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About Wisconsin Accountability

School Accountability Systems

Wisconsin now has separate state and federal accountability systems. To compare the two school accountability systems, please refer to the Accountability Crosswalk.

The purpose of the state accountability system (the Accountability Report Cards, also known as the School and District Report Cards) is to provide a rating system that meaningfully differentiates school and district outcomes across the performance spectrum. The purpose of the (new) federal accountability system is to identify the lowest performing schools and student groups for support as required in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The ESSA accountability system ranks performance resulting in the following identification categories: Comprehensive Support & Improvement (CSI), Targeted Support & Improvement Schools (TSI), Additional Targeted Support (ATSI), or Not Identified.

Accountability News - Aspire 

The 2018-19 Accountability Report Cards, to be released in Fall 2019, will incorporate Aspire test data. Both 9th and 10th Grade Aspire results will be included in the scoring. In anticipation of including Aspire data in next year's report cards, and to familiarize high schools with value-added growth modeling, we have produced preview reports for schools and districts with Aspire grades. These reports are not a prediction, but rather offer a glimpse of what high school value-added scores could look like. High schools and districts can view their HS Growth Preview Report in SAFE

Accountability News - Reporting College and Career Readiness (CCR)

The 2019-20 Accountability Report Cards, to be released in Fall 2020, will begin reporting on a variety of college and career readiness metrics, as required by Act 59. Further details on CCR and the report cards can be found here. The data will come from the 2018-19 school year, as entered by districts into the WISEdata Roster collection. 

Accountability News - Test Participation Reminder

We believe test participation matters – not just because there are test participation requirements legally in place – but because test participation is an issue that affects educational equity. Because of this DPI actively monitors test participation rates. Low test participation rates (<95%) result in a penalty in the school’s federal ESSA Accountability Report. It no longer results in a deduction in the School and District Report Cards.

Test Participation in Federal Accountability

Under federal law - and the associated federal accountability rules - districts are expected to test 100% of students in the applicable tested grades. In Wisconsin, those are Grades 3-8 and 11. Because circumstances arise in which all students do not participate in the state assessment, the leeway given to districts in ESSA is that penalties do not begin until a student group’s test participation rate falls below 95% in either ELA or mathematics.

  • Penalty in ESSA: If a student group’s test participation rate is below 95%, in the federal accountability system under ESSA, a penalty is included in the scoring of the Academic Achievement indicator (only). Specifically, we must inflate the denominator until it reaches the point of a 95% test participation rate. Effectively, this means zeroes are included in the Academic Achievement score, which always results in a lowering of that indicator’s score.
  • ESSA accountability calculations are completed at a school and student group level, which means that test participation rates affect both school-wide scores and scores for each student group in the school with enough students (20 full academic year tested) to calculate an Academic Achievement indicator score.
  • Three years of test participation rates by student group are provided on page 21 of the ESSA Accountability Report.

Test Participation in State Accountability

Under state law - and the associated state accountability rules - districts are also expected to test all students. In the state accountability system, this includes Grades 3-8 (Forward/DLM) and Grades 9-11 (Aspire/ACT/DLM). Under state law, districts are allowed to grant parental requests for student opt-outs. This caveat allowing parental opt-outs conflicts with the federal expectations described above, which has led to some confusion over test participation rules. It is also, in part, what led DPI to removing the test participation deduction from the report cards.

  • No penalty in report cards: If a school has a test participation rate below 95% - or a declining test participation rate - it will be flagged by the Office of Educational Accountability. As noted in the Deputy State Superintendent’s letter announcing this change two years ago, DPI continues to monitor test participation rates closely. If there is a concern over declining test participation or selective test participation, the deduction could be reinstated.
  • The one year and three year test participation rates, for All Students and the lowest student group’s rate are reported on the School and District Report Card, in the lower right box of page 1. Additional test participation information is provided on the last page of the School and District Report Cards.

For questions about the current or future structure of the Accountability Report Cards, please contact