Ending America's Dropout Crisis Part 1: Middle School Intervention That Works April 19, 2012
A look at what can be done at the middle school level to keep students in school through high school and beyond. We will profile middle school leaders, teachers, students and programs that have turned troubled middle schools into models of success.
Ending America's Dropout Crisis Part 1: Middle School Intervention That Works
WELCOME TO IDEAS IN ACTION, A TELEVISION SERIES ABOUT IDEAS AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES. I'M JIM GLASSMAN.
THIS WEEK - WE BEGIN A TWO-PART EXAMINATION OF THE HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT CRISIS IN AMERICA. IT'S PART OF THE CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING'S PROGRAMMING INITIATIVE: AMERICAN GRADUATE - LET'S MAKE IT HAPPEN, DESIGNED TO HELP LOCAL COMMUNITIES ADDRESS THE NATION'S DROPOUT CRISIS.
EVERY YEAR, 1.2 MILLION AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS DO NOT GRADUATE ON SCHEDULE, AND MORE THAN ONE IN FOUR FAIL TO EARN A DIPLOMA. IN TODAY'S GLOBAL ECONOMY, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT AMERICA IMPROVES THE RATE OF HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION SO THAT STUDENTS EMERGE CAREER AND COLLEGE READY.
WE'LL TAKE A LOOK AT TWO ELEMENTS KEY TO SUCCESSFUL EDUCATIONAL TURNAROUND: TARGETED MIDDLE SCHOOL INTERVENTION AND EFFECTIVE SCHOOL LEADERSHIP. WE'LL TALK TO EXPERTS AND VISIT SCHOOLS THAT ARE TAKING CONCRETE STEPS TO INCREASE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES.
THE TOPIC THIS WEEK: MIDDLE SCHOOL INTERVENTION THAT WORKS. THIS IS IDEAS IN ACTION.
THEY'RE CALLED "DROP OUT FACTORIES" - AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS WHERE FEWER THAN 60% OF STUDENTS MAKE IT TO GRADUATION DAY. TODAY, ABOUT ONE OUT OF EVERY TEN HIGH SCHOOLS FIT THE DESCRIPTION. THEY ARE CLUSTERED IN LARGE CITIES AND POOR RURAL AREAS ALIKE. AND FOR THE MORE THAN TWO MILLION STUDENTS ATTENDING THESE DROP OUT FACTORIES, THE OUTLOOK IS GRIM.
Currently, the nation has a graduation rate of right about 75 percent. Which means that there's about a million kids a year that are not getting their diplomas on time. There's four million in the Class of 2010. Three million got diplomas in June. If you're in your 20s, don't have a high school degree, don't have a work history, are you ever going to work? Probably not. But every year, we're putting a million kids towards that future.
FOR MINORITY STUDENTS, THE PROBLEM IS EVEN MORE ACUTE, WITH A NATIONAL GRADUATION RATE OF ONLY 50 PERCENT FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN AND HISPANIC STUDENTS.
Really the intersection is between poverty and dropping out. But because poverty rates are higher among minorities, we then get higher minority dropout rates.
Just because a kid is poor, or their parents are poor, doesn't mean that they don't have a lot of ability, that they don't have a lot of potential, because they do. Poverty, economic-- inequality, other kinds of inequalities mitigate against those kids having opportunities. It's not the ability that they lack. It's the opportunity.
RESEARCH SHOWS THAT MAKING SURE STUDENTS GET THOSE OPPORTUNITIES DURING MIDDLE SCHOOL IS CRITICAL TO INCREASING GRADUATION RATES. BY HIGH SCHOOL, IT IS DIFFICULT TO TURN MOST FAILING OR STRUGGLING STUDENTS AROUND.
The best news is that I think this country has finally woken up to the dropout crisis. And so a lot of attention is given to early warning indicators, particularly in middle school immediately capturing when a student is beginning to, one, miss a lot more class, number two fail a class, or number three, have disciplinary problems.
WE START BY LOOKING AT ONE MIDDLE SCHOOL IN DALLAS, TEXAS THAT IS BOOSTING ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT BY USING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM.
THIS IS THE THOMAS C. MARSH MIDDLE SCHOOL AWARD-WINNING ROTC DRILL TEAM.
IT IS ONE OF THE SCHOOL'S HALLMARK PROGRAMS - DESIGNED TO INSTILL DISCIPLINE AND HIGH EXPECTATIONS IN STUDENTS FROM THE SURROUNDING DISADVANTAGED AND LARGELY MINORITY COMMUNITY.
We give all students that enter into this building a chance regardless of their background, their income level or their ethnicity. They have the opportunity to be the very best. And we insure our teachers with the skills and materials and to do so.
One of the reasons why we're one of the best schools in Dallas is due to our test scores, from last year. In writing we were 92% passing, reading we were 90%, math 90%, science 81%.
BUT SUCH ACADEMIC SUCCESS DIDN'T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT.
In 1999, it wasn't the best of place to work. Lots of gang activity. Lots of bullying, fighting, you know. Our scores were low. We were I guess-- you know, everything you would think of a big, large urban school district, public school kids. I guess that's what, you know, if you wanted to sum it up.
CORPORAL DAVID BATES WAS HIRED IN 1999 SPECIFICALLY TO ESTABLISH AN ROTC PROGRAM AS PART OF AN OVERALL PLAN TO BOOST STUDENT PERFORMANCE. GETTING STUDENTS ENGAGED IN SCHOOL IS A BIG PART OF THAT EFFORT.
We started with nothing. And then we started fund-raisin'. We started getting uniforms. We started getting, you know, materials. I started writing my own curriculum.
Four or five years later, we had all kinds of gear, and we started winning competitions. That's when we got a little bit of-- people-- "What's going on over there?" A typical school day okay always starts off with you know, we call to attention and we tell them to take their seats. They all sit down the same way. Procedures are huge, the way we pass out folders, you know, the way I go over to calendar every single day, the way we take notes, the way we sit, the way we stand, the way we walk. Once I get that regimen in, it becomes real easy.
I teach-- first aid-- land navigation, time management, organizational skills, history. I do what's called effective Army writing, and basically its just good writing skills. (LAUGH) I-- I-- I call it that, and the kids think it's, (LAUGH), you know, something different. But-- but really it's g-- just good writing.
Kids who are involved tend to have better grades and go on to graduate from college. So we do encourage for them to do something besides just coming to school.
I joined ROTC because I wanted to have the right to say that I was part of some of the trophies that are up there.
When the kids perform for me, they perform at a high level and they don't want to let me down, so when I just put little things on the table like, "We do better. Your scores need to be better. You better do this, you better do that," they don't want to let me down. It's been okay not to pay their bills. It's been okay, you know, not to get a referral. It's been okay. You know, at home, that's what it's been, it's just been okay. Well, that average, okay stuff is not good enough here.
COACH BATES SETS HIGH EXPECTATIONS, EXPECTATIONS THAT MIRROR THOSE OF THE SCHOOL AT LARGE.
We expect for students to have A's or B's on report cards. We expect them for them to go to tutoring if they need help. We expect for them to read. We expect for them to do science fair projects. We expect for them to be dressed appropriately for school and to have great behavior. So anything that we want them to do we expect for them to do at their very best.
The reason I joined ROTC is because I liked, I like what the program does. It changes people life. What changed my life was-- from being out there in the street, like, just being bad, stuff like that. And once I came in here I learned discipline, how to treat people, how to respect people, how to respect my elders-- parents, why they're here for us, why they do so much for us. And we are going to do something for them when we grow up.
FOR SOME STUDENTS, MEETING THE EXPECTATIONS OF THE ROTC PROGRAM CAN BE QUITE A TRANSITION.
It's really up to them to see if they want to change because if you want to be in ROTC, you have to change. Like, you can't just be slacking off. You can't get in trouble in school. That'll leave a bad reputation on your school.
When I put my uniform on, it's an amazing feeling. I am proud of myself. And it makes it makes you feel like you're actually doing something for your community. And I think that's really important.
It's like the most exciting thing. You're out there and everyone sees you. And they don't just see you as this person. They see you as a cadet at Marsh Middle School.
The discipline-- is not what a lot of people think discipline is. Like, you know, the pushups and this, that and the other. It's the self-discipline, the discipline to do what is right when no one is looking. You know, that integrity starts to come into play with some of these kids, like they know that they got to do well or, you know, they'll hear it.
That spirit of community and a spirit of giving and leadership-- has kind of trickled down from the ROTC down into our core classes and into an overall campus environment.
ALL THE TEACHERS AT MARSH MIDDLE USE JOB ASSIGNMENTS TO TEACH STUDENTS RESPONSIBILITY AND TO GET THEM INVESTED IN THEIR OWN EDUCATION.
One way to make them engaged and feeling important is to give them a job or a task to do. And so if we are doing a collaborative activity in a group, you might make one the actual spokesperson; you might make another one the actual person that is collecting the supplies afterward and sort of cleaning up the area. And you might make one-- the actual writer, the person that's actually writing the data down.
The kids all have jobs. When you give a kid a job, he takes it seriously. But here, just passing out folders, not really a great job, but it's their job. They take it seriously.
IN THE ROTC PROGRAM JOBS RANGE FROM MENIAL TO MANAGEMENT.
My position here in JROTC, I'm commander officer. I lead morning. I lead every single day through all these students that come in here. They look up to me. And they would like to be there one day.
Especially being a CO...I learned that I could be a leader, no matter what it is, no matter what occasion it is. I learned how to be committed to something. And if you stay committed to something, you know you can achieve anything you want.
WHEN STUDENTS ARE ENGAGED AND WELL-BEHAVED, IT IS EASIER FOR TEACHERS TO DO THEIR JOBS.
If you're able to teach, then you're able to get results. If you're able to relate to the kids and there's less distractions with other outside of the classroom items-- then, you're able to get the results that you need.
IT'S BEEN 13 YEARS SINCE COACH BATES STARTED THE ROTC PROGRAM AT MARSH MIDDLE. HE'S GONE FROM 78 TO 317 STUDENTS - ABOUT A THIRD OF THE STUDENT BODY NOW PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM. AND WHILE HIS DRILL TEAM HAS WON NUMEROUS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, HE IS MOST PROUD OF HIS STUDENTS' HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATE OF 97%. BUT HE'S NOT DONE YET.
Everybody's high school graduation, high school graduation- well, I'm at the point now where I want to take it another step. The high school diploma, it's not-- it's not as good as it used to be. My hopes, and goals and dreams for the kids - 100% graduate from college.
We do talk about college a lot at our campus. Our campus has become a branding campus for college. If you walk around-- classrooms in this school you will see college bulletin boards, college projects. The students can wear college t-shirts, we have a college week and we take them on college field trips. We understand you're going to go to high school. So we just decided to take it a step further - to make sure that you're going to be a college graduate.
That's our way of showing them, "This is our culture. This is what we're-- we do at this school: We talk about going to college. So everything that we do, it's about going to college." When they know the end goal, they understand it. They know the reasoning behind why we do things the way we do them.
ROTC, helped me prepare to go to high school. Because-- as-- when I came into this program, I didn't know, you know, a lot of leadership skills. So when I walked in, right away I knew I was going to be a leader.
It really helped because it helped me to be disciplined and organized. And it just helps so much with my grades. I had A's all year, never C's. It was just because of the ROTC program.
The kids love Coach Bates. They respect him. They do not think he's too firm. They understand that he has a goal for them so they want to live up to that goal and they do not want to disappoint him. They truly love Coach Bates.
I like to think my students are the best in the world, and that's-- I know 100% of the time, they are the best in the world when they're with me. Sometimes (LAUGH) when they're not with me, they're not the best in (LAUGH) the world. But that's what we're-- that's what we work on every day.
The kids are special here at Marsh Middle School because they understand that, in spite of some of their circumstances, that it they will achieve. They understand that no matter what "I can make it. I will go to college."
NEXT... WE'LL VISIT A MIDDLE SCHOOL IN INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANNA, THAT IS USING INDIVIDUAL LEARNING DATA TO IDENTIFY STUDENTS WHO ARE STRUGGLING IN CLASS. THOSE STUDENTS THEN GET THE HELP THEY NEED TO EVENTUALLY GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL AND PREPARE FOR A SUCCESSFUL FUTURE. A NUMBER OF INGREDIENTS IS NEEDED TO INSURE STRONG MIDDLE SCHOOL ACADEMIC SUCCESS.
THE STAFF AT HARSHMAN MAGNET MIDDLE SCHOOL IN INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA HAS FOUND A WINNING COMBINATION TO HELP EVERY STUDENT SUCCEED REGARDLESS OF HIS OR HER BACKGROUND.
We have approximately 410 students in the school, of which 87 percent are free-and-reduced lunch. We have approximately 60 percent African-American, 30 percent Hispanic, ten percent white.
this school is a story of remarkable turnaround. And the principal and the faculty and the staff that the principal has gathered here has really, really embodied the whole sense of leading change, of establishing a sense of urgency, establishing a vision.
BEFORE PRINCIPAL GUFFIN ARRIVED IN 2009 MANY STAFF MEMBERS ASSUMED THAT THE MAJORITY POOR STUDENT BODY COULDN'T OR WOULDN'T LEARN. THE STUDENTS BELIEVED IT TOO.
Students were out in the hallways on a regular basis, not attentive in class. Heads were down. Some students wanted to go to sleep. There were fights in the building on a regular basis. We decided that that had to change.
THOSE CHANGES RESULTED IN SIGNIFICANT ACADEMIC IMPROVEMENT FOR HARSHMAN'S STUDENTS. IN PRINCIPAL GUFFIN'S FIRST YEAR, LANGUAGE AND MATH SCORES ON THE INDIANA STATE TEST IMPROVED BY 9%. IN HIS SECOND YEAR, THEY IMPROVED BY AN ADDITIONAL 28%.
IT WAS THE GREATEST IMPROVEMENT IN TEST SCORES BY ANY MIDDLE SCHOOL IN THE ENTIRE STATE.
SO HOW DID THE STUDENTS AND STAFF MAKE SUCH GREAT STRIDES IN JUST TWO YEARS?
ONE KEY FACTOR WAS COLLETING DATA ON EACH AND EVERY STUDENT TO DETERMINE WHERE HELP WAS NEEDED.
WHITNEY NEWTON IS IN CHARGE OF GATHERING, ANALYZING AND DISSEMINATING THE DATA.
The way that we look at students is each student is a holistic person. And we want information about them that will help us meet their needs across the board, everything from what they need in math to what they need at home and everything in between. So when we're collecting and analyzing data, we want lots of different pieces about each student.
we are constantly-- looking at how our students perform today and-- and how we can take that information as a teacher and 10:51:58:00 How can I take the information--as a teacher and use that to inform my instruction? What did they do? What do they know? Did they meet the objective that we planned for our classroom?
So it's really looking at the goal for the end of the year which is broken down into the goal at the end of each unit, which is broken down into the goal at the end of each day. Alright. What are we going to do to get there?
THE GOAL AT THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR IS TO PASS AN EXAM THAT MEASURES A STUDENT'S PROGRESS ON BASIC ACADEMIC SUBJECTS: IT'S CALLED "THE INDIANA STATEWIDE TESTING FOR EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS PLUS" - OTHERWISE KNOW AS ISTEP.
We'll take that ISTEP exam, look at where our deficiencies in our students were. And-- and we will use that to plan an overall plan for each nine weeks or each semester or the entire year.
We look at where students are strong, where students are weak. And how can we shore those areas up?
IN ADDITION TO UNIT EXAMS AND REPORT CARDS EVERY 9-WEEKS, THE STAFF AT HARSHMAN USES 6-QUESTION MINI-TESTS CALLED "SCRIMMAGES" TO BENCHMARK STUDENT PROGRESS.
So we're looking at, every three weeks, "Did they get the standards that were in the pacing guide from the previous three weeks? And how-- how are they doing with that?" As the coaches, we roll that data out to the teachers and give them a chance each month to look at that data as a team-- analyze it, put it together, separate it into different formats, whether it's by standard or by-- sub-group.
TEACHERS COLLECT DATA ON A DAILY BASIS USING WHAT HAS COME TO BE KNOWN AS AN "EXIT TICKET."
An exit ticket is basically, like, going over, like, basically what we learned in that class at that time. And we do it at the end of the class, like, before the bell rings.
It doesn't always have to be an official thing. But I always end a class with a wrap-up activity. it can be just asking questions, going into individual groups and asking individual kids-- and asking them in a way that they've got to think about what we've learned on a higher level.
COLLECTING ALL OF THIS DATA IS ONE THING BUT ORGANIZING IT IN A USEFUL WAY IS QUITE ANOTHER.
Because we have so much data that we're collecting and we're really trying to organize it for teachers, a lot of them are using data, but it's not very effective for them from their perspective because they have it in a packet here, in a file here, and it's on this computer program and here on this website. And so what we tried to do was bring it all together onto one database-- very simple, just a two-column spreadsheet online that all the teachers can access at any time.
FOR EXAMPLE, IF TEACHERS FIND THAT 40-PERCENT OF THE STUDENTS ARE STRUGGLING WITH A TOPIC, THEY WILL CONTINUE TO EMPHASIZE IT.
Part of my learning as a teacher is to use assessment as a tool to drive my instruction. So I may set a unit to last two weeks. But if they're not getting it, I've got to continue to incorporate those while staying on pace with the curriculum.
IF ONLY ONE OR TWO ARE HAVING DIFFICULTY, THOSE STUDENTS CAN GET PERSONALIZED HELP FROM ONE OF THE INSTRUCTIONAL SPECIALISTS.
MEE HEE KIM:
We pull out these students during their elective period, and work with them one on one, or a small group setting to master these standards in a really individualized, instructional kind of experience that they can't get within a normal classroom
THE EDUCATIONAL SPECIALISTS ALSO USE A STRATEGY CALLED FRONT LOADING IN MANY OF THEIR ONE-ON-ONE TEACHING SESSIONS.
MEE HEE KIM:
We kind of pre-teach them what they're going to be learning that day, so they're exposed to the vocabulary. They're exposed to the skill a little bit.
It allows them to be-- the person in the classroom who has their hand up first. It allows them to be the person in the classroom who people look to for the answers. The confidence that they gain and the pride that develops becomes something that is immeasurable and allows students to grow and begin to know, "I can do this."
After I worked with Mr. Spencer, it was good because I could understand how the problem worked out. And it was cool.
PRINCIPAL GUFFIN AND HIS STAFF FEEL THAT SHARING THE DATA WITH THE STUDENTS THEMSELVES IS A KEY TO ACADEMIC SUCCESS.
The teachers in their classes, so math and language arts, all took their ISTEP scores, handed them out to students, and had them fill out a reflection individually so that they could look at, "What was my score? What do I want my goal to be? Why was that my score? Why do I want this to be my goal?" and just really allowed each student to see, "Where am I-- in comparison to where I'm supposed to be this year.
Teachers here a strict, but also want you to have fun, be safe, to do what you got do to get the job done.
So-- it's really exciting, though, to hear kids say, "I didn't pass ISTEP last year but I'm going to pass it this year." It's really powerful to hear a student take that ownership and advocate for themselves and say, "I want to pass ISTEP this year so I am coming to your tutoring this week."
We're teaching to our students, where they are, where they're coming in, and where we want them to be, to be-- successful and move on to high school and college and jobs that allow them to be happy.
I've never known a student that has come to school and said, the first day of school, "this year, I'm going get in trouble." Every student that comes to this school wants to succeed. And every year, they start out with, "I'm going to be my best that I can be." And how we respond to them makes a huge difference in how they behave in school.
If you get good grades that means you'll get far in life. And you'll have a house, good wife, you'll-- you get good grades, you get to be anything you want to be.
MARSH MIDDLE IN DALLAS AND HARSHMAN MIDDLE IN INDIANAPOLIS ARE JUST TWO SCHOOLS MAKING THE KIND OF POSITIVE CHANGE THAT IS HAPPENING ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.
BUT THERE'S STILL MORE TO BE DONE. JOIN US NEXT TIME WHEN WE TAKE A LOOK AT ANOTHER STRATEGY TO CURB AMERICA'S HIGH SCHOOL DROP OUT CRISIS -TRANSFORMATIVE SCHOOL LEADERSHIP THAT WORKS.
THAT'S IT FOR THIS WEEK'S IDEAS IN ACTION. I'M JIM GLASSMAN, THANKS FOR WATCHING.
Research Scientist, Johns Hopkins University
Robert Balfanz is a research scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at Johns Hopkins University and associate director of the Talent Development Middle and High School Project, which is currently working with more than fifty high-poverty secondary schools to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive whole-school reforms. His work focuses on translating research findings into effective reforms for high-poverty secondary schools.
Balfanz has published widely on secondary school reform, high school dropouts, and instructional interventions in high-poverty schools. Recent work includes Locating the Dropout Crisis, with co-author Nettie Legters, in which the numbers and locations of high schools with high dropout rates are identified.
He is currently the lead investigator on a middle school-dropout-prevention project in collaboration with the Philadelphia Education Fund, which is supported by the William Penn Foundation.
Balfanz received his PhD in education from the University of Chicago.
Director, Marian University Academy for Teaching and Learning Leadership
Dr. Lindan Hill is the Dean of the Marian University School of Education. Dr. Hill brings extensive educational and professional backgrounds to this position. His education includes a B.S. in English from Indiana University, an M.S. in Special Education from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Special Education and Education Administration from Purdue University. His professional experience as an educator includes 4 years as a Middle School teacher in Miami, Florida and Kokomo, Indiana, 3 years as a High School Principal at Merrillville High School in Merrillville, Indiana, 23 years as Superintendent of Schools, most recently in the Eastern Howard school system, and 5 years as Director of Teacher Education.
Dr. Hill chose a career in education because he wanted “to contribute to improving the teaching and learning process. I had the most wonderful, loving and caring first grade teacher who made a lasting and very positive impact on me as I started out my journey early in life. I want to do the same for others.” Dr. Hill pursued the new Dean of the School of Education position because he appreciated the “quality of program, quality of people and Franciscan Values” that Marian had to offer.
Dr. Hill’s philosophy education reflects both his professional and spiritual commitments: “My philosophy of education is that the teaching and learning process, done properly, is a journey toward God. The teaching and learning process is one of “becoming”, of transformation. It is a journey through which a person becomes someone else tomorrow than they are today. The teaching and learning process is about not just knowledge acquisition, but thoughtful and moral application of that knowledge. If we hold the beliefs that God is omniscient and possesses moral perfection, and if we pursue thoughtful and moral application of knowledge in our journey of the teaching and learning process, then that puts us in journey toward God. Not TO God, because we mortals will never reach parity to God, but it does indeed put us in journey toward God.”
President, Alliance for Excellent Education
Bob Wise is president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. He currently cochairs the Digital Learning Council with Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida. Governor Wise also chairs the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Since joining the Alliance in February 2005, Governor Wise has become a sought-after speaker and advisor on education issues. He has delivered keynote addresses at high-level functions to core groups of the education community, state and federal government entities, as well as business, philanthropic, civil rights, and community organizations—all with a stake in education reform. Governor Wise has also advised the U.S. Department of Education, White House Transition Team, and frequently testifies before the U.S. Congress. In 2011, Governor Wise was named to The NonProfit Times "Power & Influence Top 50," an annual listing of the fifty most influential executives in the nonprofit sector.
Governor Wise has appeared on national television and radio programs such as World News with Diane Sawyer (ABC), American Morning (CNN), Morning Joe (MSNBC), Fox and Friends (Fox News), Lou Dobbs Tonight (CNN), the Charlie Rose Show (PBS), PBS NewsHour, the Diane Rehm Show (NPR), and Washington Journal (C-SPAN). He has also been featured in publications such as Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Charlotte Observer, among others. He is author of the book Raising the Grade: How High School Reform Can Save Our Youth And Our Nation. Under Governor Wise’s leadership, the Alliance continues to build its reputation as a respected authority on high school policy by advocating for reform in America’s secondary education system and working to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for college, careers, and to be contributing members of society.
As governor of West Virginia from 2001 to 2005, he fought for and signed legislation to fund the PROMISE Scholarship program, which has helped thousands of West Virginia high school graduates continue their education in the Mountain State. Governor Wise also established a character education curriculum in all state schools and created the Governor’s Helpline for Safer Schools. During his administration, West Virginia saw a significant increase in the number of students completing high school and entering college.
In 2001, Governor Wise proposed salary bonuses for teachers who achieve National Board certification. The proposal was passed and, as a result, helped triple the rate of certified teachers in the state. Additionally, Education Week’s “Quality Counts 2004” report gave West Virginia the highest cumulative grade out of all fifty states. As governor, he was also the first West Virginian to chair the Southern Governors’ Association.
From 1983 to 2001, Governor Wise served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the 2nd District of West Virginia. During his tenure, he worked aggressively to preserve federal financial aid for students to attend college and served as a member on the House Education and Labor Committee. For several terms, he was a member of the Democratic Party Leadership team as a regional whip and as a whip-at-large. Committee assignments during these eighteen years included Transportation and Infrastructure, Government Reform and Organization, and Budget. Governor Wise’s notable congressional accomplishments include the Chemical Right to Know legislation, the Wise Amendment to the Clean Air Act, and the first-ever federal Mental Health Parity legislation.
Governor Wise serves on several boards, committees, and commissions including the Public Education Network’s board of directors, the Springboard Project Commission, the board of trustees of America’s Promise, and the steering committee for the Coalition for a College and Career Ready America. He is an advisory committee member for a number of organizations, including the Campaign for Educational Equity, Editorial Projects in Education, the Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools, and the National High School Center, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and Office of Special Education Programs and housed at the American Institutes for Research. He also serves on the board of advisors for the Moffitt Cancer Center and the board of directors of C-Change, which works to eliminate cancer as a major public health risk at the earliest possible time.
Governor Wise earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a JD from Tulane University School of Law. He has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He and his wife Sandy live in Washington, DC with their two children.
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