Commentary on Wisconsin K-12 Assessments and Governance Diversity

Alan Borsuk:

Point one: If Milwaukee has demonstrated anything to the nation with its long, broad and deep school choice offerings, it is that school quality is generated far more at the level of individual schools than sector by sector.

There are MPS schools where students score much above the Milwaukee averages and, in a few cases, above the state averages. There are voucher schools where that is true. And the same for charter schools. And there are MPS, voucher and charter schools with scores that raise major questions about the school.

Nobody has a monopoly on success or failure. It’s really a school-by-school subject — and, often times within schools, a classroom-by-classroom subject, with some teachers leading their students to much better outcomes than others.

Point two: There’s little reason to find joy in the overall scores, no matter the sector. Third- through eighth-graders in independent charter schools did better than voucher and MPS students for language arts (also generally labeled, “reading”). That means about a third of the charter kids were rated proficient or advanced, compared with a quarter, give or take several points, of other kids.