JFC Approves New Test Protocols in Wisconsin, Limits Adoption of Common Core Standards in the Future

MacIver News Service | May 29, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] Wisconsin is still on the path to adopting Common Core State Standards in reading and math when new standardized tests are instituted in a few months. However, any other initiatives that would have relied on Common Core will have to wait.

The Joint Committee on Finance approved a motion that would ensure that the state takes a comprehensive look at Common Core based initiatives in the future. Representative Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) called the plan a way to “hit pause” on the adoption of these standards while the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) can fully research how the oft-debated program will effect the state’s schools and students.

The motion requires DPI to publish an evaluation of the common core standards, the formation of a legislative study committee and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau to prepare a fiscal impact statement. The study committee would be required to perform a comparison between common core and current standards, analyze best practices in adopting standards and evaluate the costs associated with implementing the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers assessment and the Smarter Balanced assessment by schools.

This evaluation process will also include no fewer than three public hearings that will give residents of Wisconsin their say in the matter.

This motion will not impact the implementation of two new testing programs for Wisconsin’s students. The state will adopt SMARTER Balanced testing in grades 3-8 and the ACT testing suite in grades 9-11 to gauge student growth and achievement in reading and math. However, it will delay any move to institute tests or standards in other subjects – namely science and social studies. These new tests, which will replace the outdated WKCE standard assessment, will be introduced in public schools for the 2014-2015 school year.

The testing decisions were one of the only educational matters taken up by the JFC on Wednesday. Significant items like the expansion of Wisconsin’s voucher program, K-12 funding, and performance grants for public schools were pushed off the docket to a later date.

JFC will meet Thursday at 10am for their next executive session, but items like the expansion of school choice are not expected to be debated until next week.