Elmbrook School District this week received its first school report cards, signaling a new era has begun statewide in attempting to measure and communicate school effectiveness as well as student achievement and progress.
The 2011-12 measurement revealed Monday indicates that all Elmbrook schools achieved a rating of "exceeds expectations," the second highest possible rating. Hillside Elementary, which was closed at the end of last school year, scored "significantly exceeds expectations," the highest possible rating.
Detailed report cards for each school are available through the district website.
Superintendent Mark Hansen said the report cards confirm Elmbrook has "consistently high-performing schools." He also noted that the new accountability measure fits with the district's plans for continuous improvement.
"Our strong school-improvement planning process had already identified gaps highlighted on the school report cards," Hansen said, "and our schools are implementing action plans to close those gaps."
Scores need explanation
The report cards show data in a way that could lead to differing interpretations, said Dana Monogue, assistant superintendent for educational services. She said the district has spent a lot of time over the past few months communicating the new standards to teachers throughout the district and has turned its attention to communicating the information to parents and other district residents.
"We want to empower our school-level personnel with the right information, equipping them with knowledge that will help them address questions from parents," Monogue said.
Those questions may focus on a new measurement format.
For example, each school report card includes an overall accountability score and rating that should not be confused with a percentage akin to a grade. The score is based on four key factors: student achievement, student growth, closing gaps, and on-track and postsecondary readiness.
The report's "student engagement indicators" include factors such as test participation, absenteeism and drop-out rates.
Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination scores, or state standardized test scores, for reading and math over the past five years show the percentage of proficient and advanced student achievement compared to state averages. Those graphs indicate lower scoring percentages than in the past because new benchmarks have been established.
"We realize that parents may have some questions about those scores," Monogue said. "That's why it's important for our schools to be prepared. It doesn't mean students are not performing at a high level as they have in the past. It just means the measurement is different. We need to communicate that. I know. I am a parent of two school age students in another district, and I will be following the same information from that viewpoint."
Monogue said the district is embracing the new system.
"We want to be open to the numbers and the data and what that means for (our) institution," she said. "This is all part of our continuous improvement. It comes down to helping our teachers adjust to the new standards so they can continue to be effective."
Come spring, that effectiveness also will be measured at a more personal level. Scores from the current WKCE testing will be made available to students and families in April. Monogue said she is aware that more questions will arise once parents see scores that could look lower because of the new standards.
It's a matter for adjustment for everyone, she said.
"We are going to work very hard to get our schools to achieve 'significantly exceeds expectations,' " Monogue said. "Our goal is to achieve at the highest possible level."
The new system takes the place of the No Child Left Behind act, the former accountability system.
The Department of Public Instruction released the data with the following information:
"Wisconsin issued 2011-12 preliminary report cards for 2,118 public schools, including 21 independent charter schools. Sixty-eight schools received an accountability index rating of significantly exceeds expectations. For the other rating categories, 637 schools exceed expectations, 906 schools meet expectations, 190 schools meet few expectations, and 76 schools fail to meet expectations. About 11 percent of schools (241) were not rated because they are new schools or alternative schools that are too small or lack sufficient assessment data to receive an overall accountability rating.
"The annual school report cards were based on the work of the state's District and School Accountability Design Team and federal requirements. They were developed to be both informative and useful. For schools that meet few or fail to meet expectations, funding will be sought to develop a statewide system of support to provide resources for implementing reforms that help all students to graduate college and (be) career-ready. If funded, future plans also will include resources to disseminate best practices in schools exceeding expectations."
SCHOOL REPORT CARDS
overall score of 81.2
overall score of 79.2
overall score of 81.4
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