Katharine Lyall, UW System President
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to participate in this hearing. As this committee is well aware, a top quality educational system at all levels is essential to the long-term prosperity of our state. This theme has emerged from the statewide Economic Summits of the past two years, and is an on-going focus of the new Wisconsin PK-16 Leadership Council, which is working to ensure a seamless array of educational opportunities for Wisconsin citizens.
My message today is simple, but important: the UW System supports PI34 and the clear steps it establishes for sustaining and improving educational quality.
- Systemwide, UW institutions graduate 4,300 new teachers every year and supply about 68% of all teachers employed in Wisconsin. We also provide continuing professional training for thousands of in-service teachers, annually.
- Making continuous improvement in teacher preparation and professional development requires a sustained goal that can be pursued long-term, over good and bad fiscal cycles, and through good and bad demographic cycles of teacher retirement-replacement-and renewal. PI34 provides a framework that helps us focus and sustain our improvement efforts. It will help avoid the cynicism that comes with “flavor of the month” educational reforms and enable us to generate valuable research knowledge on what really works to improve learning outcomes for students.
- In Wisconsin, we know from experience that “one size does not fit all.” Therefore, the implementation teams – about which you will hear more in a few minutes – are providing flexible models, each of which can achieve the PI34 outcomes we desire. Fitting the best model to each school is essential to achieving the sustained commitment we need.
Let me give you just one example of how the UW System is moving forward on PI34: Using a combination of UW System funding and federal funding, we have already begun to prepare all of our campuses to adopt electronic portfolios that will qualify our graduates for their Initial Educator license. These portfolios will contain documentation that each of the licensing program’s standards has been fully met. A Systemwide training session last November prepared teams from each UW campus by demonstrating models of electronic portfolios in use at other institutions. Each of our campuses has now filed with UW System Administration its plan for generating these portfolios based on collaborative efforts among faculty from education and the other academic disciplines, multiple campuses, and K-12 practitioners.
We will be ready to implement these portfolios and demonstrate that every one of our graduates is fully qualified to teach in Wisconsin.
Also, the UW Board of Regents will discuss a presentation on PI34 at its March meeting, next month. As you know, the Regents were early supporters of our PK-16 Council and are avidly following its progress. The Council will be discussing PI34 at its next meeting on March 7th.
In short, the UW finds PI34 a valuable policy for organizing, sustaining, and collaborating with others to focus continuous educational improvement, statewide. We thank the legislature for helping to establish this policy and for maintaining interest in its progress.