State's report cards show majority of public schools meet, exceed expectations

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MADISON, Wisconsin — Most Wisconsin public schools and school districts met or exceeded expectations for student achievement last school year, numbers that are comparable with 2012, data released by the state Department of Public Instruction on Tuesday showed.

The information was released in the annual school report cards. This is the third year report cards have been issued for all 2,113 public and 23 independent charter schools. It's the second year that report cards for all 424 districts have been released.

Statewide, 88.3 percent of schools and 98.1 percent of districts met or exceeded expectations. In the 2012 school year, 88.1 percent of schools and 97.1 percent of districts met or exceeded expectations. The year before that, when only schools were in the report card, 85.8 percent met or exceeded expectations.

The data shows how well students, schools and districts are performing in four main areas; student achievement in reading and math on statewide assessments, student growth in those assessments, closing achievement and graduation gaps and readiness for college or careers.

Schools and districts receive scores of 0-100 in each category.

The report cards also include demographic information about each school and larger district.

Milwaukee Public Schools was the only district that failed to meet expectations. Sixty-six schools, all but nine of them in Milwaukee, failed to meet expectations. In 2012, the Milwaukee district along with 58 schools, most of them in Milwaukee, failed to meet expectations.

Nine districts, and 116 schools, significantly exceeded expectations, the highest rating. The districts were Swallow, Mequon-Thiensville, North Lake, Whitefish Bay, Elmbrook, Fox Point J2, Cedarburg, Waterford UHS and Hamilton.

State Superintendent Tony Evers also warned that the 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," Evers said in a statement.

More changes are on the way. Next year students in grades 3 through 8 will take new reading and math tests called Smarter Balanced while high school students will take the ACT and affiliated tests.

Changing the report cards, and forcing private schools that accept taxpayer-funded voucher students to be included, continues to be a topic of debate in the Legislature. Both Republicans and Democrats have said they want to bolster the reporting, but they've been unable to agree on the details of how to get it done.

One of the main areas of disagreement has been whether to assign letter grades to schools and impose sanctions on those that fail to measure up, including forcing failing public schools to reopen as charters and barring private schools from accepting new voucher students.

The Legislature did pass a bill this year requiring private schools accepting voucher students to submit a variety of data to the state that they don't currently provide starting with the 2015 academic year. That includes a host of demographic data, enrollment numbers and graduation rates.

The information, along with performance on state tests, will eventually be included on school report cards just like those released Tuesday for public schools.


Online: http://reportcards.dpi.wi.gov/

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