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Report: Mixed Progress in Closing Education Gaps

Progress at closing the achievement gaps in southeastern Wisconsin school districts is largely stagnant, according to new data from the Milwaukee-based Public Policy Forum.

The Forum has examined performance data and demographics from across the region for the past 27 years.  Forum President Rob Henken says the latest report shows little movement from last year's data.

"On the whole," he says,"it's sort of a status quo message."  Henken says there are bright spots - such as performance on college readiness exams such as the ACT - but in other measures, like the standardized WKCE tests, achievement gaps are apparent.

"You’re not seeing noticable improvement in many districts in terms of the gap between the achievement of white students and non-economically disadvantaged students," Henken says, "and African-American students and students who are economically disadvantaged."

That, Henken says, is significant when seen through a broader economic lens.  Forty-seven percent of children in southeast Wisconsin are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

At the same time, complicating the analysis is the changing nature of assessment.  Henken points to the adoption of Common Core standards - still being debated at the state level - as a key measure that is still evolving.