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The Wauwatosa School District was honored at a recognition dinner Sept. 21 in Washington D.C. for its commitment to eliminate access gaps to its most rigorous college-ready pathways or courses.

Wauwatosa Superintendent Phil Ertl was among 75 school district, state and federal officials recognized by White House Cabinet Secretary and chair of My Brother's Keeper Task Force Broderick Johnson during a dinner celebration. The event was hosted by Equal Opportunity Schools and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

“The benefits of our work toward increasing the proportionality of underrepresented students in Advanced Placement (AP) classes have been broad and deep in score,” Ertl said. “In Wauwatosa we believe in high expectations for all students. Through this initiative we have committed to doing more than just saying the door is open for all students. We are doing what it takes to actively put students in seats.”

The inaugural recognition event built on efforts made by a group called "Lead Higher" that aimed to find 100,000 "missing students" over three years and ensure that those previously overlooked low-income students and students of color are matched with challenging high school learning opportunities that will prepare them for college and a future of their choosing, according to a news release.

During the 2014-15 school year, the Wauwatosa School District partnered with Equal Opportunity Schools, a national nonprofit organization that provides technical assistance, research and coaching to school system leaders to help ensure that students of every background are consistently matched with high school courses that ready them for college. Since the partnership, enrollment in AP courses in Wauwatosa has increased by nearly 25 percent and the district has seen an overall improvement in grades for students taking AP coursework, according to the release.

“We have prioritized this work, are proud of our early data, and know we can continue to do better for our students and our community,” Ertl said.

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