The results for the 2019 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have just been released. The NAEP is given to samples of students around the country on a biannual basis and provides the best method for comparing performance among students in different states. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, the story is yet another riff on a tired tune: student achievement is largely stagnant and wide racial achievement gaps persist.
Overall, achievement in Wisconsin remains relatively flat. Scores have moved no more than a point in either direction over the past decade. In some ways, this is not a bad thing. Wisconsin students remain above the national average among eighth graders in reading and math. But there is some cause for concern. Wisconsin’s fourth grade students used to exceed the national average in these areas as well but are now on par with the rest of the country. It appears other states are “catching up” to Wisconsin.
Some might say that this is a result of cuts in Wisconsin’s spending, but the facts don’t support this. The chart below shows Wisconsin’s per pupil spending since 2013 along with the NAEP scores. Inflation-adjusted spending has increased while NAEP scores stagnate.