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Assessment in Wisconsin

Requirements for the 2020-21 administration of statewide assessments remain unchanged under state and federal law. All districts and schools should begin planning for in-person testing now; this includes schools whose current instruction is hybrid, in-person, or 100% virtual. If schools are not open for in-person instruction, they still need to safely provide an in-person, school proctored testing environment if the local health orders allow students and staff to safely be in school buildings. Please note that remote (virtual) testing options are not available for statewide assessments.

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. The WSAS includes:

  • The Wisconsin Forward Exam at grades 3-8 in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics, at grades 4 and 8 in Science, and 4, 8, and 10 in Social Studies 
  • Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) at grades 3-11 in ELA and Mathematics, at grades 4 and 8 - 11 in Science, and at grades 4, 8, and 10 in Social Studies,
  • ACT Aspire at grades 9 & 10, 
  • The ACT with Writing at grade 11 for Reading, English, Mathematics, Science, and Writing.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires all states to test all students in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics in grades 3-8 and once in high school. ESSA also requires students be assessed in Science once each grade span (3-6, 7-9, and 10-12 grades). Student performance on these assessments is reported in proficiency categories and used for accountability determination at the school, district and state levels. Wisconsin State statute also requires students to take grade 9 and 10 assessments as well as the social studies test. These tests together create the Wisconsin Student Assessment System.

Test Practice

The Office of Educational Accountability has put together a Test Practice Tools handout containing practice tools that are currently available to students.  

Test Participation

DPI considers test participation both an ethical issue as well as critical pathway to educational equity. Deputy State Superintendent Mike Thompson’s letter

A New Balance: Wisconsin's Strategic Assessment Systems


In Wisconsin, more than simply balancing the types of assessments to provide a variety of data, educators recognize the need to strategically choose high quality assessment tools and practices, and then coherently and purposefully use that information to directly impact student achievement. Click here to learn more about Strategic Assessment Systems in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin State Assessment Timelines


Other Wisconsin Assessments

Assessment for ELLs

Federal and state laws require that students identified as English Learners (ELs) be assessed annually to determine their level of English language proficiency (ELP) and ensure that they are progressing in achieving full English proficiency. This includes students who receive special education services. Most ELs will take the ACCESS for ELLs assessment annually. ELs recognized under the individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; 2004) as having a significant cognitive disability and who are expected to participate in the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment are eligible to take the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs in place of the ACCESS for ELLs®.

Assessment for Reading Readiness

Wis. Stats. 118.016 requires each pupil enrolled in 4-year-old kindergarten to 2nd grade in a school district or in a charter school to be annually assessed for reading readiness. Each school board and the operator of each charter school shall select the appropriate, valid, and reliable assessment of literacy fundamentals to be used. The school board or operator shall ensure that the assessment evaluates whether a pupil possesses phonemic awareness and letter sound knowledge.

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

NAEP is a survey assessment; each year a sample of schools are selected to participate.  It provides results at the state and national level and produces the Nation's Report Card. Districts that receive Title 1 funds agree to have schools participate, if selected, in Main/State NAEP in grades 4 and 8 reading and mathematics.

What's New


This resource provides considerations for district and school leaders to use in identifying initial student needs and monitoring ongoing student learning from an equity lens to ensure every student has what they need to learn when they need it. It offers a process and sources of data to identify and align the unfinished learning students need to advance on grade-level standards within the current/upcoming unit of study.


Quick Contacts

Nikki Braconier

ACT/Aspire Assessment Program Coordinator
The ACT and ACT Aspire Early High School
(608) 266-1075

Alison O'Hara

Forward Exam Program Manager
(608) 266-5182

Jennifer Teasdale

Education Program Specialist
Forward Exam, Assessment, Webpage
(608) 266-5193

Mike Peacy

Special Populations
(608) 267-1288

Jesse Roberts

Assessment for ELLs
W-APT, ACCESS and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs
(608) 267-5153

Phil Cranley

Data and Student Demographics and Privacy
(608) 266-9798

Duane Dorn

Choice Program, Assessment for Reading Readiness, and Test Security
(608) 267-1069

Angela Dugas

NAEP and International Assessments
(608) 267-2273