Continuing improvement of curriculum and staff development is on the minds of local school districts as they begin to digest the results of just-released statewide testing data from the Wisconsin Student Assessment System by the state Department of Public Instruction.
Math test results showed that elementary and middle school students maintained improvements over six years while high school achievement is almost where it was 2005-06. Over the past year, math achievement is down slightly in elementary school, flat in middle school and up slightly in high school.
Reading data for the past year shows an increase in the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced for all students. Over six years, reading achievement is stable.
In addition, scores for students who are economically disadvantaged and English-language learners indicate that the achievement gap between them and other students has closed.
Also, achievement in science and social studies for all students is at its highest level in six years.
While they have not yet fully WCAC test results has not yet been fully analyzed by local schools, superintendents and other school representatives said they are cautiously optimistic about their students' test scores.
"I haven't done a deep analysis of the information, but it appears that our scores are up a little and that there are no red flags," said Lowell Holtz, superintendent of the Whitnall School District. "Narrowing the achievement gap has been a focus for us as well as all schools.
The state has raised the bar each year in what it expects for the percentage of students to achieve at a proficient level," he added. "I know there is a date in the next several years when the state expects 100 percent proficiency among all students. That's our target. We have done a lot of work in staff development and curriculum in order to continually improve."
Improvement takes analysis and focus, said Franklin School Supt. Steve Patz, who also said his district's scores look good.
"The first step is always analyzing the data to determine what went well and what needs to be improved," Patz said. "Then you have to focus on the needs. That's where staff development comes in. And there has to be collaboration among teachers so that you can put the efforts toward those students who need the extra attention."
Chad Evenson, curriculum coordinator for the Oak Creek-Franklin School District, said schools everywhere have become more diverse in their student population, including those who are economically disadvantaged and are English language learners.
"Our district has done well in the latest report, Evenson said. "We work hard to get some students caught up with the average and we find ways to help students learn. For example, some students need to hear or see information rather than read it. Whatever works, we'll try it."
More to come
Evenson said he would be analyzing the WCAC data in preparation for a presentation to the Oak Creek-Franklin School Board on April 18.
In the coming weeks, NOW Newspapers will present specific data comparing local schools with statewide results.
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