Children First is an Organization Dedicated to Wisconsin's Children
Children First of Wisconsin

Children First Wisconsin will research and release information on Wisconsin student proficiency results as well as the responsible investments made in public education through School Taxing Districts. It is critical that all of us in the greater community of Wisconsin, begin the dialogue as to ‘How to Put Children First in the State of Wisconsin

All states that showed strong improvements to their academic proficiency standards between 2011 and 2013 are Common Core adopters

(Reposted from

Change in proficiency standards

For the first time since the passage of No Child Left Behind, state standards have risen, a new study finds. Research appearing in Education Next from Professor Paul E. Peterson and Matthew Ackerman finds that 20 states strengthened their student proficiency standards between 2011 and 2013 while just eight states weakened them.

Because all of the states showing strong improvements have adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the authors say there is a strong likelihood that Common Core induced this sudden improvement in the rigor of states’ standards.

“That proficiency standards have for the first time begun to move in the right direction is a hopeful sign,” says Peterson. If both standards and student performance shift upward between 2013 and 2015, “it will signal a long-awaited enhancement in the quality of the American school.”

“States Raise Proficiency Standards in Math and Reading: Commitments to Common Core may be driving the proficiency bar upward,” by Paul E. Peterson and Matthew Ackerman is available now on and will appear in the Summer 2015 issue of Education Next.

Continue reading this article here...


Does Common Core Serve the Purpose of Helping Students Reach College and Career Ready Goals?

(Reposted from

As states move to implement the Common Core State Standards, key challenges remain. One is how to make sure a high school diploma acknowledges what students have achieved. Should states adopt a two-tiered diploma, in which students who pass internationally aligned Common Core exams at a career- and college-ready level receive an “academic” diploma, while students who fail to meet that bar receive a “basic” diploma? Yes, say three prominent thinkers who have long wrestled with questions of standards, testing, equity, and excellence. Chester E. Finn, Jr., is distinguished senior fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Richard D. Kahlenberg is author of the definitive autobiography of Albert Shanker, and Sandy Kress advised President George W. Bush on the No Child Left Behind Act.

• Chester E. Finn, Jr.: Different Kids need Different Credentials

• Richard D. Kahlenberg: Hold Students Accountable and Support Them

• Sandy Kress: Diplomas Must Recognize College and Career Readiness


Inside Successful District-Charter Compacts

(Reposted from

Not far from the heart of Houston, unlikely alliance between a school district and nearby charter schools is bringing the best of both worlds to area students. As with most breakthroughs, the catalyst was simple curiosity. Duncan Klussmann, superintendent of schools for the Spring Branch school district, wondered just what was going on in those high-performing charter schools peppered around Houston, where both YES Prep and KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) operated several schools. Did they know something he needed to know?

Education NextIn Denver, teachers from the charter school Highline Academy and the district school Cole Academy of Arts and Science collaborate on curriculum plans and interim assessments

In Denver, teachers from the charter school Highline Academy and the district school Cole Academy of Arts and Science collaborate on curriculum plans and interim assessments
Photo courtesy Denver Public Schools

Klussmann is a folksy, salt-of-the-earth kind of guy and a very traditional superintendent. But he did something most superintendents would never do: he scheduled a visit to a YES Prep school and spent some time with founder Chris Barbic. “I was really impressed with the culture, the environment, the interaction with the kids,” Klussmann recalled. “As I tell people, I often gauge things by whether my own three kids are missing out on something by not being part of a really good program.”

About a year later, Klussmann accepted an invitation to visit a KIPP school. Again, he liked what he saw. What stuck in his mind was the special classroom culture. Most of all, he liked the urgency: these teachers taught like their “hair was on fire,” to borrow a line from famed Los Angeles teacher Rafe Esquith.

How, Klussmann wondered, could I import some of that special sauce into my schools? And then he found a way. Why not make charter operators partners rather than competitors? We have what they want, great buildings and access to thousands of students they otherwise would have little chance of reaching. And they have that special culture we need to adopt.

So he did something else that most school superintendents would never even consider: he invited both YES Prep and KIPP to take up residency in two middle schools, building grade-by-grade expansions that would lead to YES Prep establishing a high school program within an existing Spring Branch high school.

Turns out Klussmann was on to something. More than 20 public school districts across the country, including the large urban districts of Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, have quietly entered into “compacts” with charters and thereby declared their intent to collaborate with their charter neighbors on such efforts as professional development for teachers and measuring student success.

Striking a Bargain

The political appeal of district-charter compacts is evident. For mayors who have long admired the top charter schools in their cities but also remain wary of crossing the politically potent teachers unions that are hostile to charters, the “compact” designation nicely reduces the political heat. No longer is it districts (and their unions) against charters; it’s districts embracing charters. Who could be against that?

Unfortunately, it’s too soon to celebrate the end of the charter school wars. Compacts are still few in number, and not all have moved their districts past long-standing grievances (see, for example, “Boston and the Charter School Cap,” features, Winter 2014).

“Today we are on the battlefield of an ugly, nonproductive war on charters, all while children are stuck in underperforming public schools,” said Joseph DiSalvo, a former San Jose teacher and current member of the Santa Clara County Board of Education, which serves as an appeal board for charters rejected by school districts in the San Jose area.

District-charter compacts are sometimes a mere footnote to what remain caustic charter school battles, such as the one that took place in early 2014 in New York City. Newly elected New York City mayor Bill de Blasio moved to rein in the Success Academy charters run by his former political rival, Eva Moskowitz, by cancelling agreements that enabled charter schools to operate within district school buildings. Like anticharter forces elsewhere in the country, de Blasio chose the city’s highest-performing charter to attack. The higher the performance, the bigger the threat.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are compacts in Denver, the Texas district of Aldine, and Spring Branch, where superintendents are embracing high-performing charters by inviting them into their schools. These efforts couldn’t be more different from the contentious co-locations in New York City that sparked de Blasio’s ire. In cities with well-developed compacts, the charter and district principals and teachers constantly rub elbows to learn from one another. Even within contentious Santa Clara County, where most of the San Jose–area superintendents are doing their best to stiff-arm charter schools, the Franklin-McKinley school district brings in charters as welcome partners.

Why would these school superintendents lower the drawbridge while others are digging deeper moats to keep charters out? The compacts fill needs on both sides. School districts want to import some of the classroom culture and sense of urgency they see in charter schools. Some want charters to take more special education students or to hold low-performing charter-school operators to account. Fair enough. Best of all, they get to “claim” the test scores turned in by the charter students. What mayor or school superintendent doesn’t want to see headlines about rising test scores? Charter school leaders need building space and can pursue the mission of many charters, to help improve the broader system.

Compacts thus help top charter groups deal with two political Achilles heels that now limit their growth: special education and better accountability for low-performing charters. By coordinating special education with the district and setting common performance metrics for low-performing charters, compacts make the charter operators more politically palatable.

Continue reading on


Students First 2014 Report Card

Students First Issues its 2014 Report Card on the following benchmarks, Parental Empowerment, Teacher Empowerment, and Fiscal Management.  Wisconsin ranks D in every category - lets see why!


Important Education Policy Briefing on Common Core

Included in the panel: Matthew M. Chingos, Tom Loveless and Grover J. "Russ" Whitehurst

Eighty-five percent of American students attend school in a state that has adopted the Common Core State Standards. As these states transition from adoption to implementation of the new standards, many are grappling with how best to assess whether students are learning the material contained in the Common Core. How expensive might the new Common Core tests be? And what is the role of costs in the political battles over the Common Core that are currently raging in many states?

(Reposted from - Continue Reading...


Is Our Stagnant School System Endangering our Nation's Future Prosperity?

Stagnant School System(Reposted from

Event Agenda

Introduction and Moderator:
Alice M. Rivlin
Director, Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform
Brookings Senior Fellow, Economic Studies

Overview: Endangering Prosperity
Eric Hanushek

Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Paul E. Peterson
Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government, Harvard University
Ludger Woessmann
Professor of Economics, University of Munich and ifo Institute

Chris Cerf

Commissioner of Education, New Jersey
Isabel V. Sawhill
Co-Director, Center on Children and Families, Budgeting for National Priorities Brookings Senior Fellow, Economic Studies

About the Event:

The association between student math performance and subsequent economic grow is very strong. It suggests that if the United States could lift its performance to the level achieved by Canadians, the average U. S. paycheck might increase by 20 percent.  In order to achieve this growth the U.S. will have to perform substantially better at the advanced level.  Over 13 percent of the students in both Germany and in Canada are high flyers, while only about the 7 percent in the U.S. perform at the advanced level. In Asia, the percentage of advanced students escalates upward--to 16 percent in Japan, 20 percent in Korea, and 30 percent in Singapore.

This event will explore why the United States must do better if it wishes to enhance its economic strength.

Registration Information:
Event is open to the public.  Webcasting information will be available at

September 12, 2013
12:30 PM – 2:30 PM ET

Brookings Institution
Falk Auditorium
1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036

Hosted By
Brown Center on Education Policy

Related Book
Endangering Prosperity: A Global View of the American School

2013, Eric Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson and Ludger Woessmann
Foreword by Lawrence H.  Summers
Prosperity: A Global View of the American School ... Endangering Prosperity is a wake-up call for structural reform.


School Choice Prompts Positive Reactions, Motivation in Traditional Public Schools

Evidence shows constructive district reactions to presence of charter schools in urban districts (Reposted from

School ChoiceCharter school enrollment in urban areas has increased by 59 percent in the past 6 years, and their presence is inducing traditional public schools to respond, innovate, and look for improvement. Although some districts still try to forestall the spread of charter schools, authors of a new study find that the urban school districts they examined made significant changes in policy or practice in response to the presence of charter schools in their district, indicating that school districts are choosing to emphasize the strengths of their own public schools and benefit from school choice in their areas.

After reviewing 8,000 media reports from the past five years regarding 12 different urban areas, authors Marc J. Holley, Anna J. Egalite, and Martin F. Lueken identified 132 pieces of evidence of competition awareness and constructive or obstructive responses, an average of approximately 11 per city. The authors then assessed how districts responded to competition from charters. Each news story was coded according to the “types of responses by public school officials.” The article, “Competition with Charters Motivates Districts: New political circumstances, growing popularity,” will appear in the Fall 2013 issue of Education Next and is currently available on the web at

In Boston and New Orleans, the authors found evidence that traditional public schools were supportive and innovative in response to the introduction of charter schools to their district. For example, both districts collaborated with local charters, showed support for pilot and innovation schools (as did Denver), and expanded and improved their own school offerings. Even Atlanta, a district that was “previously relatively unwelcoming to charter schools” has showed willingness to collaborate with KIPP schools.

In urban areas in the Northeast, Midwest, South, and West where at least 6 percent of students attended choice schools, the authors found evidence of significant changes in the policies and practices of schools within districts where school choice had been introduced. The most common reaction to the presence of charter schools was one of “district cooperation or collaboration with charter schools.” Positive responses included partnerships with CMOs or for-profit school operators, replication of successful charter school practices, and increased efforts on the part of traditional schools to market their services to students and families.

According to the authors, “where school districts once responded with indifference, symbolic gestures, or open hostility,” they found “a broadening of responses, perhaps fueled by acceptance that the charter sector will continue to thrive, or by knowledge that many charters are providing examples of ways to raise academic achievement.”

While there were some instances of negative reactions in specific districts, such as challenging or delaying charters’ access to unused school buildings in Los Angeles and the District of Columbia, the authors say those instances were visibly fewer than those of positive change.

The authors conclude, “This evidence suggests that while bureaucratic change may often be slow, it may be a mistake to underestimate the capacity of these bureaucratic institutions to reform, adapt, and adjust in light of changing environments.”

About the Authors
Marc J. Holley is evaluation unit director at the Walton Family Foundation and research fellow in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, where Anna J. Egalite and Martin F. Lueken are doctoral academy fellows.

About Education Next
Education Next is a scholarly journal published by the Hoover Institution that is committed to careful examination of evidence relating to school reform. Other sponsoring institutions are the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, part of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. For more information about Education Next, please visit:


Proficiency School Administrators Benefit the Most from Teacher Pension Plans

Pension PlansBeginning teachers subsidize handsome payoffs to superintendents, guardians of the public interest (Reposted from

The costs of retiree benefits for educators, including benefits for previous retirees, are consuming a large and growing share of public spending on K–12 education. Between 2004 and 2012, pension costs for public educators rose from 11.9 to 16.7 percent of salaries. Unfunded pension liabilities of state and local governments are estimated to be roughly $1 trillion. But that trillion-dollar number, as vast as it seems, understates the true liabilities, which more than double if calculated using standard methods in financial economics.

In spite of the need for pension reform as evidenced by Detroit’s recent bankruptcy filing, pension reform is unlikely, in part because administrators in charge of the system reap the largest benefits from it. The authors of a new Education Next study find that while superintendents contribute 53 percent more to pension plans over their career span than senior career teachers, their expected benefits upon retirement are 89 percent higher than those of teachers.

Authors Cory Koedel, Shawn Ni, and Michael Podgursky point out that using salary levels from the last three years of service to determine retirement benefits, “combined with the career-cycle timing of teachers’ promotions into administrative positions, results in senior management in K–12 education enjoying the largest net benefits from these plans.” Educators’ defined-benefit plans typically provide retirees with guaranteed lifetime benefits, with the annual payout based on the number of years of service and annual salary in the final years of active employment. The article, “The School Administrator Payoff from Teacher Pensions” can be found on and will appear in the Fall 2013 issue of Education Next.

In Missouri and other states, the authors note, “the pension system transfers wealth from lower-income professionals to higher-income professionals. Beginning teachers are subsidizing a handsome payoff to better-paid administrators, who are the appointed guardians of the public interest in the education system.” For example, a principal’s contributions are only 14 percent higher than those of senior career teachers, but their expected benefits are 37 percent higher. At the opposite end of the spectrum, because of turnover and mobility, a young teacher can expect to contribute 30 percent of what typical career teachers contribute, but he or she can expect to collect only 18 percent of the benefits.

As senior-level administrators are both the stewards of the pension system and the recipients of the highest net benefits, the authors conclude, “There is no reason to expect school administrators or their organizations to support reforms that would provide a more modern and mobile retirement system for young educators” and suggest that districts could be recruiting young teachers more effectively by putting money in upfront salaries rather than in end-of-career pension benefits.

About the Authors
Cory Koedel is assistant professor of economics, and Shawn Ni, and Michael Podgursky are professors of economics at the University of Missouri, Columbia. The authors are available for interviews.

About Education Next
Education Next is a scholarly journal published by the Hoover Institution that is committed to careful examination of evidence relating to school reform. Other sponsoring institutions are the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, part of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. For more information about Education Next, please visit:


Despite Common Core’s Call for Increased State Standards, 26 States Lower Proficiency Bar

(Reposted from

peterson_table1CAMBRIDGE, MA –Recently, states’ definitions of what makes a student proficient in math and reading have been changing—in some cases for the better, in others for the worse. In a new Education Next article, “Despite Common Core, States Still Lack Common Standards,” authors Paul Peterson and Peter Kaplan find that even though 37 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education as incentive to join the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) consortia and raise their standards in 2009, standards still declined in rigor in 26 states and D.C. between 2009 and 2011. In the remaining 24 states, standards increased in rigor. In the period since 2007, there has been little change in state standards overall.

Comparing the percentage of students who were identified by state assessments as proficient in math and reading in 4th and 8th grade with the percentage of students from the same state who were proficient on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the authors were able to see the variations in state standards across the country. The authors then assigned grades A through F to the states based on the strength of their standards relative to all other states.

The authors explain in the study that a high grade “indicates that the state’s definition of proficient embodies higher expectations for students. It is best thought of as a high grade for ‘truth in advertising.’” A full list of the states’ grades and trends over time can be found in Table 1 of the article, on

The CCSS were established by a national consortium sponsored by the National Governors Association.  The U.S. Department of Education has waived the requirements established by the federal law, No Child Left Behind, for states that promise education reforms including the adoption of CCSS, which commits the state to set common standards with high expectations for student performance. So far, 45 states have officially adopted CCSS.

The data indicate that some states, like Tennessee, have raised the proficiency bar. Between 2009 and 2011, Tennessee’s grade rose from an F to an A. Other states that improved their standards in that time frame by a full letter grade include West Virginia (C to a B+), New York (D to a B), Nebraska (F to a C), and Delaware
(C- to a B-).

However, these gains are offset by significant drops in proficiency standards between 2009 and 2011 in New Mexico (A to a B), Washington (A to a B), Hawaii (A to a C), Montana (B to a C), and Georgia (C- to an F).

Additionally, the authors found that 8th-grade reading and math standards have converged among the states since 2003. The authors explain that this could be seen as positive news for those looking to decrease disparity in standards across states, “were it not for the fact that 8th-grade standards also declined between 2003 and 2011.”

Paul E. Peterson,, Harvard University
Ashley Inman,, 707 332-1184, Education Next Communications Office

About the Authors
Paul Peterson is professor of government and director of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Peter Kaplan is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in government at Harvard University. The authors are available for interviews.

About Education Next
Education Next is a scholarly journal published by the Hoover Institution that is committed to careful examination of evidence relating to school reform. Other sponsoring institutions are the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University, part of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. For more information about Education Next, please visit:



Education reform advocacy group StudentsFirst, led by school choice champion Michelle Rhee, has released their State Policy Report Card. This report card was designed “to evaluate the education laws and policies in place in each state.” The study used three forms of criteria for evaluation to find states in which schools: Elevate teaching, Empower Parents, and Spend Wisely & Govern Well. This study shines a light on education reform, and people are taking notice. With high-ranking states trumpeting their success and low-ranking states in spin-control overdrive, it’s clear that the states know the public is waking up to education reform and accountability. 

The states which fared well have been touting their success in this report as a way to highlight the strengths of their education systems. John White, state superintendent of Louisiana, said their high rank was an “indication of the boldness and the courage that our governor and our legislators and our people have shown in supporting policies that don’t accept the status quo.” Those in the low-ranking states were singing a different tune, however.

They simply decided to discount the study. California’s chief deputy superintendent, for example, told the New York Times that their F ranking was “A badge of honor,” and questioned the credibility of the group. Rhee fired back, saying “Mr. Zeiger may call that a badge of honor, but I call it a social injustice.”

The attention on this report card is also important because the data correlates to other school achievement data in interesting ways. The states which fared best in the StudentsFirst report card have some of the weakest teachers’ unions in America.

Meanwhile, states such as California and Montana, which received an F grade, are among the strongest. Robust school choice also correlates with higher rates of graduation, adding another layer of correlation with educational data. As more studies emerge, a clearer picture of American education is coming together. 

The StudentsFirst Report Card is another step forward for education reform and accountability. Every American taxpayer has invested in our public education system and informing them as to what works (and doesn't) is a great service. (Courtesy of Freedom Works .org)

The Wisconsin Legislators Need to Focus!

As the 2013 Legislative Session is underway in Wisconsin, the citizen leaders marvel at the lack of focus on any work that would make a difference in the lives of families and children, thus far. 

Business as usual politics needs to be interrupted in Wisconsin. The buying and selling of bills for hire needs to be called what it is as it is a 'brand new day with new priorities to set!' 

Wisconsin Scores on Student Achievement - See Where Wisconsin Ranks




One of the Wisconsin Legislative duties according to the State Constitution is education. As performance rates continue to drop in our educational community, one can hardly avoid the fact that this ranking "trickles up" to those responsible for the education of our young people ..... the Wisconsin State Legislature and the existing DPI Chief Tony Evers.

The Chatter instead in Madison today is "how large county governments should be, with comments rendered by the new "Speaker of the House" hard charged to shrink the size of Milwaukee's large county government.

In the struggle to be relevant, perhaps it time for all of us to insist that the Wisconsin Legislature put its 'eyes on the ball' of education and see if it can raise our abysmal ranking of D to at least a mediocre one, say "C!"

The families and children of Wisconsin deserve better folks.  It is time for the grown ups to once again govern so that the children can once again raise their sights on reaching the goal of competing in a global marketplace.

Terri McCormick, M.A.
Educational Administration and Leadership
Founder of Wisconsin's Charter School Movement 


Children First Wisconsin, Inc. · PO Box 13463
300 Packerland Dr., Green Bay, WI 54307-3463
Copyright 2014 © All Rights Reserved.
Children First Wisconsin