UNDERSTANDING THE WSAS PROFICIENCY DATA

 

 

Cautions

 

 

  • Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, Wisconsin established performance standards (cut scores) comparable to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) cut scores for the WKCE reading and mathematics content areas. This change better aligns WKCE performance levels with national and international college and career-ready expectations. Due to this change, reading and mathematics performance level information from 2012-13 on cannot be compared with earlier years’ performance level information. State percentiles and Student Growth Percentile Reports may be used to alternatively evaluate student progress over time. Performance standards for Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies were not revised and so can still be compared to prior years results.
  • School Accountability Report Cards released in Fall 2012 use WKCE performance levels for reading and mathematics that are aligned with national and international college and career-ready expectations. The new performance levels were applied to the fall 2009-2011 WKCE reading and mathematics scores in order to produce a report card consistent with these higher expectations. Other reports for fall 2009-2011, including WINSS, reflect the pre-2012 performance levels.
  • For the 2007-08 academic year only, WKCE and WAA-SwD were administered at different times and reported to schools and districts separately. In order to maintain a reporting structure that is consistent with prior years, the data were later combined. More data were suppressed than in the past (to protect privacy). There may be some confusion in comparing combined reports to the separate reports. For more information, see "WSAS (WKCE and WAA-SwD) Combined Data 2008."
  • Combined WAA-SwD and WKCE results are not available before November 2002 because WAA-SwD performance was not characterized by level until that time. WKCE results are available beginning with October 1997. To view WKCE results for October 1997 to the present, click on the "WKCE Only" link above each graph.
  • WKCE perfomance level data for February 2002 and earlier are NOT comparable to performance level data for November 2002 and later years.
  • There are some small differences between the data reported on WINSS and the data reported to the US Department of Education’s Educational Data Exchange Network (EDEN). The differences between Wisconsin’s WINSS data and the USDE EDEN data exist due to different data sources. EDEN data derives from Wisconsin’s Longitudinal Data System data warehouse, which links individual student achievement data to enrollment data. WINSS data derives from summarized achievement data supplied by the test vendor, and is not linked to enrollment or other longitudinal data.
    The following are links to EDEN data:
    http://www2.ed.gov/programs/statestabilization/indicator-c5r.xls
    http://www2.ed.gov/programs/statestabilization/indicator-c8r.xls

 

What is WSAS?

 

WSAS is the Wisconsin Student Assessment System. The WSAS consists of the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE), which is taken by nearly all students, and the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD), which is taken by students with significant cognitive disabilities. These exams are given in grades 3 through 8 and grade 10. WSAS exams given to 4th, 8th, and 10th graders cover reading, language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, while WSAS exams given to students in the other tested grades just cover reading and mathematics. The WSAS is specific to Wisconsin. In the 2014-15 school year, the WSAS exams in reading and mathematics will be replaced by exams being developed by consortia of states that are based on or linked to the Common Core State Standards. Plans are underway regarding new assessments for science and social studies. These new assessments would also be available in 2014-15 but details are not yet determined.

What is WKCE?

The WKCE (Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination) is a statewide standardized exam given each year to students in grades 3 through 8 and 10. The exam measures student achievement in five subject areas: reading, language arts, mathematics, science, social studies. Students also provide a rough draft writing sample. [MORE]

What is WAA-SwD?

WAA-SwD (Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities) is a standards-based alternative to the WKCE at grades 3-8 and 10. The WAA-SwD is given to students with significant cognitive disabilities if the local IEP team determines that the students are unable to participate in the WKCE, even with accommodations. [MORE]

What is the link between Wisconsin's model academic standards and the WSAS?

Wisconsin model academic standards in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies determine the scope of WSAS. While these standards are broader in content than any single test or assessment, they do describe the range of knowledge and skills that may be covered by WSAS. To more fully assess Wisconsin's model academic standards, new test questions were added to the commericially developed tests at grades 4 and 8, and a customized test was used at grade 10 beginning in November 2002. Until 2002-03 WKCE consisted of commercially developed test questions only.

Because these tests are unique to Wisconsin and were not designed with national norms in mind, the WSAS has not permitted comparing Wisconsin student performance with student performance in other states and nationally. That situation will change when the new assessments being adopted in 2014-15 replace the WSAS.

What are proficiency levels?

Proficiency levels describe how well students performed on the statewide tests. The advanced, proficient, basic, minimal performance, and pre-requisite skill performance levels are based solely on scores obtained on the WSAS. For example, students tested on WKCE received a scale score in each of five subjects: reading, language arts, mathematics, science, social studies. Each of the first four proficiency levels in each subject and at each grade level is associated with a range of scores on the WKCE. Performance level categories used in reporting WAA-SwD results for students with limited English proficiency correspond to those set for WKCE. The fifth level, describes an achievement level below the range tested on WKCE. The pre-requisite skill level is subdivided into four levels on some WSAS reports. The long-term goal is for all students in each student group, except certain students with severe cognitive disabilities, to progress to the proficient or advanced levels. More detailed descriptions of the proficiency levels by subject and grade are available on-line. [MORE]

How were the score ranges for each WKCE proficiency level established?

The score ranges were established by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction based on the work of educators, parents, and community members from across the state using the Bookmark Standards-setting process. This research-based process has been used in over 28 states since 1996 to establish performance expectations on statewide assessments. Cut-scores dividing the proficiency levels were not established using a mathematical formula but were based on what the 240 participants believed students need to know to be at the basic, proficient, and advanced levels in each tested subject area at each tested grade. [MORE]

Can this year's proficiency data be compared to proficiency data for past years?

Beginning in 2012-13, student's performance levels in reading and mathematics for the WKCE (Language Arts, Social Studies, Science and the WAA-SwD are not affected) cannot be compared to perfomance in earlier years. This is beacuse new cut scores defining performance leels are being used starting in 2012-13. (State percentiles and Student Growth Percentile Reports may be used as alternative approaches to evaluating progress.)

Performance level data for 2001-02 and earlier are not comparable to performance level data for 2002-03 and beyond, due to WKCE content and cut score adjustments made in 2002-03.

Why are so much data based on the scores of students enrolled for a full academic year (FAY)?

The proficiency of students enrolled in your school for at least an FAY provides one indicator of how successful your school community has been in meeting the academic needs of students in tested grades up to the time of testing. Students in grade 4, 8, or 10 who have been enrolled for an FAY are normally students who were enrolled in the same school during grade 3, 7, or 9 respectively.

Note that at the district level, the focus is on the scores of students enrolled in the same district for an FAY which includes students moving between schools within the district. Occasionally, when a small number of mobile students has moved between schools, FAY district data are suppressed to protect the privacy of these mobile students, and FAY school data are used instead.

Why are test results being summarized by student group?

Test results are sorted by gender, race, and other student groups in order to improve public understanding of the educational task facing each school or district. The goal is for all students in each group, except students with severe cognitive disabilities, to progress to the proficient or advanced levels. Students are grouped for reporting purposes according to standardized definitions. Race/ethnicity groups are based on federally-defined categories. "Limited-English proficient" students are, generally, those whose first language is not English and who require special instruction. "Migrant" includes students who moved to a school district for seasonal or temporary family employment in agriculture or fishing in the past 3 years. Students "with disabilities" are students who are eligible for special education services by reason of their disabilities. "Economically disadvantaged" students are students in families who meet the income eligibility guidelines for subsidized lunch. Complete definitions used by districts in coding student groups are available on-line.

Why are some students not tested?

All students are expected to take WSAS assessments except students who are excused by their parents. Only a fraction of a percentage of students statewide are excused from WKCE testing by their parents. The testing window provides adequate time so that students who are absent on any given day can take make-up tests. Some students are not assessed due to long-term absences or other reasons.

In general, all enrolled students are expected to take the WKCE during the three-week testing window however, one to two percent of students statewide take WAA-SwD in lieu of the WKCE.

Why are proficiency rates reported as a percent of total enrolled rather than as a percent of total tested?

All but a very small fraction of a percentage of students enrolled are expected to participate in WSAS. Reporting percentages based on "total enrolled" accounts for all students in the school or district including students not tested. For schools and districts where all or nearly all students participate, reporting by total enrolled or total tested makes little or no difference in reporting. Reporting percents based on "total tested" does not provide an accurate picture of overall achievement of schools with low participation rates, so this approach is not used. Student groups with the lowest achievement levels typically have the highest percentages of students who do not take tests. Reporting based on "total tested" provides a disincentive to administer tests or makeup tests to students who are not expected to do well because their inclusion in testing may lower the results for the school.

Why are results for some student groups not reported?

Certain results are not reported to protect student privacy. Care is taken to avoid disclosure of confidential information about small groups of students, either directly or indirectly. A group is considered small if the number of students in the group is five or less. Indirect disclosure occurs when data are reported both for all students in a group and for a large subset of this group leaving only a small subset not reported. Data about groups larger than five may sometimes not be reported due to concerns about indirect disclosure of confidential information about a smaller group.

Protecting test results from indirect disclosure in district reports requires consideration of results already reported on the school reports. In some cases no results will be reported for a demographic group and in other cases results are reported but, to protect privacy, the results do not include scores for all students in the group. In other words, in the district reports, "Number Included in %s" may be different from "Number Enrolled in Grade." Results based on the total number of students enrolled in the grade will be reported when student privacy will not be violated.

 

 

 

 

 

Helpful Information:

 

 

 

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