Most MPS schools rated in new report cards grow student achievement better than or roughly as well as state

District embraces higher standards

MILWAUKEE – Most MPS schools rated in new state report cards are growing student achievement better than or at least roughly as well as the state as a whole.

But as expected, the new Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction school report cards show that schools across the state – including those in Milwaukee Public schools – must do more to prepare students for college and career success.

That’s because the report cards use state standardized tests from fall 2009, fall 2010 and fall 2011 – and re-score them using a tougher standard for success, one based upon the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The higher standard does not mean students have achieved less than was first reported when test scores were released – it means they must achieve more to be prepared for college and careers.

“We embrace higher standards because our students and parents deserve them. The results are not unexpected because we know we’ve seen growth in academic achievement but we also know we have much more work to do. And we know that the steps we are taking in Milwaukee Public Schools will help our students meet those higher standards,” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said.

Those steps include:

– Continued implementation of the district’s Comprehensive Literacy Plan and Comprehensive Math/Science Plan tied to the rigorous Common Core State Standards adopted in Wisconsin and more than 40 other states

– Increased use of data to grow student achievement

– Expanded use of a strong model to identify and grow excellent teaching

– An improved tutoring program with highly-qualified teachers and more tutoring hours

– and the development of 10 new MPS GE Foundation Demonstration Schools to develop innovative methods for using the Common Core to improve student achievement

Overall grades on the report card are based upon student achievement, growth in student achievement, each school’s ability to close gaps among student groups and on-track/post-secondary readiness. That last category includes graduation rate or attendance rate, key test score results and ACT participation/performance, if available. Schools can be docked if not enough students in each group of students take the test, if more than 13% of students are absent 16% or more of the time or for a dropout rate of 6% or more.

Of the 116 MPS schools given growth scores, 37 (32%) beat the statewide figure and another 37 (32%) were within five points of the state. New and alternative schools do not receive growth scores or overall scores.

MPS has created two documents for parents to help them better understand the new school report cards: a guide explaining how to read them (http://mpsportal.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/portal/server.pt/doc/93532/MPS-NewWisDPI_ReportCard_Oct2012.pdf); and a frequently-asked questions document (http://mpsportal.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/portal/server.pt/doc/93531/121005+FINAL+for+parents+-+DPI+report+card+FAQ.pdf). Parents at traditional public and charter schools across the state can find the report card for their school at: http://dpi.wi.gov/reportcards/districts.html

Milwaukee Public Schools is Wisconsin’s largest school district, serving nearly 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.