The budget proposes allowing parental choice program schools to administer an alternative assessment to the choice pupils in lieu of the state test. The tests that would be viable would have to be approved by the UW-Value Added Research Center (VARC) to make sure they meet certain nationally- normed criteria. The state would pay for the state assessment or the equivalent cost of the state exam if a school chose an alternative assessment that cost more. Additionally, once a school had results from their chosen assessment, they would need to submit the data to VARC, who would then statistically equate the data to the state exam. Because VARC needs to be financially compensated for this process, there is a strong fiscal impact. VARC is receiving $750,000 in this budget bill (page 223).
SCHOOL NOTICE OF PARTICIPATION DATE (LFB summary page 354, #15)
Currently, schools that intend to participate in a parental choice program must submit their application packet by February 1. DPI also is mandated to review, edit, and upload the data on the online application program by February 1, when parents are able to access the application online and apply for the program. Often it is the case that schools wait until the last minute to submit this data, which necessitates incredibly fast turnaround from DPI. This scramble on February 1 is labor-intensive and costly. Many staffers have to work overtime to ensure that everything is finished on time, which is unnecessary and fiscally unsound since it could be avoided by simply changing the deadline.
Under audit reviews performed by DPI, certain allocated costs are disallowed due to the status of the teacher or administrator. Those findings have resulted in money being sent from the school back to the Department.
GRADE INFORMATION PROVIDED TO DPI (LFB summary page 354, #17)
This provision results in a savings to the State since DPI will no longer need to collect and maintain this superfluous data.
ELIMINATE PUPIL ASSIGNMENT COUNCIL (LFB summary page 354, #18)
DPI has noted that these required meetings are unnecessary because their choice team can provide better services by having the flexibility to hold meetings as needed, and on topics that are more helpful to schools. Annually, two statutorily mandated meetings are held, one in Milwaukee and one in another city that Racine and statewide school representatives must attend. Requiring these meetings burdens DPI with unnecessary travel expenses that could be avoided by eliminating this provision.