Wilson Elementary School has been named a Wisconsin Title I School of Recognition by the state Department of Public Instruction.
Qualifying schools are those that receive Title I federal aid based on a significant enrollment of students from low-income families, as determined by guidelines for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program.
Wilson was one of 131 schools statewide to be cited, and one of just six schools to earn a spot in the top category, "High-Achieving and High Progress Schools," according to a DPI statement.
Wilson's placement means that the school met all annual measurable objectives for achievement; had achievement gaps of less than 3 percentage points between student groups, or showed evidence of reducing gaps; and demonstrated high achievement at the schoolwide level.
In addition, the school fell within the top 10 percent of schools in reading improvement.
Factors for success
Wilson Principal Michael Huen said the teaching and support staff are a big part of why the school was recognized, as is the school's intervention program, which seeks to identify and provide help to students who are struggling in a subject area.
"We have a team of teachers as well as support staff, we have a teacher leader and a school psychologist, who work with myself in really trying to ... identify students who are in need. And then we'll set up opportunities to really pay close attention and monitor their learning," he said.
It's a collaborative effort to "really try and do what's best for each and every student," Huen said.
The school had used some Title I funding for a computer-based program called Compass Learning, which enables personalized learning, and Huen said teachers have been willing to work with students before, during and after school on subject matters they find challenging.
MAP, or Measure of Academic Progress scores, in-class tests, and Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination scores are among the multiple sources of data used to identify students who need extra help, he said.
One house, two schools
The Wilson building, at 1060 Glenview Ave., houses both Wilson Elementary School and the Wauwatosa STEM School, the district's first charter school, emphasizing science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The DPI recognition is for the elementary school. Huen is principal of both schools.
"Wilson's achievement has gone up significantly over the past two years, and that is the reason for the recognition," Superintendent Phil Ertl said in an email. "Their growth is being recognized, and their very high achievement. This bolsters the fact there are two great schools operating in the one building."
Ertl also praised the teaching staff, and noted that changes in the approach to teaching reading, science and social studies have played roles. He also attributed improvement to the Professional Learning Communities model the district employs, which brings teachers together to discuss teaching practices and share techniques.
While the methods and even the staffs of the STEM and Wilson schools are different, Huen said, "when you look at instruction, there's key components regardless of what specific curriculum, or the general approach. We're always trying to do what's best for kids. That drives it all."
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