Title I School Choice Enrollment Option Begins

April 21, 2003
Parents of children attending 10 federally funded Title I elementary schools are receiving information about enrollment options available next year in response to requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 for schools that have not met state requirements for two years of sustained improvement in overall student performance.

Letters to parents were mailed earlier this month (just before spring break), and a new booklet featuring typical questions and answers about the school choice enrollment option are being sent home this week. All of the documents have been translated into multiple languages to assist non-English speaking parents. School information meetings will be held beginning next week.

The 10 participating schools include: Broad Acres, Burnt Mills, Gaithersburg, Harmony Hills, Highland, Kemp Mill, Rosemont, Summit Hall, Weller Road, and Wheaton Woods. Each of these schools has been matched with two designated receiving schools (with other options for certain special education students, as necessary).

The 10 participating Title I schools were involved in the choice option offered for the first time last spring, in which just 93 children (from an original 110 applicants) completed transfers and are still enrolled in the receiving schools this year -- out of an overall enrollment of more than 6,000 eligible students in the participating schools.

The participating schools were selected on the basis of two consecutive years of no improvement on the state's measure of academic progress. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) uses the results of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) and average daily attendance to determine an overall composite score (called a School Performance Index or SPI) to monitor and assess the progress of federally funded Title I schools. Schools need to maintain two consecutive years of achieving adequate yearly progress to no longer qualify for the enrollment option.

This year the state replaced the MSPAP with the Maryland School Assessment, but no results have been received yet and a comparative formula for the two measures has not been determined in order to assess more recent school progress.

Considerable effort is under way to improve the academic performance of Title I schools through classroom and program improvements as well as professional development for teachers and other school staff. The Board of Education has authorized the implementation of the full-day kindergarten program (with class sizes of 15 students) and reduced class sizes (17 students) in grades 1 and 2 in each of the identified schools.

Recent improvements include the expansion of the Reading Recovery® program to all of these schools, and each school received additional staff to support the mathematics, gifted and talented instruction, and English for Speakers of Other Languages programs. Improved parent involvement and enhanced staff development were supported with additional resources, along with materials to implement a rigorous curriculum.

In addition, the unique summer enrichment and accelerated instructional program, entitled Extended Learning Opportunities Summer Adventures in Learning, will be offered to students entering kindergarten through Grade 4 again this July. After-school instructional activities for students also were provided. Most of these special services were not available at the designated receiving schools.

Federal Title I School Choice Enrollment Options

Title I Schools with Designated Receiving Schools and Special Education Schools

* Broad Acres ES: Cloverly ES & Stonegate ES with Drew ES & W.T. Page ES (special education)

* Burnt Mills ES: Cloverly ES & Stonegate ES with Drew ES & W.T. Page ES (special education)

* Gaithersburg ES: Candlewood ES & College Gardens ES with Belmont ES & Greenwood ES (special education)

* Harmony Hills ES: Brooke Grove ES & Olney ES with Brooke Grove ES & Olney ES (special education)

* Highland ES: Chevy Chase ES (3-6), Flower Valley ES & Rosemary Hills ES (K-2) with Cannon Road ES, Chevy Chase ES (3-6), and Rosemary Hills ES (K-2) (special education)

* Kemp Mill ES: Stonegate ES & Westover ES with Belmont ES & Brooke Grove ES (special education)

* Rosemont ES: Cold Spring ES & Lakewood ES with Jones Lane ES & Lakewood ES (special education)

* Summit Hall ES: Diamond ES & Rachel Carson ES (special education n/a)

* Weller Road ES: Barnsley ES & Westover ES (special education n/a)

* Wheaton Woods ES: Belmont ES & Flower Valley ES (special education n/a)

The designated receiving schools were selected based on a combination of considerations. The designated school must have a SPI score at or above the state average. The school also must have a utilization of less than 95 percent of its published capacity. In addition, the student transportation time from the home school to a receiving school was considered.

Information about the enrollment option process is available on the web at the link below.

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