Martin says Walker is ‘out of touch’ after governor objects to coalition’s education accountability plan

Governor Walker objected Wednesday to Wisconsin’s education accountability plan drafted by a broad-ranging coalition of education stakeholders and with tremendous input from teachers and education support professionals. The governor called the expansive plan to guarantee opportunities for all Wisconsin students too bureaucratic and said it didn’t go far enough.

“The governor is out of touch with the people of the state,” said WEAC President Ron Martin, an eighth grade teacher who served on Wisconsin’s Equity Council comprised of state residents, parents, educators and public school leaders. The group met for 18 months to create a state education plan that crosses ideological lines and does what’s best for students. Over six months, expansive outreach was conducted to collect input from current educators and families about what works – and what doesn’t.

“I’m not aware of any other state that has such a high level council dedicated to the new federal education law,” Martin said. “It’s time for Wisconsin to move past partisan politics when it comes to our students, and instead expand opportunities for them to succeed.”

The deadline to submit the plan to the federal government is Monday, at which time it will be made public. The governor does not have veto authority over the state plan, and had representatives on the council that developed it. Wisconsin’s plan was created over several months based on feedback from Walker and a wide array of groups, including those representing K-12 school districts, parents, teachers, voucher schools, non-white students, the disabled, gay, lesbian and transgender children, the Legislature, the University of Wisconsin and technical colleges.

Approval of the plan is not up to Walker, but to Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos. WEAC and other representatives on the Equity Council plan to draft letters of support for the plan, challenging the governor’s statements.

All 50 states must submit accountability plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in order to continue receiving federal education funding. Wisconsin gets more than $500 million per year in such funding.

In opposing the plan and calling for a new proposal, the governor held up other states, like Tennessee, for their approaches to “drive improvement through bold reforms.”

Why have they taken the fun out of kindergarten?

Kindergarten was designed as an introduction to schooling, and one that should help children discover that learning can be fun. But many believe that kindergarten has become the new first grade, and that pressure on schools to demonstrate student progress, even at the kindergarten level, has led schools to take the playfulness out of kindergarten. This week, Wisconsin Public Radio examined this issue by interviewing Christopher Brown, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction in early childhood education at the University of Texas at Austin, who says that heightened standards have pushed some teachers to forgo the emphasis on play and spend much more time on structured learning.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the research is showing that those opportunities for kids to have those times to play, those times to engage with others, are diminishing specifically to engage in academic instruction,” Brown said.

And this trend is not only exhausting for children, it has resulted in some teachers leaving the profession because they no longer feel like they can do what they love.

“They miss the opportunity to engage with kids in a more playful manner, to be able to follow kids’ interests, to be able to pursue a project that kids want to learn more about, rather than being told what to teach and when to teach it and how long to teach it,” Brown said.

Read more and listen to the podcast:

Professor: Playtime Dwindling In American Kindergarten Classrooms

Today’s kindergarten classroom is much different from even that of 20 years ago. Heightened standards have pushed some teachers to forgo the emphasis on play and spend much more time on structured learning, says Christopher Brown, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction in early childhood education at the University of Texas at Austin.

Community Schools model can be a successful strategy for improving schools under ESSA, researchers say

Community schools — which feature integrated student supports, expanded learning time, family and community engagement, and collaborative leadership — can be a successful strategy for improving schools under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). That’s the conclusion of a new research review released at the Community Schools Awards for Excellence Symposium.

This brief, published jointly by the Learning Policy Institute and the National Education Policy Center, discusses the four key features of community schools and offers guidance to support school, district, and state leaders as they consider or implement a community school intervention strategy in schools targeted for comprehensive support. It was made possible in part by support provided to NEPC by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Below is a summary from the Learning Policy Institute:

Community schools represent a place-based school improvement strategy in which “schools partner with community agencies and local government to provide an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement.”(01) Many operate year-round, from morning to evening, and serve both children and adults. Although the approach is appropriate for students of all backgrounds, many community schools serve neighborhoods where poverty and racism erect barriers to learning, and where families have few resources to supplement what typical schools provide.

Community schools vary in the programs they offer and the way they operate, depending on their local context. However, four features — or pillars — appear in most community schools:

  1. Integrated student supports
  2. Expanded learning time and opportunities
  3. Family and community engagement
  4. Collaborative leadership and practices

Because ESSA requires that federally funded interventions be “evidence-based,” we reviewed both research on community schools as a comprehensive strategy and research on each of the four individual pillars of the strategy. We summarized the findings and evaluated the studies against ESSA’s criteria for “evidence-based” interventions, which define different tiers of evidence based on research methodology.

We conclude from our review that the evidence supports well-implemented community schools being included as part of targeted and comprehensive interventions in high-poverty schools. This evidence also supports community schools as an approach appropriate for broader use.

Policymakers who want to incorporate a community schools’ strategy into their ESSA state plans — as well as other plans for state and local school improvements — can benefit from the following research-based recommendations:

  • Take a comprehensive approach to community schools: All four pillars — integrated student supports, expanded learning time and opportunities, family and community engagement, and collaborative leadership and practices — matter; moreover, they appear to reinforce each other. To ensure a good outcome, pay attention to both the technical and the cultural dimensions of a community school. For example, plan not simply for a longer school day, but also for effective use of time gained. Certified teachers are best positioned to provide additional academic instruction, while community partners can engage students in experiential learning opportunities that connect to the community and foster significant relationships with adults. The work is best accomplished when school and community representatives plan and work together, building a school culture that is collaborative and collegial.
  • Recognize that successful community schools do not all look alike. Develop a plan that operationalizes the four pillars in ways that address local assets and needs, keeping in mind that the context of schools and communities may change over time. Therefore, as events unfold, be prepared to modify the original implementation rather than avoiding programmatic change. As ESSA suggests, use data in an ongoing process of continuous program evaluation and improvement.
  • Provide sufficient planning time to build trusting relationships between the school and an array of service providers as well as parents and staff, being mindful that such collaboration is key to full implementation.
  • Involve the community, parents, and young people as part of the needs assessment, design, planning, and implementation processes. ESSA requires it, and, in the case of community schools, such collaborative relationships are part of what will make the strategy successful.
  • Use evaluation strategies that provide information not only about progress toward hoped-for outcomes, but also about implementation and exposure to services. Be aware that outcomes are likely to span multiple domains — achievement, attendance, behavior, relationships, and attitudes — and are likely to take time to be fully realized. Certain outcomes, such as attendance, are likely to be achieved before other outcomes, such as achievement. Use data for continuous program refinement, while allowing sufficient time for the strategy to fully mature.
  • Encourage and support researchers, allowing them to conduct more rigorous studies using methods that will enable a stronger understanding of community schools’ effectiveness, and yield greater insight into the conditions under which they work well. Because this approach is frequently adopted as a turnaround strategy in underperforming schools, current evidence consists largely of program evaluations that assess student- and school-level progress. Additional research should seek to guide implementation and refinement.

WEAC and the NEA are strong supporters of the Community Schools model. Read more.

Public listening sessions scheduled on ESSA plan

Your chance to weigh in on state plan for new federal education law

Comment on Wisconsin’s draft plan to implement federal education law at a listening session in June.

The six sessions on the state’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan will be held

  • June 12, 8 to 10 a.m. — CESA 1, N25 W23131 Paul Road, Suite 100, Pewaukee.
  • June 15, 9 to 11 a.m. — CESA 9, 304 Kaphaem Road, Tomahawk.
  • June 16, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. — CESA 6 Conference Center, 2300 State Road 44, Oshkosh.
  • June 19, 1 to 3 p.m. — CESA 4, 923 East Garland Street, West Salem.
  • June 19, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. — Milwaukee Public Schools Central Services, 5225 West Vliet Street, Room 206-208, Milwaukee.
  • June 27, 1 to 3 p.m. — Lussier Community Education Center, 55 South Gammon Road, Community Room, Madison.

Registration for the June listening sessions is not required, but is highly recommended.

REGISTER NOW!

The listening sessions are one way to get teacher voice into decisions about the future of education. It’s also critical to get involved in your local school district to shape policy – the new law requires educators to be at the table. Check out WEAC’s easy-to-follow tips for engaging in your district!

Details: The listening sessions are conducted by the Department of Public Instruction and will feature short presentations with information about Wisconsin’s ESSA plan followed by guided discussions around four key areas: school accountability, educator development, school improvement, and student supports. Participants will be able to ask questions and submit formal comments at the event or through an online form. The comment period ends June 30.

More Information: Click here to read about Wisconsin’s Consolidated State Plan for ESSA and submit your comments with the online feedback form.

Next Steps: Following review with the Senate and Assembly education committees in July, the revised draft plan will be sent to the governor in August. The final Wisconsin Consolidated State Plan for ESSA is to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by September 18.

Legislative Update – April 24

Special education funding. This bill (SB 211) increases state aid to school districts for special education and school age parents programs provided by the school district to no less than 33 percent of the school district’s certified, eligible costs. It is referred to the Senate Education Committee. Learn more.

WRS bill. This bill (SB 190), introduced this week, combines two proposals introduced by Sen. Duey Stroebel into one bill, which would raise the early retirement age from 50 to 52 for protective services employees and from 55 to 60 for general employees.  Furthermore, the bill would change the calculation for a participant’s final average earning from the highest 3 years to the highest 5 years.  Both of these changes would apply to new employees hired after the passage of the bill. Read more and see the bill history. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection, which Sen. Stroebel chairs.

Matching funds for deposits to school long-term capital improvement trust funds. This bill (SB 192), part of a package of bills relating to limits on school district funding referendums requires the Department of Public Instruction to provide matching funds for deposits that a school board makes to a long-term capital improvement trust fund. Under the bill, if a school board increases the levy limit for operating costs or capital costs, the school board is required to refund to DPI any matching funds it received during the 10 school years immediately preceding the resolution. If a school board fails to refund the amount of the matching funds to DPI within 12 months, DPI must reduce the school district’s state aid to cover the amount due. Learn more.

Referendum restrictions on local control: voting by common, union high school districts. (SB 191) prohibits common and union high school districts from voting on a resolution to exceed the revenue limit of a school district at a special meeting. Learn more.

Referendum restrictions on local control: number of years a school boards can go to voters. Under this bill (SB 195), a school board would only be able to seek approval from voters in the school district to increase the revenue limit for five consecutive school years. Learn more.

Referendum restrictions on local control: When a board can schedule a vote. This bill (SB 194) limits school boards to schedule a referendum for the purpose of increasing the school district’s revenue limit only concurrent with a spring election or with the general election and only if the election falls no sooner than 70 days after the date on which the board adopts and files a resolution to that effect. Learn more.

Referendum restrictions on local control: What a board must include on referendum ballot. This bill (SB 187) requires a school board to include specific financial information on a referendum ballot, including the total amount of debt to be issued, the total amount of interest and related debt service costs to be incurred, and the sum of the principal, interest, and related debt service costs. Read more.

ESSA & the WI Legislature. The state Department of Public Instruction is working on a plan it needs to submit to the feds to comply with the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, requiring participation by educators and other stakeholders. A bill, AB 233, received a public hearing this week and would require DPI to first submit its plan to the Assembly and Senate education committees for approval by May 15, letting lawmakers propose changes before it goes to the federal government for approval. See the bill history.

Final Joint Finance Committee Budget Hearing. The Legislature’s budget-writing panel concludes public hearings this week, and then is expected to debate the final version through May during which time the panel votes on budget items. The governor continues his statewide tour to tout his K-12 education budget.

Coming Up in the Legislature

April 24

  • Senate Committee on Education. The panel will hold an executive session on bills related to recovery charter schools and a mental health training program. Click for the agenda. Here’s a summary of the bills:
    • AB 11 authorizes the director of the Office of Educational Opportunity in the University of Wisconsin System to contract for the operation of a recovery charter school, insurance coverage of mental health treatment provided by a recovery charter school, and making appropriations.
    • AB 6 authorizes the director of the Office of Educational Opportunity in the University of Wisconsin System to contract for the operation of a recovery charter school, insurance coverage of mental health treatment provided by a recovery charter school, and making appropriations.

Recent Developments

April 20

  • Tech ed equipment grants. A fiscal estimate was received for SB 125, which provides technical education equipment grants for school districts, provides an exemption from emergency rule procedures, and grants rule-making authority. View Bill History

Don’t see something in the wrap-up? Looking for more information? Contact Christina Brey.

U.S. Education Department proposes new regulations for school accountability

After more than 100 meetings across the nation with students, parents, educators, state and local leaders, and other stakeholders, the U.S. Department of Education has released a set of proposed regulations to help states as they rethink their accountability and school improvement systems under the new Every Student Succeeds Act. Whereas No Child Left Behind prescribed top-down interventions for struggling schools, the new proposed regulations provide flexibility for schools and districts to implement locally designed solutions and offer a more holistic approach to measuring a quality education than NCLB’s narrow definition of school success.

“Today marks the beginning of the opportunity for the public to weigh in on the proposed ESSA regulations released by the Department of Education,” said WEAC President-Elect Ron Martin. ” I am excited about this opportunity for educators, parents and community members to weigh in on these regulations.  The whole process is much more transparent than when ESEA was implemented.  I hope educators take advantage of this opportunity and to share how they feel about these regulations.”

For a more comprehensive description of the Department of Education’s proposed regulations, see a chart about how they compare to NCLB, read a summary of the regulations or the full Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. For more information, visit www.ed.gov/essa. There will be a 60 day public comment period starting May 31 through August 1, 2016. The Department welcomes comment from all interested parties on the proposed regulations.

According to the Department:

Submit your comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. We will not accept comments submitted by fax or by email or those submitted after the comment period. To ensure that we do not receive duplicate copies, please submit your comments only once. In addition, please include the Docket ID at the top of your comments.

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov to submit your comments electronically. Information on using Regulations.gov, including instructions for accessing agency documents, submitting comments, and viewing the docket, is available on the site under “Are you new to the site?”
  • Postal Mail, Commercial Delivery, or Hand Delivery: If you mail or deliver your comments about these proposed regulations, address them to Meredith Miller, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 3C106, Washington, DC 20202-2800.

Teachers say evaluation systems are having negative impact on education

U.S. teachers believe that teacher evaluation systems are having a profoundly negative effect on them and on education in general.

“Headlines report teacher shortages in nearly every state,” says the Executive Summary of a report titled; Teachers Talk Back: Educators on the Impact of Teacher Evaluation. The report was published this week by the Network for Public Education.

“One factor reported in almost every story is the discouragement teachers feel from a reform movement that is increasing pressure to raise student test scores, while reducing support,” it states. “This pressure dramatically increased with the inclusion of student test scores in teacher evaluations, with some states using them to account for as much as 50% of evaluation scores. When combined with frameworks, rubrics, and high-stake consequences, the nature of teacher evaluation has dramatically changed, and narratives from educators across the United States document that it has changed for the worse.”

Among the top conclusions of the survey of educators:

  • Teachers and principals believe that evaluations based on student test scores, especially Value Added Measures (VAM), are neither valid nor reliable measures of their work.
  • The emphasis on improving test scores has overwhelmed every aspect of teachers’ work, forcing them to spend precious collaborative time poring over student data rather than having conversations about students and instruction.
  • Over half of the respondents (52.08%) reported witnessing evidence of bias against veteran educators.
  • Teacher professional development tied to the evaluation process is having a stiflng effect on teachers, by undermining their sense of autonomy, and limiting their capacity for real professional growth.

Below is an infographic summarizing the survey results, as well as six recommendations:

teachers-talk-back-npe-teacher-evaluation-report

Paraeducator Lynn Goss selected to serve on national ESSA committee

Lynn Goss

Lynn Goss

Menomonie paraeducator – and WEAC member – Lynn Goss has been chosen to serve with State Superintendent Tony Evers on a national committee that will draft proposed rules for the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

“With a seat at the table, I can continue to advocate for meaningful collaboration between teachers and paraeducators that ultimately benefits the whole student,” Goss said.

This “negotiated rulemaking” is the final step in federal implementation of ESSA. It deals specifically with two areas of Title I, Part A of the law:

  • The requirement that federal funds supplement, not supplant, non-federal funds in high-need schools, and
  • Assessments – including several subtopics listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s news release.

Evers, serving this year as president of the Council of Chief State School Officers, will bring the state education agency perspective to the 24-member committee, along with Marcus Cheeks of the Mississippi Department of Education and National Title I Association. Others will represent local education agencies, tribal nations, families, teachers, administrators, the civil rights and business communities.

In public statements, Evers has praised ESSA for “the stability and flexibility afforded to states and school districts,” allowing Wisconsin “to develop programs that fit the needs of our students and improve student outcomes.”

WEAC also has joined the National Education Association in praising the ESSA.

Goss has been an active WEAC and NEA member for many years, currently serving as an NEA Director. She has been on the WEAC Board and many committees, often representing the interests of Education Support Professionals. Last year, Goss was featured in an NEA digital publication, “Education Support Professional: Meeting the Needs of the Whole Student,” where she described her school’s “What I Need” program. The program is “based on the concept that different students have different paths to learning, and that sometimes that requires personalized instruction and intervention.”

In that publication, Menomonie Middle School Principal Stacey Everson praised Goss for using her “uncanny intuition, coupled with an enormous knowledge base” to make a big difference for students who need extra support.

“No one understands that ‘learning is not a race’ better than Lynn Goss,” Everson said.

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Teachers feeling overloaded and stressed, according to Baraboo survey

TimeToLearnTimeToTeach_250pxImplementation of new educational requirements from the federal, state and local level, combined with the loss of collective bargaining rights, has teachers feeling overloaded and under growing stress, according to a survey of Baraboo teachers.

“There’s initiative fatigue,” Baraboo High School teacher and Baraboo Education Association President Kari Nelson told the Baraboo News Republic. “That is the sense we are getting from our members. It is initiative overload.”

Examples of initiatives cited by teachers as contributing to the feeling of being overloaded are the Educator Effectiveness teacher evaluation system, the Charlotte Danielson Framework for teaching, the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program and the Bring Your Own Device initiative which requires teachers to work with students on learning to use Chromebooks and new software.

“These initiatives demand a lot of time on the teacher’s part,” Nelson said. “A lot of the staff worry it is taking time away from the student-driven things teachers want to be doing. They want to give students more timely feedback and create highly engaging lessons and that takes time.”

WEAC Region 5 Executive Director Bill Froelich said the 2011 state law called Act 10, which limited public employees’ abilities to collectively bargain on anything other than base wage, has negatively impacted communication between teachers and administrators. However, there is nothing to prevent the administration and school board from engaging teachers and education support professionals in conversations and working toward joint solutions to problems such as teacher overload. The union continues to represent members in efforts to influence those decisions and make sure that educators have the time and resources to meet the needs of all students.

“We’re just saying we want to have more of a voice,” Froelich said.

Read the Baraboo News article:

‘Initiative overload’ stresses Baraboo teachers: Union survey points to disconnect with administration

Retired teacher Victoria Wiegand noticed big changes in workload and communication between administration and teachers during her last few years with the Baraboo School District. “I just think there were more initiatives,” Wiegand said. “It seemed like every year I taught, there were changes, new things that had happened.”

Teacher Workload Video:

This video focuses on the impact of growing teacher workload in Milwaukee Public Schools and the role Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association members are playing in working to ensure that educators have the time they need to meet the needs of all their students. But the concepts of teacher overload and the important role of the union in advocating for students and educators certainly apply to school districts statewide.

Find more resources at weac.org/workload

NEA President: Obama budget rightly shines spotlight on education, students

Educators remain concerned about impact of budget on implementation of Every Student Succeeds Act

President Barack Obama Tuesday released the final budget of his administration for fiscal year 2017. The president’s budget is the first since the congressional passage of the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). NEA President Lily Eskelsen García issued the following statement.

“President Barack Obama’s budget rightly shines a spotlight on education and students for the eighth year in a row. Educators appreciate and welcome the additional investments in public education.

“However, we are concerned that the budget doesn’t go far enough with investments to create more opportunity for all students, regardless of their ZIP code, especially as we shift our attention towards the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. We believe that essentially flat-funding the main programs aimed at helping the students most in need will undermine the promise of ESSA to provide opportunity for all students.

“And while we appreciate the notable increase proposed for the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education to help enforce civil rights laws and opportunity for all students, we believe a greater investment on the front end for Title I in particular must be part of that effort. Likewise, it is a disappointment that the budget proposes no increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) core grants.

“The stakes continue to remain high for students and working families. We hope that the bipartisanship displayed at times last year in Congress will lead to greater future collaboration and investment. By working in a bipartisan manner, Congress and the president can take a step towards ensuring the success of every student in America.”

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