Gov. Scott Walker urged a new school accountability reform task force Tuesday to develop a system for Wisconsin that focuses on identifying the best schools and replicating their success across the state.
Walker said the primary goal is not simply to replace the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind law, which highlights failing schools and uses punitive measures to drive improvement.
"What we should begin with is what is right about education in Wisconsin and how do we replicate that," Walker said.
State Superintendent Tony Evers also noted that while the new school accountability system could be part of a state waiver application from No Child Left Behind, it "is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a conversation about what we value in public education in the state of Wisconsin and implement a system that reflects those values."
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The process is being coordinated by staff from the American Institutes for Research, a Washington-based behavioral and social science research organization.
Through a series of small group discussions, the task force is trying to define student performance goals at each grade level, how to measure results annually, how to distinguish between high- and low-performing schools and districts, how to report those results publicly, and how to reward high-performing and intervene in low-performing schools.
Tuesday's discussion focused on a preliminary set of guiding principles for the system. There was debate about whether traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools can be compared using the same system.
The official design team includes 29 education, legislative, business and nonprofit leaders, most of whom attended Tuesday's meeting at the Pyle Center in Madison.
Though leaders from the state's K-12 teachers unions - the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the American Federation of Teachers Wisconsin - declined an invitation to participate, the task force includes Terry Kaldhusdal, a fourth-grade teacher from the Kettle Moraine school district in Waukesha County and the 2007 Wisconsin teacher of the year.
The task force has four more meetings scheduled on Sept. 22, Oct. 17, Nov. 22 and Dec. 15. Evers said the goal is to develop a consensus on the design by the final meeting.