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Walker at Harvard: education reforms necessary


UNDATED (WSAU)  Governor Scott Walker says Wisconsin has made more education reforms in the last 18 months than in the last 18 years. He told a conference at Harvard yesterday that the state’s recent changes in teacher evaluations and reading instruction might help Wisconsin return to its former status as a national education leader. The Badger State has also beefed up its accountability system for public schools. Walker spoke at a conference at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. It focused on student performance trends worldwide – especially a recent Harvard study which showed that Wisconsin lagged behind most other states in improving its test scores since 1992. The same study said the U-S trailed two dozen other countries in improving its academic performance.

But Walker said that if all states could achieve what the Top-Five do, the U-S would again lead the world. The governor said Americans have been in a state-of-denial about the nation’s standing – and it’s important to admit that a problem exists. Walker said education reform does not belong to one political party. He said reform comes from quote, “risk takers.”

Among other things, Wisconsin now requires new teachers to pass tests on reading instruction. And efforts to teach reading are part of how child care centers are evaluated. The state also toughened its standardized tests, and how they’re graded. Walker said it was quite a shock earlier this month, when the state released figures showing how students in last year’s exams would have done under the new grading system. They showed that only 36-percent of youngsters were proficient-or-better in reading, and just48-percent in math. Under the old scoring system, around 80-percent were listed as proficient.