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Local school districts received high marks on their latest report cards from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), earning overall scores that "exceeded expectations."

Franklin and Greendale school districts "significantly exceeded expectations" in recent report cards released by the DPI while Whitnall and Oak Creek-Franklin joint school district "exceeded expectations."

Statewide comparisons 

Statewide, 54 school districts received a grade in the category of "significantly exceeds expectations" and 187 received a grade in the category of "exceeds expectations."

In these report cards, schools are evaluated on a number of different factors and then given a final "grade." Some of these factors include test scores, growth achievement, graduation rates, and being "on track" with the goal of being college or career ready by high school graduation.

Schools and districts with a score of 83-100 are noted as "significantly exceeds expectations," while schools with a score of 73-82.9 are rated as "exceeds expectations." A "Meets expectations" rating is 63-72.9. All three categories are considered acceptable.

Schools and districts with a score between 53-62.9 are ranked as "meeting few expectations" and anything below a 53 is ranked "fails to meet expectations."

Specifically, Greendale received a 85.5, Franklin received a grade of 83.4,  Whitnall received a 79, and Oak Creek-Franklin received a 77.8.

Franklin Public Schools Director of Teaching and Learning Nick Kohn sees these high scores as encouraging for the district.

"The district report card score represents a tremendous achievement for our district, and reflects a collective commitment to learning by our staff, students, school board, and community," Kohn said.

Areas for growth

"We are extremely proud of our score across the board, especially in the areas of achievement and student growth," Kohn added. "That said, we know we need to keep getting better. We work every day to increase achievement and close gaps across all grade levels."

For all the school districts in the area, the categories of "student growth" and "closing gaps" were some of the lowest-scoring categories, though some districts are improving and received their highest grade yet for that category.

"Student growth" is intended to measure how rapidly students are gaining knowledge, and "closing gaps" measures how much the district is closing statewide achievement gaps between student groups, such as how students from low income families compare with their peers.

Test participation 

For a few schools in Whitnall and Oak Creek—Edgerton Elementary, Whitnall High School, and Oak Creek High School—test participation ended up lowering individual school's overall scores, which may have had an impact on the district's score overall.

Failing to meet certain test participation standards automatically results in a five-point deduction to the overall score.

This deduction kept Edgerton Elementary from achieving a "significantly exceeds expectations" score.

"That's disheartening," said Anthony Brazouski, Executive Director of Academic Achievement for Whitnall. "The challenge there is that it's not something that a kid did or didn't do. It's just a few kids didn't take a test and suddenly the report card gets docked five points."

Since districts do not have direct control over students opting out of standardized tests, the negative effect of low test participation can penalize districts for something that is out of their hands, he explained.

However, Whitnall will continue to reassess what adjustments need to be made based on additional data in order to give students the best learning experience, such as using teacher teams to better assess where students are in their learning process.

"By doing those things throughout the year, our hope is that we will affect these school report card scores without focusing on those scores themselves," Brazouski said.

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