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Nearly nine percent of MMSD students are at risk of not graduating high school, data shows

About 8.66 percent of MMSD students in grades five through 12 are at risk of not graduating high school, according to recent data.

Image By: Christopher Guess

The Madison Metropolitan School District is making moves this year to help students in grades five through 12 succeed, after recent data showed nearly nine percent of students in the district are at risk of not graduating high school.

Though Wisconsin law requires each district to submit a list of at-risk students and a developed plan to help them every year, MMSD officials couldn’t say the last time they turned in a plan, according to the Capital Times.

Originally, MMSD would send a single letter to the parents or guardians of at-risk students, but the new plan could allow schools to work with individual students and their families for the best solutions. Now, each student’s needs will be approached separately, while parents receive copies of the plans made for their children, as well as follow-up schedules.

The options available for at-risk students range from tutoring and mentoring to alternative programs and extended graduation timelines.

At-risk students are defined by the state law as those who drop out before graduating high school or students who meet two or more of the following criteria:

  • Students who don’t have the number of credits necessary to graduate high school
  • Students who score in the lowest-score range on state-mandated assessments in math and/or reading
  • Students who are marked absent or tardy five days in a semester without an acceptable excuse
  • Students who are parents
  • Students who are adjudicated delinquents
  • Eighth grade students who score ‘below basic’ on the state-mandated assessment and don’t move on to ninth grade

Madison schools are required to submit the list by July, in accordance with Wisconsin law, so that district administrators can contact students' guardians to inform them of their childrens' academic status by September.

A  school representitive is expected to hold a meeting with each listed student and their guardians by October to create an individualized plan to help the student get on track to graduate.

At a Madison School Board meeting this week, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham introduced Ricardo Jara as her special assistant for equity and innovation.

Jara’s project for MMSD will focus on “opportunity youth” — students who drop out, get into the court system, or lack the amount of academic credits necessary to graduate, according to the Cap Times.

Jara’s task is to speak with the opportunity youth and create recommendations that may be piloted in the district next spring. He told the Capital Times in an interview that his conversations so far reveal how these student populations want to feel included in their school communities.

Though Jara’s work is separate from MMSD’s at-risk plan, Cheatham says that his role is important to tackle problem and “make sure every student can find a personalized path to success.”

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