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Past Issues | January 20, 2015 |
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1. Elevating Educators and Their Voices

State Superintendent Tony Evers emphasized the need to “support our local classrooms and renew the professions” of all who work in schools, in remarks to the 2015 Wisconsin State Education Convention on Wednesday.

“As I travel the state,” he said, “I hear lots of compelling stories” about educators’ impact on “the lives of our students.”

He urged those in education to elevate themselves by contributing their voices to a “robust public dialogue” about the future of education in Wisconsin:

“Backroom discussions lead me to believe that more divisive mandates, along with constrained revenue are on the way.”

Current important reforms around assessment, educator effectiveness, and accountability “will have no value” if they aren’t used to help kids, nor “if the people who do the actual work in our schools, in particular our teachers and principals, are in some way devalued in the process of implementing them”:

“We must do our part, share our viewpoints, and contribute to the important dialogue about the future of one of Wisconsin’s greatest resources — our public schools.”

Evers called for “hitting the pause button on new mandates and conflicting priorities coming out of Madison. Our collective message must be: Our plates are full, Madison.”

Another way of elevating schools is to identify and recruit talented candidates to the profession, one of the topics of a recent report from the School Administrators Alliance (SAA). Evers said he looked forward “to working with the SAA to find innovative ways” to do that.

Evers also gave a shout-out to the 19 teachers and school leaders who contributed their voices as “outstanding experts” on this year’s Promoting Excellence for All task force, adding:

“What is even more impressive ... is that these types of educators are the rule and not the exception within Wisconsin’s public school community.

“Every single one of your staff members entered into the profession to change lives — and they do it every single day.”

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2. Blue Ribbon Nominees

State Superintendent Tony Evers nominated eight public schools for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which recognizes overall academic excellence or progress in improving student achievement:

  • Endeavor Elementary School, Portage Community School District
  • Howard Elementary School, Green Bay, Howard-Suamico School District
  • Lake Shore Middle School, Mequon-Thiensville School District
  • Magee Elementary School, Two Rivers Public School District
  • Onalaska High School, Onalaska School District
  • Platteville Middle School, Platteville School District
  • Sevastopol High School, Sturgeon Bay, Sevastopol School District
  • Washburn High School, Washburn School District

Schools nominated to the program must complete the Blue Ribbon Schools application and undergo the national review process. Awards, presented to “Exemplary High Performing” and “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing” schools, are typically announced in early September. Selection criteria for this year’s program require that schools have at least 100 students and be open for at least five years. Additionally, schools must have met annual measurable objectives for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.

“The students, educators, families, and communities that make up the schools nominated for this recognition program consistently strive for and work hard to attain exemplary achievement,” Evers said. “This commitment is foundational to student success in their schools.

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3. 4K in 95 Percent of Districts

Statewide 95 percent of public school districts that provide elementary education offer 4-year-old kindergarten (4K), an increase of five school districts from the previous school year.

For the 2014-15 school year, about 391 public school districts are offering 4K. About 100 of those are using a community approach to 4K in which the school district, private child care centers, and Head Start centers collaborate to provide services.

The many benefits of the community approach are explained by people from around Wisconsin on the DPI’s 4K Community Approach Impact page. Wisconsin is considered a national leader in this approach.

“A growing body of research shows that investing in high-quality 4K is good for kids and taxpayers. Whether through traditional programming or Wisconsin’s innovative community approach, 4K works,” Evers said.

The national Early Childhood Longitudinal Study–Kindergarten Cohort shows that students who had attended pre-K scored higher on reading and math tests than those who had not.

In Oklahoma, a state with voluntary 4K for all students, children who enrolled in 4K have significant academic gains across all income and racial groups. Participation in 4K was a more powerful predictor of children’s pre-reading and pre-writing scores than demographic variables such as race, family income, and mother’s education level.

The long-term impacts, found in studies such as the Perry Preschool Project, Chicago Parent Centers, and the Abecedarian Project, include being less likely to need special education services, having lower retention rates, and being more likely to graduate from high school, gain employment, and avoid incarceration and dependency on public assistance.

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4. Dropout Early Warning System (DEWS) Improvements

Recent enhancements make the DPI’s Dropout Early Warning System (DEWS) even better at helping schools to keep every child in school.

“It’s early, and that’s the real advantage of it,” explained DPI Research Analyst Jared Knowles in a national story about early warnings systems that aired on the public radio program, Marketplace.

Dropping out of school is a process, not an event — and it starts well before high school.

Schools can now find profiles for all 6th through 9th graders at WISEdash for Districts. As before, the profiles include scores indicating who’s at high, moderate, or low risk for graduating late or not at all.

In this second year of DEWS reporting, there have been some enhancements:

  • Earlier Identification. New this year are 6th grade rosters — based on 5th graders in 2013-14.
  • Better Prediction. The risks scores are more accurate this year, as they are less sensitive to fluctuations in small numbers in small schools’ historical graduation rates. As such, smaller schools will see some stabilization in the early warning risk scores.
  • DEWS webpage. Resources, strategies, instructions are featured at
  • Dropout Reduction Strategies Guide. Schools can now search the matrices of a new Dropout Reduction Strategies Guide, for data triggers that concern them, and get ideas for what could be causing these issues and addressing them.
  • Updated DEWS Action Guide. Available at

To find student scores, schools take these three quick steps:

  1. Log into WISEdash for Districts
  2. Click on the Enrollment dashboard (or search for a student)
  3. Click on Grade 6, 7, 8 or 9

As this is an early warning system, the upper grades are not included in DEWS reporting. For Grade 10-12 students — especially those identified last year as at-risk — schools can access the Early Warning System High School Tool and take necessary action to prevent students from dropping out.

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5. Free Media Options — Vote in Wisconsin Media Lab Survey

The Wisconsin Media Lab is asking for teacher input on its annual decision of which media resources it will purchase for use in Wisconsin public schools.

The lab offers thousands of cost-free educational multimedia resources to Wisconsin educators and students and relies on teacher input to decide which ones to provide.

The annual “Teacher Preview” lists selected potential resources and asks for feedback on which ones teachers would actually use in the classroom.

Review, comment, vote at

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State Superintendent Tony Evers


1. Elevating Educators and Their Voices

2. Blue Ribbon Nominees

3. 4K up to 95 Percent of Districts

4. Dropout Early Warning System (DEWS) Improvements

5. Free Media Options — Vote in Wisconsin Media Lab Survey

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