FILE - Wisconsin charter schools

In this Oct. 20, 2017, first-graders listen to teacher Dwane Davis at Milwaukee Math and Science Academy, a charter school in Milwaukee.

Newly released state report card data by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) show that more charter and private schools in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) “are meeting or exceeding expectations than Milwaukee Public Schools,” the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) says.

Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, as required by state law, all public schools receive an annual School Report Card. In 2012-13, districts began receiving annual District Report Cards. This year, DPI reported 87 percent of rated schools met or exceeded expectation.

But what DPI wasn’t reporting was that more than 80 percent of Independent Charters, more than 75 percent of Milwaukee Public School (MPS) charters, and 68 percent of MPCP schools meet expectations or higher, WILL claims.

The state report card evaluates every publicly funded school and district in Wisconsin. The Accountability Report Cards include data on multiple indicators for multiple years across four priority areas (Student Achievement, Growth, Closing Gaps, and On-track and Post-secondary Success), according to DPI. They also measure chronic absenteeism and dropout rates.

Grades are determined by the aggregate of a school’s overall achievement on the 2017-18 Forward exam, academic growth from year to year, the gaps closed between underserved and non-underserved students, and student readiness for post-secondary education. The categories of growth and achievement are weighted based on economic status.

Excluding Milwaukee public charter schools, the majority of schools in the MPS are performing below state expectations: 31 percent of MPS schools in the sample fell in the category, “Fails to Meet Expectations;” 26 percent were categorized as, “Meets Few Expectations.” Enrollment in these two categories of MPS schools is nearly 34,000 students. By comparison, roughly 29,000 students are in schools that meet or exceed expectations.

More than 80 percent of Milwaukee’s independent charter schools exceed or meet expectations; 53 percent “Exceed Expectations” on the state report card and 29 percent “Meet Expectations.”

About 700 students are enrolled in low-performing independent charters and about 6,500 students attend charter schools falling in the highest three categories.

Of the schools within the private voucher program, MPCP, 68 percent fell in the “Meets Expectations” category or higher; 31 percent fell into the two lowest categories. About 17,500 students attend choice schools that fall in the “Meets Expectations” category or higher; 7,000 are enrolled in schools in the lower performance categories.

“The state mandated report cards are a game changer for school choice,” Will Flanders, research director at WILL, said in a statement. “Our analysis shows that students in these school choice programs have, on average, 8 to 24 percent higher student growth than traditional public schools.”

“Student proficiency is significantly higher, on average 4 to 11 percent higher, in private schools in the choice programs and public charter schools when compared to traditional public schools,” Flanders adds.

According to a WILL analysis of school data, Milwaukee area charter schools experienced nearly 15 percent higher growth rates than MPS and students in the Racine Parental Choice Program experienced 24 percent higher growth than student in Racine Unified Schools. Growth rates in the WPCP were on par with growth rates for public schools statewide.