Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos questions how K-12 funding was spent given test score decline

Molly Beck:

Less than half of Wisconsin students again this year are considered to be proficient in reading and math — a trend Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Thursday called “disturbing.”

The percentage of students in public and private voucher schools scoring well in reading and math on state tests dropped slightly during the 2018-19 school year, from 41% in both areas to 40% in math and 39% in reading.

“These test scores are a cause for concern for parents, educators and taxpayers,” Vos said, in a statement on the annual release of state test scores by the state Department of Public Instruction. “While standardized tests don’t reflect everything that’s happening in the classroom, these scores reveal a disturbing decline.”

Vos also questioned how recent increases in K-12 funding have been spent given students’ scores on state tests, which were crafted by an agency run by Gov. Tony Evers until January when he left his position as state superintendent.

“Wisconsin students deserve an excellent education no matter where they attend school,” he said. “With the repeated increases in funding for K-12 education, taxpayers deserve to know why we’re not seeing better results.”

Vos rejected a state budget proposal this year from Evers that included $1.4 billion in new funding for public and private voucher schools and changed the state funding formula to provide more money to schools with students who live in poverty — a characteristic of students who generally score poorly on state tests.

The Republican-backed budget ultimately included an increase in funding — $500 million in additional funds for schools. Evers then used his broad veto authority to add about $65 million more for schools.

Related: 2011: A Capitol Conversation on Wisconsin’s Reading Challenges.

2012: Wisconsin Act 166.

2015: Foundations of Reading Teacher Exam Results 2017 update.

2019: Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers.

2019: A bill is circulating in both houses of the Wisconsin legislature that would permanently exempt special education teachers from having to pass the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT).