Deeper Dive: Wisconsin K12 Schools’ Abysmal Proficiency Rates

Abbi Debelack:

The latest data on testing and proficiency rates for Wisconsin’s children were recently released by the Department of Public Instruction and it is not pretty. Yet despite the alarmingly low test scores, there appears to be little to no outrage by the media and education establishment.

Each year, Wisconsin students, in various grades, take a series of standardized tests to assess their proficiency in a range of different subjects. Test results are a useful tool to track a student’s academic progress and gauge the overall effectiveness of Wisconsin’s K12 education system. The Forward Exam is given to students in grades three through eight and ten. The ACT Aspire test is given in grades nine and ten. The ACT writing test is given in grade eleven and the Dynamic Learning Maps is given to students with cognitive disabilities. This year, the tests were administered to students in the spring. The tests were not administered in 2020 because of COVID-19.

This year, English Language Arts (ELA) proficiency is 27.5%, down 5.4 points or a 16.41% reduction from 2019. Math proficiency is at 27%, down 7 points from 2019 or a 20.59% reduction. These figures look at proficiency rates as a percentage of TOTAL Wisconsin students, not just those tested as Superintendent Underly reported in her press release.

We must point out that this is not a particularly difficult or rigorous grading metric. A student who is graded as being proficient on the Forward Exam means the child is operating at grade level. Let that sink in. Shockingly, less than one-third of Wisconsin students are proficient in math or English Language Arts.

Related: Wisconsin AB446.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results 

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

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