Voucher schools react to test scores


GREEN BAY-Test scores are out, and there are some differences between public and private school scores on the latest round of standardized tests.

The state released the WKCE results today.

Area private school leaders say the results do not paint the whole picture.

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It’s not necessarily the test private schools have an issue with.

“Accountability is a part of it. People have a right to know how well our school is performing,” said Ray DuBois, president of the Xavier School System in Appleton.

It’s the amount of students being tested.

But those who oppose the voucher program say the below-average results show it’s not working.

DuBois says his voucher students are improving.

“I think we had a number of students this year who were challenging. I think we met those challenges,” said DuBois.

But test scores don’t reflect that.

Forty-nine percent of public school students statewide were proficient or advanced in reading.

In the statewide voucher program, 33 percent were.

Statewide for public school math students, 37 percent were proficient or advanced.

In the voucher program, 33 percent were.

But DuBois says the numbers are tough to compare.

“Only 23 of our students were tested which is less than half of our total choice students,” said DuBois.

The Department of Public Instruction lets students opt out of standardized tests at any public or private school.

DuBois says students also took the test roughly 60 days after arriving.

“It’s a mistake for us or anyone to take these results and base the success of our school or school system on the work of 60 days. I think three years, four years, five years down the road, I think the results are going to be much more meaningful than today,” said DuBois.

“If they’re trying to reach out to the failing students, it really didn’t work,” said Democratic State Senator Dave Hansen.

Hansen opposes vouchers.

He doesn’t think voucher students should opt out of testing.

“Why wouldn’t you want to be part of the testing process? In the public schools it’s about half a percent that don’t take the test. But taking the test should be mandatory,” said Hansen.

Voucher supporters like John Gard aren’t opposed to testing.

Gard says because voucher students come from lower-income families, their test results should be compared with similar students in public schools.

“When you compare equal economic backgrounds, the voucher kids are doing slightly better,” said John Gard, former conservative politician who has lobbied for school choice.

The statewide private school voucher system is set to expand next school year by 500 students.

Educators say that could also change year-to-year test score comparisons.

Things could get more confusing next year with comparing test scores for public schools as well.

Many school districts, including Green Bay, are adopting a new standardized test.

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