Americans’ confidence in public schools is growing

According to the recent PDK International survey, the percentage of Americans who give their community’s public schools an ‘A’ is at its highest in more than 40 years of PDK polling. Sixty-two percent of public school parents give public schools in their own communities an A or B grade (The percentage dips to 45% with nonparents). When parents grade their own child’s school, grades improve even more, to 71%.

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Wisconsin improves participation and performance on AP 

Wisconsin improved both public school student participation and performance on Advanced Placement (AP) exams administered last May. The state had a 5.7 percent increase in participation from the prior year with 42,783 public school students taking 72,637 AP exams, an increase of 2,326 student test-takers. Wisconsin students had 65.9 percent of their exams scored three or higher compared to 56.0 percent nationally. The exams are scored on a scale of one through five, with scores of three or higher generally receiving college credit, advanced standing, or both at many colleges and universities.

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Teachers spend $468 of their own money on classroom supplies, survey finds

On average, teachers spend $468 of their own money on classroom expenses such as classroom supplies and instructional materials, according to a new survey from SheerID and Agile Education Marketing. Of those surveyed, 77% said they spent at least $200 annually. This number is just $20 less than in 2016, and some teachers reported spending as much as $5,000, up almost $1,000 from last year. The survey data included responses from 674 teachers who shared insights from the 2016-2017 school year.

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Why have they taken the fun out of kindergarten?

Kindergarten was designed as an introduction to schooling, and one that should help children discover that learning can be fun. But many believe that kindergarten has become the new first grade, and that pressure on schools to demonstrate student progress, even at the kindergarten level, has led schools to take the playfulness out of kindergarten. This week, Wisconsin Public Radio examined this issue by interviewing Christopher Brown, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction in early childhood education at the University of Texas at Austin, who says that heightened standards have pushed some teachers to forgo the emphasis on play and spend much more time on structured learning, a trend that is exhausting both children and teachers.

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Two WEAC members helping develop new computer science standards

Two WEAC members are on a state committee overseeing development of new computer science standards for Wisconsin schools. Among the members of the State Superintendent’s Standards Review Council, which will oversee the Computer Science Standards Writing Committee, are Heather Mielke of Elkhorn, Math Teacher, Burlington High School; and Lisa Sanderfoot of De Pere, Computer and Information Science Teacher, Valley View Elementary School, Ashwaubenon School District.

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Report says Wisconsin ranks ‘very poorly’ for Head Start program

Wisconsin is one of 18 states that rank “very poorly” for instructional support in the federal Head Start program for children in poverty, according to a report by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). Head Start, the report says, varies dramatically from state to state in funding, classroom hours, teacher qualifications and compensation, observed quality, and enrollment.

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