Each fall, the School District of Rhinelander administers the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) to students in grades 3rd through 8th and 10th. The WKCE test is an assessment that provides a yearly snapshot of our students’ proficiency in reading and math. The results of the tests are forwarded to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and compared to the state AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) report as required by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
The AYP report has annual measurable objectives (goals) that are accelerated as the goals reach the 2013-14 school year. From the 2001-02 school year to the 2013-14 school year, we are required to increase reading and math proficiencies 39 percent. Expectations are high, and the School District of Rhinelander has been working diligently to meet the expectations.
When the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act was authorized, it was known that most, if not all, schools across the United States would be in need of improvement by 2014. We responded to this mandate by raising our educational expectations over the past 10 years, striving to not be identified as needing improvement. Our administration and teachers have been working to ensure the best possible educational opportunities for our students. We remain hopeful that the educational growth model now being adopted, which focuses on individual student growth from year-to-year, will aid us in helping our students on their educational journey in the years ahead.
In order to reach the annual measurable objectives defined by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the School District has implemented math and reading initiatives in our schools. These initiatives have required significant changes to our instructional practices, our professional development strategies and our progress monitoring.
Whenever a major initiative is launched within the School District, the process takes three to five years to implement. The implementation process begins with reviewing instructional practices and updating professional development strategies. Before we can change the way we teach our children, we must first change the way we teach. This means we must provide professional development that will provide our teachers the tools they need to meet the needs of our dramatically rising expectations of schools, and all the students in them.
As teachers utilize new tools and implement new curriculum, a major component of launching a new initiative is progress monitoring, which provides valuable feedback on the success of the program. Response to Intervention (also known in our District as Response to Instruction) is a personalized and individual approach that supports greater success for students-and provides the District with valuable information on which teaching techniques are most effective, and where changes need to be made. As we work through the three to five year process, we make needed adjustments in our plan, ever focused on the needs of our students and on their success.
Each spring, we receive the state testing results. We expect the newest set of results in late May. As we closely monitor our progress, we know that we have areas in need of improvement. As we strive to meet the accelerated goals of the AYP, we know that our fall WKCE scores will show that we still have work to do.
Our literacy plan has helped us to improve our state scores. Students in various grades at Pelican, Central, NCES and NCSS met the state goals. Our math scores are improving, but we are still short of meeting our goals. Recognizing that we may not meet the state goals, we have been proactive in implementing improvement strategies. We put into action math improvement plans at our schools two to three years ago, and are seeing a slow but steady increase in testing scores.
Our work is not complete, and failure is not an option. Student learning is our priority, and we believe that our multi-year approach will continue to progress as we continue to build learning successes for our students.
Please contact our superintendent, Roger Erdahl, at (715) 365-9750 if you have questions.
Kim Swisher is available by calling (715) 365-9700, ext. 5701, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.