DPI accountability report says Northern Ozaukee ‘exceeds expectations,’ compares well with neighbors
As Northern Ozaukee School Supt. Dave Karrels reviewed the results of the Department of Public Instruction’s latest accountability “report card,” he cautioned School Board members not to get caught up in the raw numbers.
“The report cards are intended to help all schools and districts utilize data on specific measures to target improvement efforts to ensure students are ready for the next educational step — including the next grade level, graduation, college and careers,” Karrels said in his report on the latest DPI data.
That doesn’t mean the district has nothing to take pride in while considering those numbers, which gauge student achievement and growth in language arts and math.
The 722 students in the district’s brick-and-mortar schools attained a composite score of 77.7 for 2015-16, which the DPI describes as being within the range of “exceeds expectations.”
All three of the district’s schools fell into that score category — Ozaukee Elementary School had an overall score of 79.6; Ozaukee Middle School, 76.3; and Ozaukee High School, 76.5.
Overall, the district tallied a student achievement score of 74.4, compared to the state average of 67.5, and an even more impressive student growth score of 90.6, compared to the state average of 66.0.
The DPI did not compile accountability report cards for districts last year.
The numbers were not as rosy for Wisconsin Virtual Learning, the online charter school sponsored by the district for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
That program had an overall score of 56.0, which the DPI characterizes as “meets few expectations.”
Because the virtual program has less than 50% of its students from the district, that score is tallied separately from Northern Ozaukee’s overall score.
Officials explained that virtual schools often perform at a lower level, because the program appeals to students who have learning disabilities or who do not perform well in traditional classroom settings.
Several virtual programs around the state earned even lower scores than the composite score of the 426 students enrolled in WVL.
Still, Karrels tried to keep the focus on the positive side.
“Since the DPI began releasing report cards in 2011-12, our most recent accountability scores represent the highest combined score for our three schools, as well has the highest district score we have ever received,” he said.
“The improved accountability scores are a credit to our teachers, staff and supportive parents who are so dedicated to helping our students learn and develop at a high level.”
Despite Karrels’ warning to avoid cross-district comparisons, School Board member Tom Hoffmann said it is important to use the data to measure how the district is performing compared to neighboring districts, especially in the age of open enrollment.
“In addition to our scores, we have to be aware of how other districts are doing. That is what people are going to look at,” Hoffmann said.
NOSD’s overall score was better than two of its neighboring districts. According to the DPI, the 6,851 students in the West Bend schools had a cumulative score of 72.4, and the 830 students in the Random Lake schools had a composite score of 69.9.
Two other nearby Big East Conference districts had overall scores higher than Northern Ozaukee — with Oostburg scoring 81.2 and Cedar Grove-Belgium scoring 83.1.
The larger, more affluent districts immediately to the south also scored higher, although that difference grew the closer the district is to the Milwaukee County line. The DPI noted that the Port Washington-Saukville schools had an overall score of 79.7; Grafton, 80.7; and Mequon-Thiensville, 86.5.
The M-T and Cedar Grove-Belgium scores met the DPI’s criteria for “significantly exceeds expectations.”
Returning the focus on the scores as a barometer of educational progress in the district, Karrels urged board members to look at the data as a tool.
“While it is important to take a moment to celebrate the progress being made, we will also be using this information as another data point to improve as a district,” he said.