Hamilton one of top five K-12 school districts in Wisconsin

HSD1ofTop5Districts

Wisconsin School Report Card data were released Sept. 16, and the Hamilton School District’s performance once again was among the highest in the state. Hamilton was one of only five K-12 school districts in the state that earned the top “significantly exceeds expectations” rating in the third annual School Report Card released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Read more

Hamilton one of only five K-12 school districts with top rating on Wisconsin School Report Card

Wisconsin School Report Card data were released Sept. 16, and the Hamilton School District’s performance once again was among the highest in the state. Hamilton was one of only five K-12 school districts in the state that earned the top “significantly exceeds expectations” rating in the third annual School Report Card released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. In addition to the district earning the highest designation possible, Lannon, Marcy and Woodside elementary schools and Hamilton High School also earned “significantly exceeds expectations” at the school level. Maple Avenue Elementary School and Templeton Middle School earned “exceeds expectations” ratings.

“Being among the top five K-12 school districts in Wisconsin is a great accomplishment,” said Hamilton Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D. “It is a credit to staff members, families and community members who have high expectations for Hamilton students and support what it takes to provide an excellent educational environment.”

“The district’s Strategic Plan lays out the steps we need to take to ensure maximum achievement for all students. It has helped guide us in how we use resources so that instruction is the priority,” she said. “Our continued focus is to provide rigorous curriculum and high quality instruction which engages learners and inspires personal responsibility.”

Wisconsin implemented a new educational accountability system two years ago with more rigorous benchmarks and a new way to report school progress. Each public school now has a School Report Card that lets people know how well it is preparing students for their futures. Because of strategic planning efforts and a track record of focusing on student achievement, schools in the Hamilton School District earned positive ratings under the new system.

The new report cards present an overall accountability score calculated using four factors:

  • student achievement on state assessments;
  • year-to-year student growth in reading and mathematics;
  • success in closing gaps between specific groups of students; and
  • predictors of high school graduation and postsecondary readiness.

The overall accountability score rates schools on a scale of 0 to 100 and places them in one of five categories: significantly exceeds expectations (83-100), exceeds expectations (73-82.9), meets expectations (63-72.9), meets few expectations (53-62.9) and fails to meet expectations (52.9 and below). Each Hamilton school was rated as “exceeds expectations” or “significantly exceeds expectations.

Hamilton School District 2013-14 School Report Card data

School

Overall score

Student achievement

Reading

achievement

Math achievement

Overall

rating

Lannon

86.7

90.2

40.2

50.0

Signif. exceeds

Maple Ave.

81.0

84.8

35.3

49.5

Exceeds

Marcy

89.0

93.8

43.8

50.0

Signif. exceeds

Woodside

87.0

87.2

38.2

49.0

Signif. exceeds

Templeton

79.7

87.6

38.1

49.5

Exceeds

Hamilton High

85.2

85.9

39.8

46.1

Signif. exceeds

District

83.0

88.5

38.8

49.7

Signif. exceeds

Overall achievement scores among Waukesha County K-12 school districts show Hamilton having the:

  • second highest K-12 school district (out of 10);
  • third highest regular high school (out of 15);
  • fourth highest middle school (out of 14); and
  • second, fourth, sixth and 19th highest elementary school performances (out of 53).

September 15, 2014

Marcy site plan presented

Marcy Principal Michele Trawicki reported on her school’s site planning process. Using an approach that was initiated last year, all four of the district’s elementary schools gathered to share updates on their current plan, new data and ideas to design their own unique plan. A team of elementary staff from throughout the district met Aug. 15 to review the district’s new tactical plan and then looked at their own building data to craft site plans for the rest of the year.

Marcy’s plan focused on literacy and mathematics goals. Tactics for the new year indicate that Marcy staff will:

  • use flexible grouping and a variety of resources during intervention block to maximize learning opportunities; and
  • continue to hold mathematics instruction to a high standard.

Trawicki credited her staff with the successful results achieved in the past year, including high achievement on standardized tests.

 

Summer Opportunities reports on successful year

Summer Opportunities Coordinator and Lannon Principal Dick Ladd shared information about the highly popular program with School Board members. A total of 2,057 students in grades 4K to 11 enrolled in classes. Combined, 138 teachers were employed and more than half of them were Hamilton School District staff. In all, 266 employees were employed including four administrative assistants, 35 paraprofessionals, 83 student teaching assistants, one coordinator and five assistant coordinators.

 

Faced with construction of the Hamilton Athletic Center and possible roadwork in front of the high school, staff came up with a new way to safely transport 1,500 students to the high school. Free shuttles from a Sussex park and three elementary schools alleviated congestion at the high school – a solution so well received that many parents asked the district offer the service in the future even though construction at the high school will be completed.

Another success was an increase in the number of students who accepted summer school invitations to strengthen academic skills. The percentage of students who attended summer school after recommendations from school staff increased from about 40 to 48 percent.

 

High school continues progress

Hamilton High School Principal Candis Mongan provided School Board members with an update on achievement initiatives in the past year. The school continues to reach historically high levels of achievement and is recognized for its accomplishments. The high school was named to Newsweek Magazine’s “America’s Best High Schools” list for three consecutive years as well as The Daily Beast’s best high schools list, placing it in the top 10 high schools in Wisconsin and among the top 700 high schools in the country. For the second year, the school achieved “significantly exceeds expectations” rating on the Wisconsin School Report card. Other achievements include:

 

  • Advanced Placement — Hamilton High School’s Advanced Placement pass rate remains high, but what has people taking notice is the significant increase of students taking the exam. In the past five years, the number of Hamilton students taking AP exams increased from 203 to 322 – an increase of nearly 59 percent and a historic high. During this time, the pass rate remained above 80 percent, the most recent being 82.3 percent.
  • Challenge Index — AP pass rates and percentage of students taking the exams affect the school’s Challenge Index, a ratio that represents the availability of advanced coursework in the school’s curriculum. Because many more students are taking AP exams, the school’s Challenge Index score increased from 1.2 in 2013 to 1.53 in 2014. The 1.53 score represents the highest Challenge Index score in the school’s history.
  • ACT — With an average composite score of 24.1, Hamilton High School’s 2014 score was the highest in the school’s history. The last time the school reached this pinnacle was in 2010 when 229 students took the exam compared to 266 test-takers in 2014. Hamilton’s composite score increased from 23.6 in 2013 to 24.1 in 2014. Like AP exam participation, the number of students taking the ACT exam is the highest in the school’s history.
  • PISA – Hamilton was one of 14 Wisconsin high schools that participated in the PISA test which measures reading, mathematics and science of 15-year-olds. Hamilton’s participation will allow its results to be compared to international results.

School Board members congratulated the high school for the progress it has made in the past few years.

 

Board sets annual goals

The School Board established seven 2014-15 goals for the superintendent and school board. They include:

  • develop resources and implement strategies and initiatives to enhance student achievement;
  • implement strategic vision-tactical planning model;
  • monitor and update technology to support student achievement;
  • implement communication to promote understanding of district initiatives and accomplishments;
  • develop and implement plans for district facility needs;
  • monitor external political and demographic factors and identify potential implications and proactive positions for the district; and
  • update School Board policies and positions descriptions.

Personnel matters

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • approved the retirement request of Marcy head custodian Steve Katona, effective Jan. 15;
  • accepted the resignation of Templeton paraprofessional Megan Sykes;
  • appointed Cody Curtis as a Woodside custodian and Anna Zorn as a Templeton special services paraprofessional; and
  • agreed to hire an additional instructional-supervisory paraprofessional to help at Templeton Middle School where student enrollment is up. At five hours per day during the school year, the position is a 63 percent position.

Maple Avenue earns state high progress award

Maple Avenue Elementary School was one of 173 schools to earn the 2014-15 Wisconsin School of Recognition Award. Presented to schools that demonstrate high achievement and progress, the award recognizes above-average results in reading and mathematics when compared to schools of similar size, configuration and community make up.

Maple Avenue falls within the top 10 percent of Title I schools experiencing growth in reading and mathematics scores, and has a minimal or shows evidence of reducing its achievement gap among student subgroups. In addition, Maple Avenue met the state’s test participation, attendance and dropout goals.

A recognition ceremony to honor Maple Avenue and other distinguished schools will be Oct. 13 at the State Capitol in Madison.

Maple Avenue Principal Kristin Koeper-Hamblin credits the commitment and hard work of staff and students for the achievement.

“Our staff and students are truly deserving of this special recognition,” Koeper-Hamblin said. “Our staff is dedicated to providing rigorous classroom instruction and research-based reading and math interventions to our students.”

Teaching staff members dig deep into student data and use weekly monitoring to identify what students need and target instruction to promote learning and achievement, according to Koeper-Hamblin.

“Our continued hard work and positive relationships among staff, students and families will help us reach our goal of meeting the educational needs of all Maple Avenue students,” she said.

Hamilton again on Newsweek’s “Best High Schools” list

For the third consecutive year, Hamilton High School was named to Newsweek Magazine’s “America’s Best High School” list for 2014. The ranking highlights the best 500 public high schools in the nation – ones that have proven to be the most effective in turning out college-ready graduates.

Hamilton is one of only 17 Wisconsin high schools on this year’s list. Newsweek created the list by first identifying schools that perform at or above the 80th percentile within each state and then calculating a a college-readiness score for each school based on:

  • graduation rate;
  • Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate credits;
  • ACT or SAT exam scores;
  • change in student enrollment between grades 9-12; and
  • counselor-to-student ratio.

Hamilton Principal Candis Mongan said being named again to Newsweek’s best high schools list is an honor because it reaffirms the commitment of Hamilton teachers who continually work to advance their teaching skills.

“Teachers have taken on quite a few new initiatives in the interest of self-improvement and bettering their instructional skills, always keeping their sight on students and their academic growth,” Mongan said.

Superintendent Kathleen Cooke, Ph.D., credited high school staff for being focused and deliberate in their effort to increase rigor and meet the needs of all students. She noted that the district’s Strategic Plan and the school site plan have success indicators that include the factors that Newsweek used to rank America’s top high schools.

September 2, 2014

Educator Effectiveness evaluation rolled out

In planning for the past three years, the state’s Educator Effectiveness (EE) mandate goes into place this year for all district teachers, educational specialists and administrators. The Wisconsin Legislature mandated in 2011 that all public and charter schools use a new evaluation system at least the first year of an educator’s employment and every third year thereafter. The frequency of evaluations for the Hamilton School District has not changed, but the process has, according to Human Resources Director John Roubik who, with Instructional Supervisor Katie Little, Ph.D., updated the School Board on the district’s move to a new evaluation system.

After reviewing the state system, the district decided last year to use an evaluation system set up by CESA 6 known as the Effectiveness Project. The system is intended to provide teachers and principals with ongoing feedback and meaningful information about the impact their practice has on student learning and includes:

  • Teachers and principals coach and mentor each other based on identified strengths and growth opportunities, giving educators more control over their professional growth.
  • The EE system acknowledges the critical role educators play and provides the opportunity to reflect and refine practice to continually meet student needs.
  • Evaluators complete rigorous observation training before evaluating teachers and collecting evidence aligned to a specific rubric to minimize evaluator bias.

The system is consistent with the state’s expectation that evaluations are based equally on student outcomes and effective educator practice in the classroom. The Effectiveness Project evaluation for teachers and principals includes self-assessment, observation, a documentation log, survey, interim report, summative report, performance improvement and Student Learning Objective (SLO). All teachers and principals will set SLOs based on student achievement goals.

While the new evaluation system will be time-consuming for teachers and administrators, Hamilton may find itself in a better position than other districts because it has operated with a robust evaluation system for years. In addition, administrators have tried to align the new initiative with work already being done to improve student learning and achievement through school improvement plans and district strategic planning.

Little said the value of the initiative is that it is systematic and systemic in identifying what is needed to be an effective educator.

Variety of assessments ensure instruction needs are met

The district uses a variety of assessments to ensure that instruction meets the needs of students. Instructional Services Supervisor Katherine Little, Ph.D., presented a report on five district assessment program initiatives that the district will focus on in 2014-15:

  • Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) is required for all K4 to grade 2 students beginning this year. The screener will be used in the fall and spring.
  • Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is used in grades 1-10 in Hamilton and for grades 11 and 12 special education students. Used in the district for more than a decade, the system was developed by the Northwest Evaluation Association. Data is used to help inform instruction and identify students for targeted intervention and extension.
  • District benchmarks are being reviewed in light of increased mandated standardized testing. The district writing assessment was evaluated and updated for rigor and relevance. Expansion to all grades at Templeton is being considered.
  • RtI progress monitoring uses assessment probes to monitor the progress of students involved with specific RtI interventions. The district shifted to AIMS Web as a tool to assess and track student progress for intervention. A refresher training workshop was offered to teachers in August.
  • State assessment will change this year with WKCE slated to be administered only in grades 4,8 and 10 in science and social studies. Smarter balanced assessments will be given in the spring for grades 3-8 in mathematics and reading. Ninth- and tenth-graders will take the ACT Aspire in the spring. The ACT Plus Writing and the ACT WorkKeys will be administered to juniors in the spring.

Curriculum revision process focuses on four areas

During the coming year, music, information and technology literacy, world languages and elementary writing will be content areas that committees will review and revise. Instructional Services Supervisor Katie Little, Ph.D., said committees will identify areas of strength and needed growth, review best practices and align curriculum with standards. Specific learning targets and student “I can” statements will be identified.

Two students admitted into kindergarten early

Two students were admitted early into kindergarten for 5-year-olds last year, according to a report presented by Special Services Supervisor John Peterson. District policy indicates children must be four, five or six years old by Sept. 1 to enter four-year-old kindergarten, regular kindergarten or first grade, respectively. While procedures exist for early admission to regular kindergarten and first grade, no early admission is granted for four-year-old kindergarten.

Personnel business for Sept. 2

In personnel business, the School Board:

  • accepted the resignations of Templeton paraprofessional Anna Zorn, Woodside paraprofessional Lisa Polaske, and Woodside part-time technology integration resource teacher Christine Wesling.
  • appointed Benjamin Helm as Hamilton replacement social studies teacher, Rebecca McGinley as Maple Avenue paraprofessional, Lisa Bennett as Marcy special services paraprofessional, Carisma Rush as Templeton special services paraprofessional, Kelly Downs as Maple Avenue paraprofessional, Jennifer Zuberbuehler as Hamilton special services paraprofessional and Lisa Hauser as Woodside paraprofessional; and
  • modified the contracts of Woodside physical education teacher Jennifer Reuter from 50 to 62 percent, Maple Avenue Early Reading Empowerment replacement teachers DeMaris Gill from 60 to 70 percent and Patricia Kitscha from 40 to 50 percent, and Marcy physical education teacher Devon Hauser from 33 to 40 percent.

News of success greets Hamilton High School

Hamilton High School is starting the new year with good news on several fronts. Latest results from various sources show the school attained some of its highest results in history for Advanced Placement participation, Challenge Index and ACT exam scores, and designation as one of America’s high-performing high schools.

Advanced Placement
Hamilton High School’s Advanced Placement pass rate remains high, but what has people taking notice is the significant increase of students taking the exam. In the past five years, the number of Hamilton students taking AP exams increased from 203 to 322 – an increase of nearly 59 percent and a historic high. During this time, the pass rate remained above 80 percent, the most recent being 82.3 percent.

Challenge Index
AP pass rates and percentage of students taking the exams affect the school’s Challenge Index, a ratio that represents the availability of advanced coursework in the school’s curriculum. Because many more students are taking AP exams, the school’s Challenge Index score increased from 1.2 in 2013 to 1.53 in 2014. The 1.53 score represents the highest Challenge Index score in the school’s history.

ACT
With an average composite score of 24.1, Hamilton High School’s 2014 score was the highest in the school’s history. The last time the school reached this pinnacle was in 2010 when 229 students took the exam compared to 266 test-takers in 2014. Hamilton’s composite score increased from 23.6 in 2013 to 24.1 in 2014. Like AP exam participation, the number of students taking the ACT exam is the highest in the school’s history.

Daily Beast Top High Schools
Hamilton High School was ranked on The Daily Beast’s 2014 list of top high schools. The national comparison of high schools placed Hamilton in the top 10 high school in Wisconsin and among the top 700 high schools in the country. Criteria for the ranking rely heavily on graduation and college-acceptance rates. Other data used include college-level courses and exams, percentage of students with free or reduced lunch, and ACT and SAT scores.

Hamilton High School Principal Candis Mongan credited work of staff members and effective strategic planning for the school’s success.

“Teachers at Hamilton High School are committed to excellence,” Mongan said. “Their dedication to increased student achievement is evidenced in the classroom.”

While recognizing the Hamilton’s strong academic performance and accomplishments, Mongan said the school will continue to make progress in meeting the needs of students.

“The examination of standardized test results indicate growth, however, this is not our endpoint. We will continue to pursue our school improvement goals,” she said.