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Dodger Update, 8/18 - Welcome to 2021-22
Mark Schwarz
Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Madison Families, 

I hope this message finds you well-rested and healthy as the new school year approaches on the horizon.  While we may not have yet completed our journey through this pandemic, we have proved that working together we can persevere and thrive in any challenge. This August, we are reopening schools in a full-day, full-enrollment model with cautious optimism that the greatest disruptions are behind us. Please read this and all school/district communications carefully so that we can continue to protect in-person learning and ensure a safe and exciting reopening of school doors on August 30. 

School welcome back letters, online return-to-school forms, and student schedules were released to parents today. 

Please note that our “summer packets” are now all online. You must complete all elements of the summer packet before you can access your child’s teacher assignments, so please schedule 15-30 minutes to ensure that you have the appropriate time to complete this important process.

Monday’s Superintendent Coffee recording includes many important informational updates about safety and educational priorities for the new year.

Thank you to the 700+ participants that were able to join over Zoom and Youtube . If you were not able to attend, please view the presentation and the recording which are both available on the Superintendent page of the district website. The presentation included a very important introduction to our COVID-related operational changes in the new school year as well as a detailed question and answer session with our community members. 

This year’s return-to-school forms include an important consent form authorizing your child to participate in our new Social Emotional Learning (SEL) surveys (for grades 3-12). 

As I referenced in my July Dodger Update, we are very excited to better support our students by transitioning to the Panorama survey platform which will collect student SEL data using valid, reliable, and norm-referenced instruments. Together with our academic, attendance and classroom data, these SEL measures will create a more complete picture of how students are performing and feeling about school. Please take a moment to review Panorama’s SEL Survey User Guide which introduces the background, context and research behind the surveys. It also includes all of the survey items that may be included in your child’s survey experience. Please also review the following FAQs to help you understand more about these surveys:

  • Will the survey ask for sensitive information about my child?

All possible survey items that your child may be asked are listed in the user guide that is linked above. If you are not comfortable with your child being asked any of these items, you should decline consent. 

  • Who can see my child’s responses to the survey questions?

No one at Madison Public Schools will be able to view your child’s individual responses. Faculty members and administrators who work with your child will be able to see your child’s overall score for each domain. This screenshot shows the most granular view of student responses that is available within the system. 

  • Why were these surveys selected for our students?

These surveys are designed to measure student perceptions that have been shown in academic studies to be important predictors of future academic and life achievement. Many of these elements are familiar in business and have been popularized in best-selling books. Some such familiar concepts are grit (similar to perseverance), growth mindset (similar to optimism), self-efficacy (similar to self-confidence), and emotional regulation (similar to mindfulness).  

  • Why does the district want to know this information about my child?

Our mission is to “inspire and challenge all students to be lifelong learners, empowered with the knowledge, skills, and character to shape their future, realize their dreams, and contribute positively to the world.” By understanding our students’ perceptions, we can better coach them to develop a healthy mindset that aligns with the values of this mission.

Over the coming days, we will coordinate closely with the Madison Health Department to monitor local public health data, learn from the successes and difficulties of schools around the country that are already open, and respond to any changes in guidance. As the first day of school approaches, we will continue to keep you informed. In the meantime, stay safe and stay Madison strong. 

Upcoming Events:

  • Tues, Aug 24 - Board of Education Special Meeting, 7pm

  • Mon, Aug 30 - First Day of School for Students

  • Mon, Sept 6 - Schools Closed - Labor Day

  • Tues, Sept 7 - Schools Closed - Rosh Hashanah

  • Mon, Sept 13 - Superintendent Coffee, 7pm

  • Tues, Sept 14 - Board of Education Meeting, 7pm

  • Thurs, Sept 16 - Schools Closed - Yom Kippur