Wisconsin Works Toward Reducing, Improving Testing


Students in the state of Wisconsin are almost finished participating in online achievement tests for English and math that are linked to the federal Common Core standards — and they might be the last cohort to take them.

The Badger Exam was originally implemented this year for grades 3-8 in an attempt to modernize how student performance in the state is monitored.  However, future use of the test in the state is currently in limbo, as proposed budget cuts by Governor Scott Walker would drop the exam.  If that happens, the state will be under pressure to create a new exam for the 2015-16 school year.

The state has already started the process by looking for proposals for exams to replace the Badger Exams.  A plan needs to be in place now in case the budget cuts go through, as there would not be enough time to put a new test in place otherwise, writes Erin Richards for The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

Republican state leaders maintain that they are hard at work looking for ways to restore the $127 million cut to K-12 education that the governor proposed.

If a new exam is used, it will be the third year in a row that students in the state have taken a new exam.  This new exam could potentially not be associated with Common Core, the nationwide standards in math and English that were adopted by the state in 2010.

At the same time, a separate bill was passed in the state that would disallow the use of test scores from this year when measuring teachers and schools, in addition to prohibiting the release of school report cards for the 2014-15 school year.

In an attempt to address questions concerning K-12 testing in Wisconsin, a special Senate committee hearing was held in which both public school and private school representatives discussed the need for less testing in the state. However, they said a test that would show student achievement gains for the entire year would be beneficial.

Test vendors were also invited to the hearing to help determine whether it would be possible to combine periodic assessments with a complete end-of-year exam that took into account all federal requirements to reduce the number of tests students have to take each year.

Representatives for test vendors said it would not be an ideal situation to use one test for multiple purposes, reports Molly Beck for Wisconsin State Journal.

According to Steve Baas, vice president of government affairs for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, schools are asking for a consistent tool they can use to compare data from year-to-year.