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“DPI won't release recalculated results for individual schools and districts until the fall, when it also plans to release individual school report cards with ratings on a scale of 0 to 100.”

Green Bay Area Public Proficiency (Click image for larger graphic)

“International comparisons of American students with students from other industrialized countries show that American students frequently score poorly on standardized tests. 1 American student’s score near the bottom of the testing pool on standardized tests in mathematics and science. And yet, the United States spends a great deal of money on education. In 2004, average expenditure per student in the United States was $9,368 at the combined elementary and secondary levels, which was 42 percent higher than the average expenditure of $6,604 for the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

A similar pattern emerges for Wisconsin. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Wisconsin ranks 15th in the nation in terms of spending per pupil.3 According to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance,4 Wisconsin school districts budgeted to spend about $9.94 billion in 2007-08, or $11,522 per student. That amount represents a 5.1 percent increase over per-pupil spending in 2006-07. Since 1999, per-pupil spending in Wisconsin has grown an average of 4.0 percent per year.

According to certain measures of achievement (ACT scores, for example), Wisconsin students perform well. According to other measures, they perform poorly. Wisconsin has been criticized by the U.S. Department of Education for inflating its claims regarding its proficiency levels.5 Moreover; test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress reveal large gaps between achievement levels reached by white and African American students. Borsuk writes:6
The average reading ability for fourth- and eighth-grade black students in Wisconsin is the lowest of any state, and the reading achievement gap between black students and white students in Wisconsin continues to be the worst in the nation." (See, posted September 26, 2007.)

In this report we’ll focus on how Wisconsin’s state testing system developed, what shortcomings exist and what improvements might be made for the future.”

“In 2006, the Fordham Institute released a comprehensive report of its findings to date.13 The results were not good for Wisconsin. Fordham ranked Wisconsin 42nd in the nation. (The top three states, according to Fordham’s criteria, were California, Indiana, and Massachusetts.) According to the Fordham report, Wisconsin’s science standards lack depth, its world history standards lack structure, and its math content is skimpy. Overall, Fordham gave Wisconsin a grade of D-minus. Table 1 shows particular grades assigned by Fordham reviewers to Wisconsin’s standards.”

Less than half of state's students measure proficient under new national standards

Nearly two-thirds of Wisconsin students who took the state reading test last fall scored below proficient, and less than half were proficient in math, according to recalibrated results released Tuesday by the Department of Public Instruction.

In previous reporting of the same results, about 80 percent of students scored proficient on the reading and math tests.

The difference is a change in the yardstick used to measure "proficiency" — what students in a certain grade level should know and be able to do — rather than a change in how students performed on the tests.

Still, the new results should be a "smack in the face" for Wisconsin, said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison.

"It's going to be a wake-up call," Gamoran said. "It's a more honest reckoning of where Wisconsin students stand relative to other students across the nation and relative to the goals we want for all of our students."

The old results were based on whether students were meeting Wisconsin's definition of being at grade-level, whereas the new results reflect more rigorous standards of what it means to be prepared for college or a career used for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the nation's report card.

From July 17, 2012 6:45 am

Wisconsin State Journal


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