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MADISON — Report cards for Wisconsin schools and school districts show that the majority meet or exceed expectations for student achievement and academic engagement in the 2013-14 school year. Overall, 88.3 percent of schools and 98.1 percent of districts with accountability scores had ratings of meets expectations or better.
“Most of our public schools and school districts are providing a solid education to our children, but we don’t want to rest on our laurels. These report cards are a good communication device to focus discussion among parents, schools, and communities on how our schools and school districts are doing and how they can continue to improve,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers.
This is the second year for district report cards and the third year for school report cards. Both evaluate schools and districts in four priority areas: student achievement in reading and mathematics on statewide assessments; student growth in those assessed areas; closing gaps for reading and mathematics achievement and graduation, based on student subgroups; and postsecondary readiness, which uses several measures as predictors of college and career readiness.
For this year’s report cards, there were some technical adjustments to calculations to improve fairness and accuracy. Also, an Alternate Accountability process was added for schools that don’t have the data necessary to calculate a standard report card. Last year there were 201 such schools; all schools received an accountability index rating or alternate rating for the 2013-14 report cards. Caution is urged in making comparisons of report cards across years because changes in accountability scores and movement between accountability ratings may be because of changes in how scores were calculated rather than due to changes in student performance. Students in grades three through eight will take Smarter Balanced assessments in reading and mathematics this spring. High school students will take assessments from the ACT suite — the Aspire Early High School, ACT plus Writing, and WorkKeys— necessitating further changes to report cards for the 2015-16 school year.
“We are absolutely dedicated to evaluating and improving school and district report cards; making sensible adjustments and adding new measures of accountability when they are available,” Evers said. “Next year will bring new assessments, which will open the door for bigger changes. And let’s remember, today’s report cards measure a narrow band of what makes a school a vibrant place to learn. The science, art, music, career and technical education, and extracurricular activities that schools offer are truly important to helping students get a well-rounded education that prepares them for college and careers.”
Accountability scores are calculated on a scale of zero to 100, which is a score and not a percentage tied to a letter grade. District report cards are calculated for the district as a whole, essentially treating the district as a large school. Along the report card’s five accountability ratings, nine districts significantly exceed expectations, 159 exceed expectations, and 247 meet expectations. Milwaukee Public Schools failed to meet expectations, and seven districts met few expectations. The Norris School District, with an enrollment of 45 students in the 2013-14 school year, is too small to have enough data to receive a score. On report card measures of student engagement — test participation of 95 percent, absenteeism below 13 percent, and a dropout rate of less than 6 percent — six districts had deductions from their overall scores for missing these goals.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of students attending school regularly,” Evers said. “Ninety of our schools had deductions because too many students were absent for too many days. If our kids aren’t in class, it’s pretty tough to stay caught up on what the other students are learning.”
To view individual district and school report cards, visit http://reportcards.dpi.wi.gov/ and click on the button for District and School Report Cards. The “What’s New for 2013-14” document on that website contains more information about changes to School Report Card calculations between 2012-13 and 2013-14.