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Baraboo High School (copy)

Baraboo High School earned a two-star "meets few expectations" grade on its annual state report card. District leaders say the assessment indicates additional support must be given to groups of high school students who have disabilities, and who are economically disadvantaged.

The Baraboo School District is meeting state criteria for educating students, according to report cards released Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The state assessment shows Baraboo schools overall scored 69 out of 100 points for the 2016-2017 school year, earning a three-star rating and a grade of “meets expectations.” The score is up about two points from last year’s three-star grade of 66.8.

Several schools within the district also received individual report cards. Al Berhman, Gordon L. Willson and North Freedom Elementary schools earned overall grades of “exceeds expectations,” while East Elementary and Jack Young Middle schools received scores of “meets expectations.” Baraboo High School came in below with a two-star grade of “meets few expectations.”

“We had more schools fall into the exceeds expectations range than we did last year, and as a result of that achievement and growth that we’ve seen at those levels, we also saw an increase in our district’s report card score,” said Nicholas Karls, Baraboo School District director of teaching and learning.

“Concurrently the other part of it is we’re saddened to see the progress and success of Baraboo High School summed up in a rating of meets few expectations, just missing the meets expectations by roughly one point,” he added.

Districts and schools within the state receive a score from zero to 100 on the report cards based on student test scores in English language arts and mathematics, as well as student growth, closing gaps between student subgroups, and measures of readiness for graduation and post-secondary success.

Student subgroups are groups of 20 or more students who share similar characteristics, such as socioeconomic status, language abilities and physical and learning disabilities.

For the second year, the report cards used a five-star rating system. The stars corresponded to one of five categories: “fails to meet expectations,” “meets few expectations,” “meets expectations,” “exceeds expectations” and “significantly exceeds expectations.”

Karls said the report cards indicate district leaders and faculty must work to provide additional support to Baraboo High School students who have disabilities and students who are economically disadvantaged.

“When you dig into it and look at those two categories, we have an additional need to focus on increasing growth in those areas,” he said.

Karls added that several positive data points for the high school — like the amount of students enrolled in advanced placement courses and earning workforce certification — were not included in this year’s assessment. He said the numbers could become positive factors moving forward.

“Those things are going to be included on the report card next year,” he said. “They’ll be highlighted as additional information, but not weighted, and we expect that two years from now they will be weighted.”

The report cards underwent major changes beginning in the 2015-2016 school year as part of Wisconsin Act 55. The changes included variable weighting to address the impacts of poverty on student achievement, a new model for measuring student growth and a legislative requirement to drop the Badger Exam in favor of the Forward Exam.

The changes marked the third time standardized state testing was altered in three years.

The 2016-2017 report cards are comprised of multiple years of data, despite the different tests. The scores are derived from one year of the Badger and two years of the Forward exams for grades three through eight, and the ACT Plus Writing in grade 11. Karls said assessing data and changes over time will be easier once the information is derived from only the Forward and ACT exams.

Moving forward, Karls said district leaders will work with faculty and the board of education to develop an action plan to address the shortcomings and continue the successes highlighted in the state report cards.

“As a district our next steps will be to dive further into the data and develop an action plan with our staff,” he said. “We want to make sure that we have the voice of our teachers because they are on the front lines and are working with kids every day.”

Follow Jake Prinsen on Twitter @prinsenjake

Baraboo News Republic Reporter