MILWAUKEE — A roomful of hands shot up Monday in one of the classrooms at Notre Dame Middle School.
Sister Jean Ellman, principal of the all-girls voucher school in the city's near south side, had asked the students, "How many of your families are from another country?"
One girl said her family came from Peru, the rest from Mexico. Ellman said many of the girls' families in the poor, Hispanic community don't speak English at home.
Roughly 90 percent Notre Dame's students qualify for free or reduced lunch, 94 percent are voucher students, and 98 percent are Hispanic.
Despite the barriers, 48 percent of eighth-graders at Notre Dame hit the proficient mark for reading on the fall 2012 Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam, compared to the 41 percent statewide average.