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Wauwatosa School District Exceeds Expectations on State Report Card

November 12, 2019 


Wauwatosa School District earned four out of five stars on State Report Cards from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) for the 2018-2019 school year with an overall accountability score of 79.7 out of 100.


Based on the star rating, Wauwatosa School District exceeds expectations related to the state’s accountability standards in educating students. Report cards are issued based on four priority areas: Student Achievement in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics, Student Growth in ELA and Mathematics, Closing Gaps between student populations, and measures of readiness for graduation and postsecondary success.


Wauwatosa School District Highlights:

  • 13 of 15 schools either exceed or significantly exceed state expectations related to the School Report Cards.
  • Wauwatosa STEM, McKinley Elementary, Lincoln Elementary, Wauwatosa Montessori, and Roosevelt Elementary all earned the rating of “Significantly Exceeds State Expectations”.
  • Wauwatosa has one of the smallest graduation gaps in the state between students who are Black or African American and students who are white.
  • The percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in ELA and math continues to exceed the statewide averages.
  • Wauwatosa graduation rates continue to significantly exceed the state average.

While data from State Report Cards do not provide a complete assessment of student achievement, the information is an important tool the Wauwatosa School District utilizes in developing improvement plans for each school.


"Our scores on the report cards show us where our improvement is needed, and also helps us assess how our plans for improvement at each school are working as we strive toward closing achievement gaps. Progress in these areas is not achieved overnight, rather, it requires a long-range commitment and persistence.   Our great teachers have proven they are dedicated to that work, ensuring all students are successful,” said Superintendent Phil Ertl. “As a district, we have a strategic focus on equity because ultimately, when we focus on equity, we believe we will make strides in achievement."


Understanding the Data

It is important to note, however, that while school and district report cards provide information to the community, they do not represent a full picture of the work happening at a school. Report cards are a snapshot of the work.


The Department of Public Instruction avoids ranking overall accountability scores of districts throughout the state, for a number of reasons. The biggest reason is that schools differ so much in composition, and that’s reflected in the weighting of priority areas into overall scores – both in what data the schools have available (which priority areas have scores) and in what weighting the school has for achievement and growth. DPI includes a note on the bottom of the report cards that says they should not automatically be directly compared, because of those differences.


The report card ratings are different than rankings, but even schools within the same rating category can differ from one another.  Anyone interested in comparing report cards should consider grade bands – meaning comparing schools/districts that serve the same grades of students i.e. K-12, K-8, K-5, etc. - which priority areas the schools have, and the weighting of those priority areas.


New for 2018-2019

The accountability report cards included ACT Aspire data for the first time this year.  The ACT Aspire assessment is administered to students in the 9th and 10th grades each spring.  The inclusion of Aspire assessment data for students in 9th and 10th grade changed the calculation of the high school report cards in several ways:

  • Inclusion of Aspire data allowed DPI to calculate Growth Scores for high schools for the first time.  Growth scores are calculated for students in grades 4 through 11.
  • The addition of Growth Scores made high schools eligible for variable weighting, which adjusts the weight of Achievement and Growth scores based upon the percentage of students in the school who are economically disadvantaged.  Priority area weights are displayed on the first page of the report card.
  • The availability of 2 additional years of high school assessment data also impacted Closing Gaps scores by increasing the amount of data available for smaller student groups.  DPI was able to calculate Closing Gaps trends for student groups who previously were not included in the Closing Gaps score.
  • Schools with Closing Gaps scores that either increased or decreased at least 20 points from last year did not receive a Closing Gaps score this year.  This is a one year change instituted by DPI that impacted a relatively small number of schools and districts, including Wauwatosa East High School.  East High School improved its Closing Gaps score by over 20 percentage points which impacted how the school's overall accountability score was calculated.

To review the district’s most recent Report Card, click HERE for a link to the Department of Public Instruction Page.

Helpful Tools for Parents:

Report Cards At-A-Glance

What’s New with School Report Cards in 2018-2019