Our Focus: Education

Raise Wisconsin student test scores in math, science, and reading.

According to 2017-18 state mandated test scores, fewer than half of Wisconsin students scored high enough to be considered proficient in math and reading.

This, together with a pernicious achievement gap, has resulted in students who are ill-prepared for a rapidly changing workforce. Wisconsin schools are resourceful, innovative, and dedicated to providing high-quality education to all our students. However, we need to be more ambitious and must work collaboratively to hold state education and legislative leaders accountable for identifying and expanding the most effective efforts.

The data on Wisconsin's school districts is available.

A Closer Look

By examining the nation's report card - the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) - it is clear that while Wisconsin student test scores have improved somewhat, they remain relatively stagnant, and are below the improvements of other states.

There is no question that educators across our state work tirelessly to ensure our students learn, but they are subjected to the ever-changing whims of our political and education leaders. The future for our children, not to mention the economy of Wisconsin as a whole, depends upon a bold, unified commitment to work collaboratively on raising test scores.

Consider Massachusetts' historic education reform law in 1993, described by The Boston Globe as a "bipartisan achievement hammered out by a Republican governor and Democratic state legislators, and informed by a vigorous local debate among educators, parents, and business people who agreed on a "grand bargain": substantially more state spending for schools in exchange for higher standards and increased accountability."

The result of this collaboration? Students in Massachusetts surpassed other states and eventually achieved top scores on the NAEP. lt's achievement gap between black and white students also narrowed.

The strength of our education system is inextricably linked with the strength of our state's economy [LINK: Areas of Focus: Economy]. Wisconsin must encourage innovation in business and industry, but the state must also prepare its students for these innovations.
Currently, millennials and younger generations are far more likely than their predecessors to leave the state for employment, and Wisconsin's population is growing older than the country as a whole. We must first educate our students for a 21st Century economy, and then provide them with the opportunities to achieve success right here in Wisconsin'

We propose bringing the best minds together, including educators, parents, business leaders, policy makers, and others, to focus on this singular, bi-partisan goal: raising Wisconsin student test scores. Similar to Massachusetts' effort more than two decades prior, these Wisconsin stakeholders will share their insights into strategies and incentives that have proven successful in the past, as well as new innovations from other states or nations that could be replicated.
A scorecard using the NAEP test score metrics will be used to measure progress toward this goal. All citizens will be able to track Wisconsin's performance, and encourage educational leaders and elected officials to remain focused on this ambitious, and urgent, goal.

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