Madison Prep’s Board Commits to Innovation, Autonomy and Putting Kids First

On November 16, by unanimous vote, the Board of Directors of Madison Preparatory Academy announced they would request that the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Board of Education approve their proposal to establish its all-boys and all-girls schools as non-instrumentality public charter schools. This means that Madison Preparatory Academy would employ all staff at both schools instead of MMSD, and that Madison Prep’s staff would not be members of the district’s collective bargaining units.

If approved, the Board of Education would retain oversight of both schools and likely require Madison Prep to submit to annual progress reviews and a five year performance review, both of which would determine if the school should be allowed to continue operating beyond its first five-year contract.

 

"We have worked for six months to reach agreement with MMSD’s administration and Madison Teachers Incorporated on how Madison Prep could operate as a part of the school district and its collective bargaining units while retaining the core elements of its program design and remain cost effective," said Board Chair David Cagigal. 

 

Cagigal further stated, “From the beginning, we were willing to change several aspects of our school design in order to find common ground with MMSD and MTI to operate Madison Prep as a school whose staff would be employed by the district. We achieved agreement on most positions being represented by local unions, including teachers, counselors, custodial staff and food service workers. However, we were not willing to compromise key elements of Madison Prep that were uniquely designed to meet the educational needs of our most at-risk students and close the achievement gap.”

 

During negotiations, MMSD, MTI and the Boards of Madison Prep and the Urban League were informed that Act 10, the state’s new law pertaining to collective bargaining, would prohibit MMSD and MTI from providing the flexibility and autonomy Madison Prep would need to effectively implement its model. This included, among other things:

 

  • Changing or excluding Madison Prep’s strategies for hiring, evaluating and rewarding its principals, faculty and staff for a job well done;
  • Excluding Madison Prep’s plans to contract with multiple providers of psychological and social work services to ensure students and their families receive culturally competent counseling and support, which is not sufficiently available through MMSD; and
  • Eliminating the school’s ability to offer a longer school day and year, which Madison Prep recently learned would prove to be too costly as an MMSD charter school.

 

On November 1, 2011, after Madison Prep’s proposal was submitted to the Board of Education, MMSD shared that operating under staffing and salary provisions listed in the district’s existing collective bargaining agreement would cost $13.1 million more in salaries and benefits over five years, as compared to the budget created by the Urban League for Madison Prep’s budget.

 

Cagigal shared, “The week after we submitted our business plan to the Board of Education for consideration, MMSD’s administration informed us that they were going to use district averages for salaries, wages and benefits in existing MMSD schools rather than our budget for a new start-up school to determine how much personnel would cost at both Madison Prep schools.”

 

Both MMSD and the Urban League used the same district salary schedule to write their budgets. However, MMSD budgets using salaries of district teachers with 14 years teaching experience and a master’s degree while the Urban League budgeted using salaries of teachers with 7 years’ experience and a master’s degree.

 

Gloria Ladson Billings, Vice Chair of Madison Prep’s Board and the Kellner Professor of Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison stated that, “It has been clear to all parties involved that the Urban League is committed to offering comparable and competitive salaries to its teachers but that with limited resources as a new school, it would have to set salaries and wages at a level that would likely attract educators with less teaching experience than the average MMSD teacher. At the budget level we set, we believe we can accomplish our goal of hiring effective educators and provide them a fair wage for their level of experience.” 

 

Madison Prep is also committed to offering bonuses to its entire staff, on top of their salaries, in recognition of their effort and success, as well as the success of their students. This also was not allowed under the current collective bargaining agreement.

 

Summarizing the decision of Madison Prep’s Board, Reverend Richard Jones, Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church and Madison Prep Board member shared, “Our Board has thought deep and hard about additional ways to compromise around the limitations that Act 10 places on our ability to partner with our teachers’ union. However, after consulting parents, community partners and the MMSD Board of Education, we ultimately decided that our children need what Madison Prep will offer, and they need it now. A dream deferred is a dream denied, and we must put the needs of our children first and get Madison Prep going right away. That said, we remain committed to finding creative ways to partner with MMSD and the teachers’ union, including having the superintendent of MMSD, or his designee, serve on the Board of Madison Prep so innovation and learning can be shared immediately.”

 

Cagigal further stated that, “It is important for the public to understand that our focus from the beginning has been improving the educational and life outcomes of our most vulnerable students. Forty-eight percent high school graduation and 47 percent incarceration rates are just not acceptable; not for one more day. It is unconscionable that only 1% of Black and 7% of Latino high school seniors are ready for college. We must break from the status quo and take bold steps to close the achievement gap, and be ready and willing to share our success and key learning with MMSD and other school districts so that we can positively impact the lives of all of our children.”

 

The Urban League has informed MMSD’s administration and Board of Education that it will share with them an updated version of its business plan this evening. The updated plan will request non-instrumentality status for Madison Prep and address key questions posed in MMSD’s administrative analysis of the plan that was shared publicly last week.

 

The Board of Education is expected to vote on the Madison Prep proposal in December 2011.

 

Copies of the updated plan will be available on the Urban League (www.ulgm.org) and Madison Prep (www.madison-prep) websites

yay Carl Sagan day!

jtotheizzoe:

Today, Wednesday Nov. 9, is Carl Sagan Day, his birthday.

He’s the ambassador for science that I dream of one day being like, and for his birthday we owe him a day of thanks. I’ll have as many goodies up as I can muster, but first - sleep.

Even star stuff needs its beauty rest.

Chicago Teacher Evaluation Pilot Shows Promise for Fairly, Accurately Evaluating Teachers
As schools across the country face mounting state and federal pressure to overhaul teacher evaluation, a pilot initiative in Chicago provides evidence that principals are able to assess teachers accurately on practices that drive student learning, according to a new study from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research.
Rethinking Teacher Evaluation in Chicago found that teachers who received the highest ratings from principals on classroom observations were also the teachers whose students showed the greatest learning gains. This suggests that principals were able to distinguish between strong and weak teaching and that the observation tool used in the Chicago pilot, the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching, captured factors that matter for student learning.
 
These findings have important policy implications for states and districts across the country working to implement evaluation systems that include classroom observations. Evaluations that rely on classroom observations provide teachers with a common definition of effective teaching and feedback on how they stack up on those criteria. They also can serve as the primary source of information on teacher quality in grade levels and subjects that are not tested.
 
The study is particularly relevant in states like Illinois, which has selected the Charlotte Danielson Framework as the state model. “This study shows that we’re moving in the right direction with our re-design of educator evaluations in Illinois. It shows the observation methods we’re moving toward are valid and reliable measures of solid teaching practice and that they can be applied consistently,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch.  “The state is going to use the lessons learned in the Consortium study as we design the state’s training for principals which will be critical for the successful implementation of our new educator evaluation systems.”
 
Rethinking Teacher Evaluation in Chicago summarizes findings from a two-year study of Chicago’s Excellence in Teaching Pilot, which was piloted in 44 schools in 2008 and then expanded to 100 in 2009. Overall, the report found that the Excellence in Teaching Pilot was an improvement on the old evaluation system and worked as it was designed and intended, introducing an evidence-based observation approach to evaluating teachers and creating a shared definition of effective teaching. At the same time, the new system faced a number of challenges, including weak instructional coaching skills among some principals. Key findings include:
 
• The classroom observation ratings were valid measures of teaching practice; that is, students showed the greatest growth in test scores in the classrooms where teach­ers received the highest ratings on the Danielson Framework, and students showed the least growth in test scores in classrooms where teachers received the lowest ratings.
 
• Principals and trained observers who watched the same lesson consistently gave the teacher the same ratings; the highest agreement existed for unsatisfactory ratings. This finding relates to the fairness of the system and has important implications for districts using the classroom observations to make hiring, firing and promotion decisions.
 
• Principals and teachers said that conferences were more reflective and objective than in the past and were focused on instructional practice and improvement.
 
• Over half of principals were highly engaged in the new evaluation system. These principals were positive about the Framework, the conferences, and the professional development they received. Principals who were not engaged in the new evaluation system tended to say that it was too labor intensive given the numerous district initiatives being simultaneously implemented in their schools.
 
• While principal ratings were generally consistent, 11 per­cent of principals consistently gave lower ratings than the observers and 17 percent of principals consistently gave higher ratings than the observers. Also, while principals and teachers were positive about the evaluation conferences and framework, many principals lacked the instructional coaching skills required to have deep discussions about teaching practice. This speaks to the need for ongoing professional development supports for principals and teachers.
 
The report was funded by the Joyce Foundation. A link to the full report is available at www.ccsr.uchicago.edu.

jtotheizzoe:

There’s just some kinds of Big Science research that doesn’t make sense to fund in a traditional private “business” sense. Not only because the risks are higher on monetary returns, but because sometimes those returns are really far down the road.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t real, though. Dan Rokhsar from the DOE’s Joint Genome Institute had this to say in the Washington Post:

Despite the hard research ahead, the rewards for discoveries could be tremendous. “Let’s say you’ve got a goal that in 20 years, you want to have a much higher usage of biofuels,” Rokhsar said. He did some quick math: “We spend over $1 billion a day on foreign oil. So let’s say that sequencing these genomes now allows some graduate student to clone a gene five years from now because they can look it up in our database. That’s going to accelerate the research. Say that allows us to start using biofuels a month before our 20-year goal. You’ve saved $30 billion from that month alone.”

This distinction is lost on Republican naysayers, for the most part.

Even the babies look fierce!
scipsy:

Bald eagle chicks (via National Digital Library)

Even the babies look fierce!

scipsy:

Bald eagle chicks (via National Digital Library)

Average ACT scores of incoming students, with a focus on UW-Madison and its peer institutions.
I checked the numbers for accuracy, but did not double check. Please help me double check, since the reporting is rarely accurate.

Average ACT scores of incoming students, with a focus on UW-Madison and its peer institutions.

I checked the numbers for accuracy, but did not double check. Please help me double check, since the reporting is rarely accurate.

The essential prerequisite for finding the answer to a question is the desire to find it.

Tristan Needham

author of Visual Complex Analysis (the best book so far about complex numbers)

I’m never sure what to make of this. Is the exodus a result of demographic shifts, the aging workforce, declining school conditions, or labor problems? I expect a combination of factors to be the culprit; yet, given the drastic increase in turnover, there’s got to be a catalyst at play.
Wisconsin’s in trouble, and I don’t think we’re clear on what the trouble is. Don’t say “Walker” — demagoguery is not an economic analysis.
gjmueller:

A closer look at survey of Wisconsin school districts 

Survey says: Statewide, the school districts’ staffs were reduced  by a net total of 3,368 - triple the reduction of the previous school  year. And an analysis of DPI data indicates 1,608 of those staff  reductions were teachers.
Take-away: More than 75% of school districts responding to the  survey had a net loss of staff, including teachers, administrators,  teacher’s aides and support staff, according to DPI, which is headed by  an elected superintendent independent of the governor.
Survey says: More than four in 10 elementary-school districts  responding reported increased class sizes in one grade or more from  kindergarten through sixth grade. 
Take-away: A majority of districts did not report bigger class  sizes. 
Survey says: “A staggering 77% of students attend districts  that made staff cuts to at least one program” in such areas as special  education, at-risk and drug-use prevention. On the other hand, the  survey asked about 12 programs, and a clear majority of districts cut  back in one or two areas of the 12.
Take-away: The most commonly cut areas were libraries and special education, with 28% of survey respondents reporting staff cuts.

I’m never sure what to make of this. Is the exodus a result of demographic shifts, the aging workforce, declining school conditions, or labor problems? I expect a combination of factors to be the culprit; yet, given the drastic increase in turnover, there’s got to be a catalyst at play.

Wisconsin’s in trouble, and I don’t think we’re clear on what the trouble is. Don’t say “Walker” — demagoguery is not an economic analysis.

gjmueller:

A closer look at survey of Wisconsin school districts

Survey says: Statewide, the school districts’ staffs were reduced by a net total of 3,368 - triple the reduction of the previous school year. And an analysis of DPI data indicates 1,608 of those staff reductions were teachers.

Take-away: More than 75% of school districts responding to the survey had a net loss of staff, including teachers, administrators, teacher’s aides and support staff, according to DPI, which is headed by an elected superintendent independent of the governor.

Survey says: More than four in 10 elementary-school districts responding reported increased class sizes in one grade or more from kindergarten through sixth grade.

Take-away: A majority of districts did not report bigger class sizes.

Survey says: “A staggering 77% of students attend districts that made staff cuts to at least one program” in such areas as special education, at-risk and drug-use prevention. On the other hand, the survey asked about 12 programs, and a clear majority of districts cut back in one or two areas of the 12.

Take-away: The most commonly cut areas were libraries and special education, with 28% of survey respondents reporting staff cuts.

So nice….

So nice….

This is the problem. Most people think that $1.89 per unit is better for the bottom line than $2.37, but in many cases it is not. Those who have not read The Goal will begin to argue almost immediately. They will spout time honored cost accounting methodologies and get really hot and bothered.

These people are either cost accountants or the devil…but I repeat myself.

When someone poses such a simple question and then gives an unexpected answer, the clever person will ask “why?” Therein lies the secret.

If one obtains a unit cost by simply increasing the batch size to 400 percent of what is needed, they have achieved a lower unit cost. The decision makers have also used up raw materials and created a bunch of stuff to store.

If one does this daily on multiple parts over the course of a year, they will have accounting numbers which look great and be looking for a job, because their company mysteriously ran out of money.

The problem that people have with Klout is they are trying to create a simple number, à la credit score, which people can turn to and, without any thinking, arrive at a conclusion about one’s ability to move the needle.

It isn’t that simple.

That’s a nice little argument. Lowering average production costs means raising net volume, so that you can distribute marginal costs over a larger quantity. The subsequent problem is that that net output has additional associated costs which aren’t accounted for in the original per unit metrics. If you can’t offload that output, you’re done.