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New Zealand ends reading recovery programme in schools



Newshub:

Education Minister Erica Stanford has not ruled out job losses as the Government moves to end New Zealand’s long-running reading recovery programme.  

The programme, which helps struggling readers, is being dumped as part of a $67 million dollar shake-up of the way literacy is taught in state schools.

The Government is making it mandatory for schools to use a structured literacy approach to teach reaching from next year – which is based on phonics, decoding and word understanding.

The reading recovery programme uses a different “whole language” approach, which has been criticised for using pictures to help children guess words.  

On Friday, Stanford confirmed the end of the programme.  




Reading Recovery program being phased out as new law takes effect



By Sue Loughlin

Under a new law, HEA 1558, the state of Indiana is mandating instruction and curriculum that aligns with the science of reading; use of Reading Recovery must be phased out by fall of 2024.

Science of reading is a methodology that uses direct, systematic use of five elements in literacy instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

It is based on research about how brains actually learn to read.

The law says schools may not adopt curriculum based on the “three-cueing” model, which uses context, pictures or syntax clues for literacy instruction.

Teresa Stuckey, VCSC executive director of elementary education, says that Reading Recovery is considered three-cueing under the changes.

“The research is showing (three-cueing) doesn’t fit with the way children’s minds work, the way the brain processes,” she said.

The district has 24 Title 1 reading teachers, or interventionists, who use Reading Recovery part of the day.

———

Madison has long used Reading Recovery, despite our long term, disastrous reading results.

Underly and our long term disastrous reading results….

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Long term study of “reading recovery”; Madison was/is a long time user…



the report.

“Well, it’s kind of too bad that we’ve got the smartest people at our universities, and yet we have to create a law to tell them how to teach.”

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




“At least 2.4 million students in the United States have participated in Reading Recovery”. Madison?



Emily Hanford & Christopher Peak:

The fact that students who participated in Reading Recovery did worse in later grades than similar students who did not get the program surprised May. [study]

“Was Reading Recovery harmful? I wouldn’t go as far as to say that,” he said. “But what we do know is that the kids that got it for some reason ended up losing their gains and then falling behind.”

In a written response to the study, the Reading Recovery Council of North America, the organization that advocates for the program in the United States, disputed some of the research methodology and maintained that their program is effective. It also said: “Reading Recovery has and will continue to change in response to evidence gathered from a wide range of studies of both students having difficulties with early reading and writing and their teachers.”

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Madison’s literacy disaster, continued: reading recovery’s negative impact on children



Emily Hanford and Christopher Peak

The new, federally funded study found that children who received Reading Recovery had scores on state reading tests in third and fourth grade that were below the test scores of similar children who did not receive Reading Recovery. 

“It’s not what we expected, and it’s concerning,” said lead author Henry May, director of the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy at the University of Delaware, who delivered the findings at the prestigious, annual gathering of education researchers being held this year in San Diego.

The findings could prompt school districts nationwide to reexamine their investment in Reading Recovery and consider other ways to help struggling first-graders. 

May was the principal investigator of an earlier federally funded study of Reading Recovery, one of the largest ever randomized experiments of an instructional intervention in elementary schools. That study, which began in 2011, found evidence of large positive gains in first grade, as has other research. The program’s advocates have pointed to that research as evidence that the instructional approach is based on sound science and is effective. 

But whether the initial gains last and translate into better performance on state reading tests remained a question. The new study on the long-term impact of Reading Recovery is the largest, most rigorous effort to tackle that question, according to May. 

The fact that students who participated in Reading Recovery did worse in later grades than similar students who did not get the program surprised May. “Was Reading Recovery harmful? I wouldn’t go as far as to say that,” he said. “But what we do know is that the kids that got it for some reason ended up losing their gains and then falling behind.”

At least 2.4 million students in the United States have participated in Reading Recovery or its Spanish-language counterpart since 1984, when the program first came to America from New Zealand. The program is in nearly 2,000 schools in 41 states.

Mandates, closed schools and Dane County Madison Public Health.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




Why is reading Recovery So Limited in its Usefulness?



James Chapman, via a kind reader:

Children are encouraged to use pictures or other cues to guess unknown words. This approach is supported by the use of predictable books rather than decodable books. Predictable books have sentences that are repetitive and have words that many beginner readers cannot read by themselves.

Learning to read is not like learning to talk. Most children need to be taught explicitly what sounds that letters, and groups of letters, make. Phonics helps in this process. Unfortunately, RR strongly and mistakenly disapproves of phonics. As a result, RR denies most struggling readers with the very skills they need to become successful readers.

RR does not teach children how words work. In addition to letter sounds,there are other important building blocks that children need to learn to help them read. Children need to be able to blend sounds together, segment words into their separate sounds, and break words into syllables. These skills are also really important for spelling development. RR does not focus on developing these skills even though the research about their importance is overwhelming. Struggling readers are disadvantaged as a result.
RR has little to no focus on spelling. Yet, there is a lot of evidence that shows reading and spelling should be learnt at the same time.

RR has turned out to be a big disappointment. One major review of early intervention programs showed that RR was no better than one-to-one interventions that were done by teacher aides or volunteers with little training. This comprehensive review showed that the most successful reading intervention programs in the junior primary school were based on phonics approaches. Yet, RR clings to outdated reading approaches that end up disadvantaging the very students the program is supposed to help.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.




Madison Schools & Reading Recovery. Decades go by….



The Madison School District (PDF):

What Have We Learned?

Nationally and internationally, large body of research on Reading Recovery with mixed evidence

Locally, although some RR students in some schools have success during and after the program, results over time show no consistent positive effects at a systems level

What do these findings mean for interventions overall and for Reading Recovery?

Next Steps
In General for Interventions:

Review current interventions on a cycle that is commensurate with core curriculum review

Central office will provide guidance and support to schools as they select interventions based on student needs

Tighten up system of documentation for all interventions (Oasys)

Continue to identify effective research based interventions that may meet the needs of more students

Continue with our expanded and enhanced professional development model as it is a comprehensive training model that supports coherent instruction

Specific to Reading Recovery:

Based on capacity to implement with fidelity, history of student success, and alignment with School Improvement

Plan, principals have discretion to offer Reading Recovery within their multi-tiered system of supports

Fits with district belief of flexibility within clear parameters

Keeps schools at the center of decision-making because they know their students and staff best

Title 1 schools are no longer required to have Reading Recovery as an intervention

Title 1 schools will not lose any funding if they choose not to implement Reading Recovery

2014 Madison Schools’ Reading Recovery Evaluation (PDF).

Notes and links on Reading Recovery.

Madison’s long term disastrous reading results.




Reading Recovery and the failure of the New Zealand national literacy strategy; Grist for the 2014 Election & Madison’s Long RR Embrace



William E. Tunmer, James W. economic communities. Disparities Chapman & Keith T. Greaney (PDF):

In this LDA Bulletin article, we summarise arguments and evidence reported in a detailed paper (Tunmer, Chapman, Greaney, Prochnow & Arrow, 2013) showing that New Zealand’s national literacy strategy has failed and particularly the role of Reading Recovery in contributing to that failure.

In response to growing concerns during the 1990s about New Zealand’s relatively “long tail” of literacy underachievement, the government established a Literacy Taskforce to provide recommendations aimed at raising the literacy achievement of all students but with particular attention given to “closing the gap between the lowest and highest students” (Ministry of Education, 1999, p.7). The recommendations of the Taskforce constituted the national literacy strategy for reducing the large disparity in reading achievement outcomes between good and poor readers.

A decade later, concerns were still being expressed about the literacy achievement gap. In December 2011, the New Zealand Ministry of Education’s Briefing to the Incoming Minister following the New Zealand general election (Ministry of Education, 2011) stated that:

“…the gap between our high performing and low performing students remains one of the widest in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). These low performing students are likely to be Mãori or Pasifika and/or from low socio-economic communities. Disparities in education appear early and persist throughout learning” (p.8).

Based on these findings, the Briefing concluded that, “The greatest challenge facing the schooling sector is producing equitable outcomes for students” (p.23). This conclusion can be taken as an admission that the national literacy strategy was failing to reduce the gap.

Related: Reading Recovery in madison….. 28% to 58%; lags national effectiveness average…..

Much more on Reading Recovery, here.

Via the Wisconsin Coalition on Reading:

Yet another research paper shows the ineffectiveness of Reading Recovery. Reading Recovery and the failure of the New Zealand national literacy strategy, by Tunmer, Chapman, Greaney, Prochnow, and Arrow, was published in November of 2013, and has been getting some more publicity lately. Aside from the Reading Recovery program itself, which is still in use in many schools in our state, Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) is based on the same instructional principles.

Check out this dyslexia PSA produced by students in Oregon.




NAEP Wisconsin Results & Commentary with a Remarkable Reading Recovery Booster



Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email:

The results of the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were released today. For Wisconsin, the news on reading is much the same as it was two years ago at the last NAEP administration. 33.6% of our 4th graders reached the proficient level. Massachusetts again scored at the top, with 50.4% of its 4th graders proficient.
Wisconsin students who are Asian, black, and white, as well as students who are not eligible for a free and reduced lunch, all posted scores that are significantly lower than the national averages for those groups of students. We had no 4th grade sub-groups that scored significantly above the national average for their group.
Wisconsin’s black 8th graders had the lowest scores in the nation, falling below Mississippi and Alabama. Wisconsin’s black 4th graders had the second lowest scores in the nation, and at both 4th and 8th grade, Wisconsin had the largest gap between white and black students.
As we examine the data more fully, we will have more specifics.

Stephanie Banchero:

Fourth- and eighth-graders across the country made modest advances in national math and reading exams this year, according to data released Thursday, but proficiency rates remained stubbornly below 50% on every test.
Amid the sluggish progress nationwide, a few areas notched drastic improvements on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress exams, with Tennessee and Washington, D.C., –as well as schools on military bases–the only ones achieving statistically significant gains on all tests.
Washington gained a cumulative 23 points since 2011, while Tennessee posted a 22-point jump–both compared with a 4-point national gain. The exams are scored on a 0-500 scale.
Officials in Tennessee and Washington attributed the gains to tougher classroom math and reading standards, improved teacher development and overhauling teacher evaluations.

State posts widest achievement gap in ‘the nation’s report card’ by Lydia Mulvany:

Steven Dykstra, a founding member of the Wisconsin Reading Coalition, a grassroots group devoted to reforming reading instruction, said the state needs to start imitating reforms in other states by training teachers more effectively. In the past, Wisconsin students ranked as high as third in the nation in reading.
“This isn’t a surprise. The last time we did well in reading was when everyone sucked at reading,” Dykstra said. “When some states started doing better, they very quickly left us behind.”
“Left behind” is precisely what the data shows is happening to Wisconsin’s black students:
Eighth graders, reading: 9% were judged proficient; 55% rated below basic, the most of any state.
Fourth graders, reading: 11% were proficient; 65% scored below basic, again the most of any state.
Eighth graders, math: 8% were proficient; 62% rated below basic, better than only three states.
Fourth graders, math: 25% were proficient; 30% scored below basic, again with only three states performing worse.
Henry Krankendonk, a retired Milwaukee Public Schools math curriculum planner and NAEP board member, said Wisconsin’s failure to narrow the disparity — which has existed for decades — is a challenge for Milwaukee in particular, because it has the highest concentration of minority students. Krankendonk said the problem has long been weak standards for what students should know, and he was hopeful that the recent adoption of new standards more in line with NAEP, called Common Core State Standards, would help.

Meanwhile, St. Norbert College Education Professor Steve Correia emphasized how well (!) Reading Recovery is working while discussing Wisconsin’s NAEP results on WPR. [5.6mb mp3 audio]
Related: Madison’s long term disastrous reading results.
Much more on NAEP over time, here.




Reading Recovery in Madison….. 28% to 58%; Lags National Effectiveness Average….




Tap or click for a larger version of the above chart.

Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore:

In investigating the options for data to report for these programs for 2011-12 and for prior years, Research & Program Evaluation staff have not been able to find a consistent way that students were identified as participants in these literacy interventions in prior years.
As such, there are serious data concerns that make the exact measures too difficult to secure at this time. Staff are working now with Curriculum & Assessment leads to find solutions. However, it is possible that this plan will need to be modified based on uncertain data availability prior to 2011-12.

Much more on Madison’s disastrous reading results, here. Reading continues to be job one for our $392,000,000 public schools.


Tap or click to view a larger version of the above image.
Measuring Madison’s Progress – Final Report (2.5MB PDF).
Given the results, perhaps the continued $pending and related property tax increases for Reading Recovery are driven by adult employment, rather than kids learning to read.
UPDATE: April 1, 2013 Madison School Board discussion of the District’s reading results. I found the curriculum creation conversation toward the end of the meeting fascinating, particularly in light of these long term terrible results. I am not optimistic that student reading skills will improve given the present structure and practices. 30 MB MP3.

UPDATE: December, 2017…. ….

Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results:

The teachers are angry because we are being held accountable for things that we didn’t do at the high school level. Of those 24 students, 21 of them have been enrolled in Madison for four or more years.

Of those 24 students one is Caucasian the rest of them identify as some other ethnic group.

I am tired of the district playing what I called whack-a-mole, (in) another words a problem happens at Cherokee boom we bop it down and we we fix it temporarily and then something at Sherman or something at Toki or something at Faulk and we bop it down and its quiet for awhile but it has not been fixed on a system-wide level and that’s what has to change.

2018: Seeing the Forest: Unpacking the Relationship Between Madison School District (WI) Graduation Rates and Student Achievement.




Madison School Board Votes 5-2 to Continue Reading Recovery (Howard, Hughes, Moss, Passman, Silveira: Yes; Cole & Mathiak Vote No)



Gayle Worland:

With Monday’s actions, the board still has about $5.6 million to deal with – either through cuts, property tax increases, or a combination of the two – when it meets again next week to finalize the district’s preliminary budget for 2010-11. So far, the board has made about $10.6 million in cuts and approved a levy increase of $12.7 million, a tax hike of $141.76 for the owner of a $250,000 Madison home.
In an evening of cost shifting, the board voted to apply $1,437,820 in overestimated health care insurance costs to save 17.8 positions for Reading Recovery teachers, who focus on the district’s lowest-performing readers. That measure passed 5-2, with board members Maya Cole and Lucy Mathiak voting no. The district is undergoing a review of its reading programs and Cole questioned whether it makes sense to retain Reading Recovery, which she said has a 42 percent success rate.

Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.
Surprising, in light of the ongoing poor low income reading scores here and around Wisconsin. How many more children will leave our schools with poor reading skills?
The Wisconsin State Journal advocates a teacher compensation freeze (annual increase plus the “step” increases).




Governance: Madison School Board Members Proposed 2010-2011 Budget Amendments: Cole, Hughes, Mathiak, Moss & Silveira. Reading Recovery, Teaching & Learning, “Value Added Assessment” based on WKCE on the Chopping Block



Well worth reading, particularly Maya Cole’s suggestions on Reading Recovery (60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use) spending, Administrative compensation comparison, a proposal to eliminate the District’s public information position, Ed Hughes suggestion to eliminate the District’s lobbyist (Madison is the only District in the state with a lobbyist), trade salary increases for jobs, Lucy Mathiak’s recommendations vis a vis Teaching & Learning, the elimination of the “expulsion navigator position”, reduction of Administrative travel to fund Instructional Resource Teachers, Arlene Silveira’s recommendation to reduce supply spending in an effort to fund elementary school coaches and a $200,000 reduction in consultant spending. Details via the following links:
Maya Cole: 36K PDF
Ed Hughes: 127K PDF
Lucy Mathiak: 114K PDF
Beth Moss: 10K PDF
Arlene Silveira: 114K PDF
The Madison School District Administration responded in the following pdf documents:

Much more on the proposed 2010-2011 Madison School District Budget here.




Reading Recovery: Effectiveness & Program Description



US Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, via a kind reader’s email:

No studies of Reading Recovery® that fall within the scope of the English Language Learners (ELL) review protocol meet What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) evidence standards. The lack of studies meeting WWC evidence standards means that, at this time, the WWC is unable to draw any conclusions based on research about the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of Reading Recovery® on ELL.
Reading Recovery® is a short-term tutoring intervention designed to serve the lowest-achieving (bottom 20%) first-grade students. The goals of Reading Recovery® include: promoting literacy skills; reducing the number of first-grade students who are struggling to read; and preventing long-term reading difficulties. Reading Recovery® supplements classroom teaching with one-to-one tutoring sessions, generally conducted as pull-out sessions during the school day. The tutoring, which is conducted by trained Reading Recovery® teachers, takes place for 30 minutes a day over a period of 12 to 20 weeks.

Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.




Reading Recovery Discussed at the 12/7/2009 Madison School Board Meeting and Administration Followup




Click for a Reading Recovery Data Summary from Madison’s Elementary Schools. December 2009

Madison School Board 24MB mp3 audio file. Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s December 10, 2009 memorandum [311K PDF] to the board in response to the 12/7/2009 meeting:

Attached to this memo are several items related to further explanation of the reason why full implementation is more effective for Reading Recovery and what will happen to the schools who would no longer receive Reading Recovery as part of the administrative recommendation. There are three options for your review:

  • Option I: Continue serving the 23 schools with modifications.
  • Option II: Reading Recovery Full Implementation at Title I schools and Non-Title I Schools.
  • Option III: Serving some students in all or a majority of schools, not just the 23 schools who are currently served.

The first attachment is a one-page overview summary ofthe MMSD Comprehensive Literacy Model. It explains the Balanced Literacy Model used in all MMSD elementary schools. It also provides an explanation of the wrap around services to support each school through the use of an Instructional Resource Teacher as well as Tier II and Tier III interventions common in all schools.
The second attachment shows the detailed K-5 Title I Reading Curriculum Description in which MMSD uses four programs in Title I schools: Rock and Read, Reading Recovery, Apprenticeship, and Soar to Success. As part of our recommendation, professional development will be provided in all elementary schools to enable all teachers to use these programs. Beginning in Kindergarten, the four instructional interventions support and develop students’ reading and writing skills in order to meet grade level proficiency with a focus on the most intensive and individualized wrap around support in Kindergarten and I” Grade with follow up support through fifth grade.
Currently these interventions are almost solely used in Title I schools.
The third attachment contains three sheets – the frrst for Reading Recovery Full Implementation at Title I schools, the second for No Reading Recovery – at Title I Schools, and the third for No Reading Recovery and No Title I eligibility. In this model we would intensify Reading Recovery in a limited number of schools (14 schools) and provide professional development to support teachers in providing small group interventions to struggling students.
The fourth attachment is a chart of all schools, students at risk and students with the highest probability of success in Reading Recovery for the 2009-10 school year. This chart may be used if Reading Recovery would be distributed based on student eligibility (districtwide lowest 20% of students in f rst grade) and school eligibility (based on the highest number of students in need per school).
Option I: Leave Reading Recovery as it currently is, in the 23 schools, but target students more strategically and make sure readiness is in place before the Reading Recovery intervention.

Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.
Props to the Madison School Board for asking excellent, pointed questions on the most important matter: making sure students can read.




60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use



via a kind reader’s email: Sue Abplanalp, Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education, Lisa Wachtel, Executive Director, Teaching & Learning, Mary Jo Ziegler, Language Arts/Reading Coordinator, Teaching & Learning, Jennie Allen, Title I, Ellie Schneider, Reading Recovery Teacher Leader [2.6MB PDF]:

Background The Board of Education requested a thorough and neutral review of the Madison Metropolitan School District’s (MMSD) Reading Recovery program, In response to the Board request, this packet contains a review of Reading Recovery and related research, Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Reading Recovery student data analysis, and a matrix summarizing three options for improving early literacy intervention. Below please find a summary of the comprehensive research contained in the Board of Education packet. It is our intent to provide the Board of Education with the research and data analysis in order to facilitate discussion and action toward improved effectiveness of early literacy instruction in MMSD.
Reading Recovery Program Description The Reading Recovery Program is an intensive literacy intervention program based on the work of Dr. Marie Clay in New Zealand in the 1970’s, Reading Recovery is a short-term, intensive literacy intervention for the lowest performing first grade students. Reading Recovery serves two purposes, First, it accelerates the literacy learning of our most at-risk first graders, thus narrowing the achievement gap. Second, it identifies children who may need a long-term intervention, offering systematic observation and analysis to support recommendations for further action.
The Reading Recovery program consists of an approximately 20-week intervention period of one-to-one support from a highly trained Reading Recovery teacher. This Reading Recovery instruction is in addition to classroom literacy instruction delivered by the classroom teacher during the 90-minute literacy block. The program goal is to provide the lowest performing first grade students with effective reading and writing strategies allowing the child to perform within the average range of a typical first grade classroom after a successful intervention period. A successful intervention period allows the child to be “discontinued” from the Reading Recovery program and to function proficiently in regular classroom literacy instruction.
Reading Recovery Program Improvement Efforts The national Reading Recovery data reports the discontinued rate for first grade students at 60%. In 2008-09, the discontinued rate for MMSD students was 42% of the students who received Reading Recovery. The Madison Metropolitan School District has conducted extensive reviews of Reading Recovery every three to four years. In an effort to increase the discontinued rate of Reading Recovery students, MMSD worked to improve the program’s success through three phases.

Reading recovery will be discussed at Monday evening’s Madison School Board meeting.
Related:

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison Psychology Professor Mark Seidenberg: Madison schools distort reading data:

    In her column, Belmore also emphasized the 80 percent of the children who are doing well, but she provided additional statistics indicating that test scores are improving at the five target schools. Thus she argued that the best thing is to stick with the current program rather than use the Reading First money.
    Belmore has provided a lesson in the selective use of statistics. It’s true that third grade reading scores improved at the schools between 1998 and 2004. However, at Hawthorne, scores have been flat (not improving) since 2000; at Glendale, flat since 2001; at Midvale/ Lincoln, flat since 2002; and at Orchard Ridge they have improved since 2002 – bringing them back to slightly higher than where they were in 2001.
    In short, these schools are not making steady upward progress, at least as measured by this test.
    Belmore’s attitude is that the current program is working at these schools and that the percentage of advanced/proficient readers will eventually reach the districtwide success level. But what happens to the children who have reading problems now? The school district seems to be writing them off.
    So why did the school district give the money back? Belmore provided a clue when she said that continuing to take part in the program would mean incrementally ceding control over how reading is taught in Madison’s schools (Capital Times, Oct 16). In other words, Reading First is a push down the slippery slope toward federal control over public education.

    also, Seidenberg on the Reading First controversy.

  • Jeff Henriques references a Seidenberg paper on the importance of phonics, published in Psychology Review.
  • Ruth Robarts letter to Isthmus on the Madison School District’s reading progress:

    Thanks to Jason Shepard for highlighting comments of UW Psychology Professor Mark Seidenberg at the Dec. 13 Madison School Board meeting in his article, Not all good news on reading. Dr. Seidenberg asked important questions following the administrations presentation on the reading program. One question was whether the district should measure the effectiveness of its reading program by the percentages of third-graders scoring at proficient or advanced on the Wisconsin Reading Comprehension Test (WRCT). He suggested that the scores may be improving because the tests arent that rigorous.
    I have reflected on his comment and decided that he is correct.
    Using success on the WRCT as our measurement of student achievement likely overstates the reading skills of our students. The WRCT—like the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) given in major subject areas in fourth, eighth and tenth grades— measures student performance against standards developed in Wisconsin. The more teaching in Wisconsin schools aims at success on the WRCT or WKCE, the more likely it is that student scores will improve. If the tests provide an accurate, objective assessment of reading skills, then rising percentages of students who score at the proficient and advanced levels would mean that more children are reaching desirable reading competence.

  • Madison teacher Barb Williams letter to Isthmus on Madison School District reading scores:

    I’m glad Jason Shepard questions MMSD’s public display of self-congratulation over third grade reading test scores. It isn’t that MMSD ought not be proud of progress made as measured by fewer African American students testing at the basic and minimal levels. But there is still a sigificant gap between white students and students of color–a fact easily lost in the headlines. Balanced Literacy, the district’s preferred approach to reading instruction, works well for most kids. Yet there are kids who would do a lot better in a program that emphasizes explicit phonics instruction, like the one offered at Lapham and in some special education classrooms. Kids (arguably too many) are referred to special education because they have not learned to read with balanced literacy and are not lucky enough to land in the extraordinarily expensive Reading Recovery program that serves a very small number of students in one-on-on instruction. (I have witnessed Reading Recovery teachers reject children from their program because they would not receive the necessary support from home.)
    Though the scripted lessons typical of most direct instruction programs are offensive to many teachers (and is one reason given that the district rejected the Reading First grant) the irony is that an elementary science program (Foss) that the district is now pushing is also scripted as is Reading Recovery and Everyday Math, all elementary curricula blessed by the district.
    I wonder if we might close the achievement gap further if teachers in the district were encouraged to use an approach to reading that emphasizes explicit and systematic phonics instruction for those kids who need it. Maybe we’d have fewer kids in special education and more children of color scoring in the proficient and advanced levels of the third grade reading test.




UK Reading Recovery Study



Institute of Education:

New research into the progress of 500 children published today shows that young children who were the poorest readers – and the very lowest-achieving in their class – can go on to outperform the national average within two years. They must be given four to five months of one-to-one tuition by specially trained Reading Recovery teachers for about 30 minutes a day while the children are aged six.
The research by the Institute of Education into the Every Child a Reader project shows that boys benefit to the same extent as girls and that one-to-one tuition helps to reduce the gender gap. The presence of Reading Recovery teachers also helps the other children in the school who do not attend the Reading Recovery lessons.
The two-year research project looked at the reading and writing progress of the lowest achieving children in 42 schools in ten inner London boroughs with the biggest social problems. The eight poorest readers in each class, then aged six, were selected. Eighty-seven of these children had the benefit of the Reading Recovery special tuition programme and their progress was compared to a group of children of similar ability and backgrounds, who did not receive the same tuition.
After one year children who had received the tuition had reading ages that matched their chronological age, and were 14 months ahead of the children in the comparison group.

Complete report here.
Much more on Reading Recovery here.




More on Madison’s Reading First Rejection and Reading Recovery



Joanne Jacobs:

Reading War II is still raging as reading experts attack a New York Times story on Madison’s decision to reject federal Reading First funds in order to continue a reading program that the Times claims is effective. Education News prints as-yet unpublished letters to the Times from Reid Lyons, Robert Sweet, Louisa Moats, Linnea Ehri and Joanna Williams, Timothy Shanahan and Mark Seidenberg. Professor Moats, formerly co-investigator of the NICHD Early Interventions Project, a five-year, federally funded study of reading instruction in high-poverty schools, points out that the Office of Management and Budget “recently gave the Reading First program its highest (and unusual) rating of effectiveness.”

Joanne will be speaking in Milwaukee on March 23, 2007. More: Reading First and Reading Recovery.




Reading Recovery: More chipping and shredding in Fargo!



What makes this article from Fargo interesting is how it almost exactly mirrors the findings in my home district, Hortonville, and the recent analysis of Reading Recovery done in Madison. That being, a 50% success rate for RR students. From the article:

“However, West Fargo student data over time, as presented by Director of Knowledge Management Holly Budzinski Monday night, show that while this is happening in the short term, it?s not something the students sustain in the long run. The Administration has been scrutinizing the Reading Recovery program since two days after Budzinski arrived in West Fargo last January, and she has found that the majority of students served by Reading Recovery gradually lose their abilities to meet the class average by the time they reach sixth grade.”

(more…)




MTI Demands to Bargain: Middle School Math Masters Program and Reading Recovery Teacher Leader



A reader emailed this item: Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter [pdf file]:

The District sent literature to various teachers offering credit to those who enroll in the above-referenced courses. As an enticement for the Reading Recovery Teacher Leader course, the District offers “salary, tuition, and book costs.” The program will run after work hours during the school year. Regarding the Middle School Math Master’s Program, every District teacher, who teaches math in a middle school, is “expected” to take three (3) District inservice courses in math, unless they hold a math major or minor. The District is advising teachers that they must complete the three (3) courses within two (2) years. The courses are 21 hours each. The program is scheduled to run during the school day, with substitute teachers provided on the days the courses will be taught.
The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission has previously ruled that an employer offering financial incentives, including meals and lodging, or release time, to employees in conjunction with course work or seminars is a mandatory subject of bargaining between the school district and the union.




End Near for Reading Recovery in MMSD?



The reduction of over $680,000 of ESEA Title 1 entitlement grant dollars challenges the district to change the way students and teachers are supported under Title 1. The current direct service model of student support cannot be supported in the long run with current funding. The administration will use the first semester of next year to develop a new model. (Page 252, Department & Division Detailed Budgets)

The MMSD uses Title 1 money to fund Reading Recovery. Does the statement above mean the end of Reading Recovery in the district?




Deluxe Grant Boosts Reading Recovery



Mary Ellen LaChance:

Mention accelerated learning and you probably think of high school students taking Advanced Placement classes. But did you know that every year about 300 of the very lowest performing first graders participate in a special literacy intervention that provides opportunities for them to accelerate their literacy learning skills? After just 12-20 weeks in Reading Recovery the very lowest readers have the prospect of joining an average reading group!
Rapid changes in learning depend upon the teacher’s ability to individually design a series of lessons to match the unique learning characteristics of each child. So teachers are continually confronted with the need to expand their expertise.




UW Center Established To Promote Reading Recovery



A gift of nearly $3 million is being used to boost teacher training at the UW-Madison in a special, reading program.
But that program, Reading Recovery, has critics, who say it’s not worth the necessary investment.
Training at a new UW-Madison Reading Recovery Center will involve videotaping teachers, as they instruct young children, in a one-on-one process between student and teacher that costs more than group programs.
Student progress with Reading Recovery in the Madison School District and across the country has been questioned.

(more…)




Original letter on Reading Recovery weaknesses



Below Jeff Henriques posted a response from the MMSD to a letter criticizing Reading Recovery.
The critical letter concludes:
“Reading Recovery has not met the needs of these lowest performing students. Most significantly, its excessive costs can make it more difficult for a school to provide help for all students in need, especially those who are behind in the upper grades. Thus, Reading Recovery is not a productive investment of taxpayers� money or students� time and is a classic example of a �one size fits all� method.”
Read the full letter letter on Reading Recovery’s flaws.
Ed Blume




MMSD’s reply on Reading Recovery



In response to criticism of Reading Recovery here and on the Madison TAG Parents web site, MMSD Reading Recovery Coordinator, Sharon Gilpatrick, provided TAG staff with information in response to the letter about Reading Recovery and asked that it be shared with the community.
According to the Reading Recovery Council of North America the Internet letter criticizing Reading Recovery was not an “unbiased review of evidence. It represents a narrow but vocal minority opinion.” They also state that it has a number of biases and omits important findings. You can draw your own conclusions by reading their letter signed by their group of international researchers.




Reading Recovery reduces overall performance for African American kids



American-American students fare badly in Reading Recovery. Only 43% successfully discontinue, compared to 49% for Asian students, 56% for Hispanic students, and 57% for white students.
According to one of the district�s report on Reading Recovery (p. 14), �Discontinued Reading Recovery students [that is, students who �graduate�] outperform the comparison group by 1.2 text reading levels while all other Reading Recovery students score almost 4 text reading levels less than their comparison group.�
In other words, for every 43 discontinued African-American Reading Recovery students who advance 1.2 text reading levels, 57 fall behind by 4 text reading levels relative to their comparison group. The net impact of Reading Recovery reduces overall reading success for the African-American students in the district.
Ed Blume




Students exceeded a typical year’s progress in math and reading, but slower gains among poor students have widened the achievement gap.



By Carrie Spector

A new report by researchers at Stanford and Harvard shows that U.S. students achieved historic gains in math and reading during the 2022-23 school year, the first full year of recovery from the pandemic.

The report, which measures the pace of academic recovery during the 2022-23 school year for school districts in 30 states, finds that students recovered about one-third of the original loss in math and one-quarter of the loss in reading. These gains significantly exceed what students would be expected to learn in a typical year, based on past trends. 

Students in one state, Alabama, returned to pre-pandemic achievement levels in math, while students in three states reached 2019 levels in reading. But students in a majority of the states in the study remain more than a third of a grade level behind pre-pandemic levels in math, and students in almost half of the states are that far behind in reading.




Gov. Mike DeWine enters the ‘reading wars’ with budget proposal to fund change to ‘science of reading’



Laura Hancock:

His budget proposal contains $162 million over the next two years to get the science of reading instructional approach into all of Ohio’s public schools.

At the same time, Ohio State University has been an epicenter of the approach to reading instruction that DeWine wants to get away from – known as “balanced literacy” or “whole language” – since 1984, holding a trademark for an intervention program used to catch struggling readers up with their peers. Hundreds of thousands of students across the country have been educated using the program – called Reading Recovery – which OSU professors take into local schools across the country.

Balanced literacy encourages students, when they encounter a word they don’t know, to use strategies such as looking at the book’s pictures and considering context, sentence structure and the word’s letters.

But DeWine, in his State of the State speech, cited the most recent results of Ohio’s State Test as a reason for schools to change their approach. Just 60.1% of third-grade students scored proficient or higher on reading.

Note that spending increases annually, with Madison taxpayers supporting at least $23,000 per student.

The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

No When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




“The popularity of low-quality online credit recovery suggests that’s a realistic concern”



Joanne Jacobs:

The pandemic has accelerated a push to ease grading and homework policies, writes Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews.

“Schools have stuck to an outdated system that relies heavily on students’ compliance — completing homework, behaving in class, meeting deadlines and correctly answering questions on a one-time test — as a proxy for learning, rather than measuring the learning itself,” editorializes the Los Angeles Times.

Mathews asked four experienced public school teachers what they thought.

None of them assign much homework, except as a way to complete work begun in class. They don’t emphasize one-time tests.

But when it comes to making sure everyone is behaving in class, they are firm traditionalists. Class time to them is vital because, in their minds, the give-and-take between students and teachers during those precious hours is the essence of what they do.

. . . D’Essence Grant, an eighth-grade English and language arts teacher at the KIPP Academy Middle school in Houston, said, “My content requires meaningful conversations about the text to help support text comprehension and character development. . . . Making claims, supporting claims with evidence, and listening, building and challenging other student claims verbally is just as important as writing them on paper.”

Under “mastery learning,” students demonstrate a skill or subject-matter knowledge, then move on. Greg Jouriles, a social studies teacher at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, California, thinks students need to practice academics as they do sports. If doing something once was good enough, “a basketball coach would end practice after each player made one free throw,” he told Mathews.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Friday Afternoon Veto: Governor Evers Rejects AB446/SB454; an effort to address our long term, disastrous reading results

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.

When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?




K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: So, Why Didn’t the 2009 Recovery Act Improve the Nation’s Highways and Bridges?



Bill Dupor:

Although the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the Recovery Act) provided nearly $28 billion to state governments for improving U.S. highways, the highway system saw no significant improvement. For example, relative to the years before the act, the number of structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges was nearly unchanged, the number of workers on highway and bridge construction did not significantly increase, and the annual value of construction put in place for public highways barely budged. The author shows that as states spent Recovery Act highway grants, many simultaneously slashed their own contributions to highway infrastructure, freeing up state dollars for other uses. Next, using a cross-sectional analysis of state highway spending, the author shows that a state?s receipt of Recovery Act highway dollars had no statistically significant causal impact on that state?s total highway spending. Thus, the amount of actual highway infrastructure investment following the act?s passage was likely very similar to that under a no-stimulus counterfactual.

Madison has recently received more than $70M in new, redistributed federal taxpayer and borrowed funds, in addition to ongoing state and local taxpayer funding growth.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.




Credit recovery isn’t enough: How to manage a surge of failing course grades



Betheny Gross:

In a year of educational crisis, fall report cards brought more worrisome news. Failing grades are on the rise across the country, especially for students who are learning online. The results threaten to exacerbate existing educational inequities: students with failing grades tend to have less access to advanced courses in high school, and a failing grade in even one 9th-grade course can lower a student’s chances of graduating on time.

A national scan of news reports and school district documents, combined with data from educator surveys, shows:

• Rates of failing grades have increased significantly across the country.

• Students from low-income households, students who are learning English, and students learning online are often most affected.

• Many teachers had to navigate a shift in district grading policies with limited support.

Addressing the problem won’t be easy, but school systems should be wary of quick fixes like credit recovery programs, which can further diminish students’ learning opportunities. Instead, schools must rethink student progress and dramatically increase support for those who are falling behind.

Dramatic rise in Fs can be seen across the country.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 

Channel3000:

The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration




The reading wars are over – and phonics has won



Sarah Mitchell:

Of all the debates in education, none are quite as absurd as the reading wars. On the one hand there are those who advocate for a phonics-based approach to reading instruction in the early years – making sure children understand sound-letter relationships so they can read words accurately without guessing from the context or pictures.

On the other hand are those who advocate a “whole of language” approach, saying the best way for children to learn whole words is to encounter them in meaningful contexts – meaning kids should be immersed in authentic literature from the get-go.

The reading wars are bizarre because the evidence behind how reading should be taught is so one-sided. Overwhelmingly it tells us that phonics must be explicitly and systematically taught within a literacy program that also develops language and reading habits.

Study after study shows that if phonics is not taught properly, student outcomes suffer across the board. Students with additional learning needs – particularly dyslexia – are further disadvantaged.

Study after study highlights the ineffectiveness of whole-of-language programs such as Reading Recovery – which is why it is no longer supported by the NSW government.

This does not mean that phonics and authentic literature experiences are mutually exclusive. But it does mean they need to be sequential. Children won’t learn to read simply by being read to, or with only incidental teaching of letters and sounds. Phonics is the foundation upon which future literacy skills are built.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration

Unions, political affiliation more predictive of virtual learning decision than COVID cases. The report.




Mission vs. Organization: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results



Jenny Peek:

The November meeting did draw some reading experts — including UW-Madison cognitive neuroscientist Mark Seidenberg and Madison reading advocate Laurie Frost – who have been publicly critical of the district’s teaching approach to reading. When they spoke, Morateck emphasized that the meeting was meant for parents, not the community at large, although she did not ask anyone to leave.

“The point of this was to bring in the community and to hear what the community wants to hear,” Morateck said. “And when I say community, I mean parents.”

But Klein complained about this distinction, saying she was glad to see people who simply care about how reading is being taught in the district attend the meeting.

Frost called it a “contrived restriction” on a community meeting. “It’s time to stop playing games, and to actually pay attention to the science and to actually impact the data, to look at the data and take [it] seriously, and to put aside our adult politics about whole language, phonics, whatever, and make sure the kids are learning.”

At the meeting, Seidenberg said that what the community wants is a forum to talk about their concerns.

“I’ve been here in Madison since 2001, and have never had a discussion with anyone from the Madison Metropolitan School District about any policies related to achievement gaps, dyslexia, language differences, bilingual background, speaking a different dialect,” he said. “And so there’s a certain amount of frustration when you say, ‘We’re really interested in these criteria, and we’re really going to look at them seriously.’”

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before

2013: Reading Recovery in Madison….. 28% to 58%; Lags National Effectiveness Average….

12 of those 24 have been enrolled in Madison School since Pre-K kindergarten or kindergarden. 12 students have been in Madison Schools.

They have High attendance. They have been in the same (you know) feeder school they have not had high mobility. There is no excuse for 12 of my students to be reading at the first second or third grade level and that’s where they’re at and I’m angry and I’m not the only one that’s angry.

The teachers are angry because we are being held accountable for things that we didn’t do at the high school level. Of those 24 students, 21 of them have been enrolled in Madison for four or more years.

Of those 24 students one is Caucasian the rest of them identify as some other ethnic group.

I am tired of the district playing what I called whack-a-mole, (in) another words a problem happens at Cherokee boom we bop it down and we we fix it temporarily and then something at Sherman or something at Toki or something at Faulk and we bop it down and its quiet for awhile but it has not been fixed on a system-wide level and that’s what has to change.

2017: Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

2018: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”




K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The Recovery Threw the Middle-Class Dream Under a Benz



Nelson Schwartz:

Once a year or so, the economist Diane Swonk ventures into the basement of her 1891 Victorian house outside Chicago and opens a plastic box containing the items that mean the most to her: awards, wedding pictures, the clothes she was wearing at the World Trade Center on the day it was attacked. But what she seeks out again and again is a bound diary of the events of the financial crisis and their aftermath.

“It’s useful to go back and see what a chaotic time it was and how terrifying it was,” she said. “That time is seared in my mind. I looked at it again recently, and all the pain came flooding back.”

A decade later, things are eerily calm. The economy, by nearly any official measure, is robust. Wall Street is flirting with new highs. And the housing market, the epicenter of the crash, has recovered in many places. But like the diary stored in Ms. Swonk’s basement, the scars of the financial crisis and the ensuing Great Recession are still with us, just below the surface.

The most profound of these is that the uneven nature of the recovery compounded a long-term imbalance in the accumulation of wealth. As a consequence, what it means to be secure has changed. Wealth, real wealth, now comes from investment portfolios, not salaries. Fortunes are made through an initial public offering, a grant of stock options, a buyout or another form of what high-net-worth individuals call a liquidity event.

Related: Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 District’s recent tax and spending practices.

Despite spending far more than most, we’ve long tolerated disastrous reading results.




Recovery School Request for Proposal (Draft)



Office of Educational Opportunity (PDF):

Identifying Information

Name of Organization:

Year Founded:

Revised 5/31/2017, 11:30 a.m.

Recovery School Request for Proposal

First and Last Name of Primary Applicant:

Mailing Address:
Preferred E-Mail Address
Preferred Phone Number:

Attach the names, professional affiliation, and role in the proposed school for all school leaders and board members.

Summarize the purpose and brief history of the organization. (For instance, is this a new non profit created for this proposed school, or is it an existing nonprofit seeking to expand or replicate its portfolio?)

Evidence of Incorporation in Wisconsin and IRS status

Organizational Background

Do you currently operate a school, if yes where for how long and how is it operated (public district, private, other)?

Is your proposal a fresh start campus, replication campus, or a conversion campus?

If it is a conversion campus, why are you seeking to reorganize your operations into a public charter school?

Have you applied for charter status before? If yes with what authorizer, what was the outcome, and what reasons were given for the outcome?
May we contact the authorizer to discuss your prior application?

Much more on Gary Bennett’s Wisconsin – non traditional government school district – charter school authorizing body.

Related: A majority of the Madison School rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School. Also rejected: the Studio School.

This University of Wisconsin system office has the authority to authorize Charter schools in Madison and Milwaukee.

Despite spending more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Note that charter and voucher schools must operate on less than half of Madison’s per student spending. They receive only redistributed state tax dollars, nothing from local property taxes or other typical government sources.




Commentary On The Rigor Of Los Angeles Schools’ Credit Recovery Courses



Los Angeles Times:

The big issue is the lack of accountability. The district has a vested interest in raising graduation rates and making the A-G policy look good. But who checks that students are getting enough online coursework to receive a meaningful education? Who sets the standard, if there is any standard, for the minimum amount of work that must be put into an online course to receive credit?

A UC official also was surprised to learn that students might be pre-testing out of most of the units in any course. Monica Lin, associate director for undergraduate admissions, said UC doesn’t supervise how local school districts use their courses and doesn’t have the time and resources to conduct regular audits even if it wanted to. She added that the university would reconsider approval if it knew that large numbers of students were pre-testing their way through most of the course.

Her instincts are right. If large numbers of students are indeed testing out of significant portions of these courses — which is difficult to ascertain — and if they’re skipping writing assignments on a regular basis, then those students are being done a serious disservice. If they’re just reading one book in a year in what’s supposed to be the equivalent of a junior-year English course, that’s unacceptable too — and raises worrisome questions about the rest of the credit-recovery courses being offered as well.




The U.S. Is Letting Poor Kids Fall Further and Further Behind in Reading (and Madison)



Laura Moser:

New data on child well-being released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation make for depressing reading on many levels, not least because the findings are so deeply unsurprising. The basic gist is that, despite the economic recovery, more kids are living in poverty (defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as an annual income of $23,834 for two adults and two children) today than during the recession. A lot more, actually—roughly 22 percent, or a total of 16 million kids, were living in poverty in 2013, a jump of 4 percentage points and 3.2 million kids from five years earlier. Break this figure into subgroups and the picture looks even grimmer, with 39 percent of black kids and 33 percent of Hispanic kids in poverty.

Poverty directly affects a child’s educational outcome, and the Casey Foundation also looks at educational data spanning from preschool to the end of high school. The good news, such as it is, is that the U.S. graduation rate has hit an all-time high of 81 percent—although that promising-looking statistic might be at least partially a result of mislabeling students and easing graduation requirements (like offering “alternative diplomas”), among other shady practices, according to a recent NPR report. As for actual skills, here the U.S. remains in dismal shape, with a total of 66 percent of students—55 percent of non-Hispanic white kids, and more than 80 percent of black and Latino kids—not reading proficiently by fourth grade.

Madison’s long term disastrous reading results.

Solutions:
Janet Hilary, head of St. George’s School Battersea, talks about turning failure to success in a high poverty school in South London.

Theresa Plummer, specialty teacher at St. George’s, talks about what it takes to successfully teach reading and spelling to all students.

– Via the Wisconsin Reading Coalition.




Madison Mayor Soglin Commentary on our Local School Climate; Reading unmentioned



Jack Craver:

The city, he says, needs to help by providing kids with access to out-of-school programs in the evenings and during the summer. It needs to do more to fight hunger and address violence-induced trauma in children. And it needs to help parents get engaged in their kids’ education.
“We as a community, for all of the bragging about being so progressive, are way behind the rest of the nation in these areas,” he says.
The mayor’s stated plans for addressing those issues, however, are in their infancy.
Soglin says he is researching ways to get low-cost Internet access to the many households throughout the city that currently lack computers or broadband connections.
A serious effort to provide low-cost or even free Internet access to city residents is hampered by a 2003 state law that sought to discourage cities from setting up their own broadband networks. The bill, which was pushed by the telecommunications industry, forbids municipalities from funding a broadband system with taxpayer dollars; only subscriber fees can be used.
Ald. Scott Resnick, who runs a software company and plans to be involved in Soglin’s efforts, says the city will likely look to broker a deal with existing Internet providers, such as Charter or AT&T, and perhaps seek funding from private donors.

Related: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools” – Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.
Job one locally is to make sure all students can read.
Madison, 2004 Madison schools distort reading data by UW-Madison Professor Mark Seidenberg:

Rainwater’s explanation also emphasized the fact that 80 percent of Madison children score at or above grade level. But the funds were targeted for students who do not score at these levels. Current practices are clearly not working for these children, and the Reading First funds would have supported activities designed to help them.
Madison’s reading curriculum undoubtedly works well in many settings. For whatever reasons, many chil dren at the five targeted schools had fallen seriously behind. It is not an indictment of the district to acknowledge that these children might have benefited from additional resources and intervention strategies.
In her column, Belmore also emphasized the 80 percent of the children who are doing well, but she provided additional statistics indicating that test scores are improving at the five target schools. Thus she argued that the best thing is to stick with the current program rather than use the Reading First money.
Belmore has provided a lesson in the selective use of statistics. It’s true that third grade reading scores improved at the schools between 1998 and 2004. However, at Hawthorne, scores have been flat (not improving) since 2000; at Glendale, flat since 2001; at Midvale/ Lincoln, flat since 2002; and at Orchard Ridge they have improved since 2002 – bringing them back to slightly higher than where they were in 2001.
In short, these schools are not making steady upward progress, at least as measured by this test.

Madison, 2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before by Ruth Robarts:

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.
In 1998, the Madison School Board adopted an important academic goal: “that all students complete the 3rd grade able to read at or beyond grade level”. We adopted this goal in response to recommendations from a citizen study group that believed that minority students who are not competent as readers by the end of the third grade fall behind in all academic areas after third grade.
“All students” meant all students. We promised to stop thinking in terms of average student achievement in reading. Instead, we would separately analyze the reading ability of students by subgroups. The subgroups included white, African American, Hispanic, Southeast Asian, and other Asian students.
“Able to read at or beyond grade level” meant scoring at the “proficient” or “advanced” level on the Wisconsin Reading Comprehension Test (WRC) administered during the third grade. “Proficient” scores were equated with being able to read at grade level. “Advanced” scores were equated with being able to read beyond grade level. The other possible scores on this statewide test (basic and minimal) were equated with reading below grade level.

Madison, 2009: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.
Madison, 2012: Madison’s “Achievement Gap Plan”:

The other useful stat buried in the materials is on the second page 3 (= 6th page), showing that the 3rd grade proficiency rate for black students on WKCE, converted to NAEP-scale proficiency, is 6.8%, with the accountability plan targeting this percentage to increase to 23% over one school year. Not sure how this happens when the proficiency rate (by any measure) has been decreasing year over year for quite some time. Because the new DPI school report cards don’t present data on an aggregated basis district-wide nor disaggregated by income and ethnicity by grade level, the stats in the MMSD report are very useful, if one reads the fine print.




MMSD Literacy Program Review; “Instruction in Phonics Evident”, “Coloring, cutting/pasting and copying of other printed work would not be considered quality independent literacy work and this was seen in many classrooms”. Remarkable. Reading is job #1.



Lisa Wachtel, Executive Director of Curriculum & Assessment [104 Page PDF]:

Grades K-2 Literacy Walkthroughs
Background: Observations of literacy classes, or, walkthroughs, were scheduled for seventeen of MMSD’ s highest poverty elementary schools during the months of April and May. Three administrators visited each school for a half-day for a minimum of 12 hours of observation per school. All K-2 classrooms are observed for at least an hour by one of the three administrators. Second/third grade classrooms were observed in schools with multi-aged instructional designs. When substitute teachers are present, follow-up observations were attempted.
The purpose of the walk throughs was to provide schools with a baseline of literacy practices and to communicate a district snapshot of K-2 observable literacy practices when student routines and independence are well established. Although not a complete picture, the walkthroughs provided evidence of teaching emphasis, expectations, school/district implementation efforts and additional anecdotal information that might suggest potential areas for consideration.
Timeline: April16- May 25, 2012 Observations
May 30-31,2012 Meet with principals to discuss results of the observations
Observation Tool: Please see the attached document. This is an observation protocol merging documents developed by Fountas and Pinnell and Dom. This observation tool was selected because it captured the general categories of literacy instruction that would be included in a 90-120 minute literacy lesson. Observers could capture any of the elements observed during the 60 observations. An additional section, classroom environment provides a way to document materials and classroom structures.
Preliminary Findings:
1. The majority of primary literacy environments were organized around a Balanced Literacy Model. However, within that model, there was significant variation in what the model looked like. This lack of consistency was seen both within and across all 17 schools.
2. Most classrooms were organized in a planned and thoughtful manner. Attention was given to the development and use of a classroom library, individual book boxes and areas where students could work in pairs or small groups.
3. Although classrooms in most schools were thoughtfully organized, some classrooms were cluttered and there were not optimal environments for learning. It is recommended that IRTs work with teachers to create good physical environments in all classrooms.
4. Although the majority of classrooms had at least a 90 minute literacy block, some did not. Attention to direct instruction for at least 90 minutes is crucial for the success of all learners. Principals must make this a clear expectation. The literacy block must also be implemented with fidelity.
5. There was a lack of consistency both within and across grade levels based on common core standards and best teaching practices. This should be an area of emphasis for all schools. IRTs and principals will need to develop a tight structure of accountability that supports the Common Core State Standards and the Curriculum Companion tool.
6. In most cases, instruction in phonics and phonemic awareness was clearly evident. This instruction reflected the professional development both at the district and school level around phonics instruction, phonemic awareness and word work. Instruction appeared to be more systematic, targeted and focused than in previous years.
7. Guided Reading Instruction was observed in the many of the classrooms. It should be noted that in several schools guided reading did not occur five days a week. A wide range of practices were observed during guided reading. Teaching points were often unclear. Observers noted few teachers administering running records or maintaining other types of formative assessments.
8. Targeted, focused instruction around a precise teaching point is a critical component of quality literacy instruction. Focused feedback emphasizing areas of student mastery was also inconsistent. Again, consistency related to core practices as well as ongoing specific assessment practices should be apparent within and across elementary grades.
9. Professional development work should continue around the use of assessment tools. Principals must require the practice of ongoing assessment in all classrooms.
10. The development and use of anchor charts and mini lessons are critical pieces of strong core instruction. Anchor charts and mini lessons were seen in some classrooms and not in others. Professional development should address these ideas so that there is consistency across the district.
11. In many classrooms, the quality of independent student work was of concern. Teachers in all classrooms must pay careful attention to independent student work. This work must support the structure of the literacy block, be consistent with the focus of guided reading and be at each student’s independent level. Emphasis must consistently be on authentic reading and writing tasks. Work should be differentiated. Coloring, cutting/pasting and copying of other printed work would not be considered quality independent literacy work and this was seen in many classrooms (bold added).
12. Teachers were inconsistent in giving feedback to students related to specific learning. Clear, corrective feedback and/or affirmation of solid understandings will accelerate individual student learning and help learners tie the known to the new.
13. All students should also be receiving ongoing, focused feedback related to independent work and independent reading. Regular conferencing and assessment of independent reading and writing is a crucial component of a rigorous literacy curriculum.

Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.




New Reading Teachers Should Pass a Reading Test; The Battle over Teacher Content Knowledge



Sandra Stotsky:

The educators’ biases have held sway for decades. But a new coalition is trying to find a way to make sure prospective teachers have some instruction in what decoding strategies are and why they are effective.
The latest action has been in Wisconsin. The state Legislature passed a bill that will help ensure that teachers no longer receive inadequate training in their preparation and professional development. The Wisconsin Reading Coalition, the Wisconsin branch of the International Dyslexia Association, and a group of parents, educators, psychologists and other professionals supported the measure. I was among the many experts submitting testimony for it.
The group had begun looking carefully at beginning instruction after noting Wisconsin children’s stagnant reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, and comparing those results with the scores in Massachusetts.
Why Massachusetts? Because children there are doing better than pupils in most other states on reading tests.
…….
As noted by Kathleen Porter-Magee in a 2012 Fordham Institute analysis of the impact of high standards on student achievement, the 2009 NAEP reading tests showed that “students scoring in Massachusetts’s bottom 25 percent score higher than students in the bottom 25 percent of any other state in the nation. And students scoring in the top 25 percent perform better than students in the top 25 percent of any other state.”
She attributed this performance to the effective implementation of its highly rated English-language-arts standards, first adopted in 1997 and then re-adopted in a slightly revised form in 2001.
But the Wisconsinites zeroed in on a more specific explanation for the Massachusetts results: the state’s licensing test, in place since 2002, for all aspiring teachers of elementary-age children. The content of the test includes knowledge of code-based beginning-reading instruction.

Related:




Wisconsin Governor Seeks Change in Reading Programs, Highlights dramatic fall in NAEP Performance



Matthew DeFour:

But the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is questioning the legality of Walker’s proposal to fund the program through the Department of Administration.
Walker has proposed spending $600,000 in each of the next two years to implement recommendations of a new task force appointed by Walker that would develop a third-grade reading test. Walker noted Wisconsin’s performance on a national fourth-grade reading exam has fallen from third out of 39 states in 1994 to 30th out of 50 states in 2009.
“From kindergarten to third grade, our kids learn to read, and then from third grade on, they use reading to learn,” Walker said in his budget address. “We need to make sure every child can read as they move on from third grade.”

Related:




Time for a Wisconsin Reading War….



Alan Borsuk:

Start the war.
What about Wisconsin? Wisconsin kids overall came in at the U.S. average on the NAEP scores. But Wisconsin’s position has been slipping. Many other states have higher overall scores and improving scores, while Wisconsin scores have stayed flat.
Steven Dykstra of the Wisconsin Reading Coalition, an organization that advocates for phonics programs, points out something that should give us pause: If you break down the new fourth-grade reading data by race and ethnic grouping, as well as by economic standing (kids who get free or reduced price meals and kids who don’t), Wisconsin kids trail the nation in every category. The differences are not significant in some, but even white students from Wisconsin score below the national average for white children.
(So how does Wisconsin overall still tie the national average? To be candid, the answer is because Wisconsin has a higher percentage of white students, the group that scores the highest, than many other states.)
Start the war.

Related: Reading Recovery, Madison School Board member suggests cuts to Reading Recovery spending, UW-Madison Professor Mark Seidenberg on the Madison School District’s distortion of reading data & phonics and Norm and Dolores Mishelow Presentation on Milwaukee’s Successful Reading Program.




MMSD Reading and the Poverty Achievement Gap



“The research around early reading intervention illuminates the complex decision making required to meet individual student literacy needs. There seems to be no one right answer, no quick fix for success. While recent research brings up questions as to the cost/benefit of Reading Recovery, what other supports and options are available? One thing is certain, alternative interventions must be in place prior to removing current systems.” Summary, “Reading Recovery: A Synthesis of Research, Data Analysis and Recommendations,” Madison Metropolitan School District Report to the Board of Education, December, 2009.

How well are we teaching our children to read?
The “Annual Measurable Objectives” under No Child Left Behind for Wisconsin call for all students to achieve reading levels of proficient or better under the WKCE by the 2013-14 school year. Benchmarks toward that goal are phased in over time. The current intermediate goal (ending this school year) is 74%. (Put another way, the percentage of students who are below proficient should not exceed 26%.) The goals move up to 80.5% in 2010-11, 87% in 2011-12, and 93.5% in 2012-13.
71.7% of MMSD 3rd graders scored at or above the proficient level on last year’s (November 2008) WKCE reading assessment (this and the rest of the WKCE data cited here are from the DPI web site). This did not quite meet the 74% Annual Measurable Objective. We should be concerned that achievement levels are going down even as achievement targets are going up:
mmsd_grade_3_reading_and_annual_measurable_objectives(2).png
The Annual Measurable Objectives also apply to demographic subgroups, including economically disadvantaged students. Economically disadvantaged students—whose futures are almost wholly dependent on the ability of their schools to teach them to read—and their achievement levels deserve particular attention.
How well are we teaching our children from low-income families to read?
%below_proficient_wkce_reading_-_economically_disadvantaged_3rd_graders.png
Can we continue to explain/excuse/blame poverty rates for this failure?
%_of_economically_disadvantaged_3rd_grade_students.png
What should we do to acknowledge and address this crisis?




Reading skills soar in intensive, expensive MPS program



Alan Borsuk:

Let us end the school year with congratulations to Yolimar Maldonado, Lizbeth Fernandez and Nikki Hill, all finishing their sophomore year at Milwaukee Hamilton High School.
To Kenyon Turner, a freshman who went to Bay View and then Community High School; Myha Truss, an eighth-grader at Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts; and Tyrece Toliver, a seventh-grader at the Milwaukee Education Center. And to dozens of other students in Milwaukee Public Schools, of whom this can be said:
They made strong progress this year in improving their reading, jumping ahead more than a grade, and, in some cases, several grades.
It wasn’t easy, either for them or for their teachers.
And it wasn’t cheap – MPS spent $3.2 million for 38 teachers to work in the reading improvement program this year, and that alone comes to more than $1,500 per student.
You could have a very substantial conversation about why they each were far behind grade level in reading going into the school year. None is a special education student. And almost all of them were still behind grade level at the end of the year, even with all the progress they made.
Nonetheless, applaud their success.
A program called Read 180 was the vehicle the students rode to better reading. It offers a strongly structured program, sessions on each student’s level doing computer-led exercises in spelling and vocabulary, and strong, sometimes one-on-one involvement with a teacher.

It would be interest to compare Read 180’s costs with another program: Reading Recovery.




Out-of-Favor Reading Plan Rated Highly



Education Week
Reading Recovery, a popular one-to-one tutoring program that Bush administration officials sought to shut out of a high-profile federal reading program, has gotten a rare thumbs-up from the federal What Works Clearinghouse.
“I think this is good news for all the school superintendents who kept Reading Recovery alive in their schools,” said Jady Johnson, the executive director of the Reading Recovery Council of North America, a nonprofit group based in Worthington, Ohio. “I’m hoping this report will signal a change in direction for the [U.S. Education] Department.”
In the What Works review, posted online March 20, the clearinghouse said the program had “positive” effects—the highest evidence rating possible—on students’ alphabetic skills and general reading achievement. The reviewers also determined that the program had “potentially positive” effects, its next-highest rating, on reading fluency and comprehension.
That’s high praise from the clearinghouse, which the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences created in 2002 to vet research on “what works” in education. So few education studies meet the clearinghouse’s tough research-quality criteria that some critics have dubbed it the “nothing works” clearinghouse.
On the clearinghouse’s “improvement index,” a measure used to provide a common metric on program effects, researchers found that the average 1st grader who completed Reading Recovery could be expected to score 32 percentile points higher in general reading achievement than similar students not in the program.
Yet some of the program’s early critics said in interviews last week that many of their original concerns remained.
“I never said Reading Recovery is ineffective,” said Jack M. Fletcher, one of 32 researchers who signed a widely circulated 2002 letter critiquing the program. “The real issue with Reading Recovery is the idea that it has to be done individually, when there’s a substantial research base on small-group interventions that shows there’s no drop-off in effectiveness.”

What Works Reading Recovery Report




A different view of Reading First controversy



From Nancy Salvato, a Head Start teacher in Illinois:

In the Summer of 2001 Dame Marie Clay, creator of the New Zealand based Reading Recovery program, and her entourage came to the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC, to speak with House Education Committee Staffer Bob Sweet. Her purpose was to ascertain whether Reading Recovery would be eligible for Reading First funding once the bill was passed. Bob explained to Ms. Clay that explicit, systematic phonics instruction had to be included in any program eligible for RF funding because it was one of the necessary key components of reading instruction that had been established through decades of carefully conducted quantitative research.
These findings had been validated in the Report of the National Reading Panel in 2000 and were now going to become an essential part of the Reading First Law. He pleaded with Ms. Clay to use her extensive network of teacher training programs all over the US to help in the implementation of the RF program. He encouraged her to provide the leadership within the RR family to make the modifications necessary, and thus make RR eligible for RF funding consideration.
With a stare as cold as ice, Marie Clay replied that RR would not be making any changes to their program; however, Mr. Sweet could be certain a new description of its components would be written in such a way as to bring it into compliance with the RF law. Momentarily dumbfounded, he maintained that Reading Recovery could not be eligible for RF funding without modification, and his initial estimation then still stands today.

Continued at National Ledger:




Significant errors and misconceptions – “Billions for an Inside Game on Reading” by the Washington Post



Robert W. Sweet, Jr.

This letter and the enclosure are an appeal to you for help in alerting your readers to significant errors and misconceptions in an article printed in the Post on October 1, 2006 titled “Billions for an Inside Game on Reading” by Michael Grunwald.
He asserted that Reading First grants were awarded to preferred reading programs, and that billions of dollars were misspent because the requirement in Reading First that reading programs be based on “scientifically based reading research” were ignored.
Below is a summary of the essential facts that document the errors and misconceptions that have damaged one of the most effective programs to teach vulnerable children to read. Attached to this letter is a detailed presentation that seeks to correct the record.
It is my hope that you will consider printing a clarification so that the public you serve will know the truth about Reading First.

The MMSD’s omission with respect to Reading First was to support the Superintendent’s rejection of the $2M+ grant without a School Board discussion, particularly in light of the District’s devotion to the expensive Reading Recovery program. 2M is material, even to an organization with an annual budget of $332M+. Much more on Reading First here and Bob Sweet [Interview].




Comment on Early Repairs in Foundation for Reading



The post by Ruth Robarts includes the following:

The panel also will recommend some shifts in teaching techniques, said a panel member, Dr. Susan Landry of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. These include having at-risk children spend more time in small groups that address their specific weaknesses; emphasizing skills like blending sounds (C + AT = CAT), which have been found to be good performance predictors; and training parents to reinforce school lessons.


To be able to blend C+AT, a student must first have a command of phonemic awareness, i.e., the ability to hear three sounds. To be able to read (and therefore blend) C+AT, the student must have a command of sound-symbol correspondence, i.e., the child must know what sounds the letters make when pronoucing C, A, and T.
This is true of absolutely every child, regardless of their so-called learning style.
Effective reading programs (like direct instruction curricula) make absolutley and systematically certain that students possess phonemic awareness and sound-symbol correspondence.
Less effective reading programs (like Reading Recovery and balanced literacy) leave the student to discover or construct phonemic awareness and sound symbol correspondence hapazardly on their own.
Unfortunately, children who struggle to read do not easily (and sometimes never) make these discoveries on their own. Even those who learn to read easily benefit from instruction that builds mastery of phonemic awareness and sound-symbol correspondence.




University Student Reading Buddies



Reader Reed Schneider emails this:

A plan to have 40 Spring Arbor University students serve next year as “reading buddies” for struggling first-graders in Jackson Public Schools could be a win-win situation.
The Jackson school board recently cut three Reading Recovery teacher positions to help trim its $1.86 million deficit.
JPS will obtain the services of 40 people who plan to make education their future profession, at a very low cost — $1,800 to transport the Spring Arbor students to elementary buildings. The remaining cost of the $69,780 program will go toward various training programs for teachers in the district. Overall, the district will save $221,287 over the Reading Recovery program.

“I’m sure there are a couple thousand students in the UW-Madison School of Education. With numbers like that, you could save many $100,000’s by getting rid of Reading Recovery and still have two teachers for every former RR kid.”




Preventing Early Reading Failure



I came across an interesting review by Joseph K. Torgesen in the American Educator that is relevant to recent discussions on Reading Recovery and Direct Instruction. You can find the article online, but I will limit myself to quoting just a few lines from the paper.
“Instruction for at-risk children must be more explicit than for other children. … Explicit instruction is instruction that does not leave anything to chance and does not make assumptions about skills and knowledge that children will acquire on their own. … Evidence for this is found in a recent study of preventive instruction given to a group of highly at-risk children during kindergarten, first grade, and second grade (Torgesen, Wagner, Rashotte, Rose, et al., 1999). Of three interventions that were tested on children with phonological weaknesses, the most phonemically explicit one produced the strongest growth in word-reading ability. In fact, of the three interventions tested, only the most explicit intervention produced a reliable increase in the growth of word-reading ability over children who were not provided any special interventions.(emphasis added) Other studies (Brown and Felton, 1990; Hatcher, Hulme, and Ellis, 1994; Iversen and Tunmer, 1993) combine with this one to suggest that schools must be prepared to provide very explicit and systematic instruction in beginning word-reading skills to some of their students if they expect virtually all children to acquire word-reading skills at grade level by third grade.




Board Scares Parents-Threatens All District Can Teach Kids for $13,000+ is Reading and Math: Yet MMSD Board Has No Budget, Keeps $2 Million for Extracurr. Sports, Increases Admin. Budget $1.5 Million in Two Years, Turned Away $10+ Million Fed. Rdg. Grant



This is not the headline of an article in The Onion. Rather, as the Astronauts on the Apollo Mission said, “Houston, we have a problem.”
After 10 years of continually reducing services to our children and community . . . long past the time that we can solve our revenue cap problems by being more efficient or eliminating things that are �nice but not necessary� (MMSD budget cut document – not budget) More than $13,000 per student and all the Distict can do is teach math and reading. This should send a huge red flag up. It is – to those who can afford to, they are moving their kids, home schooling, paying for private tutoring and other lessons, and sending their kids to private schools. Who’s losing inthis picture – underprivileged kids in education and priviledged kids by not being part of a diverse school environment. All the kids are losing – big time and the negative impact on the economics and culture of the city will follow – that’s why my parents kept me out of NYC schools and I went to high school in Connecticut. That is not what I wanted for my daughter, but I need to protect her education – she’s only got the next 5 years.
There is no budget governance and leadership by board members and by the Finance and Operations Committee, which Ms. Carstensen chairs – threatening statements are made to other board members and to the public, no questions are asked, no budget is visible and the state is to blame. I suggest board members hold up a mirror, and I suggest that other progressives in Madison who share my concerns and want an excellent public education system in Madison, vote for a positive change in leadership on April 5th and read the following:

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Barb Williams: Letter to the Isthmus Editor on 3rd Grade Reading Scores



Barb Williams wrote:

I’m glad Jason Shepard questions MMSD’s public display of self-congratulation over third grade reading test scores. It isn’t that MMSD ought not be proud of progress made as measured by fewer African American students testing at the basic and minimal levels. But there is still a sigificant gap between white students and students of color–a fact easily lost in the headlines. Balanced Literacy, the district’s preferred approach to reading instruction, works well for most kids. Yet there are kids who would do a lot better in a program that emphasizes explicit phonics instruction, like the one offered at Lapham and in some special education classrooms. Kids (arguably too many) are referred to special education because they have not learned to read with balanced literacy and are not lucky enough to land in the extraordinarily expensive Reading Recovery program that serves a very small number of students in one-on-on instruction. (I have witnessed Reading Recovery teachers reject children from their program because they would not receive the necessary support from home.)

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Art Rainwater’s Email regarding Reading First



Madison Schools Superintendent Art Rainwater sent me an email today regarding this paper. Here’s his email:

Dear Jim
I received a copy of your email to Diane Mayerfeld regarding reading in the Madison Schools. I would like to set straight the misinformation that is contained in the document that you included with your email. First the Milwaukee Public Schools have not performed better on the fourth grade WKCE test that Madison. The report cites “School Facts 03” as the source. The numbers in that publication show that in Madison 80% of our fourth graders scored proficient and advanced on the test and that only 63% of Milwaukee”s fourth graders scored proficient and advanced. I am not sure how such an error could have occurred in the document that you produced since the numbers in the report are very clear. An examination of the DPI WINNS website shows the same numbers.
I find this type of inaccuracy extremely disturbing since inaccurate numbers were also used in the Wisconsin State Journal editorial regarding the Reading First grant. The editorial states that Lincoln’s third grade reading scores have declined since 2001, when in fact, they have steadily increased. The editorial writer had the chart showing the increase in performance before her when she wrote the editorial.
There are always legitimate disagreements that can be made over many of the decisions that the District makes. However, using inaccurate and clearly wrong data to make those arguments should never be acceptable.
The Performance Series Report also indicates that there was a choice between Reading Recovery and the programs approved under the Reading First grant for funding. That assertion is not accurate. Reading Recovery was not part of the issue at all. The choice was between our Balanced Literacy Core Program (CLIP) and the Reading first programs. Reading Recovery is a first grade intervention not a core program. The following explanation written by the team that actually worked on the Reading First grant and have extraordinary expertise in reading says it much better than I can.

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Madison School Performance Series: Reading Instruction



The Madison School Performance Series of issue briefs will offer parents and others accessible information and analysis of critical school program and funding issues. The first paper on Reading Instruction is attached. In a question and answer format it discusses the failing Reading Recovery program and how the District�s commitment to the program is costing us more per student than other more effective programs. Upcoming papers will address issues such as fine arts, programs for talented and gifted students and administration funding.
View this 1 Page PDF File [72K PDF]




Committee will meet on reading – December 13



Monday, December 13
5:00pm – Peformance & Achievement, Doyle Admin Building, Rm 103

Research-Base Underlying MMSD Classroom Reading Programs
Alternative Programs
Apparently this committee meeting comes as a response to the Isthmus article on the failures of Reading Recovery.




Reading program not worth cost; Rainwater pledges that it will continue



This week’s Isthmus includes a damning internal assessment of Reading Recovery, “a remedial first-grade reading program considered a cornerstone of Madison’s school iteracy efforts.”
“The district would be ‘well-served to investigate other methods’ to reach struggling reaaders, says the report.”
One of those other methods will be presented Sunday, at 1:00 p.m., at the Madison Community Center.
You can link to the Isthmus article.
The notice of Sunday’s meeting follows.

Could Madison Use Milwaukee�s Successful Reading Programs?

Norm and Dolores Mishelow
1:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 7
Madison Senior Center
330 W. Mifflin
Madison
Principal Norm Mishelow will discuss how academic achievement excels at Barton, because the school teaches reading using Direct Instruction (DI), a program that provides a detailed script for teacher-student interaction. The program focuses on small group learning and emphasizes phonics. The school also uses a math curriculum that focuses generally on building basic arithmetic skills.
Norm�s wife Dolores is a former principal of 27th Street School which was a failing school before she took over. She started DI, and their test scores soared. She used to believe in all the whole language and warm fuzzy teaching until, of course, she saw the light with DI. Norm was not using DI until Dolores nudged him to try it (after she retired) and his scores, though decent without DI, hit the stratosphere once DI got humming.
The same curriculum in MMSD elementary schools could help close the achievement gap, cut instructional costs, reduce special ed referrals, and raise achievement overall.
You can read more by connecting to Barton School.
Sponsored by www.schoolinfosystems.org and Active Citizens for Education (ACE).




The family of Mann Scholars continues to grow, achieve



A. David Dahmer:

The Mann Scholars Ceremony was celebrated at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery Town Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus June 7.
“It’s a thrill to welcome you all here today to celebrate our new Mann Scholars and our graduating seniors,” said Madison Metropolitan School District Partnerships Coordinator Kathy Price. “The Madison Board of Education and our new [MMSD] Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham are extending their warmest wishes to you tonight and their sincere congratulations. For the Madison District, the Mann Scholars program represents one of our premiere collaboration of family, school, and community partners. This is one that has served as a model for additional scholarship programs that have been launched including the Sanchez Scholars and our the newest scholarship that we have launched — the Reading Recovery Scholarship Program.”
The Mann Educational Opportunity Fund is a scholarship that honors the late Bernard and Kathlyn Mann, long-time African American residents of Madison whose strong belief in education helped ensure the graduation of their five children from Madison Memorial High School and later from universities. The Mann Program’s goal is to provide mentoring and educational tools to students from the Madison Metropolitan School District who show potential for academic achievement but face significant challenges to reaching their full potential.
Mann Scholars are picked every year based on their academic promise, their motivation, their financial need, and the willingness of their families to encourage participation in enrichment activities. They are primarily, but not exclusively, students of color.




Continuing to Advocate Status Quo Governance & Spending (Outcomes?) in Madison



Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

First, I provide some background on the private school voucher imposition proposal. Next, I list thirteen ways in which the proposal and its advocates are hypocritical, inconsistent, irrational, or just plain wrong. Finally, I briefly explain for the benefit of Wisconsin Federation for Children why the students in Madison are not attending failing schools.

Related: Counterpoint by David Blaska.
Does the School Board Matter? Ed Hughes argues that experience does, but what about “Governance” and “Student Achievement”?
2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2009: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use. This program continues, despite the results.
2004: Madison Schools Distort Reading Data (2004) by Mark Seidenberg.
2012: Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”
Scott Bauer

Almost half of Wisconsin residents say they haven’t heard enough about voucher schools to form an opinion, according to the Marquette University law school poll. Some 27 percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of voucher schools while 24 percent have an unfavorable view. But a full 43 percent said they hadn’t heard enough about them to form an opinion.
“There probably is still more room for political leadership on both sides to try to put forward convincing arguments and move opinion in their direction,” pollster Charles Franklin said.
The initial poll question about vouchers only asked for favorability perceptions without addressing what voucher schools are. In a follow-up question, respondents were told that vouchers are payments from the state using taxpayer money to fund parents’ choices of private or religious schools.
With that cue, 51 percent favored it in some form while 42 percent opposed it.
Walker is a staunch voucher supporter.

More on the voucher proposal, here.
www.wisconsin2.org
A close observer of Madison’s $392,789,303 K-12 public school district ($14,547/student) for more than nine years, I find it difficult to see substantive change succeeding. And, I am an optimist.
It will be far better for us to address the District’s disastrous reading results locally, than to have change imposed from State or Federal litigation or legal changes. Or, perhaps a more diffused approach to redistributed state tax dollar spending.




Does the School Board Matter? Ed Hughes argues that experience does, but what about “Governance” and “Student Achievement”?



Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes

Call me crazy, but I think a record of involvement in our schools is a prerequisite for a School Board member. Sitting at the Board table isn’t the place to be learning the names of our schools or our principals.
Wayne Strong, TJ Mertz and James Howard rise far above their opponents for those of us who value School Board members with a history of engagement in local educational issues and a demonstrated record of commitment to our Madison schools and the students we serve.

Notes and links on Ed Hughes and the 2013 Madison School Board election.
I’ve become a broken record vis a vis Madison’s disastrous reading results. The District has been largely operating on auto-pilot for decades. It is as if a 1940’s/1950’s model is sufficient. Spending increases annually (at lower rates in recent years – roughly $15k/student), yet Madison’s disastrous reading results continue, apace.
Four links for your consideration.
When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use. This program continues, despite the results.
3rd Grade Madison School District Reading Proficiency Data (“Achievement Gap Plan”)

The other useful stat buried in the materials is on the second page 3 (= 6th page), showing that the 3rd grade proficiency rate for black students on WKCE, converted to NAEP-scale proficiency, is 6.8%, with the accountability plan targeting this percentage to increase to 23% over one school year. Not sure how this happens when the proficiency rate (by any measure) has been decreasing year over year for quite some time. Because the new DPI school report cards don’t present data on an aggregated basis district-wide nor disaggregated by income and ethnicity by grade level, the stats in the MMSD report are very useful, if one reads the fine print.

Madison Schools Distort Reading Data (2004) by Mark Seidenberg.
How many School Board elections, meetings, votes have taken place since 2005 (a number of candidates were elected unopposed)? How many Superintendents have been hired, retired or moved? Yet, the core structure remains. This, in my view is why we have seen the move to a more diffused governance model in many communities with charters, vouchers and online options.
Change is surely coming. Ideally, Madison should drive this rather than State or Federal requirements. I suspect it will be the latter, in the end, that opens up our monolithic, we know best approach to public education.




Madison’s Mayor on Transfer Students & The Achievement Gap; District Plans to Release Data “Within 3 Weeks”



Paul Fanlund, via a kind reader’s email

There is an achievement gap. A significant part of the achievement gap is not because of the failure on the part of the Madison public schools, but it is because of the number of students who have transferred here from other districts, districts like Chicago,” he says.
“Those kids come here unprepared. They come from poorly performing schools. There is a reluctance to discuss this factor. The reluctance to discuss it has at least two consequences. The first is that we come to erroneous conclusions about the quality of education in Madison. The second problem is that we don’t develop strategies for these kids so that we can close that achievement gap.”
Soglin says a child who’s far behind in reading “who transferred in from a poorly performing district as opposed to a child who’s been in Madison her entire life, could require very different interventions. There are people who don’t want to talk about this problem and that’s one of the reasons we fail in addressing the achievement gap.
“Now, talking about this alone is not going to solve it, but addressing it and analyzing it properly may in the short term cast some negatives, but it is going to lead to a better job in terms of correcting the problem.”

I (and others) inquired about the data behind the Mayor’s assertion several months ago. I received an email today – after another inquiry – from the District’s Steve Hartley stating that the data will be available in “under 3 weeks”.
Related, also from Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”.
Background links:
November, 2005 When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before
“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!
60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use
61 Page Madison Schools Achievement Gap Plan -Accountability Plans and Progress Indicators




Vocabulary Declines, With Unspeakable Results The first step to fight income inequality: Do a better job of teaching kids to read.



ED Hirsch:

For all the talk about income inequality in the United States, there is too little recognition of education’s role in the problem. Yet it is no coincidence that, as economist John Bishop has shown, the middle class’s economic woes followed a decline in 12th-grade verbal scores, which fell sharply between 1962 and 1980–and, as the latest news confirms, have remained flat ever since.
The federal government reported this month that students’ vocabulary scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have seen no significant change since 2009. On average, students don’t know the words they need to flourish as learners, earners or citizens.
All verbal tests are, at bottom, vocabulary tests. To predict competence most accurately, the U.S. military’s Armed Forces Qualification Test gives twice as much weight to verbal scores as to math scores, and researchers such as Christopher Winship and Anders D. Korneman have shown that these verbally weighted scores are good predictors of income level. Math is an important index to general competence, but on average words are twice as important.
Yes, we should instruct students in science, technology, engineering and math, the much-ballyhooed STEM subjects–but only after equipping them with a base of wide general knowledge and vocabulary.

Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.
When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before.




Madison School District’s Elementary Literacy Program



Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore (2.5MB PDF):

For the past four years, MMSD has been aware that the current implementation of balanced literacy, our core instructional program for literacy at the elementary level, has not resulted in all students making the progress necessary to meet grade level standards. The research shows that three key things are necessary for students to gain proficiency in the common core standards:

  • a highly qualified teacher in the classroom

  • a strong instructional leader in the school and
  • access to an aligned, guaranteed and viable curriculum (Marzano, 2003).

It is clear that MMSD has two out of these three in place: highly qualified teachers and strong instructional leaders. To maintain and develop strong teachers and leaders need well planned, embedded, ongoing professional development. The
School Support Team and Instructional Research Teachers provide us the mechanism for delivering this necessary professional development.
What is needed is a decision about a guaranteed, viable core instructional curriculum that is cohesive across all 32 elementary schools. All student will benefit from consistency across grades levels and schools. Our students from mobile families must have the security and consistency that this core will provide.

60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.
When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before.




“We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”





Larry Winkler kindly emailed the chart pictured above.

Where have all the Students gone?

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin:

We are not interested in the development of new charter schools. Recent presentations of charter school programs indicate that most of them do not perform to the level of Madison public schools. I have come to three conclusions about charter schools. First, the national evidence is clear overall, charter schools do not perform as well as traditional public schools. Second where charter schools have shown improvement, generally they have not reached the level of success of Madison schools. Third, if our objective is to improve overall educational performance, we should try proven methods that elevate the entire district not just the students in charter schools. The performance of non-charter students in cities like Milwaukee and Chicago is dismal.
In addition, it seems inappropriate to use resources to develop charter schools when we have not explored system-wide programming that focuses on improving attendance, the longer school day, greater parental involvement and combating hunger and trauma.
We must get a better understanding of the meaning of ‘achievement gap.’ A school in another system may have made gains in ‘closing’ the achievement gap, but that does not mean its students are performing better than Madison students. In addition, there is mounting evidence that a significant portion of the ‘achievement gap’ is the result of students transferring to Madison from poorly performing districts. If that is the case, we should be developing immersion programs designed for their needs rather than mimicking charter school programs that are more expensive, produce inadequate results, and fail to recognize the needs of all students.
It should be noted that not only do the charter schools have questionable results but they leave the rest of the district in shambles. Chicago and Milwaukee are two systems that invested heavily in charter schools and are systems where overall performance is unacceptable.

Related links:

I am unaware of Madison School District achievement data comparing transfer student performance. I will email the Madison School Board and see what might be discovered.
Pat Schnieder:

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has some pretty strong ideas about how to improve academic achievement by Madison school children. Charter schools are not among them.
In fact, Madison’s ongoing debate over whether a charter school is the key to boosting academic achievement among students of color in the Madison Metropolitan School District is distracting the community from making progress, Soglin told me.
He attended part of a conference last week sponsored by the Urban League of Greater Madison that he says overstated the successes elsewhere of charter schools, like the Urban League’s controversial proposed Madison Preparatory Academy that was rejected by the Madison School Board a year ago.
“A number of people I talked with about it over the weekend said the same thing: This debate over charter schools is taking us away from any real improvement,” Soglin said.
Can a new committee that Soglin created — bringing together representatives from the school district, city and county — be one way to make real progress?

The City of Madison’s Education Committee, via a kind reader’s email. Members include: Arlene Silveira, Astra Iheukemere, Carousel Andrea S. Bayrd, Erik Kass, Jenni Dye, Matthew Phair, Maya Cole and Shiva Bidar-Sielaff.




Is Teacher Union “Collective Bargaining” Good for Students?



The Madison School Board has scheduled [PDF] a 2:00p.m. meeting tomorrow, Sunday 30 September for an “Initial exchange of proposals and supporting rationale for such proposals in regard to collective bargaining negotiations regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) for MMSD Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI) Teachers, Substitute Teachers, Educational Assistants, Supportive Educational Employees (SEE), and School Security Assistants (SSA), held as a public meeting pursuant to Wis. Stat. §111.70(4)(cm)”.
The School Board along with other Madison area governments have moved quickly to negotiate or extend agreements with several public sector unions after a judicial decision overturning parts of Wisconsin’s Act 10. The controversial passage of Act 10 changed the dynamic between public sector organizations and organized labor.
I’ve contemplated these events and thought back to a couple of first hand experiences:
In the first example, two Madison School District teacher positions were being reduced to one. Evidently, under the CBA, both had identical tenure so the choice was a coin toss. The far less qualified teacher “won”, while the other was laid off.
In the second example, a Madison School District teacher and parent lamented to me the poor teacher one of their children experienced (in the same District) and that “there is nothing that can be done about it”.
In the third example, a parent, after several years of their child’s “mediocre” reading and writing experiences asked that they be given the “best teacher”. The response was that they are “all good”. Maybe so.
Conversely, I’ve seen a number of teachers go far out of their way to help students learn, including extra time after school and rogue curricula such as phonics and Singapore Math.
I am unaware of the School Board meeting on a Sunday, on short notice, to address the District’s long time reading problems.
A bit of background:
Exhibit 1, written in 2005 illustrating the tyranny of low expectations” “When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before”.
Exhibit 2, 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.
Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 Madison speech to the Madison Rotary Club is worth reading:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).

William Rowe has commented here frequently on the challenges of teacher evaluation schemes.
This being said, I do find it informative to observe the Board’s priorities in light of the District’s very serious reading problems.
This article is worth reading in light of local property taxes and spending priorities: The American Dream of upward mobility has been losing ground as the economy shifts. Without a college diploma, working hard is no longer enough.

Unlike his parents, John Sherry enrolled in college after graduating from high school in Grand Junction, a boom-bust, agriculture-and-energy outpost of 100,000 inhabitants on Colorado’s western edge. John lasted two years at Metropolitan State University in Denver before he dropped out, first to bag groceries at Safeway, later to teach preschool children, a job he still holds. He knew it was time to quit college when he failed statistics two semesters in a row. Years passed before John realized just how much the economic statistics were stacked against him, in a way they never were against his father.
Greg Sherry, who works for a railroad, is 58 and is chugging toward retirement with an $80,000-a-year salary, a full pension, and a promise of health coverage for life. John scrapes by on $11 an hour, with few health benefits. “I feel like I’m working really hard,” he says, “but I’m not getting ahead.”
This isn’t the lifestyle that John’s parents wished upon their younger child. But it reflects the state of upward–or downward–mobility in the American economy today.

Related: Wisconsin State Tax Based K-12 Spending Growth Far Exceeds University Funding.
TJ Mertz comments on collective bargaining, here and here.
Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes: Didn’t See That One Coming: How the Madison School Board Ended Up Back in Collective Bargaining.
The Capital Times: Should local governments negotiate with employees while the constitutionality of the collective bargaining law is being appealed?




Emanuel’s push for more Chicago charter schools is in full swing: Now that the teachers strike is over, mayor is free to expand charter schools in Chicago



Jeff Coen, David Heinzmann and John Chase:

Chicago Public Schools officials expect about 53,000 of the district’s roughly 400,000 students will attend charter schools this year, and the number of charters will increase to more than 100. The city is aiming to add 60 charter schools in the next five years with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is trying to expand charters across the country.
The biggest push for charter schools locally comes from some of the wealthiest backers of Emanuel, including Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist who regularly advises the mayor. At a seminar of business and political leaders held the same day teachers voted to return to school, Rauner said the strike would only energize reform efforts that he called a “multiyear revolution.”
“I think we’re going to have a coalescing of interests that’s a focus and drive some major change. And there are some plans in the works, some charter community education innovators who are now focusing on Chicago, and I think in the coming years we can innovate,” he said.
Experts called the union’s stand against privately run networks unique in the United States, where several big cities, including New York, also have pushed charter schools.
“What’s different is this is really the first mass movement against that comprehensive strategy” for privatization, said Janelle Scott, an associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley who studies school policy.

Related:




The Writing Revolution



Peg Tyre:

New Dorp’s Writing Revolution, which placed an intense focus, across nearly every academic subject, on teaching the skills that underlie good analytical writing, was a dramatic departure from what most American students–especially low performers–are taught in high school. The program challenged long-held assumptions about the students and bitterly divided the staff. It also yielded extraordinary results. By the time they were sophomores, the students who had begun receiving the writing instruction as freshmen were already scoring higher on exams than any previous New Dorp class. Pass rates for the English Regents, for example, bounced from 67 percent in June 2009 to 89 percent in 2011; for the global-­history exam, pass rates rose from 64 to 75 percent. The school reduced its Regents-repeater classes–cram courses designed to help struggling students collect a graduation requirement–from five classes of 35 students to two classes of 20 students.
The number of kids enrolling in a program that allows them to take college-level classes shot up from 148 students in 2006 to 412 students last year. Most important, although the makeup of the school has remained about the same–­roughly 40 percent of students are poor, a third are Hispanic, and 12 percent are black–a greater proportion of students who enter as freshmen leave wearing a cap and gown. This spring, the graduation rate is expected to hit 80 percent, a staggering improvement over the 63 percent figure that prevailed before the Writing Revolution began. New Dorp, once the black sheep of the borough, is being held up as a model of successful school turnaround. “To be able to think critically and express that thinking, it’s where we are going,” says Dennis Walcott, New York City’s schools chancellor. “We are thrilled with what has happened there.”
Although New Dorp teachers had observed students failing for years, they never connected that failure to specific flaws in their own teaching. They watched passively as Deirdre De­Angelis got rid of the bad apples on the staff; won foundation money to break the school into smaller, more personalized learning communities; and wooed corporate partners to support after-school programs. Nothing seemed to move the dial.
Her decision in 2008 to focus on how teachers supported writing inside each classroom was not popular. “Most teachers,” said Nell Scharff, an instructional expert DeAngelis hired, “entered into the process with a strongly negative attitude.” They were doing their job, they told her hotly. New Dorp students were simply not smart enough to write at the high-school level. You just had to listen to the way the students talked, one teacher pointed out–they rarely communicated in full sentences, much less expressed complex thoughts. “It was my view that these kids didn’t want to engage their brains,” Fran Simmons, who teaches freshman English, told me. “They were lazy.”

60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use:




Madison’s RE: Achievement Gap Plan – Accountability Plans and Progress Indicators



Interim Superintendent Jane Belmore:

3. It was moved by James Howard and seconded by Beth Moss that the pending motion to approve the preliminary 2012-2013 School District budget be amended to include specific accountability measures for all reading intervention programs receiving funding pursuant to 2012-2013 budget allocations. Specifically, in order for any reading intervention program being funded during the 2012-2013 school year to receive continued and/or increased funding in future budgets, each intervention must:
a. By November 15, 2012, submit to the Board of Education, proposed progress indicators for improved student achievement for students of color.
b. Progress indicators will be defined on a yearly basis for a minimum of 5 years and compared to the initial year of 2011-12.
c. Progress indicators will be broken down by African-American, Hispanic, special education and other non-White students affected by the program.
d. Progress indicators will include not only student achievement measures but also number of students included.
e. Data for each progress indicator will be required before continued or additional funding is approved.

Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.




“I think we have come a long way”



NBC15:

“I think we have come a long way,” said Superintendent Jane Belmore. “The district, as you may know, developed a pretty ambitious achievement plan last year and came out to the community and talked with folks in the community about it, got a lot of buy-in and there are lots of community organizations that are really behind us on that.”
Superintendent Belmore says it will take a number of years to complete the process–but says they’re fortunate to have the resources to help put it into play this year. “We have a plan that we’re now looking at, really what I’m calling kind of sorting the priorities of the priorities, because it’s very ambitious,” she said. “We’re not going to be able to do everything at the same level, at the same time, but we’re really figuring out what the things are that are going to give us the most leverage.”
The Urban League of Greater Madison has been on the forefront of the fight to address the achievement gap. President and CEO Kaleem Caire says he thought the achievement gap plan was too broad to begin with.

Links:




Achievement Growth: International and U.S. State Trends in Student Performance; Wisconsin near the bottom….








(Tap or click to view a larger version)

Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson & Ludger Woessmann

“The United States’ failure to educate its students leaves them unprepared to compete and threatens the country’s ability to thrive in a global economy.” Such was the dire warning recently issued by a task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Chaired by former New York City schools chancellor Joel I. Klein and former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, the task force said that the country “will not be able to keep pace–much less lead–globally unless it moves to fix the problems it has allowed to fester for too long.”
The report’s views are well supported by the available evidence. In a 2010 report, only 6 percent of U.S. students were found to be performing at the advanced level in mathematics, a percentage lower than those attained by 30 other countries.ii Nor is the problem limited to top-performing students.
Only 32 percent of 8th- graders in the United States are proficient in mathematics, placing the United States 32nd when ranked among the participating international jurisdictions. Although these facts are discouraging, the United States has made substantial additional financial commitments to K-12 education and introduced a variety of school reforms.
Have these policies begun to help the United States close the international gap?
Progress was far from uniform across the United States, however. Indeed, the variation across states was about as large as the variation among the countries of the world. Maryland won the gold medal by having the steepest overall growth trend. Coming close behind, Florida won the silver medal and Delaware the bronze. The other seven states that rank among the top-10 improvers, all of which outpaced the United States as a whole, are Massachusetts, Louisiana, South Carolina, New Jersey, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Virginia.
Iowa shows the slowest rate of improvement. The other four states whose gains were clearly less than those of the United States as a whole, ranked from the bottom, are Maine, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. Note, however, that because of nonparticipation in the early NAEP assessments, we cannot estimate an improvement trend for the 1992-2011 time period for nine states–Alaska, Illinois, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington.

Related:




Big changes in the works for Madison’s 2012-13 school year



Matthew DeFour:

Wisconsin students, parents, teachers and property owners will feel the impact of major changes rolling out in Wisconsin’s public schools this school year.
This fall for the first time:

  • The state will assign numerical ratings to schools based on various test score measures.
  • Most students will start to see a new, more specific curriculum — in math and language arts, and with literacy incorporated in all subjects — in anticipation of a new state test in two years.
  • And dozens of schools, including three in Madison, will take part in the state’s new teacher evaluation system, which takes into account student test scores.

“This is huge,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said. “I’ve been doing this for 37 years and I haven’t seen this level of reform efforts.”
The unifying reason for the changes is the end of the No Child Left Behind era and the national move toward a more rigorous set of standards for what students are expected to know at each grade level, said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison. In order to obtain a waiver from NCLB, Wisconsin had to adopt the accountability system, higher curriculum standards and a teacher evaluation system.
“This has nothing to do with the turmoil we experienced in Wisconsin last year,” Gamoran said. “This is happening in every state in the country.”

Related:




Focus on front lines of achievement gap: Questions on Madison Administrative Spending



Adaeze Okoli:

I understand closing the achievement gap is a huge task. But the Madison School District often fails to take the right measures. It is a mistake, for example, to spend more money hiring top-level staff to coordinate meetings and oversee district plans. If we truly want to close the achievement gap, resources need to be on the front lines — at the schools working with kids. This is not the approach the district is choosing.
Recently, the School Board voted to hire a chief of staff for interim Superintendent Jane Belmore. The position will cost $170,000 and last one year. The superintendent said: “We’re about doing everything we can to start to close that achievement gap and in order to do that this position is critical.”
I disagree. I understand the need for staff support and accountability. Overseeing a large school district is a huge undertaking. But hiring more top-level staff who earn six figures will not teach third-graders at Glendale Elementary how to read and write.

Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.
Budget Cuts: We Won’t Be as Bold and Innovative as Oconomowoc, and That’s Okay.
Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 Madison Rotary Club speech:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).




Hardball School Choice Politics in Milwaukee



John Nichols:

The defeat AFC took was so sweeping that the group had to issue a statement Wednesday in which it “reaffirmed its support for legislators and candidates across Wisconsin who favor expanded educational options for families, following disappointing primary results last night.”
Yikes.
AFC, a group funded by billionaire right-wingers from Michigan (former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman Betsy DeVos and her husband, Amway heir Dick DeVos) and their wealthy allies across the country, poured more than $100,000 (perhaps a lot more) into “independent” campaigns on behalf of supporters of school “choice” and “voucher” schemes, which weaken public schools in Milwaukee and pave the way for privatization.
But the AFC candidates lost. Badly.
State Rep. Jason Fields, the Milwaukee Democrat whose re-election was the chief priority of AFC and its Wisconsin operative, former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, was defeated by community activist Mandela Barnes.

Related: Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 speech to the Madison Rotary Club:

Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).

60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.




Commentary on the Wisconsin DPI’s New School Report Cards



Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

A few weeks ago, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released an example of what the upcoming report cards for state schools will look like. The report cards are described as one of the package of reforms that that DPI promised to implement in order to win a waiver from the federal Department of Education from the more onerous burdens of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
One of the qualifications for an NCLB waiver is that a state must put into place an accountability system for schools. The system must take into account results for all students and subgroups of students identified in NCLB on: measures of student achievement in at least reading/language arts and mathematics; graduation rates; and school performance and progress over time. Once a state has adopted a “high-quality assessment,” the system must also take into account student growth.
In announcing the NCLB waiver, DPI claimed that it had established accountability measures that “1) are fair; 2) raise expectations; and 3) provide meaningful measures to inform differentiated recognitions, intervention, and support.”
Designing a fair and meaningful system for assessing the performance of the state’s schools is a worthy endeavor. The emphasis for me is on the “fair” requirement. I consider an assessment system to be fair if it measures how successfully a school promotes the learning of whichever students show up at its door.

Related: Notes and links on the oft-criticized WKCE and Madison’s long term reading recovery challenges.




Madison’s Spending Priorities: Another $170K administrator or Teaching Kids to Read, among other topics?



News that Madison’s new, interim Superintendent Jane Belmore seeks to add a “Chief of Staff” provides taxpayers, parents and students an opportunity to reflect on the District’s priorities within the planned $376,200,000 2012-2013 budget ($15,132/student).
The District’s job #1, in my view is to address its reading problems. A kind reader mentioned that Reading Recovery was discussed at this past Monday’s school board meeting (video).
Will the status quo continue?
Related: Madison Schools Administration has “introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009”.




Tyrany of Low Expectations: Will lowered test scores bring about broader change in Madison schools?



Chris Rickert via several kind readers:

Wisconsin has a “long way to go in all our racial/ethnic groups,” said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison.
My hope is that, given Wisconsin’s overwhelmingly white population, proficiency problems among white students will spur more people to push for policies inside and outside of school that help children — all children — learn.
“I hate to look at it that way, but I think you’re absolutely right,” said Kaleem Caire, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison. “The low performance of white students in our state may just lead to the type and level of change that’s necessary in public education for black and other students of color to succeed as well.”
Indeed, Gamoran said Massachusetts’ implementation of an evaluation system similar to the one Wisconsin is adopting now has been correlated with gains in reading and math proficiency and a narrowing of the racial achievement gap in math. But he emphasized that student achievement is more than just the schools’ responsibility.
Madison has known for a while that its schools are not meeting the needs of too many students of color.

The issue of low expectations and reduced academic standards is not a new one. A few worthwhile, related links:




An Alumnus, Madison’s Interim Superintendent: Jane Belmore



A few links on Madison’s interim Superintendent, Jane Belmore. Belmore was Madison’s Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Schools before moving to the School of Education at nearby Edgewood College.

Madison School District links.
Blekko
Clusty
Bing
Google

And, of course, there are quite a few schoolinfosystem.org links, including this post on the District’s reading problems.
Reading, which is clearly the District’s job number one, continues to be a challenge, according to this 2009 Reading Recovery study: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.
Finally, a bit of history on Madison Superintendent hires over the years.
Dan Simmons article mentioned the School District’s spokeswoman: Rachel Strauch-Nelson. Interestingly, Ms. Strauch-Nelson formerly worked for Madison’s previous Mayor, Dave Cieslewicz and prior to that for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Chief Information Officer Andrew Statz also worked for the previous Mayor.




Madison School District Literacy Program Review’



Lisa Wachtel, Executive Director of Curriculum & Assessment [104 Page PDF]:

Grades K-2 Literacy Walkthroughs
Background: Observations of literacy classes, or, walkthroughs, were scheduled for seventeen of MMSD’ s highest poverty elementary schools during the months of April and May. Three administrators visited each school for a half-day for a minimum of 12 hours of observation per school. All K-2 classrooms are observed for at least an hour by one of the three administrators. Second/third grade classrooms were observed in schools with multi-aged instructional designs. When substitute teachers are present, follow-up observations were attempted.
The purpose of the walk throughs was to provide schools with a baseline of literacy practices and to communicate a district snapshot of K-2 observable literacy practices when student routines and independence are well established. Although not a complete picture, the walkthroughs provided evidence of teaching emphasis, expectations, school/district implementation efforts and additional anecdotal information that might suggest potential areas for consideration.
Timeline: April16- May 25, 2012 Observations
May 30-31,2012 Meet with principals to discuss results of the observations
Observation Tool: Please see the attached document. This is an observation protocol merging documents developed by Fountas and Pinnell and Dom. This observation tool was selected because it captured the general categories of literacy instruction that would be included in a 90-120 minute literacy lesson. Observers could capture any of the elements observed during the 60 observations. An additional section, classroom environment provides a way to document materials and classroom structures.
Preliminary Findings:
1. The majority of primary literacy environments were organized around a Balanced Literacy Model. However, within that model, there was significant variation in what the model looked like. This lack of consistency was seen both within and across all 17 schools.
2. Most classrooms were organized in a planned and thoughtful manner. Attention was given to the development and use of a classroom library, individual book boxes and areas where students could work in pairs or small groups.
3. Although classrooms in most schools were thoughtfully organized, some classrooms were cluttered and there were not optimal environments for learning. It is recommended that IRTs work with teachers to create good physical environments in all classrooms.
4. Although the majority of classrooms had at least a 90 minute literacy block, some did not. Attention to direct instruction for at least 90 minutes is crucial for the success of all learners. Principals must make this a clear expectation. The literacy block must also be implemented with fidelity.
5. There was a lack of consistency both within and across grade levels based on common core standards and best teaching practices. This should be an area of emphasis for all schools. IRTs and principals will need to develop a tight structure of accountability that supports the Common Core State Standards and the Curriculum Companion tool.
6. In most cases, instruction in phonics and phonemic awareness was clearly evident. This instruction reflected the professional development both at the district and school level around phonics instruction, phonemic awareness and word work. Instruction appeared to be more systematic, targeted and focused than in previous years.
7. Guided Reading Instruction was observed in the many of the classrooms. It should be noted that in several schools guided reading did not occur five days a week. A wide range of practices were observed during guided reading. Teaching points were often unclear. Observers noted few teachers administering running records or maintaining other types of formative assessments.
8. Targeted, focused instruction around a precise teaching point is a critical component of quality literacy instruction. Focused feedback emphasizing areas of student mastery was also inconsistent. Again, consistency related to core practices as well as ongoing specific assessment practices should be apparent within and across elementary grades.
9. Professional development work should continue around the use of assessment tools. Principals must require the practice of ongoing assessment in all classrooms.
10. The development and use of anchor charts and mini lessons are critical pieces of strong core instruction. Anchor charts and mini lessons were seen in some classrooms and not in others. Professional development should address these ideas so that there is consistency across the district.
11. In many classrooms, the quality of independent student work was of concern. Teachers in all classrooms must pay careful attention to independent student work. This work must support the structure of the literacy block, be consistent with the focus of guided reading and be at each student’s independent level. Emphasis must consistently be on authentic reading and writing tasks. Work should be differentiated. Coloring, cutting/pasting and copying of other printed work would not be considered quality independent literacy work and this was seen in many classrooms (bold added).
12. Teachers were inconsistent in giving feedback to students related to specific learning. Clear, corrective feedback and/or affirmation of solid understandings will accelerate individual student learning and help learners tie the known to the new.
13. All students should also be receiving ongoing, focused feedback related to independent work and independent reading. Regular conferencing and assessment of independent reading and writing is a crucial component of a rigorous literacy curriculum.

Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.




Better Schools, Fewer Dollars We can improve education without busting the budget



Marcus Winters via a kind Rick Kiley email:

Here’s what looks like a policy dilemma. To attain the economic growth that it desperately needs, the United States must improve its schools and train a workforce capable of competing in the global economy. Economists Eric Hanushek, Dean Jamison, Eliot Jamison, and Ludger Woessmann estimate that improving student achievement by half of one standard deviation–roughly the current difference between the United States and Finland–would increase U.S. GDP growth by about a full percentage point annually. Yet states and the federal government face severe budgetary constraints these days; how are policymakers supposed to improve student achievement while reducing school funding?
In reality, that task is far from impossible. The story of American education over the last three decades is one not of insufficient funds but of inefficient schools. Billions of new dollars have gone into the system, to little effect. Luckily, Americans are starting to recognize that we can improve schooling without paying an additional dime. In fact, by unleashing the power of educational choice, we might even save money while getting better results and helping the economy’s long-term prospects.

Related: State Income Tax Collections Per Capita, Madison’s 4.95% Property Tax Increase, https://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2012/05/madison_schools_79.php and 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.




Madison Schools Administration has “introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009”



Solidarity Newsletter by Madison Teachers, Inc. (PDF):

MTI President Kerry Motoviloff addressed the Board of Education at its May 21 general meeting. At issue is the District’s plan to introduce more new programs into elementary teachers’ literacy curriculum, including Mondo and 3 new assessments. At the same time, elementary teachers are being told that they will be losing release days for the administration of K-2 testing.
Motoviloff listed more than 13 current K-5 assessments, explaining to Board members that each assessment comes with a set of non-comparable data or scores. She noted that the District has introduced more than 18 programs and initiatives for elementary teachers since 2009.
Motoviloff stressed that all teachers are concerned about the achievement gap, and that the District needs to walk its own talk relative to ensuring fidelity in the curriculum process. She challenged the District to prioritize essentials, instead of swamping teachers with initiatives while reducing teachers’ time to implement the curriculum with fidelity, and emphasized the need to include time not only for assessments, but also time for teachers to analyze and plan. She also urged the District to stop pitting professional development against planning/prep time.

Related:

I’ve long suggested that the District should get out of the curriculum/program creation business and focus on hiring the best teachers. Like it or not, Oconomowoc is changing the game by focusing efforts and increasing teacher pay. Madison, given our high per student spending and incredible community and academic resources, should be delivering world class results for all students.
I don’t see how more than 18 programs and initiatives can be implemented successfully in just a few years. I’m glad MTI President Kerry Motoviloff raised this important issue. Will the proposed “achievement gap plan” add, replace or eliminate programs and spending?
Meanwhile, Superintendent Dan Nerad’s Madison tenure, which began in 2008, appears to be quickly coming to an end.




Who is Paul Vallas and why is he coming to Madison?



TJ Mertz

As Jim Anchower says, “I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya…” Sometimes you need a break; expect more soon.
Paul Vallas will be featured at a “school reform town hall meeting” this Saturday, May 26, 1:00 PM at LaFollette High School. The announcements feature “Madison Metropolitan School District, Verona Area School District, United Way of Dane County, Urban League of Greater Madison & Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County” as “collaborating” hosts, but as reported by Matt DeFour the United Way “has requested that our name be removed from all upcoming communications related to the event, but will attend to hear the conversation from all those involved.”
Attempts to clarify MMSD’s role have not yielded a response. You can try yourself: Board of Education: board@madison.k12.wi.us, Supt. Dan Nerad: dnerad@madison.k12.wi.us. I’ve been told unofficially that MMSD is donating the space, which would mean that your tax dollars and mine are being used (see the district facilities rental policy here). It would really be a shame if our district collaborated in bringing Vallas here, there is very little in his version of school reform that our community, or any community will benefit from.

Much more on Paul Vallas’s visit, here.
ACLU on freedom of speech.
Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use?
and: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before
How long will our community tolerate its reading problem? Bread and circuses.




Paul Vallas visits Madison; Enrollment Growth: Suburban Districts vs. Madison 1995-2012







Related:

Paul Vallas will be speaking at Madison LaFollette high school on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 1:00p.m. More information, here.
Much more on Paul Vallas, here.
Directions.
Per Student Spending:
I don’t believe spending is the issue. Madison spends $14,858.40/student (2011-2012 budget)
Middleton’s 2011-2012 budget: $87,676,611 for 6,421 students = $13,654.67/student, about 8% less than Madison.
Waunakee spends $12,953.81/student about 13% less than Madison.
A few useful links over the past decade:




Budget Cuts: We Won’t Be as Bold and Innovative as Oconomowoc, and That’s Okay.



Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

Another approach might be eliminating programs or initiatives that are more closely aligned to student learning. Possibilities here could include reducing our school staff who are not classroom teachers, like Reading Interventionists, Instructional Resource Teachers, and Positive Behavior Coaches. We could also eliminate special interventions for struggling readers. The reading recovery program is the best-known example. While reading recovery is backed by research that supports its effectiveness, it’s an expensive program and, at least as of a couple of years ago, we hadn’t seen in Madison the level of successful outcomes in terms of students’ reading progress that had typically been achieved elsewhere with the program.
My view is that we should have in place an established schedule for evaluating the effectiveness of our intervention programs, like Reading Recovery, and we should be willing to make difficult decisions based on what the evaluations tell us. But that evaluation and review process should be separate from our budgeting process. We shouldn’t look at cutting programs like Reading Recovery strictly as a cost-saving measure. I doubt that we’re willing to eliminate all intensive interventions for struggling readers – I don’t even know if we could do so legally – and it’s far from obvious that substituting one intensive reading intervention program for another would end up saving us all that much money.

Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.
Much more on the Oconomowoc School District’s high school staffing an compensation plan, here.




$9,860/student vs. $14,858.40/student; Paying for Educational Priorities and/or Structural Change: Oconomowoc vs. Madison



Chris Rickert summarizes a bit of recent Madison School Board decision making vis a vis educational outcomes. Contrast this with the recent governance news (more) from Oconomowoc; a community 58 miles east of Madison.


Moreover, it’s not like Madisonians are certain to oppose a large tax hike, especially given the way they responded to Walker’s bid to kill collective bargaining.
Before that idea became law, the board voted for — and the community supported — extending union contracts. Unions agreed to some $21 million in concessions in return for two years’ worth of protection from the law’s restrictions.
But the board could have effectively stripped the union of seniority protections, forced members to pay more for health insurance, ended automatic pay raises and taken other actions that would have been even worse for union workers — but that also would have saved taxpayers lots of money.
Board members didn’t do that because they knew protecting employees was important to the people they represent. They should be able to count on a similar dedication to public schooling in asking for the money to pay for the district’s latest priorities.

Christian D’Andrea

The changes would have a significant effect on teachers that the district retains. Starting positions – though it’s unclear how many would be available due to the staff reduction – would go from starting at a $36,000 salary to a $50,000 stipend. The average teacher in the district would see his or her pay rise from $57,000 to $71,000. It’s a move that would not only reward educators for the extra work that they would take on, but could also have a significant effect in luring high-level teachers to the district.
In essence, the district is moving forward with a plan that will increase the workload for their strong teachers, but also increase their pay to reflect that shift. In cutting staff, the district has the flexibility to raise these salaries while saving money thanks to the benefit packages that will not have to be replaced. Despite the shuffle, class sizes and course offerings will remain the same, though some teachers may not. It’s a bold move to not only retain the high school’s top performers, but to lure good teachers from other districts to the city.
Tuesday’s meeting laid out the first step of issuing non-renewal notices to the 15 teachers that will not be retained. The school board will vote on the reforms as a whole on next month.

The Madison School District has, to date, been unwilling to substantively change it’s model, one that has been around for decades. The continuing use of Reading Recovery despite its cost and lower than average performance is one example.
With respect to facilities spending, perhaps it would be useful to look into the 2005 maintenance referendum spending & effectiveness.
It is my great “hope” (hope and change?) that Madison’s above average spending, in this case, 33% more per student than well to do Oconomowoc, nearby higher education institutions and a very supportive population will ultimately improve the curriculum and provide a superior environment for great teachers.




Public Comments on Madison’s Achievement Gap Plans



Matthew DeFour, via a kind reader’s email:

Madison community members say an extended school day, career academies, cultural training for teachers, alternative discipline, more contact between school staff and parents and recruiting minority students to become teachers are some of the best strategies for raising achievement levels of low-income and minority students.
However, some of those same ideas — such as adding an extra hour in the morning and emphasizing career training over college preparation for some students — are raising the most questions and concerns.
Those are a few of the key findings of a two-month public-input process on Superintendent Dan Nerad’s achievement gap plan.
The district released a summary report Friday. Nerad plans to revise the plan based on the public’s response and deliver a final proposal to the School Board on May 14.
Nerad said there is clearer support for more parent engagement and cultural training for teachers, than for an extended school day. He said not everyone may have understood that students who focus on a technical rather than liberal arts education might still go on to college after they graduate.

Additional reader notes:

There are profound deficiencies in the methodology and attempted “analysis” in the district’s and Hanover reports (https://boeweb.madison.k12.wi.us/files/boe/Appx%2010-40.pdf), but it’s interesting to see the district’s summary of staff input on literacy (page 2 of Marcia Standiford’s memo):
“4. Literacy – Start early with a consistent curriculm [sic]
Support for an emphasis on literacy was evident among the comments. Staff members called for a consistent program and greater supports at the middle and high school levels. Several questioned why the recommendations emphasized third grade rather than starting at earlier grades. Comments also called for bringing fidelity and consistency to the literacy curriculum. Several comments expressed concern that dedicating extra time to literacy would come at the expense of math or other content areas.” And a somewhat buried lede in the Hanover report (p. 3 of the report, p. 21 of the pdf):
“Nine focus groups mentioned the reading recovery [sic] program, all of whom felt negatively about the strategy.” and (p. 10 of the report, p. 29 of the pdf) “Nine comments referred to the reading recovery plan, all of which were negative. Comments noted that ‘reading recovery has failed’ and ‘reading recovery has not been effective in Madison Schools.’ None of the comments supported reading recovery.”

Madison School District related website comments includes:
https://www.madison.k12.wi.us/node/10069 specific criticism of Reading Recovery from Amy Rogers: https://www.madison.k12.wi.us/node/10069#comment-53 and this from Chan Stroman-Roll: https://www.madison.k12.wi.us/node/10069#comment-82
60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use.




WKCE & Madison Students



Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

Finally, the troubling differences in levels of student learning that give rise to our achievement gap present an enormous challenge for our teachers. We as a District have long been committed to inclusive and heterogeneous elementary school classrooms. Consequently, given the gap, our teachers frequently lead classrooms with a number of high-achieving students and a number of struggling students. Imagine how much dedication and ingenuity it must take for our classroom teachers to provide a learning environment where all their students can thrive. It would be helpful to hear from teachers about how they think they can be most effective in teaching all students in classes with such a wide span of developed capabilities, given our resource limitations.
Even test results as generally uninformative as the WKCE make clear the extent of our achievement gap in Madison. From the perspective of the WKCE and based on statewide averages, our white students on the whole seem to be doing just fine while our African-American students on the whole are struggling. This shouldn’t come as news to anyone, but it does underscore what’s at stake when over the next several weeks the School Board starts to decide what components of the superintendent’s achievement gap plan we’re actually willing to raise taxes to support.

Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use




Singapore vs. Madison/US Schools: Do We (Americans) Put Money into Our Children?





I read with interest Nathan Comps’ article on the forthcoming 2012-2013 Madison School District budget. Board Vice President Marj Passman lamented:

“If Singapore can put a classroom of students on its money, and we can’t even put our money into children, what kind of country are we?” asks Passman, Madison school board vice president. “It’s going to be a horrible budget this year.”

Yet, according to the World Bank, Singapore spends 63% less per student than we do in America on primary education and 47% less on secondary education. The US spent $10,441/student in 2007-2008 while Madison spent $13,997.27/student during that budget cycle. Madison’s 2011-2012 budget spends $14,858.40/student.
The Economist on per student spending:

Those findings raise what ought to be a fruitful question: what do the successful lot have in common? Yet the answer to that has proved surprisingly elusive. Not more money. Singapore spends less per student than most. Nor more study time. Finnish students begin school later, and study fewer hours, than in other rich countries.
In Finland all new teachers must have a master’s degree. South Korea recruits primary-school teachers from the top 5% of graduates, Singapore and Hong Kong from the top 30%.

Rather than simply throwing more money (Madison taxpayers have long supported above average K-12 spending) at the current processes, perhaps it is time to rethink curriculum and just maybe, give Singapore Math a try in the Madison schools.
Related:


Via the Global Report Card. The average Madison student performs better than 23% of Singapore students in Math and 35% in reading.




Faces of the achievement gap in Madison: The stories behind the statistics



Pat Dillon:  

In 2010, just five black and 13 Hispanic graduating seniors in the Madison Metropolitan School District were ready for college, according to data from the district and Urban League of Greater Madison. These statistics should make your heart race. If they don’t, and you’re white, you may be suffering from what anti-racism educator Tim Wise calls “the pathology of white privilege.” If you do get it and don’t take action, that is almost worse.
The issue affects all of us and fell a little harder into my lap than it does in most white middle-class families when my daughter told me last summer that I was going to have a biracial grandson. My response? “Not in this school district.”
The dismal academic record of minorities has long been apparent to me, through my own experiences and the stories of others. But many people only hear about the statistics. To help humanize these numbers I asked students and parents who are most affected to share their stories so I could tell them along with mine. The experiences are anecdotal, but the facts speak for themselves.

 Related:

In my view, the status quo approach to Madison’s long lived reading challenges refutes Mr. Hughes assertion that the District is on the right track.  Matt DeFour’s article:

Overall student performance improved in math and dipped slightly in reading across Wisconsin compared with last year, while in Madison scores declined in all tested subjects.

 Perhaps change is indeed coming, from a state level initiative on reading.




Reflections and questions on Wisconsin school test results



Alan Borsuk:

So what was new in all the data released last week summarizing results of the standardized tests, known as the WKCEs, that were taken last fall by more than 400,000 students from Kenosha to Superior?
Not much.
Some things a little better, most things the same, the state of meeting our educational needs pretty much unchanged.
But for every answer like that, I have a dozen questions (and lots of sub-questions).
Here they are:
1. Do we have the patience to pursue solid, significant improvement in how our students are doing?
The highflying schools I know of all took years to reach the heights.
Are we willing to do the steady, thoughtful work of building quality and resist the rapidly revolving carousel of education fads?
2. Do we have the impatience to pursue solid, significant improvement in how our students are doing?
At the same time we’ve got to be steady, we’ve got to be propelled by the urgency of improving.
Especially outside of Milwaukee, an awful lot of people are complacent about how Wisconsin’s kids are doing, and that complacency is often not well justified.

Related:




4.1.2012 from Omaha: Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad: Narrowing gap a work in progress in Madison



Joe Dejka:

The push to raise achievement for minority and low-income students in Madison Metropolitan School District remains “a work in progress,” said Superintendent Daniel Nerad.
Work has been done on Nerad’s watch, such as drafting a new strategic plan and a multifaceted, $106 million proposal for programs aimed at shrinking test score gaps between students of different races and income levels.
As for results, Nerad and Madison school board member Ed Hughes say there hasn’t been enough progress.
“We certainly haven’t seen, overall, the kind of improvement that we would like to see in reducing the achievement gap,” Hughes said. “But we need to look at whether the steps are being put in place that would give us some hope or confidence that we will see those gaps narrowing in the future.”
Hughes thinks Madison is on the right track.

Related:

In my view, the status quo approach to Madison’s long lived reading challenges refutes Mr. Hughes assertion that the District is on the right track. Matt DeFour’s article:

Overall student performance improved in math and dipped slightly in reading across Wisconsin compared with last year, while in Madison scores declined in all tested subjects.

Perhaps change is indeed coming, from a state level initiative on reading.
A look at the numbers:
Omaha spends substantially less per student than Madison. The Omaha 2011-2012 adopted budget will spend 468,946,264 for 46,000 students: $10,194.48/student. Madison’s 2011-2012 budget spends $369,394,753 for 24,861 = $14,858.40/student, 31.4% more than Omaha…. Green Bay (Superintendent Nerad’s former position) spent about 10% less than Madison, per student.




Oh, the Places We Go, Madison Superintendents…







Related:

Assistant superintendent Art Rainwater was elevated (no one else applied) to Superintendent when Cheryl Wilhoyte was pushed out. Perhaps Madison will think different this time and look outside the traditional, credentialed Superintendent candidates. The District has much work to do – quickly – on the basics, reading/writing, math and science. A steady diet of reading recovery and connected math along with above average spending of nearly $15k/student per year has not changed student achievement.




Student test scores show Madison lags state in cutting achievement gap



Matthew DeFour:

Madison and Wisconsin are moving in opposite directions in raising achievement levels of black students, according to state test scores released Tuesday by the Department of Public Instruction.
The percentage of black Madison students scoring proficient or better on the state reading test dropped to the lowest level in six years, while statewide black student reading scores continued to improve.
“The results affirm the work that we need to be doing and are doing to close our unacceptable gaps in achievement,” Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad said.
Overall student performance improved in math and dipped slightly in reading across Wisconsin compared with last year, while in Madison scores declined in all tested subjects.
Madison’s strongest gains were among eighth grade math scores, with the percentage of black students scoring proficient gaining 8 percentage points, Hispanic students gaining 16 percentage points and low-income students gaining 6.5 percentage points over last year.
Overall 77 percent of eighth-graders scored advanced or proficient on math, up from 76 percent last year. In all other grade levels the math scores were down in Madison from last year, whereas statewide the scores were up or the same in each grade level.

Related:




Is $14,858.40 Per Student, Per Year Effective? On Madison Superintendent & School Board Accountability…



Oh, the places we go.
I’m glad Matt DeFour and the Wisconsin State Journal obtained the most recent Superintendent Review via open records. We, as a community have come a long way in just a few short years. The lack of Board oversight was a big issue in mid-2000’s competitive school board races. Former Superintendent Art Rainwater had not been reviewed for some time. These links are well worth reading and considering in light of the recent Superintendent review articles, including Chris Rickert’s latest. Rickert mentions a number of local statistics. However, he fails to mention:

  1. Despite spending nearly $15,000 per student annually, our Reading Results, the District’s job number one, need reform. 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use. This is not a new topic.
  2. The District’s math program has been an issue for some time, as well (Math Forum).
  3. How does Madison compare to the World, or other US cities? We can and should do much better.
  4. What is happening with Madison’s multi-million dollar investment (waste?) in Infinite Campus? Other Districts have been far more successful implementing this important tool.
  5. Are the District’s tax expenditures well managed?

With respect to the current Superintendent Review, the job pays quite well (IRS income distribution data: table 7), so I believe the position should be fully accountable to parents and taxpayers. Matthew DeFour:

In 2014, Madison superintendent Dan Nerad qualifies for a $37,500 payment for six years of service, which like Gorrell’s would be paid into a retirement account. Nerad already receives an annual $10,000 payment into his retirement account, which is separate from his state pension and in addition to a $201,000 yearly salary.

More, here.
The current rhetoric is quite a change in just 8 years. (Why did things change? A number of citizens care, decided to run for school board – won – and made a difference…) I certainly hope that the Board and community do not revert to past practice where “we know best” – the status quo – prevailed, as the Obama Administration recently asserted in a vital constitutional matter:

Holder made clear that decisions about which citizens the government can kill are the exclusive province of the executive branch, because only the executive branch possess the “expertise and immediate access to information” to make these life-and-death judgments.
Holder argues that “robust oversight” is provided by Congress, but that “oversight” actually amounts to members of the relevant congressional committees being briefed. Press reports suggest this can simply amount to a curt fax to intelligence committees notifying them after the fact that an American has been added to a “kill list.” It also seems like it would be difficult for Congress to provide “robust oversight” of the targeted killing program when intelligence committee members like Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are still demanding to see the actual legal memo justifying the policy.

More, here on the political class and the legal system.
The choice is ours. Use our rights locally/nationally, or lose them.
A look back at previous Madison Superintendents.
High expectations surely begin at the top.




Dumbing down of state education has made Britain more unequal than 25 years ago; In the name of equality, anti-elitist teachers are betraying the hopes of the young.



Toby Young:

A controversy broke out on Twitter earlier this week about an article in the Times Educational Supplement in which a teacher called Jonny Griffiths describes a conversation with a bright sixth-former who’s worried about his exam results. “Apart from you, Michael, who cares what you get in your A-levels?” he says. “What is better: to go to Cambridge with three As and hate it or go to Bangor with three Cs and love it?”
The controversy was not about whether the teacher was right to discourage his student to apply to Cambridge – no one thought that, obviously – but whether the article was genuine. Was Jonny Griffiths a real teacher or the fictional creation of a brilliant Tory satirist? Most people found it hard to believe that a teacher who didn’t want his pupils to do well could be in gainful employment.
Alas, Mr Griffiths is all too real. Since 2009, when I first mooted the idea of setting up a free school devoted to academic excellence, I’ve come across dozens of examples of the same attitude, all equally jaw-dropping.

We’ve certainly seen such initiatives locally. They include English 10, Connected Math and the ongoing use of Reading Recovery.
Perhaps Wisconsin’s Read to Lead initiative offers some hope with its proposal to tie teacher licensing to teacher content knowledge.
Related: Examinations for teachers, past and present.
There are certainly many parents who make sure that their children learn what is necessary through tutors, third parties, personal involement, camps, or online services. However, what about the children who don’t have such family resources and/or awareness?




Special education gets fresh look in Minnesota schools



Christopher Magan:

Nancy Cooley has spent 20 years helping struggling young readers build a foundation for academic success.
Each day, Cooley works individually with students like Gavin Bass, a Rosemount first-grader, who need extra help mastering specific literacy skills using a program called “Reading Recovery.” Interventions like these can help get a student back on course, possibly avoiding a learning-disability classification.
“It is designed to catch kids early on, before they feel like they are not successful,” said Cooley, a teacher at Diamond Path Elementary School for International Studies in Apple Valley. She will work with students such as Gavin for a half-hour each day – drilling, quizzing and practicing early literacy concepts to improve core skills.
For Gavin, the program has been a big confidence boost, said his mother, Sarah Bass.
“He loves to read because of it,” she said. “The intervention was everything we had hoped for and more. It has been so much fun for him, and he’s very proud of himself. We wouldn’t have known how to do this at home.”




Narrowing Madison’s Achievement gap will take more than money



Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Madison school chief Dan Nerad’s plan to close the district’s achievement gap is certainly bold about spending money.
It seeks an estimated $105 million over five years for a slew of ideas — many of them already in place or attempted, just not to the degree Nerad envisions.
The school superintendent argues a comprehensive approach is needed to boost the academic performance of struggling minority and low-income students. No one approach will magically lift the district’s terrible graduation rates of just 48 percent for black students and 57 percent for Latinos.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Related:

Listen to most of the speech via this 25mb .mp3 file.

Well worth reading: Money And School Performance:
Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment
:

For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, “You can’t solve educational problems by throwing money at them.” The education establishment and its supporters have replied, “No one’s ever tried.” In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.
Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil–more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers’ salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.
The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.

And, In Kansas City, tackling education’s status quo “We’re not an Employment Agency, We’re a School District”




Madison Schools Superintendent Nerad unveils $12.4 million plan to close school achievement gap



Matthew DeFour:

Altogether, Nerad makes about 40 recommendations in six categories — instruction, college and career readiness, culturally relevant practices, school environment, family engagement and staff diversity.
“The plan is based on the view that there isn’t one thing alone the school district can do to eliminate achievement gaps,” Nerad said. “We’re attempting to be comprehensive with the proposal.”
The plan’s projected cost for next year is $12.4 million, which Nerad is recommending come from the district’s untapped property taxing authority under state-imposed limits. The amount includes adding about 67.5 positions, including behavioral support staff, reading specialists and parent liaisons.
Some recommendations wouldn’t take effect until future years. The district estimates they will cost $20.9 million in 2013-14 and $26.6 million by 2016-17. The district doesn’t have the authority to raise property taxes by that amount, though Nerad said part of the discussion in coming months will involve whether the private and nonprofit sectors can help fund the strategies.
“We’re going to have to struggle through the conversation of how to get it done,” Nerad said.

Related:

Listen to most of the speech via this 25mb .mp3 file.




Questions and Concerns Regarding the “Findings and Recommendations” of the MMSD K-12 Literacy Program Evaluation report



The following questions and concerns are submitted to you for your consideration regarding the “findings and recommendations” of the MMSD K-12 Literacy Program Evaluation report:
1. What findings and recommendations are there for ‘year-around’ literacy experiences to help mitigate ‘losses’ over the summer months in achievement gains during the traditional academic year?
Although “summer loss” was not a particular focus of discussion during the evaluation process, there are several ways in which the recommendations address reducing the impact of summer reading loss. These include:
Recommendation I – curricular consistency will provide for a more seamless connection with content and instruction in summer school, Saturday school (pending funding) and after school supports.
Recommendation II – more explicit instruction focused in early grades will allow students to read for enjoyment at earlier ages.
Recommendation III – a well-developed intervention plan will follow a student through summer school and into the following academic year

2. What are the findings and recommendations regarding parental (significant adults in student’s life) participation, training, evaluation and accountability in the literacy learning process?
Parental participation opportunities to support their children’s enjoyment and achievement in literacy include:
Family Literacy Nights at various elementary schools and in collaboration with Madison School and Community Recreation. Town Hall Meetings that provide opportunities for families to share pros and cons of literacy practices at school and home.
Literacy 24-7: Parent training for Spanish speaking families on how to promote literacy learning. Read Your Heart Out Day: This event builds positive family, community and school relationships with a literacy focus and supports both the family involvement and cultural relevance components of the Madison Metropolitan School District Strategic Plan.
Tera Fortune: Professional development for parents about the Dual Language Immersion Program with a focus on bi-literacy throughout the content areas. MALDEF Curriculum Training: Nine-week training covering a variety of topics to assist parents in sharing the responsibility of student success and how to communicate effectively in schools.
Regular column in Umoja Magazine: Forum to inform families and community members about educational issues through African American educators’ expertise. Several columns have focused on literacy learning at home.
Training is provided for parents on how to choose literature that:
Has positive images that leave lasting impressions
Has accurate, factual information that is enjoyable to read
Contains meaningful stories that reflect a range of cultural values and lifestyles
Has clear and positive perspective for people of color in the 21st century
Contains material that is self affirming Promotes positive literacy learning at home
Evaluations of the Read Your Heart Out and Family Literacy Night were conducted by requesting that participating parents, staff, students and community members complete a survey about the success of the event and the effects on student achievement.

3. What are the consequential and remediation strategies for non-performance in meeting established achievement/teaching/support standards for students, staff and parents? What are the accompanying evaluation/assessment criteria?
A District Framework is nearing completion. This Framework will provide clear and consistent expectations and rubrics for all instructional staff and administrators. Improvement will be addressed through processes that include the School Improvement Plans and staff and administrator evaluations processes.
4. Please clarify the future of the Reading Recovery program.
MMSD proposes to maintain Reading Recovery teachers and teacher leaders as an intervention at grade 1. There are currently two Reading Recovery teacher leaders participating in a two-year professional development required to become Reading Recovery teacher leaders. One of these positions will be certified to support English Language Learners. The modifications proposed include: 1) targeting these highly skilled Reading Recovery teachers to specific students across schools based on district-wide data for 2011-12 and 2) integrating the skills of Reading Recovery staff into a comprehensive intervention plan along with skilled interventionists resulting in all elementary schools benefiting from grade 1 reading intervention.
5. How will the literacy learning process be integrated with the identification and development of Talented and Gifted (TAG) students?
The development of a balanced, comprehensive assessment system will result in teachers having more frequent and accurate student data available to tailor instruction. K-12 alignment uses tools such as Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) and Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) are being implemented in Spring, 2011.
The Response to Intervention model is based on evidence-based instruction and responds to students who need additional challenge and/or support.

6. What will be the 2010-2011 budgetary priorities and strategies for undertaking the literacy program and resources recommendations outlined in the report?
PreK-12 literacy will be a priority for the 2011-12 budget process. In addition to the prioritization of funding within our budget parameters, MMSD is in the process of writing a major grant (Investing in Innovation – i3) to support the recommendations of the literacy evaluation as a key strategy to close achievement gaps and improve literacy for all students to be ready for college and/or careers.