Inside the ESSA Plans: What Are States Doing About Goals and Timelines?

Inside the ESSA Plans: What Are States Doing About Goals and Timelines?

By Stephen Sawchuk, Alyson Klein, and Andrew UjifusaEducation Week logo

EDUCATION WEEK — This week, Education Week is bringing its trademark analysis to the remaining state plans for fulfilling requirements of the Every Student Succeeds law. On Monday, we had a look at the states’ proposed “school quality” indicators, €”the required but nonacademic portion of each state’s plan to judge schools. Today, we’re going to take a look at states’ goals for raising student achievement and their timelines for doing so in the plans awaiting federal approval.

One thing we’ll keep stressing again and again this week: how far federal policy has moved since the days of the No Child Left Behind Act (ESSA’s predecessor). Read on.

So, what kinds of goals are states setting?

Some states chose fixed goals that aim for all students, and all subgroups of vulnerable students, such as those qualifying for subsidized school lunches or English-language learners, to reach the same target (such as 80 percent proficiency). What’s nice about this kind of goal is that it sets the same endpoint, making it easier to see over time how achievement gaps are expected to close. States in this category include: Arkansas, Hawaii, Kansas, Mississippi, (grades 3-8 only), Ohio, Minnesota, New York, Rhode island, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Read the full article here: May require an Education Week subscription.

Source: Education Week Politics K-12

Green Bay Packer, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Unveils First HERO Headquarters

Green Bay Packer, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Unveils First HERO Headquarters

Milwaukee Courier LogoBy Ana Martinez-Ortiz

MILWAUKEE COURIER — On Tuesday morning, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix arrived at Benjamin Franklin Elementary to launch his foundation’s first ever HERO Headquarters. He was welcomed by students and teachers alike with cheers, excitement and, above all, a sense of appreciation.

“It’s a dream come true,” Clinton-Dix said. “[I get] to be an icon kids look up to in school, not just football.”

Clinton-Dix plays football for the Green Bay Packers. Currently, he’s their safety and sports jersey number 21. In addition to playing in the national league, he’s in his senior year of college and attends the University of Alabama, where he’s studying criminal justice according to ESPN.

Ha Ha Clinton Dix, read students a book while sitting in the HERO Headquarters.

Ha Ha Clinton Dix, read students a book while sitting in the HERO Headquarters.

It’s clear that education is a priority of his and he’s working hard to make it others too. He recently started the Ha Ha HERO Foundation which aims to provide students who face economically challenged lives with the proper resources and motivation to continue their education and lead positive lives, according to the foundation’s website.

As part of the initiative, the foundation and its sponsors, Quarles & Brady and Houghton MifflinHarcourt (HMH), reached out to schools to bring a HERO Headquarters to them.

Ha Ha’s HERO Headquarters is the name allotted to the room or space the foundation revitalizes. In the case of Benjamin Franklin Elementary, they found a storage room and turned it into an “oasis” for reading. There are roughly 600 books, bean bag chairs and other resources designed to create a peaceful atmosphere.

“Reading has always been a passion of mine,” he said.

HMH provided the books and gave an additional to each child as a gift, as part of their efforts to promote, “lifelong learners.”

During the launch, Clinton-Dix spoke to the students about the importance of education. As they waved their yellow and green pom-poms he told them how he was once like them.

He explained that as a child he didn’t put a lot of effort towards his education, instead he played the role of class clown, assuming he’d catch up on school “later on.”

When later finally came, Clinton-Dix found himself struggling. He wished someone had pushed him harder like how he’s pushing younger generations.

Clinton-Dix managed to secure a spot at the University of Alabama, and learned how to balance school work and football.

“I had to prove myself,” he said, “as a football player and a student.”

Katie Perhach, from Quarles & Brady, stressed how Clinton-Dix is “truly providing the spark” these students need. In addition to providing resources, he’s a good role model.

“You are a leader on the football field and off the football field,” Perhach said.

As promised, Clinton-Dix played several games of tic-tac-toe with the students.

As promised, Clinton-Dix played several games of tic-tac-toe with the students.

As part of the event, Clinton-Dix also read to a select group of students Curious George Joins The Team, where George plays games with his friends. This resulted in a few matches of tic-tac-toe of Clinton-Dix versus various students.

Principal Sara Hmielewski likewise expressed her gratitude to Clinton-Dix. She’s looking forward to seeing the progress the children make and is happy Clinton-Dix can be their icon.

“Just get reading,” she said, “We need to have our students reading.”

Before the students returned to class, Clinton-Dix sat down on the carpet in the HERO Headquarters, answered their questions and gave them advice.

“I had a dream, I had a goal, I had somewhere I wanted to be,” he said.

He also told them to listen to their teachers, attend class on time, stay focused, stay dedicated, be respectful and “be the best you can be.”

He knows better than most, just how far their education can take them.

“One day I know football will end,” he said, “but my education and degree will never be taken away from me.”

In this upcoming year, Clinton-Dix plans to not only finish his education but open two more HERO Headquarters which will continue encourage kids in years to come.

A Day Off, But a Day to Remember: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018

A Day Off, But a Day to Remember: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018

By Dylan Deprey

MILWAUKEE COURIER — When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he was not hoping to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

When his family was in danger and their house was bombarded with bottles and flames, having a street named after him wasn’t even a thought.

When he marched amongst thousands and gave his monumental “I have a Dream Speech,” he wasn’t speaking to go into the history books.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for peace and justice in a country where freedom rang, yet separate but equal was the norm.

There were plenty of people that wanted to kill him and the other “colored folk” reversing the racist tides of Jim Crow, yet he worked until the last seconds his life was taken.

In 1983, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday became a national holiday. The day is observed every third Monday in January, and it focuses on keeping King’s legacy alive. The day is meant to teach our youth about the strides we have made and the struggles we still face, and to celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy.

Just as Milwaukee’s own Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive inches closer and closer to its full potential, it is a beacon of hope for other neighborhoods in the city that also emit positive energy for long-awaited change.

As for MLK Day 2018, there are several meetings and events scheduled across Milwaukee, which happened to be one of the first cities to originally celebrate the National holiday.

Some are using the day to celebrate, others to educate and also to congratulate.

The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts will be hosting the 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration on Sunday, Jan. 14. The program will take the stage at Uihlien Hall and highlight the communities’ youth, who every year interpret Dr. King’s words through an art, speech and writing contest.

Other organizations celebrating include: United Indians of Milwaukee, Latino Arts Strings, Milwaukee Flyers Tumbling Team, O.N.F.Y.A.H, MPS’ Milwaukee High School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble and more. The event will conclude with the Paulette Y. Copeland Reception in Bradley Pavilion.

The MLK Library will host a day’s worth of family friendly events including: arts and crafts, voter rights presentations, and live events like spoken word poetry with Kavon Cortez Jones and traditional African dance with Ina Onilu Drum and Dance Ensemble.

The Milwaukee YMCA will host the largest Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day event in Wisconsin. The 21st Annual Celebration Breakfast in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. brings together elected officials, advocates and the community to celebrate those pushing the envelope for change and opening doors for everybody in every community.

“Today we celebrate those who have demonstrated a longstanding commitment to making our community a better place for all. Now more than ever the spirit of community service can help heal our differences through a common cause—giving back and strengthening the places where we live, work and play is something we all can agree on,” said Shaneé Jenkins vice president, social responsibility & strategic partnerships for the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee.

Both the Hunger Task Force and Employ Milwaukee will be honored for their longstanding commitment to making the city a better place for all by supporting health, wellness, diversityand inclusion.

The breakfast program will also recognize the winners of this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Spoken Word Contest. The three finalists in each age category (5-9 years, 10-13 years and 14-18 years) were selected after writing an original spoken word piece based on the theme, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Milwaukee Public Library Calendar of Events of Dec 31, 2017 through Jan 6, 2018

Milwaukee Public Library Calendar of Events of Dec 31, 2017 through Jan 6, 2018

WISCONSIN: Evers congratulates Wisconsin’s 2017 AP State Scholars

WISCONSIN: Evers congratulates Wisconsin’s 2017 AP State Scholars



Tom McCarthy, DPI Communications Director, (608) 266-3559

MADISON — State Superintendent Tony Evers extended congratulations to Wisconsin’s 2017 Advanced Placement (AP) State Scholars: Teresa Wan of New Berlin West High School, and Christopher Xu of Memorial High School in Madison.

The College Board grants the State AP Scholar Award annually to the top male and female students in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia each year for their performance on AP exams. Students are chosen for the award for earning scores of three or higher on the greatest number of AP exams and then the highest average score (at least 3.5) on all AP exams they have taken.

“Christopher and Teresa obviously took challenging coursework in high school, including multiple AP classes, to prepare themselves for postsecondary studies. Congratulations on this award and on graduating college and career ready,” Evers said.

Wan is attending the University of California at Berkeley. Xu is attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

The AP program offers students the opportunity to take college-level courses while in high school and to take end-of-course exams to demonstrate their mastery of the subject area. The AP Program offers exams in 38 subject areas. Students earning a score of three, four, or five on AP exams generally receive college credit, advanced standing, or both at many colleges and universities worldwide.

In 2017, 2.4 million public high school students took almost 4.3 million AP exams. In Wisconsin, Wan and Xu were among 42,783 students across the state who took 72,637 AP exams in May 2017. Among state students, 65.9 percent earned scores of three, four, or five on their exams, 9.9 percentage points higher than students nationally.

Betsy DeVos’ Team Critiques ESSA Plans For Hawaii, Ky., Neb., N.H., and Wis.

Betsy DeVos’ Team Critiques ESSA Plans For Hawaii, Ky., Neb., N.H., and Wis.

The U.S. Department of Education is cranking out responses to state’s plans for implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act at a fast and furious pace. The latest states to hear back are: Hawaii, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. (Scroll down to see which other states have gotten feedback and who has been approved.)

All five states, whose feedback letters were released Thursday, €”have work to do on the nuts-and-bolts of the accountability plans, their ideas for identifying and fixing schools, and more. Here’s a quick look at some highlights of the responses. Click on the state name to read the full letter.

Hawaii: The department wants the Aloha State to identify languages other than English spoken by a significant number of students. States must “make every effort” to offer tests in those languages, according to ESSA. And Hawaii needs to be more specific about what it will take for a school to get out of low-performing status. Right now, Hawaii says those schools need to make “significant improvement,” but it doesn’t say what that means. Hawaii also needs to make sure disadvantaged and minority students have access to their fair share of qualified teachers.

Kentucky: Kentucky needs to make sure that its English-language proficiency indicator stands alone, €”right now, it’s lumped in with other indicators in the state’s accountability system. The state also needs to make clear that it is targeting  schools as “chronically underperforming” because of the performance of historically overlooked groups of students and not for another reason. And Kentucky cannot include writing test scores as part of a school’s overall “academic achievement” score, because those tests aren’t offered in every grade…

Read the full story here: May require an Education Week subscription.

Want more analysis of ESSA plans? Edweek has you covered here.

Source: Education Week Politics K-12

Schools improving nutrition through Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

Schools improving nutrition through Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

Tom McCarthy, DPI Communications Director, (608) 266-3559

MADISON — About 61,000 students across the state are learning more about nutrition and good health while sampling familiar and not so familiar fruits and vegetables through a federal grant program that helps schools bring fresh produce into the classroom.

Wisconsin’s $3.2 million Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant is supporting 169 schools in offering school day snacks to elementary students. Survey comments reinforce the importance of the program. “Kids really look forward to snack time.” “It’s amazing to see the look on the children’s faces when they realized how good these foods can be.” “Some students did not know the names or the taste of most of the snacks they received, so that was awesome to see their reactions.”

Students had their favorites, including carrots, grapes, strawberries, and sugar snap peas. They also tried less familiar foods such as jicama and beet sticks, broccoli, grapefruit, and starfruit. Because kids are already familiar with a variety of fruits and vegetables through the snack program, more of these items can be incorporated into the regular school breakfast and lunch menus. Another Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program benefit is having children bring their tasting lessons home so families can explore more fruit and vegetable options. The program also complements school garden initiatives across the state, increasing kids’ desire to taste what they grow.

“I always like visiting the food service staff at schools,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “These dedicated individuals make it their mission to serve healthy foods that nourish young bodies so kids are ready to learn. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program helps kids understand where their food comes from, why it’s important, and to ‘give it a taste; you might like it.’ ”

The Department of Public Instruction evaluated 240 applications for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, awarding grants to two tribal schools, 20 private schools, and 147 public schools. Schools were awarded funding based on enrollment and will receive approximately $50 to $55 per student to purchase additional fresh fruits and vegetables to serve free to students outside of the National School Lunch (NSLP) and School Breakfast programs (SBP). Participating schools submit monthly claims to the DPI for reimbursement for fruits and vegetables as well as some limited non-food costs related to running the program.

Eligible schools have 50 percent or more of their students receiving subsidized school meals or an equivalent rate for Community Eligibility Program sites. School applications also included a plan for integrating the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program with other efforts to promote sound health and nutrition.

Additional Resources

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
Wisconsin Child Nutrition Programs

How a School Garden Rocks School Meals

AmeriCorps Farm to School grant to boost nutrition, local economies

AmeriCorps Farm to School grant to boost nutrition, local economies

MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction received a one-year federal AmeriCorps Farm to School grant that will place 28 AmeriCorps members in 16 host sites to build capacity for farm to school programs in local communities, provide nutrition education, and increase access to local foods.

“When kids have a chance to grow their own food in a school garden or learn about nutrition by making their own snacks, amazing things happen not just in the classroom but at home and across the community,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “We’re really excited to bring the AmeriCorps Farm to School program to DPI and continue this great economic development effort that touches so many.”

Farm to school programs bring local or regionally produced foods into school cafeterias and classrooms, offer hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes; and integrate food-related education into the classroom curriculum. For example, a fourth-grade lesson has students identify the parts of plants that people eat: roots, such as carrots, potatoes, and beets; flowers, such as broccoli and cauliflower; stems, such as celery, asparagus, and leeks; seeds, such as corn, peas, and lima beans; leaves, such as kale, lettuce, and turnip greens; and fruits, such as peppers, cucumbers, and pumpkins. Another lesson, “Dirt Made My Lunch,” traces foods that children eat back to the soil through American Sign Language, song, and other activities.

By using food to build connections between schools and local farmers and food producers, farm to school programs have boosted economies by creating new jobs and providing crucial support to farm incomes. By some estimates, each dollar invested in farm to school programming stimulates an additional 60 cents to $2.16 in economic activity. Additionally, farm to school programs increase student meal participation and decrease school meal program costs. The $402,694 grant requires an in-kind match from participating communities and provides a stipend to AmeriCorps members, who serve in nutrition education and community outreach roles.

AmeriCorps nutrition educators will help teachers and school nutritionists by developing and implementing nutrition programs that will educate children about the benefits of making healthy eating choices. AmeriCorps members will assist with creating and implementing healthy food curricula, including school or community garden development, taste-testing programs, cooking classes, and farm field trips.

The community outreach members will serve as the main liaison between the schools and the community. They will educate food service directors about sourcing local, healthy foods for the school districts they serve and will create an action plan, laying out the steps necessary to procure local food for their programs. They will also be responsible for recruiting and mobilizing volunteers to enhance and increase the capacity of the AmeriCorps Farm to School program. This will include organizing a Farm to School Task Force within the school or community to promote program sustainability.

The AmeriCorps Farm to School program was previously administered by the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection. The program is in its 10th year of operation.

Wisconsin AmeriCorps Farm to School Sites

  • Ashland School District
  • Bayfield School District
  • Beloit School District
  • Crawford County UW-Extension, Prairie du Chien
  • Fort HealthCare, Fort Atkinson
  • Milwaukee – 16th Street Community Health Center
  • Oregon School District
  • REAP Food Group, Madison
  • Spooner Area School District
  • Stevens Point YMCA
  • Tri- County Health Departments – Adams, Marquette, Juneau Counties
  • Viroqua Area School District
  • Washburn School District
  • Waupaca County UW-Extension
  • Winnebago County Health Department, Oshkosh
  • Wisconsin Rapids School District

NOTE: More information about Farm to School programs is available online.

WISCONSIN: 2016-17 school and district report cards issued

WISCONSIN: 2016-17 school and district report cards issued

MADISON — In the second year of report cards that use legislatively mandated growth and value-added calculations, 82 percent of Wisconsin’s public and private school report cards had three or more stars, meaning the schools met or exceeded expectations for educating students. More than 95 percent of the state’s public school districts earned a three-star rating.

Overall, 361 public and private school report cards earned five-star ratings, 719 had four stars, 643 had three stars, 261 had two stars, and 117 schools earned one star. Another 173 schools achieved satisfactory progress and 21 need improvement through alternate accountability. There were 152 report cards for 140 private choice schools that are not rated because there was insufficient data. This is the second year that choice schools were included in report cards and the second year the schools could opt to have both a choice student and an all student report card.

Star ratings chartOn district level report cards, 44 districts earned five-star ratings, 190 had four stars, 166 earned three stars, and 20 had two stars. One district, the Herman-Rubicon-Neosho School District, was not rated because of district consolidation. Another district, the Norris School District with enrollment of 14 students in 2016-17, made satisfactory progress through alternate accountability.

Alternate accountability is a district supervised self-evaluation of a school’s performance on raising student achievement in English language arts and mathematics. The alternate accountability process is used for new schools, schools without tested grades, schools exclusively serving at-risk students, and schools with fewer than 20 full academic year students who took state tests.

Accountability ratings are calculated on four priority areas: student achievement in English language arts and mathematics, school growth, closing gaps between student groups, and measures of postsecondary readiness, which includes graduation and attendance rates, third-grade English language arts achievement, and eighth-grade mathematics achievement. Additionally, schools and districts could have point deductions for missing targets for student engagement: absenteeism must be less than 13 percent and dropout rates must be less than 6 percent.

Report Card SummaryFor the 2016-17 report cards, 162 schools and 24 districts had score fluctuations of 10 or more points in both overall and growth scores compared to 2015-16, which is larger variability than expected. Their report cards carry a ^ notation because it is unclear if the score change accurately reflects the amount of change in performance or a symptom of statistical volatility. Report card requirements in Wisconsin Act 55, the 2015-17 budget bill, mandated the use of value-added growth scoring and variable weighting based on the percentage of economically disadvantaged students enrolled in a school or district. Prior to Act 55, overall annual report card score change averaged 3.3 points. Since Act 55, the average score change is 5.8 points. Although volatility in value-added scores may decrease with another year of Forward testing, score fluctuations are likely to continue especially for small schools and districts as well as schools and districts with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students. The Department of Public Instruction is engaging with state policymakers, technical experts, and stakeholders about how best to address these issues. Any changes to school report cards growth or weighting calculations will require legislative action.

Report cards are intended to help schools and districts use performance data to target improvement efforts to ensure students are ready for their next educational step, including the next grade level, graduation, college, and careers. The 2016-17 report cards use data from a variety of sources, including information reported through WISEdash and two years of Forward and one year of Badger testing as well as three years ACT Plus Writing and Dynamic Learning Maps testing for growth calculations. At least three and up to five years of data are used for the gaps priority area and four years of data is needed to calculate a graduation rate. Schools and districts have access to a number of accountability resources on the department website to support report card discussions with parents, school staff, and the public.