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Brown Deer student Nicole Brooks and her dad, Harold Brooks, walk down one of the district’s new hallways, which were renovated with the help of CG Schmidt, one of the businesses recognized in this year’s WASB Business Honor Roll.

Opportunity Church Mutual now insures public schools. Church Mutual is excited to bring its workers’ compensation and commercial automobile coverages — once available only to religiously affiliated schools — to public school districts. You now have the opportunity to benefit from our 116-year history of financial stability and value-added services, including our risk management assistance, our school-focused safety resources, our quick and accurate claims service and our decades of experience serving the unique needs of schools.

Listening. Learning. Leading. is a registered trademark of Church Mutual Insurance Company. © 2013 Church Mutual Insurance Company

For more information on how you can benefit from our experience and expertise or to get a quote, contact Rod Flanders at (800) 554-2642 Extension 4117, or email

October 2013  |  Volume 68 Number 4 T H E O F F I C I A L P U B L I C AT I O N O F T H E W I S C O N S I N A S S O C I AT I O N O F S C H O O L B O A R D S, I N C.

John H. Ashley Executive Editor

Sheri Krause Director of Communications

Shelby Anderson Editor n REGIONAL OFFICES n 122 W. Washington Avenue Madison, WI 53703 Phone: 608-257-2622 Fax: 608-257-8386 132 W. Main Street Winneconne, WI 54986 Phone: 920-582-4443 Fax: 920-582-9951


n ADVERTISING n 608-556-9009 • n WASB OFFICERS n

John H. Ashley


Lending a Helping Hand Shelby Anderson


Shelby Anderson

WASB Business Honor Roll highlights successful partnerships between businesses and school districts

Executive Director

Nancy Thompson Waterloo, Region 12 President

Wisconsin districts are working hard to provide students with a global perspective and international opportunities

Mike Blecha Green Bay, Region 3 1st Vice President

Wanda Owens Barneveld, Region 9 2nd Vice President

Patrick Sherman Genoa City J2/Lake Geneva, Region 13 Immediate Past President


A New Era for School Data Kurt Kiefer

The World Language Challenge


The Long Road to Education Equality Freeman A. Hrabowski III

The scope and breadth of Wisconsin school data is about to expand this fall with the public version of WISEdash

Gaps persist 30 years after a wake-up call

n WASB BOARD OF DIRECTORS n Stu Olson Shell Lake, Region 1

Steve Klessig Brillion, Region 8

Capt. Terry McCloskey Three Lakes, Region 2

Alice Marquardt Rio, Region 10

Bill Yingst, Sr. Durand, Region 4

Colin Butler Kettle Moraine, Region 11

Rick Eloranta Owen-Withee, Region 5

Terrence Falk Milwaukee, Region 14

Florence Hyatt Onalaska, Region 6

Jim Long Hamilton, Region 15

Mary Janssen Little Chute Area, Region 7 Wisconsin School News (USPS 688-560) is published 10 issues per year by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards Inc., 122 W. Washington Avenue, Madison, WI 53703. Contents © 2013 Wisconsin Association of School Boards Inc. Subscriptions are available to nonmembers for $40 per year. Periodicals postage is paid at Madison, Wis. The views expressed in Wisconsin School News are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent WASB policies or positions. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Wisconsin School News, 122 W. Washington Avenue, Madison, WI 53703.




2 News Briefs 3 Viewpoint — Standing Up for Public Education 20 Commentary — Supporting the Best Teachers 22 WASB Insurance — Improving Employee Health 24 Association News — Legislative Advocacy Conference; WASB Executive Coaching Workshop: Session Two; WASB/WSAA Employment and School Law Seminar

26 From the President — Be a “Cheerleader” for Your Schools 27 Legislative Update — Spotlight Falls on Common Core Standards 28 Association News — Service Associate Q&A, Ray Ackerlund 29 Legal Comment — Legal Implications of Workplace Wellness Programs 32 Calendar


Teachers of the Year Announced


tate Superintendent Tony Evers recognized four Wisconsin educators as Teachers of the Year for the 2013-14 school year. Anne Hasse, a fifth-grade teacher at Wakanda Elementary School in Menomonie, was named Wisconsin’s Elementary Teacher of the Year. Jane McMahon, an English teacher at Jack Young Middle School in Baraboo, was named Wisconsin’s Middle School Teacher of the Year.

Poverty Factors Keep Students Out of School


policy brief from Attendance Works, an organization promoting better policy and practice around school attendance, reports that many reasons students have difficulty attending school relate to poverty. Factors keeping students from school include health conditions, and inadequate transportation and housing. The effects of missing school are well documented. For instance, Attendance Works reports that missing 10 percent of a school year can leave students unable to master reading by the end of the third grade — a signal that a student is more likely to drop out of high school. An Education Week article analyzing the report added that low unemployment and a healthy economy would help ease the pressure on low-income families. However, unemployment numbers remain high across the country. Census data found that 46.5 million Americans live in poverty, a slight increase from last year. With poverty numbers continuing to rise, the report offers advice for how schools can help students, such as building relationships with those students who need help. The report also suggests that schools could try to increase access to health care or provide better transportation for students. n



Wisconsin School News

Richard Erickson, a physics and chemistry teacher at Bayfield High School, was named High School Teacher of the Year. And Lynne Kohlhepp, a specific learning disabilities teacher at Wausau West High School, was named Wisconsin’s Special Services Teacher of the Year. “For our students to succeed, we need great educators in our schools,” Evers said. “These teachers have been recognized by

their peers, students, and parents as caring, committed educators, and they are now being honored with this award. They represent the many quality educators in Wisconsin that are working every day to make a difference in the lives of our young children, helping prepare them for a successful future.” Each of the educators will receive $3,000 from the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation. n

School District Report Cards Show Positive Results


he Department of Public Instruction reported that the majority of Wisconsin public school students meet, exceed or greatly exceed the state standards. This is the second year school report cards have been issued and the first report card for overall school district performance. “These preliminary district and school report cards provide valuable information about education in Wisconsin,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “They offer a starting point for schools and districts to plan improvements. Additionally, report cards show how Wisconsin can continue to refine its accountability system to truly serve the education community, parents, policymakers, and the public.” Districts and schools are evaluated on four priority areas: student

achievement in reading and mathematics on statewide assessments; student growth in those assessed areas; closing gaps for reading and mathematics achievement and graduation, based on student subgroups; and postsecondary readiness, which uses several measures as predictors of college and career readiness. Among the report card’s five accountability ratings, nine of the state’s 424 public school districts significantly exceed expectations, 134 exceed expectations, and 269 meet expectations. One school district, the Norris School District, was not rated. Milwaukee Public Schools failed to meet expectations. Ten districts met few expectations. Nine districts had point deductions from their priority area scores for missing student engagement indicators.” n


88.1% Percent of Wisconsin schools receiving ratings that meet, exceed, or significantly exceed expectations on the 2012-13 School Report Cards. Source: Department of Public Instruction


Jo h n H . A s h l e y

Stand Up for Public Education


s I write this month’s column, we are in the midst of the Fall Regional Meetings. I look forward to these meetings each year, visiting every WASB region and connecting with our members across the state. One of the new WASB initiatives that I’ve been very excited to talk about at the Regional Meetings is a new website we’re developing called Stand Up for Public Education. Using social media, this website will be devoted to spreading the success stories of our public schools. With all of the challenges and attacks on public education today, it is imperative that we share the great things happening in our schools with a wider audience. Watch for more information to follow once the site goes public. I’m also very excited to announce our keynote speakers for the 2014 State Education Convention in January. Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, will kick off our Convention. Education has been his passion his entire life. At age 12, Dr. Hrabowski participated in the “Children’s March,” organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. and spent five days in jail. His research has focused on science and math education, with a special emphasis on minority participation and performance. In 2012, Dr. Hrabowski was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.” Brad Meltzer, New York Times best-selling author and host of the History Channel’s “Brad Meltzer’s

Decoded,” will join us for the second general session. Meltzer’s story is filled with perseverance, focus, and the commitment to one’s dream. And thanks to his recent nonfiction hit, Heroes For My Son, it is a story filled with the inspirational tales of the Wright Brothers, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Jim Henson, Mr. Rogers, and more. Stacey Bess, our third keynote speaker, taught homeless children in Salt Lake City, chronicling her experiences into a book, Nobody Don’t Love Nobody, which was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie Beyond the Blackboard in 2011. Bess gives an address you won’t soon forget. With the speakers finalized, the break-out sessions are now being scheduled and the exhibit hall is quickly filling up. It’s promising to be another great Convention! If you haven’t already, I encourage you to book your hotel rooms soon because they are filling up as well. Watch for more information about the Convention in the November issue of Wisconsin School News. Registration opens online Nov. 1 at On a completely different note, I want to address the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which have recently sparked debate in Wisconsin and around the country. As you may know, this is the first school year that the standards are in place, covering language arts and mathematics in K-12. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read the standards so you

can form your own opinions and educate your community about what the standards actually entail. While a healthy debate is always productive, unfortunately, there is misinformation circulating about the standards as well. It is important for school board members to understand what the standards are and what they are not. I encourage you to read this month’s Legislative Update (page 27), which provides background information on the CCSS and references to two new reports from the DPI and Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Check the online version of Wisconsin School News for links to these reports. As usual, there is much to think about and stay on top of for school leaders. We have many events and conferences coming up in the next couple of months, including the WSAA/WASB Employment and School Law Seminar, session two of the WASB Executive Coaching Workshop, and the WASB Legislative Advocacy Conference. As always, we hope these events will help you lead your district. In the meantime, if I haven’t already, I hope to see you at your Fall Regional Meeting. I enjoy seeing new and familiar faces, and look forward to visiting with those that I have yet to see. And a special thank you to Ruth Morton of the Turtle Lake School Board who assisted us with photographs at the Regional Meeting in Rice Lake. Thanks for all your help and all you do for public education! n

With the speakers finalized, the break-out sessions are now being scheduled and the exhibit hall is quickly filling up. It’s promising to be another great Convention!

October 2013



WASB Business Honor Roll highlights successful partnerships between businesses and school districts


n an effort to recognize the valuable partnerships between businesses and school districts, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards annually sponsors a Business Honor Roll. School districts in Wisconsin are invited to nominate up to five local businesses or organizations that helped provide expanded learning opportunities for students,


“Above and Beyond”


t the start of this school year, students at the School District of Brown Deer showed up for the first day to find their schools and campus completely renovated and renewed. Thanks to the work of the School District of Brown Deer and their construction management firm, CG Schmidt, the keys to the new schools were handed over on time, on budget, and ready for the new school year.



Wisconsin School News

| Shelby Anderson

financial support, or any other initiative that has supported their local schools in the past year. The WASB received nominations from school districts across the state. You can view the complete Business Honor Roll at Here’s a look at some of the successful partnerships that help support Wisconsin public schools.

While CG Schmidt only had three months to renovate the district’s elementary school, add a wing onto the new middle school/high school, and build a new high school fieldhouse, the planning and development began five years ago when the firm evaluated the district’s facility needs. Dan Davis, senior vice president of CG Schmidt, said the district had outgrown its elementary school and had empty space in the high school. The project solved that problem by renovating the elementary school and adding a seventh- and eighth-grade

wing to the high school. “We were able to prioritize their needs,” Davis said. “We looked through literally dozens of options for the district to find the option that satisfied all of the district’s needs.” The firm helped the district through the referendum process all the way to the completion of the school project. School board member Michelle Schofield and Director of Finance Emily Koczela said the project was completed efficiently yet transparently — providing detailed expense reports.

Throughout the building and renovation project this summer, CG Schmidt also held regular tours for the school board and community. “It was just such a transparent process,” Schofield said. “We really felt like they went above and beyond.” Not only were the district’s facility needs met, but the project also rejuvenated the district’s grounds, adding signs and walking paths and planting hundreds of native plants. Schofield also recalls that early in the process, the school board wanted some panels installed in the high school commons. The panels were nonessential in function but completed

the vision of the architects and made the renovated commons look much nicer. At one point during the project, the school board decided they couldn’t justify the expense of the panels. However, CG Schmidt donated the panels to the district and had them installed at no extra cost. “We wanted something we couldn’t afford and they figured out ways to make it happen,” said Koczela. In a special ribbon-cutting ceremony at the beginning of the school year, students, parents and community members were invited to tour the new facilities and partici-

School officials, students and teachers from the Brown Deer School District open their newly renovated school campus — built and designed with the help of CG Schmidt.

pate in special activities. “This project has transformed our community, our educational practices, all in an effort to create a legacy for student learning in Brown Deer,” said Superintendent Deb Kerr. “We are so proud of our new 21st century learning spaces and how this project has touched every classroom in the district through new construction, renovation, and modernization.” N

“This project [with CG Schmidt] has transformed our community, our educational practices, all in an effort to create a legacy for student learning in Brown Deer.” — Deb Kerr, superintendent

October 2013



Farmers State Bank along with other community organizations, help support Reality Days where students from the Hillsboro School District learn how to take on adult responsibilities.


Financial Literacy and More Thanks to a long-standing partnership, students in the School District of Hillsboro get schooled in the basics of personal finance. Carol Jefferies, vice president of Farmers State Bank in Hillsboro, works with the school district — providing curriculum and serving as a guest speaker for the district’s financial literacy classes. The education begins in elemen-



Wisconsin School News

tary school where students are given a basics of personal finance presentation, which Jefferies and Farmers State Bank help to organize. In high school, all 12th-grade students at Hillsboro High School are required to take a “Real Life Economics” class. “Financial literacy is important for all students because this is a topic that will pertain to everyone in their life,” said Curt Bisarek, superintendent of the School District of Hillsboro. “At some point, all students will start making financial

decisions and they need to have a good understanding of financing to help them make educated decisions that will have a positive effect on their lives.” Farmers State Bank also supports the school in other ways — supporting high school athletics, a trip for students of the month, and more. “Farmers State Bank has a longstanding history of helping to provide the means to support educational and extra-curricular opportunities for the district,” said Bisarek. “They help to fund many education opportunities for our students, which help to develop growth and achievement along with gaining leadership skills.” Bisarek said that the local bank also helps raise funds for additional classroom items, trips with educational experiences, and competitions for extra-curricular groups. In addition, the bank purchases advertising for sports programs every year and donated funds for the purchase of scoreboards for the gymnasium in 2010.

“Whenever our school district has needed assistance, Farmers State Bank has always been there for us,” Bisarek said. Jefferies said Farmers State Bank has been a partner of the school district long before she started working there. “Being in a small town, you’ve got to support the school because that’s a major part of the community.” N MIDDLETON-CROSS PLAINS AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT Willy Street Co-op

Educating Open Minds As a community grocery store, the Willy Street Co-op West, located in Middleton, is focused on reaching out to the community. To Mike Byrne, manager of the store, that means connecting with the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District.

“It’s our mission as a co-op to be engaged with the community,” Byrne said. “We view the high school as a lot of young, open minds ready to learn.” The co-op helps educate those young minds in a number of ways. The co-op plays a part in Middleton High School’s Reality Days where students are given a budget and go into the community to see what they can afford as far as a place to live, what they can buy at the grocery store, etc. Other classes, like the district’s ecology course also visit the co-op for tours and to learn about locally produced foods. The co-op also provides financial support for the gardens at a number of the Middleton schools and the high school’s Growing Food and Sustainability program. When the co-op holds special events, it includes the school district. At one of the co-op’s community

“It’s our mission as a co-op to be engaged with the community. We view the high school as a lot of young, open minds ready to learn.” — Mike Byrne

programs, Middleton-Cross Plains school officials spoke about referendum building projects and efforts to make them environmentally friendly. Among other initiatives, the co-op has also sponsored the Middleton High School’s Choral Orchestra’s annual fundraiser, it serves as a sponsor of the high school boys varsity soccer team, and has donated food for blood drives at the high school. “Willy Street Co-Op has been a great partner with us over the past few years,” said Perry Hibner, community relations specialist at the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District. “Our students have bene-


WASB Business Honor Roll To view the complete Business Honor Roll visit Select “Communications” and then “Business Honor Roll.” The WASB thanks the participating school districts and businesses for their work on behalf of their students and communities.

Among other initiatives, the Willy Street Co-op helps support school gardens in the MiddletonCross Plains Area School District.

October 2013



The Tomah High School Marching Band plays in downtown Tomah as part of the community tailgate, organized by F&M State Bank. Proceeds from the event go toward supporting the band and arts at the high school.

fitted so much from the opportunities and support they have provided. We hope this partnership only grows stronger in the years to come.” N APPLETON AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT ThedaCare

Promoting Reading For the past 17 years, the Appleton Area School District’s United for Reading Success (UFRS) has helped thousands of first-grade students develop good reading skills. Each school day, volunteer tutors read to students, listen to students read, and use word-work techniques to help students become successful readers. By the end of the school year, the

majority of these students are reading at grade level or higher. For the past several years, ThedaCare, a community health system consisting of five hospitals and numerous clinics, has helped support Appleton’s UFRS program. An employee at ThedaCare has served on the UFRS advisory board, which provides direction and advice to the ongoing management of the UFRS program. ThedaCare also provided a monetary gift to the program, which, this year, allowed the district to purchase a book for each student who participated in the program. Additionally, when extensive revisions were made to the program that resulted in the

need to reprint materials for the program’s tutors, ThedaCare used its print center to produce the materials at no cost to the district. “ThedaCare’s ongoing generosity continues to help many first-grade students become better readers,” wrote Appleton Area Superintendent Lee Allinger on the nomination form. ThedaCare has also worked with school districts throughout the Fox Valley area through the Healthcare Alliance, which, among other activities, connects students to healthcare professionals and learning experiences. Opportunities that ThedaCare has helped set up include job shadowing and healthcare simulation classes. N TOMAH AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT F&M Bank

Supporting All Facets

Encouraging kids to believe in themselves can lead to amazing things. That’s why Junior Achievement and Kohl’s Cares partnered to bring you JA BizTown and JA Finance Park. Housed in the Junior Achievement Kohl’s Education Center, these programs empower kids as they experience the challenges of adult life. With the help of JA’s 90-year history, rewarding K-12 curriculum, and volunteer network, we’ll continue to inspire kids to pursue their biggest dreams. Learn more at



Wisconsin School News

Cindy Zahrte, superintendent of the Tomah Area School District, nominated F&M Bank. Zahrte said Peter Reichardt, president of F&M Bank, has gone above and beyond to reach out and support the school district. “He just embodies the spirit of our schools and really believes in the importance of supporting your schools,” Zahrte said. For the last couple of years, F&M Bank has held a tailgate party in downtown Tomah before a football game. The Tomah High School Marching Band plays at the tailgate event and all money raised through food sales go directly to the marching band and the Tomah High School Art Honor Program. F&M Bank also holds a special

honor breakfast to recognize the district’s top students. Each student also nominates a teacher to be recognized at the event. Additionally, the bank donated $500 to be given to a school organization or class in the district. The students selected Advanced Placement Biology to receive the donation. Over the past couple of school years, the bank has also made donations to the Tomah High School Show Choir, the elementary special education program, and an elementary literacy program. Zahrte said Reichardt, who is the son of a teacher, often speaks to students about the importance of serving your community and giving back. “He does so much that helps bring our community together for our schools,” Zahrte said. N RIO COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT Rio Shopper Newspaper

Spreading Positive News In a small community, the newspaper is often one of the only ways to get information and news about the community. Kathy Lueloff, who

owns the Rio Shopper, a weekly newspaper in Rio, works hard to include the Rio Community School District in each issue of the paper. A section of the newspaper, the “School Scoop” is devoted to positive school news. Whether it be an outstanding student or other positive school news, it is included in the newspaper. Lueloff also works with the district’s Future Farmers of America program, the district’s music parents, athletics booster clubs and others to make sure information about the district’s various events and activities are advertised. In most cases, Lueloff creates ads for these groups and runs them in the paper at no cost. “Kathy and the staff at the Rio Shopper are always there to publish and promote the various announcements and school news in a timely and informative manner,” said school board vice president Bob Hagenow. The newspaper has also been loyally publishing the school board meetings agendas and minutes at a nominal fee. Additionally, Lueloff serves as coordinator of the school district’s newsletter, which is pub-

Each edition of the Rio Shopper includes positive news from the Rio School District.

lished nine times a year. Lueloff, who has had four children go through the Rio schools, understands the role of the school district in the community. “The school district is very important to the health and life of the community,” Lueloff said. “Without the school, the community would suffer.” n Anderson is editor of Wisconsin School News.

STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT, AND CIRCULATION Publication Title: Wisconsin School News Publication No.: 688-560 Filing Date: October 2013 Issue Frequency: 10 issues/year No. of Issues Published Annually: 10 Annual Subscription Price: $60.00 / $94 fgn. / $60 Can. Mailing Address: 122 West Washington Avenue, Suite 400, Madison, WI 53703-2178

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Publisher: Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Inc. 122 West Washington Avenue, Suite 400, Madison, WI 53703-2178

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Editor: Shelby Anderson 122 West Washington Avenue, Suite 400, Madison, WI 53703-2178

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Owner: Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Inc. 122 West Washington Avenue, Suite 400, Madison, WI 53703-2178

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October 2013



The scope and breadth of Wisconsin school data is about to expand this fall with the public version of WISEdash


he ability to turn data into information quickly and easily has become increasingly important in education. As part of the Department of Public Instruction’s (DPI) ongoing effort to support research and analysis that improves educational outcomes, the Department of Public Instruction has developed a new data tools system called WISEdash. The goal of WISEdash is to increase access to education data — and, in doing so, enable more data-informed decisions — by providing access to an unprecedented number of reports on a variety of topics. DPI believes that multiple indicators of student learning and performance should be incorporated

into analysis and decision making at all levels including the classroom, school and district. WISEdash will enable DPI to provide a plethora of reports and dashboards — in a single location — directly to districts on topics that draw from our longitudinal data system. WISEdash has both a secure and public version. The secure site, which rolled out last fall, is available only to authorized school district staff because the data are viewable down to the individual student. Districts are responsible for authorizing access to the secure site. The public site will go live this fall. That site contains summary data, meaning no individual level data are displayed. It even uses a “redaction”

| Kurt Kiefer process to protect all data so that inferences about individual students is not possible. Today, districts have access to the following types of data within the secure WISEdash website:

b Enrollments b Attendance b WKCE tests b ACT tests b Advanced Placement exams b High school completion b Post-secondary enrollment | New Features WISEdash development is always a work in progress as more data become available. This school year,



n addition to working to provide school data, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is also engaged in a project aimed at helping school leaders and educators use data more effectively. As school leaders know, using data effectively can be a challenge. All of the number-crunching in the world won’t make a bit of difference to instruction if educators don’t actively discuss the data they have and design and implement a thoughtful action based on their analysis.



Wisconsin School News

To address this challenge, the DPI partnered with the CESA Statewide Network (CSN) in the fall of 2012, to assemble a work team with the charge of developing a common data inquiry process to disseminate to teachers and school leaders statewide. This team became known as the WISExplore Work Team. The purpose of the WISExplore Work Team is to design, develop, pilot and disseminate a consistent data inquiry process for use by school

boards, administrators and classroom educators to improve student achievement in Wisconsin. The WISExplore inquiry process utilizes DPI data tools such as WISEdash as they evolve and are connected to the accountability system, school improvement planning, and classroom decision-making. The DPI plans to use this inquiry across every type of data being used within the agency so inquiry is done in the same rigorous and meaningful manner. Just

Helping Students Graduate the DPI plans to unveil a new “early warning system” to help districts identify students potentially at-risk for dropping out of school. DPI also plans to add more data that help with classroom level decision making like the new Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) assessment. The DPI also hopes to include other assessments commonly used by school districts in the WISEdash system such the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). DPI’s goal is to put data in one place for educators to help save them time and to make it easier to recall how to use the software system. Experience shows that this strategy leads to more use of data for decision making. | Public Version to

Approximately 6,000 students drop out of Wisconsin public schools each year. While most of these students drop out in the 11th or 12th grades, it is during the middle grades these students typically exhibit characteristics connected to dropping out, falling behind and losing interest in school. The Dropout Early Warning System (DEWS) is a new system developed by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to help school districts identify students that may be at risk of dropping out. DEWS scores are available for all students in grades seven through nine beginning in 2012-13. The DEWS score is a number from 0-100 that represents the probability of a student graduating within four years of entering high school. The DEWS score is calculated individually for each student and represents how often similar students graduated high school on schedule in prior years. Thus, a student with a score of 60 has reported data that looks very similar to students in previous cohorts who graduated on schedule 60 percent of the time. The DEWS score is accessible through three dashboards in WISEdash (secure home version) – Enrollment, WSAS, and Attendance. By navigating to any of these three dashboards and drilling on any metric, school staff can retrieve a student roster where the DEWS Outcome and DEWS Score will be displayed along with the DEWS Margin of Error. N For more information, visit

As mentioned earlier, the DPI plans to release WISEdash in a public version this fall. The secure and public version utilize the same software system, which saves time for DPI staff to manage the data and get data onto district dashboards more quickly. Using the same system for the secure and public versions is also more user-friendly, making it easier

to remember where to look for data, what buttons to click, and how to find out what data mean. The public version went through an extensive feedback process to arrive in its final form. User practice sessions, focus groups, and feedback surveys that included educators, parents, school board members, researchers, journalists, elected officials, and the DPI staff were all part of the review. Their insights led

like the rationale in using a common software system for data display and reporting, using a common inquiry method will make it easier for educators across the state to dig into the data for analysis and action planning. The WISEplore Work Team is in the exciting process of piloting and receiving feedback on the WISExplore inquiry process. The process includes e-learning modules and valuable data inquiry methods that are free to use by Wisconsin educators through the DPI.

Training began this spring with a focus on the CESA personnel who will assist school district staff to gain secure access to the WISEdash tool. Two sessions were offered and a total of 32 CESA staff were trained. Each CESA then offered six days of WISExplore data retreats in their region during the past summer. Feedback from CESA retreat facilitators, data retreat participant survey data and work documents gathered from districts is being used to eval-

be Released Soon

to many changes to the software to make it more intuitive to use and helpful in answering any questions. | Transition from Old to New In the past, school districts and the public relied on WINSS (Wisconsin’s Information Network for Successful Schools) for school data. The DPI plans a gradual transition from WINSS to WISEdash. This fall, in the first release of the public version,

uate the effectiveness of the process, leading to refinement of future training and data inquiry process tools. For more information visit, the website listd below. Online training resources around the data inquiry method are being stored in an accessible digital folder for any school district to access as they plan and conduct data retreats. N

October 2013



WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW enrollment, attendance, state assessments, ACT scores, and Advanced Placement (AP) exam data are to be included. To help make the transition smooth, the WISEdash screens will have direct links to high school completion, discipline, staff, courses, and finance data, which remain in WINSS for now. Eventually, the WISEdash public version will replace the commonly used WINSS system. WINSS has been a valuable tool for many years, but technical improvements in data systems software allow for more features, which WISEdash includes. WISEdash will change the way the DPI provides the data we collect back to schools and districts, and the way school and district staff, as well as the public, can access data about Wisconsin public schools. n Kiefer is the Assistant State Superintendent Division for Libraries, Technology and Community Learning at the Department of Public Instruction.

KURT KIEFER, Assistant State Superintendent Division for Libraries, Technology and Community Learning at the Department of Public Instruction, answers questions pertaining to the new, online WISEdash school data wharehouse. What do school board members need to know about the WISEdash system? The WISEdash system is the new go-toplace for data from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) about their districts and schools. WINSS (Wisconsin’s Information Network for Successful Schools) used to be that. We are transitioning that purpose to WISEdash. What role does WISEdash play in regards to the Common Core State Standards and educator and principal effectiveness? WISEdash contains data that relate to the district and school accountability

systems. WISEdash can be a solid source of data for district and school improvement planning groups. WISExplore is being built as a data inquiry process for that very purpose. To the extent that the state assessment measure state standards, and the new state assessments will align to the Common Core State Standards, then results from those assessments will find their way onto WISEdash dashboards once the assessment are deployed in districts after next year. How is WISEdash an improvement over the previous data system (WINSS)? WISEdash provides many more sophisticated features for analyzing data including more filters and the ability to perform more comparisons of data. The graphics are improved, too. And by building WISExplore into the dashboards, it helps districts directly on their data for improvement planning. N

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You educate. We insure. Molding the leaders of tomorrow — that’s education. It’s about giving students the time and attention they need to learn. Don’t waste time worrying about finding insurance that meets the budget. Leave that to us. Our flexible pricing solutions help you provide great benefits to your employees — always at a great value. And if your needs change, don’t worry. We’re constantly coming up with services like our new focused networks that work for any district. With benefits from the Trust, you can be confident to keep your best teachers on staff. Let us worry about insurance. You can focus on what you do best — education.

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World Language Challenge

Wisconsin districts are working hard to provide students with a global perspective and international opportunities


hen it comes to teaching world languages, schools in the United States have lagged behind other countries. Much of Europe and Asia require that students take a second language early in grade school. In China, a national law requires grade-school students to begin learning English by third grade.

However, in the United States, world language courses can be limited and are not always required. In response, many school districts across the state are expanding the number of world language classes in their schools and adding or building upon other global education opportunities. In addition, this school year, the Department of Public Instruction has launched the Wisconsin Global Education Achievement Certificate, which helps school districts evaluate the entire school curriculum through the lens of global knowledge. This article features districts that are going above and beyond by offering expanded world language classes and programs.



| Shelby Anderson

Wisconsin School News

MENASHA Joint School District Last school year, school leaders in the Menasha Joint School District were faced with some difficult budget decisions. One option was to reduce the district’s world language program. In response, community members quickly spoke out in support of the district’s program. “They came out and said this is something we’re proud of,” said teacher Lynn Neitzel. “No other district in the Fox Valley area offers the kind of language program that we do.”

In the Menasha Joint School District, each of the elementary schools teaches German, Spanish, or Japanese. Neitzel says teaching a new language to students when they are young and just beginning school is the perfect time for them to learn. “When you learn something when you’re young, your brain is still very flexible and you can pick up something like a new language relatively easily,” she said. Students are required to take one of the languages through kindergarten to sixth grade. Students then have the option to take a break from their language, try a different one, or continue. Neitzel says more than 50


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vous mettre au défi percent of students continue studying a language. Additionally, the high school offers two college-level language classes. “We want our students to be exposed to different cultures and languages, and to learn that they are not weird, just different,” said teacher Sarah Welke. “They can be engaging and you can learn so much from someone who has a different perspective than you.” A recent survey of Menasha graduates collected many positive responses about the district’s language program.

Set for Success Lynn Nietzel, a teacher at Menasha Joint School District, helped the district establish its K-12 world languages program. She shares some advice about establishing a successful program:


with an overall vision and goal that will bring your ideas to fruition. We had a vision for what our K-12 World Languages program would be from day one, before we started teaching our first kindergarteners. Put together a working group to study and continuously move the program through all of the stages — have a plan and timeline in place. Be sure to consider the needs/ wants of your community and don’t just follow popular trends. You’ll need staff with both the proper credentials and personality to make the most of your program. And finally, ensure professional development time for all staff, not just your world language teachers, so that everyone can be part of your success.” N

“They wrote back to us and said how much the language program changed their lives,” Neitzel said. “They said that they were much more open to meeting new people from different cultures.” Neitzel said learning a new language opens students’ minds as well — allowing them to think more critically and giving them the ability to put themselves in other’s shoes — skills that are crucial to student success.

“We can’t survive as a nation if we do not have students who can talk to our global neighbors in their language,” she said. “You can’t separate culture and language.”

MIDDLETON-CROSS PLAINS Area School District In today’s school funding climate, when a district adds a language, it usually has to drop another. However, that was not the case

Language Teachers by the Numbers 2012 totals for Wisconsin World Language Teachers in a Classroom 1,291
















October 2013



For a district to maintain a world language program that offers four languages, the district needs support from the teachers, administration, students and community.

when two years ago the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District began offering classes in Mandarin Chinese. Middleton-Cross Plains is one of the rare districts in the state to have German, Spanish, French, and, now, Mandarin. The first year the district offered Mandarin classes, it shared a teacher with the Waunakee Community School District. This year, the district has it first, full-time Mandarin teacher. Laura Love, director of teaching and learning at the secondary level, said for a district to maintain a world language program that offers four languages, the district needs support from the teachers, administration, students and community. “The Middleton-Cross Plains community sees globalization as a crucial topic for our students,” Love said. Through a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the district also offers college-level courses in German, Spanish and French. High school teachers are certified through the university and teach a college-level course in their high school classrooms. Due to budget restraints, the district doesn’t have any formal language classes or activities at the elementary school level. In Middleton, students are introduced to world languages in sixth grade by taking a short exploratory class that exposes them to the four languages the district offers. Then, students are required to take at least one year of a world language in seventh or eighth grade. Considering the large numbers of students taking a language at the



Wisconsin School News

Wisconsin Global Education Achievement Certificate


he Department of Public Instruction (DPI) has announced the launch of a unique initiative aimed at recognizing and helping students pursue a global education curriculum. The initiative, the Wisconsin Global Education Achievement Certificate, allows districts to use their existing curriculum to develop criteria to fit the model laid out by the DPI, which includes foreign language education and community service tied to a global issue. The Wisconsin Global Education Achievement Certificate does not require additional resources in local school districts, as all necessary courses are already part of the curriculum. The certificate, however, gives school districts an opportunity to evaluate the entire school curriculum through the lens of global knowledge. Teachers will be encouraged to include a global dimension whenever possible and warranted. Each Wisconsin school district develops its own specific Global Scholars policy using guidelines from the DPI and submits its policy to the State Superintendent. This policy should specify the criteria for students to attain the designation, including a listing of specific classes that would fulfill the requirements. This is the first school year the program is available. N For more information, contact Gerhard Fischer, DPI world language and international education consultant, at 608-2579265 or Or visit,

high school, most students opt to continue with a language. For example, Sherri Cyra, director of teaching and learning at the elementary level, says that the high school needed six classes of 30 students to meet demand for Spanish 3 this year. So far, Mandarin hasn’t been as popular but, in addition to being a new language for the district, Cyra said Mandarin can be a little intimidating since it is based off of an entirely different alphabet. Still, the district expects enrollment numbers to increase for Mandarin classes.

PLYMOUTH School District The Plymouth School District is challenging its students to take a larger approach to global education. In addition to offering world language classes and travel abroad opportunities to students, the district has developed a Global Studies Certificate. To earn the certificate, a Plymouth High School student has to complete four consecutive years of a world language and take a class in economics, world affairs, and global marketplace. In addition, students are required to read eight books from the district’s world literature list, attend numerous cultural activities each year, and complete 20 hours of related community service. “The world is becoming increasingly interconnected,” says Laura Koebel, a Spanish teacher at Plymouth High School. “We really need our students to have a cultural awareness and acceptance.”

Koebel established the Global Studies Certificate after participating in a similar program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and attending a world language conference. Only a handful of students have completed the rigorous certificate, but each school year, more students begin to work their ways towards completion. Plymouth also offers a facilitated

Arabic class to high school students. Two years ago, the district received a grant to hire an Arabic teacher. About 40 students took the class. Today, Koebel continues a version of the class, arranging for students to speak online to an instructor in Egypt about once a week. Koebel also works with the University of Wisconsin-Madison to arrange for other Arabic learning opportunities

for the students. Throughout all of the district’s efforts, Koebel says the administration, the school board and even the larger community has been supportive of the district’s global education work. “Our school has worked really hard to bring the world to our students,” Koebel said. n Anderson is editor of Wisconsin School News.

A Call to Action Are world language programs in Wisconsin headed in the right direction? Mark Lichte


tudents who graduate from Wisconsin schools in the year 2025 will enter a world much different than our parents and their grandparents. Our role as educators is to prepare our youngsters for a positive reaction to a changing society. Oftentimes, our American view is that English will be the dominant language throughout the world. This may be true; however, we have a changing population. This change will provide us with many positive economic, cultural, and educational opportunities. This change could also cause the United States to take on a very isolated view of the world if we do not expand our understanding of languages and cultures. In particular, adults without a relevant world language base may have difficulties in a global economy and could find themselves culturally ignorant. Administrators and school boards must understand the differences in cultures and languages that will dominate our world in the not too distant future. What languages should be offered? Based on the demographics of the most populated countries, I would contend that our schools are doing a wonderful job of incorporating the Latino language and culture. In fact, Wisconsin has 200 more certified Spanish teachers than we did 10 years ago. However, I would contend that we lag far behind in offering languages like Chinese and Arabic. Not offering these languages will negatively influence our economic and global standing in future years. Our world’s population projections reflect a serious need to begin thinking about changing our focus in world language programs. For instance, as of this year, Wisconsin has certified only 43 Chinese-language teachers. Children graduating from our current world language programs will not have an advantage over children from other countries, unless we make a change. Over the last 10 years, we have made slight changes, but not enough, I believe, to say that world languages are

heading in the right direction. The state of Wisconsin has not assisted in this endeavor at this point, especially given the large decrease in funding as well as the promotion of additional academic testing. I am typically an optimist, but peripheral programming in world languages is clearly not a current focus by our state and federal officials.

n What Can We Do? I would once again implore our leaders to review the facts on the population of our largest and most powerful countries. I would also challenge the DPI to allow alternative routes to certification to find future educators in the yet untapped, but increasing Chinese and Arabic populations. Lake Country School District continues to support students taking French as a world language. However, we do not offer this program as a selection for students. We continue to host students from Toulouse France each year and send students to France each summer. On the local level, schools might consider the implementation of cultural projects or programs such as Lake Country’s “World Explorers” program. Beginning in kindergarten, students grow accustomed to the culture, language and traditions of countries around the world. Additionally, formal or informal exchange programs could be implemented to enhance cultural understanding. Even short-term exchanges can assist in the development of a global perspective. N Lichte is superintendent of the Lake Country School District.

October 2013



Photo: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Thousands of Birmingham school children faced police dogs, fire hoses and even arrest to demonstrate against segregation.

The Long Road to


Gaps persist 30 years after a wake-up call


oing math problems gives me goose bumps. I felt that way even as a child. So, it was no surprise that as I sat in church in 1963, I was solving math problems and only casually listening to the speaker discussing civil rights. Suddenly though, he got my attention. If the children march, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, people will see that they simply want a better education. I wanted to study in schools with the best facilities and resources, and I was tired of castoff books from the white schools. And so, 50 years ago this May, I marched in the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Ala., and spent five terrifying days in jail. I marched because, even at 12 years old, I believed that we in America could be better than we were, and I wanted to be seen for my talents and potential, rather than my race. Thirty years ago, A Nation at Risk demanded that we all rethink our



Wisconsin School News

| Freeman A. Hrabowski III

assumptions about what shapes human potential, who gains access to the best in American education, and how we measure success. The report argued in no uncertain terms that we could not ignore the talents of an increasingly diverse range of students. Helping all students succeed was not just the right thing to do; it was an economic imperative. The report came at a particularly important period of time. In 1983, most educational leaders hadn’t faced up to the unevenness in our education system. We were not disaggregating data to zero in on the performance of girls and women, minority students, or those from low-income families. Many policymakers and educational leaders feared such analysis would embarrass particular groups or schools. A Nation at Risk made it clear we could no longer afford to look away. Further, the report made clear that we couldn’t just compare Americans with one another, but needed

to look at students across the globe. More than ever, Americans were competing with and working alongside people from Japan to Germany. Nowhere was our competition starker than in math, science, and technology. Those insights may seem obvious now, but in 1983, they were not. That wake-up call has led to considerable progress. In 1983, fewer than 20 percent of American adults held a college degree and just 72 percent had graduated from high school. Today, for the first time, more than 30 percent of American adults hold bachelor’s degrees, and almost 88 percent a high school diploma. Nonetheless, the achievement gaps persist. While 83 percent of white students graduated from public high schools on time in school year 2009-10, only 66 percent of African-American and 71 percent of Hispanic students did so. By 2021, white students will account for only 48 percent of elementary and sec-

See Freeman Hrabowski III

Photo: Bill Hudson/AP

at the State Education Convention

Policemen lead a group of black schoolchildren into jail following their arrest for protesting against racial discrimination on May 4, 1963, near the City Hall of Birmingham, Alabama.

Even at 12 years old, I believed that we in America could be better than we were. ondary school enrollments. We face rising competition—from China, India, and across the globe—and don’t have a single brain to spare. When students do graduate and head to college today, 40 percent arrive unprepared for college-level work and require remedial courses as freshmen or sophomores. If they are unprepared in general, they are even less prepared to major in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields critical to economic competitiveness. But research has also shown that even students who arrive prepared and interested in studying the sciences often don’t make it. Far too many universities treat first-year courses as “weed out” courses. At the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), where I serve as the president, we have been changing the culture of science. Not long after A Nation at Risk

appeared, my colleagues and I faced up to some of the tough questions it raised: Why weren’t more students from traditionally underrepresented groups succeeding in the sciences? And — most critically — in what ways was our university responsible? Ultimately, we found that students needed stronger systems of support, tighter connections with faculty and peers, and a curriculum that demanded they be active learners. Those lessons first took shape in the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, a national model for producing minority scientists. We have learned that the strategies that helped minority students in the earlier years are just as effective in helping students across racial and economic groups and across the disciplines. UMBC has shown that if you ask tough questions, you can find answers. A Nation at Risk called us to that task

The WASB is excited to announce Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president of UMBC (The University of Maryland, Baltimore County), will be one of the keynote speakers at the 93rd State Education Convention, taking place Jan. 22-24 in Milwaukee. Hrabowski is a national leader in science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. He has authored numerous articles and co-authored two books, Beating the Odds and Overcoming the Odds, focusing on parenting and high-achieving African American males and females in science. He and UMBC were recently featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes, attracting national attention for the campus’s achievements involving innovation and inclusive excellence. Hrabowski was also recently named by President Obama to chair the newly created President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. For more information on the 2014 State Education Convention, visit

30 years ago, and Americans today are better educated because of it. Yet the achievement gap is as pernicious now as it was then. As we keep working to close it, we can draw hope from the progress we’ve made and inspiration from children like those in Birmingham. n Hrabowski, III, is president of UMBC (The University of Maryland, Baltimore County). As first appeared in the OpEducation blog on, April 23, 2013. Reprinted with permission from the author.

83 percent of white students graduated from public high schools on time in school year 2009-10, only 66 percent of African-American and 71 percent of Hispanic students did so.

October 2013




JoAnn Miller

Supporting the Best Teachers School leaders can promote educator effectiveness by supporting National Board Certification


eing designated as the 2013 Wisconsin State Teacher of the Year is an honor that carries responsibility. As a representative of all teachers in Wisconsin, I have been given a voice of credibility and influence. One of my goals is using this voice to revive the perception of educators as professionals. Teachers are highly trained professionals. Teachers practice the skill and art of teaching, but not as in the “practice makes perfect” definition. Rather, a teaching practice is like a physician’s practice, which is defined as performing a profession, art, or occupation. A practitioner performs their profession in a holistic way, not only taking into account the work, but how it is delivered, perceived, and the impact it will have. It’s the difference between being a practitioner using judgment to drive progress rather than being a technician getting a job done. The new educator effectiveness framework only measures a portion of those qualities that hallmark a true education professional. I believe National Board Certification is a more rigorous and

encompassing metric by which to determine educator effectiveness. National Board Certification is an independent, voluntary process a teacher chooses to undertake. National Board Certification requires a financial commitment,

an obligation of time, and carries with it the risk of rejection. To embark on a National Board candidacy is not an easy decision to make. The National Board Certification process requires teachers to prepare four written entries. Teachers videotape their class and analyze his or

her practice for two of the entries. Another entry focuses on how student achievement advances through with the submission and analysis of student work. The final entry demonstrates the teacher’s connection to the community, collaboration with colleagues, and as a life-long learner. Each entry is limited to 13 pages. The narrative and analysis is accompanied by artifacts and affidavits collected and compiled by the teacher for submission. In addition to the four written entries, teachers must also take a six-question essay exam. As a candidate, I spent well over 350 hours preparing my four entries and many hours preparing for the testing center exercises. As a candidate mentor, I see the same commitment in the teachers who are seeking National Board Certification. It is an arduous journey. The obligation is enormous and the dedication is unmistakable. Not all teachers who pursue National Board Certification achieve the qualification. Candidacy is limited to a three-year cycle. A candidate will prepare the four required entries and write the test the first

As a candidate, I spent well over 350 hours preparing my four entries and many hours preparing for the testing center exercises … It is an arduous journey.



Wisconsin School News

National Board Certified teachers know how students learn, have demonstrated that their practice leads to student learning, and are proven leaders with their colleagues and communities.

year. If the candidate’s scores on those items do not meet the standard, they become advanced candidates. Advanced candidates will submit new entries and re-take test center exercises. Each of the items the candidate re-submits requires additional payment. Advanced candidates can re-do entries twice to increase their score to meet the standards. Some candidates do not certify by the third year. The possibility of failure and rejection is real. A study by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards found that having a National Board Certified teacher leading a classroom results in greater student achievement compared to classrooms with equally qualified teachers who are not certified. It’s my contention that, given the rigor of the process, only the best teachers risk candidacy. In addition, I can attest to the professional growth that occurs during the process. I became a more reflective practitioner with a laser-beam focused on the student outcomes of my lesson planning and delivery. That is one of the beauties of National Board Certification. Although it is designed as a professional certification process, it is one of the best professional development experiences a teacher can have. With all these positives, it seems logical that it would be a highly supported endeavor, but it is not. When I was a candidate, a federal

grant covered half of the first year $2,500 fee. This year was the last year it was available. In Wisconsin, the state offers up to a $2,000 reimbursement for expenses related to certification once a teacher is certified. After that original reimbursement, a teacher can receive an annual grant of $2,500, or $5,000 in high-need schools, for nine years. The new budget has included a new qualifier for the grant — a Nationally Board Certified teacher has to be deemed effective annually to receive the grant. Districts vary greatly on support given to candidates and rewards for certification. Most districts provide no support in the way of reimbursement, professional development time, or finan-

cial reward for certification. Some districts do offer incentives, but they too are shrinking due to budget constraints. National Board Certified teachers know how students learn, have demonstrated that their practice leads to student learning, and are proven leaders with their colleagues and communities. This self-motivated leadership needs to be supported and incentivized by the districts served by these master teachers. Invest in the professional capital of your personnel. The dividends will be life-changing for the students in your district. n Miller, a National Board Certified Teacher, is a biology teacher at Oconto Falls High School.

October 2013




A r c h i e V orwa l d

Improving Employee Health Implementing a results-oriented workplace wellness program


orkplace wellness programs are becoming more attractive to public and private employers as a means to reduce illness, improve health and control healthcare costs. Group health insurance and wellness programs have a potentially strong correlation, but this link is often misunderstood or not embraced. As we know, health insurance is the vehicle used to fund school district’s healthcare costs for employees and their families. The ever-increasing costs of employer-sponsored health plans continue to put a great deal of stress on school district budgets and the pocketbooks of faculty and support staff. Effective wellness programs have assisted in improving employee health, while also bending the cost curve for employers and out-ofpocket costs for employees. There are three different types of wellness programs‚ and the least common type, a results-oriented program, has actually been proven

most effective. Read on for information about the advantages of a results-oriented wellness program and tips for successfully designing and implementing one. | Types of Wellness Programs Awareness-Oriented. An awareness-oriented wellness program provides information and resources to help employees learn about healthy lifestyle choices. It emphasizes education and awareness, not actual activity or behavior. It also tends to be most appealing to already health-conscious individuals — it’s generally not as effective for those in poor or at-risk health for reducing or stabilizing healthcare costs/health insurance premiums. Activity-Oriented. An activity-oriented wellness program combines awareness with participation in healthy activities, i.e., walking programs, weight-loss challenges, and discounted or free gym memberships. It generally offers some type


1. The program must give eligible individuals the opportunity to qualify for the reward at least once per year. 2. The total reward (incentive) for results-oriented programs is limited – generally, it must not exceed 20 percent of the cost of “single-only” coverage under the plan. However, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) increases this limit to 30 percent for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014. Following a governmental study on workplace wellness programs, the incentive may be increased to as much as 50


Wisconsin School News

Results-Oriented. A results-oriented wellness program focuses on measurable outcomes and behavior changes achieved through the program. It also includes components of awareness and activity-based programs. If paired with strong incentives, a results-oriented wellness program has the ability to produce significant cases of improved health, a return on investment through lower healthcare costs/health insurance premiums (for plan members and school districts),


The following privacy guidelines and non-discrimination rules are extremely important, and may be one reason school districts shy away from results-oriented wellness programs. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prohibits group health plans and insurers from discriminating against individual participants and beneficiaries in eligibility, and premiums or benefits based on a health factor. However, HIPAA does allow benefits (including cost sharing), premiums or contributions to vary based on participation in a wellness program. Under these rules, results-oriented wellness programs are permitted if they abide by the following five conditions:


of participation incentive. It also usually leads to some improved health within the workforce and healthcare savings, but could take three or more years to see or realize a positive return on investment.

percent if it is determined an increase is appropriate. Also, final ACA regulations issued on May 29, 2013, increase the maximum permissible reward to 50 percent for wellness programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use. 3. The program must be reasonably designed to promote health and prevent disease. Results-oriented wellness programs must provide a reasonable alternative standard to qualify for the reward for individuals who, based on a health factor, do not meet the initial standard. 4. The reward must be available to all similarly situated individuals. The program must allow a reasonable alternative standard (or waiver of initial standard) for obtaining the reward to all individuals who do not meet the initial standard based on a measurement, test or screening, regardless of any medical condition or other health status. 5. The plan materials describing the terms of the program must disclose the availability of a reasonable alternative standard (or the possibility of a waiver of the initial standard). For more information, see “Legal Implications of Workplace Wellness Programs” on page 29.

Employee Wellness Programs: What Board Members Need to Know

decreased absenteeism, and fewer workers’ compensation incidents. | Components of a Successful

Results-Oriented Program Successful wellness programs have several components in common. Here are some key components to a good results-oriented program.

b Health Risk Assessment (HRA)

(confidential/HIPAA compliant). This helps identify risk areas on which to focus.

b Health Testing (confidential/

HIPAA compliant). Such testing measures weight, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood lipids, etc., and provides a benchmark for goals to improve these factors.

b Incentives. Offer monetary or

other significant rewards for participation in certain activities or for achieving specific accomplishments within the wellness program.

b Education. Give employees access to information about healthy eating, exercising, smoking cessation, losing weight and other healthy living topics.

b High Participation Rates. Use

incentives, marketing and other strategies to increase participation rates and drive the most return on investment.

b Frequent Contact (workplace

wellness committee). Distribute posters, emails, bulletin board reminders to keep employees aware of the program and make it fun.

b Family Participation. Allow and encourage family members to participate, making it easier for the employees to strive toward a healthier lifestyle.

b Exercise. Consider offering onsite

workout facilities or discounted gym memberships to encourage regular physical activity. A few school districts have a faculty/ staff-only workout area within the district as a reward for hitting certain participation levels.

b Smoking Cessation. Offer a

smoking cessation program to help combat one of the leading health risks among employees.

Though many descriptions and definitions are available, a wellness program is defined by the Affordable Care Act as a program offered by an employer to promote health or prevent disease. Approximately half of all U.S. employers with 50 or more employees offer wellness promotion initiatives. The 2013 RAND Employer Survey and related statistical analyses suggest that participation in a wellness program over five years is associated with a trend toward lower health care costs and decreasing health care use. The estimated average annual difference in health care costs between participating

b Flexibility. Allow flexibility in

setting your objectives/standards so employees can have personalized programs that address their most pressing risk factors.

| Range of Costs Wellness program administration costs can range from $25 to $125 per-employee, per-year depending on whether the program is managed internally or outsourced to a professional wellness vendor. The cost can also depend on the depth of components made available (HIPAA compliant testing, health/ lifestyle coaching and participant monetary or gift incentives). But in many cases, once a well-designed program is up and running, a 2-to-1 or even 3-to-1 financial return on investment is achievable for the district, while also lowering out-ofpocket costs for plan members. | Getting Started When implementing a results-oriented wellness program, several factors should be considered. First of all, the program should have the approval of the school board and be driven by school leaders. No good program will get off the ground without buy-in from a district’s board and administration leadership. Strong board/administration-level support is the foundation for building a solid, effective wellness program for the overall faculty and support staff. It is also recommended that the district form a wellness team, which can manage resources to successfully

in a wellness program and not participating in one was $157 per employee. Wellness programs vary in scope and cost. Any type of properly designed program will have a positive impact on your employees, their families, and your bottom line. Concurrent with implementing a wellness program, determine which measurable items, i.e., health insurance premiums, number of sick days taken, office visits and prescriptions filled, might be favorably impacted by the program, establish a baseline for each one and annually re-calculate those items post-program implementation. N

design, implement, promote, administer and monitor the program. Having a clear plan is crucial to establishing a successful wellness program. Design a very specific wellness program based on your school district’s size, needs and financial situation. You’ll need to decide which incentives and programs to offer, which health initiatives to emphasize, etc. Remember to keep your program in compliance with the HIPAA guidelines mentioned above. Your district’s benefits consultant can assist with the resources necessary to make sure the program is compliant and give it a greater chance of success. Finally, once your program is implemented, make sure your district follows-up and evaluates the program. This includes monitoring participation rates and progress to make sure it is on the right track. If not, aspects of the program may need to be changed or revamped. Only by continuing to evaluate the program will your school district be able to achieve maximum improved health and a solid return on investment where everyone wins. Like people, wellness programs come in many shapes and sizes, and there’s a program available for every size budget. Investigate the possibilities today for a healthier tomorrow! n Vorwald is VP Director of Employee Benefits at TRICOR Insurance. Contact him at or (877) 468-7426, ext. 1703.

October 2013




Upcoming Events Legislative Advocacy Conference


n the heels of the 2013-15 state budget, this year’s WASB Legislative Advocacy Conference Nov. 9 in Stevens Point examines the changing environment for public education, with a focus on increasing competition for students and funding, and new strategies to engage parents, community members, and legislators. Mike Ford, professor at UW-Oshkosh, and Jeff Pertl, senior policy advisor and federal funds trustee for the Department of Public Instruction, will lead a session on statewide vouchers and regional independent charter schools, and the funding

implications for public schools. With the expansion of the statewide school voucher program comes increased competition for public schools. An innovative session featuring communications professionals and district leaders addresses this competitive environment and offers new perspectives on community engagement. WASB staff and school leaders will offer a session on “Sharpening You District’s Legislative Advocacy.”

The day concludes with insights on the latest education reform initiatives from the chairs of the Legislature’s education committees — Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake). N

WASB Executive Coaching Workshop: Session Two


aking place Oct. 25 in Neenah, the WASB Executive Coaching Workshop: Session Two will provide leaders the tools for building and modifying leadership job descriptions with a focus on the legal requirements and role distinctions between the district administrator and individual board members. During the workshop, participants will: • Explore the politics of leadership and the power structures which need to be navigated to keep a school district running effectively; • Identify a set of effective problem-solving skills; • Discuss various approaches as to how organizations go about making decisions; and



Wisconsin School News

• Examine their local job descriptions for the district administrator/superintendent and their existing evaluation system within the framework of an effective and continuous improvement evaluation model in a legal context to serve both parties. The WASB Coaching Program, which is designed for initial and second-year district administrators, includes the active participation of the school board president. The intent of the program is to build the working relationship and strengthen the leadership capacity of these two individuals. However, the workshops are open to all school board members and administrators interested in attending. N

WASB/WSAA Employment and School Law Seminar


ontrolling risk and cost, teacher nonrenewals, closed sessions, bullying — these are just a few of the topics to be covered at the WASB/WSAA Employment and School Law Seminar, taking place Oct. 10-11 in Wausau, and Oct. 31-Nov. 1 in Madison. Each day of the WASB/WSAA Employment and School Law Seminar features two separate tracks, allowing attendees to choose the sessions that are most applicable to them. Speakers include WASB staff and respected school attorneys from around the state. With the number of law changes affecting public education, many of the sessions will provide important updates. Endorsed agents from the WASB Insurance Plan will provide an update on the Patient Protection

and Affordable Care Act, which will have a significant impact on employees, employers and health care providers. In another session, WASB Associate Executive Director Barry Forbes and Tony Renning of Davis & Kuelthau will discuss the often difficult process of hearing and gathering public complaints. This session will review recent legal developments in First Amendment and other laws governing school board receipt and processing of communications from the public. These are just a couple of the more than 16 in-depth sessions that will be offered at the two-day WASB/WSAA Employment and School Law Seminar. For more information on sessions or to register, visit N

Convention Student Video Team The WASB is seeking a team of two or more talented students from one school district to produce a video that highlights some of the exciting events, sessions, and performances at the 93rd State Education Convention in Milwaukee. The State Education Convention takes place January 22-24, 2014, in downtown Milwaukee. The Convention is attended by school board members, superintendents, administrators, educators, and other public education stakeholders from Wisconsin. The WASB will give students and a teacher adviser full access to the Convention. The student team will be responsible for providing their own equipment. The WASB also requests the student video team capture highlights from at least one full day at Convention. For more information, contact Shelby Anderson at or 608-512-1701. Or visit the State Education Convention website at Select “Request for Proposals” and then “Convention Student Video”. N

October 2013




Nancy Thompson

Be a “Cheerleader” for Your Schools Share the good news of what is happening in you schools


nother school year is upon us and, hopefully, it’s been going smoothly. If the students in your district are like those in mine, they are energized and engaged, and classrooms and hallways are alive! As school board members, we play a critical role in building and sustaining that positive, invigorating environment. We must continually be one of our districts’ most vocal “cheerleaders.” Serving as those “cheerleaders” doesn’t diminish in any way the importance of our other governance responsibilities. We need to draft and support district policies that encourage and facilitate increased student achievement. We need to ensure that district resources are utilized in the most effective and efficient way. We need to continually evaluate, enhance, and modify our district’s curriculum and programming. We need to stay focused on ensuring that every student leaves our schools college and career ready. If anything, being a positive, vocal advocate for our district and the schools within it strengthens our ultimate success. If we aren’t proud of our students and their accomplishments and don’t promote and

celebrate the great work that’s happening in our classrooms every day, how can we expect others to positively support our public schools? Considering the struggles that preceded and followed passage of the most recent state education budget and the increasing assaults against local governance and public education in particular, this year has been a challenging one indeed for all of us. Those challenges and the frustration they caused, however, did propel board members from throughout the state to actively engage in joint advocacy efforts in support of public education. Board members forged partnerships not only with each other but also with professional staff and community members around issues of common concern. That joint advocacy must continue, for our work is far from being completed. If we truly believe that public education provides the underpinning for our democratic way of life, we can’t afford to stand still or even to diminish those efforts. Each of us must do our part. As Henry Ford once said, “You can’t build your reputation on what you’re going to do.”

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards and its Board of Directors has undertaken a new campaign, Stand Up for Public Education, designed to showcase the great things happening in our schools. A brief explanation of that campaign was provided at this year’s regional meetings, and further details will be announced on the WASB website, in this magazine, and through other avenues. As your president, I fully support this campaign and am confident that it will positively promote public education. In closing, I encourage you to share the good news happening in your schools! Cheer for your “winning teams!” In doing so, all of us will learn from each other. More importantly, doing so will promote the value of public education to others in our local communities, throughout the state, and in the nation as a whole. To quote NSBA President David Pickler, “Together we can; together we must.” Our students’, our communities’, and country’s well-being depend upon all of us doing so! Thompson is president of the WASB and a member of the Waterloo School Board.

If anything, being a positive, vocal advocate for our district and the schools within it strengthens our ultimate success.



Wisconsin School News


Spotlight Falls on Common Core Standards


n recent months, a set of academic standards for K-12 students in English language arts and mathematics called the Common Core State Standards has been generating a fair amount of controversy. In response, the WASB Board of Directors has directed the Government Relations team to prepare information on these standards that is factual in nature to help Wisconsin school boards better understand these new standards and their impact. Academic standards define what students should know and be able to do in given academic subjects at each grade level. They set goals or benchmarks. While academic standards establish what students need to learn, in theory, standards do not dictate how teachers should teach, and are not a curriculum. The concept of adopting state academic standards is not new. Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards, first adopted in 1998, cover 21 separate content areas. These 1998 standards were criticized on the grounds that they lacked depth, were written only at grades 4, 8, and 12, and that the standards in reading/language and mathematics were not considered “college and career ready.” The 2001 federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) required states to adopt academic content standards and achievement standards that “include the same knowledge, skills and levels of achievement expected of all children.” The premise behind standards-based reform is that setting high standards and establishing measurable goals can improve individual student outcomes. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) recognized a need for clearer and more rigorous standards aligned to postsecondary and workforce expectations, and began to work on updating Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards in 2006. In 2009, midway through Wisconsin’s standards revision process,

the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) initiated a discussion around creating a common set of college- and careerready benchmarks for mathematics and English language arts. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) evolved from those discussions. While adoption of the CCSS was voluntary for states, 45 states, including Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia have chosen to adopt the CCSS. The CCSS were adopted in Wisconsin by State Superintendent Tony Evers in June 2010 through a proclamation adopting the CCSS as the basis for curriculum, instruction and assessment in English language arts and mathematics in Wisconsin as a set of “college-and career-readiness” standards. Wisconsin is also part of a 30-state consortium involved in developing a new student assessment system aligned with the CCSS. The Smarter Balanced assessment is intended to fulfill both state and federal accountability requirements in English and mathematics, using computer-adaptive testing. Lawmakers have approved funding for Smarter Balanced tests in grades 3-8, and the ACT suite of tests, which are also aligned to the CCSS, in grades 9-11, beginning in 2014-15. Over time, controversy surrounding the CCSS has arisen nationally. In the 2013-15 biennial budget act, state lawmakers, mindful of these concerns, directed a review of Wisconsin’s implementation of the CCSS in English language arts and mathematics, which must be completed before the DPI may further implement the CCSS. Specifically, the Legislature and the Governor called for:

b The DPI to provide a written evaluation of the CCSS by Sept. 1, 2013;

b The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau to report on the fiscal impact of adopting or not adopting the CCSS by Sept. 1, 2013; and

b The DPI to hold at least three public meetings around the state and take public testimony regarding the adoption of educational standards. School leaders may wish to testify at these public hearings on the costs they have already incurred and efforts they have undertaken to review curriculum and provide professional development aligned to the CCSS. An unanswered question is: if the CCSS are not implemented, what standards will take their place and what assessments aligned to these standards will be available and at what cost? Wisconsin has a long tradition of local control. To some extent, controversy over the CCSS reflects a concern that the local school board’s role in determining curriculum and instructional materials may be usurped if common standards that apply across various states are implemented. The hearings will likely shed light on this issue as well. The WASB Delegate Assembly has not taken a specific position on the CCSS. It is likely that the Policy & Resolutions Committee will consider bringing forward a resolution on the CCSS to the 2014 Delegate Assembly for a vote. The WASB Government Relations staff will continue to gather information on the CCSS for members, including the reports cited above, and will post this information on the WASB website. Watch the weekly Legislative Update for additional developments regarding the CCSS and information on the time and location of the public hearings. n

October 2013





Service Associate Q&A Featuring Skyward’s Ray Ackerlund

Editor’s note: Each issue, we will pose questions to a WASB Service Associate to share the good work that these businesses are doing with Wisconsin public schools.

Q. A.

What services does Skyward offer to school districts?

Skyward’s School Management System helps districts effectively manage student and business information to improve decision making, evaluate student performance, capitalize on new technology initiatives, such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or 1:1, and track personnel data, such as the new Teacher Effectiveness requirements.

Q. How long has Skyward worked with school districts in Wisconsin?

A. Skyward was founded in Stevens Point in 1980, and has focused on serving school districts since the beginning. We are extremely proud of our growth as a company and currently serve over 80 percent of Wisconsin school districts and more than 1,600 school districts around the world. Q. How is your company different

than other providers? Or what separates Skyward from other providers?

A. Our customers mention numerous aspects that set us apart, but it truly boils down to our commitment to partner with our customers, and the strength of all the Skyward employees dedicated to making that happen. This partnership is what drove us to develop the first integrated solution to manage both student and business operations, improve upon those solutions along the way, and develop

brand new products, such as the Course Learning Center, to meet districts’ need for an integrated learning management tool. The partnership thrives because of the strong support teams we have in place to help districts succeed with our product.

Q. What is one big issue right

Ray Ackerlund is vice president of marketing and product management at Skyward. Follow him on Twitter: @rayackerlund.

now in your field that school leaders should be aware of?

A. The emerging trend to implement personal learning is a very exciting and challenging issue because it impacts districts on multiple levels. Specifically, it requires more time from a teacher’s perspective to evaluate student performance and build a personalized learning plan, and it also requires additional financial support to be effective. Because this impacts both instructional and financial allocation, districts should be supportive of this trend but recognize the need to provide adequate resources and professional development for successful implementation. Q. What do you enjoy about

working with Wisconsin schools?

A. Even with all the challenges Wis-

consin schools face, I am continually amazed by our customers’ commitment to providing Wisconsin students a great education. That commitment and extra effort carries over to us so that we help the schools meet their goals. We all recognize the value

Wisconsin schools have on our children, but they should also know the positive impact and inspiration they have on others outside of education.

Q. Anything else you’d like WASB members to know? A. In appreciation of the support we receive from our customers, we redirect our spending back into the states where our customers live. As a Wisconsin-based company, it’s important to us to make every effort to continually reinvest here and create quality jobs for our future graduates. n The WASB Service Associates Program includes more than 20 businesses and organizations that have been recognized by the WASB Board of Directors as reputable businesses and partners of public education in Wisconsin. For more information, visit and select “Service Associates.”

The emerging trend to implement personal learning is a very exciting and challenging issue.



Wisconsin School News


B oa r d ma n & C l a r k LLP

Legal Implications of Workplace Wellness Programs


chool boards often implement wellness programs to encourage employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There is no legal requirement for school boards to provide such wellness programs. However, boards typically undertake such programs to take advantage of cost savings that result from establishing a healthy workforce (e.g., decreases in health insurance costs). Employees may also be rewarded monetarily, often depending on whether they participate in the program or attain certain health goals. Although wellness programs may benefit both the board and the employees, there are numerous legal issues that are presented by such programs. This Legal Comment will discuss three federal laws that often impact wellness programs. Boards should be aware, however, that wellness programs may also implicate other state and federal laws, as well as board policies.1

| Americans with Disabilities Act Discrimination against employees with disabilities is regulated by both federal and state discrimination statutes, including the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).2 The ADA prohibits covered entities, including school districts, from discriminating in employment against qualified individuals with disabilities because of the individuals’ disabilities.3 To be protected by the ADA, an individual normally must have a disability, as defined by statute, and also be qualified for the job. If an individual meets these requirements, the ADA requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation for the individual’s known impairment. The ADA applies to wellness programs in various ways. One way

is that the ADA requires that qualified individuals with disabilities have equal access to program benefits. To this end, greater obligations must not be imposed on qualified individuals with disabilities to obtain equal benefits under wellness programs. For example, individuals with disabilities should not be required to complete additional requirements under a wellness program to receive benefits if the benefits are generally available to other persons. Another important way in which the ADA applies to wellness programs is that it restricts employers’ ability to make medical examinations and disability-related inquiries for current employees. Any wellness program that includes such examinations or inquiries will be subject to these restrictions (e.g., a wellness program that includes a health risk assessment that involves an examination or inquiry). Medical examinations and disability-related inquiries are permissible under the ADA, however, if they meet an exception to the general prohibition. One exception permits such examinations and inquiries if they are job-related and consistent with a business necessity. A second exception allows a covered employer to conduct “voluntary” examinations or inquiries, which are part of an employee health program. However, any information obtained through a “voluntary” examination or inquiry must be kept confidential and must not be used for discriminatory purposes. Although the “voluntary” exception may be used to permit examinations and inquiries as part of a wellness program, there is a lack of clarity regarding what types of examinations and inquiries qualify as “voluntary.” The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (the federal agency that enforces federal employ-

ment discrimination laws) has provided some direction on this issue in its publication entitled “Enforcement Guidance on Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).” In this publication, the EEOC states that it considers a wellness program to be “voluntary” as long as an employer neither requires participation nor penalizes employees who do not participate. Thus, a wellness program that involves medical examinations or disability-related inquiries must be structured so that employees are neither required to participate nor penalized for choosing not to participate in those examinations or inquiries. There is some question, however, regarding whether such examinations or inquiries are “voluntary” when the employer offers employees an incentive (e.g., a premium discount) for participation. So far, the EEOC has not taken a position regarding whether offering an incentive would prevent an examination or inquiry from being considered “voluntary.”4 The EEOC will likely issue guidance on this issue in the near future. Finally, there may be a third exception to permit an employer to conduct medical examinations and disability-related inquiries as part of a wellness program without violating the ADA. This exception was identified in a federal court case that was brought against a county in Florida challenging the county’s wellness program. The program imposed a $20 biweekly charge on employees who declined to participate in a medical examination and respond to medical inquiries as part of a wellness program. The court concluded that the program was permissible under an ADA “safe harbor” provision that permits a “bona fide benefit plan” to include terms “that are based on underwriting

October 2013



risks, classifying risks, or administering such risks that are based on or not inconsistent with state law.”5 The court focused on the fact that the employer implemented the wellness program for risk-assessment and cost-saving purposes. This case suggests that a properly designed wellness program may provide an incentive for employees to submit to medical examinations or disability-related inquiries without violating the ADA, even if participation would not be considered “voluntary.” However, this court decision is not binding in Wisconsin, and districts must be cautious about relying on this exception. | Genetic Information

Non-Discrimination Act The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) is a federal law that generally prohibits certain entities (including employers and health insurance providers) from discriminating against, or refusing to provide coverage to, employees on the basis of results ascertained from genetic testing.6 This law in part prohibits employers from failing to hire or refusing to hire, discharging, or otherwise discriminating against an employee with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on the employee’s genetic information. “Genetic information” is defined as information obtained from an individual’s genetic tests, the genetic tests of the individual’s family members, or the individual’s medical history. This would include, for example, information from an individual’s family medical history. Employers are also prohibited from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information that relates to an employee or the family member of an employee, even if the genetic information is job related. However, GINA provides several exceptions to this blanket prohibition. One exception applies when health or genetic services are offered by the employer, including when such services are offered as part of a voluntary employer-sponsored well-



Wisconsin School News

ness program, and the employee consents to the request, requirement, or purchase of his or her genetic information.7 In such circumstances, GINA imposes limits with respect to who may access the information and to whom it may be disclosed. Therefore, school districts that offer a health or wellness program should, at a minimum, obtain the knowing and voluntary authorization of the employee before requesting, requiring, or purchasing any genetic information related to the employee. Regulations implementing GINA make clear that genetic information is not provided voluntarily if the individual is required to provide the information or penalized for not providing it. Further, a covered entity is not allowed to offer a financial inducement for providing genetic information. However, such inducements can be offered for completing a health risk assessment that includes genetic information, provided the assessment clearly states that the inducement is available whether or not the individual answers the questions regarding genetic information. | Health Insurance Portability

and Accountability Act The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that was enacted to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system.8 HIPAA has several components that may impact wellness plans, including provisions regarding the privacy of health information and nondiscrimination on the basis of health factors. In regard to privacy, a wellness program that is connected to a group health plan must comply with HIPAA’s privacy requirements. In regard to nondiscrimination, HIPAA prohibits group health plans and insurers from using health factors to discriminate among similarly-situated individuals with regard to benefits, premiums, or contributions.9 Health factors that cannot be used as a basis to discriminate include health status, medical condition

(including both physical and mental illnesses), claims experience, receipt of health care, medical history, genetic information, evidence of insurability, and disability. Thus, group health plans generally cannot charge individuals different premiums or impose different co-insurance, deductible, or co-payment requirements based on the presence or absence of a health factor. Although differences in eligibility, premiums, or contributions cannot be based on health status-related factors, HIPAA allows group health plans to impose benefit restrictions that apply to all similarly-situated individuals. For example, a plan may require participants to satisfy a deductible or another cost-sharing requirement. A plan may also limit or exclude benefits for specific conditions or diseases, for certain types of treatments or drugs, or based on a determination that the benefits are experimental or not medically necessary. However, any limits or exclusions may not be directed at individual participants based on health status-related factors. HIPAA also includes a limited exception to its nondiscrimination rules for wellness programs. For this exception to apply, wellness programs must satisfy certain specific requirements, which were defined in regulations issued in 2006. These requirements vary depending upon whether the wellness program is a standard-based (or health-contingent) program (that is, it provides a reward that is contingent on satisfaction of a standard related to a health factor) or a participation-only (or participatory) program (that is, it rewards participation in the program regardless of whether the individual satisfies a standard related to a health factor). HIPAA permits participatory programs so long as they are available to all similarly-situated individuals. The requirements for standard-based programs, however, are more complicated, as such programs must meet a number of specific requirements that are outlined in the regulations. These regulations were

recently revised based on changes resulting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.10 The new regulations become applicable to group health plans on the first day of the first plan year beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014, and they may require some changes in the way wellness programs operate. Under both the 2006 and the 2013 regulations, standard-based programs are permissible only if they meet five requirements. The requirements include (1) individuals are provided with an opportunity to qualify for the reward at least once a year, (2) the reward (combined with any other rewards for standard-based programs) does not exceed the applicable limitation,11 (3) the program must be designed to promote health or prevent disease, (4) the reward must be available to all similarly situated individuals, and (5) the program must include reasonable alternative standards (or waivers) for certain individuals and disclose the availability of these alternatives. The 2013 regulations, however, add an additional level of complexity to standard-based programs by dividing such programs into two subcategories — “activity-only wellness programs” and “outcome-based wellness programs” — that are subject to different requirements in regard to providing reasonable alternative standards. An activity-only wellness program is a standard-based program that requires individuals to complete an activity related to a health factor (e.g., a walking, diet, or exercise program), but does not require the attainment or maintenance of any specific health outcome. An outcome-based wellness program, on the other hand, is a standard-based program that requires an individual to attain or maintain a specific health outcome (e.g., not smoking or attaining specified results on biometric tests).

Both activity-only and outcome-based programs are required to provide reasonable alternative standards (or waivers) to certain individuals who are unable to meet the primary standard that individuals are required to meet to receive the reward. This requirement applies differently, however, depending on whether the program is activity-only or outcome-based. For activity-only programs, the reasonable alternative standards requirement is satisfied if a reasonable alternative standard (or waiver) is provided to any individual for whom it is unreasonably difficult due to a medical condition to satisfy the primary standard or for whom it is medically inadvisable to satisfy that standard. For outcome-based programs, however, a reasonable alternative standard (or waiver) must be provided to any individual who fails to meet the primary standard, regardless of whether the failure was due to a medical condition. | Conclusion Wellness programs may be beneficial to both the board and to its employees. However, boards must be aware of the various legal issues that are presented by wellness programs. This article identifies some of the main legal issues that are presented by wellness programs, but there are many other legal issues that may also be presented under state and federal law, such as additional discrimination issues, wage and hour issues for time spent by employees participating in the program, and record-keeping issues for confidential medical information. Because of the various legal issues that may be presented by wellness programs, it is important for school boards to consult their legal counsel or a health care professional well-versed in wellness programs when considering adopting any such program for school district employees. n

| END NOTES 1. For additional information related to this topic, see Wisconsin School News, “Discrimination Based on Genetic Information is Prohibited” (February 2009) and “The HIPAA Privacy Rule” (March 2003), and WASB Legal Notes “Implementing the American Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008” (Summer 2011) and “Disability Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations under the ADA” (Fall 2000). 2. The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act also includes provisions prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of a disability. Wis. Stat. s. 111.321, 111.34. 3. 42 U.S.C. s. 12112. 4. The EEOC, however, has issued some informal letters on related subjects. See EEOC Informal Discussion Letter (March 6, 2009); see also EEOC Informal Discussion Letter (August 10, 2009). 5. See e.g., Seif v. Broward County, 778 F. Supp. 2d 1370 (S.D. Fla 2011) aff’d, 691 F. 3d 1221 (11th Cir. 2012). 6. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-233 (2008). 7. EEOC Reg. s. 1635.2. 8. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104-191. 9. 71 Fed. Reg. 75014 (Dec. 13, 2006). 10. 78 Fed. Reg. 33158 (June 3, 2013). 11. Under the 2006 regulations, this limitation is 20% of the cost of coverage. Under the 2013 regulations, the limitation will be increased to 30% and can be extended to 50% to the extent the additional percentage is in connection with a program designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use. This Legal Comment was written by Michael J. Julka, Richard F. Verstegen, and Andrew N. DeClercq of Boardman & Clark LLP, WASB Legal Counsel.

Legal Comment is designed to provide authoritative general information, with commentary, as a service to WASB members. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. If required, legal advice regarding this topic should be obtained from district legal counsel.

October 2013









Veterans Day. Special Observance Day. [s. 118.02 (13)].

Leif Ericson Day. Special Observance Day [s. 118.02].

Determining Tax Levy. On or before Nov. 1, school boards must determine the amount of tax necessary to operate and maintain the schools of the district [s. 120.12(3)(a)].

10–11 WASB/WSAA Employment & School Law Seminar. Wausau. For more information, visit

12 Christopher Columbus Birthday. Special Observance Day [s. 118.02 (12)].

25 WASB Executive Coaching Workshop — Session Two. Neenah. For more information, visit

Oct. 31 – Nov. 1 WASB/WSAA School Law Seminar. Madison. For more information, visit

Call us: 608-257-2622 or (Toll-Free) 877-705-4422 Visit our website: Email us:

6 Reporting Tax Levy. Annually, on or before Nov. 6, school district clerks must deliver to municipal clerks a certified statement showing the proportion of the amount of taxes voted and not previously reported and the proportion of the amount of tax to be collected for the annual payment of loans. [s. 120.17(8)(a)].

27 Publication of Notice of Election in Common, Union High School and Unified Districts. No later than the fourth Tuesday in November, the school district clerk shall publish a type A notice stating the time, place and manner of filing declarations of candidacy and nomination papers, where required [ss. 10.01(2)(a) and 120.06(6) (b)1].




Legislative Advocacy Conference. Stevens Point. For more details, visit

Nomination Papers. Earliest date for circulation of nomination papers, if required. [s. 8.10(2)(a)].

Start Here! Have a question? Need a service? Call or email the WASB. Our team of experts can help you.

Start here. We can help.

Supporting, Promoting and Advancing Public Education



Wisconsin School News

Quality Educational Services And Products 2 0 1 3 WA S B S E RV I C E A S S O C I AT E S ARCHITECTURE, ENGINEERING, PLANNING, INTERIORS AND CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT BRAY ASSOCIATES ARCHITECTS INC. 1202A N. 8th St., PO Box 955 Sheboygan, WI 53082-0955 Phone 920-459-4200 Architecture, Interior Design, Planning, Referendum Support

DLR GROUP 520 Nicollet Mall, Suite 200 Minneapolis, MN 55420 Phone 612-977-3500 Architecture, Engineering, Planning, Interiors, Construction Management

HOFFMAN PLANNING, DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION, INC. 122 E. College Ave. PO Box 8034 Appleton, WI 54911 Phone 800-236-2370 Planners, Architects and Construction Managers

PLUNKETT RAYSICH ARCHITECTS LLP 11000 W. Park Pl. Milwaukee, WI 53224 Phone 414-359-3060 Architectural and Interior Design Services

COMPUTER HARDWARE, SOFTWARE, CONSULTING SKYWARD INC. 5233 Coye Dr. Stevens Point, WI 54481 Phone 715-341-9406

MIRON CONSTRUCTION CO., INC. 1471 McMahon Dr. Neenah, WI 54956 Phone 920-969-7000 Miron provides construction management, design-build and general construction services to educational, commercial/retail, healthcare, industrial, religious and governmental/ institutional markets.

VJS CONSTRUCTION SERVICES W233 W2847 Roundy Circle Dr. Pewaukee, WI 53072 Phone 262-542-9000 Construction Services


General Contractor

16455 W. Bluemound Rd. PO Box 327 Brookfield, WI 53008 Phone 262-786-1800


N19 W24133 Riverwood Dr. Suite 300 Waukesha, WI 53188 Phone: 800-289-0260 Insurance Company



3113 W. Beltline Hwy. Madison, WI 53713 Phone 800-272-2443

710 Plankinton Ave., Suite 804 Milwaukee, WI 53203-1100 Phone 414-220-4250 Advisors to the Public Sector in Finance, Human Resources and Management ­Consulting Services.

M3’s dedicated education specialists combine more than 100 years of experience and expertise to provide schools with the very best in risk management, employee benefits and property and casualty insurance.

WILLIS OF WISCONSIN, INC. 400 N. Executive Dr., Suite 300 Brookfield, WI 53005 Public sector practice


PO Box 1957 Janesville, WI 53547-1957 Phone 608-754-6601


6120 University Ave. Middleton, WI 53562 Phone 866-370-7323 Rowland Reading Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving reading instruction in the primary grades.

1289 Deming Way, Suite 208 Madison, WI 53717 Phone 608-828-3741 Fax 608-828-3757, Gallagher specializes in serving the risk management and insurance needs of public schools.


Community Insurance Corporation is dedicated to providing school districts with the tools they need to economically and efficiently address today’s changing insurance and risk-management environment.

Property and Casualty Insurance


300 S. Bedford St. Madison, WI 53703 Phone 608-257-5321 Construction ­Services

18550 W. Capitol Dr. Brookfield, WI 53045 Phone 800-236-6885


Developer of student, budgetary and human resource administrative software exclusively for K-12 school districts.




ASSOCIATED FINANCIAL GROUP, LLC 8040 Excelsior Dr. Madison, WI 53717 Phone 608-259-3666 Our focus is financial security options that protect and assist growth. We go beyond simply protecting against the loss of assets and property.

MARITIME INSURANCE GROUP 832 Niagra Ave. Sheboygan, WI 53082 Phone 920-457-7781 Fax 920-459-0251

R&R INSURANCE 1581 E. Racine Ave. Waukesha, WI 53186 Phone 262-574-7000 R&R Insurance’s School Practice Group has more than 25 years of educational institution experience and a dedicated Resource Center designed with school district’s risk and claims management needs in mind.

TRICOR INSURANCE 2001 W. Beltline Hwy., Suite 201 Madison, WI 53713 Phone 877-468-7426 TRICOR now insures over 150 public schools. TRICOR’s School Practice Team

is made up of a diverse group of experienced individuals who are extensively trained (30+ years experience) and specialized in school insurance products, risk management, support services, loss control, human resources and claims advocacy.

NATIONAL INSURANCE SERVICES OF WISCONSIN, INC. 250 South Executive Dr., Suite 300 Brookfield, WI 53005-4273 Phone 800-627-3660 National Insurance Services has been a specialist in public sector benefits since 1969. Our insured products include: Health, Dental, Disability, Life and Long-Term Care Insurance. Our financial solution products include: Health Reimbursement Accounts, OPEB Trusts (Fixed or Variable), Special Pay Plan and Flexible Spending Accounts.

UNITEDHEALTHCARE 10701 W Research Dr. Milwaukee, WI 53226 Phone 414-443-4094 UnitedHealthcare’s mission is to help people live healthier lives by providing access to high quality, affordable health care. We are committed to improving the health care experience of K-12 teachers, staff, retirees and their families in the state of Wisconsin by providing Better Information, to drive Better Decisions, to help Improve Health.

LEGAL SERVICES BUELOW VETTER BUIKEMA OLSON & VLIET LLC 20855 Watertown Rd., Suite 200 Waukesha, WI 53186 Phone: 262.364.0300 The attorneys at Buelow Vetter have decades of experience in representing school boards across the State of Wisconsin. We advise school boards and administrators on a variety of issues from labor and employment to student discipline and expulsion.

PHILLIPS BOROWSKI, S.C. 10140 N. Port Washington Rd. Mequon, WI 53092 Phone: 262.241.7779 Phillips Borowski, S.C. works with schools throughout the state to guide them through the complex system of laws and regulations affecting school operations.






UPCOMING PROGRAMS 2013 LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY CONFERENCE e n g ag e Y o u r board and Your communitY

2013 EXECUTIVE COACHING WORKSHOP November 9 Holiday iNN Hotel & CoNfereNCe CeNter SteveNS PoiNt, Wi

This year’s WASB Legislative Advocacy Conference examines the changing environment for public education, with a focus on increasing competition for students and funding, and new strategies to engage parents, community members and legislators. The day concludes with insights on the latest education reform initiatives from the chairs of the Legislature’s education committees. Learn from your colleagues about how boards and districts are engaging their communities and legislators and become a more effective advocate for your schools.

oCtober 25 bridgeWood Hotel & CoNfereNCe CeNter NeeNaH, Wi

building r e l at i o n s h i p s a n d strengthening leadership

Session Two: Focusing on Leadership Roles In the second of a four-part, executive coaching workshop series, participants will: • Explore the politics of leadership; • Identify effective problem-solving skills; • Discuss various approaches to making decisions; and • Examine the job description for their superintendent and the evaluation system they are using within the framework of an effective and continuous improvement evaluation model. The WASB Coaching Program is designed for initial and second-year superintendents along with their board presidents, but the workshops are open to all members.

v i s i t wa s b . o r g f o r co m p l e t e i n f o r m at i o n a n d to r e g i s t e r

Ph: 608-257-2622 FAx: 608-257-8386

Wisconsin School News - October 2013  
Wisconsin School News - October 2013  

Official magazine of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.