Thursday, May 31, 2012

Commencement 2012

On Sunday May 27 the PdC School District held graduation exercises. Some random pictures from the ceremony:

Certification of Candidates Address:

Congratulations; that is going to be the word of the day for all of you who are graduating. This also extends especially to the parents (who got you this far) and to the family members and friends that are here today to share the in the happiness of this occasion.

A couple of things from the last few days have brought to mind my message for you today. Last week I attended graduation ceremonies at UW Madison and I saw a whole new crop of civil engineers advance into the world. Some of these engineers will spend a lifetime designing and building bridges. Also, I am sure many of you saw the news release that on today the Golden Gate Bridge across the San Francisco Bay turns 75 years old. These two converging thoughts about bridges have been translated into this discourse.

First a bridge needs a good base if it is to last a lifetime, it needs a good solid foundation. By graduating, you have given yourselves that foundational base; you have the opportunity now to move on to college or to further training in the military or in your career – whatever direction you are headed; this education recorded on your transcript can never be taken away. However, as most of you know, a high school education today is only a start on the path toward higher learning or work skills. Take this base, build upon it, and become lifelong learners.

The second metaphor is the old saying; do not burn your bridges. This saying has an etymology that goes back to wooden bridge days when armies would burn the bridge structures after crossing to cut off their opponents. The modern use of the term is to remind people to be careful to act politely and appropriately when leaving a situation; as you never know when you may need to come back to that person later for help, a recommendation, or who knows what. You need to build, and open, as many relationship bridges as possible. Even today as technology continues to change communications and the work world, remember that relationships still matter.
(pick up diploma cover)

This diploma signifies something accomplished, and also leads to more responsibility. As you come up here and go across this metaphorical bridge to receive your diploma, and later at graduation parties, and well into your life, remember that with each step forward comes greater responsibility. Please think about all your actions, and attempt to make the best choices. Life is simply a series of choices, choose very well.

I will close my message with what I have been saying to my children for all of their lives; Have Fun, But, Be Good!


Now for what you are here for:

The Constitution and the Statues of the State of Wisconsin, give our Board of Education and Administration the power to grant diplomas to pupils who successfully complete the academic requirements of the Prairie du Chien Area Public School District.

Today, I am very pleased to report to our community, that all of the young men and women before you, robed in Maroon and Black, have met or exceeded these requirements. Therefore, I hereby certify that these 95 candidates are to be awarded a high school diploma.

Build good bridges and congratulations!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mathematics Education Videos - DPI release

Wisconsin’s alignment of Teaching Channel videos to new mathematics standards is so useful it’s being recommended on the national level.

For each of the eight skills of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice, the creators of DPI’sMathematical Literacy website found at least one video to help teachers visualize how to address it in their classrooms.

Wisconsin’s site was created by Diana Kasbaum, the DPI’smathematics education consultant, along with Jackie Herrmann and Becky Walker of the Appleton Area School District and Jeff Ziegler of the Madison Metropolitan School District. The Council for Chief State School Officersrecommended the site in a nationwide email to help educators implement the Common Core.

The website simultaneously addresses the Common Core State Standards requirement of Disciplinary Literacy—the idea that students need subject area educators to teach them ways to read, write, think, listen, and speak that are specific to those fields. In mathematics, a team of Wisconsin educators found that the Mathematical Practice standards effectively address disciplinary literacy as well.

DPI update on ESEA Accountability Waiver

Dear District Administrators:

As the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) begins to rollout the new statewide accountability system, there are  few updates and reminders I want to pass along.

Wisconsin Accountability Reports:
  • Preliminary school report cards will be electronically available via secure access to districts by June 22. While initially planned for release to districts two weeks earlier, this additional time is necessary for the inclusion of more detailed data and modifications to the accountability index. The school report cards will serve as our 2011-12 accountability reports.
  • The preliminary report cards will be calculated using the new WKCE proficiency cut scores, which are based on the national NAEP assessment proficiency level. This will result in changes to percentages of students in each performance category. To aid in understanding this change, reports will include retroactive application of NAEPized cuts to allow schools to view trends of performance over previous years. Information will be provided with the report cards to help interpret this change.
  • These preliminary reports can be accessed via the Secure Access File Exchange (SAFE). ...
  •  More resources will be forthcoming regarding accessing and interpreting the school report cards.
  •  The schedule for seeking input and making adjustments to the report card is as follows:

o   June – secure, preliminary release of draft report cards to districts
o   July/August – DPI will gather feedback on the readability of the report cards, use of the accountability index, and presentation of the data via focus groups, and a survey that will accompany the preliminary report cards.
o   September – incorporation of improvements to the report card and accountability index
o   Fall 2012 – public release of individual school report cards

Title I Accountability:
  • Districts with one or more schools identified as Title I Focus or Title I Priority schools will be notified by phone by June 1.
  • Notification letters will be mailed the week of June 4. Notification will include data sheets explaining the process of determining status as Focus or Priority schools.
  • Districts will be provided with opportunities to schedule phone conferences in the following weeks to answer questions about support, requirements, and identification processes.

  • There will be no AYP determinations for the 2011-12 school year.
  • Wisconsin is moving through the process of getting an ESEA waiver, with final approval expected in the summer.
  • As always, if you have questions please feel free to contact us (
  • This update and the accompanying SAFE resources will be posted to the Accountability Reform webpage (
Your ongoing input is important to us.


Michael J. Thompson, PhD
Deputy State Superintendent

Everyday Math Training

The first cycle of trainings on the new elementary math series are underway. The Everyday Math program is being implemented now, so it can be used in Summer School. The new series will be used in all elementary grades of 4K, K, 1, 2, 3, 4. All elementary core teachers and site administrators have unanimously agreed to the selection of the series and have signed off that they will implement with full fidelity.

Photo of the morning BAK session:

 Photo of the morning Bluff View session:

Everyday Math is published by the McGraw-Hill company. The new Math series closely matches with the Common Core. In fact, the Smarter Balance consortium of states, of which Wisconsin is aligned with, have hired CTB, another arm of McGraw-Hill, to develop and pilot the testing. The E-Suite product, which is being implemented, will be continuously updated to match with any future changes in the standards.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tang Min Chinese Guest Teacher

Tang Min is our third Chinese Guest Teacher. She sends her "warmest greeting from ... the other end of Earth, China. You can call me Minnie. I am very excited to work in your community".  Tang Min is looking forward to "a fantastic experience".  Photo of Minnie:

Tang Min is a 'country girl' as she was born in a small town named as Jinkou, with a population of no more than 100,000. She states "most people there, like my parents, make a living on growing fruit trees and tea processing. From what I know from Google Earth about Prairie Du Chien, my home town is similar with your community - a quiet and comfortable place with a lot of trees. Therefore I am sure I can feel at home there." These are a few of Min's home area photos, including a picture of her mother:

When Tang Min was 17, she went to Wuhan, a big city which is famous for Yangtze River, Yellow Crane Tower, Guiyuan Temple, and numerous delicious food like Fry Dry Noodles with sesame paste and so on. It was here that she studied for her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees. In Wuhan city, she met her first and lifelong love, who is her husband. These are photos of Min and her husband and also one of her extended family:

After graduation, she became an English teacher. She loves teaching and gets a real "joy from studying with my students as a leader". Tang Min describes herself as "an independent and energetic person, who loves this profession a lot". In her spare time, she likes reading, travelling and photography. She looks forward to "using the camera to capture the beautiful scenery and treasurable moments". 

We look forward to the arrival of Tang Min (Minnie) and the other two Chinese Teachers in August.

Zhang Yuanyuan Chinese Guest Teacher

Our second Guest Teacher is Zhang Yuanyuan. This is an artistic photo of Yuanyuan:

Zhang Yuanyuan is from Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province in China. She feels that "it’s my great pleasure to have this opportunity to work with American colleagues and students". Yuanyuan is excited, and looks forward to her arrival on August 3. 

This is a photo of  Zhang Yuanyuan visiting the Great Wall:

Zhang Yuanyuan works in Jinan Xiaoxinzhuang Primary School, which is a very good, "famous", school in the district. She has been an English teacher for 8 years. She has taught students in kindergarten through 12 years old. 

Photo of Zhang Yuanyuan with her English students in class in China:

She wants to make it plain that even though she teaches English and her command of the language is proficient, she needs to improve her English skill. As she puts it "I just feel quite a lot to learn". Zhang Yuanyuan views coming to PdC as an opportunity for her career and as "a milestone in my life". She cannot wait to get to work here in PdC.

Zhang Yuanyuan is married and has one child. Her husband is Dean of a Cerebral Palsy children rehabilitation center. Yuanyuan's family photo:

Zhang Yuanyuan's parents-in-law take care of her daughter, as she is only 2 years old. Her family is very supportive and are proud of her being a guest teacher at PdC. Photo of Yuanyuan with her lovely daughter:

Zhang Yuanyuan vows to "work hard in our school and community, and I will build good relationships with colleagues , students and parents. Please believe me!" 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Graduation inside

Due to the heat index, graduation ceremonies will be moved to the High School gymnasium

Liu Jieyu Chinese Guest Teacher

Liu Jieyu is one of our three new guest Chinese teachers. She has been an English teacher in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province. This is a place with a very long history in the middle of China. Jeiyu's school's name is Zhengzhou No. 102 Middle School. She was supported by her school and the school's Principal, Mr. Cui, to come to PdC to be a Chinese teacher. In China, she teaches students from 13-15 years old. 

This photo is Liu Jieyu with one of her classes in China:

Jeiyu's husband is a history teacher in the same school. They have a son that is seven years old, currently studying in a primary school. They reside together with her husband's mother. 

Liu Jieyu's family photo:

Liu Jieyu has been to the United States previously as she was sent to New York by Hanan Province Education Bureau in 2010 to join the MMUN(Model Montessori United Nations) program. She stated that the friendly people and beautiful scenery impressed me. 

Liu Jieyu's Photo in Washington DC:

Jieyu  is excited to be coming to PdC, and we are excited to meet her in August.Their arrival is tentatively scheduled for August 3, 2012. The Chinese spelling of Liu Jieyu is 复制搜索, at least I think so!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pops Concert was great!

The Pops concert tonight was superb. The crowd gave the various performances five different standing ovations.

The Band started with their competition pieces of Havendance and Rhosymedre, mixed in The Grumpy Old Bear in the middle, and blew the crowd away as they ended with The Star Wars Epic. The Jazz Band was remarkable and had the crowd swaying to In The Mood and The Sidewinder. Nice job to all the instrumental music students and to Matt Lenz and Diane Malcom for guiding them.

Pictured below is the PdC High School Jazz Band, under the direction of Matt Lenz

The Concert Choir was equally excellent as they performed You Are The New Day, Return to Chicago, and closed with Benediction #9 as a send off to the seniors. Out To Lunch performed Chamego, Africa, Leave It, Off The Wall and the old Vocal Jazz favorite of I'll Be Seeing You. It was a great choir concert and thanks to all the vocal music pupils and to Phil Stiemke for direction.

Pictured below is the PdC High School Vocal Jazz - Out To Lunch, under the direction of Phil Stiemke

There were many guest musicians - thank you to all who helped make this a wonderful evening of entertainment for the community to enjoy.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

CNG compressed natural gas

The University of Wisconsin Extension and the PdC Public School District are co-hosting a meeting on cng for businesses and governmental agencies, with fleets of vehicles, which may possibly be interested in the alternative fuel.

This meeting will take place at noon on Thursday June 21, 2012 at the PdC High School commons area. Since it is over noon, we will have sandwiches for people who rsvp to Bridget Wright at 608.326.3711 or e-mail

The PdC School District continues to explore cng as an alternative fuel for our busses. The reasoning for this study is threefold. The first reason centers on lowering costs of operations. The current pump price for cng is $1.59 per gallon (this is a diesel equivalent gallon). That is considerably lower than the current diesel price. Secondly, cng is a much cleaner burning fuel than diesel. This is good for the environment and lowers vehicle operating costs. Third, there are many experts that are predicting that cng will overtake gas and diesel in the coming years. This is due to the fact that the United States has a very large supply of natural gas and therefore the cost spread will grow.

For further information, contact Bryan Wood or Drew Johnson.

Bryan Wood
University of Wisconsin Extension

Drew Johnson
Prairie du Chien Public School District Administrator

WPS enrollment help if needed

Brent Straka, one of our Tri-Cor representatives, will hold hours on May 30, 2012 at Bluff View in room 323 from 9:30 am to 11:00 am. This is an opportunity to finalize any WPS application issues that you may have, or to provide any other needed information on insurance enrollment.

This is the third reminder that the enrollment is on-line and the deadline is May 29, 2012. However, if you encounter problems, come in on May 30, 2012. Please note that on midnight of the 30th, the insurance enrollment window will be closed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Reminder for the Staff Informational Meetings on Health Insurance

May 22, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the High School Learning Lab
May 23, 2012 at 6:30 a.m. in the High School Learning Lab

This is a WPS session to provide the information on insurance enrollment.

The enrollment is on-line and the deadline is May 29, 2012. However, if you encounter problems, Tri-Cor representatives will hold hours, specific times will be announced, on May 30, 2012. After the 30th, the insurance enrollment window will be closed.

These meetings are voluntary. However, if you are covered under the insurance plan it is strongly advised that you attend one of the sessions. This is especially important if you have any questions.

ETF Announcement of PdC seminar

The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) is conducting “Group Appointment” retirement seminars in Prairie du Chien and Fennimore on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 . A morning seminar is scheduled in Prairie du Chien from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM at City Hall; an afternoon seminar is scheduled in Fennimore from 2:00 PM to 4:30 PM at Southwest Tech. Registration is required and can be done by calling 1-877-533-5020.

Directions and room number are provided when one registers for a seminar. To attend a retirement session, a Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) member is required to have their retirement packet in hand upon arrival to the session. It is certainly NOT too late for a member interested in attending to request a packet. One can do so by calling the ETF call center at 1-877-533-5020. (IMPORTANT: Getting a retirement packet from ETF does NOT obligate one to retire. The member simply has their application and packet in case they do decide to retire sometime over the coming year.)

Any WRS member who is within one year of reaching their minimum retirement age (age 55 for non-protective job categories, age 50 for protective categories) or older is welcome to contact our Department to order a retirement packet. Requesting a packet can be done while registering for the retirement seminar.

The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds has tailored Group Appointment retirement seminars for members planning (or considering) retirement over the next several years. Topics covered include the WRS retirement pension, health insurance, life insurance, return-to-work rules, etc. The Group Appointment seminars offer a WRS member the opportunity to ask questions of knowledgeable, experienced ETF staff.

To see a listing of upcoming ETF retirement presentations and group appointment sessions in South Central and Southwest Wisconsin, you can use this link:

You can also receive automatic e-mail updates of upcoming retirement presentations and group appointment sessions by registering at this link:

Roy Donald Raush
Department of Employee Trust Funds
Madison, Wisconsin
(608) 261-0146

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

On May 5, 2012 I added a video of Jeb Bush presenting on his ideas on education. For a different perspective, today I am embedding a video of Noam Chompsky with his views of education.

Mobile Devices - BYOD

The discussions and infrastructural upgrades continue to move toward an open wireless Internet information system at PdC Public High School, starting next fall, where BYOD will be encouraged. The question of the pervasiveness of student owned technological devices is a topic that arises. The reasoning for that legitimate concern is that we need to make sure that we do not create a situation of adding a barrier to information based on income or the ability to purchase a device. Obviously, with this change, there will have to be a continued mixture of school provided technology coupled with the student owned devices. I saw this chart on Business Insider and I believe it gives somewhat of a backdrop on this discussion. Mobile devices are now worldwide more available than safe drinking water! This growing trend toward worldwide mobile communication shows no indication of dropping.

Kindergarten Reading is superb!

Yesterday I highlighted the Kindergarten Math, now K Reading. The data given to me by Principal Stuckey for reading growth is phenomenal. 83 percent of this class are now above the 50th percentile in reading and additionally, 37% are in the plus 90th percentile. Not only are these kids beating the averages, they are excelling. Congratulations to all students, parents, and staff who work with these students - great job!.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kindergarten Math progress

Kindergarten MAP results are in - they are cooking red hot! Congratulations and great job!!

Friday, May 18, 2012

PALS reading screener

DPI has released an update on the PALS Kindergarten screener Click to view letter on PALS

Future of textbook series

The number and quality of open textbook options are increasing. The following video is a explanation of open texts on the college level, but the concepts apply to us. My guess is that our purchasing of broad scale text series is going to end very soon.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

AEA services may be scaled back or eliminated

Staff members need to be noticed and made aware that we are seriously considering the dropping many, or all, of Keystone AEA services. The proposed full costs of AEA services are $31,688 per year. 

1. One part of the proposal is to duplicate many of the AEA Library services in-house. Teachers need to communicate with Nancy T. on what is needed to replace those services. For example, we should be able to duplicate the classroom book sets with proper notice, or just more fully utilize the resources of the library. Please communicate your needs.

2. SoundzAbound and Atomic Learning are seldom used so that probably is no issue. Some of these same services are available for free through BadgerLink

3. We do not use any of the AEA mini-grants. We have in the past used an ALEKS math mini-grant subsidy, but currently we use none.

4. The one service that we have not used very much is the e-books library. The assumption is that this service will need to be geared up in the future, but again, this is probably something we can do in-house if needs warrant. Our PdC City Library has some titles available. If this is a need, then communicate the specifics and we will see what we can do. 

5. From the data, the main service used at AEA is DE Streaming. The concern here is that most of the content available on this service is readily available free online from other sources. There is a major push for schools to use the web sources to save money and to be more up-to-date. In fact, there are a few high schools that are totally eliminating textbook budgets and are going totally digital using only free materials found on the web.  As with the library services, if there are specific items that are used in classrooms that cannot be duplicated from on-line free resources, notify Nancy so we can dig deeper to provide alternatives. In addition, if you are encountering blocking or other hindrances, please let us know that also so we can make adjustments.

6. We are starting to talk to Discovery Communications, the parent company of DE, directly as they are jumping from their streaming products to virtual textbooks and materials. From what we have been only briefly exposed to, they have a full Social Studies continuum done and are close to bringing out a full science series.

Click to view AEA Proposal

Change to Google Apps/Docs

At the Tech. Committee meeting this morning, the following points were finalized:

1. The changeover to Google Apps/Docs is to be completed on May 31, 2012.
2. Employee, and student, email will be received in Google from May 31, 2012 forward.
3. The Outlook server will be active until June 30, 2012 so you can still send out from there, but not receive.
4. If you have old email information that you desire to keep; in June you can forward those items from the Outlook site to your e-mail address to bring them across to Google.
5. Your new email address will stay exactly as it is now - no change.
6. Staff who get voice-mail messages by email, that will change over to Google also.
6. Helpdesk experts will be available from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm on May 31, 2012 in room 212 at Bluff View in case any staff need help with the conversion to Google email.
7. Students will be updated on the conversion at the start of summer school if needed, or at the beginning of the 12-13 school year, if they have not figured it out on their own well in advance.

Please bear with us on this change to the cloud based applications. We do not anticipate any problems, but it does seem like there are always a few glitches that pop up with any change. The reason that we are changing over at the close of this school year is so we have ample time to work out any bugs before September and to allow you to get familiar with the new system.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

WPS meetings on enrollment

The WPS sessions to provide information on insurance enrollment have been officially set. There are two choices.

May 22nd at 7:00 p.m.

May 23rd at 6:30 a.m. 

The enrollment is on-line and the deadline will be May 29, 2012. However if you encounter problems, Tri-Cor representatives will hold hours, specific times will be determined, on May 30, 2012. After that day, the insurance enrollment will be closed.

New cards will be mailed in June.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Digital Treasures

More Google ideas for teachers:
Science animations:
Plagiarism tutorial:

Thanks to Steven W. Anderson@web20classroom for tweeting his lists - he gives out tons of information on use of technology in the classroom. Visit his site at

Google Tools For Schools

This is from Jennifer Dorman. A great overview on Google Docs. The full switch over is still planned for early June.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Picnic for Ye Zongxiu (Lisa) and Yazhi Zhang (Julia)

The picnic to thank Ye Zongxiu (Lisa) and Yazhi Zhang (Julia) was nice. The weather cooperated with a great day at St. Feriole Island on the shores of the Mississippi.
The first early batch of brats and dogs.

Everyone enjoyed the great food. Thanks to all who brought the delicious salads and desserts.

Time to Succeed - WASB release

This week, the Ford Foundation announced it will put $50-million into efforts to push for longer school days and additional learning time at schools in poor neighborhoods across the country. In 2009, the Ford Foundation pledged $100-million to improve high-school education; with this week’s announcement, half that money will be narrowly focused on lengthening school time.

The money will back a new Time to Succeed Coalition, which the Ford Foundation started along with the National Center on Time & Learning. The coalition’s chairs are Chris Gabrieli, a longtime extended-day advocate who chairs the National Center on Time & Learning, and Ford Foundation president Luis Ubiñas.

They have attracted more than 100 coalition members from across state, sector, and political lines, including among others Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J., Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Dennis Walcott, New York City Schools Chancellor and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

The goal of the coalition is to raise awareness among decision-makers and encourage them to use the federal School Improvement Grants and the No Child Left Behind waiver process to expand and redesign school time. It also aims to build up a grassroots movement, rallying teachers, communities, and civil rights groups for the cause. Over the next two years, the hope is to double the number of schools across the country that offer more instructional time to their students.

A recent study of New York City charter schools that found a strong link between the amount of instructional time students got and their achievement is being held up as an evidence for a national push for longer school days.

Roland Fryer, the Harvard University researcher who completed the study, found in a different investigation that student test scores inched up—by about .015 points per day of school—in years with few snow days.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Positive outlook on State Finances

Release from SAA

DOA Sec. Huebsch informed Governor Walker today that the Dept. of Revenue projects a revenue increase of $265 million. In February LFB reduced estimates for general fund tax collections by $272.8 million. DOR has informed DOA that the general fund tax collections, through April, for fiscal years 2011-12 and 2012-13 are projected to be higher than the LFB February estimates. DOR currently projects $13,388,000,000 in 2011-12 and $13,675,200,000 in 2012-13 for a total of $265 million over the February estimates.

In addition to the increased projected revenue, DOA has completed the structural refunding authorized in the budget and other debt refinancing. The projected savings are $78 million over the biennium. The two combined results in an estimated general fund closing net balance for 2012-13 of$89.5 million. When the budget was signed the ending balance was estimated to be $9.4 million. With a projected ending balance of $89.5 million Sec. Huebsch says, “the potential shortfall previously identified by LFB in February is not projected to occur.”

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wisconsin Concussion Law Act 172 – Sec. 118.293, Stats

DPI Release

The law requires all youth athletic organizations to educate coaches, athletes, and parents on the risks of concussions and head injuries and prohibits participation in a youth activity until the athlete and parent or guardian have returned a signed agreement indicating they have reviewed the concussion and head injury information materials. The law requires immediate removal of an individual from a youth athletic activity if symptoms indicate a possible concussion has been sustained. A person who has been removed from a youth athletic activity because of a determined or suspected concussion or head injury may not participate again until he or she is evaluated by a health care provider and receives written clearance from the health care provider to return to the activity.

Concussion materials are on the web at

For further information, please see:

Guidelines for Concussion and Head Injuries

Concussion Resources

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Common Core Elementary Math series

PdC Public Elementary Teachers and their Principals have recommended an upgrade to a new math program for PK to 4. All classroom core Teachers and Principals have unanimously agreed and have individually signed that they are onboard with the McGraw-Hill Everyday Math (EM) Common Core Series, they will do the full training sequence, and they will use the program fully and with complete fidelity and efficacy.

Based on that recommendation, the School Board has approved the change. There is a timeline that is somewhat set; the materials have been ordered, and the appropriate training days are planned for the teachers to implement the program at full fidelity. The strategy is to have the initial teacher training in the days immediately after school is out, and we plan to have the new materials in place for use in summer school.

This is another piece in the process to update to the more rigorous quasi-national common core standards, smarter balance testing, and school rating system. We need to step it up considerably as the “old” WKCE standard of proficiency is now projected to be only basic. Under the “old” system we had increased to a point where we were at 90% of students in grade 8 testing at proficient and advanced; eighth grade is the capstone of our PK-8 pipeline. I am proud of what our students, parents, and staff have done to get to those levels. However, now the bar has raised and we need to move on to meet that new level. I am confident that we can meet the new challenge, but it will require a new dedication from everyone in the system.

Click this link to go to McGraw Hill Everyday Math site

Wisconsin Accountability System – All public schools

This is the latest update from Mike Thompson at DPI on the new accountability system:

Dear District Administrators:

On April 17th, The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) received written feedback from the U. S. Department of Education (ED) concerning its application to waive specific elements of the No Child Left Behind accountability requirements. DPI staff are responding to provide specific clarifications requested by USED.

Title I

What’s New:

DPI will notify district administrators by letter before May 30,2012 if their district has one or more Title I Priority or Focus Schools. This identifications are required by ED.
  • Priority schools are the lowest performing 5% of Title I schools. 
  • Focus schools are equal to 10% of Title I schools and demonstrate the lowest subgroup performance and/or the greatest gaps in achievement or graduation rates. 
  • Priority and Focus schools must begin implementing state directed reforms in the 2012-13 school year. 
  • DPI will be providing technical assistance for Priority and Focus schools beginning in June 2012. 
  • The waiver does not eliminate other aspects of NCLB such as teacher and paraprofessional qualifications and parent notification. 
  • Districts with Title I schools previously required to offer choice and supplemental educational services will not be required to do so in 2012-13 and beyond as Wisconsin has successfully waived out of these federal requirements. 
Wisconsin Accountability System – All public schools

What’s New:
  • A secure pre-release of a beta-version of individual school report cards based on the new accountability index will occur in June 2012. 
  • District report cards will be not be provided this year but will be provided for the 2012-13 school year. 
  • Between June and September DPI will solicit feedback on report cards, will incorporate changes as needed, and will develop communication pieces to aid districts in communicating with their staff and with the public. 
  • Final school report cards based on the accountability index will be publically released in Fall 2012 (date TBD). 
  • Schools and districts will not be receiving AYP Reports this year. 
DPI is committed to providing resources that will help with this transition to a new accountability and support system. Updates and resources will be posted to the DPI Accountability Reform web pages at, so check back often!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

PdC High School ranks Silver among Best High Schools

PdC Public High School ranks 25th in the State of Wisconsin, and ranks 1988 Nationally, on the US News and World Report of the Best High Schools in the Nation

Click here to go to rankings

Congratulations to all as this is a nice honor for our students, parents, staff, and the whole community. Thank you for living up to the PdC vision of Pride, Dedication, and Commitment.

Info on BadgerCare+

This is another message from  Jean Nothnagel <>  regarding recently released information from the Department of Health about changes in BadgerCare+. 

To follow up Covering Kids & Families created a "10 Things To Know About Upcoming BadgerCare+ Changes" fact sheet, and a 'Decision Tree' version, both of which are linked below

You may also view and download these 2 resources on the CKF Homepage: under CKF News

The critical messages for families are:

1. JULY 1st: Changes will begin as early as July 1, 2012. Some changes may not occur until a family renews their BadgerCare+ coverage.

2. CHILDREN: Children will not directly be affected by upcoming changes, though many children will be indirectly affected due to changes for their parents.

3. ADULTS & INCOME: Adults enrolled in BadgerCare+ with incomes at 133% of the federal poverty level or above will see an increased or new monthly premium payment based on their income.

I hope you find these documents useful for yourselves and families who have concerns. Please feel free to contact me or anyone at Covering Kids and Families if you are seeking more information. Parents and others may call as well. 608-261-1455

Jean Nothnagel
Covering Kids & Families-Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1305 Linden Drive
3rd floor, Middleton Bldg
Madison, Wisconsin 53706
(608) 261-1455

New Statewide SIS a step closer

DPI Release:

A milestone in the implementation of the Statewide Student Information System (SSIS) was reached with the release May 2 of the Request for Proposals (RFP) to interested vendors.

The RFP committee, comprised mainly of school district staff and guided by the Department of Administration, developed the RFP. Vendor response, committee review, and evaluation including demonstrations will take place over the coming months. The contract is expected to be negotiated, awarded, and signed with a single vendor by the end of December.

The first phase of school districts to migrate to the SSIS will begin in January 2013. If your district is interested in inclusion in the early implementation phases, contact Lisa jo VonAllmen at 608-267-9222 or at

More SSIS information

The SSIS will include information regarding:
· enrollment,
· withdrawal,
· attendance,
· discipline,
· term grades,
· scheduling,
· course requests,
· typical reporting such as report cards and transcripts,
· Response to Intervention (RtI),
· Special Education, and
· a parent/student portal.

We anticipate a comprehensive system that extends features beyond what many districts might be able to afford and that, when implemented, eliminates most separate state reporting tasks associated with students, thereby reducing operational costs. We also expect that the system will reduce the technical tasks involved with managing the system.

Our overall goal is to establish the SSIS as core to a statewide information system. This system will include, for example, the statewide data warehouse and a future statewide Learning Management System, and will complement the SSIS. All will be tightly integrated.

For more information, see the SSIS website:

Disability Plans

I have now received the second question on possible changes in Long-Term-Disability (LTD) and Short-Term-Disability (STD). Therefore, I will go through what I do know on that subject in this format, in case others have the same questions. The health insurance company change as approved by the School Board has nothing to do with the disability plans.

The agreement between the School Board and the Tri-Cor Brokers is that we stay put on all other plans and coverage unless there is a significant financial benefit or better service reasoning to change. To my knowledge, neither the brokers or the district to this point has even looked at other carriers of the disability products. I know that we have not done any RFP process or anything along those lines.We have been concentrating on getting past the health insurance changes.

The STD plans are completely employee purchased. Given that the district has hardly any stake in the offerings, that decision will be left almost totally to employees. If we get to that point, the district office will assist in the process, but the decision whether to change will need to be made through either consensus or a vote at employee meetings.

The LTD is district supported so the decision to change that service falls into the district realm. I will say this from the district viewpoint, there would need to be a considerable financial advantage to make a switch in LTD as the service on these accounts is very important.

Pay levels

Now that the health insurance decisions are winding down; there have been a number of questions on pay levels for next year. These questions seem to be stemming from some information that is floating around that School Boards can now reduce people to the base upon which they started, or some other format of wage reduction.

To start, I am not an expert as to what the new law allows, or does not allow, and we will have to work that out. I have not had time to do anything more than give a cursory reading on some updates and articles. From what I understand, we still need to negotiate the ‘base’ based on some formula. As noted, we will work through that process to fit the legal requirements, but, we will continue to tweak things locally to treat people fairly. Please note that what we actually negotiate as the base is actually just one figure (no matter what it ends up at) and is only part of what can be paid.

I can emphatically say that for next year everyone will be at their same wage plus some amount, to be determined, of a raise. Nobody is going to be reduced to some base level, whatever that might even be, or some other low figure.

However I need to note that you should not count on credits or degrees as counting for anything on the salary chart. If you want to record your educational accomplishments for the file, forward that information to Patti, but, do not assume that it will add anything to your pay level through lane advancement or some other automatic formula. There are no papers to file or forms to fill out.

The coming system of educator effectiveness will have a large role in how people will be paid. As I have noted in the past, about half of that process will be based on student achievement data. Again, I am not an expert on this yet, and we are waiting to see how that all falls out. I blogged on one evaluation system that is now being incorporated by many schools in the state, and my e-mail is being inundated by various companies that have the greatest of all schemes for us to buy. I think we are just going to wait a bit to see what happens at the state with the new SIS and how all of that links together.

The bottom-line is that for next year you can lock in what you make now plus a raise that will most likely boil down to what we can do based on budgetary figures. That holds true for both professional staff and hourly wage rates for support staff.

PTO and Vacation decision form

It is now that time of the year where we start the process of collecting stuff to finalize our books for the school year. One new thing this year is that employees now need to determine how to handle remaining PTO or Vacation days as employees have some options.

There is a one sheet form that will need to be turned in by May 30, 2012. Patti will send a hard copy out in checks.

Click here to see form - please save a tree and do not print as you will get one with your checks

HRA process stays the same

I have already been asked if the HRA process will stay the same for next year. The answer is yes. The Board will continue to view the HRA as the employee's money to spend on approved expenses, and that continues to mean that the remaining balance can carry forward into the next year.

I need to make the strong point that the Flex, 125 plan, dollars that you set aside pre-tax do not flow forward. I do not usually give advice on how to mange your business, but in this case I strongly recommend that you use those Flex dollars for planned and known expenses, or use that fund before the HRA account. Flex dollars are lost if not used in the allotted time-frame, but the remaining balance in the HRA flows into the next year.

We have been asked if we can have health care suppliers direct bill medical (clinic) expenses directly to the HRA. I received an answer back (I hope I asked the question correctly) and the answer is no unless we severely limit how to spend HRA dollars. The School Board has taken the most wide definitions and allow employees to spend HRA dollars on any approved expense. The only way to have medical institutions direct bill is to limit HRA reimbursement only to insurance related expenses. Under the current plan design we do not limit to only those expenses, and I do not think we want to narrow it down, so we are stuck with scanning or sending in the slips.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Change to WPS is passed

Earlier tonight the School Board unanimously approved the change in Health Insurance carrier from WEA to WPS. The sheet linked below shows the array of options for those employees with health insurance. At this time there are no decisions to be made as we will be having a series of meetings with WPS representatives on the options and specific details. 

To kick off this process, anyone who wants to get a very brief outlook on the options and provider options from me or the insurance 'meet and confer' members can come to one of four voluntary meetings:

Thursday May 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm to 4:30 pm in room 323 at Bluff View
Friday May 11, 2012 at 7:15 am to 7:45 am in the Learning Lab at the High School
Monday May 14, 2012 at 7:15 am to 7:45 am in room 207 at BAK
Monday May 14, 2012 at 4:00 pm to 4:30 pm in room 323 at Bluff View

These meetings will not have WPS people there, and these are not enrollment meetings, but we will have the upcoming informational session schedule available at these meetings. We will only have general information available. 

Please start to formulate your list of questions for the WPS reps, as we may have sessions starting the transitional process as early as a week to ten days from now. 

This has been a long process, but the product hopefully gives people some good options.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Project Lead the Way

On May 3, 2012 PdC Public School got recertified in the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program. Both the PLTW Biomedical and the PLTW Engineering were certified. Congratulations and thank you to all of you who teach or are mentors in this program as without you we could not offer PLTW. Thank you also to those who participated in the certification process.

These PLTW programs, along with the Gateway to Technology programming in the MiddleSchool and Junior High grades, are great programs that are an important part of preparing our students to be college and career ready.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

State Tax Collections

This excerpt from the WASB Legislative Update newsletter would seem to indicate that the Wisconsin economy is tracking upward!!

Wisconsin appears on track to meet or exceed the revenue forecast for this fiscal year, according to new figures released today by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. State General Fund tax collections from July 2011 through April 2012 were 4.3 percent above collections for the same period in fiscal year 2011.

Back in February 2011, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau projected Fiscal Year 2012 General Fund tax collections would be 2.2 percent higher than in 2011. Given that there are only two more months in the state’s fiscal year, and that the first ten months have outpaced the projection, it’s possible that total tax collections for the year could exceed the forecast, although monthly figures tend to bounce around a bit.

Education Innovation address by Bush

The link below is to a video of Jeb Bush’s address to the Education Innovation Summit. This 45 minute video gives a clear picture of his educational reform ideas and outlines one side of the national debate that surrounds educational reform at all levels.

This was posted at 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Online I-8

The DPI Special Education Team has made it a priority that the new statewide student information system (SIS) have a Special Education piece. The goal is a seamless process of information movement across the SIS and to state reporting.

One of the first steps in this process is already in development and is moving to beta, and that is a portal that is a step-by-step IEP I-8 Post-Secondary Transition plan process that will pop up red flags, so people can back up and correct the choice, if entry will lead to error in IEP. The reasoning behind this development is that compliance failure rates on indicator 13 are still too high. DPI did not say this, but basically it is making filling out the forms mistake proof.

K Reading Screener Selected

The Kindergarten screener required under Act 166 has been selected, it is PALS. The projected date of implementation is January or February of 2013. It was selected because it is not only a screener, but it has a formative component which will allow teachers to modify instruction based on results.

Click here to read DPI position letter
Click here to go to PALS site

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thank You to Ye Zongxiu (Lisa) and Yazhi Zhang (Julia)

The Board of Education and Administration invite all Prairie du Chien Public School staff members and their families to a Thank You Picnic for Ye Zongxiu (Lisa) and Yazhi Zhang (Julia) on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at noon at St. Feriole Island South Pavilion. 

Please RSVP to Bridget Wright ( by noon on May 9, 2012.  This way we can make sure there is enough food for everyone.

Click here to see invitation

Changes to the BadgerCare+ program

District Administrator's have been sent the following: 

Our main message is to continue to encourage families to enroll in BadgerCare+, as there continues to be no change in eligibility for children. Included in the DHS statement was a comment that there are no changes for children currently on BadgerCare+. 

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced these and other changes to the BadgerCare+ program that will go into affect on July 1, 2012.

Some adults who receive BadgerCare+ may see an increase or new monthly premium payment if their income is above 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Some families who have access to coverage through an employer will no longer be eligible. Other families, depending on how much of the cost is covered by the employer, will remain eligible but will be subjected to higher premiums. An adult who receives BadgerCare+ must report any income changes within 10 days with documented proof.

Families currently enrolled in BadgerCare+ will receive a letter this month outlining the changes. A letter will also be sent in mid-June that will provide details about the changes as they specifically affect each family. If a family has had a recent move, it is important to assure that any mailings are sent to the correct address. Updates to addresses can be completed online at or by calling the toll free, regional phone number for your county as follows:

Richland and Sauk Counties: 1-888-794-5556 TTY: 711 (Capital Consortium)
Crawford, Grant, Green, Iowa and Lafayette Counties: 1-888-794-5780 TTY: 711 (Southern Consortium)
Vernon County: 1-888-627-0430 TTY: 711 (Western Regional Office for Economic Assistance)

For more information about the announced changes:
DHS updates page
Journal Sentinel article
Wisconsin State Journal article
Wisconsin Council Children and Families' blog--

Jean Nothnagel
Covering Kids & Families-Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

CESA 3 Keynotes

Pertussis Update

According to our local health authorities (Gloria Wall) and the state lab, we have only one other documented case after the initial reported case; a total of two cases. All the other potential cases who have been tested have come back negative.

Thanks to all who got on top of this, especially our school nurse Karen Reilly. Getting information out was important and effective. School sessions were never disrupted and all cases, and possible cases, were dealt with swiftly and professionally.

Thank you to all students, parents, and staff who used the information wisely and appropriately - great job to all!