Building relationships and partnering in learning

Trusting relationships between students and teachers are among the building blocks for academic success. As we continue to bring you stories of how our teachers, students and families are connecting, we’ll show you how a 5th grade teacher at Glenn Stephens Elementary is cultivating relationships with her students and building community in her classroom. We’ll also introduce you to a La Follette High School English teacher and one of her students and tell you how they partner in learning. Read about our wonderful teachers and students.

Community engagement – We are listening

Thank you for your input so far on the next phase of our transformation as a district. To date, we’ve held 21 community sessions on our next Strategic Framework. The framework serves as a roadmap for our district as we work toward excellent results for all of our students, and in particular our most marginalized youth.   

We’ve been asking the community to imagine the future where we are celebrating transformative progress and tell us how we got there. Some of the themes we’ve heard are focused on relationship and partnership building with families and community partners, district-wide mental health support and social-emotional learning work for students,  and school design. We hope you will continue to share your ideas with us as we work toward our future as a district.

Join us on December 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the Memorial High School Library Media Center for our next listening session. If you need childcare, transportation or interpretation services, please email

Madison students have strong start to the school year

We are proud of the strong start our students have had this fall. Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction released report cards for schools and districts across the state.

Overall, we're pleased that the majority of our schools meet, exceed or significantly exceed expectations (40 out of 45 rated schools) according to the state's system, and that the majority of our schools (33 out of 45 rated) have improved. We're also pleased that as a district, we have no schools in the Fails to Meet Expectations category. The report cards are available at

The report cards are part of the state's accountability system and include information based off of school data and the state's required assessment. While the state's report card system has changed from year to year, it does include some useful information about our schools and district.

While the report cards give us some information, we encourage families to review our own school profiles (, learn more about your school's improvement plan and ask questions. You can also see comprehensive district wide results in our annual report (

We'll continue to monitor our progress along the way this year, and update you and continue to ask for your partnership in supporting your child.

Madison school board recognizes National Merit Scholarship semifinalists and National Hispanic Scholar finalist

The Madison school board held a special meeting on November 20 to recognize 44 National Merit Scholar semifinalists and their families, as well as the National Hispanic Scholar Recognition Program finalist and his family.

The semifinalist designation is based on high performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Less than one percent of the 1.6 million students nationwide who took the test were awarded semifinalist status. The National Hispanic Scholar Recognition Program recognizes academically exceptional Hispanic or Latino students whose grade-point averages and standardized test scores reflect an elite level of performance. Congratulations to our semifinalists and our finalist on their achievements!

Update on middle school start times

We would like to provide you with an update of our continued work  to explore options for a later middle school start time. In 2016-2017 we conducted two surveys – November 2016 survey report and May 2017 survey report. While parent support for a later start time is positive, the second survey did not show strong support for a 9:15 a.m. start time for middle schools.

We will continue to explore alternate plans for a later middle school (and possibly early elementary) start time. Stay tuned for opportunities to weigh in on these plans. We’ll present developments, along with your feedback, to the Madison school board in March.

You can learn more about our current work in our most recent October 2017 update to the school board.

Join us at the Personalized Pathways GuidEd Expo

Have you been hearing about Personalized Pathways in our high schools and wondering what exactly it is and how your future freshman can benefit from it? Join us on December 6 at 6 p.m. at the Alliant Energy Center for a GuidEd Expo in which you and your middle school student can learn about and apply for a pathway and see how the high school learning experience may be different within that pathway. Current ninth grade students not enrolled in a pathway are welcome, as well!

Personalized Pathways ambassadors travel to Nashville

On November 13 and 14, eight Personalized Pathways students from four high schools gathered together to travel to Nashville for “ambassador training,” where they shared ideas about how to create a vision for student voice within the Health Services Pathway and thought about how to train the other ambassadors upon their return to Madison. Through panel discussions and group activities they developed, the students determined how they want their voices to be heard and how to take on a leadership role to help with future Pathway implementation in our district. They were awarded a certificate at the end of the training.

The ambassadors are student representatives who serve the school by raising awareness of the Pathway among businesses, outside organizations, parents and prospective Pathway students. They attend outreach and recruiting events, conduct visitor tours and serve as a liaison for guest speakers and other visitors. It is a great opportunity for students in the Pathway to enhance their leadership abilities, teamwork and communication skills while they network with professionals and the community. These eight students were chosen out of the 45 total ambassadors across our high schools to participate in this training, sponsored by Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Traveling with them were Kris Howard, Pathways Coordinator at La Follette High School; Annie Potter, Pathways Coordinator at East High School; Lisa Koenecke, Pathways Coordinator at West High School; Matt Hendrickson, Assistant Principal at Memorial High School; and Jen Wegner, Director of Personalized Pathways and Career & Technical Education.

Pupil Non-discrimination Self-Evaluation feedback request

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) requires that every school district evaluate and prepare a written evaluation on the status of nondiscrimination and equality of educational opportunity in the school district once every five years.

The evaluation specifically considers the following areas: methods and practices related to counseling; trends in athletic, extracurricular, and recreational activities; and trends in awarding scholarships and other forms of recognition and achievement. Your feedback on this evaluation is important. We are asking you to please review and provide feedback before it goes before the school board and is submitted to DPI. The deadline for providing feedback is December 6, 2017. Find the full evaluation here.

If you have questions, email Eric Kestin, Affirmative Action Officer / Title IX Investigator / Contract Compliance Coordinator at