Walker Defunds Smarter Balanced Test, But Replacement Exam Also Aligned With Common Core

Common Core
AP Photo/AJ Mast

Grassroots activists in Wisconsin are calling attention to the fact that, although Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) has proposed defunding the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced exam in his budget, the new “Badger Exam” that replaces it would also be aligned with the controversial standards.

Common Core opponents have been faced with establishment governors and state lawmakers, as well as state boards and departments of education, that have attempted to deceive parents into believing they are eliminating the Common Core standards – when all they are doing is “rebranding.”

Rebranding generally refers to the repeal of the Common Core standards followed by their replacement with standards that mirror the Common Core but have a “local flavor” name. Additionally, some states are planning removal of the Smarter Balanced or PARCC test consortia exams as the state assessment, but then provisioning for a new assessment that is still aligned with the Common Core. In both cases, nothing changes but the names of the standards or the tests. Common Core is still entrenched and the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are both still happy.

Walker, a likely 2016 contender, has recently affirmed what has been true of Wisconsin school districts all along – that they can choose their own standards. To his credit, he has also proposed defunding the Smarter Balanced test, a product of one of the federally funded, interstate Common Core test consortia. Grassroots parents groups, however, say Walker’s proposed new state exam – called the “Badger Exam,” is also aligned with the Common Core standards.

“Even though Scott Walker is proposing defunding of SBAC in his budget, the new Badger Exam will be Common Core aligned,” parent and grassroots activist Jeffrey Horn tells Breitbart News. “So even though the governor talks about local control over standards, districts do not really have the ability to choose their own standards because they will be held accountable to a Common Core aligned assessment.”

In a post at Stop Common Core in Wisconsin, Horn lays out Walker’s “Smarter Balanced Deception,” arguing that the governor, who has a history of shifting his stated positions on the unpopular Common Core education reform, “understands that assessments aligned with Common Core…make it very difficult for local districts to choose alternative standards.”

By allowing the state to move forward with a new Badger Exam that will test students’ proficiency against the Common Core standards, Horn says Walker will “entrench Common Core in Wisconsin.”

“The governor has gained a national reputation for bold stands on issues,” Horn writes. “Certainly, once he takes a firm stand, Walker has demonstrated his ability to garner strong legislative support that will move the bills he wants to his desk for signature.”

The grassroots activist asserts, however, that Walker has made “no such effort to secure anti-Common Core legislation.”

He argues:

Any legislative language that could have made a difference was quashed, never making it through committee. It is difficult to believe that the governor didn’t prefer this lack of movement, particularly since investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has revealed that in early 2014 the governor’s office had a direct hand in ensuring that a repeal bill known to have been crafted by a State Senator was re-drafted and ultimately introduced as a far less powerful standards review bill.

With Walker’s “sleight of hand,” and another state test aligned with the Common Core standards, Horn says local school boards have a choice in facing the state’s “report cards” for school districts: “Either move away from the standards and take a huge risk of doing poorly on the mandated assessments or teach to the test in order better to ensure the kinds of assessment scores the state wants to see.”

Brian Medved, a member of the Germantown, Wisconsin school board – the only district in the state to actually elect not to use the Common Core standards – spoke with Breitbart News as a private citizen regarding the “choice” of standards for local school districts.

“Personally I think the ‘report card’ for the school district is a joke, when you are only considering the test results of three subjects for a grade for an entire school district, with the only other real consideration being your graduation rate,” he said. “I am keenly aware that for many districts this is a huge concern, but I have no faith in this system and never consider it for any decision I would make for our district.”

Medved explained that the knowledge his school district is producing well-rounded and well-informed students with good critical thinking and problem-solving skills is what is important to him.

“I know that our students will perform well on any test that you put in front of them, even if it only measures three subjects,” Medved continued. “In real life they will be outperforming peers on so many other levels. That is what I care about.”

Medved encourages other school districts in Wisconsin to actively move away from the Common Core standards.

“In my humble opinion, other districts need to do their own homework on this issue and stop harming their students with a one size fits all inferior Common Core approach,” he urged. “The amount of money wasted on this experiment on our children is staggering and needs to be stopped.”

Walker’s press office did not respond to Breitbart News’ requests for comment.


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