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About the Report Cards

Accountability Report Cards - State Accountability

At the foundation of Wisconsin’s state accountability system are the Accountability Report Cards, which annually report on the performance of all public schools and districts, including charter schools, and private schools 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

  • Absenteeism (below 13%) - Related to attendance, the school’s absenteeism rate is the percentage of students whose individual attendance rate is 84% and below.
  • 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:

image of overall accountability ratings

Wisconsin state Accountability Report Cards also contain data that are not factored into report card scoring, but are reported for context or additional information about schools and districts. This includes the following data:

  • Test participation - supplemental information about student participation in the most recent state assessments. Shows a school/district’s recent ELA and mathematics participation alongside statewide participation, allowing for comparisons to state averages.
  • Student group level reporting - performance data broken down by student group, including race/ethnicity and service provision (economically disadvantaged, English learners, and/or students with disabilities), contained in supplementary pages of the report cards. This disaggregation allows educators to assess the impact of student outcomes on overall performance and identify groups of students who are in need of support or are demonstrating progress.
  • Course data on Postsecondary Preparation and Arts - State statute (Wis. Stat. 115.385) requires DPI to include course participation and outcomes in certain areas:

    • Postsecondary preparation: advanced placement course participation, dual enrollment, industry recognized credentials, and youth apprenticeship.

      • These data are available for grades 9-12 only.

    • Arts courses: participation in dance, drama, music, and visual arts courses.

      • These data are available for grades 9-12 only.

For more information on report cards, please see our Accountability Resources page. For report card questions, contact