WILL Condemns DPI’s Ridiculous Attempt to Disguise Lackluster Student Achievement


The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) strongly condemns the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) for changing the terminology regarding student performance as well as once again considering changing the cut points for proficiency on the state’s Forward Exam. This represents a blatant effort to conceal lackluster academic performance for Wisconsin students. WILL believes these changes will cloud parent’s ability to best understand their child’s academic performance and allow schools to avoid accountability for their failures.  

The Quotes: WILL Research Director Will Flanders urges, “Instead of focusing on declining academic achievement in Wisconsin, the Department of Public Instruction is working to hide the problem. Unfortunately, changing standards for political correctness and to avoid accountability will hurt students today, tomorrow, and long into the future. DPI should prioritize addressing more pressing issues, such as implementing reading reforms which will raise student outcomes and helping to resolve the mess in Milwaukee Public Schools.”  

The Changes from DPI:  DPI announced they would be changing the terminology of student performance categories to as follows:  

  • “Below Basic” will now change to “Developing.”
  • “Basic” will now change to “Approaching.”
  • “Proficient” will now change to “Meeting.”
  • “Advanced” will remain the same.  

These labels are not designed to spare the feelings of the students who are not performing as expected, as DPI has alluded. Rather, they intend to prevent families from recognizing the ineptitude of the schools that fail to help students reach the standards required for the workforce or college. 

 DPI is also holding a meeting June 11-14 to redetermine the cut points for the Forward Exam, which can impact what category schools and districts fall into on the state report card.  Previous changes to comparable cut points have occurred in recent years—making report card ratings incomparable over time. As a condition for participation in this meeting, participating teachers must sign a non-disclosure agreement. 


Will Flanders, PHD

Will Flanders, PHD

Research Director

Share This