The state of Wisconsin is raising the bar when it comes to your child’s learning, and as your school district’s superintendent, I want you to know about what changes are coming.
All of these changes outlined here are designed to raise student achievement, improve our public schools, and set high expectations for every student in the Delavan-Darien School District. We will do our best to make sure your child is on track to be ready for college, technical school, the military or career choices when he or she graduates.
This year, you may often hear about changes in:
What children learn in English Language Arts and Mathematics, or the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
How student learning is measured in the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations (WKCE).
New School District report cards.
This email and links to related documents and websites on the right side of the page help explain more about each topic. Please read them thoroughly, and contact your child’s principal or myself if you have any questions. (*NOTE: Click "view in browser" at the top of this email if you are unable to see the text in the right-hand column.)
The Common Core State Standards
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Math and English are world-class academic standards that aim to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy. In 2010, Wisconsin was the first of 45 states to adopt these standards, which offer a rigorous, updated curriculum for all students, including students with disabilities and English language learners.
The CCSS aim to ensure that all students, no matter what school district or state they live in, are prepared for success in college and the workforce. Common standards will help ensure students are receiving a high quality education consistently, from school to school and state to state. Teachers and schools will be better able to share best practices that enhance the learning of all students.
The new standards put Wisconsin on the path to a better, more sophisticated way to measure what students have – and have not – learned. Teachers will be able to more quickly identify gaps in individual student learning while helping fast learners move ahead. The CCSS will help teachers, parents, and students chart a roadmap of clear and realistic goals for student success.
Cora Rund, our district’s Director of Instruction, has been leading teams of teachers to implement these new Common Core State Standards in all of our schools. It is an exciting and challenging process for all involved.
Measuring Student Achievement on State Tests
To ensure Wisconsin students are college or career-ready, they will be held to a higher level of performance on state standardized tests. Beginning in 2012-13, fewer Wisconsin and Delavan-Darien students will attain a ranking of proficient or advanced on state standardized tests than in the past.
Each year, Wisconsin public school students in grades 3 through 8 and in grade 10 take the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examinations (WKCE) in reading and mathematics.
This difficult step is part of our state’s transition to the next generation of student assessments that will help parents and teachers get a more complete picture of each student’s learning more quickly. Wisconsin will continue to use the WKCE tests for two more years. In 2014-15, we will switch to the Smarter Balanced assessment or testing system, which features more rigorous content and standards. This new test will replace the reading, language arts, and mathematics portions of the WKCE tests.
The lower state test results expected this year are not a reflection of the abilities of our Delavan-Darien students or our teachers, but reflect the higher expectations we have for students and schools. All students and schools across Wisconsin will experience the effects of this tougher system, not just schools in the Delavan-Darien School District.
New School Report Cards coming soon
These new, higher expectations, are also being used in “rating” schools on new school report cards being developed by the State Department of Public Instruction. The school report cards should become public soon (anticipated October 22). Please know that we expect our schools may rate below state averages in several categories on these report cards. We have plans to get our scores above state averages and go well beyond. This is one of our major district-wide goals. Here are just some of the things we’re doing to achieve that task:
following our new Strategic Plan, which was developed by more than 115 staff and community members this past year. This long-range plan puts a focus on student achievement, preparing our teachers to be the best they can be, and preparing all students to be 21st Century learners.
focusing on student literacy and their ability to read for understanding at all levels;
instituting a new elementary math curriculum;
giving our middle school students extra opportunities and more time for enrichment or help from core subject teachers when needed;
breaking down barriers so more high school students can take advanced-level courses;
teaching for the real world by using an approach that teaches students how to be independent thinkers and problem solvers with analytical skills, rather than just memorizers and worksheet completers;
focusing on making sure students understand school and societal behavioral expectations and creating a learning climate that is conducive to all students;
and so much more.
These new School Report Cards, which use multiple measures of student learning, will provide valuable guidance on how our schools are doing and where they can improve. The new report cards will help all Wisconsin public school educators get a better picture of how well they help children learn, advance to the next grade, and graduate ready for college and career.
Here’s how the School Report Card will work. Each public school will earn a “score,” called an accountability index score, from 0 to 100. These scores will be included on the report card. The accountability index score that our schools receive will be based on our performance in four priority areas:
Student achievement in reading and mathematics on state assessments;
Student growth, measured by year-to-year improvements in achievement;
Closing gaps in performance between specific student groups (comparing English language learners, low-income students, students with disabilities, and members of racial or ethnic group with their peers);
On-track to graduation/postsecondary readiness, using reliable predictors of high school graduation and postsecondary success.
Based on scores, schools will be placed into one of five categories, from Significantly Exceeds Expectations to Fails to Meet Expectations. Examples of report cards can be found using the links in the top right column.
It’s important to note that the 0 to 100 accountability index score is not a “percent correct” measurement, similar to a score your child might earn on a test in school. Instead, in combination with other school data, the accountability index score will help our school staff determine what areas we do well in and where we need improvement (see the attached sample report card enclosed in this letter) The goal is to help every student in our school succeed, graduate, and be ready to pursue further education and a career.
School Report Cards will come out every year and student results on state tests will continue to be reported. For more information, please visit the DPI website at: dpi.wi.gov/oea/acct/accountability.html.
Adjusting to higher expectations for student performance is not easy and it will take some time, but it is necessary if we want to raise the achievement of our students and schools.
All of the educators and staff members in the Delavan-Darien School District, and the district’s Board of Education, know we need to raise our achievement scores and give all of our students the best opportunities to succeed in a demanding world. As parents and guardians, we will need your help to accomplish our goals. As a former teacher, principal and administrator at various school districts, I know these tasks before us will take a total team effort. We are determined to succeed.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about these higher expectations for students, educators and parents. Also, any member of our administrative team can discuss with you the programs and pathways we’re using to make sure everyone in the Delavan-Darien School District is a successful learner.
I look forward to working with you to continue the success of your child!
The Department of Public Instruction has established performance standards (cut scores) for the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE) reading and mathematics content areas to more closely align with national and international expectations of what is required to be college and career ready. The higher cut scores are comparable to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) cut scores. The performance level descriptors that accompany the college and career ready cut scores have been revised to reflect the higher expectations required with these higher performance benchmarks
New WKCE Reading Scale Score by Grade
New WKCE Mathematics Scale Score by Grade
These new WKCE cut scores and performance level descriptors will serve as a bridge to the more rigorous Smarter Balanced assessments, which will be introduced in the 2014-15 school year. Smarter Balanced is developing assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics—academic standards that are designed to help prepare all students to graduate high school college and career ready.
Old WKCE Reading Scale Score by Grade
Old WKCE Mathematics Scale Score by Grade
Understanding the New vs. Old WKCE Cut Scores
The graph at right shows how cut scores for proficiency levels are changing — not the student’s knowledge.
In Math, the example student previously scored in the proficient level, but the new cut scores will be in the basic level. The student’s intelligence didn’t change. The cut score for the proficiency level did.
In Reading, the example student previously scored in the advanced level, but with the new cut scores will score in the proficient level. Again, the student’s intelligence didn’t change. The cut score for the proficiency level did.
Use the following examples to further see how the new vs. old WKCE cuts scores compare:
EXAMPLE A — A 7th grader who received a reading score of 470 under the old system would have earned a performance level of Proficient. Under the new benchmarks, this child’s score places him at a Minimal level.
Additionally, this score of 470 for our example 7th grader would have indicated proficiency in the past. Now, that student wouldn’t even make the cut-off for basic.
EXAMPLE B — A 4th grader who had a reading score of 490 under the old system would have previously scored at the Advanced level, but would now score at the Basic level.
Performance Level Descriptors (New)
Performance Level Descriptors (Old)
Students at this level demonstrate a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of rigorous subject matter and provide sophisticated solutions to complex problems
Demonstrates in-depth understanding of academic knowledge and skills tested on WKCE at that grade level.
Students at this level demonstrate a solid understanding of challenging subject matter and solve a wide variety of problems.
Demonstrates competency in the academic knowledge and skills tested on WKCE at that grade level.
Students at this level demonstrate partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work.
Demonstrates some academic knowledge and skills tested on WKCE at that grade level.
Students at this level demonstrate limited knowledge and skills in the subject matter and limited ability to apply knowledge and skills effectively.
Demonstrates very limited academic knowledge and skills tested on WKCE at that grade level.
Several steps were taken to arrive at the new college and career ready cut scores for the WKCE. Percentile ranks of Wisconsin students’ performance on the 4th and 8th grade Spring 2011 NAEP administration and on the WKCE for the past five administrations were used. Statistical processes were used to establish WKCE cut scores for grades 3, 5, 6, 7, and 10. These steps were reviewed by DPI’s Technical Advisory Committee, as well as a number of other assessment experts.
For more information, please visit these websites:
What to expect when considering the transition from WKCE "cut scores" to NAEP "cut scores." See tables at the bottom of this web page for more information about the cut scores.
• Our test scores will initially go down. Scores from WKCE are being applied to the new test with international, higher-standards called NAEP. These test measurements are different, and so are the results.
• Even if your child's testiing category changes, your child is no less intelligent than before. It’s just that test results from one test (the WKCE) are being applied to a different test’s measuring tool. We’re in the process of aligning our curriculum to better teach students these higher-level skills. In the interim, we’re not there yet and our scores will show it.
• Our test scores will eventually rise. This, like most major transitions, take time to fully implement and grasp. We’ll need time to adjust our teaching to meet these new standards and assessments. We’ve made great strides in improving our WKCE results and we will again with these new standards.
• This is a positive change for all schools in the state of Wisconsin. By adjusting standards and assessments to an international model, we are better positioning our students to complete and succeed as 21st Century learners in our global economy.
• As standards and assessments of students change, so do teacher evaluations. This new model is intendend to better prepare students for their post-secondary lives and the global workforce, which fits nicely with our new mission statement:
The mission of the Delavan-Darien School District, a partnership of students, families, staff, and community, is to ensure each student is prepared to succeed and contribute as a 21st century citizen by providing a real-world education that is engaging, thought-provoking, and culturally diverse.
Click here to download a document that shows the newest WKCE "cut" scores compared to old "cut" scores. These new cut scores are higher, meaning students may no longer meet the same rating they once had. They may be in a lower test-rating category.
For example, a student who received an "advanced" or "proficient" score under the old guidelines, may only be "basic" or "minimal."
The new school report cards, which will become public October 22 (anticipated) will look at four indicators to measure school performance, found in the top right:
Student achievement — Students' levels of knowledge compared to state and national standards
Student growth — Using growth percentiles in math and reading to track studetns' pace of improvement over time
Closing the gap — Closing achievement gaps that often separate groups of students such as those with disabilities compared to those without disabilities
Post secondary — Use of third-grade reading, eighth-grade math and ACT scores and participation. As part of the new testing system, all juniors will now be taking the ACT.
Based on their overall scores, schools will fall into one of the five shaded rating categories, found on the left (significantly exceeds expectations, exceeds expectations, meets expectations, meets few expectations, and fails to meet expectations).
These are not percentage scores, but based on a 100-point scale. Schools in the top category will be recognized, and some of their systems and techniques will be replicated. Schools in the bottom two categories will get extra state aid for a limted time and risk being restructured.