Other area school districts receive passing grades from state, although NOSD hurt by online school’s performance
The Port Washington-Saukville and Grafton school districts are among four school systems in Ozaukee County that exceeded state expectations for academic performance during the 2012-13 school year, according to annual report cards released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction last week.
The Port-Saukville District achieved a composite score of 77.6, which was lower than only the Mequon-Thiensville and Cedarburg school districts in the county. The Mequon-Thiensville District significantly exceeded expectations with a score of 86.4, the highest for a K-12 district in the state. The Cedarburg district received a score of 82.4, the third highest among K-12 districts in the Milwaukee metropolitan area.
The Grafton School District received a score of 73.5, the fourth highest among school systems in the county.
The Cedar Grove-Belgium School District, which achieved a score of 72.2, and Northern Ozaukee School District in Fredonia, which received a 68.9, both met state expectations.
The report cards measure school performance using a number of factors, including student achievement test scores and test score improvement, and grades districts and schools on a scale of 0 to 100. A corresponding ranking ranging from fails to meet expectations to significantly exceeds expectations is given to each district and school.
About 95% of the 423 public school districts in Wisconsin, and 88% of the 1,910 schools in the state, met or exceeded expectations.
The district’s composite score was a surprise to administrators in the Northern Ozaukee School District, which had the lowest score in the county because of its online school.
While its middle and high schools exceeded expectations and its elementary school met expectations, the Wisconsin Virtual Learning Academy met few expectation with a score of 61.
The Wisconsin Virtual Learning Academy is an independent entity that operates under the auspices of the Northern Ozaukee School District, which is responsible for its academic performance.
Supt. Blake Peuse said the virtual school, which educates students throughout the country through online classes, received a 10-point deduction on its report card because a significant number of parents opted not to have their children take the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam.
The school district also received a deduction on its report card because of the virtual school’s poor participation in the state’s standardized testing program, he said.
“I would say we have a great relationship with WVL, and when the scores came out, we had very frank discussions about what those scores meant not only to WVL but to NOSD,” Peuse said. “We want to be comparable to school districts around us, and we are, but we ended up taking this hit because of an abnormality.”
Had the virtual school met the state testing threshold, it would have achieved a report score of 71 and the district would have achieved a 73.3, which would have placed it in the exceeds expectations category, Peuse said.
Although federal law requires students take a state standardized test to measure academic achievement, Wisconsin was granted a waiver that allows parents in the state to excuse their children from the test.
“We’re not sounding an alarm, but we’re definitely going to work to put procedures in place and communicate to WVL parents and students the value of and the need to take this exam,” Peuse said.
In the Port Washington-Saukville School District, administrators are pleased that all five schools exceeded expectations.
Port Washington High School received a score of 81.5, while Thomas Jefferson Middle School earned a 74.
Dunwiddie and Lincoln elementary schools earned scores of 74.4 and Saukville Elementary School scored 73.8.
Supt. Michael Weber said although there are still a “few bugs” in the state report card system, it has proven to be a valuable indicator of student and school performance, far more so than the previous system mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Wisconsin received a waiver that allowed it to drop that system and adopt its own measure of academic achievement.
“The report card is an effective tool that helps us achieve our ultimate goal, which is to prepare students to be successful adults in whatever field they choose,” Weber said.
Administrators don’t find much value in comparing the district report card to neighboring school systems, Weber said, but he did note that Port Washington-Saukville schools are in good company.
“Mequon-Thiensville and Cedarburg have long had a reputation as being top schools in the state, and Port Washington-Saukville schools are right up there with them,” he said.