When the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released the 2018-2019 results for the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS) exams, including the Forward Exam, ACT Aspire, and ACT, it found across the state the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced has again declined. The Marshall and Waterloo school districts were part of this trend in most instances.
Each year, students in third through eighth grade are given the Forward Exam, which tests students’ skill levels in math and English language arts (ELA); ACT Aspire is given to students in grades nine and 10; and the ACT assessment is provided to all juniors.
Marshall district administrator Dan Grady said the district will continue to look at increasing student achievement in writing, reading and math. He said the results of the WSAS is used as a benchmark.
“Marshall Public Schools has identified student achievement, workforce engagement, service to the Marshall community, and finance and operations as pillars to focus on for continual improvement,” he said.
Waterloo district administrator Brian Henning said he anticipated the district still has work to do, but has also a great deal to be proud of.
During the 2018-2019 testing period, a total of 424 Marshall students took the math and ELA portions of the Forward Exam. Results posted on the DPI’s WISEdash showed the number of students scoring advanced/proficient in the math portion of the exam was relatively consistent when comparing 2018-2019 and 2017-2018. Last year, 37.7 percent (160 students) earned proficient or advanced; during the previous year, the percentage was 37.1 (167 students).
The trend continued in the ELA portion of the test; last year’s data indicates 32.3 percent (137 students) scored at least proficient. The 2017-2018 information had 32.9 percent (148 students) earning results in same scoring tiers.
During last school year, 334 Waterloo students participated in the math and ELA parts of the Forward Exam. According to the WISEdash portal, 34.7 percent (116 students) scored at least proficient in the math portion. This is a slight decrease from the 2017-2018 academic year, when 39.2 percent (129 students) tested at proficient or advanced levels.
The percent of students earning the scores putting them in proficient or advanced levels in ELA stayed flat with 35.3 percent (118 students) testing at those levels in 2018-2019. The 2017-2018 data indicated 35.6 percent (117 students) earning scores putting them at least at the proficient level.
Across the state, 43.4 percent of students taking the math exam scored proficient or advanced, a sliver of a decrease from 43.8 percent in 2017-2018, and 40.9 percent tested in the same range in the ELA portion of the test. The year before, the statewide average for obtaining at least proficient was 42.4 percent.
During the 2018-2019 academic year, 153 Marshall High School underclassmen took the ACT Aspire assessment. The results on WISEdash indicated 29.4 percent (45 students) scored at least proficient in the math portion of the exam. This represents a significant increase from the prior school year when 21 percent (34 of 162 students) of freshmen and sophomores had results signifying proficient or advanced in the subject.
The results of the ELA section of the test also indicated an increase in the percent of students ranking in the proficient or advanced range with 37.3 percent (57 students). A year prior, 34.6 percent (56 students) scored within that range.
A total of 107 Waterloo freshmen and sophomores participated in the ACT Aspire with 35.5 percent (38 students) receiving scores marking proficient or advanced levels during the 2018-2019 academic year in the math portion of the assessment. This is a significant decrease from the previous school year when 39.1 percent (43 out of 110 students) earning at least a proficient level of understanding of the content.
In the ELA content area, 31.7 percent (34 students) received a score putting them in the proficient or advanced range. This marked another decrease from the 2017-2018 academic year, when 39.1 percent (43 students) obtaining scores putting them in at least the proficient range.
Statewide, 40.5 percent of freshmen and sophomores who participated in the ACT Aspire math test scored in the proficient and advanced category, a slight decrease from 2017-2018 when it was 41.3 percent. Students scoring proficient or above in the ELA content area across the state was 40 percent, marking another decrease from the previous school year when the percent of students ranking proficient or advanced was 43.1.
When it came to the math portion of the ACT, Marshall had 6.6 percent (five of 75 students), earning proficient or advanced in the subject. During the previous year, 25.8 percent (18 students) ranked proficient or advanced in the area.
Marshall’s results for ELA were 18.7 percent (14 students) achieving at least proficient in the subject; the prior year had 35.7 percent (25 students) earning scores putting them in the proficient or advanced range.
Waterloo also had a drop in the number of students obtaining a proficient or advanced score in math; last year, 19.6 percent (11 students) tested in that range while the year prior, 28.9 percent (20 students) received the top tiers of achievement.
The percentage of students who scored at least proficient in ELA also decreased with 33.9 percent (19 students) scoring in at least the proficient range. During the prior year, 46.3 percent (32 students) obtained proficiency and advanced marks in the subject.
Statewide, the most significant change came in the percentage of students obtaining proficient or advanced scores in math. The 2018-2019 data showed 29.2 percent reached the benchmark and in the previous year, 34.5 percent of high school juniors were at least proficient in the subject.
Across the state, 36.8 percent of students taking the ACT scored at least proficient in ELA. This is a nearly the same percentage of who scored in that range during the 2017-2018 year.