ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW) – In July, the state of Wisconsin received a waiver from the federal government, meaning it would no longer have to abide by the standards in the No Child Left Behind Act – which had previously mandated that all students be proficient in reading and math by 2014.
Onalaska School District Director of Instructional Services Roger Fruit said the goal was noble, but unrealistic.
Wisconsin will now judge its students and teachers by its own, new statewide standards which, among other things, will drastically raise the benchmark for defining proficiency.
Under the previous cutoffs and numbers, roughly 80 percent of Wisconsin fourth grader were deemed proficient in reading.
Just 33 percent of that same group would be proficient under the new guidelines.
"It's probably a more realistic indication of where we are," Fruit said, following a forum in which the new, curriculum guidelines were explained to parents.
He added that, while students may appear to have lower scores under the new guidelines, the district is emphasizing to parents that their children are not regressing or falling behind.
Fruit said Onalaska schools will work quickly to ensure the drop-off expected to result from the new guidelines is quickly changed through students being brought up to speed with the new standard.
Wisconsin's new policy also will more rigorously evaluate schools – which will be given a report card from the state and a grade from one to 100.
Fruit said that number will take into consideration student achievement, student growth from year to year, the closing of achievement gaps between various student demographics, and also factors like ACT scores, attendance, and graduation rates.
"Students, when they're done, if they're college or career ready, will have the choice to go to a four year university, a technical school, go into military service or else right into the work world," Fruit said. "They'll be ready for whatever choice they make. That's the power we want parents to see. That all these indicators will help them know how their school is doing in relation to giving kids that choice."
School report cards will be released October 22nd.
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