Milwaukee Collegiate Academy set out to empower our students’ voice and agency in the learning process in order to increase college motivation and persistence
Students visited Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park Conservatory during week-long Expeditions in culture, career and college experiences.
The power of words
Ajamou Butler’s spoken word class made an impact on students’ growing sense of self-awareness and willingness to release the trauma they had experienced through poetry was an influence that was needed by all of our students.
“I teach the freshmen to tell a story, and more importantly, I want them to make sense of what is going on around them, to challenge themselves to tap into their gifts and share their thoughts and feelings.” —Ajamou Butler, Heal the Hood
One of our teachers asked to collaborate with Mr. Butler for a second day every week to host a 90-minute young men’s mentoring group with the goal of providing our young men with adult male guidance and opportunities to process their feelings of hopelessness and anger.
The male mentoring group then spawned a female mentoring group, called Black Girl Magic, and led by one of our teachers and colleague of Mr. Butler’s, Lilo Allen the poet.
Learn more about impact Mr. Butler’s spoken word class has made for our students
A student explains what it takes to have a career in engineering during 9th-Grade Career Week at MCA in April of 2017.
“Even though we know how important field trips are, educators often lose sight of learning that can happen outside of the classroom as we strive to catch kids up academically. A generous grant from The Roberts Family Foundation allowed us to execute four expedition weeks that were centered around college, community organizations, and corporate businesses that helped our students expand their world. The experiences our students had outside the classroom motivated many of them more than, perhaps, any classroom activity could have.” —Courtney Steggall, MCA 9th-grade Modern World History Teacher
“Typically, we like to expose our 9th grade scholars to two to three colleges during their first year of high school. Gifts, donations and grants made it possible for us to more than double the number of college trips we took with our freshmen this school year. It’s amazing the impact touring college campuses can have on the future of our kids. I’m so grateful for the support because it has truly enabled our 9th graders to explore college this year.” —Samantha Mewes, MCA College Coach and Counselor
By the numbers
MCA had a school growth index that averaged in the 90th percentile for the 2016-17 school year. That means, MCA’s average growth outperformed 90% of similar schools taking the NWEA MAP tests. In addition, 72% of students met at least two of their end-of-year goals in reading, language arts, or math and 97% met at least one of their end-of-year goals.
Source: https://www.nwea.org, MCA 9th grade data
Record High Attendance Rate
The 9th-grade's attendance rate was 94% for the entire school year—the best of all grades and the highest of any freshman class in MCA history.
A 9th-grade student leads a tour of educators from around the region who visited MCA to learn more about their innovative personalized learning program.
This year, there has been high interest in MCA from the community and other schools from across sectors—public, private, religious, affluent and rural. Visitors came from as far away as Minnesota and included government officials, college educators, and journalists.
WUWM reporter Rachel Morello visited MCA to see how this instructional model, usually reserved for accomplished students in affluent neighborhoods, was being implemented with low-income, African American students on the north side of Milwaukee—a city known to have the greatest achievement gap in the state and just blocks from the zip code that has the highest incarceration rate for Black men in the country.
Listen to Rachel Morello’s MCA story about MCA’s personalized learning program
MCA will expand the instructional model to 10th grade for the 2017-18 school year and add a grade level every year until our school fully immersed in this personalized learning model.
To sustain this model we have changed many elements of our school schedule to provide the time and we have redesigned our professional development to be more responsive of the skills our teachers need to provide intervention to more students. We have redistributed resources within our school budget to support 60% of the resources we need to replicate the program at the same level next year.
MCA is actively pursuing additional funding with our committed Board of Directors leading this process. However, as a City of Milwaukee public charter high school, state funding supports only 80% of MCA’s operating expenses when compared to a traditional Wisconsin public school. For our students to be successful, we rely on community support to ensure that our students have equitable access to technology, meaningful learning experiences outside of the classroom and the learning materials they need to be great.