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Janesville schools recognized for work with low-income students

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
September 2, 2011
— Four Janesville schools were recognized Wednesday for relatively high performance on tests while serving enrollments with high rates of poverty.

The four were among the 116 schools statewide that the state education department honored as 2011-12 Wisconsin Schools of Recognition.


The Janesville winners were Adams, Lincoln and Madison elementary schools and the TAGOS Leadership Academy, a charter school for middle and high school students.


Lincoln School has won the award for three consecutive years, Adams for two. Madison and TAGOS are receiving their first awards.


The awards program has existed for nine years.


Also winning this year’s award were the Beloit School District’s Burdge, Converse and Gaston elementary schools.


Each school will receive $5,000 and a plaque at an Oct. 12 awards ceremony at the state Capitol.


Janesville Superintendent Karen Schulte said she was pleased and excited.


Schulte noted that Adams’ now-retired principal was twice named district principal of the year.


Lincoln and Madison principals also have received that honor, and TAGOS has received awards for its alternative program, Schulte said, so there’s a connection between this accomplishment and the strong leadership plus the hard work of the school staffs to focus on children’s needs.


Adams, Lincoln and Madison schools had poverty rates between 55 percent and 58 percent last year, according to the school district. TAGOS had a 73 percent poverty rate.


The awards program compares test scores in math and reading against similarly sized school districts. Poverty rates are measured by numbers of students who qualify for the federal meal program.


The Janesville district’s schools with the highest poverty rates, Jackson and Wilson elementaries, are among the lowest-performing schools in math and reading, although they meet state standards.


Jackson had a 75 percent poverty rate last year, Wilson 92 percent.


“We have a lot of work to do in those schools regarding student achievement,” Schulte said when asked about Jackson and Wilson.


Schulte said Wilson’s new principal, Kimberli Peerenboom, is an expert in analyzing test data and using that information to steer her staff towards improving areas where students need help.


Schulte also expressed confidence in Jackson’s principal, who is starting her second year on the job.


The district beefed up its data-analysis team with federal stimulus money, hiring local experts to look at schools district-wide and find where teachers can improve their instruction in reading and math, Schulte said.


“I will wager we will see higher test scores in the future for both those schools,” Schulte said.



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