Schools prep parents for test score changesBy the end of the month, results from this year’s Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations will be sent home to families.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
By the end of the month, results from this year’s Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations will be sent home to families.
Results may not be what parents expect, and Superior school district Superintendent Janna Stevens is working to prepare them.
“I’m thinking most parents are going to be surprised,” Stevens said. “They’re going to say, ‘Wow, you seem to have gone down;’ so I’m trying to get some information out.”
Wisconsin changed its evaluation standards this year. In math and reading, students now are scored according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Under the new standards, many students who once received a proficient rating will now drop down to basic.
Stevens said parents should not assume their children need a support plan if they receive a lower rating than in the past.
“That’s what I worry about for parents, that they’re going to think that their kids are doing poorly when really the fact is it’s just a change in the cut scores,” Stevens said. “It will be good when we have the new test and the new cut scores so everything is more equal.”
The new national standards are only being used to evaluate math and reading this year, Stevens said. The old cut scores are still in place for science, language arts and social studies.
Wisconsin plans to introduce a new assessment to replace the examination within the next few years.
The Maple school district has also taken measures to prepare families for the new testing standards.
“We started in (the) parent information process back in August with an article in the News of Your Schools, the school district newsletter,” said Greg Blair, director of curriculum and instruction.
“Information has been distributed at school events such as athletic contests, concerts, school board meetings and parent teacher conferences. Also, a letter will be sent home with the WKCE results explaining the difference in proficiency measurements between the former WKCE scores and the new NAEP scores.”
At the beginning of the school year, Stevens also sent a letter home to parents to inform them of the new testing standards. In that letter, Stevens compared the old standards to the new. Under the old standards, about 82 percent of students received at least a proficient rating in reading. Under the new standards, that number is expected to drop to 34 percent.
“Everybody wants to see their kids at the top, of course. They want to see high scores,” Stevens said. “So what I worry about is kids that are working so hard and then suddenly drop to another category.
“What I want the community to know is that our staff is working diligently to try to get every child, if they’re not at the proficient or advanced level, we’re trying to be very analytical about where they are, where are their gaps and try to fill everything in.”
If a student does test at the basic level, Stevens said it is not a sign he or she needs remedial work. Stevens urged parents to look at their children’s day-to-day classroom work and keep in mind that the examination is just one test given at the start of the year, not a comprehensive measure of student achievement.