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Why Personalized Pathways?

We have some of the best high school teachers, courses and programs in the state. We take pride in each of our unique high school communities and the opportunities they provide students. But not enough of our students are graduating, or graduating with options to determine their own future. We need to do more. We need to provide more opportunity to more students so they can be successful. [more...] [less] 

Personalized Pathways do that by giving students the opportunity to explore what they are passionate about, to connect their schoolwork to their future, to see limitless possibilities and to support them on their journey.

The Personalized Pathways model takes the best practices – integrated curriculum, experiential learning opportunities and relationships – and systemically creates a new way for students and families to experience high school on the path to graduation and beyond.

Every student’s pathway will lead to graduation with a post-secondary plan that leads to an associate or baccalaureate degree or and industry-recognized certificate or license. This video does a nice job of explaining the rationale behind Personalized Pathways. It features the former Director of Personalized Pathways and was created to help explain our model for a grant opportunity.

What are the benefits of the smaller learning community?

Smaller learning communities are made up of 120-150 students per grade level. Because students in a pathway will share a common set of teachers and a common set of core classes, they will experience a tighter sense of connection with both staff and students. Close relationships with peers over four years will support students’ sense of belonging. [more...] [less] 

Consistent relationships with a small group of teachers over four years will enable teachers to better support students’ individual needs, goals and aspirations. And because they share the same students, teachers can meet regularly to discuss student strengths and problem-solve concerns. This results in more coordinated student supports – remediation and acceleration – across these core courses. This connection also creates the possibility for teachers to work collaboratively across content areas to create integrated projects.

What if my child tries out the pathway and changes their mind?

A student can decide at any time to move out of a pathway. When more pathways are available in future years, a student may move from one pathway to another, if they do so before grade 11. This is to ensure they are able to meet graduation requirements as well as maintain stability with each school’s master schedule.

How do I apply?

Interested students and families must complete and submit an application by January 6, 2016. You can submit an online application (coming soon) or print the application for your school below. For the fall 2017 cohort, all 8th grade families will receive an application in the mail the week of November 28, 2016. You can also request an application be sent to you via US mail by filling out this form. [more...] [less] 

East High School Application

La Follette High School Application

Memorial High School Application

West High School Application

If there are more interested students than available slots, a lottery system will be used. There will also be an opportunity for students and families to choose to be on a waitlist if they do not receive a spot in the pathway during the lottery process.

Will high schools still have the rich elective options they currently have?

Absolutely. Access to electives is an important part of our high school experience and will not change as part of Personalized Pathways. Students will still have choice in taking courses outside of the pathway and in engaging in the rich selection of electives.

What experiences do students in a pathway get outside of school?

Every student will be exposed to real-world learning experiences like college visits, guest speakers, internships or apprenticeships. Students get to choose the level of real-world experiences that best fits their needs and interests. [more...] [less] 

Colleges, universities, community-based organizations and businesses serve as resources, supports and locations for these real-world experiences. Within each thematic smaller learning community, students can personalize their pathway to graduation by selecting their courses and experiences from a designed program of study.

How can a student in a pathway get credit for college for high school courses?

Students can earn credit for high school and college at the same time by taking courses offered by higher education institutions such as UW-Madison and Madison College. Some classes are taught at high school, while others are taught on the college or university campus.

My child is taking advanced math coursework. Will they have access in the Health Services pathway?

Absolutely! Students, with their families, will select the most appropriate math option.

What’s the difference between honors and earned honors?

In the first pathway, students will have the option of both honors and earned honors.

A standalone honors course requires students to select the honors course during the course selection period for their respective high school. In doing so, all students opting into the course understand that the content is measurably broader, deeper and/or more complex in comparison to its standard course counterpart.

Earned honors courses make the opportunities of the honors experience available without requiring students to sign up for a separate honors course. Instead, students earn the honors designation by demonstrating exceptional performance on specific assignments and assessments in their course. Students reaching this level of expectation, based on predetermined criteria, will earn the “honors designation.”

My child has an IEP – what will support services look like in the pathway experience?

The same support services that are outlined in an IEP (Individual Education Plan) would be available within the pathway experience.

My child is in DLI – can they participate in the Health Services Pathway? What will that look like?

Absolutely, a student in DLI (Dual Language Immersion) can participate in the Health Services Pathway. Students in DLI will take the courses in the pathway course of study, except they will take the Spanish US History course outside of the pathway. In addition, the student would take Spanish Language Arts. [more...] [less] 

The pathways approach will also afford DLI students additional opportunities to practice their Spanish and cultural skills through specially designed experiential learning opportunities, particularly at the junior and senior year.

How will Academic and Career Planning and Counseling supports be different or the same?

Within a pathway, students will explore postsecondary and career possibilities, as well as experiential learning opportunities, which will help them to discover and “try on” the many options open to them. [more...] [less] 

Throughout their annual Academic and Career planning processes including their Pathways experience, students will develop portfolios that contain work they are proud of, reflections on how they have grown, next steps and emerging postsecondary plans. They will share these portfolios with staff, community members and families through Portfolio Presentations.

All students will continue to have access to counseling and other student supports. However, students in a pathway will have a counselor aligned to the pathway that meets regularly with the students and their teachers. They may identify and connect students to needed supports that through this close relationship.

Is Personalized Pathways a form of tracking?

No. A pathway theme is broad and provides students a real-world context for learning. The coursework in a pathway prepares students for success in a 4-year university, 2-year college, 1-year certificate program or any other post-secondary education option, whatever they decide to study. Personalized Pathways help students develop key 21st century skills (creativity, collaboration, interpersonal skills, cultural competence) that benefit students regardless of their post-secondary plans.