Bonduel schools improve in all Forward subjects

Most local districts below state average
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The results of the latest Forward exam are a mixed bag for area school districts.

Most local districts scored below the state average in passing rates for some or all subjects in the 2016-17 statewide schools assessment. Only one school district, Bonduel, scored above the state average in every subject.

Bonduel also saw marked improvement in most subjects compared to the 2015-16 school year, the first year the exam was administered. Bonduel went up 5.6 percent on the english/language arts test, 8.4 percent in mathematics, 8.3 percent in science and 11.7 percent in social studies.

Bonduel’s scores can be attributed to the schools’ culture, according to Superintendent Patrick Rau. There is a mindset for growth, even if scores are high.

“You’ll hear our teachers use the word ‘yet,’” Rau said. “You might not understand ‘yet,’ but there’s always tomorrow and the next day until you do get it.”

Shawano School District’s passing rates drop in all areas. The ELA passing rate dropped 1.9 percent, math 8.6 percent, science 3.7 percent and social studies 4.3 percent.

Shawano officials were unconcerned, however. Kelly Strike, the district’s assessment director, said she was disappointed to see the steep drop in math but said there was a heavier drop in the elementary grades, third through fifth, and not so much at the middle school level.

“We’re talking straight achievement” with the Forward exam, Strike said.

However, the district report card, which will be released to the public later this year, does not focus strictly on the one assessment when it determines how well schools are teaching students, she noted.

“When we look at the report card, it doesn’t look at just straight achievement. It also considers growth, closing gaps, attendance, graduation and other pieces,” Strike said. “I think that tells something more than just straight achievement.”

Strike noted that, even though overall scores were down, the gap was closed on high school ELA scores of disadvantaged students versus the general population.

“In the future, I think we’ll close some gaps on race and ethnicity with our test scores,” she said.

Rau also noted that the Forward exam is only one way to test how well schools are educating students.

“It’s good, but it’s just one measure of all the work that teachers and support staff and administrators have put in,” Rau said. “We’re always going to look to improve, but we haven’t a chance to look at the data. Once we do, we’ll coordinate our plans and find a way to improve.”

Gresham School District scored below the state average, especially on the ELA and social studies tests, but showed marked improvement in three out of four subjects. The ELA passing rate jumped 9.5 percent, science 11.6 percent and math 13.2 percent. Gresham’s only drop was on the social studies test, 4.1 percent.

Tony Evers, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement this week that public school students in grades four through seven had increased performance statewide from 2015-16 in ELA testing. The percentage of students scoring proficient and advanced increased 3.4 points at fourth grade, 4 points at fifth grade, 2.7 points at sixth grade and 1.6 points at seventh grade.

“We’re seeing some positive student gains in the Forward exam in english language arts,” Evers said. “Our educators and students are growing more comfortable with the test and have begun to use the information it provides to drive student improvement.”

BY THE NUMBERS

Passing rates in 2016-17 Forward exam

School ELA Math Science Social Studies

Statewide 44.4 (42.7) 42.8 (42.5) 49.7 (50.6) 49.6 (49.7)

Bonduel 48.4 (42.8) 55.2 (46.8) 61.2 (52.9) 60.3 (48.6)

Bowler 23.3 (23.4) 19.9 (18.4) 38.8 (30.4) 43.2 (35.1)

Clintonville 34.8 (30.1) 31.0 (24.6) 46.3 (47) 41.2 (41.4)

Gresham 30.4 (20.9) 36.3 (23.1) 44.9 (33.3) 39 (43.1)

Marion 37.2 (37.4) 38.3 (46.2) 44.4 (44.4) 41.1 (38.8)

Menominee 9.4 (7.7) 2 (4.5) 10.7 (16.3) 16.9 (14.2)

Pulaski 41.6 (41.9) 45.2 (52.6) 51 (55.7) 52.1 (54.7)

Shawano 35.4 (37.3) 30.1 (38.7) 47.3 (51) 42.7 (47)

Tigerton 41.4 (33.8) 32.2 (40) 47.1 (86.4) 35.8 (63.9)

Witt-Birn 43.7 (42.3) 42.9 (41.7) 57.6 (60.9) 52.5 (58.6)