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RACINE COUNTY — Public school districts west of the Interstate by and large out-scored the state average for proficiency rates on both the 2017-18 Forward Exam for grades 3-8 and 10 and the ACT for high school juniors.

The public high school in the county with the highest proficiency rate on the ACT this year was Waterford Union High School, with a 53 percent proficiency or better rate in English language arts, 54.1 percent in math and 48.9 percent in science. Waterford’s composite score was 22.2 out of a possible 36.

Waterford saw slight increases in proficiency rates for all subjects.

“We’ve been pretty happy,” said Superintendent Keith Brandstetter.

The district spent last year reviewing the previous three years of ACT data to determine areas of focus for freshmen, sophomores and juniors. For the past four years, it has offered an ACT prep course during second quarter for all juniors. Brandstetter said about 70 percent of juniors take the course.

“Academics is our primary focus at Waterford and will continue to be,” Brandstetter said.

Burlington High also scored above the state average, with a 43.9 percent proficiency rate in English language arts, 37.2 percent in math and 32.7 percent in science. Burlington’s composite score was 19.9.

ELA proficiency for Burlington decreased slightly from last year’s 46.4 percent.

Union Grove High School had the lowest proficiency rates for schools west of the Interstate, with rates just below the state average. On the ACT its 11th-grade students scored 35.3 percent proficient or better in ELA, 34.1 percent in math and 31 percent in science.

These scores make for a downward trend in ELA proficiency and slight increases in math and science. However, Union Grove’s composite score was 20.1, just above the state average.

“There’s always room for improvement,” said Al Mollerskov, Union Grove High School district administrator.

He clarified that proficiency rates determine whether students are on track to be successful in college, when many of Union Grove’s students might be looking toward trade school instead.

“If I can’t read at the college level, that doesn’t mean I won’t be a good welder,” Mollerskov said.

Mollerskov added that he was pleased with the district’s ACT test participation rate, at 98 percent. The other west-end high schools had similar participation rates.

Burlington had a higher percentage of students who scored proficient or better on the ACT than Union Grove, but it also had a higher percentage than Union Grove who scored below basic, while Union Grove had a bigger percentage of students in the basic level. This is why Burlington’s proficiency score was higher than Union Grove’s but its composite score was lower.

Statewide, on the ACT, 37.1 percent of students were proficient or better in English, 34.5 percent in math and 31.4 percent in science. The statewide composite score was 19.8.

Muskego High School, which serves students in Muskego in Waukesha County as well as those from the Wind Lake area in Racine County, scored above the state average on the ACT with 53.1 percent proficient or better in ELA, 52.3 percent in math and 44.8 percent in science. Muskego-Norway’s composite score was 21.6.

Although its proficiency rates are still better than many schools across the state, Muskego has seen a 20 percent drop in its ELA proficiency rate in the past three years, from 73 percent proficient or advanced in 2014-15.

Elementary schools

Elementary and middle school districts west of the Interstate overwhelmingly surpassed the state average for scores on the Forward Exam for grades 3-8. For districts that include high school students (the Burlington Area and Muskego-Norway school districts) scores for 10th grade social studies are included in the data.

Kansasville Grade School was the only district west of the I with some proficiency rates below the state average, at 41.7 percent proficient in ELA and 47.8 percent in science. The district saw a large decrease in its ELA proficiency level from the previous year, but also had a huge increase in math proficiency with 58.3 percent proficient in 2017-18 compared to 45.6 the previous year.

The elementary school district with the highest proficiency rate west of the Interstate was North Cape, which serves students from the towns of Norway and Raymond. The district made increases in every subject area over the previous year as well.

North Cape scored at 63.4 percent proficient or better in ELA, 56.4 percent in math, 73.1 percent in science and 80.8 percent in social studies.

On the Forward Exam statewide, 42.4 percent of students scored proficient or better in ELA, 43.8 percent in math, 49.9 percent in science and 50.6 percent in social studies.

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Caitlin Sievers covers cops, crime and the west-end communities. She's a lover of cats, dance and Harry Potter. Before moving to the Racine area she worked at small papers in Indiana, Illinois and Nebraska.

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