2,114 public schools and 251 private choice schools received report cards. 77 percent of Wisconsin schools received three of five stars or more, signifying that they significantly exceeded expectations, exceeded expectations, or met expectations. 94 percent of districts fared the same. The majority of districts that received report cards were graded on a five-star scale, from “fails to meet expectations,” or one star, to “significantly exceeds expectations,” or five stars.
Most Wisconsin students continue to underperform. The number of failing schools is up, even though the number of failing districts is down to zero. The statewide achievement score is just 66 out of a possible 100 points, with Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) achieving the lowest district score at 56 points. No district is officially declared to be failing, but almost 50,000 students attend failing schools – bigger than the city of Sheboygan and just under the size of La Crosse.
A deeper dive suggests that official markers of success may not reflect reality. The 117 failing schools enroll 49,831 students. Within MPS, the state’s biggest district, four schools out of 138 received the highest rating of significantly exceeding expectations. Over 1,550 students attend those schools. On the other side of the spectrum, just under 25,000 students attend the 45 schools in MPS which received failing grades.
Something seems odd about the data. I’ll do some more digging, but there are some relatively wild swings in the same districts from year to year. That’s a strange statistical anomaly that needs some explanation.