MADISON, Wis. — Less than half of public and private school students taking a new statewide test are proficient or advanced in English language arts, math and science, according to results released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
This spring, 382,836 public and school choice students took the new Forward Exam, which was developed by nearly 100 educators from around the state to measure student achievement in core subject areas using the categories of below basic, basic, proficient or advanced.
The Forward Exam tested English language arts and mathematics for grades three through eight and science for fourth and eighth grades.
Results showed that 41.7 percent of public and private choice students scored in the proficient or advanced in English language arts. In mathematics, 41.3 percent of students were proficient or advanced, and in science 49.1 percent of students were proficient or advanced.
The Forward Exam replaced the Badger Exam which was riddled with operational problems and widely criticized by parents, school administrators and lawmakers. Because proficiency standards are different in the Badger Exam, DPI officials said it would be unfair to compare to past testing results.
Education officials said what was evident however, was that the results for public school students by race and ethnicity showed achievement gaps that have been evident in other state and national measurements. Those gaps are also apparent for English language learners, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students, officials added.
“I remain troubled by the achievement gaps that persist in Wisconsin,” Evers said in a statement. “As a state and within our communities, we must work together to raise awareness of this problem and implement policy-driven solutions. It is not an issue of one student or one school district, it is an issue that impacts us all.”
The state also released the results of the ACT Plus Writing exam taken by 64,668 public and private high school juniors this spring as part of the statewide testing requirements. It’s the second year that 11th-graders took the ACT Plus Writing test.
The percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced was down from the prior year for English language arts and mathematics and up for science, the results showed. ACT made changes to the design of the writing portion of the English language arts assessment that impacted student results, state education officials said.
Students who were proficient or advanced measured 40.6 percent in English, 34.5 percent in math and 33.8 in science. That compares with last year’s proficient or advanced results of 45.4 percent in English, 35.5 percent in math and 31.4 percent in science.