The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

Blog Rules

Comments should be respectful and pertain to the topic posted. Comments about personnel matters should be made directly to the administrators responsible. Blog moderators reserve the right to remove any comment determined not in keeping with these guidelines.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

An example of unwanted side effects of NCLB

The NCLB law is a federal prescription for supposedly "what ails" American schools. But this medicine has unintended side effects. (We will assume for the time being anyway, that they are unintended.)

Here is one principal's account of the side effects of NCLB on his school.

I am a principal at a small alternative school in Alaska. We have not met AYP (adequate yearly progress - which means increasing the percentage of students passing the tests until they reach 100%) for three years. Our students come to us after failing in the regular school system. They have low skills, most are low socio-economic status, and have a history of failure in school. Last year we would have made AYP if I had kicked out of school two low performing Alaska Native Students. The extra dropouts would not have made us miss AYP and two fewer "Not Proficient" subgroup members would have resulted in our making AYP.This year our Education Department is offering financial incentives to schools making progress as measured by NCLB. I think if I expel 3 low performing Native students and 2 low performing Caucasian students I will qualify my staff for bonuses. This is certainly not the intent of NCLB but it has become a statistics game. If we fail to meet AYP again I run the risk of losing my job and having my staff transferred. This year I had two openings in my building. I had two applicants, both were retired teachers that had worked in this building, and they were rehired. The State of Alaska has petitioned the U.S. Commissioner of Education to allow the state to use a "growth model" for determining if schools make AYP. This would allow schools to focus on improving the scores of all students rather than focusing on a predetermined level of proficiency. It has been denied...twice. For a school like mine, a "growth model" makes tremendous sense. My primary goal is to keep these students IN school. They have already proven that they have low skills and we need more time to have any hope of improving those skills. Even if we cannot get them to a level of "proficiency" or graduation we may be able to improve their skills and they should be better citizens giving a benefit to society.


Let us hope for everyone's sake, that no one, including Doug fall prey to the "statistics game" and start counting numbers instead of students. A growth model makes sense. At least in a growth model schools are held accountable for how far students have come and not where they start!!

We have students entering kindergarten who can read "Little House on the Prairie" and some who can't talk yet.

The one child could probably be ignored completely and still pass the state tests later, the other child might require tremendous resources and never be able to pass the test. The current accountability piece of the law does not distinguish between the two. A growth model could.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

School delay announcements

Most of you know that this year we reduced the number of media outlets we contact about school delays and closings.

We currently contact WAWC 103.5 fm, WRSW 107.3 fm, Channel 15, Channel 22 and post the information first on The Wawascene. Other stations will carry it but they are gathering their information from other sources. Because one station may be owned by other stations or companies, they will sometimes spread the information to others. However, the ones listed are those we have been contacting personally.

Some of you have asked what will happen now that Bill Dixon sold WAWC and it is no longer locally owned.

The answer is...hopefully nothing will change. They will still carry the information on school closings although I won't be able hassle Bill at 5:50 AM just before he goes on the news anymore. Rats.

I guess we will have to have a few of them before we know how that goes.

I hear the warm weather is leaving us and snowfall may be in the forecast this week.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Grades VS Test Scores

Susie comes home with her report card and is so excited. She was on the honor roll again! Three report cards in a row! Her family pats her on the back and gives her praise. A day later her ISTEP scores come in the mail. She failed to pass the test again. Mom and Dad raise one eyebrow and look at each other.

What is wrong here? This is a common phenomenon across the country.

The Washington Post discusses it here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Why the graduation rate is not the inverse of the dropout rate

The Indy Star leads its editorial page today with the misleading headline "These steps can lead to fewer dropouts."

It then proceeds to link the new graduation rate formula that schools are using to the implication that this new graduation rate also reveals the dropout rate.

Here is what I mean. Wawasee Schools is anticipating a public release showing their graduation rate under the new formula to be 70% or so.

Does that make the dropout rate 30%? No - but everyone will think so.

This 30% includes GED students, students who took longer than 4 years, students who moved without a forwarding address, special education students who completed 4 years of school but had handicapping conditions that prevented them getting a diploma, and even foreign exchange students without a proper document from their exchange service.

The true "dropout" rate is really around 7% - not 30%.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wednesday Wonderings

Did you ever wonder why?

1. Did you ever wonder why so many WCSC buses run around half empty half the time?
This might come as a surprise to the mathematically challenged :-) ... but 100% of Wawasee's buses run at 50% capacity half the time. We had a plan to create 100% efficiency 100% of the time but the parents didn't want to drive their kids to the bus driver's house!

2. Did you ever wonder why Wawasee has the second highest property values per student in the state but has always ranked in the bottom quarter in revenue per student?
Due to high property wealth here, a low tax rate generates a lot of money so the state withholds state revenue and sends it to schools with higher "needs." While our "needy" students are increasing, they must not be increasing as fast as other school districts.

3. Did you ever wonder why property taxes are unpopular but school superintendents are reluctant to support getting rid of it in favor of other taxes?
The property tax is a stable, if unpopular tax. Students are always with us and always need education no matter what the economy is doing. If we switch to sales taxes and income taxes to fund schools, then revenue streams are erratic and float up and down with the economy. While a business can layoff employees during a downtime, schools always have students whether their parents have jobs or not. It's hard to "layoff" students to make ends meet and outsourcing students to third world countries doesn't appear popular either!

4. Did you ever wonder why the school can afford athletic programs but it scrimps and saves in other areas?
Athletic programs are entirely self - supporting except for the coaches stipends and some large facility expenditures. Cutting athletics will not help the instructional program in any way.

5. Did you ever wonder why a school district can build a new building but it can't increase personnel to staff it?
Facilities are paid for from a different fund and the school cannot transfer building project money over to the General Fund where personnel costs come from. is true, your school system could conceivably build a "Taj Mahal" but not raise taxes to hire more teachers. The school boards have a lot of control over Debt Service Funds to pay for buildings but almost no control over the General Fund to pay for staffing.

Have you ever "wondered" about a school issue? E-mail it to me (link is on the sidebar) and I will make a list and try to answer some frequently asked questions about schools.

Have a great Thanksgiving Break!!!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NCLB Critics

Susan Ohanian is a writer and outspoken critic of No Child Left Behind. The Tennessean recently posted an article describing a few of her views and then posted forum responses. The actual newspaper post is linked by clicking on the title.

I found the diversity in views on NCLB to be fascinating.

Here is one forum response from a teacher:

I am a 5th grade reading teacher at a Title 1 school. 78% of our student body is on free/reduced lunch. Our students come from public housing and two low income trailer parks. It is not unusual for our students to have one or both parents in jail or on drugs. In addition, in my class are a number of hispanic students who speak NO English.(they will be required to take the same exam as the other students in the spring-and their scores will count against our school) Also, we employ a family resource person at our school whose primary job is to proved clothing and school supplies for our students. Yes, school supplies- our students are sent to school at the beginning of the year without notebooks, paper, pencils, etc. The school through donations provides them. After my "school day" ends, I stay(along with 4 other teachers) until 4:45 helping students do the homework I have assigned-after we have provided a snack. This is a free service. I feel certain that a majority of adults in this state including those who have posted on this site could not test proficient on the reading portion of the 5th grade TCAP. Could you correctly identify the implied theme of a passage? Could you identify a metaphor, hyperbole, personification... or author's implied reason for writing or intended audience? When is the last time you had to approach a poem analytically? How are your sentence combining skills? Could you correctly place the semi-colon or subordinate conjugation in two independent clauses? How is your writing? In Feb. our students take an expository writing exam. They are given a "prompt"..."imagine you are a rain drop..describe your day"..and are to write 45 mins..demonstrating correct mechanics, expressive and vivid vocabulary along with great imagination... People who are so quick to criticize schools and educators have NO IDEA what goes on inside those buildings or what a standardized test expects of our students. In closing, the problem is not in our schools. The problem is at home. There are too many parents who do not parent (did I mention that we provide parenting classes). They can barely meet the basic needs of their children. They are sent to school with too many adult and worldly things on their young minds ( the police got my daddy/mama last night, older sibling providing the caretaking for the younger, we don't have any lights..our electricity is off),etc..... Interestingly enough, there is NO PARENTAL accountability in NCLB...NONE . The schools are not failing..the family has failed...and until that is addressed all the legislation, testing , and finger pointing in the world is not going to fix the real problem.

Monday, November 20, 2006

New graduation rate formulas

The old graduation rate formulas allowed schools too much leeway in defining what a dropout or a graduate really was. Therefore the statistics were meaningless in a statewide context. The new graduation rate formulas may clean up the definitions - but do they really provide a true picture of what most community people think of when they hear the word "dropout?"

Wawasee had two foreign exchange students last year that did not have a certain document from the foreign exchange placement service. Under the new graduation rate formula, Wawasee has to count them as a "dropout."

Karen Franciso, writing for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in Sunday's paper, provides some local and statewide context for the graduation rate formulas being used by Indiana.

Lowell Rose, a respected researcher, consultant and admitted public school defender, points out in Karen's article that if there are ANY dropouts - it's too many - but the Indiana numbers do not rise to the level of crisis.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Funny #2

A guy is in a bar with his dog watching the Ohio State-Michigan game on Saturday. After being down two touchdowns to Ohio State, Michigan finally kicks a field goal for their first score. The dog starts barking and wagging his tail.

The bartender says "That's funny, your dog must be a Michigan fan."

Michigan happens to score a touchdown on it's next possession and the dog starts barking and doing back flips.

The bartender says "That's amazing! What will he do if Michigan wins?!" The guy says, "I don't know, I've only had him for 3 years."


supplied by Denny Duncan who also happens to be a Cleveland Browns fan but he doesn't admit it much in public any more.

Friday's Funny

I had been an elementary principal for four years when the school district I was working in lost their Assistant Superintendent. I replaced her and moved my office over the central administration building.

The next school year I was up walking the halls of my "old" elementary school. I passed two first graders standing by their lockers.

One little boy looked up and said, "Hi, Mr. Stock!" The other little boy who was new to the school, looked at his new friend and asked, "Who is that?"

The little guy says, "That is Mr. Stock. He was our principal last year. Now he is a secretary or something!"

Aren't kids great. He knew exactly who runs the schools!

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

So what would a dropout free school look like?

The last blog post has a couple of interesting comments about dropouts and dropout programs such as our Wawasee Academy. Let's think outside the box.

So, here are a few questions.

What would a dropout free school look like? What would they do different? How would a dropout free school be organized? What would teachers do differently? What alternatives should we provide to our current alternatives?

A recent workshop I held with teachers uncovered a torrent of frustrations building over the increase in percentages of students who are more apathetic, unmotivated and unwilling to put in the work the state is now requiring.

SO...How do we connect emotionally and psychologically with students who do not see the value in what schools provide?

Here are the rules for commenting:

1. Be kind.
2. No names or accusations.
3. Describe your ideas positively as opposed to describing what we AREN'T doing.

Schools are open to new ways of doing things..but the limits on funding, staffing and current state requirements and accountability rules have mentally gridlocked us.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Indy Star on Dropouts

The Indy Star today ran an editorial (again) on the issue of high school dropouts.

Now, I will be the first to agree that there are far too many students that drop out of high school. But read the editorial carefully and notice the use of the words "graduating on time."

In the Star's world, if a student doesn't graduate with their age group they are a "dropout." The official dropout formulas that will be used in the future will allow schools to adjust for those that come around and get it together and earn a diploma.

I wonder what the dropout rates will be when passing the Core 40 Algebra I test becomes the "gatekeeper" course for high school education?

Currently 23.7% of Indiana students can pass that test.

It will depend on what the state does when it sets the "cut score" for passing.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Some of you have heard the news that Bill Dixon has sold WAWC and have wondered what Wild Bill is up to now. He is running a new web site called Bill is streaming video over the internet at

His first upload contains taped interview segments with the student athletes who won awards at the Wawasee Fall Athletic Award Program.

He also provides athletic information about events and will also provide community information as well.

This site is not connected with Wawasee Schools in any way.

Some of you are now wondering..."Isn't it a violation of privacy for Bill to post pictures, interviews and even game video clips of students without parent permission?"

No. The courts have determined that when student athletes go out for a sport they are knowingly giving up any rights to privacy by competing.

So...Bill can video tape to his heart's long as he doesn't show up in Discrete Mathematics class to tape a lecture!!!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Political musings....

Election surprises everywhere. It seems like Americans and Hoosiers in general are pretty much fed up with a lot of things.

List of choices:

aggressive partisanship that often negates thoughtful voting by individual party members
gas prices
stagnant wages
rising health care costs
the disappearing middle class
massive poverty in the richest nation in the world
negative campaigning
political corruption
no coherent immigration policy
immoral behavior on the part of some elected officials
arrogant, elitist governance that ignores the people
BMV closings
selling of America to foreign entities
lack of decent paying - low skill jobs is what Democrats are going to soon learn. It is a lot harder to govern than it is to complain about those in charge.

My personal opinion is that is better for America when one party is NOT in charge of every branch of government. When there is balance of power they have to work together, compromise and share the credit and the blame. When one party controls they flaunt their power in an arrogant fashion and get things done by enforcing one party discipline on their members. The other party sits back and takes pot shots and blames the other guy.

Well, we'll see what the next several years brings in America.

I believe one of the greatest things America should be proud of is the organized and civilized way these transitions in power come - each party ultimately accepting the will of the American people. This is not so in much of the world.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wawasee School Board Election Results

I have been asked to post the election results so here goes...

District 1 Votes %
Lydia Stech Clark 1829 43.19
Mike D. Wilson 2406 56.81

District 2
Mary Lou Dixon 3731 100.00

District 3
Marion Acton 1795 38.8
Becky Linnemeier 2825 61.15

New board members take the oath of office in January of 2007 and serve 4 year terms.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Did you vote today?

You know that is the only way to stop those vicious ad campaigns - vote and put an end to this nonsense.

Monday, November 06, 2006

More Charters

The Star reports today that there have been 10 more charter schools approved.

It's interesting that the two main reasons charters and school choice are promoted publicly are that they are "better" than the public schools and they are"cheaper."

Well, the last two major studies have shown that charters are no better than public schools academically when demographics and social economic status are taken into account. In other words - compare apples to apples.

And, the September 2006 Indiana Department of Education report titled, "General Fund Summary of Expenditures" shows that 8 of the 10 most expensive Indiana schools on a per/pupil expenditure basis are all Charter Schools.

The highest is the KIPP Indianapolis College Preparatory School at $14,370 per pupil.

In 2005 Wawasee Schools was $5,819 per/pupil.

However, one good thing about how Indiana has implemented charter schools is that they have to abide by the same accountability rules, they just get more freedom in hiring and curriculum areas.

Given that, Let's just give public schools the same freedom as charters.

Nah - that doesn't fit the real agenda that undergirds the conservative movement that fuels the public school choice and charter agenda - limiting the political clout of the NEA.

Friday, November 03, 2006

New ISTEP tests are coming (but it will be awhile)

Developing new ISTEP tests was the discussion topic at the State Board of Education Meeting Wednesday, November 1, 2006. This duty was handed to the State Board by the 2006 Indiana General Assembly.

Of special interest to parents and educators were the following points:

The test would be moved to as late a date as possible during the second half of the school year.

The high school graduation exam (GQE) will be a different test. The new GQE would consist of end-of-course assessments in Algebra I and English 10.

End-of-course assessments for CORE 40 would be given in English10, Algebra I, Biology I, and US History.

Wow - It looks like a future student who can't pass an end-of-course Algebra I test, can't graduate.

Currently only 23.7 % of the state's 10th graders are passing the Core 40 end-of-course Algebra Assessment. It's all about the cut score. They will set the passing score based on how many they want to fail and how many they want to pass. There is no stone tablet from Moses that tells us how much Algebra someone needs to know in order to be successful in life.

But I do know one thing, it is harder to be successful without a high school diploma.

Here is Friday's Funny, contributed by Wawasee teacher Sara Harrison.

My sister and I were driving in the car with my 9 year old niece. We were discussing the State Board's passing of ISTEP legislation. Being adult talk, we were unaware that she was listening.

She piped up with "Give it in the fall or no test at all."

My sister and I were laughing so hard. Her explanation was that students who needed help would be unable to get the help they need.

Something tells me we should listen more to the children.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Help Your Daughter Think Realistically About the Future $$$!

The Executive Director of the Indiana Commission for Women, Sharon Langlotz, joined us on October 31 for our N.E.W (Nontraditional Employment Workshop for Women) annual workshop.

Ms. Langlotz shared some interesting facts with me about working women:

Plan on working. Over 71% of all moms with kids under 18 are working (26 million moms nationwide)

National leaders take credit for boosting the economy since the 1970s, but increases can be attributed directly to women joining the workforce and adding to the GDP

One of the concerns of the Commission for Women is the wage gap in Indiana between men and women’s pay. Comparing the wages of all Indiana women against all Indiana men, women make 72¢ for every $1.00 a man makes (that’s up from 68¢ in 2004). Nationally, the average is a little better at 77¢ on the dollar.

One explanation for the gap is that women tend to be over-represented in lower paying jobs.

The only way to close this gap is to ensure that our daughters gain the education and skills and training they need to compete and move into higher paying jobs in industries across the board.

We had 21 non-traditional occupations represented at the N.E.W conference. All represented well-paying jobs and most did not require a four year college degree – but all required some post-secondary training or apprenticeship.

Just FYI - the current female workforce in Indiana – 25-65 years olds – looks like this:

*23% have a degree beyond high school
*82% have a high school diploma
*18% (362,000) have no diploma or degree

A high school counselor once wisely said “look for a job where you will be happy”. I would like to add an addendum to that; “happy” is sweeter at $22.00 an hour than it is at $8.00!

So……. talk with your daughters about different occupations and check out what those jobs might pay. The doors have been opened for our young women – we just need to make sure they understand where they are, and are prepared to walk through them.

Contributed by Sharon Langlotz, Executive Director of the Indiana Commission on Women

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

WMD's discovered!!

In an amazing turn of events, WMD's have apparently been discovered right here in America.

These Weapons of Mass Delusion (WMD's) are actually negative political campaign ads that result in American's believing the worst about every possible candidate running for office.

These smear campaigns ultimately help the candidate doing the best smear job get elected but the side effect is that Americans continually lose respect for politicians and ultimately the democratic process.

It's a shame that when WMD's (Weapons of Mass Delusion) were finally discovered they were actually tools of American political advisors whose main role is to get their candidate elected by any means possible, even if it means America loses.

Or... am I the only one tired of negative political ads about how the other guy is a jerk and a moron?

How about a simple ad that says this is what I believe and this is what I will do if elected. Then we can throw out the ones that say one thing and do another.

Unfortunately, negative ads work - but only for the candidate elected, not for the rest of America.