Voucher students post gain in math, reading; still lag public schools

Erin Richards & Kevin Crowe:

Reading and math proficiency for students attending private, mostly religious schools in Milwaukee with the help of taxpayer-funded vouchers ticked up in 2013 from 2012, according to the latest state standardized test score results.

On average, students in Milwaukee’s private-school voucher program still performed lower than students in the city’s traditional public school system.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released fall test score data for the taxpayer-funded private voucher schools on Tuesday, one day after allowing media to review the fall 2013 state test score results for public schools.

In all, reading and math achievement on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination for both the public and private voucher schools, especially in Milwaukee, continued to be low. That’s due in part to the state raising the bar for what’s considered a proficient score on the state test.

The WKCE will be replaced next year by a new, computer-based assessment in reading and math that is aligned to national standards and will allow for better comparisons of achievement between states.

Another issue that has cropped up is an increasing number of voucher-school families opting their children out of taking the state exams altogether — a legal option, but one seemingly at odds with the statewide push toward more transparency for schools.

Gov. Scott Walker signed two bills into law Tuesday that will bring more accountability to the private schools receiving taxpayer money.

Meanwhile, the latest state test results showed:

About 16% of Milwaukee voucher students who took the state test met or exceeded the bar for proficiency in math, and about 12% did the same in reading.

Much more on the oft criticized WKCE, here.