October 27, 2009

Walden III named 'exemplary' by state

Walden III Middle School was declared "exemplary" today.

Walden is the only Racine middle school among a list of 83 in the state commended by State Supt. Tony Evers. The schools were named Exemplary Middle Schools based on student academic achievement.

“Middle school is a pivotal time for our students. They need a school environment that nourishes their phenomenal intellectual capacity while supporting their emotional growth and increasing independence,” Evers said. “Recognizing schools that have demonstrated success with students helps build strong academic expectations at the middle level.”

The Exemplary Middle School program, sponsored by the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators (AWSA) and Department of Public Instruction, is in its third year. The program recognizes middle schools with high growth in reading or math scores in the past school year; reading or math scores in the top 10 percent in the past year; or high growth in scores in reading or math for schools with a high poverty population.

Walden III's scores, as reported in the Public Policy Forum's 12th annual comparative analysis of RUSD last week, are surely outstanding. Here are some of its at-or-above proficiency numbers:

6th grade
Reading: 94.5%
Math: 84.5%
7th grade
Reading: 97.1%
Math: 94.1%
8th grade
Reading: 98.6%
Language: 79.7%
Math: 97.1%
Science: 94.2%
Social Studies: 98.6%
Only the REAL Schools 6th - 8th graders came close to those figures; not a single other middle school in Racine scored above 78%, and most had scores in the 40% - 60% range, with a low at 27%.

Walden principal Bob Holzem said Walden (and Gilmore) had earned the exemplary distinction in the past. "We're happy to be noticed and appreciated and contiue to do what we do well. It's a testament to the staff and the kids who want to be here and the parents who support us."

“The Exemplary Middle School recognition program spotlights schools that are doing an exceptional job of preparing our students for the future,” said Jim Lynch, AWSA executive director. “The exemplary middle schools recognized by this award have set and met high standards. We will be looking to these schools for their ‘best practices’ in providing both a rigorous curriculum and the learning culture in which students thrive academically, socially, and emotionally during the middle school years.”

The Exemplary Middle School recognition program reviewed academic achievement records for 306 eligible schools based on grade-level configuration. Of those schools, the 83 receiving certificates are eligible for the 2009-10 Wisconsin Middle School of Excellence Awards, which will be presented at the Middle Level Commission Conference in Appleton on Feb. 18.

The complete list of Exemplary Middle Schools is here.


  1. Heather in Caledonia10/27/2009 3:32 PM

    Way to go! This is great news. I especially like the increase in Math scores from when they start with the school and by the time they leave. That's just great. Love to hear it.

  2. And Hazen wants to close this school Why?

    Why does Unified ignore this school. Work orders have been submitted up the kazoo to rid the school of lead paint, asbestos, it needs new lockers, classrooms have been closed because of dangerous levels of asbestos, it has not been painted in 50 years and the gym floor is falling apart, yet these kids continue to excel while Unified ignores the facility they are in and Hazen wants it closed? Why is this. The top School in the State and thsi is how Unified treats it!

  3. So where can I find the rest of the scores by school to know which schools/grades are successful and which ones are failing

  4. Anon 8:11: The link to the Public Policy Forum's comparative analysis of RUSD is at the bottom of our story, here.

    The school-by-school figures start on Page 37.

  5. Why indeed?

    Walden is put on the chopping block on a regular basis.

    The bottom line is this:

    1. The kids and teachers love the building.
    2. The kids and teachers love the location.
    3. The school is in shambles. If the city's UNIT inspector ever came in and started issuing citations, I think the city's revenue problems would cease to exist.

    Will it cost a couple million to fix it up, certainly, but it would cost way more to replace the building.

    Yet the administration continues to ignore the needs of Walden.

  6. What a fantastic school! My son LOVES Walden and his teachers. I'm not sure WHY the District does not support the school by improving the building. It really shows the dedication of this staff, students AND their parents to make such an investment in the education of these kids. If only there were more success stories like this about RUSD.

  7. Waldens success is a threat to the egalitarian vision that predominates at RUSD. The greater the success at Walden, the greater the racial differences on test scores etc...

  8. Denis,
    You've hit the nail on the head. It's all about egalitarian bullcr*p.

  9. e⋅gal⋅i⋅tar⋅i⋅an
      /ɪˌgælɪˈtɛəriən/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [i-gal-i-tair-ee-uhn] Show IPA
    Use egalitarian in a Sentence
    See web results for egalitarian
    See images of egalitarian
    1. asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, esp. in political, economic, or social life.
    2. a person who adheres to egalitarian beliefs.
    1880–85; alter. of equalitarian with F égal r. equal

    Related forms:
    e⋅gal⋅i⋅tar⋅i⋅an⋅ism, noun

  10. Walden does not run like other unified schools. There are no bells ringing to tell you you are late. The students have a lot of freedoms that the other schools do not. The home group teacher really stays on top of students progress. The students and parents know upfront what is expected of them. No violence, need to turn in home work, attendance and such. It would be great if we could get the other schools to at least sign anti violence promises.

  11. Although I'm no education expert, there's one fact I know for sure. After my nephew graduated from Walden and enrolled at MIAD, his college courses were a snap for him. Walden's methods worked well for the kid, who subsequently thrived in the hyper-competitive culture at MIAD.

  12. Walden works well - mainly because the teachers expect much of the children and the school is small enough to hold the kids accountable.

    Maybe if all our schools were smaller, we would have better results.

  13. I went to Walden for their car show a few months ago. I was treated respectfully by students and had wonderful conversations with teachers. I also observed a number of mentally handicapped children happily running around and interacting with the other kids - not being picked on or shunned. I asked a teacher how these children obtained a level of respect and kindness that many adults in this area lack (this area having more adults without manners and social skills than anywhere I've lived in my life). Her response was "this is Walden".

  14. Walden is a great school, Unified needs to duplicate it again and again.

    These kids love reading and read for entertainment. They wait anxiously for others to get done with a library book so they can read it. Kudos to the staff, teachers, students and Bob.