2011 News & Issues January - March

WKCE Results: Voucher Students Score Lower than Peers

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(posted 3/29/11)

WKCE Results show Parental choice program not improving achievement

The Department of Public Instruction has released the latest test results from the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) and the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS).

Parental Choice Program vs. MPS

Results from the WSAS show that students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) scored lower than students attending Milwaukee Public Schools. Through the MPCP, the state provides financial assistance (or vouchers) to parents of students in low-income families to pay for tuition in private Milwaukee schools. This is the first year that students in the MCPC voucher program have taken the WKCE test allowing for direct comparisons.

In the proposed 2011-13 state budget, Gov. Walker is seeking to expand this program and increase funding for it while massively cutting state aids for public schools.  Walker’s plan would lift the enrollment caps, allow any private school in Milwaukee County to enroll voucher students, phase out the family income cap on voucher eligibility, and repeal the requirement that voucher students take the WKCE test.

A separate legislative proposal being drafted by state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and state Rep. Robin Vos, R-Racine, the co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee, would expand Milwaukee’s voucher program to other school districts. Darling and Vos indicate they plan to add their proposal to the state budget bill.

A different approach from state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, would give parents who send their children to private schools a tax credit. Grothman wants the tax credit to apply to families statewide and hopes to introduce the legislation within the week. The WASB opposes all three of these proposals.

Achievement Gap Closing

Some minor good news from the test results shows that the achievement gap between white and minority students continues to close although the gap remains unacceptably large.

According to DPI, “77.2 percent of all students tested scored proficient or advanced in mathematics, up from 72.8 percent in 2005-06. On the reading assessment, 83.0 percent of all students tested scored proficient or advanced this year, up from 81.7 percent six years ago.”

Statement from John Ashley Regarding WKCE Results

Milwaukee Parental Choice Program Results

Achievement gap closes for all groups of students - DPI


Spring Referendums

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(posted 3/17/11)

Districts step up referendum communication efforts

A total of 26 districts will have referendums on the spring ballot.

The Racine Unified School District is putting three referendum questions before their voters. The district has put information on their website, including a video, which addresses why the district is going to referendum.

The New Glarus School District, which will have two referendum questions on the April 5th ballot, has also provide in-depth referendum information for its community on its website.

For a complete list of spring referendums, take a look at the table below (provided by TheWheelerReport.com).


April 5, 2011





$3,500,000 Non-recurring 2012-2017

Non-recurring purposes


$2,075,000 Issue Debt

Capital improvements

Ellsworth Community

$3,900,000 Non-recurring 2011-2014

Non-recurring purposes

Fort Atkinson

$2,082,000 Non-recurring 2011-2014

Maintain educational programs

Glendale-River Hills

$2,400,000 Non-recurring 2011-2015

Maintain current programs


$6,000,000 Issue Debt



$275,000 Recurring 2011

Recurring purposes.


$535,000 Issue Debt

Capital improvements

Howards Grove

$3,400,000 Issue Debt

Maintenance and technology upgrades.

Linn J6

$3,900,000 Issue Debt

Repair on buildings


$4,900,000 Issue Debt


Medford Area

$10,600,000 Issue Debt

Additions to the high school


$1,500,000 Issue Debt

School district building construction


$8,000,000 Non-recurring 2011-2015

Non-recurring purposes

New Glarus

$85,000 Recurring

New construction

New Glarus

$10,000,000 Issue Debt

New construction

Nicolet UHS

$10,750,000 Non-recurring 2011-2016

Non-recurring purposes


$600,000 Non-recurring 2011-2014

Upgrade technology


$1,000,000 Issue Debt

Maintenance improvements


$1,285,000 Issue debt

Upgrade security and technology


$900,000 Issue Debt

Maintain programs


$10,000,000 Non-recurring 2011-2021

Increase district’s fund balance


$83,500,000 Issue Debt



$35,000,000 Non-recurring 2011-2018

Continue programs

River Falls

$38,860,000 Issue Debt

Construction, remodeling, safety updates, energy efficiency


$5,700,000 Non-recurring 2011-2015

Operating costs


$13,645,000 Issue Debt

Finance WRS contributions

Southern Door County

$1,250,000 Non-recurring 2011-2013

General operating costs


$3,375,000 Non-recurring 2011-2016

Non-recurring purposes

Tomorrow River

$1,750,000 Non-recurring 2011-2016

Non-recurring purposes


$346,700 Non-recurring 2011

Operating expenses

Wisconsin Heights

$850,000 No-recurring 2011-2013

Non-recurring purposes

Statement on Gov. Walker's Budget Proposal

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(posted 3/2/11)

Statement from WASB Executive Director John Ashley: John Ashley, Executive Director

The cuts to public education are significant and challenging. Given the size of the proposed cuts, school districts will need flexibility in controlling pension and health insurance costs, along with mandate relief, to provide a quality education for students.

School districts are the only unit of local government that have had revenue controls for nearly two decades and have already cut hundreds of millions of dollars in programs and services to students.

At the same time the bill makes deeps cuts in state support for public schools, it shelters private voucher schools in Milwaukee from cuts.

School board members have confronted many challenges over the years. I’m confident school board members, district staffs and community members will continue to provide the best possible education given the available resources.

WASB Response to Walker's Proposal

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(posted 2/14/11)

John Ashley, Executive Director

Statement from WASB Executive Director John Ashley:

Governor Walker’s proposal will provide school boards with flexibility in containing benefit and wage costs. Together, these measures will assist school boards to ensure limited resources are going to the classroom to provide the best classroom experience for our state’s students.

School boards recognize that education is a personnel-intensive endeavor and that the quality of teachers, administrators, and other school staff affects educational quality. School boards value the collaborative relationship we have enjoyed with teachers and staff as well as continuity in the provision of services to our children and communities. We will look for ways to keep the dialogue alive.

The WASB looks forward to working with the Legislature and Governor to modify the reform package as needed.

More information on Gov. Walker's Budget Repair Bill

WEAC Supports Reform Measures

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(posted 2/10/11)

WEAC announces support for performance pay, teacher evaluations

On Tuesday, Feb. 8, Wisconsin Education Association President Mary Bell announced that the organization supports teacher evaluations, performance pay for teachers, and splitting up the Milwaukee Public School system.

WEAC, the largest teachers union in the state, had previously opposed performance pay and teacher evaluations. The announcement has created a buzz amongst school leaders around the state. Here are links to two articles detailing WEAC's announcement.

State teachers union does about-face, backs reform proposals Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In a reversal, teachers union backs proposals to reform education – Wisconsin State Journal

Report Calls for Changes to Teacher Licensing

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(posted 2/4/11)

more local control in staffing, emphasis on teacher knowledge needed

The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute recently released a report that urges changes to the state’s teacher licensing methods.

According to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the report found, “Wisconsin's method of licensing public school teachers is too rigid when it comes to who is initially allowed into classrooms and too lax on who is permitted to stay.”

The report advocates for more local control in staffing issues and calls for “more emphasis on teachers’ subject-matter knowledge and effectiveness.”

Read the complete article.

Read the WPRI Report.

Education a Focus of State of the Union Address

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(posted 1/26/11)

President Obama addresses race to the top, teacher training, esea

An article posted on EdWeek.org, addressed President Barack Obama’s focus on education in his State of the Union Address. The President pushed for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and called for increasing spending on education.

“Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine,” President Obama said. “It may feel like you're flying high at first, but it won't take long before you'll feel the impact.”

The President also voiced his steadfast commitment to his Race to the Top Campaign.

"Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what's best for our kids," he said.

Obama’s focus on education could also be seen in the number of students that were invited to the address and seated near First Lady Michelle Obama. The students included “a community college student who created a fully adjustable motorized chair for disabled people; a middle schooler who designed a solar car; and a 16-year-old who developed an emerging cancer treatment that uses light energy to activate a drug that kills cancer cells.”

Read the complete article

Achievement Gap Among Worst in Nation

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(posted 1/26/11)

wisconsin students score above national average but gap persists

Test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2009 science assessment show that Wisconsin’s fourth and eighth grade students scored above the national average but the gap between Wisconsin’s African-American and white students was the highest in the nation.

Wisconsin black students in fourth grade scored an average of 121 points on the assessment, which was 43 points lower than the average score for white fourth grade students. Among eighth grade Wisconsin students the gap increased to 44 points.

Overall, Wisconsin students averaged 157 points for both grades, which is above the national average of 149 points.

According to the NAEP website, the assessment "is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Assessments are conducted periodically in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, and U.S. history."

Read article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

See the complete report

A Look at Walker's Teacher Evaluation Plan

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(posted 1/26/11)

Article Examines Solutions to Challenges Facing Education

An in-depth article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examines a number of education issues facing Wisconsin, including student test scores and plans for evaluating teachers.

The article, which is part of a series, addresses Governor Scott Walker’s plan to rank teachers.

“Under his proposal, teachers ranked ineffective for two consecutive years would lose their teaching licenses while satisfactory and exemplary teachers would be eligible for bonuses. With the looming state budget deficit, Walker said districts would have to figure out how to do this without an influx of new funding,” the article reads.

The article also addresses a separate plan being put forward by the Wisconsin Education Association Council, DPI, and higher education that provides an evaluation system for teacher and principals.

Read the complete article.

Board Sees Value in Classroom Visits

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(posted 1/4/11)

Mishicot School Board Members Ephasize Importance of Classroom Visits

School board members in Mishicot recently visited district classrooms in an effort to get a better picture of district operations and student learning.

In fact, for the past five years, Mishicot school board members have made it a priority to visit classrooms once or twice a year.

The visits give school board members an opportunity to see something in action in the classroom that the board may have approved at a meeting.

“It gives you the picture that you don't get sitting in the board room," School board member Lynne Frank told the Manitowoc Herald Times.

Their recent visits included observing literacy education at the elementary level (improving reading achievement is one of the board’s goals). The tours also featured how technology is being used in the classroom and a look at a new math initiative in the district.