|Posted by Wisconsin Association of School Boards
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.”