MILWAUKEE (AP) — Test scores for Wisconsin elementary students show declines since the coronavirus pandemic and persistent gaps, though there were signs of progress last school year.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday on the math and language arts tests for grades three through eight released by the state Department of Public Instruction. The results showed that less than half of Wisconsin students were considered proficient in 2022, a drop from about 10% of students who were considered proficient in 2019.
The tests were canceled in 2020 and had low participation in 2021.
Still, state education officials said there were signs of progress.
“Getting something back is a journey, and we haven’t reached a destination yet that we’re satisfied with,” said Abigail Swetz, director of communications for the state Department of Public Instruction.
About 39% of Wisconsin students scored proficient or better in math on the Spring 2022 Forward exams, compared to about 43% in 2019. And about 37% scored proficient or better in language arts, versus 41%.
The numbers also show continuing disparities by race, income and other factors. Swetz said they point to areas that need more support from state programs, including proposals for universal free meals, more support for mental health, and more funding for special education and general aid.
DPI Superintendent Jill Underly, backed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, proposes a $2 billion plan to boost education funding over the next two years. But that plan is contingent on Evers winning re-election and the Republican-controlled Legislature accepting it.
Evers’ Republican challenger, Tim Michels, said the scores show Evers has “led Wisconsin schools into a ditch.” Before being elected governor in 2018, Evers served for ten years as state superintendent of schools.
Michels suggested that he would not provide public schools with any new funding and would consider plans that could reduce the amount some public schools receive, while increasing voucher funding for private schools.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.