Milwaukee Public Schools
Press Release

MPS’ Rufus King wins national ACT award for college and career readiness

Rufus King International School is the only high school in the nation to receive the award

By - May 22nd, 2013 12:43 pm

MILWAUKEE (May 22, 2013) Milwaukee Public SchoolsRufus King International School has won ACT’s national College and Career Transition Award for high schools.

Rufus King is the only high school in the nation to receive the award, which was announced Wednesday evening in Washington, D.C.

Ranked among the best high schools in Wisconsin in 2013 by both U.S. News and World Report and the Washington Post, Rufus King was nominated for the award by Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers. The six states partnering with ACT for its inaugural College and Career Readiness Campaign were invited to nominate schools.

Schools are nominated by states to recognize “exemplary college and career readiness efforts” as they work to ensure students possess the knowledge and skills to enroll and succeed in college-level coursework at colleges and universities.

In recognizing the honor, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction shared the following about the school: “An International Baccalaureate (IB) school since 1979, Rufus King has created a college-bound atmosphere for its ethnically and socio-economically diverse student population. The rigorous IB curriculum prepares students for the next steps in their educational and life journey. The school uses quarterly assessments to monitor student growth, offers career exploration and college search support, and requires community service for all students.”

“As a nation, we have work to do in terms of college and career readiness, but we can get there,” said Jon Whitmore, ACT’s chief executive officer. “The individuals and organizations we honored this week prove that college and career readiness can be achieved. Our campaign is intended to encourage more people to take up the cause, to support them in their efforts, and to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments.”

“This is a tremendous recognition of the hard work of our teachers, counselors, students and families to ensure students succeed after they graduate,” Rufus King Principal Peter Samaranayake said.

Rufus King won its award based upon criteria including: demonstrated student growth; aggregate ACT scores; the percentage of students meeting college readiness benchmarks; demonstrated success in serving students of underrepresented racial/ethnic/socioeconomic backgrounds; dedication of administrators and teachers to ensure students gain the knowledge and skills needed for success; and the school’s commitment to providing leadership opportunities for students outside the classroom.

MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said the national recognition “is a strong reflection of what we already know about the rigorous environment at Rufus King and our commitment to college and career readiness.”

MPS’ college and career readiness efforts and results include:

–      Comprehensive literacy and math/science plans aligned to the rigorous Common Core State Standards to put students on a track to college and career success
–      Growing the graduation rate by approximately 14 percentage points between the class of 2000 and the class of 2012
–      Nearly doubling ACT participation from 43% in 2007-08 to more than 80% in 2011-12
–      Opening two College Access Centers with late and weekend hours to help demystify the application process
–      Growing the percentage of students taking AP courses by roughly four percentage points over the past four years
–      Growing the percentage of students enrolling in postsecondary education within a year and half of high school graduation roughly eight percentage points over five years to above 50%.

This news is available online at

Milwaukee Public Schools is Wisconsin’s largest school district, serving more than 78,000 students in more than 160 schools across the city. MPS is home to the Milwaukee region’s two best high schools according to the Washington Post and three of state’s 25 best high schools according to U.S. News and World Report. In the past year, Milwaukee Public Schools posted a growing graduation rate 14 points higher than the rate for 2000. More MPS news is available at

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