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A Comparison of the Performance of the Milwaukee Public Schools and School Systems in Selected Other Cities

The Milwaukee Public Schools, long the target of reform efforts from inside the district and outside, have the image in the local media and among political leaders as a failing school district. But a close comparison of the school district's demographics and test scores with those of similar urban districts around the country suggest that, although it faces difficult challenges, the district is in fact doing a better job than many when the city's poverty rate and below-average adult educational attainment are considered. While there's no question that much needs to be done to improve the performance of the school district and its students–particularly African-Americans who make up more than half of the Milwaukee student body–the data suggest that the district is more successful than might be expected considering the challenges that the district and its students face.