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West Allis school district earns better grade in restated WKCE results

May 7, 2012

West Allis - The West Allis-West Milwaukee School District performed better than previously reported based on figures that take special education students into account in Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam summaries.

The district's curriculum director, Johnna Noll, had taken issue with some of the WKCE scores reported in April 19 in the Greenfield-West Allis NOW.

The reading scores in particular were better than reported, and two schools that were shown as underperforming in reading compared to state averages actually exceeded the average, Noll said.

Important factor in scoring

The WKCE scores were disproportionately low because special education students - who took a different type of statewide test, the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment - were not added into the reported summaries, she said.

When they are, both Irving and Pershing elementary schools are above the state average - especially Irving, which offers specialty programs in special education, she said. That school had 89.7 percent of students at least proficient in reading, far exceeding the state average of 80.4 percent.

Similarly, overall statewide reading scores in the school district were above the state average when special education scores were added in. Only science and math are below the state average.

Adding the WKCE and the special education test scores together does give a more accurate picture, confirmed Susan Ketchum, state Department of Public Instruction accountability consultant.

More positive results

Generally, the scores only change slightly when the special education scores are added to the WKCE scores, though in some cases it's enough to change comparisons with other districts.

Students statewide take WKCE or WAA tests in five subjects to determine whether they are proficient for their grade level.

Noll also said the story was unduly negative when it said that scores in math and language arts had slipped a bit this year after having gone up last year thereby reversing a three-year slide.

It should have noted that scores are up in both subjects over the last three years, she said.

Noll also added that scores in all five subjects have increased over the past three years.

WA-WM SCHOOLS PERFORMANCE ON 2011-12 WKCE EXAM

Percentage of students working at or above grade level on both WKCE and WAA tests (WKCE-only scores reported)
  READING
LANGUAGE ARTS MATH SCIENCE
All WA-WM schools 85.4 (82.1) 68.9 (66.7) 81.1 (77.7) 72.2 (69.6)
Statewide average 81.9 (81) 70.3 (69.6) 78 (77) 76.6 (75.6)
Nathan Hale High School, 10th grade 88.1 (87.2) 78.6 (78.3) 77.7 (76.8) 75.7 (74.8)
Central High School, 10th grade 71.8 (68.7) 57.7 (54.3) 58.3 (55.2) 50.9 (47.5)
Statewide average, 10th grade 78.2 (77.3) 70.1 (69.4) 71.2 (70.4) 72.6 (71.6)

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