The Department of Public Instruction released results of the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS) exams given during the 2018-19 school year.
The WSAS consists of the Forward Exam given in grades three through eight, the ACT Aspire given in grades nine and 10, ACT with writing in grade 11, and Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) given across all tested grades to students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Results from the WSAS are a foundational component of state-legislated school and district report cards that will be issued later this year.
Overall results in the state showed slight decreases in English language arts and mathematics. When disaggregated, mathematics performance went up at some grade levels and went up overall for Hispanic students and students learning English across the state. Students at private schools participating in the school choice programs showed small increases in achievement.
In total, 588,992 students in grades three through 11 took the assessments. Participation was 98.0 percent for public school students and 90.6 percent for choice students.
A recent study, by the U.S. Department of Education, found Wisconsin has some of the highest performance level expectations in the nation compared to proficiency standards of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
A look at results across the three tests shows 39.3 percent of all students had scores that were proficient or advanced in English language arts (ELA), and 40.1 percent in mathematics. When disaggregated by racial and ethnic groups, English proficiency, as well as disability and economic status, the data shows achievement gaps for both public and private school choice students.
Science assessments have not been included in this year’s WSAS results because the assessment changed this year. This year will start a new trend line for longitudinal analysis of science achievement, which will begin in 2019-20.
The 2018-19 school year marks the fourth year of administration of the online Forward Exam (and the fifth year of administration of the DLM at these grades). Students in grades three through eight take tests in ELA and mathematics. In grades four and eight students take a science assessment required under both state and federal law, and in grades four, eight, and 10 students take a social studies exam. The 2019 assessment window ran from March 18 through May 3.
ACT Aspire, ACT with writing
This is the fifth year of ACT with writing and DLM testing of 11th-grade students, and the first year that the ninth and 10th grade online ACT Aspire assessments have been included in the WSAS. They fulfill a state legal requirement; the eleventh grade ACT assessment fulfills requirements in both state and federal law. The ACT, a nationwide college admissions test that measures student readiness for college and careers, is administered via paper and pencil. The ACT Aspire assessment window was April 8 through May 10. Most students who took the ACT with writing test did so on February 20.