District May Incorporate GPA Requirement Into Athletic Code

On Tuesday, the School Board gave its first read to a revised policy that would require Menomonee Falls High School athletes to maintain a cumulative GPA of 1.5 or higher.

The Menomonee Falls School Board may soon adopt a more stringent policy for the academic performance of its student athletes.

On Tuesday, School Board member Lori Blodorn presented a revised code of conduct draft for athletes at Menomonee Falls High School, which will incorporate cumulative GPA into eligibility requirements along with the WIAA minimum requirements.

On May 14, for student athletes above and beyond the WIAA minimum purely for debate. The policy received a first read Tuesday.

The proposed revision for the Athletic Code at MFHS would require athletes to maintain a 1.5 GPA - or a “C-” average – while participating in sports. If a student’s cumulative GPA falls below a 1.5 average, the student would be required to actively engage in an individualized program created by district staff to improve academic performance.

Each program would be catered to the individual needs of the athlete to get them back on track. The program would then be documented in writing to ensure accountability.

Student athletes falling below the GPA requirement would still retain their eligibility. However, if an athlete fails to comply with the requirements and expectations documented in their individual program, they would then become ineligible. Superintendent Patricia Greco said an individualized plan could be content related or guidance related depending on each student.

“We wanted to both honor our commitment to academic success, but make it consistent to our response to interventions in order to get students the support and services they need if their GPA falls below a certain standard,” Blodorn said.

Currently, athletes at MFHS are subject to the WIAA minimum requirement for academic performance. Student athletes retain eligibility if they haven’t received more than one failing grade in the most recent marking period. If they are declared ineligible - carrying two failing grades - they have three weeks to bring their grades back up while they are suspended from competition.

The WIAA’s minimum requirement would remain on the books along with the additional GPA revision by the School Board. However, the district’s revised policy doesn’t include a set time frame to improve cumulative GPA.

“The intent is that by monitoring the student through the student services team will keep them plugged in,” Greco said. “We’re recommending active engagement in remediation.”

If the revised policy were in place this spring, it would impact just a small group of students. According to data from the district, of the 658 students currently participating in spring sports only five are carrying a cumulative GPA below 1.5.

Board member Paul Tadda encouraged the board to increase the minimum cumulative GPA to a 2.0 level, or a "C" average.

“Participation in sports is not a right, but a privilege. I think that's a good lesson for students to bring home. If we aren't removing their eligibility why not raise it to a higher level?” Tadda asked.

Director of Pupil Services Kathy Zarling said if a higher standard were placed for athletes, it would not mirror the standards for intervention that are applied to all students at the school. It would imply that student athletes achieving at an average level were in need of academic intervention but other students were not. Zarling said the district will typically look to academic interventions when a student achieves below an average level.

“We'd be saying that students performing at an average range isn't good enough,” Zarling said. “It's when they fall below average then we're asking kids to balance the time they spend in practices, games, and their studies. If we have students performing at an average range do we need to implement interventions?”

Using the same data from the district, 29 of the 658 students currently in spring sports would fall below that requirement. 

The district already uses a procedure to identify students in need of academic interventions who aren't athletes. However, a certain GPA level isn’t used to identify students not involved in athletics. Each student is treated on an individual basis.

Athletes won’t the only students held to minimum academic performance standards. Blodorn said the Policy Committee is also working on building an academic requirement for students involved in all extracurricular activities. She said they plan to present a draft of that policy sometime this summer.

The district’s revised policy will appear before the School Board for a second round of discussions before taking a vote at the following meeting. The board will meet next at 7 p.m. June 11 at Village Hall.

Lyle Ruble May 30, 2012 at 10:30 PM
A 1.5 AGPA, is ridiculous. It should be a minimum of 2.0. If they can't maintain a 2.0, then they should be spending their time pursuing academics rather than sports. IS MFSD promoting academics or just big dumb jocks?
Carl Engelking May 30, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Lyle, the story has been updated with the board's discussion on that very point
Carl Engelking May 30, 2012 at 11:17 PM
I should also point out that other schools in Falls' athletic conference aren't mandating a certain GPA level. So a student could theoretically have straight "Ds" and still be eligible based on WIAA requirements, which only look at Fs. The board wanted to implement a floor for GPA in athletes to avoid a situation like this, which really impacts a slim minority of athletes at MFHS.
Craig May 31, 2012 at 01:39 AM
If a student can't maintain BETTER than a C average, they should be spending more time with the books and no time in sports. What message is the MFSB sending the kids if they allow near failure grades so the kid can play? Every kid wants to play pro ball, but we need to prepare them for plan b. This equates to 99.9% of our students- so why shouldn't we hold them to a higher standard?
Falls Parent May 31, 2012 at 01:19 PM
There are some at risk kids who need to be able to stay involved in sports/clubs so we don't completely lose them. I think the school board is on point in trying to help raise their grades without pulling them from extracurricular activities.
Nuitari (Grand Master Editor) May 31, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Some football players might not be eligible then. Better lower it to 1.0.
Unions_NO May 31, 2012 at 01:42 PM
“We'd be saying that students performing at an average range isn't good enough,” Zarling said. When I graduated from high school in a small town in Indiana in 1985, you needed a B average or better to continue with varsity sports. Of course now that would be "ridiculous" and might make someone feel bad or hurt their self-esteem if they could not play-poor baby. Playing sports is a privilege, not a "right." That is why we have codes of conduct/rules/sportsmanship pledges to sign etc. (BTW I am a married woman. Notice I said "sportsman" - not sports person: If you are offended-get over it) As goes the schools, goes the country. When you expect less from students don't be surprised when you get a "less" prepared graduate to eventually enter the workforce. Aside from the .001% of SERIOUSLY talented players, if they can do basic math, I hope their parents are sitting them down to a real-life game of statistics and the real odds of "making it big." The reality that one injury can end an athletic career is hopefully balanced with the logic that you need education to fall back on. Not surprising from a High School ranked #73 in the state academically. (Most suburban Milwaukee schools are in the top 20 - definitely the top 30). I challenge the school board to do more.
jerry mislang May 31, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Not an easy issue, no clear right or wrong answer.... Most extra curricular activites cut into the number of hours a students has in a day. If a student is struggling in school and still has desire to participate in an added activity, and lets just not single out sports. I would prefer to encourage and work with them rather than 'labeling' them big dumb jocks. Name calling high school kids isn't a solution. It appears the school board to working to help these kids do both and that's a good start. I think most kids are smart enough to realize they not going to play pro sports. One of the many lessons in sports or any outside activity is teamwork, discipline, challenging yourself, making lifelong friendships and and a sense of purpose. Frankly, in some cases it's possible their GPA would be worse if they weren't involved in a regimented outside activity. Maybe I'm off base, but I would rather try to include kids rather than exclude them. Still not an easy issue, no clear right or wrong answer.... I
Craig May 31, 2012 at 02:03 PM
This is the same school that needed to modify the school day because kids were missing so much class time to leave early for sports (mainly Golf). If you held the athletes accountable to a B average, there would be no need to worry about missed classes as the better students tend to do well on their own. To send a message, "You can do just well enough to get by and pass" is sending a poor message. It is teaching them they are entitled to play and not work hard. I always wondered why kids play on facebook at work, and were not doing a very good job getting the work done. A 1.5 GPA is a C-/D+. a 2.0 GPA is a C. Only one board member wanted to make it a 2.0, but I would bet the community thinks it should be a 2.5 minimum GPA. Instead of leading, the MFSB has decided to look at what other schools in our conference is doing instead of doing the right thing. Shouldn't we be teaching the kids they have to work before they can play? They have to earn before they can spend? They have to 'qualify' for a loan?
Lyle Ruble May 31, 2012 at 05:19 PM
@Craig...You hit the nail on the head. It was always my understanding that academics was the primary purpose for school. A 2.0 AGPA represents an average student. It is based on the theory that not all students would do well in all classes, but would do well enough in some classes to offset the poor performance in others. During the Vietnam War period you saw colleges and universities begin inflating grades to help students retain their student deferments, thus reducing the value of grading. I began my higher education before the grade inflation and completed it after my military service. It was much more difficult to earn an A before than after. I use this example to illustrate a point that we shouldn't be setting lower standards, but higher standards. Why isn't the school board making a real statement set the minimum at 2.0? Is academic performance secondary to athletic or extracurricular activities? If one were to follow Falls Parent reasoning, the district should start a special ed program for the athletically gifted and academically challenged. Oh wait, that is only reserved to higher education! I'll leave that one for now, a different fight for a different day.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »