Assignment: Education -Badger Exam begins

Students in grades 3-8 will take new statewide assessments

Third graders at North Woods International School in La Crosse are just a handful of students across Wisconsin who will be tested on their reading skills with a new statewide assessment.

“I think that the kids are ready to meet that challenge,” said Heidi Wysocki, a third grade teacher.

But first the teachers need to learn how to administer the new test called the Badger Exam.

“I’m going around to each elementary and middle school in the district, and I meet with the classroom teachers,” said Kris Mueller, supervisor of assessment for the School District of La Crosse.

The new assessments will be given to every student in grades three through eight. The tests will measure English language arts and math skills.

“It’s a whole different way of testing,” said Mueller.

The old exam was taken with a paper exam book and pencil.

This year, the tests are computerized and involve a classroom conversation.

“Now, what’s very different is the classroom teacher actually does a lesson with their students and creates — and has a discussion — a class activity and a discussion with their class to build their vocabulary so they understand all the terminology before they go into take a performance task,” said Mueller.

The performance task is one of two math assessments and will be completed on the computer. The test includes one question that may have multiple parts and is intended to challenge students to use critical thinking skills. The second math test includes a set of 30 to 40 computerized questions.

The English Language Arts test involves one computerized exam with no more than 40 questions.

“What the test will measure is we’ve been teaching to the common core state standards, and the test is aligned to those,” said Mueller. “So, the data that we’ll get out is a report aligning to what we’ll call claims. For example, in English Language Arts, it’ll have-it’ll let us know how they did in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Wysocki’s third graders have been preparing to take the new statewide exams all year.

“We headed into the computer labs and have even taken the practice test so the kids understand the tools on the website,” said Wysocki.

After this training, teachers are now prepared to give the new statewide assessments as Wisconsin continues to implement major reforms in public education.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) announced Thursday, March 26 the  Badger Exam has been delayed by two weeks. DPI said the company contracted to provide the online test notified the state on Wednesay that it could not deliver the exam as promised by Monday.