Even after changing the criteria, thus obliterating any longitudinal value of the report cards, schools show decline
In the first report cards released since before the pandemic to assess Wisconsin schools, the state’s districts collectively backslid, with fewer schools meeting or exceeding expectations for test scores, attendance and equity.
About 72% of Wisconsin schools met or exceeded expectations in the 2020-’21 school year, according to the report cards released Tuesday. That’s down from about 87% in the 2018-’19 school year. Report cards were not done in 2020 because of the pandemic.
The report cards, produced by the state Department of Public Instruction, are intended as a tool for families and the public to compare schools and track their progress.
The scores were partly based on student progress on standardized tests for math and language arts: data that was released earlier this year and showed significant declines statewide and especially in Milwaukee.
The report card scores give extra weight to the improvement of certain groups of students, including those who had lower test scores in the past and those who face additional challenges based on race, ethnicity, income, disability and learning English. This year, DPI put more emphasis on students who previously scored lower, and less emphasis on the demographic groups.
The report cards also include absenteeism and graduation rates. A previous five-point penalty for failing to meet attendance goals was removed this year.
To hide the overall decline in performance, the DPI granted additional weight if a favored group of kids improved (still not good, but improved) and eliminated metrics that brought down scores.
Even with the cover, it’s pretty clear that Wisconsin’s government schools are in a crisis of quality despite record spending on them. Every year that we allow this to continue is another kid who will be punished for the rest of their lives because of a terrible education.
But, by all means… let’s fill classroom time with SEL and CRT instead of math, economics, finance, literature, history, civics, science, etc.