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About the Data - WSAS

Overview | Cautions | Definitions | Calculating Percents and Averages | Data Changes | Data Sources | FAQ | Useful Links | Data Errata | Privacy | Contact Us

Overview

One way that Wisconsin students demonstrate their progress toward achieving academic standards is through participation in the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS). The WSAS consists of both the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) and the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD). WSAS results by district, by school, and by student group are available on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Website.

Where to Find WSAS Results
School Years  WISEdash   School District Performance Report   WINSS Historical 
 Data Files 

Beginning in 2014-15 (Science and Social Studies only)

X -- --
2007-08 through 2013-14 X X --
2005-06 through 2006-07 X -- --
1997-98 through 2004-05 -- -- X

WISEdash is DPI's primary data analysis portal and, of the three sources listed above, contains the most current and most complete range of WSAS results. WINSS Data Analysis was DPI's primary public data portal until Fall 2013 when more recent years of WINSS data for selected topics including WSAS were migrated to WISEdash.  WSAS results had also reported annually in the past for all public schools and districts statewide as part of the School District Performance Report (SDPR).

WSAS results are also included in other reports on the status or progress of districts and schools, such as District and School Report Cards and the Special Education District Profile.

Below you will find detailed background information, definitions, and related links to facilitate use and appropriate interpretation of WSAS results in WISEdash, SDPR, and WINSS Historical Data Files. Unless otherwise indicated, all information about WISEdash data on this page is about the Certified Data View, the default WISEdash Data View.


Cautions

  1. Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, reading, mathematics and language arts are no longer tested using the WKCE/WAA .  The WKCE and WAA is only being administered in grades 4, 8, and 10 and only for science and social studies.
  2. Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, Wisconsin established performance standards (cut scores) comparable to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) cut scores for the WKCE reading and mathematics content areas. This change better aligns WKCE performance levels with national and international college and career-ready expectations. Note that this change affects the interpretation of performance trends depending on whether the new cutscores were applied retroactively.
    • SDPR and WINSS Historical Data Files for school years before 2012-13 reflect the pre-2012 performance levels.
    • WISEdash applies the new cut scores retroactively to all reading and mathematics performance level information.
    • District and School Report Cards released beginning with Fall 2012 use the new cut scores. The new performance levels were applied to the fall 2009 through 2011 WKCE reading and mathematics scores in order to produce a report card consistent with these new (higher) expectations.
    State percentiles and Student Growth Percentile Reports may be used to alternatively evaluate student progress over time. Performance standards for Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies were not revised and so are still comparable to results for prior years.
  3. Due to 2010-11 changes in race/ethnicity collection standards, pre- and post-2010-11 data by race/ethnicity may not be comparable.
  4. For the 2007-08 academic year only, WKCE and WAA-SwD were administered at different times and reported to schools and districts separately. In order to maintain a reporting structure that is consistent with prior years, the data were later combined. More data were suppressed than in the past (to protect privacy). There may be some confusion in comparing combined reports to the separate reports. 
  5. WKCE performance level data for 2001-02 and earlier are NOT comparable to performance level data for 2002-03 and later years primarily due to changes in performance standards (cut scores) associated with each performance level. Score ranges associated with each WKCE performance level were reset due to changes in the WKCE and the change in the testing window. See 2002-03 data changes under Data Changes Over Time below.
  6. 1997-98 was the first year of fully disaggregated WSAS data collection/reporting. WSAS performance summaries by student group (e.g. by economic status, by disability status, etc) for this first year may be less reliable than data for more recent years.
  7. There are some small differences between the WSAS data reported in SDPR and WINSS files and the data submitted by DPI to the US Department of Education as part of the EDfacts. The differences between Wisconsin's SDPR/WINSS data and the EDFacts data exist due to different data sources. EDFacts data come from Wisconsin's Longitudinal Data System data warehouse, which links individual student achievement data to enrollment data. Data in SDPR and WINSS files are derived from summarized achievement data supplied directly by the test vendor; these data are not linked to enrollment or other longitudinal data.
  8. (WINSS Historical Data Files) Symbols and acronyms are used in data files to indicate that data are suppressed to protect privacy (*), data are not applicable or were not collected from specific schools for specific years (NA or N/A), or a rate or percent cannot be calculated because the denominator is 0 (--). In WINSS Historical Data Files for WSAS, these symbols and acronyms are not used consistently. If WSAS data are not provided in any given cell, then consider the following: (1) WSAS data availability varies by school year and field as indicated under Data Changes Over Time, (2) no percents can be calculated on a given row if the number in the "enrolled_at_test_time" or "number_included_in_percents" cell is 0, and (3) if neither explanation applies, then data were suppressed to protect privacy.

Definitions of Key Terms

WSAS. Wisconsin Student Assessment System. The Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS) is a comprehensive statewide program designed to provide information about what students know in core academic areas and whether they can apply what they know. For more information visit Assessment in Wisconsin.

WKCE. Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination. The WKCE is a statewide standardized exam.  Through 2013-14 the exam was given each year to students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 and measured student achievement in five subject areas: reading, language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Students also provided a rough draft writing sample.  Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, reading, mathematics and language arts are no longer tested using the WKCE/WAA .  The WKCE and WAA is only being administered in grades 4, 8, and 10 and only for science and social studies.

WAA-SwD. Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities. The Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD) is administered to any student with significant cognitive disabilities when the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team determines that the student is unable to participate in the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE), even with accommodations.  Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, reading, mathematics and language arts are no longer tested using the WKCE/WAA .  The WKCE and WAA is only being administered in grades 4, 8, and 10 and only for science and social studies.

WAA-ELL. Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for English Language Learners. The WAA-ELL was a standards-based alternative to the WKCE at grades 3-8 and 10. The WAA-ELL was given to Limited English Proficient (ELL/LEP) students whose academic English skills were not yet sufficient to take the WKCE test in the subject area with allowable language accommodations. WAA-ELL was last administered in November 2005.

Performance or Proficiency Levels. Levels which describe how well students performed on statewide tests. The levels are advanced, proficient, basic, and minimal performance. These levels are based solely on scores obtained on the WSAS (i.e. WKCE and WAA). For example, students tested on the WKCE receive a scale score for each subject. Each of the four levels in each subject and at each grade level is associated with a range of scores on the WKCE. Levels used in reporting WAA-SwD and WAA-ELL results for students with limited English proficiency correspond to those set for the WKCE.

FAY. Full Academic Year. FAY describes students who have been enrolled in the same school or district for at least one complete school year. For example, students in grade 4 who have been enrolled for a FAY are normally students who were enrolled in the same school or district during grade 3.

Scale Score. A measure of student performance on a WKCE subject area test that takes into account the number and difficulty of test items answered correctly. The scale is applied to all students taking the WKCE in a particular subject at a particular grade level, making it possible to compare scores from different groups of students or individuals within a given year and over time.

Combined Groups -- Small Number (WINSS Files). A combination of students whose WSAS results are suppressed in reporting by their individual racial/ethnic groups due directly or indirectly to small group size and whose results are reported in the “Combined Groups (Small Number)” row. At the school level, individual racial/ethnic group results are either totally reported or totally suppressed so combining is by whole groups. At the district level, individual racial/ethnic group results may be totally or partially reported/suppressed so combining is a relatively complex process. Regardless, the number of students whose WSAS results are included in the "Combined Groups (Small Number)" row is indicated under "number_included_in_percents.” [Note that at the school level "number_included_in_percents" is equal to "enrolled_at_test_time" and can be computed by summing the numbers in each of these columns for any race/ethnic group row with suppressed WSAS results. At the district level "enrolled_at_test_time" in the "Combined Groups (Small Number)" row is listed as 0 because data for the "Combined Groups (Small Number)" row are more complex to compute/interpret, and "enrolled_at_test_time" does not provide any useful additional information.]

Unknown Demographics (WISEdash). Data about student demographics that are collected by DPI for all students in schools covered by WISEdash WSAS reports but are unknown for certain students associated with these schools (rare). Demographics are unknown when a WSAS record is incomplete (e.g. gender or race/ethnicity code is missing or invalid) and that record cannot be matched to ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) records.

For more definitions, see WISEdash Glossary (includes terms used in WINSS files and in SDPR).


Calculating Percents and Averages

About WSAS Records

DPI data about WSAS participation and performance are based primarily on records provided by the WSAS testing vendor. Records are included for all students enrolled in WSAS-tested grades during the annual 3-4 week WSAS testing window regardless of whether students took any WSAS tests. Each student's record indicates the set of subject area tests the student is expected to take: WKCE, WAA-SwD, or, before 2006-07, WAA-ELL. Within a few months after the close of each testing window, after a multi-step scoring/validation/editing process, the vendor sends student level and aggregated records to DPI.

DPI edits vendor-provided student-level records (rare) to unduplicate students found to have multiple WSAS records for the same year. Any student who cannot be positively identified from the vendor-provided record is considered to be a separate student as long as that student can be associated with a specific Wisconsin school district or nondistrict charter. DPI may also add/correct missing or invalid demographics (rare) using the DPI data warehouse.

No changes are made to vender-provided aggregated records after receipt by DPI. Consequently DPI-aggregated data based on student-level records may not exactly match data in the vendor-provided aggregated records.

Participation and Performance - WSAS

Note that WSAS combines the participation and performance data for students expected to take WKCE and students expected to take WAA-SwD. Until 2005-06, the last year WAA-ELL was administered, WSAS also included data for students expected to take WAA-ELL. Students are counted and percents are calculated as follows:

No WSAS - Count: The number of students enrolled in WSAS tested grades who do not have WSAS results in the selected subject.

No WSAS - Percent: "No WSAS - Count" for the selected subject as a percent of the number of students enrolled in WSAS tested grades.

WSAS Performance Level - Count: The number of students who performed at the given level (e.g. advanced) on the selected WSAS subject area test.

WSAS Performance Level - Percent: "WSAS Performance Level - Count" for the selected subject as a percent of the number of students enrolled in WSAS tested grades.

Average Scale Score: NA. Scales scores are available only for the WKCE test type.

Participation and Performance - WKCE, WAA-SwD, and WAA-ELL

Note that WKCE, WAA-SwD, and WAA-ELL are each a separate set of subject area tests. All students in WSAS tested grades are expected to take the tests in one of these sets. SDPR does not report results separately for WKCE or WAA-SwD. For WISEdash and WINSS purposes, students are counted and percents are calculated as follows:

No WSAS - Count:

  • (WISEdash) For WKCE, the number of students enrolled in WSAS tested grades who are expected to take WKCE tests and who have no WKCE results in the selected subject. For WAA-SwD, the number of students enrolled in WSAS tested grades who are expected to take WAA-SwD tests (in lieu of WKCE) and who have no WAA-SwD results.
  • (WINSS Historical Data Files) "No WSAS - Count" is not reported separately for WKCE or WAA.

No WSAS - Percent:

  • (WISEdash) For WKCE, "No WSAS - Count" for WKCE in the selected subject as a percent of the number of students expected to take the WKCE. For WAA-SwD, "No WSAS - Count" for WAA-SwD in the selected subject as a percent of the number of students expected to take the WAA-SwD.
  • (WINSS Historical Data Files) "No WSAS - Percent" is not reported separately for WKCE or WAA.

WKCE Performance Level - Count: Number of students who performed at the given level (e.g. advanced) on the WKCE subject area test.

WKCE Performance Level - Percent:

  • (WISEdash) "WKCE Performance Level - Count" for the selected subject as a percent of the number of students expected to take the WKCE.
  • (WINSS Historical Data Files) "WKCE Performance Level - Count" for the selected subject as a percent of the number of students enrolled in WSAS tested grades.

WAA-SwD Performance Level - Count: Number of students who performed at the given level (e.g. advanced) on the WAA-SwD subject area test.

WAA-SwD Performance Level - Percent:

  • (WISEdash) "WAA-SwD Performance Level - Count" for the selected subject as a percent of the number of students expected to take the WAA-SwD.
  • (WINSS Historical Data Files) "WAA-SwD Performance Level - Count" for the selected subject as a percent of the number of students enrolled in WSAS tested grades.

Until 2005-06, WAA-ELL counts and percents were determined using formulas like those described for WAA-SwD.

Average Scale Score: The mean scale score earned by WKCE takers of the selected subject-area grade-level test. Average scale score is not available for WAA-SwD or WAA-ELL students.

Other Notes about Participation and Performance

  • WISEdash WSAS summaries may not exactly match SDPR and previously published WINSS summaries because:
    • WISEdash uses DPI-aggregated student-level records. SDPR and WINSS files are/were based on vendor-provided aggregated records.
    • WISEdash applies the new 2012-13 WKCE reading and mathematics cut scores retroactively. SDPR and WINSS files do/did not.
    • WKCE and WAA-SwD Percents were calculated using different formulas. Unlike WINSS, WISEdash denominators and No WSAS numerators vary by WSAS test type. (Note SDPR does not separately report WKCE or WAA-SwD results but WINSS did.)
  • Full Academic Year (FAY) records are used for local summaries (average scores, results by performance level, and all counts).
    • At the school level, results include students enrolled in the school FAY. When the lowest grade in the school in the preceding year is the tested grade (i.e. only retained students would have been in the school FAY as of the year of testing), the student's district FAY status is used in school summaries in lieu of the student's school FAY status.
    • At the district level, results include students enrolled in the district FAY.
    • At the state level, results include all students, FAY and not FAY.
  • WSAS results combine results for WKCE, WAA-SwD, and, prior to 2006-07, WAA-ELL. Because only one year of WAA-ELL data is available for the years covered by WISEdash, WAA-ELL records are not included in WISEdash.
  • If there is suppression of results to protect privacy, then either no results will be reported (indicated by a *), or, for WINSS files (district level disaggregated results only), partial results will be reported based on the count in the field labeled "number_included_in_percents".
  • For WINSS files and for SDPR, if the total FAY enrolled in the district is within five students of the total FAY enrolled in a single school in the district, then data for FAY district are suppressed to protect student privacy. When this is the case, data for all students enrolled in a single school FAY are aggregated and reported at the district level.

Data Changes Over Time

(WINSS Historical Data Files)

  • 1997-98. This was the first year of WSAS data on WINSS. Only WSAS participation and WKCE performance levels at grades 4, 8, and 10 were available. The data in these download files are summarized by student demographic group (e.g. by race/ethnicity or economic status). Students with significant cognitive disabilities and/or very limited academic English skills who were unable to effectively participate in WKCE, even with allowable language and other accommodations, are counted in the "percent_no_wsas_total" column. Also counted in the "percent_no_wsas_total" column are students in the "percent_no_wsas_excused_by_parent" and "percent_no_wsas_reasons_unknown" columns. WAA results, WKCE and WAA combined (WSAS) performance levels, and counts by performance level are not available until later years.
  • 1999-00. Students with significant cognitive disabilities and/or very limited academic English skills began participating in WSAS by taking WAA. WAA participation data were available for WAA-SwD and WAA-ELL combined, but results were not available by WAA level. The addition of WAA to WSAS provided a way for virtually all students to effectively participate in WSAS, typically lowering "percent_no_wsas_total." Total WAA (WAA-SwD and WAA-ELL combined) participation counts and percents were added in columns at the end of each download file.
  • 2002-03. Three changes occurred:
    • WSAS testing window changed from February (2001-02) to November (2002-03), and revised versions of all WKCE subject-area tests were administered. The tests were changed to comply with a federal mandate to fully assess all of the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards. The WKCE tests were either "customized" or "enhanced" to achieve alignment with the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards.
    • Score ranges associated with each WKCE performance level were reset due to changes in WKCE and the change in the testing window.
    • WAA percents by performance level became available. Two sets of WAA data are reported: WAA-SWD and WAA-ELL. WAA-ELL levels for reading and language arts were counted in the percent_waa_ell_minperf level. WAA-ELL levels for other subject areas and WAA-SWD levels correspond to WKCE levels.
    • Data for WSAS performance levels were added to the download files. WSAS percents at each level were determined by adding the WKCE and WAA percents for that level. Student counts by level were not yet available.
  • 2003-04. Student counts by performance level are available. These counts were used to calculate more precise percents. WAA-ELL levels for reading and language arts above waa_ell_minperf were added (i.e. waa_ell_basic, etc).

(WISEdash)

  • 2014-15.  Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, reading, mathematics and language arts are no longer tested using the WKCE/WAA .  The WKCE and WAA is only being administered in grades 4, 8, and 10 and only for science and social studies.
  • 2005-06. Tested grade levels expanded for WSAS reading and math to include assessments at grades 3-8 and 10. Before 2005-06, reading and mathematics data were available only for grades 4, 8, and 10. Language arts, science, and social studies tests are still administered at grades 4, 8, and 10 only. Data for all tested grades combined are included in download files. Because only 2005-06 WAA-ELL results are available for the years covered by WISEdash, WAA-ELL records are not included in WISEdash.
  • 2006-07. WAA-ELL was discontinued. ELL/LEP students took WKCE with appropriate accommodations if necessary

(WISEdash and SDPR)

  • 2010-11. Changes were made in the collection of race/ethnicity data to comply with changes in federal standards. Race/ethnicity data collected in accordance with the new standards were mapped back to the pre-2010-11 categories using a method that approximates how data collected using the new standards would have been reported if the standards had not changed. More details about the mapping method used are described in this document: http://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/cst/doc/dpi_race_ethnicity_bridge.doc .
  • 2012-13. The range of WKCE reading and mathematics scores associated with each performance level changed. The new cut scores were established to make WKCE reading and mathematics levels comparable to National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) levels. No changes were made to language arts, science, and social studies so levels remain comparable to those for earlier years.

Data Sources

All student demographic data and WSAS results are collected as part of WSAS. Beginning with 2005-06, most WSAS student demographic data initially come from Wisconsin Student Locator System (WSLS) and Individual Student Enrollment System (ISES) records. Districts may update or correct these demographic data in WSAS to reflect student status at test time. Data for some students without timely WSLS /ISES records are hand coded on WSAS test books. After time for scoring/validating/editing, the WSAS vendor sends DPI student-level and aggregated data files. Vendor-aggregated data files are not relinked to WSLS or ISES after receipt by DPI.

The table below summarizes difference in data sources across DPI public data tools/reports.

WSAS Data Sources by Data Tool/Report
Data Element WISEdash (Certified Data View) School District Performance Report WINSS Historical Data Files
District/School Vendor-provided student records. Accountable district/school is used. If vendor-provided district/school codes are invalid or wrong (rare), these codes may be replaced by codes in the Wisconsin Public School Directory and ISES records. Vendor-provided aggregated records. Vendor-provided aggregated records.
WSAS Takers - Counts and Scores Vendor-provided student records. Student records are unduplicated by matched WSNs, when available. Vendor-provided aggregated records. Vendor-provided aggregated records.
WSAS Takers - Demographics Vendor-provided student records. If data for a student are invalid/missing (rare), then data come from the student's matching ISES Count Date (3rd Friday of September) record, when available. Not applicable. Disaggregation by student demographic group is not provided. Vendor-provided aggregated records.
Denominator for Percents Vendor-provided student records. Note that the denominator varies by expected WSAS test type. Vendor-provided aggregated records. SDPR does not report separately by WSAS test type. Vendor-provided aggregated records. The denominator is the same regardless of WSAS test type.

Frequently Asked Questions about WSAS Data

  1. Is FAY used in the WSAS dashboards? If so, where can I find FAY and non-FAY?

    School level reporting is FAY School, District is FAY District, Statewide is combined FAY and non-FAY. See Glossary for the definiton of FAY.

  2. Why is FAY used?

    Including only FAY students in district and school summaries provides one indicator of how successful a district or school community has been in meeting the academic needs of students in tested grades up to the time of testing. Students in grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 10 who have been enrolled for a FAY are students who were enrolled in the same district or school during grade 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 9 respectively.

  3. Why is there no average scale score for WAA-SwD? Why does the chart go away when that test is selected?

    Scale scores are only available for WKCE, so if WAA-SwD is selected the graph disappears.

  4. Are the new performance standards (cut scores) for reading and mathematics available in the WSAS dashboards?

    Yes. In WISEdash, these new cut scores have been applied historically for all years of data for the Reading and Mathematics subject areas.

  5. Where can I find WSAS data contained in reports published before the 2012-13 reading and mathematics cut scores were established?

    These data are available in the SDPR. The new cut scores were not applied retroactively in SDPR. WINSS files and other historical proficiency data downloads also reflect the previously published data using the old reading and mathematics cut scores.

  6. Why are results reported as a percent of students enrolled in tested grades rather than students tested?

    For federal accountability purposes, all students enrolled in tested grades are expected to participate in WSAS. Reporting percentages based on enrollment during the testing window accounts for all FAY students in the school or district including students not tested. For schools and districts where all or nearly all students participate, reporting by total enrolled or total tested makes little or no difference in reporting. However, for schools with low participation rates, reporting percents based on "total tested" does not provide an accurate picture of overall achievement of these schools, so this approach is not used. Student groups with the lowest achievement levels typically have the highest percentages of students who do not take tests. Reporting based on "total tested" provides a disincentive to administer tests or makeup tests to students who are not expected to do well because their inclusion in testing may lower the results for the school.

  7. Why might WSAS percents/averages/counts in the WISEdash Certified Data View be different from WSAS percents/averages/counts in the WISEdash Current Data View?

    WSAS data in the Certified and Current Data Views may not exactly match primarily due to differences in handling student demographic group associations, and district/school assignments, and duplicate student identifiers.

    • Certified Data View. Student group associations (e.g. race/ethnicity etc) and (accountable) district/school assignments are drawn almost exclusively from vendor-provided WSAS student records with minor edits as required using data from WSLS, ISES, and the Wisconsin Public School Directory. See Data Sources above for details.
    • Current Data View. Student group associations are based on various sources with the final source being each student's ISES end-of-year state record for the school year of testing. Initial WSAS reporting in the Current Data View occurs before ISES end-of-year is available, so other sources are used temporarily. District/school is always the one that submitted the student's test book to the WSAS vendor, regardless of whether a separate accountable district/school is also identified in the WSAS vendor record. Issues with student identifiers may be discovered and resolved after official publication of WSAS data, and the Current Data View reflects resolution of these issues so student counts can change at any point in time.
    For more details, see WISEdash Support - about the Current and Certified Data Views.

Useful Links

More About the Data

Laws, Rules, and Guidance

Data Tools and Reports
(All links below provide access to state and local WSAS data)