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Wisconsin has worst graduation gap in nation, third best overall graduation rate

The graduation gap between white and African American high school students is widening according to data from the U.S Department of Education.

A Milwaukee Public Schools official says while the newly released data is new in terms of how it’s being presented to the public, the district has known about an achievement gap for a while and is actively working to change it.

The District’s Director of Student Performance and Improvement, Melanie Stewart, said MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver made it a focus to change the way high schools operate in the district, and those changes are being put into place in order to help students graduate within four years.

 “…make certain that we have programming that will get our students to the next step and so it’s a huge collaborative. Another thing we’re looking at is increasing student’s abilities to read, write, and communicate within all disciplines, especially looking at literacy.” Stewart said.

State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) said the Brown Deer School District should be looked to as a model as to close the gap. She said that’s because almost 100 percent of African American students graduated last year.

She also said Superintendent Driver needs more freedom to make changes without the Milwaukee Board of School Directors getting in the way.

“Superintendent Driver is an extremely bright/capable superintendent. So I hope they will give her an ability to use her talents to address this issue because she can address this issue. And by being a partner with this state with our wraparound services, a lot of positive things can happen.” Darling said.

In a press release from the state’s Department of Public Instruction, State Superintendent Tony Evers said in part, “Closing achievement gaps remain my top focus, but it is a trend that cannot be reversed overnight. The work we do on important social issues like this are a labor of love that require family and community involvement supported by targeted investments in what works. But the bottom line is that as the diversity of our student population continues to grow, we can no longer afford to see gaps between our white and non-white students.”

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