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Response to the Press Release Titled Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators Survey Shows Walker’sReforms are Working
By Dave Michlig
Most of us have seen the November 10, 2011 press release from Governor Walker’s officeentitled “Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators Survey Shows Walker’sReforms are Working”. While the numbers they tout in this release are essentially correct, theyare misleading. There are also numbers they did not include in this release, perhapsintentionally because they would not support their assertions. What I’ve done is take the rawdata from the survey, question by question, to come up with responses when someone citesthese results.
Calculation Errors:
Wisconsin has a couple of different types of school districts. Most arewhat we consider normal (K-12). There are others called union or unified districts that haveseparate districts for their K-8 and high school. An example is Lakeland, which is a union highschool that consists of I believe four elementary districts, Lac du Flambeau, North Lakeland,Minocqua-Hazelhurst-Lake Tomahawk, and Woodruff-Arbor Vitae. The responses includeddata from LdF, NL, MHLT, and Lakeland as four separate items in the total of 353 districts whoresponded. If the data was related to elementary school items, the high school data had NA inthe response and vice versa.In looking at the data, there were two errors I noted when they calculated the percentages.1.Numerator of the fractions – This was calculated by subtracting the number of “Yes”answers from the total 353 responding districts. Therefore, the numerator interpretedthe “NA” answers as “No” answers.2.Denominator of the fractions. When the percentages were calculated, they were donestrictly by dividing by 353.There were some “NA” responses in some K-12 district data as well. However, since we do notknow whether the question is really not applicable for the particular district or it was just notanswered, the “NA” responses should have been excluded from both parts of the fraction. Irecalculated the percentages using this premise. It did not change the overall result of any item.I also found minor math errors that did not materially change the figures. However, they raisemy level of suspicion of the accuracy of the data that was entered. Without having theindividual surveys to review, I assumed the data as entered is correct.Here is a question by question look at the data:
Question 1 – Listed below are four staff positions. Write the number of retirements,layoffs, nonrenewals/resignations and new hires that took place for the 2011-12 schoolyear in the appropriate spaces. Then indicate the net gain or loss. The four staff positions listed were: Teacher Aides, Other Support Staff, Teachers, Administrators.
Per the Press Release:

The release cited three items related to this question “new teacher hires outnumber layoffs and non-renewals by 1,213 positions”, “the three districts with the mostteacher layoffs (Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Janesville) didn’t adopt the reforms put in place byGovernor Walker”, and “the Milwaukee, Kenosha and Janesville school districts account for 68% of teacher layoffs for the entire state, but only contain 12.8% of Wisconsin students”.
My Observation:
The 1,213 number is in total, not just teachers, but includes all four staff positions. It also does not include retirements. Many of the new teacher hires were a directresult of the retirements. If you factor the 4,581 retirements, there were actually 3,368
less
positions at the school districts that responded.

They singled out the Milwaukee, Kenosha, and Janesville layoffs indicating that they didn’t“adopt the reforms.” However, there was no question that asked that question. How manyother districts did not do the same? Some could not because of contracts that were in placethat covered the current school year. Being able to sort the data by this important questioncould provide interesting data. I calculated the teacher layoffs to be 67%. They had a matherror in their calculation. They also indicate that these three districts contain 12.8% of thestudents. This must be the entire state, not just the districts who answered the survey.However, these districts represent 17.1% of the students of the districts who answered thesurvey.Because of its size and the extraordinarily high numbers of teacher layoffs, the inclusion of Milwaukee skews these statistics greatly. It has three times as many students as Madison, thesecond largest district. Milwaukee accounted for 51% of the teacher layoffs of the districtsresponding to the survey. If you take the top 10 responding districts in enrollment and excludeMilwaukee, these nine districts account for 21% of the students but only 19% of the teacher layoffs. Also, the non-Milwaukee responding districts account for 87% of the students but only49% of the teacher layoffs. Interestingly, the non-Milwaukee districts had 95% of the teacher retirements and 99% of the new teacher hires.
Question 2 – If you have fewer administrators this year, indicate the positions lost with acheck mark. They listed: Principal, Asst. Principal, Curriculum Director, AssessmentCoordinator, and Other (specify).Per the Press Release:
There was no response in the press release.
My Observation:
Principals – 23, Asst. Principals – 15, Curriculum Directors – 11, AssessmentCoordinators – 5, Other – 45. These are not the number of positions lost. They are the number of districts that checked a particular position. Among the cited “other” positions lost wereSpecial Education Directors (6 responded), athletic directors, technology directors, and pupilservices. There were also some that indicated a reduction in hours.
Question 3 – Overall, did you increase class sizes in grades K-3 in 2011-2012?Per the Press Release:

75% of districts have the same K-3 class sizes or are decreasingthem.
My Observation:
Districts have made the choice to have minimal effect on the elementaryschool students. See the results of question #8. Also, the question did not have a “decrease”option. Therefore, it should not be in the statement. This is an example of where the “NA”responses were included in both portions of the fraction. The fraction is actually 74% whenremoving these.
Question 4 – Overall, did you increase class sizes in grades 4-6 in 2011-2012?Per the Press Release:

67% of districts for grades 4-6 are keeping the same class size or decreasing them.
My Observation:
Districts have made the choice to have minimal effect on the elementaryschool students. See the results of question #8. Also, the question did not have a “decrease”option. Therefore, it should not be in the statement. This is an example of where the “NA”responses were included in both portions of the fraction. The fraction is actually 66% whenremoving these.
Question 5 – Were there increases in student fees?

Per the Press Release:

78% of districts are keeping student fees the same or decreasingthem.
My Observation:
Districts define student fees differently. Some may include participation feesfor athletics or other extracurricular activities as a “student fee” while others may not. Another question should have asked if there was an increase participation fees for athletics and other extracurricular activities. Also, the question did not have a “decrease” option. Therefore, itshould not be in the statement.
Question 6 – Were sports programs reduced or eliminated? If yes, please identify thesports that were reduced or eliminated.Per the Press Release:

92% of districts are keeping sports programs the same or expandingthem.
My Observation:
Increased participation fees may have kept the sports programs from beingreduced or eliminated. Many schools have booster clubs who may be helping fund theseactivities. Also, the question did not have a “expand” option. Therefore, it should not be in thestatement.
Question 7 – Were other extracurricular programs reduced or eliminated? If yes, pleaseidentify the programs.Per the Press Release:

There was no response in the press release.
My Observation:
92% of districts are keeping other extracurricular programs. Again, as withsports programs, are there additional participation fees to keep these from being reduced or eliminated?
Question 8 – For Each area below, indicate if overall there were staff reductions for the2011-12 school year. If you do not offer the program or service, mark not applicable(NA). They then list 12 areas (Technology support, Library/Media Center, Social work,Guidance, Psychology, Gifted and Talented, Special Education, At Riskprograms/services, Drug & Alcohol Abuse programs, Early Childhood (4K, Head Start),English-Language Learner programs, Reading Coordination).

Per the Press Release:
The press release listed something similar to “89% of school districtshave the same number or increased the number of technology support staff” for all 12 of theseareas. The percentages ranged from 73% to 96%.
My Observation:
While they throw out a large number of statistics with large numbers, I findthe summary statistics for these categories more telling than the detail by area. Of the 350districts that reported having at least one of these 12 areas, 237 (68%) reported a decrease inat least one of the areas listed, 151 (43%) of which reported a decrease in more than one area.Nine districts reported decreases in six or more areas. While no specific area was dramaticallycut statewide, school districts made some choices of what cuts for 2011-2012 they needed tomake based on their individual school district.Also, the question did not have an “increase” option. Therefore, it should not be in thestatement. This is another example of where the “NA” responses were included in both portionsof the fraction.
Question 9 – For the 2011-12 school year, is your district using federal stimulus dollars("Education Jobs") to deal with budget shortfalls?Per the Press Release:
There was no response in the press release.
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