Thursday, September 21, 2017
Students in Milwaukee Public Schools are exploring colleges and learning about applications, financial aid and more as part of national GEAR UP week. The GEAR UP program – Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs – has provided a $14.87 million federal grant to MPS across a seven-year period. This initiative promotes college awareness and readiness and is designed to increase high school graduation rates, and is currently implemented in eight selected schools in the district.
The MPS strategic plan includes Eight Big Ideas, a set of objectives for student achievement with efforts to Rethink Secondary Schools as a means for all students to graduate on time with a personalized pathway for success in college, career and life. GEAR UP activities align with these objectives and are showing results through a number of efforts.
- GEAR UP increased student access to pre-college programs hosted by Milwaukee Area Technical College, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
- Over the course of the grant, GEAR up allowed access to interactive college tours and visits at more than 20 unique colleges both locally and out of state, serving more than 12,000 participants.
- The grant increased the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses. More than 27% of all juniors in GEAR UP schools took an AP class.
- Summer credit recovery sponsored by GEAR UP resulted in 93% of the students (433 ninth graders) earning credits, helping students stay on track to graduation. In fact, 88 students were promoted from ninth to tenth grade as a result of summer credit recovery reducing the gap in ninth grade promotion rates between GEAR UP and non-GEAR UP schools. The district now supports credit recovery summer school for all high school grades.
- In collaboration with school counselors, a Senior Bridge program is provided at all GEAR UP schools to prepare 12th graders for the FAFSA and college application process.
- ACT prep is available for students at all GEAR UP schools thanks to a partnership with Cambridge Testing Services.
To further assist students with college and career planning, MPS now has College and Career Access Centers in 21 high schools. Students can drop in for help and access to computers so they can apply for college and financial aid and explore a range of careers.
Through these combined efforts, more students, especially first-generation college students, are getting the support they need to build a plan for success after graduatio