The Six Major Components of the MMSD High School Plan

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes

In an earlier post, I provided my understanding of the background of the protest at West High about the proposal for changes in the District’s high school curriculum. I explained how the proposal was an outgrowth of the work that has gone on at the high schools for the last few years under the auspices of a federal grant, known as the REaL grant (for Relationships, Engagement and Learning).
That proposal, which will affect all four of the District’s comprehensive high schools and is now known as the High School Career and College Readiness Plan, has since evolved somewhat, partially in response to the feedback that has been received and partially as a consequence of thinking the proposals through a bit more.
Here is where things currently stand.
The high school proposal should start a conversation that could last for a few years regarding a long-term, systematic review of our curriculum and the way it is delivered to serve the interests of all learners. What’s currently on the table is more limited in scope, though it is intended to serve as the foundation for later work.
The principal problem the proposal is meant to address is that we currently don’t have any district-defined academic standards at the high school level. There is no established set of expectations for what skills students should be learning in each subject area each year. Since we don’t have any basic expectations, we also don’t have any specific and consistent goals for accelerated learning. A corollary of this is that we really don’t have many ways to hold a teacher accountable for the level of learning that goes on in his or her classroom. Also, we lack a system of assessments that would let us know how our students are progressing through high school.

Lots of related links:

2 thoughts on “The Six Major Components of the MMSD High School Plan”

  1. I think one statement Mr. Hughes made is especially important to note for those West HS families that have chosen to act like the ugly angry mob in the old Frankenstein movie:
    Hughes writes: “The genesis for these changes is independent of the West parents’ DPI complaint, and in fact the changes are called for in the district’s strategic plan (‘create accelerated learning opportunities for all students’).”

  2. It is unfortunate that we don’t have measurements in place for teachers or students. This is likely why Madison did not make the Race-To-The-Top higher ranking gaining federal funds. It is important to see what other districts (outside of Wisconsin) have done to be successful with gifted programs and teacher analysis. This discussion has gone on for years and nothing has come of it.
    It does look like Mr. Walker has some of these needed changes in mind (if he can find the funding# and may get the ball rolling. There are pros and cons as we all know to everything and we need to keep in mind what is best for the student’s education and should not be fear of losing political power or teacher salary decreases to be more aligned with the private sector (as in health benefits and annual raises). I am not a fan of Mr. Walker, but if we can get some productive discussion and action in place for the students, the teachers, and the district – we are headed in the right direction.
    There are too many broken formulas within the MMSD and the states funding formula. We can do better on all fronts without hitting the tax payer.

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