Madison School District delays second Personalized Pathways implementation

Amber Walker:

The Madison Metropolitan School District will not add a second thematic learning community, or Personalized Pathway, at its high schools in the 2018-2019 school year as initially planned due to feedback from teachers, parents and community partners.

Alex Fralin, chief of secondary schools at MMSD, told the Madison School Board Monday night that pushing back the timeline will allow Pathways teams to evaluate the implementation process.

“We want to make sure that we are creating the space and the time for our teachers and our teams to go really deep, which is why we decided not to implement a second Pathway year two,” he said. “We also believe this will provide more time for a deeper study through an evaluation process.”

Personalized Pathways is a change to the current high school model. It emphasizes small learning communities where students take their core classes together, all tied to a central theme. The first theme, or Pathway, is health services. MMSD argues that the model will keep students engaged in their learning and allow them to graduate “college, career and community ready.”

Across MMSD, over 500 eighth graders applied to be a part of the health services Pathway when they enter high school in the 2017-2018 school year. Each high school has a cohort ranging in size from 112 to 130 students. Demand exceeded the amount of spaces available for Pathways at East and La Follette, where there are waitlists for students. Two-thirds of the Pathways cohort identify as students of color, and 58 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch. Students who are already in high school are not affected by the Pathways implementation.

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