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Student Accomplishments Can’t Be Captured with One Test Score — We Are Redefining “Ready”

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Student Accomplishments Can’t Be Captured with One Test Score — We Are Redefining “Ready”

Those of us who graduated a decade or two ago (I must admit three) might struggle to recognize today’s classroom: furniture and spaces are arranged to encourage group collaboration, teachers are often seated among students (not standing at the front of the classroom) and it tends to get “noisy” as students share thoughts and ideas or peer-review one another’s projects on their iPads. Gone are the days when the teacher lectured, students scribbled notes, memorized facts, were tested and then graded.

During the last decade — and especially within the last two years — teaching and learning strategies at D.C. Everest have rapidly evolved to match the pace of technology, research on learning and the ever-changing needs of the workplace. Our end goal? To ensure that all our students are prepared for post-secondary education, a career and life. And doing so means that we don’t simply assess a high school student’s preparedness on a single test score (like the ACT or SAT) because a student’s potential cannot be captured by one standardized test. If you’ve reviewed an application for a two- or four-year college, you will notice the schools agree. They look at the whole person — ACT/SAT scores, the breadth and depth of a student’s coursework, their extracurricular activities, their interests, their ability to communicate and their community involvement. 

Our District follows an innovative model — called “Redefining Ready!” — launched by AASA, the School Superintendents Association. This model focuses on providing students with “rigorous academic programs, personalized and career-specific learning experiences, along with social and emotional skills” that prepare them to be successful in the 21st century. This model, like the DCE District, acknowledges that students learn in unique ways (personalized learning) and allows students to demonstrate what they’ve learned in individual ways (student choice). We also emphasize what are defined as STEAM (science, tech, engineering, art/design, math) skills, which includes coursework in these sectors as well as the ability to think critically and creatively, solve problems, persevere, innovate, collaborate and communicate with others. The model also relies heavily on community partnerships with local businesses and organizations to provide students with opportunities to explore a wide variety of careers. We are fortunate to have exceptional support from our community — be it the Junior High Adventure Days, the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, youth apprenticeships, internships, entrepreneur visits to classrooms or Dual Credit courses via NTC.

Undoubtedly, we are challenging students more than we did in the past in order to prepare them for the future. If you have a student in our District, you may have noticed that students seldom simply memorize facts and then take a test. While students still take tests, they also must demonstrate their understanding of the material. They can choose from a variety of learning tools to master the material and then they demonstrate what they have learned by solving real-world challenges. Take, for example, a recent assignment in Mrs. Trzebiatowksi’s Physical Science class. After a series of classroom lessons about Newton’s three laws of motion, the students chose a real-world subject of their choice, conducted research, interviewed experts, created video presentations to illustrate the laws of motion and then peer-reviewed the projects. I can sum up the presentations with one word: Amazing. I highly encourage you to watch the two samples included in this post because my words cannot do them justice.

Image Link to Physics of Tackling Video

Image Link to Physics of Gymnastics Video







Teaching students to develop skills that help them apply what they’ve learned to real-world challenges is one way we ensure students are prepared for life after graduation. To prepare students for post-secondary education, we also encourage them to enroll in Dual Credit or Advanced Placement courses that challenge students to perform at a higher academic level while offering them the opportunity to earn credits for two- and four-year colleges. These courses not only prepare students for the rigors of post-secondary education, they build confidence in students who may not feel they have the potential to pursue advanced education. If no one in a student’s family has pursued an advanced degree, we find that those students often feel that post-secondary education is not a realistic goal for them. We show them otherwise.

Another important part of Redefining Ready is career and life preparedness. As you may have seen on our District Facebook pages, DCE students play a very active role in our community. Some work on behalf of others — like Ava Luedtke, a fifth grade Rothschild Elementary student who was just awarded the “Random Acts of Kindness” award. The elementary students who rake thousands of leaves each fall for elderly community members. The students who honored Veterans on the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. The students who helped Peyton’s Promise collect food and stock the shelves of local pantries with nearly 47,000 pounds of food. The students who crafted and donated bowls to the Empty Bowl fundraiser. Or the Middle School students who designed and created an interactive Native Prairie Garden for the community. By donating their time and efforts to the community, our students learn the value of the being a good citizen.

Students also gain workplace experience by building homes for Habitat for Humanity, visiting manufacturers like Domtar and the Trees for Tomorrow camp to learn about sustainable career opportunities, participating in welding competitions hosted by the Central Wisconsin Metal Manufacturing Alliance, managing the student-run DECA Depot student store, or enrolling in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy to work alongside area business leaders while developing their own student businesses.

Together, the academic, extracurricular and community opportunities we provide students build life skills — collaboration, communication, respect, perseverance, confidence, creativity, critical thinking — that will help them build a path to the future.

Our students — like the opportunities and challenges before them — are unique multi-faceted individuals and in their best interests, and the interests of our global community, we will not reduce their potential and ability to one score on one test.


College and Career Preparedness Infographic

Dr. Kristine Gilmore