Area school districts are analyzing the results of the 2012-13 Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination.
The results show the three school districts on this side of Waupaca County continue to have a high percentage of students scoring above the state averate in the examination.
Last fall, students in third through eighth grade and tenth grade took the WKCE in reading and math.
In addition, students in fourth, eighth and tenth grades took assessments in language arts, science and social studies.
Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released the 2012-13 results.
Those results show that in math, 48.1 percent of students statewide were proficient or advanced, while on the reading asessment, 36.2 percent scored proficient or advanced.
The results also show that in language arts, 69.5 percent of students were proficient or advanced, with 76.6 percent proficient or advanced in science and 84.2 percent in social studies.
The WKCE measures the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards and is administered in the fall to all students enrolled in Wisconsin public schools.
Students are identified as advanced, proficient, basic or minimal.
The latest numbers reflect the new proficiency levels which were implemented statewide for the WKCE math and reading tests.
This school year, Wisconsin raised the benchmark scores needed for students to reach the proficient or advanced performance levels.
The new college and career readiness proficiency levels are based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
These more rigorous proficiency levels were used to report the percentage of students who were proficient or advanced for the current testing period.
Because of the benchmark score changes, WKCE results show a decline in the number of students considered to be proficient or advanced.
It does not reflect a change in the abilities of students – it reflects higher standards for students and schools.
For the students in grades four, eight and ten who also took assessments in language arts, science and social studies, those scores were reported on the proficiency levels which have been used since 2002.
Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, new mathematics and reading assessments for grades three through eight will be from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Dynamic Learning Maps Assessment Consortium.
If approved in the 2013-15 state budget, high school assessments will be from ACT and will include the EXPLORE, PLAN, ACT and WorkKeys assessments in grades nine, ten and eleven.
In the Waupaca School District, 43.2 percent of the students in 2012-13 were advanced or proficient in reading, 70.6 percent were in language arts, 54.4 percent were in math, 82.6 percent were in science and 87.7 percent were in social studies.
In the 2011-12 school year, 88.7 percent were advanced or proficient in reading, 76 percent were in language arts, 84.4 percent were in math, 84.7 percent were in science and 84.4 percent were in social studies.
“We’re in a transition period now,” District Administrator David Poeschl said.
Schools are in the process of moving to the Common Core State Standards while still using the WKCE as an assessment tool.
In the 2014-15 school year, when they will be teaching the Common Core standards and using the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the standards will then be aligned with the form of assessment, he said.
“It will be a different kind of testing,” said Rhonda Hare, the district’s director of instruction.
The assessment will be done on a computer and some parts of the test will be research based.
Of the higher benchmarks this year for reading and math, Poeschl said, “Nothing changes in the students. They applied different standards.”
He compared it to the medical field, saying one day a person’s blood pressure is in the healthy range.
However, after a change is made to what is considered the healthy range, that same person might have high blood pressure.
“What we’re doing is more than testing the kids. We’re testing what we’re teaching. If kids don’t do well, we need to adjust,” Poeschl said.
He said the district uses the information to inform them about where they need to be.
At a data retreat in June, state, district and classroom-level assessment information will be analyzed.
Hare said the Measures of Academic Progress assessment takes place twice a year. In addition, teachers use the Response to Intervention to help students succeed in the classroom.
She said when the move is made to the Smarter Balanced assessment, the test will take place in the spring, rather than in the fall.
“They want it to show the growth with the School Report Card,” she said.
Poeschl said because it will be a computer-based test (like the MAP test), school districts will also get the results much more quickly.
Hare said the district will continue to have students do the MAP test in the fall.
“We need multiple data points,” she said.
Poeschl said, “It will give us consistency over this period of flux. It will keep us going in the right direction.”
Another tool the district is using to assess students is the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screener.
This screening begins in kindergarten and is composed of six required tasks and one optional task. The majority of the screening is administered individually. A few of the tasks can be given in small groups.
Hare said this is the first year the district did the screening.
Poeschl said the goal is to more quickly catch students who are falling behind, and Hare said for students who get what is being taught, their responsibility is to keep the students moving forward.
Of this year’s WKCE results, Poeschl said he is pleased with them, relative to the rest of the state.
“The information we get is good information,” he said. “It will help us become better educators.”
Hare said the district will compare the data.
Poeschl said assessments are necessary, but they must be careful as to how they view the results.
“We don’t use these reults to condemn kids or teachers,” he said. “We use it to improve our instruction. It’s more about us than them.”
Hare said the district needs different assessment tools to inform it about its level of instruction.
“The data is for everyone to see. A good teacher intuitively knows what a student needs,” she said. “The district has a good start on aligning the curriculum to the new standards.”
In the I-S School District, 41.9 percent of the students were advanced or proficient in reading, 71.4 percent were in language arts, 53.3 were in math, 83.6 percent were in science and 87.8 percent were in social studies.
In the 2011-12 school year, 90.9 percent of I-S students were advanced or proficient in reading, 78.1 percent were in language arts, 86.8 percent were in math, 91.3 percent were in science and 86.2 percent were in social studies.
“As a district, we’re looking to make necessary adjustments through Response to Intervention. We will be reviewing it,” said Interim District Administrator Duane Braun.
Elementary Principal Tess Lecy-Wojcik said the WKCE examination is one of several assessment tools the district uses.
The I-S district also uses the Measures of Academic Progress assessment, with students doing that assessment three times throughout the school year.
She said individual classroom assessments also take place.
At the high school level, how students do on the EXPLORE and ACT tests are also looked at for assessment purposes.
“The WKCE has value, but it’s not the only value we look at,” Braun said.
Lecy-Wojcik said the higher benchmarks in the reading and math portions of the test are part of making sure students are career and college ready and also ready to compete at the international level.
Braun said the move to the Common Core State Standards means if a family moves from California to Wisconsin, the expectations in the classroom will be similar for their children.
Lecy-Wojcik said the district’s focus has been on reading and math, with writing in particular a focus for about the past seven years.
“That transfers into reading and math. It has probably helped our students understand math and reading,” she said.
Writing is a focus in every content area, including in art, music and physical education.
“Everyone is expected to write,” she said. “Tell me what you’re thinking. Tell me what you know.”
Non-fiction writing is a component, with argumentative and persuasion writing a part of it.
From 4K through seniors, all students are writing, she said.
For the younger students, their writing might include drawing pictures to tell their stories.
“That assessment is twice per year,” Lecy-Wojcik said.
On late start days, the teachers gather in the commons to grade the writing.
“Now, we’re just expecting everyone to do it in their content areas,” she said.
In regard to this year’s WKCE results, the individual reports of the students were sent to their parents in February.
Braun said the district included a letter outlining the higher benchmarks in reading and math.
“I think everyone understood the letter correctly,” he said.
Those who have questions about the assessment may contact Braun.
Lecy-Wojcik said the teachers have been working with the Common Core standards in reading and math for several years.
“Teacher training never ends,” she said. “You have to keep learning.”
She said the district believes in professional development.
The I-S district uses Response to Intervention at all levels, with Toward Rigor/Relevance, Enrichment and Knowledge a new program taking place at the both the middle and high school levels.
Each school day ends with a 30-minute period which is an additional academic-focused time for student enrichment and support.
Braun said Response to Intervention is also used for students who need to be challenged.
“We want to continue challenging all students and providing a quality education,” he said.
In the Weyauwega-Fremont School District, 45.8 percent of the students were advanced or proficient in reading, 76.1 percent were in language arts, 55.6 percent were in math, 82.2 percent were in science and 90.8 percent were in social studies.
In the 2011-12 school year, 91.7 percent were advanced or proficient in reading, 81.8 percent were in language arts, 89.7 percent were in math, 84.6 percent were in science and 90.7 percent were in social studies.
“One of the talking points in the fall was fewer students would achieve proficiency or advanced based on the new standards (in reading and math),” said District Administrator Scott Bleck.
Kandi Martin, the district’s director of pupil services and curriculum, said 46 of the 50 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards.
“All of the states used to have their own standards and own assessment test,” she said.
Now, that is changing.
Bleck said the state is raising the bar for student achievement expectations.
Martin said the district’s students made gains from last year.
The new standards reflect the need for students to be college and career ready.
Elementary Principal Kirk Delwiche said a driving force behind the new standards is to make sure students are prepared to compete in the global market.
Next fall will be the last time students take the WKCE test.
The district’s administrators look forward to the immediate feedback they will receive from the computer-based Smarter Balanced Assessment.
Martin said the district will continue to use other assessment tools, including the Measures of Academic Progress assessment.
The different assessments are used to support the Response to Intervention, she said.
The new reading and math standards are already in place.
The Common Core standards in science were recently revealed, and school districts now wait for the new social studies standards.
“In the fall, for reading and math, there will again be that higher expectation,” Martin said.
Delwiche said the district will continue to process the information, analyze the data and make adjustments where needed.
Bleck said, “It helps guide our initiatives building-wise and district-wide, too. We’re pleased with scores that are at or above the state average but also recognize (individual grade) scores below the state average will be up for dialog.”
Of the WKCE results, Delwiche said it shows one day’s performance.
“It’s just a snapshot of what we’re doing,” he said. “The focus is to continue improving. That is demonstrated every year that we get these results.”
At the elementary level, Power 45 has been expanded this year.
Power 45 is a devoted intervention time for both reading and math, with students challenged based on their ability, Delwiche said.
This is the second year of the program, and this year, students not in the intervention are focusing on science and social studies material during that time, he said.
There are also intervention programs at the middle and high school levels.
Matt Wilbert, principal of both the middle and high school, said the district has a dedicated time with a staff member for those students needing support.
At the middle school, Read 180 is a program for students who need supplemented education in the reading area, he said.
With components of the Smarter Balanced assessment being piloted at districts throughout the state, the W-F district is anxious to see the results of those pilots.
Like the neighboring school districts, the W-F district will analayze the various assessment tools it uses.
“We are also focused on guided professional development for the staff to address results,” Bleck said.