MUSD Develops the Madera Learning System

Allowing Parents to get a better picture of their children’s schools.


By Jeremiah Sturgill, Software Developer in the Accountability and Communications Department

Today’s students are highly scrutinized with standardized tests to evaluate their academic growth and yearly MEtoBE district reports. However, student performance is only half the story. The Madera Learning System (MLS) is a new tool unveiled this year to help fill in the gaps. This time, the schools are under the microscope.

The MLS exists to empower parents, teachers, and administrators. It compliments The California Dashboard, the statewide accountability system. The state’s accountability system changes based on state-wide political processes. In comparison, the MLS is developed by the school district. Metrics can be added, changed, or removed based on local needs.

The Madera Learning System rates each school in the district on over a dozen metrics, on a rating scale from zero to five stars. Each metric belongs to one of the top-level rating areas: Academics, Engagement, and Management. These areas receive a summary rating, based on the scores given to their metrics. A well-run, successful school is one that executes well in each rating area and shows improvement year-over-year.

Schools are centers of learning, and Academic performance is the primary goal. So why are Engagement and Management ratings part of the MLS? They are included because they also affect student success. Engagement metrics capture whether students, parents, and teachers feel their school is a safe learning environment that welcomes and accepts them. Management ratings reflect whether school administration is meeting its obligations to parents and students. Since performance in these areas impact student outcomes, they are important to measure.

The MLS website was created to be simple to navigate. The home page provides a search box visitors can use to go directly to their school’s MLS report card. Each report card links to the district’s composite report card, and also to tools created to help users compare ratings from different perspectives.

Success should be a cause for celebration. The MLS awards Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals to schools in each rating area based on their star ratings. If a school earns medals in multiple rating areas, it can qualify for a Sapphire, Pearl, or Diamond trophy. These awards are difficult to achieve. Schools that do earn a medal or trophy should be proud of their hard work.

Present and past MLS ratings are available at We hope every parent visits the MLS website and reviews the ratings for their children’s schools. The Madera Learning System is a massive step forward in transparency, accountability, and parent empowerment.


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