MPS year-to-year test results largely mirror state

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Public Schools students largely mirrored the year-to-year change seen across Wisconsin in statewide test results released Tuesday.

Students in Milwaukee Public Schools also posted higher proficiency rates than students using publicly-funded vouchers to attend private schools, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, though the figures show much work remains for educators across the city of Milwaukee.

MPS saw relatively stable year-to-year performance in both reading in math on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination, with math proficiency up by roughly one percentage point. That continues a trend of growing math proficiency in the district, which has risen by 10 percentage points over the last six years compared to five points statewide.

In total, 40 MPS schools saw year-to-year increases in the percentage of students rated proficient or better in both math and reading between 2010-11 and 2011-12. Twenty-eight MPS schools are now roughly at or above the state average in reading and 26 are roughly at or above the state average in math.

MPS 10th graders improved in reading and math at a faster rate than the state, with the most significant reading growth coming from African-American students.

In addition, 48.4% of MPS 3rd graders who scored ‘minimal’ in reading in 2010-11 moved up to ‘basic’ or better as 4th graders in 2011-12. That growth would not be captured in proficiency figures because the students are not yet proficient as measured by the test.

Those data show significant progress among some of the district’s lowest-performing students and at the most difficult grade-level transitions, despite the overall slight drop in reading proficiency in the district.

The movement of students from minimal to basic in particular shows that time will be needed to improve the results of students who had been struggling for years, Superintendent Gregory Thornton said, noting that proficiency rates are still unacceptably low.

“This is our first test under the new comprehensive literacy and comprehensive math/science plans. National experts confirm that the plans are absolutely the right measures. Now we need the time to continue putting them in place and see their effects. As I’ve said before, I will be looking in future years to explore ways to extend the school day, extend the school year, expand teacher professional development and rely more heavily on summer programs to bring our students to where they need to be,” Dr. Thornton said.

“We know the funding cuts that have increased class sizes, eliminated some teacher coaches and cut into professional development probably don’t help our situation, but we cannot and will not make that an excuse,” the Superintendent said. “We will work harder to improve education for our young people and we ask our parents to pledge to do the same.”