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Great Public Schools Criteria for Wisconsin

Great Public Schools Criteria refers to the seven elements needed for closing the achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students. The seven elements are: (1) readiness to learn, (2) high expectations, (3) quality conditions, (4) qualified staff, (5) accountability, (6) parental involvement, and (7) funding.

Read more below about the Great Public Schools Criteria in Wisconsin.

Readiness to Learn

Early Learning Centers.
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, responding to increasing concerns at attitudes and practices which erode children’s legal rights to enter public school and participate in a beneficial educational program, adopted what the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE) has developed in terms of principles for kindergarten entry and placement including: enrolment in kindergarten based on their legal right to enter, rejecting retention as a viable option for young children, not using tests at kindergarten entrance to create barriers to school entry or to sort children into homogeneous groups, and welcoming children as they are into kindergarten settings.

With the current fragmentation of early childhood programs, it is not uncommon for one child to move from child care, to school programs or Head Start, to specialized services, and back to child care all in one day. Transportation, dealing with various providers and different system expectations can have has a detrimental impact on children and their families. More and more communities and their early childhood programs are bringing the different programs into one building and children into the same classrooms. Responding to these conditions, Wisconsin created Early Learning Centers (ELC).

ELCs differ from primary grade school on these 10 points:

  1. Governance: Locus of control with staff and parents, i.e., charter status. Government units have oversight on the "intent" of all funding streams.
    Collaboration: At least four programs/funding streams should be included: Regular education, special education, Head Start and child care. Under the ELC roof, the programs are functionally blended. Space also available for health/social service providers as well as family/community functions.
    Hours of the center would be open a minimum of 2,000. Operation: hours/year (9 hours a day, 45 weeks a year).
    Family-Centered: Consumer friendly, designed to meet parent "where they are at." Most important question, "What do you want your child to be like when they grow up?"
  2. Staffing: Team teaching, career ladder, continuous improvement, Patterns: adult child ratio low. Teacher child ratio may be high.
  3. Facilities: Designed expressly for young children, staffing patterns and parents.
  4. Funding: Business manager handles funding streams. Under the roof are endless variations on one program.
  5. Accountability: Results based. (How did the kids turn out at age 25?) The ongoing question, "How do we know we're getting there?" Shared responsibility, TQM, portfolios.
  6. Curriculum Choices: responsive to child's learning style and respectful of parents values. Developmentally appropriate practices.
  7. Community: Multiple connections to the neighborhood. Center Based: serves as hub with satellite connections to other providers (e.g., family day cares, private preschools) 
    Source: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Full-day Kindergarten:

Quality Conditions

Class Size.
Legal Basis: WIS. STAT. ANN. § 118.43.  Enacted 1995.
The statute creates a program called Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE). The program requires the districts to enter into a five-year achievement guarantee contacts with the department of public instruction.   Class size reduction is one of several requirements for the grants.

Current Average Elementary School Class Size: 20.8


Wisconsin does not reward or sanction districts on the basis of performance. Neither does it reward nor sanction schools for the same.