Wisconsin Plan Seeks To Cut Achievement Gap In Half

Plan Also Aims To Cut Graduation Gap In Half

Students and a teacher in a classroom
Alvin Trusty (CC-BY-NC)

Under a new accountability plan released Friday, Wisconsin schools would face the ambitious goal of cutting the state’s racial and economic gaps in test scores and graduation rates by half over the next six years.

Reaching that goal will require rapid improvements.

African-American and Hispanic students, English learners and those from low-income households would have to make 3 and 4 percentage point test score gains every year.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Black students have averaged 1 percentage point increases per year recently.

State schools Superintendent Tony Evers said the goals are ambitious, but the state can now turn to communities to determine how best to support schools.

It’s a model he said is working elsewhere.

“This is a different day, this isn’t listening to Washington telling us how we’re going to solve this problem,” Evers said. “It’s going to be turning this on its head and really engaging people in the community to really make these changes.”

But CJ Szafir with the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty said Wisconsin’s method for drawing up the state plan should have included active participation from legislators.

“Dictating what the state’s going to do to turn around low-performing schools or how to spend federal dollars, they’re actually taking more of a role in the policy-making process,” Szafir said.

The draft plan is the first Wisconsin has drawn up under a new federal education law requiring states to develop their own systems for identifying and turning around low-performing schools.

The public can comment on the plan through Friday, June 30. The Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker will also review the plan before it’s submitted to the Wisconsin Department of Education in September.