The Madison Board of Education engages in a strategic planning process to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, and ensure that all stakeholders are working toward common goals and established agreements around intended outcomes. The strategic planning process assesses and adjusts the school district’s direction in response to an ever-changing environment.
Through a disciplined approach, strategic planning produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide district initiatives intended to serve primary stakeholders. This process defines who we serve, what we do, why we do it, all with a focus on the future. The primary stakeholders were identified as students, parents, the Board of Education, and the larger school community.
Through effective strategic planning, the school district articulates not only where the system is going and the actions needed to make progress, but also how it will know if it is successful.
Our strategic plan is a document used to communicate within the larger school community, the goals of the school district, the actions and initiatives needed to achieve those goals, and feedback loops to inform the school district of progress made towards district goals in pursuit of continuous improvement. The primary purpose of a strategic plan is to accelerate organizational progress beyond ordinary continuous improvement efforts over a defined period of time.
In the summer of 2012, the Madison Public Schools began a process of “re-visioning” the work of our system. Historically, public schools have responded to the calls of societal needs. Responsiveness to the math and science race defined public school efforts following the launch of Sputnik in 1957. Public schools led the way through integration efforts across segregated communities during the Civil Rights era, and then continued with busing across town and city lines in the 1970s. Most recently, the information age has called on public schools to prepare students for a very different global marketplace.
With this context, an analytical and inclusive process within the larger school community was taken as the school system began a deep inquiry into projecting and identifying the skills and capacities that our students would need to contribute and thrive in the world of work and citizenship in the 21st Century.
A series of three distinct “education summits” were held during the fall of 2012, comprising over 50 diverse community members, with the aim to refresh the district vision while focusing on a singular mission, that is, to prepare all students for the world they will enter when they graduate from the Madison Public Schools.
After a year-long process, in August of 2013, the Board of Education adopted a new district vision, one that ambitiously sought to prepare all learners for the challenges of the world of work and citizenship in the 21st Century. The following year was spent developing a series of belief statements framed as a “theory of action” that would serve as a foundation to a subsequent strategic plan. The district theory of action was adopted by the Board of Education in December of 2014.
Finally, it was critical to identify an appropriate strategic planning tool, one that would honor that our schools are “mission-based” and do not produce a “bottom line” outcome as a for-profit organization would. After a period of research it was determined that the Harvard Business School model, the Balanced Scorecard, first published in 1992, would be the most appropriate strategic planning tool for the school district.
Several iterations over a two year period resulted in Board of Education adoption of the current plan in May 2018. The components of the Madison Public Schools strategic plan, within the Balanced Scorecard model, include the following:
The Strategy Map is a one page summary of the district’s strategic objectives. Each strategic objective is defined by determining:
- why the objective is important,
- what the strategic objective will accomplish when achieved, and
- how the district will approach this work.
The Scorecard is a two page summary of each district initiative and accountable measure for each strategic objective within the full strategic plan. The Scorecard serves as the district accountability tool. With the current Board of Education Strategic Plan, there are 17 strategic objectives, which are prioritized and phased in over a multi-year period, supported by 36 district initiatives and 31 accountability measures.