Area Wisconsin schools score well on new state report cardELLSWORTH — Students have received report cards for many years, and now the public schools in Wisconsin are taking their turn.
By: Bill Kirk, The Republican Eagle
ELLSWORTH — Students have received report cards for many years, and now the public schools in Wisconsin are taking their turn.
The state’s Department of Public Instruction is issuing a “school report card” for each school this month, including the four within the Ellsworth School District. Each earns a score called an accountability index score from 0 to 100. These overall ratings are divided into the following five categories: significantly exceeds expectations, 83-100; exceeds expectations, 73-82.9; meets expectations, 63-72.9; meets few expectations, 53-62.9; and fails to meet expectations, 0-52.9.
Both Hillcrest and Prairie View elementary schools scored in the exceeds expectations category with overall scores of 82.1 and 76.0 respectively, while the Ellsworth high school and middle school — with 68.2 and 70.0 — were both in the meets expectations category, according to information from EMS Principal Paul Uhren, also the district’s assessment coordinator.
Uhren said the scores are based on a school’s performance in four priority areas, including student achievement in reading and mathematics on state tests; student growth measured by year-to-year improvements in achievement; closing gaps in performance between specific student groups (for which special education and economically disadvantaged students are examples locally); and on-track/postsecondary readiness, including graduation or attendance rates, reading and math achievement and ACT participation and performance.
The statewide testing that has served assessment purposes in the past is just part of the new accountability system. To illustrate, Uhren said the new system factors in how much growth has occurred for a fourth grader between the third and fourth grades, for instance. Then too, the test participation rate in reading and math state tests, absenteeism rate measuring chronic absenteeism and dropout rate measuring the number of students dropping out of school are taken into account as well.
“The bar has been raised,” Uhren said, indicating the new requirements are much more stringent.
Nonetheless, the coordinator was pleased with the local report card outcome. He said one of each of the two schools here scored on the high end of their respective categories. However, the local schools need improvement in the priority area about closing gaps, meaning bringing other groups closer to mainstream students.
“We discussed it at our meeting Tuesday,” he said of educators here being apprised of the local results. “It fits nicely into our (Professional Learning Communities) initiative, introduced to our schools by (Supt.) Barry Cain around eight years ago.”
The school report cards are intended to help parents understand how their child’s school is doing and where it can improve, as well as giving all public schools in Wisconsin a better picture of how well they help children learn, advance to the next grade and graduate ready for college and career.
The goal is to help every student in a public school in the state succeed, graduate and be ready to pursue further education and a career.
The measure is part of Wisconsin’s waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law. The report card is based on the same standardized tests the state has used for years—the Wisconsin Knowledge Concepts Examination — but state officials have raised the curve this year by increasing the proficiency levels. State officials plan to use a new, more rigorous standardized test starting in the 2014-15 school year.
Uhren said information about the school report cards will be sent to parents along with regular report cards for high school and middle school students at the start of the next quarter this coming month. Parents of elementary students will be given the information at conferences with teachers.