Assembly Passes Data Delay/Pause Bill; Heads to Governor

The state Assembly today unanimously passed a bill (Senate Bill 67) that would ensure that scores on the statewide Badger Exam given to public school children this spring aren’t used against teachers or put on report cards measuring school performance. The bill has already passed the state senate and now heads to Governor Walker.

The Badger Exam is being given this spring to all public school students in grades 3-8, as well as students attending private schools using taxpayer-funded vouchers. Schools have until May 22 to complete the tests, which cover English and math.

Under the bill, there would be no school report cards in the fall with the test results. Test results would still be reported to comply with federal law, and would be available on the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) website, but could not be used to evaluate teachers as part of the state-required educator effectiveness initiative.

The exam has provoked widespread consternation from parents and schools because of implementation problems that led to delays in administering the test, as well as a writing portion of the language arts section being deleted and a key interactive feature being dropped because it didn’t work correctly.

Scores were expected to be lower than they had been in previous years because the test is tied to the more rigorous Common Core academic standards. That, along with the implementation problems, has raised concerns about how the results would be viewed and used.

Gov. Scott Walker proposed dropping the test after this year and moving to a new one.

Because the test likely will only be in use one year, support has coalesced around not issuing a report card with the results. Groups that typically don’t align on education issues — including state superintendent Tony Evers, school choice advocates and public schools — agree the results should not be used this year.