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DATE

:

JANUARY 27, 2015

TO:

SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION REFORM AND
GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

FROM:

STEVE BAAS, VICE PRESIDENT OF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS
METROPOLITAN MILWAUKEE ASSOCIATION OF COMMERCE

RE:

SB 1

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) represents nearly 1800
member businesses employing over 300,000 workers in the metro Milwaukee area. Our
members know first-hand how important a well-functioning and accountable system of education
options is for the health of our regional and our state economy. As a result, over the past three
decades, MMAC has been on the forefront of fighting for additional high-quality educational
options for parents in the Milwaukee area. On behalf of the MMAC, I want to thank the authors
of this legislation for their work on SB 1 and commend their commitment to ensuring that, in
Wisconsin, we do not fund failure in our publicly-funded educational options.
This bill is an ambitious one. Creating a workable, equitable accountability system in
Wisconsin, with its multiplicity of publicly funded educational options, is a stiff challenge.
While the current legislation remains a work in progress, we are pleased with the willingness of
the authors and leadership to continue to work with stakeholders through the thorny practical and
philosophical issues posed by this topic. We remain optimistic that, working together, we will
be able to achieve a final product that will make Wisconsin a leader in both educational options
and educational quality.
As you continue your work on this bill, I would like to reiterate three guiding principles that the
MMAC believes must be reflected in any accountability legislation:
1.

Quality Data
Accurate performance evaluation must be predicated on student data that: (a) is
uniform, transparent, and consistent across school systems; (b) includes
demographic information necessary to facilitate academic performance and
growth evaluation, including race, income, language and special needs status; and
(c) is limited to data relevant to the state's evaluation instrument and does not
force an unnecessary administrative burden on schools.

2. Clear, Fair, and Certain Performance Measures
The state's school performance evaluation tool should be clear, understandable,
and stable. Its standards should be consistently applied across school systems,
and not subject to manipulation or revision without legislative review. Further, it
should include value-added data and be capable of evaluating, (a) student
achievement, (b) academic growth, (c) academic performance gaps due to
demographics, and (d) college and career readiness.
3. Equitable, Outcome-Focused Intervention
Interventions in underperforming schools should be designed to be fairly and
consistently applicable across school systems. In addition to empowering the
closure or transformation of persistently poor performing schools, any
intervention or sanction must be designed with the goal of moving students from
low-performing to high-performing schools.
Thank you again for your work on this important issue. The progress made to date on this bill
has been encouraging. It is our hope that the work can remain on that positive trajectory and
result in a product that creates the kind of fair and workable system of educational accountability
necessary to fuel a vibrant and growing economy.

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