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Fewer Than 40% of Wisconsin Students Were Proficient in Reading and Math During the Previous School Year

Thursday, October 12th, 2023 -- 12:00 PM

(By Corrinne Hess, Wisconsin Public Radio) Fewer than 40 percent of Wisconsin students were proficient in reading and math during the 2022-23 school year.

According to Corrinne Hess with Wisconsin Public Radio, standardized test scores were better than the previous two years but are still not back to pre-pandemic levels. Results of the Forward Exam, a statewide test taken by Wisconsin’s 3rd through 8th graders, the PreACT Secure test given in grades 9 and 10 and the ACT given in grade 11 showed 38.9 percent of children were proficient in reading and 37.4 percent were proficient in math last year.

When taken alone, the Forward Exam showed Wisconsin students were 39 percent proficient reading and 41 percent proficient in math. That’s up from a low of just over 33 percent proficiency in both reading and math during the height of the pandemic during the 2020-21 school year.

Prior to the pandemic in the 2018-19 school year, 41 percent of Wisconsin students scored proficient in reading and 43.4 percent in math. State Superintendent Jill Underly said she’s proud of this year’s test results and the increased participation rate of nearly 95 percent of students being tested.  

"I am also tired of politicians claiming that our children aren’t learning because they aren’t reaching a proficiency score," Underly said in a statement. "Instead of using test scores as a cudgel, we should all take the time to learn what a high bar proficiency on this test represents, because the truth is that our proficiency cut scores are very high in comparison to every other state in the country."

Students in private School Choice programs had lower scores than the state averages, with proficiency rates of 22.1 percent in reading and 17.9 percent in math during the 2022-23 school year, according to DPI.

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