Students already benefiting from initiative, Mone tells regents

Mark Mone stands at a podium as he speaks.

Less than a year after M3 was formally launched, the initiative is showing signs of success, Chancellor Mark Mone and other educational leaders told members of the UW System Board of Regents meeting at UWM.

M3 (pronounced M-cubed) brings together Milwaukee’s largest public teaching institutions ­— the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee Public Schools and Milwaukee Area Technical College — in an effort to increase student success. Work began in 2015, and M3 formally launched in January 2017.

Mark Mone, Darienne Driver and Vicki Martin share a laugh.
UWM Chancellor Mark Mone talks with MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver (left) and MATC President Vicki Martin earlier this year. (UWM Photo/Derek Rickert)

“It’s all about partnerships, partnerships, partnerships,” Mone told the regents’ Education Committee. “It’s important for these three institutions representing some 145,000 students to be working collaboratively.”

MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver noted two successes:

  • Boosting the completion rate of federal applications for financial aid from 45 percent in the 2015-16 school year to 62.8 percent in 2016-17. That’s important because research shows that 90 percent of high school seniors who complete federal financial aid forms go on to college vs. just 55 percent for those who don’t.
  • Engaging 225 more MPS families on how to guide their children to college. In all, 1,175 parents of MPS freshmen and sophomores attended a six-week institute this school year, learning the steps required to attend college. That’s crucial because most MPS parents did not attend college and may not know what’s required. “They really learn about the tools available and the hoops and jumps they have to go through for college,” Driver said.

M3 made progress on aligning curriculums among the three institutions to eliminate gaps and overlaps in learning, MATC President Vicki Martin said. For the first time this year, 470 math, science and English teachers from the three institutions convened to work on a seamless curriculum.

M3 also implemented a summer math program. More than half of the 54 students heading to UWM or MATC placed in a higher level math course than they would have otherwise, Martin said.

Students at Bradley Tech High School benefitted from M3, Martin said. The high school, one of the first technical high schools in the nation, shares governance among the M3 participants.

Career pathways were established at Bradley Tech in areas including web design, graphic design, welding and carpentry that provide transfer options into higher education and apprentice programs.

From last year to this year:

  • Dual enrollment increased from 71 to 409
  • The number of student receiving college credits rose from 20 to 177
  • Students completing work-based learning opportunity rose from 112 to 729.

The changes benefitted the school overall — attendance improved 4.6 percent and suspensions dropped 15.5 percent.

The M3 effort is crucial, Mone said.

“Nothing is more important to this region and state than our shared commitment to our collective urban future and recognition of the positive impacts of an educated community — a talented workforce pipeline, increased employment, reduced poverty — and greater overall attainment and closure of the attainment gap,” Mone said.

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