Wisconsin Academic Result commentary: writer fails to mention thousands of DPI eLementary Reading teacher mulligans

Logan Wroge:

For example, white students in fifth grade dropped 4.6 percentage points in English/language arts proficiency compared to a 1.6 percentage-point decrease for black students in fifth grade.

In the eighth grade, the percentage of African American students scoring proficient or advanced in English/language arts rose 2 percentage points to 12.1%, while the percentage of white students in that group dropped 1.1 percentage points. But the proficiency difference is still separated by a 30-point gap.

Tomev said DPI is still going over the numbers to better understand the decline in proficiency from the previous year.

“Of course, we believe our students desire nothing less than our full support,” she said. “They’re entering the classroom with more challenges than ever before. For the system to work, we need to keep funding it, and we have to make adjustments so we’re not losing students along the way.”

As in previous years, Madison students trailed the average statewide testing proficiency. In grades 3 to 8, 34.8% of Madison students tested proficient or advanced in English on the Forward Exam and 38.2% in math.

Since the Forward Exam was first used in 2015-16, math proficiency has increased about 3 percentage points for Madison students, but English results have remained relatively stagnant.

The district prefers to track growth and progress through another exam — the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP — which it administers several times a year, said Andrew Statz, the district’s chief accountability officer, since results come in quicker than for the Forward Exam and can be better used by teachers to make adjustments and plan for upcoming school years.

The MAP results show a higher percentage of elementary and middle school students are proficient in reading and math and show larger long-term gains.

Statz said that’s likely because the Forward Exam uses a higher threshold in determining proficiency as opposed to the MAP standards. But the district has kept the same MAP standards since 2013 in order to be able to accurately measure change over time, he said.

The district continues to hit higher composite ACT scores than the state as a whole with the average score for Madison juniors being 20.5 out of 36.

The performance on the ACT, though, varies among students at the district’s four comprehensive high schools, with West High leading the group with an average score of 23, followed by Memorial at 21.9, East at 18.9, and La Follette at 18.4.

A few notes from Scott Girard.

the majority of ALL 11th-grade students in Madison read and write below basic proficiency. Translated: they are functionally illiterate.

The Wisconsin Department of Public instruction, long lead by our new Governor, Tony Evers, has waived thousands of elementary teacher reading content knowledge requirements (Foundations of Reading, based on Massachusetts’ best in the States MTEL requirement)