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children taking assessment testOur mission is to empower educators and school leaders by improving instruction and student achievement through the use of data obtained from student testing. We provide the tools that help staff both understand assessment data and how to connect data to effective instructional practices. Ultimately, student achievement improves when assessment data is used systematically and strategically.

We believe in the ethical use of assessments and data; decisions based on facts; collaboration; and connectivity among curriculum, assessment, instruction, and continuous improvement. We are committed to providing accurate, timely, and meaningful data that is easily accessible and user-friendly for schools.

Core activities:

  • Train school and district staff in the appropriate administration of assessments to ensure the accuracy and validity of assessment results
  • Ensure the alignment of assessment practices to academic standards
  • Provide instruction and support to educators and district leaders in the effective use of student academic data
  • Coordinate the processes for distribution and collection of all district assessments
  • Measure, collect, and provide expertise in student academic assessment results
  • Coordinate formal and informal assessments that drive the decision-making processes to achieve classroom, school, and district goals

WISEdash Quick Start - The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction provides the WISEdash Public Portal for families and the community to access data about Wisconsin public school districts or specific schools. Understanding student performance data at your school is important. This link will help families and community members access the accountability data for Milwaukee Public Schools and provide guidance for locating information about individual schools. WISEdash ESSA Dashboard - Families and community members can access ESSA Federal Accountability data on individual districts and schools as well. 


Assessment Descriptions

Select the name of an assessment below to read a basic description. If you are looking for more information, please contact the Assessment Office.

Overview of State Assessments

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ACCESS for ELLs is an online assessment system that measures the English language proficiency (ELP) of English learners (ELs) in Grades K-12.  This assessment allows educators, students, and families to monitor students’ progress in acquiring academic English in the domains of Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing

The Alternate ACCESS for ELLs is an English language proficiency (ELP) assessment. It is administered in the four language domains of Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing for students in grades 1-12 identified as English Learners (Els) who have significant cognitive disabilities.  

December 4, 2023 – February 2, 2024  

Results are shared with families in the spring towards the end of the school year. 

DPI Website

  ACT Plus Writing

The ACT with writing is administered to students in grade 11 and consists of four multiple-choice tests: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science, and a 40-minute essay test that measures Writing skills. The ACT can be used for college enrollment, scholarships, and NCAA eligibility requirements.  

March 12-22, 2024 – Test Window 1*

March 12-15 & 18-22, 2024 – The ACT with writing Test Window 1 – Online Administration/Online Accommodations

*Districtwide testing day is March 12, 2024

DPI Website

  Brigance Early Childhood Screener

Students enrolled in grades K3, K4, K5 and Head Start are screened using the Brigance Screens III within the first 45 days of school. The purpose f the early childhood screening is to provide parents and teachers with consistent and reliable assessment data of child development, behavioral, motor, language, social, cognitive, and emotional skills, as well as identify students in need of targeted support in learning, early literacy skills, and overall general development. For students screened at the begining of the school year, results are shared with families at or around parent-teacher conferences in October. 

  Civics Test

Starting with the class of 2017, students graduating from a Wisconsin high school must take a civics test composed of 100 questions that are identical to the 100 questions that may be asked of an individual during the process of applying for U.S. citizenship by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Students will meet the graduation requirement by correctly answering at least 65 of the 100 questions.

Results are posted to the student transcript upon receiving a passing score. 

DPI Website


The CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test) assesses students’ abilities in reasoning and problem solving using verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal (spatial) symbols. It is used as a screener in 2nd grade to help identify students for possible eligibility for gifted and talented programs and may also be used to in other grade levels on an individual student basis. 

Districtwide screening takes place each fall in November and December. Results of the screening are shared with families in January. 


  Dynamic Learning Maps

DLM assesses the academic progress of students with significant cognitive disabilities. It is administered online in grades 3-11 for English Language Arts and Mathematics, grades 4 and 8-11 for Science, and grades 4, 8, and 10 for Social Studies.

March 18 – April 26, 2024

Results are shared with families by the beginning of the following school year.

DPI Website



NAEP is also known as the Nation’s Report Card and is used to compare student performance between states and over time. Each year different schools and students are sampled to participate in this test, which includes grades 4 and 8 Reading and Mathematics. Grade 12 testing and additional subject areas are also often included. 

As a part of NAEP, MPS also participates in the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA), which is used to report on the performance of public school students at the district level. Individual student results are not shared by NAEP.

January 29 – March 8, 2024  NAEP – Reading and Mathematics Grades 4, 8, and 12, and Science Grade 8 (selected schools only) 

DPI Website


  PreACT Secure

The PreACT Secure is a summative assessment, aligned to The ACT with writing test and the ACT College and Career Readiness Standards, that measures what students have learned in the areas of English, Reading, Mathematics, and Science in grades 9 and 10.

Testing Window: March 18 – April 26, 2024 

MPS Districtwide testing day is April 10, 2024

Results are shared with families by the beginning of the following school year.

DPI Website

  Reading Readiness

Wis. Stats. 118.016 requires each pupil enrolled in 4-year-old kindergarten to 2nd grade in a school district or in a charter school to be annually assessed for reading readiness. Starting in 2021-2022, MPS utilized a combination of tools to meet these requirements at each grade level. 

Results of the assessment are shared with families by schools uplon completion of the test, which is administered in the fall. 

DPI Website



Star is a district assessment used in 1st grade through high school. It is a computer-adaptive test used to screen students three times per year in the areas of early literacy, reading, and math and can be administered in both English and Spanish. It is also used for progress monitoring of students who receive academic interventions. The purpose of Star is to provide data to inform instruction at the student, classroom, school, and district level, while also identifying students in need of additional support.

Star screening windows occur in the fall, winter, and spring. Results are shared with families by schools upon completion of each screening window.

  Wisconsin Forward Exam

Students in grades 3-8 take the Forward Exam online in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics, in Science in grades 4 and 8, and Social Studies in grades 4, 8, and 10. 

March 18 – April 26, 2024 

Results are shared with families by the beginning of the following school year.

DPI Website




Dr. Melanie Stewart
Director of the Department of Research, Assessment, and Data
Phone: 414-475-8751

Natalie Collins, Ph.D.
Assessment and Data Manager
Phone: 414-475-8011

Bob Latterman, Ed. S.
Assessment Specialist
Phone: 414-475-8073

Jill Waltersdorf, M. Ed. 
Assessment Specialist
Phone: 414-773-9846


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