Madison School District’s advanced learner program is still a work in progress

Amber Walker:

Though the Madison Metropolitan School District revised its advanced learner program in recent years, some schools are still struggling to provide tailored classroom instruction for qualified students.

The district defines advanced learners as students who demonstrate, or have the potential to demonstrate, high performance in one or more areas.

MMSD contracted with the consulting firm RMC Research to evaluate its advanced learner program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade during the 2015-2016 school year. That included surveying teachers, advanced learners and their parents about the effectiveness of the program.

Laurie Fellenz, interim director of advanced learning, and Lisa Kvistad, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, presented survey findings to the Madison School Board on Monday night.

The evaluation found that the district’s new process for identifying advanced learners decreased the number of students eligible for the program but provided enrolled students a more tailored experience. At the same time, the survey found an increase in the percentage of advanced learners from underrepresented populations, including African-American and Latino students.

Related: TAG Complaint, English 10 and Small Learning Communities.