Whitewater’s True and Worthy Success – 2017

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33cscreenshotPost 6 in a weekly series.

I posted last week about a State of the Schools presentation, and planned to follow this week with an assessment of that presentation, but there’s a more recent development that should – and so does – take precedence.

On February 10th, one of Whitewater’s schools, Washington School, was named a Title I School of Recognition for significant academic achievement as a high-progress school even in conditions of meaningful child poverty. The award acknowledges what a true optimist knows: that Whitewater’s schools can succeed, regardless of present circumstances, through the work of smart and dedicated people.

Here are the criteria from the Department of Public Instruction:

Wisconsin Title I School of Recognition Criteria
All schools receive federal Title I aid because they have
significant numbers of students from low-income families.
They also meet the state’s test-participation, attendance,
and dropout goals as well as additional award criteria:
High-Achieving Schools
• meet all Annual Measurable Objectives for achievement
and graduation
• have achievement gaps that are less than 3 points
between student groups or show evidence of reducing gaps
• demonstrate high achievement at the school level
High-Progress Schools
• fall within the top 10 percent of schools experiencing
growth in reading and mathematics for elementary and
middle school students or the top 10 percent of schools with
the greatest improvement in high school graduation rates
• have achievement gaps that are less than 3 points
between student groups or show evidence of reducing gaps
Beating-the-Odds Schools
• are in the top 25 percent of high-poverty schools in
the state
• have above-average student achievement in reading
and mathematics when compared to schools from
similarly sized districts, schools, grade configurations, and
poverty levels

The grandiose, the sketchy, the slick: they’re useless, and in fact detrimental, to actual success. Old Whitewater – a state of mind, not a person or chronological age – has run (and now staggers) on a commitment to presentations of that ilk. Real success, however, comes not from a presentation, but from daily hard work that is too seldom mentioned.

It’s all to the good that the genuine success at one of our schools received statewide recognition.

What one school has done, other schools can do also. There’s not the slightest doubt of this, if only we would try.

On our school district’s website this morning, there’s a link to a glossy ‘annual report,’ including some dodgy data and grandiose claims. There’s no link on that main page to this Wisconsin Title I School of Recognition award. Our district might have embedded this file on its website easily, confidently, and boldly, but they’ve not.  Whitewater YES for Education might have mentioned it, but they’ve not.

One can guess why they didn’t – the award rests on the plain truth that many of our children come from impoverished families. Acknowledging that on the district’s website may seem, well, a bit too much for local officials.

It’s astonishing how confused they must be about what truly impresses families thinking of staying in our district, or impresses talented families thinking of coming here.

Truly talented and capable men and women – inside and outside Whitewater – will always prefer direct, honest gains over slick presentations. They can see what the town is really like; sugary language deceives no one.

This recognition shouldn’t be ignored, or simply linked somewhere to be forgotten in a week or two – it should be embedded on the main page of this district’s website, and passed out to every inquiring family. It should be embedded proudly on other websites for others to see.

And so I have done exactly that, on this website.

Well done, to all who achieved this recognition – so very well done.


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