MPS achievement scores trend up, outpacing U.S. growth rate in math and reading on rigorous national exam

Higher scores seen in both subjects, both grades tested from 2011 to 2013 and 2009 to 2013

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee Public Schools students scored better this year than two years ago in both grades and both subjects tested on a rigorous national exam, yielding average score growth that outpaced the nation’s public school students and most other participating large urban school districts.

Scores from the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress Trial Urban District Assessment (NAEP TUDA), which students took from January to March 2013, show:

– In 4th-grade reading: MPS’ growth was the 4th highest among 21 participating districts

– In 8th-grade math: MPS’ growth was 5th highest among 21 participating districts

– In 8th-grade reading: MPS’ growth was 7th highest among 21 participating districts

– In 4th-grade math: MPS’ growth was 7th highest among 21 participating districts

MPS’ growth outpaced the rate of growth among U.S. public school students in all four grade-subject combinations and outpaced the rate of growth among large urban districts in 4th-grade reading, 8th-grade reading and 8th-grade mathematics.

The growth in scores comes as MPS has strengthened curriculum and put students on the path to college and career readiness through implementation of its Comprehensive Literacy Plan, beginning in 2010-11, and its Comprehensive Math/Science Plan, beginning in 2011-12.

MPS’ strongest area of growth from 2011 to 2013 was among Hispanic/Latino students, one of the district’s fastest-growing demographics. The growth among Hispanic/Latino students was large enough to represent a major statistical shift in 4th-grade math, 8th-grade math and 8th-grade reading. Scores for students who are learning English (ELL) also posted significant gains in 4th-grade math and 8th-grade reading. Other gains from 2011 to 2013 were not large enough to represent a major statistical shift.

MPS also saw growth over a larger period: scores were up modestly from 2009 to 2013 in both reading and math and in both 4th and 8th grades. The strongest growth from 2009 to 2013 came in 8th-grade mathematics, which was large enough to register as a major statistical shift.

“It’s exciting to see scores trending upward across the board,” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said. “We expect the significant reforms we have put in place to yield even stronger achievement growth in the future. While overall achievement levels are not where they need to be, the only way to change that is by growing and our reforms are beginning to do just that.”

Among the reforms that MPS has implemented or is now implementing:

– MPS’ Comprehensive Literacy and Math/Science plans, referenced above, which strengthen curriculum and put students on the path to college and career success through the rigorous Common Core State Standards

– The creation of 10 MPS GE Foundation Demonstration Schools, which are now modeling Common Core implementation for other schools in the district

– MPS’ increased focus on college and career readiness, including the strengthening of graduation requirements, winning a GEAR UP readiness grant worth $30 million and the opening of two TEAM UP College Access Centers with funding from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation

– Growing Advanced Placement offerings including launching the College Board’s rigorous pre-AP SpringBoard program into seven MPS schools

– Expanding MPS’ already largest-in-the-nation Project Lead the Way participation, bringing the rigorous hands-on science/technology/engineering/math (STEM) program to more schools

– Expanding college preparatory International Baccalaureate programming into more schools

– Strategically using facilities to expand successful schools parents and students seek

The district grew its inclusion rate from 2009 to 2011 and 2009 to 2013, with more English-Language Learners (ELL) and students with disabilities taking the test.

MPS’ NAEP TUDA results, which measure only a sample of students, largely match MPS’ results on state tests, which all students take.


About Milwaukee Public Schools
Milwaukee Public Schools, Wisconsin’s largest school district, is expanding college and career readiness efforts and continuing to implement innovative reforms that give every student the opportunity to succeed. MPS’ high-quality school options for 3-year-olds to high school seniors feature school climates in which positive behavior is reinforced; certified, highly-trained teachers; 21st-century learning technology for students; and curriculum aligned to the rigorous Common Core State Standards, which set a clear, high bar for the topics students must master at each grade level. MPS’ Class of 2013 earned $24 million in scholarships and the district is home to some of the state’s best high schools according to the Washington Post and U.S. News and World Report. More MPS news is available at