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About Wisconsin Accountability

State & Federal Accountability Update

Wisconsin is moving towards separate reporting for state and federal accountability. The purpose of the state accountability reporting (School and District Report Cards) is to provide a rating system that meaningfully differentiates school and district performance across the state. The purpose of the (new) federal accountability reporting will be to identify schools for support as required in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The federal accountability system will result in one of three identifications: Comprehensive Support & Improvement (CSI), Targeted Support & Improvement Schools (TSI), or Not Identified.

To compare the state and federal accountability systems, please refer to the Accountability Crosswalk.

Comprehensive and Targeted support, respectively, are similar to the Title I Priority and Focus identifications required in Wisconsin’s ESEA waiver. The details of the identification and improvement processes for these schools are included in the state’s proposed ESSA plan. While the federal system is intended to identify schools for support and improvement, DPI will still report results of that system for all students in the state. For the latest on the ESSA state plan, please visit:  https://dpi.wi.gov/esea/new-items-interest.

A key difference between Wisconsin’s state and federal systems is how test participation is included. Test participation rates will no longer result in a score deduction in the state report cards, but test participation will impact outcomes in the federal identification system. Specifically, non-tested students will be included in calculations based on assessment results, effectively counting against a school’s score used for federal identification purposes in ESSA.

 

Test Participation Update

The 2016- 17 state accountability report cards, which will be released in fall 2017, will not have deductions for test participation for districts or schools. Ensuring all students participate in state assessment remains a high priority. Although there will no longer be deductions, we will continue to report test participation rates in the School and District Report Cards, as outlined in the Deputy State Superintendent’s notification of this change.

Further, under federal accountability rules, when the test participation rate falls below 95% the non-tested students will count against schools in the federal calculation of participation and proficiency (but not in the state  Accountability Report Cards). ESSA requires that schools annually test all students in grades 3-8 and one high school grade in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics.

Assessing student performance to measure the progress of each subgroup of students, and to clearly identify achievement gaps in our state, remains a critical focus of the department. As such, we will continue to closely monitor test participation rates going forward.

Accountability Report Cards (state accountability)

Wisconsin’s state accountability system reports on the performance of all public schools and districts, including charter schools, and private school participating in a parental choice program. 

Beginning in 2011‐12, a comprehensive accountability index replaced the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) system. The index approach uses multiple measures and classifies schools along a rating continuum. The ratings determine the level of support a school receives, ranging from rewards and recognition for high performing schools to state intervention for the lowest performing schools in the state. Accountability scores, ratings, and a 5 star rating system (as of the 2015-16 report cards) are reported annually in the Accountability Report Cards.

Accountability report cards include outcomes in four priority areas:

  • Student Achievement measures the level of knowledge and skills among students in the school, compared to state and national standards. It includes a composite of reading and mathematics performance by the “all students” group in the Wisconsin Student Assessment System (WSAS) for all tested grades in the school.
  • Growth describes how much student knowledge of reading and mathematics in the school changes from year to year. It uses a point system that gives positive credit for students progressing toward higher performance levels, and negative credit for students declining below proficiency. This area focuses not on attainment, but the pace of improvement in student performance, no matter where students begin. All improvement is treated as a positive. Schools with high performance and little room to grow are not penalized.
  • Closing Gaps shows how the performance of student groups experiencing statewide gaps in achievement and graduation is improving in the school. It recognizes the importance of having all students improve, while focusing on the need to close gaps by lifting lower-performing groups. Specific race/ethnicity groups, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and English language learners are compared against their complementary groups.
  • On-Track to Graduation and Postsecondary Readiness indicates the success of students in the school in achieving educational milestones that predict postsecondary success. It includes the graduation rate for schools that graduate students, or the attendance rate for other schools. It also includes measures of third-grade reading and eighth-grade mathematics achievement, and ACT participation and performance, as applicable to the school.

In addition to the four priority areas, there are two Student Engagement Indicators. Each indicator has a goal, and schools/districts that fail to meet that goal receive a point deduction from their overall score. Schools/districts can meet the goals with a one-year or three-year rate. Goals were set by looking at statewide data and establishing thresholds that identify schools contributing the most to lowering Wisconsin’s overall performance in the areas below.

  1. Absenteeism (below 13%) - Related to attendance, the school’s absenteeism rate is the percentage of students whose individual attendance rate is 84% and below.
  2. Dropout Rates (below 6%)

​Schools not meeting the threshold for any Student Engagement Indicator will have points deducted from their index score. The resulting overall accountability score will determine the Accountability Rating a school receives:

Accountability
Rating Category
Accountability
Score Range
Minimum Maximum
Significantly Exceeds Expectations 83 100
Exceeds Expectations 73 82.9
Meets Expectations 63 72.9
Meets Few Expectations 53 62.9
Fails to Meet Expectations 0 52.9


Additional measures—such as AP performance, postsecondary enrollment, or science proficiency—may be included in Wisconsin’s accountability system in the future. 

For questions about this information, contact oeamail@dpi.wi.gov