Friday, April 11, 2014

Congratulations



We Are Still #1!


I know it’s not polite to brag, but we’re No. 1. Once again we rank at the top of the 10 largest school districts in Wisconsin when it comes to reading and math proficiency.

I hope we can all take a deep breath today as we start thinking about the weekend and enjoy a win – a success we can all share. Our students perform at a high level and they have been recognized via the WKCE results. This student achievement is the result of district employees in all areas who excel at what they do, and they excel every day, all day.

Our district’s top ranking comes against strong competition. We are alone at the top among the state’s 10 largest districts in math, and we share the top with Eau Claire in reading. Janesville, Eau Claire, Appleton and Waukesha are the only districts scoring above the state average in math, while Janesville, Eau Claire, Appleton and Madison outperform the state average in reading.

So please, let’s all pause for a moment and enjoy our success. Then, it’s back to work.

And we have a lot of work to do. For example, our high school 10th grade math scores are unacceptable. I see district math scores of 59 in third grade, 58 in fourth grade, 62 in fifth grade, 55 in sixth grade, 52 in seventh grade and 50 in eighth grade – all well above the statewide average. Then we get to high school and the numbers drop off. We average only 46 in 10th grade, which is only 1 point higher than the state average.

The bright side is we recognize these deficiencies, and we are addressing them. Project Redesign is in place in the high schools, and we are making major changes in our instruction and curriculum to increase our students’ ability to read and do math.

Overall, we continue to perform at the very top among the 10 largest districts in the state. I’m confident we will continue to perform at that level while we move along on our journey to academic excellence and fulfill our mission to serve our community by educating every child.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thank You







This is a follow-up from my previous blog regarding the Craig High School Spotlighters, who qualified to attend Nationals this year.    These students have devoted countless hours of rehearsing, traveling and fundraising to achieve this goal.  Their efforts are commendable and their commitment to the program and each other is outstanding.  

I would be remiss, if I did not recognize the parents and/guardians and countless volunteers that assist the Spotlighters.  These individuals truly give their heart and soul to the students and the program.   Thank you! Your time and dedication to this program is greatly appreciated.


A very special, “thank you,” to Karla Vriezen, who worked as co-director for the last eight years.  Karla spent countless hours rehearsing, traveling, fundraising and supporting the show choir.  

Test Scores

Test scores

I am pleased to learn that the Wisconsin Concepts and Knowledge Exam (WKCE) scores at the School District of Janesville exceed the statewide averages in both reading and math. I am particularly pleased to see that our scores have improved in many areas since last year.

This student performance is a key indicator in how far we have traveled on our journey toward academic excellence. We have not arrived, but we are traveling in the right direction.

These numbers represent so much more than just test scores. The numbers are the product of hours, days, months and years of our staff’s tireless efforts to overcome challenges. I am convinced our staff members’ work not only exceeds statewide averages, they are state leaders in achievement.

For example, the improvements we are seeing at Wilson Elementary School didn’t just happen. Wilson Principal, Kim Peerenboom and her staff have worked above and beyond to introduce and encourage learning for students at Wilson.

Wilson Elementary is often cited as a barometer of performance in our district, and I am proud to highlight that performance. Students at Wilson do not all come from the wealthiest families in our district. We don’t use that as an excuse.

Data such as free and reduced lunch participation does not mean students cannot learn. At Wilson we see that improvement in academic achievement is not reserved for the wealthy. Academic success is the product of great teachers and a productive curriculum designed to ensure that every students in our district receives an education that prepares them for success. We see that happening at Wilson.

I admit I was overcome with emotion when I saw the scores. They represent so much hard work by everyone in our district  - the teachers on the front lines, our award-winning food service and custodial staffs, our dedicated support staff and our principals and directors. This achievement is a district achievement and would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of everyone who works here.

As Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Kim Ehrhardt pointed out in the April 8 Janesville Gazette article, we have much work to do and plenty of opportunities for improvement. Those are issues we deal with everyday. They keep us up at night.

But, we should stop and enjoy our successes, if only for a brief time. It’s important to acknowledge improvement and achievement. So, please join me in congratulating our entire staff, the dedicated people who ensure our programs and our students remain well above average with an eye on improvement every day.


These dedicated people allow us to continue to fulfill our mission, which is to serve our community by educating every child.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Test scores



I am pleased to learn that the Wisconsin Concepts and Knowledge Exam (WKCE) scores at the School District of Janesville exceed the statewide averages in both reading and math. I am particularly pleased to see that our scores have improved in many areas since last year.

This student performance is a key indicator in how far we have traveled on our journey toward academic excellence. We have not arrived, but we are traveling in the right direction.

These numbers represent so much more than just test scores. The numbers are the product of hours, days, months and years of our staff’s tireless efforts to overcome challenges. I am convinced our staff members’ work not only exceeds statewide averages, they are state leaders in achievement.

For example, the improvements we are seeing at Wilson Elementary School didn’t just happen. Wilson Principal, Kim Perrenboom and her staff have worked above and beyond to introduce and encourage learning for students at Wilson.

Wilson Elementary is often cited as a barometer of performance in our district, and I am proud to highlight that performance. Students at Wilson do not all come from the wealthiest families in our district. We don’t use that as an excuse.

Data such as free and reduced lunch participation does not mean students cannot learn. At Wilson we see that improvement in academic achievement is not reserved for the wealthy. Academic success is the product of great teachers and a productive curriculum designed to ensure that every students in our district receives an education that prepares them for success. We see that happening at Wilson.

I admit I was overcome with emotion when I saw the scores. They represent so much hard work by everyone in our district  - the teachers on the front lines, our award-winning food service and custodial staffs, our dedicated support staff and our principals and directors. This achievement is a district achievement and would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of everyone who works here.

As Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Kim Ehrhardt pointed out in the April 8 Janesville Gazette article, we have much work to do and plenty of opportunities for improvement. Those are issues we deal with everyday. They keep us up at night.

But, we should stop and enjoy our successes, if only for a brief time. It’s important to acknowledge improvement and achievement. So, please join me in congratulating our entire staff, the dedicated people who ensure our programs and our students remain well above average with an eye on improvement every day.

These dedicated people allow us to continue to fulfill our mission, which is to serve our community by educating every child.
 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

WKCE Test Scores

Success Breeds Success, Student Scores Remain Strong on the 2013-14 Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam (WKCE)

The School District of Janesville continues to post positive results when compared to  the state average.    Cumulatively for math,  the School District of Janesville scored 7 percentage points above the state average.  Specifically, grade five scored 11 points above the state in math, and grades three and six each scored 6 percentage points above the state.  Overall for reading, the School District of Janesville scored 4 percentage points above the state average.  Specifically, grade three scored 7 percentage points above the state in reading, with an improvement of 6 percentage points from 2012-13. 




          


LANGUAGE, SCIENCE, SOCIAL STUDIES:
Only students in grades four, eight, and ten are tested in language, science and social studies.  All grade levels tested in these areas in the School District of Janesville are meeting or exceeding the state.  On average, social studies exceeded the state average by 3.6 percentage points; science by 1 percentage point and language arts by 1 percentage point.  Social Studies showed the most improvement from last year with grade four improving 7 percentage points, and grade ten improving 4 percentage points.

SCHOOL COMPARISONS TO THE STATE AVERAGE:
            All three middle schools met or exceeded the state average in reading and math in grades six and seven; all three middle schools met or exceeded the state in math in grade eight.  Craig High School scored above the state average in both reading and math.   Parker tied the state in reading, and fell below the state in math by only one point.   Elementary schools that scored above the state in both reading and math for grades three through five include the following:  Harrison (average of 22% above), Monroe (average of 18% above), and Roosevelt (average of 22% above).    Madison and Kennedy both scored above the state in math, in grades three through five.  Wilson Elementary scored 16% above the state in grade three reading, and 15% above the state in grade three math.

NOTABLE IMPROVEMENTS – READING AND MATH:
Other notable improvements in the district when comparing current scores (2013) to previous scores (2012) occurred at the following schools:
·      Marshall Middle School showed 3% improvement in both 6th grade and 7th grade reading. 
·      Franklin Middle School showed a 4% improvement in reading for grade eight.
·      Wilson improved in every grade in math, and grades 3 and 5 in reading.  Most notably, third grade reading improved 38% and third grade math improved 21%. 
·      Craig High School improved in reading by 4%.

Improvements in the district when comparing current scores (2013) to previous scores (2012) occurred at the following elementary schools:

Grade 3 Reading: Jefferson, Kennedy, Lincoln, Madison, Roosevelt, Washington, Wilson
Grade 4 Reading: Harrison, Monroe, Roosevelt, Van Buren, Wilson
Grade 5 Reading: Kennedy, Madison, Monroe, Van Buren, Wilson

Grade 3 Math: Harrison, Jefferson, Madison, Roosevelt, Wilson
Grade 4 Math: Monroe, Roosevelt, Washington, Wilson
Grade 5 Math: Jefferson, Madison, Van Buren, Wilson

Dr. Kim Ehrhardt, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment for the School District of Janesville, contends that the concerted efforts and expectation that parents, staff and building principals place toward student achievement is responsible for the continued success with WKCE scores. “This collective effort involves focused attention by school teams as they analyze student achievement data and effectively act on what the data says has yielded positive results.”   Historically, the School District of Janesville’s standardized test results had hovered at or just below the state average. The district scores have been trending upward for the past five years. While the district trend line continues to move upward, certain grade levels at certain schools need to continue their focus on improved results. Dr. Ehrhardt explains that while not a performance excuse, enrollment for students identified in sub groups such as economically disadvantaged increased by 128 students, English Language Learners increased by 45 students and Students with Disabilities increased by 35 students.  Typically, students in these sub-groups create more challenge for schools to reach the proficiency benchmarks. The district Equity & Excellence Plan, which will be rolled out district-wide next year, is designed to further assist those groups who have not reached the desired proficiency standard.  Dr. Ehrhardt is confident in the future success of this plan based on the district staff’s previous positive track record towards enhancing student achievement for sub group populations.   

Dr. Karen Schulte, Superintendent of Schools commented, “Parents and the Janesville Community can be proud of our student’s efforts associated with the WKCE. At a time when the teaching staff is leaner and the budget is tight, student learning has not been sacrificed and their achievement has remained front and center with our staff. This effort has produced another positive result as the School District of Janesville continues to outperform the state in both reading and math.  Congratulations, on a job well done.”



Monday, April 7, 2014

Washington Seminar





Please join me in welcoming home the 42nd annual Washington Seminar scholars. They were back in their classes Monday after a week in D.C. researching their federal government topics.

It’s easy to take for granted something that has been successful 42 years in a row. I want to make sure we don’t do that. Every year, we have a different group of students who distinguish themselves by conducting college-level academic research in the Seminar program. And, for the past three years, we have an equally distinguished group conducting scholarly research on state government topics with Madison Seminar.

The Washington Seminar program was started in 1973 by Parker social studies teacher John Eyster. Under the guidance of Joe Van Rooy at Parker, and now Scott Gudgel at Craig, this program continues to grow in the number of participating students and the quality of their work.

Our Washington and Madison Seminar students will prepare a final paper. They will then complete their work with a community component involving the media. Four students have appeared on Tim Bremel’s talk show on WCLO with information on their experiences in Madison and Washington. A post-field research piece is planned by The (Janesville) Gazette.

Another community component involves opinion pieces published in the Gazette. Our Seminar scholars will report to the community their findings and opinions drawn from their research.

I was fortunate to appear on WCLO with the Madison Seminar students. Our public information specialist, Kevin Leavy, was on the air today with Washington Seminar students, and I was glad to hear Kevin explain how the Seminar program fits in to our overall Journey Toward Academic Excellence.

My most sincere congratulations go out to the Madison and Washington Seminar students, the program’s co-directors Joe Van Rooy and Scott Gudgel, the volunteers and financial supporters of the program, and our staff that helps make these “outside the classroom walls” experiences possible.