State budget now mandates test to graduate
By Jennifer LeNoble
New London School District educators expressed concern over a budget proposal that requires students to pass a civics test in order to graduate high school.
“This law change was very eye opening for me,” District Administrator Kathy Gwidt told school board members on Monday, Oct 12. “Legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, don’t agree anymore than we do with this civics test.”
Wisconsin Act 55 is the 2015-17 biennial state budget. A clause in the budget requires graduates of 2017 and beyond to take a civics test comprised of 100 questions that are identical to the questions asked of an individual applying to become an American citizen. To pass the test, a student would have to correctly answer at least 60 of those questions.
Gwidt recently had the opportunity to take part in a legislative breakfast where the civics test was a hot topic. According to Gwidt, the legislative panel, comprised of 12 to 15 Republicans and Democrats, admitted that the civics test is an example of an item that was placed within the budget in the “11th hour” to appease someone or some group.
Gwidt further mentioned that the conversation started very heatedly with someone saying that it was pretty absurd to have a separate civics test when all public schools are already mandated to have a year-long civics class.
“New London already offers a civics class, but our concern is yet another unfunded mandate of just an isolated, stand-alone assessment,” Gwidt said. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to us.”
There are no state funds to supplement the development or administration of this civics test. The Department of Public Instruction is not involved in any way. Wisconsin school districts are responsible for fully complying without assistance.
“It was evident that these lawmakers who rarely agree, remained consistent in their response that we will have to live with this unfunded mandate as it is written even though no one at the table felt it was the right thing to do to our schools and students,” Gwidt said.
Gwidt assured board members that the district would continue to voice its concerns and keep the board updated with any new information.
“We made a plea to stop unfunded mandates,” Gwidt said. “We asked our legislator to stand up for public education.”
Administrators will soon meet to revise Board Policy related to graduation and begin efforts to create this civics test assessment which will be given as a pilot to this year’s freshmen class.
Biomedical Science Showcase
New London School District was selected to serves as the regional site for the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Biomedical Science Showcase on Thursday, Oct. 22.
There will be a variety of presentations and student interaction. Students will be sharing their presentations and experiences in PLTW.
Professionals throughout the Midwest will be on site to learn about the process of preparing students for careers in the Health Care field.
“We are very fortunate to have been chosen to serve as the site to highlight our PLTW Biomedical, not only for our program but for our Health and Human Services Academy,” Gwidt said.
The showcase will be held in the high school auditorium and will begin at 9 a.m.