March 19th Post
There are a few more Wisconsin laws impacting education and English pending:
Assembly Bill 1 and Amendments
2015 Assembly Bill 1 -pending- would prohibit superintendents from adopting assessments related to the Smarter Balanced Consortium and was introduced January 7, 2015.
On March 10, Rep. Thiesfeldt proposed amendments to Assembly Bill 1 requiring DPI to list three alternative research-based assessments by which students/ schools could be compared. According to a March 10 article, “Legislature fast-tracking school accountability ‘pause bill’” in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, this proposal is “ a luxury that, on a practical level, would only be afforded to private voucher schools)” and against the wishes of researchers and public school leaders who argue that if schools are going to be compared, they should be compared on a single, known, and predictable test.
The amendments also “prohibits the state superintendent from giving effect to any common core standards currently in effect, and prohibits the state superintendent from adopting or implementing any new common core standards.”
While schools currently are required to publish achievement data, “[t]his substitute amendment replaces the performance categories with grade levels; each grade level includes a letter grade,” a proposal originally called for in Gov. Walker’s budget proposal, and if schools get D or F ratings for three years, they would face sanctions, including being taken over as a charter.
Despite the fact that these amendments, totalling 35 pages and touching on ten areas of schooling, according to John Johnson, DPI spokesperson, were only introduced on Tuesday, March 10, Thiesfeldt was adamant they would be a vote on Thursday, March 12, two days later. He has since backed down from that timeline.
Two bills, referred to as “Pause” bills, 2015 Senate Bill 67 and 2015 Assembly Bill 78 –both pending- would delay publishing this year’s Badger State Exam results due to a variety of implementation problems and a significant change in expectations and therefore scores. These bills have wide support from legislators and public school leaders.
2015 Assembly Bill 56 –pending- would require the UW system to collect the placement data and high school of origin of all incoming students placed into remedial math and English classes. This information will be shared with legislators, but students’ names would be withheld.
2015 Assembly Bill 64- pending- would allow technical schools to authorize charter schools, further expanding the range of charter schools.
Meanwhile, schools are girding themselves for budget cuts due to Scott Walker’s budget (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin State Journal). Impacting small districts (Cedar Grove, 1100 enrolled, will lose $430,000; Menomonee Falls, 4100 enrolled, will lose $600,000) and large (Appleton, 16,380, will lose 2.2 million; Milwaukee, 77,350, stands to lose $12 million), the cuts will be devastating on top of years of cuts. Rural and small schools are particularly hard hit.