Thu August 15, 2013
Plan Would Issue Grades To Wisconsin Schools
Two GOP state lawmakers have introduced a new accountability plan that would grade public schools, charter schools and voucher schools. It's getting pushback from the voucher school lobby.
The plan from state Sen. Luther Olsen and state Rep. Steve Kestell, who chair the legislature's education committees, includes penalties for schools that perform poorly. Voucher schools that rank at the bottom for three years would no longer be allowed to take new voucher students. Charter schools could close.
Senator Olsen calls the plan a big deal, and one that's been in the works for a while. “We cannot continue to have schools that are not meeting students' needs and getting students where we need them to be.”
The bill would expand on new school report cards that were unveiled last year for public schools, which Olsen says had one major failing: they did not account for growth in schools. “In other words, if you get students that come to your school that are a couple years behind and you're moving them along real well — faster than normal — the report cards right now don't give you credit for that.”
Olsen says these new report cards would change that.
The pro-voucher group School Choice Wisconsin is not on board with the accountability plan as it stands right now. Director Jim Bender says it gives too much power to the State Department of Public Instruction, run by Superintendent Tony Evers. “As anybody that's been paying attention the last six months can tell you, DPI is not a particular fan of the choice program.”
Bender says that means DPI won't give choice schools a fair shake, but Senator Olsen says the bill requires regular audits of DPI's methods. Olsen plans to hold a public hearing on the bill in September.