State test scores highlight achievement gap - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

State test scores highlight achievement gap

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JANESVILLE (WKOW)-- The Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations for 2013-2014 show a large disparity between the achievements of white students and students of color in reading and math.

In 2013 to 2014, 56.2 percent of white students scored proficient or advanced in reading. That’s compared to 18.3 percent of black students who scored proficient or advanced.

Reading scores show a similar gap: 42.9 percent of white students registered as proficient or advanced compared to 14.3 percent of black students.

In a release about the results State Superintendent Tony Evers said, “Our achievement gaps are no secret and are too large. That is why I have appointed a task force of teachers and principals to specifically address classroom…We want them to tell us what works in their schools and help us apply these strategies in classrooms across the state.”

One member of that task force is Allison Degraaf, the principal at Kennedy Elementary in Janesville.

“As they were analyzing the data they realized there were several schools that were able to close the gap and so Kennedy Elementary was identified as one of those schools that had closed the achievement gap for mainly students of color,” Degraaf said.

Members of the task force will brainstorm ideas to close the gap. One tool used at Kennedy that Degraaf will share is called looping, where students stay with the same teacher for two years.

“When students start that second year of school, they're able to begin learning right way,” Degraaf said. “They already know the expectations of the classroom, the teachers already know where the students ended in their curriculum last year and are able to start right away.”

Degraaf says another key component to helping all students learn is data analysis and staff collaboration

“ We've always kind of monitored those different subgroups within our building and whenever we see possibly skills or deficit areas that might be starting to decrease or slide a little bit, we really turn around, meet, decide how we're going to focus on that ,” Degraaf said.

The ultimate hope of the task force, Degraaf says, is to create a list of resources and tools all schools can use to increase the success of minority students. The group’s first meeting is Wednesday morning.

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