Madison high school students to be graded on pass/no pass; 3,000 students without internet (expensive K-12 system built for a long gone era)

Logan Wroge:

Madison high school students will receive “pass” or “no pass” grades for the second semester as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts traditional schooling, while more than 10% of Madison students lack internet access needed to take part in virtual learning, district officials said Wednesday.

With the aim of not penalizing students for circumstances out of their control, the Madison School District won’t grade high school students on a traditional letter-based system in the third and fourth quarters, and is freezing their GPAs and implementing a pass/no pass grading system.

“We really took a lot of time and a lot of thought to make a decision we felt was going to serve the majority of our students the best and not harm students,” Cindy Green, the district’s executive director of secondary programs, said during a virtual news conference Wednesday. “We felt that a pass/no pass was the best way to go that was most equitable for all of our students.”

Green said several factors led to the decision, including a large number of students lacking internet at home as the district is in the middle of its second week of virtual learning.

A survey sent out to families earlier during the school closure, which began a month ago for Dane County schools, identified about 3,000 students in 1,800 to 1,900 households who didn’t have internet.

Scott Girard:

Additionally, the district stressed that officials understand the potential affects on post-high school plans, and MMSD will provide letter grades when requested by a third party like a scholarship or for NCAA athletic eligibility.

“College admissions offices have been clear that they will be understanding of the various ways high schools will be approaching grading during these last two quarters,” the guidelines state.

In a March 31 letter to school district administrators, state superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor included a memo that specifically suggested offering “feedback in lieu of grades.”

Notes, links and commentary on Madison’s planned 2020 tax and spending increase referendum plans.

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.


My recent email to the Madison School Board and District Chief Financial Officer:

I hope that you, your families and colleagues are well.

I write to see if anyone has modeled the implications of a property tax base drop on the proposed 2020 referendum? Madison’s property tax base has increased substantially over the past decade, somewhat due to a significant federal taxpayer ($38B+) electronic medical record backdoor subsidy.

How might a construction slow down and declining property values due to a recession/deep downturn affect the proposed tax & spending increases?

I further wondered if the looming substantial federal funds might be applied to replace part or all of the planned property tax based referendum?

Finally, I was part of the group that reviewed Infinite Campus (and other similar systems) years ago. Some time ago, the District completed a teacher, staff and parent usage study. Has that been updated? Please forward the % of teachers who use IC daily, weekly and monthly along with the % of parents, staff and students for similar time frames.

Best wishes,