MADISON — Statewide results held steady on the Forward, ACT Plus Writing, and Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) assessments administered during the 2016-17 school year. These exams, part of the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS), are the statewide assessments for the more than 453,000 public and private choice school students enrolled in grades three through eight and grade 11.
Participation was up by 5,713 students statewide from the prior school year, and rates improved slightly for public schools with 98.4 percent of students taking the assessments. Choice schools had a participation rate of 93.1 percent. Results for choice students showed some fluctuations across the Forward and ACT assessments, though none were significantly different from the prior year. Overall, public school results across the WSAS were steady.
On the Forward Exam, public school students in grades four through seven had increased performance from 2015-16 testing in English Language Arts (ELA). The percentage of students scoring proficient and advanced increased 3.4 points at fourth grade, 4 points at fifth grade, 2.7 points at sixth grade, and 1.6 points at seventh grade. Other changes in proficiency levels for the Forward and DLM across public and private choice school grades and subjects were not significantly different. Public school results disaggregated by race and ethnicity, English language proficiency, as well as disability and economic status, continue to show disparities in achievement.
“We’re seeing some positive student gains in the Forward Exam in English language arts,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “Our educators and students are growing more comfortable with the test and have begun to use the information it provides to drive student improvement.”
This was the second year of the online Forward Exam and the third year of the DLM, given to students with significant cognitive disabilities. The Forward and DLM assessments were administered between March 20 and May 5, for the 371,785 public school and 14,559 private choice school students enrolled in grades three through eight.
This was the third year of administration of the ACT Plus Writing and DLM for the 66,682 public and private choice school students enrolled in 11th grade. Results for all takers show an ACT composite score that was the same as last year: 20.0. Most students took the ACT exam on the statewide testing day, Feb. 28. Those who missed the February date were offered a make-up day on March 21.
In the state’s public high schools, 65,180 students took the 11th-grade exams, with 857 of those students taking the DLM. Wisconsin’s public school composite score was down one-tenth of a point from last year to 20.0. While subscores and proficiency levels showed numeric fluctuations, none of the changes are significantly different. Choice students had an overall composite score of 17.9 compared to 18.1 last year. The ACT is scored on a scale of one to 36.
“Using the ACT as a statewide assessment for 11th-graders gives these students a chance to demonstrate their college and career readiness,” Evers said. “Student performance on this assessment can provide opportunities for further education and training that some kids might not have been considering.”
The Forward Exam is made up of ELA and mathematics exams for grades three through eight, science exams in grades four and eight, and social studies for students in grades four, eight, and 10. The ACT Plus Writing is administered at grade 11 and is made up of ELA (English, reading, and writing), mathematics, and science subtests. The DLM, Wisconsin’s alternate assessment, is made up of ELA and mathematics assessments in grades three through eight and grade 11. The DLM science is given in grades four, eight, and 11. The DLM social studies is administered via a teacher rating form. Statewide, 5,890 public school students took the DLM.