Education Legislative Update for Oct. 24th, 2015

Exam Opt-Out Bill Scheduled for
Assembly Floor Vote on Oct. 27

Assembly Bill 239 (as amended by Assembly Substitute Amendment 1) has been scheduled to be taken up by the full state Assembly on Tuesday, October 27.

This substitute amendment requires, upon request of a parent or guardian, a school board, or the governing body of an independent charter school or a private voucher school, to excuse a pupil enrolled in any grade from 3 to 12 from taking any examination required under state or federal law, except for an examination that is a high school graduation requirement. [Under current law, upon request from a parent or guardian, a school board, independent charter school, and private voucher school must excuse a pupil in 4th, 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th grade from taking the knowledge and concepts examination (WKCE) adopted by the state superintendent of public instruction that is required to be administered to pupils in that grade.]

The substitute amendment prohibits the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) from considering how many pupils enrolled in a school or school district have been excused from taking an examination required under state or federal law for purposes of the annual school and school district accountability report published by DPI. The substitute amendment also prohibits a school board, school district administrator, principal, governing body and administrator of a private voucher school, and operator of an independent charter school from encouraging or counseling a parent or guardian to request that their child be excused from taking a knowledge and concepts examination.

Finally, this substitute amendment requires, beginning in the 2016-17 school year, each school board and independent charter school to annually provide the parent or guardian of each pupil enrolled in the school district or the independent charter school with a copy of, or access to, a summary of the pupil examinations that it is required to administer under state and federal law, as well any examinations the school board or operator requires to assess pupil, school, or school district performance. The governing body of a private voucher school  is required to provide a copy of, or access to, a summary containing the same information to the parent or guardian of each pupil who is attending the private school under a parental choice (voucher) program.

Also on the Oct. 27 calendar:

Assembly Bill 287 and Senate Bill 254, a pair of identical companion bills related to the new Achievement Gap Reduction Program, authored by Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Rep. Mary Czaja (R-Irma). These companion bills make technical corrections to the Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) program (formerly SAGE) created in 2015 Wisconsin Act 53. The bills clarifiy that AGR contracts must require school boards to implement one or more of the three statutorily defined strategies in each class in each participating grade at each participating school. The bills also delay  annual evaluations of the AGR program by one year. The Senate version (SB 254) was passed by the state Senate on Oct. 20.

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Application Window for Microsoft IT Academy 
Runs Through Oct. 30

The Microsoft IT Academy program provides schools, teachers, students and staff with technology curriculum and learning tools such as digital access to technology textbooks to help them acquire skills on current Microsoft technologies. Additionally, program members may purchase discounted Microsoft Office Certification exam vouchers that allow students (and teachers) to earn certification by demonstrating the skills they learn through the program.

Up to 234 Wisconsin high schools will be eligible to host a Microsoft IT Academy at no cost. These 234 slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

All applications must be submitted through the online Participation Form. Participation Forms are currently available online through October 30, 2015 (5 p.m. CST) Any school submissions after October 30, 2015 will be considered based upon remaining availability.

Continue reading Application Window for Microsoft IT Academy Runs Through Oct. 30

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Bill Addressing School Board Vacancies
Heads to Governor's Desk

The state Senate gave final approval Tuesday (Oct. 20) to a bill (Assembly Bill 325) that requires school boards to adopt local policies on filling board vacancies and makes a temporary distinction between the Racine Unified School District and all other school districts with regard to how school board vacancies may be filled.  The bill cleared the state Assembly on Sept. 24.

Under current law, when a vacancy occurs on the school board of a common, union high school, or unified school district, the remaining school board members may fill the vacancy by appointment. Current law does not provide an alternative method for filling a vacancy and does not address how a vacancy is to be filled in the event that the remaining school board members do not make an appointment.

Assembly Bill 325, as amended, addresses this situation generally by requiring school boards of common, union high school, and unified districts to adopt a policy on how to fill board vacancies if members are unable to settle on a replacement within 60 days of the date on which the vacancy first exists. School boards must adopt such a policy by July 1, 2016.

Continue reading Bill Addressing School Board Vacancies Heads to Governor’s Desk→

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U.S. House Speaker Boehner Sets Election Dates
for New Speaker; Ryan to Run

Speaker John Boehner announced today that the internal Republican election for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives will be Oct. 28, and the floor election will be Oct. 29.

Wisconsin congressman and current House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan told House Republicans Tuesday evening that he is willing to serve as Speaker of the House if he is the unity candidate, and he gave the House Republican Conference until Friday to decide if they are behind him. 

Ryan said Thursday evening that he will seek to become the speaker of the House of Representatives. Ryan announced his decision in a letter to members of the House Republican Conference.

"After talking to so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as a one, united team," the letter reads. "And I am ready and eager to be our speaker."

Read more: Washington Post articleCNN coverageMilwaukee Journal Sentinel article;Politico coverage

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