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95% of Wisconsin school districts met or exceeded expectations in latest state report cards

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The number of public school districts that met, exceeded, or significantly exceeded expectations — about 95% of the state’s 421 districts — held steady last year despite major interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Public Instruction.

No report cards were released in the 2019-20 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But about 96% of the districts graded in the previous school year, 2018-19, met expectations or performed better than expected.

Most Dane County school districts met or exceeded expectations in the latest round of state report cards for the 2020-21 school year.

Fifteen out of the 16 districts that are wholly or mostly in Dane County met expectations, with only the Marshall School District faltering, categorized as “meeting few expectations.” The Waunakee School District was the only Dane County district categorized as significantly exceeding expectations. The Madison School District was categorized as exceeding expectations.

Waunakee director of secondary curriculum and instruction Tim Schell attributed the district’s performance to the dedication of teachers and staff. Waunakee, with a student population of 4,300, also has fewer vulnerable students compared to other Dane County districts, he said.

Waunakee did see a slight drop in their 100-point score, which Schell attributed to new disruptions and challenges posed by the pandemic.

Madison increased its rating over the 2018-19 school year, going from a three-star rating — or meeting expectations — to a four-star rating of exceeding expectations on the report card’s five-star scale.

Across Wisconsin, 399 of the 421 public school districts were rated at three stars or higher.

For the 2020-21 school year, 2,101 public schools and 376 voucher schools received report cards. Of those schools, 1,781 met, exceeded or significantly exceeded expectations. Of the total schools, 199 public schools and 240 private voucher schools did not have enough available data to receive scored report cards, according to a DPI press release.

When calculating report cards, DPI scores districts and schools in four priority areas: student achievement, academic growth, target group outcomes, and students being on track and prepared for post-secondary education — determined by metrics including graduation and attendance rates.

The new priority area, target group outcomes, replaced closing achievement gaps. The new priority area, DPI said, sheds additional light on students in schools with low test scores. The measure was designed to help focus support on the learners who need it most, while also improving outcomes for all students, according to DPI.

“I think in the long run this is going to be a positive for students in Wisconsin because I think it is going to guide school improvement efforts more constructively than the old measure,” Schell, who sat on the advisory committee that DPI convened to develop this year’s updated report cards, said of the change.

Scores are based on a 100-point scale and weighted for certain situations, such as a larger focus on academic growth in schools with high poverty rates. Scoring within a certain point range determines what star rating a school receives.

Madison data

For the 2020-21 school year, Madison received an overall score of 70.2 points on a 100-point scale — just over the 70 points needed to attain a four-star rating. The score was down from the 72.3 points the district received in 2018-19.

Up to three years of data are used in assessment-based measures of report cards, according to DPI. Because assessments were not administered in the 2019-20 school year, the 2020-21 report card uses results from the 2020-21, 2018-19 and 2017-18 school years with more weight given to more recent years.

This year’s star rating is as follows:

  • A score of 83 to 100 is a rating of five stars or significantly exceeds expectations.
  • A score of 70 to 82.9 is a rating of four stars or exceeds expectations.
  • A score of 58 to 69.9 is a rating of three stars or meets expectations.
  • A score of 48 to 57.9 is a rating of two stars or meets few expectations.
  • A score of 0 to 47.9 is a rating of one star or fails to meet expectations.

Spokesperson Tim LeMonds said the district received the data from DPI Tuesday and had not had an opportunity to thoroughly review the information as of Tuesday afternoon.

DPI made the data available to all districts to review on Oct. 5, more than a month before its public release Tuesday.

Of the 44 Madison schools evaluated under the report card system, six were categorized as having significantly exceeded expectations in 2020-21, receiving a five-star rating. That number was down from nine in the 2019-20 school year.

The number of schools within the two-star range, or meeting few expectations, rose from four to 10. Two Madison schools failed to meet expectations on the report card, Capital High and Allis Elementary.

Compared with statewide results, the district scored in the 77th percentile on academic growth; the 44th percentile on target group outcomes; the 35th percentile for student achievement; and the 4th percentile on post-secondary readiness.

Other results

On the 100-point scale, two districts in the county — Deerfield and Verona — increased in overall scores.

Out of the 14 districts that experienced a drop in overall scores, the DeForest and Sun Prairie districts went from exceeding expectations to meeting expectations.

Deerfield went from meeting expectations to exceeding expectations and Waunakee remains the sole Dane County school system with a five-star rating.

Eighteen schools across the county received a five-star rating of significantly meeting expectations. Of those, six are in Madison, four are in Middleton-Cross Plains, four are in Waunakee, three are in Verona and one is in Oregon.

Four schools in the county — two in Madison and two in Marshall — failed to meet expectations, an increase compared to the 2018-19 school year when only one school in the county was given a one-star rating.

More than half of the state’s school districts received a four- or five-star rating.

The Beloit and Lake Holcombe school districts were the only two in the state to be rated at one star.

How Dane County schools rated

The Department of Public Instruction released its latest set of report cards for districts and public schools on Tuesday. Here's how the 16 districts wholly or mostly in Dane County rated. Scoring system: Significantly Exceeds Expectations: 83-100; Exceeds Expectations: 70-82.9; Meets Expectations: 58-69.9; Meets Few Expectations: 48-57.9; Fails to Meet Expectations: 0-47.9; AR: Alternative rating.

District/school Score
Belleville Elementary 77.5
Belleville High 72.3
Belleville Middle 69
Cambridge Elementary 77.7
Cambridge High 69.3
Koshkonong Trails School AR
Nikolay Middle 67.8
DeForest High 69.9
DeForest Middle 67.4
Eagle Point Elementary 74.3
Windsor Elementary 71.7
Yahara Elementary 75.2
Deerfield Elementary 70.6
Deerfield High 68.2
Deerfield Middle 81.3
Allis Elementary 36.7
Badger Rock Middle 74.1
Black Hawk Middle 58.1
Capital High 19.4
Cesar Chavez Elementary 69.1
Cherokee Heights Middle 71.5
Crestwood Elementary 80.3
Dr Virginia Henderson Elementary School 83.5
East High 76.1
Elvehjem Elementary 64.6
Emerson Elementary 67
Falk Elementary 61.7
Franklin Elementary AR
Gompers Elementary 70.8
Hamilton Middle 78.1
Hawthorne Elementary 66.4
Huegel Elementary 73.4
Innovative & Alternative High AR
James Wright Middle 74.4
Jefferson Middle 54.2
Kennedy Elementary 63.1
LaFollette High 76
Lake View Elementary 56.7
Lapham Elementary AR
Leopold Elementary 59.1
Lincoln Elementary 78.9
Lindbergh Elementary 55.3
Lowell Elementary 80
Marquette Elementary 76.5
Memorial High 84.6
Mendota Elementary 54.3
Metro School AR
Midvale Elementary AR
Muir Elementary 66.3
Nuestro Mundo AR
O'Keeffe Middle 54.1
Olson Elementary 73.8
Orchard Ridge Elementary 55.6
Randall Elementary School 85.2
Sandburg Elementary AR
Schenk Elementary 73.2
Sennett Middle 54.6
Shabazz-City High AR
Sherman Middle 52.8
Shorewood Hills Elementary 93
Spring Harbor Middle 56.4
Stephens Elementary 74.8
Thoreau Elementary 66.7
Toki Middle 61.8
Van Hise Elementary 96.6
West High 83.8
Whitehorse Middle 52.5
JEDI Virtual K-12 69.1
Marshall Early Learning Center AR
Marshall Elementary 76.8
Marshall High 47.9
Marshall Middle 40.7
Conrad Elvehjem Primary School AR
Destinations Career Academy of Wisconsin High 62.5
Indian Mound Middle 69.7
Insight School of Wisconsin High AR
McFarland High 72.4
Waubesa Intermediate 81.6
Wisconsin Virtual Academy High (WIVA) 52.6
Wisconsin Virtual Academy K-8 (WIVA) 69.4
Clark Street Community School 52.7
Elm Lawn Elementary 85.7
Glacier Creek Middle 76.2
Kromrey Middle 75.9
Middleton High 79.2
Northside Elementary 84.8
Park Elementary 80.5
Pope Farm Elementary AR
Sauk Trail Elementary 72.9
Sunset Ridge Elementary 85.4
West Middleton Elementary 84.3
Cottage Grove Elementary 80.9
Glacial Drumlin School 66
Monona Grove High 73.5
Monona Grove Liberal Arts Charter School for the 21st Century 58.3
Taylor Prairie Elementary AR
Winnequah School 75.6
Mount Horeb High 67.1
Mount Horeb Intermediate 80.3
Mount Horeb Middle 76.6
Mount Horeb Primary Center AR
Brooklyn Elementary 79.3
Forest Edge Elementary School AR
Netherwood Knoll Elementary 77.1
Oregon High 76.6
Oregon Middle 66.5
Prairie View Elementary 84.2
Rome Corners Intermediate 69.1
Fox Prairie Elementary 78.7
Kegonsa Elementary 64.3
River Bluff Middle 67.2
Sandhill Elementary 73.9
Stoughton High 76.4
C H Bird Elementary 57.9
Cardinal Heights Upper Middle 66.7
Creekside Elementary 67.8
Eastside Elementary 74.3
Horizon Elementary 78.5
Meadow View Elementary 67.2
Northside Elementary 56.6
Patrick Marsh Middle 59.5
Prairie Phoenix Academy AR
Prairie View Middle 64.5
Royal Oaks Elementary 76.4
Sun Prairie High 78.8
Token Springs Elementary 79.5
Westside Elementary 61.8
Badger Ridge Middle 57.5
Core Knowledge Charter School 78
Country View Elementary 66.3
Exploration Academy AR
Glacier Edge Elementary 79.1
New Century School 85.7
Savanna Oaks Middle 69.3
Stoner Prairie Elementary 66
Sugar Creek Elementary 63.7
Verona Area High 84.9
Verona Area International School 89.1
Arboretum Elementary 92.1
Waunakee Heritage Elementary 85.7
Waunakee High 80.3
Waunakee Intermediate 91.5
Waunakee Middle 74.3
Waunakee Prairie Elementary 87.2
Black Earth Elementary AR
Mazomanie Elementary 72.5
Wisconsin Heights High 82.9
Wisconsin Heights Middle 69.8
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Elizabeth Beyer is a digital producer for the Wisconsin State Journal. She joined the team in 2019 and was formerly a data, video and audio reporter at the La Crosse Tribune.

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