About the Data
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 gauge 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.
Purpose of the Forward Exam
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.
Forward Exam Data Availability
Forward Exam scores are provided in WISEdash for those schools that have students in grades 3 through 8. 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. Forward Exam results are published annually as they become available.
Forward Exam Data Exchange
Districts are required to administer the Forward Exam in the spring of each school year to students in grades 3 through 8 and 10. After the conclusion of an administration window for all districts across the state, Forward Exam results from that administration are provided to DPI from the test vendor. DPI loads these results for presentation in WISEdash for Districts. Part of the data loading process involves matching the assessment with the appropriate student in the data warehouse. That process uses the WSN, student name, and date of birth and allows some degree of variation or inaccuracy. Even so, some records cannot be matched and will be loaded and reported as unknown. A very small percentage of records may be misidentified with an incorrect student.
- Planned Load Schedule
- Spring test administration: Annually in the summer
- 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.
- Forward Exam metrics include a not tested category that represents students who were enrolled during the test window but who were not tested or did not receive a score with the Forward Exam or DLM.
- The table below provides general performance level descriptions of the Forward Exam.
|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
|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
|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
|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
|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 (see note below) 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.
Note: Cut score ranges (using raw scores) are not provided for the tested topics within an overall content area. The number of items needed to be answered correctly in order to reach a classification level may vary between administrations. The number of items included in each topic and the difficulty of these items influence the number of items required to be answered correctly.
English Language Arts –Grades 3-8
- Key Ideas and Details
- Craft and Structure/Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
- Vocabulary Use
- Text Types and Purposes
- Language Conventions
Mathematics - Grades 3-5
- Operations and Algebraic Thinking
- Number and Operations in Base Ten
- Number and Operations—Fractions
- Measurement and Data
Mathematics - Grades 6-7
- Ratios and Proportional Relationships
- The Number System
- Expressions and Equations
- Statistics and Probability
Mathematics - Grade 8
- The Number System
- Expressions and Equations
- 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
The Forward Exam performance dashboards are defaulted to show both Forward Exam and Dynamic Learning Maps data. Users can filter by “Test Type” to view performance dashboard results for either assessment by itself. The scale score dashboards only provide data for the Forward Exam.
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 and filtering the data by full academic year 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.
Users can also use these dashboards to quickly identify students performing in a specific range within a school or grade level. Along with additional sources of information from classroom assessments, this information may be used to identify students in need of additional instructional supports or interventions. This information along with additional sources of information from classroom assessments may be used to tailor instructional supports for individuals or groups of students.
Limitations with Forward Exam Data
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.