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Wisconsin Student Assessment results released


This week, the Department of Public Instruction released Wisconsin Student Assessment System, or WSAS, results.

The data reflected improvements in standardized test scores, but students aren’t back to pre-pandemic proficiency levels.

Math proficiency rates are lower than English language arts levels.

Mary Mooney is the Mathematics Consultant at the Department of Public Instruction.

She says that we need to work on making students feel more welcome in math.

“Mathematics sometimes is known as a difficult subject. And not everyone feels welcome there and able to learn mathematics. So that's the instruction side of it. We need to figure out how better to bring in our students' lived experiences. Everyone uses math,” said Mooney.

Abigail Swetz is the Communications Director for the Department of Public Instruction.

Swetz highlighted the need for additional funding in public schools and libraries.

“We went to every Joint Finance hearings since we weren't called to testify ourselves at an agency specific hearing. We went in droves, honestly and full court press trying to make sure that people understood the true impact that the funding that we just have not been getting for years is having on the structures of our schools, on the staffing of our schools, and it does have an impact,” said one official.

In the Northwoods, public schools have struggled with funding.

They’ve frequently resorted to operational referendums, which don’t always pass.

There is still a widening gap between white and Black students’ scores.

Students’ proficiency scores are connected to their mental health, and we see a huge gap in feelings of student connectedness between white students and students of color.

Officials from the Department for Education stressed a need for more funding for mental health care in schools, special education reimbursement rates, and major improvements to student wellbeing.

Abigail Swetz is the Communications Director for the Department of Public Instruction.

Swetz pointed to data from the CDC’s Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey, or ABES.

“One of the things the ABES is able to really draw out in the data is that our students of color and our students that have marginalized identities including LGBTQ plus, and the intersection of those identities are the students who are struggling the most with school connectedness,” said Swetz.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey painted a dire picture in terms of student mental health.

Andréa Donegan is a School Counseling Consultant.

“The data out there is compelling, our Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed 1/3 of students report feeling sad or hopeless who took that survey. Half are talking about feeling and having symptoms related to depression. So there is absolutely a need,” she said.

Wisconsin has set aside a portion of their COVID relief funds to work with a third party organization called Graduation Alliance.

They hope that with one on one student support and coaching, rising levels of chronic absenteeism could decrease.

For data from the Department of Public Instruction, visit https://wisedash.dpi.wi.gov/Dashboard/dashboard/22275.

Hannah Davis-Reid is a WXPR Reporter.
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