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Madison Metropolitan School District

Equity Audit

As we work to eliminate educational gaps and accelerate learning for all students, our district conducted an equity audit in the Spring of the 2021-2022 school year. Staff and parents / guardians, along with students in middle and high school, were invited to participate in a comprehensive survey process.

Summary results were presented to the Board of Education at the Board's Instruction Work Group Meeting on March 6, 2023 (agenda). The equity audit was performed in collaboration with Dr. Jerlando Jackson, UW-Madison Vilas distinguished professor and former chair of the School of Education's - Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Department. He is the dean of the Michigan State University College of Education and the MSU Foundation Professor of Education. 

This is an important step to advance MMSD’s commitment to become an anti-racist organization. The information obtained from the survey will help us better understand how we are living up to our core values, along with our goal of graduating all students ready for college, careers, and the community.


Equity Audit Results - Executive Summary

About the equity audit

  • Why: To evaluate Madison Metropolitan School District's (MMSD) efforts towards diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Who: Students, families, teachers, building leaders, and administrators.
  • How: Self-guided video-based interviews with 380 individuals across MMSD.

Summary of primary interview themes

High-level summaries representing the perceptions of each stakeholder group: (1) Students, (2) Families, (3) Teachers, (4)
Building leaders, (5) Administrators.

MMSD Students

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion topics present in curriculum and classrooms
  • Teacher representation varied by school
  • Diverse support programs/organizations for students to provide value, but some were unaware of program existence
  • Lack of listening from district, lack of feedback opportunities to district leaders


  • Spoke highly of strides towards inclusivity, would like to see greater focus on disability
  • Many felt MMSD was lacking tangible action or plan to improve DEI efforts
  • Noted lack of diverse representation on PTA serves as barrier to participation
  • Weekly newsletter is positive, primary source of information
  • Nearly all were unaware of efforts to recruit and retain teachers from diverse backgrounds, noted issue


  • Schools primarily strive to foster sense of belonging through visual representation and affinity groups
  • Academic engagement has increased, expulsions of Black and Hispanic students have decreased
  • Greater focus on African Americans than other minoritized racial/ethnic groups
  • Teacher representation and retention is an issue, some teachers of color have reported retiring or early due to lack of inclusion
  • Fell as though their needs are not heard by administration, few opportunities to provide feedback outside of School Based Leadership Teams
  • Feel as though there is "lip service" to DEI but no clear strategy, plan or resources
  • Aware of a variety of DEO professional development opportunities, but some feel that affinity groups inadvertently segregate teachers

Building Leaders

  • "Doing their best" to institute change within their buildings without much district-level support or guidance

  • Lack of unified understanding of efforts to recruit and retain teachers from minoritized groups

  • Shortage of opportunities to provide feedback to district administrators
  • DEI professional development programs are not widely implemented, limited


  • Increased representation in leaders of color in administrative positions

  • Emphasis on racial composition of leaders at expense of other identities/historically marginalized populations (such as LGBTQ+)

  • Recognized need for additional professional opportunities to increase staff connectedness post-pandemic
  • Lack of shared understanding of what DEI is and how efforts are being operationalized, disagreement over whether a DEI-focused strategic plan exists

Existing DEI-Related Strengths

  1. Stakeholders across MMSD acknowledge the goal of increasing diversity, equity and inclusion
  2. Many stakeholders recognize and acknowledge some progress 
  3. Majority of stakeholders want to be more involved in the DEI change process

Recommendations / Opportunities for Improvement

  1. Develop and disseminate a DEI strategic plan

  2. Create systems of rewards and accountability for MMSD DEI efforts

  3. Generate a strategy for hiring and retaining teachers of color

  4. Engage families in DEI efforts

  5. Review and standardize DEI curriculum and implementation efforts across the MMSD

  6. Emphasize and advance diversity in all its forms

  7. Provide transparent, accessible, and safe opportunities for feedback to MMSD leaders

Prepared By: This report was prepared collaboratively by Wisconsin's Equity and Inclusion Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Organizational Disparities Laboratory at Michigan State University.