Skip to main content

Education research group joins Milwaukee schools study

April 30, 1998

A new project at UW–Madison’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research will collaborate with the Milwaukee Public Schools to study systemic school reform aimed at improving student achievement in the district.

The project will be housed in the Center for the Study of Systemic Reform in Milwaukee Public Schools. It has three principal purposes:

  • generate useful knowledge and recommendations for educational policy in the district;
  • allow impartial observers, funding agencies and system managers to understand the system and its performance at a deeper level; and
  • impart analytical capacity to the district so that the research center can be phased out or assume a reduced role.

WCER researchers William Clune and Norman Webb co-direct the project and will work with district staff.

“Studies come out that show that the district is or is not improving, scores are or are not going up,” Clune says. “Our aim is to help set up a system that can answer these questions in a reliable, valid way and provide information that is acceptable to everyone and that people can use to diagnose the problem.”

The project is funded by a two-year, $870,000 grant from Joyce Foundation. Based in Chicago, the foundation funds school reform efforts in Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit.

Approximately 100,000 students are enrolled in more than 150 Milwaukee Public Schools. The student population consists of 50 percent African-American, 24 percent Caucasian, 11 percent Hispanic, 11 percent Asian and 1 percent Native American students.

The new study center will conduct a series of research studies on the quality and direction of systemic policy in Milwaukee schools for two years. “Our guiding vision is that systemic policy is the most promising method of sustaining major gains in student achievement on a continuous basis over the long run,” says Webb.

The project will focus on the four major content areas Milwaukee students will be held accountable for by the year 2004: mathematics, science, communications and community membership. WCER will conduct research in the areas of management procedures and accountability structures; instructional system effectiveness; information systems; connections with other constituents; teacher training; and standards-based instruction.

Tags: research