Notes on Wisconsin’s latest K-12 annual exam results

Olivia Herken:

Middleton-Cross Plains and Wisconsin Heights were among the highest-scoring districts in the county. The lowest scores in the county came from One City Schools, a Madison charter school that opened its elementary school in the fall of 2018.

‘Way behind’

Only 7.7% of One City’s third-graders and 5.9% of fourth-graders scored proficient or higher in English and language arts, and 7.7% of third-graders scored that high in math. In science and social studies, which is given to fourth-graders, 11.8% scored proficient or higher.

Kaleem Caire, founder and CEO of One City, said the low test scores are partly because 68% of the school’s students were new last year, with almost all of them testing two grades behind. The school was also participating in the Forward Exam for the first time and stumbled when following the testing protocol, Caire said, largely because of staffing shortages that left students and staff unprepared.

“We just had kids who were way behind,” Caire said, adding that the school was also adjusting to the pandemic less than two years after it opened.

Caire said he didn’t consider the test scores an essential measure of the school, saying its staff are focused on a holistic approach to students’ education. The school has added a tutoring program and supplemental programming to give direct help to students in the classroom, he said.

Despite the scores, the school’s mission “is working,” Caire said.

“We weren’t expecting to see significant results from our students,” Caire said.

Scott Girard:

The local gap between Black students and their white peers also grew, with 5.8% of Black students testing as proficient in math in 2021-22 and 58.9% of white students. In 2018-19, those figures were 10.4% and 60.6%, respectively.