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Achievement Gap Reduction Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Performance Objectives

AGR Performance Objectives: AGR schools and school boards must develop, update, and monitor performance objectives. AGR schools must report to the school board at the end of each semester the school's success in attaining the performance objectives. Schools must maintain a record of the current performance objectives and be able to provide this information when requested by DPI. Updates to performance objectives during the five-year contract period do not need to be approved by DPI. Schools may use the AGR Performance Objectives and School Board Reporting Template to develop, update, and maintain performance objectives and to report success in attaining these goals to the school board.

School District Contracts and Eligibility
 

What schools are eligible to participate in the AGR program?

Upon enactment of 2015 Wisconsin Act 53 and Act 71 the Achievement Gap Reduction program (AGR) was created under the new section of Wis. Stats. 118.44. The AGR program replaced the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) program, which officially ended at the end of the 2017-18 school year.

The original SAGE law required a school district to have at least one school with a poverty rate of at least 50%. An eligible district could then develop a contract for any school with a poverty rate of at least 30%. The 1999 budget bill eliminated both the low-income threshold and the limit on the number of schools per district, which allowed any school to apply to participate beginning in 2000-01. With the implementation of AGR, all eligible SAGE schools were required to transition to the AGR program by June 30, 2018 or forfeit their AGR eligibility.

No new schools may apply to enroll in the  AGR program. Wis. Stat. § 118.44(2)

How do I obtain a copy of my school's AGR contract?
Copies of approved AGR contracts may be requested by contacting the AGR program specialist listed on our Staff Contacts page.

State Aid

Will the statewide AGR appropriation be the same as in past years?

The amount appropriated in the 2017-19 Wisconsin State Budget is $109,184,500 (less $125,000) - the same amount that has been appropriated for the last several years. Aid payments are calculated from this appropriation to determine the per pupil allocation. Wis. Stat. § 20.255(2)(cu)

How is AGR state aid calculated?

AGR law, Wis. Stats. 118.44 (6), requires the state to determine the number of low-income pupils enrolled in each participating grade, five-year-old kindergarten through grade three, in AGR schools. The statewide aid appropriation is then divided by the total number of low-income pupils which equals a per pupil allocation. This number is then multiplied by the number of low-income pupils reported at each participating school to generate the AGR  allocations by school.

What students are eligible to be counted as "low-income" on the third Friday in September?
Students are eligible to be counted as low-income students on the PI-AGR-ENT report if the student meets the criteria under 42 USC 1758 (b) (1).

What if a student's eligibility status is not determined by the third Friday in September?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services Child Nutrition Programs provides guidance in Eligibility Manual for School Meals: Determining and Verifying Eligibility, "Once an eligibility determination is made, a child’s eligibility status remains in effect for one year. At the start of the subsequent school year, children retain their previous year’s eligibility status for 30 operating days or until a new determination is made, whichever comes first." Students who were eligible in the prior school year should be counted as low-income on the PI-AGR-ENT report if the student's eligibility has not yet been determined in the current school year due to this carryover of previous year's eligibility provision. If a new determination has been made that the student is no longer eligible, the student should not be counted as low-income on the PI-AGR-ENT report. If a student is not eligible due to the carryover provision and the student's status has not been determined by the third Friday in September, the student should not be counted as low-income on the PI-AGR-ENT report.

"Eligibility Manual for School Meals Determining and Verifying Eligibility School Year 2017-2018," 46-54.

How do I count a student with disabilities whose IEP indicated he/she is in the regular classroom for only science (or math, or social studies, or reading/language arts) instruction?
Students with disabilities must be included in classroom ratios if they attend ANY courses taught by a regular classroom teacher, including reading/language arts, mathematics, social studies, or science. However, licensed teachers who provide support in the classroom to students with disabilities during reading/language arts, mathematics, social studies, or science may also be included in student:teacher ratios. For example, a classroom that is regularly 18:1 may have two additional students with disabilities in the classroom for science instruction if they are accompanied at all times by an appropriately licensed teacher who supports these students.

Should migrant students that are only enrolled for part of the school year be included when reporting third Friday counts for AGR aid?
If the student is enrolled in the district for the third Friday in September count, the student should be included when reporting third Friday counts for AGR aid.

Does a school need to stay in AGR for five years?
No. In order for a school to terminate its AGR contract, the district must provide at least 60 days written notice of its intent to withdraw from the contract during the school year and agrees to provide written notice no later than June 30 of its intent to end its participation after that school year.

Can an AGR contract be transferred from one school to another?
Yes. The district may transfer an AGR contract with approval from DPI. A district's board of education must approve this request and provide the rationale for the transfer. The district must provide at least 60 days written notice of its intent to transfer a contract during the school year and agrees to provide written notice no later than June 30 of its intent transfer after that school year.

Can DPI terminate a school's AGR contract?
Yes. DPI will provide written notice to the school board of its intent to not renew the contract if a determination has been made that the school board has violated the terms of the contract.

Community Eligibility Provision

Please note that students who were determined as eligible to receive free and reduced lunch retain that status for the entire school year. Students have a 30 operating day carryover period of eligibility into the following school year in which the school can determine eligibility status. The details of this provision are in the State Aid section above.

If an AGR school qualifies for Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and all of the students receive free lunch, what poverty count is entered for the classrooms participating in AGR?
If you have schools in your district that are participating in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program, which provides meals to all students, however a student must actually be low-income in order to be counted for AGR purposes. DPI has released additional guidance on this program, which is available on the CEP webpage. Here are specific links:

Please note that DPI is requiring use of an Alternate Household Income Form, as we do need student level data for a variety of programs, including AGR. 

How can AGR state aid be used?
The aid must be used to satisfy the terms of the AGR contract or AGR program requirements. Participating AGR schools must meet the terms of Wis. Stats. 118.44 (4).

AGR STRATEGIES

What strategies can a school choose from to be in compliance with the AGR program requirements?

Contracts signed under the AGR program require participating schools to implement one of the three following strategies, or any combination of the three:

  1. small class sizes of 18:1 or 30:2 and professional development related to small group instruction
  2. data-driven instructional coaching for teachers
  3. data-informed one-to-one tutoring for students at risk of difficulty with math or reading

Can a school select a different AGR strategy for each grade level? For each classroom within a grade level?

Yes. 2015 Wisconsin Act 53 allows a school board that has entered into an AGR contract to implement one or more AGR strategies in each participating school. Wis. Stat. § 118.44(4)(a)
The strategy used in each classroom must address the needs of that classroom. The purpose of the strategy selected is to increase student achievement and close achievement gaps.

Can schools switch AGR strategies during the school year?

Yes. An AGR school would need to implement one or more of the required strategies of the AGR program throughout the entire school year. The school will report the intended strategy or strategies to DPI by November 1 and then report the strategy or strategies the school used throughout the year prior to last day of the school year. Wis. Stat. § 118.44(4)(b)2.

Can Title I teachers be used to meet the AGR strategy requirements for class size reduction, instructional coaching, or one-to-one tutoring in a Targeted Assistance school?

In a Title I schoolwide building, the Title I teacher can provide any of the AGR strategies. In a Title I targeted assistance program, the Title I teacher can only work with the students identified for Title I targeted assistance.

Can Title I funding be used to meet the AGR strategy requirements for class sizes reduction, instructional coaching, or one-to-one tutoring in Schoolwide schools?

Yes, if the strategy was determined to be appropriate to improve student achievement in the development of the Schoolwide plan. However, Title I funds may NOT be used solely to meet requirements of state law. Furthermore, an LEA may not reduce its allocation of State and local funds and resources to a schoolwide program school because the school receives Federal funds to implement a schoolwide plan. 20 USC. sec. 1120A(b) of No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

CLASS SIZE

One of the strategies AGR schools are able to select and implement is to provide professional development related to small group instruction and reduce the class size to one of the following:

  1. No more than 18 students
  2. No more than 30 students in a combined classroom having at least 2 regular classroom teachers

What if on third Friday of September a classroom has a ratio of 18:1 or 30:2 but a student moves into the district after the third Friday count raising this to 19:1 or 31:2?
AGR schools must maintain at least one AGR strategy at all times in each kindergarten through grade three classroom. Should the school be unable to maintain the reduced class size ratio, the school must implement either instructional coaching or one-to-one tutoring to continue to be eligible to participate and receive AGR aid.

What if a school will not receive enough AGR aid to pay the salary and benefits for all teachers needed to reach the 18:1 or 30:2 class size?
A regular classroom teacher must have no more than 18 pupils or two teachers must have no more than 30 pupils to provide instruction in all core subjects including reading/language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and other subjects that are considered the responsibility of the classroom teacher. A school that does not receive enough AGR aid to pay for all teachers that may be needed is expected to allocate existing resources or provide local matching funds to ensure the class size requirement is achieved. Federal ESEA Title II A can be utilized for class size reduction to supplement AGR aid where necessary. AGR schools must maintain at least one AGR strategy at all times in each kindergarten through grade three classroom. Should the school be unable to afford staff or materials to implement a successful class size reduction, instructional coaching, or one-to-one tutoring program, the school must supplement AGR funds to implement the program.

If a school exceeds the 18:1 or 30:2 requirement on third Friday of September, will just a portion of AGR aid be withheld, or will all AGR aid be withheld for the entire school year?

AGR schools must maintain at least one AGR strategy at all times in each kindergarten through grade three classroom. Should the school be unable to maintain the reduced class size ratio if it was selected as the strategy the school board intended to implement at the beginning of the school year, the school must implement either instructional coaching or one-to-one tutoring to continue to be eligible to participate and receive AGR aid.

May Title I teachers be used to meet the AGR class size reduction strategy in a Targeted Assistance school?

No. Title I teachers in Targeted Assistance schools provide supplementary instruction to identified students. The core instructional program in reading and mathematics is a basic operating cost of all school districts. Staffing for the delivery of core instruction in a Targeted Assistance school may not be supported by Title I funds. The use of Title I funding to reduce class size for basic reading and mathematics instruction in a Targeted Assistance school would be considered supplanting.

May Title I funding be used to reduce class sizes in Schoolwide schools?

Yes, if reducing class size was determined to be an appropriate strategy to improve student achievement in the development of the Schoolwide plan. Title I funds may NOT be used solely to meet requirements of state law.

INSTRUCTIONAL COACHING

 

Instructional coaches build teacher capacity and are used strategically to improve universal instruction rather than working exclusively with small numbers of students. More information is available on the Promoting Excellence for All School & Instructional Leadership Strategies page.

One of the strategies AGR schools are able to select and implement is to provide data-driven instructional coaching. The instruction shall be provided by licensed teachers who possess appropriate content knowledge to assist classroom teachers in improving instruction in math or reading and possess expertise in reducing the achievement gap.

If my school wants to utilize instructional coaches as an AGR strategy, what is the full-time equivalency (FTE) requirement?

The AGR law does not specify an FTE for the instructional coaches. The AGR law requires that data-driven instructional coaching be provided by licensed teachers who possess appropriate content knowledge to assist classroom teachers in improving instruction in math or reading and possess expertise in reducing the achievement gap.

It is important to remember the school will set performance objectives and report progress on closing the achievement gap.

Would each AGR school in a district require its own instructional coach?

No. If an AGR school chooses to utilize the instructional coaching strategy, this is determined by each school based on their needs. There is no specific time or building commitment for instructional coaching, but each school will want to have enough time to make progress on closing the achievement gap. Wis. Stat. § 118.44(4)(a)2.

What licenses does an instructional coach need to possess for reading or math under the AGR program?

A teacher who is providing academic support to students in the area of reading needs a reading teacher license – PI 34.33(6). A reading specialist license is required for any person who directs early childhood through adolescence reading programs or works with reading teachers, classroom teachers, administrators, and others as a resource teacher in reading – PI 34.32(8).

An educator who is providing academic supports to students in the area of mathematics could have a regular education license for the appropriate grade in grade school.

ONE-TO-ONE TUTORING

One of the strategies AGR schools are able to select and implement is to provide data-informed, one-to-one tutoring to pupils who are struggling with reading or mathematics or both subjects. Tutoring shall be provided during regular school hours by a licensed teacher using an instructional program found to be effective by the What Works Clearinghouse of the Institute of Education Sciences.

If a school wants to utilize data-informed, one-to-one tutoring as an AGR strategy, what is the FTE requirement for the teacher(s)?

The AGR law does not specify an FTE for the teachers providing one-to-one tutoring. AGR law requires that data-informed, one-to-one tutoring to pupils who are struggling with reading and/or mathematics be provided during regular school hours by a licensed teacher using an instructional program found to be effective by the What Works Clearinghouse of the Institute of Education Sciences.

To maximize the impact on practice, educational leaders must have a simple, straightforward way to identify programs and practices that meet evidence standards. Johns Hopkins University's Evidence for ESSA website provides a free, authoritative, user-centered database to help anyone – school, district, or state leaders, teachers, parents, or concerned citizens – easily find programs and practices that align to the evidence standards and meet their local needs. Schools may only use AGR funds for tutoring programs that are found to be effective by the What Works Clearinghouse which can be found in the "Detailed Overview" of any individual program's page.

It is important to remember the school will set performance objectives and report progress on closing the achievement gap to the school board at the end of each semester.

Would each AGR school in a district require its own licensed teacher for tutoring?

No. If an AGR school chooses to utilize the one-to-one tutoring strategy, this is determined by each school based on their needs. There is no specific time or building commitment for licensed teachers who are tutoring, but each school will want to have enough time to make progress on closing the achievement gap.

What licenses do teachers need to possess to provide one-to-one tutoring in reading or math under the AGR program?

A teacher who is providing academic support to students in the area of reading needs a reading teacher license – PI 34.33(6). An educator who is providing academic supports to students in the area of mathematics needs a regular education license for the appropriate grade in grade school.

For questions about this information, contact Sharon Suchla (608) 266-3983 or Brielle Harwick (608) 267-7462