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1. More Gap-Closing Strategy Videos at Promoting Excellence for All

Two new, four-minute videos from the Department of Public Instruction feature educator perspectives on strategies for closing achievement gaps. The strategies are among the recommendations of educators on the Promoting Excellence for All: State Superintendent’s Task Force on Wisconsin’s Achievement Gap, a group representing schools proven by data to be closing gaps among students.

Jim Kalupa in a video interview

James Kalupa describes his school's application of the Acknowledge Students for Accomplishments strategy.

In a video about acknowledging students for accomplishments, James Kalupa, curriculum coordinator at Bruce Guadalupe Community School in Milwaukee, says, “Regardless of socio-economic status, all kids go to school hoping to do their very best. And when they do their very best, we really need to acknowledge that.”

He says it “goes a long way at our school” to simply voice to students “something that’s talked about a lot at common planning time — which kids are doing well, which kids have improved.”

Kalupa’s school publicly recognizes not only high scorers on state assessments, but also students who have improved academically, those who behave well, and even just the kids having a birthday. There is a fun reward for a lack of behavior issues, and a Student of the Month is honored for being a good citizen.

The other new video features Caitlin Dee of Nathan Hale High School (West Allis-West Milwaukee School District), talking about her school’s mentoring efforts.

A 28-minute homeroom session incorporates biweekly one-on-one mentoring, allowing students to build trust and an open-ended dialogue with at least one adult in the building.

Teacher Caitlin Dee and students at a table in a library

Caitlin Dee's school applies the Mentor Students strategy primarily through a homeroom-based program.

“I think one of the biggest issues that students of color in any school face is that relationship piece,” Dee says.

By the end of last school year, she says, even students who were hesitant to trust her in the beginning were “talking to me in the hallway, coming up to me asking me if I could work with them on things.”

Both these strategies fall under the Student-Teacher Relationships category of the Promoting Excellence for All website. In coming months, more videos will be added to the other three categories: Effective Instruction, Family & Community Engagement, and School & Instructional Leadership. Other content is also planned.

Because the site is being updated on an ongoing basis, and because sustained effort is the best way to effect change, the DPI is encouraging educators to return to Promoting Excellence for All periodically, as individuals or in professional development sessions. There are a number of ways offered to keep abreast of latest updates.

A shot from the site presenting the Promoting Excellence for All Thunderclap

The Promoting Excellence for All Thunderclap.

And, to encourage change statewide, the DPI hopes more educators or others who want to promote excellence for all will sign on to a “Thunderclap” social media campaign to bring another wave of attention to the site this week.

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2. Voucher Enrollment Data from Statewide Program

Enrollment information for the statewide Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) shows that 1,013 students are receiving a voucher to attend a private school through the program this school year. Accounting for partial day enrollment, such as in four-year-old kindergarten programs, the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) students works out to 997.5.

Of the 538 students new to the statewide parental choice program in 2014-15, about 19 percent attended a public school last year.

There are 31 private schools or school systems participating in the program in the current school year. State law limits enrollment in WPCP to 1,000 FTE students, up from 500 FTE last year.

State law was changed for 2014-15 to provide each eligible private school participating in the WPCP with a voucher payment of $7,210 or $7,856 per FTE student, depending on grade level. Repayment of some aid may be required if the planned independent audits reveal operating and debt service costs to be lower than the amount of the voucher.

The WPCP is estimated to cost $7,384,400 in 2014-15, fully funded by state tax dollars.

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3. Farm to School Promoted through Chomping

State Superintendent Tony Evers and DPI staff took part in the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch on Friday, October 24, a regional event promoting “farm to school.”

State Superintendent Tony Evers and a large group, under a fall tree, each holding an apple and chomping into it

At approximately noon, in coordination with others in schools and other public agencies across Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio, Evers and members of the School and Community Nutrition teams each took a bite of a locally sourced apple, and the moment was captured in a photograph.

Farm to school is a term encompassing

  • bringing local/regionally produced foods into school cafeterias and classrooms;
  • hands-on learning like school gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes; and
  • integrating food-related education into curriculum.

A great place to learn more about farm to school is the third Wisconsin Farm to School Summit, January 29, 2015, in Wisconsin Rapids. The event features a full day of interactive and hands-on activities and networking sessions, plus a keynote from Deborah Kane, national director of the U. S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School Program. Participants will select one afternoon workshop on skill areas such as safety, cooking, local food procurement, school gardens, or preschool farm to school.

Another place for information is the DPI farm to school webpage.

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4. After-school Grant Workshops

The DPI is hosting on-line and in-person workshops to assist grant-writers in applying for a 21st Century Community Learning Center (CLC) grant for 2015-16.

The first workshop will be held November 20, 2014, at Holiday Inn Rothschild. The second workshop will be held on November 21, 2014, at Sheraton Madison. A live webinar will be held November 24. See for more information and to register.

Applicants may be public school districts, private schools, charter schools, or community-based organizations. Applicants must primarily serve students attending schools with 40 percent eligibility for free or reduced lunch (or similar economic need).

The 21st Century CLC program, a federal program administered by states, aims to provide academic, enrichment, wellness, and other services to students and their families during after-school hours and summers.

Applications will be due January 30, 2015. More information and application materials will be available in early November on the department’s CLC webpage: For further information, please contact Gary Sumnicht at 608-267-5078 or Alison Wineberg at 608-267-3751.

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5. Kohl Foundation Fellowships/Scholarships Increase

The Herb Kohl Educational Foundation has increased the amount of its teacher fellowships and student scholarships from $1,000 to $3,000.

U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (retired) decided to make the change in celebration of the foundation’s 25th year of making the awards.

“Education is the key to the future of Wisconsin and our nation. I am very proud to be able to recognize educational excellence among Wisconsin’s students and teachers, and look forward to the great contributions they will make in the future,” Kohl said in a news release.

The foundation will give the awards to 100 teachers, their schools, and approximately 185 graduating high school students this spring.

High school seniors may apply for the 2015 Herb Kohl Excellence Scholarship at until November 6, 2014, for public and homeschooled students, and November 26, 2014, for religious and independent school students.

Teachers nominated for the 2015 Herb Kohl Fellowship should receive their application forms this week. The foundation is now accepting 2016 nominations at

Award recipients will be announced March 2015.

State Superintendent Tony Evers issued a statement thanking the foundation and Senator Kohl for their “continued commitment” to helping “all Wisconsin students succeed.”

The Excellence Scholarship and Fellowship recipients are selected by a statewide committee composed of civic leaders, and representatives of education-related associations and the program’s co-sponsors: the DPI, Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation, Wisconsin Council of Religious and Independent Schools (WCRIS), and regional Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESAs).

The foundation’s Initiative Scholarships go to students chosen by their schools as demonstrating exceptional initiative in the classroom and showing strong promise for succeeding in college and beyond, but who have not yet received other academic-based scholarships.

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State Superintendent Tony Evers


1. More Gap-Closing Strategy Videos at Promoting Excellence for All

2. Voucher Enrollment Data from Statewide Program

3. Farm to School Promoted through Chomping

4. After-school Grant Workshops

5. Kohl Foundation Fellowships/Scholarships Increase

DPI-ConnectEd comes from the office of State Superintendent Tony Evers
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For questions about this information, contact Benson Gardner (608) 266-3374