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Bay Earns High Grades on First School Report Card

Three of the district's schools exceeded the state's performance expectations, and Cumberland School significantly exceeded the state's expectations.

The Whitefish Bay School District received high marks in a series of school report cards released Monday by the Department of Public Instruction. 

The report cards were issued to all Wisconsin public schools for the first time Monday as one component of the state's school accountability system aimed at raising academic expectations. The accountability system allowed Wisconsin to earn a waiver from meeting certain 2014 requirements of No Child Left Behind.

Schools received scores using a 0 to 100 scale, corresponding with five categories starting at "fails to meet expectations" and topping out with "significantly exceeds expectations."

In Whitefish Bay, all four of the district's schools ranked either as "significantly exceeds expectations" or "exceeds expectations."

Cumberland School received the highest score in the district with a grade of 84.5. Richards School received a 79.3, Whitefish Bay Middle School received a 78.5 and Whitefish Bay High School received a 82.8.

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The cut off between "significantly exceeds expectations" and "exceeds expectations" is 82.9.

Superintendent Mary Gavigan said the state's focus on accountability and higher standards is a welcome challenge for Whitefish Bay schools, which have gained notoriety through high ACT scores and other indicators.

"We’ve long embraced higher expectations and rigorous curriculum," Gavigan said. "Our commitment in our district focus plan is to supporting each student to yet higher levels of student achievement, and we are committed to continued school improvement."

Gavigan said the district will use the information from the school report cards to further improve the district in the future.

The report cards grade schools in these areas:

  • Student achievement in reading and mathematics on state assessments.
  • Student growth measured by year-to-year improvements in achievement.
  • Closing gaps in performance between specific student groups.
  • Progress to graduation/post secondary readiness using reliable predictors of high school graduation and post-secondary success.

In a news release, Superintendent Tony Evers said the preliminary school report cards are "a starting point" and will change over time.

Gavigan noted there are factors of a child's education — such as fine arts — that are not measured by the school report cards.

"While assessments on the school report cards are important tools, I think it’s important to remember there is more to a child’s education and a child’s school than any single score,” Gavigan said.

WFB taxpayer October 22, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Is 79.3 good enough? The new report card is simply a statement of achievement. What’s not stated in the article is what are the achievement goals for Whitefish Bay’s School District. Let’s look back a few years to see what our historical goals have been: 2003-04 … % of students proficient or advanced in reading 61% and in mathematics 37%. Jump forward to 2009-10 … % of students proficient or advanced in reading 74% and in mathematics 58%. Now WFBs actual performance has always been substantially higher than the historical goals. Why were the goals so low? Because WFB’s Administrators and School Board adopted the same goals that the Wis Dept of Public Instruction defined for all schools in Wis. In other words we had the same goals as the worst school in the state. FYI for 2013-14 the goals were to be bumped up to 100 % of students proficient or advanced in both reading and mathematics … but Wisconsin has opted out of meeting the 2014 requirements of No Child Left Behind. What’s needed at WFB is a clear and simple statement of our goals. Is a score of 79.3 our goal … after all it “exceeds expectations” … at least the state’s expectations? The School Board should establish goals for WFB and share them with the administration, the teaching staff and the parents. Absent a clear measureable goal, how will we know if we’re on the right track?
aaaaaa October 23, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Right track? Look at ACT scores, look at what colleges kids get into....Our schools are at the top - and this is a public school system that includes many kids from the city as well as special needs children.
Scott October 23, 2012 at 01:06 PM
For those who didn't dig into the detals, WFB student achievement was top of the charts, each school scoring around ~91 to 92. Their pos-secondary preparedness was also in the top percentiles, scoring ~94. The overall rating skews towards schools that have large groups of "disatvantaged" students who are brought back to the mean. If you look at the numbers, WFB has an extremely low populations of disadvantaged students and their "close the gap" scores were horrible. Thus, WFB's overall scores are lower than you would expect. So if you're significantly behind or somehow classified as disadvantaged, these schools might not be the best fit. But for students ready to attend a top notch district with extremely high expectations, WFB looks like the right place to be.
Bruce Kestelman October 23, 2012 at 03:07 PM
I think District Administrator Mary Gavigan has it right when she points at the district Focus Plan as opposed to the report card grades or test scores as the goals for the district. In addition, she says, "the district will use the information from the school report cards to further improve the district in the future." While the tests and report cards are important measures of success, they are not complete and don't necessarily align with all of the key performance indicators that may be most important to the Whitefish Bay School District stakeholders. The fine arts are mentioned as one missing piece. Other missing pieces might be the extent to which the students of the district have higher levels of emotional intelligence and an inclusive focus when it comes to issues of diversity, which are critical to success in the 21st century. Also, the state test scores tend to focus on lower level thinking skills vs. the ability to think critically and conceptually. It is much harder to assess for higher level thinking and as a result tests often don't reflect the value of the educational experience. As a community we should be proud of these initial results, yet as Dr. Gavigan suggests use the information to further improve.
jamie kowalski October 23, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Concerned WFB Voters 2006 As a very long time resident, I continue to be proud of the WFB School District. However,at every School Board Meeting I attend and in every exchange I have with Board Members and/or the Administration, I hear how fantastic the faculty is (how much they deserve their pay and benefits) and how lucky we are to have them. I also hear how well the schools are performing.What am I missing. From all those platitudes, I (and all WFB residents/taxpayers) would have (or should have) thought the performance scores based on any factors, would have been totally off the charts, not just very good. What's up with that?

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