DPI report card-1.tif

This graphic compares overall DPI accountability scores among local school districts.

The Ripon Area School District (RASD) earned four out of five stars on state report cards from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) issued for the 2020-21 school year, which means DPI determined the district “exceeds expectations” for educating students.

However, the report card also illustrates that RASD’s economically disadvantaged students and students learning English as a second language are trailing behind their peers in terms of academic achievement.

Although Ripon received a four-star rating, as it did in each of the last five years the report cards had been issued, RASD’s overall score fell from 78.5 points in 2018-19 to 70 in 2020-21.

The report card reflects the last three years of student performance data, but — because no state assessments were given the 2019-10 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic — the current report card is primarily based on performance from the 2020-21 school year.

“During the height of the pandemic, this structure of learning was greatly challenged due to modifications to in-person learning and the safety protocols that were put in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19,” RASD Curriculum Director Chrissy Damm said.

She noted the results show strengths in each school and help the district determine areas of focus with the goal of ensuring all students graduate from high school, ready for their next step.

“The overall assessment data and the district’s four-star rating continue to guide their efforts towards continuous improvement,” Damm said. “While RASD has proven to be among the top-performing districts in the state, administration and staff are committed to rising above this level of excellence and continue to work toward meeting district goals for improvement.”

The report cards also fulfill state accountability reporting requirements, and focus on four priority areas, which include: Achievement, growth, target group outcomes and on-track to graduation.

Achievement measures proficiency in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics on state assessments; growth measures year-to-year progress in ELA and math achievement; target group outcomes measures outcomes for students with the lowest test scores; and on-track to graduation measures predictors of how successfully students are progressing toward graduation.

The priority area scores are aggregated into an overall accountability score from 0 to 100, which is not a “percent correct” measurement.

Based on the accountability score, a district will receive one of five ratings from “Fails to Meet Expectations” to “Significantly Exceeds Expectations,” which is accompanied by a corresponding one to five stars.

Each of Ripon’s schools either met, exceeded or significantly exceeded expectations, according to DPI.

DPI report card-2.tif

This graphic compares student achievement in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics in three different school years. 2020 was not included as there were no state assessments that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Murray Park received a five-star rating, which means it falls in the “significantly exceeds expectations” category.

District officials attribute the score to the high percentage of points earned for the growth, 95.4, which shows Murray Park students are progressing faster than students with similar achievement.

Quest Charter School continued to have a high score in achievement, 94.8, but saw a reduction in the school’s overall exceeds expectations ranking due to the growth category.

“There is less room for schools with high student achievement to see an increase in school growth based on the weighted formulas DPI has put in place,” Damm said. “When compared to other districts with similar achievement, the growth of Quest students lagged behind.”

Meanwhile, Ripon High School, Ripon Middle School and Catalyst Charter Middle School each received a three-star rating, placing them in the “meets expectations” category.

All three schools saw a slight drop in achievement scores, but a significant drop in growth scores, which officials say is “consistent district-wide.”

Odyssey Academy of Virtual Learning, Barlow Park Elementary School and Journey Charter School received “satisfactory” ratings due to being either too new or serving students who are younger than the earliest grade tested.

As a result, those schools are required to submit evidence of achievement and growth using local assessments.

Damm noted that satisfactory is the highest level of recognition these schools were able to obtain.

When looking at demographic subgroups, scores for English Learners (EL) and students who are disadvantaged economically lagged behind in both ELA and math.

For example, only 3.6% of EL students and 6.3% of economically disadvantaged learners were advanced in ELA compared to 19.2% of white students. In math, only 1.8% of EL students and 3.7% of economically disadvantaged were advanced, compared to 11.4% of white students.

DPI report card-3.tif

This graphic illustrates the Ripon Area School District’s scores in four priority areas.

District leaders say attendance, communication and technology were factors impacting EL and economically disadvantaged students during the pandemic.

RASD has a team of an interventionist and EL teachers working to support its students to ensure economically disadvantaged and EL students receive additional support to close achievement gaps, according to Damm.

She noted DPI report cards are an important tool that enables RASD to compare itself to other districts across the state.

“Their limitation is that they only measure student achievements and growth based on the required computerized state assessment,” Damm said. “To gain a full picture of our students’ progress and growth, the district triangulates our data by also looking at local assessments and continuing to review our curriculum materials and instructional practices.”

This year, she added that RASD is conducting an early literacy audit of elementary schools as part of the quality-improvement process, and it recently adopted a new math curriculum that focuses on helping students understand mathematical concepts.

“Individual student math kits have been purchased at our elementary buildings to ensure that students are able to develop a conceptual understanding of math and teachers have become very creative in organizing groups to ensure opportunities for student collaboration,” Damm said.

Superintendent Mary Whitrock believes the DPI report card results show that RASD students receive a “high-quality instruction” from each school.

“The Ripon School Board, administrators and staff have committed to provide high quality instruction to all students in the district utilizing a continuous quality-improvement model,” Whitrock said. “The district’s mission, values and goals all focus on raising achievement to ensure all students are ready for the world beyond our doors.”

Written By

Joe Schulz served as the reporter of the Green Laker in 2019 and 2020, before being hired as a reporter for the Commonwealth in October 2020. He is from Oshkosh and graduated from UW-Oshkosh in December with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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