Low-income, minority students shine in Madison schools’ college prep program, analysis shows

Matthew DeFour:

Black and Hispanic students in a special Madison School District college preparatory program have higher grade point averages, attendance rates and test scores than their peers who aren’t in the program, according to a UW-Madison analysis.
The study of the AVID/TOPS program — geared toward preparing low-income, minority students for college — comes as the Madison School Board contemplates a proposal to create Madison Preparatory Academy, a controversial charter school with similar goals.
Some opponents of Madison Prep argue the AVID/TOPS program is a proven way of helping close the achievement gap between white and minority students.
Superintendent Dan Nerad said the district is pushing ahead with a proposal to expand the program in middle school. It currently serves 491 students at East, West, Memorial and La Follette high schools and Black Hawk Middle School.
“I would not tell you that AVID alone will make the difference,” Nerad said. “But it’s a very important piece for us.”