Looking into Wausau Area failing grade data
And other tidbits
A little while back I started requesting failing grade data from some of our area school districts. I reached out to SPASH, D.C. Everest and Wausau.
SPASH came back the fastest. I received the data with lighting speed from Communications Director Sarah O’Donnell, who I worked with often in various roles when I worked in Stevens Point. O’Donnell is the kind of Comms person every other comms person ought to aspire to: helpful and transparent.
D.C. Everest’s just came in. They asked for a lot of clarifications, but overall got the job done.
I’m still waiting for Wausau’s, but I took a different route and reached out to Wausau School Board President James Bouche. I reached out to see if the data had been shared anywhere already before requesting, and he explained it’s something he and other board members are concerned about. District staff would soon be presenting that data to the board.
That’s now happening Monday, so I will be watching when they release that data.
Why am I looking into this? Because one thing during the pandemic became quite clear: distance learning had a disastrous effect on student learning. District staff at the time found that the numbers of failing grades increased dramatically. That happened nationwide as well. (I spoke to a student class during one of these learning sessions and I can see why. It was a Zoom screen filled with chaos. I couldn’t imagine being a teacher trying to teach children that way.)
And in a lot of cases, that meant widening gaps. Because it didn’t affect everyone the same. Students who were already doing well actually seemed, in some cases, to be doing even better. While those who were struggling, started struggling worse.
But what about lasting effects? Something that gnawed at me at the time was that I definitely wanted to follow up in the future to see if the impacts were lasting. In other words, would that time period have a lasting impact on those students, or would things return largely to normal when normal learning commenced?
Well, matching what I had seen with the district report card data, districts seem to have recovered from the COVID dip but not to their pre-COVID levels. In other words, more students are failing classes now than they were before the pandemic, but not as badly as during the pandemic.
I don’t know what the data will look like when the Wausau School District presents it, but I would guess, based on Wausau’s report card data, that it will be largely the same as SPASH’s and D.C. Everest’s.
At some point it might make sense to look at some smaller area districts to see how they fared. Would being smaller and more nimble help them, or did that mean they had fewer resources to address the learning problems COVID presented?
DA’s office not cooperating with A&E show
Producers for the A&E show Taking the Stand, who interviewed yours truly recently, say the District Attorney’s office and the detective who investigated the Ken Juedes murder aren’t cooperating with them. Det. Blaser told me he wasn’t interested when I reached out to him, and producers told me the DA’s office isn’t cooperating. The show is slated to come out sometime next year.
The COVID culture war is about to erupt in central Wisconsin again. The first battle happened at the county’s Health and Human Services Committee Wednesday. A county supervisor proposed a resolution that banned mandates around COVID in the county. Health Department officials say they’re not able to issue mandates anyway, so why bother? And an analysis given by county attorney Michael Puerner says if a state mandate were to come down, countiss are subordinate to the state in that aspect. One committee member said they swore an oath to the constitution, so that supersedes the state.
Also, Wausau’s anti-Semitic mayoral candidate is back and, well, said a bunch of anti-Semitic things again (the thing where he lists how many of an organization’s members happen to be Jewish). And at least amongst the audience gathered, seemed to have some support. Is there a chance he could actually get on the ballot?
I will probably write a bigger piece on all this. In the meantime, you can search my notes to find a short piece I wrote on the Cochrane study. Yes, Cochrane actually is a respected institution that takes on the task of conducting systematic reviews in the field of health. Systematic reviews serve a very important function in science, because they gather the preponderance of evidence from the highest levels of research (and excluding poorly designed studies, or ones at lower levels of evidence (epidemiological studies, for instance, are generally considered on the low end of the evidence chain because they can only find correlations without isolating variables. They’re valuable for formulating hypotheses but I see plenty of people even with MD or Ph.D after their name make the mistake of considering them conclusive).
That said, the review doesn’t exactly say what conservatives say it does. It said the meta analysis is ultimately inconclusive on the question of whether masks work to stop the transmission of Influenza-like Illnesses (ILIs) and that better studies are needed to draw conclusions. Cochrane actually issued a clarification, taking responsibility for not communicating more clearly.
Everyone is mad at T. Wall
I attended Chief Matt Barnes’ swearing in ceremony Thursday evening, and talked to numerous people afterward. Pretty much everyone is baffled and pissed 1 off at Terrence Wall after he blasted the city, called for council member resignations and made weird legal claims based on what he “feels” the law is. And, as we reported earlier this week, Watertown just flat out said no to T. Wall’s request for a delay.
I might write more about this at a later date, but it appears T. Wall isn’t well liked in Madison either.
On a fun note, I interviewed the folks behind the new Forward Beverage Company, which opened up in the former Sweet Lola’s space. They serve non-alcoholic cocktails, both with and without CBD/Ashwaganda supplements. I attended the soft opening yesterday and sampled one. The “in-fashioned” (an NA Old-Fashioned) was quite delicious, though I’m not sure it tasted exactly like an old-fashioned sweet. It was very relaxing. Their prices are very affordable and they plan to serve wholesale in cans as well as on tap for other restaurants and such. It could work well as a non-alcoholic meetup place or even a post drink spot to sober up a bit before heading home.
They’ll be open through Artrageous weekend, then take a break before kicking off for good later this month.
A reference to Mayor Katie Rosenberg’s comments about Wall’s letter.