Daily Bread for 12.30.21: The DPI Report Card for the Whitewater School District

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 34.  Sunrise is 7:25 AM and sunset 4:30 PM for 9h 05m 13s of daytime.  The moon is a waning crescent with 14.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1916, Russian mystic and advisor to the Tsar Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin is murdered by a loyalist group led by Prince Felix Yusupov. His frozen, partially-trussed body was discovered in a Moscow river three days later.  

Rasputin’s life later formed the basis of a historically inaccurate, but catchy, tune by Boney M. (“Ra ra Rasputin Lover of the Russian queen/There was a cat that really was gone/Ra ra Rasputin/Russia’s greatest love machine/It was a shame how he carried on.” Caution: earworm in 3, 2, 1…) 

 Of four perspectives on the Whitewater School District, one starts sensibly with the condition of the district now.  A single report will not capture all, but a carefully-crafted report may capture enough.)  The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s district report cards are a sound discussion starter.  They assess through multiple academic and socio-economic measures, having been developed over time, without a pecuniary motivation.

(Whitewater has had a problem for years with the use of poorly-sourced data. The US News and World Report school rankings touted by the district administration this year are both new at the lower grade levels and commercially-motivated.  Some years ago, a group of development men cherry-picked ACT scores in Whitewater, when that standardized test was not universally required, to make the district look better than its overall performance. See What’s Being Done is More than Just a (Sketchy) Number, Whitewater’s ACT Scores and Participation Rates, The Better, Reasoned Approach on ACT Scores, and Whitewater’s ACT Scores.)

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Discussion of the state’s district report cards should be a carefully-considered starting point for academic performance. It’s not something to skip over. One would expect a physician to be able to interpret an x-ray, or a lawyer to understand a judicial opinion. There might, of course, be varying professional interpretations of x-rays or judicial decisions, but at the least, a professional should be taking them into account.

The same is true with faculty, principals, administrators, and superintendents: if they’ll not start with consideration of fundamental reports, they’ll end well only by chance. And no one, at least no one sensible, hires a professional to end well merely by chance.

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