Students still fare well on state exams

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District students scored well above the state average for public school students for the fourth straight year on all Wisconsin Student Assessment System exams given during the 2018-19 school year, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction announced on Thursday, Sept. 12.

Students in grades 3-8 took the Wisconsin Forward Exam, while students in 11th grade took the ACT Plus Writing. Students in grades 9 and 10 took the Aspire exam for reading, writing, English, mathematics, and science. Some students with significant cognitive disabilities took the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) exam. Nearly 453,000 public and private choice students took WSAS exams in 2018-19.

More than 65 percent of District students in grades 3-8 were proficient or advanced in mathematics compared with the state average of 43.4 percent. Nearly 59 percent of District students were proficient or advanced in English/Language Arts (ELA) compared with the state average of 40.4 percent.

Meanwhile, 74 percent of District students in grades 4 and 8 were proficient or advanced in science compared with the state average of 53.3 percent. Finally, 69.7 percent of District students in grades 4, 8 and 10 were proficient or advanced in social studies compared with the state average of 49 percent.

The data wasn't all positive. There continue to be gaps among students, especially related to socio-economic status, race or language.

Fewer than one-third of students on free or reduced lunch were proficient or advanced in English-Language Arts and mathematics, about 40 percent less than their peers. They was also a 35 percent gap in the percentage of students in social studies and science.

The percentage of English Language Learners who were proficient or advanced in the four content areas was 35-42 percent behind their peers. The percentage of African-American and Hispanic students who were proficient or advanced in the four content areas was as much as 70 percent behind Asian and 55 percent behind white students.

"While we are pleased with the strong performance of many of our students on all state assessments, we are also being very honest with ourselves as a district with the fact that unacceptable gaps in achievement persist,'' Superintendent Dana Monogue said. "We take responsibility for our data and are more determined than ever to ensure all students thrive in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District."

District students scored higher than their peers in the Big Eight Conference in every area. The only Dane County district with a higher score in any of the four content areas was Waunakee.

Here are the Big Eight results:

District ELA Math Science Social Studies
Middleton-Cross Plains Area 58.9 65.2 74.0 69.3
Sun Prairie 42.7 47.5 54.9 56.1
Verona 43.4 40.7 54.8 55.1
Janesville 41.0 38.0 54.7 49.7
Madison Metropolitan 34.9 38.4 43.7 45.5
Beloit Memorial 18.7 19.5 24.0 24.3
State 40.9 43.4 53.3 49.0

Here are the Dane County results:

District ELA Math Science Social Studies
Middleton-Cross Plains Area 58.9 65.2 74.0 69.3
Belleville 57.3 49.8 71.0 61.8
Cambridge 49.0 57.8 64.7 56.9
Deerfield 48.7 38.6 62.0 55.2
DeForest 46.9 44.3 59.7 55.6
Madison Metropolitan 34.9 38.4 43.7 45.5
Marshall 32.3 37.7 39.0 41.9
McFarland 44.2 49.3 57.2 51.0
Monona Grove 52.8 55.6 70.0 62.0
Mount Horeb 56.2 59.7 70.6 65.5
Oregon 50.4 54.0 67.1 59.7
Stoughton 45.2 41.6 53.3 49.0
Sun Prairie 42.7 47.5 54.9 56.1
Verona 43.4 40.7 54.8 55.1
Waunakee 65.1 73.7 74.2 64.0
Wisconsin Heights 48.4 51.0 73.3 49.0

The ACT is administered to high school juniors and measures performance in English, mathematics and science. Starting in 2016, the state required that all juniors take the ACT in February or March. The Dynamic Learning Maps is an alternative assessment in English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies for students with severe cognitive disabilities.

MCPASD juniors who took the ACT in February or March of 2018 had a composite score of 23.8 compared with the state average of 19.5. Those same students were rated as 67.4 proficient or advanced in English/language arts compared with the state average of 36.8. District students also outperformed the state average in mathematics (MCPASD at 56.4 vs. state average of 29.2) and science (MCPASD at 57.9 vs. state average of 31.0).

Here are ACT results for Dane County school districts:

District Score District Score
MCPASD 23.8 Oregon 20.9
Waunakee Community 23.0 Verona Area 20.8
Deerfield Community 22.2 DeForest Area 20.7
Cambridge 21.9 Madison Metropolitan 20.5
Monona Grove 21.9 Stoughton Area 19.5
Mount Horeb Area 21.6 McFarland 19.2
Belleville 21.2 Marshall 17.2
Sun Prairie Area 21.0 State Average 19.6
Wisconsin Heights 21.0    

Here are the ACT results for Big Eight schools:

High School Score High School Score
MHS-CSCS-21st Century 23.8 Janesville Craig 19.3
Madison West 23.0 Madison East 18.9
Madison Memorial 21.9 Madison La Follette 18.4
Sun Prairie Area 21.0 Janesville Parker 18.1
Verona Area 20.8 Beloit Memorial 16.4

Here are the ACT results for other comparable-sized, high-achieving school districts in the state:

District Score District Score
Whitefish Bay 24.6 Elmbrook 23.8
Mequon-Thiensville 24.1 Hartland Arrowhead 23.2
Cedarburg 23.9 Glendale Nicolet 22.1
MCPASD 23.8 Germantown 21.9

"The Wisconsin Student Assessments are one piece of our district strategic assessment framework. We use these summative assessments, along with other interim and formative assessments at school wide, grade wide, and classroom levels to review student performance. These data help us plan for instruction and review program effectiveness." Director of Curriculum, Assessment, and 4K MaryBeth Paulisse said.

The Forward Exam is an annual assessment administered online statewide in grades 3-8 in ELA and mathematics, grades 4 and 8 in science and grades 4, 8 and 10 in social studies.

The Forward Exam was administered for the first time in the spring of 2016. Wisconsin students took the Badger Exam in 2014-15. Before that, students were administered the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE).

The state has a six-year contract with Data Recogntion Corporation, the company that produces the Forward Exam. The tests are part of the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS), which State Superintendent Tony Evers has said is more rigorous than prior testing.