Most Wisconsin schools, districts meet expectations

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Associated Press, staff | September 18, 2013

MADISON — The majority of Wisconsin public schools and districts meet or exceed expectations as graded on report cards released Tuesday by the Department of Public Instruction.

Milwaukee Public Schools was the only district in the 2012 academic year that failed to meet expectations, the lowest ranking. Ten other districts met few expectations, the second-lowest ranking.

In Walworth County, schools met or exceeded expectations. Some of the schools or districts with the highest overall scores include Elkhorn Area High School, with 80; East Troy High School with 78.4 and West Side Elementary School, Elkhorn, with 78.2.

Individual school and school district report cards can be found HERE.

This is the second year the state Department of Public Instruction released report cards for all public schools and first with district-wide data. The district data is not an average of each school's numbers, but rather a compilation of all the scores, as if the district were one big school.

The report cards assign each school and district a score between 0-100 based on how well they do in four areas: student achievement in reading and math as measured by statewide test scores; student growth in those areas; postsecondary readiness, which includes graduation and attendance rates; and closing of achievement gaps between different groups of students.

The report cards were provided to school districts a month ago to be vetted, and many have already informed parents of the results. Student test scores were first released in April, but were combined with other data to come up with the overall school and district scores.

Statewide, 1,910 individual schools received ratings. Of those, 88 percent meet or exceed expectations, up from nearly 86 percent last year. Only 58 schools, or about 3 percent, failed to meet expectations. That is down from 86 schools, or 3.5 percent, last year.

DPI spokesman John Johnson cautioned the numbers could not be easily compared with last year because of adjustments in how they were calculated, such as absenteeism and drop-out rates.

"The report cards are still a work in progress," Johnson said. "We've said that all along."

More changes will be coming in future years. For example, beginning in 2014, a new series of ACT tests will replace the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination.

The report cards were developed in conjunction with Gov. Scott Walker, legislative leaders and others. The results had to be reported in order for Wisconsin to get its waiver under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

A bill in the Legislature would require report cards for private schools that accept taxpayer-funded voucher students, but it's running into opposition over concerns about how the information would be collected, processed and presented.

There were five possible rankings for each school and district in the report cards released Tuesday. The highest, "significantly exceeds expectations," had 86 schools and nine districts, followed by "exceeds expectations," which had 693 schools and 133 districts. The third highest rating, "meets expectations," had 904 schools and 270 districts.

There were 169 schools and 10 districts in the "meets few expectations" category, while the Milwaukee district and 58 individual schools were in the "fails to meet expectations."

Milwaukee schools issued a statement, saying the low rating reflects ongoing challenges in improving academic achievement. The district also said areas such as student attendance have improved, but aren't reflected on the report cards, which are based on data from the 2012 academic year.

There were 201 schools and the Norris School District that were too small and did not have enough data to be ranked.

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