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Muskego officials pleased with WKCE progress

Specialists helping with weaker scoring subjects

April 24, 2012

Muskego - While students sit in classrooms trying to get good grades in school, the Muskego schools themselves have already earned good grades compared to many other schools, based on the results of the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam taken in November.

"We're seeing some really great trends at all levels," Tammy Gibbons, director of school performance, said of the WKCE that measures how well schools keep all children working at least at grade level. The goal is for all students to be proficient or advanced. The WKCEs are given in five core subjects - math, reading, language arts including spelling and grammar, science and social studies. Not all grades are tested.

"Math is on the rise," Gibbons said. "But we still want more for college and career readiness."

Math coaches for teachers

To do that, the schools will have math coaches starting this fall to help teachers hone their math instruction, Gibbons said.

Master teachers will work closely with other teachers, do model lessons and help teachers respond to student needs, said Superintendent Joe Schroeder.

The district has had similar literacy coaches for a number of years.

Schroeder sees math scores on the rise partly because of the concentration on early detection of problems affecting math learning.

As in most other school districts, Muskego's students had the most trouble with language arts on the WKCE. About 166 students or 15.3 percent were below the language arts proficiency level this year in the three grades tested. That averages out to 55 students per grade who were struggling or falling behind.

Help with writing skills

But the Muskego schools are already moving to help them, Gibbons said. Last summer, representatives from Columbia University came from New York to help teachers improve writing across all subject areas, she said. They will be back this summer.

The things teachers learned in the first summer session did not have enough time to take hold before the WKCE tests came along in November, Gibbons said. School officials will be watching for improvements in next year's WKCE scores, she said.

Results are better for reading where the schools have placed a strong emphasis. About 7.7 percent or 27 per grade were not proficient, according to the WKCE results.

"We are conveying that every teacher is a teacher of reading," Schroeder said. "If you are a better reader, you do better in math and science."

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