Wednesday, September 17, 2014

      The Journey to Excellence Continues to Show Dividends

       2013-14 School Report Card Scores

Six years ago, the School District of Janesville embarked on a district wide effort focused on raising student achievement titled, Journey to Excellence.  On Tuesday, September 16, 2014, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released the third set of School Report Card Scores and this is the second year that report cards for all 424 districts have been released. This year, the School District of Janesville ranked #2 of the 10 largest school districts in the State of Wisconsin.  With an accountability score of 72.8, the district is in the meets expectations category.  These ratings are based on scores from four priority areas: 
        Student Achievement in reading and mathematics on state assessments;
        Student Growth measured by year-to-year improvements in achievement;
    Closing Gaps in performance between specific student groups (comparing English Language learners, low-income students, students with disabilities, and members of racial or ethnic groups with their peers);
      On-Track to Graduation and Postsecondary Readiness using reliable predictors of high school graduation and postsecondary success.

Based on how well schools perform in the priority areas, schools and districts receive an accountability score on a 0-100 scale and its associated accountability rating.  All schools scored in the Meets Expectations category or higher.  Kennedy, Madison, Monroe, Roosevelt, Van Buren, and Washington Elementary Schools, as well as Craig High School, scored in the Exceeds Expectations category.  Harrison Elementary scored in the Significantly Exceeds Expectations category for the third year in a row, the highest distinction possible.

The School District of Janesville saw an increase in its Student Achievement score with increases in both math and reading—out-scoring the state by almost four points in the student achievement category.  Fourteen out of the seventeen schools also showed an increase in student achievement, including both high schools.

Wilson Elementary continues to demonstrate a strong record of improvement over the past three years and only missed the Exceeds Expectations category by two-tenths of a point. Wilson also saw increases of over five points in the sub-categories of student achievement, student growth, and closing gaps.  These results are noteworthy because the student body at Wilson represents the highest number of economically disadvantaged in the district at nearly 90%.  While the district refuses to treat poverty as an excuse for moving student achievement forward, it does recognize the special attention and increased effort required of school personnel at high poverty schools to post positive gains.  Dr. Schulte, Superintendent of Schools, believes that Wilson Principal, Kim Peerenboom, and the school staff make Wilson a poster school for excellence in the district.  “Mrs. Peerenboom’s energy, dedication, and careful planning, as well as her uncompromising belief that all students can learn and achieve has inspired the staff to create a “special magic” that is showing remarkable student learning results.” Mrs. Peerenboom was named one of the district’s 2014 School Administrators of the Year for the School District of Janesville.

The success story continues with the recent announcement that four district schools will be recognized as Schools of Recognition this fall in the state capital.  These schools are Madison (4th year in a row), Jackson Elementary (3rd year in a row), Jefferson Elementary (2nd year in a row), and Edison Middle School, a 2nd time.  This award is given to schools who have demonstrated success in educating students from low-income families.

Comparative data indicates the School District of Janesville ranked 2nd in Rock County, only three tenths of a point behind Evansville Community School District.  The poverty rates for Janesville are nearly double that of Evansville.  Last year, the School District was # 1 in Rock County.  The DPI has cautioned against comparing previous district results because scores were calculated differently this year.  

Dr. Schulte credits the district’s adoption of Evidence-Based Leadership (EBL) as a key foundational change that is pivotal to the positive report card results.  EBL causes school leaders to analyze key student learning indicators and then develop a School Improvement Plan to guide student and staff with the achievement targets.  Each year school staff have refined the process and increased student engagement with the specific learning targets.    

Dr. Kim Ehrhardt, Director for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, adds that the use of curriculum-based assessments (that measure ongoing learning throughout the school year) is a powerful tool for keeping student learning on target, thereby resulting in the positive upward trajectory of student achievement scores.  In addition, Ehrhardt notes the collaborative efforts of the staff to continuously improve the clarity and coherence in the written curriculum is another important ingredient of success.  
While this year’s report card results indicates there is much to celebrate and be proud of, it also points to the need for more deliberate efforts to improve student growth scores and achievement for Students with Disabilities and other special populations.  This year, the district has launched the Equity and Excellence Plan which is designed to refine learning focus and excel future achievement gains for these groups in each school.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Janesville Multicultural Teacher Opportunities Scholarship

The School District of Janesville is excited to have three individuals who received the Janesville Multicultural Teacher Opportunities Scholarship return back to the district to teach.

Senator Tim Cullen started the scholarship program in 2008 for the purpose of providing a multicultural pool of teacher candidates for the district. The program was designed to address the gap between the number of non-white students and the number of non-white teachers in the district.  The program also offers an incentive for Janesville students and/or community members of color to return to the community as professional teachers and role models for all students.

Selected students receive a multi-year renewable scholarship of up to $5,000 per year for tuition, books, and fees. In return, the student must pursue a degree in education, obtain Wisconsin State Teacher Certification, and apply for a position with the district. If hired by the district, the student is obligated to work for the district a minimum of three years.

Three students have returned to the district to teach---- Mr. Daniel Jackson (Edison Middle School), Jared Fox (Parker High School, his alma mater), and Nicole Washington (Harrison Elementary School).  Four more scholarship winners are currently still in school.

Students must be a graduate of Janesville Craig or Parker High School, or a Janesville resident. Students must also be of African-American, Latino, Asian or Native American descent. To remain in the program, students must be full time and hold a minimum 2.75 grade point average.

This scholarship is funded by donations and managed by the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin. There will be a fundraising Gala on Saturday, November 1, 2014, from 5:30-10:30p.m. The cost is $50 at the door or $45 in advance. You can obtain your ticket from the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, 26 S. Jackson St, Janesville, WI, or call them at (608) 758-0883 for more information.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wilson Wins Jefferson Award

Wilson Elementary Community Learning Center Kindergarten Club will receive the Channel 27 Local Jefferson Award.

The Jefferson Award was founded in 1972 by Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, and Mr. Sam Beard for the purpose of honoring individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service in order to inspire and encourage others to get involved. Award recipients do extraordinary things for which they do not expect recognition.

The Wilson Kindergarten Club is being recognized for their work with animals.  Last year they partnered with the Rock County Humane Society and Friends for Noah by making donations and volunteering their time.

Congratulations Principal Kimberli Peerenboom and your Wilson Kindergarten Club for this outstanding accomplishment.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

School District of Janesville Thanks Community for Partnership in the Bridges Festival and Summer International Education Institute

The School District of Janesville’s Summer Institute Program ended this year on July 21, 2014.  The total gross revenue collected was $309,200. Revenue came in through fees from International students who paid up to $2400 each and Janesville students, along with surrounding area students, who paid up to $100 each or received a scholarship to attend. These dollars were used in the Janesville community in a variety of ways.

The School District of Janesville strongly believes in partnering with and supporting the Janesville community.  SDJ partnered with several local businesses to provide meals, enrichment activities, and transportation for the students during the institute. 

The School District of Janesville’s Food Service Department, along with Janesville restaurants such as the Cozy Inn, Prime Time Pizza, Mac’s Pizza, Italian House, and St. Mary’s Cafeteria netted over $15,000 providing meals for the students.  Over $40,000 was spent at the Baymont Hotel and $22,000 was spent on advertising, printing, and signage from local companies. $20,000 was also spent with Van Galder Bus Company on transportation.  The revenue from the District also provided scholarships to Janesville students. Community members were employed along with Janesville area teachers for an extra six weeks this summer.

Dr. Karen Schulte, Superintendent of Schools, stated, “This is a great opportunity for the students in the School District of Janesville and surrounding communities to participate in an international experience right inside their own community.  Two more opportunities are coming up for them in the very near future.  The International Water Ski Competition occurs on the weekend of September 12 and Irish Fest occurs on October 3-5.  Our students are fortunate to live in a community that offers a variety of international experiences.  I am proud of the fact that the School District of Janesville provides our students with a Global Education and also able to put dollars back into our community.”  We were able to showcase many of the businesses in the city. I am proud of the way our business community partnered with us to make this institute a success.”

Overall, the staff and students from China were very impressed with the district and the city of Janesville.  As the district continues to focus on “Educational Excellence” for all students, it is imperative to foster educational partnerships with other countries.