Senior U.S. education official visits MPS’ Hamilton High School to see turnaround (with photos)

MILWAUKEE – A senior U.S. Department of Education official visited Milwaukee Public Schools’ Hamilton High School Wednesday to witness the school’s turnaround efforts aided by federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) awards.

The SIG efforts, in place this school year, are building upon progress Hamilton has seen. The school saw its reading proficiency grow by nearly 16 percentage points between last school year (2010-11) and the current year (2011-12). Math proficiency is up nearly 9 percentage points over the same period. Tenth-graders across Milwaukee Public Schools improved in reading and math at a faster rate than the state has a whole over that time.

Hamilton received more than $750,000 in SIG support, including funding for teacher supports, professional development, literacy coaching and intervention teachers who assist students struggling with reading and math.

“Turning around schools is one of the toughest, and important, challenges we face as a nation. This is never easy work — especially in large, comprehensive high schools like Hamilton. But with courageous leadership and strong collaboration among staff, Hamilton is making a real difference in the lives of its students,” Dr. Snyder said. “What I heard from students is that they are more engaged and given an opportunity to succeed.”

Violeta Curiel, a Hamilton senior, credited teachers for helping to inspire student growth over the past year.”They go the extra mile. They’re here on Saturdays, mornings and after school when we need extra help. They care about us, and it makes us really care about school.”

“Hamilton has made significant progress this year,” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said. “And we expect that progress to continue. There’s still more work to do, but we will use that progress as a model for other schools in need of a significant turnaround.”