Dear Friends, Staff and Families of Milwaukee Public Schools,
To reach our goals of success for every child, our students need more time to catch up, maintain progress or accelerate their learning. This year, we are proposing starting all high schools and year-round schools in August to allow more time for instruction. This is urgent because too many of our students are still falling behind. With this change, they will have more time to catch up and get the help they need to succeed.
While our schools are showing signs of growth and have moved up a grade in the state report card, we have much work to do, particularly in our high schools:
- Our four-year high school graduation rate in MPS is 58.2 percent, compared to 88.4 percent statewide
- Eighty-three of our 158 schools remain on the state’s “Fails to Meet Expectations” or “Meets Few Expectations” list
- Our average ACT composite score in MPS is 16.5, versus 20.1 statewide
- In school year 2015-16, 46.1 percent of our current students had a GPA of 2.99 or less
- In school year, 2015-16, one in three MPS high school students attempted and failed to pass common high school courses
It is essential that we use our calendar to address these challenges and improve outcomes for our students. We’ve asked for your feedback and have heard you loud and clear, making adjustments to our initial proposal. To balance these concerns while meeting the urgent needs of thousands of students in MPS, we propose the following phased-in approach:
- In 2017-2018, move all MPS high schools and year-round schools on a common start date in mid-August and common end date in mid to late May
- Beginning June 2018, offer a four-week optional credit recovery and enrichment program called “J-Term” in addition to traditional summer school programming in July
- In 2018-2019, move all MPS schools on a common mid-August start and mid to late May end date
We have amazing students in Milwaukee who have endless potential. Our young people deserve every opportunity to reach that potential. When coupled with four additional weeks of learning time through a “J-term” in June, this proposal gives our students additional chances to improve academic achievement, graduate on time and, ultimately, succeed in college, career and life.
As we work to ensure that all of our children are successful, we need your support. We must act now because our children cannot wait.
Darienne B. Driver, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools