Erin Richards, education reporter for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel elaborated on what the report held for schools in and around Wisconsin. You can read her article HERE.
The vast majority of Wisconsin's public schools and school districts once again met or exceeded state expectations last year for performance, according to annual report cards released Tuesday.
The 2013-'14 report cards suggest that just about everyone is doing OK, except for the troubled Milwaukee Public Schools and a handful of other high-poverty districts that did not meet the state's expectations.Hmmm...
The Milwaukee Public Schools are 'troubled'? Good to know that's my employer and what students read. I will be the first to admit that the Milwaukee Public Schools is in need of assistance in meeting the needs of all students. But I take issue with the stance that the district itself is "troubled." We as a district serve the students with the highest needs and often times most challenging in the state.
While we don't do it well all the time, all things considered, we work small miracles every day.
In general, the report cards continue to reflect that schools in well-funded, stable communities post better scores than those in low-income, unstable communities.
Perhaps the biggest change from last year's release was State Superintendent Tony Evers telling parents that the report cards still don't measure a lot of the things they might find pretty important, like a school's lineup of art, music and tech ed offerings, or extra-curricular activities.So, in other words, it really doesn't truly "measure" a school? Which once again leads to a whole other question about how can anyone truly measure a school?
"I want to caution that this is only one picture," Evers said in a YouTube message.Get help to improve. There's a novel idea. Instead of punishing schools that are in high poverty areas and have disproportionate populations of students who are English-language learners and special needs, why not use the report cards as a way of measuring what schools need additional help.
He added that the report cards' true purpose is to identify high-performing schools so their successful practices can be shared, and low-performing schools so they can get help to improve.
"It's not for punishment," he said.
Once again, I defer to a far superior writer and mind than mine, my colleague Jay Bullock's column where he proposed the novel idea of actually giving supports to schools that need them.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 88% of schools and 98% of districts met or exceeded expectations, based on the state's five-category rating scale.
A total of 424 districts and 2,113 individual public schools received report cards.
Among the highlights:
· Nine districts and 116 schools earned the top rating: significantly exceeds expectations. The districts were all in higher-income communities around the Milwaukee area:
Swallow, Mequon-Thiensville, North Lake, Whitefish Bay, Elmbrook, Fox Point J2, Cedarburg, Waterford Union High School and Hamilton.So what you're saying is that higher income communities are usually more stable, have families where jobs are stable, and people with college educations impart their knowledge on to their children? Oh, and what you're also saying is that when the story came out this summer that transportation aid was impacting higher income districts like Fox Point than places in northern Wisconsin, that's a load of BS?
· On the other end of the scale, 66 schools and one district — MPS — failed to meet expectations.Yep... That's us. MPS as a whole naturally fails to meet expectations, even though one of the major things that dings MPS schools is student attendance. Schools try everything they can to have their students come, but ultimately, the school can only do so much with the resources they have.
· Another 159 schools and seven districts "met few expectations." Those seven districts were both large and small, and with higher-than-average poverty: Beloit, Montello, Racine Unified, Suring Public, Menominee Indian, Bowler and Bayfield.Look at those rural schools. Welcome to yet another reason why Mary Burke has been traveling the northwoods and why the Governor's voucher message is not resonating very well. Students who ride a bus to Suring don't have parents who can drive them to a private school with a voucher.
· New this year are alternate ratings for schools that have very small enrollment, only serve high-risk students or are too new to have three years of data to round out a report card. These schools were rated as making satisfactory progress (177 schools and one district) or needing improvement (19 schools).This is one of the more common-sense and smart things that is happening with the report cards.
· In MPS specifically, 30 schools met or exceeded expectations, and 104 met few or failed to meet expectations. Among the 27 schools in Milwaukee that received alternate ratings, 12 were deemed satisfactory and 15 were rated as needing improvement.Out of almost 160 schools, those numbers are despairing. However, the number of schools means little when compared to the number of students served by those schools that are in each category. I could go on, and on, and on, and on, about how MPS has a higher percentage of special education students, students with little to no English language skills, and emotional-behavioral trauma that is immeasurable.
3rd year of report cards
The Wisconsin report cards are now in their third year for schools and second year for districts. They took the place of the unpopular accountability system under the No Child Left Behind law, which judged schools almost entirely on what percentage of students were proficient in reading and math each year.
The report cards give each school and district a score of 0-100 based on four areas: student achievement in reading and math, academic growth, closing achievement gaps and postsecondary readiness. The schools and districts are then placed in one of five ratings categories.
A handful of schools in Milwaukee with 90% or more of their students coming from low-income homes beat the odds to meet state expectations on report cards. They included schools such as Vieau School, Greenfield Bilingual, Franklin Elementary and Jackson Elementary in MPS, and independent charter schools Milwaukee Academy of Science and DLH Academy.I'm glad some schools have "beat the odds." What are they doing and how can we replicate it? If you say "we have selective admittance" and if you tell me that their special education population is below the average for the region, you don't have a solution.
MPS spokesman Tony Tagliavia acknowledged that too many schools in the district were not experiencing enough academic growth, and said the report cards underscore the need for urgency.
A district initiative is underway to offer more staff training and some extra money to its lowest-performing schools.
Oh, and how about classrooms that aren't exploding at 40 with 15 students who have an IEP? That would be awesome... So, you know, we can actually do differentiated instruction and provide it to students individually.
DPI spokesman John Johnson said as a result of the report cards, the state is trying harder to spotlight schools that are making growth or closing achievement gaps, rather than heaping awards on high-achieving schools.
Johnson said they're also experimenting with a program that pairs up principals from different schools to work on leadership development.Sigh... And yet none of this matters should Gov. Walker be reelected. Public education come January will take it up the rear, and just watch for how these report cards will be used to punitively punish schools that serve those with the highest needs.