Walker Unveils Reform Legislation for Wisconsin

At the annual State Education Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker unveiled his planned package for education reform in 2012. The plan looks to rate schools, link teacher evaluations to student test scores, and require all kindergartners to take a state-funded reading test starting next school year.

Walker said:

"Improving our schools, measuring student achieving growth, and increasing accountability and transparency in education will help our children succeed."

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that the reforms were developed over the past year by three statewide task forces that looked to develop methods for improving literacy, developing a teacher evaluation model and creating a school accountability system to replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

While he wasn't involved in drafting the legislation, State Superintendent Tony Evers gave his support to any actions that are the direct product of the task forces "and deliver on the intent of these collaborative groups".

In a statement, he said:

"Many students' schools are already planning for more budget cuts next year on top of cuts made this year.

"Education reforms must be fully funded and not simply be more unfunded mandates that result in further cuts to educational programming for our students."

Two bills are currently being drafted that will:

  • Rate all schools that accept students with state-funded vouchers on measures of student growth and proficiency.
  • Require all school districts to publish their report card on their website's home page
  • Create a framework for a teacher and principal evaluation system, based on multiple measures of student outcomes and educator practice.
  • Require all students to take a reading screener in kindergarten by 2012-13.
  • Require the Department of Public Instruction to improve the licensure exam for new elementary school reading teachers and coaches by 2013-14.
  • Require DPI to publish report cards for schools of education and alternative licensure programs.

Officials are expected to release details next week that outline an application for a waiver from NCLB.

"It will be a better accountability system than NCLB," said Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

"It won't be a ‘hide it,' or ‘dumb it down' system. That's always a concern for people, but we believe it won't be."

Superintendent Evers led a task force on teacher effectiveness was backed by the state's teachers unions in November. The reading task force announced its recommendations earlier this month.

01 26, 2012
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