The Center Square | October 21, 2021

Wisconsin’s latest test scores show kids are doing worse in reading, math, science, and social studies even though fewer kids took the test last year.

Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction released the Wisconsin Student Assessment System results on Wednesday. They show that test scores fell across the state, as did student participation.

“Participation and proficiency rates look different than other years, and that is not surprising considering the extraordinary circumstances and challenges faced everywhere in our state, including schools and districts,” State Superintendent Jill Underly said in a statement.

The scores show that just 39% of Wisconsin students are reading and writing at grade level, down 6% from the school year before the coronavirus.

Just 39 percent of students are at grade level in math as well, that’s a 12% drop. Wisconsin kids did better in social studies and science. The social studies test scores fell just 3% to 49% proficiency, and science scores fell 4% to hit 52% proficient.

Underly said while kids fell behind in the basics, she insists they learned other things.

“Make no mistake, students learned many lessons this year – in resilience, time management, technology, and problem solving – that may not be reflected in a standardized assessment,” Underly added.

Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, said the drop in test scores should alarm parents.

"It's clear that the leadership at the local, state and national level has an almost singular focus on COVID at the expense of the next generation's enlightenment and job skills. Some schools and districts have maintained their focus but others, especially those with strong teachers union influence, have abandoned even the core school functions required to deliver students an education,” Kooyenga told The Center Square Thursday.

The scores are shaded by the fact that far fewer students actually took the state’s test last year.

DPI says 13% of students across Wisconsin opted-out of the test. In larger school districts like Milwaukee and Madison, more than 50% of students didn’t take the test.

"The most significant drop-off in testing and in-person instruction can be found in Wisconsin's minority districts. This should be today's Civil Rights battle, but you will not hear about it because the left controls both the narrative and the schools that are failing to deliver an education that offers hope to communities that are realizing increasing crime, inflation and overall failed leadership,” Kooyenga added.

The test scores are the second snapshot of the state of public education in Wisconsin this week. DPI released enrollment figures earlier in the week that show traditional public schools are losing students.

‘Kooyenga said with test scores like these, it’s not hard to see why.

“This is why you are seeing school choice growing at the greatest rate in US history and why policy makers need to continue to empower parents that want to utilize schools that are executing effectively,” Kooyenga said.