The last time that I released information from Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) regarding the Fall Creek School District, I was met with some criticism that I was misinterpreting the data, or that the values didn’t mean what I thought they meant. However, those that made these statements didn’t provide any alternative interpretations of the data to contrast with my analysis. I stand by my past statements that on a hundred point scale, we SHOULD be comparing ourselves based on a standard educational grading system.
If the scale meant something other than that, if for example it was similar to the way that SATs are scored 400 to 1600, or the ACTs are scored 1-36, they would have a point. Or, even, if the schools and districts themselves didn’t actually fall along a 0-100 scale on average, and the schools and districts only ranged between 40 and 80 points, then that should surely be taken into account.
However, that’s not the case. The possible range is from 0-100, and schools and districts absolutely fall within that entire range.
For example, last year’s scores (for the 2020-2021 school year), show that the Swallow school district outside of Waukesha scored an Overall Accountability Score of 96.9, the highest in the state, while our closer neighbor Lake Holcombe, north of Cornell, had the lowest score for that year with a value of 46.9. Fall Creek, meanwhile, was somewhere in the middle of all districts with a value of 72.9, making it district #181 out of 420 districts overall, slightly “above average”, in the 43rd percentile meaning that 43% of schools were “above” us and 57% of schools were “below us” in ranking for this score.
As such, I do truly believe that the standard educational grading scale is an appropriate way to judge our school systems.
I want the best for my kids, and for yours. As such, I would like to see the Fall Creek School District at the TOP of that list someday. We already do well for our students. My children personally have received excellent care from their teachers, who have been open, honest, and conducive to working with my wife and I to try to get the very best possible outcome for my twins.
However, some have responded to my past data releases with statements similar to “how about us vs. other local districts as opposed to the state of Wisconsin as a whole?” or “it’s not fair to compare us to schools elsewhere in the state”.
This is an absolutely fair point.
As such, and since I’ve had some time to spare for once, I’ve crunched the numbers and plotted them, for your convenience. First, I compared Fall Creek to our other fellow “rural” school districts. Looking at by district-by-district scores, and only looking at the Overall Accountability Scores, which are the amalgam of all of the other scores that the DPI judges our schools on, here’s where the local schools pan out:
We started in “third place” regionally behind Stanley-Boyd (which has been the consistent top regional school) and Elk Mound. And while we in general maintained our score for the most part and had fairly stable numbers over the years (with only a slight trend downwards), other local school districts shot up and started to surpass us, namely Colfax, Osseo-Fairchild, and Cadott. We now sit in “sixth place” in terms of rank using this DPI metric.
Secondly, I performed the same comparison to the Eau Claire and Chippewa School District, as I’m sure we’re all interested in how we fare against our more “metropolitan” neighbors. The results should not be a surprise to anyone:
Aside from a temporary dip in 2015-2016 where Eau Claire surpassed us in this metric, Fall Creek has FAR surpassed the two larger cities in Overall Accountability. So, for this we can be PROUD.
However, I think it is important for us to keep aware of these values, as well as all of the other metrics, and work towards improving them even better.
Because I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to just have “good feelings” about our schools. I want our schools to be PROVABLY better than the rest. We’re already provably better than Eau Claire and Chippewa. I want to see us push to be better than ALL of the regional schools, and push even further than that to become the best primary academic institutions in the STATE.
I hope you wish the same as well for your children, and mine.
All of my data sheets can be found below, for anyone else that wants to perform their own analysis.