Eau Claire (WQOW) - The debate about the future of education in Wisconsin played out in Eau Claire on Wednesday.
Three years ago, Wisconsin and 45 other states, adopted new education benchmarks. They're called the Common Core State Standards. The intent is to raise the bar and prepare more students for success after graduation. Recently, they've come under fire. Some groups claim the standards are not rigorous enough. Governor Walker has called for the state to re-evaluate Common Core, suggesting Wisconsin set the bar even higher.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers has been holding public hearings to get input. That group came to Eau Claire on Wednesday and heard testimony from several people. The first to testify was Eau Claire Superintendent Dr. Mary Ann Hardebeck. She spoke in support of the standards. Right now, Wisconsin schools are focusing on how to implement the benchmarks for math and language arts. "Concentrating on the facts, figures and the things they need to know, but also on the these higher level, critical thinking skills that children need to develop. Being able to analyze, being able to make judgments about what they read, those kinds of things are emphasized in the core," said Dr. Hardebeck.
A child psychologist from Utah also testified and offered his reservations. Dr. Gary Thompson is opposed to the computer-based testing that would be used. He's worried about the impact it could have on some kids, like those with autism. "When you have an adaptive computer test, we're not sure of the stimuli that's going to come from that. There's a high risk for that population to have a complete emotional meltdown right in the middle of the testing," said Dr. Thompson from Early Life Child Psychology & Education Center, Inc.
The bipartisan committee will eventually provide recommendations on the future of Common Core standards in Wisconsin. Eau Claire's Own News 18 is spending a great deal of time examining the Common Core from many angles. Look for our series of reports that digs deeper into the core, beginning next month.