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News Article: Wisconsin / Test scores show little change over 3 years

State superintendent encouraged by results
By Scott Bauer
Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 05/29/2008 10:08:53 PM CDT

Wisconsin school children scored about the same on statewide tests in reading and math this year.
Results slated for release today showed that reading scores for elementary, middle and high school students all remained unchanged this year over last year. Math scores increased one point in the elementary grades, dropped one point in middle grades and dropped two points in 10th grade.

However, when looking at the three-year trend, math scores were up for elementary and middle school students and down in 10th grade. Reading scores were constant over the three years.
About 434,000 Wisconsin students in grades 3-8 and 10 took the statewide Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations. Results of the test are used to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind law and will be the basis of determining whether schools are progressing as required.

State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster was encouraged by the results, saying there are some positive trends but that the focus must remain on closing achievement gaps.

While the gap between minority students and whites narrowed in many groups over the past three years, it still remains significant.

When looking at all students tested in math, 82 percent of whites this year were proficient or advanced on the tests. That compared with just 74 percent of Asian students, 62 percent of American Indians, 56 percent of Hispanics and 40 percent of blacks.

However, all of those minority groups narrowed the gap between their scores and white students from three years ago.

This year, in reading, 88 percent of whites were proficient or advanced. Asians were next at 74 percent, followed by American Indians at 73 percent, Hispanics at 65 percent and blacks at 56 percent.

Asian and Hispanic students narrowed the achievement gap over the past three years. It was unchanged for black students and slightly greater for American Indians.

Those groups experiencing an achievement gap also had higher rates of poor students. Thirty-three percent of Wisconsin students tested are poor enough to qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

Black students had the highest percentage of impoverished students at 76 percent followed by Hispanics at 73 percent, American Indians at 61 percent, Asians at 55 percent and whites at 22 percent.
Poverty works against students scoring well on tests, Burmaster said.

"Improving achievement in our schools requires shared responsibility among teachers and families as well as business and elected leaders to create communities that support academic achievement," she said.
Online: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: www.dpi.wi.gov/sig