The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) has done it again. A study released today that WILL is calling “the definitive look at school test scores in Milwaukee and Wisconsin,” provides an honest appraisal of Wisconsin schools.

Here are a few things that jumped off the page:

Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) specialty schools are no different than regular neighborhood MPS schools.

It is universally agreed that MPS specialty schools like Ronald Reagan and Golda Meir outperform most schools in Milwaukee.

The WILL study asks, “Why?”

It turns out that what these schools are doing has less to do with the success than what students are sitting in the classrooms. By controlling for students’ race and socio-economic status, the WILL study shows that MPS specialty schools do no better than traditional neighborhood schools and perform significantly lower than the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program averages.

In short, specialty schools that have selective admissions processes are more affluent and have less Black and Hispanic students than traditional MPS schools. These factors have a direct impact on their overall test scores.

The racial achievement gap exists

The study concludes that no matter what kind of school it is, if the student body is non-white, math proficiency rates are 46.5% lower and English proficiency rates are nearly 53% lower than schools that are all white.

That’s devastating. Perhaps it can be a rallying point for minority leaders in the community to unite around meaningful reforms to save Wisconsin’s minority kids?

University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee charters are best

 UWM is the leader when it comes to authorizing successful charter schools. The study shows that UWM charter schools have 9% higher proficiency rates in English and 7% higher proficiency rates in Math based on Forward exam scores.

That’s real progress and UWM deserves credit for fostering this student achievement.

Read it!

There’s much more to this study and you should read it if you’re interested in Wisconsin’s schools. Even if you generally avoid WILL’s work, give this report a try, as it outlines uncomfortable realities we need to wrangle with if our community is serious about improving education for all students.