Gregory Thornton, the superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, announced he would be leaving the district to take the top post in Baltimore. Thornton took over the struggling school district in July 2010. We wrote a profile story of Thornton in April 2012 – just shy of completing his second school year at the helm of MPS – that outlined some of his plans for the district.
His legacy at MPS is yet to be seen, but we decided to look at the test scores from before Thornton took over (2009-2010 school year) and the last year data is available (2012-2013 school year). That’s not to say that standardized test scores are the only – or even most important – measure of a superintendent’s success or failure. But it is one data set to consider.
We looked at the test scores from the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (combined with the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for students with disabilities) for each grade tested in both 2009 and 2012 from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Because the way proficiency in reading and math scores were changed in between the two periods, we looked at the difference between the percentage of students statewide that achieved proficiency and the percentage of MPS students that achieved proficiency.