Tony Tagliavia, MPS Media Manager
MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Public Schools’ students in middle school grades posted steady improvement in English language arts on the Wisconsin Student Assessment System exams taken during the 2014-15 school year, according to results released today by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
MPS students in 3rd through 8th grade participated in the Badger and Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) exams. The DLM is an alternative assessment given to students with severe cognitive disabilities. Of all 3rd through 8th grade students, 27 percent scored proficient or advanced in English language arts. Students in middle school showed an upward trend in proficiency in English language arts. While 22 percent of 6th graders scoring proficient or advanced, the number climbed to 29 percent of 7th graders and 33 percent of 8th graders.
“It is critical that we build on the progress we are making at middle school grades,” said MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver. “While it is a step in a positive direction, we still have significant work to do at all grade levels. We have several initiatives in place that are focusing our efforts on improving student outcomes and we will continue to work hard until all students achieve at high levels.”
Seventeen percent of students in 3rd through 8th grade scored proficient or advanced in mathematics. Statewide, 44 percent of 3rd through 8th graders were proficient or advanced in mathematics and 52 percent were proficient or advanced in English language arts.
Also released today were ACT results and results for the high school DLM. The ACT is a college admissions exam taken by students nationwide and it measures the college readiness of 11th grade students. The ACT is more rigorous than the test it replaced, the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination, which tested the proficiency of 10th graders. Twenty-two percent of all MPS 11th graders scored proficient or advanced in English language arts and 10 percent were proficient or advanced in mathematics compared to 45 percent and 26 percent statewide.
Current efforts underway districtwide to improve student outcomes include:
- Development of a focus on literacy throughout the district, with an enhanced reading curriculum in kindergarten through 3rd grade and a high school focus on reading, writing, speaking, listening and language across the curriculum
- Implementation of a mathematics curriculum in 4th and 8th grade that emphasizes Algebra Readiness
- Creation of one-on-one and small group support sessions during the school day for students, including reading and mathematics at high school
- Expansion of online academic supports to increase reading and writing in science in social studies for middle and high school students
- Continuation and evaluation of a variety of tutoring programs in all MPS schools
- Alignment of community partnerships to the district’s reading focus
The Badger, ACT, and DLM assessments replace Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations and Wisconsin Alternative Assessments for Students with Disabilities that were administered in 3rd through 8th grade and 10th grade in prior years. Because the 2014-15 assessments were taken in spring rather than fall and were based on different standards, the Department of Public Instruction states that comparison to results from prior years are not advised.