Milwaukee Just Beat Back a State Takeover of Their Public Schools

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We did it! The Department of Public Instruction just sent a formal letter informing Milwaukee Public Schools that they are no longer in the bottom category of school ratings, moving the district out of consideration for the OSPP (Opportunity Schools Partnership program, otherwise know as the MPS takeover):

Milwaukee Public Schools is no longer required to participate in the Opportunity Schools and Partnership program, according to a letter released today by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

The letter issued today informed MPS it will not have to participate in the program because the district is no longer in the bottom category in the state school report card. Only school districts in the lowest category of the state report card for two consecutive years are required to participate in OSPP.

MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver, Milwaukee Board of School Directors President Mark Sain and Vice President Larry Miller, will be available to speak to the media at 2 p.m. today, Wednesday, Oct. 12 at MPS Central Services, 5225 W. Vliet St., Room 103.

“While we are energized by the progress we’re making, we still have significant work to do,” said Dr. Driver. “We are working with students, staff and dozens of community partners to better prepare all of our young people for success, particularly at the secondary school level.”

MPS has committed to rethinking high schools by expanding college-level Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes as well as career and technical education offerings. This year, 21 percent of all MPS high school students are taking a college-level class. The district also added more than 350 students to a culinary arts program as it expands career and technical education options.

While the details of the state report card will not be released until next month, MPS’ local STAR assessment data shows growth in student achievement and signs that the district is closing achievement gaps:

  • Literacy is improving across all grade levels.
  • The number of students on target for proficiency in reading improved last year by two percent.
  • Early reading skills increased significantly, with 51 percent of all K5 and 1st grade students on target at the end of the school year compared to only 43 percent on target at the beginning of the school year.

“We are heading in the right direction. Our collective focus as a community must be on working together to support our young people,” said MPS Board President Mark Sain. “If we continue to do the right thing for our students, we will not fail.”

Last year, the Wisconsin Legislature made changes to the school report card to improve transparency and authenticity. That included weighting school performance to account for student poverty rates, student disabilities and the length of time a school has had to influence a student’s academic progress.

Thanks to everyone who stood up and demanded better for Milwaukee students! Our fight is not over, as we expect the same politicians in Madison to continue with the attacks, but for now we celebrate! We will continue to work with parents, students, and community supporters to win the public Community Schools and equitable and fair funding ALL of our students deserve.

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