MMSD: “Madison Students Top Peers in WKCE Tests”

Madison Metropolitan School District:

Madison students tested on the 2005-06 Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) surpassed their state peers in the “advanced” category — the highest category — at all grade levels and in both reading and math, district officials said today. More than 12,000 of the district’s 24,490 students took the tests.
This level of achievement is significant because the number of students tested doubled, due to first time testing in grades 3, 5, 6, and 7 (in addition to 4, 8 and 10 grades). For example, 38% of the district’s 10th graders taking the math test scored in the advanced category, compared with 25% statewide. Madison third graders taking the math test topped their state peers in the advanced category by 44% to 32%.
Madison students across the seven tested grades average five percentage points higher in the advanced score range than their statewide peers in the reading tests, and are over eight percentage points higher in the math test.
“Madison’s high-fliers really fly high,” said Superintendent Art Rainwater. “While we continue to work hard to narrow the minority student achievement gap, it’s important to note that high achieving students prosper and excel in our community’s schools.”

Much more on the WKCE test, and recent changes to it here.

6 thoughts on “MMSD: “Madison Students Top Peers in WKCE Tests””

  1. I’m haunted by a song titled “The Power and the Glory” by Phil Ochs, a fabulous protest singer from the 1960’s:
    Come take a walk with me through this green and growing land
    Walk through the valleys and the rivers and the plains…
    Here is a land full of power and glory Beauty that words cannot recall
    For her power shall rest on the strength of her freedom
    Her glory shall rest on us all…
    Always these word run though my mind when I see test scores and hear the administration and board majority crow about the high flyers.
    I feel so sad because this district is only as good as those who can’t read and can’t compute.

  2. HELP! Somebody out there oughta know the answer to my question. This years 3rd, 4th, 8th and 10th grade state test results are out. We are told by the DPI that the test was harder so they adjusted the “cut score” level for some reason or another.
    My questions are:
    1) Say for example your district’s 4th grade reading scores went up by 4%. Would they have gone up by more or less than that if no adjustments to the cut score level were made. Put another way, did the “adjustment” inflate or decrease a district’s reported increase.
    2) Conversely, if your district’s scores declined, would the decline have been even worse if no adjustment were made. Or, did the adjustment have the effect of moderating the true decline.
    I shall buy the person who can answer this in an understandable fashion a 6-pack of expensive beer the next time I’m in Madison. Limit one winner and I decide who’s “understandable”.
    Reed Schneider

  3. Funny, Art doesn’t get it that “high flyers” may be getting their education outside of MMSD. They are studying on their own, using mentors, or oh my godness, “gifted”. It would be interesting for the district to interview these “high flyers” and see how little the district has helped them become “high flyers”. Doesn’t seem like administration really cares about them except to say “look at what we created” even though for most, the district has done very little.

  4. From the May 23, 2006 DPI news release I read:
    “Wisconsin educators worked hard to develop and administer a testing program of this magnitude,” said State Sperintendent Elizabeth Burmaster.”Every question for the new reading and math tests was customized and reviewed by Wisconsin educators.”
    Let me get this straight. Teachers/educators devise the test, administer the test, grade the test, adjust the cut scores to conform to some other test and then control the release and channels of the results.
    This is outrageous. If this were Big Oil or Enron, Ms Burmaster would be rehearsing answers to a Senate Investigation Committee right about now.
    Btw, please seriously help with the questions I asked a few days ago. I read the explanation on the DPI website and still can’t figure it out. Here’s the site:
    The adjusting of the results had something to do with “crosswalk tables”, “item response theory” and “equipercentile linking.”

  5. Reed,
    I regret to say that I don’t think anyone can say for sure. Ther performance of students on the underlying scale shifted so radically, that we can’t meaningfully compare a student’s scale score from year-to-year across this transition.
    Here is an example, using 4th grade Reading. For Fall 2004, the 50th percentile score was a 716. For Fall 2005, the 50th percentile score was at 545-546. To look at it from another perspective a 716 was a 50th percentile (median) score last year, but would place a 4th grader at the 99th percentile this year. Same for math.
    I’ll also add that for Language Arts, Science and Social Studies, the scale scores that would have been 50th percentile scores for 4th grade in Fall 2004 are now above the 10th grade 99th percentile (essentially off-scale) for Fall 2005.
    When I have some time, I plan to compare the Fall 2004 WKCE and MAP scores for 4th grade with the Fall 2005 WKCE and MAP scores for 5th grade to get a better understanding of how student performance on the state tests can be understood. The MAP will provide a continuous scale for comparison. I expect to have this complete before our data retreat in early June.

  6. Ironically positive test results strengthen Republican resolve to maintain spending caps, I’d guess. From their point of view, the GOPers can say, “Spending caps work. We’ve held down spending and taxes while students still score well. What could be better? Let’s keep the caps.”

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