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Department of Public Instruction releases report cards

By Heather Graves

BROWN COUNTY – For the first time since the 2018-19 school year, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released its school and district report cards, after taking a one-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state accountability system includes data across four areas – achievement, growth, target group outcomes and on-track to graduation.

The results are then listed in the following accountability categories: significantly exceeds expectations; exceeds expectations; meets expectations; meets few expectations; and fails to meet expectations.

According to DPI’s website, the report cards are intended to provide information to families about their local schools to measure “important pieces of data that shed light on how a school or district is doing and where it can improve.”

“This information can help families talk with educators about their child’s school experience and engage in local activities to support school improvements,” the DPI said.

Of the six districts covered by The Press Times, all saw a dip in their numbers since the last report cards.

However, all met or went above expectations.

The De Pere School District scored highest with a rating of 78.2, or exceeds expectations, down from a rating of 82 from 2018-19.

Green Bay had the lowest ranking of covered districts with 59.2, down from 66.9.

DPI changed some of its methodology, as well as its scoring scales that determine if a district fell below, met, or exceeded expectations this year because of the pandemic.

Green Bay’s overall score of 59.5 “meets expectations,” but, would have been considered to “meet few expectations” in 2018-19.

According to DPI data, in Green Bay, 26 schools met or exceeded expectations, eight schools met few expectations and three schools – Franklin Middle School, Howe Elementary and Washington Middle School – failed to meet expectations.

Remaining schools scores include:

• Ashwaubenon – 76.2, down from 77.

• Howard-Suamico – 71.5, down from 73.8.

• Seymour – 60.9, down from 67.8.

• West De Pere – 75.5, down from 78.4.

More than just a score

Lori Blakeslee, communications director for the Green Bay School District, said school leadership recognizes the importance of the state report cards, but also acknowledges standardized test results weigh heavily in the scores, which doesn’t always accurately reflect the academic success students are experiencing.

“In order to better share with our community how the district is meeting its mission to prepare all students to be college, career and community ready, GBAPS is participating in a cohort with several Northeast Wisconsin school districts to redefine what it means for a student to be college and career ready,” Blakeslee said.

She said school leadership reviews the report card data, along with other data sets to develop its individual yearly success plan, which are available on all school webpages.

“Based on the data review, tactics are developed for each school to meet their goals,” Blakselee said. “The 2020-21 report cards will be reviewed with the understanding that they may not accurately reflect our students’ academic abilities, as last year many families opted their students out of standardized testing as a result of the pandemic.”

Shelly Thomas, director of Curriculum and Instruction for the De Pere School District, said DPI report card scores are just one data source the district uses to gain insight into a student’s progress and achievement.

“Looking at multiple data points paints a more comprehensive picture of each student’s learning,” Thomas said. “We also use standardized test data to evaluate curriculum and programming by looking at trends over time. One data point for one year doesn’t hold a tremendous amount of meaning, but when you compare the data over multiple years, you can use the trends to identify strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum. This data informs our district and school continuous improvement plans.”

Howard-Suamico Deputy Superintendent Mark Smith said “although many of the indicators on the state report card are valuable, our district holds a comprehensive view of the whole child, which requires us to consider multiple indicators of success.”

“As a learning organization, we value continuous improvement,” he said. “We utilize a School Improvement Plan process to guide our improvement. The accountability report cards contain many measures the district regularly monitors to improve outcomes for students. Our analysis of the state report cards is embedded within a continuous improvement model, specifically, each school is responsible for analyzing report card data and other measures as part of the school improvement process.”

In response to unfinished learning because of the pandemic, Smith said the district weighs multiple data points, including those within state report cards, as part of its continuous improvement process.

“Other measures include: social and emotional wellness data, HSSD Graduate Profile assessments and participation in co-curricular activities,” he said.

Seymour Director of Teaching and Learning Jenny Pierre said the district uses DPI report card data in a variety of ways.

“Annually, our administrators hold a data retreat to review the results,” Pierre said. “In the past few years, the DPI has revised the report card, so part of our annual data retreat is to understand the revisions. From there, our administrators will share with their leadership team and teaching staff to create school improvement goals based on the data.”

Jill Kieslich, director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Ashwaubenon School District said it’s important to note that State statute requires DPI to publish school and district accountability report cards each year.

“The report cards provide a snapshot to our community based on achievement, student growth and student engagement,” Kieslich said. “The information is based on last year’s performance, and the report card serves as a starting point to ask questions and to dig deeper. Our real time data is what is important to us, because we can make changes quickly. Looking at last year’s data helps us see the big picture. To impact students we need to be responsive to the data that we collect during the school year.”

She said even during the pandemic, students saw positive growth.

“Credit is due to our stakeholders – our teachers, administrators, students and families,” she said. “Our teachers and administrators spent countless hours in the planning  and organization of our virtual and in-person learning activities. Our students and families exhibited diligence and a commitment to learning as we navigated the various forms of learning during the pandemic.”

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