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School Report Cards Released for the 2020-21 School Year

By John Forester | November 17, 2021

From The Wheeler Report…

The Department of Public Instruction released the public and choice school and school district report cards for the 2020-21 school year today. The report is released with a cautionary statement, “Both federal and state law require DPI to annually release accountability reports, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these report requirements were suspended for the 2019-20 school year. Because of ongoing pandemic impacts, the U.S. Department of Education again waived federal Every Student Succeeds Act accountability requirements for 2020-21 school year data. However, the Wisconsin State Legislature did not grant another suspension. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DPI urges using caution when interpreting scores and ratings.”

According to the DPI release, 2,101 public schools, 376 choice schools and 421 school districts received report cards for 2020-21. However, 199 public schools and 240 choice schools did not have enough available data to receive scored report cards. The results showed:

Report card scores are calculated based on four priority areas:

Each of these areas is given a score of 0 to 100, then those scores are combined using a weighting scheme which produced a weighted average Overall Score. The weighting for the achievement and Growth varies depending on the percent of economically disadvantaged (ECD) students in the schools. In most instances, the weighting for Target Group Outcomes and On-Track have equal weight (25%0, but they can vary if there is no Targe Group Outcomes score. The resulting final overall score, the rating, and stars are what are then reported on the front page of the report card.

New to the report cards this year is the Target Group Outcomes, which replaced the Closing Gaps priority area. According to DPI, the Closing Gaps priority area was designed to focus on closing statewide achievement gaps for students from traditionally marginalized populations. However, “Over the last few years, some issues with this priority area became clear. Scores for small schools could see large fluctuations year-to-year, with score swings largely influenced by changes in student population, rather than changes in student performance. Additionally, The Office of Educational Accountability (OEA) heard from school and district staff that while gap closure is an important focus the calculations were overly complex, making it difficult to convey a clear data story to the public.” The new category – Target Group Outcomes addresses both of those issues; a DPI paper says it does the following:

Course and program data are reported by schools and districts, this is the first time DPI included the data on report cards. The schools are required to provide the following information:

DPI Release.

2020-21 Report Card Guide.

2020-21 Report Card At-a-Glance

What’s New for the 2020-21 School and District Report Cards?

Accountability Resources.

Report Cards.


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