Subscribe for 33¢ / day

The Wisconsin Dells School District meets expectations according to the recently released report card from the state’s Department of Public Instruction.

The district rating is up “slightly” from a year ago, Director of Curriculum and Instruction Brian Grove told the Events. The district has met expectations every year, he said.

The report cards issued by the DPI are for diverse districts in size, Superintendent Terry Slack told the Wisconsin Dells School Board. They range from tiny Washington Island to gargantuan Milwaukee Public Schools, he said. The district has “some challenges” it is up against, he said.

The overall score is similar to school districts in the surrounding area. The Dells district score was 66.6 in the meet expectations ranking. Scores for other districts in the area are as follows: Adams-Friendship District, 57.6, meets few expectations; Baraboo, 69.1, meets expectations; Mauston, 70.8, meets expectations; Portage Community Schools, 66.2, meets expectations; Sauk Prairie, 73.8, exceeds expectations; and Reedsburg, 74.9, exceeds expectations.

Tom McCarthy, spokesperson for the DPI, said the district report cards could be one point for parents to use to choose a school district for their children to attend. However, he said parents should use the score to “have an honest discussion” with administrators and teachers on how the scores are made.

The district scores are not an average of the schools in the district, said Grove told the school board at its meeting Nov. 27. The scores look at the district as one big school, he said.

The score is based on four areas: student achievement, school growth, on-track and postsecondary readiness. The scores are also weighted for poverty in the district and consider absenteeism and dropout rates. They are also broken out by ethnicity and race. For example, in the post-secondary readiness score, the district had a score of 94.4 percent score for all students but a score of 88.7 percent for Native American students.

Native American students had higher rates of absenteeism 19.4 percent and dropping out 12.8 percent than did white students – 3.9 percent and 1.2 percent. Those who were economically disadvantaged also had higher rates in those two areas – 7.4 percent and 4.1 percent. Hispanic/Latino students had a lower rate than whites in absenteeism, 2.9 percent, but a slightly higher rate in dropping out, 2.9 percent.

Slack commented at the school board meeting on the attendance rates in the district. He said the district rates were hurt when people take their children out of school for two weeks for vacations or “six weeks to go abroad.”

Each school in a district also receives a score. The scores are not to compare school to school but to show were a school is successful and where it needs improvement, Grove said.

Lake Delton Elementary received the highest score among the schools with an overall rate of 86.2 or significantly exceeds expectations. It has a high rate of “closing the gap” with underachieving students, Grove said.

Spring Hill School Elementary received a 47.8 score or fails to meet expectations. However. DPI marked that score as an “outlier” and said in its guide, “Because score fluctuations are larger this year, and more widespread than would be expected, a cautious approach to report card interpretation is needed. Larger than expected year-to-year score fluctuations are considered outliers…”

Spring Hill Middle School received a 77.7 score or exceeds expectations.

Neenah Creek Elementary received a 58.1 score or meets few expectations. Grove said Neenah Creek moved up some this year.

The high school received a 63.8 score or meets expectations. Grove said that the high school exceeded the state average for on-track and postsecondary readiness. The high school received a 90.8 score and the state score was 90.6. For student achievement in English and math, the high school received a 58.8 score and the state score is 60.2.

The information on the report card shows the district in K4-12 has 1,695 students. Of those students, 5.5 percent are Native Americans, 18.3 percent are Hispanic/Latino, 70.3 percent are white and 4 percent are two or more races. The report card also lists 11.7 percent of students as having disabilities, 53 percent as economically disadvantaged and 9 percent as having limited English proficiency.

For more information about how the scores are determined and breakdowns for each school visit The school district is also required to send a report card on the schools to parents in the district and “their educational options,” according to state law.