Students need more resources and program support, WEAC President Martin says

In response to the release of new standardized test scores, WEAC President Ron Martin said, “At the start of a new school year educators welcome everyone in our communities to discuss how, together, we can address increasing barriers to learning including strapped school budgets, student poverty, trauma and mental health concerns.”

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Teachers say they are overwhelmed by constant policy changes

Nearly all respondents to an Education Week survey — 86 percent — said they had experienced new changes or reforms in the past two school years, and 58 percent said the changes are “way too much” or “too much.” The teachers surveyed were most likely to say they’d had changes to their teacher-evaluation systems. Other common areas for reform were curriculum, professional development, and state testing.

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Teachers’ mental health declining due to job stress, political discourse, survey finds

The growing stresses of teaching, coupled with the coarseness of the nation’s political debate, is taking a heavy toll on the mental health of teachers, according to a survey released Monday by the American Federation of Teachers and the Badass Teachers Association, a grassroots organization focused on social justice. Well over half of the educators surveyed – 58% – said their mental health was “not good” for seven or more of the previous 30 days. That is up from 34% just two years ago. The summary of the survey – titled “2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey” – says safe, welcoming, healthy schools flourish when teachers and school staff are empowered by support and respect on the job.

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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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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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Legislative Update – June 2

The Joint Finance Committee is expected to take up K-12 funding in the state budget next week, and there are several hearings set for stand-alone bills that impact students and public schools. Topics include restrictions on school referendums, special education funding, pupil testing and private school vouchers.

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Racine Education Association asks for audit of all standardized testing

The Racine Education Association is asking the school board to conduct an audit of testing in the district, including an inventory of all standardized tests, the purpose of the tests, time spent taking each test, and time spent on test preparation. “Beyond the social and emotional damage high-stakes standardized tests have on children, there is also a definite fiscal impact — whether it be the costs of the tests themselves, time lost on teaching and learning, use of technology, etc. — that should be considered as well,” said REA President Angelina Cruz.

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