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Teachers association believes funding could be behind slight drop in test scores

MADISON (WKOW) — New statewide test numbers show Wisconsin students’ proficiency in math and English dropped over the past year.

According to the Department of Public Instruction, 39.3 percent of all students were proficient or advanced in those subjects. That’s compared to 40.1 percent last year.

Officials with DPI told 27 News it is tough to determine why scores go up or down, but they acknowledge that students are coming to school with more challenges than ever before.

The Wisconsin Education Association Council works with educators across the state to provide them with resources they need to better teach students.

Association President Ron Martin said that decrease, however small, represents real students who struggled on the testing.

I’ve been all over the state, in hundreds of classrooms, hundreds of schools,” he said. “There isn’t a teacher, principal, parent that wants to see anybody fail.”

He said testing is one piece of a larger picture for student success. He said access to more programs and current perceptions of how people view their public school system can contribute to a child excelling in the classroom.

But Martin said they think a reason the data shows slipping scores comes down to funding. More funding for education can start addressing issues like overcrowded classrooms, he said. Larger class sizes mean less attention for students who need the help.

“When people say you’re just throwing money at the public schools it’s not just throwing money,” he said. “It counts to that one particular student who really needs the attention from the teacher.

But even with the lack of funding, Martin said that the fact the decrease is smaller shows that schools are doing “a tremendous job.” The Wisconsin Education Association Council also hopes to fill in some of those gaps.

“One of the answers we’re trying to provide is being able to support our educators, and that first starts by listening to educators,” he said. “Because who’s the expert? The classroom teacher, right? They’re right there, day in and day out.”

Assembly speaker Rob Vos issued a statement Thursday in response to the test results. He said he was disappointed and, “the repeated increases in funding for K-12 education, taxpayers deserve to know why we’re not seeing better results.”

Martin said the legislature isn’t doing as much as it could.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone,” he said. “When you don’t invest, you can’t expect different results.”

Sara Maslar-Donar

Reporter, WKOW 27 News

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