In February 2012, Wisconsin joined more than 20 other states to request waivers from several provisions of federal education law. Wisconsin’s waiver application creates the expectation that every child will graduate ready for college and careers.
To receive waivers, state education agencies must demonstrate how they will use flexibility from NCLB requirements to address four principles: transitioning to college- and career-ready standards and assessments; developing systems of differentiated recognition, accountability, and support; evaluating and supporting teacher and principal effectiveness; and reducing duplication.
Following initial submission of the waiver application, the DPI has been actively engaged in discussions with the U.S. Department of Education (ED), making adjustments based on feedback. All states received letters from ED with some praise of strong points, as well as indicating points where the original application may need clarifying and/or asking the state to provide additional details. The waiver application process is collaborative, and ED is working with all states so that the waiver applications can be approved.
Wisconsin expects to submit an updated application, incorporating additional changes based on reviewer feedback, by the end of May. A summary of feedback from Wisconsin’s and other states’ waiver applications can be found in a recent Education Weekblog entry.
2. Pilot Schools Needed: Educator Effectiveness System
The DPI is seeking school districts to help pilot the statewide Educator Effectiveness System during the 2012-13 school year. Specifically, nominations are being accepted for the Teacher Practice, Principal Practice, and Student/School Learning Outcomes components.
Pilot districts and schools will participate in evaluation activities such as interviews and surveys during and after 2012-13. The DPI will provide comprehensive initial training and ongoing support. An external evaluator will work with districts throughout the pilot process, collecting information to help refine the process.
Due to capacity and resource management, the department encourages districts to consider small scale pilot trials. Detailed information about district considerations is provided on the registration site, where staff can also nominate schools in their districts until May 25 at 3 p.m.
The state’s average scale score was up two points from 2009, but the results between the two years are not statistically different. The national average scale score was also up two points.
“Wisconsin’s achievement was among the top third of states for the 2011 NAEP science assessment,“ said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “Though our students maintained their achievement levels on this assessment, we must see more progress for all students and close the gaps among students.“
Achievement in Wisconsin was higher than the nation for both male and female students, students who are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals and those who are not, students with and without disabilities, and English-language learners (ELL) and non-ELL students.
However, results by racial and ethnic subgroup show achievement gaps, with the gap between Wisconsin’s black and white students the second largest in the nation.
A sample of public school students in each state, Washington, D.C., and Department of Defense Schools took the test, including about 2,100 eighth-graders in 150 schools in Wisconsin.
4. Preview of Science Standards
Educators may view and respond to the first public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) either online or at one of the Wisconsin preview sessions to be held in 18 locations statewide (see the list by going to the Wisconsin Education Calendar and searching for "Next Generation Science," making sure to capitalize each word).
The standards are the result of a collaborative effort among numerous states, the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve. The goal is an end product that states such as Wisconsin can adopt, to help K-12 students receive an internationally benchmarked science education and graduate ready for college and careers.
Wisconsin’s science leadership team hopes educators will take a survey after previewing the standards.
Crafting the standards began with a framework created by a committee of practicing scientists—including two Nobel laureates—as well as science education researchers and experts on science education standards and policy.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) is accepting applications for two relatively new grant competitions created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund supports school districts, groups of schools, and non-profits that partner with districts or schools, in expanding effective or promising educational practices to improve learning. The fund’s “validation grants“ (up to $15 million) and “scale-up grants“ (up to $25 million) are currently open for applications (due May 29).
The Promise Neighborhoods program is accepting proposals from non-profits, institutions of higher education, and Indian tribes. The grants support developing or executing plans to improve educational and developmental outcomes for students within distressed neighborhoods. Applications are due July 27.