Local school working to turn lower score into learning tool - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Local school working to turn lower score into learning tool

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - When a student brings home a report card, it's a good time to talk about what they did well, and where improvements can be made.  The same can apply to an entire school, because in Wisconsin, schools are now being graded by the state. 

Under new report cards, schools are placed in categories, from fails to meet expectations to significantly exceeds expectations. 

Thursday night, WQOW News 18 went to a meeting at an Eau Claire school, where the focus is on the future.

"A focus school means that there are some areas that we need to grow in," says Lakeshore Elementary Principal, Colleen Miner.

How do you measure academic success? Many would argue, there's more than one way.

"We can't just push it under the rug as just being one score, because it is a measure," says Miner.

The new Wisconsin report cards are part of a program replacing No Child Left Behind. The state's goal is to raise the graduation rate over the next five years.

Lakeshore Elementary Teacher, Tricia Helms, says, "I know there need to be measurements so that we can be held accountable for what we are teaching kids and what they are learning." 

Lakeshore was identified as a school that's meeting few expectations. 

"It is frustrating to get a report card from the state when it feels like people from the state are not coming to see what's going on in my classroom," says Helms.  

But the school is working to turn a negative number, into a positive future.

Miner says, "Right now we're going to receive support from different avenues, we're going to get support through DPI, through training for our leadership team, and also the Accountability Measures."

Before the scores were even released, Lakeshore was addressing a subject the staff already knew was a weak link.

"Did we know math was an area? Yes, that's why we hired a math coach and we're the only school in the Eau Claire Area School district who has a full time coach, just for our building," Miner explains.   

Here's another concern, more than half of the students in the school are considered economically disadvantaged.

Miner says, "Every student can learn, we just have to help them. They learn in different styles, we need to just meet them, no matter how much their parents make."

"We realize that we have a job to do and we're going to do what we can to do what's best for our students and sometimes that means making sure they've eaten breakfast. It means making sure they've had a hug that morning, it means making sure that the have what they need in order to be successful," says Helms.  

And while Lakeshore knows progress must be made, some parents are confident the building blocks are in place to get the job done.

"I think the teachers are doing an excellent job here," says Lakeshore parent, John McKane.  

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