Is Wisconsin confused on Common Core?

As an early adopter back in 2010, Wisconsin has proven to be one of the more volatile states dealing with Common Core. First a proponent then an opponent and now dedicated to it, it’s no wonder that the general populous is confused as to the state’s stance on the standards.


Governor Flip Flopping

The biggest trouble has been with Governor Scott Walker’s indecision. Claiming many times to be against the Core, many remain confused to his proclamation that he “effectively repealed” them in 2015 even though all statewide tests have been aligned to them. In truth, the schools have held on to these standards even though they are not forced by law to do so. However, the story gets a bit more interesting from there.

While schools don’t have to choose the Core, the new state exam was to be Smarter Balanced, a general exam aligned to Core standards. Therefore choosing any other standard set would only serve to ruin test scores and paint teachers in a bad light. So the Core remained. Then, Walker helped eliminate Smarter Balanced in favor of a shorter, cheaper option known as the Badger Exam. Even though it’s cheaper, it still remains aligned with Common Core, causing frustration among the educators of Wisconsin. They are disappointed that they can’t use this test to truly assess student progress with other states because while the Badger Exam might lead to higher test scores in the state, the results won’t accurately portray student learning on a national level.


Better Scores

All in all, 2015’s Badger Exam scores have shown interesting results with an average 51.2% proficiency in English and 43.7% proficiency in math. Like other states, the teachers were quick to warn parents and politicians not to take these scores too seriously as they are only the first results for a brand new exam. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t where the problem ends.

Highly criticized for a myriad of reasons, the released data has been anything be predictable. Some schools did incredibly well while others had low scores even though the students that tested were strong performers in advanced classes. Luckily, last year was the only year the Badger Exam would be used. Now unfunded, the state will once again take on a new statewide exam, the Wisconsin Forward Exam, it’s third assessment in three years.


As Wisconsin moves forward, its rift can only be understood as the result of a confused leadership. In the majority of states, officials have taken a firm stance, be it for or against the Core and its related tests. Wisconsin, however, is floating in a confused miasma of indecision that has resulted in wasted educational funds, wasted time and a frustrated educational system. As the teachers do what they can to navigate the governor’s inability to choose a side, it’s the children that are confused, adapting quickly and constantly to statewide tests.