MacIver News Service | December 13, 2012
Racine Unified Schools Close to Failing With “D+” on Wisconsin’s New Public School Report Cards[Madison, Wisc…] Racine Unified is Wisconsin’s fourth-largest district, educating 20,809 students in 2011-2012. Those students, on average, attended public schools that earned a “D+” grade in the state’s first edition of its public school report cards.
Racine’s public schools earned 62.22 out of a possible 100 points in the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) School Report Car–the equivalent of a “D+” on an “A-F” grading scale. The “D+” makes Racine Unified’s schools better than Milwaukee’s but worse than Madison’s amongst Wisconsin’s largest cities. Kenosha has yet to be analyzed but is next on the MacIver Institute’s list.
Schools were given overall grades based on their scores in four separate categories. Categories include student achievement (a base level of student knowledge), student growth (a measurement of annual student progress), closing gaps (how different student groups are performing), and on-track and postsecondary readiness (a measure of how prepared students are for the next step in their education). Additional deductions could be made on a school-by-school basis related to issues such as dropout rates, absenteeism and test participation.
These grades fell into five categories, which are shown below. These categories were not assigned letter grades by the state, but instead deal with expectations. However, “A-F” grades can be applied to each category, making them easier to reference and understand.
In Racine, none of the 33 schools earned a Significantly Exceeds Expectations, or “A” grade. Only three – Jefferson Lighthouse Elementary School, Schulte Elementary School and Walden III Middle School – earned “B” grades. Five schools earned failing grades, three of which were high schools. The district only has five schools that cater to students in grades 9-12.
Like Milwaukee and Madison before it, the district’s strengths lay in its lower grades. Racine’s elementary and middle schools just snuck into the “C-” range with scores above 63. However, the city’s high schools fared much worse. Racine’s four schools that served only grades 9-12 averaged a disappointing 51.68 score. Only Walden III High School, with a mark of 71.3 (or a “C+”) bucked the district’s trend of producing failing high schools.
Walden buoyed a cadre of high schools that otherwise fell well below DPI’s expectations. Student growth measurements are not available at this time, but should become apparent in coming years.
Racine only had two charter schools, the lowest figure amongst the two other districts (Milwaukee and Madison) that MacIver has already analyzed. The city’s local school board authorized one of these schools, The REAL School. The University of Wisconsin-Parkside authorized the other – 21st Century Preparatory School – as a 2R charter.
The two schools performed differently on the first round of report cards. The REAL School posted above-average marks for the district across the board, putting together a 71.8, which is equal to a “C+” grade when compared to other schools across Wisconsin. 21st Century Prep did not fare as well, scoring a 62.9, which rated slightly below the average for combined K-5 and middle schools.
This performance falls in line with some of the other trends we have seen in Milwaukee and Madison. In Milwaukee, where there are enough charter schools to represent a decent sample size, district-authorized charter schools slightly outperformed the city’s average grades and 2R Independent charters had significantly higher grades. In Madison, the district’s two charter schools actually fared worse than the city’s regular public schools.
These report cards give us a better idea of how well Racine’s schools are educating their students. While Racine is slightly outperforming Milwaukee, there is still much left to be desired. The city’s schools still average a “D” grade and none of its institutions significantly exceeded Wisconsin’s expectations in 2011-2012.
Racine Unified School District is performing poorly, and without any exceptional schools in the district, students have few options to maximize their educational needs.