MILWAUKEE-- Wisconsin is leading the way in high school graduation rates.
"I think public schools are strong in Wisconsin," said Bob Peterson, President of the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (MTEA).
According to a report released Monday from the Alliance for Excellent Education, Wisconsin's high school graduation rate is 88% this year. The national high school graduation rate is 80% this year, the highest it has ever been.
The report sheds some positive light on Wisconsin's public education system, but the results do not reflect Wisconsin's largest school district.
Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) has a 62% high school graduation rate, lower than the lowest performing state in the report, Nevada, with a 63% graduation rate. .
"Although we've struggled a little bit with our 4-year graduation rate, we provide a lot of support for our students, especially those who are struggling," said Rudy Ruiz, MPS Director of College and Career Readiness.
MPS officials have several initiatives in place to support students at-risk including a Department For College and Career Readiness.
"We're trying to reach out both to business professionals in our community as well as our succesful graduates," said Ruiz, "to make sure that students do realize that they too can be successful."
Peterson says more must be done to give all students a fair chance.
"One of the first ways-- we can provide a living wage for the families of all the children who go to Milwaukee Public Schools," said Peterson.
Peterson sees improving academic performance at MPS as a social issue on top of a classroom issue. He says success for students starts at home. With more than 76% of MPS students considered low-income, with family responsibilities to fulfull outside the classroom, Peterson says something must change.
"I hope that, that study is an indicator of the broader issues that need to be addressed in this community," said Peterson.
Despite low 4-year graduation rates in MPS, officials say 5-year graduation rates jump to about 70%. The improvement is significant, but still lower than the state graduation rate.