by Christian D’Andrea
MacIver Institute Education Policy Analyst
The Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee approved a $15 million transfer in order to spur the creation of a statewide data program that will link student information across the Badger State and nationwide.
The measure will move $5 million in general funds to the Department of Public Instruction in order to create the comprehensive program. Another $5 million would be transferred from the current year to 2012-2013 to continue the data collection process. This new system would sync student information – ranging from grades to testing data to background information – in an attempt to create a complete picture of Wisconsin’s student body.
This program would help create a system by which residents and parents can measure progress within their own school districts. It will also help create stronger comparisons between Wisconsin and the rest of the country by syncing with Common Core of Data standards.
The measure passed on a bipartisan 14-1 vote. Only Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) voted against the policy.
If the program is voted through the Senate and Assembly and then signed into law, the next steps will be implementation. This will include an open bidding process for data collection agencies to compile the pupil information. Currently, a Stevens Point company – Skyward – performs this task for 349 of the state’s school districts. Whether or not they’ll have the opportunity to oversee the new statewide program will come down to the results of the competitive bidding.