Earlier this week, Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham held a press conference touting the progress which the district has made after one year under her leadership. The basis for her claim was the progress made by many schools as set forth under her First Annual Report. To make sure that MMSD parents were aware of how each school is doing under what she has dubbed the Strategic Framework, she e-mailed MMSD parents with links to the Annual Report, and encouraged them to examine the results of the children’s schools.
To that end, I have examined the results at Madison East High School, and despite the fact that my son gets a good education there, the results reveal significant academic problems, huge racial disparities, and simply no information about school discipline issues.
- 55.4% low-income students;
- 24.7% English Language Learners;
- 21.5% Special education students; and
- a minority white student, with 59.3% of its students being non-white.
Next, the academic achievement results as shown in the School Improvement Plan which provides no data for any minority groups other than African-Americans and students in special education reveals that:
- While there was some improvement with 33% of 9th graders having 2 or more course failures compared to 38% the prior year, this is still a very high rate of failure and is magnified by significant racial and disability disparities with 49% of African-American 9th graders having 2 or more course failures, and 45% of students in special education having 2 or more course failures;
- Once again, there was some improvement with 36% of 11th graders having a 3.0 grade point average or higher (compared to 31% the prior year), these rates plummet to 11% for African-American students, and 10% for students in special education;
- Reading and math scores show similar improvement, but once again striking racial and disability disparities with 45% of students at a college ready reading level, but only 22% of African-American students and 18% of students in special education reading at that level; and 40% of students at college ready math level, but only 12% of both African-American and students in special education reading at that level;
- Finally, the 4 year graduation rate has improved overall to 83%, but it is only 70% for African-American students and a mere 49% for students in special education, which unfortunately suggests that many students are graduating without college ready reading or math abilities.
Sadly, given all the attention paid to the school district’s significant modification of its Behavior Education Plan earlier this year, there is no school discipline data provided to parents or the public, which means there are no goals, nor any accountability for this area which is so critical to improving student achievement and shutting down the school to prison pipeline.
In sum, while some improvement is worth bragging about, the high level of racial and disability disparities which remain, and complete lack of data and goals around improved behavior mean that MMSD has a long way to go if it School Improvement Plan will result in a quality education for all of its students, preparing them to be productive adults upon graduation.
_________________________________________________________________________________________ For more information on how I can help you accomplish progressive, effective systems change, contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his web site: Systems Change Consulting.