Education
8:37 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Wisconsin Schools: Test Scores Up, Racial Gaps Persist, Voucher Schools Gain

Statewide, test scores have improved over five years, by 1.8% in math and 1.1% in reading.
Statewide, test scores have improved over five years, by 1.8% in math and 1.1% in reading.

According to test scores released by the Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin students overall have improved in math and reading.

Results of the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations for 2013-2014, indicate that 48.6 percent of K-12 students are proficient or advanced in math, while 36.6 percent are proficient or advanced in reading. Those are the two highest categories of test scores, and the results are up fractionally from five years ago - and across all all racial and ethnic groups.

However, significant achievement gaps continue between white students and students of color. This year's test results show:

White students

-- 56% proficient/advanced in math

--43% proficient/advanced in reading

Black students

-- 18% proficient/advanced in math

-- 14% proficient/advanced in reading

DPI Superintendent Tony Evers recently appointed a task force to recommend ways Wisconsin can boost academic performance among minority students. The group will hold its first meeting Wednesday, in Madison.

When it comes to Wisconsin's voucher students, DPI says test scores in Racine and statewide are not yet reliable, because the state only recently began testing those students attending private schools with public money - and the numbers of those students s are small.

However, in Milwaukee, voucher or Choice students have taken the state tests for four consecutive years. The results indicate that Milwaukee Public Schools students outperform their counterparts in voucher schools:

MPS:

-- 19.0% proficient/advanced in math

-- 14.7% proficient/advanced in reading

Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (voucher):

-- 15.5% proficient/advanced in math

-- 11.9% proficient/advanced in reading

Since 2010-11, MPS scores have held steady in math and improved well over one point in reading.

MPCP scores have improved more than 6 points in math and more than 3 points in reading, since 2010-11.

In a release from MPS, the district says its  7th and 8th graders showed a stronger rate of improvement than the rest of the state in reading. Superintendent Gregory Thornton credits the system’s Comprehensive Literacy Plan for the gains.