A new study comparing reading skills of fourth- and eighth-grade children in 18 urban school systems once again places Milwaukee Public Schools near the bottom of the ladder, a pattern of underachievement that gave voice to worries Thursday about the future of Milwaukee’s children and calls – yet again – for a greater sense of urgency to improve.
In a set of national reading tests, Milwaukee’s fourth-graders outperformed only Detroit, Cleveland and Philadelphia, while its eighth-graders outperformed only Detroit, Fresno, Calif., and Washington, D.C., according to the results of the Trial Urban District Assessment, a special project of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress is a periodic national assessment, often referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, that allows for state-to-state comparisons in core academic subjects. The urban district study isolates scores among a number of the country’s high-minority, high-poverty school systems to better compare how those students are doing.
All of the voluntary participants in the program are from cities with populations of at least 250,000, ranging from districts serving Fresno, Calif., and Louisville, Ky., to those in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.
This is the first time that Milwaukee Public Schools participated in the reading tests for the urban districts. Last year, results from the math tests also carried bad news for MPS, which did better than only Detroit at the eighth-grade level.