January 27: School Report Card

Spotlight on Schools: School Report Card

Hello Black River Falls Community, this is Dr. Shelly Severson with the School District of Black River Falls here to share this week’s installment of our Spotlight on Schools! This week we are going to talk about the state accountability system for schools. The legislature demands that each public school in the state is issued an annual report to share with it’s community the progress of the district. To keep things simple, they call it a report card…now that’s a language that we all speak!

The state accountability system is based on testing that all public schools must do annually. At the elementary and middle school levels it is called the Wisconsin Forward Exam the high school now requires all students to take the ACT test. Many of you likely remember filling in the bubbles of your test booklet when you were in school, while there is still a bit of that, the bulk of the testing is now done on the computer. Here’s a brief outline of the report card:

Accountability scores and ratings are reported annually for each school, and then compiled together for one District Report Card.

When computing the score for a school or district there are four main areas:

  • Student Achievement measures the level of knowledge and skills among students in the school, compared to state and national standards. It includes a composite of reading and mathematics performance by all students. This is an area that we need to see significant growth. We have groups of high achieving students that consistently perform well, however, when we average all students together we are below the state averages in both literacy and math. This is at the heart of all that we do and we are pleased to be seeing slow progress.
  • Student Growth describes how much student knowledge of reading and mathematics in the school changes from year to year. It uses a point system that gives positive credit for students progressing toward higher performance levels, and negative credit for students declining below proficiency. This area focuses not on attainment, but the pace of improvement in student performance, no matter where students begin. All improvement is treated as a positive. This is an area where Black River Falls continues to shine. We are above the state average in many grade levels for the rate of growth of our students.
  • Closing Gaps shows how the performance of student groups experiencing gaps in achievement and graduation is improving in the school. It recognizes the importance of having all students improve, while focusing on the need to close gaps by lifting lower-performing groups. Specific race/ethnicity groups, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and English language learners, are compared against similar groups throughout the state. We are incredibly proud that the rate of closing the achievement gaps in our school district is above the state average across the board. While our overall achievement is still lower than we find acceptable, we feel very positive that we are moving in the right direction. With our growth and closing of the gaps being above the state average we feel confident we will see the overall achievement needle continue to move in the right direction.
  • On-Track to Graduation and Postsecondary Readiness indicates the success of students in the school in achieving educational milestones that predict postsecondary success. It includes the graduation rate for schools that graduate students, and the attendance rate for other schools. It also includes measures of third-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics achievement, and ACT participation and performance, as applicable to the school. We are slightly below the state average in this area as our achievement scores bring us down. Our attendance and graduation rate are above the state averages.

In addition to the scores in these four areas, they also use S tudent Engagement Indicators :

  1. Test Participation (minimum 95%) 
  2. Absenteeism (below 13%) – Related to attendance, the school’s absenteeism rate is the percentage of students whose inpidual attendance rate is 84% and below.
  3. Dropout Rates (below 6%)

Based on all of this information, schools are given a color and a ranking. The School District of Black River Falls has increased its overall score from previous years, we received the “Meets Expectations” delineation, along with 144 other Districts throughout the state of Wisconsin. Our complete report card is posted on the District Website if you’d like to read more of the details. You can also go to the Department of Public Instruction website to see our Student Accountability Report Card and compare it to other areas in the state. Again, we are affirmed that we are on the right path!

Link to State Accountability Report Cards

As always, if you have any questions about this, or anything else within the District, don’t hesitate to contact me. Also, I have another quote for you from American Education Week. This one is from Tony Boerger, a High School Social Studies Teacher. He says: I like that the high school offers so many elective courses. We are a smaller school that offers a larger school’s curriculum choices.

Thank you so much for your support of the School District of Black River Falls! Go Tigers!


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