Exam Opt-Out Bill Scheduled for Assembly Floor Vote on Oct. 27

Assembly Bill 239 (as amended by Assembly Substitute Amendment 1) has been scheduled to be taken up by the full state Assembly on Tuesday, October 27.

This substitute amendment requires, upon request of a parent or guardian, a school board, or the governing body of an independent charter school or a private voucher school, to excuse a pupil enrolled in any grade from 3 to 12 from taking any examination required under state or federal law, except for an examination that is a high school graduation requirement. [Under current law, upon request from a parent or guardian, a school board, independent charter school, and private voucher school must excuse a pupil in 4th, 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th grade from taking the knowledge and concepts examination (WKCE) adopted by the state superintendent of public instruction that is required to be administered to pupils in that grade.]

The substitute amendment prohibits the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) from considering how many pupils enrolled in a school or school district have been excused from taking an examination required under state or federal law for
purposes of the annual school and school district accountability report published by DPI. The substitute amendment also prohibits a school board, school district administrator, principal, governing body and administrator of a private voucher school, and operator of an independent charter school from encouraging or counseling a parent or guardian to request that their child be excused from taking a knowledge and concepts examination.

Finally, this substitute amendment requires, beginning in the 2016-17 school year, each school board and independent charter school to annually provide the parent or guardian of each pupil enrolled in the school district or the independent charter school with a copy of, or access to, a summary of the pupil examinations that it is required to administer under state and federal law, as well any examinations the school board or operator requires to assess pupil, school, or school district performance. The governing body of a private voucher school  is required to provide a copy of, or access to, a summary containing the same information to the parent or guardian of each pupil who is attending the private school under a parental choice (voucher) program.

Also on the Oct. 27 calendar:

Assembly Bill 287 and Senate Bill 254, a pair of identical companion bills related to the new Achievement Gap Reduction Program, authored by Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Rep. Mary Czaja (R-Irma). These companion bills make technical corrections to the Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) program (formerly SAGE) created in 2015 Wisconsin Act 53. The bills clarifiy that AGR contracts must require school boards to implement one or more of the three statutorily defined strategies in each class in each participating grade at each participating school. The bills also delay  annual evaluations of the AGR program by one year. The Senate version (SB 254) was passed by the state Senate on Oct. 20.