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Finding New Meaning in Life Through PowerPoint

Anand Giridharadas:

Lourdes del Castillo de Rumié, 77 years old and practically vibrating (because there is so much left to do!), thinks she may have found the secret to joyous old age: PowerPoint. Yes, that PowerPoint: legendary time drain of consultants, bureaucrats and generals -- the software that never fails to make simple things more complicated. But Mrs. del Castillo de Rumié has found that what makes it tedious for the young makes it marvelous for the ripened. After all, when you are old, though you lack for years ahead, you have all the hours in the world. Mrs. del Castillo de Rumié wants to tell any older person she can to take the path she did a year and a half -- and 175 or so PowerPoint presentations -- ago, after many fulfilling decades baking wedding cakes and teaching informal art history classes to adults from her home in this lush Caribbean city. "You're going to find so much happiness before you die," she said. She traces her late blossoming as a PowerPoint evangelist to bank visits in which the teller would ask for her email address. It was humiliating to confess she didn't have one. That bitter feeling is where the encounter with technology so often ends for the well-aged. It might have for Mrs. del Castillo de Rumié, too, had it not been for a friend whom she considered truly old.

The Wisconsin Specific Learning Disabilities Rule took full effect on December 1

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email

requently Asked Questions about Making Specific Learning Disability (SLD) Eligibility Decisions has been updated to reflect full implementation of all components of the SLD eligibility rule. The document is posted at SLD in Plain Language, including a one page summary of the eligibility criteria for SLD is posted at Wisconsin's Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) Rule: A Technical Guide for Determining the Eligibility of Students with Specific Learning Disabilities update is posted at DPI recommends that you replace any earlier versions of the guide or the FAQs with their updates. Look forward to an updated overview of SLD PowerPoint presentation, and other updates in the coming days and weeks.

Learn some Mandarin but master English too

Michael Skapinker

If they are to make progress, children should start learning early. But Mandarin is very different from European languages and harder for an English speaker to learn than French or German. Also, in the race to learn other languages, the Chinese are way ahead in learning English. Although the English-language component of the Chinese university entrance exam has been reduced, there are 50,000 English-language teaching companies in the country. Internationally-minded companies regard English as important. Lenovo, the Chinese computer company, has made it its official language. Throughout Europe, English is now essential for anyone wanting to reach a senior corporate position. It is a given, a background skill like knowing how to create a PowerPoint presentation or find your way to the office. That will be the case in China too. Foreign Mandarin speakers may establish better contacts and win business. But if China follows the European pattern, its future young executives will listen as their anglophone counterparts struggle a while in their school-learnt Mandarin and they will then switch to English because it wastes less time.

Education that's not to the point

Esther Cepeda:

My belief that the PowerPoint presentation is the worst thing that ever happened to modern education was verified a few months ago while I was observing a training session on the art of marketing complex technology. At one point, the teacher stopped his PowerPoint presentation to rant about the tyranny of PowerPoint presentations. The trainer bemoaned the skull-numbing effect that an endless stream of bullet points and images has on a listener. He painstakingly detailed the absolute no-nos of trying to impart important information through such a limited method: Keep the number of slides to a minimum, use as little text on each slide as possible and never, ever, recite your bullet points verbatim. Then he told us that the newest trend in high-level salesmanship is to perform important presentations without electronic aides. Apparently, top sales professionals have started learning to sketch so they can hand-illustrate their most important concepts on whiteboards during a talk in front of clients. Such an effort demonstrates two things, the trainer said. "First, it shows the customer that you know your stuff, that you're not just regurgitating strings of facts because you need to have slides and fill them. And second, it shows your audience that you are tailoring how you impart information in a way that is relevant to them in the moment." "Wow!" I thought. "That's exactly how teaching used to be." Well, that's how it used to be a long time ago when teachers were masters of their subject areas and they shared their wisdom by lecturing and maybe making a few notes on a chalkboard. Back when students were -- gasp! --expected to listen and even -- double-gasp! -- take notes. That method died sometime after I graduated from college and before I began my graduate-level teacher training nearly a decade later.

May, 2012 Madison School District "Key Performance Indicators" - Attendance - Presented at a Strategic Plan Update Meeting

528K Powerpoint Presentation. Via a kind reader.

Notes and links on the Madison School District's "Strategic Planning Process", begun under former Superintendent Dan Nerad.
528K Powerpoint Presentation. Via a kind reader.

Point of view: Virtual classes give lesson in reality

James Dean:

James Dean: 'Using traditional education as the gold standard is outmoded' Can an online MBA programme be of the same high quality as a campus-based programme? From a teaching and learning perspective, there can no longer be any doubt that online education can match and, in some ways, exceed the performance of conventional education. Online MBA programmes match or exceed the quality of on-campus programmes when done right. Doing it right does not mean simply transmitting taped lectures or using Powerpoint slides with a voice-over lecture. It does mean:

Mindless professional learning produces mindless teaching

Dennis Sparks:

The notes of the lecturer are passed to the notes of the listener - without going through the minds of either. - Mortimer Adler Mortimer Adler succinctly describes the mindless learning that follows mindless teaching. Visualize a continuum with that form of teaching and learning at one end. At the other end place the kind of teaching that produces high levels of engagement, meaningful involvement with the subject matter, and the acquisition and exercise of complex cognitive skills. (A good share of the teaching students experience each day falls between those two extremes.) The professional learning of teachers and administrators can be placed along a similar continuum. To update Adler's description, at one end of the continuum the PowerPoint slides of the presenter are passed to the tweets of the students without going through the minds of either. At the other end is professional learning with qualities that closely resemble those described above for students--high levels of engagement, meaningful involvement with the subject matter, and the acquisition and exercise of complex cognitive skills In my experience, the kinds of teaching/learning processes used in professional development have a profound effect on the teaching/learning processes used in the vast majority of' classrooms. Put another way, mindless professional learning produces mindless teaching. And vice versa.

High School Progress Reports Weigh In -- At 305 Excel Columns!

Maisie McAdoo:

High School Progress Reports, which the Department of Education released on Nov. 26, have yet another new way to measure schools: the college and career readiness index, which now counts for 10 percent of a school's grade. As if the 2011 reports, at 205 columns of Excel data per school was not enough, the 2012 reports arrived on a 305-column spreadsheet, boasting 39 new columns of college and career readiness data points. That doesn't count the "additional information," 72 columns of supplemental data, in case the first 39 didn't quite get at everything you wanted to know about college readiness. Give them points for trying. But some of this data is going to wind up in "deleted items" and never get crunched. Even the DOE didn't try. It didn't put out PowerPoint slides or anything that summarizes (or spins) the information.

Washington, DC 2012 Charter School Performance Reports

DC Public School Charter Board:

The DC Public Charter School Board (PCSB) provides school performance reports as a way to share how PCSB evaluates each public charter school. Although each charter school is unique, PCSB's Performance Management Framework (PMF) enables the board to look at school performance across common measures. See the frequently asked questions sheet for further information on how the PMF works. See a brief PowerPoint presentation on the School Performance Reports here.

Is There an Echo in Here? The Making of a Relic

In the March 14, 2001, issue of Education Week, Victor Henningsen, director of the history department at Phillips Academy in Andover, had this to say about term papers: "There's no substitute for the thrill that comes from choosing a topic of your own and wrestling with a mass of evidence to answer a question that you have posed, to craft your own narrative and your own analysis. We've been teaching kids to write research papers here for a long time. Kids don't remember the advanced placement exam, but they do remember the papers they have written, and so do I." Teacher Magazine March 1, 2002 It seems likely that the history research paper at the high school level is now an endangered species. Focus on creative writing, fear of plagiarism, fascination with PowerPoint presentations, and lack of planning time have been joined by a notable absence of concern about term papers in virtually all of the work on state standards. As a result, far too many American high school students never get the chance to do the reading and writing that a serious history paper requires. They then enter college with no experience in writing papers, to the continual frustration of their professors, and of the employers who later hire them. The Ford Motor Co., for example, had to institute writing classes to ensure that their people are able to produce readable reports, memos, and the like. A few years ago, a survey of English and social studies standards by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation showed that term papers are, indeed, ignored. The Pew Charitable Trust's Standards for Success program, with its focus on high school and college articulation of standards and expectations, likewise includes no term papers. Neither has the American Diploma Project in Washington, D.C., working to define the expectations of high schools, colleges, and employers, yet found a place in its deliberations for history research papers. One problem for these groups and others, of course, is that serious term papers cannot be assessed in a one-hour objective test. But their impact on students and the consequences of never having done one can be incalculable. In the early 1980s, while I was teaching American history to high school sophomores in Concord, Massachusetts, each of my students had to write a biographical paper on a U.S. president. One student chose John F. Kennedy, and I lent him a copy of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s A Thousand Days. The boy took a look at the rather large book, and told me, "I can't read this." I said, "Yes, you can," and eventually, he was able to finish it. Five or six years later, out of the blue, I got a letter from the student. He was now a Junior at Yale, and he wanted to thank me for making him read Schlesinger's book. It was the first serious work of nonfiction he had ever read, and being able to get through it had done something for his self-confidence. Of course, he was the one who had forced himself to read the book, but the anecdote points up one of the great advantages of working on a history term paper. The experience often will mark the first time a high school student discovers that he or she is capable of reading a book on an important topic. When I was an alumni interviewer for Harvard College, I asked one high school boy what he thought he might major in. History, he replied. I had said nothing about my own interest in the subject, and all he knew about me was that I was an alum. But after he gave me his answer, I naturally asked what his favorite history book was. Before long, it became clear that, while this student had achieved good grades and advanced placement scores, he had studied only textbooks. No one had ever handed him a good history book and encouraged him to read it, apparently. More than likely, he had never had to write a serious history paper either. If he had, he might have been forced to read a book or two in the field. In the March 14, 2001, issue of Education Week, Victor Henningsen, director of the history department at Phillips Academy in Andover, had this to say about term papers; "There's no substitute for the thrill that comes from choosing a topic of your own and wrestling with a mass of evidence to answer a question that you have posed, to craft your own narrative and your own analysis. We've been teaching kids to write research papers here for a long time. Kids don't remember the advanced placement exam, but they do remember the papers they have written, and so do I." Since 1987, I have been the editor of The Concord Review, a quarterly journal of history research papers written by high school students. We've published 528 [1,044] papers (averaging 5,000 words, including endnotes and bibliography) by students from 42 [46] states and 33 [38] foreign countries. Out of some 22,000 public and private high schools in the United States, we receive about 600 essays a year, from which we publish 11 in each issue. If you do the calculation, that means that more than 21,000 high schools do not even submit one history essay for consideration in a given year. While this may not prove that exceptional history essays are not being written at those schools, it is not an encouraging sign. As for what teachers expect in their high school history classes in lieu of research papers, I have only anecdotal evidence. I met with the head of the history department at a public high school in New Jersey once, a man very active in the National Council for History Education, and asked him why he never sent papers from his best students to The Concord Review. He said he didn't have his students do research papers anymore; they make PowerPoint presentations and write historical fiction instead. When I asked the now-retired head of history at Scarsdale High School in New York, why, even though he subscribed to The Concord Review, he never submitted student papers for consideration, he too said he no longer assigned papers. After the AP exam, he would hold what he called the Trial of James Buchanan for his role in helping to precipitate the Civil War. His students would then write responses on that subject instead. After I published her paper on the Women's Temperance Union, the class valedictorian at a public high school on Staten Island wrote me to say she felt weak in expository writing and offered some reasons. Here are her words: "I attend a school where students are given few opportunities to develop their talents in this field. It is assumed students will learn how to write in college." I feel confident in saying that, on the college side, there is the expectation that students will learn at least the rudiments of putting together a research paper while they are still in high school. College humanities professors, slow to learn perhaps, are routinely surprised when they find that this is not the case. And rightly so. What is at work here? For one thing, creative writing often rules at the high school level (and earlier in many cases). Even the director of Harvard's Expository Writing program for undergraduates has said she thinks that teenagers don't get enough chances to write about their feelings, anxieties, hopes, and dreams, and that they shouldn't be pushed to work on research papers until college. The National Writing Project in Berkeley, California, a program that reaches hundreds of teachers each year, takes a postmodern approach to what it calls "Literatures," and never comes within a mile of considering that students could use some work on research skills and expository writing. I have actually seen what teenagers can do, and it is more like the following, an excerpt from an essay published a few years back in The Concord Review. (more examples at This passage concludes an essay by a high school Junior who went on to major in civil engineering at Princeton, get a Ph.D. in earthquake engineering at Stanford, and she is now an assistant professor of engineering at Cornell. As is usually the case with extended, deeply-held disagreements, no one person or group was the cause of the split in the woman suffrage movement. On both sides, a stubborn eagerness to enfranchise women hindered the effort to do so. Abolitionists and Republicans refused to unite equally with woman suffragists. Stanton and Anthony, blinded for a while by their desperation to succeed, turned to racism, putting blacks and women against each other at a time when each needed the other's support most. The one thing that remains clear is that, while in some ways it helped women discover their own power, the division of forces weakened the overall strength of the movement. As a result of the disagreements within the woman suffrage movement, the 1860s turned out to be a missed opportunity for woman suffragists, just as Stanton had predicted. After the passage of the 15th Amendment, they were forced to wait another 50 years for the fulfillment of their dream. High school kids are fully capable of writing long, serious history papers. And they will get a lot out of doing so, not only in terms of reading nonfiction, but also in learning to write nonfiction themselves. These days, too many of our students are not given that chance to grow. Colleges may continue doing what they can to help teenagers master the rudiments of expository writing, but much of what these high school students have lost can never be recouped in remedial coursework. ------------------------- "Teach by Example" Will Fitzhugh [founder] Consortium for Varsity Academics® [2007] The Concord Review [1987] Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995] National Writing Board [1998] TCR Institute [2002] 730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24 Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA 978-443-0022; 800-331-5007; Varsity Academics™ blog:

American School Board Journal: Q&A with Will Fitzhugh, research paper advocate

September 2012 Q&A School Board News; Will Fitzhugh is a great believer in the educational power of the high school research paper. In fact, he's such a fan that he founded The Concord Review in 1987 to publish student research papers and highlight the academic quality of their work. But his mission is a bit tougher these days. In 2002, he conducted a study of high school history teachers and discovered that, although nearly all of them said a term paper was a good idea, 62 percent never assigned a 12-page paper--and 27 percent never assigned an eight-page paper. Page numbers aren't the only measure of a writing project, but the consensus is that the rigor of high school research papers hasn't improved over the years. And that means that--outside of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses--very few students are tested by this kind of rigorous writing project. That's not a good trend, and Fitzhugh champions the idea that school policymakers should bring back the practice of assigning serious research papers to high school students. He encourages schools to adopt his Paper Per Year Plan©, which calls on schools to assign research papers that require students to write one more page, with one more source, for every grade of schooling. Even a first-grader should be writing one-page papers with one source listed. Recently, Fitzhugh shared his thoughts on the poor showing of high school writing projects with ASBJ Senior Editor Del Stover. Why should it matter if students are writing lengthy term papers? "Two great things about serious research papers: They ask for a lot of reading, and as a result, the student learns a lot about something. This encourages students to believe that, through their own efforts for the most part, they can learn about other things in the future. In addition, a serious research paper can help them keep out of remedial reading and writing classes at college." To engage students, some educators are allowing students to communicate through a variety of media. Is this innovative--or a mistake? "This is a mistake by teachers desperate to pander to student interests instead of requiring them to do the hard work essential to their education. When the Business Roundtable companies spend $3 billion-plus each year on remedial writing courses for their employees--hourly and salaried, current and new--they do not have them write blogs, read comic books, or enjoy PowerPoint presentations. That would waste their money and the time of students, and it wouldn't accomplish the remedial writing tasks." Is the term paper really dead? You're still publishing term papers in your quarterly, so you must still be seeing teachers--and students--who are rising to the highest standards? "The papers I have been getting continue to impress me. I could tell you stories of students who spend months on their submissions to The Concord Review and then send me an Emerson Prize-winning 15,000-word paper. Many of these students are going well beyond the expectations and standards of their schools because they seek to be published. But, as I say, for most students, they are never asked even to try a serious history research paper. In general, it is safe to say that all U.S. public high schools are unlikely to assign rigorous term papers, and the kids suffer accordingly." What advice can you offer to school board members and administrators as they struggle to raise student skills in reading and writing? "The California State College System reports that 47 percent of their freshmen are in remedial reading courses, and in a survey of college professors by The Chronicle of Higher Education, 90 percent of them said their students are not very well prepared in reading or writing, or in doing research. So school board members should be aware of how poorly we are preparing our kids in nonfiction reading and academic expository writing--and they should ask their superintendents what can be done about that. I've argued that, if reading and writing is a serious skill that kids need, then we have to decide if we are willing to invest [in this effort]. Kids are spending three or four hours of time on homework a week and 54 hours on entertainment. It's not going to kill them to spend four more hours a week on a paper." ------------------------------- "Teach by Example" Will Fitzhugh [founder] The Concord Review [1987] Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995] National Writing Board [1998] TCR Institute [2002] 730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24 Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA 978-443-0022; 800-331-5007; Varsity Academics®

The Decline and Fall of the Library Empire

Steve Coffman:

The past 30 years of library history is littered with projects and plans and sometimes just dreams of ways the library might play a more pivotal role in the digital revolution that continues to transform the information landscape around us. Some of those projects never really got off the ground. Web Directories Remember those heady early days when we thought we were going to catalog the web? OCLC even set up a whole project for this task back around the turn of the century (sounds like a long time ago, doesn't it?). It was called CORC, or Collaborative Online Resource Catalog. Librarians around the world were supposed to select and catalog "good, librarian-certified" web resources. There was even talk of assigning Dewey numbers to websites -- an idea which I'm sure would have brought tears to the eyes of many, especially our patrons. Today, the only evidence you can find of CORC is a few sentences in a list of abandoned research projects on the OCLC website and some links to PowerPoints and articles saluting it -- most now more than 10 years old.

NY Governor Reduces State Spending .2%; Crafts Budget On Public Pension, Teacher Evaluation Reform

Zack Fink:

Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday proposed an overhaul to the state's pension system and new teacher evaluation system while presenting his $132.5 billion budget plan for the next fiscal year. The plan reduces overall spending by .2 percent from last year. In a PowerPoint presentation, Cuomo said his executive budget includes no new taxes, one shot revenues or gimmicks. It also closes a budget gap of $3.5 billion. However, while the governor plans to increase education spending by 4 percent or roughly $805 million, he also plans to make that increase contingent upon real reform and, specifically, teacher evaluations. He's giving the state's teachers 30 days to come up with a statewide evaluation system or he will write his own into the budget for the legislature to approve. Districts would have one year to get the new system up and running or the state would withhold the promised 4 percent increase in school aid.
Philissa Cramer has more.

Programming should take pride of place in our schools

John Naughton:

If we don't change the way ICT is thought about and taught, we're shutting the door on our children's futures So, in the immortal words of Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC's technology correspondent, coding (ie computer programming) is "the new Latin". This was the headline on his blog post about the burgeoning campaign to boost the teaching of computer skills in UK schools. Dedicated readers will recall that it is also a bee in the bonnet of this particular columnist. The ICT (information and communications technology) curriculum in our secondary schools has been a national disgrace for as long as I can remember. This is because it effectively conflates ICT with "office skills" and generally winds up training them to use Microsoft Office when what they really need is ICT education - that is to say preparation for a world in which Microsoft (and maybe even Google) will be little more than historical curiosities, and PowerPoint presentations will look like Dead Sea scrolls. Rory Cellan-Jones's blog post was prompted by signs that the campaign to rethink ICT education is gathering momentum. It was first given a boost by a report written by two elders of the computer games world, Ian Livingstone and Alex Hope, on the need to transform the UK into "the world's leading talent hub for the video games and visual effects industries". Their report recommended, among other things, that computer science should become part of the national curriculum.

Life Expectancy PowerPoint

Hans Rosling:

Life expectancy is a very important measure when we compare the health of different countries. However, students often misunderstand some of the characteristics of life expectancy. This PowerPoint presentation focuses on two of these characteristics:

Seattle Cluster Grouping Talk

Melissa Westbrook:

I attended the talk last night by Dr. Dina Bulles put on by Wedgwood Elementary (and held at Nathan Hale High). (FYI, her name is pronounced Bree-yays.) The other SPS staff represented were the principal of Wedgwood, Chris Cronas, Ex. Director, Phil Brockman, and head of Advanced Learning, Bob Vaughn. Mr. Cronas pointed out that several Wedgwood teachers were in attendance as well. There were a large number of seats put out but the room wasn't full. My guess is it was about 60 people. Dr. Bulles explained that in her district, Paradise Valley School district (which is just outside of Phoenix, Arizona), all of their elementary schools use cluster grouping. (Her district is about 35,000 students and there are 31 elementary schools.) She said out of those 35,000, about 5,000 student received gifted classes/services. (Help me out anyone else who attended; I thought she said towards the end that this was included high school students taking AP/IB. Is that what you heard?) She also made a startling statement that 68% of her teachers (and I believe this is in elementary) had 3 years or less of teaching experience. Wow. What was most fascinating to me and an absolute pleasure is that here was a educator who made no apologies for wanting to serve gifted students. She gave a PowerPoint and several times talked about the need to serve these students needs as a district would any other student with a special need like ELL or Special Education. It was very refreshing and I have never, in all my years in SPS, heard any SPS principal or Board member or staff member or Superintendent speak in this manner. She started out by showing a list from J. Skabos about differences between gifted children and bright children (and I note that she believes both groups need to be served). I couldn't find the exact list but here is link to one that is quite similar.
Paradise Valley School District's website.

Classroom Seating Habits

Flowing Data:

In college, I was one of those guys who sat in the back and doodled in my notebook. Sometimes I fell asleep. One time I fell asleep and woke up in the middle of a different class. I blame the professor. Why would you turn off the lights for a two-hour session in a big lecture hall, while reading verbatim from world's most boring powerpoint presentation? Anyways, we all have our seating pockets that we like to settle in. Skyrill, a two-brother design team, took it upon themselves to visualize the seating habits of their graduate student classmates in class 15.514 at MIT.

Value Added Report for the Madison School District

Full Report 1.1MB PDF

Value added is the use of statistical technique to isolate the contributions of schools to measured student knowledge from other influences such as prior student knowledge and demographics. In practice, value added focuses on the improvement of students from one year to the next on an annual state examination or other periodic assessment. The Value-Added Research Center (VARC) of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research produces value-added measures for schools in Madison using the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) as an outcome. The model controls for prior-year WKCE scores, gender, ethnicity, disability, English language learner, low-income status, parent education, and full academic year enrollment to capture the effects of schools on student performance on the WKCE. This model yields measures of student growth in schools in Madison relative to each other. VARC also produces value-added measures using the entire state of Wisconsin as a data set, which yields measures of student growth in Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) relative to the rest of the state. Some of the most notable results are: 1. Value added for the entire district of Madison relative to the rest of the state is generally positive, but it differs by subject and grade. In both 2008-09 and 2009-10, and in both math and reading, the value added of Madison Metropolitan School District was positive in more grades than it was negative, and the average value added across grades was positive in both subjects in both years. There are variations across grades and subjects, however. In grade 4, value-added is significantly positive in both years in reading and significantly negative in both years in math. In contrast, value-added in math is significantly positive--to a very substantial extent--in grade 7. Some of these variations may be the result of the extent to which instruction in those grades facilitate student learning on tested material relative to non-tested material. Overall, between November 2009 and November 2010, value-added for MMSD as a whole relative to the state was very slightly above average in math and substantially above average in reading. The section "Results from the Wisconsin Value-Added Model" present these results in detail. 2. The variance of value added across schools is generally smaller in Madison than in the state of Wisconsin as a whole, specifically in math. In other words, at least in terms of what is measured by value added, the extent to which schools differ from each other in Madison is smaller than the extent to which schools differ from each other elsewhere in Wisconsin. This appears to be more strongly the case in the middle school grades than in the elementary grades. Some of this result may be an artifact of schools in Madison being relatively large; when schools are large, they encompass more classrooms per grade, leading to more across-classroom variance being within-school rather than across-school. More of this result may be that while the variance across schools in Madison is entirely within one district, the variance across schools for the rest of the state is across many districts, and so differences in district policies will likely generate more variance across the entire state. The section "Results from the Wisconsin Value-Added Model" present results on the variance of value added from the statewide value-added model. This result is also evident in the charts in the "School Value-Added Charts from the MMSD Value-Added Model" section: one can see that the majority of schools' confidence intervals cross (1) the district average, which means that we cannot reject the hypothesis that these schools' values added are not different from the district average. Even with a relatively small variance across schools in the district in general, several individual schools have values added that are statistically significantly greater or less than the district average. At the elementary level, both Lake View and Randall have values added in both reading and math that are significantly greater than the district average. In math, Marquette, Nuestro Mundo, Shorewood Hills, and Van Hise also have values added that are significantly greater than the district average. Values added are lower than the district average in math at Crestwood, Hawthorne, Kennedy, and Stephens, and in reading at Allis. At the middle school level, value added in reading is greater than the district average at Toki and lower than the district average at Black Hawk and Sennett. Value added in math is lower than the district average at Toki and Whitehorse. 3. Gaps in student improvement persist across subgroups of students. The value-added model measures gaps in student growth over time by race, gender, English language learner, and several other subgroups. The gaps are overall gaps, not gaps relative to the rest of the state. These gaps are especially informative because they are partial coefficients. These measure the black/white, ELL/non-ELL, or high-school/college-graduate-parent gaps, controlling for all variables available, including both demographic variables and schools attended. If one wanted to measure the combined effect of being both ELL and Hispanic relative to non-ELL and white, one would add the ELL/non-ELL gap to the Hispanic/white gap to find the combined effect. The gaps are within-school gaps, based on comparison of students in different subgroups who are in the same schools; consequently, these gaps do not include any effects of students of different subgroups sorting into different schools, and reflect within-school differences only. There does not appear to be an evident trend over time in gaps by race, low-income status, and parent education measured by the value-added model. The section "Coefficients from the MMSD Value-Added Model" present these results. 4. The gap in student improvement by English language learner, race, or low-income status usually does not differ substantively across schools; that between students with disabilities and students without disabilities sometimes does differ across schools. This can be seen in the subgroup value-added results across schools, which appear in the Appendix. There are some schools where value-added for students with disabilities differs substantively from overall value- added. Some of these differences may be due to differences in the composition of students with disabilities across schools, although the model already controls for overall differences between students with learning disabilities, students with speech disabilities, and students with all other disabilities. In contrast, value-added for black, Hispanic, ELL, or economically disadvantaged students is usually very close to overall value added. Value added for students with disabilities is greater than the school's overall value added in math at Falk and Whitehorse and in reading at Marquette; it is lower than the school's overall value added in math at O'Keefe and Sennett and in reading at Allis, Schenk, and Thoreau. Value added in math for Hispanic students is lower than the school's overall value added at Lincoln, and greater than the school's overall value added at Nuestro Mundo. Value added in math is also higher for ELL and low-income students than it is for the school overall at Nuestro Mundo.
Much more on "value added assessment", here.

Technology in the Classroom

Michael Horn: Simply put, people should not take from this article that technology will not be a significant part of the answer for the struggles of the country’s education system. It will likely be the very platform for it.Technology has the potential to transform the education system—not by using technology for technology’s sake through PowerPoint or multimedia at the expense of math and reading or something like that—but instead as a vehicle to individualize learning for students working to master such things as math and reading, thereby creating a student-centric system as opposed to today’s lockstep and monolithic one.According to the article (and with a full caveat that the article of course may not capture the true intent of the...

Excellence in Education explains Florida's reading reforms and compares Florida's NAEP progress with Wisconsin's at the July 29th Read to Lead task force meeting

Excellence in Education's PowerPoint presentation: 1MB PDF, via a kind Julie Gocey email. Related links: Video: Governor's "Read to Lead" Task Force Meeting. Wisconsin Reading Coalition. Much more on Wisconsin's Read To Lead Task Force, here. How does Wisconsin compare? Learn more at

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