Just as students take home report cards to parents throughout the year, school districts are also given yearly report cards by the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI).
The schools are scored on:
• Student achievement: This measures the level of knowledge and skills among district students, and is compared to state and national standards. This score is also broken down into English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics performance.
• District growth, which describes how much students' knowledge changes from year to year. This is also broken down into ELA and mathematics performance.
• Closing gaps measures the statewide goal of having all students improve, and narrowing achievement and graduation gaps between groups of students. This is broken down by ELA and Math achievement gaps, and graduation rate gaps.
• On-track and postsecondary readiness measures the success of students in the district at reaching educational milestones which predict postsecondary success. This is broken down by graduation rate, attendance rate, third grade ELA achievement, and eighth grade mathematics achievement.
Each school is also given an overall score.
Local schools have been mostly pleased with their scores, but district representatives said their schools strive to improve.
How'd RF do?
River Falls has been holding a "nice and steady pattern," according to Director of Academics Jennifer Peterson.
"As a district we exceed standard and not every district does that," Peterson said, "so we're very proud of those accomplishments."
She said the district always works not just to be above the state average score, but to be significantly above it.
"One thing that I really appreciate about River Falls is that we look at the entire educational experience," Peterson said, "and opportunities for students. We don't just go out there and try to teach ... so that we have a good score on the assessment."
River Falls doesn't just try to target performance on one test or measure, but looks at everything wholistically, Peterson said.
The district tries to identify student instruction needs, and take a wholistic 4K to 12th grade approach.
"We're always researching and looking at other best practices in other districts to make sure that what we're doing is you know, what's in the best interest of students," Peterson said. "We look at a lot of student climate surveys to find out how we can better meet their needs academically, emotionally and physically. We try to look the whole child and providing a wonderful educational experience."
Peterson said continuing to look at improving is just a part of good instruction and something that's inherently a part of what teachers do.
She said the district's scores show what River Falls has been doing is good.
"I think our students are doing very well," she said. "However, we always look for how we can improve."
She said there's always room for growth.
For example, Peterson said, right now the district is working on personalized learning at the elementary level and the middle school is focusing on ensuring lessons are meaningful to students.
"Here's areas that we want focus on and we're looking at that form a district wide perspective and we know we're going to continue to strive to do what's best for our community and all of our students," Peterson said.
Student achievement: 78.7
District growth: 72.7
Closing gaps: 66.5
On-track and postsecondary readiness: 99
Overall score: 77.6, exceeds expectations
Student achievement: 79.9
District growth: 60.4
Closing gaps: 70.2
On-track and postsecondary readiness: 92
Overall score: 78.5, exceeds expectations
Student achievement: 69.1
District growth: 53.6
Closing gaps: 63.2
On-track and postsecondary readiness: 91.7
Overall score: 70.3, meets expectations
Student achievement: 74.5
District growth: 75.5
Closing gaps: 68.3
On-track and postsecondary readiness: 91
Overall score: 77.2, exceeds expectations.
Student achievement: 76.9
District growth: 77.4
Closing gaps: 64.4
On- track and postsecondary readiness: 89.8
Overall score: 77.1, exceeds expectations
Student achievement: 61.1
District growth: 75.5
Closing gaps: 60
On-track and postsecondary readiness: 89.1
Overall score: 71.1, meets expectations
Student achievement: 63.9
District growth, 74.6
Closing gaps 46.8
On-track and postsecondary readiness 89
Overall score: 69.4, meets expectations
For comparison, the state scores for 2016-17 are as follows:
Student achievement: 66.7
District growth: 66
Closing gaps: 61.7
On track and postsecondary readiness: 86.5
All scores are given out of 100