Madison LaFollette High School UW System Freshman Enrollment 1983-2011

From time to time, friends have pondered the path of Madison area students after graduation. I’ve begun to compile Freshman enrollment data from the UW-Madison and UW-System. These charts illustrate Madison LaFollette High School graduates first year UW enrollment from 1983 to 2011. This is of course, just part of the picture. I hope to address other paths over the next few months.
Madison LaFollette’s senior class enrollment in the year prior to UW System enrollment was 425(2005-2006) 366(2006-2007) 421(2007-2008) 404(2008-2009) 374(2009-2010) 389(2010-2011)

Madison LaFollette student named an AP Scholar of the Year

Susan Troller:

Nick Jensen, a graduate of Madison’s LaFollette High School, has been named one of 117 top students at the national level for his performance on Advanced Placement courses while in high school.
The College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Program also honored Rachel Sobel, a Brookfield Central High School graduate, for her performance on high school AP classes.
The two Wisconsin scholars are among just 117 students chosen from across the U.S. and the District of Columbia, according to a news release from the Department of Public Instruction.
This is the 21st year that the organization has granted State AP Scholar Awards, with the distinction going to one male and one female student from each state and the District of Columbia.

Madison LaFollette High School and the District’s Athletic Director Changes

from a “Madison Parent”, via email: I was checking out the MMSD situation with reguards to the Athletic Directors positions and its impact on the schools. I was real suprised to hear that Lafollette has kept on Jim Pliner as a stff member in a position as Dean of Students. It seems that as he … Continue reading Madison LaFollette High School and the District’s Athletic Director Changes

Madison La Follette High School principal Sean Storch set to step down at end of school year

Negassi Tesfamichael: Storch, who previously attended and served as a teacher at La Follette prior to becoming a principal, said he would continue to work for the Madison School District at the district level. Storch’s decision to leave La Follette follows what has been a rocky year for the high school. In early November, MMSD … Continue reading Madison La Follette High School principal Sean Storch set to step down at end of school year

Deja Vu: Madison School District Agreement with the US ED Office of Civil Rights

Last October, Madison Superintendent Jen Cheatham signed a resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding OCR’s compliance review of access to advanced coursework by Hispanic and African-American students in the District. The resolution agreement was presented at the December 5, 2016 Instruction Workgroup meeting (agenda item 6.1): The … Continue reading Deja Vu: Madison School District Agreement with the US ED Office of Civil Rights

Wisconsin students decline, international students rise as percentage of most recent UW-Madison freshman class

Dan Simmons:

UW-Madison’s incoming freshman class last fall included the lowest percentage of Wisconsin students and by far the highest percentage of international students in at least a decade, the latter fueled by a doubling of Chinese freshmen from the previous year.
Also for the first time last year, the university enrolled a higher percentage of sons and daughters of alums — called “legacies” — than first-generation college students.
The findings, drawn from university admissions data, were compiled by a 16-member university committee over the last school year and presented to the Faculty Senate this week. The authors called on the university to redouble efforts to enroll the state’s best students, among many recommendations.
“Between 2002 and 2012, the fraction of new freshmen from Wisconsin declined from 64 percent to 56 percent,” the report reads. “We now enroll a smaller fraction of in-state students than many of our peers, and believe that in order to fulfill our mission to the state of Wisconsin this trend should be reversed.”
Paul DeLuca, UW-Madison provost, said the university faces new challenges as the number of high school graduates in Wisconsin declines, a trend expected to continue for the next five years.

A look at UW-Madison freshman enrollment from Madison area high schools, 1983-2012.

Data via the UW-Madison registrar’s office.

“Voucher Voodoo: Smart Kids Shine Here” (Madison); A few links to consider

Tap on the image to view a larger version. Source: The Global Report Card.

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the Madison school district’s achievement gap problems and other challenges we face. I’ve also been responding to the outlandish notion that Madison is a failing school district whose students deserve private school vouchers as their only lifeline to academic success.
At times like this, I find it helpful to remember that Madison’s schools are educating many, many students who are succeeding. Some of them are succeeding spectacularly. With apologies to those I’m overlooking, here’s a brief run-down on some of our stars –
Madison Memorial’s recently-formed science bowl team won the Wisconsin state championship in January. The team of seniors Srikar Adibhatla, Sohil Shah, Thejas Wesley and William Xiang and sophomore Brian Luo will represent Wisconsin in the National Science Bowl Championship in Washington, D.C. in April.

Credit for non-Madison School District courses and the Talented and Gifted complaint. on Madison’s demographics, compared to College Station, TX. 52.9% of Madison residents have a bachelor’s degree, compared to the State’s 26%. 57.5% of College Station, Texas’s residents have a college degree.
Madison High School UW-Madison and University of Wisconsin System enrollment trends 1983-2011:
East LaFollette, Memorial, West, Edgewood.
Where have all the students, gone? A look at suburban Madison enrollment changes.
National Merit Semifinalists & Wisconsin’s cut scores.
Madison’s nearly $15k per student annual spending, community support and higher education infrastructure provide the raw materials for world class public schools. Benchmarking ourselves against world leaders would seem to be a great place to begin.

Who is Paul Vallas and why is he coming to Madison?

TJ Mertz

As Jim Anchower says, “I know it’s been a long time since I rapped at ya…” Sometimes you need a break; expect more soon.
Paul Vallas will be featured at a “school reform town hall meeting” this Saturday, May 26, 1:00 PM at LaFollette High School. The announcements feature “Madison Metropolitan School District, Verona Area School District, United Way of Dane County, Urban League of Greater Madison & Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County” as “collaborating” hosts, but as reported by Matt DeFour the United Way “has requested that our name be removed from all upcoming communications related to the event, but will attend to hear the conversation from all those involved.”
Attempts to clarify MMSD’s role have not yielded a response. You can try yourself: Board of Education:, Supt. Dan Nerad: I’ve been told unofficially that MMSD is donating the space, which would mean that your tax dollars and mine are being used (see the district facilities rental policy here). It would really be a shame if our district collaborated in bringing Vallas here, there is very little in his version of school reform that our community, or any community will benefit from.

Much more on Paul Vallas’s visit, here.
ACLU on freedom of speech.
Related: 60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use?
and: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before
How long will our community tolerate its reading problem? Bread and circuses.

Paul Vallas visits Madison; Enrollment Growth: Suburban Districts vs. Madison 1995-2012


Paul Vallas will be speaking at Madison LaFollette high school on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 1:00p.m. More information, here.
Much more on Paul Vallas, here.
Per Student Spending:
I don’t believe spending is the issue. Madison spends $14,858.40/student (2011-2012 budget)
Middleton’s 2011-2012 budget: $87,676,611 for 6,421 students = $13,654.67/student, about 8% less than Madison.
Waunakee spends $12,953.81/student about 13% less than Madison.
A few useful links over the past decade:


Michael Johnson, via a kind email:

Madison Metropolitan School District, Verona Area School District, United Way of Dane County, Urban League of Greater Madison & Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County is collaborating to host a town hall meeting with one of the most respected urban school superintendents in the nation at Lafollette High School on May 26th at 1pm. Paul Vallas has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to support academic achievement, he has raised test scores in urban communities, built hundreds of schools while maintaining great working relationships with community leaders, teachers and unions. His efforts has been featured in Education Week, New York Times and hundreds of other articles profiling his work in urban school districts.
Arne Duncan the current US Secretary of Education served as his Deputy Chief of Staff and the current Superintendent of Schools in Milwaukee was his former Chief Academic Officer. During Vallas time in other cities he has led the effort to build over 175 new school buildings and renovated more than 1,000 existing buildings. According to several news outlets Paul Vallas managed consecutive years of improved reading and math scores in every school district he led. During his time in Chicago he organized the largest after school and summer programs in the nation. His education reforms produced double digit increases in test scores which was some of the highest in the nation among the 50th largest school districts in the United States. His leadership efforts was cited in two presidential state of the union addresses and CBS News highlighted that he is one of the most sought out school superintendents in the country. Recently he was invited by the Government of Chile to assume responsibility of turning around and improving test scores in 1,100 of Chile’s lowest performing schools. He was invited by the Government of Haiti to advise their Prime Minister and education team. He also served as an education adviser to London- Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Paul Vallas will share best practices, talk about school reform and take questions on how we can improve academic achievement for our kids. I hope you can join us on Saturday, May 26th at 1pm for this important discussion at LaFollette High School, 702 Pflaum Rd. Madison in the auditorium. To confirm your attendance please email Sigal Lazimy at Thanks in advance and we look forward to seeing you! Below is a documentary of his work in New Orleans.


Madison Teachers Meetings Scheduled 5/16 and 5/22

60K PDF Newsletter via a kind Jeannie Bettner email:

Members of all MTI bargaining units (MTI, EA-MTI, SEE-MTI, SSA-MTI and USO-MTI) are invited to attend an MTI meeting to discuss the impact of Governor Walker’s Act 10 on MTI members, on MTI’s various Collective Bargaining Agreements, on the Union itself, and where we can go from here. A question and answer session will follow. Do you have questions?

  • Wednesday, May 16, 4:30-6:00 p.m., LaFollette High School, Room C-17
  • Tuesday, May 22, 4:30-6:00 p.m., Madison Labor Temple, 1602 S. Park Street

MTI staff and elected leaders are also available to attend meetings at your school or work site. Speak to your MTI Faculty Representative today about scheduling a meeting.

7/28 Madison Conference to examine Wisconsin educational accountability

La Follette School of Public Affairs, via a kind Chan Stroman email:

The La Follette School of Public Affairs outreach office is helping to organize a conference on educational accountability. The conference, Moving Beyond NCLB to College and Career Readiness: Building a New School Accountability System for Wisconsin, will be Thursday, July 28, from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Pyle Center.
Professor Douglas N. Harris of the La Follette School will speak on building a new accountability system for Wisconsin. “The conference is intended to set the stage for Gov. Walker’s attempts to establish clear, plentiful and sophisticated information for judging the quality of almost every school in Wisconsin,” says La Follette School outreach director Terry Shelton.

Peer pressure: Madison La Follette High School youth court program shows potential

Matthew DeFour:

When Madison La Follette High School senior Burnett Reed got into a heated argument with another student during his sophomore year in 2008, he faced a choice.
He could take a disorderly conduct ticket that would stay on his court record. Or he could participate in the school’s new youth court program in which a jury of fellow students would assess the case. He chose youth court and was sentenced to writing an apology letter, tutoring and four hours with a life coach.
He so liked the option he soon became a juror, and now is helping Madison West High School start its own program next year.
“It’s a better way to keep youth out of the system,” Reed said.
The approach has so much potential Madison Municipal Judge Dan Koval wants to start a similar program later this year for adult offenders, particularly those with chronic municipal violations such as retail theft, disorderly conduct, trespassing and other non-criminal offenses.

Madison School District Final Audit Report: Gifted and Talented Standard

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction:

On September 20,2010, eight residents of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) filed a complaint (numerous others were listed as supporting the complaint) alleging the school district was not in compliance with the Gifted and Talented (G/T) standard, Wis. Stat. sec. 121.02(1)(t), that requires that each school board shall “provide access to an appropriate program for pupils identified as gifted and talented.” Based upon this complaint, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (department) initiated an audit pursuant to Wis. Admin Code sec. PI 8.02. The purpose ofthe audit was to determine whether the school district is in compliance with Wis. Stat. sees. 121.02(1)(t) and 118.35, and Wis. Admin. Code
sec. PI 8.01(2)(t)2. The investigation focused on three core content areas: English/language arts; science; and social studies; in particular at the 9th and 1oth grade levels, per the letter of complaint.
The department informed the school district of the audit on October 13, 2010, and requested information and documentation for key components of the G/T plan. The school district provided a written response and materials on November 29, 2010 and supplemental materials on December 21 , 2010.
On January 25 and 26, 2011, a team of four department representatives conducted an on-site audit which began with a meeting that included the school board president, the district administrator, the deputy superintendent, the secondary assistant superintendent, the executive director of curriculum and assessment, the interim Talented and Gifted (TAG) administrator, an elementary TAG resource teacher, a secondary TAG resource teacher, and legal counsel. After this meeting, the team visited East, West, LaFollette, and Memorial High Schools. At each of these sites, the team conducted interviews with the building principal, school counselors, teachers, and students. At the end ofeach ofthe two days the department team met with parents.

Madison School District Responds to DPI

Great Madison Schools

On November 29, 2010, the Madison School District responded to a request for information from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) about Madison’s services for talented and gifted students.
The DPI initiated an audit of Madison’s talented and gifted programming after West High School area parents filed a complaint on September 20, 2010, arguing that West refuses to provide appropriate programs for ninth and tenth grade students gifted in language arts and social studies. West requires all freshmen and sophomores to take regular core English and history courses, regardless of learning level.
(All three of Madison’s other comprehensive high schools-East, LaFollette, and Memorial-provide advanced sections of core subjects before 11th grade. East and LaFollette offer advanced and/or honors sections starting in ninth grade, while Memorial offers English 10 honors and AP World History for tenth graders.)
As part of a Small Learning Community Initiative phased in over the past decade, West implemented a one-size-for-all English and social studies program to stop different groups of students from following different courses of study. Some groups had typically self-selected into rigorous, advanced levels while others seemed stuck in more basic or remedial levels. Administrators wanted to improve the quality of classroom experience and instruction for “all students” by mixing wide ranges of ability together in heterogeneous classrooms.

Madison Schools delay changes to High School curriculum after backlash

Matthew DeFour

But for West High School teachers and students the “dual pathways” label sounded like the tracking model the school abandoned 15 years ago that created a lot of “low-level, non-rigorous classes with a lot of segregation by socio-economic status, which is pretty much racially,” science department chairman Steve Pike said.
“If they had this document beforehand” Pike said of the document unveiled Friday, “it would have at least shown that there’s a lot of questions and a lot of work that needed to be done.”
West teachers aren’t the only ones with concerns.
Peggy Ellerkamp, a librarian at LaFollette High School, said teachers there wonder how students in regular classes will be able to move into advanced classes, especially if regular courses become “more like a one-room schoolhouse” with embedded honors, regular, special education and English language learner students.
“I have a lot of questions about a lot of the details,” Ellerkamp said. “I’m very pleased that there’s more time for this to be worked through.”
Jessica Hotz, a social studies teacher at East High School, is concerned that gearing classes to the Advanced Placement test could result in a “dumbing down of the curriculum.” One proposed change in social studies would cram U.S. history into one year instead of the two years that East offers now, Hotz said.

Many links:

Ouch! Madison schools are ‘weak’? and College Station’s School District

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial

Another national magazine says Madison is one of the nation’s best cities in which to raise a family.
That’s something to celebrate.
But Kiplinger’s, a monthly business and personal finance periodical, also raps ours city schools as “weak” in its latest edition.
That’s troubling.
“Madison city schools are weak relative to the suburban schools,” the magazine wrote in its analysis of the pros and cons of living here with children.
The magazine apparently used average test scores to reach its conclusion. By that single measure, yes, Dane County’s suburban schools tend to do better.
But the city schools have more challenges – higher concentrations of students in poverty, more students who speak little or no English when they enroll, more students with special needs.
None of those factors should be excuses. Yet they are reality.
And Madison, in some ways, is ahead of the ‘burbs. It consistently graduates some of the highest-achieving students in the state. It offers far more kinds of classes and clubs. Its diverse student population can help prepare children for an increasingly diverse world.

Madison School Board member Ed Hughes compares WKCE scores, comments on the Kiplinger and Wisconsin State Journal article and wonders if anyone would move from Madison to College Station, TX [map], which Kiplinger’s ranked above our local $15,241 2009/2010 per student public schools.
I compared Madison, WI to College Station, TX using a handy Census Bureau report.

93.8% of College Station residents over 25 are high school graduates, a bit higher than Madison’s 92.4%.
58.1% of College Station residents over 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to Madison’s 48.2%

Madison does have a higher median household and per capita income along with a population about three times that of College Station.
Turning to the public school districts, readers might be interested in having a look at both websites: the College Station Independent School District and the Madison Metropolitan School District. 75% of College Station students took the ACT (average score: 22.6) while 67% of Madison students took the exam and achieved a composite score of 24.2.
College Station publishes a useful set of individual school report cards, which include state and national test results along with attendance and dropout data.
College Station’s 2009-2010 budget was $93,718.470, supporting 9,712 students = $9,649.76 per student. . They also publish an annual check register, allowing interested citizens to review expenditures.
Madison’s 2009-2010 budget was $370,287,471 for 24,295 students = $15,241 per student, 57.9% higher than College Station.
College Station’s A and M Consolidated High School offers 22 AP classes while Madison East offers 12, Memorial 25 (8 of which are provided by Florida Virtual…), LaFollette 13 and West 8.
College Station’s “student profile” notes that the District is 59.3% white, 31.4% are economically disadvantaged while 10.3% are in talented and gifted.
Texas’s 2010 National Merit Semifinalist cut score was 216 while Wisconsin’s was 207. College Station’s high school had 16 National Merit Semi-Finalists (the number might be 40 were College Station the same size as Madison and perhaps still higher with Wisconsin’s lower cut score) during the most recent year while Madison’s high schools had 57.

Bathroom Fire at Madison West High School

via a kind reader:

At 12:03:50 on 05/10/10 firefighters were dispatched for fire alarm at West high school.
On location, students had evacuated. Staff directed firefighters to a bathroom on the 3rd floor of the building where rolls of toilet paper had been burned.
Strobes were operating; alarm had been silenced. Firefighters found a moderate haze of smoke in the area and there was an odor of burned plastics. The fire was out, the toilet roll dispenser was smoldering and melted.
A fan was used from Engine 4 to start clearing the smoke.
The fire had been reported to a staff member by a student. The staff member used an extinguisher to put the fire out. Another student had been attempting to extinguish the fire with water from the sink.
The scene was turned over to a fire investigator.

Several readers noted that there have been a number of recent incidents in and around West High School:

April 26
1 Block Ash St.
Identifier: 201000110451
Time: 15:00
Battery (under general heading “Assault”)
The fight outside the school last week was:
April 28
Chadbourne Av and Ash St
Identifier: 201000112346
Time: 12:47 (lunchtime)
Fight Call (under general heading “Disorder”)
April 20
1 Block Ash St. (looks like this one was in the school)
Identifier: 201000104558
Time: 13:31
Battery (Assault)
April 28
Chadbourne and Allen
Identifier: 201000112447
Time: 14:35
Battery (Assault)
April 22
2100 Block Regent
Identifier: 201000106686
Time: 15:11
Battery (Assault)

User’s may wish to search local high school addresses on the website. The site supports date range searching. You must enter an address and enter a date range (see below) as the site only links to zip code area searches. The data is provided by the City of Madison, UW-Madison and the Madison Police Department. I don’t know if all incidents are provided to this site.
Madison East High
2222 E. Washington Ave.
Madison WI 53704
Madison Edgewood High School
2219 Monroe Street
Madison, WI 53711-1999
Madison LaFollette High School
702 Pflaum Rd.
Madison WI 53716
Madison Memorial High School
201 S. Gammon Rd
Madison, WI 53717
Madison West High School
30 Ash Street
Madison, WI 53726

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.

Madison West High School Principal Update, November, 2009

112K PDF from West Principal Ed Holmes:

This update will address some of the concerns that have been raised since the beginning of the year as well as review many of the major initiatives, events and programs at West during the 2009-10 school year.
District Concerns
High school pupil/teacher ratios for allocation purposes have remained static or been reduced. All four high schools struggle with allocation issues and every school but Lafollette has classes above 30.
In a system where we are working with a finite allocation and have to respond to a set number of required courses first, electives may have to be capped so that required courses can be staffed. As a result we guarantee that all students will have access to the required courses needed to graduate within their four-year high school career.
West High School Concerns
The first issue I would like to address is the misinformation reported to the West High School Community regarding our enrollment numbers here at West. I would like to clarify what our enrollment numbers are, and then explain how that mistake was made. The second issue involves our scheduling practices. Concerns related to scheduling were raised by numerous students and parents this Fall, and there were questions and concerns at grade level meetings as well.
I take full responsibility for the manner and content of the information that was shared with the West community regarding enrollment numbers this Fall. This was a human error, not a computer error. Infinite Campus has the ability to generate enrollment numbers in two ways. One screen calculates and displays all students linked to West, including those in alternative programs. For example, a student attending Shabazz is still listed on that screen as a West Student. A second screen does not include all students linked to West; instead, only students physically attending West, and serviced through our site based allocation. Simply put, I relied on information from the incorrect screen generated on Infinite Campus. I apologize for the frustration this mistake regarding enrollment numbers caused.
Each year we closely plan our scheduling procedures and attempt to implement a process that is equally efficient and effective. This Fall particularly, we have heard concerns from a number of students and parents; primarily dissatisfaction with the availability of certain course offerings. Here are some of the challenges and issues related to scheduling,

High School Debate Lacking in Madison

Nick Bubb, via Isthmus:

ast week’s Isthmus reminded me that school board elections are happening this April. The lack of discussion this time around stands in stark contrast to the amount of discussion that occurred in 2007. Some of the 2007 issues stick out in my memory, because many of the candidates chose to highlight the value of speech and debate. Two year’s later, I wonder if the rhetoric of praising the value of speech and debate has translated into supporting the activity.
In the Spring of 2007, as an assistant forensics coach preparing for the state championship, it was nice to hear that members of the community had taken notice of James Madison Memorial’s success. (Memorial won state forensics championships in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006. JMM also won last year and they’ve taken individual championships each year). Back then, we were just about the only game in town. Since then, Madison West, Sun Prairie, and Middleton have developed quality forensic teams. At last year’s state forensics tournament, Memorial went home with the championship, West placed eighth, and Sun Praire placed fourth.
Debate, however, is a different story. Madison West has lost most of their debate team; while Middleton has developed one. Madison East and LaFollette, are no where to be found for either debate or forensics. Sure, they have teams. But their teams do not compete in the same way that Memorial/West/Sun Prairie/Middleton do.

Informational Community Sessions on the Madison Fine Arts Task Force

Tuesday March 10, 2009 6 to 8p.m.
Memorial High School – Wisconsin Neighborhood Center [Map]
Thursday March 12, 2009 6 to 8p.m.
LaFollette High School in the LMC [Map]
The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) will be sharing the recommendations of the Fine Arts Task Force. We are cordially inviting you to attend one or both of these sessions.
The focus of each session will be a presentation of the findings and recommendations of the Fine Arts Task Force followed by an opportunity for discussion. The Executive Summary and complete Fine Arts Task Force Report can be found at
We are looking forward to sharing this information with you and hearing your thoughts about the research and recommendations provided by the Fine Arts Task Force.
Feedback from sessions and the recommendations from the Fine Arts Task Force will assist in improving the MMSD K-12 Fine Arts program and opportunities for our students,
If you have any questions or comments, please contact Julie Palkowski at
Lisa Wachtel
Executive Director of Teaching and Learning
Julie Palkowski
Coordinator of Fine Arts
Please share this information with others that may be interested in attending these sessions and/or sharing their comments.

The Madison School District’s 2009 Strategic Planning Team

Members include:
Abplanalp, Sue, Assistant Superintendent, Elementary Schools
Alexander, Jennifer, President, Chamber of Commerce
Atkinson, Deedra, Senior Vice-President, Community Impact, United Way of Dane County
Banuelos, Maria,Associate Vice President for Learner Success, Diversity, and Community Relations, Madison Area Technical College
Bidar-Sielaff, Shiva, Manager of Cross-Cultural Care, UW Hospital
Brooke, Jessica, Student
Burke, Darcy, Elvehjem PTO President
Burkholder, John, Principal, Leopold Elementary
Calvert, Matt, UW Extension, 4-H Youth Development
Campbell, Caleb, Student
Carranza, Sal, Academic and Student Services, University of Wisconsin
Chandler, Rick, Chandler Consulting
Chin, Cynthia, Teacher, East
Ciesliewicz, Dave, Mayor, City of Madison
Clear, Mark, Alderperson
Cooper, Wendy, First Unitarian Society
Crim, Dawn, Special Assistant, Academic Staff, Chancellor’s Office, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Dahmen, Bruce, Principal, Memorial High School
Davis, Andreal, Cultural Relevance Instructional Resource Teacher, Teaching & Learning
Deloya, Jeannette, Social Work Program Support Teacher
Frost, Laurie, Parent
Gamoran, Adam Interim Dean; University of Wisconsin School of Education
Gevelber, Susan, Teacher, LaFollette
Goldberg, Steve, Cuna Mutual
Harper, John, Coordinator for Technical Assistance/Professional Development, Educational Services
Her, Peng,
Hobart, Susie, Teacher, Lake View Elementary
Howard, James, Parent
Hughes, Ed, Member, Board of Education
Jokela, Jill, Parent
Jones, Richard, Pastor, Mt. Zion Baptist Church
Juchems, Brian, Program Director, Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools
Katz, Ann, Arts Wisconsin
Katz, Barb, Madison Partners
Kester, Virginia, Teacher, West High School
Koencke, Julie, Information Coordinator MMSD
Laguna, Graciela, Parent
Miller, Annette, Community Representative, Madison Gas & Electric
Morrison, Steve, Madison Jewish Community Council
Nadler, Bob, Executive Director, Human Resources
Nash, Pam, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools
Natera, Emilio, Student
Nerad, Dan, Superintendent of Schools
Passman, Marj, Member, Board of Education
Schultz, Sally, Principal, Shabazz City High School
Seno, Karen,Principal, Cherokee Middle School
Sentmanat, Jose, Executive Assistant to the County Executive
Severson, Don, Active Citizens for Education (ACE)
Steinhoff, Becky, Executive Director, Goodman Community Center
Strong, Wayne, Madison Police Department
Swedeen, Beth, Outreach Specialist, Waisman Center
Tennant, Brian, Parent
Terra Nova, Paul, Lussier Community Education Center
Theo, Mike, Parent
Tompkins, Justin, Student
Trevino, Andres, Parent
Trone, Carole, President, WCATY
Vang, Doua, Clinical Team Manager, Southeast Asian Program / Kajsiab House, Mental Health Center of Dane County
Vieth, Karen, Teacher, Sennett
Vukelich-Austin, Martha, Executive Director, Foundation for Madison Public Schools
Wachtel, Lisa, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning
Zellmer, Jim, Parent
Much more here.
The Strategic Planning Process Schedule [PDF]

Mathmetician The Best Job in the US; Madison Math Task Force Community Meetings Tonight & Tomorrow

Sarah Needleman:

Nineteen years ago, Jennifer Courter set out on a career path that has since provided her with a steady stream of lucrative, low-stress jobs. Now, her occupation — mathematician — has landed at the top spot on a new study ranking the best and worst jobs in the U.S.
“It’s a lot more than just some boring subject that everybody has to take in school,” says Ms. Courter, a research mathematician at mental images Inc., a maker of 3D-visualization software in San Francisco. “It’s the science of problem-solving.”
The study, to be released Tuesday from, a new job site, evaluates 200 professions to determine the best and worst according to five criteria inherent to every job: environment, income, employment outlook, physical demands and stress. ( is published by Adicio Inc., in which Wall Street Journal owner News Corp. holds a minority stake.)
The findings were compiled by Les Krantz, author of “Jobs Rated Almanac,” and are based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, as well as studies from trade associations and Mr. Krantz’s own expertise.
According to the study, mathematicians fared best in part because they typically work in favorable conditions — indoors and in places free of toxic fumes or noise — unlike those toward the bottom of the list like sewage-plant operator, painter and bricklayer. They also aren’t expected to do any heavy lifting, crawling or crouching — attributes associated with occupations such as firefighter, auto mechanic and plumber.
The study also considers pay, which was determined by measuring each job’s median income and growth potential. Mathematicians’ annual income was pegged at $94,160, but Ms. Courter, 38, says her salary exceeds that amount.


Parents and citizens have another opportunity to provide input on this matter when Brian Sniff, Madison’s Math Coordinator and Lisa Wachtel, Director of Madison’s Teaching & Learning discuss the Math Report at a Cherokee Middle School PTO meeting on January 14, 2009 at 7:00p.m.

Informational and Community Discussion Sessions on the Madison Mathematics Task Force

Date: January 6th, 2009

Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Where: LaFollette High School – LMC

Date: January 7th, 2009

Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Where: Memorial High School – Wisconsin Neighborhood Center

You are cordially invited to attend an information session and discussion about the findings and recommendations of the Math Task Force which recently completed a review of the MMSD K-12 Mathematics program. Please also share this information with others who may be interested in attending.
At each session, there will be a brief informational presentation followed by an opportunity for discussion. The Executive Summary and complete Task Force Report can be found at
We are looking forward to sharing this information with you and learning about your reactions to the research and recommendations included in the report. Your thoughts are important to us as we work to improve the MMSD K-12 Mathematics program.
Questions/comments? Please contact Brian Sniff at
Looking forward to seeing you on January 6th or 7th.

Madison police calls near local high schools: 1996-2006

Madison School District Safety Coordinator Luis Yudice (Luis is a retired Police Officer and a East High Grad) at a recent West High School neighborhood crime discussion (10/18/2007):

“Big picture perspective:
Our community really has changed a lot within the past five years. I sense a great deal of stress within the police department.
Citywide issues
Increasing violence involving girls. He has looked at a lot of data with the District Attorney’s office. Girls are extremely angry.
Angry parents are coming into the schools.
Increasing issues in the neighborhood that end up in the schools. Mentioned South Transfer Point beating and that Principal Ed Holmes mediated the situation at an early stage.
Growing gang violence issue particularly in the east side schools. We do have gang activity at Memorial and West but most of the issues are at Lafollete and East. Dealing with this via training and building relationships
What the school are experiencing is a reflection of what is going on in the community.”

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, via Bill Lueders @ Isthmus (7/30/2008):

He (Wray) began by talking about perceptions of crime, and especially the notion that it’s getting worse in Madison. He stressed that it wasn’t just the media and public who felt this way: “If I would ask the average beat cop, I think they would say it’s gotten worse.” But, he added, “Worse compared to what?”

The absence of local safety data spurred several SIS contributors to obtain and publish the police call data displayed below. Attorney and parent Chan Stroman provided pro bono public records assistance. Chan’s work on this matter extended to the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office.
A few important notes on this data:

  • 13% of the records could not be geocoded and therefore are not included in the summary information. The downloadable 1996-2006 police call data .zip file is comprehensive, however.
  • Clicking on the numbers below takes the reader to a detail page. This page includes all matching police calls and a downloadable .csv file of same. The csv file can be opened in Excel, Numbers and many data management tools.
  • This summary is rather brief, I hope others download the data and have a look.

Police Calls within .25 miles of:
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 1285 392 324 869 728
1997 1351 455 403 896 750
1998 1340 343 488 875 703
1999 1281 352 477 969 772
2000 1391 300 528 888 933
2001 1476 305 480 769 1034
2002 1470 363 491 886 1019
2003 1362 349 403 865 921
2004 1455 346 449 989 1012
2005 1311 325 465 994 917
2006 1221 330 389 1105 838
Weapons Incident / Offense
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 5 0 3 4 6
1997 5 0 3 4 0
1998 10 0 5 2 1
1999 10 0 5 4 0
2000 4 0 6 2 5
2001 3 0 3 0 0
2002 11 0 3 5 5
2003 4 1 1 4 5
2004 4 0 9 7 4
2005 9 0 6 6 2
2006 10 1 5 7 3
Drug Incident
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 10 0 10 9 7
1997 16 0 7 6 4
1998 12 1 8 10 6
1999 18 0 7 18 4
2000 16 2 13 17 12
2001 18 0 10 20 12
2002 22 0 14 16 12
2003 23 2 18 15 8
2004 26 0 20 17 7
2005 19 0 17 20 12
2006 24 2 11 15 8
Arrested Juvenile
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 59 1 35 28 38
1997 72 0 83 52 29
1998 21 0 34 17 14
1999 16 0 29 24 7
2000 42 0 76 14 15
2001 52 0 66 19 15
2002 51 0 69 13 12
2003 9 0 9 9 3
2004 8 0 8 9 4
2005 11 0 10 7 3
2006 6 0 21 11 4
Bomb Threat
Madison East Area Edgewood Area LaFollette Area Memorial Area West Area
1996 1 0 0 0 1
1997 1 0 1 0 0
1998 4 2 0 0 1
1999 7 0 15 0 1
2000 4 0 17 2 1
2001 1 0 8 10 11
2002 2 0 9 0 4
2003 1 0 2 1 11
2004 6 0 4 0 6
2005 1 0 4 0 0
2006 3 0 0 0 4

Related links:

Madison La Follette Principal Joe Gothard helped turn around his alma mater

Tamira Madsen:

John Broome lasted just four months as principal of La Follette High School.
Under pressure due to escalating fighting at the 1,710-student east side school and hearing far-reaching complaints from parents and staff over his management style, Broome resigned in December 2006. Veteran district administrator Loren Rathert came out of retirement to finish the school year as interim principal.
So when Joe Gothard took over as principal last September, it was no secret that he was entering a difficult situation.
“Actually it was really bad,” says Jamison Vacek, a member of a Lancer senior class that has had four principals in four years. “There were fights almost every day at the school when we had those other principals.”
But ask students, staff and observers about La Follette now, and there seems a consensus that Gothard has helped put the school on the right path.

Much more on La Follette here.

Battery Arrest at LaFollette High School

Madison Police Department:

On Tuesday afternoon a La Follette High School principal was attempting to escort to the office a couple of students who had been arguing. One student (the 16 year old listed above) did not want to go to the office and became hostile. She began yelling and ended up punching the principal in the face. A Madison Police officer witnessed the act. That officer was also punched in the face while arresting the student. The melee took place during class passing time, and the arresting officer described the situation in a report as “extremely disturbing and disruptive to the school environment.”
Following the arrest pepper spray and a box cutter were found to be in the 16-year-old’s possession. These were grounds for additional tentative charges. The student also spit her gum on the floor, which is a violation of Madison’s Expectorating Ordinance.

Via Isthmus.

Madison High School Police Calls & Discipline Rates:
Comparing 2001/2002 and 2005/2006

Madison Parent’s School Safety Site:

When there’s violence at school, parents want answers to their questions about school safety. If parents are told “our school is safer than other schools”, where’s the data that supports that vague reassurance? Police call-for-service data (as posted on this site from time to time) is one indicator of school crime, but it’s only part of the picture, and may not be a reliable basis of comparing school to school – or even comparing whether the safety situation in one particular school is improving or deteriorating.
We looked at police call data for East, LaFollette, Memorial and West High Schools in 2001-02, and in 2005-06. (Data notes: This data was obtained by public records request to the Madison Police Department. Due to the format in which the data was provided, the call totals for each school are for calls made to the block in which each school is located, rather than the specific street address of the school. Calls for each year were tallied over a July 1 through June 30 period in order to track the corresponding school years used for comparison below. Variations in school enrollment between the comparison years aren’t reported here since they don’t appear to affect the analysis or conclusions, but that information is readily accessible on the DPI web site. The DPI web site is also the source of the discipline data presented below.)

LaFollette High School Weapons Violation

Madison Police Department: On October 18th around 9:05 Madison police arrested a Lafollette High School student on the above tenative charges. The student is accused of pulling a small knife from her purse and threatening another student with the knife. This happened in a math class following an argument between the two students. A teacher … Continue reading LaFollette High School Weapons Violation

Ed Hughes and Marj Passman on Madison’s Small Learning Community Climate and Grant Application

I sent an email to Ed and Marj, both of whom have announced their plans to run for Madison School Board next spring, asking the following:

I’m writing to see what your thoughts are on the mmsd’s high school “reform” initiative, particularly in light of two things:

  1. The decision to re-apply for the US Dept of Education Grant next month
  2. The lack of any public (any?) evaluation of the results at West and Memorial in light of their stated SLC goals?

In other words, how do you feel about accountability? 🙂

They replied:
Marj Passman:

I am generally supportive of small learning communities and the decision to reapply for a Federal grant. Our high schools continue to provide a rich education for most students — especially the college bound – but there is a significant and maybe growing number of students who are not being engaged. They need our attention. The best evidence is that well implemented small learning communities show promise as part of the solution to increasing the engagement and achievement of those who are not being well served, do no harm and may help others also. My experience as a teacher backs up the research because I found that the caring relationships between staff and students so crucial to reaching those students falling between the cracks on any level of achievement are more likely to develop in smaller settings. Some form of small learning communities are almost a given as part of any reform of our high schools and if we can get financial help from the Federal government with this part of the work, I’m all for it.
I think it is important not to overestimate either the problems or the promise of the proposed solutions. The first step in things like this is to ask what is good that we want to preserve. Our best graduates are competitive with any students anywhere. The majority of our graduates are well prepared for their next academic or vocational endeavors. We need to keep doing the good things we do well. If done successfully, SLCs offer as much for the top achieving students as for any group – individual attention, focus on working with others of their ability, close connection to staff, and consistent evaluation.
You also asked about “accountability” and the evaluations of the existing SLCs. Both evaluations are generally positive, show some progress in important areas and point to places where improvements still need to be made. Neither contains any alarming information that would suggest the SLCs should be abandoned. The data from these limited studies should be looked at with similar research elsewhere that supports SLC as part of the solution to persistent (and in Madison) growing issues.
Like many I applauded when all the Board members asked for a public process for the High Schools of the Future project and like many I have been woefully disappointed with what I’ve seen so far. Because of this and the coming changes in district leadership I’d like to see the redesign time line extended (the final report is due in April) to allow for more input from both the public and the new superintendent.
Thanks for this opportunity
Marjorie Passman

Ed Hughes:

From what I know, I am not opposed to MMSD re-applying for the U.S. Dept. of Education grant next month. From my review of the grant application, it did not seem to lock the high schools into new and significant changes. Perhaps that is a weakness of the application. But if the federal government is willing to provide funds to our high schools to do what they are likely to do anyway, I’m all for it.
Like you, I am troubled with the apparent lack of evaluation of results at West and Memorial attributable to their small learning communities initiatives. This may seem inconsistent with my view on applying for the grant, but I do not think we should proceed further down an SLC path without having a better sense of whether in fact it is working at the two schools that have tried it. It seems to me that this should be a major focus of the high school redesign study, but who knows what is going on with that. I asked recently and was told that the study kind of went dormant for awhile after the grant application was submitted.
My own thoughts about high school are pointing in what may be the opposite direction – bigger learning communities rather than smaller. I am concerned about our high schools being able to provide a sufficiently rich range of courses to prepare our students for post-high school life and to retain our students whose families have educational options. The challenges the schools face in this regard were underscored last spring when East eliminated German classes, and now offers only Spanish and French as world language options.
It seems to me that one way to approach this issue is to move toward thinking of the four comprehensive high schools as separate campuses of a single, unified, city-wide high school in some respects. We need to do a lot more to install sufficient teleconferencing equipment to allow the four schools to be linked – so that a teacher in a classroom at Memorial, say, can be seen on a screen in classrooms in the other three schools. In fact, views of all four linked classrooms should simultaneously be seen on the screen. With this kind of linkage, we could take advantage of economies of scale and have enough student interest to justify offering classes in a rich selection of languages to students in all four high schools. I’m sure there are other types of classes where linked classrooms would also make sense.
This kind of approach raises issues. For example, LaFollette’s four block system would be incompatible with this approach. There would also be a question of whether there would need to be a teacher or educational assistant in every classroom, even if the students in the classroom are receiving instruction over the teleconferencing system from another teacher in another school. I would hope that these are the kinds of issues the high school re-design group would be wrestling with. Perhaps they are, or will, but at this point there seems to be no way to know.
There are some off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts prompted by your question and by Maya Cole’s post about the high school re-design study. Feel free to do what you want with this response.

Related Links:

Thanks to Ed and Marj for taking the time to share their thoughts on this important matter.

Community Members Petition for Joe Gothard to be Named LaFollette High School Principal Some Madison community members are circulating a petition to put forward a candidate to be La Follette High School’s next principal. That name is Joe Gothard, who is the former dean of students at La Follette and currently serves as principal at Akira Toki Middle School, WISC-TV reported. Questions about who would lead the … Continue reading Community Members Petition for Joe Gothard to be Named LaFollette High School Principal

LaFollette’s four block schedule: good or bad?

When the four block schedule began at LaFollette a few years ago, the MMSD praised its succeses: Under the new “four block” schedule, La Follette High School students are missing school less, are better behaved and are taking tougher courses, all of which is adding up to better academic performance, an analysis of first quarter … Continue reading LaFollette’s four block schedule: good or bad?

Making the Grade: Madison High Schools & No Child Left Behind Requirements

Susan Troller: Don’t assume that a school is bad just because it’s not making adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law. That comment came today from Madison School Board member Lucy Mathiak, whose children attend or have attended East High School. East and three other Madison public high schools were cited … Continue reading Making the Grade: Madison High Schools & No Child Left Behind Requirements

Police Calls Down In Most Categories At LaFollette High School

Channel3000: News 3 examined the data from Robert M. LaFolette High School on Tuesday night. The school is the smallest of the four schools included in this series, boasting more than 1,700 students. During a typical afternoon at LaFollette High School, principal Mike Meissen walks the halls. If it’s going on at LaFollette, Meissen knows … Continue reading Police Calls Down In Most Categories At LaFollette High School

Madison School Board looking for community members to serve on Equity Task Force

The Madison School Board is looking for persons interested in serving on an Equity Task Force. At this time we are targeting our efforts in finding citizens that live and/or have children in the LaFollette and Memorial attendance areas. Persons selected will need to be sensitive and understanding of issues of poverty, class, privilege, race, … Continue reading Madison School Board looking for community members to serve on Equity Task Force

Congratulations to LaFollette Principal Mike Meissen

Message to the School Board from Superintendent Art Rainwater: I am pleased to announce that Mike Meissen has accepted the position of Superintendent of the Glenbard Township High School District in Illinois effective July 1, 2006. Glenbard is a high school district with 4 high schools and almost 9,000 students. After many years of service … Continue reading Congratulations to LaFollette Principal Mike Meissen

AP Courses Taught in Four Madison Public High Schools

Here is a listing of the AP courses taught at each Madison high school: East (8 AP courses) — Calculus I, Calculus II, French, Macro Economics, Micro Economics, Music Theory, Psychology, Spanish LaFollette (13 AP courses) — Calculus I, Calculus II, Chemistry, Computer Science, European History, French, Literature and Composition, Macro Economics, Micro Economics, Psychology, … Continue reading AP Courses Taught in Four Madison Public High Schools

Madison Area String Festivals – Saturday, April 2, 2005

Saturday, April 2nd is the annual Madison Area String Festivals – a much-loved, special event for all Madison public school children who play in MMSD’s string orchestras from Grades 4-12. More than 2,000 children will be performing 12 songs. Each of the 4 area high schools will host a string performance on Saturday. Your elementary … Continue reading Madison Area String Festivals – Saturday, April 2, 2005

Charter school meeting – July 7, Madison

“Charter Schools: A New Vision of Public Education in Wisconsin.” Date: July 7, 2004 (Wednesday morning) Time: 9:00 am to 11:30 am Site: Madison – Concourse Hotel (Capital Ballroom A – 2nd Floor) Concourse Hotel Purpose: Discuss the significance of the evolving charter schools sector as an institutional innovation within Wisconsin’s public education system. You … Continue reading Charter school meeting – July 7, Madison

Dane County High School AP Course Offering Comparison

The College Board recently updated their AP Course Audit data. Dane County offerings are noted below, including changes from 2007-2008:

  • Abundant Life Christian School: 3 Courses in 2007/2008 and 3 in 2008/2009
  • Cambridge High School: 1 Course in 2007/2008 and 0 in 2008/2009
  • De Forest High School: 8 Courses in 2007/2008 and 8 in 2008/2009
  • Madison East High School: 12 Courses in 2007/2008 and 12 in 2008/2009
  • Madison Edgewood High School: 11 Courses in 2007/2008 and 10 in 2008/2009 (11 are on offer this year. There’s been a paperwork delay for the 11th course, AP Biology due to a new teacher)
  • Madison LaFollette High School: 12 Courses in 2007/2008 and 6 in 2008/2009
  • Madison Memorial High School: 18 Courses in 2007/2008 and 17 in 2008/2009
  • Madison West High School: 6 Courses in 2007/2008 and 0 in 2008/2009 (I’m told that West has 6, but the College Board has a paperwork problem)
  • Marshall High School: 5 Courses in 2007/2008 and 5 in 2008/2009
  • McFarland High School: 6 Courses in 2007/2008 and 6 in 2008/2009
  • Middleton-Cross Plains High School: 8 Courses in 2007/2008 and 8 in 2008/2009
  • Monona Grove High School: 9 Courses in 2007/2008 and 8 in 2008/2009
  • Mt. Horeb High School: 5 Courses in 2007/2008 and 5 in 2008/2009
  • Oregon High School: 9 Courses in 2007/2008 and 9 in 2008/2009
  • Sauk Prairie High School: 10 Courses in 2007/2008 and 10 in 2008/2009
  • Stoughton High School: 7 Courses in 2007/2008 and 10 in 2008/2009
  • Sun Prairie High School: 15 Courses in 2007/2008 and 17 in 2008/2009
  • Verona High School: 10 Courses in 2007/2008 and 11 in 2008/2009
  • Waunakee High School: 6 Courses in 2007/2008 and 6 in 2008/2009
  • Wisconsin Heights High School: 6 Courses in 2007/2008 and 6 in 2008/2009

Related: Dual Enrollment, Small Learning Communities and Part and Full Time Wisconsin Open Enrollment.

Dane County, WI AP High School Course Comparison

A quick summary of Dane County, WI High School 2007-2008 AP Course Offerings (source – AP Course Audit):

  • Abundant Life Christian School (3 Courses)
  • Cambridge (1)
  • DeForest (7)
  • Madison Country Day (International Baccalaureate – IB. However, Madison Country Day is not listed on the approved IB World website.)
  • Madison East (11)
  • Madison Edgewood (11)
  • Madison LaFollette (10)
  • Madison Memorial (17)
  • Madison West (5+1 2nd Year Calculus which “prepares students for the AP BC exam”)
  • Marshall (5)
  • McFarland (6)
  • Middleton – Cross Plains (7)
  • Monona Grove (7)
  • Mount Horeb (5)
  • Oregon (9)
  • Sauk Prairie (10)
  • Stoughton (6)
  • Sun Prairie (13)
  • Verona (10)
  • Waunakee (6)
  • Wisconsin Heights (6)

Links and course details are available here.
Related: Dual Enrollment, Small Learning Communities and Part and Full Time Wisconsin Open Enrollment.
Via a kind reader’s email.

WI School Funding Update

Funding reform resolution introduced — your chance to act Funding system continues to erode quality education School-funding reform calendar The Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools (WAES) is a statewide network of educators, school board members, parents, community leaders, and researchers. Its Wisconsin Adequacy Plan — a proposal for school-finance reform — is the result of … Continue reading WI School Funding Update

“Why I’m Sticking to the Union – and Others Should Too”

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email: (By Andrew McCuaig, English teacher, LaFollette High School) Joining a union is an act of faith: a belief that people coming together with similar daily work lives can have an impact on those people who may have goals that don’t take into account … Continue reading “Why I’m Sticking to the Union – and Others Should Too”

The Achievement Gap as Seen Through the Eyes of a Student

Robin Mwai and Deidre Green Simpson Street Free Press The achievement gap is very prevalent in my school on a day-to-day basis. From the lack of minority students taking honors classes, to the over abundance of minority students occupying the hallways during valuable class time, the continuously nagging minority achievement gap prevails. Upon entering LaFollette … Continue reading The Achievement Gap as Seen Through the Eyes of a Student

Angry Your Employment Security is in Jeopardy?

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (92K PDF):

Layoff: Seniority is a right that is earned under MTI’s various Collective Bargaining Agreements. Seniority is based on one’s years of service and provides protection from indiscriminate layoff.
Under MTI’s Contracts, seniority protects members of MTI’s various bargaining units from subjective or discriminatory layoff. When layoff is necessary, the Contracts provide an objective means, including tie-breakers for those with the same seniority.
Governor Walker’s Act 10 puts seniority in jeopardy because all collective bargaining agreements in Wisconsin covering school district employees will disappear in 2013 under Walker’s Act 10 (blekko, clusty, google news).
What can you do to protect your employment security? Get involved in this spring’s RECALL ELECTION. There are only 15 days until the RECALL PRIMARY ELECTION. Candidates Barrett, Falk, La Follette and Vinehout have promised to reverse Act 10 and to restore public employees’ rights to collectively bargain.
Without your help, there is no chance of reversing the negative impact of Act 10 on school district employees. Call/email MTI Assistant Director Jeff Knight ( / 608-257-0491) to offer assistance via your Union.

Is University of Wisconsin Education Becoming More Elite? A Partial Answer

John Witte & Barbara Wolfe, via a kind Richard Askey email:

There is considerable concern in Wisconsin and other states that accessibility to colleges and universities is becoming more elite; that due to rising costs of education and rising standards for admission universities are increasingly serving only those from higher income families. For example an article in the Christian Sciences Monitor in August of this year entitled “Too Few low income students?” stated that “about 50 percent of low-income students enroll in college right after high school, compared with 80 percent of high income students” and go on to state that the rate of high achieving low income students is about that of high income students that have far lower achievement scores1. William Bowen, Martin Kurzwell and Eugene Tobin note in their book that students in the bottom quartile of family income make up only 11 percent of elite college enrollment and receive no advantage from college admission programs; they call for an affirmative action program directed at low income applicants to promote equal opportunity and increase economic growth2. In this paper we use family income of University of Wisconsin- Madison applicants and those admitted over more than three decades to shed light on whether there has been a decline of opportunity to attend elite institutions among those with limited family incomes. As the premier public university in the state, this profile can serve more generally to provide insight on the issue of increasing elitism of premier public universities.
How accessible are the best public institutions to students from different socioeconomic groups? And, given the debates about financial aid that have been occurring at both the national and state, it is important to know: (a) How has access to the University of Wisconsin-Madison changed in terms of family income during the last three decades? (b) Are the patterns different for those within the state compared to those from outside the state? (c) Is there an income difference between those admitted and rejected for admission? And (d) What is the trend in the rate of applicants being admitted? This study addresses these questions.
Data on family income of applicants to specific colleges and universities are difficult to acquire. The most common sources are the income questions that students answer when completing ACT or SAT examinations. For a number of reasons these responses are probably woefully inaccurate. There is evidence from other studies that students simply do not have accurate information on family income. Universities could include income information on application forms, but most do not (including UW-Madison). Detailed income and asset data are included on the federal financial aid application form (FAFSA), but only students applying for financial aid complete those forms.

Maya Cole’s Schoolcast Update

Maya Cole:

Dear friends,
First, I would like to let you know that I have new podcasts and blog posts up on my website! You can get information on how our superintendent search evolved and learn how school districts lobby the legislature at a state level through the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.
I am also happy to report that several of us on the Board have begun to meet (after a long hiatus) as members of the Dane County School Board Consortium. The Madison School Board will be hosting other districts next month at LaFollette High School. We will be discussing how we can engage and listen to the public on boundary changes. We hope to come together in the future and combine our lobbying efforts as representatives of Dane County schools. If you know of any state or local officials who would be interested in joining us to learn more about issues facing school districts, please feel free to send them my e-mail address.
I also have two new podcasts, five minutes in length, that explain all you need to know about No Child Left Behind and its re-authorization this year. I met with Sennett school teacher David Wasserman and promised him I would work on engaging the public on this important issue. Please take a listen and pass it on to your friends.
These past few months I have been working hard on many issues on behalf of the school district. I met many fascinating educators and members of the community that are interested in our schools. Some of the Board highlights include, but are not limited to:

AP Report to the Nation

College Board [1.5MB PDF]:

More than 15 percent of the public high school class of 2007 achieved at least one AP® Exam grade of 3 or higher1—the score that is predictive of college success. This achievement represents a significant and consistent improvement since the class of 2002 when less than 12 percent of public school graduates attained this goal.
Out of all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, Vermont captured the largest increase in the percentage of high school graduates who scored a 3 or higher on an AP Exam.
In its fourth annual “AP Report to the Nation,” the College Board (the not-for-profit membership association that owns and administers the AP Program), focuses on educators’ quantifiable successes in helping a wider segment of the nation’s students gain access to and achieve success in college-level work. Of the estimated 2.8 million students who graduated from U.S. public schools in 2007, almost 426,000 (15.2 percent) earned an AP Exam grade of at least a 3 on one or more AP Exams during their high school tenure, the report documents. This is up from 14.7 percent in 2006 and 11.7 percent in 2002.
Earning a 3 or higher on an AP Exam is one of “the very best predictors of college performance,”2 with AP students earning higher college grades and graduating from college at higher rates than otherwise similar peers in control groups, according to recent reports from researchers at the University of California at Berkeley,3 the National Center for Educational Accountability,4 and the University of Texas at Austin.5,6
New York, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Massachusetts and Connecticut all saw more than 20 percent of their students graduate from high school having earned an AP Exam grade of 3 or higher. AP achievements for each state’s class of 2002, class of 2006 and class of 2007 are detailed in the report. (See “The 4th Annual AP Report to the Nation,” Table 1, page 5.)
“Educators and policymakers across the nation should be commended for their sustained commitment to helping students achieve access to and success in AP courses and exams” said College Board President Gaston Caperton. “More students from varied backgrounds are accomplishing their AP goals, but we can’t afford to believe equity has been achieved until the demographics of successful AP participation and performance are identical to the demographics of the overall student population.”
Though 75 percent of U.S. high school graduates enter college,7 dropout rates and the fact that about half of all college freshmen are taking at least one remedial course indicate that secondary schools must dedicate themselves to more than college admission,8 the report asserts.
“Remedial course work in college costs taxpayers an estimated $1 billion a year,”9 Caperton said. “To shrink the gap between those who enter college and those who complete a degree, we must target the divide between high school graduation standards and the skills that all students need to be prepared for the rigors of college. The critical reasoning, subject-matter expertise and study skills students must develop to succeed on the three-hour college-level AP Exams fortify high school graduates for a successful transition into their freshman year at college. This makes providing better readiness for—and access to—AP courses absolutely essential.”

Related: Dane County, WI High School AP Course Comparison. The Madison School District received a grant in 2005 to increase the number of AP classes available to students. Madison High School AP offerings, according to the College Board: East 11, Edgewood 11, LaFollette 10, Memorial 17 and West 5.
Mitchell Landsberg digs into the report here.

Accelerated Biology at West HS Stands Still

I have a friend who is fond of saying “never ascribe to maliciousness that which can be accounted for by incompetence.” These words have become a touchstone for me in my dealings with the Madison schools. I work harder than some people might ever believe to remember that every teacher, administrator and staff person I … Continue reading Accelerated Biology at West HS Stands Still

“The Public Needs to Know What’s Going On”

Madison Parent’s School Safety Site: Today’s “Watchdog” section of Isthmus has a quick report (at the link, scroll down to the third item, titled “Dangerous work, take 2″) on recent incidents of violence in Madison schools against school staffers. In two of the incidents where staffers were injured, police declined to file criminal charges, citing … Continue reading “The Public Needs to Know What’s Going On”

Our schools are like family and budget cuts are hurting important family values

LaFollette Teacher Sean Storch: hen the Madison School Board eliminated two high school athletic director positions to meet state-imposed budget restrictions, the La Follette High School family lost a critically valuable teacher, coach, adviser and school leader. Jim Pliner was modest when he said the surplus move “stings a little bit.” In another sense, Pliner … Continue reading Our schools are like family and budget cuts are hurting important family values

School District Abandons Both Rhyme and Reason in Language Programs

Douglas J. Buege: As budget cuts extract another ton of flesh from Madison’s public school students, classroom teachers reel from the aftershocks. Keeping a smooth, consistent curriculum takes a lot from an educator, yet as our well-trained teachers meet tough demands, we witness a loss of both rhyme and reason at both the school and … Continue reading School District Abandons Both Rhyme and Reason in Language Programs

MMSD High School Redesign Committee Selected

According to a report from a recent East High United meeting, where MMSD Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools Pam Nash did a presentation on the District’s high school redesign plans, the following eleven people have been named to the redesign committee: Pam Nash — Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Schools, former principal of Memorial HS. While … Continue reading MMSD High School Redesign Committee Selected

The Future of Our Schools: The Funding Crisis

The League of Women Voters of Dane County, Dane County PTO’s, Principals and School Boards Panel Presentation featuring: Art Rainwater: Superintendent, Madison Metro. School District Andrew Reschovsky: LaFollette School of Public Affairs Sondy Pope-Roberts: State Assembly District 79 Questions to follow presentations Wednesday, April 11, 2007 7:00 ? 9:30 p.m. Meriter Main Gate Grand Hall … Continue reading The Future of Our Schools: The Funding Crisis

More Than English 10: Let’s REALLY Talk About Our High Schools

First, I want to say BRAVO, RUTH, for putting it all together and bringing it on home to us. Thanks, too, to the BOE members who overrode BOE President Johnny Winston Jr’s decision to table this important discussion. Finally, deepest thanks to all of the East parents, students and teachers who are speaking out … … Continue reading More Than English 10: Let’s REALLY Talk About Our High Schools

Officials Meet to Discuss School Safety

WKOW-TV: Insubordination, bullying and fighting top the list of problems Madison schools deal with regularly. Madison police and district officials answered questions and discussed the safety challenges of local schools. Police handed out an incident report for Memorial High School. According to the report, there were 32 calls to police for fighting since last January. … Continue reading Officials Meet to Discuss School Safety

ACT scores are best in 20 years, with a catch, MMSD Curriculum & Upcoming Elections

The issue of curriculum quality and rigor continues to generate attention. P-I:

The good news is that the high school class of 2006 posted the biggest nationwide average score increase on the ACT college entrance exam in 20 years and recorded the highest scores of any class since 1991.
The bad news is that only 21 percent of the students got a passing grade in all four subject areas, including algebra and social science.
“The ACT findings clearly point to the need for high schools to require a rigorous, four-year core curriculum and to offer Advanced Placement classes so that our graduates are prepared to compete and succeed in both college and the work force,” Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said in Washington, D.C.

Alan Borsuk has more:

Wisconsin high school graduates are better prepared to succeed in college than students nationwide – but that means only that more than 70% of state students are at risk of having trouble in one or more freshman-level subjects while the national figure is almost 80%, according to ACT, the college testing company.
The message still isn’t getting across,” Ferguson said in a telephone news conference. If students want to go to college and do well, they have to take high school seriously and take challenging courses, he said.
ACT results showed that students who took at least four years of English and three years each of math, science and social studies in high school did substantially better on the tests (22.9 in Wisconsin, 22.0 nationwide) than those who took lighter loads in those core areas (21.0 and 19.7, respectively).
Elizabeth Burmaster, Wisconsin’s superintendent of public instruction, said she believes that if schools in Wisconsin stay focused on efforts such as early childhood education and small class sizes in the early grades, combined with strong academic programs in middle school and high school, achievement will go up and racial and ethnic gaps will close.

Individual state data is available here.
Burmaster’s statement, along with the ACT information will increase the attention paid to curriculum issues, such as the ongoing questions over the Madison School District’s math program (See UW Math professor Dick Askey’s statement on the MMSD’s interpration and reporting of math scores). Will we stick with the “same service” approach? This very important issue will be on voters minds in November (referendum) and again in April, 2007 when 3 board seats are up for election. See also the West High School Math Faculty letter and a recent open letter to the Madison School District Board and Administration from 35 of the 37 UW Math Department faculty members. Vaishali Honawar has more.
The Madison School District issued a press release on the recent ACT scores (68% of Wisconsin high school graduates took the ACT – I don’t know what the MMSD’s percentage is):

Madison students who took the 2006 ACT college entrance exam continued to outperform their state and national peers by a wide margin, and the scores of Madison’s African-American test takers increased significantly. Madison students’ composite score of 24.2 (scale of 1 to 36) was higher for the 12th straight year than the composite scores of Wisconsin students and those across the nation (see table below). District students outscored their state peers by 9% (24.2 vs. 22.2,) and their national peers by 15% (24.2 vs. 21.1).
Compared to the previous year, the average ACT composite score among the district’s African-American students increased 6% — 18.8 vs. 17.7 last year. The gap between district African-American and white student ACT scores decreased this year. The relative difference this year was 24% (18.8 vs. 24.8) compared to 30% last year.
Scores also increased this year for the district’s Asian students (22.1 to 23.0) and Hispanic students (21.5 to 21.8).

The Madison School District recently published this summary of student performance vs other similar sized and nearby districts (AP, ACT and WKCE) here. Madison’s individual high schools scored as follows: East 22.9, LaFollette 22.1, Memorial 25.1 and West 25.5. I don’t have the % of students who took the ACT.

I checked with Edgewood High School and they have the following information: “almost all students take the ACT” and their composite score is “24.4”. Lakeside in Lake Mills averaged 24.6. Middleton High School’s was 25 in 2005. Verona High School’s numbers:

222 students took the ACT in 2005-2006.
Our composite score was 23.6 compared to the state at 22.2
87% of test takers proved college ready in English Composition (vs. 77%)
66% of test takers proved college ready in College Algebra (vs. 52%)
77% of test takers proved college ready in Social Science (vs. 61%)
45% of test takers proved college ready in Biology (vs. 35%)
37% of test takers proved college ready in all four areas (vs. 28%)
(#) as compared to the state %

Waunakee High School:

Score HS Mean (Core/Non-Core)
Composite 23.3 (24.3/21.5)
English 22.5 (23.9/19.5)
Mathematics 23.2 (24.2/21.8)
Reading 23.3 (24.1/21.5)
Science 23.7 (24.4/22.7)

McFarland High School’s 2006 Composite average was 23.7. 110 students were tested.
UPDATE: A few emails regarding these results:

  • On the Waunakee information:

    In the Waunakee information I sent to Jim Z, our mean for the Class of 2006 comes first, followed by the core/non-core in parentheses. So, our mean composite score for our 157 seniors who sat for the ACT was 23.3, the mean composite for those completing the ACT suggested core was 24.3, the mean composite for those who did not complete the core was 21.5.
    With ACT profile reports, the student information is self-reported. It’s reasonably accurate, but some students don’t fill in information about course patterns and demographics if it is not required.
    Please let me know if there are any other questions.

  • McFarland data:

    It appears that Jim Z’s chart comparing scores uses Waunakee’s “Core score” as opposed to the average composite that the other schools (at
    least McFaland) gave to Jim Z.. If Jim Z. wishes to report average “Core” for McFarland it is 24.5. Our non-core is 22.2 with our average composite 23.7.

  • More on the meaning of “Core”:

    Probably everyone is familiar with the ACT definition of core, but it’s 4 years of English, and three years each of math, science, and social studies. ACT is refining their position on what course patterns best position a student for undergraduate success, however.

Additional comments, data and links here

High School Rigor: Iowa AP Index and a Michigan School Board Member

The University of Iowa: Every May a large number of high school students across America take AP exams. In May 2005 over 1.2 million high school students took over 2.1 million AP exams. AP allows students to pursue college-level studies while still in high school. Over 3000 colleges accept AP exam scores for either college … Continue reading High School Rigor: Iowa AP Index and a Michigan School Board Member

MMSD Cross-High School Comparison — continued

I recently posted a comparative list of the English courses offered to 9th and 10th graders at Madison’s four high schools. The list showed clearly that West High School does not offer its high achieving and highly motivated 9th and 10th grade students the same appropriately challenging English classes that are offered at East, LaFollette … Continue reading MMSD Cross-High School Comparison — continued

Carol Carstensen’s Weekly Email

Carol Carstensen: Parent Group Presidents: BUDGET FACTOID: The administration’s proposed budget for the 2006-07 school year will be made public on Friday, April 21. Board members and the media will have hard copies of the budget and an electronic version should be up on the web site shortly. The Board begins discussion and consideration of … Continue reading Carol Carstensen’s Weekly Email

Minority Student Achievement Network Conference on Saturday 4/22 at J.C. Wright

Via a an email from Johnny Winston, Jr. The Madison Metropolitan School District presents its 2nd Annual Minority Student Achievement Network Conference for students of color on Saturday April 22, 2006 at 8 am to 2 pm at James C. Wright Middle School located at 1717 Fish Hatchery Road. Students and families of middle school … Continue reading Minority Student Achievement Network Conference on Saturday 4/22 at J.C. Wright

Analysis critical of proposed constitutional revenue limits

The full text of the analysis is on-line in PDF format at: From the UW-Madison on-line press releases: Analysis critical of proposed constitutional revenue limits February 14, 2006 by Dennis Chaptman Proposed limits on the amount of revenue Wisconsin governments can collect would reduce public services, hamstring the state’s future economic growth, and diminish … Continue reading Analysis critical of proposed constitutional revenue limits

School board divided again over plans to reduce overcrowding

Kurt Gutknecht, writing in the Fitchburg Star about the recent Board and public discussion of the East / West Task Forces: There was a sense of déjà vu when the Madison Metropolitan School Board met Jan. 30 when the schism that fractured it last year – and which appeared to be a key factor in … Continue reading School board divided again over plans to reduce overcrowding

AP Program Gaining Increasing Prominence Nationwide

Tamar Lewin: According to the second annual report from the College Board, which administers the Advanced Placement program, about 60 percent of American high schools now offer Advanced Placement courses, and the average high school offers a choice of eight such courses. “The number of students participating in A.P. has more than doubled in 10 … Continue reading AP Program Gaining Increasing Prominence Nationwide

East / West Task Force Report: Board Discussion and Public Comments

Video | MP3 Audio Monday evening’s Board meeting presented a rather animated clash of wills between, it appears, those (A majority of the Board, based on the meeting discussions) who support Fitchburg’s Swan Creek residents and their desire to remain at a larger Leopold School vs. those who favor using existing District schools that have … Continue reading East / West Task Force Report: Board Discussion and Public Comments

Via Email: What’s at Stake – Investing in Our Children and Our Future

Join West Madison and Middleton Neighbors: Make a Difference in Our Community Sunday, January 22, 2006, 1:30–3:30 p.m. Middleton Public Library, 7426 Hubbard Avenue [map] Dear Friends and Neighbors, Are you concerned about: Reductions in public support for education, health care, housing and food assistance? The growing disparity between the rich and the poor? The … Continue reading Via Email: What’s at Stake – Investing in Our Children and Our Future

Presentation on Gangs & School Violence

Gangs and School Violence Presentation Wednesday, September 21, 2005 7:00p.m. to 8:00p.m. Organized by volunteers from McDaniels Auditorium Doyle Administration Building 545 W. Dayton St. Madison, WI 53703 Directions Discussion Topics: 1) Has the gang issue changed over the past 10 years? 2) What have we learned from our initiatives? 3) What partnerships are … Continue reading Presentation on Gangs & School Violence

I Voted Yes to Privately Fund Two West High Soccer Teams

At its June 27, 2005 meeting, the Partnership Committee listened to a request from West High School parents (Friends of West High School Soccer) to fundraise money for an additional 2 soccer teams this fall. A committee member made a motion to allow parents to fundraise the money and that motion passed unanimously. The entire … Continue reading I Voted Yes to Privately Fund Two West High Soccer Teams

Press Release and List of Members of DPI Task Force on High Schools

Burmaster announces High School Task Force members MADISON�State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster released a list of the members of the State Superintendent�s High School Task Force. The group, co-chaired by JoAnne Brandes, executive vice president, chief administrative officer, and general counsel for Johnson Diversey Inc., and Ryan Champeau, principal of Waukesha North High School, will hold … Continue reading Press Release and List of Members of DPI Task Force on High Schools

Referendum means it’s time for finger pointing

I received this message from Brian Grau, a teacher from LaFollette who recently visited his hometown of Racine, who like Madison is going to referendum. Enjoy! The Journal Times, Racine, WI, 3/24/05 Referendum means it’s time for finger pointing By Jeff Ruggaber Hey Racine! It’s that time again. Time to complain about money spent on … Continue reading Referendum means it’s time for finger pointing