On November 14th, the Department of Public Instruction released state report cards for the 2022-2023 school year. These federally required report cards rate every district and publicly funded school on a 5-star scale. The report cards judge test scores, graduation rates, attendance, and other factors. They also adjust for student needs; schools serving more students in poverty or with special needs get more credit for their academic growth.
In short, if you want to compare districts or schools on a level playing field, this is the easiest way to do it!
What did we find? While fairly applied, the report cards are easy graders. Your child is more likely to go to a 5-star school in some regions than in others. Choice schools are thriving statewide, but especially in Milwaukee.
Now, here are IRG’s top takeaways from the 2023 state report cards.
THE REPORT CARDS ARE TOO LENIENT.
Overall, 420 districts and 2,110 schools were rated.
6% of districts were 5 stars. 11% of schools were 5 stars.
94% of districts were 3 stars or above. 82% of schools were 3 stars or above.
0% of districts, not 1, were 1 star. Only 4% of schools were 1 star.
We know that Wisconsin performs average nationally on standardized tests. We know that Milwaukee has the lowest performance for Black students nationally among big districts. We know that school attendance fell since the pandemic. Yet, very few districts or schools fail to meet expectations.
DPI has set those expectations too low.
NOT EVERY REGION OF WISCONSIN HAS TOP-NOTCH SCHOOLS.
The 10 highest-performing districts follow below.
The 10 highest-performing schools follow below.
Oshkosh: Accelerated Advanced Learning
Kimberly: Woodland Intermediate
Wauwatosa: Lincoln Elementary
Fox Point-Bayside: Stormonth Elementary
Whitefish Bay: Whitefish Bay High
Madison: Shorewood Hills Elementary
Green Bay: Da Vinci For Gifted Learners
Oconomowoc: Park Lawn Elementary
Whitefish Bay: Richards Elementary
As you can see, the highest-performing schools are not evenly distributed. The percentage of students in a school rated 5 stars are as follows.
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 1: 4%
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 2: 9%
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 3: 3%
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 4: 10%
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 5: 28%
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 6: 16%
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 7: 5%
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 8: 7%
CHOICE SCHOOLS HELP STUDENTS GROW.
While reading reforms and high-quality teachers matter, school choice is critical to getting more children an excellent education.
Only 9% of rated schools are charter or voucher, and 8% of the top 100 schools are choice.
Critics of school choice often say that choice schools kick out struggling students and keep high-achievers who would succeed in any school. However, the report cards specifically track student growth as a separate rating. Citizens can focus only on which schools did the most for their students, wherever those children started.
Despite only 9% of rated schools being charter or voucher, 13% of the 100 highest-growth schools are choice. These include schools like Guidance Islamic in South Milwaukee, Renaissance Lutheran in Racine, and Saint Roman Catholic in Milwaukee.
MILWAUKEE NEEDS THE CHOICE PROGRAM.
Believe it or not, some people are trying to close excellent choice schools.
This would be a disaster for cities like Beloit and Wausau, but it would be apocalyptic in Milwaukee. 17 of the top 20 Milwaukee schools are charter or voucher.
Saint Thomas Aquinas Academy
Nativity Jesuit Academy
Saint Roman Parish School
Mount Lebanon Lutheran School
Saint John’s Lutheran School
Saint Gregory the Great Parish School
Reagan College Preparatory High
Risen Savior Lutheran School
Saint Sebastian School
Garden Homes Lutheran School
Saint Augustine Preparatory Academy
Yeshiva Elementary School
Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic School
Saint Marcus Lutheran School
Catholic East Elementary
Mother of Good Counsel School
Northwest Lutheran School
We cannot let bumbling activists throw students out of high-flying schools and into schools that don’t work for them!
THESE RESULTS FAIL KIDS.
While every child may not be in a 5-star school, every child deserves one.