By Linda Titel
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recently released the state report cards for schools covering the 2017-18 school year.
The Shiocton School District received an overall score of 76.4 which exceeds expectations.
Superintendent Nichole Schweitzer said “It’s quite in keeping with our previous scores in the last couple of years. What we need to remember is that this is one snapshot. Our high school is judged and rated based on one assessment, and that’s the ACT’s at 11th grade. Every child has to take [the ACT test] regardless of the students interest in attending a four year college or not. There are two year universities, heading into the Military, or heading into the workforce where the ACT is not a requirement. Remember that every child is taking the ACT test whether it’s something that’s necessary for their post secondary plans. The student may be very well set, I think of a [post graduate] welder that is already working at a local business in the Valley, she will be very successful in her post secondary endeavors using the technical college and the ACT exam will not impact whether she is successful or not.”
Schweitzer said she always cautions folks because this is one measure, the ACT scores of Shiocton’s entire high school 11th graders. Never in education do they look at results of one assessment and make a determination or a generalized statement that has such significant impact as the report card does.
She said, “While I understand there needs to be a means of assessing the school, a value added to the students academic growth, I think it is important that we understand that value added not be judged solely on one assessment.
“I say that for the elementary school as well even though their score exceeds expectations. It’s great we want them to exceed expectations, we want that excellent in more than the Forward exam, we want to exceed expectations when we administer the Fountas and Pinnell Literacy Bench mark. We want to see them exceed expectations when we administrate the Star assessment then we have the triangulation of data, three data points that can give us a more well rounded picture of the student.
“I would advocate that the report card needs to do that exact same for our schools.
“There needs to be the triangulation of data that shows the more well rounded picture of the value we are adding to these children lives academically, but also looking at assisting them with their interests and passions.”
Schweitzer always caution people regardless of what that score is.
Schweitzer said, “We could be in the significantly exceeds expectations and I would be telling you the same thing, that is a great score, we are very proud of that, but that is only one score. Now we need to see if we are scoring like that on at least two more assessments, using that triangulation of data.
“The elementary/middle school are scored by the Forward exam for all grades three through eighth, they don’t just pinpoint it to one grade. The four forward exams include English, math, science and social studies. It covers an entire grade range. It’s a better understanding of how kids have grown and preformed in the different grade levels.”
Schweitzer said she is not completely clear why Shiocton has N/A’s throughout their report card, they do have a meeting set up with a consultant to help them look at the high school and elementary scores more in depth for the new year to better understand why they have N/A’s while other schools have scores in that area.
She said, “You always want to see that the students are succeeding, and often times that is measured by an assessment like the ACT, our high school staff have been incredible proponents of trying to help students better prepare for the ACT test, we are in our second year of very targeted and purposeful ACT prep program. It’s very structured, every Wednesday the students are practicing some aspect of that ACT. We annualized the ACT scores in relation to the duration of the test and the scores as well as the scores on the very last section of the test. We have found in a few of our assessments, we believe there were some test fatigue, because it seemed as we compared scores to previous tests, the students scored better on the first sections of the test than the last section.”
They have worked very aggressively not only on the academics part of the test but also on test taking strategies and helping the students on stamina for the ACT’s.
They put the students through practice ACT’s just like the real one required, trying to give them as much familiarities, and stamina on the test as possible.
Schweitzer said, “The practice prepares the students for what type of questions might be asked. Understanding, some will be simple recall but the majority of it will be to analyze, synthesize, transfer and then explain. So helping them become familiar with the different type of questions that will be presented and then working towards test fatigue issues that we are concerned about.”
Schweitzer said, “One thing we are constantly working on in our high school is the writing portion of the ACTs. In the past years we have not scored as positively as I believe the students have the skills to achieve. We have brought in a bit of a change to the English language arts department working on, across the high school level, a writing nonnegotiable, looking at punctuation and grammar as much as paragraph structure and paragraph content and what we feel is the level of acceptable writing, not only in English language arts but also in other subjects.”
They put together what they call Shiocton writing nonnegotiable which is in it’s second year of implementation and they have seen some progress towards the students writing skills.
Schweitzer said, “Even looking at our Elementary score it’s not where we want to be yet, it’s not about resting on a laurel because we are exceeding expectations so everything is good, it’s about understanding what we are doing well so it can be continued and where we want to continue to grow as educators and as students.
Lastly Schweitzer said, “I want to compliment everyone of our staff members from kindergarten up to 12th grade, because everybody really does own, if you will, a child’s achievement. There isn’t anyone in this school that says, that’s not my child to worry about, everybody truly owns the children achievements and that can’t be measured in a report card.”