Over 96 percent of Wisconsin school districts met or exceeded state expectations in 2017-18, according to school and district report cards released by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). In addition, nearly 84 percent of individual public schools met or exceeded state expectations. Both figures reflect an improvement over the previous year (2016-17).Despite the overall improvements in school and district scores, however, a rise in student absenteeism in many districts across the state is concerning. Students can’t learn the things we want them to if they are not in school.
Absenteeism affects report card scores because schools and districts receive deductions to their overall report card score when absentee rates exceed 13 percent and dropout rates exceed 6 percent. This year, more schools and districts than ever before received deductions on this year’s report cards because of their high rates of absent students.
Report card ratings range from a highest category of five stars, denoting schools and districts that significantly exceed state expectations, to one star, denoting those that fail to meet state expectations. No districts failed to meet expectations for 2017-18.
The following chart shows the distribution of school districts across these categories:
Source: Department of Public Instruction
Report card scores are calculated in four priority areas: student achievement, school growth, closing performance gaps between subgroups of students, and measures of postsecondary readiness.* As described by the DPI, report cards provide a snapshot of performance across the four priority areas and can be used to target improvement efforts.
*Among the measures of postsecondary readiness are graduation and attendance rates, third-grade English language arts achievement, and eighth-grade mathematics achievement.
Due to a directive included in the 2017-19 state budget, this year districts are also collecting data for the district and each high school in the district on student participation in dual enrollment classes, youth apprenticeship programs, Advanced Placement (AP) coursework, data on students’ acquisition of industry recognized credentials through a school’s career and technical education program and students’ community service hours.
It is worth noting that while the DPI is directed as part of the state accountability system to produce report cards for every publicly funded school and district in the state, 159 of the 281 private schools did not yet generate enough student data in 2017-18 for the DPI to calculate a report card score for those schools.