“It seems reasonable to attribute a good share of the improvements to the specific and focused strategies we have pursued this year,” Hughes writes. The process of improvement will become self-reinforcing, he predicts. “This bodes well for better results on the horizon.”
Not so fast, writes Madison attorney Jeff Spitzer-Resnick in his Systems Change Consulting blog, the results are not all they’re cracked up to be upon closer examination.
At Madison East High School, for example, the results reveal significant academic problems and huge racial disparities, but no information about school discipline issues, Spitzer-Resnick writes.
The number of East High 9th graders failing two or more courses dropped to 33 percent last school year from 38 percent the year before, the report says.
“This is still a very high rate of failure,” Spitzer-Resnick says and points out the significantly more troubling breakdown for African-American (49 percent) and special education (45 percent) 9th graders who failed two or more courses.
Spitzer-Resnick plots out other disparities in student achievement and argues that the lack of data on school discipline means there are no goals or accountability for the implementation of a new behavior plan the school district will launch next year.
Tim Slekar, education policy activist and dean of the School of Education at Edgewood College who blogs at The Chalk Face, says that the gains in the MMSD report “are so small that attributing a cause and effect relationship between the scores and the improvement plan is way too premature.”
Much more on Madison and nearby Districts use of the MAP assessment, including results from 2011-2012.
It would be useful to compare results over the past few years, rather than just the current school year.