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Testing in Wisconsin: An Overview

A GreatSchools guide to standardized tests

By GreatSchools Staff

Although test results are only one measure of student achievement, they have become increasingly important in assessing student learning. In 2008-2009 Wisconsin used the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS) to test students' progress toward achieving academic standards. The WSAS includes the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination Criterion-Referenced Tests (WKCE-CRT), taken by nearly all students, and alternate assessments taken by certain students with limited English proficiency or disabilities. The WKCE-CRT is given to students in grades 3 through 8 and 10 in math and reading, and in grades 4, 8 and 10 in language arts, science and social studies. The WKCE-CRT is a standards-based test, which means it measures how well students are mastering specific skills defined by the state of Wisconsin.

How are the tests scored?

WKCE-CRT results show the level of proficiency a student demonstrates in each of the subject areas tested. The results are scored based on four proficiency levels: minimal performance, basic, proficient and advanced. The goal is for all students to score at or above the proficient level.

Which results are included on GreatSchools profiles?

For each subject, the combined percentage of students scoring at and above the proficient level is displayed.

Why do the tests matter?

WKCE-CRT results provide an indication of whether students are making progress toward mastery of state content standards. WKCE-CRT scores are also used for grade-level promotion, along with other factors, including student academic performance and teacher recommendations.

It is important to be aware of both your child's score on the assessments and the overall score for his school. If your child scores below the standards, contact his teacher to discuss getting additional assistance, and to find out how you can support your child's learning at home.

If the school's overall scores are low, ask what steps the school is taking to raise achievement levels for all students, and what you can do to help. If your child is in a failing school, ask what your options are for transferring and obtaining supplemental services.

A few parting words

Although test results can be an indicator of what's happening in the classroom, they don't tell you everything about the quality of a particular school. Always look at more than one measure when judging school performance and visit in person before making any final assessment.

Search for Wisconsin Schools.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

03/24/2010:
"Why are you showing only the WKCE-CRT, and not the WAS, which includes the separate assessment for students with limited language skills? For a school like Lincoln, with a large immigrant population, the WKCE-CRT is of limited use. I really dislike your consistently very limited, score-based assessment of schools."
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