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Only half of Unified schools meet expectations, new report cards show

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RACINE — The first-ever state-issued school report cards released Monday, Oct. 22 show Racine Unified has 16 schools that meet or exceed expectations and 16 schools that meet few expectations or fail to meet expectations.

The report cards and their expectation ratings replace the “adequate yearly progress” designations previously given to schools under the federal No Child Left Behind act. Wisconsin this summer received a waiver from elements of NCLB, which mandates schools progress annually toward having all students proficient in math and reading by 2014.

Wisconsin’s waiver includes more realistic proficiency goals and detailing schools’ progress in report cards to be released annually.

The new state report cards look at achievement gaps, students’ year-to-year improvement on state tests, and ACT college entrance exam scores and participation, in addition to the areas previously measured by “adequate yearly progress:” state test participation rates, students’ reading and math proficiency on those tests, and attendance or graduation rates.

All those factors combine on the new report cards through a weighted calculation that gives schools a score from 0 to 100, which then places the school into one of five categories ranging from “significantly exceeds expectations” to “fails to meet expectations.”

The scores of Unified schools range from Park High School’s 42.8, a fails to meet expectations score, to Jefferson Lighthouse Elementary School’s 78.2, an exceeds expectations score, data provided by Unified show.

The scores and rankings come with no sanctions, even for schools that fail to meet expectations, Unified officials said.

Big high schools do poorly

Unified’s three big high schools — Case, Horlick and Park — consistently missed adequate yearly progress and they are the three lowest performing Unified schools when it comes to the new report card scores. The comprehensive high schools pose a problem because of their size and because fewer state tests are administered in the older grades, leaving teachers with less data to analyze and base lesson plans on, Unified officials said.

But the district has a taskforce working on changing high school performance, said Jeff Weiss, Unified’s assistant superintendent of elementary education.

District officials are planning to have high schools implement more rigorous curriculums, use more culturally-relevant lessons and administer pre-ACT exams so teachers have more data, said Stephen Miller, Unified’s director of standards, assessment and accountability.

The additional testing has already been implemented in a pilot program at Park, Miller said.

Points lost for English learners

Points can be deducted from schools’ report card scores for low test participation, high absenteeism or high dropout rates among subgroups, Weiss said.

Unified saw that happen at several elementary schools that have large English language learner subgroups because many of those students were not given the state reading test on purpose, with state approval, Weiss said.

“The thought of the 8-year-old who just came to the U.S. six months ago and now has to take this big test in a language they’re unfamiliar with, that bothers me,” Weiss said. “It’s not being recognized that giving an English (reading) test to a student that doesn’t speak English is unfair.”

But that will be the case in Unified moving forward so schools avoid large point deductions on the report cards, Weiss said.

‘Low performers’ meet expectations

Fratt Elementary and Starbuck Middle schools meet expectations, according to the report cards. But they were both previously identified by the state as being within the lowest performing 10 percent of low-income population schools when it comes to the state test performance or graduation rates of student subgroups like economically disadvantaged students, racial/ethnic groups, English language learners and disabled students.

“Everybody wants to bottom-line schools: Is it a school in need of improvement or is it meeting expectations?” Weiss said. “I think this shows it’s more complex.”

Racine Unified school report card results

New school report cards released Monday by the state award public schools up to 100 points based on student achievement, attendance, graduation rates and test participation. Schools’ scores place them in one of five categories. Here’s where Unified schools stand.

Significantly exceeds expectations

No schools

Exceeds expectations

Jefferson Lighthouse

Walden Middle


Meets expectations


Walden High


Olympia Brown

North Park

Red Apple

West Ridge

Bull Fine Arts

Jerstad-Agerholm Elementary





Meets few expectations



Wind Point

Mitchell Middle


Julian Thomas

Jerstad-Agerholm Middle


Mitchell Elementary



Fails to meet expectations






SOURCE: Racine Unified.


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