“Education is all about continued improvement, and the status quo is not satisfactory,” Evers told the audience at a WisPolitics.com luncheon Tuesday at the Madison Club.
In addition to guiding local schools as they navigate state cuts and an influx of federal stimulus funding, Evers is promoting a single federal test and an overhaul of accountability and assessment standards for public education. Under the new system, which Evers said would be formed quickly over the next few months, the state will be able to consistently measure other educational categories aside from test scores.
The test score measurement mandates under the federal No Child Left Behind law drew criticism from Evers for their incomplete picture of education, but he said the federal standard has done educators “a tremendous favor” by showing disparities between performance of white and non-white students.
He also called for a national standard of testing and curriculum, which he said 46 states had backed. He said that Wisconsin isn’t able to truly compare its educational growth to other districts and states because 50 different tests are being administered annually. He also called the current system “economically irrational.”
“Public education, even though it’s a state responsibility, is a national endeavor, and we have to view it as such,” Evers said. “By doing this, we’re going to make our system more transparent.”
Perhaps nothing will test the new state accountability system as much as Milwaukee. Evers went to great lengths to discuss the “magic” that teachers work with many less fortunate students in the state’s largest school district, but recognized a graduation rate that, despite increasing to about 70 percent, lags well behind the state average.