10 MPS schools become models of career and college readiness as cutting-edge GE Foundation Demonstration Schools

MILWAUKEE – Ten Milwaukee Public Schools elementary schools are set to become models for putting students on track to career and college readiness as new GE Foundation Demonstration Schools, the district and foundation announced Monday.

The schools will develop innovative ways to put the rigorous Common Core State Standards into practice. The Common Core State Standards define what students learn at each grade — and research has shown the standards will help make U.S. students competitive with counterparts around the world.

Forty-two eligible schools were invited to apply for the chance to be named an MPS GE Foundation Demonstration School. The teaching staff at all applying schools participated in the development of the application and the Milwaukee Teacher’s Education Association (MTEA) has been a strong partner in development of the Demonstration Schools.

MPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory E. Thornton announces the 10 GE Foundation Demonstration Schools.

The schools feature a mix of standards and practices focused on high levels of success and achievement:

– Rigorous instruction through the Common Core

– A true learning community in which teachers have the opportunity to collaborate during the school day to develop best practices for increasing student achievement

– A collaborative culture in which educators work together with students and parents to understand the needs of all learners

– Partnerships with businesses and community organizations that expand opportunities for students and ensure that they are prepared for college and career success.

Milwaukee Public Schools’ Comprehensive Literacy Plan and Comprehensive Math/Science Plan are aligned to the Common Core and the district has utilized portions of a five-year, $20.4-million GE Foundation grant to develop the Math/Science Plan and to help support or fund more than 80,000 hours of training for thousands of teachers.

A portion of the GE grant dollars will now be used to provide additional support to the 10 GE Foundation Demonstration Schools, including the creation of common planning time for teachers to work together to move students forward. New teaching positions have also been created for the schools, aimed at making relevant connections between curriculum and students’ lives.

As the schools develop innovative and successful strategies, other schools from across MPS — and perhaps across the nation — will be invited to visit the school and adapt the strategies to their own classrooms.

The GE Demonstration Schools project reflects the Milwaukee Board of School Directors continued efforts to build ways in which the district uses a combination of innovative efforts and proven best practices to push forward efforts to engage broad sectors of the community to support student learning.

The announcement of the project comes as MPS and schools across the state are holding themselves to new, higher definitions of success in the soon-to-be-released Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction school report cards. The new school report cards will reveal that schools across the state have more work to do to fully prepare students for college and careers.

“We must raise the bar to measure progress toward college and career readiness. Our students and families deserve it,” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said. “And we know that the Common Core State Standards are the way to get there. We’ve been putting them into place since 2010 — and now, thanks to the GE Foundation, we’re developing models that will show all of our schools the very best ways to use the Common Core to raise student achievement.”

“Research shows that the Common Core State Standards are the way to make sure students in the U.S. are competitive with their peers around the world. We are honored to work with Milwaukee Public Schools to develop models of how to put the Common Core into practice,” said Kelli Wells, program director for U.S. Education at the GE Foundation.

The 10 schools being named Monday are: Browning School, Clemens School, Curtin School, 53rd Street School, Fratney School, Kagel School, Milwaukee Sign Language School, 95th Street School, Pierce Street School and Victory School for the Gifted and Talented.

“The staff in these schools has the chance to be on the cutting edge of developing opportunities to advance teacher collaboration and improve student learning,” stated MTEA president Bob Peterson. “I am confident this effort will play a critical role linking educators, parents and students in meaningful ways that support our students.”

Milwaukee Public Schools isWisconsin’s largest school district, serving 80,000 students in more than 160 schools across the city. U.S. News and World Report named MPS’Rufus King International School and Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School the two best high schools in the state and among the 200 best in the country in 2012. In the past year, Milwaukee Public Schools posted a growing graduation rate 17 points higher than the rate for 2000.