Annual report cards say Grafton exceeds expectations overall but middle school’s achievement level continues to trail others
The Grafton School District has again received high marks for academic performance in annual report cards issued by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
According to the evaluations, Grafton exceeded expectations for districtwide academic achievement during the 2013-14 school year. The district received a composite score of 76.9 on a scale of 0 to 100, up from 73.5 for the 2012-13 year.
The DPI scores are calculated using a number of factors, including student achievement test scores and test score improvement. Corresponding rankings that range from fails to meet expectations to significantly exceeds expectations are given to each district and its schools.
The grades for Grafton’s five public schools include meets expectations for John Long Middle School (70.0), exceeds expectations for Kennedy Elementary School (77.2), Grafton High School (79.0) and Grafton Elementary School (82.4) and significantly exceeds expectations for Woodview Elementary School (85.0).
The scores for Woodview, John Long and the high school increased from 2012-13, while Grafton Elementary and Kennedy schools showed slight decreases but retained in the same expectations ranking.
Grafton Supt. Mel Lightner said he was pleased with the 2013-14 report cards but tempered his enthusiasm by noting that the scores indicate there is room for improvement.
“We’re happy but not satisfied,” Lightner said. “One of the things we realize is that we can always do better.”
The report cards, Lightner said, are not the only way to gauge school districts’ quality of education but do offer a valuable measuring stick.
In an effort to raise academic standards, Grafton has introduced a new math curriculum at the high school and a new science curriculum at the elementary and middle schools, he noted.
“But it’s hard to measure the impact in one year,” Lightner said.
Although John Long continues to trail other Grafton schools in the DPI evaluations, changes are being made at the middle school to raise achievement levels. Besides the new curriculum, the school has a new principal and longer instructional periods in its daily schedule, Lightner said.
In addition, the district is exploring ways to upgrade the English and language arts curriculum at the middle school, he noted.
Other changes made in the district are designed to have long-term benefits that may not show up on achievement scores in a year or two, according to Lightner.
“We increased the length of summer school from four to six weeks. That may not affect the report cards, but it does get our students more engaged in learning activities,” he said.
Among other changes designed to enhance the quality of education, Lightner said, are the establishment of a 4-year-old kindergarten program and new incentives for staff members, such as a summer teaching summit and learning-based compensation.
“We want to be the finest school district in the state, so we never stop planning,” Lightner said.
Grafton had the fourth-highest composite score among Ozaukee County area school districts on the DPI’s 2013-14 report cards.
Mequon-Thiensville topped the list at 86.1, followed by Cedarburg (83.6), Port Washington-Saukville (77.4), Grafton, Cedar Grove-Belgium (75.8) and Northern Ozaukee (67.8).
Based on rankings, Mequon-Thiensville and Cedarburg significantly exceed expectations, Port-Saukville and Cedar Grove-Belgium exceed expectations, and Northern Ozaukee meets expectations.