School leaders face challenges in assessing students' progress

Testing has become a challenge to school leaders trying to work through the COVID-19 pandemic. This, as districts are going both in-person and virtual.

Wisconsin's school leaders spent months trying to figure out how students were going to make the grade this year. 


"Some schools are facing significant challenges serving their students -- in ensuring the safety of their students and staff. We also know that people really value the snapshot and information they get from statewide tests," said Philip Olsen who is with the Office of Education Accountability

Olsen said statewide tests play major roles.

Philip Olsen

Philip Olsen

"It used to promote educational equity by identifying learning gaps, identifying areas for importance where more resources are needed," Olsen said.

As some districts are utilizing different learning models, Lauren Zellmer said districts need to rethink how assessments can be good and reliable.

"So what type of formative assessment scan they do over a zoom call what can they do in small group work," Zellmer said. "Even using questioning strategies to get the students to elicit some evidence of learning what do they know about this particular level of standard."

Virtual learning

With COVID-19 on the rise in Wisconsin, Olsen said preparations are underway for how required state testing will be administered.

"We are working with everyone, our test vendors, and education partners. We are looking at what other states are doing," Olsen said.

Virtual learning

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Regardless of the learning scenarios, the standard will be the same. Despite the course of the pandemic, one thing is certain.

"At DPI, everyone just wants to do what's best for all of our students in Wisconsin," Zellmer said.

To give students more flexibility to test, access to ELLs, which start in December, will have an extended test window. The ACT writing in high school -- districts are being offered the opportunity to administer that online this year. 


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