2023 Forward Final Analysis

Oct 25, 2023 | Uncategorized, Wisconsin Voices Blog

School choice is working!

On Tuesday, October 10th, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released test score data from 2022-2023.

Now, IRG has combed through all 1,895 tested K-8 schools to show what’s working where. Simply put, there are high-quality charter and voucher schools statewide along with many district schools doing great work for kids.

Here are IRG’s Top School Takeaways:

Overall Scores

1 choice school is on this list despite unfavorable demographics!

Remember, students who access private schools through vouchers must be low-income or working-class. As a result, Wisconsin voucher schools are 70% low-income compared to 41% in traditional public schools statewide. While students of any income level can access charter schools, they tend to be low-income, so Wisconsin charter schools are 70% low-income as well.

Of 1,665 schools that scored in 2019 and 2023, just 426 recovered in both reading and math! That means 74% scored at or below 2019 in either subject.

2 choice schools managed to rank in the top 10 despite only 16% of schools in Wisconsin being choice.

Working-Class Scores

While low-income students suffered especially horribly during the pandemic, it’s also critical to look at more working-class schools. 3 are voucher or charter.

Among working-class schools that recovered the most, 4 are choice.

High-Poverty Scores

High-poverty schools are where choice really stands out. Among the highest-proficiency schools, 6 are voucher or charter!

5 out of the 10 high-poverty schools that recovered the most after the pandemic are choice.

Predominantly Non-White Scores

Surprisingly, race aligned more with how poorly students recovered than income. Among predominantly non-White schools, 7 are voucher or charter!

Growth was no different. 7 were choice!

Of the top-scoring schools serving mostly Hispanic students, 6 are voucher or charter.

Wisconsin public schools have the worst record in the nation of educating Black students, sadly. Thus, it is not a surprise that 8 of the top 10 performers among predominantly Black schools are choice.

What It Means

The facts are the facts: some of the state’s best schools are voucher or charter schools. This is especially true for schools serving Wisconsin’s most disadvantaged students.