The New Wisconsin Forward Exam

Wisconsin Reading Coalition:

The Badger Exam lasted just one year, to be replaced this spring with the Wisconsin Forward Exam. Wisconsin contracted with Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) to develop the new test with input from Wisconsin teachers.

In addition to rolling out the new assessment, DPI must complete the important process of setting proficiency standards. We hope they will continue to set proficiency cut scores based on the NAEP standards. For many years, Wisconsin yielded to the temptation to set its standards low, making it appear that we had higher percentages of proficient students than was actually the case. As reported by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, the required level for proficiency in 4th grade reading in Wisconsin was actually below the level that NAEP set for the basic performance category.

“In this report, which involved mapping state proficiency standards in reading and mathematics onto the appropriate NAEP scale (2004-05), Wisconsin was among the states at the lower levels.

At grade 4 in reading, Wisconsin proficiency levels rated well below the NAEP Basic cut score and considerably below the NAEP Proficient cut score. Wisconsin ranked 22cd out of 32 states, far behind the leading states of Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Wyoming. “

DPI has also been asked by the U.S. Department of Education with finding a way to increase the number of students taking the statewide assessment. Wisconsin was one of 12 states that had a lower-than-required participation rate last year. A letter from the Department of Education spelled out the requirements as well as listing possible strategies to achieve compliance from districts.

Wisconsin’s long serving WKCE exam was often criticized for its low standards.