The Wauwatosa STEM School had the state's second-highest score in the accountability report cards issued this week by the state Department of Public Instruction. Two other Tosa schools — Wilson Elementary and the Montessori School — also placed within the top 10. No other school district had more than one school in that group, which represents the top one-half of 1 percent of the schools rated.
And, while last year one local school fell below "exceeds expectations," the second-highest category in the rankings, this year they all made it.
In addition to STEM, Wilson and the Montessori School, Lincoln Elementary and McKinley Elementary were rated among the top schools in the "significantly exceeds expectations" category.
The STEM school was the top-ranked school statewide last year, in the first year of the report card program.
The DPI created the program last year to provide data on student achievement, student growth, school progress toward closing gaps among groups in math and reading, and to measure the school's ability to keep students on track and in post-secondary readiness for college or careers.
Three "student engagement" indicators are also reported. They are test participation rate, absenteeism rate and dropout rate.
For the STEM school, for example, its student achievement rating, combining reading and math, was 98.9 out of 100. In student growth in reading and math, it scored 89.5. Because the school is just a couple years old, no measurable figure was available for the closing gaps category. But in on-track and post-secondary readiness, it scored 96.4. Test participation, absenteeism and dropout rate were all within the benchmarks.
The important things
"What we look for is growth and improvement," Superintendent Phil Ertl said.
Ertl said none of the schools had a deduction on the student engagement measures, and that math stood out as particularly strong.
The district as a whole was ranked 28th among hundreds of districts based on the performance of its schools, falling into the category "exceeds expectations."
Ertl said, "If you look at the districts ahead of us, none of them are as large or diverse as we are, and I think that speaks volumes about how well we're doing."
Nearby districts Mequon, Whitefish Bay and Elmbrook were higher in the district rankings. But Tosa was one of the three districts with five schools rated "significantly exceeds expectations." The other two were Middleton-Cross Plains and Madison.
Ertl credited changes to the curriculum and teacher collaboration as factors in the district's performance. He said the district has improved alignment of curriculum and expectations across the schools, and its focus on reading and science also contributed.
The top five Tosa schools all had scores of 84.6 or higher. They were followed by Washington Elementary, at 82.3; East High School, 80.3; Roosevelt Elementary, 79.5; Longfellow Middle School, 77.9; Whitman Middle School, 77.5; Jefferson Elementary, 77.1; Madison Elementary, 75.6; Underwood Elementary, 75.0; West High School, 74.4; and Eisenhower Elementary, 74.0.
■ Full report cards for the Tosa schools can be accessed on the Department of Public Instruction website, DPI.wi.gov.
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