Eric Larsen, coordinator of School Accountability for CESA 6, told the Manawa School Board at its meeting, Monday, Oct. 21, that the School Report Card results were an “anomaly.”
Larsen said part of his job is to help schools understand their data, especially regarding the School Report Card.
He told the board achievement is the main issue for the district, especially when it comes to math. He said if the district improves achievement, everything else will improve.
“You can see the reading scores in almost every area in all the report cards are pretty close to the state level, but it’s the math scores that caused a little bit of your achievement problems,” Larsen said.
Larsen explained the report cards for the district, the high school and the elementary school to the board. He also explained how results were weighted and went though some of the things that brought the scores down in the district.
Closing the Gaps is the category of concern in the district, Larsen said. This category represents 25 percent of the entire School Report Card.
“If the kids in those subgroups, like special education and economically disadvantaged, go down in their academic performance that affects the points figure for your school,” Larsen said.
Larsen said the number of special education students increased by eight last year.
“That tells me you have eight new students taking the test,” Larsen said. “When you dig into the data for this group of kids those eight kids all scored minimal, so the new kids you have in this category all scored minimal performance.”
He said possible reasons for this increase were new students to the district, students who went from second to third grade taking the WKCE test, or students who went from ninth grade to tenth grade taking the WKCE test.
Movement of students who went from taking the WAA test to the WKCE test also played a role in the decline in results. Some special education students are allowed to take the WAA test instead of the WKCE test.
“What I can tell you is the kids that were in the WAA the year before were all advanced and now, when they took the WKCE, they were all minimal,” Larsen said. “… You had several kids in the category who were proficient kids.”
He said all these scenarios worked together at the exact same time for this one score.
School board member Paul Sturm responded, “It sounds like we have a perfect storm, particularly in this one segment that really hurt us.”
“The funny thing is you have had three years of data. You had two really nice years of data and then one that wasn’t very good. When you have that perfect storm of all in one year, all of those things happening, it drops that score down,” Larsen said. “Next year you could go way back up again. If you look at the data, there are a lot of positive things that I see in the data for this upcoming year that are going to help this score. So it could just be a blip in the report cards of Manawa for this one year.”
The test results for economically disadvantaged students didn’t change much, Larsen said.
There was some discussion regarding the ‘fairness’ of one category pulling the entire School Report Card down, as well as the system penalizing smaller school districts.
“But it can do the opposite,” Larsen said. “You could have a subgroup that performed wonderfully, consistently, and you have no problems.”
Larsen described the Manawa’s School Report Card as an anomaly because of all the things that happened in one subgroup of students.
“You couldn’t have had more things happen in one year that caused this,” Larsen said.
Larsen said he is happy with how the district is reacting to the School Report Card. He expects the score to go up next year.
“If you improve achievement across the board, everything is going to be better,” Larsen said. “It will improve every single test.”