You are here

About the Data - Forward

OverviewCautions | DefinitionsForward Exam Data AvailabilityForward Exam Data ExchangeScoringUsing the Performance DashboardsFAQUseful Links | Data Errata | Privacy | Contact Us

Overview

Beginning in spring 2016, the Wisconsin Forward Exam was administered in English language arts and mathematics in grades 3 through 8, in science in grades 4 and 8, and in social studies in grades 4, 8, and 10. The Forward Exam is a computer administered assessment which is used to determine how well students are mastering the Wisconsin State Standards. The Forward Exam includes multiple-choice questions, short answer questions, and a writing prompt in the ELA section. Accommodations and supports for students with disabilities and/or English language learners are built into the system so that the progress of students can be accurately measured.

Where to Find Forward Exam Results
School Years WISEdash

School District
Performance Report
 

WINSS Historical
Downloads
 
2015-16 X -- --

The Forward Exam results provide information about student performance which allows:

  • students to reflect on their achievement,
  • teachers to target instruction to student needs and reflect upon their own instructional practices,
  • administrators to more fully understand what students know and can do in order to guide curriculum and professional development decisions,
  • parents to understand what their child knows and is able to do in ELA, mathematics, science, and social studies, and
  • all stakeholders to check how ready ALL students are for college and career, especially those groups that have historically been left behind.

Cautions

Note that no single test can tell us whether students have learned everything that is important for students to learn. Additional local evidence should be reviewed for a more complete picture of student learning.

If, for any group, the percentage of students tested is low, users should not use the proficiency level percentages or the average scale score to reach conclusions about the performance of that group. 

Definitions of Key Terms

Badger Examination. The Badger Exam was the statewide standardized exam.  For 2014-15 only, the exam was given to students in grades 3 through 8 and measured student achievement in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics.

DLM Assessment. The DLM Assessment is the statewide alternate exam. It replaces the WAA from prior years.  The exam is given to students in grades 3 through 11 and currently measures student achievement in the subject areas of English language arts (ELA), mathematics, science and social studies.

FAY. Full Academic Year. FAY describes students who have been enrolled in the same school or district since the beginning of the school year. For example, students in grade 4 who have been enrolled for a FAY are normally students who were enrolled since the beginning of the year.

Forward Examination. The Forward Exam is the statewide standardized exam. Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, the exam is given annually to students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 and measures student achievement in English Language arts (ELA), mathematics, science and social studies.

Performance or Proficiency Levels. Levels which describe how well students performed on statewide tests. The levels are advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic. These levels are based solely on scores obtained on the Forward Exam. For example, students tested on the Forward Exam 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 Forward Exam.

Scale Score. A measure of student performance on a Forward Exam 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 Forward Exam 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.

Unknown Demographics (WISEdash). Data about student demographics that are collected by DPI for all students in schools covered by WISEdash Forward Exam reports but are unknown for certain students associated with these schools (rare). Demographics are unknown when a Forward Exam 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.

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 http://dpi.wi.gov/assessment.  

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

Forward Exam Data Availability

Forward Exam scores are provided in WISEdash for those schools that had students in grades 3 through 8 and 10. Forward Exam results are provided in WISEdash for Districts beginning with the results from the 2015-16 school year spring administration for students in grade 3 through 8 and 10.  In addition, students who completed the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) are also displayed in WISEdash.  DLM is administered to approximately 1% of students in grades 3-8 and 10 with significant cognitive disabilities in lieu of the Forward Exam.

The Forward Exam dashboards are defaulted to show both Forward Exam and DLM data.  Users can filter by "Test Type" to view performance dashboard results for either assessment by itself.  The average score dashboards only provide data for the Forward Exam.  The "No Test" category representing non tested students is included with the Forward dashboards.  Students may not have been tested because they were opted out of testing by a parent, were absent on the test administration date, or for another reason.

Forward Exam Data Exchange

Districts were required to administer the Forward Exam beginning with the spring of the 2015-16 school year to students in grades 3 through 8 and 10. After the conclusion of the administration window for all districts across the state, Forward Exam results from that administration were provided to DPI from the test vendor. DPI loaded these results for presentation in WISEdash. Part of the data loading process involves matching the assessment with the appropriate student in the data warehouse. That process uses the WISEid (or WSN), student name, and date of birth and allows some degree of variation or inaccuracy. Even so, some records could not be matched and were loaded and reported as unknown. A very small percentage of records may be misidentified with an incorrect student.

Scoring

  • Performance Levels
    • Student performance on the Forward Exam is reported in terms of four performance levels: Advanced, Proficient, Basic, and Below Basic.
    • Performance categories and their corresponding scale score ranges reflect student mastery of the Wisconsin College and Career Readiness Standards.
    • Performance level cut score recommendations were provided by a committee of Wisconsin educators in June of 2016. These cut score recommendations were approved by the Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction for use in Wisconsin beginning with the 2015-16 administration of the Forward Exam.
    • The table below provides general performance level descriptions of the Forward Exam.

Performance Level

Description

Advanced

Student demonstrates thorough understanding of and ability to apply the knowledge and skills for their grade level that are associated with college content-readiness.

Proficient

Student demonstrates adequate understanding of and ability to apply the knowledge and skills for their grade level that are associated with college content-readiness.

Basic

Student demonstrates partial understanding of and ability to apply the knowledge and skills for their grade level that are associated with college content-readiness.

Below Basic

Student demonstrates minimal understanding of and ability to apply the knowledge and skills for their grade level that are associated with college content-readiness

  • Subject Scores
    • Forward Exam results are reported on a 3-digit score scale for English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.
    • The tables below provide performance categories and cut score ranges for each performance level for each content area.
English Language Arts Performance Ranges and Scale Scores

Grade

Below Basic

Basic

Proficient

Advanced

3

330 - 521

522 - 569

570 - 623

624 - 900

4

340 - 545

546 - 591

592 - 649

650 - 930

5

350 - 563

564 - 609

610 - 669

670 - 940

6

360 - 571

572 - 621

622 - 670

671 - 950

7

370 - 584

585 - 637

638 - 696

697 - 960

8

380 - 591

592 - 651

652 - 707

708 - 970

 

Mathematics Performance Ranges and Scale Scores

Grade

Below Basic

Basic

Proficient

Advanced

3

360 - 516

517 - 559

560 - 610

611 - 760

4

405 - 535

536 - 587

588 - 632

633 - 800

5

430 - 573

574 - 610

611 - 657

658 - 830

6

440 - 581

582 - 625

626 - 687

688 - 870

7

450 - 605

606 - 646

647 - 711

712 - 880

8

470 - 619

620 - 666

667 - 717

718 - 890

 

Science Performance Ranges and Scale Scores

Grade

Below Basic

Basic

Proficient

Advanced

4

190 - 347

348 - 398

399 - 446

447 - 600

8

390 - 551

552 - 599

600 - 644

645 - 770

 

Social Studies Performance Ranges and Scale Scores

Grade

Below Basic

Basic

Proficient

Advanced

4

200 - 362

363 - 395

396 - 435

436 - 570

8

420 - 562

563 - 598

599 - 639

640 - 780

10

490 - 669

670 - 702

703 - 740

741 - 890

 

In addition to an overall scale score and performance level description, the Forward Exam also provides information on tested topics within the overall content area. Tested topics are major areas included in the English language arts, mathematics, science and social studies tests. Individual test questions are aligned to these topics. A student’s topic performance is described using the same performance level classifications as the overall content area: Advanced, Proficient, Basic, and Below Basic. For topics with less than 4 test items, no score is reported. See the table below for the complete list of topics within each content area. 

English Language Arts –Grades 3-8

  • Reading
    • Key Ideas and Details
    • Craft and Structure/Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
    • Vocabulary Use
  • Writing/Language
    • Text Types and Purposes
    • Research
    • Language Conventions
  • Listening

Mathematics - Grades 3-5

  • Operations and Algebraic Thinking
  • Number and Operations in Base Ten
  • Number and Operations—Fractions
  • Measurement and Data
  • Geometry

Mathematics - Grades 6-7

  • Ratios and Proportional Relationships
  • The Number System
  • Expressions and Equations
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability

Mathematics - Grade 8

  • The Number System
  • Expressions and Equations
  • Functions
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability

Science –Grades 4 and 8

  • Science Connections & Nature of Science
  • Science Inquiry
  • Physical Science
  • Earth and Space Science
  • Life & Environmental Science
  • Science Applications & Science in Social and Personal perspectives

Social Studies –Grades 4, 8 and 10

  • Geography: People, Places, and Environments
  • History: Time, Continuity, and Change
  • Political Science and Citizenship: Power, Authority, Governance, and Responsibility
  • Economics: Production, Distribution, Exchange, Consumption
  • The Behavioral Sciences: Individuals, Institutions, and Cultures

Using the Performance Dashboards to Improve Learning

Timely and meaningful assessment information about student performance allows:

  • teachers to target instruction to individual student needs,
  • students to better target their own efforts,
  • administrators to more fully understand what students know and are able to do, and to guide curriculum and professional development decisions, and
  • parents to understand what their child knows and is able to do in ELA, mathematics science and social studies.

When used in combination with multiple measures of achievement, such as classroom observations and teacher-developed tests, the Forward Exam provides information about the progress of groups of students as well as the effectiveness of educational programs. No single test can tell us whether students have learned everything that is important to learn.

The performance dashboards allow users to compare the percentage of students who are performing at each performance level within a school or district. Comparing the Proficient and Advanced levels in each school or district provides one indicator of school and/or district success in a specific grade and prior grades up to the time of testing. Similarly, using the filters, users can compare the percentage of students in a specific demographic group who are performing at the Proficient or Advanced levels in each school within the district. If, for any group, the percentage of students tested is low, users should not use the proficiency level percentages to reach conclusions about the performance of that group.

The scale score dashboards provide information about the distribution of average scale scores within and across student groups. By using the filters, educators can compare the average scale scores for student groups between schools. Wide score distributions or low scores provide evidence of wide achievement gaps and/or low achievement.

Frequently Asked Questions about Forward Exam Data

  1. Is FAY used in the Forward Exam 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 definition 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 since the beginning of the school year.
  3. 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 a WSAS exam. 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 percentages 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.
  4. Why might Forward Exam percentages/averages/counts in the WISEdash Certified Data View be different from Forward Exam percentages/averages/counts in the WISEdash Current Data View?
    Forward Exam 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.
  • 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 Forward Exam 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 data to the Forward Exam vendor, regardless of whether a separate accountable district/school is also identified in the Forward Exam vendor record. Issues with student identifiers may be discovered and resolved after official publication of Forward Exam 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