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Assessment Information for Families FAQ

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Q. How many tests does the state require a student to take each year?

In most grades students only take one state assessment per year. For detailed information see the State Assessments by Grade handout.

Q. Are the common core standards a national curriculum for our schools?

No, the common core standards are not a curriculum. They are a clear set of expectations or goals for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed. Local teachers, principals, superintendents and others decide how the standards are to be met. Teachers continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instruction to the individual needs of the students in their classrooms.

Q. Does the state collect personal data from my student? And if so does the state report/sell/give this information to anyone? 

The State does not collect any personal information from students other than to verify their demographic information such as birth date, gender, and ethnicity. This information is only used by DPI and the testing vendor (who must sign a data sharing agreement which covers the data privacy standards expected by DPI).

Q. What effect does it have on my school/district if I opt my student out of testing? 

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), requires that all students participate in statewide standardized testing in grades 3-8 and once in high school. (In Wisconsin, this is the grade 11 ACT Plus Writing.) The law requires that participation rates be calculated based on the higher of either a 95% participation rate for all students and each subgroup of students or the actual number of students tested. ESEA also references withholding federal funding for not meeting federal requirements, including requirements for test participation.

In Wisconsin’s accountability report cards, a student that is opted out counts as not tested for purposes of test participation calculations and reporting. Non-tested students are not included in any achievement-based calculations. In other words, instead of counting as zero and lowering the school’s achievement scores, they are removed and do not impact the achievement scores

Q. When is parent/guardian opt-out allowed?

When a parent or guardian requests that the student be excused from participating in the WSAS, this request must be honored at grades 4, 8, 9-11, per Wis. Stats. 118.30(2)(b)3. This request may come at any time during the testing window. All students excused by parent opt-out are marked as “not tested” students in school and district reporting determinations. 

Q. How does a parent/guardian request an opt-out for their student?

A parent must submit a written request for student opt-out to the principal or the school board.  Per Wis. Stats. 118.30(2)(b)3., if the student is in grades 4, 8, and 9-11 the request must be granted.  However, if the student is not in the above mentioned grade levels, the decision to grant the request is at the discretion of the school board.

Q. Can I opt my child out of MAPS and STAR (or other local) testing?

The parent opt-out statute only covers state assessments.  Local assessments such as MAPS and STAR are not covered under the statute.  This would be something that would need to be discussed with your school or district.

Q. Why should I let my student take the standardized test? How does it benefit them?

A standardized test is a test that is administered and scored in a consistent, or "standard", manner. Standardized tests are designed in such a way that the questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent and are administered and scored in a predetermined, standard manner.  These tests are designed to designed to see how well students are doing in relation to the Wisconsin Academic Standards. Tests can corroborate what you see on a daily basis or show an area of strength or weakness. Results help you see how your children are doing compared to other children in the state or on the national level.  School scores can help educators see gaps in curriculum and enable them make improvements for everyone. Standardized tests can help with predication and selection for gifted programs, college, and employment.  No one measure should be used for decisions but several together such as test scores, homework, coursework, etc should be used. Testing is something in life everyone must do in some form or another, whether it be college exam, cpr training, or a professional certification exam.  Your child's attitude and the attitude of those around your child will determine a great deal about how they may perform on the test that day. Encouraging your student to do their best to show their knowledge and skill will aide them in doing well and forming good testing habits as they grow into adults.

Q. I have heard that State tests take too much classroom time away from my student, is this accurate?  

No, State tests are a relatively small part of your child's overall school year. In Wisconsin, decisions about the curriculum are best made and are by educators in each school district. Educators should be using classroom time to teach to the Wisconsin Academic Standards with whatever curriculum their district has chosen and however teachers locally decide to teach to those standards.  An example would be that the Wisconsin Academic Standards say that students should be able to multiply and divide within 100 by the end of 3rd grade. It is a local decision about how to teach this concept to students so they are able to understand, retain, and use this skill in several ways. Assessments only determine how well students are reaching the academic standards for their grade.

Districts should not be spending a lot of time on test preparation with students. The department recognizes the need to run through a practice test to ensure students are aware of the basics and how to maneuver in the testing environment but feels the remainder of students time should be spent in regular classroom activities.

In most grades students only take one state assessment per year. For detailed information see the State Assessments by Grade handout.

Q. How do I help my student prepare for testing?

On the assessment resources for Families web page there is an informational handout related to this topic.

Q. My student gets stressed out during testing, how can I help them with this problem?

On the assessment resources for Families web page there is an informational handout related to this topic.

Q. How much weight/importance should I put on my child’s standardized test each year? Is it an accurate reflection of their ability?  

Your child’s summative assessment is only a snapshot in time of their performance.  It can be a good way to track progress from year to year, to see where your child may need additional assistance, or where their strengths are.  No one test can tell you everything about your child.  Many measures (assessments, classroom work, homework, participation, etc.) need to be considered when looking at your child’s overall performance and the assessment is just one measure. 

Q. How do I find out about accommodations my student may need for testing? 

Begin with your school.  Discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher to see what is available/allowed for certain assessments.  If further assistance is needed at that point there are accommodation web pages under each assessment on the DPI web page that will give you information and additional contacts. 

Q. Where do I get information about the reports my student will receive after testing?

On the Assessment Data and Results for Families web page there is information about reporting for the different assessments and links to more information.

Q. Is my child ready for online testing?

It is critical for students to not only achieve academically but to do so technologically and creatively to succeed today.  Today’s student’s are very prepared for online testing.  Those that have not had much access at home have usually had exposure at school.  No online testing is given without student’s being given instruction on how to use a system prior to testing.