Madison High School Comparison: Advanced Levels of Academic Core Courses

Lorie Raihala 91K PDF via email:

For years there has been broad disparity among the four MMSD high schools in the number of honors, advanced/accelerated, and AP courses each one offers. In contrast to East and LaFollette, for instance, West requires all students, regardless of learning level or demonstrated competence, to take standard academic core courses in 9th and 10th grade. There has also been wide discrepancy in the requirements and restrictions each school imposes on students who seek to participate in existing advanced course options.
Parents of children at West have long called on administrators to address this inequity by increasing opportunities for advanced, accelerated instruction. Last year Superintendent Dan Nerad affirmed the goal of bringing consistency to the opportunities offered to students across the District. Accordingly, the Talented and Gifted Education Plan includes five Action Steps specifically geared toward bringing consistency and increasing student participation in advanced courses across MMSD high schools. This effort was supposed to inform the MMSD master course list for the 2010/11 school year. Though District administrators say they have begun internal conversations about this disparity, next year’s course offerings again remain the same.
Please consider what levels of English, science, and social studies each MMSD high school offers its respective 9th and 10th graders for the 2010-11 school year, and what measures each school uses to determine students’ eligibility for advanced or honors level courses.

Related: English 10 and Dane County AP Course Comparison.
I appreciate Lorie’s (and others) efforts to compile and share this information.
Update: 104K PDF revised comparison.

7 thoughts on “Madison High School Comparison: Advanced Levels of Academic Core Courses”

  1. Lorie updated information on Memorial high school, via some parents. The pdf link reflects those changes.

  2. It’s unfortunate we don’t have any data indicating how many students utilize honors/advanced/accelerated/AP and how many utilize regular classes at each high school. Then we’d at least see a concrete picture of each high school, especially if it could be broken down demographically.

  3. It would be very useful to see the following for all Dane County High Schools:
    # of Students taking AP exams annually,
    # of Students who score > 3, and
    # of AP Classes offered via the course catalogs (traditional and online)

  4. There is some district level summary data regarding AP exams on DPI’s WINSS website.
    For 2008-2009, 9.2% of MMSD students took AP exams, compared to 21.3% of Middleton students, 14.2% for Sun Prairie, 21.3% for Verona, and 6.8% for Waunakee. The percentage of exams passed (scored 3 or higher) was 86.5% for MMSD, 78.4% for Middleton, 80.7% for Sun Prairie, 67.7% for Verona, and 75.6% for Waunakee.

  5. One needs to be careful when thinking about what these numbers might mean. The percentage of students taking an AP exam at first glance seems straightforward enough (though I agree that demographic information would be useful). But are non-seniors included in the count? If so, then what are those numbers percentages of? Also, without knowing how many exams each student took, one could easily be misled by the variable “percentage of exams passed.” It could be that a subgroup of students took several AP exams and got 4’s and 5’s on all of them, while the rest took only one or two and didn’t do so well. It would also be helpful to see the 3’s, 4’s and 5’s disambiguated.
    Best of luck to anyone who tries to get more detailed information from either the MMSD or DPI.

  6. A nice summary, though I’m not sure it’s particularly useful for anything except to show what the staff at the different high schools enjoy teaching. I’ve come to the conclusion that the MMSD can’t create standardization in our high school curriculum. Why that is, well, we can discuss that aspect forever.

Comments are closed.