ALGOMA - Parents with kids in public school districts around the state will soon see new report cards.
Unlike the quarterly report card each student usually receives, this one will rate how each school is doing.
"This is going to be the official Wisconsin way for awhile," said Jeff Dickert, Agency Administrator for CESA 7.
Parents will soon find out how their child's place of learning ranks in the state.
Later this month, the state's Department of Public Instruction will begin issuing school report cards .
"It's part of accountability, and making sure that everybody is recognizing all students, and that all students are achieving," said Nick Cochart, Algoma's High School and Middle School Principal.
The report cards use multiple measures of student learning, provide guidance on how a school is performing, and where it can improve.
The goal is to help all public schools get a better idea of how well they help children learn, grow, and graduate ready for college and career.
"Our staff, our district is looking at it as an opportunity to talk with our community, to talk with our staff members, even our students to figure out how we can get better and I think over time that is what the report cards will do," Cochart said.
Here's how it works:
Each school earns a "score" from 0 to 100.
The score is based on the school's performance in up to four areas.
They include student achievement, student growth, closing gaps and on track to graduation.
Based on the score, the school is placed into one of five categories - from "Significantly Exceeds Expectations" to "Fails to Meet Expectations."
The score, in combination with other school data, will help school staff determine which areas they do well in, and where improvement is needed.
"So they use these metrics and then they come up with a score that will indicate, and put you in a level, and within that level, then the expectation is over the next three to four years you're going to move up to the next level or increase that score," Dickert said.
This new school assessment also means students will be held to a higher level of performance on state tests.
Students will still take the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations.
However the test will be scored to a higher standard so fewer students will score proficient or advanced on the state tests than in the past.
"So in most cases you're going to see most schools in the 30 to 40 percent of advanced proficient when prior they were 80 to 90 percent advanced proficient. So that's going to be a huge change not only for the schools, but for the parents," said Dickert.
There is concern that the numbers are going to look lower.
However, that doesn't mean that the kids aren't performing as well as they have in the past.
It just means it's a different scale which reflect the higher expectations for students and schools.
"There's a new bar to jump over, and so that's the comparison. This new bar means that my son would really have to increase his testability, his learning, his skills, and then be able to show he can jump over that higher bar to be advanced or proficient. So that's a huge change," Dickert said.
Algoma school officials say adjusting to higher expectations for student performance is not easy and will take some time.
"When you break down that achievement with sub-categories, you might very well be doing really awesome with the mainstream kids, but you might have students with a low socio-economic status that don't do particularly well, and the blow is that that's out there now. So how do you handle that, how do you change your practices, how do you get your staff members to recognize that we're all in this together, and it's a sign of, really, an opportunity for improvement," Cochart said.
District administrators have received a preview of the report card. At Algoma, Cochart says there were no surprises.
"So positive indications, but still some work to be done?" FOX 11 asked.
"Oh absolutely. That, I always think there's work to be done but I don't think we're at the bottom of the barrel," Cochart said.
The release for the Preliminary School Report Cards is Monday, October 22nd. They will come out once a year.
In the future, the school report cards will be web-based, and will allow readers to click on features for additional data.
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