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Whitnall adjusts to new goals

Students making strides with the help of MAP testing

Feb. 19, 2013

Greenfield - As schools all over Wisconsin shift to the new national academic standards, Whitnall educators are bracing for the change that will raise academic standards and change what students should know and when.

They already have a taste of those higher standards that leave Whitnall schools - whose students generally are in the 90 percent range in terms of being proficient in reading - in the 40 percent range. That 40 percent was calculated based on students' scores on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam.

Students won't take the new test until the 2014-15 school year. Then the threshold of whether a student is proficient will not only be higher, but the exam will have different questions on it because they will be based on those national standards known as the common core standards.

Wisconsin adopted the Common Core State Standards as Wisconsin's mathematics and English language arts standards in 2010. Those standards will show how well Wisconsin students can compete with other students nationally and even internationally. Wisconsin is working with other states on including science, also.

Despite the relatively low percentage of students deemed proficient under the new thresholds, Whitnall Middle School and the two elementary schools were graded as having exceeded expectations on the new Wisconsin report cards given to each school in Wisconsin last summer. The high school met expectations.

Whitnall educators are hopeful that students will do better on the common core testing when it finally happens than is indicated by the calculated scores.

That expectation is based on the progress teachers are seeing on the Measures of Academic Progress testing that is aligned with the common core standards, Edgerton Elementary Principal Christopher D'Acquisto said.

The MAP testing goal was for students to progress seven points in math this year, he said.

"At midyear, we're already hitting that goal," he said.

Part of the reason for the improvement is MAP testing, which happens three times a year and helps teachers do almost real-time teaching adjustments to help students understand the material, Hales Corners Elementary School Principal Lori Komas said. The testing helps teachers determine what the next step instructionally should be, she said. The schools started with MAP last year.

"The kids are really progressing," Komas said.

Other factors also come into play.

"We're doing goal-setting with students which is very powerful," so students take more ownership of their learning, D'Acquisto said.

Similarly, a class of second-graders that was more than 2.6 points below where they should have been had 11.5 points of actual gain after special help was applied.

"It was a focused effort on the staff's part and shows intervention can make a big difference," D'Acquisto said.

State vs. National standards

Percentage of students proficient or advanced in reading 2011-12 year
Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts ExamWKCE Score recalculated with higher common core threshold
Whitnall High School82 percent56.8 percent
Meets expectations on state school report card
Whitnall Middle School90.9 percent44.9 percent
Exceeds expectations on state school report card
Edgerton Elementary96.4 percent37.4 percent
Exceeds expectations
Hales Corners Elem.90.6 percent41.3 percent
Exceeds expectations

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