Wisconsin students’ performances improved in math and held steady in reading, language arts, science and social studies, according to annual test data released today.
Dane County students generally matched or exceeded state averages and paralleled the state’s rising math scores, although test results in Madison slipped slightly on some measures of reading, language arts and science.
Madison educators touted the overall performance of their students, noting that the portion of students scoring proficient or advanced — the two highest of four grading levels — has grown or held steady over the past seven years on reading and math exams even as the district’s populations of students with limited English skills and low-income backgrounds have increased.
Limited English proficiency and poverty are two of the strongest predictors of poor academic performance in Madison and schools across the nation.
Improved scores in math led state and local school officials to put generally positive faces on the picture painted by student test results being made public today by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
Higher percentages of students in every grade from third through eighth were rated as “proficient” or “advanced” in math in this year’s round of statewide testing than in the previous year. The 10th-grade figure remained the same.
In reading, the statewide percentage of proficient or better students was steady or slightly improved at every grade level.
“We are on the right track,” Elizabeth Burmaster, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement. “Despite increased poverty in Wisconsin, we saw gains at nearly every grade level in mathematics and rising or stable scores for reading.”
Overall, better than 4 out of 5 fourth-graders in Wisconsin were proficient or advanced in reading, and about 3 out of 4 met those standards in math. For 10th-graders, 3 out of 4 were proficient in reading, and 7 out of 10 in math.
Madison schools’ improved math scores might seem to defy some of the laws of logic or probability.
The Madison district, like its counterparts across the state, saw a generally positive trend on math scores, according to data released today regarding scores from the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations that students took last November.
“Our students continue to perform well despite a number of challenges that would normally predict falling scores. We’re pleased, of course, but not surprised that has not been the case here,” Superintendent Art Rainwater noted in an interview this morning.
Rainwater said that changing demographics that include increasing numbers of children from low-income families and those who have limited proficiency in English generally go hand-in-hand with falling scores, but that has not been true in Madison, where test results in reading generally have been holding steady, or in mathematics, where almost all grade levels have improved.
- MMSD: Despite Changes and Cuts, Madison Students Test Well.
- Wisconsin’s “Broad interpretation of how NCLB progress can be “met” through the WKCE”
- Alan Borsuk’s followup article, including DPI comments.
- UW Math Professor Dick Askey’s comments on “Madison and Wisconsin Math Data, 8th Grade”.
- Fordham Foundation: Wisconsin DPI Academic Standards = D-
- Sandy Cullen: State Test Scores Adjusted to Match Last Year: State Officials Realized They Had Made The Test Too Hard And Lowered Passing Scores.
- A discussion of NAEP (National Assessment of Academic Progress) scores in Wisconsin and Minnesota along with school finance issues.