While Boscobel School District’s scores were below the state average, they were not entirely unexpected, according to Steve Wacker, Operations Advisor for the district.
“We had been warned before we took them that scores would be lower than the test used in previous year,” Wacker said.
The lower scores have to do with a change in the how assessments were benchmarked, Wacker explained. What would have scored as advanced in previous years now ranks as proficient, proficient as basic, and so on. These newly implemented standards will remain in place until legislated otherwise.
But there are difficulties in using the scores for comparison in how the school is doing, according to Wacker. Those difficulties extend beyond the fact that the Badger Exam was a one-year phenomenon implementing higher assessment standards than previous state testing. Because the test was not graded, parents had the option to refuse to have their students participate, and the results reported by the state don’t make it clear who did or did not participate.
What it does make clear is that known disparities in achievement continue to be an issue, Wacker pointed out. Students with disabilities and students considered economically disadvantaged are still scoring well below those who are not.
Boscobel scores for English language arts were 39.7-percent scoring proficient and above. Mathematics results for Boscobel School District were 28.8 percent scoring proficient and above.
For economically disadvantaged students, the statewide average was 35.3-percent proficient and above in English and 27.3-percent proficient and above in Math. Statewide, scores for students who were not economically disadvantaged tended to be almost double the score of those who were economically disadvantaged. For those with disabilities, the difference was even greater.
“And we tested all of our students, including our special education students,” added Wacker.
Approximately 20-percent of the student population in the school district receive special education services, Wacker pointed out. And of the students tested, 49.6-percent, a number slightly lower this year than in the past, would be considered economically disadvantaged as they qualify for free or reduced lunch rates.
Wacker also pointed out a message he feels is important that has been missed by many. Statewide, almost half of all students are not proficient in these two areas of academic skill.
The elementary school began a new push to improve reading skills last year, according to Wacker. He believes that effort will have effect in the coming years on both English and math scores in the Foward Exam, which will replace the one-year Badger Exam.
“We will look at this, much like we look at every other test, and look for ways we can improve,” Wacker said. “It’s an ongoing effort.”