Information for Parents About Assessment in Wisconsin

What is the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS)?

The WSAS is a comprehensive statewide program designed to provide information about what students know in core academic areas and whether they can apply what they know. The WSAS includes: 

  • the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) at grades 4, 8, and10 in Science and Social Studies,
  • the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD) at grades 4, 8, and10 in Science and Social Studies,
  • the Badger Exam 3-8: A Smarter Balanced Assessment at grades 3-8 in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics,
  • Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) at grades 3-11 in ELA and Mathematics,
  • ACT Aspire at grades 9 and 10, and
  • The ACT at grade 11 for ELA and Mathematics, Science, and Writing.
  • ACT WorkKeys at grade 11

The federal No Child Left Behind Act required all states to test all students in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school. Student performance on these assessments is reported in proficiency categories and used for accountability determination at the school, district and state levels.


 

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The DLM™ Alternate Assessment System will let students with significant cognitive disabilities show what they know in ways that traditional multiple-choice tests cannot in grades 3-11 in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The DLM system is designed to map a student’s learning throughout the year. The system will use items and tasks that are embedded in day-to-day instruction. This gives teachers the opportunity to see what students know during the year when teachers still have time to change instruction to better support student learning. An end of the year assessment will be administered and used for accountability in addition to the instructionally embedded tools. 
Instead of assuming that all children learn a skill in the same way, DLM allows for multiple pathways recognizing that there are alternate ways to learn the same skill. By using DLM as the basis for assessments, the DLM® system will give teachers a clearer view of each student's knowledge. 
Although students may share the same destination, they all begin their journeys from different starting points on the map. For parents and educators who hope to guide students to their destination, that road map provides a wealth of information. First, it shows where a student is starting. It also shows the main route, which is the shortest, most direct way to get there. However, a good road map does more than show a single route. It also shows several alternate routes in case the main route can’t be traveled. Finally, the map shows all the places students must travel through to get to their destination.
 
For more information go to http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/assessment/DLM

Assessment of English Language Learners (ELLs)

English Language Learners (ELLs), including immigrant students and ELLs with disabilities, are required to participate in all state or federally required language and academic content assessments as prescribed in Title III of the No Child Left Behind ACT of 2001 and state statute.  ELL designation is noted with an ELP code of 1-5 in the Individual Student Enrollment System(ISES). 

Districts will need to first determine if the student has recently arrived in the United States before making assessment and accountability decisions. Recently arrived refers to a student that has attended a U.S. school for less than 12 months.

A recently arrived ELL may be exempt from one required administration of the state’s reading assessment. Recently arrived students must participate in all other content areas, with or without accommodations.

If necessary a list of accommodations may be found at http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/assessment/ELL/accommodations.

For more information go to http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/assessment/ELL


New Assessment for Grades 3-8

 

A summative assessment administered during the last 8 weeks of the school year (measuring students’ cumulative progress from the past school year). These Summative assessments are administered in English Language Arts (ELA)  and Mathematics for grades 3-8 and Science and Social Studies in Grades 4, 8 and 10. The summative assessment will provide a  measures of students’ knowledge and skills required to be college- and career-ready via and online assessment.

More information will be posted we a testing vendor has been selected.


 

ACT High School Assessments

In compliance with 2011 Assembly Bill 40 Act 20 and the 2013-15 biennial state budget, Wisconsin will assess high school students in 9th, 10th, and 11th grades beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is entering into a partnership with ACT®, Inc. to comprehensively assess Wisconsin high school students:

  • 9th grade students will take the ACT Aspire™ Early High School assessment in the Fall and Spring
  • 10th grade students will take the ACT Aspire™ Early High School assessment in Spring
  • 11th grade students will take The ACT® Plus Writing and the ACT® WorkKeys® Assessment System in the Spring

ACT Aspire™ Early High School - ACT Aspire assesses student readiness in English, math, reading, science, and writing. ACT Aspire is an online assessment in Wisconsin except for students who require accommodations through Braille, Large Print or American Sign Language who will take ACT Aspire in a paper and pencil format.

The ACT® Plus Writing - The ACT Plus Writing consists of four multiple-choice tests: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science; and a 30-minute essay test that measures writing skills. ACT Plus Writing will be a paper and pencil test in Wisconsin for the 2015 administration

ACT® WorkKeys® - ACT WorkKeys is an applied skills assessment system that helps students compare their skills to the skills real jobs require.  Wisconsin students will take three WorkKeys assessments: Locating Information, Reading for Information, and Applied Mathematics. ACT WorkKeys will be a paper and pencil test in Wisconsin for the 2015 administration.

All students will be administered these assessments except for the 1% of students with significant cognitive disabilities who will be assessed with an alternate assessment. ACT®, Inc. has provided testing services for more than 50 years and their assessments have evolved over the years to reflect the nation's view of education to embrace lifelong learning and prepare students to be college and career ready after high school graduation. It is anticipated that contract negotiations between the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and ACT, Inc. will be completed during the Spring of 2014.

For more information go to http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/assessment/ACT


Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS)

Wis. Stats 118.016(1) requires an early literacy screener to be administered to all 4 year old kindergarten to 1st grade students enrolled in public school districts and charter schools for the 2013-14 school year and beginning in the 2014-15 school year to expand this requirement to also include all 2nd grade students enrolled in public school districts and charter schools. This assessment provides administrators, teachers, and parents with valuable information necessary to improve the reading skills of students. Results are used to identify reading problems early on and to inform instruction. The data from the screener is not part of the statewide accountability system.

The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS), developed by the University of Virginia, has been purchased under a state contract to serve as the required literacy screener.

More information on the screener can be found at: http://www.palswisconsin.info and http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/assessment/PALS.


The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

NAEP also known as the Nation's Report Card, is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in school. Since 1969, NAEP has provided valuable information on student achievement to policymakers, educators, and the general public. The National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education, is responsible by law for carrying out the NAEP project. The National Assessment Governing Board, appointed by the Secretary of Education but independent of the Department, sets policy for NAEP and is responsible for developing the frameworks and test specifications that serve as the blueprint for the assessments.

NAEP is a survey assessment. It provides results for populations and groups of students. It is not a testing program designed to provide individual student, school, or district results (except for a select group of urban districts that participate in the Trial Urban District Assessment).

For more information go to http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/assessment/NAEP


Assessment Resources for Families

Parents Guide To New Assessments in Wisconsin - This information handout gives an overview of new assessments (which measure student proficiency against more rigorous standards), sample test items, an overview of accountability for students, teachers, and schools, what parents can expect, benefits of new assessments, and additional resources for parents.

DLM Assessment Information for Families (2014-15 version)

This brochure answers common questions asked by students and parents about the DLM Assessment. It outlines the DLM Assessment, explains its purpose, describes what scores will be provided, and how they will be used. It also identifies who will be tested and when.
 

PALS Information for Families- This brochure answers common questions asked by families about the PALS. It explains its purpose, describes what scores will be provided, and how they will be used. 

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ACT High School Assessments Information for Families - This brochure answers common questions asked by families about the ACT High School Assessments. It outlines the ACT, WorkKeys, and the ACT Aspire, explains their purposes, describes what scores will be provided, and how they will be used. It also identifies who will be tested and when.

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ACCESS for ELLs® Information for Families Brochure- This brochure answers common questions asked by families about the ACCESS for ELLs®. It explains its purpose, describes what scores will be provided, and how they will be used. 

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Alternate ACCESS for ELLs™ Information for Families Brochure - This brochure answers common questions asked by families about the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs™. It explains its purpose, describes what scores will be provided, and how they will be used. 

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NAEP Information for Families - Brochure for families which contains a general overview of NAEP.

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Suggestions for parents to help students prepare for the state assessment:

 

General Preparation

  • When possible, it is beneficial to establish a daily routine for meals, homework, chores, bedtime, and family time
  • Provide students with a study area at home
  • Encourage students to practice good study habits and set aside time every day for homework
  • Encourage students to participate in practice sessions
  • Ensure students get a good night's sleep and a nutritious breakfast before taking a test
  • Remind students to listen to and read all directions and to tackle the test one question at a time instead of thinking about the entire test
  • Encourage students to answer all test questions
  • Offer praise and encouragement for achievement and improvement

Reading/English Language Arts Test Preparation

  • Read to students and encourage them to read to you
  • Encourage students to read the newspaper, magazines, and recreational books; and encourage students to discuss what they have read

Mathematics Test Preparation

  • Play games that involve numbers and/or computation
  • Encourage students to make connections between their everyday lives and what they are learning in math class
  • Encourage the use of math everyday through measuring recipes, adding prices at the store, creating a budget, explaining graphs and charts in the newspaper or magaizine articles, and taking measurements while doing home projects or sewing

Science Test Preparation

  • Encourage participation in science competitions, fairs and other activities
  • Share your enthusiasm/interest for science
  • Explore nature centers, zoos, and science museums
  • Sample items for science

Social Studies Test Preparation

  • Encourage discussion of current events and how it affects human rights, governments, and geography; make comparisons to similar events
  • Sample items for social studies

WSAS (WKCE / WAA-SwD) Data and Results

 

 

 

 

 

For questions about this information, contact osamail@dpi.wi.gov