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School board approves early start calendar for some MPS schools

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MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Public Schools will now begin classes earlier in the year.

The Milwaukee Board of School Directors voted unanimously on Thursday, December 22nd, to move all secondary schools, International Baccalaureate schools and year-round schools to an early start calendar on August 14th, 2017.

That’s compared to the former state-mandated start date in September.

Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver says the earlier start will help. Driver also wants all the other schools in the district to move to an August to May calendar.

The early start calendar proposal is part of the district’s plan to improve outcomes for students. While MPS schools are showing signs of growth and have moved up a grade in the state report card, there is much work to do, particularly in high schools and middle schools:

• The four-year high school graduation rate in MPS is 58.2 percent, compared to 88.4 percent statewide
• Eighty-three of the district’s 158 schools remain on the state’s “Fails to Meet Expectations” or “Meets Few Expectations” list
• The average ACT composite score in MPS is 16.5, versus 20.1 statewide

“I want to thank the Board for standing up for our young people and supporting an opportunity for students to have this extra learning time,” said MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver.

The proposed change to the calendar allows for the addition of a “J-term”, a four-week optional credit recovery and enrichment program in June in between the end of the regular school year and traditional summer school in July. The additional learning time the J-term provides, along with the early start in mid-August, gives students more time to catch up, keep up and get ahead in school.