Lisowski: New Report Card Standards Allow MPS to Escape “Failing” List, Racine Unified Added

This column by Ola Lisowski has been re-posted in part from the MacIver Institute:

Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction released new report cards for the state’s public schools, and some of the results have the public puzzled. The big news of the release was, as most expected, that Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) fell off the list of failing school districts while five others took its place.

Racine Unified School District (RUSD) was categorized as failing to meet expectations with a score of 48.1 of 100. Eleven RUSD schools – 34.4 percent of the district – failed to meet expectations. That’s slightly higher than Milwaukee’s 27.6 percent of failing schools. However, at just shy of 10,000 students, the number of kids enrolled in failing schools at RUSD is much smaller than at MPS, where nearly 25,000 students attend failing schools. That should speak volumes to the size and scope of the issues these districts face.

The new report cards feature five key priority areas: student achievement, student growth, closing gaps, and on-track and postsecondary readiness. RUSD students outscored MPS students in three of these four metrics by an average margin of just over five out of 100 points. In the student growth category, however, RUSD students scored only a 26.1 compared to MPS’ 60.3.

RUSD also didn’t receive any deductions in the “student engagement indicators” category, which penalizes districts for low test participation, high absenteeism, and high dropout rates. MPS was penalized five points for an absentee rate of 21.1 percent, higher than DPI’s 13 percent or lower goal.

As such, the numbers reveal that it was mainly a lack of year-over-year growth that put RUSD in the failing category while MPS skated by.

Whole thing here.

About the writer: Chris Rochester has worked in communications and finance for a state Senate and congressional campaign, consulted on numerous Assembly and local races, and has held leadership roles in his local Republican Party. He's communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.