Wisconsin students' test scores rising
Standardized test scores in Wisconsin are on the rise. Students statewide performed better this year on the math and reading portions of the Wisconsin Student Assessment System than they did in 2005-06, the state Department of Public Instruction ...
Standardized test scores in Wisconsin are on the rise.
Students statewide performed better this year on the math and reading portions of the Wisconsin Student Assessment System than they did in 2005-06, the state Department of Public Instruction reported Monday.
Achievement gaps between minority students and their white counterparts also are closing, the department said.
"We have been making slow and steady progress to improve mathematics and reading achievement for all students," state Superintendent Tony Evers said in a statement Monday.
The Wisconsin Student Assessment System comprises the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exams and the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for students with disabilities. The exams are given to students in third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and 10th grades.
Eau Claire schools Superintendent Ron Heilmann declined to release test data for the Eau Claire school district Monday, saying the district had been told not to release the information until today.
About 77.2 percent of students statewide scored proficient or advanced on the math portion of the tests this school year, up from 72.8 percent in 2005-06.
Students actually performed slightly worse in math this year than last year -- about 77.3 percent of students scored proficient or advanced last year. Still, this year's figures are higher than any other year since 2005-06.
DPI spokesman Patrick Gasper said the department is comparing only test performances over the past six years because the state changed the way it scores standardized tests beginning in the 2005-06 year.
In reading, 83 percent of students in Wisconsin scored proficient or advanced this year, a slight uptick from the 81.7 percent who did so six years ago. This year's figures are the highest since 2005-06.
Gasper said the figures only are for public schools, as well as private schools in Milwaukee that participate in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which pays for low-income students in Milwaukee to attend private and parochial schools there. He said the DPI doesn't track test scores for most private schools in the state.
White students -- who have had the state's highest overall test scores over the past six years -- saw their scores in reading and math grow at a slower rate than all other minority groups. The DPI tracks scores for white, Indian, Asian, black and Hispanic students.
Ann Franke, the Eau Claire school district's director of secondary education, said the district has seen "some improvement" in closing the test gap among minority students.
"But there still is a pretty significant gap," she said. "I don't think the gap is closing as quickly as any of us would like it to."
Franke said the district has made efforts in recent years to improve test scores among all students by identifying kids early on who need help in school. Such students can get additional instruction or get put in summer school, she said.
Franke also said the district has tried in recent years to improve minority test scores by introducing more "culturally relevant" material in classrooms.
"It could include choosing literature or materials that represent a different point of view from just a white point of view, making sure that those are materials that our students have access to so that they see themselves in the materials that they're studying," Franke said of efforts the district has made to offer more culturally relevant teaching.
Copyright (c) 2011, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis./Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.