Report cards bring good news for local schools

WE ALL HAVE HIGH expectations when it comes to our public school systems.

Whether it’s parents wanting the best education to prepare their children for their future, or employers seeking the best-trained employment candidates, school districts are under pressure to provide a high-level education across many academic and technical areas.

Judging the quality of education provided by a school district is never easy, because there are so many factors – some within, some outside of the control of district officials – that go into such an evaluation and such a variety of needs and demands that must be met and students who must be educated.

Yet the state Department of Public Instruction makes an attempt to quantify the performance of each public school district in the state each year, issuing a report card for each district.

The report cards measure student achievement, school growth, postsecondary readiness and other areas to create a numerical grade for each district and each school within each district.

The grades range from 0 to 100 and are divided into five categories – Significantly Exceeds Expectations (a score of 83 to 100), Exceeds Expectations (73-83), Meets Expectations (63-73), Meets Few Expectations (53-63) and Fails to Meet Expectations (0-53).

While they may or may not induce the same anxieties in district officials that report cards do for many of their students, the DPI grades are important to obtaining funding and grant monies as well as attracting new students through open enrollment beyond their worth for validation – or lack thereof.

For us here locally, the latest report cards contained good news.

Every public school district in the county – all nine of them – earned grades of “Meets Expectations” or higher. That means that every student in the county is being offered an education that meets expectations or does better.

One county district, the Kohler School District, earned the highest rating, “Significantly Exceeds Expectations,” while six – Cedar Grove, Elkhart Lake, Oostburg, Random Lake and Sheboygan Falls – earned “Exceeds Expectations” grades.

For a school district like Elkhart Lake-

Glenbeulah, that rating is particularly exemplary, considering the difficulties faced by the county’s smallest school district.

Along with its small numbers, the district ranks above most districts in the area economic factors that impact state aid, meaning the district doesn’t always get as much financial help from the state as most other districts.

Still, the Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah School District, with the support of the School Board and the community, has managed to keep pace with many of the demands of its students and industry through innovative and imaginative programs and offerings.

As Superintendent Ann Buechel Haack told the School Board in her report on the DPI ratings, “We’re very proud of what we do. This is still just a limited snapshot on a few things (but) kudos to our community and our staff that works so hard.”

Buechel Haack did note that there are some things not reflected in the state report card that make the district better, such as youth apprenticeships, college credit courses and other programs.

Undoubtedly, her counterparts in other districts across the state can make the same comment and similarly point to positive programs and projects in their districts that are not reflected in the DPI ratings.

But none of that takes away from the fact that all of Sheboygan County’s school districts rate so highly, or from Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah’s “Exceeds Expectations” rating.

We would expect nothing less from our schools and are glad that we get all that and more.

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