Wisconsin State Journal: Madison school officials say a nine-week “micro school” at the end of the 2017-18 academic year improved attendance, engagement and learning for a small group of at-risk La Follette High School students, but key questions remain about how the model could be implemented in the future.
The Madison School District launched the school April 5 at the Life Center Madison church in the wake of a string of fights and other behavior problems at La Follette, on the city’s East Side. The idea was to try to re-engage a small group of students believed to be responsible for much of the discord, in part by allowing them to have a greater say in what they learn and how they learn it.
Enrollment in the school was voluntary and while the district initially sought to recruit from 15 to 20 students, ultimately 13 — all black or biracial boys — signed up, and 10 of them showed academic, social and other kinds of progress toward graduation.
The Capital Times: As the school year draws to a close, a new experience is just beginning for 13 La Follette High School students.
On Thursday, the start of fourth quarter, the Madison Metropolitan School District opened a “micro school” at the Life Center on Madison’s southeast side. The alternative school site was developed for a small number of students from La Follette who’ve had behavioral challenges this year.
District administrators announced the alternative site in late February following a series of high-profile incidents at La Follette during the second and third quarters of the school year. La Follette parents organized a listening session with MMSD superintendent Jennifer Cheatham and voiced their concerns at Madison School Board meetings.
Alex Fralin, MMSD’s secondary schools chief, said the energy was high following a parent orientation for incoming micro school students on Tuesday.
“Establish(ing) a deep relationship to both the students and their families to take a risk with us was the goal that we set out with Tuesday night, and I think we achieved it,” Fralin said.
Channel3000.com: Madison East High School won first place at the Wisconsin ProStart Student Invitational Culinary Competition held in Milwaukee March 13, according to a release.
At the ProStart Invitational, 21 high schools and 112 students from Wisconsin competed in the management and culinary competition.
Madison East High School participated in the culinary competition, where students needed to make a three-course meal. They are judged by food industry professionals and college educators on teamwork, presentation, cooking procedures, knife skills and sanitation.
Channel3000.com: A world language teacher at East High School was named Global Educator of the Year, by the Wisconsin Superintendent’s International Education Council.
Claudine Clark was awarded the honor in Milwaukee on Friday at the General Session of the Wisconsin State Education Convention.
Clark is being recognized for the third annual award for her contributions to East High School, by raising substantial scholarship funds for her students to travel, bringing in international teachers to the school, helping students become lifelong learners and collaborating with other educators.
Wisconsin State Journal: In a cross-cultural literary feat two years in the making, a class of dual-language immersion students at Lincoln Elementary School in Madison has helped create the first trilingual children’s book about the Ho-Chunk Nation.
Now in fifth grade, the students as third-graders in teacher Emily Schroeder’s class worked for several months with a Ho-Chunk tribal officer and Ho-Chunk students from a language school in Nekoosa to record, transcribe and illustrate a traditional Ho-Chunk story about a boy on a quest, and translate it into English, Spanish and Ho-Chunk.
“I wanted to dive deeper into this whole idea of Madison history before European contact,” Schroeder said. “Plus there are not a lot of children’s books, fictional or nonfictional, in general about the Ho-Chunk Nation.”
A tribal grant recently paid to print 2,000 copies of the book, titled “The Ho-Chunk Courting Flute,” which will be donated to all public schools and libraries in Madison and throughout the Ho-Chunk Nation after a book release party at Lincoln on Friday. The release party is open to the public.
Wisconsin State Journal: Midway through the first semester, a top-down directive to strengthen learning by teachers building deeper, more trusting relationships with and between students is playing out in classrooms throughout the Madison School District.
“Strong, authentic relationships are crucial to our work,” said Superintendent Jen Cheatham, who set the districtwide focus. “Achievement gaps can persist in part when there is a lack of the safe community and support to engage in challenging and meaningful work.”
The push is seen as especially important for students of color, whose test scores as a whole lag far behind white students’ academic performance in the district. Helping them get ahead may require teachers and administrators to take a step back, in a sense, as they focus first on breaking down walls to let learning happen.
“Kids aren’t going to be able to take risks and push themselves academically, without having a trusting support network there,” said Lindsay Maglio, principal of Lindbergh Elementary School, where some teachers improved on traditional get-to-know-you exercises in the first few weeks of school by adding more searching questions, and where all school staff are engaged in community-building lessons in small-group sessions with students taking place at set periods throughout the year.
While noting that getting to know their students is already “something we do feel strongly about,” fourth-grade teacher Beth Callies, now in her 11th year at Lindbergh, said she saw value in a districtwide strategy emphasizing it. “It’s a good push to remind us,” Callies said.
The Cap Times: A partnership between the Madison Metropolitan School District and Madison College seeks to increase the number of girls and students of color who pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
The Early College S.T.E.M. Academy is set to start next fall. The initial pilot will recruit a total of 25 juniors and seniors from Madison East and La Follette high schools.
The program will expand to up to 200 students across MMSD and find its home at the new MATC south campus by the 2019-2020 school year. The program will be free for MMSD students.
Students accepted into the program for the 2018-2019 school year will take classes at MATC’s Truax campus. Although the program targets girls and students of color, all MMSD students are eligible to apply.
Participating students will earn college credit and have the opportunity to receive their associate’s degree by the end of their senior year. MMSD will start recruiting for the academy this fall. The district said it would release applications for the academy this fall, with a December deadline. MMSD will interview students in January and inform students of their admission status in February 2018.
At Monday’s Madison School Board meeting, some board members feared that the current admission requirements — a minimum 2.5 GPA, 90 percent attendance rate and meeting all course requirements in ninth and 10th grade — would turn away many of the students the program aims to serve.
“What happens if you have a student who is brilliant in S.T.E.M. but happens to be homeless or caring for a sick relative and does not have a 90 percent attendance rate?” board member Nicki Vander Meulen said. “I don’t want to necessarily leave them out solely based on that.”
The Capital Times: After 13 years of dual-language instruction, the Madison Metropolitan School District’s first class of graduates walked across the stage this spring with Wisconsin’s new Seal of Biliteracy, certifying their mastery of a foreign language during high school.
Forty-five students from Madison La Follette High School earned the seal of biliteracy in Spanish. All of the students were a part of the first class of 50 kindergartners at Nuestro Mundo Elementary School’s dual-language immersion program. The majority of the cohort continued with the DLI program at Sennett Middle School and followed the required course of study at La Follette to earn the seal.
Starting next school year, students across the district will have the chance to earn the biliteracy seal with their high school diplomas. With the expansion, MMSD expects the number of qualified students to expand exponentially.
The seal of biliteracy was created by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in partnership with several national organizations that champion bilingual education. Wisconsin is one of 27 states to offer the seal to graduating seniors. According to DPI guidelines, the seal certifies that students, “demonstrated achievement in bilingualism, biliteracy and multicultural competence in and through two or more languages.” MMSD is one of three Wisconsin school districts so far, including Verona and Waukesha, to offer the seal of biliteracy to graduates.
Wisconsin State Journal: Thirteen-year-old Alyssa Anderson isn’t quite sure where she’ll be at noon on Friday, since Madison students have no school that day.
But wherever she is, she’ll probably be Googling.
Alyssa, a seventh-grader at Wright Middle School, is Wisconsin’s finalist in this year’s Doodle 4 Google competition, a nationwide design contest run by the search-engine giant since 2008.
The national winner, to be announced online around noon Friday along with four runners-up, will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 technology award for their school, a trip to Google headquarters in California and other prizes.
“It’s been amazing. Everyone has been encouraging me and telling me they’re rooting for me,” Alyssa said of the process of entering and advancing in the contest. “We’re just keeping our fingers crossed.”
DPI: State Superintendent Tony Evers nominated eight public elementary schools for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which recognizes overall academic excellence or progress in improving student achievement.
The 2017 nominees are:
Mountain Bay Elementary School, D. C. Everest Area School District, Weston;
Robinson Elementary School, Laona School District;
Shorewood Hills Elementary School, Madison Metropolitan School District;
Oriole Lane Elementary School, Mequon-Thiensville School District;
Elmwood Elementary School, New Berlin School District;
Phillips Elementary School, Phillips School District;
West Salem Elementary School, West Salem School District; and
Washington Elementary School, Whitewater Unified School District.
“The Blue Ribbon Schools program recognizes the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in striving for solid student academic achievement,” Evers said. “Our public school nominees provide a safe and supportive learning environment where young people can build a foundation for future academic and life success. I wish our nominees well in the next phase of the Blue Ribbon School process.”