Max served for over ten years in Illinois school districts as superintendent (1986-1998) until he became the State Superintendent of Education for the Illinois State Board of Education. As state superintendent, Max focused on early childhood education and closing the achievement gap. He worked with both parties and both houses in the Illinois General Assembly to seek approval to incorporate a college admissions examination into the state test. Under Max’s careful tutelage and with approval from the legislature and Governor Ryan, Illinois became the first state in the nation to provide all high school juniors with a free ACT (now SAT) exam.
Since this implementation in 2001, nineteen other states have followed Max’s lead. Illinois schools responded well to the free ACT, and became more motivated than ever to help improve students’ scores. Students who had never been considered “college bound” now had opportunity and access to higher education. It was during this time Max also helped launch the Illinois Virtual High School, which gave students access to classes that their local schools did not offer. This program also provided chances for credit recovery. Again, this initiative exemplified Max’s desire to bring opportunities to students in various ways — often by seeking out new and progressive outlets.
Glenn “Max” McGee’s career then took him to the Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies in DeKalb, where he spent two years as a senior research assistant presenting comprehensive work on high poverty, high minority schools that excelled. In 2002, he became the superintendent of Wilmette School District and remained in this position until 2007. In this position, Max launched an external benchmarking project to analyze its academic success and financial health, and he soon became the leader in helping districts identify greatest academic returns on their investments. Max also conducted a year-long study examining gender differences in reading and writing, which was later included in Peg Tyre’s The Trouble With Boys.
In 2007, Max became president of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, the top mathematics and science school in Illinois. He expanded after-school and summer school programs, professional development workshops and classes, and levels of support in local schools for quality STEM education. He also opened three field offices. In 2009 IMSA won the Intel Foundation’s Star Innovator competition for being the most innovative mathematics and science school in America in 2009.
From there, Max established the Princeton International School of Math and Science, which offers classes in a seminar-style and conduct year-long research projects and uses presentations in place of midterms and finals. Five years later, the school continues to thrive.
Since then, Max moved to Palo Alto, where he became the Superintendent of Schools in the Palo Alto Unified School District. Here, he accomplished a great deal, including but not limited to: implementing full-day kindergarten, shadowing students, providing LGBTQQ support (they were among the first to pass protective policies for LGBTQQ students), creating better ways to engage students and faculty alike, building the Peery Family Center, and improving wellness support, as well as helping minority students succeed.
Working with eleven Palo Alto high school students and off campus mentors, Max launched the Advanced Authentic Research (AAR) program in 2014. AAR students spend a year working on a research project of their choice in order to produce final work products that generate, advance, and deepen new knowledge in the area of study. In four years the AAR has grown to include 200 students, won two major awards, and received more than a million dollars in grant funding. For his leadership, Stanford’s Peace Innovation Lab has created a named fellowship for undergraduate research students.
Currently, Glenn “Max” McGee serves as the Midwest President for the ECRA Group (www.ecragroup.com), a premier consultancy focused on assisting boards of education and educational leaders operationalize their vision to assure every student succeeds . Max created this blog to share his insights and experiences in different areas of education.