Madison Metropolitan School District
Madison, Wisconsin

Art Rainwater, Superintendent
Minutes for Performance and Achievement
February 25, 2008
Doyle Administration Building
545 West Dayton Street, Auditorium
Madison, Wisconsin

Performance and Achievement Committee meeting was called to order by Chair Lawrie Kobza at 5:01 p.m.

MEMBERS PRESENT: Maya Cole, Lawrie Kobza, Johnny Winston, Jr.


OTHER BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Carol Carstensen, Beth Moss, Arlene Silveira


STAFF PRESENT: Sue Abplanalp, Attorney Frank Crisafi, Steve Hartley, Jack Jorgensen, Pam Nash, Art Rainwater, Marcia Standiford, Ken Syke, Lisa Wachtel, Ann Wilson - Recording Secretary

1. Approval of Minutes

It was moved by Johnny Winston, Jr. and seconded by Maya Cole to approve the Performance and Achievement Committee minutes dated January 28, 2008. Motion unanimously carried.

2. Public Appearances

Michael Maguire - posed questions and observations (also in written form) about proposed changes in middle school policies for eliminating homework as part of report card grades and letter grades. He also shared the questions and concerns of other middle school parents.

Janet Mertz - provided another draft of the proposed policy and her additional comments. She also forwarded information received from Appleton (via WCATY) about their district's policy. The district's proposed policy is seriously flawed and will not meet the needs of gifted or non-traditional learners.

Anne Morgan Giroux - is not convinced, after attending parent meeting at Hamilton, that new middle school report cards are necessary or will be an improvement. Staff was not ready and could not answer parent questions. Could not provide information about why a change is needed. Parents who attended the meeting were not "on board"; the district will face huge opposition because there is no clear explanation for the need.

Lynn Bodi - also attended the parent meeting at Hamilton and is still confused. Main concerns are about the number and letter grades (too complicated) and homework. She urged a grading system that students and parents can understand and keeping the accountability of requiring homework.

Deborah Hoffman - availability of credit outside MMSD makes it possible to serve the needs of students who do not fit the "normal" profile. Disabilities and high-level abilities and interests outside the norm require offering students learning formats and levels not handled in regular programming. She noted concern that gifted and special needs students are not allowed to take summer courses for credit.

Carol Trone (President, WCATY) - encourage careful review of policy that will encourage promoting rigor. Do not rush into a decision that has not been thoroughly reviewed. Policy for granting credit has many implications.

3. Announcements

There were no announcements.

4. Credit Outside MMSD

(Written materials provided in advance: memorandum from Legal Services dated 2/21/08 re: MMSD Students Taking Outside Courses - attached to the original of these minutes.)

Attorney Frank Crisafi described the materials provided as information: a) a draft of the policy previously presented to the Board with amendments that modify the timing of a student's application to take courses outside the MMSD and the response time of the District (modified timeframe models the timeframe for Youth Options); and b) the District's analysis of a policy proposal previously submitted by Dr. Janet Mertz. Superintendent Rainwater reviewed the modifications to the policy and staff responses to Dr. Mertz' proposals.

It was recommended that the policy include an introductory statement that the policy does not apply to the Talented and Gifted InSTEP program nor if a student has an IEP. Those two processes may override the policy.


13.5 credits are required for graduation (26 at La Follette); rest are elective.

Apprenticeship program is considered a district course. Students can meet requirements through Virtual Campus (typically 2 courses per year).

Limited to elective courses. Required courses are offered within the district (comparable courses).

Open enrollment, partial open enrollment (not as common). Several policies and state laws interact with students outside of the school district.

Why present the Memorial response to Dr. Mertz' proposal? (All schools have been involved; concerns were initially raised by department chairs. Original approach (by chairs) was not to allow any credit for outside courses. Much broader issue than whether a course is taken at the university. Have responsibility to assure education is appropriate. Lowering the value of a diploma lowers the value of all.

Evaluating placement of a home-schooled student is sometimes difficult. Evaluate curriculum if there is one. Must give credit. Home-schooled students can take up to two courses at any school if room is available. Rank in class/valedictorian - issues.

Home-schooling legislation is very lax.

Prefer a policy that doesn't set limits, that opens up to possibilities, uses area resources, provides on-line options. Why be tentative about enriching policy; other districts offer this.

Not a good idea to just open up credits to any course. District offers the best education; not a good practice to offer credit for a course not judged to be as good. Offer 100+ courses online that have been juried through rigorous process.

Chair Kobza noted it is her agenda to not vote on the proposed policy at this meeting, but rather to vote to forward it to the full Board of Education for further discussion as part of the educational options package. She asked questions that reflected the issues/questions raised during the public appearances.

Credit would not be given if a comparable course is offered in the district. Are there issues of student access? Superintendent Rainwater responded it is his personal view that the comparable course would have to be available in the school the child attends or it would not be accessible. There are timing and access issues among all of the high schools. "Comparable" applies to the content of the course.

Why limit the number of credits per year? Pam Nash responded two credits are proposed and could be changed. The number mirrors the number allowed by Youth Options. Art Rainwater added that the fundamental issue is whether the district offers a comparable course.

Should transcripts show grades? (Currently show pass-fail.) Art Rainwater responded there could be further discussion about this question.

Chair Kobza asked if there were additional questions that should be addressed when this topic is further discussed. Carol Carstensen asked for information about the number of students who apply.


Information about number of students who apply for credit for outside courses.

Can home-schooled students apply using this process?

Update on laws that govern granting credit for home-schooling.

Johnny Winston, Jr. stated he would like more discussion in committee before moving discussion to the full Board. Maya Cole added that she is not clear regarding future direction or policies in other districts. She would like to hear from experts, from other high school staffs and about teachers' union concerns. Art Rainwater indicated he could provide information about union concerns. Ms. Cole stated the full Board of Education has many items on its agenda and work on this topic should continue in committee.

Chair Kobza stated this item is already on the full Board of Education schedule (Special Board of Education meeting on March 10, 2008) and she will submit a written request that the proposed policy for MMSD Students Taking Outside Courses be referred for discussion to the full Board of Education, as part of the discussion of Board policies related to educational options, Section 10000.

5. Reorganization of Board Policy Book Chapter 10000 to Consolidate Policies dealing with Educational Options

(Written materials provided in advance: Memorandum from Legal Services dated 2/21/08 re: Reorganization of Board Policy Chapter 10,000 - attached to the original of these minutes.)

Discussion was deferred due to lack of time.

6. Other Business

There was no other business.

7. Adjournment

It was moved by Maya Cole and seconded by Lawrie Kobza to adjourn the meeting at 6:10 p.m. Motion unanimously carried.