MILWAUKEE, WI - A building that once housed one of Milwaukee's lowest-performing schools is now home to the highest achieving school in the city.
Milwaukee Excellence now stands in place of the old Ronald McNair Elementary School, and inside the classroom, there's an eagerness to learn and the school’s executive director, Maurice Thomas, said his expectation for academic achievement is high.
“Every student should go home with their brain sweating, that’s how hard they should be working,” Maurice Thomas said.
Thomas's hard work isn't going unnoticed Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction just graded Milwaukee Excellence 94.3 on its state report card.
“The number one ranking really hasn’t set in. I am very happy, my mother and my wife might be more excited than I am right now," Thomas laughed.
After year one, Thomas said only 12% of students were proficient in English Language Arts (ELA) and math, but a year later, ELA scores doubled, math scores tripled and reports show Milwaukee Excellence is the highest ranked school in the city of Milwaukee.
“Students at Milwaukee Excellence get 120 minutes of math and 120 minutes of reading every day. So, that’s how we close those enormous achievement gaps," Thomas said.
Milwaukee excellence is an MPS charter school with 325 students in grades 6 - 8 facing the same challenges as many Milwaukee Public School. 84% of Milwaukee Excellence students are economically disadvantaged —compared to a district-wide total of 82% and 17% of Milwaukee Excellence students receive special education compared to a district total of 20%.
Milwaukee Excellence ranked 23 out of 2,395 schools in the state.