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Hillcrest Elementary at top of the class

By Ben Rodgers
Staff Writer

HOBART – Hillcrest Elementary School was recently awarded with a five-star rating from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Hillcrest, part of the Pulaski School District, received its annual report card mandated by the Legislature on Nov. 21.

In that document the school scored an 85.5, good enough for the highest rating a school can obtain, which means it significantly exceeds expectations.

“It means the school greatly exceeds state expectations in a couple of different areas,” said Kris Wells, principal. “We have student achievement, student growth, educational equity, and preparing students for educational milestones, which is also considered college and career readiness.”

For student achievement Hillcrest scored 81 out of 100, compared to the state average of 69.4.

The score comes from English/language arts and math scores.

In the student or school growth category those scores are measured based on the improvement of ELA and math scores. Hillcrest scored an 82.2 compared to the state average of 66.

“From a district perspective we focus on high quality staff,” said Bec Kurzynske, superintendent. “We hire the best, we provide high quality professional development, and we support our staff and students so they have the tools and resources needed to do great things in teaching and learning.”

That mantra holds true for the educational equity, or closing gaps portion of the report card.

This portion looks at scores of students who have disabilities, come from economically disadvantaged families or are a minority.

Hillcrest scored an 86.8 in this category compared to a 64.4 for other schools in the state.

Wells said the focus remains on all students, regardless of any other factors.

The key is to evaluate them on where there are, find out where they need to go, and then getting them there, Wells said.

The final category is on-track or postsecondary readiness. At the elementary level this means ensuring students are attending class and making sure not only that they learn to read, but that they read to learn.

“This is the first school in our district that has scored at that level so we’re really proud of Hillcrest and the work they do, not only on the report card, but this being the first indicator of the things they do at Hillcrest,” Kurzynske said.

This being just a snapshot of the work that happens in the classroom, Hillcrest staff will continue to strive for improvement.

That’s done by evaluating scores on tests required by the school, the district and the state, then evaluating that data.

“We analyze the data, and use it to make informed decisions regarding educational opportunities for students,” Wells said.

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