Wisconsin students continue to fare far better on the state’s standardized tests than they do on those given by the federal government, according to a new analysis that raises questions about what it means to be “proficient.”
About 70% to 85% of Wisconsin students were considered proficient or better on the state’s reading and math tests for the 2005-’06 school year. Yet only 33% to 40% of the state’s fourth- and eighth-graders scored at least proficient on the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress in those subjects, according to the study by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
The state was one of 16 in the country that had a proficiency gap of 45 to 55 percentage points, the Taxpayers Alliance found. Several states, such as Oklahoma and Mississippi, had even larger differences between the percentage of students considered proficient by their states as opposed to the federal government.
“It just creates confusion,” said Dale Knapp, research director for the Taxpayers Alliance. “We want a sense of what our students know, where they sort of stand. And we’re really getting two different answers that are very different answers.”
The blame doesn’t necessarily fall on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations, said Tony Evers, deputy superintendent of the state Department of Public Instruction, which administers the tests annually.
“Math is the same in Madison as it is in Missouri as it is in Mumbai.” – Michael Petrilli,
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, a group that has raised the idea of national standards
“What that ought to be is a big signal to the folks in Wisconsin that they really need to evaluate the rigor of their standards and their assessment.” – Daria Hall, Education Trust