Overall, it's good report card for West Allis-West Milwaukee schools

Jefferson excels while Central struggles in second year state's reviews

Oct. 1, 2013

West Allis — Eleven out of the 16 schools in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District exceeded expectations on the recently published school report cards issued by the state's Department of Public Instruction for the 2012-13 school year.

One school, Jefferson Elementary School, significantly exceeded expectations, the highest ranking given, while, on the opposite end of the spectrum, West Allis Central High School met, few of the state's expectations. The remaining three met expectations.

This is the second year the DPI has published report cards based on student scores on statewide testing in reading and math and on a host of other factors.

Overall, said Johnna Noll, director of curriculum and instruction Noll, "we're really proud of our schools. They did a fabulous job."

Stellar improvements

This was the first year the district had a school that significantly exceeded expectations. Jefferson earned an accountability score of 84.3, surpassing the mark of 83 needed to significantly exceed expectations.

Jefferson also excelled in its closing the gap score, Noll said. That measurement shows how well the school helps students in various subgroups keep up academically. The DPI looks at subgroups such as racial groups or students with disabilities for this report card score.

Jefferson also experience the biggest improvement in achievement of all 16 schools in reading and math.

Another stellar performance was turned in by Pershing Elementary School, which went from meeting few expectations in 2011-12 to exceeding expectations last year.

"Pershing did a fantastic job," Noll said.

Pershing faces a special challenge because it has so many children just learning English. A major reason for its scores improving was that the school focused last year on teaching words, especially math words, that children were likely to encounter in the testing, Noll said. Those words included "product," "equation," and "equals."

In fact, achievement went up in 14 of the 16 schools last year compared with the year before and only slipped 1 or 2 points in the remaining two.

Noll attributed the improvement down to several factors. One was the districtwide shift to align with the new Common Core standards to which the state is moving actually taking hold better. The focus in writing for example is now on persuasive writing and deeper thinking. In math, it's on real world applications, she said.

In addition, teachers are becoming more comfortable teaching the Common Core aligned curriculum, she said.

Also, the way the report cards evaluate student data provides a different lens for looking individual students' needs, Noll said. And with the report cards, how every student is doing makes a difference, she said.

Some slippage

Both Nathan Hale High School and Horace Mann Elementary slipped from exceeding expectations the first year in overall scores to meeting expectations last year. Hale went down nearly a point and a half from 73.8 the first year to 72.4, just below the 73 point threshold for exceeding expectations last year.

"They were right there at the cutoff," Noll said, when they slipped half a point below the mark. The difference is small but coming at the cutoff was unfortunate, she said.

"We're talking half a point out of 100," she said.

Horace Mann was coming off a fantastic year of growth the first year, Noll said. While achievement didn't drop last year, growth was less last year and the school's overall score dropped it into the "meets expectations" category, she said.

Central-ized concerns

Central, on the other hand, seemingly lagged behind, meeting few state expectations. But Central is getting a bad rap on its report card, Noll said.

The state deducted five points from Central's score because of excessive absenteeism. While Central actually had an acceptable absentee rate last year, there is a reporting lag statewide using information for the previous year, which hurt Central's score, Noll said.

Although last year's strenuous efforts to keep kids in school didn't show up in the report card this year, they will next year, she said, and Central will be in the meets expectations category.

Both Central and Nathan Hale High School significantly exceed or almost significantly exceed expectations when it comes to keeping students on track for graduating and preparing them for post-secondary education, the report cards show.

Central's on-track score of 82.6 is just below the 83 needed for significantly exceeds expectations, and Hale's score of 87.5 puts it comfortably into that category.

Accountability indexAchievementClosing gapsOn-Track
DistrictwideMeets expectations71.166.171.685.1
High SchoolsCentralMeets few expectations60.367.582.6
Nathan Hale Meets expectations 72.468.66687.5
Intermediate SchoolsFrank Lloyd WrightExceeds expectations736979.689.2
LincolnExceeds expectations77.962.696.386.3
West MilwaukeeMeets expectations65.855.772.983.3
K-5FranklinExceeds expectations73.862.683.986.2
HooverExceeds expectations81.279.289.889.9
Horace MannMeets expectations66.868.953.385.1
IrvingExceeds expectations80.975.789.389
JeffersonSignificantly exceeds expectations84.373.396.687.9
LongfellowExceeds expectations75.972.684.286.4
MadisonExceeds expectations75.770.27788.1
MitchellExceeds expectations81.573.486.688.3
PershingExceeds expectations77.954.890.685.5
WalkerExceeds expectations77.377.571.489.6
WilsonExceeds expectations7465.972.286
Significantly exceeds expectations, 83 to 100; exceeds expectations, at least 73; meets expectations, at least 63; meets few expectations, at least 53

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