Badger Exam results; Madison Substantially Lags State Results….

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Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email:

LETRS Training
For the fourth year, the Milwaukee Summer Reading Project will offer free training in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) in Milwaukee. Ten Saturday classes run from March into June. There are approximately ten open spots, with registration being first come-first served. If you are interested, please reply to this email to receive detailed information.

The Badger Exam
For 2014-15, the Badger Exam was Wisconsin’s annual statewide test in English Language Arts, taking the place of the WKCE. Badger was the name used in Wisconsin for the assessment developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), one of two Common Core-aligned assessments utilized by multiple states.

As was the case in other states that used this SBAC assessment, a much higher percentage of fourth grade students reached the proficient level than on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). See In Wisconsin, 50.4% of fourth graders were proficient on the Badger, while only 37% were proficient on the NAEP. This discrepancy could be attributed to differing exam content as well as different standards for setting proficiency cut scores. (Wisconsin was not included in the above-linked article because DPI delayed release of Badger results from the spring, 2015 exam until January 13, 2016.)

As is true in the NAEP data, the Badger scores reflect deep and persistent gaps between different groups of students. Proficiency percentages were only 20.2 for African-American fourth graders, 24.3 for students with disabilities, and 37.1 for low income students. DPI’s press release contains details.

At this point, Wisconsin’s DPI has not posted district and school Badger results on its website, which limits public access to this important information. An article in the Wisconsin State Journal provides information on districts in Dane County. In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Alan Borsuk reports that Milwaukee proficiency percentages were so low that former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called it a “national disgrace.”

The Badger exam is now history in Wisconsin. Legislation required development of the new Forward exam for this year. Since we will not longer be able to compare scores with other states who are taking the SBAC exam, it is critical that Wisconsin be honest about setting its proficiency cut scores at a level that corresponds to the NAEP standards.

2015 data via a .xlsx, .numbers file or PDF. Milwaukee School District Slides (PDF).

Wisconsin’s long serving WKCE exam was oft criticized for very low standards.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending more the $17,000 per student annually.

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