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UPDATE: Walker signs school report card bill

UPDATED Tuesday, April 8, 2014 --- 5:39 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law a limited school accountability measure that passed the Legislature only after a more sweeping measure failed.

Walker signed the bill privately Tuesday, along with another proposal designed to set tougher standards for new private schools that want to accept taxpayer-funded voucher students.

The report card bill requires private schools accepting voucher students to submit a variety of data to the state that they don't currently provide. That includes a host of demographic data, enrollment numbers and graduation rates.

The information, along with performance on state tests, will eventually be included on school report cards just like those released now for public schools.

A more expansive measure that included sanctions for failing schools failed to find enough support to pass the Legislature.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, April 8, 2014 --- 3:53 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker plans to sign into law a limited school accountability measure that passed the Legislature only after a more sweeping measure failed.

Walker was signing the bill privately Tuesday, along with another proposal designed to set tougher standards for new private schools that want to accept taxpayer-funded voucher students.

The report card bill requires private schools accepting voucher students to submit a variety of data to the state that they don't currently provide. That includes a host of demographic data, enrollment numbers and graduation rates.

The information, along with performance on state tests, will eventually be included on school report cards just like those released now for public schools.

A more expansive measure that included sanctions for failing schools failed to find enough support to pass the Legislature.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, March 20, 2014 --- 8:25 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Assembly has passed a limited school accountability bill with nearly no debate.

The voice vote Thursday came after conservative Assembly Republicans dropped their widely panned plan to impose sanctions on failing schools. The bill that passed has no sanctions and is identical to what earlier passed the Senate.

The bill now heads to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature. Walker, who was involved with trying to come up with a more expansive bill, has indicated he would sign the measure that passed.

No deal could be reached on the GOP's bill that included sanctions. Public school advocates as well as school choice supporters all opposed it.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, March 20, 2014 --- 2:23 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republicans who control the Wisconsin state Assembly are trying to strike a last-minute deal on a school accountability bill.

Rep. Jim Steineke says he is still trying to find a bill that can pass the Assembly on Thursday as well as clear the Senate. Thursday is the Assembly's last day in session for the year.

Steineke wants a bill that puts in place sanctions for poor-performing schools that take public money. But the Senate passed a bill without sanctions and leaders have said there's no interest to do more than that.

Steineke says talks will continue over the next 12 hours or so as the Assembly is in session.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, March 20, 2014 --- 5:10 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican-backed proposal that would lead to sanctions against poor-performing schools that receive state funding is headed for a vote in the state Assembly.

But the proposal up Thursday does not appear to have enough support to pass the Senate. The Senate passed a more limited bill that does not impose sanctions on schools, and instead just speeds up the reporting of performance data for all schools.

Assembly members who support their approach say more needs to be done this year. But the same bill must pass both the Senate and Assembly in order to go to Gov. Scott Walker.

How far to go with school accountability has even divided Republicans in the Assembly, making it unclear what will pass on its final session day Thursday.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, March 19, 2014 --- 4:58 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says he is concerned the Legislature will adjourn without reaching a deal on a school accountability bill.

The Senate has passed a bill that requires all schools receiving public money to make a variety of test scores and other data public so performance can be compared. The Assembly is scheduled to vote on a more expansive proposal Thursday that sets in motion sanctions against poor performing schools.

Walker said Wednesday he hoped that lawmakers could reach a deal and pass something that both chambers can agree to. Bills must pass both the Senate and Assembly in identical form before they go to Walker.

Thursday is the Assembly's final day in session. The Senate is returning April 1, but leaders have said they don't support the Assembly bill.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 18, 2014 --- 6:18 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says it's up to the Assembly whether a school accountability bill passes this session.

The Senate has passed a bill that would require performance data from private schools that accept taxpayer funded voucher students to be reported alongside the same information from public schools. But the Assembly plans to vote Thursday on a more far-reaching proposal that calls for sanctions for poor-performing schools.

Fitzgerald said Tuesday the Senate doesn't have "a lot of momentum" for re-visiting the issue. If the Assembly passes a bill the Senate won't take up, no accountability bill will pass this year.

Fitzgerald says if that happens, "that would be a swing and a miss on that topic."

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, February 20, 2014 --- 10:58 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A committee vote to pass a bill that would call for closing failing public schools, and kicking lagging private schools out of the voucher program, has been delayed.

The Education Committee planned to vote on the Republican-backed measure Thursday but committee chairman Rep. Steve Kestell says changes are still being discussed and the bill won't be ready for a vote this week.

Bill sponsor Rep. Jim Steineke says talks are ongoing with the Senate to find a bill that can pass both houses.

But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says there currently is only support in the Senate for the bill it passed earlier this week. That called for private schools to submit data public schools already provide for inclusion in report cards, but imposes no sanctions.

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UPDATED Thursday, February 20, 2014 --- 10:28 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A committee vote to pass a bill that would call for closing failing public schools, and kicking lagging private schools out of the voucher program, has been delayed.

The Education Committee planned to vote on the Republican-backed measure Thursday, clearing its way for the full Assembly to take up next month.

But committee chairman Rep. Steve Kestell says changes are still being discussed and the bill won't be ready for a vote this week.

Bill sponsor Rep. Jim Steineke says talks are ongoing with the Senate to find a bill that can pass both houses.

The Senate last week passed a more limited bill calling for private schools to submit data public schools already provide for inclusion in report cards. However, the Senate bill does not include sanctions.

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UPDATED Thursday, February 20, 2014 --- 9:32 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A committee vote to pass a bill that would call for closing failing public schools, and kicking lagging private schools out of the voucher program, has been delayed.

The Education Committee planned to vote on the Republican-backed measure Thursday, clearing its way for the full Assembly to take up next month.

But committee chairman Rep. Steve Kestell says changes are still being discussed and the bill won't be ready for a vote this week.

The proposal differs from a more limited approach in the Senate, which passed a bill calling for private schools to submit data public schools already provide for inclusion in report cards. However, the Senate bill does not include sanctions.

Assembly Republicans are pushing the more stringent bill that has sanctions.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, February 20, 2014 --- 7:53 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A bill that would call for closing failing public schools, and kicking lagging private schools out of the voucher program, is scheduled for a vote in a state Assembly committee.

The Education Committee planned to vote on the Republican-backed measure Thursday, clearing its way for the full Assembly to take up next month.

The bill differs from a more limited approach in the Senate, which passed a proposal calling for private schools to submit data public schools already provide for inclusion in report cards. However, the Senate bill does not include sanctions.

Assembly Republicans are pushing the more stringent bill that has sanctions but still would not assign letter grades to schools.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 18, 2014 --- 2:15 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate has passed a limited school accountability bill that would not impose sanctions on poor performing public or private voucher schools.

The vote Tuesday comes as the Assembly is reviving another bill that would call for closing poor performing public schools and stopping private schools from accepting students who receive taxpayer subsidized vouchers.

The measure passed by the Senate on a 29-3 vote would require any school that takes taxpayer money to report test scores and other data to be included on report cards starting in the 2015 school year.

Democratic opponents say the bill doesn't go far enough to hold voucher schools accountable. Republican sponsor Sen. Luther Olsen says he doesn't know if there's support in the Senate for the more expansive Assembly bill.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 18, 2014 --- 1:32 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- An accountability bill that would close failing public schools and disallow poor performing private schools from accepting voucher students is being revived in the state Assembly.

An earlier version of the bill garnered no support at a public hearing last week. The Assembly Education Committee has scheduled another hearing on a new version for Wednesday.

Unlike the previous version, the latest proposal will not assign letter grades to schools. It also makes a variety of other changes, but keeps the sanctions in place for poor performance.

Movement in the Assembly is happening as the Senate prepares to vote on a more limited bill that doesn't call for letter grades for schools or any sanctions for poor performance.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 18, 2014 --- 10:06 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Republican sponsor of a limited school accountability bill slated to pass the state Senate says he isn't giving up yet on reaching a deal for a more comprehensive approach that includes sanctions for poor performers.

The bill up for a vote Tuesday would require any school that takes public money to report a variety of data to the state Department of Public Instruction starting in the 2015 school year

But the bill has no sanctions for poor performers and does not assign letter grades to schools, like a proposal in the Assembly would do.

Sen. Luther Olsen says talks are now focused on a compromise where letter grades would not be assigned, but poor performing schools could be shut down or kicked out of the voucher program.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 18, 2014 --- 7:40 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate plans to vote on a limited school accountability bill that doesn't impose sanctions or assign letter grades to public and private choice schools.

The measure up for a vote Tuesday garnered bipartisan support in the Senate Education Committee last week, but it's unclear whether it has the support to pass the Republican-controlled Assembly where Speaker Robin Vos and others are backing a more comprehensive accountability bill.

But senators who support the bill up for a vote say the more limited approach is all that can pass this year.

The proposal would require any school that takes public money to report a variety of data to the state Department of Public Instruction starting in the 2015 school year.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, February 13, 2014 --- 12:00 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate Education Committee has passed a limited accountability bill that does not impose sanctions or assign letter grades to public and private choice schools.

The bill passed Thursday 8-1 instead simply requires that any school that takes public money must report a variety of data to the state Department of Public Instruction. The information would be included in the same report cards that are released currently for public schools.

The data on private voucher and charter schools would be included in the report cards starting with the 2015 school year. Current law requires them to report the data starting in the 2020 school year.

Attempts to pass a more comprehensive accountability bill with sanctions and giving schools letter grades has generated widespread opposition.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, February 12, 2014 --- 9:37 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A sweeping school accountability bill that would force poor-performing public schools to close may not have enough support to clear the Republican-controlled Assembly Education Committee.

The measure already appears to be dead on arrival in the Senate, where Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said there's no appetite to impose the proposed sanctions.

Instead, the Senate Education Committee plans to vote Thursday on a more narrow proposal that would ensure data from private schools in the voucher program gets reported.

At least one Republican on the Assembly Education Committee also opposes the sanctions bill. Rep. Steve Nass's spokesman Mike Mikalsen says that Nass will not vote for the bill that's up for a hearing Wednesday.

Mikalsen says the choice now is to either do nothing or pass the Senate bill.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, February 12, 2014 --- 7:00 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Poor-performing public schools would be forced to close under a sweeping accountability bill up for a public hearing before the Wisconsin state Assembly Education Committee.

The hearing Wednesday on the Republican-sponsored bill comes even as the Senate is taking a different approach to school accountability and not pursuing sanctions for poor performance.

The Assembly bill would assign a grade to all publicly funded schools and failing public schools would be forced to close. Failing private schools that accept students who receive taxpayer funded vouchers would not be allowed to take any more voucher students.

Senate Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says the Senate will pursue a more limited approach focused on ensuring that voucher school data is collected and reported. He says further action could be taken next session.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 11, 2014 --- 10:42 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Even though it appears to be dead in the Senate, the Wisconsin state Assembly is moving forward with a bill to impose sanctions on poor-performing schools.

The Assembly's Education Committee scheduled a hearing on the measure Wednesday.

The bill would assign a grade to all publicly funded schools and failing public schools would be forced to close. Failing private schools that accept students who receive taxpayer funded vouchers would not be allowed to take any more voucher students.

But Senate Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said last week the Senate has no interest in voting on a bill that imposes sanctions on schools.

Instead, Fitzgerald says the Senate will pursue a more limited approach to ensure data is collected and reported from voucher schools then revisit the issue next year.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, February 7, 2014 --- 12:34 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says there is "no appetite" among Senate Republicans to pass a bill that imposes sanctions on poor performing public or private schools with voucher students.

Fitzgerald told The Associated Press on Friday that the Senate will take up a narrow school accountability bill that focuses on collecting and reporting data from the schools.

An earlier version of the bill proposed closing failing public schools or forcing them to become charters. It also proposed to bar poor-performing voucher schools from accepting new voucher students.

Fitzgerald says work is still being done on the bill and he expects the Senate to pass something later this year.

Assembly Republicans are working on a different version.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, January 29, 2014 --- 12:31 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The chairman of the Wisconsin state Senate Education Committee has canceled a planned vote on a bill that would force poor-performing public schools in Wisconsin to close or reopen as charter schools.

Republican Sen. Luther Olsen said Wednesday he does not have the votes in committee to pass the bill that reworks the school report card to give schools letter grades and incorporate students attending private schools using taxpayer funded vouchers.

Olsen says does not know if the bill will return this year.

Olsen says he is trying to work with more conservative Republicans who want additional changes, as well as voucher school advocates, private school representatives and public school backers who all want to see modifications.

The Education Committee had planned to vote Thursday on the bill.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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Posted Tuesday, January 28, 2014 --- 10:02 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The latest version of a school accountability bill would force poor-performing public schools in Wisconsin to close or reopen as charter schools.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Tuesday that the Republican-authored bill would also make significant changes to the current K-12 school accountability system, including assigning letter grades to schools.

The bill would also require testing for taxpayer-subsidized students at private voucher schools and prohibit the lowest-performing schools from enrolling new voucher students. Participating private schools also could test all students for accountability purposes.

The changes would go into effect in the 2015 school year.

The Senate Education Committee was scheduled to vote Thursday on the latest version of the bill.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press


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