MPS must overcome obstacles

There are no excuses for the low performance of MPS students on the NAEP Math and Reading Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) described in the front page article of today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. There are obstacles, but they must be overcome.

MPS is responding with an all-out campaign to improve our children’s reading and math proficiency. For example, we have in place a literacy plan that is being carried out by every school that does not yet meet proficiency. We have put significant demand on the system at all levels while focusing on classrooms to transform our students’ reading ability.

If you talk to any MPS teacher, they will tell you they and their schools are under huge pressure to improve student achievement. The MPS Comprehensive Literacy Plan was initiated by the school board as part of Superintendent Thornton’s reform agenda.

This plan has been in effect for less than a year and a half. The NAEP tests, described in the Journal Sentinel article, were taken less than six months after the initiation of that plan. The results from testing in 2012 should be an indication of whether or not we’re making progress.

We are seeing positive results from value-added testing of our students throughout the class year. But next year’s NAEP results will be an important indicator, particularly compared to other urban districts.

We have said as a school board and a district that we face many obstacles – the poverty so many of our students experience, attacks on public education, loss of funding, expansion of vouchers.

These are areas that as a community we must all address, but despite them we must and we will find ways to markedly improve our students’ academic success.

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