Wisconsin calls not to expand testing for ESEA

To: People Concerned With Excessive Testing in Wisconsin
From: Bob Peterson, Coalition for Responsible Assessment
Date: May 9, 2002
RE: Important hearings on ESEA implementation and TESTING in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is going to release its
draft "Consolidated State Plan" required under the Federal Elementary and
Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and is holding public hearings on May 14
and 15 in four places around the state.
The Coalition for Responsible Assessment, a Milwaukee-based coalition of
educators, parents, and community activists, encourages people from
throughout the state to attend these hearings (schedule is below) and
voice concerns over the pending increase in mandated standardized tests
(and other ESEA-related items if so desired).
ESEA Title I requires that every state conduct an "academic assessment"
in reading and math of all students in grades 3 - 8 and once in high
school, by the 2005-06 school year.

Below are some talking points that people might consider using when they

a) Local Flexibility with a Mixed System of State and Local Assessments:
The ESEA allows states to rely primarily on local assessments while using
some standardized tests as part of a state assessment system. Maine and
Nebraska already are doing this (testing in only 3 grades), and other
states, including Rhode Island and New Jersey, plan to do so to meet the
federal requirements. Wisconsin should use the assessment systems of
those states as models rather than rely solely on standardized tests in
all the grades.
b) The Public Right to Know:
Any state-mandated standardized tests should be released to the public
every year after they have been administered so that the people of
Wisconsin can know what is on the tests that are used to hold students
and schools accountable.
c) Question the Use of Norm Referenced Tests
Wisconsin should not use a norm referenced test (NRT), the Terra Nova, to
determine whether students meet state learning standards. Norm
referenced tests are constructed to sort and rank students. They use test
construction methods which ensure that what most students know is not on
the test and that a large percentage of students fail.
d) Open Up the Scoring Process
The scores required to reach a Basic, Proficient, or Advanced level on
standardized tests are called "Cut Scores." They will determine the fate
of students and schools, but they are chosen arbitrarily and may change
arbitrarily from year to year. Two years ago the "cut score" for math
scores in 5th grade in Milwaukee were raised arbitrarily and because of
this the number of students who reached a "proficient" level dropped
markedly. The process of selecting the cut scores should be open to
public input and public view.
The hearings will be held at:
May 14, 2002,
2:30 - 3:30 PM
Green Bay
Comfort Suites
1951 Bond Street
East Windsor Room
May 14, 2002,
4:00 - 5:00 PM
West Salem
923 East Garland Street
Video Conference Room
May 14, 2002
4:00 - 5:00 PM
618 Beaser Avenue
Video Conference Room
May 15, 2002
2:30 - 3:30 PM
Country Inn
2810 Gold Road
Grand Ballroom North
The consolidated plan will be available May 13, 2002. The plan may be
viewed on the internet at
http://www.dpi.state.wi.us/dpi/esea/pdf/wiplan.pdf for a copy may be
obtained by sending an email request to michael.thompson@dpi.state.wi.us.