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Thursday, September 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 53.0° F  Partly Cloudy
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Madison schools superintendent Dan Nerad releases plan to address achievement gap
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The Madison Metropolitan School District and superintendent Dan Nerad have released plans for addressing the achievement gap in time to be discussed at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, February 6. The project is titled "Building Our Future: The Preliminary Plan for Eliminating Gaps in MMSD Student Achievement" -- stay tuned here tonight for our report.

Here's an introductory letter from Nerad:

Dear Partners in Education,

A new model for our direction in the Madison Metropolitan School District began to take shape in the 2008-2009 school year. The Board of Education supported a community wide strategic planning initiative. The viewpoints and values expressed therein reflected the voice and heart of our community and informed the Strategic Plan Priorities adopted by the Board of Education in November, 2010.

Following the development of the Strategic Plan, it was my priority to ensure that our staff were prepared and organized to convert ideas into action. That commitment led to a central office reorganization plan that was approved by the Board of Education in the spring of 2010. In the following months, administrative positions were eliminated to create new divisions within our organization, we reconfigured the roles and responsibilities for many of our key leaders, and began the hiring process for new leaders responsible for assembling and managing new departments. All of these decisions were based on aligning our structures and practices to the Strategic Plan priorities.

As new leaders began their positions throughout the 2010-2011 school year, they identified operational strengths and weaknesses and developed action plans to meet specific Strategic Plan performance indicators. The present school year marks the implementation of key related practices, such as new assessments to monitor student progress, development of an aligned curriculum to support the new Common Core Standards and increased consistency across programs and sites, expansion of Positive Behavior Supports, the advancement of Response to Intervention throughout the district, the continued implementation of AVID, and a remarkable start of a new four-year-old kindergarten program. This systems work has also entailed the creation of new supports for instructional coaching on culturally responsive pedagogical practice, including the creation of the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer, which also includes a Director of Equity and Family Involvement and a Director of African American Achievement. All of these pieces, working together, position the district to gain new traction and momentum in the critical area of eliminating barriers to student achievement and in closing the current achievement gaps.

We share this proposal as the next step in our transformation. I can't emphasize enough that we need better results for our children. As we receive community input from you, our partners in education, we will permanently alter our course of action toward a brighter educational experience through which all students reach their highest potential. A preliminary budget for the first three years is included for each recommendation.

Our discussions in the weeks ahead will be critical to the future of education for our children. We will need broad input to ensure that our proposal best meets the needs of all of the district's children, especially those of color and our low-income students.

Today we present this proposal as a call to action to our staff, our families, and our community. Please join us in providing input on these ideas which reflect the natural progression of the ongoing work since our community-based strategic planning began in 2008-09. This proposal reflects some effective work already under way, some promising practices we have explored but not fully implemented, and some altogether new ideas.

I look forward to this next phase of our work together as we move toward a future in which all MMSD students are equitably empowered to reach their highest potential. Together we will eliminate our achievement gaps.

Sincerely,

Daniel A. Nerad, Superintendent

Here is the plan issued by the district.

The district is holding a series of nine community listening sessions, starting February 21 and running through March 27. Persons interested in participating can register here.

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