Wisconsin Superintendent Calls for Education Reform

By KBJR News 1

September 20, 2010 Updated Sep 20, 2010 at 9:41 PM CDT

SUPERIOR, WI. --- Wisconsin students, teachers, and taxpayers are likely to see big changes in the way the state funds its 2,245 public schools.

Last week, State Superintendent Tony Evers outlined his plan to raise the state's graduation rate, provide more resources to schools and fix what he called a "broken budget."

The remarks were given at Wisconsin's annual State of Education address in Madison last week.

“We need to make more strides to increase the numbers of students graduating from high school and decrease dropouts," Evers said.

To do so, Evers said he wants to transform state testing methods, support teacher development, and make "major changes" to the way Wisconsin funds schools.

Those changes include:

Increasing Wisconsin’s graduation requirements from 13 credits, the lowest in the nation, to 21.5.

Increasing post-secondary opportunities for high school students

A “test out” option for 11th- and 12th-grade students who demonstrate readiness for success in post-secondary studies.

Instituting better replacement for the state's Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE).

Evers' own “Fair Funding for Our Future” overhaul for major school finance reform

Evers noted that his budget would be "fully developed" later in the fall.

Despite that fact, the proposed changes have come to the attention of Superior School District Administration.

District Administrator Janna Stevens says she's hopeful that Evers' proposed finance reform will help the district's more than 2,400 students on that state's free and reduced lunch program.

"That money would be direct support to the kids, be it hiring additional staff, tutors, looking at programs before and after school to support the needs of the learners," Stevens said.

"We want to move to a higher level."

Importantly, Stevens also commented that the change in graduation standards would be "nothing new" for Superior students who have been required to complete 21.5 credits for graduation since at least 2002.

Stevens also noted the proposed reform could hinge on the State's 2011 Budget, which will go before the state's future governor in just a few months.

"So it will be up to that new governor to help make the decision," Stevens said.

Written for the web by Matt Standal