It’s the fourth time in three months that a national study has accused state officials of shirking their responsibilities, particularly to minority students and those from low-income homes. Two national education reformers said Monday that Department of Public Instruction officials have misled citizens about their work to improve the quality of education in Wisconsin.
The report being released today by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in Washington uses harsh terms in critiquing the standards that are intended to guide instruction in Wisconsin schools. “Depth is nowhere to be found,” it said of the science standards. “This document has no structure or method,” it said of the world history standards. “Skimpy content and vague wording,” it said in describing the math standards.
In June, a different group ranked Wisconsin No. 1 in the country in frustrating the goals of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Also in June, a third organization focused on Milwaukee and Wisconsin as examples of places where more inexperienced – and therefore, less proficient – teachers are disproportionately assigned to high-needs schools. And two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Education rejected as inadequate Wisconsin’s plans for dealing with federal requirements that every student have a “highly qualified” teacher.
Is there a drumbeat in the bad grades for Wisconsin’s efforts to raise the bar in education?
Not surprisingly, DPI officials disagreed on almost every point. Tony Evers, the deputy state superintendent of public instruction, said the DPI was moving forward in addressing the concerns in all of the reports, was meeting all the requirements of federal law, and had made closing the achievement gaps in Wisconsin a high priority.
He said that, separate from the Fordham report, the DPI was getting started on redoing the state’s academic standards, which have not changed in a decade or so.
Evers said if there is a theme common to the four reports, it is that all are premised on creating more of a national system of standards and testing for students, something Wisconsin educators do not favor.