The huge gap in average academic achievement among racial groups in Wisconsin is likely a result of state education officials not setting rigorous goals to address the problem years ago, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee said Wednesday.
Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, said Wednesday that state lawmakers and education officials did not take seriously the charge of the 2001 federal law known as No Child Left Behind.
That law, which was replaced in 2015 by the Every Student Succeeds Act, required schools to show that students improved their learning year after year, including among racial, gender and ability groups. Those that didn’t meet federal standards for improvement after four or more years were subject to be placed into “corrective action,” which could have resulted in replacing teachers, converting a school into a charter school or closing it altogether.
Olsen said because the law required all students to be proficient in English and math by 2014, the state Department of Public Instruction set goals that were below what Wisconsin students were achieving already, instead of goals that would require students to show dramatic improvement.
Olsen made the comments during a legislative briefing by DPI officials on the state’s plan to implement a new federal education accountability law. He praised DPI’s new plan because it sets goals to cut the gap in average achievement between black and white students in half in six years — which would require black students to improve in proficiency in English and math by around 4 percent annually.
“These are goals that are completely different than NCLB, because those, in my estimation, were just a scam,” said Olsen.