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Accountability History

ESSA Federal Accountability (2018 Present)

On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed into law a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Previously referred to as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the new law was reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

ESSA ushers in many changes to key education programs, and prescribes specific accountability measures that fulfill requirements for a federal system of identification for schools in need of improvement. The ESSA accountability system scores will first be reported in the 2018-19 school year. Scores will result in schools identified for Continuous Support & Improvement (CSI), Targeted Support & Improvement (TSI) or Not Identified. Details are outlined in Wisconsin’s ESSA state plan, which was approved on January 16, 2018.

Further information and ESSA resources, including an overview video, are available on the ESEA page:

Wisconsin’s NCLB Waiver (2012 – 2018)

DPI’s Request for ESEA Flexibility was approved by the US Department of Education (USED) in July 2012. Wisconsin’s waiver was an ambitious education reform package that set higher expectations for students, educators, and schools with a clear focus on all graduates being college and career ready. Approved waivers expired at the end of the 2014-15 school year. ED offered states the opportunity to renew their waivers. In March 2015, DPI applied for a three-year renewal, through the 2017-18 school year. With passage of ESSA, the reauthorization of ESEA, waivers ended and states began implementing their ESSA State Plan.

Accountability Report Cards - State Accountability (2012-Present)

Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, as required by state law, all public schools received an annual School Report Card. In addition to the School Report Cards, the following year, in 2012-13, districts began receiving annual District Report Cards. Shaped by the Accountability Design Team (see below), and detailed in Wisconsin's ESEA Flexibility Request (waiver, see above), the report cards are constructed around four priority areas: Student Achievement, Growth, Closing Gaps and Post-Secondary Readiness. Details about the accountability report cards, the state accountability system and individual report cards themselves can be accessed on our report cards page: Both a one page summary version and a longer, detailed report card are produced each year. In addition to the report cards publicly available online, districts receive a secure report card to aid their data-driven planning and continuous improvement efforts.

In May 2015, the Governor signed SB 67, also known as “the pause bill.” The following document summarizes key points about the bill as it relates to school and district accountability and Educator Effectiveness (EE) for the 2014-15 school year:  Five Things You Need to Know About Accountability.

Starting with the 2015-16 school year, private schools participating in the Private School Choice Program began receiving accountability report cards.

School & District Accountability Design Team (2011 – 2012) 

The School & District Accountability Design Team created the backbone of a state accountability system for Wisconsin, which greatly informed the Request for ESEA Flexibility. State Superintendent Tony Evers and Governor Scott Walker convened the Design Team as a collaborative effort to reform the way Wisconsin holds schools and districts accountable for student performance. Click here for complete details on the Design Team process.

Accountability under NCLB (2001 – 2012)

In the past, Wisconsin’s accountability system operated under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, which required the annual review of district and school performance to determine “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP). Since 2003 AYP in Wisconsin was based on four objectives:  test participation, graduation rate or attendance rate, and achieving a designated proficiency rate on two academic indicators - Reading and Mathematics. Click here for more information about AYP, including what the targets were, how AYP was calculated and how AYP results were used.

With the approval with Wisconsin’s waiver application for flexibility from certain components of ESEA, a new accountability system will be in place beginning with the 2011-12 school year. AYP reports will no longer be produced. Instead, school report cards based on a new accountability index will be provided. Schools will earn an overall score of 0-100 and will be placed in one of five categories based on their performance.