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Manitowoc County Schools Report Cards are Out…and They May Surprise You

Somewhat recently, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released its annual ratings for all public schools in Wisconsin.  This article will provide some summary statistics with a bit of analysis. A deeper look at the numbers may be provided in a future article if this article is well received.  

To start, the DPI rates each individual school and entire school districts based on a 100 point scale, with ratings broken down as follows:

Rating Score
Significantly Exceeds Expectations 83 – 100
Exceeds Expectations 73 – 82.9
Meets Expectations 63 – 72.9
Meets Few Expectations 53 – 62.9
Fails to Meet Expectations 0 – 52.9


The ratings are mainly ranked on four factors—student achievement, growth, closing gaps, and on-track and post-secondary success.  Much more information about the methodology, along with far more detailed reports on each district, can be found at the DPI website, which is linked below.  As mentioned above, this article will provide just a few summary statistics.

Here are the overall ratings for each public school in the Manitowoc District, as well as the rating for the overall district:

School Rating
Entire Manitowoc District 65.7
Franklin Elementary 63.3
Jackson Elementary 72.7
Jefferson Elementary 62.9
Madison Elementary 68.9
Monroe Elementary 73.3
Stangel Elementary 74.1
Washington Junior High 67.2
Wilson Junior High 64.4
Lincoln High School 62.3


Next, here is a table showing the Manitowoc School District along with other districts in Manitowoc County.  A column showing the percentage of economically disadvantaged students has been added.

District Rating % Economically Disadvantaged
Manitowoc 65.7 40.9%
Two Rivers 64.5 45.5%
Kiel 75.1 17.4%
Mishicot 72.9 22.5%
Reedsville 74.4 23.7%
Valders 71.1 16.3%


Finally, a table showing the Manitowoc School District along with comparably sized districts within Northeastern Wisconsin, plus Milwaukee:

District Rating % Economically Disadvantaged
Manitowoc 65.7 40.9%
Appleton 68.5 35.8%
Fond du Lac 71.9 41.9%
Green Bay 63.0 56.4%
Menasha 73.4 56.5%
Neenah 75.5 25.7%
Oshkosh 74.0 41.1%
Sheboygan 71.2 52.1%
Milwaukee 57.0 85.6%


Now, some analysis.  I will start by saying that it is very difficult to get apples-to-apples comparisons between schools.  There are just so many factors going into school success that it is difficult to capture all of them, and every person is likely to have his or her own priorities in terms of what is important.  I have added the information about economically disadvantaged students because I think that would be an important factor in the overall success rate of a school district. However, the Department of Public Instruction website has considerably more information about what went into the ratings, and more specific information on each school.  The entire methodology and ratings were developed by the DPI—These ratings are not coming from some evil conservative think tank or a private-school advocating public group with an ax to grind.

I think it can be safely said that, again, based on these ratings only, Manitowoc could be doing quite a bit better.  First, let’s look at the table showing all of the Manitowoc schools. There aren’t too many surprises here to me. The elementary schools are ranked about how I would have guessed and, again, many of the lower scoring schools tend to be in lower income neighborhoods.  It may surprise some that Washington Junior High schools scores noticeably higher than Wilson, and that Lincoln High School is the lowest rated school in the entire district.

The table showing all of the districts in Manitowoc County is interesting, but seems pretty easy to explain once I look at it more closely.  The smaller districts have fewer students to educate, and a lower percentage of them are economically disadvantaged. I’m not sure those factors alone explain the rating difference, but I think they would play a significant part.  

More interesting is the table showing the similarly sized districts in our part of the state.  Here, Manitowoc appears to lag. The only district that has a lower rating is Green Bay. The economically disadvantaged statistic helps explain why Manitowoc lags, say, Neenah, but it doesn’t come close to explaining why Manitowoc is behind districts like Appleton, Fond du Lac, and Oshkosh, oftentimes by a rather wide margin.  To put things in some perspective, though, Manitowoc’s district does “meet expectations”, and I have also included Milwaukee which many would view as one of the worst districts in the state. Manitowoc is nowhere near that.

Questions for Discussion:
What factors should be used to rate schools?
Does Manitowoc’s rating seem accurate?
Is Manitowoc’s rating acceptable?  What score should Manitowoc strive for?
Should there be consequences for districts that score below a certain threshold?

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