Districts hover around state test averages

Progress noted but many areas need improvement

May 5, 2009

The South Milwaukee School District had a higher percentage of students testing proficient and advanced on the 2008-09 Wisconsin Student Assessment System examinations compared with the Cudahy and St. Francis school districts.

The percentages for reading:

• South Milwaukee: 85.8

• Cudahy: 81.3

• St. Francis: 77.1

The percentages for mathematics:

• South Milwaukee: 79.3

• St. Francis: 77.4

• Cudahy: 73.6

The results are based on the combined scores of students on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations and the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities. Students, who took the tests in November, are scored as advanced, proficient, basic or minimal.

Students in grades three through eight and grade 10 are tested in reading and mathematics. In addition, students in grades four, eight and 10 are tested in language arts, science and social studies.


The district's fourth-graders improved this school year compared to 2007-08 in all subjects, except social studies and reading, which was lower than the state average. But their scores in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies exceeded the state average.

Eighth-graders' and 10th-graders' scores fluctuated. They exceeded in some areas and fell behind in others compared to last school year's scores and the state average.

One potential area for improvement could be in language arts. Close to 73 percent of students in grades four, eight and 10 were advanced or proficient in language arts, which was the lowest percentage compared to other subjects, according to data from the Department of Public Instruction.

About 86 percent of 504 students in grades four, eight and 10 were advanced or proficient in social studies, which was the highest percentage compared to other subjects.

Despite fourth-graders' low scores in reading, more than 80 percent of 1,114 students in grades three to eight and grade 10 were advanced or proficient in reading, which was the second highest percentage compared to other tested subjects.

Lori Esenberg, director of curriculum, said school officials have received students' test scores from the DPI, but administrators have yet to thoroughly analyze data to determine students' strengths and weaknesses.

St. Francis

The district's third-graders have made significant strides in math over the years, with 92 percent ranking advanced or proficient compared with 77 percent last year and only 49 percent in 2005. Fourth-grade math saw similar gains, with 85.3 percent in the top two categories, compared with 68 percent in 2005.

However, the 10th-graders' math performance decreased from the 2007 testing year. Only 68.5 percent of 10th-graders ranked in the top categories, compared with 75.6 in 2007 and 79.8 in 2006.

This year's results are below the state average of 69.3 percent.

Reading scores dropped significantly at the third-grade level, with 62.7 percent of students ranked advanced or proficient, compared with 79 percent statewide and down from 75.4 percent in 2007.

The only grade levels to beat the state reading average were seventh and eighth. About 88 percent of seventh-graders and eighth-graders made the top two ranks, compared with 86 percent statewide for seventh-graders and 85 percent statewide for eighth-graders.

South Milwaukee

Lakeview Elementary School showed significant gains, with the percentage of students testing proficient and advanced above the state average in all content areas, said Director of Instruction Rita Olson. High school students also had higher proficient and advanced percentages than the state average in all areas.

The new math program, Investigations, was implemented in kindergarten through second grade at all schools, but the program has been in place at Lakeview for a couple of years.

"We're hopeful that's been one of the things contributing to that success this year," Olson said.

Investigations will be implemented in grades three through five next year and then the district will work to revise the curriculum at the middle school to reflect the changes at the elementary school level, Olson said.

The percentage of students testing proficient or advanced in reading at the middle and high school was above the state average, and all social studies scores are consistently above average.

Compared to other schools in Milwaukee County, South Milwaukee scored more in the middle, Olson said.

Chantel Balzell can be reached at (262) 446-6602. Julie Ann Marra can be reached at (262) 446-6634.

Percentage of full academic year students testing proficient and advanced, 2008 (2007)
  Cudahy St. Francis South Milwaukee State average
4th Grade        
 Reading 79.1 (81.6) 76.5 (70.4) 86.7 (83.3) 81.6 (81.4)
 Language Arts 83.7 (77.6) 75 (69) 79.1 (82.8) 76.4 (75.9)
 Mathematics 83 (68.4) 85.3 (74.6) 86.7 (76.7) 81 (76.6)
 Science 76.5 (75.3) 77.9 (67.6) 82.1 (79.4) 76.1 (75.1)
 Social Studies 91.5 (96) 89.7 (83.1) 96.9 (95.6) 91.2 (91.4)
8th Grade        
 Reading 87.4 (86.4) 88 (92.9) 91.1 (91.7) 84.7 (84.4)
 Language Arts 64.1 (66.3) 63 (63.5) 62.1 (66.5) 62.9 (62.6)
 Mathematics 70.7 (73.4) 79.3 (77.6) 86.4 (81.3) 78.4 (75.3)
 Science 72.5 (69) 71.7 (81.2) 81.8 (80.9) 75.7 (74.5)
 Social Studies 89.8 (83.7) 77.2 (87.1) 84.1 (86.5) 80.5 (80.8)
10th Grade        
 Reading 71.2 (74.3) 68.5 (68.9) 81 (74.8) 74.9 (74.6)
 Language Arts 71.7 (70.8) 72.6 (72.3) 73.8 (70.6) 70.9 (70.5)
 Mathematics 64.7 (60.9) 68.5 (75.6) 73.8 (72.7) 69.3 (69.4)
 Science 72.8 (69.3) 74 (69.7) 80.6 (72.7) 71.8 (72.4)
 Social Studies 78.3 (80.2) 77.4 (73.9) 83.9 (84.8) 75.8 (76.4)


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