Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: Citing anecdotal evidence of a shortage of fully licensed teachers for available positions, DPI has issued an emergency rule that would allow many in-state and out-of-state individuals to become licensed and act as teachers-of-record in the classroom without passing the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT). The work-around to … Continue reading Your action requested on Wisconsin DPI’s emergency rule (Foundations of Reading/MTEL)
Molly Beck: The huge gap in average academic achievement among racial groups in Wisconsin is likely a result of state education officials not setting rigorous goals to address the problem years ago, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee said Wednesday. Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, said Wednesday that state lawmakers and education officials did not … Continue reading Wisconsin Lawmaker: Lack of rigorous goals contributed to state’s achievement gap (decades go by)
Alan Borsuk: But others differ on what research shows. Without attracting much attention, SAGE is undergoing a remodeling that is likely to de-emphasize class-size reduction in favor of other efforts that supporters think will have more impact. Unlike some other major education changes, the new SAGE didn’t emerge from behind closed doors in the middle … Continue reading Commentary On Class Size Vs Teacher Qualifications
Erin Richards & Patrick Marley: Gov. Scott Walker’s call to drop the Common Core State Standards in Wisconsin threw a new dart at the beleaguered academic expectations this week. But his plan to have lawmakers pass a bill in January that repeals and replaces the standards might be easier said than done, especially because the … Continue reading Politics, Wisconsin & the Common Core
WisPolitics Olsen said he sees the Common Core standards as an improvement over Wisconsin’s old standards and points to support from the conservative Fordham Foundation and business leaders like Bill Gates, who argue the standards are needed to remain competitive in a global economy. He wants to avoid a situation similar to Indiana, which dropped … Continue reading Wisconsin Sen. Olsen unbowed by pressure from Common Core opponents
The school accountability bill still boils down to what Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, said last fall:
“If you get a check, you get a checkup,” the chairman of the Senate Education Committee succinctly stated.
It’s taken awhile, but consensus on this point has emerged at the state Capitol.
Gov. Scott Walker has expressed similar sentiments for a long time. So did Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, last week during a meeting with the State Journal editorial board.
So let’s get it done.
Sen. Paul Farrow, R-Pewaukee, appears to have the simplest idea that’s easiest to pass. He plans to introduce a bill this week to ensure all traditional public, charter and private voucher schools are reporting student information to the state, including results of a new state test in spring 2015.
Farrow is willing to add consequences for low-performing schools through subsequent legislation next session. That would be in time for state report cards in 2015, which seems reasonable.
Starting in 2015’16, every school that receives taxpayer money would receive an A-F rating based on their performance in the following areas:
Achievement on state tests.
Achievement growth on state tests, based on a statistical analysis called value-added that estimates the impact schools and teachers have on student progress.
The progress in closing achievement gaps between white students and subgroups of students who are poor, of minority races or who have disabilities.
Graduation and attendance rate status and improvement.
The current school report card system went into effect two years ago and took the place of the widely disliked sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Gov. Scott Walker once pushed for using A through F grades, but a task force on school accountability had opted for a five-tiered system placing schools in categories from “significantly exceeds expectations” to “fails to meet expectations.”
The 2012-’13 report cards placed 58 schools statewide into the “fails” category. That included 49 in MPS — one is closed, so now there’s 48 — two independent charter schools authorized by the City of Milwaukee, four public schools in Racine and three public schools in Green Bay.
Wisconsin’s lowest-performing public schools would be forced to close or reopen as charter schools and the state’s 2-year-old accountability report card would be revamped under a bill unveiled Monday.
The proposal also would require testing for taxpayer-subsidized students at private voucher schools while barring the lowest-performing schools from enrolling new voucher students. Participating private schools also could test all students for accountability purposes.
“We’re going to start holding anybody who gets public money accountable for getting results. That is the bottom line,” said Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, which plans to vote on the amended bill Thursday.
The bill makes several changes to the state’s K-12 school accountability system — including assigning schools letter grades — which itself recently replaced a decade-old system under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
The statewide voucher program, in its first year, is at capacity, with about 500 students receiving vouchers statewide, according to the department. Of those, 79 percent did not attend a Wisconsin public school last year.
The program’s enrollment limit will rise to 1,000 next year. The statewide program exists in districts outside of Milwaukee and Racine, which have had programs for years.
Seventy-three percent of students now attending private schools using a voucher were already enrolled in a private school last year, according to the department. Twenty-one percent of students were from public schools. About 3 percent did not attend any school and 2 percent were home schooled.
Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he would probably support adding a preference given to applicants from public schools given those numbers.
Darling’s proposed amendment to Senate Bill 76 would allow the University of Wisconsin System two- and four-year campuses, as well as technical colleges and regional state entities known as Cooperative Educational Services Agencies, to approve charter schools to operate independent of school districts. It would also allow independent charter schools performing 10% higher in achievement than their local districts for two years in a row to automatically add new campuses. And it would allow charter schools that do not employ district staff to opt out of the state’s new educator evaluation system.
The legislation has the support of the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), as well as business groups and charter school advocates, who believe independent charter schools should have more opportunities to expand and replicate.
The state Department of Public Instruction, the associations that represent school boards and superintendents in Wisconsin, and the state’s largest teachers union are all against the proposal.
“This bill takes money out of the budgets of schools in western Wisconsin,” Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) said.
All schools funded by state taxpayers — including private voucher schools — would be held to new standards and Milwaukee’s public schools would still face state intervention, under long-expected legislation offered Wednesday by two key GOP lawmakers.
Work has been under way for two years on the measure, which would establish the first-ever rating for private voucher schools based on their student performance data. It comes a month and a half after lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker expanded Wisconsin’s voucher program for private schools statewide.
The measure would not change the status of Milwaukee Public Schools, which under the state’s current accountability system is the only district in Wisconsin so far to face corrective action.
The new standards were proposed Wednesday by the chairmen of the Senate and Assembly education committees, Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake).
“We want parents to have the best information possible while at the same time making sure all of their choices are quality options,” Kestell said in a statement.
The bill would cover all schools receiving tax dollars, from traditional public schools to public charter schools and voucher schools. Work on it began two years ago with a task force chaired by Walker and state schools Superintendent Tony Evers, an ally to Democrats, along with Olsen and Kestell.
But passage of the complex measure through the Republican-held Legislature is by no means guaranteed. Both Olsen and Kestell have sometimes taken more aggressive postures on overseeing vouchers than some other Republican colleagues, particularly those in the Assembly.
“If the students are performing at or better than they were in the schools they came from, then that would be a compelling case to offer more choices like that to more families across the state,” Walker said. “If the majority are not performing better, you could make a pretty compelling argument not to.”
Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said work on an accountability bill is wrapping up and he hopes it will begin circulating for sponsors by the end of this month. He hopes hearings will be held in late summer and early fall with a bill sent to the governor by the end of the year.
“I hope that everyone comes away happy that this is the right thing to do,” Olsen said. “The voucher people want a bill like this because they’re only as good as their weakest school.”
Olsen said the bill will not only apply the report card system to schools participating in the voucher program, it will also make changes to the report card for public schools.
The report card released last fall didn’t measure high school student growth, because it was based on one test taken in 10th grade. The state budget the governor signed Sunday expands high school testing to grades nine and 11. The accountability bill will ensure future report cards include those tests, Olsen said.
Democrats have been skeptical that Republicans will follow through on holding private voucher schools accountable. Earlier this year Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, compared talk of a bill to Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown.
In February, Walker told the State Journal editorial board that he hoped to sign a voucher school accountability bill before the budget was approved. That didn’t happen, but Walker said there was push back from the Legislature.
Much more on vouchers, here.
Turner and state Sen. Luther Olsen’s education policy analyst, Sarah Archibald, who also participated in the design team meetings, said letter grade opponents worried bad grades could stigmatize schools and their students.
Turner said the bigger problem was that in only their first year, the report cards would not be reliable enough to translate into simple grades. Walker “needed to have failing schools in Ds and Fs,” he said, as a pretext for expanding vouchers.
But Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said letter grades were simply an easily understandable shorthand for the rating system’s five official designations, which range from “significantly exceeds expectations” to “fails to meet expectations.”
Indeed, the five designations do lend themselves to the five traditional letter grades. The report cards also rate schools on a 100-point scale, which also often translates into letter grades.
If Walker betrayed the DPI and the accountability team by introducing letter grades, DPI and the team are a bit naive if they thought no one ever would.
But more important is why Walker feels compelled in ways small — using letter grades — and large — basing voucher expansion on School Report Cards — to aggravate a public education establishment already aggravated by his moves to end teacher collective bargaining and cut education funding.
The governor’s voucher proposal was going to be controversial no matter what.
The state’s top education official warned the Legislature’s budget committee Thursday that Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to tie funding and voucher expansion to new state report cards could undermine bipartisan reform efforts already underway.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers said the new report cards “aren’t ready for prime time” and will look “a lot different eight years from now.”
Evers agreed with Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, a member of the Joint Finance Committee and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, that the report cards should be used “as a flashlight and not a hammer.”
“If we use them as a hammer it’s going to make all the other transformative efforts we’re doing more difficult,” Evers said, referring to new curriculum, testing and teacher evaluation systems that were developed by a bipartisan coalition of teachers, administrators, school boards and political leaders in recent years.
“Teachers will back off,” he said.
2008: “Schools should not rely on only WKCE data to gauge progress of individual students or to determine effectiveness of programs or curriculum”. Parents, students and taxpayers might wonder what precisely the DPI has been doing since 2008? The WKCE has been long criticized for its lack of rigor.
Related: Matthew DeFour’s tweets from Mr. Evers recent budget appearance.
The weekend news that Gov. Scott Walker hopes to drastically expand the state’s school voucher program has been met with a swift response, not only from public school advocates but members of both political parties.
How far his proposal gets as part of the next two-year state budget remains to be seen. He plans to unveil the 2013-15 spending package in its entirety on Wednesday.
Republicans enjoy an 18-15 majority in the Senate. But at least two — Sen. Mike Ellis of Neenah and Sen. Luther Olsen of Ripon — have spoken out recently against a state-imposed expansion of voucher schools. Ellis has said, among other things, that local school district residents should be able to vote on bringing in voucher schools.
“The governor can propose anything he wants in his budget,” Olsen says. “But I’m thinking we (the Legislature) want to do something else.”
So let’s ask some detailed questions as a way of getting a glimpse of the education decisions that will be made between now and June. Walker has spoken only in generalities so far, including in his “state of the state” address last week. It’s clear that supporters of charter, voucher and virtual schools are going to be a lot happier than a lot of folks involved in public schools. And Walker has talked a lot about creating ways to include the success (or lack thereof) of a school in decisions about how much money it gets. But talking points aren’t policy.
So here are a dozen policy questions:
1: What will the governor propose for the revenue cap on public school students? Two years ago, the cap was cut by 5.5%, or $550 per student, in the first year of the budget, with most schools getting a $100 increase in the second year. That was dramatic after years in which the cap went up $200-plus each year. Walker appears on track to increase the cap this time. Will he go along with the $200 per year figure some, including some Republicans, are suggesting?
2: How much will state aid to schools go up? The revenue cap covers generally money that comes from the state and local property taxes combined. The more state aid, the less pressure on property taxes. Again, Walker has indicated he will support increasing state education spending. How much? And what portion will be in general aid increases and what portion in special funds such as money to reward high performing schools?
3: Walker said in the “state of the state” address, “We will lay out plans to provide a financial incentive for high-performing and rapidly improving schools.” What does he mean by that? There’s not much evidence nationally on what is really effective on this front. And Walker has been urged by people such as influential Republican Sen. Luther Olsen not to count on the new state report cards on schools as a basis for decisions. Olsen is among those saying it may be several years until the grades will be useful that way. Will Walker use the grades anyway as the basis for rewards and punishments?
4: What will Walker propose for the per-student payment for voucher and charter school students? The voucher payments have been held flat for four years at $6,442, while independent charter schools get $7,775 per student. (Depending on how you figure it, Milwaukee Public School gets something around $13,000 per student overall.) Charter and voucher leaders are pushing hard for sizable increases in the payments, and for high school vouchers to be worth more than grade school vouchers, just because high school is more expensive. Walker is clearly sympathetic.
Related: Comparing Milwaukee Public and Voucher Schools’ Per Student Spending. I’m glad Mr. Borsuk compared per student spending.
State Superintendent Tony Evers on Monday reintroduced a proposal from two years ago to increase state funding for public education and change the way the state finances its public schools as part of his 2013-’15 budget request.
The proposal calls for a 2.4% increase in state aid in the first year of the budget and a 5.5% increase in 2014-’15, which Evers said would put the state back on track to return to two-thirds’ state support for public school costs by 2017.
The Department of Public Instruction’s 2013-’15 budget proposal guarantees state funding of $3,000 per pupil and would result in every school district either getting more state money or the same money as before, but Republican legislators on Monday did not express confidence in the total package.
Luther Olsen, chair of the Senate Education Committee and a Republican from Ripon, said Evers’ “Fair Funding for our Future” plan just shifts money around between districts and doesn’t really award more money to schools.
Olsen did say he would like to increase districts’ revenue limit authority per student – or the combined amount they can raise in state general aid and local property taxes – by at least $200 per pupil starting in the first year of the next biennial budget.
Evers announced his 2013-’15 state public education budget request Monday at Irving Elementary School in West Allis.
Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said the proposal will be reviewed in the context of the overall budget, but said education is one of Walker’s top budget priorities.
“The governor will work to build off of the work done with Superintendent Evers on school district accountability and Read to Lead as he creates the first version of the state budget, which will be introduced early next year,” Werwie said.
Evers also said he’ll run for re-election next year, adding that despite the funding cuts, he’s excited to continue pushing reform and accountability.
“In order for us to create a new middle class and to move our state forward in a positive way, our public schools need to be strong, and the reforms we’re implementing now are going a long way toward accomplishing that,” Evers said. “We’re in a great place as a state and we’ll keep plugging away.”
Various conservative education sources said no candidate has come forward to challenge Evers yet, but talks were ongoing with potential challengers. Nomination papers can be circulated Dec. 1 and are due back to the GAB Jan. 2.
“Yet when compared to gains made by students in other countries, progress within the United States is middling, not stellar (see Figure 1). While 24 countries trail the U.S. rate of improvement, another 24 countries appear to be improving at a faster rate. Nor is U.S. progress sufficiently rapid to allow it to catch up with the leaders of the industrialized world.”
“Meanwhile, students in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Indiana were among those making the fewest average gains between 1992 and 2011. Once again, the larger political climate may have affected the progress on the ground. Unlike in the South, the reform movement has made little headway within midwestern states, at least until very recently. Many of the midwestern states had proud education histories symbolized by internationally acclaimed land-grant universities, which have become the pride of East Lansing, Michigan; Madison, Wisconsin; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Lafayette, Indiana. Satisfaction with past accomplishments may have dampened interest in the school reform agenda sweeping through southern, border, and some western states.”
Underlying study: “Achievement Growth: International and U.S. State Trends in Student Performance“
- Student scores slip with new proficiency benchmarks by Erin Richards
The results: Only 35.8% of Wisconsin’s WKCE test-takers in third through eighth and 10th grade in fall 2011 scored proficient or better in reading, and just 48.1% scored proficient or better in math.
Compare that with March, when the state released 2011 WKCE results that showed 78% and 82% of students scored proficient or better in math and reading.
Under the new benchmarks, just 41.9% of white students scored proficient or advanced in reading, and 55.2% met that mark in math on the latest state test. Previously, more than 87% of white students were considered proficient or better in reading, and 84.3% were considered to have scored proficient or better in math in 2011.
As for the state’s black students – many of whom attend Milwaukee Public Schools – 13.4% are considered proficient or advanced in reading, down from 58.7% using the old grading scale.
Rep. Steve Kestell, a Republican from Elkhart Lake who chairs the Assembly’s Education Committee, called the revised picture of student performance a “necessary and long-delayed wake-up call for Wisconsin.”
“We’ve been trying to tell folks for some time that we’ve been looking at things through rose-colored glasses in Wisconsin,” he added. “It was a hard thing to communicate, and it was largely ignored. This is a new awakening.”
State Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said: “We’ve known for years that our proficiency-cut scores are way below where they should be, and really, this shows that we have got to do a better job.”
Under the past decade of No Child Left Behind, Wisconsin had been criticized for having a more lenient bar for proficiency than other states.
- Less than half of state’s students measure proficient under new national standards by Matthew DeFour:
Still, the new results should be a “smack in the face” for Wisconsin, said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison.
“It’s going to be a wake-up call,” Gamoran said. “It’s a more honest reckoning of where Wisconsin students stand relative to other students across the nation and relative to the goals we want for all of our students.”
The old results were based on whether students were meeting Wisconsin’s definition of being at grade-level, whereas the new results reflect more rigorous standards of what it means to be prepared for college or a career used for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation’s report card.
About 3,000 4th and 8th graders in Wisconsin take the NAEP every other year. In 2011, 32 percent of Wisconsin 4th graders scored proficient on NAEP’s reading test and 39 percent scored proficient on the math test.
The data released Tuesday marks the first time DPI has converted results of the state test, which more than 430,000 students in grades 3-8 and 10 take in the fall, to the NAEP benchmarks.
DPI won’t release recalculated results for individual schools and districts until the fall, when it also plans to release individual school report cards with ratings on a scale of 0 to 100.
Kim Henderson, president of the Wisconsin Parent Teacher Association, said parents pay closer attention to state test scores than NAEP scores, so the results could “bring up a lot of good questioning.”
- State sets new, tougher standards for student tests by the Associated Press:
To get the waiver, Wisconsin had to develop its own accountability system in addition to teacher and principal evaluations, among other things.
The scores will be included on new school report cards to be released in the fall. How well individual students in grades 3-8 and 10 do on reading and math tests they take in November will be released next spring.
The new school report cards were developed in conjunction with Gov. Scott Walker, legislative leaders and others over the past year. They will include a numerical rating for individual schools from 0-100 based on student achievement, growth, graduation rates and closing of achievement gaps between different groups of students. The scores will generate an overall total that will place each school into one of five categories ranging from “Fails to Meet Expectations” to “Significantly Exceeds Expectations.”
“This new system will empower parents, allowing them to make education related decisions based on reliable and uniform data,” Walker said in a statement.
Sample report cards, without actual school data, are posted online to solicit feedback through Aug. 12.
- Numerous notes and links on the oft-criticized WKCE, here.
Wisconsin is reworking its application for relief from certain elements of a 10-year-old federal education law, based on feedback received from the U.S. Department of Education last month that outlined where the state’s application was light on details.
A letter from April 17 indicates the state needs a better plan for transitioning to college- and career-ready standards in its schools, and for implementing teacher and principal evaluation and support systems. Wisconsin’s plan also needs ambitious yearly objectives for schools and better criteria for recognizing progress over time in persistently low-performing schools.
State officials on Monday said that the cycle of feedback and revision is normal as states around the country propose new accountability measures for schools that would replace the punitive system under the federal law known as No Child Left Behind.
“This is very, very common,” Lynette Russell, assistant state superintendent for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, said in an interview Monday.
Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, who did not see the letter before the weekend, said it affirmed concerns were raised before the application was submitted that DPI’s proposal for a new accountability system “left not much meat on the bones.”
“Folks thought they would do a cursory, general waiver and get it, and at the end of the day it would be pretty hard to be held accountable for it,” Olsen said. “The (U.S. Education) department is not letting Wisconsin get away with that at all.”
The letter commended Wisconsin for planning for a new common set of standards aligned to college and career readiness, and also for developing a teacher evaluation system based on educator practice and student test scores.
But it criticized the application for not detailing how the state would implement those new systems
Scott Walker is now waging his war on public education by coming up with accountability standards that favor charter and private schools. His School and District Accountability Design Team consists of thirty business and education professionals from across the state.
The Design Team is led by “Quad-Chairs” Governor Scott Walker, Senator Luther Olsen, chair of the Senate Education Committee, Representative Steve Kestell, chair of the Assembly Education Committee, and Tony Evers, State Superintendent of Schools in Wisconsin. The proceedings are being facilitated by a team of high-paid consultants working with the American Institute for Research (AIR), a company that racked up $299 million in revenue for the 2009 fiscal year.
The movie event, including the popcorn, was sponsored by Vos, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee — and owns a popcorn company.
Co-sponsors were Education Committee Chairs Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, and Rep. Steve Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake. Olsen is one of the lead sponsors of the charter authorizing bill, introduced in the Legislature last spring and currently before the Joint Finance Committee.
Panelists for the discussion included Gov. Scott Walker’s policy director, Kimber Liedl; the president of Milwaukee-based St. Anthony School, Zeus Rodriguez; the Urban League of Greater Madison’s charter school development consultant, Laura DeRoche-Perez; and a former president of Madison Teachers Inc., Mike Lipp, who is currently the athletic director at West High School.
There were also a number of panelists who were invited but did not attend, including state Superintendent Tony Evers, Madison Superintendent Daniel Nerad, state Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts and a representative from WEAC, the state’s largest teachers union.
Summary of the August 25, 2011 Read to Lead Task Force Meeting
Green Bay, WI
The fifth meeting of the Read to Lead task force was held on August 25, 2011, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Governor Walker was delayed, so State Superintendent Tony Evers opened the meeting. The main topic of discussion was accountability for reading outcomes, including the strategy of mandatory grade retention. Troy Couillard from DPI also presented an overview of reading reform in Milwaukee Public Schools.
Superintendent Evers said that Wisconsin will seek a waiver from the No Child Left Behind proficiency requirements by instituting a new system of accountability. His Educator Effectiveness and Accountability Design teams are working on this, with the goal of a new accountability system being in place by late 2011.
Accountability at the educator level:
The concept of using student achievement or growth data in teacher and principal evaluations is not without controversy, but Wisconsin is including student data in its evaluation model, keeping in mind fairness and validity. The current thought is to base 50% of the educator evaluation on qualitative considerations, using the Danielson Framework http://www.danielsongroup.org (“promoting professional learning through self assessment, reflection on practice, and professional conversations”), and 50% on student data, including multiple measures of performance. 10% of the student data portion of the evaluation (5% of the total evaluation) would be based on whole-school performance. This 5% would be based on a proficiency standard as opposed to a value-added measurement. The 5% is thought to be small enough that it will not affect an individual teacher adversely, but large enough to send a message that all teachers need to work together to raise achievement in a school. The task force was asked if it could endorse whole-school performance as part of teacher evaluation. The task force members seemed to have some support for that notion, especially at the principal level, but had some reservations at the level of the individual teacher.
Kathy Champeau was concerned that some schools do not have the resources to serve some children. She also felt it might not be fair to teachers, as they have no control over other teachers in the school or the principal.
Steve Dykstra said it is important to make sure any value-added system is designed to be fair.
Rachel Lander felt it would be better to use value-added data for whole-school performance rather than a proficiency standard, but supported the importance of schoolwide standards.
Rep. Steve Kestell supported the 5% requirement, and questioned what the qualitative half of the evaluation would be based on. He felt perhaps there could be some schoolwide standards to be met in that part of the evaluation, also.
Tony Evers responded that the Danielson Framework was research-based observations, and that the evaluators would need to be highly trained and consistent in their evaluations.
Tony Pedriana had questions about the type of research on which the Danielson Framework is based.
Evers said he would provide further information to the task force.
Mara Brown said she cannot control what the teacher down the hall does, and that the 5% should apply only to principals.
Linda Pils agreed with the 5%, but felt principals need to be watching and guiding new teachers. She agreed with Dykstra’s comments on measuring growth.
Sen. Luther Olsen was concerned that the 5% portion of a teacher’s evaluation may be the part that tips the balance on job retention for an individual, yet that individual has no control over whole-school performance. He understood the principle of getting everyone involved and committed to a goal, but was concerned with possible consequences.
The task force was asked to consider whether Wisconsin should implement a mandatory retention policy. If so, what would it look like, and if not, what can be done to make sure students are reading at grade level?
After a guest presentation and discussion, the consensus of the task force was that Wisconsin should not have mandatory retention. Reasons cited were negative effects on later achievement, graduation, self esteem, and psychological well-being. Third grade was felt to be far too late to start intervention, and there needs to be more emphasis on developing teacher expertise and focusing on the responsibility of teachers, principals, and higher education as opposed to threatening the students with retention. Retention without changing the curriculum for the student the following year is pointless.
Dr. Elaine Allensworth, a director at the Consortium on Chicago School Research, joined the task force by telephone to summarize the outcomes of a mandatory retention project in Chicago. Students more than 1 year below the cut-off level on certain tested skills were retained unless they passed the test after a summer bridge program. Students identified as at-risk were given after-school tutoring during the year. Retention was thought to have three primary mechanisms that would affect student performance: motivation for students, families, and teachers to work harder, supplemental instruction after school and during the summer, and an additional year in the grade for failing students. All students in the school could be affected by the motivation and the supplemental instruction, but only the retained students by the extra year of instruction. The study found that the threat of retention worked as a positive motivator for teachers, parents, and some older students. However, there were also negatives in terms of higher-achieving students receiving less attention, more time on test preparation, and an instructional shift to focus on tested skills. The supplemental instruction, especially the summer bridge program, was the biggest positive of the retention project. There was high participation, increased personal attention, and higher-quality instruction. Retention itself had more negative effects than positive. Academic gains were either non-existent or rapidly-disappearing. Multiple year retentions resulted in a problematic mix of ages in classrooms, students unable to finish high school by age 18, and a negative overall attitude toward school.
Dykstra said it appeared that the impetus to do things differently because of the threat of retention had some benefit, but the actual retention had either no effect or a negative effect. He wondered if there was some way to provide the motivation without retention.
Allensworth agreed that the challenge was to provide a motivation without having a threat.
Pils asked if third graders could even understand the threat of retention.
Allensworth replied that they understood if teachers helped them. She also said that some schools with low-quality instruction had no way to improve student learning even with the threat of retention.
Rep. Jason Fields asked how you could avoid teaching to the test.
Allensworth replied that teaching the skills on the test was productive, but not the excessive time that was spent on test-taking strategies. She also said the tendency to teach more narrowly could cause problems later in high school where students needed to be able to participate in broader learning.
Marcia Henry inquired about students who returned to their old rate of learning when they returned to the regular classroom after successfully completing the summer bridge.
Allensworth replied that the summer program used higher quality curriculum and teachers, there was more time provided with students, and the students were more highly motivated.
Dykstra asked if it was possible to determine how much of the summer gain was due to student motivation, and how much due to teachers or parents.
Allensworth said those factors could not be pulled apart.
Champeau questioned whether the summer bridge program taught to the test.
Allensworth replied that it taught in a good way to the skills that the test assessed.
Brown asked if intervention was provided for the first time in third grade.
Allensworth replied that some schools began providing intervention and retaining in first or second grade.
Dykstra asked if the project created a situation where a majority of the school’s resources were concentrated in third grade, leaving other grades short.
Allensworth said they didn’t look at that, though some schools appeared to put their better teachers at certain grades.
Dykstra thought it was the wrong approach to tie services and supports to a specific grade rather than a specific student.
Are some types of consequences necessary to achieve the urgency and intensity necessary for performance improvement? Should there be mandatory summer school or other motivators? The task force did not seem to arrive at a consensus on this.
Lander said schools need the resources to do early intervention, plus information on what should be done in early intervention, and this is not currently the case in Wisconsin.
Pils questioned where teachers would find the time to provide intervention. She liked the idea of after-school and summer programs as well as reading the classics to kids. Providing a model of best instruction is important for teachers who don’t have that background.
Mary Read commented on Bill Gates’ experience with spending a lot of money for minimal results, and the conclusion that money needs to go into teacher training and proven programs such as the Kipp schools or into a national core curriculum.
Dykstra noted that everyone agrees that teacher training is essential, but there is disagreement as to curriculum and training content. His experience is that teachers are generally unable to pinpoint what is going wrong with a student’s reading. We must understand how poor and widespread current teacher training is, apologize to teachers, and then fix the problem, but not at teachers’ expense.
The facilitators asked what the policy should be. Is there an alternative to using retention? Should teacher re-training be mandatory for those who need the support?
Evers said that a school-by-school response does not work. The reforms in Milwaukee may have some relevance.
Olsen suggested that there are some reading programs that have been proven successful. If a school is not successful, perhaps they should be required to choose from a list of approved instructional methods and assessment tools, show their results, and monitor program fidelity. He feels we have a great resource in successful teachers in Wisconsin and other states, and the biggest issue is agreeing on programs that work for intervention and doing it right the first time.
Kestell said some major problems are teachers with high numbers of failing students, poor teacher preparation, the quality of early childhood education, and over-funding of 4K programs without a mandate on how that money is used. There has been some poor decision-making, and the kids are not responsible for that. We must somehow hold schools, school board, and individual educators accountable.
Champeau said teachers have no control over how money is spent. This accountability must be at the school and district level. More resources need to be available to some schools depending on the needs of their student population.
Lander: We must provide the necessary resources to identified schools.
Dykstra: We must develop an excellent system of value-added data so we can determine which schools are actually doing well. Right now we have no way of knowing. High-performing schools may actually be under-performing given their student demographics; projected student growth will not be the same in high and low performing schools.
Pedriana: We have long known how to teach even the most at-risk readers with evidence-based instruction. The truth is that much of our teacher training and classroom instruction is not evidence-based. We need the collective will to identify the evidence base on which we will base our choices, and then apply it consistently across the state. The task force has not yet taken on this critical question.
Pils: In her experience, she feels Wisconsin teachers are among the best in the country. There are some gaps we need to close.
Pedriana: Saying how good we are does not help the kids who are struggling.
Pils: We need to have our best teachers in the inner city, and teachers should not need to purchase their own supplies. We have to be careful with a limited list of approved programs. This may lead to ethics violations.
Pedriana: Referring to Pils’ mention of Wisconsin’s high graduation rates in a previous meeting, what does our poor performance on the NAEP reading test say about our graduation standards?
Michael Brickman (Governor’s aide): There is evidence of problems when you do retention, and evidence of problems when you do nothing. We can’t reduce the failing readers to zero using task force recommendations, so what should we do with students who leave 3rd grade not reading anywhere near grade level? Should we have mandatory summer school?
Henry: Response to Intervention (RTI) is a perfect model for intervening early in an appropriate way. A summer bridge program is excellent if it has the right focus. We must think more realistically about the budget we will require to do this intervention.
Olsen: If we do early intervention, we should have a very small number of kids who are still behind in 3rd grade. Are we teaching the right, most efficient way? We spend a lot of money on K-12 education in Wisconsin, but we may need to set priorities in reading. There is enough money to do it. Reading should be our mission at each grade level.
Facilitator: What will be the “stick” to make people provide the best instruction?
Dykstra: Accountability needs to start at the top in the state’s education system. When the same people continue to make the same mistakes, yet there are no consequences, we need to let some people go. That is what they did in Massachusetts and Florida: start with two or three people in whom you have great confidence, and build from there.
Facilitator: Is there consensus on mandatory summer school for failing students?
Michele Erickson: Summer school is OK if the right resources are available for curriculum and teachers.
Kestell: All grades 4K – 3 are gateway grades. They are all important.
Champeau: Summer school is a good idea, but we would need to solve transportation issues.
Dykstra: We should open up the concept of summer school beyond public schools to any agency that offers quality instruction using highly qualified instructors from outside the educational establishment.
Lander: Supports Dykstra’s idea. You can’t lay summer instruction on schools that can hardly educate during the school year.
Brown: Could support summer school in addition to, but not in place of, early intervention during the school year.
Erickson: Look at the school year first when allocating resources. Summer school is a hard sell to families.
Pedriana: Agrees with Olsen that we probably have sufficient funds for the school year, but we need to spend it more wisely. We cannot expect districts to make the commitment to extra instruction if there is no accountability at the top (including institutions of higher education). We need to resolve the issue of what knowledge and content standards will be taught before we address summer school or other issues.
Milwaukee Public Schools’ tiered RTI system was presented by DPI’s Troy Couillard as an example of an accountability system. MPS chose a new core reading program for 2010-11 after submitting its research base to DPI. Teachers were provided with some in-service training, and there are some site checks for fidelity of implementation. Tier 2 interventions will begin in 2011-12, and Tier 3 interventions in 2012-13. He felt that the pace of these changes, plus development of a data accountability system, student screening with MAP and other testing, progress monitoring, and professional development, has MPS moving much faster than most districts around the county on implementing RTI. DPI embedded RTI in the district’s Comprehensive Literacy Plan. DPI is pushing interventions that are listed on the National RTI site, but teachers are allowed to submit research for things they are using to see if those tools might be used.
Pils: Kids in MPS are already struggling. Reading First would suggest that they have 120 minuets of reading a day instead of the 90 minutes provided in the MPS plan.
Couillard: Tier 2 intervention for struggling students will add onto the 90 minutes of core instruction.
Olsen: Can this system work statewide without DPI monitoring all the districts?
Couillard: Districts are trained to monitor their own programs.
Pils: Veteran schools with proven strategies could be paired with struggling schools as mentors and models.
Pedriana: We have no way of knowing what proven strategies are unless we discuss what scientific evidence says works in reading. The task force must grapple with this question.
Brickman: Read to Lead task force needs to start with larger questions and then move to finer grain; this task force may not be able to do everything.
Pedriana: Is there anything more important for this task force to do than to decide what evidence-based reading instruction is?
Brickman: Task force members may submit suggestions for issues to discuss at the final meeting in September. Tony could submit some sample language on “evidence-based instruction” as a starting point for discussion.
Henry: The worst schools should be required to at least have specific guidelines, whether it is a legislative or DPI issue. Teacher retraining (not a 1-day workshop) is a necessity. Teachers are unprepared to teach.
Olsen: Wisconsin has always been a local control state, but one of the outcomes of the task force may be that we have a method for identifying schools that are not doing well, and then intervene with a plan. The state is ultimately responsible for K-12 education. Districts should take the state blueprint or come up with their own for approval by the state.
Erickson: Can we define what will work so districts can just do it?
Evers: MPS experience shows there is a process that works, and districts can do their own monitoring.
Dykstra: Sees value in making a list of things that districts are not allowed to do in reading instruction; also value in making a list of recommended programs based on alignment with the convergence of the science of reading research. That list would not be closed, but it should not include programs based on individual, publisher-funded studies that do not align with the convergence of the science. This could be of benefit to all districts. Even those doing relatively well could be doing better. Right now there is no list, and no learning targets. The MPS plan contains the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards, which contain errors. DPI needs to correct that information and distribute it right now. That would be a good example of accountability at the state level.
Couillard: The new statewide data collection system will help districts monitor their own data.
Champeau: School needs change depending on demographics. The goal should be to build decision-making capacity at the local level, not dictation from outside. We should be talking more about people than programs. Have MPS teachers been doing a better job? What will they do if their program goes away? We need to work on the underlying expertise and knowledge base.
Facilitator: There appears to be agreement that the state can intervene in failing districts.
Lander: We might have some consensus as to what teachers need to know, and then go into schools to see if they know it. If not, we need to teach them.
Pedriana: What is so bad about providing a program, with training, of course? It would help people.
Facilitator: There is consensus around training of teachers.
Dykstra: Some of the distinction between training and programs is artificial. You need both.
Other things the state could require: weighting of reading in evaluation systems, grading of schools etc.
Dykstra: If giving schools grades, they should get separate grades for how they do in teaching separate content areas. In addition, everything should be reported in the best value-added system we can create, because it’s the only way to know if you’re doing a good job.
Pils: Doesn’t like grading of schools. She has a whole folder on cheating in districts that have grading of schools and high stakes tests.
Evers: Do we just want to measure what schools are doing, or do we want to use it to leverage change?
Erickson: Wisconsin has gone from 3rd to 30th on the NAEP, so of course we should be seeking change.
Walker: The idea is not to pick on failing schools, but to help them. We must be able to deploy the resources to the things that work in accordance with science and research to teach reading right.
Dykstra: We should seek small kernels of detailed information about which teachers consistently produce better results in a given type of school for a given type of student. There is a problem with reliability when using MAP data at an individual student level.
Supt. Evers talked about the new state accountability system as being a better alternative to no Child Left Behind. Governor Walker said the state is not just doing this as an alternative to NCLB, but in response to comments from business that our graduates are not well-prepared. Parents want to know what all schools are doing.
Olsen: We need a system to monitor reading in Wisconsin before we get into big trouble. Our changing population is leading us to discover challenges that other states have dealt with for years.
Kestell: The accountability design team is an excellent opportunity to discuss priorities in education; a time to set aside personal agendas and look for solutions that work.
Next Meeting/Status of Report
Michael Brickman will try to send out a draft of a report the week of August 29 with his best interpretation of task force consensus items. The final meeting will be Sept. 27, perhaps in Madison, Eau Claire, or Wausau. Some task force issues will need to be passed on to other task forces in the future.
Related: A Capitol Conversation on Wisconsin’s Reading Challenges and Excellence in Education explains Florida’s reading reforms and compares Florida’s NAEP progress with Wisconsin’s at the July 29th Read to Lead task force meeting and www.wisconsin2.org.
UW-Madison Professor Mark Seidenberg and I had an informative conversation with two elected officials at the Capitol recently.
I am thankful for Mark’s time and the fact that both Luther Olsen and Steve Kestell along with staff members took the time to meet. I also met recently with Brett Hulsey and hope to meet with more elected officials, from both parties.
The topic du jour was education, specifically the Governor’s Read to Lead task force.
Mark kindly shared this handout:
My name is Mark Seidenberg, Hilldale Professor and Donald O. Hebb Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://lcnl.wisc.edu. I have studied how reading works, how children learn to read, reading disabilities, and the brain bases of reading for over 30 years. I am a co-author of a forthcoming report from the National Research Council (National Academy of Sciences) on low literacy among older adolescents and adults. I’m writing a general audience book about reading research and educational practices.
We have a literacy problem: about 30% of the US (and WI) population reads at a “basic” or “below basic” level. Literacy levels are particularly low among poor and minority individuals. The identification of this problem does not rest on any single test (e.g., NAEP, WKCE, OECD). Our literacy problem arises from many causes, some of which are not easy to address by legislative fiat. However, far more could be done in several important areas.
1. How teachers are taught. In Wisconsin as in much of the US, prospective teachers are not exposed to modern research on how children develop, learn, and think. Instead, they are immersed in the views of educational theorists such as Lev Vygotsky (d. 1934) and John Dewey (d. 1952). Talented, highly motivated prospective teachers are socialized into beliefs about children that are not informed by the past 50 years of basic research in cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience.
A vast amount is known about reading in particular, ranging from what your eyes do while reading to how people comprehend documents to what causes reading disabilities. However, there is a gulf between Education and Science, and so this research is largely ignored in teacher training and curriculum development.
2. How children are taught. There continue to be fruitless battles over how beginning readers should be taught, and how to insure that comprehension skills continue to develop through middle and high school. Teachers rely on outdated beliefs about how children learn, and how reading works. As a result, for many children, learning to read is harder than it should be. We lose many children because of how they are taught. This problem does NOT arise from “bad teachers”; there is a general, systematic problem related to teacher education and training in the US.
3. Identification of children at risk for reading failures. Some children are at risk for reading and school failure because of developmental conditions that interfere with learning to read. Such children can be identified at young ages (preschool, kindergarten) using relatively simple behavioral measures. They can also be helped by effective early interventions that target basic components of reading such as vocabulary and letter-sound knowledge. The 30% of the US population that cannot read adequately includes a large number of individuals whose reading/learning impairments were undiagnosed and untreated.
Recommendations: Improve teacher education. Mechanism: change the certification requirements for new teachers, as has been done in several other states. Certification exams must reflect the kinds of knowledge that teachers need, including relevant research findings from cognitive science and neuroscience. Instruction in these areas would then need to be provided by schools of education or via other channels. In-service training courses could be provided for current teachers (e.g., as on-line courses).
Children who are at risk for reading and schooling failures must be identified and supported at young ages. Although it is difficult to definitively confirm a reading/learning disability in children at young ages (e.g., 4-6) using behavioral, neuroimaging, or genetic measures, it is possible to identify children at risk, most of whom will develop reading difficulties unless intervention occurs, via screening that involves simple tests of pre-reading skills and spoken language plus other indicators. Few children just “grow out of” reading impairments; active intervention is required.
I am cautiously optimistic that we may see an improvement in Wisconsin’s K-12 curricular standards.
Related: Excellence in Education explains Florida’s reading reforms and compares Florida’s NAEP progress with Wisconsin’s at the July 29th Read to Lead task force meeting and www.wisconsin2.org.
The fourth meeting of the Governor’s Read to Lead task force took place in Milwaukee on Friday, July 29. The meeting was filmed by Wisconsin Eye, but we have not seen it offered yet through their website. We will send out a notice when that occurs. As always, we encourage you to watch and draw your own conclusions.
Following is a synopsis of the meeting, which centered on reading improvement success in Florida and previously-discussed task force topics (teacher preparation, licensing, professional development, screening/intervention, early childhood). In addition, Superintendent Evers gave an update on activity within DPI. The discussion of the impact of societal factors on reading achievement was held over to the next meeting, as was further revisiting of early childhood issues.
In addition to this summary, you can access Chan Stroman’s Eduphilia tweets at http://twitter.com/#!/eduphilia
Opening: Governor Walker welcomed everyone and stressed the importance of this conversation on reading. Using WKCE data, which has been criticized nationally and locally for years as being derived from low standards, the Governor stated that 80% of Wisconsin students are proficient or advanced in reading, and he is seeking to serve the other 20%. The NAEP data, which figured prominently in the presentation of the guest speakers, tell a very different story. Superintendent Evers thanked the task force members and indicated that this is all about “connecting the dots” and putting all of the “puzzle pieces” together. The work of this task force will impact the work going on in other education-focused committees.
The Florida Story: Guest speakers were Patricia Levesque, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the Foundation for Florida’s Future, and Mary Laura Bragg, the director of Florida’s statewide reading initiative, Just Read, Florida! from 2001 to 2006.
In a series of slides, Levesque compared Wisconsin, Florida, and national performance on the NAEP reading test over the past decade. Despite challenges in terms of English language learners, a huge percentage of students on free/reduced lunch, and a minority-majority demographic, Florida has moved from the scraping the bottom on the NAEP to the top group of states. Over the same time period, Wisconsin has plummeted in national ranking, and our students now score below the national average in all subgroups for which NAEP data is disaggregated. 10 points on the NAEP scale is roughly equivalent to one grade level in performance, and Florida has moved from two grade levels below Wisconsin to 1/2 grade level above. For a full discussion of Wisconsin’s NAEP performance, see our website, http://www.wisconsinreadingcoalition.org.
Levesque and Bragg also described the components of the reading initiative in Florida, which included grading all schools from A to F, an objective test-based promotion policy from third to fourth grade, required state-approved reading plans in each district, trained reading coaches in schools, research assistance from the Florida Center for Reading Research, required individual student intervention plans for struggling students, universal K-2 screening for reading problems, improved licensure testing for teachers and principals, the creation of a reading endorsement for teaching licenses, and on-line professional development available to all teachers. As noted above, achievement has gone up dramatically, the gap between demographic groups has narrowed, early intervention is much more common, and third grade retention percentages continue to fall. The middle school performance is now rising as those children who received early intervention in elementary school reach that level. Those students have not yet reached high school, and there is still work to be done there. To accomplish all this, Florida leveraged federal funds for Title 1 and 2 and IDEA, requiring that they be spent for state-approved reading purposes. The Governor also worked actively with business to create private/public partnerships supporting reading. Just Read, Florida! was able to engineer a statewide conference for principals that was funded from vendor fees. While Florida is a strong local control state, reading is controlled from the state level, eliminating the need for local curriculum directors to research and design reading plans without the resources or manpower to do so. Florida also cut off funding to university professors who refused to go along with science-based reading instruction and assessment.
Florida is now sharing its story with other states, and offering assistance in reading plan development, as well as their screening program (FAIR assessment system) and their online professional development, which cost millions to develop. Levesque invited Wisconsin to join Indiana and other states at a conference in Florida this fall.
Questions for, or challenges to, the presenters came from three task force members.
- Rachel Lander asked about the reading coaches, and Bragg responded that they were extensively trained by the state office, beginning with Reading First money. They are in the classroom modeling for teachers and also work with principals on understanding data and becoming building reading leaders. The coaches now have an association that has acquired a presence in the state.
- Linda Pils stated her belief that Wisconsin outperforms Florida at the middle school level, and that we have higher graduation rates than Florida. She cited opinions that third grade retention has some immediate effect, but the results are the same or better for non-retained students later, and that most retained students will not graduate from high school. She also pointed out Florida’s class size reduction requirement, and suggested that the NAEP gains came from that. Levesque explained that the retention studies to which Pils was referring were from other states, where retention decisions were made subjectively by teachers, and there was no requirement for science-based individual intervention plans. The gains for retained students in Florida are greater than for matched students who are not retained, and the gains persist over time. Further, retention did not adversely affect graduation rates. In fact, graduation rates have increased, and dropout rates have declined. The University of Arkansas is planning to do a study of Florida retention. The class size reduction policy did not take effect in Florida until last year, and a Harvard study concluded that it had no effect on student reading achievement. Task force member Steve Dykstra pointed out that you cannot compare the NAEP scores from two states without considering the difference in student demographics. Wisconsin’s middle school scores benefit from the fact that we have a relative abundance of white students who are not on free/reduced lunch. Our overall average student score in middle school may be higher than Florida, but when we compare similar cohorts from both states, Florida is far ahead.
- Tony Pedriana asked what kinds of incentives have been put in place for higher education, principals, etc. to move to a science-based system of instruction. The guests noted that when schools are graded, reading performance receives double weight in the formula. They also withheld funding for university programs that were not science-based.
DPI Update: Superintendent Evers indicated that DPI is looking at action in fours areas: teacher licensure, the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards, the use of a screener to detect reading problems, and implementation of the Common Core State Standards.
- The committee looking at licensing is trying to decide whether they should recommend an existing, off-the-shelf competency exam, or revise the exam they are currently requiring (Praxis 2). He did not indicate who is on the committee or what existing tests they were looking at. In the past, several members of the task force have recommended that Wisconsin use the Foundations of Reading test given in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
- DPI is revising the WMELS to correct definitions and descriptions of phonological and phonemic awareness and phonics. The changes will align the WMELS with both the Report of the National Reading Panel and the Common Core State Standards. Per the suggestion of Eboni Howard, a guest speaker at the last meeting, they will get an outside opinion on the WMELS when they are finished. Evers did not indicate who is doing this work.
- DPI is looking at the possibility of using PALS screening or some other tool recommended by the National RTI Center to screen students in grades K-2 or K-3. Evers previously mentioned that this committee had been meeting for 6-7 months, but he did not indicate who is on it.
- Evers made reference to communication that was circulated this week (by Dr. Dan Gustafson and John Humphries) that expressed concern over the method in which DPI is implementing the Common Core. He stated that districts have been asking DPI for help in implementing the CC, and they want to provide districts with a number of resources. One of those is the model curriculum being developed by CESA 7. DPI is looking at it to see how it could help the state move forward, but no final decision has yet been made.
Task force member Pam Heyde, substituting for Marcia Henry, suggested that it would be better to look at what Florida is doing rather than start from ground zero looking at guidelines. Patricia Levesque confirmed that Florida was willing to assist other states, and invited Wisconsin to join a meeting of state reading commissioners in October.
Teacher Preparation: The discussion centered around what needs to change in teacher preparation programs, and how to fit this into a four-year degree.
Steve Dykstra said that Texas has looked at this issue extensively. Most schools need three courses to cover reading adequately, but it is also important to look at the texts that are used in the courses. He referenced a study by Joshi that showed most of the college texts to be inadequate.
Dawnene Hassett, UW-Madison literacy professor in charge of elementary teacher reading preparation, was invited to participate in this part of the discussion. She indicated we should talk in terms of content knowledge, not number of credits. In a couple of years, teachers will have to pass a Teacher Performance Assessment in order to graduate. This was described as a metacognitive exercise using student data. In 2012-13, UW-Madison will change its coursework, combining courses in some of the arts, and dropping some of the pedagogical, psychological offerings.
Tony Pedriana said he felt schools of education had fallen down on teaching content derived from empirical studies.
Hassett said schools teach all five “pillars” of reading, but they may not be doing it well enough. She said you cannot replicate classroom research, so you need research “plus.”
Pils was impressed with the assistance the FCRR gives to classroom teachers regarding interventions that work. She also said spending levels were important.
Dykstra asked Mary Laura Bragg if she had worked with professors who thought they were in alignment with the research, but really weren’t.
Bragg responded that “there’s research, and then there’s research.” They had to educate people on the difference between “research” from vendors and empirical research, which involves issues of fidelity and validation with different groups of students.
Levesque stated that Florida increased reading requirements for elementary candidates from 3 to 6 credits, and added a 3 credit requirement for secondary candidates. Colleges were required to fit this in by eliminating non-content area pedagogy courses.
Kathy Champeau repeated a concern from earlier meetings that teacher candidates need the opportunity to practice their new knowledge in a classroom setting, or they will forget it.
Hassett hoped the Teacher Performance Assessment would help this. The TPA would probably require certain things to be included in the teacher candidate’s portfolio.
Governor Walker said that the key to the effectiveness of Florida’s retention policy was the intervention provided to the students. He asked what they did to make sure intervention was successful.
Levesque replied that one key was reading coaches in the classroom. Also, district reading plans, individual intervention plans, student academies, etc. all need to be approved by the state.
There was consensus that there should be a difference in reading requirements for elementary vs. secondary teachers. There was no discussion of preparation for reading teachers, reading specialists, or special education teachers.
Licensing: The discussion centered around what teacher standards need to be tested.
Dykstra suggested that the Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading, written by Louisa Moats, et al, and published by the International Dyslexia Association in 2010, would be good teacher standards, and the basis for a teacher competency exam. There was no need for DPI to spend the next year discussing and inventing new teacher standards.
Champeau said that the International Reading Association also has standards.
Pedriana asked if those standards are based on research.
Dykstra suggested that the task force look at the two sets of standards side-by-side and compare them.
Professional Development: The facilitators looked for input on how professional development for practicing teachers should be targeted. Should the state target struggling teachers, schools, or districts for professional development?
Rep. Jason Fields felt all three needed to be targeted.
Heyde asked Levesque for more details on how Wisconsin could do professional development, when we often hear there is no money.
Levesque provided more detail on the state making reading a priority, building public/private partnerships, and being more creative with federal grant money (e.g., the 20% of each grant that is normally carved out by the state for administration). There should be a clear reading plan (Florida started with just two people running their initiative, and after a decade only has eight people), and all the spending should align with the plan to be effective. You cannot keep sending money down the hole. Additional manpower was provided by the provision that all state employees would get one paid hour per week to volunteer on approved reading projects in schools, and also by community service requirements for high school students.
Bragg suggested using the online Florida training modules, and perhaps combining them with modules from Louisiana.
Dykstra also suggested taking advantage of existing training, including LETRS, which was made widely available in Massachusetts. He also stressed the importance of professional development for principals, coaches, and specialists.
Bragg pointed out that many online training modules are free, or provided for a nominal charge that does not come close to what it would cost Wisconsin to develop its own professional development.
Lander said there were many Wisconsin teachers who don’t need the training, and it should not be punitive.
Champeau suggested that Florida spends way more money on education that Wisconsin, based on information provided by the NAEP.
Levesque clarified that Florida actually is below the national average in cost per student. The only reason they spend more than Wisconsin is that they have more students.
Rep. Steve Kestell stated that teachers around the entire state have a need for professional development, and it is dangerous to give it only to the districts that are performing the worst.
Sarah Archibald (sitting in for Sen. Luther Olsen) said it would be good to look at the value added in districts across the state when trying to identify the greatest needs for professional development. The new statewide information system should provide us with some of this value added information, but not at a classroom teacher level.
Evers commented that the state could require new teacher Professional Development Plans to include or be focused on reading.
Pils commented that districts can have low and high performing schools, so it is not enough to look at district data.
Champeau said that administrators also need this professional development. They cannot evaluate teachers if they do not have the knowledge themselves.
Dykstra mentioned a Florida guidebook for principals with a checklist to help them. He is concerned about teachers who develop PDP’s with no guidance, and spend a lot of time and money on poor training and learning. There is a need for a clearinghouse for professional development programs.
Screening/Intervention: One of the main questions here was whether the screening should be universal using the same tools across the state.
Champeau repeated a belief that there are districts who are doing well with the screening they are doing, and they should not be required to change or add something new.
Dykstra responded that we need comparable data from every school to use value added analysis, so a universal tool makes sense. He also said there was going to be a lot of opposition to this, given the statements against screening that were issued when Rep. Keith Ripp introduced legislation on this topic in the last biennium. He felt the task force has not seen any screener in enough detail to recommend a particular one at this time.
Heyde said we need a screener that screens for the right things.
Pils agreed with Dykstra and Heyde. She mentioned that DIBELS is free and doesn’t take much time.
Michele Erickson asked if a task force recommendation would turn into a mandate. She asked if Florida used a universal screener.
Levesque replied that Florida initially used DIBELS statewide, and then the FCRR developed the FAIR assessments for them. The legislature in Florida mandated the policy of universal kindergarten screening that also traces students back to their pre-K programs to see which ones are doing a better job. Wisconsin could purchase the FAIR assessments from Florida.
Archilbald suggested phasing in screening if we could not afford to do it all at once.
Evers supports local control, but said there are reasons to have a universal screener for data systems, to inform college programs, and to implement professional development.
Lander asked what screening information we could get from the WKCE.
Evers responded that the WKCE doesn’t start unitl third grade.
Dykstra said we need a rubric about screening, and who needs what type and how often.
Pedriana said student mobility is another reason for a universal screener.
There was consensus that early screening is important. Certainly by 4K or 5K, but even at age three if a system could be established. Possibilities mentioned were district-run screenings or pediatrician screenings.
Walker reminded the task force that it only makes sense to screen if you have the ability to intervene with something.
Mara Brown wasn’t sure that a universal screener would tell her anything more about her students than she already knows.
Levesque said she could provide a screening roadmap rubric for the task force.
No one on the task force had suggestions for specific interventions. The feeling was that it is more important to have a well-trained teacher. Both Florida and Oregon started evaluating and rating interventions, but stopped because they got bogged down. Wisconsin must also be careful about evaluations by What Works Clearinghouse, which has some problems.
Pedriana asked if the task force is prepared to endorse a model of instruction based on science, where failure is not an option.
The facilitator said this discussion would have to wait for later.
Early Childhood: The task force agreed that YoungStar should include more specific literacy targets.
Rep. Kestell felt that some district are opening 4K programs primarily for added revenue, and that there is wide variability in quality. There is a need to spend more time on this and decide what 4K should look like.
Evers said we should use the Common Core and work backward to determine what needs to be done in 4K.
Wrap-Up: Further discussion of early childhood will be put over to the next meeting, as will the societal issues and accountability. A meeting site has not yet been set, but Governor Walker indicted he liked moving around the state. The Governor’s aides will follow up as to locations and specific agenda. The next meeting will be Thursday, August 25. All meetings are open to the public.
Related: An Open Letter to the Wisconsin Read To Lead Task Force on Implementing Common Core Academic Standards; DPI: “Leading Us Backwards” and how does Wisconsin Compare? www.wisconsin2.org.
Much more on Wisconsin’s Read to Lead Task Force, here.
Governor Walker’s Read to Lead task force met on May 31st at the State Capitol. Following are observations from WRC.
Note: Peggy Stern, an Oscar-winning filmmaker currently working on a project about dyslexia, had a crew filming the meeting. If we are able to acquire footage, we will make it available. If you would like Wisconsin Eye to record future meetings, please contact them at email@example.com.
Format: Unlike the first task force meeting, this meeting was guided by two facilitators from AIR, the American Institutes for Research. This was a suggestion of Senator Luther Olsen, and the facilitators were procured by State Superintendent Tony Evers. Evers and Governor Walker expressed appreciation at not having to be concerned with running the meeting, but there were some problems with the round-robin format chosen by the facilitators. Rather than a give-and-take discussion, as happened at the first meeting, this was primarily a series of statements from people at the table. There was very little opportunity to seek clarification or challenge statements. Time was spent encouraging everyone to comment on every question, regardless of whether they had anything of substance to contribute, and the time allotted to individual task force members varied. Some were cut off before finishing, while others were allowed to go on at length. As a direct result of this format, the conversation was considerably less robust than at the first meeting.
Topics: The range of topics proved to be too ambitious for the time allowed. Teacher preparation and professional development took up the bulk of the time, followed by a rather cursory discussion of assessment tools. The discussion of reading interventions was held over for the next meeting.
Dawnene Hassett, Asst. Prof. of Curriculum and Instruction and new elementary literacy chair, UW-Madison
Tania Mertzman Habeck, Assoc. Prof. of Curriculum and Instruction, UW-Milwaukee
Mary Jo Ziegler, Reading Consultant, Wis. Department of Public Instruction
Troy Couillard, Special Education Team, Wis. Department of Public Instruction
Next Meetings: The Governor’s office will work to set up a schedule of meetings for the next several months. Some of the meetings may be in other parts of the state.
Action: WRC suggests contacting the offices of the Governor, Luther Olsen, Steve Kestell, and Jason Fields and your own legislators to ask for several things:
Arrange for filming the next meeting through Wisconsin Eye
Bring in national experts such as Louisa Moats, Joe Torgesen, and Peggy McCardle to provide Wisconsin with the road map for effective reading instruction, teacher preparation, and professional development . . . top university, DPI, and professional organization leaders at the May 31st meeting asked for a road map and admitted they have not been able to develop one
Arrange the format of the next meeting to allow for more authentic and robust discussion of issues
Teacher Training and Professional Development
The professors felt that the five components of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) are generally taught in preparation programs, but that instruction varies widely from one institution to another. Reading course work requirements can vary from 12 credits to just one course. They also felt, as did the teachers on the panel, that there needs to be more practical hand-on experience in the undergraduate program. There was a feeling that teachers “forget” their instruction in reading foundations by the time they graduate and get into the classroom. They have better luck teaching masters level students who already have classroom experience. The linguistic knowledge means very little without a practicum, and we may need to resort to professional development to impart that information. Teachers need to be experts in teaching reading, but many currently don’t feel that way. It is important, especially with RTI coming, to be able to meet the needs of individual students.Both professors and teachers, as well as others on the panel, felt a “road map” of critical information for teacher preparation programs and literacy instruction in schools would be a good idea. This was a point of agreement. Hassett felt that pieces of a plan currently exist, but not a complete road map. The professors and some of the teachers felt that teacher prep programs are doing a better job at teaching decoding than comprehension strategies. They were open to more uniformity in syllabi and some top-down mandates.
Marcia Henry mentioned studies by Joshi, et al. that found that 53% of pre-service teachers and 60% of in-service teachers are unable to correctly answer questions about the structure of the English language. Tony Pedriana cited another Joshi study that showed college professors of reading were equally uninformed about the language, and the majority cannot distinguish between phonemic awareness and phonics. He also said it was very difficult to find out what colleges were teaching; one college recently refused his request to see a syllabus for a reading course. Steve Dykstra read from the former Wisconsin Model Academic Standards and the current Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards, which contained incorrect definitions and examples of phonemic awareness. He questioned whether teachers were being adequately prepared in decoding skills. Rep. Steve Kestell was concerned with the assessment that most teachers do not feel like experts in teaching reading, and he wondered if updated techniques for training teachers would make a difference.
Sarah Archibald (aide to Luther Olsen) proposed looking at a more rigorous foundations of reading test, as found in other states, as a requirement for teacher licensure. This would be one way to move toward more uniform instruction in teacher prep programs. Steve Dykstra pointed out that a test alone will not necessarily drive changes in teacher preparation, but publishing the passage results linked to individual colleges or professors would help. Evers indicated that DPI has been looking for several months into teacher testing and licensure.
Gov. Walker asked if the ed schools were looking at the latest trends in teacher preparation to become better. The professors indicated that the ed schools confer with local districts in an effort to improve.
Supt. Evers said it was probably not a good idea that teacher prep programs across Wisconsin vary so much.
Hassett indicated that some flexibility needs to be retained so that urban and rural areas can teach differently. There was some disagreement as to whether teachers of upper grades need to be trained in reading, or at least trained the same way.
Linda Pils pointed out that the amount and quality of professional development for Wisconsin teachers is very spotty. Most panel members felt that a coaching model with ongoing training for both teachers and principals was essential to professional development, but the coaches must be adequately trained. There was some discussion of Professional Development Plans, which are required for relicensure, and whether the areas of development should be totally up the individual teacher as they are now. Steve Dykstra felt that much existing professional development is very poor, and that money and time needs to be spent better. Some things should not count for professional development. Michele Erikson felt that it would be good to require that Professional development be linked to the needs of the students as demonstrated by performance data. Mary Read pointed out that coaching should extend to summer programs.
The main consensus here was that we need a road map for good reading instruction and good teacher training and coaching. What is missing is the substance of that road map, and the experts we will listen to in developing it.
Mary Jo Ziegler presented a list of formal and informal assessment tools used around Wisconsin. Evers pointed out that assessment is a local district decision. Many former Reading First schools use DIBELS or some formal screener that assesses individual skills. Balanced literacy districts generally use something different. Madison, for example, has its own PLA (Primary Language Assessment), which includes running records, an observational survey, word identification, etc. MAP assessments are widely used, but Evers indicated that have not been shown to be reliable/valid below third grade. Dykstra questioned the reliability of MAP on the individual student level for all ages. PALS was discussed, as was the new wireless handheld DIBELS technology that some states are using statewide. Many members mentioned the importance of having multiple methods of assessment. Kathy Champeau delivered an impassioned plea for running records and Clay’s Observational Survey, which she said have been cornerstones of her teaching. Kestell was surprised that so many different tools are being used, and that the goal should be to make use of the data that is gathered. Dykstra, Henry, and Pedriana mentioned that assessment must guide instruction, and Archibald said that the purpose of an assessment must be considered. Couillard said that the Wis. RTI center is producing a questionnaire by which districts can evaluate assessment tools they hear about, and that they will do trainings on multiple and balanced assessments. Dykstra questioned the three-cue reading philosophy that often underlies miscue analysis and running records. no consensus was reached on what types of assessment should be used, or whether they should be more consistent across the state. Hassett questioned the timed component of DIBELS,and Dykstra explained its purpose. Some serious disagreements remain about the appropriateness of certain assessment tools, and their use by untrained teachers who do not know what warning signs to look for.
Evers began the topic of intervention by saying that DPI was still collecting data on districts that score well, and then will look at what intervention techniques they use. Henry suggested deferring discussion of this important topic to the next meeting, as there were only 8 minutes left.
via a kind reader’s email:
Notice of Commission Meeting
Governor’s Read to Lead Task Force
Governor Scott Walker, Chair
Superintendent Tony Evers, Vice-Chair
Members: Mara Brown, Kathy Champeau, Steve Dykstra, Michele Erikson, Representative Jason Fields, Marcia Henry, Representative Steve Kestell, Rachel Lander, Senator Luther Olsen, Tony Pedriana, Linda Pils, and Mary Read.
Guests: Professors from UW colleges of education
Tuesday, May 31, 2011 1:00pm
Office of the Governor, Governor’s Conference Room 115 East State Capitol Madison, WI 53702
Welcome and opening remarks by Governor Walker and Superintendent Evers.
Introductions from task force members and guest members representing UW colleges of education.
A discussion of teacher training and professional development including current practices and ways to improve.
A discussion of reading interventions including current practices and ways to improve.
A discussion of future topics and future meeting dates.
Governor Scott Walker
Individuals needing assistance, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, should contact the Governor’s office at (608) 266-1212, 24 hours before this meeting to make necessary arrangements.
Assembly Democrats today proposed using more than half of the new money in last week’s bolstered revenue projections to increase K-12 funding in the state budget, charging that Republicans have failed to distinguish between priorities that can wait and those that cannot.
“We are actually fighting for the very future of public education,” Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo, said at a press conference outside the Capitol this morning. Clark is running against GOP Sen. Luther Olsen in a potential recall election.
Dems proposed directing $356 million more toward school aids in the budget after LFB projections added $636 million to state coffers over the next biennium last week. Their proposal would also reserve $200 million of that revenue to repay the Patients Compensation Fund, $100 million to pay down some state debt and $20 million to increase aid to technical colleges.
School boards across Wisconsin could use teacher evaluations – which rely in part on the results of students’ standardized state test scores – as part of the reason for dismissing and disciplining educators, according to legislation considered by the Assembly and Senate education committees Monday.
Senate Bill 95 proposes modifying 10 state mandates so that local school districts have more flexibility to decide what’s best for their communities, said Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), a co-sponsor of the bill with Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills).
The legislation covers a wide berth of areas – from allowing school boards to offer physical education credit to high school students who participate in one season of an extracurricular sport, to changing the way a state-funded class-size reduction program is implemented in the elementary grades – but was criticized by some legislators who thought it was too hastily brought to a hearing Monday.
Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) noted that details about the bill were released only one business day earlier, on Friday, by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
“I’m pretty sure if there had been more notice on this, this room would have been packed,” she said, looking at the meager crowd of about 30 people.
While working on another story this morning, I kept checking Wisconsin Eye’s live coverage of the first meeting of Gov. Scott Walker’s blue ribbon task force on reading.
Sitting next to the Governor at the head of the table was State Superintendent Tony Evers, flanked by Sen. Luther Olsen, chair of the Education Committee and Rep. Steve Kestell. Also on hand were representatives from organizations like the Wisconsin State Reading Association (Kathy Champeau), teachers and various other reading experts, including a former Milwaukee area principal, Anthony Pedriana, who has written an influential book on reading and student achievement called “Leaving Johnny Behind.” Also on hand was Steven Dykstra of the Wisconsin Reading Coalition.
Dykstra, in particular, had a lot to say, but the discussion of how well Wisconsin kids are learning to read — a subject that gets heated among education experts as well as parents and teachers — struck me as quite engaging and generally cordial.
There seemed to be consensus surrounding the notion that it’s vitally important for students to become successful readers in the early grades, and that goal should be an urgent priority in Wisconsin.
But how the state is currently measuring up to its own past performance, and to other states, is subject to some debate. Furthermore, there isn’t a single answer or widespread agreement on precisely how to make kids into better readers.
- Georgia, Wisconsin Education Schools Back Out of NCTQ Review
- Teacher colleges balk at being rated Wisconsin schools say quality survey from national nonprofit and magazine won’t be fair
- When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?
- Julie Underwood: SIS and Clusty Searches.
As families begin to enroll their students Monday in virtual schools or neighboring districts through the state’s open enrollment process, the Legislature is debating changes to the program.
The Senate approved a bill this week that would extend the enrollment period from three weeks in February to three months, starting this year. The bill still needs approval in the Assembly and the governor’s signature.
The changes would make it easier for parents who want to enroll their students in public schools outside their own district, but may not be thinking about that decision in February, said Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, who introduced the bill.
Democrats opposed the changes, however, saying the wider window will cause administrative hassles and uncertainty for school districts about proper staffing levels as they try to budget for the next school year.
Much more on open enrollment, here.
We heard encouraging words about school reform last week from Republican leaders in the state Legislature.
For starters, those leaders — Sen. Luther Olsen of Ripon and Rep. Steve Kestell of Elkhart Lake — both seem focused on change and flexibility, essential parts of any movement forward with our public schools. And both seem committed to reducing the mandates and state demands on local school systems.
That type of increased local control will be necessary not only to truly bring about change to public schools but also to maneuver them through an era of exceedingly tight budgets. Funding for schools no doubt will be squeezed as Gov. Scott Walker deals with the state’s $3 billion-plus deficit in his two-year budget proposal next month.
They called it the “Canada effect” – the phenomenon in which students from a string of states along the country’s northern border regularly beat the rest of the nation on academic tests.
As recently as 1992, only three states – all from northern climates – had significantly higher average scores than Wisconsin in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math. No states scored significantly better than Wisconsin in fourth-grade math national assessments.
By 2009, this effect was wiped out for Wisconsin’s students. The state’s fourth grade reading scores placed statistically ahead of only 12 states and the District of Columbia. On the fourth- and eighth-grade math tests, the state’s students beat 26 states and the District of Columbia, results that could be considered slightly above average.
“We have lulled ourselves into thinking we’re really, really good,” said state Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), who will become chairman of the Senate Education Committee. “We’re OK, but we need to get better because other states are doing more at improving.”
With research showing the most important school factor in student performance is the effectiveness of classroom teachers, Wisconsin’s political and education leaders have called louder than ever for improving the quality of the state’s educators.
Featured speakers at the conference include Greg Richmond, President and founding board member of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and establisher of the Chicago Public School District’s Charter Schools Office; Ursula Wright, the Chief Operating Officer for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Sarah Archibald of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education at UW-Madison and the Value-Added Research Center; and Richard Halverson, an associate professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Also speaking at the Conference will be:
- State Senator John Lehman (D-Racine), Chair Senate Education Committee
- State Senator Luther Olsen (R-Berlin), Ranking Minority Member, Senate Education
- State Representative Sondy Pope-Roberts (D-Middleton), Chair, Assembly Education Committee
- State Representative Brett Davis (R-Oregon), Ranking Minority Member, Assembly Education
The Conference will feature interactive sessions; hands-on examples of innovative learning in classrooms; networking; a coaching room open throughout the conference; and keynote speakers that highlight the importance of quality in and around each classroom, and the impact that quality has on the learning of students everywhere. More details are attached.
Thank you for your consideration and your help in getting word out! If you would like to attend on a press pass, please let me know and I will have one in your name at the registration area.
A state law used to settle contracts and restrict teacher compensation in school districts from Wauwatosa to Cedarburg to New Berlin could be repealed this year, now that Democrats control both houses of the Legislature and the governor’s mansion.
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee took the most significant step toward eliminating the qualified economic offer (QEO) law since Gov. Jim Doyle took office simply by keeping the repeal proposal in the budget that it will begin considering Thursday. Prior attempts by Doyle to repeal the QEO as part of the biennial budget process were rejected by the committee when it was under bipartisan and Republican rule.
But now that the process is controlled by Democrats, who typically are more favorable to teacher- and labor-backed issues, state Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) called the chances the QEO will be eliminated this year “100%.” Passing the measure with the budget is viewed as easier than proposing it as an individual bill.
“The teachers union has wanted to get rid of this for a long time,” Olsen said. “They finally got the Democrats in power to do it. The Democrats plan to get rid of the QEO. The governor will get rid of the QEO.”
In place since 1993, the QEO was implemented as part of a three-pronged approach to change how public schools are funded in the state.
On the state Senate’s calendar today is a bill that would keep alive the state’s virtual schools by imposing standards on them and making sure funding for the schools continues. On Monday, various groups were in discussions on what form the final bill would take and whether it would be amended to include such items as a cap on the number of students allowed to enroll in the schools.
The Senate should reject such amendments and any attempt to weaken this bipartisan compromise measure that was carefully crafted by Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine), Rep. Brett Davis (R-Oregon) and Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). It is backed by the state Department of Public Instruction.
Right now, the state has 12 virtual schools that serve more than 3,000 children, according to the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families. The future of those schools was put in jeopardy after the state Court of Appeals ruled in December that they were not entitled to state aid. The bill put together by Lehman and others would restore that funding by requiring virtual schools to meet specific standards, among them having the same number of hours of instruction per year as traditional classrooms and using certified, licensed teachers.
Virtual schools are a sound alternative for some children, and it’s clear from state test scores that most kids in virtual schools do well. It’s also clear that their parents care passionately about the schools.
The future of the state’s 12 virtual schools was unclear after the state Court of Appeals ruled in December that they were not entitled to state aid. This bipartisan bill, which is moving through both houses of the Legislature, would impose new standards and ensure that funding continues.
But with Wisconsin schools knee-deep in the open enrollment process and legislative time at a premium, Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Weston) and Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) must make this bill a priority.
And the state teachers union, which brought the lawsuit that led to the Court of Appeals decision, should resist the impulse to try to force changes to the legislation or derail it.
The bill has not been scheduled for action yet, but the legislators who negotiated the compromise – state Sen. John Lehman (D-Racine), Rep. Brett Davis (R-Oregon) and Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) – want the measure to be considered as soon as possible.
Among the bill’s provisions: Virtual schools must have the same number of hours of instruction per year as traditional classrooms; must use only certified, licensed teachers to develop lesson plans and to grade assignments; and must make all records available under the state open records law. In addition, the state Department of Public Instruction, which backs the bill, could operate an online academy to advise districts that want to start their own online schools.
Amy Hetzner: A major study of restructuring the state’s school funding system has produced a plan its author predicts could double academic achievement among Wisconsin students for 6.8% more money annually than the state spends currently. The study by Allan Odden, a University of Wisconsin-Madison education professor, is more than a year in the making … Continue reading Wisconsin School Financing Proposal
Some people believe that the Wisconsin Legislature just doesn’t understand how revenue caps affect Wisconsin schools. I’m sorry to say, legislators know very well how caps control spending and they’re happy about it. “In GOP Plays Politics With Property Taxes,” The Capital Times’ Matt Pommer wrote in December 2004: Republicans sought to recapture the anti-tax … Continue reading GOP likes (and will keep) school spending caps
Rose Fernandez: I am the mother of 4 children who are excelling with Internet-based learning though a public school in Wisconsin. I am also the President of the Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families. Together with our fellow parents, families and friends, we strive to educate policy makers and others on why we chose a … Continue reading Virtual Public Schools a Great Option
How far can schools stretch their dollars? Education funding is central to budget debate in Madison By ALAN J. BORSUK and AMY HETZNER, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel firstname.lastname@example.org Posted: June 18, 2005 Let’s say your parents base your budget for gasoline for the year on $1.75 a gallon. The next year, Mom and Dad say, … Continue reading Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on WI Budget Debate over Funding Public K-12 Schools
School-funding update JFC budget for public schools even worse than expected Contact your legislators about anti-public education budget Opportunities to fight against Finance Committee’s budget Help WAES spread the school-finance reform message School-funding reform calendar The Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES) is a statewide network of educators, school board members, parents, community leaders, and … Continue reading Joint Finance Committee Republicans Bail on Funding Education