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Walker plan to eliminate Badger Exam dismays school leaders

As Wisconsin schools prepare to give new standardized tests this spring, teachers and administrators say the time, effort and money they’re putting into the exams may be pointless.

That’s because Gov. Scott Walker’s budget calls for scrapping the new tests next year before school officials can analyze the results.

The Smarter Balanced test, which will be known as The Badger Exam in Wisconsin, is linked to the Common Core State Standards, which spell out what skills students in each grade should master in reading and math. The Smarter Balanced testing consortium intends for the test to make it easier to compare not only schools to each other, but states as well. 

The Badger Exam will test students in grades 3-8. It will replace the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam.

But Walker, like many Republicans, is critical of the Common Core and the federal role in education, and wants schools to make other choices for which tests to use.

Walker’s intention to abandon the new tests has been met with confusion and dismay by school officials who have spent the past couple years getting prepared for the switch, News-Herald Media reported Sunday.

“It’s very frustrating to feel so devalued in the world of education. Anyone in the field of public education feels that the work we’re doing is not valued whatsoever, and that’s very disheartening,” said Colleen Dickmann, superintendent of Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools.

Attila Weninger, superintendent of the Stevens Point Area Public School District, said she has yet to hear a good explanation for why schools should abandon Smarter Balanced.

“Nobody is listening or wants to hear from those in the field: teachers, administrators, students, school board members,” Weninger said. “It’s a monumental waste of money and somebody needs to stand up and say, ‘We’re not going to do that anymore.’ We’ve spent thousands of hours, and therefore dollars, preparing.”

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