Inconsistent chatter from a Sacramento-based 'Sconi attorney.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Third-Grade Reading Scores Increase in Wisconsin

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Among 57,168 students who took the annual tests in March, 87.4% were able to meet the target of reading at levels rated proficient or advanced. That was up 2.5 percentage points from a year ago.

Overall, the proportion of third-graders across the state who read proficiently has increased more than 22 percentage points from the 64.8% figure in 1998. The percentage of students showing proficiency has risen in six of the last seven years.

The proficiency total among MPS students was up 4.2 percentage points from a year ago, to 70.6%. In 2002, the figure was 50.4%.

The percentage of black third-graders who were rated "proficient" or "advanced" in the reading test went from 46% in 1998 to 69% this year. Over the same period, the percentage of white children at those levels rose from 71% to 92%. The gap between the two groups was 25 percentage points seven years ago and 23 points this year.

Among Hispanic third-graders, there also have been large increases. In 1998, 45% were rated as proficient or better on the test; this year it was 70%. And among students who receive free or reduced-price lunch - the standard for being considered economically disadvantaged - the increase over the same years was from 48% to 77%.

The improvements are occurring even as the proportion of students taking the reading tests has increased. The percentage of third-graders not being tested has fallen from 9% in 1998 to less than 4% this year.

Among the reasons being cited is increased pressure from federal education law, which pushes for use of reading programs that are supported by research, which, in practical terms, has led to more widespread use of phonics-oriented curricula, as well just an overally increase in focus on reading at the elementary level.

Conspicuously absent as a reason cited is the use of school vouchers within the Milwaukee Public School system. Am I surprised? No.

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