FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2023
Pandemic Recovery Slow for Low-Performing Students
Green Bay, Janesville Not Recovering, Choice Working in Milwaukee
Delafield, WI – Today, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released test score data from 2022-2023. This is the year that schools allocated $1 billion in federal COVID relief. The Institute for Reforming Government has provided a first-look analysis of the results.
“Wisconsin is quickly becoming a state where disadvantaged students do not succeed. Cities like Green Bay and Janesville are failing to recover from the pandemic and the number of Black students below grade level would overflow Fiserv Forum. When we look at how federal COVID relief was allocated, our state’s struggles are no surprise.
The Legislature took big steps to solve this problem by passing Right to Read. However, solutions like teacher apprenticeships and expanding high-quality schools, choice or otherwise, are critical to making Wisconsin’s schools our premier attraction for families once again.
IRG will have further analysis of all 2,012 tested schools next week.” – IRG Senior Research Director Quinton Klabon
Overall, Wisconsin is finally showing signs of a comeback.
PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS
PROFICIENT/ADVANCED (COLLEGE-READY), READING: 39.2%
PROFICIENT/ADVANCED, MATH: 41.1%
MINIMAL/NO TEST (BELOW GRADE LEVEL), READING: 27.4%
MINIMAL/NO TEST (BELOW GRADE LEVEL), MATHEMATICS: 29.3%
94,000 students remain reading below grade level. Both reading and math are better than scores from 2022 but worse than those from 2019.
However, we now know that the students who struggled most before the pandemic are not recovering fast enough.
PROFICIENT, READING: 22.6%
PROFICIENT, MATH: 23.1%
MINIMAL, READING: 42.2%
MINIMAL, MATHEMATICS: 45.9%
Large districts like Green Bay, Eau Claire, and Janesville showed no recovery in reading from 2022. (In contrast, Appleton surpassed not just 2022, but 2019 in reading and math!)
Wisconsin has the worst White-Black achievement gap in the country, which showed up on the Forward Exam.
PROFICIENT, READING: 10.5%
PROFICIENT, MATH: 8.3%
MINIMAL, READING: 62.4%
MINIMAL, MATHEMATICS: 70.8%
Scores are equally poor for Indigenous students.
Milwaukee is the lowest-performing big district in the country for Black students. Overall results remain grim, though there are bright spots in the choice sectors.
MILWAUKEE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
PROFICIENT, READING: 15.8%
PROFICIENT, MATH: 11.5%
MINIMAL, READING: 56.1%
MINIMAL, MATHEMATICS: 65.1%
MILWAUKEE CHARTER SCHOOLS
PROFICIENT, READING: 20.3%
PROFICIENT, MATH: 19.7%
MINIMAL, READING: 44.7%
MINIMAL, MATHEMATICS: 46.4%
MILWAUKEE VOUCHER PROGRAM
PROFICIENT, READING: 19.4%
PROFICIENT, MATH: 16.4%
MINIMAL, READING: 46.4%
MINIMAL, MATHEMATICS: 53.2%
Thanks to some top performers, choice scores are somewhat higher. However, there are many district, charter, and voucher schools below 3% proficiency in reading or math, including 11 at 0% in reading and 12 at 0% in math.
HOW WE CAN FIX IT
IRG also is the leading public monitor of ESSER III federal COVID relief for schools, tracking $1.49 billion allocated to help children recover. IRG will release a September update soon to encourage a focus on fixing Forward Exam performance.
The Institute for Reforming Government is a Wisconsin-based 501(c)3 non-profit think tank that supports free markets, effective government, and high-quality schools. Learn more about the Institute for Reforming Government here.