Education Week - February 7, 2018 - 1
VOL. 37, NO. 19 * FEBRUARY 7, 2018
AMERICAN EDUCATION'S NEWSPAPER OF RECORD * © 2018 Editorial Projects in Education * $4
BREAKING NEWS DAILY
Advocates Say Sexual Consent
Is Not Covered Much in K-12
Narayan Mahon for Education Week
By Stephen Sawchuk
Tinkering Toward a Better Education System
A Wisconsin District Goes All In on 'Continuous Improvement' Strategies
By Sarah D. Sparks
Menomonee Falls, Wis.
It's been said time and again, there's no silver bullet in education. But the urge to find one often leaves
districts with a constant churn of new leaders, new
initiatives, and new short-lived training that results
in equally short-lived gains.
That's why, for the 4,000-student Menomonee Falls
district, northwest of Milwaukee, real improvement
means slowing way down and making sure everyone
carries a piece of the load.
"We're not about chasing random attempts to improve
a particular thing," said Patricia Greco, the Menomonee
Falls superintendent. "We are building a culture where
everyone is thinking of how they can improve."
The district is far from the first to adopt "continuous improvement," an umbrella term for an
array of problem-solving techniques coupled
with constant feedback and experimentation
by students, teachers, and staff members. (See
article, Page 16.) But Menomonee Falls may
be one of the districts in which the approach
has been the most pervasive, affecting the way
everyone from teachers to secretaries to custodians approach day-to-day problems and longterm planning.
And the approach appears to be working. In the
past six years, the district has become one of the topperforming school systems in the state-even as it
has faced a 70 percent decline in state funding during
Science teacher Julie
Poetzel works with 7th
graders in Menomonee
Falls, Wis. She said
having students track
their own growth
has led to "better
attitudes" in class.
PAGE 17 >
WHAT IS CONTINUOUS
IMPROVEMENT? FIND OUT
MORE ABOUT THE STRATEGY
AND WHY SCHOOLS ARE
USING IT. PAGE 16
PAGE 14 >
Swikar Patel/Education Week
PERSEVERING: Fourth grader Edgardo Virella Colón works in a
classroom at Jaime Coira School in Ciales, Puerto Rico. The
hurricane-damaged school is open, but has no power. PAGE 12
Are too many minority students
being placed into special education
who don't need to be there? And, once
enrolled, are they kept in isolated classrooms or punished more severely than
For 423 school districts in the 201516 school year-the most recent year
for which complete federal statistics
are available-the answer was yes.
That's about 3 percent of the nation's 14,500 or so school systems.
More than 20 states documented no
Showdown in Florida
Over State ESSA Plan,
By Daarel Burnette II
& Corey Mitchell
disproportionality in their districts
that year, according to an analysis by
the Education Week Research Center.
So are states underestimating the
problem? Are they even using the
best methods to measure the status of
Those questions are at the heart of
a debate that is pitting the actions of a
formerly hands-on U.S. Department of
Education under the Obama administration against new leadership, under
President Donald Trump, that says it
wants to get out of states' business.
Which view prevails has real
Florida is under intense scrutiny from
federal officials, Democrats, and civil rights
activists for how it plans to hold schools
accountable for the achievement levels of
historically disadvantaged student groups
under the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The Republican-dominated state broke
ground in 1999 when, under then-Gov. Jeb
Bush, it instituted a strict, easy-to-understand, test-based accountability system for
schools that ultimately became a model for
the No Child Left Behind Act. The state last
updated its system in 2015 and now mostly
wants to keep that same system intact
But the state's approach threatens to put
it in collision with requirements under the
federal K-12 law.
For example, the state's lawmakers don't
want to factor into its two-year-old school rating systems the achievement levels of particular student groups, such as black and Latino
students, poor students, students with special
PAGE 22 >
PAGE 23 >
How to Measure Bias in Spec. Ed.
Crux of Fight Over Federal Rule
By Christina A. Samuels
& Alex Harwin
Twice a month, 8th grade English teacher
Stephany Copeland hosts what she calls
a "gender assembly" for the 55 girls she
teaches at the KIPP Rise Academy in Newark, N.J. They're usually oriented around
things that the girls want to talk about, and
given their age, that often means the power
dynamics between boys and girls.
"Little things will happen-a boy will take
a picture of a girl after school, and she will
say, 'Delete that,' and he'll refuse, so we do
things like address that," Copeland said.
One of her most recent sessions focused on
the lesson that it's not OK for boys to grab
or touch girls without asking-even if they
mean it affectionately, or if they've gone out
once or twice.
Copeland's work predates the #MeToo
movement, but her focus on relationships
and consent, many advocates say, is uncommon: Both topics are frequently missing from whatever health or sex education
U.S. students receive.
And as they hasten to point out, that is
a puzzling omission. From the first time
that a girl got her ponytail dunked in an
inkwell, schools have been places where