FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 8, 2015
MADISON — John Forester, Director of Government Relations for the School Administrators Alliance, released the following statement in response to the introduction of Assembly Bill 1 related to school accountability:
“Yesterday, Assembly Bill 1, related to revising our state’s school accountability system, was introduced as the first bill of the Wisconsin Assembly’s 2015 legislative session. Thoughtful educational accountability is important and should be based on sound research. It should emulate the evidence-based policies implemented in the highest-performing states and nations.
However, if our objective is to improve academic achievement for all students and close the large and persistent achievement gaps we have in Wisconsin, AB 1 will not move us in that direction. This is clear for several reasons.
First, the premise of the bill is fundamentally flawed. Although the focus of AB 1 appears to be punishment, sanctions and converting low-performing public schools into privately run charter schools, research suggests that a more effective path of improvement would be focusing on evidence-based interventions and supports that would help low-performing schools raise their achievement levels.
Second, common sense suggests that all schools receiving taxpayer dollars should use the same assessment for accountability purposes. However, AB 1 allows schools to use one of several tests. These multiple tests are certain to reduce validity, transparency and accuracy when comparing the performance of different schools.
Third, the bill creates an Academic Review Board (ARB) and appears to take decision-making authority that has been granted to the statewide elected and independent state superintendent and places it in the hands of an unelected, unaccountable board. This would create what appears to be an unconstitutional exercise of power. The ARB should make recommendations subject to the state superintendent’s final approval.
Fourth, the bill abandons the performance categories established by the state’s Accountability Design Team and replaces them with politically charged A-F letter grades. Over time, evidence has clearly shown that grades are an insufficient way to evaluate the academic performance of children. To that end, if the
objective is to increase the public’s understanding of how schools are performing, grades are an inadequate means of meeting that objective.
Accountability in education matters — but we need to do it right. Whatever school accountability system Wisconsin ends up with must move us toward our objective of raising academic achievement for all students and closing achievement gaps. Assembly Bill 1 won’t get us there.”
About the School Administrators Alliance: The School Administrators Alliance (SAA) is an organization that represents more than 3,000 members through the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators (AWSA), the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA), Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials (WASBO), the Wisconsin Council of Administrators of Special Services (WCASS), and the Wisconsin Association of School Personnel Administrators (WASPA). SAA members represent each of Wisconsin’s 424 public school districts and more than 2,200 Wisconsin public schools.
As the combined government relations arm of these five associations, the SAA represents the interests of Wisconsin school children and public schools before the state legislature, the Office of the Governor, and diverse state agencies. Please direct inquiries to:
John Forester, 608-242-1370