The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released it yearly school report card scores Tuesday, concluding that the Milton School District “meets expectations.”

The Milton schools’ overall score of 67.4, as determined by DPI, exceeded that of the larger neighboring Janesville School District’s score of 56.8.

That score meant the Janesville School District met “few expectations” last year when many school districts struggled through a pandemic to provide students with academic instruction.

The accountability rating categories range from “significantly exceeds expectations” (83-100); “exceeds expectations” (70-82.9); “meets expectations” (58-69.9); “meets few expectations” (48-57.9) and “fails to meet expectations” (47.9 and below).

The annual school report cards are based on student performance on the Forward and ACT exams during the 2020-21 school year. Because COVID-19 severely disrupted schooling through much of last year, state officials said the scores aren’t easily compared to those of previous years.

Report card ratings are based four areas: student achievement, growth, target group outcomes and on-track to graduation.

The Milton School District ranked in the top 30% of school districts in Wisconsin.

Several Milton-area schools scored even higher: East Elementary (74.2), Northside Intermediate (74.3) and West Elementary (80.9) all exceeded expectations. Both Milton Middle School (59.7) and Milton High School (65.9) met expectations.

Harmony Elementary significantly exceeded expectations with a score of 87.2. Consolidated Elementary was found to have made satisfactory progress. That school was given an alternate grading because it had a third-grade class size below DPI’s minimum of 20 students, according to a Milton School District release.

“We are proud of the work our students and staff have done during the pandemic,” said Ryan Ruggles, director of curriculum and instruction for the Milton School District. “The newly updated report card format has confirmed for us some celebrations as well as areas for growth.”

Ruggles said he will present an in-depth review of the results at Milton Board of Education meeting Dec. 13.

Declines in other area schools

Schools with comparable enrollment numbers to Janesville—such as Beloit, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Sheboygan and Wausau—all saw a decline in overall scores compared to the 2018-19 school year.

The Janesville School District’s overall score for 2018-2019 was 64.2, nearly eight points higher than 2020-21. Beloit School District’s overall score fell from 59.7 to 46.9 while La Crosse’s 70.9 dropped to 63.6.

“We know the challenges our students and educators faced while dealing with the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, whether it was students in quarantine, attending school virtually or every other day for our high school students,” Janesville School District Superintendent Steve Pophal said in a news release.

“Those challenges, as well as others, impacted student achievement across the state as measured on the state’s report cards,” he said.

Pophal added, “While the report cards provide us with some information about our students and schools, they are not the only method by which we determine success nor identify areas of improvement.”

While the district’s overall score put it in the “meets few expectations” category, a majority of individual Janesville schools did better. The nine local schools determined to have “met expectations” were Adams Elementary (64.2), Jackson Elementary (67.9), Madison Elementary (61.7), Monroe Elementary (69.9), Van Buren Elementary (64.3), Washington Elementary (66.7), Edison Middle (61.8), Franklin Middle (61.8) and ARISE Virtual Academy (64.7)

Six schools whose scores suggested they “met few expectations” including Lincoln Elementary (48.9), Wilson Elementary (55.0), Marshall Middle (54.4), Craig High (53.2), Parker High (53.8) and Rock River Charter (50.0).

Three Janesville schools exceeded expectations: Harrison Elementary (72.7), Kennedy Elementary (71.7) and TAGOS Leadership Academy (70.8).

Roosevelt Elementary was the only school to significantly exceed expectations with a score of 83.1. Jefferson Elementary failed to meet expectations with an overall score of 44.3.

Rock University High School and the Youth Services Center were both given alternative ratings. Both schools were said to have made satisfactory progress.

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