School Report Cards
The Journey to Excellence Continues to Show Dividends
Six years ago, the School District of Janesville embarked on a district wide effort focused on raising student achievement titled, Journey to Excellence. On Tuesday, September 16, 2014, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released the third set of School Report Card Scores and this is the second year that report cards for all 424 districts have been released. This year, the School District of Janesville ranked #2 of the 10 largest school districts in the State of Wisconsin. With an accountability score of 72.8, the district is in the meets expectations category. These ratings are based on scores from four priority areas:
- Student Achievement in reading and mathematics on state assessments;
- Student Growth measured by year-to-year improvements in achievement;
- Closing Gaps in performance between specific student groups (comparing English Language learners, low-income students, students with disabilities, and members of racial or ethnic groups with their peers);
- On-Track to Graduation and Postsecondary Readiness using reliable predictors of high school graduation and postsecondary success.
Based on how well schools perform in the priority areas, schools and districts receive an accountability score on a 0-100 scale and its associated accountability rating. All schools scored in the Meets Expectations category or higher. Kennedy, Madison, Monroe, Roosevelt, Van Buren, and Washington Elementary Schools, as well as Craig High School, scored in the Exceeds Expectations category. Harrison Elementary scored in the Significantly Exceeds Expectations category for the third year in a row, the highest distinction possible.
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The School District of Janesville saw an increase in its Student Achievement score with increases in both math and reading—out-scoring the state by almost four points in the student achievement category. Fourteen out of the seventeen schools also showed an increase in student achievement, including both high schools.
Wilson Elementary continues to demonstrate a strong record of improvement over the past three years and only missed the Exceeds Expectations category by two-tenths of a point. Wilson also saw increases of over five points in the sub-categories of student achievement, student growth, and closing gaps. These results are noteworthy because the student body at Wilson represents the highest number of economically disadvantaged in the district at nearly 90%. While the district refuses to treat poverty as an excuse for moving student achievement forward, it does recognize the special attention and increased effort required of school personnel at high poverty schools to post positive gains. Dr. Schulte, Superintendent of Schools, believes that Wilson Principal, Kim Peerenboom, and the school staff make Wilson a poster school for excellence in the district. “Mrs. Peerenboom’s energy, dedication, and careful planning, as well as her uncompromising belief that all students can learn and achieve has inspired the staff to create a “special magic” that is showing remarkable student learning results.” Mrs. Peerenboom was named one of the district’s 2014 School Administrators of the Year for the School District of Janesville.
The success story continues with the recent announcement that four district schools will be recognized as Schools of Recognition this fall in the state capital. These schools are Madison (4th year in a row), Jackson Elementary (3rd year in a row), Jefferson Elementary (2nd year in a row), and Edison Middle School, a 2nd time. This award is given to schools who have demonstrated success in educating students from low-income families.
Comparative data indicates the School District of Janesville ranked 2nd in Rock County, only three tenths of a point behind Evansville Community School District. The poverty rates for Janesville are nearly double that of Evansville. Last year, the School District was # 1 in Rock County. The DPI has cautioned against comparing previous district results because scores were calculated differently this year.
Dr. Schulte credits the district’s adoption of Evidence-Based Leadership (EBL) as a key foundational change that is pivotal to the positive report card results. EBL causes school leaders to analyze key student learning indicators and then develop a School Improvement Plan to guide student and staff with the achievement targets. Each year school staff have refined the process and increased student engagement with the specific learning targets.
Dr. Kim Ehrhardt, Director for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, adds that the use of curriculum-based assessments (that measure ongoing learning throughout the school year) is a powerful tool for keeping student learning on target, thereby resulting in the positive upward trajectory of student achievement scores. In addition, Ehrhardt notes the collaborative efforts of the staff to continuously improve the clarity and coherence in the written curriculum is another important ingredient of success.
While this year’s report card results indicates there is much to celebrate and be proud of, it also points to the need for more deliberate efforts to improve student growth scores and achievement for Students with Disabilities and other special populations. This year, the district has launched the Equity and Excellence Plan which is designed to refine learning focus and excel future achievement gains for these groups in each school.
In October, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will issue a School Report Card for your child’s school and for every public school in Wisconsin. The School Report Card will help parents understand how their child’s school is doing and where it can improve. The new report cards will help all Wisconsin public schools get a better picture of how well they help children learn, advance to the next grade, and graduate ready for college and career. Our goal is to help every student in a Wisconsin school succeed, graduate, and be ready to pursue further education and a career.
How were the School Report Cards developed?
The School Report Cards are just one part of a new, statewide accountability system for schools. DPI worked closely with parents, educators, and members of the business community to develop the system. The Governor, State Superintendent, legislative leaders, and DPI staff worked with educators throughout Wisconsin and with the U.S. Department of Education to shape the new accountability system. This system, and the report cards, will continue to evolve in future years.
How does the School Report Card work? Each school will earn a “score,” called an accountability index score, from 0 to 100. This score is displayed on the report card. The accountability index score that your school receives is based on the school’s performance in four priority areas:
- 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 (comparing English language learners, low-income students, students with disabilities, and members of racial or ethnic group with their peers)
- On-track/Postsecondary Readiness, including graduation or attendance rates, reading and math achievement, and ACT participation and performance.
In addition, the School Report Card displays the school’s performance on three areas of student engagement:
- Test Participation Rate in reading and mathematics state tests
- Absenteeism Rate measuring chronic absenteeism
- Dropout rate measuring the number of students dropping out of school
A school is placed into one of five ratings—based on its performance in the above areas—from Significantly Exceeds Expectations to Fails to Meet Expectations. The new statewide accountability system will include ways to spread effective practices of high-performing schools and support to help struggling schools improve.
What does the “score” on the School Report Card mean?
A school’s accountability score reflects many measures that factor into a school’s performance. The accountability score will help school staff determine what areas the school does well in and where it needs improvement. The School Report Card provides detailed information about the performance of student groups at the school, including racial groups, disability, poverty, and English language learners.
It’s important to note that the 0 to 100 accountability index score is not a “percent correct” measurement, so the scores are not the same as grades.
What does the School Report Card look like?
The Department of Public Instruction will provide two documents when School Report Cards are released:
- The School Report Card, a one-page (front and back) document that summarizes a school’s performance and provides the accountability score and rating; and
- A lengthier Report Card Detail packet with detailed data about each of the priority areas, student engagement indicators, and other data that will inform local conversations about school performance and improvement.
How often will my child’s school receive a School Report Card?
School Report Cards will come out every year. Once finalized, the School Report Cards will be publicly available on the DPI website, organized by district.
As a parent, how can I use the information on the School Report Card?
Review your child’s School Report Card every year. The School Report Card is designed to inform parents and the community, and to spur discussion about our children’s learning. Parents can:
- Bring the School Report Card to parent-teacher conferences and talk about the student achievement data on it. Ask how you can help your child improve and be on-track to graduate.
- Ask school staff to sponsor a parent meeting to talk about the School Report Card and the areas of strengths and improvement it indicates for your child’s school. Ask school staff what steps the school is taking to help students succeed and improve.
- Support your child’s learning and your child’s school. Ask your school principal how parents can help the school improve. Attend school events such as family learning nights with your child. Volunteer to help at school events or to work one-on-one with children to improve their skills. Join your school’s parent group to learn more about school programs and efforts that make the school a better place for all students.