MADISON, Wis. — Many students across Wisconsin are spending their summer catching up on math.

What You Need To Know

  • Only about a third of Wisconsin eighth-graders tested proficient in math in 2022

  • About 43% of fourth-graders tested proficient 

  • Summer math programs are swamped as kids catch up 

  • Wisconsin students actually scored above the national average 

The Nation’s Report Card data from 2022 showed only about a third of Wisconsin eighth-graders were proficient or above in math. Overall, Wisconsin students have scored the lowest in math since 1996.

About 43% of fourth-graders were proficient in math. Those scores didn’t dramatically dip since before the pandemic in 2019.

While generally Wisconsin students are doing better than the national average, the state has the worst opportunity gap of any state between white and Black students. Black students in Wisconsin scored more than 20% lower than white students.

Scott Zettek owns two Mathnasium locations in the Madison area, soon to be three. He said he sees these issues at play every day.

“I’ve been doing this for seven years, and on average, students coming in the last couple years after the pandemic are significantly, markedly more behind than they were prior to the pandemic,” Zettek said.

The two Mathnasium locations serve about 500 students every month. So many families are seeking math help for their kids that Zettek is having to turn people away.

“The demand for our services has been outrageous,” he said. “Quite honestly, I can’t keep up.”

His centers focus on meeting students where they are instead of with what they should know by now.

“It works because I’m not asking a fifth-grader to do fifth-grade math if they’re not capable of it,” he said. “I’m starting a fifth-grader at fourth-grade or third-grade [level], and then we’re working up to close that gap.”