The School District of Menomonee Falls (SDMF) serves a total of 4,047 students across six schools. Of these students, 74 percent are white, 8 percent are African-American, 7 percent are Asian/Pacific Islander, 5 percent are Hispanic, 5 percent are multiracial, and less than one percent are American Indian/Alaskan. Fifty-one percent of students are male and 16 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. SDMF is also one of 16 Wisconsin school districts that provides all community education and recreation programming, from preschool swim lessons to daily senior center lunches, for approximately 15,000 residents. The district’s total service delivery model is approximately 20,000 people.
Beginning in 2011, the district began deploying continuous improvement methods to challenge and improve practice in all areas of its instructional programs and operations. In the intervening years, Menomonee Falls successfully used improvement science to develop the human capabilities, organizational and structural changes, and system capacities to accelerate system, school, and student learning. The transformation to a problem-solving mindset has yielded an impressive array of impacts, which include the following:
- In six years’ time, Menomonee Falls High School progressed from a federal designation of “in need of improvement” in 2011 to a U.S. News & World Report “top high school in the nation.”
- The district’s middle school reduced suspension rates by 63 percent.
- Reductions in workplace injury claims by half a million dollars allowed the district to redirect the savings to instructional resources.
As these and many other results indicate, continuous improvement is the new normal in every aspect of the organization, guiding the actions of everyone, from school board members to classroom teachers to facilities personnel to the students themselves.