By Sara Tischauser
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recently released the state report cards for schools covering the 2017-18 school year.
The Seymour Community School District (SCSD) received a 69.6 percent overall rating giving them a meets expectations mark.
“You are always hoping that it is higher than that,” said Peter Kempen, SCSD director of business services. “Everyone wants to be ‘significantly exceeds expectations.’ That’s the goal I think of every district in the state. We are where we are and that allows us to know where we need to go forward.”
Laurie Asher, SCSD superintendent, said the state report cards can help make comparisons.
“I think I value the overall score as a school district that the score will help our families understand where we rank or where we are in comparison to other districts that’s what the purpose of the overall score is,” Asher said.
However, looking at the overall score is not what those in the school district find most helpful.
“For us as a school district, it’s the other pieces of the report card that really help us determine where we are and where we need to go,” Asher said.
One of the areas the report card shows Seymour could make improvements on is the closing the gaps category.
The closing the gaps includes English language arts achievement gaps, mathematics achievement gaps and graduation rate gaps.
Asher explained that what the closing gaps data show is how subcategories of students are comparing to all students.
“So closing the gaps is a comparison of different groups of kids [subcategories of students] and how they are progressing in their learning compared to others,” Asher said. “There’s a gap in the subcategories-total kids achieve at one level and subgroup is achieving at a different level. We want to close gap of how all kids in all subcategories are achieving, close difference between them.”
Closing this gap between students is something the district has already been working on.
“The closing the gaps area is where we are focusing our efforts and other data in our district shows us that too,” said Jenny Pierre, SCSD director of curriculum and instruction.
Asher said because the graduation rate gaps data for the district is so different than other data, the district is reviewing this information. She said the data is puzzling because it doesn’t line up with the rest of the data. Asher said the district is reviewing this to see if the difference in the graduation rate gap is because of how the district is reporting the information and she said the district will have to review this data more.
In the areas of mathematics and English language arts achievement gaps, Asher said the school has shown improvements in these areas over the last three years. Pierre said they will continue to work on these areas to close the gaps even more.
Also, Asher said when comparing the overall results from each school in the SCSD the overall grades are not always comparable. She said each school’s grade is calculated differently, so it is not a true comparison from school to school.
While the overall school ratings may be different between the schools, the school has worked very hard to make sure all students receive the same standard of education regardless what school building the student goes to.
“It’s the same curriculum the same delivery, from a district perspective it’s all very similar,” Kempen said about the education at each of the schools.
Pierre agreed that making the schools the same in what is taught is something very important to the district.
“We’ve worked very hard as a district to have a universal curriculum and teaching practices,” Pierre said. “No matter what first grade classroom, they [student] will have that universal experience. We use the same resources, the same curriculum, the same teaching practices.”
The report cards will help the school district look at the big picture and continue to improve.
“This [the state report card] is really to help the district look at their trends and continue to make sure we are meeting student needs,” said Asher. “As far as really knowing what our students know and how they are learning the information doesn’t help us with that. That is what our teachers are doing every day. The assessments our teachers do every day and how they apply to each individual student is what drives student learning. This just really helps the district look at the big trends and ask further questions and dig deeper to help us improve.”