Madison school officials concerned over test scores - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Madison school officials concerned over test scores


MADISON (WKOW) -- Leaders in education in Madison express concern over just-released student test scores, which show a gap in achievement between majority and minority students continues to be significant.

"The sobering data indicate that there may be fewer students on track than was previously understood," Madison schools superintendent Jennifer Cheatham says.

The data on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations (WKCE) released by the state department of public instruction include a new, higher standard for proficiency.

The data show in the Madison Metropolitan School District, fifty-seven percent of white students achieved proficiency or better in reading, but only fifteen percent of Hispanic students, and twelve percent of black students achieved that mark in WKCE.

In mathematics, where sixty-six percent of white students at least reached proficiency, only twenty-four percent of Hispanic students, and sixteen percent of black students were in that category.

"What I'm hearing a lot is what people are calling 'initiative overload,' that we're trying to do too many things, and we're not doing any of them particularly well," Cheatham says.

Flanked Tuesday by Madison Teachers Inc. president John Matthews, Urban League President Kaleem Caire, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and others, Cheatham said school district officials have plans to be more focused in efforts to close the achievement gap, relying on both instructional and behavioral approaches.

Cheatham cited a relatively new dual language immersion program in the Madison school district as an example of a promising approach to improve outcomes for students in minority groups.

The new state test score information includes students in public schools largely outperforming students who have used public school vouchers to attend private schools in choice programs.

UW School of Education Dean Julie Underwood said the data reinforce the peril of further investment in choice schools. The school choice program has been proposed for expansion to Madison and other communities.

But in a statement, School Choice Wisconsin said test score comparisons compiled by state officials neglected to factor family income, which has been used in the past in comparing  student outcomes in public and choice schools. The statement said when the family income of tested students is considered, choice school students score better in most subject areas. 

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