MADISON – Representative LaKeshia Myers (D-Milwaukee) introduced a bill today that will modify the requirements for an Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) contract. This bill would eliminate one-to-one tutoring and instructional coaching in grades K4-3; requiring instead that school boards must reduce class sizes in grades K4-3 to no more than eighteen pupils to one teacher or thirty pupils if the classroom has at least two classroom teachers.
The Achievement Gap Reduction (AGR) Program was established in the 2015-16 school year; and fully replaced the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education program (SAGE) at the end of the 2017-18 school year. The AGR program allows a participating school to meet the obligations of its five-year contract by implementing one of three strategies, or a combination of these strategies in every kindergarten through grade three classroom:
- One−to−one tutoring provided by a licensed teacher
- Instructional coaching for teachers provided by a licensed teacher; or
- Maintaining 18:1 or 30:2 classroom ratios and providing professional development on small group instruction.
Representative Myers stated, “this legislation is a key component in increasing the outcomes of student academic performance across the state. Reducing class sizes in the early grades will ensure our students get the laser-focused attention they deserve from their teachers. Building a positive foundation will most certainly yield higher achievement rates in reading and math, which have struggled in recent years.”
More than two-hundred public school districts across the state receive funding for AGR. During the 2018-19 school year, the state allocated more than $109 million in AGR aid. The Achievement Gap Reduction Program requires a participating school to create performance objectives that includes reducing the achievement gap between low−income students in that school. In Wisconsin, 37% of children come from low-income families.
“Research clearly tells us that small class sizes help low-income students and students of color. Especially in the early grades, class-size reduction makes a difference. This is important because Wisconsin’s rural poverty has grown exponentially; the rural poverty index now matches or exceeds those that are present in Milwaukee and Dane counties. By lowering class sizes at the lower elementary levels, this would help all students across our state.”