Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Engaging Families

Dear Parents,

The Medford Area Public School District takes an active approach to engaging families in our many educational offerings for students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). 

First, our programs/services help students as young as three years of age through the age of 21.  I have attached a copy of our Special Education/Student Services brochure which highlights many of these programs/services.  These will also be featured on the local radio and newspaper in the coming week.

Second, we take an active approach in engaging families through a variety of council and committees. Some of these are directly led by the Medford Area Public School District and some we have an active role on them through a countywide approach.  Please contact me if you would like to learn more and/or attend them as a parent representative.

·        Special Education Advisory Council
·        Taylor County Transition Advisory Council
·        Taylor County Autism Support Group
·        Taylor County Early Childhood Sub-Committee

Third, The Special Education Advisory Council plans parent-child activities.  Our upcoming event is:
Family Fun Day at the Movies
Penguins of Madagascar
Saturday December 6 at 10:30 am
Broadway Theatre

We will also have upcoming snowshoe, movie, and swimming events. 

Finally, to help inform parents of upcoming events and services – I maintain the following means of communication:

·        Medford Area Public School District Special Education/Student Services Facebook page which is located at: https://www.facebook.com/MAPSDSPEDSTUDENTSERVICES
·        Student Services Newsletter two times per year
·        Twitter account: www.twitter.com/Joseph_Greget
·        Blog: www.jgreget.blogspot.com

You are welcome to contact your child’s special education teacher or myself for any questions, supports, or services that you might need throughout the school year. My contact information is: 715-748-2316 ext 324 or gregejo@medford.k12.wi.us .

I hope that each and all of you are having a rewarding and exciting school year.  May you have a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas.  We are privileged to be educating your child this holiday season and throughout the school year.  


Joseph A. Greget (Mr. Joe)
Director of Student Services/Special Education

Medford Area Public School District

Monday, November 3, 2014

“Always Good and Making a Difference”

“Always Good and Making a Difference”

For the past 10 years I have had the opportunity and privilege to be the Director of Student Services and Special Education for the Medford Area Public School District. Over this time there have been many wonderful memories and moments with students, new initiatives/programs created, privileges to work alongside quality people on personal and professional levels, and opportunities to provide direct and indirect support to 300 plus families on an annual basis.    

Special Education and Student Services are delivered across the school district and designed to help make a difference for our students and families.

Did you know that:
·         The Medford Area Public School District is required to provide special education services to students with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 21 years of age  
·         There are 322 students who receive special education as of September 19, 2014: 

Schools                                                                                Numbers
Medford Area Senior High School            101
Medford Area Middle School                     84
MAES/SES                                                           99
Others (RVA, Holy Rosary
Immanual, and Itinerant)                             38                                                          

The overall 322 students who receive special education represent 13.96% of the overall student population:

Impairment                                                        Percentage
Learning Disability                                          4.47%
Speech Language (primary)                        3.12%
Other Health Impaired                                  2.86%
Emotional Behavioral Disability                                1.17%
Autism Spectrum Disorder                          1.04%
Cognitive Disability                                        0.69%
Other (Vision, TBI, SDD)                                               0.61%

·         A student on the autism spectrum was Mayor for the Day and gave the proclamation to help light the Taylor County Courthouse blue for Autism Awareness Month in April
·         18 adults have come back to school to complete high school graduation requirements since the inception of our Medford Adult Diploma Academy in 2010
·         158 students have earned their diplomas through our Alternative High School program – now in our 15th year
·         Child Development Day is offered each Fall to help screen children ages 2-4 for developmental readiness 
·         18-21 year olds – have the opportunity to continue their education/develop job skills/work on college credits/learn independent skills in our SOAR (Students Open to Achieving Reality) program
·         Students do not have to be identified with a disability to receive layers of academic/social/behavioral intervention supports across the school district
·         Adapted Physical Education is offered in each school building
·         At the of end of the 14-15 school year we will have  – 4 staff that completed their Wilson Reading Level II Certification, 20 staff that completed their Wilson Reading Level I Certification, a certified Wilson Fundations presenter and our own in-district Wilson trainer
·         Very Special Arts Band experience on the field of Camp Randall during a fall UW Badgers Game is offered to regular and special needs high school students on an annual basis
·         Preschool Options Model offers early childhood special education services to students in their homes, community child care settings, pre-kindergarten class, and in early childhood classroom
·         Staff have multiple licensures including: Special Education Teacher, Regular Education Teacher, Reading Teacher, Alternative Education, Adapted Physical Education, School Psychology, Speech Language, Early Childhood, Guidance Counseling, and more
·         One of our special education staff have their National Board Teacher Certification
·         Taylor County Education Center is now home to our Medford Adult Diploma Academy, Alternative High School, Rural Virtual Academy, 18-21 year old SOAR, Speech Language/Early Childhood Motor Group, and Taylor County Literacy Council
·         Special Olympics Basketball is offered each Fall
·         MAES and SES have earned distinguished state awards for being Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports (PBIS) schools
·         Leadership positions are taken countywide including: Taylor County Literacy Council, Taylor County Autism Support Group, Taylor County Early Childhood Sub-Committee, Taylor County Interagency Communications Committee, Medford Morning Rotary Club, and Special Education Advisory Council
·         Related services are offered to students in the areas of Speech Language, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, School Nursing, School Based Mental Health Counseling, Police Liaison, Educational Interpreter, Hearing Impaired, Audiology, Special Bus Transportation, English Language Learner, Core Assistive Technology, Job Coaching, and School Guidance Counseling
·         Career Fairs, Mini-Business World, Family Being Involved Workshops, Laws of Life Essay Contest, Special Education Family Days, Taylor County Transition Night, Taylor County Reality Fair, Financial Aid Workshops, B.U.G, and Cultural Fair are just some of our student services programs
·         Ongoing balanced assessment helps measure student achievement and progress through – DLM, PALS, WKCE, ACT, ACT Aspire, Dynamic Learning Map, AIMS Web progress monitoring, and NWEA-MAP
·         Evidence based curriculums include: Read 180, Wilson Reading, Wilson Fundations, Wilson Just Words, Reading Mastery, Achieve 3000, Edmark Reading, Reading Assistant, Voyager Math, Connecting Math Concepts, and Early Literacy Skills Builder are just some curriculums used
·         Special Education Classes are built on Extended Grade Band Standards, Common Core Essential Elements, Wisconsin Model Academic Standards, Common Core Standards, and/or IEP goals/objectives
I will often be asked by those I come in contact with – how is it going?  By looking at everyone that I get to work with (students, parents, school staff, and community), seeing our existing and newer programs/initiatives, and most importantly getting to know and seeing our students have success  – it has to be “Always Good” especially when we are working hard on making a difference in the lives of our students and families.   
Please contact me with any questions or for more information about special education or student services at any time.

Joseph A. Greget
Director of Student Services/Special Education for Medford Area Public Schools
715-748-2316 ext 324


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Medford Area Open Doors Charter School Planning Grant Application

Executive Summary
The Medford Area Open Doors Charter School’s primary vision is to teach 21st Century Skills that lead to college, career, and life readiness for our students.  We will serve students whose learning needs exceed the traditional educational system. The Medford Area Public School District has a proud history of creating programs which have helped at-risk students graduate from high school, have given non-traditional students another opportunity to earn a high school diploma, and have allowed 18-21 year old students with special needs a special place to develop functional and work skills. Combining these innovative programs into a charter school will allow us to continue to offer these existing programs and expand the learning options within our community.
For the past 13 years our school district has offered at-risk students an alternative option for graduation through the Taylor County Alternative High School Partnership. This program has helped 66 at-risk students earn a high school diploma.
Starting in 2010 we began our Medford Adult Diploma Academy so that adults 18 ½ and older could come back to school to earn a high school diploma.  Since inception we have had 14 students graduate. There are 16 more currently working to complete their graduation requirements.
In the 2013-14 school year we started a SOAR (Students Open to Achieving Reality) program where 18-21 year old students learn independent living skills in the mornings and work or have mentorship opportunities in the afternoon.  We have 8 students participating in SOAR.
We feel these programs have been successful.  However, our programs and ultimately our students are often challenged by local and statewide policies and procedures. Prospective students are not able to enroll due to their age, address, grade level, non-special education status, and/or not meeting the official state statutory “at-risk” criteria.  We are not able to make the necessary changes in our programs and curriculum to help students develop 21st century skills in college, career, and life readiness. Becoming a charter school will allow us to expand, improve, and provide more options for students.
Open Doors will help students, starting in grade 9, learn 21st century skills and achieve the Common Core State Standards by incorporating innovative ways of learning into their personalized learning path. Students will complete their core classes and learn skills in communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity through a variety of research based educational models such as project based learning, hands-on learning, mentorships, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Our focus on 1:1 technology, dual credit options, transition, college and career readiness skills, functional/independent living skills, vocational skills, and service learning opportunities within the community will prepare our students for life outside our doors.
Open Doors will be an instrumentality charter school, located in the Taylor County Community Education building. The flexibility afforded under state law for charter schools will allow us to implement innovative educational models and schedules to meet the learning needs of our students. Our students will each have a personalized path to graduation and will leave our program ready to function effectively in the 21st century by having college, career, and life readiness skills.
1. Describe the educational vision and philosophy driving the charter school planning effort including the underlying theories and research supporting the vision -
The Medford Area Open Doors Charter School’s primary vision is to teach 21st Century Skills that lead to college, career, and life readiness.  We will serve students whose learning needs exceed the traditional educational system. The population we expect to serve includes students at-risk of not graduating, adults without a high school diploma, students with special needs, English Language Learners, and students interested in vocational training, work opportunities, project-based learning, hands-on learning, and dual credit options with Northcentral Technical College.
Open Doors Charter School will work towards meeting the needs of students who are not succeeding in the traditional high school setting by meeting them where they are and moving them forward in their academic, behavioral and transitional goals through personalized learning plans. We will help these students achieve 21st century skills through innovative educational methods.
a. Describes how the concept of a charter school was introduced as well as who initiated the concept and why
In 2000, Medford Area Public Schools opened an alternative high school program at an offsite location.  Students used NovaNet to complete their core competencies and were given credit for working 15 hours a week.  Over the years, the requirements at the Alternative High School have been adapted to align more closely with the classes required at Medford Area Senior High.  Students receive a Medford High School diploma.  Over 66 students who were at-risk of not graduating have received a high school diploma over the past 14 years.
In 2005, Medford Area Public Schools received approval to offer a GED Option 2 program, allowing students to demonstrate competency in the core subject areas by passing the traditional GED tests.
In 2010, Medford Adult Diploma Academy opened its doors to adults 18 ½ and older in Medford and surrounding communities who had never earned a high school diploma.  Using the same curriculum as the Medford Alternative High School, adults were able to earn a Medford High School Diploma. Fourteen adults have earned a high school diploma since this program began, and we currently have 16 students enrolled. MADA is open three nights per week from 4-8 pm and is scheduled year round for adult students.
In 2011, we discovered that many of the adults coming to the Medford Adult Diploma Academy needed help in reading before they could complete the classes.  The Taylor County Literacy Council was formed to help these struggling readers through classes and one-on-one tutoring. The literacy council has also started offering classes and tutoring for English Language Learners.
In 2013, Medford Area Public Schools opened the SOAR (Students Open to Achieving Reality) program for 18-21 year-old students with special needs.  SOAR students learn life and work skills in the mornings and work in the community in the afternoons. There have been 8 students who have participated in the SOAR program in its first year.  SOAR is open Monday through Thursday during the school year.
This year we realized that all of these programs serve students who, for various reasons, have not succeeded in the traditional high school system.  Since we already share a common purpose, combining all of these programs into a charter school would allow us to share resources, staff and space.  We would become a one-stop education center where students could come to earn a high school diploma, improve their academic literacy, and develop career/college/independent living skills for the 21st century.  
Most of these ventures have been created by forming partnerships with community organizations, businesses, Medford Area Public Schools, and Northcentral Technical College.  These partnerships are already in place and would continue to support the efforts of our charter school.
In January of 2014, Medford Area Public Schools gave us permission to explore opening a charter school.  Also the other lessee in our building, Northcentral Technical College, moved into a new facility, providing the space we would need to open a charter school.
In February of 2014, people involved in all the programs along with community and school board members met to talk about the possibility of combining into a charter school.  We also met with the head of Taylor County Buildings and Grounds to look at renting additional space for this project.  There was total agreement for this idea, and we decided to write the application for a planning grant to open a charter school.
In March of 2014, we attended the DPI Technical Grant Assistance workshop in Wausau, attended the Wisconsin Innovative Schools Network conference in Pewaukee, had multiple planning meetings, sought parent/community/school staff input, and completed the planning grant application.  On March 20, we presented our application to the Medford Board of Education for their approval.
By April 15 our Open Doors Charter School planning grant was submitted to the Department of Public Instruction.
b. 1. Describes the results of student data analysis -
2012-13 WKCE Medford Reading Scores (All Students): The average scale score of students in all grades is basic.
2012-13 WKCE Medford Reading Scores (Students with Disabilities): Students with Disabilities average scale score of is minimal in all grades except for 6th grade.
2012-13 WKCE Medford Math Scores (All Students): Students in Medford perform slightly higher in math, with some of the grades averaging in the proficient range.
2012-13 WKCE Medford Math Scores (Students with Disabilities): Students with disabilities in Medford perform better in math than in reading, with grades 4-7 some of the grades averaging in the basic range.
b. 2. Student data analysis identifies an achievement gap - 
DPI rates schools on multiple categories, including a category called Closing Gaps. “Closing Gaps shows how the performance of student groups experiencing statewide gaps in achievement and graduation is improving in the district. It recognizes the importance of having all students improve, while focusing on the need to close gaps by lifting lower-performing groups. Specific race/ethnicity groups, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, and English language learners are compared against their complementary groups at the state level.” The graph below shows that although Medford is closing the reading and mathematics gap faster than the state average, our graduation rate gap is significantly lower than the state average, causing us to score 4.4 points lower than the state average overall in the area of Closing Gaps.
When analyzing just the high school, Medford’s closing the gaps scores are also lower than the state in both mathematics and reading.
Drop-Out Early Warning Scores
The Drop-out Early Warning System of DEWS is a system that was released by DPI in the fall of 2013 for three grade levels (Grade 7-9). DEWS was developed using historical data based on attendance, disciplinary removal, mobility across schools and districts, and statewide assessment records to compute the likelihood of successful high school completion in the form of a DEWS score. The scores range from zero to 100. The DPI groups students into categories of high, moderate, and low risk based on the DEWS score. Low risk indicates a higher likelihood of on-time graduation and high risk indicates a possible need for additional services to keep the student on track toward high school completion. In 2013-14, in Grade 7, eight (8) students had a moderate DEWS score, and one (1) student had a high DEWS score. In Grade 8, twelve (12) students had a moderate DEWS score, and three (3) students had a high DEWS score. In Grade 9, four (4) students had a moderate DEWS score, and (4) students had a high DEWS score.
There is also an achievement gap in the adult population of Taylor County, where Medford is located.  Almost 15% of our adults do not have a high school diploma, according to the latest US Census.  The percentage of adults within the state of Wisconsin who don’t have a high school diploma is less than 10%.  This  probably contributes to our county median household income and per capita income also being significantly  less than the state average.
b. 3. Describes how the charter school will close the achievement gap -
Open Doors will close the achievement gap through smaller class sizes, more individual instruction, and a personalized path to graduation for each student. Some of the structures and methods we will utilize to help students succeed include year round schooling options, reading interventions, multi-sensory hands on learning, mentorships, service learning, functional academics, self-paced curriculum, 1:1 technology, and other innovative learning opportunities.
c. 1. Describes why a charter school is necessary to achieve the vision -
A charter school will allow us to: (1) encourage the development and implementation of innovative teaching methods through increased flexibility and freedom from regulations; (2) to improve the educational system as a whole by increasing competition for pupils among schools; (3) to provide increased accountability; and (4) to offer additional educational options to pupils and parents.
c. 2. Describes how community and parent support was assessed -
Community and parent support was assessed through feedback obtained in parent and student surveys, committee meetings, personal contacts, board of education meetings, parent advisory councils, special education advisory council, transition advisory council, and alternative high school advisory councils.
c. 3. Describes how the charter school is innovative
Open Doors will move beyond credit and seat time and offer innovative types of learning that prepare our students for college and careers in the 21st century.
We will utilize innovative, non-traditional, research-based models such as:
  • Brain-based learning
  • Project-based learning
  • Hands-on learning
  • Community-based learning
  • Independent study
  • Varied learning/teaching styles
  • Online learning
  • Supervised work experience
  • Adjusted length of day and time of day schedule
  • Year round schooling options
  • Moving beyond credits and seat time and toward innovative practices that lead to college and career readiness (as outlined in the DPI document)
  • Mentorship
  • 1:1 technology
An emphasis will be on:
  • Educational models to meet the needs of nontraditional or exceptional learning style students
  • Offering classes that satisfy the  learning styles and multiple intelligences of our students
  • Multiple forms of assessment
  • Vocational services and transition planning
  • Intensive support services
  • Student-led Personalized Educational Plans
  • Student-led Individualized Learning Plans
  • Career and college readiness
  • Life readiness
Our charter school will collaborate with:
  • Taylor County Human Services
  • Taylor County Literacy Council
  • Northcentral Technical College
  • Department of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Aging and Disability Resource Center
  • Stepping Stones Domestic Violence
  • Abiding Care Pregnancy Resource Center
  • Taylor County Parent Resource Center
  • Taylor County Transition Advisory Council
  • Other appropriate community agencies
Charter School Paths
Open Doors Charter School will offer high school age and adults in the community different ways to earn a high school diploma:
  • Credit Path
  • Competency Path (GED Option 2)
  • Independent Living/Functional Work Skills Path
  • Adult Education Path
Academic Skills
A personalized path to graduation (Personalized Learning Plan or Individualized Education Plan for students with disabilities) will be developed with each students and his/her family. This plan is based on the student’s individual needs, abilities, and current academic achievement. Students and parents/guardians will be involved in choosing curricular, behavioral, and transition goals as well as in developing the plan for pursuing and evaluating these goals with post-secondary readiness as a key component to such planning.
Project Based Learning
Project based learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge. Essential elements of PBL will include:
  • Significant content - at its core the project is focused on teaching students important knowledge and skills, derived from standards and key concepts at the heart of academic subjects.
  • 21st century competence - Students build competencies valuable for today’s world, such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and communication, and creativity/innovation, which are taught and assessed.
  • In-Depth Inquiry - Students are engaged in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, using resources, and developing answers.
  • Driving Questions - Project work is focused on open ended question that students understand and find intriguing, which captures their task or frames their exploration.
  • Need to Know - Students see the need to gain knowledge, understand concepts and apply skills in order to answer the Driving Question and create project products, beginning with an Entry Event that generates interest and curiosity.
  • Voice and Choice - Students are allowed to make some choices about the products to be created, how they work, and how they use their time, guided by the teacher and depending on age level and PBL experience.
  • Revision and Reflection - The project includes processes for students to use feedback to consider additions and changes that lead to high quality products, and think about what and how they are learning.
  • Public Audience - Students present their work to other people, beyond their classmates and teacher.
Project based learning options will be offered to some Open Doors students as they use this method to earn credits toward graduation. PBL will be part of the personalized path to graduation for students who could benefit from this model.
The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 and subsequent reauthorizations mandate school districts to provide transition services for students with disabilities between the ages of 14 through the age of 21 in order to improve post-school outcomes for these young adults. These services will be offered to any student with a disability who is enrolled in Open Doors.  
Open Doors will offer community-based transition options for our students with disabilities through our SOAR (Students Open to Achieving Reality) track. We will specifically design services and programming for individual and a group of students who are 15-21. This will allow this age group to gain independent living skills, transition skills, social and functional skills and self-advocacy in real-life settings and to participate in age appropriate activities in their communities.  Students who are 15-21 will interact with same age peers with and without disabilities in Open Doors. Their programming will move away from traditional classroom instruction and towards integrated, hands-on implementation of skills learned in age-appropriate settings.
Students that are 18-21 year old who have met graduation requirements at Medford Area Senior High School or their resident school district may still enroll in Open Doors as we will provide them an opportunity to participate in a transition-focused program within community-based environments and work towards their remaining transition related IEP goals and objectives. We will work in collaboration with resident school districts so students can obtain a high school diploma from Open Doors or their resident school district upon completion of our SOAR track program.
Therapy Center
Open Doors will have a room designated for a therapy center. Students with disabilities will have access to therapeutic equipment. Direct therapy services will be provided in direct and consultation models by school based Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, and Physical Therapists. The therapy center will also be open to all students to meet their fitness needs, specially designed physical education, or physical education credits. We will also hold fitness classes like yoga in the room for students.
Social-Emotional Skills
We will have an emphasis on developing and improving the social-emotional skills of our students. An atmosphere of mutual respect and a community of care and concern will be developed and nurtured. Supportive services such as School Based Mental Health Counseling, Guidance Counseling, and School Psychological Services will be available to students. We will provide a tiered level of support through the Positive Behavior Intervention Supports model. Collaboration with Counseling Connection, Human Services, Stepping Stones Domestic Violence Prevention, and others will help us provide guest speakers and expanded services for our students.
Employability Skills
Employability and/or functional work skills will be a high priority for all students at the school. The purpose of work experience/community service competencies is to develop employability skills such as punctuality, working well with others, effective communication skills, problem-solving, and creative thinking.  Open Doors students will be able to demonstrate job responsibility, dependability, and effective use of time through supervised work experience or community service,  With a positive work experience, students will achieve not only employability and work ethic skills, but most importantly, a positive self-image and confidence.
Open Doors will work to create school based business projects for all of our students.  They will be able to acquire and learn job skills which will help them transition to paid employment positions within the community.
Open Doors will offer mentorship hours for our students and for other students who attend MASH. We will have job skill development mentorship trainings to benefit students from including those with significant disabilities.
Wisconsin Skill Standard Certificate Program
Students will participate in Wisconsin’s Cooperative Education Skills Standards Certificate Program which is designed in partnership with business, industry, and labor representatives, and educators around the integration of school-based and work-based learning. These experiences will help our students  to be college and career ready. Students will have the selection of Employability Skills, Youth Leadership, Child Services, Business, and more.
Technical College Credits
Through a partnership with NTC students will be able to participate in transcripted, academy, or thin layer classes to earn dual credits. We will work with NTC to offer career academies in the areas of Health, Information Technology, and Early Childhood.  Students can earn package transcripted credits through these academies. Academies will be run when 8-10 students are enrolled. NTC will provide career coaching services for transition of our students into postsecondary education options. We will look at offering summer academies for students to earn college credits.    
Open Doors will look to offer classes that students from other school districts could enroll in under the new Course Options model introduced by Tony Evers and DPI.
Adult Education
Open Doors will serve as a “one-stop” shop for helping connect adults with resources in the community, link them to services, and offer them educational opportunities. Adults will be able to work towards completing their high school diploma, take English Language Learner classes, receive 1:1 tutoring, and receive literacy skills support. Afternoon and evening classes will be available for adults to work on the requirements for a high school diploma. We will continue collaborating with Northcentral Technical College to offer adult education offerings.
English Language Learners
We will offer 1:1 English language tutoring through our Taylor County Literacy Council for any students and adults who need this support.  English classes for adults will be offered in collaboration with Northcentral Technical College. We will consult with CESA 10 Title III coordinators for appropriate Personalized Education Plans and services for ELL students.  
1:1 Technology
Our students will each have access to computer technology. This use of technology will allow for work on NovaNet online curriculum, project based learning, applications, research, google docs, blended learning, and more. Technology will include, but not be limited to Apple iPads,  and desktop computers.
Grades 11-12
Students in Grades 11-12 and 18-21 year olds will attend academic or independent living classes for 4 hours per day and perform work or volunteer hours for at least 3 hours per day. Our current curriculum will be reviewed and revised to increase rigor and expectations for our students and be based on Common Core Standards.
Expanded Grade Levels
At present we have no students in Grades 9-10 who participate in our SOAR, Alternative HS, or MADA programs. This charter school will give us the opportunity to offer this new educational model, successful graduation track options, and comprehensive services for any interested students starting in Grade 9.
Students in 9-10 will focus more on basics and group work and less on independent study, transition and work experience compared to students in Grades 11-12. Students will have:
  • An emphasis on integrated curriculum - combining math, science, English, history, etc in standards-based thematic units.
  • Focus on basics
  • Work on social-emotional health needs - curriculum, guest speakers, counseling services as appropriate
  • Group service learning projects
  • Group project-based learning
  • Students will also have the option to take up to two classes at their home high school as part of their school day
School Length
Open Doors will offer schooling for students on a four day per week schedule. Our doors will be open year round to meet the needs of students and the community. This will allow our adult students flexibility on obtaining their high school diploma. Students with disabilities will have less regression of functional, academic, and work skills. Students considered at-risk will have more opportunities to complete credits toward graduation.  We will design a school calendar that includes more hours than a typical school and spreads this time throughout the calendar year.
Student progress in education will be evaluated by multiple forms of assessment. Our students will be assessed through required federal and state requirements and local charter school assessments such as:
  • 11th graders will take the ACT and ACT WorkKeys in the Spring
  • 10th graders will take the ACT Aspire Early High School in the Spring
  • 9th graders will take the ACT Aspire Early High School in the Fall or Spring
  • 9th to 12th grade ELL students who are not English proficient will take the ACCESS for ELL test
  • Regular education student assessments will be based on the goals established in the student’s Personalized Learning Plan
  • Students with disabilities will also be assessed on their current IEP goals/objectives.
  • Students seeking a diploma through the GED Option #2 program will be assessed utilizing the standardized test(s) and curriculum units developed by staff and approved by the Governance Board
  • 9th to 12th grade student’s Reading and Math achievement will be measured through the NWEA Map testing
Awarding of Credit
Credits shall be awarded by the Open Doors Charter School as delineated in Personalized Learning Plans established between the Charter School, the student, and/or parent/guardian. Quarter and/or semester credits shall be awarded by Open Doors Charter School.  Credits awarded by Open Doors shall be accepted by participating school districts toward high school graduation requirements if a student transfers back to that school district through agreements.
Awarding of Diplomas
Open Doors will offer early graduation (end of January) and regular graduation (end of May) dates for our students. High school diploma/completion options include any one of the following:
  • Award of a diploma based on credits by the sending high school if the student transfers back to Medford Area Senior High School or other resident school district and has met their criteria for a diploma.
  • Award of a diploma through the Governance Board of Open Doors Charter School.
c. 4. Describes why a charter school is necessary and not a program -
The Medford Area Public School District currently operates three separate programs - Medford Adult Diploma Academy (18 ½ up through adulthood), Taylor County Alternative HS Partnership (grades 11-12), and SOAR (18-21 year olds with an IEP).  All of these programs have similar purposes, goals, outcomes for students, and share the same off-school site location. We often find that our students have similar exceptional learning, work, and functional needs.  
Our programs and ultimately our students are regularly challenged by the typical policies and procedures of Medford Area Senior High School. Starting an official Charter School will allow us to combine our services, share resources, expand our educational options, improve academic achievement, and increase graduation rates.  
As of now we have students who could benefit from our programs, but are not able to enroll due to age, grade level, non-special education status, residency, or not meeting official state statutory “at-risk” criteria.  The Medford Area Open Doors Charter School will remove all of those barriers so more students can obtain the kind of individualized learning that they need.
Charter schools provide an opportunity to develop innovative educational programs, governance structures, and provide instructional alternatives within the public school system. We want the opportunity to be held accountable for how well we educate our children in a safe and responsible environment, not for compliance with district and state regulations. We want to be judged on well we meet the student achievement goals established by our charter, and how well we manage the fiscal and operational responsibilities entrusted to us. Open Doors Charter School will operate lawfully and responsibly with the highest regard for equity and excellence. Starting a charter school will free us from the traditional bureaucracy and regulations that can divert a school’s energy and resources toward compliance rather than excellence. We want to focus on setting and reaching high academic standards for our students.
The Medford Area Public School District will consider the establishment of an Open Doors Charter School as provided by state statute and administrative procedures. Any charter school established by the Medford Area Public School District will support the Medford Area Public School District’s vision and mission statements, as well as develop our own vision and mission statements, meet state and local educational goals, and measure student progress in attaining these goals.
d. Explains how the charter school provides students’ core academic subjects - Students can reach their educational goals in a variety of ways:
  • Credit-based classes - Students may select this track where they will earn credits toward graduation through a combination of NovaNet online learning and curriculum packets.  
  • GEDO #2 - Students who select this track must pass the GED 2014 tests and meet all GED Option #2 criteria.
  • Modified curriculum - Students with an IEP will take classes in life skills and work skills.
  • Reading intervention - Students improve their reading skills by working with a trained tutor or reading teacher in a small group or one-on-one pairing.
  • Transcripted credit - Students receive dual credit for Northcentral Technical College courses in a field of post-secondary study.
  • ELL Resources - Students receive English instruction and help with their content classes
  • Shared enrollment - Students will be able to enroll in regular school day courses, extra, and co-curricular activities within the school district they reside if meeting all necessary conditions found in their school policy.
  • Students may participate in a blended model of Project Based Learning, work component, and other academic classes.
  • Project based learning
Each component serves a specific population and delivers unique curriculum to meet their needs.
2. a. Identifies the grade levels or ages of students to be served (must be a minimum of 40 students in two grades) -
Open Doors Charter School will be open to students in Grades 9-12.  We will be open to all students without regard to gender, race, creed, religion, marital status, national origin; ancestry, sexual orientation, or parental status. Preliminary indicators from surveys to students, parents, and community members is that we could reasonably estimate upwards of 50 students enrolled in our program during the first year and an increasing number per year after that.  
b. Describes the primary educational model to be used -
We will provide a personalized path to graduation to meet the needs of each student with a variety of curricula including online learning, project-based learning, competency packets, competency testing, supervised work experience, 21st century work skill standards, transcripted credit and modified classes.  All classes will be taught by certified highly-qualified teachers.
c. Identifies the measurable annual goals for the charter school -
  • Each student will have a personalized path to graduation (Personalized Learning Plan or Individualized Educational Plan for students with disabilities)
  • Students will see an increase in their academic achievement
  • Students and parents will indicate satisfaction with their education
  • Open Doors will offer multiple paths for students to obtain a HS diploma including credit, competency, GED Option #2, adult diploma, and/or IEP based
  • Students will accomplish career readiness, college preparation, and life skill activities
  • Student enrollment will increase each year
  • Student graduation rates will increase each year
  • Achievement gaps will be closed
  • Student attendance rates will increase
d. Identifies the means of measuring the charter school goals - 
Open Doors Charter School agrees to be evaluated by the following measures:
  • 100% of the students enrolled in Open Doors shall have a personalized path to graduation (Individualized Learning Plan or Individualized Educational Plan for students with disabilities) established within 6 weeks of entering Open Doors
  • 80% or more of the students accepted for GED Option #2 must successfully complete the program
  • 60% of the responding students shall indicate an overall satisfaction with their education at Open Doors through a survey
  • 60% of the responding parents/guardians shall indicate an overall satisfaction with their child’s experience at Open Doors through a survey
  • Students will achieve an 80% annual graduation rate
  • Student attendance will exceed average attendance at Medford Area Senior High School
  • 100% of students will complete a career assessment/aptitude survey during their tenure
  • 100% of students will complete an annual service learning project
  • 80% of graduates will continue in a post-secondary institution or workplace environment
  • 80% of students will participate in required number of work hours, community service hours, and/or career readiness tasks unless designated as unable to through their IEP.
e. Identifies measurable student achievement goals -
  • 100% of our students will show growth on the NWEA MAP test from fall to spring
  • 100% of our students will earn a “C” or better in all courses taught
  • Students will complete all credit based assignments at a rate of 80% of higher
  • The average grade point average of our student population will be 3.0 or higher each semester
  • All students will participate in a school to work internship, mentorship, or work                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           experience
  • 90% of our senior students will pass each of the four accuplacer tests
  • 90% of seniors will earn the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate through passing the WorkKeys assessments
  • Open Doors shall employ a grading system consistent with model project-based schools currently in operation. Students will be awarded credits consistent with agreements made between advisor, student, and parent. Grades will be awarded based upon credit earned per project. Portfolios shall be regularly shared at parent-student-teacher conferences
  • Students will pass performance based assessment through project based learning at a rate of 80% or higher
  • GED Option #2 students will pass all four subtests
  • 100% of students with an IEP will make progress toward their IEP goals/objectives
  • 80% of students will have earned dual credits through Northcentral Technical College upon graduation
  • 80% of students will complete a Wisconsin Skills Standard Certificate Program
f. Describes how student achievement goals will be measured each year (identifies nationally standardized achievement test to be used fall and spring in reading and math; how it will be used to improve instruction and measure progress over time) -
  • Students will participate in the reading and math portions of the NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests during Fall and Spring.
  • NWEA student reading scores will be used to determine if students need intensive reading interventions (Wilson Reading or Just Words) and/or 1:1 literacy tutoring through the Taylor County Literacy Council.
  • NWEA student math scores will be used to determine if students need access to computer based math interventions (Academy of Math or Voyager Math Live) designed to improve test scores and remediate math skill deficits.
  • NWEA student reading and math scores will be used to develop ILP or IEP goals for students.
  • NWEA reading and math scores will be used in part to help determine if students can benefit from acceleration courses.
3. a. Describes the specific competencies teachers and administrators need in order to successfully deliver the proposed curriculum and instruction at the charter school for (1) teachers and (2) administrators -
(1 - Teachers) All instructional employees shall hold the appropriate license from the Department of Public Instruction as required for charter school instructors.  Teachers and paraprofessionals will be employees of Medford Area Public Schools, and will be eligible for membership in the Medford Education Association. Teachers will be fully trained in each of our school components.
(2 - Administrators) An appropriately licensed administrator serves as Administrator of Open Door Charter school.  She/he provides educational leadership and administrative oversight to the site-based work team as delineated by the position description approved by the Governance Board.  The selection, appointment, dismissal, evaluation or reassignment of the Administrator of Open Doors shall initiate with the Medford Board of Education of the Open Doors Governance Board; however, it shall require the mutual agreement of the both boards.  
b. Provides a detailed 2-3 year professional and curriculum development plan to ensure teacher/administrator competencies (1) teachers and (2) administrators -
Professional Development Plan
  • Visit at least three different charter schools with the focus of project based learning
  • Visit at least 1 charter school with the focus of adult diploma graduation
  • Visit at least 2 charter schools with a 9-12 focus
  • Work 5 days each year with a consultant on critical design features of our charter school
  • Meet with DPI Charter School Consultant Margaret McMurray
  • Regular meetings with Northcentral Technical College staff
  • Semester consultation with current Rural Virtual Academy (Virtual Charter School) Administrator Charles Heckel
  • Staff members may attend a National Charter School Conference
  • Lifetime membership in the Wisconsin Innovative Schools Network
  • Review documents from WISN partner schools and districts through membership
  • Consult with a mentor through WISN
  • Attend the Wisconsin Innovative Schools Network pre-conference and regular conference on an annual basis
  • Staff will be trained in how to best educate those students with significant disabilities including those on the autism spectrum
  • Staff will attend the ann Wisconsin State Reading Association conference
  • Staff will have access to Adolescent Literacy resources for review and implementation
  • Staff will attend the annual Wisconsin Math Council conference
Curriculum Development Plan
  • Teachers will be provided with paid curriculum development time on an annual basis
  • Staff will study and learn the Common Core standards through trainings, book studies, and PLC meetings
  • Have monthly meetings with Director of Curriculum and Instruction Laura Lundy to improve and align curriculum
  • Staff will participate in a professional learning community 2x per month
  • Special Education Staff will receive a copy of and study/learn about the Common Core Essential Elements
  • Staff will receive a copy of the Common Core Standards
  • Staff will study and teach the “Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success”
  • Staff will learn about curriculums of other charter schools through participation in WISN
  • Staff will learn about project based learning curriculums through visiting Edvisions schools and other PBL classrooms
  • Staff will develop new curriculum for students enrolling as 9th grade students
  • Staff will develop functional and independent living skills curriculum for use with our students especially those with special needs
c. Addresses how training will be provided in subsequent years for new hires or transfers -
Open Doors Charter School will provide ongoing staff training for any new hires or transfers. This will include orientation process,sharing of handbook, attendance at trainings, observations of other charter schools, consultation time with administration, and observation of existing staff.  Fridays will be reserved for professional development of staff so we can work on Professional Learning Communities, faculty meetings, and parent meetings.
d. Describes efforts to retain charter school teachers in future years -
A competitive salary and benefits package will be offered to teachers to retain current teachers. Additional compensation will be available to contracted staff to provide evening and expanded hours of instruction during the summer. Flexible work hours (4 days of direct teaching each week) will be attractive. Teachers will have significant input to empower them into the formation of the charter school and offerings for students.
Governance and Autonomy Criteria
1. Describes how the charter school will take advantage of the flexibility offered by state law -
Open Doors will take full advantage of the flexibility offered by state law which will help our students experience greater academic achievement, prepare for college and career readiness, and acquire 21st century skills.
2. Request of Waivers if applicable -
A charter school is not subject to the majority of provisions of Chapter 115 through 121 of the Wisconsin Statutes, which are generally the provisions that govern elementary and secondary education.  Open Doors Charter School will take these following Wisconsin State Statute Exemptions in order to maximize the flexibility afforded to charter schools by state law:
  • Foreign language instruction - State Statutes 118.017
  • Human growth and development instruction State Statutes 118.019(2)(e)
  • Special Observance Days - State Statutes 118.02
  • Textbooks - State Statutes 118.03
  • Summer classes - State Statutes 118.04
  • School zones; crossings - State Statutes 118.08
  • Required fences - State Statutes 118.11
  • School attendance enforcement - State Statutes 118.16
  • Electronic communication devices prohibited - State Statutes 118.258
  • Length of school day - State Statutes 121.01 (1) (f)
  • Number of days and hours - State Statutes 121.006(2)(a), 121.02(1)(f), and 118.40(8)(d)
  • General transportation - State Statutes 124.54
  • Number of clock hours for instruction - PI-18.05(1)(b)
3 List school board policies that will be waived for the charter school to provide maximum flexibility
A. tentative list of Medford Area Public School District Board of Education policies the Open Doors Charter School will be exempt from:
  • School Year, School Day, and Full-Time Students
  • Organization of Instruction
  • Curriculum Adoption
  • Physical Education
  • graduation requirements
  • assessment programs
4. a. As a governing board or describes the plan to establish a charter school governing board
The Open Doors Charter School Governance Board will consist of 7 members and shall be comprised of 51% or greater of non-school district employees. Membership shall be comprised of no less than the following:
  • Two parents of Open Doors current students
  • Three community members
  • One business leader
  • One Northcentral Technical College representative
The Medford Area Public School District Superintendent and/or Director of Student Services/Special Education will recruit members to be a part of the Governance Board. A Governance Board will be in place during the planning school year of 14-15.
An Open Doors Parent Advisory Council (PAC) will be formed and provide guidance and/or recommendations to the Open Doors Governance Board. Open Doors staff will also serve as advisors to the Governing Board but will not be voting members.
b. describes the decision making authority of the governing board including the power to make decisions regarding budget, personnel, curriculum, and policies -
The Open Doors Governing Board is empowered under the charter and authorization of the Medford Area Public School District to determine the curriculum, content, staffing organization, calendar, budget, advisories, and operations of the charter school.  
c. Describes the administrative relationship between the charter school and authorizer and describes how the charter school will be managed -
The Open Doors Governance Board maintains autonomous decision-making authority over Open Doors, in accordance with the charter to perform specific functions including, but not limited to:
  • Provide input to, approve, and monitor curriculum designed by or recommended by Open Doors staff and administration
  • Approve and monitor the annual budget prepared by the Open Doors Administrator
  • Provide vision and guidance to the school so it retains its uniqueness in meeting the individual academic, social-emotional, and physical needs of its students
  • Approve the Open Doors calendar
  • Interview and recommend staff for contract approval by the Medford Area Public School District’s Board of Education
  • Establish criteria for admission to the Charter School consistent with the contract and charter school laws
  • Propose modifications to this contract as appropriate
  • Communicate any concerns regarding performance of Open Doors staff to the Open Doors administrator and/or Medford Area Public School District’s Board of Education as appropriate
  • Serve as the primary link between Open Doors and the community, articulating Open Doors’ mission, accomplishments, and goals to the public, advocating for the Open Doors and its students, and garnering support from members of the community
  • Plan, coordinate, approve of, and carry out programs to raise money and other resources to assist in accomplishing the mission of Open Doors
  • Ensure that the Open Doors is effective in achieving its mission and efficient in using its resources by evaluating the success of the Governance Board and its performance in fulfilling its responsibilities.
d. Describes the specific training that will be provided to the charter school governance board -
Open Governance Charter Board members will attend the WISN Governing Board Workshop. We will schedule meetings with RVA Governance Board members, attend RVA Governance Board meeting(s), and review RVA policies/procedures will be done.  
Planning Process Criteria
1. Describes how parents and other members of the community have been involved in the planning and design of the charter school -
Parents and other members of the community have been involved in the planning and design of our Open Doors Charter School.  We have sought active input from parents and members of the community through the agenda items on the Taylor County Interagency Communications Committee, Alternative High School Advisory Council, Taylor County Prevention Council, Special Education Advisory Council, and parent and student surveys.
We have approval and support from outside agencies like Taylor County Human Services, Taylor County District Attorney, Taylor County Judicial, Law Enforcement, businesses, and social service agencies to provide these educational opportunities for students as it will decrease the number of high school dropouts, improve work skills, increase functional skills, and provide more educational options.
The Open Doors Governance Board will desire citizens of the district to attend its sessions so that they may become better acquainted with the operations and programs of the school and so that the governance board may have opportunity to know the wishes and ideas of the public. All official meetings of the governance board shall be open to the press and public.  
2. Documents parent and community support for the proposed school with three letters of support
Parent and community support was gathered from:
Equal Access (Admissions and Lottery Criteria)
1. Describes how the plan will assure equal access for all students regardless of gender, race, national origin, color, disability, or age factors:
It will be the policy of the Open Doors Charter School, pursuant to state and federal laws, that no person, on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, creed, religion, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation or physical, mental, emotional, or learning disability, or handicap may be denied admission to any school in this district or be denied participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be discriminated against in any curricular, extra curricular, pupil services, recreational, or other program.
The Open Doors Charter School will accept any student that meets admissions criteria of (1) age, (2) grade level (3) no high school diploma, and/or (4) has IEP goals and objectives to complete which can best served in this charter school setting.
2. Describes how students with disabilities will be served:
Students will be served in accordance with their IEP under federal and state special education law (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act - IDEA) to allow them an opportunity to progress and advance toward their individualized goals and objectives. Students of all disabilities will have an opportunity to work towards completing their high school diploma. Open Doors will create a therapy room designed to meet the sensory, physical, speech language, and occupational therapy needs of students up through the age of 21 in accordance with their IEP.  Open Doors will employ teachers and related service staff with special education certification needed to work with students with disabilities.
Students who have been identified as having a handicap or disability, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act, shall be provided with reasonable accommodations in educational services or programs.
3. Describes how students and parents and in the community will be informed about the charter school and how students will be given an equal opportunity to attend. Include specific activities:
Students and parents and in the community will be informed about our charter school through a wide range of opportunities including: announcements as part of our Taylor County-Wide Committees (Interagency Communications, Transition Advisory Council, Autism Support Group, Alternative HS Advisory Council, Special Education Advisory Council), Open House, press releases, eye catching posters displayed where students meet, newspaper articles, social media (school district facebook pages, twitter, and websites), pamphlets, and more.
4. Are there barriers to admissions? Is the admissions policy selective, indicating that this is a program not a school?
Open Doors is open to all students of the Medford Area School District as well as students applying through the Wisconsin Inter-District Open Enrollment process.  Application to Open Doors is voluntary and no tuition is charged.  Students will be eligible for first-time enrollment in grade nine.  There is no maximum age limit on students who participate in the Medford Adult Diploma Academy track.
5. A random lottery process is included and are there exceptions to the lottery (if any) allowed?
We will follow state charter school policy on how a random lottery should be conducted if applications exceed the enrollment limits at our school.
Assurances Criteria
1. Describes steps to ensure equitable access. Includes how the applicant will address barriers to participation that are applicable to the school and its circumstances which may include gender, race, national origin, color, disability, or age. -
The Open Doors Charter School is committed to equal educational opportunity for all students who are enrolled in our school.
Students who have been identified as having a handicap or disability, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of the Americans with Disabilities Act, shall be provided with reasonable accommodations in educational services or program. Students who are identified as having an impairment or disability under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act shall be provided services in accordance with their IEP and under all federal, state, and/or local special education laws, policies, and/or procedures.
Open Doors shall provide for the reasonable accommodations of a student’s sincerely held religious beliefs with regard to examinations and other academic requirements. Requires for accommodations shall be made in writing and approved by the Open Doors Administrator. Accommodations may include, but not necessarily be limited to, exclusion from participation in an activity, alternative assignments, released time from school to participate in religious activities and opportunities to make up work missed due to religious observances. Any accommodations granted shall be provided to students without prejudicial effect.
2. Provides assurance that the school will not charge tuition,
The Open Doors Charter School will not charge tuition for any student who is enrolled.
3. Provided assurance that the school will be nonsectarian. -
The Open Doors Charter School will be nonsectarian in its practices, programs, admission policies, employment practices, and all other operations under Wisconsin Statutes 118.40(4)(a)2.

Budget Criteria
1. Method by which control over expenditures is included and how the records of expenditures will be maintained -
Open Doors Governance Board or Medford Area Public School District shall serve as the fiscal agent for all subgrants; standard accounting procedures will be utilized and records of all subgrant expenditures will be maintained in an accurate, thorough, and complete manner.  
2. Included an itemized list of expenditures
See planning grant application.
3. Provides a plan for sustainability and continued operation after the grant expires including how professional development will be funded -
Open Doors Charter School will be funded through a balance of Fund 99, Fund 27, Fund 10, Fund 80, collaboration agreements with Northcentral Technical College, and student aid funding formulas.
4. Budget summary plan, phase I and II are complete and align with the list of itemized expenditures.
See planning grant application.
5. Five year revenue and expense worksheets completed
Medford Area Public School District will use charter school implementation funds to purchase start up equipment such as classroom furnishings, technology equipment, curriculum packages, instructional materials, independent living center equipment, and therapy room materials designed to meet IEP-driven responsibilities. Medford Area Public Schools will work in collaboration with Taylor County Buildings and Grounds to upgrade facility renovation in the new building. The school district will use a combination of student aid formulas, fund 10, fund 99, fund 80, and fund 27 to pay for the salaries of teachers and secretarial staff needed to run the school during regular and after-school hours. By year three, students under the age of 20 (and special education students under the age of 21) will be included in the equalization aid formula and the program will be self-sustaining.