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Some area schools earn good report cards from state


Two-thirds of Janesville schools saw their scores decline on this year’s school report cards, released today by the state Department of Public Instruction.

“This gives us an opportunity to look at ways we could improve,” Janesville School District spokesman Patrick Gasper said.

But in Milton, Consolidated Elementary School was again the top school in the state with a score of 99, and Janesville’s Kennedy Elementary School was 10th-highest in the state with a score of 96.

Overall, more Wisconsin schools and districts are meeting or exceeding expectations than the past two years, but more also had their scores reduced for absenteeism than in either of the previous report cards, based on the data.

The state report cards measure performance of 2,114 public schools, 281 private choice schools and 422 school districts. The report cards, in their third year, are designed to be used by people living in the districts to hold schools accountable for their performance and growth, or reduction in scores, from year to year.

The report cards are based on a variety of data, including test scores, students being on track to graduate, the number of students who come from low-income families or are English-language learners, efforts to close academic gaps between student groups, chronic absenteeism, and dropout rates.

The range of data can make it challenging to determine where improvements need to be made, Gasper said.

A school district gets an overall rating, but each school’s score is influenced by many factors, including student demographics. For example, a school that is already doing well might not get as high of a score in the “progress” category as another school.

Like some other schools in the state, both Craig and Parker high schools struggled with student absenteeism and lost five points on their scores.

Today’s report cards brought good news for the Delavan-Darien School District, which ranked highest in the area with a score of 83.6. Delavan-Darien’s Phoenix Middle School ranked 22nd in the state for middle schools.

In grading Delavan-Darien, the DPI did not emphasize student achievement as much as in other districts. Instead, it more heavily weighted student growth, closing achievement gaps and on-track to post-secondary readiness.

Much of that is because of the district’s demographics, interim Superintendent Jill Sorbie said.

About 65 percent of district students receive free or reduced-price lunch, and for about half of the students, English is their second language.

“For families that struggle to make ends meet, they don’t come in with the same set of knowledge,” Sorbie said. “Our score is very significant for the population we serve. ... We have significant growth happening in all our buildings.”

In total, nearly 84 percent of schools met or exceeded expectations this year. That is up from about 82 percent each of the previous two years. Nearly all school districts—96 percent—met or exceeded expectations this year. That is up from 95 percent last year and 91 percent two years ago.

In Janesville, 18 of 22 schools were given report cards. The other schools were given alternative ratings because of their size or other circumstances.

Kennedy, Van Buren and Roosevelt elementary schools received the highest five-star rating of “significantly exceeds expectations” with scores between 83 and 100. This year, 49 districts and 327 schools got that rating.

Jefferson and Harrison elementary schools received four-star ratings of “exceeds expectations” with scores between 73 and 82.9.

Eight schools received three-star ratings of “meets expectations” with scores between 53 and 62.9.

Parker High School, Marshall Middle School, ARISE Virtual Academy and Madison and Monroe elementary schools received two-star ratings with scores between 53 and 62.9.

Of the 18 Janesville schools rated, 12 saw their scores decrease, and three dropped by more than 10 points.

A news release from the Janesville School District highlighted some of the positive news from the report cards. The district continues to remain at or above the state average in student achievement, closing academic gaps, growth, third-grade reading scores and graduation rates, the news release noted.

“The state’s school and district report cards provide us with information about our students and schools; however, they are not the only way we determine success nor identify areas of improvement,” Superintendent Steve Pophal said in the release.

“We use multiple indicators to determine student growth through school, district and state assessments, and our district promises provide a roadmap for our schools to develop continuous learning and growth opportunities for our students.”

The school district’s overall score of 68.4 puts it in sixth place when compared to the 10 largest school districts in the state.

Angela Major 

Public works employee Andy White dumps leaves into the back of a leaf collection truck Monday on Liberty Lane in Janesville. Loose leaf collection will run in Janesville until Friday. Residents whose leaves haven’t been picked up can find their pickup date on the city of Janesville’s website or by calling 608-755-3110.

Author shares family’s story of surviving Holocaust

Retired UW-W professor to speak today at Hedberg

In August 1942, Nazis ordered Ron Berger’s Jewish grandparents and family to gather in the marketplace of Krosno, Poland.

Trucks with the SS, Gestapo and German police surrounded the area so no one could escape.

A Gestapo officer with a baton ordered older and disabled people to step to one side.

Berger’s grandfather, Jacob, was among those segregated and forced onto the backs of trucks.

Jacob realized he would not return.

As he boarded the truck, he turned to his family and shouted: “Children, save yourselves!”

Berger’s father, Michael, and his uncle, Sol, never forgot their father’s parting words.

Today, Berger keeps the story alive in a book published earlier this year, “Children, Save Yourselves! One Family’s Story of Holocaust Survival.”

Since his book came out, Berger has talked to audiences about how his father endured several concentration camps, including the notorious Auschwitz, and how his uncle survived outside the camps by passing as a Catholic among anti-Semitic Poles.

Berger, who taught at UW-Whitewater for more than 30 years, believes his book is more important now than ever.

He points to a rise in hate crimes, including the October shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, higher visibility of white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups, and a rise in documented threats to democracies around the world.

“I do not know if telling my story will make a difference,” Berger said. “If it does, that pleases me.”

He said genocides do not begin with killing.

“They begin by demonizing groups, like immigrants, like your political opponents,” Berger said.

The professor emeritus of sociology did not learn his family’s story in detail until 1988 when he was 37.

He became more interested in his father’s past after a lecture by actor Robert Clary at UW-Whitewater. Clary is known for his role as Louis LeBeau in the TV series “Hogan’s Heroes.”

Clary talked about surviving the Holocaust, something he had kept quiet about for most of his life after the war.

As he aged, Clary realized he needed to tell his story because eventually there would be no more living survivors.

During the audience’s question-and-answer time, a woman stood up and said she had not heard of the Holocaust before Clary’s talk.

Berger and the audience were surprised by her comment.

“However, what also soon struck me was how little I knew about the Holocaust, and in particular about what had happened to my father and his family,” Berger wrote in his book.

He called home and told his father: “We have to record your story.”

Berger realizes that the number of Holocaust survivors is shrinking.

In their absence, “those of us who have lived with them, who have known them intimately, give others some sense of authentic connection to the past,” he said.

Berger wants readers of his book to realize that survivors like his father and uncle, who came to the United States, were not so traumatized that they could not recapture their lives and be successful.

“Resilience is the word,” Berger said. “This is a story that can end with a feeling of hope. It is easy to give in to despair. But the story is about the human desire to live and the preciousness of life.”

American politics - Democratic donkey versus Republican elephant

Obituaries and death notices for Nov. 13, 2018

Mary Josephine Canik

Vera M. Gillett

Munir W. Hanna

Edwin C. Hayden

James S. Hergert

Gladys Johnson

Linda Meyers-Kelm

Helen J. Larson

Susan “Kathy” Magee

Norma Jean North

Alyce O. Olsen

Marie Irene Roe

Josephine Shafer

Jean B. Shuler

Larry A. Ulrich Sr.

Betty L. Updike

Melvin Emil Zeller

Noah Berger 

Chris and Nancy Brown embrace while searching through the remains of their home, leveled by the Camp Fire, in Paradise, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. As the fire approached, Nancy Brown escaped from the home with her 2-year-old and three dogs. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Baskeball isolated on a white background as a sports and fitness symbol of a team liesure activity playing with a leather ball dribbling and passing in competition tournaments.