Education

Rachel Morello

Wisconsin released its latest batch of standardized test scores on Wednesday, and challenges persist, including in Milwaukee.

Last year marked the first time the state administered the Badger exam, which was designed to test Wisconsin’s new academic standards.

When it came to students in grades three through eight, 51 percent tested proficient or better in English.

In math, 44 percent were proficient or better.

The results in Milwaukee Public Schools were at least 20 points lower, yet key players see potential in those numbers.

Any classroom can get out of control from time to time. But one unique teaching method empowers teachers to stop behavior problems before they begin.

You can see No-Nonsense Nurturing, as it's called, firsthand at Druid Hills Academy in Charlotte, N.C.

"Your pencil is in your hand. Your voice is on zero. If you got the problem correct, you're following along and checking off the answer. If you got the problem incorrect, you are erasing it and correcting it on your paper."

We often hear about school districts that struggle with high poverty, low test scores and budget problems. But one district has faced all of these and achieved remarkable results.

In just over three years, Superintendent Tiffany Anderson, who oversees the Jennings School District in Jennings, a small city just outside St. Louis, has led a dramatic turnaround in one of the worst-performing systems in Missouri.

Jabril Faraj / Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

The so-called recovery school district within Milwaukee Public Schools - the entity made up of a handful of struggling schools which the state put under the control of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele - has gotten much of the attention and headlines in recent months. Abele recently appointed Mequon-Thiensville superintendent Demond Means as the part-time commissioner of the district.

But a less-heralded retreat on charter schools held by the MPS board could also usher in significant changes in the school climate here. 

Recently a neighborhood in Brooklyn made national headlines for a fight over public schools. Lots of affluent, mainly white families have been moving into new condos in the waterfront area called DUMBO, and the local elementary school is getting overcrowded.

The city wants to redraw the zones in a way that would send kids from this predominantly white school to a nearby school where enrollment is over 90 percent black and Hispanic and which draws many of its students from a public housing project. Some parents on both sides of the line balked.

Alberto G. / Flickr

Fall is the time of year when thousands of Wisconsin high schools will virtually lock themselves in a classroom on a Saturday morning and take one of two tests that have customarily helped or hindered the effort to get into college.

The ACT and the SAT have undergone some significant changes in recent years in an effort to be a more useful predictor of college success, but an increasing number of colleges and universities are becoming “test-optional” schools. These schools no longer require students to include test scores as part of their application process.

Morgan / Flickr

The White House issued its first-ever college scorecard this week.  It’s a website designed to help people compare costs and offerings across all the public and private colleges and universities in the country.  It’s a tool that its designers hope will be useful in connecting schools with their future students.

woodleywonderworks / Flickr

Common Core standards have been a political flash point since they were introduced and implemented.  Some believe they’re an unwanted government intrusion into local control of schools, while others say nationwide standards are necessary to ensure a quality education across the country.

Jordan Ellenberg, a math professor at UW-Madison, falls under the latter category.

Marti Mikkelson

Classes begin Tuesday for many children across Milwaukee, including in MPS. Some students will find brand new teachers greeting them. MPS and other schools nationwide have been facing a teacher shortage.

Hundreds retired here after the state passed Act 10, kicking out most public union rights. One way MPS and other schools have been filling vacancies is to employ young people from the Teach for America program. More than 100 have signed up to teach this year in Milwaukee.

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Facebook

If you've ever been to the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center on the lakeshore north of the city, you know there is a lot of the natural world on display. And if you haven't been there, just trust me.

But quantifying everything that lives at or grows on the nature center's grounds is a daunting task, and one that's being taken on by a cadre of scientists beginning Friday afternoon.

There are few household names in education research. Maybe that in itself constitutes a problem. But if there was an Education Researcher Hall Of Fame, one member would be a silver-haired, plainspoken Kiwi named John Hattie.

Hattie directs the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia. He also directs something called the Science of Learning Research Centre, which works with over 7,000 schools worldwide.

Lily Wellen

Over the last six years the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab has collaborated with the US Forest Service to reach teachers around the country with the latest in monarch butterfly biology and ecology. In turn, teachers pass the information on to their students and hope to ignite a passion for conservation.

ALYSON HURT NPR

A federal report out Thursday reinforces the notion that when it comes to state standards, proficiency is still in the eye of the beholder.

A top-scoring student on Arizona's reading test may fall far below average in states with more rigorous exams, like Massachusetts or Wisconsin.

Survey of the Health of Wisconsin

Since 2008, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health has been conducting surveys on the health of Wisconsin citizens.

Survey of the Health of Wisconsin, or SHOW, explores individual health behaviors and choices, collects physical measurements, biological samples and considers healthy and unhealthy features of Wisconsin neighborhoods. SHOW is expanding its surveying radius by 10 new counties over the next two years, including into Milwaukee County.

Although UW-Milwaukee's Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health is still in its fledgling stages, the school has already begun to make a difference.

Now the school is starting the process of looking for new leadership. After leading the school through its formative years, founding Dean Magda Peck is stepping down July 1. 

Pages