New benchmarks raise the bar in WisconsinIn an attempt to ensure all students are career and college ready, Wisconsin has done away with No Child Left Behind and implemented new standards when it comes to student learning.
In an attempt to ensure all students are career and college ready, Wisconsin has done away with No Child Left Behind and implemented new standards when it comes to student learning.
The new standards will reflect the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), providing higher expectations for students that reflect career and college readiness.
Each year students in grades 3-8 and grade 10 are required to take the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations (WKCE) for math and reading. Because the standards are increasing, the WKCE results could show a decline in the number of students testing at the “proficient” or “advanced” level. That doesn’t mean the students are learning any differently, said Jess Ferguson, New Richmond’s director of curriculum and instruction, it just means the standards have changed.
“There will be a transition period and we’ll have to educate our parents about that to reduce confusion with the WKCE scores,” she said.
Under the new system, students’ performance levels will be measured, along with student growth, closing gaps between groups of students, and keeping students on track to graduation and postsecondary readiness.
The new benchmarks will be directly reflected in the state’s new accountability system and new school report cards, which will provide information about school performance.
The new report cards will focus on four areas:
* Student achievement
How a school’s students’ level of knowledge and skills compares with state and national standards .
This is a composite of reading and mathematics performance level profiles for the “all students” group in the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS). The score is based on how a school’s students are distributed across the four WSAS performance levels, and it takes three years’ worth of test data into account.
* Student growth
A single measure that summarizes how rapidly a school’s students are gaining knowledge and skills from year to year. In contrast to student achievement, which is based on the levels of proficiency students have attained, student growth focuses on the pace of improvement in student performance. Student growth treats all improvement, regardless of a student’s starting point, as a positive.
At the heart of this measure is a point system that rewards schools for students’ progress toward higher performance levels from wherever they started. The point system also deducts points for students regressing toward performance below the proficient level.
The measure most rewards schools showing rapid upward movement and having many students who are progressing. Also, the measure rewards schools that are already doing well and are maintaining the high performance of their students.
* Closing gaps
A measure that corresponds to the statewide goal of having all students improve while narrowing the achievement and graduation gaps that often separate different groups of students.
Students with disabilities, English language learners and low-income students are compared against their complementary, comparison groups.
Schools get credit for raising test scores and graduation rates for target groups. If comparison groups decline in performance, however, the amount of credit for target group improvement is reduced.
* On-track and post-secondary readiness
An indication of how successfully students are achieving educational milestones that predict postsecondary readiness.
This area has two components. The first component is either a graduation rate, for schools that graduate students, or an attendance rate for other schools. The second is a set of measures that include third grade reading achievement, eighth grade mathematics achievement, and ACT participation and performance.
Ferguson said it’s hard to say what the new report cards and standards will mean for New Richmond. Once the report card results are released, she and the teaching staff will identify areas that need improvement and changes will be made to reach those goals.