Wisconsin DPI report cards show Milwaukee, Racine school districts 'meet few expectations'

MILWAUKEE -- The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released its annual report card for private and public schools in Wisconsin, and both Milwaukee Public Schools and the Racine Unified School District were found to "meet few expectations." Milwaukee's overall score came in higher, but DPI officials noted increasing numbers year-to-year.

DPI officials reported 87% of schools statewide met or exceeded expectations. Looking at each district, 96% of the state's 421 public school districts remain solid, while Milwaukee Public Schools and Racine Unified School District have work to do.

Report cards range from five stars, meaning the schools and districts "significantly exceeded expectations," to one star, meaning "failure to meet expectations."

Milwaukee and Racine got two stars -- meeting "few expectations."

Racine Unified School District

"Their scores have gone up a little bit over the last few years," said Laura Pinsonneault with DPI.

Pinsonneault said there's a correlation between failing schools an income inequality.

"The schools that are lower-performing on the report card tend to have higher percentages of students experiencing poverty," said Pinsonneault.

Looking at specific schools within MPS, Reagan College Preparatory High School got solid marks for closing achievement gaps -- and four stars. Riverside University High School, however, failed, with one star. The school's English, math, and student engagement numbers were low.

Keith Posley

"What we are seeing is growth on that sliding scale -- of us moving and shifting into the right direction," said Keith Posley, MPS superintendent.

Posley said state and local budgets need to address quality education.

"From a funding perspective, we are doing well," said Posley. "Honestly, every year, I want to move that up year by year, and next year, looking at a greater amount going into the classroom."

DPI officials reported 153 school report cards lost points for missing the absenteeism target -- something all districts need to work on -- an increase of 28 schools compared to 2018.

Officials with the Racine Unified School District issued this statement to FOX6 News:

"While we are disappointed our overall District score did not go up (this is attributed to a 5-point deduction for chronic absenteeism) we are pleased to see fewer schools in the failing category. In addition, we celebrate the following:

  • All three comprehensive high schools, Case, Horlick and Park, saw increases in their scores, with two of them (Horlick & Park) moving into higher categories. As we look to the first graduating class of the Academies of Racine we can see it’s working. The focus and purpose of the Academies of Racine are to engage high school students, making learning come alive through hands-on, relevant work and exposing our students to more opportunities that prepare them for post-secondary success.

  • Three schools moved up into higher categories, while 12 schools improved their score from last year.

  • We averaged 81.1 points (out of 100) for On Track and Post Secondary Readiness. That means RUSD saw higher graduation rates and steady attendance from last year to this year.

  • We are closing the gap. We saw growth in our Closing the Gap score, up 2.8 points from last year.

  • We have higher District growth this year than last year in both English Language Arts and Math.

One of the biggest challenges we see is absenteeism. We’re heading in the right direction – our schools are trending up. However, we are seeing significant reductions on our report card for chronic absenteeism. We must partner with our parents and community on this issue to make sure our kids get to school every day."