2017 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 78%
Wisconsin’s Special Needs Scholarship Program, enacted in 2015, is the state’s fourth school voucher program. This program became available for families to use in the 2016–17 school year.
Individual Tax Credit/Deduction
Wisconsin enacted this individual tax deduction in 2013 and launched it in 2014. All taxpaying families in the state are eligible and can apply for an individual tax deduction after paying for K–12 private school tuition.
Wisconsin’s statewide Parental Choice Program, a private school voucher program, was enacted and launched in 2013. The program offers school vouchers to students whose families meet certain income qualifications and are not assigned to the Milwaukee Public Schools or Racine Unified school districts.
Wisconsin enacted and launched the Parental Private School Choice Program in Racine in 2011. The program offers private school vouchers to Racine families who meet certain income restrictions.
Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program was enacted and launched in 1990 and is considered the nation’s first modern private school choice program. It offers private school vouchers to low-income Milwaukee students.
Charter Schools Score: 75%
Wisconsin earns a C in our rankings. The law provides charters needed autonomy, which should result in a diverse and innovative charter sector. However, restrictions on who can authorize schools ultimately limit diversity and innovation; districts authorize 90 percent of charters in the state. Furthermore, limits on charter school expansion contribute to Wisconsin’s middling grade.
- Fast Facts
- Law Passed: 1993
- Number of Charters: 238
- Estimated Charter Enrollment: 44,900 (no increase from 2015-16)
- Wisconsin has no caps for the majority of authorizers but there are some caps for university authorizers, and Milwaukee Public Schools has a self-imposed cap
- Virtual charter schools are permitted, but only if authorized by local districts
- Charters can contract with EMOs and CMOs for management purposes
- Wisconsin earns 7 out of 15 points for “authorizing” because t multiple entities are able to authorize charter schools. In Wisconsin, school boards, some universities, and the Milwaukee City Council can authorize charter schools (with geographic restrictions). In practice, however, school districts authorize 90 percent of charter schools in Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin earns ten out of fifteen points for “growth” because of the moderate caps that exist for some university authorizers (such as Menominee and LacCourte universities). Milwaukee Public Schools also instituted a cap. Additionally, charter schools in Wisconsin have shown poor growth recently, which suggests a regulatory environment adverse to charter school growth.
- Wisconsin earns 14 out of 20 points for “operations” because charter schools have a blanket waiver from most state laws and regulations that apply to traditional public schools. However, due to the large number of schools that are authorized by traditional school districts, charter schools in Wisconsin are always at risk of losing their autonomy due to school district regulations. Furthermore, the law requires charter school teachers to be certified. This may prevent charter schools from hiring the best qualified candidates.
Wisconsin earns a 5 out of 15 for “funding equity” because the law does not specify how charters authorized by the district should be funded. Charter schools funded by all other authorizers receive per-pupil funding equal to the payment amount of the prior year, plus any revenue increase adjustments in the current school year. Wisconsin’s law does not provide any per-pupil facilities funding.
Online Learning Score: 65%
The state does, however, provide a range of full-time and supplemental online learning options to students, and enrollment in both full-time and part-time courses online has been steadily increasing over the past ﬁve years.
Teacher Quality Score: 65%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers C-
Expanding the Pool of Teachers D-
Identifying Effective Teachers D-
Retaining Effective Teachers D+
Exiting Ineffective Teachers D-