Wisconsin Common Core Opt-Out vs. School Accountability

wisconsin-state-flagThe Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Finance is currently considering AB 21, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s budget bill,¬†which according to the Legislative Reference Bureau does a couple of different things related to Common Core.

First it prohibits the State Superintendent of Public Instruction from approving any assessment developed by Smarter Balanced.

Current law requires the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (state superintendent) to approve examinations for measuring pupil attainment of knowledge and concepts in the 4th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th grades. With certain exceptions, current law requires school districts, private schools participating in a parental choice program (PCP), and independent charter schools to administer the examination approved for each grade by the state superintendent. This bill prohibits the state superintendent from approving examinations developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Current law requires these schools to administer the ninth grade examination once in the fall session and once in the spring session. This bill eliminates the requirement to administer the ninth grade examination in the fall session.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction also recently put out bids for a new state test.  Opponents of Common Core in the state believe this will just be another Common Core-aligned assessment that is developed by some vendor with ties to Smarter Balanced or PARCC.

It also prohibits the State Superintendent of Public Instruction from requiring a school to implement the Common Core.

Current law requires each school district, private school participating in a PCP,  and independent charter school to adopt pupil academic standards, and permits the  schools to adopt academic standards approved by the state superintendent. The state superintendent has adopted academic standards, in mathematics and in English and language arts, developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative (common core standards). This bill 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. The bill also prohibits the state superintendent from requiring a school district to adopt or implement any common core standard.

This is the “Common Core repeal” that Walker eluded to in my interview with him. ¬†The effectiveness of such prohibitions upon the State Superintendent is in doubt with the priorities laid out under the school accountability bill, AB 1.

How much weight will be given to student assessments will be left up to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.  AB 1 does change the law to allow schools to administer assessments approved by the Academic Review Board (created by this bill) in lieu of ones approved by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

It is questionable whether Walker’s school accountability focus will actually give school districts the space they need to opt-out of Common Core.