Two area school districts exceeded expectations and one district met expectations on the state’s 2018-’19 report cards, according to data released by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) earlier this month.

The Northland Pines and Three Lakes school districts received four out of five stars on the report card, meaning they exceeded expectations. Meanwhile, the Phelps School District received three stars out of five and met expectations.

The DPI released the 2018-’19 report cards on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

This is the fourth year state report cards have used legislatively mandated calculations. 

For 2018-’19, 2,112 public schools and 322 private choice schools received report card ratings. The DPI reports that overall, 87% of rated schools meet or exceed expectations, including 96% of the state’s 421 public school districts. Forty districts were rated at the highest accountability level, a five-star rating, meaning they significantly exceed expectations. 

Report cards are intended to help schools and districts use performance data to target improvement efforts to ensure students are ready for their next educational step, including the next grade level, graduation, college and careers. 

Districts and schools that had a score of between 83-100 significantly exceed expectations; between 73-82.9 exceed expectations; between 63-72.9 meet expectations; between 53-62.9 meet few expectations; and between 0-52.9 fail to meet expectations.

The Northland Pines School District had an overall report card score of 75.7, Three Lakes was at 77.2 and Phelps was at 70.8, improving from 64.1 last year. Priority areas ranked included student achievement, district growth, closing gaps, and on track and post-secondary readiness, which includes graduation and attendance rates, third-grade English language arts achievement, and eighth-grade mathematics achievement. 

Northland Pines

Northland Pines School District had an overall score of 75.7, which “exceeds expectations” and is the same score as last year. According to District Administrator Scott Foster, Northland Pines has “exceeded expectations” since the start of state report cards in 2012-’13.

Foster said the closing gaps score increased this year, but student achievement, growth and postsecondary readiness demonstrated a decline. He said the Pines graduation rate and attendance were slightly above the state average and third-grade English language arts is slightly above the state with eighth-grade math showing below state average.

Growth over time shows students with disabilities performing slightly higher than students that are economically disadvantaged. Of the 1,306 students attending Northland Pines schools, over 15% are students with disabilities and just over 47% are economically disadvantaged.

Northland Pines High school students’ overall score was 82.6 and “exceeds expectations.” The Northland Pines Middle School (grades 7-8) overall score was 66.1 which “meets expectations.”

The Eagle River Elementary School, for grades preK-4 through sixth grades, had an overall score of 65.1, which “meets expectations.” St. Germain Elementary had a score of 82.9, which “exceeds expectations.”

The School of Options and Applied Research (SOAR) charter middle school for grades five through eight overall score was 69.6, which “meets expectations.” 

The St. Germain Montessori, SOAR charter high school and Land O’ Lakes Elementary School could not be scored due to the low number of students enrolled and tested.

Foster said the report card is just one piece of the puzzle in how the district educates students.

“There are many other very important qualities that our families, community and the world want from our students which we also work hard to meet,” said Foster. “We hold ourselves accountable for these scores, but it is not the only indicator on how we judge our successes. It is important for us to not settle for scores; we need to be clear and work towards improved scores.

“One day tests are not a great measure, especially if students are not good test takers or have other things going on in their lives,” said Foster. “One example that we focus on is a high graduation rate; this is something that shows our long term commitment to student success.”

Foster noted that three of the Northland Pines schools do not have a score and use alternative accountability.  

“This is a decision by the state and statistically makes sense when you have very small class sizes and the data is not always accurate for these type of tests, so you need to use other local measures and that is how we are scored,” said Foster. “It is not a bad thing to have the different method, it is just how the system is set up.”

Three Lakes

Three Lakes School District officials announced that for the third consecutive year, the district has received an “exceeds expectations” rating on the state report cards.

Overall, the district received a score of 77.2 for the 2018-’19 school year.

Three Lakes Elementary received an 85.4, putting it in the “significantly exceeds expectations” category. Sugar Camp Elementary received an 81.4, putting it in the “exceeds expectations” category; Three Lakes Junior High received a 60.5, putting it in the “meets few expectations” category; and Three Lakes High School received a 77.9, putting it in the “exceeds expectations” category.

“The positive results of the district state report card support the excellent educational programming that is in place at Three Lakes School District,” said District Administrator Teri Maney. “Perhaps even more important, however, are the individual student stories and the success our students find as they learn and grow into productive citizens.”

Three Lakes School District officials acknowledge the report cards are only one mechanism to measure success.

“We also know that student success cannot be measured solely by one score,” said 7-12 Principal Gene Welhoefer. “Having high expectations and being accountable to stakeholders is a good thing. Even with the current results, we are looking to find areas for improvement to better serve our students in the future.”


Phelps School District overall report card score for 2018-’19 was 70.8, meaning the district “meets expectations,” according to the DPI. 

The Phelps Elementary School had a score of 70.6, while the Phelps High School had a score of 64.6, both within the “meeting expectations range of 63-72.9.

“The entire Phelps School District has focused our efforts on student academic growth, and it shows in our scores this year,” said Phelps District Administrator Delnice Hill. “Our score increased between 5 to 7 points overall. We are pleased with this big increase.”

Hill said the school district staff continues to work on improving in all areas of the report card.

“We are increasing our efforts in RTi (Response to Intervention), helping struggling students to get on track academically. We have increased staff and time for these interventions to be effective,” said Hill. “New curriculums in English/language arts and reading, science and social studies have been instrumental in our test scores increasing to the high end of ‘meeting expectations.’ ”

Hill said the district also partnered with CESA 9 to increase in-service time for teachers to collaborate, learn and work on instruction using the new curriculum.

“All of these efforts have helped our district’s report card score to have such a big improvement,” said Hill.

News correspondent Ken Anderson contributed to this article.