Evers Vetoes Reading Assessments
But governor signs bill requiring financial transparency for schools,
Gov. Tony Evers signed a bill into law Friday regulating public access to schools’ financial information that requires the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to create an online portal, available for the 2023-24 school year, that displays financial data collected from all school districts and independent charter schools. The new law creates an 11-person advisory committee to develop recommendations on the categories of information to be made accessible to the public.
Although the bill passed the Senate Sept. 28 with only one Democratic vote in favor, the Assembly concurred the same day on a voice vote.
Evers vetoed another bill Friday authored by Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) and supported by conservatives that would have mandated that school boards and independent charter schools assess early literacy in 4-year-old kindergarten through second grade using specific screening assessments.
Republican proponents of the assessments say they would reverse the decline in reading test scores for Wisconsin children and help close the state’s worst-in-the-nation achievement gap between Black and white students.
Democrats say more testing won’t prove anything that teachers and school officials don’t already know, and that more resources, not more assessments, are what schools need.
Democrats also raised questions about the list of company names in the bill, which specifies that DPI should approve certain name-brand tests including the Acadience reading assessment, FastBridge reading assessments and the Renaissance Star Early Literacy assessment.
In his veto message, Ever wrote that while he has long advocated for increased state efforts to support literacy, such efforts “must be based on proven, evidence-based practices, and cannot be independent from discussions about the state’s obligation to provide meaningful, sustainable support for our classrooms and our schools.”
“I am vetoing this bill in its entirely because I object to fundamentally overhauling Wisconsin literacy instruction and intervention without evidence that more statewide, mandatory testing is the best approach for our students,” Evers added, noting that the bill also did not provide any additional funding for the program, causing schools to “strain their existing resources.”
Evers signs school transparency bill, vetoes reading assessments was originally published by the Wisconsin Examiner.