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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Education reform part of new budget

Published February 7th, 2013

Governor Scott Walker proposed a new performance-based funding system for public schools. This proposal was highlighted at an education convention that Walker attended.

Sarah Link wrote an article in the Badger Herald titled, “Walker talks education reform for new budget,” which outlines what Walker has in mind.

This budget, which is to be introduced this month, includes the performance based funding. The budget “would help ensure the preparedness of teachers as well as school and district accountability,” Walker said in the article.

The system will be based off the report cards started by the Department of Public Instruction last year. These report cards show how students and teachers are performing. Schools are measured in such categories as student achievement, class sizes, test scores, etc.

According to Link’s article, Walker said in addition to this system, there will be funding for schools that are still falling behind in the form of categorical grants.
He also said that this system is being put in place in order to encourage progress and growth in schools.

Link also spoke with State Rep. Melissa Sargent of Madison about her concerns for Walker’s budget. Sargent said that Walker may end up putting too much money into alternative education systems, which are not held to the same criteria as public schools.

Brad Caskey, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences said that he sees difficulties with this performance-based system because public schools have a different mission than private schools. Public schools have to be accessible. An example he gave was if a public school has more special needs kids enrolled than in a private school, it is hard to decide who is going to get funding based on performance.

However, Caskey says that he sees this affecting K-12 schools rather than having a large impact on universities. He said that it is “hard to judge that a college is failing.” He emphasized this point by saying that colleges do not have standardized tests, where K-12 schools do.

When asked about how he felt UWRF was performing, as far as things such as graduation rates and grades go, Caskey said that retention rates at UWRF are lower than he would like them to be, especially when it comes to the freshman and sophomore retention rates. Though it all comes back to accessibility.

If the University changed the admission strategy, i.e. making it more difficult for a student to get accepted, retention rates would just continue to go down.

Though again, Caskey does not see this new proposal affecting universities. He said it would change the world if this happened at the college level. Caskey also added that this sort of system cycles about every 10 years. “The problem is it’s almost illogical logic if schools with worse performance get less money,” he said.

UWRF junior Courtney Pearson is not a fan of the budget proposal.

“I think it’s ridiculous because students learn at different paces” she said. “It should not be the teacher’s fault if a student is not doing well.”

Pearson added if there is a really good student but they get a bad grade, they should not be punished for it.

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