News, Waterford

Waterford’s ACT test scores on the upswing

By Dave Fidlin

Waterford Union High School’s ACT test scores continue gaining momentum, based on recently revealed results from the current school year.

At a meeting May 22, Principal Dan Foster presented the School Board with an overview of the standardized test data for the 2022-23 school year and how it stacks up to prior school years.

Collectively, this year’s WUHS test-takers scored 20.8 on the ACT assessment, according to preliminary data. The figure lags pre-pandemic scores, but is the second consecutive year of gains.

Looking back at recent years, WUHS’ average ACT scores were 21.3 for the 2018-19 school year, 21.5 for the 2019-20 school year, 20.2 for the 2020-21 school year and 20.5 for the 2021-22 school year.

A total of 216 WUHS juniors took the ACT this school year.

Based on this year’s data, WUHS is at least one point above the state average in each of the four core curricular areas: English, reading, math and science.

In his presentation on the data, Foster said the ACT data ties intricately into overall state report card data and is an important benchmark in evaluating students’ college and career readiness.

“This is one test, but it is a significant data point that we are gauged on,” Foster said.

During a wide-ranging discussion, Foster and the board discussed what the freshest set of data means for WUHS and what might be ahead for the district.

In the months ahead, as more comprehensive data becomes available, Foster said there will be an analysis of how WUHS is performing with its peers, both in terms of neighboring districts with high schools and those operating under the union high school district model.

Foster was asked by the board to share his thoughts on what known gaps, if any, exist between WUHS and school districts that are at the top of the class, statewide, in ACT and other standardized assessments.

“That’s a tricky question,” Foster said, in response. “It’s really tough without being able to see their true data.”

Foster indicated WUHS “is within three points” of Wisconsin’s highest achieving schools in all benchmarks and curricular areas.

Board member Jeff Santaga said comparisons need to be drawn up thoughtfully and take into account all of the factors that are in play.

“Obviously demographics have to play a role in this,” Santaga said. “Who comprises our student body?”

While there was a unanimous consensus to dig deeper into the data and make strides toward continuous improvement, School Board President Michael Schoenfeld said he was pleased with the results.

“I love to see us going in this direction,” Schoenfeld said. “I love to see us beating the state.”

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