF):

The Building Our Future plan provides direction for improving student achievement and district accountability. The plan identifies specific strategies and corresponding measures to meet the four overarching priorities of the district. The measures provide data to monitor progress towards improvement.
The key reason to include district and program measures in this report is to make sure that the Building Our Future plan is contributing to closing achievement gaps. Each program and initiative in Building Our Future is based on extensive research and planning. However, it is important to connect these initiatives to tangible outcomes. Tracking these measures helps increase accountability, allocate resources effectively and efficiently, and continuously improve our efforts to educate all students.
District Priorities: MMSD Management Team identified overarching district priorities in the areas of Attendance, Behavior, Growth and Achievement. The rationale for these priorities is based on the following theory of action:
When our teachers apply strong, explicit teaching skills within an aligned multi-tiered system of instruction and support, and students attend school regularly with behavior that positively impacts their learning and the learning environment, then students will show academic achievement, and social and emotional growth and gaps in learning and achievement will close.
This report outlines 2011-12 progress indicators for each of these priorities and includes historical data when appropriate.
Strategies: Each initiative in Building Our Future is outlined in the report, including a narrative description, the alignment to district priorities, the primary contact(s), action steps, and objectives with annual progress measures. When available, data from 2011- 12 on key progress indicators is included, along with relevant history for comparison. The approved 2012-13 budget for each strategy will also be integrated into the report to help contextualize how MMSD will allocate resources for this initiative moving forward.
Goal setting: This update includes a discussion on the methods used to set goals associated with each strategy. These are described in Attachment 3 and use literacy goals for Chapter 1, Strategy #1 as an example.

Madison School Board Policy 4221 Update: Use of Restraint and Seclusion

Madison Teachers, Inc. via a kind Jeannie Bettner email (PDF):

In response to the demands of MTI members seeking further clarification regarding the District’s enforcement of Board Policy 4221 – Use of Restraint and Seclusion – Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore provided a memo defining restraint and providing guidance about appropriate instances of incidental or brief physical contact with students while carrying out one’s duties. The Superintendent also clarified that, “Physical restraint is NOT briefly touching or holding a pupil’s hand, arm, shoulder or back to calm, comfort or redirect the pupil.”
While MTI continues to encourage staff to be cautious when redirecting students using any physical prompts, Belmore’s clarification is welcome. The District is in the process of providing training to staff relative to the appropriate use of physical restraint and seclusion, within the meaning of applicable Wisconsin Statutes.

State superintendent candidate calls for volunteer security in schools

Matthew DeFour:

The challenger in the spring election for state superintendent of public instruction is calling on school districts to post volunteer security guards in schools to protect student safety.
Rep. Don Pridemore, R-Erin, issued a statement Thursday saying school boards “should be given the freedom to hire a competent, well-trained school official or employee who is experienced with applying force whenever force is required.” He said retired or on-duty police officers would be preferred.
Many school districts already contract with local police departments to assign police officers to schools. Madison has a police officer assigned to each of its high schools.
Pridemore said the most cost-effective approach would be for districts to ask qualified, retired volunteers from their community to patrol.

Late Interventions Matter Too: The Case of College Coaching in New Hampshire

Brandon Wright:

Fourth-quarter drives–even the most impressive–are often not enough to alter game outcomes. So it is with educational interventions: Getting students on track by third grade (and keeping them there) yields greater long-term results than high school interventions. However, this paper from two Dartmouth and UC Davis professors argues that certain late-game pushes can help college-going and college-persistence rates for some K-12 pupils. Analysts targeted “college-ready” high school seniors in twelve large New Hampshire high schools who had shown interest in college but had made little to no progress on their applications (guidance counselors helped ID these students). They randomly assigned about half of these students to receive targeted college coaching, meaning college-application mentoring from a Dartmouth student, money to cover application fees and ACT/SAT exams, and a $100 bonus if they completed the application and filing process

California’s Gov. Brown blasts state, federal education policy

Valerie Strauss:

California Gov. Jerry Brown smacked state and federal education policy in his State of the State Address Thursday, calling for more local control of school issues and saying, “I would prefer to trust our teachers who are in the classroom each day, doing the real work – lighting fires in young minds.”
He proposed a new local control funding formula that would distribute supplemental monies to school districts “based on the real world problems they face.”
“Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice,” he said.
Here’s what he said on education:

Can Big Data Save American Schools? Bill Gates Is Betting on Yes

Dana Goldstein:

On the domestic front, Gates expects his foundation to devote increasing resources to ranking colleges not by how selective or prestigious they are — the infamous U.S. News and World Report model, which Gates called a “perverse metric” — but on how aggressively they recruit underperforming students, provide them with a rigorous education, and then place them in remunerative careers. Real success in higher education, Gates, said, would mean accepting a student with “a combined SAT score of 600, and they got $100,000 jobs, and they’re super happy.” He also hopes to rank teachers’ colleges according to how well their graduates perform in the classroom, but warned that real “excellence” in teacher education is probably a long way off.
One of Gates’ most controversial priorities has been his attempt to encourage school districts and states to tie teacher evaluation and pay to evidence of student learning. Through the federal Race to the Top education grant competition, the Obama administration adopted this agenda, and now 33 states have passed laws overhauling the way public school teachers are evaluated.
The devil, Gates freely admits, is in the details. In his 2013 “annual letter” about his philanthropic work, released yesterday, Gates praised the Eagle County school district in Colorado, which abolished seniority-based pay and instead rewards teachers by grading them during intensive classroom observations and by factoring in their students’ scores on standardized tests in math, reading, and science. Teachers of other subjects are exempted from many of the test-score based components of this system. But Eagle County’s program could be seriously upended by SB191, the law Colorado passed three years ago in response to Race to the Top. The bill requires that every Colorado teacher — even those in currently non-tested subjects, like art and music — be evaluated according to individual students’ achievement metrics. Pencil-and-paper tests are unlikely to be the best way to measure student learning in non-traditional subjects. But because tests are “cheap,” as Gates puts it, some states and districts are extending them to music, art, and even gym classes.

What is Public Education?

Mike Ford:

McShane’s point is one I heard Howard Fuller, former MPS school board member John Gardner, and others make many years ago. It’s a point that initially attracted me to the cause of education reform in Milwaukee. However, it’s also a difficult point to make sense of if you are not familiar with Milwaukee’s education system.
Consider the experience of Teach for America. Naturally when they came to town they were only interested in public schools (defined as MPS and charter), because their mission is to serve primarily low-income children. However, when MPS layoffs left many of their teachers searching for a school they discovered that Milwaukee private schools, by virtue of their participation in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), serve an overwhelmingly low-income population. Today many Teach for America teachers are placed in private Milwaukee public schools.
So what are the differences between MPS and the charter and choice sectors? In recent op-ed a wide group of Milwaukee advocates argued that “MPS is the only educational institution in this city that has the capacity, commitment and legal obligation to serve all of Milwaukee’s children.”

Another Liberal Arts Critic

Kevin Kiley:

North Carolinians might have seen this coming when they elected Patrick McCrory governor in November. He’s a Republican and the second half of his name is “Rick,” and these days — with Rick Scott in Florida and Rick Perry in Texas — that tends to mean criticism of the liberal arts and flagship universities.
On a national radio program Tuesday morning, McCrory, who goes by Pat, said he would push legislation to base funding for the state’s public colleges and universities on post-graduate employment rather than enrollment.
“I’m looking at legislation right now – in fact, I just instructed my staff yesterday to go ahead and develop legislation – which would change the basic formula in how education money is given out to our universities and our community colleges,” McCrory told radio host Bill Bennett, who was education secretary under President Reagan. “It’s not based on butts in seats but on how many of those butts can get jobs.”
The Republican governor also called into question the value of publicly supporting liberal arts majors after the host made a joke about gender studies courses at UNC-Chapel Hill. “If you want to take gender studies that’s fine, go to a private school and take it,” McCrory told the radio host. “But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.”