FILE - Wisconsin Rep. Jim Steineke

In this AP file photo, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, left, joins with Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, center, and Speaker Robin Vos in Madison, Wis., to discuss pending legislation.

(The Center Square) – There is growing pushback to the claim that 95% of school districts in Wisconsin are passing according to the latest state report card.

The Department of Public Instruction on Tuesday released its annual report cards. DPI claims the scores show more schools are doing better.

“Of the 421 school districts that received report cards, 399 met, exceeded, or significantly exceeded expectations,” DPI said in a statement.

That 87% metric remains unchanged from the 2018-2019 school year.

But state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond-du-Lac, said the numbers are actually worse than that because DPI moved the goal posts in the latest report cards.

“Wisconsin State Superintendent Jill Underly and the DPI have manipulated the 2020-21 District and School Report Card data in ways that mislead the public,” Thiesfeldt said Wednesday. “The department altered four of the five Accountability Ratings Categories to make it easier for schools to receive a higher rating.”

Specifically, DPI lowered the threshold for schools to meet expectations, or meet few expectations.

Schools across Wisconsin could score as low as a 58 and still meet expectations, Thiesfeldt explained. Back in 2018-2019 schools needed to score at least a 63 to meet expectations. The bar to meet few expectations dropped to as low as a 48.

“Superintendent Underly is creating a mirage with the data. This action seeks to hide from parents the impact of the poor decisions made in schools across Wisconsin during 2020,” Thiesfeldt added.

DPI did not want to produce school report cards this year, and is asking parents not to compare last year’s coronavirus-shortened year with other years.

Thiesfeldt says parents deserve to know what’s really going on in their kids' schools.

“Students do not benefit from the manipulation of these numbers,” Thiesfeldt said. “It is a clear attempt to manipulate media reporting on the Report Cards to help insulate DPI, school administrators, and school boards from accountability.”