Introduction by Bob Mathieu and Jennifer Cheatham

MEP symposium poster
MEP symposium audience

Second Annual MEP Research Symposium

4-7pm, April 25th, 2019
SPARK Building, 8th Floor

We will be focusing on our four-year-old and five-year-old work and our elementary and middle school attendance work. An event schedule with speakers and topics is forthcoming. Please RSVP by April 18th, 2019 by registering here or emailing Amanda Kruger.

First Annual MEP Research Symposium

April 26, 2018


Eric Grodsky, co-Director of MEP and UW Madison Professor of Sociology and Educational Policy Studies, presented findings from two reports produced by MEP internal researchers. The presentation outlined how the MMSD 4K program enhances equitable outcomes for the district’s youngest learners.

Enhancing Equity Through 4K

Alejandra Ros Pilarz, MEP supported researcher and UW Madison Assistant Professor of Social Work, discussed her findings on the challenges and opportunities 4K teachers, principals and center directors have engaging with and supporting parents and families.

Family Engagement in Madison’s 4K Program: Implications for Children’s School Readiness

Kristin Shutts, MEP supported researcher and UW Madison Assistant Professor of Psychology, presented an evaluation tool for measuring student social skills in 4K. This evaluation tool has the potential to be used alone or complimentary to current assessments.

Understanding, Measuring, & Assessing the Development of Interpersonal Skills in 4K

Travis Wright, MEP supported researcher and UW Madison Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology, discussed the challenges and supports for 4K families experiencing homelessness and the impact on the youngest learners as they progress through school.

MMSD 4K: Pathways to Resilience for Children and Families Experiencing Homelessness

Witthuhn led the audience through several rounds of small group discussion focused on the audiences’ imagining of an ideal high quality 4K environment, what it means to be kindergarten ready, and what a developmentally appropriate assessment would look like for 4K. Main themes from the audience discussion can be found below (full list of recommendations (PDF)).


The Madison Education Partnership (MEP) held a successful inaugural research symposium on April 26th at the UW Madison’s Gordon Commons. The symposium, free and open to the public, focused on research on the Madison Metropolitan School District’s (MMSD) four-year-old kindergarten program, produced through MEP over the 2017-2018 academic year. Jennifer Cheatham, MMSD Superintendent, and Robert Mathieu, Director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) opened the well-attended event.

Audience Contributions
Learning Environment 4K Assessments Kindergarten Readiness
• Physical space—quality play areas, in-class sinks and bathrooms
• Full day programing
• Inclusive and reflection of diversity in the district
• Low student-teacher ratio
• Play-based and using a variety of approaches—observation, rubric etc.
• Useful to teachers and parents in guiding student development
• Focus on academic, socioemotional and motor skills
• Ready to navigate the experience
of 5K
• Letter and number recognition
• Socioemotional skills developed enough to increase student success