Wisconsin Parents Restart Campaign

K-12 Testing

Parents who led the seemingly successful statewide battle to block high-stakes testing in Wisconsin (see Examiner, Summer 1999) are regrouping. The activists had persuaded the legislature to overturn a 1998 law which would have implemented high school graduation and grade-promotion exams. When Governor Tommy Thompson threatened a veto, a compromise was struck: the exams would proceed, but the state would continue to allow students to opt out of state tests. Districts would decide how much, if any, weight to give the exams in determining graduation or grade promotion. The parents thought most districts would give the tests little weight. Districts also could develop their own exams, as Milwaukee did until it decided to use the state graduation test.


Two factors undermined this victory: the substantial weight given the tests by many districts and a Board of Higher Education vote to require in-state applicants to submit scores on the graduation test. The Board may revisit this decision and legislation has been filed to overturn it.


Key parent activists say that the major focus of their campaign will have to be on the harmful educational consequences of organizing curriculum and instruction around standardized tests. FairTest staff have been meeting and talking with the parents, sharing information and ideas from activists around the nation.


• Contacts are Connie Gavin <ckgavin@execpc.com> or Meredith Scrivner <scrivner@aero.net>; also see website: www.advocatesforeducation.org