Madison College President Dr. Jack Daniels speaks at a press conference at La Follette High School last April after being awarded a $400,000 grant from the Joyce Foundation for the creation of personalized pathways to graduation in high schools. MMSD Superintendent Jen Cheatham looks on.

The UW-Madison and Edgewood College are signing on as anchor partners in the Madison School District’s Personalized Pathways program. They join Madison College as the district’s higher education partners who help to support and inform the effort.

“This new initiative will help Madison high school students discern their academic passions and explore college and career options—goals we wholeheartedly embrace and are excited to be a part of,” says UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement released today. “It’s critical that our young people be well-prepared for whatever futures they choose. We look forward to deepening our relationships with the school district and our fellow institutions of higher learning to make this effort a success.”

In a Personalized Pathway, a student will progress through their core high school content courses, from ninth grade until graduation, in a smaller learning community, allowing them to develop strong, positive relationships with a close-knit group of students and staff who check in regularly and provide support to help students reach their goals.

“Partnership and community are two of Edgewood College’s core values,” said Dr. Scott Flanagan, President of Edgewood College, in a statement. “We are therefore excited to deepen our partnership with Madison schools and our colleagues in higher education in service of building a local community that is stronger for all. This initiative is a promising attempt to help students prepare to connect their talents and interests with the variety of opportunities that await them.”

Madison’s Personalized Pathways program is designed for students to experience a combination of what is working best in Madison schools – close-knit communities, academic goal-setting, challenging and relevant coursework, interdisciplinary projects and exploration of college and career options. Students will learn the skills they need for success after high school in a way that connects their coursework to their personal interests and the world around them.

“We are so grateful to have both the UW-Madison and Edgewood College as our partners. We believe that personalized pathways will both help more students graduate from high school and better prepare all students for their future,” said Superintendent Jen Cheatham. “Having the UW, Edgewood and Madison College as partners in this work will be crucial in making the program successful for all students.”

This fall, nearly 500 freshmen will enter the district’s first pathway at East, La Follette, Memorial and West high schools.

“There is an indisputable connection between strong communities, economic prosperity and access to higher education,” said Dr. Madison College President Jack Daniels. “To ensure that our communities will remain strong far into the future, it is essential that we have school systems and support mechanisms in place that prepare ALL students for whatever post-secondary pathway they desire while meeting the ever-growing demand of employers for knowledgeable, skilled workers. Personalized pathways, tailored for individual students, will help them better understand what they want to pursue upon graduation and be better prepared for college-level work. That is why Madison College enthusiastically supports MMSD’s personalized pathway initiative.”