weaknesses of big-city schools
Schools in southeastern Wisconsin’s smaller cities, like Delavan, Cudahy, and Whitewater, are beginning to show the same kinds of stress of schools in larger cities like Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha, according to the 2007 schooling report by the Milwaukee-based Public Policy Forum. Also, the achievement gap between students in the region and those in the rest of the state continues to widen in all subjects and at all grades.
For example, Delavan-Darien, Lake Geneva-Genoa City, Williams Bay, Cudahy, and Mequon-Thiensville are among those experiencing declines in enrollment. Student engagement – based on attendance, truancy, and dropout rates – appears to be eroding in Burlington, Delavan-Darien, and Cudahy. And Delavan-Darien, Lake Geneva-Genoa City, and Whitewater are showing greater incidence of poverty based on the percentage of student enrollment receiving free or reduced-price lunches.
In addition, student achievement gaps are expanding between southeastern Wisconsin and the rest of the state.
In the subjects tested – reading, math, and science – and at the grades tested – 3rd, 4th, 8th, and 10th – the gap widened – in some cases, dramatically. For example, in 2005-06, southeastern Wisconsin’s 8th graders scored 6.5 percentage points lower than the rest of the state in math; in 2006-07 the gap widened to 14.3 points. In 8th grade science, the gap is now 15.6 percentage points, up from 8.5 points the year before. In other areas, the gap also increased, ranging from 0.3 to 4.8 percentage points.
Included with the report is a poster ranking all 50 school districts on a variety of measurements, including operations spending, student enrollment, free or reduced-price lunch rate, graduation rate, and the test scores of various grades.
The schooling research has been done by the Forum since 1987. This year’s report and poster were sponsored by Cardinal Stritch University, Multiple Listing Service (MLS), Northwestern Mutual Foundation, Stifel Nicolaus, and Waukesha County Technical College.