The JFC budget approves the governor’s recommendation to prohibit the state superintendent from adopting or approving examinations developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (Badger Exam) and prohibits the state from participating in the Smarter Balanced Consortium. The budget continues to fund implementation of the Dynamic Learning assessment system and the American College Testing (ACT) suite of tests. The ACT tests are administered to students in the 9th, 10th and 11th grades.
The budget version adopted by the JFC also eliminates the requirement that schools administer the ninth grade examination in the fall session (schools are still required to administer the ninth grade examination in the spring session).
In addition, the JFC budget bill would require that any assessment adopted and approved by the State Superintendent to replace the Badger Exam must meet the following criteria:
- Be a vertically-scaled, standards-based system of summative assessments
- Document student progress toward national college and career readiness benchmarks derived from empirical research and state standards
- Be capable of measuring student performance in the following areas:
- Be able to be administered in primarily computer-based format, with paper and pencil format available in limited circumstances
- Be a predictive measure of student performance on college readiness assessments used by institutions of higher education
The JFC proposal requires DPI to request a waiver from federal law to allow the state to approve between three and five assessments, with each school board, independent charter, and private voucher school allowed to choose an assessment each year from the approved list.
Assessment options would include a state test adopted and approved by the State Superintendent as well as alternative tests certified by the Value-Added Research Center (VARC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as nationally recognized, norm-referenced, and acceptable for statistical comparison.
Early Literacy Screeners
The JFC proposal would require each school board and independent charter school to administer an early literacy screener of their choosing (currently districts are required to use PALS) to assess reading readiness or grade-level reading achievement of pupils in 4K through grade 2 starting in the 2016-17 school year. Computer-adaptive assessments may be used. Current law would apply for the 2015-16 school year.
The state DPI would pay the cost of the screener from a sum certain appropriation for assessments of reading readiness. If funding in the appropriation is insufficient to meet the costs of reimbursing school districts, payments would be prorated.
Civics Graduation Test Mandate
The JFC budget version provides that a school board, independent charter school, or private voucher school may not grant a high school diploma and the State Superintendent cannot grant an equivalency of high school graduation to an individual unless they have scored 60 correct out of a 100 question civics exam that matches the questions that may be asked of an individual applying for U.S. citizenship. A pupil may retake the test until they pass. The school can determine the format of the test and when it would be administered.
Children with disabilities would be required to take the exam but it would not be required for a diploma. An English language learner could take the test in their language of choice. The requirement would not apply to a high school diploma awarded to veterans.