To Whom It May Concern,
My name is Westley Bennett. I am a citizen of Fall Creek, Wisconsin, and parent to twin eight year olds that are second graders at Fall Creek Elementary School. Recently, I have run for a position in the school board and failed in my attempt to acquire the position. However, during the course of this attempt, I wanted to learn as much as I can about how our school systems work/function, and how they are judged, objectively. This brought me to the DPI’s website, specifically the Accountability Scorecards. On this page – https://dpi.wi.gov/accountability/resources , I came across the “meaning” of the scorecards as well as their “Rating Category”, which I’ll provide below for reference:
This appears to be the way upon which schools and districts are graded. It appears to be (from what I can see), a hundred point scale, just as most of our students, teachers, and parents are familiar with. However, these “Rating Categories” do NOT appear to line up with what I, as a parent, would consider to be acceptable standards for a hundred point scale rating system. For reference, below I’ve provided a graphic of the Standard Grade and Grade Point Average that I obtained from the National Assessment of Educational Progress’ website, colloquially known as “The Nation’s Report Card”:
Now, were I to superimpose this grading scale upon the DPI’s scorecard, this is the results of what the DPI considers to be a proper accountability rating, when compared against the national standard:
A hundred point grading scale is a hundred point grading scale, so I believe that superimposing the NAEP’s national standards on this report card is quite appropriate. I want my children to have the best possible education, and to do that, there must be a consistent objective metric by which we can measure the success of their schools and district. In my opinion, the DPI’s “Accountability Rating Category”, as it stands now, is preposterous and unacceptable. To consider a “grade” that would be considered nationally an F to “Meet Expectations”, and to accept a C as “Exceeds Expectations” to me are outrageous propositions. I would have expected that the State of Wisconsin would have higher standards than this. A rating of a C has been, as long as I’ve been alive, considered to be the standard metric for what’s “average” and expected, therefore I would think that we would set the bar to label a score as “Meeting Expectations” to be at LEAST a score of 70, and so on, and so forth.
Having low numerical values, low expectations, and giving them labels such as “Meets Expectations” and “Meets Few Expectations”, in my opinion is harmful to our children. Our expectations of our school districts and schools should match with what we would expect from our children. If we expect LESS than that, then we are setting our children up for failure when they leave the world of primary education and are expected to take care of themselves as adult citizens in the “real world”. I would like an explanation of how these “Accountability Rating Categories” were determined, and how their thresholds were decided upon.
Upon further research, I have found that, at least according to the MacIver Institute, these scores and standards have actually been LOWERED from previous years (https://www.maciverinstitute.com/2021/11/many-students-in-wisconsin-are-failing-while-95-of-school-districts-receive-passing-grade-according-to-dpi/ ), is this true? If so, how are these lower standards justified?
This is an open letter, upon which I have copied my wife, my State Senator Kathleen Bernier, and my State Representative Jesse James on this e-mail, in the hopes that their attention could assist in getting these concerns addressed. I will also be posting this letter publicly on my personal website, https://bennettforoffice.org/ .
Thank you for your time, and I eagerly await your response.