When Bruce-Guadalupe Community School leaders noticed dips in students' reading and math scores, they vowed to try something different.
The next year, the south side charter school accepted its first class of 3-year-old kindergartners to work on literacy skills at earlier ages, while older students with low scores had to attend extra tutoring sessions. Some children were sent to participate in a special reading program at Marquette University's School of Education.
By the fall of 2011, scores were on the rise.
Bruce-Guadalupe could implement changes so quickly in part because of its status as an independent charter school, or a public school that operates outside the authority—and bureaucracy—of the local school district.
Gov. Scott Walker's budget aims to make it easier for more schools to have that kind of flexibility and contains provisions that haven't received a lot of attention but are controversial.