New Data Shows Little Progress for Wisconsin’s Minority Students
by Amira Caire, age 13
The results of a national reading exam administered in 2009 showed Wisconsin’s African-American fourth-grade students posted scores that trailed their racial peers in every other state. Now, there is new national data from 2011; and this new data shows only slight improvement for those Wisconsin students.
Despite the small gains, Wisconsin’s black students still score near the bottom among all states in fourth-and eighth-grade reading, according to the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Wisconsin students’ overall scores in fourth-and eighth-grade math and reading are statistically the same as in 2009. Scores for Wisconsin’s fourth-and eighth-grade students in reading have moved very little since 1998.
Wisconsin students as a whole have shown some progress in math since 2003, and the news is somewhat better for Wisconsin’s African-American students when it comes to math scores. In 2011, 47 percent of Wisconsin’s fourth-graders scored proficient in math. In 2003, this number was only 35 percent. Nationally, scores for black fourth-and eighth-graders were also slightly improved.
These national tests in reading and math were administered to 422,000 fourth-graders and 343,400 eighth-graders in states across the country. Results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests are often referred to as “the nation’s report card.”
These tests evaluate public as well as private school students. The tests also collect a range of data that is valuable for looking at student achievement.
This year’s data shows, for example, that students who report reading for fun tend to score higher in reading than their peers who don’t report reading for fun as often. Students taking the math exam who reported taking Algebra I in eighth grade tended to outscore their peers who had not taken Algebra I.
Wisconsin’s results in reading were particularly troubling, especially for black students. These scores were shocking when compared to other states, with Wisconsin ranked next to lower-income southern states in reading scores for African-American students.
Based on eighth grade scores, Wisconsin’s students outscored only Mississippi and Arkansas in reading proficiency. In eighth grade reading, black students and English language learners posted the same average score of 240 on the 500-point assessment.
Reading scores for fourth-and eighth-grade Wisconsinites as a whole haven’t changed much since 1998. That year, 34 percent of black fourth-and eighth-graders in Wisconsin scored proficient or better in reading. Thirteen years later, in 2011, 34 percent of black fourth-grade students continued to score proficient or advanced in reading. Only 35 percent of black fourth-grade students met that threshold.
Across Wisconsin the new data has sparked criticism from community leaders, parents, and educators. This criticism has caused state schools superintendent, Tony Evers to announced several initiatives aimed at improving literacy and achievement. He intends to strengthen educator-training requirements for those teaching reading to pre-k, elementary school, and special education students.
Teachers in the primary grades that are new to the profession will have to follow a professional development plan that focuses on improving student literacy. Evers also said he plans to open a new Office of Early Learning at the Department of Public Instruction, install new standards for instruction and assessment, and development websites that share best practices in educational technology.
[Sources: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; Wisconsin State Journal; Madison.com]
Overall, Wisconsin Students Only Slightly Above Average
by Patricia Cazares, age 13
The National Assessment of Education Progress, commonly called the “nation’s report card,” recently released new results. Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction reported these results late in 2011.
While scores for Wisconsin minority students were disappointing, overall, fourth and eighth grade student test scores show that Wisconsin is above national averages in math and reading. However, state scores remained about the same as test score data in 2009.
National Assessment tests show fourth and eighth grade scores as state-by-state comparisons in math and reading.
In Wisconsin, fourth grade math scores were higher than in 30 other states. Fourth grade-reading scores were higher than 15 other states. Eighth grade average math scores are higher in Wisconsin than in 29 other states, and reading scores are higher than in 20 other states.
[Sources: Wisconsin State Journal; Associated Press]