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Area schools struggle on state report cards



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October 01, 2013 | 03:20 PM
WALWORTH — According to district report cards created by the Department of Public Instruction, Walworth Elementary School’s overall accountability score decreased by 1.8 points.

The district’s accountability score is calculated from four areas — student achievement in reading and math, student growth in reading and math, closing gaps between disadvantaged students and the regular population and post-secondary readiness.

Walworth’s report card shows an increase in student achievement by 0.7 points and postsecondary readiness by 1.2 points. The report card shows decreases in student growth, 6 points, and closing gaps, 1.8 points.

At the Sept. 30 school board meeting, School Board President Kelly Freeman said she and the board hadn’t seen the district report card.

District Administrator Pam Knorr said the board hasn’t been in session since the scores were released. Discussion of the scores was not on the agenda for the Sept. 30 meeting.

When asked if the administration had a reaction to the scores, Knorr said she didn’t have anything to say.

Principal Pam Larson said she has seen the scores and is going to meet with school faculty.

“We’re looking to improve and continue to improve especially (in) reading and math,” Larson said.

“It’s been shared with our leadership team, and we’ll continue to look for ways to improve.”

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Knorr said the school’s plan to raise the district’s accountability score was to “continue to focus.”

“We’ve just started meetings with our leadership team,” Larson said. “We’ll be meeting with the teams at the various grade levels. From there, we’ll be putting together a plan. Initially, we’re starting to look at the data, and we’ll go from there. (Concrete plans) will be forthcoming.”

Knorr said parents of Walworth students will be able to find the report card on the school website, but the information will not be sent home to parents. District and statewide data is available online at http://reportcards.dpi.wi.gov/.

This summer, the school board approved a monthly half day for students to allow teachers to have more in-service time. These half days add up to seven less hours of class time for students, though the school still reaches the mandated hours of attendance.

Larson said the half days should help student achievement.

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“We’re providing professional development at that time as well,” she said. “We’re hoping to see some positive changes, but change does take time. We’re hoping that we’ll see immediate results. The reality is that it may take more than one school year (to see positive change).”

Larson said the district is starting a new English/language arts series that she hopes will lead to improved scores in reading.

Tony Evers, state superintendent of public instruction, said the report cards are a starting point.

“As we add new measures for student achievement in the coming years, Wisconsin will continue to improve its school report cards,” Evers said in a press release Sept. 17. “And yet, these report cards cannot provide a full picture of the successes and challenges in each school ... The report cards are intended to be a door to community engagement.”

Walworth elementary school’s enrollment increased by nearly 6.5 percent over the past year, and its poverty level increased nearly 2 percent.

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A school’s poverty level is measured by the percentage of the student body eligible for the free or reduced lunch program, which is set at 130 percent of the federal poverty level.

Big Foot Area comparison

Walworth Elementary is one of four feeder schools that send students to Big Foot High School.

Walworth’s 1.8 point decrease was less than Reek Elementary’s 3.1 decrease and Sharon Elementary’s 4.4 decrease. Fontana Elementary was the only feeder school that improved its accountability score. Big Foot High School’s accountability score decreased by 3.5 points.

Outside of the scores, the five schools are similar in all categories. All schools saw increases in economically disadvantaged students, from a 2 percent increase at Big Foot to a 24 percent increase at Fontana.

All schools, except Sharon, also saw increased student enrollment. Walworth had 35 more students than the previous year. Sharon had six fewer students.

Big Foot’s student enrollment stayed the same over the two years.

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