Wisconsin Student Assessment System and Measuring Student Learning
Schools use many ways to measure the progress of students; homework completion, class projects, portfolios, unit tests, and student efforts. Another way to measure student progress statewide is with the state tests. In Wisconsin, the state Department of Public Instruction develops and administers statewide examinations to measure children's learning. The tests are based on Wisconsin's Model of Academic Standards and fall under the Wisconsin Student Assessment System. The long-term goal of the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS) is for all students to show they have mastered the skills and knowledge in the subject areas tested. Although the state tests do a good job of measuring student attainment of the standards, one test cannot measure everything that children have learned. Tests measure a child's performance at one point in time and can be a valuable tool in identifying areas of strength for each child and areas where additional help is needed. The tests can also help schools measure the effectiveness of their curriculum and where to make changes needed.
Both state and federal law require the annual review of school performance to determine academic student achievement and progress. Annual review of school performance is based on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination test scores of the student enrolled in the school for a full academic year.
Proficiency standards describe how well students must perform to be included into specific proficiency categories. In Wisconsin, we are using four proficiency categories: advanced, proficient, basic, and minimal performance.
- Advanced indicates the child has in-depth understanding of academic knowledge and skills tested.
- Proficient indicates the child is competent in the important academic knowledge and skills tested.
- Basic indicates the child is somewhat competent in the academic knowledge and skills tested.
- Minimal indicates the child has limited achievement in the academic knowledge and skills tested.
These levels indicate how well children have learned the knowledge and skills tested when compared to a set standard. The overall state goal is for all Wisconsin students to attain the Proficient or Advanced levels in all subject areas.