MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Results from a new statewide standardized test show persistent racial gaps in achievement by Wisconsin public school students.
The new Badger Exam replaced the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam last year, testing English language arts and math for public school students in grades three through eight. The test had a bumpy rollout, with technical glitches, delays and criticism from parents, school administrators and lawmakers.
The test found about 44 percent of students in grades three through eight scored proficient or advanced in math, and about 51 percent proficient or advanced in English language arts, according to results from the state Wednesday.
As with previous tests, the Badger Exam results show racial disparities between white students and students of color, with the widest gap between white and black students. In English language arts, 58.5 percent of white students scored proficient or advanced compared with only about 21 percent of black students. In math, about 51 percent of white students scored proficient or advanced, compard to about 12 percent of black students.
English language learners, economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities also had far lower rates of proficiency than their peers.
“These achievement gaps are most troubling,” Tony Evers, superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, said in a statement. He said the department was working to identify schools that have done well with “low-achieving groups” so that their practices can be shared with other schools.
The Badger results aren’t comparable to previous years under a different test, and won’t be comparable to next year’s, either. Lawmakers last year decided to end the Badger Exam, and students this spring will instead take the new Wisconsin Forward Exam.
Students in grades three and four outperformed students in later grades in math, a factor DPI officials attributed to new state math standards.
The Badger Exam and the Dynamic Learning Maps Exam, which measures academic progress of students with severe cognitive disabilities, had 97 percent participation. About 7,500 students opted out and another 3,000 didn’t take it for other reasons, like illness.
Last year was also the first year all public school students in grade 11 had the opportunity to take the ACT Plus Writing as part of the statewide assessment. Overall scores averaged 19.3 in English language arts and 20.0 in math, again with disparities emerging.
Economically disadvantaged students, English-language learners, students with disabilities and black, American Indian and Hispanic students scored lower on average than their peers.
The Wisconsin Forward Exam that starts this spring covers English language arts and math for students in grades three through eight, social studies for students in grades four, eight and 10 and science for students in grades four and eight.
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