For a big picture analysis of the first annual report on Madison School Superintendent Jen Cheatham’s Strategic Framework it’s hard to top School Board vice-president James Howard.

After last week’s release of the report showing significant improvement in reading and math scores over a year, earlier Howard told the Wisconsin State Journal, “These are very positive and upbeat times – none like I’ve ever seen before.”

There is indeed a refreshing if not unprecedented sense of optimism in the community right now for our ability to both close the achievement gap and raise the achievement bar for all students.

And while a lot of credit goes to teachers and principals there’s simply no denying Cheatham’s leadership, strategies and style continue to impress. And now they are also delivering results.

Equally as impressive is Cheatham’s appropriately sober assessment of the areas that did not show improvement, or even declined this year, and of the work yet to come. But some schools are really rocking it and the one year improvement data is exciting. All in all it’s a great start.