Information for Parents About the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS)

What is the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS)?

The WSAS is a comprehensive statewide accountability program designed to provide information about what students know in core academic areas. The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act requires all states to test all students in reading and mathematics in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school (grade 10 under s.118.30 Wis Stats). These tests are referred to as the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination - (WKCE) and the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities - (WAA-SwD). Student performance on these assessments is reported in proficiency categories and used to determine the adequate progress of students at the school, district and state levels.

The Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE)

The Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) is customized to measure the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards (WMAS) and is developed and designed by the Department of Public Instruction and Wisconsin educators in conjunction with CTB/McGraw-Hill. This standardized test is composed of items specifically designed for Wisconsin and a few commercially developed questions used in schools across the country. Students in grades 3, 5, 6, and 7 take tests in Reading and Mathematics. Students in grades 4, 8, and 10 take tests in Reading, Mathematics, Science, Language Arts, Writing, and Social Studies. WKCE is administered to all the students enrolled in Wisconsin public schools during the fall of each school year.

The purpose of the WKCE is to provide information about student attainment of subject-area proficiency to students, parents, and teachers, information to support curriculum and instructional planning; and a measure of accountability for schools and districts. The results of the WKCE are used by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) as an accountability measure for school improvement to meet its statutory requirement of identifying low-performing schools as stipulated by Wisconsin s. 115.38(4), meet the federal Title I (NCLB) requirement to determine how well children are learning, and determine the extent to which schools and districts across the state are meeting the Wisconsin proficiency standards.

Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD)

Federal and state special education legislation requires that all students with disabilities participate in state and district assessments. The State of Wisconsin has established Extended Grade Band Standards in Reading, Mathematics, and Science to guide instruction and curriculum planning for students with significant cognitive disabilities. These extended standards are used as the basis for the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD).

The WAA-SwD is administered to students who meet all the criteria in the participation checklist. The WAA-SwD is multiple choice and includes performance task assessments for the content areas of Reading and Mathematics for grades 3-8 and 10, and Science for grades 4, 8, and 10. Practice items for reading, mathematics and science are available on the DPI website for parents and teachers to preview. Language Arts/Writing and Social Studies for grades 4, 8 and 10 are assessed using a rating scale. These are based on the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards.

Assessment of English Language Learners (ELLs)

ESEA requires that all students participate in statewide assessment to be used for accountability. Federal regulations provide some flexibility related to the assessment and accountability for recently arrived ELL students only (See 34 CFR § 200.6 (b) (4)).

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/oea_accommtrx. The state of Wisconsin provides Spanish written translation scripts for the WKCE. The goal of these scripts is to better help students demonstrate what they know on the WKCE without language getting in the way. Students who are fluent in Spanish may be given the choice to use all or parts of the translation accommodation, which includes a bilingual word list of commonly used testing terms, translation of the test directions, and written translation scripts of math, science and social studies test items. The state also provides Hmong directions and bilingual word lists.

Districts who serve students who speak languages other than Spanish may use qualified translators and interpreters to provide oral translation support to students. Qualifications and guidelines for the use of translators may be found at http://oea.dpi.wi.gov/files/oea/pdf/translator_guidelines.pdf

Smarter Balanced Assessment System

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) will be a computer-adaptive test that includes multiple choice questions, computer-enhanced items, and performance tasks. The system will provide benchmark tools and formative strategies that will continuously guide instruction and provide classroom teachers with information. All components of the assessment system will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards. SBAC will be ready for implementaion in 2014-15. Until then, DPI will continue to administer the current federally approved accountability tests (WKCE and WAA-SwD).

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/oea_pals.

 

Student/Parent Pre-Test Brochure (2012-13 version) 

This brochure answers common questions asked by students and parents about the WKCE. It outlines the WSAS and the WKCE, explains its purpose, describes what scores will be provided, and summarizes how scores will be used. It also identifies who will be tested and when, what the test looks like, and when it is available for school and district review.
Spanish Translation (2013-14 version)
Hmong Translation (2013-14 version)

 

WAA-SwD Student/Parent Pre-Test Brochure (2012-13 version)

This brochure answers common questions asked by students and parents about the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD). It outlines the WSAS and the WAA-SwD, explains its purpose, describes what scores will be provided, and summarizes how scores will be used. It also identifies who will be tested and when, what the test looks like, and when it is available for school and district review.
Spanish Translation (2013-14 version)
Hmong Translation (2013-14 version)

 


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 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
    • Practice tests and sample items for reading


  • 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
    • Practice tests and sample items for mathematics


  • 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


  • Language Arts Test Preparation
    • Play word games and encourage expansion of vocabulary
    • Encourage your student to write letters or keep a journal
    • Sample items for language arts


  • 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