New report highlights performance outcomes of area public schools

The academic achievement of K-12 students in southeastern Wisconsin’s public schools trails achievement at the state level, with Milwaukee Public Schools among the districts struggling most, according to a report released today by the Public Policy Forum.

The report combs through student data of the region’s public school districts, comparing schools’ enrollment figures, their demographics and performance outcomes, and per-pupil spending.

With this data, the report assigns report cards to each district with an overall accountability rating determined through a scoring system.

MPS received the lowest rating of any regional school district and was cited for failing to meeting expectations in the report’s overall accountability rating.

While the report highlights significant academic challenges across southeastern Wisconsin, it also points to bright spots within the region’s public schools.

“There are dozens of high-performing districts within the region, as evidenced by the fact that 60 out of 92 are exceeding or significantly exceeding expectations on district report cards,” Joe Yeado, forum senior researcher, said in a press release.

Yeado also acknowledged that the timing of the report falls during “significant change and transition” as schools prepare to roll out new standardized tests in mathematics and reading this school year.

Key report findings called out by the Public Policy Forum include:

  • The continual rise of poverty as 46.1 percent of regional students qualify for the Free or Reduced Price Lunch program – a 1 percentage point increase from last year’s data.
  • Significant racial and economic achievement gaps persist in student proficiency and graduation rates. Data reveals that little progress has been made in closing racial achievement gaps in southeastern Wisconsin’s largest districts over the last five years.
  • A boost in ACT participation among regional schools. Participation increased 4.1 percentage points, surpassing the state average. The data also reflects an increase in AP participation and number of exams passed as well as a jump in graduation rates.
  • A slower rate of decline in enrollment. This year, the district lost about 225 students, “a far smaller decline than in past years,” according to the report.
  • An increase in truancy and dropout rates among districts.

To access the report’s complete findings, click here.

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