Commentary On Wisconsin’s K-12 test Regime…

Molly Beck:

According to the Department of Administration, bids were sought for a Web-based exam testing third- through eighth-graders in English and fourth-, eighth- and 10th-graders in math and science. A separate bidding process was set up for a new exam to test students in social studies. Daniel Wilson of the DOA said the process remains open.

Wisconsin students, who must be tested annually for the state to get federal funding, will have taken three different tests in as many years.

The state budget also requires the state to provide schools with a menu of tests they can give their students, but only if the federal government gives the OK. Bradley Carl, a researcher at UW-Madison’s Value-Added Research Center, said it’s pretty unlikely that’s going to happen.

“It’s a huge ‘if’ because I have not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that … it’s a sure thing that there will be federal blessing” for test options, Carl said.

The budget directs VARC to draft a list of three to five alternative tests that could be compared to the state-adopted test, but the center doesn’t get any funding to do so until the federal waiver is approved. Carl said there are likely only three to five tests that would fit the state’s criteria, and speculated that if a test company knew it was already tapped to provide an alternative test, there would be little incentive for it to offer a competitive price.

The Wisconsin DPI long promoted the discredited WKCE.