As my eight loyal readers can attest I do not go out of my way to defend the Duluth Schools. On the other hand I do try to frame issues so that the general reader can appreciate what is, or at least what I think is, going on.
The brief story about the Esko schools that tied low costs to their high math scores deserves a little more reflection. Esko’s math program did enjoy a significant financial boost as well as a technological boost pushed by an eager teacher:
This email was sent out to one or more journalists in the wake of the KBJR’s story:
Currently, Esko Public Schools ranks third-to-last in per pupil spending for public schools in the State of Minnesota and is one of the lowest funded districts in Minnesota for 2012-2013. Despite low funding and a lack of extra services for students, Esko’s sixth grade students have placed in the top seventh percentile of schools for math in Minnesota as shown by MCA scores for the past several years. Through an internal school grant, Brian Wickenheiser, a sixth grade math and science teacher at Winterquist Elementary in Esko, MN was able to secure Turning Technologies’ ResponseCard NXT clickers and TurningPoint assessment software for the entire sixth grade. The ResponseCard NXT clickers and instant assessment data allow Brian to keep his lessons flexible and provide group and individual assistance during the students’ learning. Brian’s teaching has become responsive because he now knows each student’s progress throughout the day.
May I send you the case study explaining Esko’s rise to the top with the help of Turning Technologies for a possible story? Brian Wickenheiser and Turning Tech are available for interviews.
the Duluth district is a lot bigger with different schools with students of different socioeconomic backgrounds and many different teachers. Esko is a small district with fairly uniform students. Its sort of Hermantown’s Hermantown. They have always done well on testing if recall correctly and they have not been saddled with Duluth’s Red Plan. Furthermore it is obvious that some serious money went into the equipment that is being spent on the math program. It doesn’t seem as though their success was accomplished on the cheap.
There will be no shortcuts for Duluth that will save money – not with the bloated Red Plan classes we have.