MPS receives $90,000 grant to support programs to improve student acheivement from AT&T

Students, educators highlight accomplishments of programs to promote high school success

Students from Bradley Tech and Vincent High participate in a “Repairing Harm Circle” central to the Restorative Justice Program’s goals of addressing discipline issues and reducing expulsion and suspension rates at both schools.

At an event at Bradley Tech High School in Milwaukee last week, AT&T presented a $90,000 grant to the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) to support programs to improve student achievement. This was the fourth installment in a $360,000 “High School Success” grant awarded in 2008 to support the district’s efforts to improve math achievement and reduce suspension numbers at Bradley Tech and Vincent High Schools.

At the event, students and educators also highlighted the successes of the two programs funded by the grant: the Restorative Justice Program to provide an alternative to suspensions and expulsions and the Math Achievement Program to improve student achievement in math.

“These programs have been critical to improving academic success, reducing suspensions, and improving attendance and graduation numbers at Bradley Tech and Vincent High Schools,” said MPS Superintendent Gregory E. Thornton. “With this generous support from AT&T, we’ve been able to expand these programs and help more students graduate prepared for higher education, careers and citizenship.”

The Restorative Justice Program has been successful in addressing suspension and expulsion problems and keeping students in school to finish their education and graduate. In lieu of suspensions, students participate in the program with a goal of addressing discipline issues and keeping them in the classroom.

The program brings offenders, victims and their peers together in “Repairing Harm Circles” to discuss issues among students, how to repair the damage, and help put students on a path to make better decisions in the future. The program has been successful in helping to reduce suspension rates and increase attendance rates at Bradley Tech and Vincent High Schools for the first time in many years.

“In order to succeed in the increasingly global, high-tech economy, our young people need a quality education,” said State Senator Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee. “These programs are important to ensuring every student in the Milwaukee Public Schools has the opportunity and resources to attain academic success and graduate from high school.”

The goal of the Math Achievement Program has been to increase students’ engagement and performance in mathematics and improve test scores through a math tutoring program, a “Math Champs Camp” during the summer, and a “Math Champ Days” program at Discovery World in the spring. Since the program began in 2008, about 300 students have participated in the tutoring program and 130 in the Math Champ and summer Math Camp activities.

Students who participate in the Restorative Justice Program at Vincent High School

For the first time in four years, both schools also increased at least four percentage points on the November 2010 WKCE math test scores, increasing the numbers of proficient and advanced students.

“Keeping our teenagers in high school and leading them to a college education benefits our students and our communities,” said Scott T. VanderSanden, President of AT&T Wisconsin. “We are proud to support the Milwaukee Public Schools’ efforts to increase student achievement and prepare students for success in the future.”

AT&T’s “High School Success” grants are part of the company’s signature initiative, AT&T Aspire, a $100 million commitment to advancing education – one of the largest corporate commitments of its kind. The program was launched in 2008 with a goal of confronting the high school dropout crisis by helping students graduate prepared for the future challenges of continuing education and the workforce.

America’s Promise Alliance has noted that nearly onefourth of U.S. high school students – and nearly 40 percent of African American, Hispanic and Native American students – fail to graduate with their class. About 7,000 students drop out of school every day, or one every 26 seconds.

AT&T Aspire is working to help reverse this trend by identifying programs that work and bringing them to scale, supporting the work of educators, and helping students get excited about setting and achieving their goals.