There’s a lot of concern being expressed these days about the Madison school district’s Personalized Pathways initiative.
Personalized Pathways are intended to bring a more coherent, focused and engaging organizational structure to our high schools. Ninth grade students will have the opportunity to select a pathway built around a theme. Each of our four large high schools will offer a health services-themed pathway next year that will be available to 120 to 150 students at each school.
Students in that pathway will take English, math, social science, and science classes together. The teachers of the classes will coordinate, the classes will have a health services focus to some degree, and the students will be offered more than the typical menu of hands-on and experiential learning, guest speakers, and larger-scale projects. Students will be offered options for both stand-alone and earned honors within each pathway. The plan is for each school to gradually offer additional pathway options over the next several years.
The school district’s communications to students and families about pathways has fallen a bit short. Eighth graders will soon have to decide whether they want to sign up for the health services pathway, and, for many parents, news about pathways and upcoming decision-points is seemingly coming out of nowhere. Additionally, there are apparently rumors swirling around suggesting that the pathways initiative will bring with it all kinds of bad stuff. Continue reading