Capitol Office: 108 South; (608)266-2253 or (800)334-1468 ~ P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882 ~
November 30, 2011
Sen. Cullen Appointed to Accountability Task Force
Group is Developing New Standards for Evaluating School Performance
Sen. Tim Cullen has been appointed to serve on a task force that is developing new accountability standards for Wisconsin schools.
“Our assignment is to develop a better way of evaluating how well schools are doing in teaching children the things they need to succeed in college and careers,” Cullen said.  “The way to do that is to determine where we are falling short and then stepping in to fix it.  Our ultimate goal is to improve student achievement.”
Cullen sits on the Senate Education Committee and served one term on the Janesville School Board.
Gov. Scott Walker and State Schools Superintendent Tony Evers chair the School & District Accountability Design Team.  The new system for evaluating school performance will replace the federal No Child Left Behind standards.
Few schools will be able to meet the goals set by the No Child Left Behind law.  The federal government is giving states an opportunity to develop their own accountability systems.  If Wisconsin obtains a waiver to adopt its own system, the Legislature will have to pass legislation implementing it.
“The waiver could come as early as April, and we want a bill that has broad bipartisan support ready to go,” Cullen said.
The task force includes representatives of school boards, school administrators, private schools, charter schools, parent groups, among others.  Four legislators – one from each party and house – serve on the committee. Cullen is the Senate Democratic representative.
The design team is focusing on four types of performance:
Student growth, which takes into account the fact that some students start out with lesser abilities than their peers.  This is a measure of the learning trajectory.
Student attainment, meaning how well students perform on standardized tests.  Such tests identify where instruction in a school or district needs improvement.
On-track indicators, which are data points that indicate whether a student is at risk of failing.  These include third grade reading scores, attendance, and credits earned by the end of 9th grade.  These indicators give the school an opportunity to intervene before it’s too late.
Closing the achievement gap in reading, math, dropout rates, and college readiness for minority students and poor students.
Sen. Cullen represents most of Rock County and the Whitewater area in the State Senate.